Monday, March 30, 2009
Here is another song we taped at Jimmy's home many years ago. It is an old "Ronnie Hawkins" tune that we slowed down to give it a nice blues feeling. Jimmy is on the keyboards and Ron is playing the guitar. Once again, the sound quality is only fair and I wish we would have tried harder to get a better live recording. As I said before, the home recording equipment doesn't compare with what they make today. That night the music, the stories, the laughter and the beer was flowing, so, it is what it is. We had fun and to me, that's what counts.
Tobin Matthews and Connie Stevens with "General Lee" from The "Dukes of Hazzard". Connie played "Cricket" in "Hawaiian Eye" the late 50s early 60s TV show. She also appeared on "77 Sunset Strip" and had the hit records "Kookie, Kookie, Lend Me Your Comb" and a pretty ballad "Sixteen Reasons". This photo was taken in California, at Universal Studios during a shooting of, my friend Jan Gabiel's TV show, The Super Chargers. Connie was the guest star for that show. Those few days were great fun and she is a wonderful person.
PS - I got t sit behind the wheel of "The General Lee" but they wouldn't let me drive it.
Friday, March 27, 2009
Tobin Matthews performing at a Rock 'N Roll show in Chicago at O'Hare Stadium in 1961. Other artists on the bill that night were, Timi Yuro, "Hurt" - Bobby Lewis, "Tossin' and Turnin'" and Joe Dowell, "Wooden Heart".
Sunday, March 22, 2009
This song was recorded "Live" at Jimmy McHugh's home a long time ago. Jimmy is on the keyboard and Ron Lane is playing the guitar. One night, the three of us got together at Jimmy's to play some music and drink a few beers. After a while, we decided to record some of the songs. The sound quality is only fair but, with the recording equipment we had at that time, we were satisfied. Now, I wish we would have done a better recording job. Maybe we should have stayed sober. This is "Memphis" an old Chuck Berry tune.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Popular Chicago Radio and TV personality, Jim Lounsbury in 1987, recalls the early days of record hops with "Willy and the Jeepers" in Chicago and the Midwest area. He talks about how we met, some of the places, Madura's Danceland and Keyman's Ballroom, where the hops were held, Poppel's Under 21 Club and how much we enjoyed those great days. There was something special about having a live band at a hop and the kids loved it. Jim helped me a lot with my singing career and we became good and long-time friends. Jim Lounsbury passed away January 8th, 2006 and I miss him very much.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
This picture was sent to me by a blog visitor who doesn't want her name mentioned. It was taken in Detroit, Michgan at a record store where I signed photos and records to promote a new 45 release. These appearances were fun and they gave me a chance to meet the fans. If anyone out there has any pictures of Willy and the Jeepers from those old Chicago days or Tobin Matthews pictures, I sure would appreciate it if you would send them to me. If it's something I don't have, I'd like to post it on my blog. Thanks a bunch.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Sunday, March 8, 2009
The song "Pretty Sue" was written by Willy Henson & Ron Lane. We recorded it in Chicago on USA Records in "1961". The guys in the band were - Ron Lane, lead guitar - Jerry Rose, rhythm guitar - Norby King, drums - Frankie Gage, bass. Vocal by Tobin (Willy). There were a couple studio musicians and a few background singers. How about that one girl background singer near the end, I think she over shadowed my singing!!
Poppel's Under 21 Tropicana Club was the place to be and the place to be seen. It's been said that it was probably the first of it's kind in the country.
Teens congregated there in casual clothes for get-togethers on week nights and reserved the week-ends for dressing up and a great date with that someone special. They were fun nights, with live entertainment, and dancing. Poppel's served good food, non alcoholic drinks with the little umbrellas and fruit on the rim of the glass.
The wonderful thing for the teens who went to Popple's, was the "adult" atmosphere. They were considered patrons of an adult type nightclub and treated accordingly. Dim lights, palm trees, carpeted floors, and wall murals accented a south seas theme. Live bands entertained and there was a well stocked juke box to fill in the gaps. There was a bar section with stools and booths that had a clear view of the dance floor and stage. In the main room were many tables and chairs with the stage and dance floor in the center.
Poppel's was not only a unique experience the teens, it was also a great venue for a lot of young bands and singers to get that first chance, to get a foot in the door. Jan Gabriel and I were a couple of those lucky guys. Thank you Bob and Dick and may God bless Erma J. Nelson.
Willy and the Jeepers performing for the vets at Hines Hospital in Chicago. Those soldiers, our heros of America, really enjoyed that night. After the show, we mingled with the guys, talking about their favorite rock n' roll songs and singers, telling stories and laughing. It was a proud and heartwarming evening. Thanks to all you brave men for keeping us safe and free.
Sunday, March 1, 2009
This record review is from Cash Box, Sept., 1961. "Love Has It's Funny Ways' was written by Willy Henson and recorded in Chicago on USA Records. The guys in the band were - Don Smith, lead guitar - Jerry Rose, rhythm guitar - Frankie Gage, bass and Norby King, drums. At that time, we were known as "Tobin Matthews" and the "All Stars".
Jan Gabriel created, produced and hosted "The Super Chargers", a syndicated motor sports TV show that ran for 10 years. Jan's guests covered the whole gamut of motor sports, from Richard Petty, Danny Sullivan and "Big Daddy" Don Garlits, to movie stars and their cars, to classic cars in museums and in private collections. He also announced at Santa Fe Speedway from 1968 to 1982, at Route 30 Drag Strip from 1969 til they closed their gates and at the Indy Time Trials. SUNDAY! SUNDAY! SUNDAY! is Jan's nationally known signature phrase.
Jan and I started our show biz careers at the same time. We met at Poppel's Under 21 Tropicana Club in Riverdale, Illinois in 1958. He was an aspiring disk jockey, I wanted to be a rock singer and we had the same interests, music and auto racing. We became friends immediately, working together at record hops and shows, trying to learn all we could. After our gigs, we partied, and then we partied, and partied!!!
Today, 50 years later, our friendship has not waned. To quote Ralph Waldo Emerson, "A true friend is a masterpiece of nature". To me, that describes Jan.
This picture of Jan Gabriel and me was taken at The McCormick Place, in Chicago, in 2007. That night, Jan was awarded a Life Achievement Award from the "World of Wheels" for his contribution to motor sports through his many venues. What a great night it was!!
THE TRUE STORY OF "RUBY DUBY DU" -- In Chicago, in the late 1950's, on Michgan Ave., known as "Record Row", the band and I auditioned for every record company that would listen to us. Around that time, Paul Glass, owner of Chicago's Chief and USA records, heard the Charles Walcott version of "Ruby Duby Du", from the MGM film "Key Whitness" and he really liked it. Paul hired studio musicians to record the instrumental for the Chief label. My band and I had nothing to do with this recording. Paul released the record under his one-year-old son's first and middle names, Tobin Matthew, adding an "s" to Matthew. When the record began to move up the charts, the need for a real Tobin Matthews arose. Remembering our audition, the demo tapes I had submitted to him and his knowledge of our popularity in Chicago and around the Midwest area, I received a phone call. Paul and I had a meeting in his Chicago office, to discuss a recording contract, with a catch. He wanted me to take the stage name Tobin Matthews and have permission to use my photos for promotion. If I would do this, he promised to start recording me as a vocalist. Signing with a record company in those days was not easily achieved. After some discussion and a little persuasion, I agreed to sign. Paul was a man of his word. About two months later, I was recording vocals on his USA label and using the stage name "Tobin Matthews".
This is a publicity photo that my booking agency, Orchestras Inc., sent out to promote the band and I for bookings in clubs, shows and dances throughout the midwest. I was 20 years old. Man! How time flies.
This is a rare Tobin Matthews "Ruby Duby Du" picture sleeve on CUPOL out of Sweden.
This is a full page "Billboard" ad from "1960".