Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Billy Davis Jr ( Part 3)



 Recording and Advertising Executive Extraordinaire.





    

 
   

               He was one of the key architects in the development of the soul music we so love today!

The second stage of his creative career made him a very important figure in the advertising industry around the globe. On the strength of the gold record “Rescue Me” and other major hit records on Chess, Billy caught the attention of the McCann-Erickson advertising agency in New York. They made him an offer he could not refuse and so in 1969 the agency hired him as jingles songwriter. Davis first major assignment at the agency was to help Coca-Cola develop an international brand across all the markets where the company was trading, based on the old advertising campaign slogan “It’s the Real Thing”.
Davis was assigned to create several songs with songwriter Roger Cook and creative director Billy Backer, who was responsible for The Coca-Cola Company account. The actual recording session occurred in London, England, with the New Seekers, a British recording group. Out of the studio session a song was born that would impact people around the global for generations and established Coca-Cola as a major leader in the soft drink market for a long period. The song was titled “I’d Like to Buy The World a Coke and Keep it Company”.

With his creative skills, he was able plant into people’s subconscious minds a song that was easy to remember and enjoyable to listen to, with a special appeal to young people, which helped to increase sales levels for Coca-Cola international. The basic message of the ad was that Coca-Cola had a strong bond helping people to connect to each other regardless of race or colour. 
 The advertising campaign became so successful that it appeared in a variety of languages to match the ever-increasing global demand. Davis rewrote the song as “I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing (In Perfect Harmony)”, as recorded by the Hillside Singers and the New Seekers. The single version performed by the New Seekers entered the American Pop chart in the top ten listing and achieved platinum level sales for over two million plus copies sold. According to many surveys conducted in the  United States, this commercial was the best of all time and the sheet music continues to sell thirty years after it was originally recorded and written.

Other successful jingles followed: “It's The Real Thing”, “Have a Coke and a Smile”, “Coke Is It” and “Things Go Better with Coke”. Other ads were created for NescafĂ©, Miller Beers, Sony and Nabisco. The Miller Beers’ popular jingle was; “If You’ve Got the Time”, which was also a successful advertising campaign in North America.
Before Davis retired from the advertising industry, he achieved the position of senior vice-president and musical director at McCann-Erickson and became one of the most successful black executives in the world of advertising. Davis’s song writing approach to jingles, completely revolutionized the advertising industry and brought products into our subconscious minds, creating brand images that spread globally regardless of race and culture. Billy Davis stated in an interview published in the Detroit Free Press on 24th April 1983:
            “Using music in a commercial is a great aid to recall. It will help you remember the commercial and the product. Music allows you to add emotional content.”
                          Researched and compiled by
                          Mr K Tomlin Music Historian  

                          ©RCM Music/Signaturesoundsonline 2013
 



Billy Davis ( Part 2 )

  Recording and Advertising Executive Extraordinaire.



                                              
            He was one of the key architects in the development of the soul music we so love today!


Davis Jr decided to move to Chicago in 1962 in search of greener pastures where he could further develop the creative skills he had acquired while working in the Detroit Soul scene during the mid-1950s to the early 1960s.
 
In a typically brilliant move, Leonard Chess, with a growing interest in the Soul market which was dominated mainly by Motown and Stax at the time and well aware of the strength of Billy Davis’s previous success with Berry Gordy, decided to offer him a contract to develop a strong R&B division at Chess, in line with Motown and Stax.
 
With Davis present in the creative role as producer, songwriter and arranger in the Chess organisation, the opportunity arose to create a more soulful sound and to move the label away from the Blues-dominated sound of the label up to then. He persuaded Leonard Chess to hire musicians with a Jazz background and arrangers for long term session work. Maurice White once said about Billy:





“He taught me how to break down a song and build it up again”.

 

 
 
 
Maurice White
The co-founder and musical architect of Earth, Wind &  Fire    
                         

 
The knowledge White obtained from Davis during recording sessions was the foundation that helped him become a formidable band leader, record producer, record label owner and songwriter.

The production skills Davis developed whilst working with Berry Gordy’s sister Gwen Gordy’s Anna label in Detroit can be heard on such classic tracks as “All I Could Do Was Cry” by Etta James, “Rescue Me” by Fontella Bass and on many other tracks. On “Rescue Me”, which was produced live in the studio, you can hear the Motown influence, but with a Chicago soul sound put into the mix. Billy Davis spent seven years at Chess and also held the position of repertoire director.

Davis Jr greatest achievement was to produced the first and only number-one R&B and Soul hit on the Billboard Hot Soul Singles Chart for a female artist at Chess  Records The single “Rescue Me”, recorded by Fontella Bass, which arrived at the R&B summit on the 30th October 1965. “Rescue Me” typified the new Chess: built on a bed-rock of Satterfield’s bass and White’s drums, powered by Gene Barge’s horn section, and propelled by the call-and-response of singer and background vocalists.



This record became a hit in several major Europe markets including the UK. You can hear this single on movie soundtracks and it has been used in marketing campaigns across the USA and in Europe.


Researched and compiled by
 Mr K Tomlin Music Historian 
 

©RCM Music/Signaturesoundsonline 2013
 



Billy Davis Jr ( Part 1)


Recording and Advertising Executive Extraordinaire.






       He was one of the key architects in the development of the soul music we so love today!

The late Billy Davis was born on July 11th 1932 in Detroit. He started his career in the entertainment industry as a songwriter with Berry Gordy in Detroit during the mid 1950s, creating successful songs for his cousin the late Jackie Wilson, under the pseudonym of Tyran Carlo.
 
Their first major international hit was “Reet Petite” released in 1957 on Brunswick Records, which peaked at number six on the British Pop singles chart listings. Interestingly the record repeated its success in the UK Pop singles chart listings by going to number one on 27th December 1986, for 4 weeks, almost 30 years after its original release and selling in the excess of 700,000 copies to be certified platinum by the BPI (British Phonographic Industry).
 
Billy Davis also did tremendous work with two legendary recording labels noted for their significant contributions to the popularity of Soul and R&B music amongst the record buying public, Chess Records and Motown Records. He was one of the key architects in the development of the soul music we so love today!
                                     
Davis was also involved in the development of Anna Records which started in 1958 and was jointly owned by himself and Berry’s sister Gwen Gordy, whom he dated at that time, before it was brought out by Berry Gordy and became part of the Motown organization.



Researched and compiled by
 Mr K Tomlin Music Historian 
 

©RCM Music/Signaturesoundsonline 2013
 
 

Steve Cropper (Part 3)

                                                                 
One  of  the Key Creative Pillars of  the  Southern Soul Music





Several other Stax classics have been inducted into The Grammy Hall of Fame;  “Soul Man”, inducted in 1999, “Green Onions” inducted in 1999, “I’ll Take You There”,  inducted in 1999 and “In The Midnight Hour”, also inducted in 1999.  Many of Steve’s songs have been covered by artists such as George Benson (“Soul Limbo”), Paul Young (“Iron Out The Rough Spots”) and Rita Coolidge (“The Happy Song”).

This illustrates clearly his impact as a Songwriter across a variety of musical styles. Steve’s Croppers greatest achievement was to be inducted in the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame on June 9th 2005, alongside fellow former Stax colleagues David Porter and Isaac Hayes.

Steve Cropper has also demonstrated his musical talents in the world of film, credited as Producer, Songwriter, and Performer.




As Performer and  Songwriter:


  

Blow (2001)

"Be My Lady"
Written by Stephen Cropper, Donald Dunn, Al Jackson Jr., Booker T. Jones
Performed by Booker T & The MG's
Courtesy of Atlantic Records
By Arrangement with Warner Special Products
Published by Al Jackson Jr. Music (BMI)
Administered by Bug Music / Irving Music Inc.


The Big Lebowski (1998)

"Behave Yourself"
Written by Booker T. Jones, Steve Cropper, Al Jackson, Jr. and Lewie Steinberg
Performed by Booker T. & MG s
Published by Irving Music, Inc. (BMI)
Courtesy of Atlantic Recording Corp.
By Arrangement with Warner Special Products


Platoon (1986)

“(Sittin on) The Dock of the Bay”

Performed by Otis Redding

Written by Stephen Cropper and Otis Redding

Courtesy of Atlantic Recording Corp



As Producer and Songwriter:


Top Gun (1999)

Written by Stephen Cropper and Otis Redding

Performed by Love Actually (2003)



As Producer only:


A Bronx Tale (1993)

“Ninety-Nine and Half (Won’t Do)”

Performed by Wilson Pickett

Written by Stephen Cropper

Courtesy of Atlantic Recording Corp


Promised Land (1995)

“Green Onions”

Performed by Booker T & The MG's
Written by Stephen Croppper, Donald Dunn, Al Jackson Jr., Booker T. Jones

Courtesy of Atlantic Recording Corp


My-Fellow American (1996)

“In The Midnight Hour”

Performed by Wilson Pickett

Written by Stephen Cropper and Wilson Pickett

Courtesy of Atlantic Recording Corp


Lost. The Television Series, Season Two Episode 19 (2006)

“These Arms of Mine”.

Performed by Otis Redding

Written by Otis Redding

Courtesy of Atlantic Recording Corp


Amazon Women On The Moon (1987)

Performed as actor, playing the character Customer (“Titan Man”)


The Blues Brothers (1980)

Performed as actor, playing the character Steve “The Colonel” Cropper


Amazon Women On The Moon (1987)

Performed as actor, playing the character Customer (“Titan Man”)


The Blues Brothers (1980)

Performed as actor, playing the character Steve “The Colonel” Cropper

Steve was also involved in collaborations with other recording artists outside Stax Records. During the late 1970s, after his departure from Stax before its demise, Cropper got involved in the soundtrack and movie of the “Blues Brothers”, a Pop Chart No.1 album and multi-platinum selling project. He then went on to record two albums on MCA Records, “Playin’ My Thang” in 1980 and “With A Little Help From My Friends” in 1982.


He continued to play and produce on many recording sessions between TMI and Ardent recording studios with such artists as Poco, Jeff Beck, Tower Of Power and Dreams. Cropper is certainly an extraordinary guitarist, still going strong after approximately forty years in the music business. In 1998, he started his own record company, “Play It, Steve Records” and created a state-of-the-art recording studio in Nashville called “Insomnia Studios”.

Steve Cropper is indeed one of the main authors and architects of the Memphis Soul Sound, a creative pillar of the southern soul movement and one of the true stylists on guitar. His many contributions to the world of popular music has had an incredible influence on many of his peers and successors. His impact has been felt all around the world.


                Researched and compiled by
                Mr K Tomlin Music Historian 

                ©RCM Music/Signaturesoundsonline 2013
 


                                                                  




 

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Steve Cropper (Part 2)

                                                          
One  of  the Key Creative Pillars of  the  Southern Soul Music

Cropper is responsible for Wilson Pickett’s early successes on Atlantic Records.  Pickett came to SStax in 1965 looking to get his career kick-started after several failures trying to get a hit while recording in New York under Jerry Wexler (a legendary recording executive for Atlantic Records and the man responsible for Aretha Franklin’s first million selling recording of "I Never the Way I Love You". 


ilPickett's first collaboration with Cropper was “In The Midnight Hour” which was co-written at the same hotel as that in which coincidentally the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had been fatally shot several years later. That song took the No.1 position on the Billboard R&B chart listing from The Four Tops spending nine weeks at No.1 with “I Can’t Help Myself”.  Wilson’s single reached the summit on August 7th 1965 (1 week).


Another of Steve Cropper’s first major successes as a Songwriter and as   Producer was with Eddie Floyd’s “Knock On Wood” which became a gold single co-written with Floyd. Floyd was the first solo Artist at Stax to have achieved a gold record and as well a key songwriter in the Stax organization. Featured on this recording session were fellow Stax musicians Booker T. Jones (keyboard), Donald “Duck” Dunn (bass) and Al Jackson Jnr. (drums), with Isaac Hayes on piano and the Bar-keys on horns. Cropper’s next landmark recording was Otis Redding’s “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of The Bay”, which remained R&B and Pop Chart No.1 for several weeks on Billboard. After Otis Redding’s premature death in a plane accident with some other members of The Mar-kays.               
The song received two Grammy Awards for “Best R&B Male Vocal Performance” and “Best R&B Song” in 1969. Steve Cropper co-wrote this song with Otis Redding, played acoustic and electric guitar and also produced the track. The song has been played over six million times, making it the sixth Most Played Song of all time and is also listed on The Grammy Hall of Fame site as a lasting and historical significance, inducted in 1998. The Album entitled “(Sittin On) The Dock of The Bay” achieved UK Pop No.1 position in 1968 and USA Pop No.4 in 1968. Cropper has also co- written “The Happy Song”; “Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa (Sad Song)” and ”Mr Pitiful”, all recorded by Otis Redding.


Steve performed on two singles that achieved gold record sales of Million-plus Copies sold in the USA for Stax. Those were The Mar-Keys “Last Night”, Pop Chart No 3, August 7th 1961, Satellite 107 and Booker T & the MGs’ “Green Onions”, Pop Chart No. 3, R&B Chart No. 1, September 15th 1962, (4 weeks), UK Pop No. 7, 1979, Stax 127




 Researched and compiled by 
 
Mr K Tomlin Music Historian 

  ©RCM Music/Signaturesoundsonline 2013

Monday, 19 August 2013

Steve Cropper (Part 1)


One  of  the Key Creative Pillars of  the  Southern Soul Music

                    

While at Stax Records Steve Cropper performed many different roles as Record Producer, Engineer, Studio Musician, Songwriter and Recording Executive. He acquired his engineering skills from Chip Moman, the primary Recording Engineer at Stax during the early years of operation.


Cropper played guitar on Stax’s first major hit, a duet with Rufus Thomas and daughter Carla Thomas entitled “’Cause I Love You”. Stax’s open-door policy and harmonious working methods enabled Cropper to develop a deep passion for the music created there transcending racial lines.


As a result a profound bond developed between himself, Al Jackson Jr., Booker T Washington and Donald “Duck” Dunn. Washington and Jackson were black, born in the Deep South, whilst Dunn, like Cropper, were both white. Together they became the nucleus of the Stax Studio Band and became also the Touring (support) Band for artists such as Otis Redding and the duo Sam and Dave.


And as for several other signed artists/acts at Stax, they complemented the Memphis Horn section and they then emerged of course as Booker T & The MG’s.  The men and women who came together at Stax developed a raw and refined Southern Soul sound to rival other hit-making city centers such as Chicago and Detroit of course with its’ Motown Sound.



 Album was produced by Isaac Hayes
 and Dave Porter. 
The album features Cropper 
on guitar with Booker T & The MGs
and The Memphis Horn section.


Cropper was one of the key people to help the Stax organization develop as a multi-racial corporation during a period in American history then steeped deeply in racial discord. Cropper’s signature guitar sound is found on many of the major R&B and Soul hits to come out of Memphis during the 1960s and early 1970s. The classic hit song "Soul Man" with the powerful guitar intro and the response from The Memphis Horn Section is one of the best of these. 

Steve’s approach to playing set him apart from many of his contemporaries and became a significant element in the development and delivery of Stax’s raw and refined sound. For his great impact on contemporary music, he was also named the second greatest guitar player of all time, behind Jimi Hendrix, according to Britain’s Mojo magazine in 1996.


Many educational institutions are actually conducting courses on Steve Cropper’s guitar techniques, with many publications available to the public. He was elected to The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1992 by his peers for his historical influence on the development of music through several decades.



 Researched and compiled by 
 
Mr K Tomlin Music Historian 

  ©RCM Music/Signaturesoundsonline 2013


                  




                  

About Me

My photo
Old Harlow, Essex, United Kingdom
Kevin Tomlin has over 34 years of teaching experience in Jamaica, England and America, including 15 years teaching music history of black origin and visual art in South Florida, U.S.A., through Arts in Education. Tomlin created special training programmes and workshops for music teachers in South Florida schools, using music history as the foundation, to build exciting programmes of study and support materials for education professionals. Since 2000, he’s taught music history, geography, religious education, history, visual arts and performing arts at schools in Hertfordshire and Essex, at both primary and secondary levels. He conducts research and provides consultancy services for multi-media organisations, schools, recording artists, cultural and faith-based groups and entertainment professionals.

Mary J Blige

Loading...

Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis

Loading...

Phyllis Hyman

Loading...

Blog Archive