Robert Alexander Anderson died in Honolulu on Memorial Day 1995, a week short of his 101st birthday. His was a life that spanned a turbulent period, but the facts of his life are no more remarkable than the graces, his longevity no more notable than his achievements. Many a man living half as long and serving half as well would count his life a triumph.
He was the pied piper of Hawaii, the man who wrote the songs that came to represent Hawaii in many parts of the world and whose music is heard today in distant places as well as his beloved islands.
Anderson wrote more than two hundred songs during his lifetime - each out of love for the islands. As a successful businessman, he never had to write for money. He was a man for whom the word "community" denoted not only a place but also the people of that place and their needs.
Many of Alex Anderson's beautiful Hawaiian melodies are published by Lovely Hula Hands Music, LLC administered by Lichelle Music Company. Contact Dean Kay
I'll Weave A Lei of Stars For you
Lovely Hula Hands
Craig Bartock is lead guitarist, producer and songwriter with the legendary rock band and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees Heart. Craig has worked and has written charted singles with some of the biggest names in popular music, including, Heart, Blondie, Aly and AJ, Brie Larson, Seal, Simply Red, Toni Braxton, Madonna, and Tina Arena.
His credits also include a long list of TV and Movie music composition and scoring including shows such as Dexter, The Carrie Diaries, Brothers and Sisters, Alien Encounters, MTV’s The Alectrix, Burn Notice, Rachel Zoe Project, MTV Cribs, Sunset Daze, LA Ink, Access Hollywood, Dr. 90210, Valentine, and Reaper. Movies Elizabethtown and PS I Love You. Animation scores for Warner Bros ….The Animaniacs, Pinky and the Brain, Looney tunes, Nickelodeon, Hanna-Barbera.
Craig’s TV appearances include Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Fallon, Ellen, Dancing With The Stars, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, PBS Soundstage, The L Word. VH1 Rock Honors, Fanatic Live From Caesars Colosseum, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, and A&E Private Sessions.
"Fool No More"
Ken Bell is one of Nashville's premier songwriters.
Outside of that, Ken is one of the funniest and warmest people on the planet. He is also among the elite group of "first call" pickers in Music City, and was one of the pioneer players who put Muscle Shoals, Alabama on the map as the recording capitol that produced some of the greatest soul, R&B and country music ever recorded.
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Harold Keller Blair, born November 26, 1915, was a native of Kansas City, MO. He came to Los Angeles in the 1940s as a member of the western band, Cal Strum and his Rhythm Rangers, and was soon providing material for Hollywood's singing cowboy movies of the era.
His closest musical associate, as far as the western films were concerned, was cowboy star Eddie Dean. Hal and Eddie wrote songs for Eddie Dean films that included: Black Hills, Check Your Guns, Stars Over Texas, Tornado Range, and Wild Country.
Hal also played the "villain" in Eddie's live stage appearances. His primary job was getting "beaten up." On occasion, Eddie got a little rambunctious and forgot to pull his punches. Hal lived with subtle reminders of his days on the road with Eddie for the rest of his life..
Hal referred to his years of writing for western movies as his "rocks and rills" years.
Perhaps Hal's most historically significant song was written in 1948 with Eddie Dean and Eddie's wife, Dearest: "One Has My Name (The Other Has My Heart).
Hal, Eddie and Dearest (a stanch Catholic who was embarrassed to even speak the title when it popped into her head) had created the first triangle song - "I'm married to her...but, oh you kid."
By today's standards the lyric is mild, but in 1948 what it had to say was considered scandalous to the point of being banned by the Catholic Church - an event which may have helped Jimmy Wakely's recording of the song shoot to the top of the charts followed closely by Eddie's version which reached #11. Since then cheatin' has been one of country music's most enduring story telling devises. Over 70 artists have recorded "One Has My Name" to date.
In 1956, Hal got a call from a friend at RCA Record's pressing plant in L. A. to let him know that a song he had written was on a single by "...some new guy named Alvin Persly." Not thinking too much of this seemingly underwhelming bit of information, Hal asked his friend to send him a copy. When the record arrived he noted that his friend had been wrong about the artist's name and that the other side of the record was a thing called, "Heartbreak Hotel".
He popped the record onto his turntable to take a listen, and, quite frankly, didn't get what this Elvis Presley guy was all about. 'Kind of a weird style' he thought.
Well, it didn't take long for Hal, and the rest of the world to figure out what Elvis was all about as "Heartbreak Hotel" came slamming out of every radio and jukebox across the land, skyrocketed to number one - where is stayed for 8 weeks - and lit the fuse that launched the Topelo Tornado to legendary status.
Due to the raw power of the Presley phenomenon, Hal's song, "I Was The One" followed "Heartbreak Hotel" up the charts and found its way to number 19. It was the first of 13 Hal Blair songs recorded by good ol' 'Alvin' and was released, again, this time as an "A" side single, after Presley's death.
In the late 50's Hal teamed up with his most noteworthy collaborator, Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member Don Robertson. Together they contributed songs to virtually every Elvis Presley film from 1961 to 1967, including "No More" (from 1962's, Blue Hawaii), "I Think I'm Gonna Like It Here" (from 1963's, Fun In Acapulco), I'm Yours (a number 11 chart single from 1965's, Tickle Me) and "What Now, What Next, Where To?" (from 1967's, Double Trouble).
The best known Blair/Robertson collaborations, however, were not recorded by Presley.
Please Help Me I'm Falling (Hank Locklin)
Ninety Miles and Hour Down A Dead End Street (Hank Snow) (Covered by Bob Dylan)
Not One Minute More (Della Reese)
I Was Born To Love You (Eddy Arnold)
My Lips are Sealed (Jim Reeves)
Ringo (Lorne Greene)
Hal's western movie roots were probably best put to use in the 1964 number 1 smash, "Ringo" recorded by Lorne Greene. Contrary to popular belief, Hal wrote the lyric totally oblivious to the fact that the Beatles were in the midst of invading America at the time. Robertson, provided the musical setting to the mostly spoken lyric.
With "Ringo" it could very well be that, in addition to having written the first ‘cheatin' song,' Hal may have written the last smash "Western" song... in the tradition of "Cool Water," "Tumbling Tumbleweeds," "Back in the Saddle Again," and "El Paso."
Throughout his later years, Hal enjoyed spending time with his wife, Joanie, writing lyrics, fishing and hand crafting custom, precision fly casting fishing rods which he sold for premium prices under the trade name Blair House. Anyone lucky enough to own one of Hal's fly rods owns a unique, one of a kind, treasure, built by a unique, one of a kind, treasure.
Hal, was a truly gifted creator and a wonderful friend to everyone who knew him. He introduced Dean Kay to his future wife Michelle and was the best man at their wedding. Hal passed away in 2001.
Hal Blair was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall Of Fame on November 2, 2003. I was honored to have been asked to accept on his behalf.
Hal's wife, Joanie, asked me to accept this honor on Hal's behalf. I'm honored to do so. Hal and I were great friends and songwriting partners... In fact, my wife, Michelle, who lived two houses down from Hal, and I met at one of Hal's legendary steak barbecues. She never forgave him. He was the best man at our wedding.
It took Hal a few wives to get it right... but with his wife Joanie he finally did.. She would have loved to have been here this evening, but wasn't able to make the trip from her home in Biggs, CA.
Joanie says that Hal would have gotten a big kick out of this evening. She also told me to tell you that his music, fishing and Joanie were the loves of his life... in that order, but I'll guarantee you she placed herself at the wrong end of that list.
As Robert Orman mentioned, Hal arrived in Los Angeles in the 40's and got himself involved in the world of "B" Westerns...
His closest musical associate at the time was western star Eddie Dean. Hal and Eddie wrote songs for several of Eddie's films. Hal referred to those years as his "rocks and rills" years.
Hal also use to play the "villain" in Eddie's live stage appearances ... his primary job was to get "beaten up." On occasion, Eddie got a little over rambunctious and forgot to pull the punches.
Perhaps the most historically significant song Hal ever wrote was a song he wrote in 1948 with Eddie Dean and Eddie's wife Dearest: "One Has My Name (The Other Has My Heart)."
Thanks in part to being banned by the Catholic Church, Jimmy Wakely's record shot to the top of the charts followed closely by Eddie's version which reached #11.
Hal, Eddie and Dearest (a stanch Catholic who was embarrassed to even speak the title when it popped into her head) had created the "Cheatin' Song" and changed country music forever.
"Slippin' Around" - generally touted as the first cheatin' song - was Wakely's 1949 follow up to "One Has My Name."
In addition to writing the first ‘cheatin' song,'" Hal co-wrote one of the last - if not the last - smash "Western" songs ... "Ringo" - in the tradition of "Cool Water," "Tumbling Tumbleweeds," Back in the Saddle Again," and "El Paso."
In 1956 Hal got a call from a friend at RCA Record's pressing plant in L. A. to let him know that a song he had written was on a single by "...some new guy named Alvin Persly." Not thinking too much of this seemingly underwhelming bit of information, Hal asked his friend to send him a copy. When the record arrived he noted that his friend had been wrong about the artist's name and that the other side of the record was a thing called, "Heartbreak Hotel".
He popped the record onto his turntable to take a listen, and, quite frankly, didn't get what this Elvis Presley guy was all about. 'Kind of a weird style' he thought.
Well, it didn't take long for Hal, and the rest of the world to figure out what Elvis was all about as "Heartbreak Hotel" came slamming out of every radio and jukebox across the land, skyrocketed to number one - where is stayed for 8 weeks - and lit the fuse that launched the Topelo Tornado to legendary status. Hal's song, "I Was The One" was on the B-side of the record made it's way to the number 19 slot under it's own steam.
In the late 50's Hal teamed up with his most noteworthy collaborator, Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee, Don Robertson.
Even though Elvis went on to record 13 Hal Blair songs in all, 12 of them in collaboration with Robertson - most of Hal's smash hits were by other artists... and most of them were written with Don.
Hal and I met in 1965 - just after "Ringo" and just before my song, "That's Life," became a hit in 1966. Hal's association with Don had ended, he was looking for a picker and a grinner and I was looking for a lyricist...
Unfortunately, unless you were Buck or Merle, the west coast country music scene - which had grown out of the western movies - Autry, Rogers, Tex Williams, Johnny Bond, Tex Ritter and all - was pretty much over.
Our rounds with our new country songs were limited to our great friend Scott Turner, Ken Nelson, Cliffie Stone, Charley Adams and our buddy George Richie... and while we got our share of records by artists like Slim Whitman, LeRoy VanDyke, Bonnie Guitar and Johnny Carver and an occasional Mills Bros or Paris Sisters record - nothing really exploded.
While our friendship never ended, our writing partnership did when I gave up songwriting to take a position at Welk Music...
Hal continued to write, taking on various studio assignments, then, after marrying Joanie, decided to move to Biggs, CA where the fishin' was easy.
Throughout the last several years of his life, Hal enjoyed spending time with Joanie, cashing his royalty checks, writing lyrics and hand crafting custom, precision fly casting fishing rods which he sold for premium prices under the trade name Blair House.
Anyone lucky enough to own one of Hal's fly rods owns a unique, one of a kind, treasure, built by a unique, one of a kind, treasure.
The rest of us get to spend the rest of our lives enjoying his incredible lyrics.
"One Has My Name, The Other Has my Heart", written by Hal, Eddie Dean and Eddie's wife, Dearest.
"I Was The One", written by Aaron Schreder, Claude Demetrius, Hal Blair, and Bill Pepper.
Rockabilly legend Mac Curtis was born in Fort Worth, TX, on January 16, 1939. He started playing the guitar in 1951 at the age of 12 and soon he was entering local talent contests. In 1954, he decided to play music with his schoolmates Jim Galbraith and Ken Galbraith. They were enamored with artists like Big Joe Turner, Chuck Berry, and Little Richard, wanting to create a similar sound in their group. In 1955, they signed a contract with King Records, and in 1956 recorded their first single, "If I Had Me a Woman." Successive charting singles, "Honey Don't" and "Sunshine Man" caught the attention of New York DJ Alan Freed, who booked Mac and his band on his 1956 Christmas show, giving them an exposure they had never experienced before. Curtis moved back to Texas by 1957 to finish high school. He became a radio DJ in his spare time, until he joined the military at the end of the year. He became a DJ in Seoul, Korea, and started a country band that would play for the troops. Curtis returned from duty in 1960 to see a very different music scene waiting for him. He decided to become a full-time DJ, working around the south and occasionally releasing albums. By 1971, he was learning about the popularity of rockabilly in Europe at the time. He started recording songs with Ray Campi, who shared his passion for country and rockabilly. The new Rollin Rock label started in Europe, sparking a rockabilly revival that included albums by both Campi and Curtis. This success allowed the artists to form a new, successful career overseas where their brand of music was more appreciated. Curtis continued to work this scene through the '80s and '90s, enlisted record companies to re-release his older singles, Mac us a member of the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. [From a bio by Bradley Torreano - All Music Guide.]
"If I had Me a Woman(live in Amsterdam)"
Here's an interesting fact about Frank Sinatra. Frank Sinatra and the Frank Sinatra Estate have never allowed his recordings to be coupled with recordings by any other artists. For example, you will never find a Frank Sinatra track included on albums with titles like, "Greatest Artists of the 20th Century." Instead his treasure trove of incredible performances of glorious songs has been re-configured and re-packaged in innumerable ways through the years. As a result, THAT'S LIFE, being among his signature recordings, has been included on at least 18 Frank Sinatra albums.. [Demi Music Corp. is now the co-publisher of THAT'S LIFE.]
The Story Of Blue Christmas
Excerpted from the book: "The Stories Behind Country Music's All-Time Greatest 100 Songs"
On a cold and rainy winter morning, Jay Johnson, a script and commercial jingle writer for radio, was on his way to New York, a daily commute that included a one hour train junket. It was during these trips that Jay would catch up on the postwar news in the paper, work word puzzles, and scribble down inspiration for story lines and songs. His daughter remembers her father as a man driven by creative challenges.
"He often wrote or worked as he rode on the trains," recalled Judy Olmsted. "He loved to play with words. He made up all kinds of limericks and poems. He wrote for some the top shows on radio (The Fred Waring Show, The Kate Smith Show - and his own radio show on WOR in New York City and the Mutual Network) He later wrote for television too. He was a vaudeville veteran, played around with Broadway shows, and had dozens of songs published."
On this particular rainy day, as the train chugged toward the Big Apple, Johnson pulled out an old piece of hotel stationery. The holiday season was just around the corner, and tunes like Irving Berlin's "White Christmas" were being written into many of the radio shows for which he worked
As Jay considered the long list of Christmas classics he could draw from for his scripts, an original idea began to take shape. At first glance it seemed almost too obvious. With the success of "White Christmas" and the tremendous impact of blues music during the forties, surely, Johnson thought, someone had combined the two concepts into a song. A number about a blue Christmas seemed so natural. Yet as he considered the idea, he suddenly and happily realized that no one had yet tackled this play on words. Picking up a pen he scribbled down his first thoughts:
"I expect to have a colorful Christmas
Tinged with every kind of holiday hue,
And though I know I'll find every shade in the rainbow,
This design of mine will be mostly blue"
These lines were destined to become the rough first verse of a lyric sheet which Johnson would call "Blue Christmas." Over the course of the next few days several more verses followed. Once Jay was satisfied with all his words, he met with friend and composer Billy Hayes.
Though no one recalls, Hayes probably offered a few suggestions about the lyrics. Long before the two men finished the song, Johnson's first two verses were dropped, using the writer's later lines, and Billy neatly wrapped the package with an appropriate musical score. When the song was finished, Jay and Billy took it to Choice Music who agreed to publish it.
It was copyrighted in 1948 and Choice Music began to shop their new holiday number. Hugo Winterhalter and His Orchestra made the first record which went to #9 on the charts. A year later the Winterhalter record would undertake another successful trip up the pop charts. Still, these modest numbers didn't forecast a long run on the hit parade. At that time "Blue Christmas" was far behind holiday standards such as "Silver Bells," "White Christmas, "Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer," and "I'll Be Home for Christmas" in both recognition and popularity. Most felt it would be soon forgotten.
First hit recording: Hugo Winterhalter (1949)
Ernest Tubb Blue Christmas
Elvis Presley singing "Blue Christmas"
Ernest Tubb must have heard the song during its initial Winterhalter release, because the Texas Troubadour worked it into his act at about that time. A year later, in 1950, he cut the number for Decca and took it to the top of the country charts. For the next five years "Blue Christmas" would become Tubb's holiday theme song and standard hit fodder for country radio playlists.
Before Tubb's "Blue Christmas," Gene Autry had scored big numbers with "Rudolph" and "Here Comes Santa Claus," but those songs were really children's numbers. With its lonesome message and clever lyrics, "Blue Christmas" was truly a hillbilly ode. It may have been written on an East Coast commuter train, but Tubb had put it on the map and shaped it into country music's first true Christmas standard.
By the mid-fifties almost every country act was using "Blue Christmas" in their November and December shows. The song probably would have remained strictly a part of the Music City genre if not for a young singer who had grown up idolizing Ernest Tubb.
Elvis Presley had listened to a lot of black blues and white Southern gospel during his youth, but he had also spent a great deal of time checking out certain country acts. The one and only time he worked the "Opry" he met a childhood hero, Ernest Tubb. It was probably Presley's affection for Tubb and his music that led him to record "Blue Christmas" on his initial holiday album. Yet Elvis's cut was far different from Tubb's - and anyone else's. The rocker was the first to put real blues in "Blue Christmas." In one brief three-minute recording, Ernest had lost his lock on the song. It was now Elvis's Christmas classic.
Presley's recording of the song assured that it would become one of the best-known holiday songs of all time. Since Elvis first cut it, "Blue Christmas" has been recorded by hundreds of artists from every musical genre. And for that reason the Jay Johnson / Billy Hayes song has become the gift that keeps on giving.
"I will tell you this," Judy Olmsted said with a laugh. "It wouldn't be Christmas at our house without 'Blue Christmas.'" And a host of music fans would probably agree that while there are a lot of great holiday songs, Christmas isn't complete until it's sung blue.
*The Stories Behind Country Music's All-Time Greatest 100 Songs"
Written by Ace Collins
© 1996 by Ace Collins
A Boulevard Book Published by The Berklley Publishing Group Used by permission.
A native of Yaounde, Cameroon, jazz composer, arranger and bassist Andre Manga built his first musical instrument at the age of seven, a pseudo-marimba constructed from bamboo and part of a tree trunk; he later designed a guitar with strings made from bicycle brake cables as well. A chance encounter with worldbeat superstar Manu Dibango convinced Manga to pursue a career as a performer, but his parents disapproved of his musical leanings and sent him off to boarding school; ironically, soon after his arrival the school formed its own orchestra, and he soon emerged among its leading players. By age 17, Manga was a bassist with the Cameroon National Orchestra, soon after relocating to the city of Gabon to become a top session musician; in 1988, he moved to Paris, touring with Pierre Akendengue before joing his hero Dibango. By 1995, he had settled in Los Angeles with the goal of combining jazz with traditional African rhythms. [Bio by Jason Ankeny. Published in All Music Guide]
Larry Rogers appears, along with Sam Phillips, Chips Moman, Jack Clement, Knox Phillips, Scotty Moore, Alan Reynolds and Issac Hayes on the "Honor Roll Of Memphis Music" in the Memphis Music Hall Of Fame as one of the legendary producers that made rock, soul and country music history during Memphis, Tennessee's musical heyday.
He produced hit after hit for Billy Swan, Rick Nelson, Shylo, Freddie Weller, Bill Black's Combo, Brother Jack McDuff, Mel McDaniel and Charley McLain at his world renowned Memphis recording studio, Lyn-Lou - a legend unto itself. He also founded Partner and Partnership Music, two highly successful music publishing companies recently acquired from Rogers and partner, Pat Brewer, by PolyGram.
In the early eighties, ‘The Blade', as Rogers was affectionately nicknamed for his deftness with a razor blade in making seamless, crafty edits in audio recording tape thereby enhancing the careers of many a recording artist, moved to Nashville. He worked with Jerry Kennedy at Mercury Recording Studios, Jim Malloy at Mega Records and was part of one of the most extraordinary country music A&R teams of all time at CBS Records during Billy Sherrill's tenure.
Rogers opened his first studio in Nashville - Studio 19 - in 1984. Studio 19's almost instantaneous success led to the opening of his second Nashville studio - Studio 20 which, again, became one of Nashville's most popular recording studios. Studio 20's success begot yet a third studio, this one, unnamed, with an unlisted telephone number and hidden in what appears to be a garage in the middle of one of Nashville's prominent residential neighborhoods, has become a popular recording destination for many of country music's biggest stars who prefer great sound quality mixed with the ultimate in privacy.
But Larry Rogers, who has a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Mississippi, is much more than a legendary record producer and successful studio owner. He's also a mentor and business advisor to a legion of artists and countless songwriters who he has set on their paths to successful recording and writing careers. He prides himself in his ability to recognize talented people at a very early stage in their career and direct the development of their talent to the fullest realization of every aspect of its potential.
January 13, 1956 - January 15, 2017
It’s not surprising to learn that artists from Steve Earle to Billy Bragg were Greg Trooper fans. Trooper, A New Jersey native exceled at character studies, painting wonderful portraits of people living through good times and bad times. His matter-of-fact delivery – as both a singer and a songwriter – brought a sense of realism to the tales that he told. His music lives at the intersection of Memphis soul, Greenwich Village folk and Texas troubadour. As a live performer was articulate, quick-witted, extremely musical, outrageous, compassionate and kind. His songs have been recorded by numerous artists including: Vince Gill, Steve Earle, Billy Bragg, Robert Earl Keen, Maura O’Connell, Lucy Kaplansky, Tom Russell and Walt and Tina Wilkins. His albums included with harmony vocals by the likes of Emmylou Harris and Rosanne Cash.
"This I Do"
"Make It Throught This World"
"Real Like That"