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The Evolution Of The Dew

August 16, 2010

This entry took a long time to get started because it definitely was life changing. I was at a particular low point in my life. I had graduated from college with a bachelor’s in math from California State University at Northridge and had spent seventeen months programming the computer at Lockheed before being given the opportunity to run the promotion department of Moonglow Records.  Talk about a fish out of water, I knew nothing about promoting records and worse than that I didn’t like the process. Of course I was told that promoting records was easy and all you had to do was deliver records to the radio stations  take DJ’s out to lunch and then just sit back and watch the records race up the charts on the way to number one.  Well none of that is true due to the fact that It took an act of congress just to get to see the program director. Most of the time they were offensive with attitudes and ego’s the size of Montana. Why not? they only held the only chance you had for exposure in their hands. Sure you could go on to other markets but you were only going to find the same guy with a different hair cut sitting in the programmer’s chair. Now couple this up with an atonal arrogance expounding on what was wrong with your product. Even when I would take a Righteous Brothers record I would have to hear what would have made the record better. These suggestions could have been a simple as, “It needs an organ” to,” They should get The Mormon Tabernacle Choir to do background vocals”. I was at my wit’s end so I began to think about one of my mentors, Lew Bedell, who owned Dore records. He always told me that you stood a better chance with a record that has a novel approach. I’m staying away from the word novelty because I think that all hit records have taken a novel approach. For instance. Ozzy’s voice in Black Sabbath certainly can be described as novel and it paved the way for many of the greats including Robert Plant and Axl Rose. Ritchie Valens singing in spanish, which he was not fluent in and his guitar sound which shows up on early Beatles records, novel. Ray Stevens, displaying his amazing sense of humor and musical ability often has been called novelty but “Everything is Beautiful”, is probably his most successful song. All of his records are novel, one way or another.” Oobladee Ooblada”, “Yellow Submarine”, “She came in thru the bathroom window”, “A day in the life”, “Strawberry Fields”,” I am the walrus”. are all novel in their own way. So I needed something at least novel. It was the day of the odd named groups. We were out of the time when the main groups were named, Bill Haley and the Comets, Hank Ballard and the Midnighters, The Crystals, The Tokens, now we had, Moby Grape, ? & The Mysterians, Strawberry Alarm Clock etc. I considered, The Electric Bologna Sandwich but I finally went with Daddy Dewdrop and the Sugarplum Sassafras Bubblegum Band. There never was a band, so eventually I just went with Daddy Dewdrop. The first record was on Moonglow Records and it was called, “She didn’t have to tell me”. This song was influenced by one of my favorite Oscar Brown Jr. songs called, “But I Was Cool”. It started out innocent enough but ended up in a rant about how my girl told me something but,”she didn’t have to tell me”. Novel but more like an elephant fart than Guitarzan. I don’;t think that there were any commercial copies printed. Around the middle of 1968, there was a catch phrase, “here come the judge”, made famous       by Sammy Davis Jr’s appearances on “Laugh In”,  and I thought this might be something to explore. My friend Vic Garganno owned Indigo Records that had great success with, “A Thousand Stars”, by Kathy Young and he thought the idea had a chance so we went into the studio and cut my record of ,”Here Come The Judge”. The most memorable thing about this recording was that Carl Radle of Derek and the Dominos fame played bass. Not that it didn’t stand a chance because we went on a ton of stations right out of the box but Motown was preparing the Shorty Long record and they convinced the radio stations to hold off until their record was ready and by that time we had lost all of our momentum. The B side of my record was a song called “Collection of Hearts”, a straight forward country/ bluesy song written with my lifelong friend, Hal Tennant and my new friend at the time, Paul Robin. I think this song was important because it showed that my roots were more blues than pop. I was raised in Pasadena and Don and Dewey (Justine, I’m Leavin’ it all Up to you) were from my neighborhood. My musical influences was anything on KGFJ and anything played by Hunter Hancock or Huggy Boy. In fact if there was no Ray Charles there would be no me. His ability to go from, “I Got A Woman” to “Georgia” is nothing short of miraculous. He definitely was the Mozart of my day. His rhythmical phrasing is legendary and remains to be as satisfying as anything I play for myself. Even though Daddy Dewdrop had been released on two record companies I didn’t put much energy into the project and continued writing songs for other artists. My energies and association with my friend, Richard Delvy led me to my involvement with “Sabrina and the Groovie Goolies”.  The songs were mainly created by Eddie Fournier but we all took part in the production. I remember one production meeting with one of the principles in Filmation( the animation company ) named Norm Prescott where he said to us that what we needed was a hit song. He was just coming off the huge success of, “Sugar Sugar” from his Archie’s show so he knew the importance of a hit. I said that I had one. He asked me what was it called and I said,

 “Chick a Boom”.                                   He then asked me how did it go and of course there was no song but I didn’t want to miss the opportunity so I started singing, Chick a boom over and over to the tune of Johnny Cash’s opening lick to, “I walk the line”. My partners were looking at me like I was insane but I knew that he didn’t know, “I walk the line” . He said he loved it and left. I told my partners that he’d never remember what I sang and that we need to find a song that sounded like a hit and as it turned out no-one could say the results sounds anything like, “I walk the line”. He never said a thing except how he was pissed off about how much the Goolies version cost but I told him that I guaranteed success. Hence the existence of God.                                                   The TV version           was all about cartoony stuff but I heard something that would communicate with the masses if  it was a little more vague with sexual innuendos. I tried to make that point with RCA who released the Goolies” album but they looked at me like the RCA dog . I didn’t give up and Danny Kessler, who I knew for some time, loved it and gave me fifteen hundred dollars to make the record. I knew I couldn’t do it for that unless I made some deals, which I did. The session was on a Sunday afternoon and the players were, Tom Hensley on piano, Hammond organ and vibes.  Tom has for many years been Neil Diamond’s musical director. Bill Perry on bass and acoustic guitar. Bill was a first call session player and played on the infamous Phil Spector sessions for John Lennon. Last but not least my good friend for forty-five years, Butch Rillera on drums. Butch added that rock/r&b feel that the record needed. Butch was not only a member of Edgar Winter’s , White Trash featuring Jerry La Croix but Red Bone. Butch cut his teeth on, “The Righteous Brothers” records and live performances. To have Butch on this date was one of the highlights of my recording career. I knew that Butch’s foot drum sounded like a cannon so when he was warming up it sounded like a racecar revving its engine. A beautiful sound. To top it off, Buch can sing so I’m sure that Red Bone took advantage of Butch’s voice and his ability to harmonize. Well the band was set and a couple of takes is all it took. The track sounded just the way I envisioned it would. I brought my favorite record at the time into the studio, “Spill the wine” . I liked the instrumentation of the organ in the choruses and the talked verses. I took the bass line of “Rescue me” and turned it around rhythmically so everything had the sound of an implied shuffle. By the end of all that it didn’t sound like anything else, ever. I was happy. Now for the vocal, percussion and background vocals. I put a rough vocal on and proceeded to add background vocals. We tried everything including girls, sped up voices etc. we were settling on something that sounded like Freddie Mercury had come in and put them on when I asked the engineer to erase everything (in those days the recording process was limited to 16 or 24 tracks) he didn’t want to do it and mixed everything down to one track just in case. I put on every part and I knew that was the sound. The cabasa was also on the Goolies version so I stuck with that and now we were ready to mix. This step has infinite possibilities but when the engineer was fading out the final mix I knew it was there. Everybody agreed so we went to the next step which is mastering. I always took part in the mastering of my records but they convinced me to let the engineer do his job after all he did everything that came out on MGM records so how could I go wrong.? I found out when Danny called me in to listen to the test pressing. The engineer took it upon himself to roll off the bass But if you listen to the record you know how important that bass line was to the record so I took it back in and all we did was roll it back on, of course I stayed to get a reference disk and now it was ready to be released. It came out in the last quarter of 1970 and by December it was declared a stiff. No appreciable radio stations went on the record and no sales were recorded so it was declared a failure. When the record came out I promised myself that if this one didn’t do it I was going back to Lockheed and utilize my degree.  Sometime in the beginning of January I helped my mother move to Tucson Arizona which took a couple of days. By the time I returned there was a ton of excitement going on due to the fact that a station in Cypress Gardens Florida had gone on the record and was generating sales out of the Miami distributor. This is when I found out that Danny took it upon himself to re-release and re service the record nationally. Needless to say the record continued to eventually peak at number 2 in the Gavin Report, Number 3 in Cash Box and number 9 in Billboard. I hung my gold record in my bathroom for years.  The follow-up record was, “Fox huntin’ on the weekend”. It blasted into the charts as the fastest new entry of that week but due to political in fighting the promotion team stopped and you know what that means. I did release an album and several more singles but nothing approached “Chick a boom”. I really don’t believe that anything can follow that kind of record as “Don’t let the dogs out” and “Don’t worry be happy” and “Werewolves of London” etc. can attest to. In fact I just checked my Billboard top forty book and Eric Burdon never made the top forty again after “Spill the wine” and that’s Eric Burdon, what chance did Daddy Dewdrop have?  So I went a different way and made a record for Capitol records . During the making of the Capitol record I wrote a song called,”The Godfather”. The A&R staff wanted to release the song as a Daddy Dewdrop record. I knew it didn’t fit what I was doing on the other project so I went along with their suggestion. Due to the fact that I had never been on a real major label before I didn’t know how it worked so when I had to have a meeting with the legal department I never anticipated any changes. I was wrong, they made me change the title of the song to ,” Goddaughter”. It didn’t make sense to me because I never say goddaughter in the whole record, only godfather. They were afraid of a lawsuit by the film company who made “The Godfather” part one to a zillion. The record tanked but not before some positive critical reviews. The same with the Capitol project. Some of those songs were real good and I’ll get into the whole record, later. Daddy Dewdrop did not surface again until 1980 when in the height of the disco era I made an album for Inphasion records called “Meet the beat”. The first single was,”NaNu NaNu (I wanna funky wich you) and where it was played went right to number one and made the national chart of a lesser known chart,Record World. “The Real Thing” also made the national disco chart. I did some live performances but I was now at exactly the wrong age to capitalize on a hit record. Sometimes it’s not always about the material as people hear with their eyes and I didn’t have much of a demographic. This was in 1980 so let’s fast forward to a couple of years ago when a popular two-man group,”Chromeo” , included NaNu NaNu in their album of remixes of their favorite songs. It inspired me to go in the studio with my friend and my record producer and the husband of a true graphic arts genius(Gina Vivona), Michael Woodrum. I wanted to record all of my favorite standards and some of my songs recorded by other artists and a song written by Michael Girard. Michael let me go with that concept and in the end the product was everything I had hoped for. This was not a Daddy Dewdrop project and by this time I’m an anomaly past the age of being too old, sort of  like Willie Nelson. I welcomed the challenge but as hard as I tried I couldn’t get the attention of the important people . I was saying to Michael that the record couldn’t be any better I never sang better in my life and Mark Hudson’s backing vocals on “It’s a good day” is nothing short of miraculous. He just looked at me and said, I think you’re right but nobody knows who the hell you are. He didn’t say hell, his word started with an F but I’ll just leave it at that. He also said that “Chick a boom” is my claim to fame and that what I needed was an updated version in a style that would fit in with the music we just made. We did just that and the new Daddy Dewdrop album entitled “This Time” is finally available and it truly is where Daddy Dewdrop is today. If God is in his heaven, I will have another hit which will knock me off the wall of the ,”One hit wonders” in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The only rub will be if it’s the new version of “Chick a Boom”.  They’ll have to start a new room for people with two hits with the same song. I hope it’s me. And that would be as novel as it gets.

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3 comments

  1. Daddy-
    Thanks for all the kind words. “Chick-a-boom” was my 1st Gold record. Glad we’ve stayed friends all these years.
    Butch


  2. thanks for the tunes and thanks for sticking around. i first heard chick a boom from my brother and then fox huntin along with john jacob on 45 and loved them all. then stumbled up on the self titled album and bought it on ebay. then found here come the judge 45 and love that one and collection of hearts… so glad i found you again. fixin to go buy the new album on itunes or amazon. is there any way that we can be friends??? i’ve waited on this moment forever to get in touch with you… your still the man!!! thanx


  3. “She Didnt Have To Tell Me” wont play… the link is broke. could you fix it. i’ve never heard it. thanks



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