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60’s Band of the Week: Adam Wade

15 Jun

Band/Artist: Adam Wade

Origin: Pittsburgh, PA

Genre: Crooner


Adam Wade? Isn’t he that guy who hosted that game show Musical Chairs back in 1975? Yes, indeed, but did you know that Wade also released several singles on both Coed and Epic records in the 1960s? Well, that’s why I am here.

Adam Wade can definitely fit into the expansive category of singer, who is also quite proficient in other creative fields. He actually started his odd career as a lab assistant to Dr. Jonas Salk. For those of you who have completely forgotten 9th grade biology, Salk invented the vaccine for polio. Wade’s passion for singing outlasted his scientific endeavors and he followed in the vocal tradition of Johnny Mathis and Nat King Cole. Wade moved to New York in 1960, played the Copacabana, and was consequently snatched up quickly by the eastern doo-wop inspired Coed records (the record label of the Duprees and The Crests).

Wade, like Mathis, took on good-looking male performer status like many vocalists were doing at the time, but he did not use this as a crutch. He was a prolific performer and his large collection of releases were rich in quality and quantity. Throughout the 1960s, beginning with his single Ruby/Too Far in 1960, Wade released several singles each year of the decade and this included full-length LPs. Here are a few highlights:

“Ruby”/ “Too Far” was Wade’s first major success in 1960

“Take Good Care of Her” hit #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1961

“As If I Didn’t Knowhit #10 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1961

“The Writing on the Wall” hit #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1961

After switching from Coed Records to Epic Records in 1962, Wade experienced a steep decline in singles popularity and after several years of unsuccessful recordings, Wade dropped the music studio for the movie studio and thus started a long career in acting, highlighted by his hosting of “Musical Chairs.” Wade became the first African American to host an American game show. The show, which had contestants fill in lyrics, allowed Wade to sing and act. After the show he went back into music in 1978 with funkier recordings and then back into acting, switching off between music and acting and usually combining the two in theater.

Suggested Listening

I am going to embed “The Writing on the Wall” because I think it best demonstrates his textured croon.

60’s Band of the Week: Adrian Pride and The Comfortable Chair

8 Jun

Band/Artist: Adrian Pride (Bernie Schwartz)

Origin: West Coast

Genre: Pop Psychedelic

Name: Adrian Pride was a pseudonym for Bernie Schwartz (not to be confused with actor Tony Curtis who was born Bernard Schwartz) that was created by producer (at the time) Phil Everly of the Everly Brothers. Apparently, people do not like the name Bernie Schwartz.


Like I said above, Adrian Pride was the false name of Bernie Schwartz, a West Coast musician with Psychedelic Pop aspirations. And while Adrian Pride does sound like an awesome, but corny superhero, Schwartz only recorded under the name once. Yes, once. He used Pride for his dreamy meditation “Her Name is Melody,” an apt title for a song that attempts to lure listeners into its constant rhythm, eastern guitar and melodic vocals. This example of psychedelic pop is from 1966 and was produced by The Everly Brothers. Well all you have to do is dream, dream, dream. Right? I couldn’t help it.

Unfortunately, “Her Name is Melody” (and its B-side “I Go To Sleep” – Kinks cover) did not chart and fell off into the realm of psychedelic nuggets of the late 60s. It was picked up by a compilation CD and you can still hear it today if you search for rare psychedelic gems.

After his Adrian Pride phase, Schwartz became one of the vocalists for late 60s band Comfortable Chair, yet another obscure West Coast psychedelic sunshine band. And while The Everly Brothers originally produced Schwartz’s music, Jim Morrison of the Doors found Comfortable Chair and Doors’ drummer John Densmore and Doors’ guitarist Robbie Kreiger happened to produce Comfortable Chair’s first album in 1969. The album went nowhere and the band found no success outside of the sinking late 60’s psychedelic scene.

Adrian Pride, Bernie Schwartz, Comfortable Chair. Schwartz represents a large group of unheard 60’s musicians who were lost in the crowded sea of popular musicians. But you can still hear his music if you search. Here is “Her Name is Melody.”

60’s Band of the Week: The Ad Libs

1 Jun

The 60’s Band of the Week is back…and we are still on A. When you have compiled a list of over 1000 60’s bands and artists it may take around a lifetime to do each profile. Actually, at our new rate of one band a week I know exactly how long this list is going to take us at the Music Court. 19.2 years. If I stay at this current rate the list will be finished when I’m 40 years old. 60’s music will have moved into the realm of true “classics” and popular music will probably sound like a strange concoction of synthesized vocals and electronica. Okay, that list part was a little imagination on my part. How about we get to today’s 60’s band of note, The Ad Libs.

The Ad Libs

Band: The Ad Libs

Origin: New Jersey

Genre: Doo Wop

Most Popular Line-Up:

– Mary Ann Thomas

– Huge Harris

– Danny Austin

– Norman Donegan

– Dave Watt

Name: Originally a street-corner quintet named the Arabians and then the Creators, the band broke up in 1963 and re-formed a year later with new members and became the Ad Libs.


Some of this was touched on in the brief name section above. The Ad Libs were Doo-Wop musicians that started on the streets in the mid 1950s. The story of The Ad Libs can be traced back to songwriter John Taylor, a saxophonist who had been playing with big band groups for several decades. He came across The Creators, the band’s second name (at the time), when they were in their nascent stage as a street-corner quintet. After The Creators hit no success with their releases, the band broke up and re-formed  a year later as The Ad Libs with two former Creators, Hugh Harris and Danny Austin. Harris and Austin added Norman Donegan, Dave Watt and perhaps most importantly Mary Ann Thomas.

John Taylor’s jazz and big-band music influence was an essential element of The Ad Lib’s brief success. He, with George Davis, wrote “The Boy From New York City,” which will forever be known as a true Doo-Wop one-hit wonder.  The song’s mixture of Doo-Wop and big-band flavor makes it catchy and bubbly.

Group manager Bill Downs took a tape of the Ad Libs performing the song to song-writing duo Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. Leiber and Stoller (along with George Goldner) owned Red Bird Records. After hearing the piece, they signed the Ad Libs to Blue Cat records (a subsidiary of Red Bird) and released the song in December of 1964. The song hit #8 on the Pop chart and #6 on the R&B chart at the height of its success. The Ad Libs would have to wait years before another chart appearance.

A few unsuccessful releases led to The Ad Libs being dropped from Blue Cat and bouncing around before signing with Share Records and recording “Giving it Up,” a Gladys Knight and Pips song written by Van McCoy. The 1968 release charted at #34 on the R&B list.

Unfortunately, the band saw little more success as the years progressed. In 1988, The Ad Libs recorded four albums for John Taylor’s Johnny Boy Label. The band only consisted of two original members during the recording, Dave Watt and Mary Ann Thomas. Since then, Thomas, Harris and Watt have passed on.

Most Popular Release:

“The Boy From New York City” comes in with a rare zero dislikes on YouTube. Impressive feat for The Ad Libs’ best song.

60’s Band of the Week #7: The Action

17 Dec

Being home has many benefits. One of these benefits is that my oversized binder full of various 60’s bands is within hand’s reach. What does that mean for you? Well, if you have ignored the title of the post I will enlighten you. The 60’s Band of the Week section that has been completely disregarded since August is back; at least until I go back to school in late January. The band that will begin this glorious return is a group whose talent never produced much success. There are a lot of 60’s bands that unfortunately fell into that trap, but, like The Action, their skill was ultimately realized in the release of old material in best hits collections.

Band: The Action

Origin: Kentish Town, North London, England

Genre: British Beat Pop and Blue-Eyed Soul

Founded: 1963-1969

Original Line-Up:

Reg King (Lead Vocals)

– Peter Watson (Guitar)

–   Alan ‘Bam’ King (Lead Guitar and Vocals)

–   Mike ‘Ace’ Evans (Bass Guitar and Vocals)

–   Roger Powell (Drums)

Name: After being formed under the obvious title of The Boys, the band decided it would be better to establish some creativity and rename the band The Action.

History: Most bands are judged on records sold, the market that surrounds them, and other misguided labels for success. This is unfortunate because there are many bands out there that suffer from, what I would like to coin Thomas Jones syndrome. Thomas Jones, the current running back for The New York Jets, puts up tremendous numbers and has an incredible work ethic, but, due to some odd reason he continues to live as the personal embodiment of Rodney Dangerfield’s “No Respect.” Yes, I understand I use Dangerfield a lot in these type of discussions and I believe it is only because I am impressed at my own attempts at witty humor, but, honestly, Jones and bands that are the like of The Action are often disrespected by most of the music community. How so? Nobody knows of them even if their work is far better than most commercially succesful bands (or running backs for that matter). Let’s look at a little Action history.

After forming they quickly signed to George Martin’s Parlophone Records and released a few singles that saw good reviews by critics, but miserable sales. Some bad management and disappointment eventually led to their disposal by Parlophone and the eventual leaving of original members. The new band transformed and became psychedelic and then folky, abandoning the soul-rock that was rooted in the incredible voice of King and the scene they once played in. The question remaining is simply what happened.

They were an English band in the Mod scene playing with bands like The Who, who obviously went on to bigger and better things (You see what I did there?). They experienced the band nightlife in London and they often played to sold out crowds. Heck, Mike Evans was good friends with Keith Moon and both respected each others work. Evans tells a story of the first time he saw Reg King perform. “I remember the first time I heard him sing, in a pub in Kentish Town. I went there with Keith Moon. Reg was singing “Stand by Me” and I thought, Yeah. Later Keith sat in on drums and proceeded to smash them up much to the resident drummer’s horror.” (Thanks to

The man behind the mic Reg King was the power behind the band. While King did not provide some of the odd antics (KEITH MOON) that defined this musical era, he was the definition of blue-eyed soul. The man could, and still can sing his heart out and this is generally something that makes a good band. So, what happened? My guess is that they were simply overshadowed (maybe not for reasonable reasons) in a music time that saw the rise of more flamboyant bands, who, while displaying equal talents still provided more marketable music that sold in both London and in the States. These are the bands that made it, not ones like The Action. But, luckily, recordings still exist and albums have been cut with them which brings me to my next point…

Best Album:

Action Packed released in 2001 is a great collection of old singles and good songs. Check it out here: Another great collection is Rolled Gold.

Did You Know:

Phil Collins (of Genesis and solo fame) has frequently said that The Action was one of his favorite bands and in 2000 when he played with the reunited band he remarked it was like played with the Beatles.

60’s Band of the Week #6: Adam Faith

14 Jul

            Adam Faith

                We have traveled back in time and across the Atlantic. From San Francisco during the late 1960’s to the United Kingdom during the early 60’s. We also go from a rock and roll girl band to a teen idol that went by the name of Adam Faith. Teen Idol’s, like today’s Brittany Spears and I don’t know Hannah Montana, do not usually sing. They appear in movies and television shows and release several albums that are absolutely manufactured. Adam Faith did appear in movies but he actually had a voice and sang his songs. He did not write them but at least he sang them.

            While Faith went on to be a financial journalist and mogul we are going to focus on his 60’s music career because this is not a finance blog. If it was I would not be running it. We shall pick up Faith’s career history after he appeared on the show Drumbeat and became well known because of his acting.

 Band: Adam Faith

 Origin: London, England

 Genre: Pop/Rock

 Career: 1958-2003

Hit Parade

History: The beginning of Faith’s career was defined by failure. Failure of his first three albums, failure to reach the chart, complete failure in releasing an album at the right time (he actually released an album during a national printing strike oops!). Yet, because of his acting career he was invited to sing some songs on the British television show Drumbeat. Finally he succeeded at something and this got him a recording contract with Parlophone where he reached his first musical success.

            His 1959 record, “What Do You Want,” written by Les Vandyke became Adam Faith’s first number one hit.  Not only was it his first success but it also was Parlophone’s first number one hit. From then on out Adam Faith became a household name. Releases like “Poor Me” and “Someone Else’s Baby” that continued into the 1960’s made him even more popular and he began to rival such accomplished performers like Cliff Richard.

            As he gained more fame the hits just kept rolling and he released his debut album Adam on November 4th 1960 to good reviews when he was only 20 years old. After this he went on to make six further albums and thirty five singles with a total of twenty four chart entries.

 Adam Faith

Album: Check out Faith’s first release entitled Adam. There are many contemporary hits of the time and some enjoyable inventiveness.

 Fun Facts:

 Did You Know…

 1.)    With his first 7 hits getting into the top 5 of the contemporary top 40, Faith was the first UK artist to accomplish this incredible feat.

2.)    His backing band The Roulettes consisted of Russ Ballard and Bob Henrit who later in their career made an appearance in the band Argent.

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