Monthly Archives: June 2011

The Billboard Roll Call: Gene Clark

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The Billboard Roll Call is a listing of regional artists who charted a song on the Billboard Top 40 from 1955-2009. The introduction has additional information.

Gene Clark is an artist whose true legacy isn’t reflected in a pop chart.

He was instrumental in helping develop three genres in rock ‘n’ roll. As a founding member of the Byrds, he pioneered folk-rock. With the duo Dillard and Clark in the late 1960s, he laid the foundation for country rock. His solo work in the late 1960s and early 1970s anticipated the singer-songwriter movement.

Clark was born in Tipton, Mo., about 110 miles east of Kansas City, but grew up in the Kansas City area. He played in rock ‘n’ roll bands growing up, but moved to folk music in the early 1960s.

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Today in KC’s Music History: “Mr. Tambourine Man” Released

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One of the most significant albums in rock ‘n’ roll history was released on June 21, 1965.

Mr. Tambourine Man by the Byrds heralded the arrival of folk-rock, a genre the Byrds helped create. And central to the Byrds sound was Gene Clark, who grew up in the Kansas City area.

Gene Clark (top right) was the Byrds' lead vocalist and main songwriter for the band's first two years.

Roger McGuinn’s electric 12-string was significant, but Clark contributed mightily as the co-lead vocalist (he and McGuinn often sang in unison), and as the band’s main songwriter. Out of the album’s 12 songs, Clark wrote or co-write five. They include I’ll Feel a Whole Lot Better, an enduring classic of the era, and Here Without You and I’d Knew I’d Want You.

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Today in KC’s Music History: “New York, New York” Released

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It’s one of those ironies of life that the writers of the song Kansas City were based in New York, while the composer of New York, New York, grew up in Kansas City.

The native in question is Broadway composer John Kander. The song is showcased in the film of the same name, directed by Martin Scorsese and released on June 21, 1977.

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The Billboard Roll Call: Dawayne Bailey

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The Billboard Roll Call is a listing of regional artists who have charted a song on the Billboard Top 40 from 1955-2009. The introduction has additional information.

Today’s Roll Call features a a sideman who’s had a great career, although he’s not a household name.

Dewayne Bailey grew up in Manhattan, Kan. He founded Rathbone, a regional band, and moved to Los Angeles in the early 1970s.

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The Billboard Roll Call: Brewer & Shipley

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The Billboard Roll Call is a listing of regional artists who have charted a song on the Billboard Top 40 from 1955-2009. The introduction has additional information.

Brewer & Shipley, in a publicity photo from 1970.

Although Brewer & Shipley’s folk sound made them a staple on album-oriented FM radio in the 1970s, it didn’t easily translate to AM radio success. Their only chart success, One Toke Over the Line, made the Top 10 in March 1971 and remains a staple on classic rock and oldies radio.

Michael Brewer and Tom Shipley met as solo performers on the folk circuit in the 1960s. They both landed in Los Angeles and started writing songs together as staff writers for a music publishing company. After some of their songs were cut by other artists, they were offered a recording contract.

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The Billboard Roll Call: Bloodstone

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The Billboard Roll Call is a listing of regional artists who have charted a song on the Billboard Top 40 from 1955-2009. The introduction has additional information.

The R&B group Bloodstone bridged two strains in popular music. Starting as a vocal doo-wop group in the 1960s when they attended high school in Kansas City, Bloodstone emerged as full-fledged band in the 1970s.

They charted two songs in the Billboard Top 40 in 1973-74. Natural High, which hit the Top 10 in June 1973, is a gorgeous piece of soul that draws from their doo-wop roots as well as a jazzy break that to my ears is a nod to Kansas City jazz.

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The Billboard Roll Call: Count Basie

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The Billboard Roll Call is a listing of regional artists who have charted a song on the Billboard Top 40 from 1955-2009. The introduction has additional information.

Count Basie
Count Basie is a great reminder of why it’s important to remember that the Billboard charts measure popularity and not quality. Viewed only from his chart performance, Basie was a one-hit wonder.

He was much more than that, of course. As one of the greatest jazz bandleaders and pianists in the 20th Century, Basie’s sound defined Kansas City Jazz in the 1930s and 1940s. He continued with an active recording and performing career until he died in April 1984.

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The Billboard Roll Call: Oleta Adams

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The Billboard Roll Call is a listing of regional artists who have charted a song on the Billboard Top 40 from 1955-2009. The introduction has additional information.

Oleta Adams
Born and reared in Washington state, Adams has lived in Kansas City for about 30 years. She was a fixture on the local scene, mainly playing piano and singing at hotel bars. In the mid-1980s, she was discovered by the English band Tears for Fears, which lead her recording career.

Her first Top 40 success was as a member of Tears for Fears. Sowing the Seeds of Love hit No. 2 in September 1989. The band’s next single, Woman in Chains, featured Adams on vocals, and peaked at No. 36.

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Introducing the Billboard Roll Call

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A page from my dog-eared, marked-up copy of "The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits."

I’m a firm believer that music (and all arts in general), should be covered like sports. Not in terms of the front of front page of the sports section (who won or who lost), but in the back where the stats are (who did what).

So I’m happy to introduce the Billboard Roll Call, which collects Kansas City (and KC regional) artists who have charted a single on the Billboard Top 40 during the rock era, defined as anything after January 1955.

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