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FAN CLUB CARDS
Once upon a time, I listened to the radio from the minute I came home from school to the time I went to bed (broken only by "necessary" television programs, of course). Many of the shows I listened to offered fan club cards; if they did, I usually sent for one. Over time, I also added some from other music-related organizations I belonged to. Since they've been moldering in a scrapbook these many years, I thought I'd take them out one more time and share them with you.
The Alan Fredericks Night Train show - This was where I started to learn about R&B. While I had grown up listening to Alan Freed, that wasn't learning, just something I did, like breathing. Fredericks was on WADO (1280 AM). My card shows "Fredricks," but another card that I saw (from his earlier WHOM days) spells it "Fredericks." Somewhere along the line he was let down by one of his fan clubs (or, at least, by the printers' union). His son assures me that it's spelled "Fredericks." (Special thanks to Seth Kaminsky.)
Sink Or Swim With Swingin' Slim - Slim Rose had the most hilarious oldies show ever. Unintentional, of course, but it was hilarious. I never felt that he had any real knowledge of anything he played. Many of the things he charged a lot for at the time haven't increased in value a bit, while some of his cheapo records are now worth a fortune. He never seemed to know himself what was going to come out of his mouth on the program. It pretty much redefined "amateurish." He was on WBNX, in the Bronx (1380 AM).
Dan Ingram Kemosabe Kard - I listened to him in the 60s, on WABC (770 AM), because he was hilarious (but intentionally so). When you're stuck in Top-40 radio, you need something to make you stand out. Dan's shtick was to be outrageously funny (but not like the idiot shock jocks that exist today).
Murray The K's Record Review Board Club - I have no memory of what this was about. I suppose that you got to call up and vote on new records to be "Record Of The Week" or some such. He was on WINS (1010 AM).
Pete Meyers Swamp Lovers Card - Something else I have little memory of. Meyers was another WINS DJ, and I think this had something to do with saving some New Jersey swampland. However, it could just as well have been a plea to make New Jersey into a swamp. Wish I could remember. Pete portrayed a character called "Mad Daddy." I also have, for some reason, a matchbook with Pete Meyers' photo on it. Sometimes I wonder where I get these things from.
KBBA - Keep The Big Beat Alive was an organization and a fanzine. It holds a special place in my heart because the first R&B article I ever wrote (on the Clovers) appeared in it in 1964. If you haven't read it, you're really missing something (but I'm not sure what); you can laugh at it here.
Orioles Fan Club - Sonny Til was amazed that there was actually an Orioles fan club in 1964. I contributed some scribblings to their newsletter.
Jocko - Your Ace From Outer Space. No one had a voice like Jocko. Nowadays, what he did would be called "rap"; I referred to it as "patter." Either way, he was my favorite DJ. I only wish I could have heard him in the 50s. In the 60s, I listened to him on WADO (1280 AM).
NOW IT'S YOUR TURN
I've shown you mine; now you show me yours. If you've got a relevant fan club card from the period, why not send me a scan of it and let's share it with the world. Please keep it reasonably small; I don't want multi-megabyte files showing up in my mail. Up to half a meg is reasonable.
Here's what's come in so far:
Ramon "I Am The" Bruce - While I'm aware of him today, I can't honestly say I ever heard of him in the 50s. At the time of this card, which was probably late 1955, he was on WAAT (970 AM) in Newark, New Jersey, He had recently been on WNJR (1430 AM, also out of Newark). One of his sponsors was Flap's After Hours Record Bar (at 2100 7th Avenue, at the corner of 125th Street). Lexy "Flap" Hanford was the owner of the After Hours and Chariot labels (as in: Vibranaires). By February 1958, The Bruce had relocated to KSAY, in San Francisco. Courtesy of Ferdie Gonzalez. Special thanks to Al Trommers.
The Flamingos - Unfortunately, this card is from the 70s. Boy, would I like to see a Flamingos fan club card from the 50s (that should probably be taken as a hint to anyone from Chicago). The good news is that it is signed by Zeke Carey. Courtesy of Ferdie Gonzalez.
George "Hound Dog" Lorenz - The leading DJ in Buffalo, New York in the 50s. He was mostly on WKBW (1520 AM). Interestingly, he was managed by Lew Platt, who was Alan Freed's manager in the early days. Thanks to Marty Biniasz and thanks to Gino Alfano for pointing this one out.
Zacherly (The Cool Ghoul) - Host of TV's Shock Theater (admit it, you watched it too) was the alter ego of John Zacherle. Each week, he showed classic 30s and 40s horror films, which he interrupted with the most wonderful bizarre nonsense. (Nowadays, I suppose I'd rather watch Elvira, but I was younger then.) Since he also had a hit record ("Dinner With Drac"), I have no problem including him here. Thanks to Jim Knusch (Prof Kinema).
Bandstand - This was the start of Bandstand. In September 1952, the show debuted, over Philadelphia's WFIL-TV, with Bob Horn as host. A single-market show, it was doing well by 1956, when Horn was arrested for drunken driving. Then his troubles really started, when trumped-up charges about sex with an underage girl were leveled. Guilty or not, all this ended his career with Bandstand. After that, Dick Clark took over, but it was never the same. Thanks to Al Kelly, who worked at WFIL after school.
Jerry Blavat - The Geater With The Heater started as a dancer on Bob Horn's Bandstand. His career was as varied as being Danny and the Juniors' road manager, Don Rickles' valet, and one of the founders of Lost Nite Records. This card is from the early 60s, when Jerry was a DJ on WCAM (1310 AM), in Camden, New Jersey.Thanks to Keely Stahl
KWIZ - 1480 AM - Marty Goldberg (no relation), with whom I used to work at Citibank, once lived in Los Angeles and got this card from KWIZ (in Santa Ana) in the 70s. At that time, the station had Spider MacLean, Ed Nix, Danny Martinez, Bob Shannon, Charlie Fox, and Jim Bain. It's since become a Spanish station (Radio Exitos). Thanks to Marty Goldberg.
King O' Clubs Rhythm and Blues Fan Club - Absolutely no idea what this one was all about. It's dated 1959, so we at least have the era. The circle is a removable pin (the printing under the pin is the same as on the pin, only in black and white). Ricky Mello was a guy in the Cape Cod area that Victor bought records from, but there's no known story attached to it. Is there anyone out there who can tell us what it is? Thanks to Victor Pearlin.
Alan Freed - Here he is: the "King Of Rock & Roll". Even if it was blatant self-promotion, you probably wouldn't be reading this today if it weren't for him. Originally making a lot of noise in Cleveland, he came to New York's WINS (1010 AM) in September 1954. I discovered him in the Spring of 1955, and my life was "changed forever" (to coin a phrase). This primitive-looking card is some sort of counterfeit, since the flip contains a poor black and white copy of Freed's 1958 Topps bubble gum card (which used the photo that appears on the right) and he'd been legally enjoined from using the name "Moondog" soon after coming to New York. Thanks to Judy Freed and the Alan Freed web site. Thanks also to John A. Jackson, and to Seth Kaminsky for pointing out that the card was never something issued by Freed.
And say, gang, since it's kinda apropos, here's a photo of Moondog that I took around 1960. This is the guy who kept Alan Freed from using the "Moondog" name in New York. He was a street person, but was able to show the courts a contract, under the name "Moondog", that was dated a couple of years before Freed started using the term. His real name was Louis Thomas Hardin. It's a good bet that when I took this shot I didn't even know that Freed had called himself "Moondog" before coming to New York (heck, I probably didn't even know that Freed had been in Cleveland!). The second Freed fan club card, on the right, was probably from late 1956 or early 1957. Thanks to Albert Simmel for the card.
Gay Tunes Fan Club - This is the Gay Tunes in their Joyce days. The card attempts to identify the members, but it claims that their names read top to bottom, while their pictures aren't in a line! Anyone know who's who?. As far as I know, the group had been completely revamped from their Timely days. (The Timely members were: Earl "Chubby" Kirton, Waymon "Butterman" Carey, Harry Pinchback, Fred Davis, and Harry Hutchinson on guitar.) I don't know if the Freddy in the photo is Fred Davis, but the only other member who carried over to Joyce seems to be Earl Kirton. Thanks to Tony D'Ambrosio.
Not a fan club card, but a poster advertising the personnel on Newark, New Jersey's WNJR (1430 AM) from around 1956. It was "America's greatest Rhythm and Blues station" (well, they said so, didn't they?). Jim Ameche, brother of actor Don Ameche, was an announcer; Zenas Sears was heard on tape from Atlanta; and Danny "Cat Man" Styles was a radio fixture, who passed away around 2011 at age 90. There's also Morris "Juice On The Loose" Wilson, Jocko Maxwell (can't say I remember him; he isn't the more famous Jocko Henderson), Hal "Doc" Wade, and, of course, George Hudson. Thanks to Lou Rallo.
Sandra Kessler shared the Bell Hops fan club card. She relates that she lived in Laurelton, Queens, New York and dated the guy on the left a couple of times in the late 50s. Although "I can't even remember his name... I remember I pestered him for a card." The problem is that there were two Bell Hops groups around at the time. One of them recorded for the Barb and Lido labels, the other one for Tin Pan Alley (that group eventually became the Voxpoppers). Anyone know which group this is a photo of? Thanks to Sandra Kessler.
Here's an oddball one. It's not a fan club card, but Bo Diddley's New York City Cabaret License, needed in order to perform in nightclubs and bars within the city. (If you weren't careful, your card would be confiscated and you wouldn't be able to perform in NYC. This regulation was on the books from 1943 to 1967.) There's no date on the front, but it was issued around 1960. Note that it's signed with his real name, Ellas McDaniel.
SETH KAMINSKY'S CARDS
Here are a bunch of cards collected by Seth Kaminsky (Rockards@aol.com) over the years. Seth would like to correspond with other collectors of fan club cards, to try to fill in the many gaps and unanswered questions that abound.
Chuck Berry Fan Club - Interesting because it not only has a color photo on the back, but because Chuck is shirtless. That would never have been allowed in the 50s. Couple this with the lack of a zip code on the address and I'd have to date this to around 1964, when he had hits with "Nadine" and "No Particular Place To Go." Zip codes had started in July 1963, but weren't mandatory yet. Thanks to Seth Kaminsky
Little Richard Fan Club - A Canadian fan club card from Quebec. The back side is blank. Thanks to Seth Kaminsky
Del Vikings Fan Club - The photo on the back indicates that the card is from their Mercury years. Thanks to Seth Kaminsky
Teenchords Fan Club - It's interesting that their names are a mess. Lewis Lymon, Ralph Vaughn, and Lyndon Harold are all identified by their first names; David Little, is referred to as "Little"; and Rossilio Rocca is called "Roco." Thanks to Seth Kaminsky
Spaniels Fan Club - The photo is from late 1954, after Opal Courtney, Jr had left. There's a guitarist named Jerome Henderson who's at the bottom of the actual photo, but who didn't make it to the picture on the card.Thanks to Seth Kaminsky
Six Teens Fan Club - The flip of the card contains the standard Six Teens photo. Thanks to Seth Kaminsky
El Dorados Fan Club - Once again, the flip of the card contains a standard photo of the El Dorados. Thanks to Seth Kaminsky
Shirley & Lee Fan Club - Once again, a standard photo on the flip of the card (although, since they were from New Orleans and their record label was from Los Angeles, I'm surprised that the photo has a New York credit). Thanks to Seth Kaminsky
Moonglows Fan Club - A really unattractive card. The Moonglows' name is misspelled as "Moon-Glows," the color is too dark (making the text harder to read), and there's nothing on the flip. The Moonglows deserved better. Thanks to Seth Kaminsky
Al Hibbler Fan Club - A giant in the recording industry for a brief time. Blind from birth, he'd been the vocalist with the Duke Ellington Orchestra from 1943 to 1951, when he recorded with Johnny Hodges and Count Basie. In 1955, he began an association with Decca Records and had, what has always been to me, the definitive version of "Unchained Melody" (the theme from the movie "Unchained", which at least 7 people have seen since its release [I'm not one of them]). Thanks to Seth Kaminsky
Roy Hamilton Fan Club - Another giant who blurred the lines between Rhythm & Blues, Rock & Roll, and Pop, Roy had a monster hit in 1954 with a powerful rendition of "You'll Never Walk Alone." Never in very good health, Roy had to take a year off in 1956 to combat tuberculosis. He died, from a stroke, in 1969; he was only 40. Thanks to Seth Kaminsky