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Who was/is Dave 'Baby' Cortez ? - CDs, Vinyl LPs, DVD and more


Dave 'Baby' Cortez

The Happy Organ

Dave 'Baby' Cortez

The Happy Organ

David Cortez Clowney (born August 13, 1938 in Detroit) was almost an R&B veteran by the time he scored his first hit. He was a member of several vocal groups, including the Five Pearls aka the Pearls (with whom he recorded for Aladdin, Atco, and Onyx in the mid-1950s), the Valentines, and the Jesters. Clowney wrote, arranged, sang, and recorded some piano instrumentals, but he was a backing musician for Little Anthony & the Imperials when he came up with a number he called The Dog And The Cat.

It was intended to be a vocal-piano number, but, as Cortez himself explained, “The vocal didn’t come off in the studio. I saw an organ in the corner, and said, ‘Hey, let me try the organ.’ People thought of the organ as a church instrument. I was the first one to use it commercially.” Now, of course, he wasn’t the first to use it commercially (Jimmy Smith was already a jazz sensation on the Hammond organ, and the instrument was heavily used on easy listening albums), but, with the exception of Bill Doggett, it was an unusual instrument in R&B at that time. There’s more to the story, though. Cortez apparently turned up hoarse, and, according to co-producer Doug Moody, tried The Dog And The Cat on the organ at the suggestion of the engineer. At some point, Clowney and the backing crew (including Jimmy Spruill on guitar) improvised a new number that Moody called The Happy Organ. It seemed to be loosely based on Shortnin’ Bread, and, says Moody, it was faded early because Clowney began hitting bum notes.

The Happy Organ rose to the very top of the pop charts, paving the way for other organ-led instrumental groups like Johnny & the Hurricanes and Bill Black’s Combo. The record appeared on the Clock label, owned by an expatriate Briton, Walter Moody (who was also co-composer ‘Ken Wood’). The third listed composer was the Austrian-born photographer James J. Kriegsmann, who owned a share of an affiliated music publishing company and presumably supplied promo shots. Walter also worked for Herald/Ember Records in an A&R capacity, as did his son, Doug, who later ran west coast A&R for Mercury and launched a punk label, Mystic. Doug and Walter, incidentally, claimed to have invented the rock ‘n’ roll compilation when they were with Herald. Late in 1957, they released a various artists album, ‘Herald The Beat,’ as a favor to a dee-jay who had to go to the bathroom a lot, and could thus spin the album during his potty breaks.

(Acknowledgments to John Broven’s interview with Doug Moody in the Ace CD, ‘Happy Organs, Wild Guitars, And Piano Shuffles’).

 

Various - Blowing The Fuse 1959

Classics That Rocked The Jukebox


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More information about Dave 'Baby' Cortez on de.Wikipedia.org
 
 
   
 
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