Who was/is The Hollywood Flames ? - CDs, Vinyl LPs, DVD and more
The Hollywood Flames
Eight years after he founded The Hollywood Flames with tenors David Ford and Willie Ray Rockwell and baritone Curlee Dinkins (he sang bass, though you'd never know it from his later sides), Robert Byrd - Bobby Day on his own singles for Leon Rene's Class label - was just about out of there to embark on a solo career.
Before he left, he wrote Buzz-Buzz-Buzz (alleged co-writer John Gray was actually John Dolphin, Los Angeles record store owner and boss of the Recorded in Hollywood, Lucky, Cash, and Money labels, all of which the Flames cut for under various names during their incredibly confusing early years). Byrd didn't sing lead on the catchy sax-driven rocker; that honor went to tenor Earl Nelson, who'd joined the Flames in the mid-'50s (Ford and Dinkins were still aboard). Buzz-Buzz-Buzz was the group's first single on Ebb Records, an L.A. imprint owned by Lee Rupe, Specialty label boss Art Rupe's ex-wife. It cracked the R&B listings in November of '57, sailing to #5 on 'Billboard's' R&B 'Jockey' charts and a lofty #11 pop. Its flip, Crazy, was first recorded back in 1955 on Cash as by The Voices.
The Flames would continue to double as The Satellites, Day's backing group on Class, but his spot in the actual group was assumed by ex-Colts bass Don Wyatt. They stayed on Ebb for eight more singles stretching into 1959 (Nelson was their primary lead), then moved their base of operations to New York when they signed with Atco for four releases that took them into late 1960. Gee, their only release on Chess in 1961, turned out to be a #26 R&B seller with new tenor Donald Height up front (he'd go on to minor soul stardom himself). 45s for Goldie, Coronet, Vee-Jay, and Symbol completed the Flames' massive discography. By then, Ford was the only original left; ex-Rainbows member John Berry had joined the group in 1962.
Nelson liked duet partners named Bob, subsequently teaming with Bobby Relf. Still doing business as Bob & Earl, they hit in '63 with Harlem Shuffle. Earl adopted the name of Jackie Lee for solo activities; his dance workout The Duck was a #4 R&B seller on Mirwood in early 1966. Nelson died on July 12, 2008.
- Bill Dahl -
Various Street - Corner Symphonies 1957 Vol.9
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