Sunday, October 11, 2009

Rush It Over to the Radio Station!

I love the stories from the early days of rock 'n' roll where record producers rush the singles over to the local record station to get them on the air right away. The most famous of these is undoubtedly Sam Phillips taking Elvis Presley's first single "That's All Right" (which, as we all know, had "Blue Moon of Kentucky" on the B-side) over to Dewey Phillips (no relation) at WHBQ, where Dewey Phillips played in 14 times in a row.

In the obituary for country record producer Shelby Singleton, there's a similar story about Jeannie C. Riley's breakthrough hit:
Perhaps [Jerry Kennedy's] most memorable session working with Mr. Singleton, he said, was the one that produced “Harper Valley P.T.A.”

The song, a sendup of small-town hypocrisy written by Tom T. Hall, became a No. 1 pop and country hit for Mr. Singleton’s Plantation label in 1968. It also made Jeanne Carolyn Stephenson, an aspiring singer whose name Mr. Singleton changed to Jeannie C. Riley for the session, an overnight sensation.

“He was so sure that he had something magic with that one that he had an acetate of it made just as soon as the session was over,” said Mr. Kennedy, who played the indelible Dobro guitar part on the record. That evening Mr. Singleton got the music into the hands of Ralph Emery, a tastemaking disc jockey at WSM in Nashville, and by the following morning it was making its way up the charts.
Today, I guess the rush is to get new songs up on YouTube or your own website or maybe a tastemaking blog.

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