April 9, 1966: Billboard announces the release of a certain Tune-Tone LP (about which more in a second). Several months later, in the October 22 issue of the same year, the Billboard announcement is repeated (for whatever reasons) and the said LP was awarded a mediocre 3-star rating; the album was categorised as »popular«. After that, we hear nothing more of the said LP.
|Tune-Tone LP # 121 (04/1966)|
Bonnie Davis (this being her stage name; for the law she was Gertrude Melba Smith) was born in New Orleans and grew up in Alabama. She met pianist Clem(ent) Moorman in or around 1942 when both worked in Newark. Clem was playing at the local Piccadilly Club, forming the house band, i.e. a trio made up of himself (piano), Al Henderson (bass), and Ernie Ransome (guitar). They soon became the Piccadilly Pipers, Al Henderson was replaced by Henry Padgette, and that's how they finally encountered Bonnie Davis. Bonnie on the other hand was around Newark as a singer with saxophonist Teddy Hill's band and in 1942, when the Piccadilly Pipers were looking for a female singer, all teamed up together. Early on, they also recorded as the »Bunny Banks Trio«. Their first sessions with Savoy produced a #1 R&B hit (»Don't Stop Now«), and their follow-up records during the 1940's were likewise more or less successful. But it was only in 1949 that the group appeared officially, for the first time, as »Bonnie Davis And Clem«. -- Well, this is just a digest of a much longer and more interesting story which was researched in detail by Marv Goldberg (read it here: »The Piccadilly Pipers«). Equally informative proved a long entry at Google Answers, read it here. There, reference is also made to the study of Barbara J. Kukla: Swing City: Newark Nightlife, 1925-50, Philadelphia 1991 (I haven't checked this reference).
|The Piccadilly Pipers (feat. Bonnie Davis)|
|Publicity shots of Bonnie Davis, from the 1950's|
- A1 No Man Is An Island
- A2 Basin Street
- A3 The Heart Of A Fool
- A4 You're Nobody Till Somebody Loves You
- A5 Madeira
- A6 All I Want Is You
- B1 Just A Little Lovin'
- B2 Exodus
- B3 Capucciana
- B4 Moonlight In Vermont
- B5 When I Lost You
- B6 It's Alright With Me
Bonnie & Clem: »All I Want Is You« / »Just A Little Lovin'« from the Tune-Tone LP # 121 (1966):
* * *Anyhow, there are still two things to consider here, one biographical and the other musical.
The biographical bit: It may not be remembered generally that Gertrude Melba Smith (aka Bonnie Davis) is the mother of known singer Melba Moore. However, the surrounding details are somewhat unclear: Both Bonnie and Clem said later that they fell in love the moment they met in Newark, that is, in 1942 at the latest. Melba was born in 1945 while Bonnie was married still to Teddy Hill (the bandleader of her for- mer engagement), and Melba was nine when Bonnie remarried Clem Moorman. So was she married before to Clem, divorced him sometime before 1945 and remarried him in c.1954? Or maybe the mention of a remarriage is a mistake and Bonnie actually married Clem for the first time in c.1954, although they had been in love for a considerable time before. Melba, in any case, later acknowledged to have been much influenced by her stepfather Clem and even took her stage name »Moore« from Clem's family name »Moorman« (while »Melba« refers, obviously, to her mother). In the July 1970 issue of Ebony (p. 31), we read the following about Melba Moore:
As a child growing up in New York and Newark, she was "turned on" to show biz by her parents, both of whom performed with a group called the Piccadilly Pipers. "I met a lot of people through them," Melba relates, "for they have a great facility for making friends wherever they go. My initial impulse was to get into nightclubs singing and playing the piano, since that's what they do, and I thought I could get started in that most easily. My brothers, my sister and I were all musically inclined and we enjoyed taking lessons. At one time I was really heavy into jazz piano."
The musical bit: There is one song on this LP, another duet, entitled »Capucciana« (which Bonnie & Clem consistently pronounce »Capuccina«). It obviously is meant to be a funny pun on cappuccino and is partly sung in Italian, one of the myriad of pseudo-Italian songs popular in the early 1960's and impossibly kitschy for my personal taste (but well-suited to a supper club audience which presumably had often its fair share of nostalgic Italo-Americans). Now, there is no such song, really, as »Capucciana«,and the song is little more than an adaption of Nicola Arigliano's hit single »Permettete, Signorina« from 1960. The Italian parts run, in case it is of interest:
Vi dispiace se vi chiedo di ballar
Non c'e' bimba piu' carina
Che mi possa questa sera far sognar ... ... ...
O mia bella signorina
Dammi dammi un bacio
Un lungo bacio
E ciao ciao ciao amor!
Bonnie & Clem: »Capucciana« from the Tune-Tone LP # 121 (1966):
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