By ‘Bob The Record Guy’ Paxon
This week’s 45 Friday is a follow-up to Elmer’s post on Carl LaRue & His Crew from a couple weeks back. That tune was “Please Don’t Drive Me Away”, the second release on Buffalo’s own KKC label. LaRue and his associate Babe Wayne recorded two others for KKC and their friend Jimmie Raye recorded two more, including one that’s considered a classic by soul connoisseurs worldwide. Here’s a bit of background on the label and this group of artists.
In 1962 local fledgling R&B singer Jimmie Raye was freshly out of the Air Force when he attended a concert in Buffalo by Babe Wayne. Wardell Peterson was a fourteen year old who danced, sang and played the drums. As a ‘kid entertainer’ he had been called “Baby Wayne Peterson” which became “Babe Wayne” by the time he recorded.
At this show Jimmie met Kim Kimbrough, a manager and aspiring record label owner. Kim was working with Babe – he was in the process of putting out a record by him, on his new KKC (Kim Kimbrough Co) label. This was KKC 101, There’ll Never Be Kissin’ Time/That’s Where It’s At, credited to BABE WAYNE.
Kim also worked with Carl LaRue & His Crew and he was forming a plan to take them to audiences that had never seen authentic American R&B artists in person – up North. He planned a Canadian tour and soon had an offer for a residency for an R&B revue. The revue became Babe Wayne, Jimmie Raye, and Carl LaRue, all backed by LaRue’s Crew. The residency was at “The Twisting House” in Port Collins on Lake Erie which became home base for their Canadian Invasion.
The Crew had originally consisted of LaRue (keyboards), Arlester “Dyke” Christian (bass), Alvester “Pig” Jacobs (guitar), and Willie Earl on drums. When Jimmie hooked up with them he brought in two guys from a band he’d had in his Air Force days – the Blue Mooners – “Jazzmo” (tenor sax) and Thurman Hockaday (drum)- according to Jimmie. Other sources mention a Tyrone Huckaby (sax).
Along the way two more 45s were released. KKC 102 was Monkey Hips And Oyster Stew / Please Don’t Drive Me Away, credited to CARL LaRUE & HIS CREW. KKC 103 was Swingin’ In Canada / Dance The Whiz Wosh, credited to BABE WAYNE with CARL LaRUE & HIS CREW.
Following their time in Canada there was some disagreement over where to make their next move. Kim and Jimmie wanted to take the show to New York City while Carl and the others had their eyes on the West. They split up and went to investigate the opportunities. Jimmie and Kim went to New York City, via Pittsburg. Carl took Dyke, Piggy, Hockaday and Jazzmo to Los Angeles.
Not finding much to do in L.A., Carl and Dyke took up an offer from former Buffalonian Eddie O’Jay to come to Phoenix, where he worked as a disc jockey and had brought the vocal group he managed The O’Jays (yes, they were named after their manager!). Eventually the O’Jays, yet to hit the big time, went their own way and the Buffalo guys were stranded in Arizona. Carl returned to Buffalo and some of the others also, but Dyke replenished their ranks with members of a local group, The Blazers, and they became Dyke & The Blazers.
For the West Coast branch of the KKC family, the rest is ‘Funky Broadway’ R&B history.
We should note that the Arizona guys were slowly replaced with Buffalo musicians Dyke knew and sent for, including Maurice ‘Little Mo’ Jones (trumpet) and Ray Byrd (keyboards), Otis Tolliver (bass, formerly of the El Tempos) who joined LaRue Crew veterans Willie Earl (drums), Babe Wayne (drums) and ‘Pig’ Jacobs (guitar).
Meanwhile on the East Coast, Kim was in New York City trying to land a deal for Jimmie Raye. Jimmie came back to Buffalo and put out a single on his own (on his Niagara label) before returning to NYC to cut a one-off single for Tuff Records. The Tuff single was released and Jimmie was moving in the right circles, with some of the leading lights of the East Coast R&B scene, but nothing was really happening. While waiting for the next label deal Kim decided to reactivate KKC to issue two more Jimmie Raye records.
KKC 001 (Philadelpia Dawg / Walked On, Stepped On, Stomped On) was released in 1965 and KKC 002 (Philly Dog Aound The World / Just Can’t Take It No More) in 1966. Neither was a ‘hit’ but in time Philly Dog Aound The World became an anthem in the Northern Soul world.
Jimmie went on to a long career with a fair degree of success. Kim Kimbrough seems to have dropped out of the scene completely after the last two KKC releases. And Babe Wayne eventually became a well-known local drummer on the jazz scene before his death in 1989.
Today’s side is Dance The Whiz Wosh. Babe sings it, LaRue’s crew play it, and Jimmie R. Feagen gets the writing credit. Mr. Feagen is actually Jimmie Raye Feagen, the real-life name of Jimmie Raye. A great title.. an interesting-sounding dance.. and even greater record!