By ‘Bob The Record Guy’ Paxon
Finishing up with the Four Ekkos we have their first release proper – the first issued under their own name. This comes in-between their 1957 (debut backing local Rockabilly singer Jerry Engler) and their last 45 on Buffalo’s Label Records.
“Toodaloo Kangaroo” b/w “My Love I Give” was released in 1958, credited to The Four Ekko’s [sic]. The writer of “Toodaloo Kangaroo” was Robert Genovese. I have speculated that Genovese and/ or his brother Sonny were members of the group. Regardless it’s almost certainly Genovese’s lead guitar on the break.
Robert Genovese was known professionally as Bobby Geno. He’d been the guitarist in Rochester’s Frank DeRosa & The De-Men. He played on their 1957 recording “Big Guitar” / “Irish Rock” on Rochester’s Ken Records label. This was picked up by Dot and “Big Guitar” became a moderate hit, though it was dwarfed by 1958’s cover version by Owen Bradley Quartet.
Geno turned up next on a 45 that was owned by Buffalo radio station DJ and program director Dick Lawrence. First Records 101, “The Shawnee” (a Geno composition) b/w “Little Rock Getaway” was credited to Bobby Geno but he was noted as “Mr. Big Guitar” on the labels! The label’s logo actually reads ‘Another First’, leading some collectors to question the actual name of the company; but to me it appears to be actually First Records. Not much is known by local collectors about this label but Lawrence at one time managed both The Graduates and The Tune Rockers, both Buffalo groups.
Bobby Geno’s brother Sonny Geno was also a member of Frank DeRosa’s band. He had one single under his own name – also on Rip Records. Sonny’s 45 “Blue Skies” / “Just Be Good” gave a writing credit to Bobby who is featured on guitar.
That brings us back to today’s record. The Four Ekkos’ “Toodaloo Kangaroo” and Sonny Geno’s “Blue Skies” are the only two releases of which I’m aware on Rip, apparently a local label. Since Bobby Geno has a writing credit on both, and had probably just left the DeRosa group, I have a feeling he was a member. Aside from that, and the K. Reinhardt who wrote the other side of the Rip Records 45, I have no clues as to possible membership of the Ekkos. After their next (and last) release in 1959, nothing was ever heard fom them. I’m also not aware of any further activities of Bobby Geno. Sonny Geno ended up later in Patsy Cline’s band – playing pedal steel guitar!
Anyway, “Toodaloo Kangaroo” is a decent R&R record with an interesting feature in the middle- a vocal buildup to the guitar solo.
I welcome any further info about the Four Ekkos or the Genos, especially any other involvement in the Buffalo music scene. And any info on Rip Records, Label Records or First Records.