45 Friday: BABE WAYNE with CARL LaRUE & HIS CREW – Dance The Whiz Wosh

45-Friday_4

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!

 

45 Friday: JIMMIE RAYE – You Don’t Want My Love

45-Friday_4

By Bob ‘The Record Guy’ Paxon

We previously talked about Jimmie Raye and his 1966-67 releases – “Philly Dog Around The World” on KKC Records and “You Must Be Losing Your Mind” on JRE Records. If you want to know more about those releases or that period, search back on this site. Today we’ll talk about his earlier years and his 1963 release.

Jimmie grew up in Niagara Falls. By the time he returned to WNY after a stint in the Air Force, he had heard a lot of music and performed a bit. In 1962 Jimmie met Kim Kimbrough, owner of KKC Records, and the bunch of R&B performers in his circle- Babe Wayne, Arlester (Dyke) Christian, Carl LaRue & His Crew. They decided to join forces and worked the clubs following north of the border of the Niagara Frontier, developing a strong reputation in Ontario. Realizing that the only way to take the next step up in the music business was to go to its business centers on either the West or East coasts, the band was torn about which way to go. In the end most of them went West, where they eventually became Dyke & The Blazers, and Jimmie and Kim Kimbrough went East.

While Kim knocked on record company doors, Jimmie worked the Washington, D.C., area, meeting the D.C.-based performers Don Covay, “Sir” Mack Rice, Billy Stewart and Eddie Floyd, who led him to the local Satan Records and his obscure first 45, “Hey Let’s Dance.”  Jimmie’s site mentions Sylvester Steward as the man behind this label and record. If that is indeed Sly, later Sly of The Family Stone, it’s unexpected (I would have expected him to be on the West Coast at that time) but maybe not… he was working all kinds of angles back then, trying to make a hit and break into the business.

When nothing came of this 45, Jimmie went back to WNY to record “You Don’t Want My Love” / “I Kept On Walking” on his own Niagara label. I don’t know much about this record except that it was recorded in Buffalo and is in that transitional style between R&B and Soul.

Soon he was in NYC, taking advantage of the connections they’d made there to record his classic Soul sides.

There was of course much more to come in his career- paths crossed many stars and superstars; records that almost hit; records that failed THEN and are considered classics by Soul mavens NOW. He continued recording, sporadically but somewhat consistently; every few years a new project would get him excited. In the 1970s he recorded everything from an obscure local-only 45 to albums for national release. His 1980s rediscovery by UK and European Soul fans led to live appearances and a whole new career. He released a CD of new material in 2004 (recorded 1987)

In 1980, the Mayor of Niagara Falls gave Jimmie the key to the city. It seems that wherever his career took him, the Niagara region stayed close to his heart.