45 Friday: LOU COURTNEY- Hot Butter N All (Part 1)


The search for info on Lou’s Buffalo background goes on unabated, but unrequited- so far.

Lots of information on his recording career and record releases is available but nothing had been known about his early life in Buffalo.

Teasing little bits of information have turned up. Someone sent me some links to news articles and each contains another piece of the puzzle. I’ll share some of the pieces with you- maybe it will lead somewhere somehow.

We know Lou was born Louis Pegues in 1944 to Louis R. and Georgia L. Pegues. A news clipping from 1946 shows the birth of a sister, and a family address of 84 Walnut.

A 1960 Courier-Express article from reveals the divorce of Lou’s parents and a new family address of 311 Madison Street.

Another Courier-Express article reveals Lou graduated from Hutchinson-Central Technical School (Hutch-Tech) in June 1962, where he studied Building Design and Construction. My guess is he probably sang with schoolmates there in an informal (pop) group, if not in a school group.

The 1966 Pittsburgh Courier has a photo of Lorraine Ellison as ‘Mercury Record’s New Singing Star’, with a dapper Mr. Courtney – described as her Recording Director – showing her some music charts. A trade publication article from 1966 discusses the signing of Walter Davis by ‘Mercury Records executive Lou Courtney’.

Most recently, a 2012 notice sadly announces the death of Timothy Terell Edwin Pegues in New York City, survived by his father Lou (now ‘Louis Pegues, Jr.’), mother Yvette Moore and two brothers. From that I assume Lou has been living in NYC.

Let’s look back to 1970 when Lou cut an amazing slice of Funk. “Hot Butter ‘N’ All” came out on a one-shot (actually two-shot) label as Hurdy Gurdy #101. It did nothing as far as sales due to its indie-label status but it has subsequently attained high status among Funk and Soul fans.

“Hot Butter ‘N’ All – Part 1” was credited to just Lou Courtney and it’s an amazing slice of hard Funk. Full of explosive energy, with hard drums and blaring horns, Lou puts it over the top with some James Brown-like screams.

The flipside, “Hot Butter ‘N’ All – Part 2”, is an instrumental version. Credited to Mr. C & Funck Junction, it’s the better-known side today because it’s perfect for mixing and sampling. Everything seems slightly ramped-up on this side which is hard to do because the Part 1 vocal version starts on a 9.5 out of 10! It seems to be mixed hotter and has some overdubbed instruments.

Proving that a good track should never go wasted, “Part 2” turns up again on the apparent only other release on Hurdy-Gurdy: “Life Is Free” by Donald Height. Height previously recorded for the Shout label, among others, but here he is uniquely also credited as ‘The Singing Preacher’. Hurdy Gurdy #C-100 uses the exact same backing track as “Hot Butter ‘N’ All – Part 2” but adds entirely new lyrics. Less is known about this tiny label than even is known about the early life of Lou Courtney so we’ll have to be content with this much – for now.

Enjoy the Funk!

45 Friday: LOU COURTNEY- Hey Joyce





By ‘Bob The Record Guy’ Paxon

I’m trying hard to track down the full Lou Courtney story, and the information I can’t find is this- what did he do in Buffalo? Before he got signed and did his first recording he must have done something in the field of music, and he must have done something good to get noticed and offered a record deal. So far no mention of him has turned up as far as local performances or membership in a group. Between the time he was born (1944, in Buffalo) and his first recordings for Imperial – either 1962 or 1963, and apparently in New York City – there is absolutely no info available, period.

I hope to have something by next week. So this is kind of a fill-in post this week, but beyond the info I hope to uncover maybe someone will come forward with some knowledge. I need to know, because we need to make the case for his induction into the Buffalo Music Hall Of Fame. He had a 15-year career with some fantastic soul and funk 45s for at least four major labels, and three chart hits – yet info is surprisingly scanty. What little there is comes mainly from across the Atlantic. He’s pretty much unhonored in his home country, much less his home town.

Another interesting facet to Lou is that early on (when still quite young) he was as much a songwriter as a soul singer. And by the mid-1960s he had added ‘producer’ to his resume. Many of his behind the scenes efforts stretched outside of the Soul and R&B fields into the Pop and Rock field. He wrote or cowrote songs for British Invasion artists like Freddie & the Dreamers and the Nashville Teens and pop singers like , Leslie Gore. On the Soul side his songs were recorded by Mary Wells, Gloria Gaynor, Henry Lumpkin, Lorraine Ellison and Dee Dee Warwick. He wrote AND produced three of the Webs records – for Popside and Verve – and I have the feeling he discovered that group and brought them to Popside.

Maybe the most important credit to Lou is that his mid-1960s records for Riverside and it’s subsidiary Popside are among the first Soul records to have Funk elements. He’s certainly there right alongside James Brown at the birth of The Funk.

October 1967 saw the release of the record that’s highly regarded by both the Funk / Soul crowd and the sampler/ beatdigger/ mixoloist crowd. ‘Hey Joyce’ starts off on the right foot with a funky drum break which was later famously sampled by DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist and appears on a seminal Brainfreeze breaks record.

All the while Lou continued working in a variety of styles from Deep Soul to mainstream soul to ballads, alongside the funk.  The last thing I can find on him is work as a backup singer on a mid-70s session with Bonnie Raitt, although the UK magazine New Music Express reports that on rare occasions he has come out of retirement to perform one-off live shows.

More next week!

45 Friday: LOU COURTNEY- Little Old Love Maker


By ‘Bob The Record Guy’ Paxon

Louis Russell Pegues was born in Buffalo in 1944. His songwriting credits are often as Louis Pegues – but he’s best known under his performing name of Lou Courtney. Unlike most of the Soul/ R&B artists associated with Buffalo, he WAS actually born here. But like all of the rest he had to go elsewhere to make it in the music business.

He made his first record for Imperial Records in 1962 or 1963. He was still a teenager. Imperial 66006 was the first (Come On Home/ The Man With The Cigar) but Imperial 66043 was the best, a killer Soul two-sider (Professional Lover / Little Old Love Maker), This came as Soul was really just getting off the ground as a separate music from the R&B which gave it birth. You can hear some of Gospel roots in it.

He moved to Phillips for a one-off release in 1965 (I Watched And Slowly You Slipped Away / l Cry If I Want To) and then found a home at the usually jazz-oriented Riverside records where he recorded the dance tracks songs which brought him the most fame – the ‘Skate’ and ‘Shing A Ling’ dancers. 1966 to 1968 saw him release two 45s and an LP on Riverside proper and three on the newly-created Pop offshoot Popside. The biggest of these were 1966’s Skate Now which hit #13 on the R&B chart and #70 on the Pop chart, and 1967’s Do The Thing (#17 R&B, #80 pop).

This, and most of his work at this time, foresees the harder Funk which grew out of Soul.

At the same time he followed in the footsteps of people like Donnie Elbert by working behind the scenes. His songs were recorded by artists like Mary Wells and Chubby Checker (as ‘Louis Pegues’) and he co-wrote with the legendary Pop and Soul producer Dennis Lambert. His group work included a period as studio lead vocalist with the Packers (of Hole In The Wall / Go ‘Head On fame), and later with his own group Buffalo Smoke (1976 -great name, that!), and finally as a member of The 5th Dimension.

His solo recording career never really ended though, and he was prolific! 1968 saw him at Verve for a couple releases (including another dance track, Do The Horse). He went to Buddah Records in 1968. Tryin’ To Find My Woman’ didn’t chart at the time but like many similar records became a cult favorite later on, on the Northern Soul scene. Along the way there were a couple of one-off minor label releases which also didn’t click with the record-buying public.

He had a decent comeback in 1973 when he signed to Epic Records. With producer Jerry Ragovoy he hit with What Do You Want Me To Do (#48 R&B) and I Don’t Need Nobody Else (#67 R&B). Other Epic releases didn’t chart – singles and an album.

A few more releases followed – as Buffalo Smoke, single and album releases on RCA in 1976; and finally on Motown Records as a member of The 5th Dimension on the albums High on Sunshine and Star Dancing. Following these, he effectively disappeared from the music business.