By Bob ‘The Record Guy’ Paxon
Last week we talked about Rochester Rock’n’Roll singer Jerry Jaye on Buffalo’s Label Records label. This week we’ll look at one of the other two releases on Label Records, that by the Four Ekkos.
I don’t know a whole lot about the Four Ekkos. I’m not even sure of their names. As usual that’s not going to deter me from sharing with you what I DO know! Hopefully, as sometimes happens, someone will com eout of the woodwork with more info.
The Ekkos first hit a recording studio when they backed Rochester Rockabilly vocalist Jerry Engler on his 1957 Space Age-themed “Sputnik (Satellite Girl)”, receiving a label credit along the way – ‘Jerry Engler & The Four Ekkos’. This was cut at Rochester’s Fine Recordings but picked up and issued by Brunswick Records. [I covered this record in a long-ago article.]
Engler later was befriended by Brunswick labelmate Buddy Holly after they both performed at a legendary Rochester War Memorial show. At that same show, a young Ersel Hickey met the Everly Brothers backstage and got the excellent advice to write a song, as the ticket to success Rock’N’Roll game.
Next for the Ekkos was a release on Rip Records (a cool-looking label, with a ripsaw blade for a logo!). The address for Rip is given on the label as Los Angeles but the only two records that I know of on it are Rochester artists so I think this is merely marketing. A trade ad of the time gives addresses of Rip Records as both Rochester and Hollywood. I have a feeling the only thing they had on the West Coast was someone redirecting mail to Rochester!
“Toodaloo Kangaroo” b/w “My Love I Give” was released in 1958, as by The Four Ekko’s [sic]. “Toodaloo Kangaroo” was credited to Robert Genovese. Genovese (aka Bobby Geno) may have been an actual member of the Ekkos. If not he was likely the arranger and guitarist on the track.
Bobby was the guitarist with Frank DeRosa’s band. He played on their hit “Big Guitar” which was first released on the local Ken Records label, later picked and charted by Dot Records; still later covered by Owen Bradley. On one of his other records he’s referred to as ‘Mr. Big Guitar’.
Bobby and his brother Sonny Geno (Sonny Genovese) were musicians around town. They did some work as on-call sessions musicians for Fine Recordings, where I believe the Ken Records recording sessions were held. I learned from Steve Foehner after last week’s article was completed that Bobby and Sonny were the musicians on the Jerry Jaye 45, recorded at Fine.
The early R&R scene in Rochester was small one, where everybody knew everybody. Per Steve Foehner again (thanks Steve!): Steve Alaimo, Ersel Hickey, and Jerry Jaye all played together. And they hung out together at a Duke Spinner’s Rochester music store which is where Vince Jan (Fine Recordings) discovered them.
The only other name I can suggest as a possible Four Ekkos member is the K. Reinhardt who wrote the other side of the Rip Records 45.
That brings us to today’s record. Their third and last, it was released in 1959 on Buffalo’s Label Records and was a moderate hit locally. There’s no writers listed for either “Hand In Hand” or “Think Twice” and no other further info to help us solve this case. That leaves us with just the music. “Hand In Hand” is a good R&R vocal group effort. Enjoy!