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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Paul Jabara & Friends

Just my opinion, but I think not enough folks know about the talents of the late Paul Jabara. He died of AIDS in 1992 and while his own records may be hazy disco memories, the huge hits he wrote for others are certainly not. I was reminded by this when I dug out a couple songs by him for my June OutRadio show, prompted by wanting to do a mini-Donna Summer tribute. I chose a 1979 duet they sang called "Foggy Day / Never Lose Your Sense of Humor." 

Most do not know that Jabara gained his first fame on Broadway, in the original cast of “Hair.” He was also in the touring company version, where the cast made $160 per week, $12 more if they went nude. He was in the Los Angeles cast of “The Rocky Horror Show,” and took over Tim Curry’s lead role when Curry left to film the movie version. He was also in the 1975 film “Day of the Locust,” playing a transvestite singer.

In the mid-1970’s his recording career kicked in, doing three albums by the end of the 70’s, one of which included a very young Whitney Houston. Of more notice, and certainly commercial success, was his songwriting. In 1979 he won both a Grammy and Academy Award for the song “Last Dance,” from the film “Thank God It’s Friday.” That is one of Donna Summer’s most-remembered classics. The year 1979 also yielded hits in the form of a duet with Donna Summer and Barbra Streisand, “No More Tears (Enough Is Enough),”  and “The Main Event,” (Streisand). I love that the cover of Jabara’s 1979 release, “The Third Album,” is a direct nod to one by the same title by Streisand, in 1964. That was in fact the first Streisand LP I bought…why didn’t someone tell me then I was gay; would have saved a Lot of time.

Among many more songs recorded by others was the Diana Ross hit “Work That Body,” in 1982, and especially…one of The Gay Anthems…”It’s Raining Men.” That one, and almost the entire Weather Girls album “Success,” was co-written with Paul Shaffer, of The Letterman Show. There is an excellent "Official Site" honoring Jabara's career.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Gertrude & Alice Recordings

In our queer history it is probably Gertrude Stein and Oscar Wilde who have inspired the most works by others over the years. Shown above and below are two vinyl LPs of readings of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas. I do admit it's Alice explaining how to make hashish brownies that draws more attention.

There have been a number of recordings over the years inspired by, or even using, the works of Gertrude Stein, and a small sampling are shown below. I've set up a special page of my site with info, downloads, and much more, including songs by gay & lesbian artists about Gertrude.

A few of the gay/lesbian artists singing about Gertrude Stein

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Billie Lee, 50’s Gay Comedian

Billie Lee has at least two accomplishments, in the 1950’s he opened the first gay bar in Miami, called Billie’s Backroom, at the Mayflower Hotel; and he was a gay comedian and singer in his club and others. His only album was recorded at Billie’s Backroom, with the unmistakably risque title of “A Daisy Chain Ain’t a Piece of Jewelry.”

I’ve set up a page of my site where you can download the entire album and step back in time to sample the humor and flavor of the clubs in those days. He retired in 2000 at age 80.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Gotham, Gay Cabaret Act

Gotham was a cabaret trio formed in 1973 by Gary Herb, Michael Pace and Jonathan Morrow. David McDaniel replaced Morrow in 1975. The group was known for their comedy as much as their singing, and they became enormously successful in the 70's and 80's. An important aspect of the group was that they did it all as an openly gay act, and accordingly was the first openly gay group to play both the Kennedy Center in Washington DC (1976) and Carnegie Hall in NYC (1978). I was very pleased to have been able to do a comprehensive interview with all three members of the trio.

Above, their two LPs and 12"-er, and logo

Above, on cover of The Advocate, 1976 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

(Nearly) Naked Musicians

Sometimes when working on my website I get side tracked, like when I put together a large collage of “Naked Musicians.” The first few are shown above, and are all early shots for which the code phrase was “physique” photos. They are not really naked, of course, because in the 1950’s it was illegal to sell magazines with totally nude models.

I set up two pages on photos I collected, and they had to have a musical theme, no matter how contrived. For example, with the one below, a favorite of mine, I wasn’t really concerned if he held that guitar correctly.

Check out Page 1. And on the second page of my display I give a bit of the interesting history of this kind of photography, so don’t miss that, including our own Tab Hunter.

Friday, June 8, 2012

In GLBT Music, the B is Mostly (Lyrically) Silent.

I really doubt that in 1966 Herman’s Hermits, in their song “This Door Swings Both Ways,” were singing about bisexual love, but it’s fun to imagine it. And for the most part in our history of GLBT music, imagine is what you almost all of the time had to do to find bisexuals represented. A few years ago I did a two-part show on this subject, and I had to really, Really dig to complete those two hours.  Check them out Here. Now, I’m not talking about music by out-of-the-closet bisexuals, that’s not all that tough…I mean songs whose lyrics “go there.”

I’ll get you started. In 1968 Peter Frampton, then in a band called The Herd, sang about “Something Strange,” and the year before Mitch Ryder complained about seeing Sally, his baby, “with another girl” (as she went around those roses). In that case though, the lyrics were originally sung by a girl group, the Jaynetts, in 1963. In the 1970’s rock acts were more blatant, with Sweet and “A.C. – D.C.” and a surprising Australian hit by Supernaut, “I Like It Both Ways.” In 1980 Peter Allen winked at us with “Bicoastal,” and as time went on the bi lyrics came more out of the closet. Living Colour had a song called “Bi” in 1993, and (I know you’ve been waiting) Jill Sobule kissed a girl in 1995. Find a lot more on my site on those shows.

While I think I found good music for my two shows on the subject, I pretty much exhausted this sort-of genre, so I’m pleased to at least mention the only CD compilation I know of where the B was loud and clear. In 2003 Skott Freedman produced an excellent release called “Bi the People,” where while not all of the artists or lyrics were bi, the solidarity was there, and all proceeds went to The Bisexual Foundation, now called The American Institute of Bisexuality. A very talented array of artists contributed, such as Jill Sobule, Melissa Ferrick, Tom Robinson, Pansy Division, Laura Love, Bitch & Animal, Erin Hamilton, and nine others. You, too, can find yourself a copy, Here.