Sunday, April 3, 2011

New Oldies - I Never Knew What Love Was Like by Al Hartley And The Heartbeats


I've only been able to find out a little bit about this guy, but I'm still digging. He was born around Athens, Georgia, probably around 1940. His real name is Allen Hartley Turpin. The members of the Heartbeats were Richard Turpin, Mike Castellon, Butch Bohannon, and Ronnie Hurley.



Al became well known for playing in the Big Hugh Baby Hops, which were put on by WFOM dee jay Hugh "Baby" Jarrett. Hugh had been a member of the Jordanaires, the group that backed Elvis Presley, up until around the time Elvis joined the Army. Donny Whitehead played saxophone for the Heartbeats for a while. He had been a member of the Jesters, and also played with Judge And Jury and the Embers in the Athens area.

This song was written by Richard Turpin, probably Allen's brother, who was also the drummer with the band. It was released on Hermitage 773 in 1962 and is worth around $75 to Teener collectors today.

If you can add anything else to this story, please let me know. I can tell you that this is NOT the famous Al Hartley who made comic books, nor is it Al Hart who recorded a single for Mercury records. Al Hart was "The Voice of KCBS News" in San Francisco for over 50 years. I'm hoping to track down more info about Allen Hartley Turpin through his grandson, who has a few videos posted on YouTube showing off his talents as a self-taught piano player. If that information is correct, he apparently inherited some of his grandfather's musical talent!

6 comments:

  1. Hi, Al was my cousin. His mother and my mother were sisters and Al was close in age to my mother. The actual spelling of Richard and Al's last name is "Turpen". I am not quite sure why it was spelled Turpin on their records. Al has 1 son Renny, who is the father of Cody Turpen, the grandson of Al, who you have seen in videos on YouTube. He has a channel on YouTube called the MoneyCrunchTree that has his original recordings off his CD. He can be found performing in the Valdosta, GA area. Hope this helps!

    Lisa

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  2. love this song, reminder of how much there is to learn about all the music out there, particularly from the 60s.

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  3. Many thanks to Ort Carlton of Athens Georgia for adding this important new information:

    Allen H. Turpen shows up in the Social Security Death Index! He is shown as having been born on January 24, 1943 and died on May 15, 1999. His last residence is cited as Riverdale, Georgia.
    He had two other records: one on Limelight in 1964 or 1965 and one on Capitol in 1966. Another single attributed to Al Hartley may be his as well: it's on the Scarlet label, and is from 1959.
    Hope this helps.

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    1. I played saxophone for Al for about a year and a half. As best I remember he was playing at Moina Michael AUditorium in Athens around 1964 and was backing up Ronnie Milsap when I sat in with him. As best I can remember it was a Big Hugh Baby Hop that night. AL offered me a job and I took it. My parents would allow me to drive to Winder where we played at least twice a month at local roller rink.But for jobs around Atlanta my uncle or friends of the family who were fans of Al would drive me. Sometimes Al and I rode together. He was such a nice man and I will always remember him. I saw him a couple of years before he passed away in Athens where he was playing. It was so good to see him. In May of 1999 I attended the graveside service here in Athens.That was a chapter of my life that I will always treasure. Al was a great musician, singer, and friend.RIchard and AL were quite a team and had a really great band. I was and am honored to have been a part of The Heartbeats.
      Donny Whitehead

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  4. The Al Hartley records I know about are:

    Hold On / Mr Brown on Lowery 008
    Debbie / Our First Date on Scarlet 4000 from 1959
    I Never Knew What Love Was Like / Ev'ry Little Teardrop on Hermitage 773 from 1962
    Ain't You Glad It's Summertime / Counterfeit Love on Limelight 3027 from 1964
    Sugarcane / I'm Only A Man on Capitol 5744 from 1966

    There's also a record by Al Hart on Mercury, but that's a totally different guy - a disc jockey in Shreveport, Louisiana at KTBS Radio who became the voice of KCBS News in San Francisco for over 50 years.

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  5. Felton (Butch) BohannonJanuary 5, 2015 at 8:56 PM

    I played on Counterfeit Love, Ain't You Glad It's Summertime, and a minor track on Mr. Brown. Best I remember, Mr. Brown was never released, although Cotton Carrier, Bill Lowery's partner, had some pressings in his files. Bob Richardson was the engineer on all the cuts we made at Mastersound Studios in Doraville, GA. The opening bass bow-bow-bow sounds on the opening of Ain't You Glad It's Summertime are made by Hugh Jarrett, who put up half the money with Bill Lowery footing the other half, to produce the record.

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