Friday, May 17, 2013

New Oldies: Dream Girl by Garry Miles And The Statues

Here's a really "dreamy" oldie that really should have been a big hit.

This is Dream Girl by Garry Miles And The Statues on Liberty 55279 from 1960:

The guy singing this record was born James E. Cason in Nashville, Tennessee, on 27 November 1939. His mother, Rosa, sang alto at their church. She got him involved in the youth choir there. Nicknamed "Buzz", he attended Issac Litton High School in suburban Inglewood where he became an art student, and a big fan of Elvis Presley (who wasn't in Nashville in 1956?). Buzz also had dreams of running a camera, and maybe becoming a film director one day. In his Junior year, Buzz had his first taste of show business when he was invited to lip-sync White Christmas on a TV show called the Noel Ball Saturday Showcase on WSIX-TV. Wanting to be behind the camera, Buzz was initially reluctant to do the show. But the guy organizing the show, a fellow student named Jim Seymore, talked him into it by saying, "It'll be fun and there'll be lots of girls there!"

(Note: Despite the call letters, WSIX-TV is actually channel eight. The call letters were simply a reference to the name of a tire shop, 638 Tire Company in Springfield, where two brothers, Louis and Jack Draughon worked. These guys started WSIX-AM radio in 1930, now WYFN-AM, then added Nashville's second television station, WSIX-TV, in 1953, and finally put WSIX-FM on the air in the late 1950's.)

After meeting the musicians at the Christmas show, he organized a rock and roll group called The Casuals with Buzz on lead vocals, Richard Williams on piano and backing vocals, Chester Power on accordion and piano, Johnny McCreery on guitar, and Billy Smith on drums. Buzz wrote his first song with Richard, My Love Song For You, which became their first single on Nu-Sound 801 in 1957, a label organized by Noel Ball and Buzz Cason. The song became a top 10 local hit and was issued nationally on Dot 15557. They went on the road as the backing band for The Everly Brothers in 1960. Dub Albritton heard them and singed them as the backing band for Brenda Lee. Around this time, Buzz met Bobby Russell, another Nashville native who was writing songs at Globe Recording Studio above Mom's Tavern on Broadway, the building that today houses Tootsie's Orchid Lounge. The two guys started writing songs as a team. Their first project together, along with arranger Bergen White, was a group they called The Todds, putting out a single called Tennessee on Todd 1064. That was the original recording of the song that Jan And Dean turned into a top 20 hit in 1958. This was the first time a song co-written by Buzz made the national charts. It was this same trio, Buzz, Bobby, and Bergen, who hooked up with Bill Beasley to produce budget covers of hit songs to be issued on the Hit Records label. I've mentioned this interesting label before and plan to do a more extensive feature about it later. Believe it or not, I own at least one copy of every single and album ever issued on that label (called "running the label" among record collectors). Buzz and Bobby repeated this trick when they put out a single on Todd called Popsicle. Again, Jan And Dean picked it up and turned it into another top 20 national hit in 1963. It was around this time that Buzz moved to Los Angeles to join Jan And Dean's label, Liberty, as Snuff Garrett's assistant.

Leon Russell was a session musician with Liberty. When he met Buzz, the two produced a group called The Crickets doing a really cool "California" version of (They Call Her) La Bamba on Liberty 55696 in 1964. The song did very well in England and was even featured in a movie called Girls On The Beach. Back in Nashville, Buzz had come to know arranger Bill Justis, known at the time for his hit instrumental, Raunchy. Through Bill, Buzz met Bucky Wilkin, lead singer of Ronny And The Daytonas. The two wrote a song called Sandy that also became a top 20 hit.

In 1966, Buzz and Bobby, along with then-president of Nashville's Monument Records, Fred Foster, formed a publishing company called Rising Songs. This lead them to another huge hit, Everlasting Love by Robert Knight. A year later, Buzz and Bobby started their own publishing company, Russell-Cason Music. They wrote and published more hits, including The Joker Went Wild by Brian Hyland, Little Green Apples, first recorded by Roger Miller, and Honey, first recorded by Bob Shane of the Kingston Trio, later a big hit for Bobby Goldsboro. Bobby Russell did his own versions of these compositions for the Hit Records label. He recorded Honey as Bobby Sims on Hit 320. He also recorded two different versions of Little Green Apples for Hit Records, first on Hit 322 as Steve Miller after Roger Miller's version became a hit, and then again on Hit 347 as Leroy Jones, after O C Smith's version became a hit.

Buzz made his own hit record, 1432 Franklin Park Circle Hero on Elf 90,020 in 1968. The song peaked at #36 on Billboard's Hot 100, #41 on Cashbox, and #64 on the Country charts. But it did best on the Adult Contemporary charts, peaking at #9.

His career really took off at this time. He wrote songs and did backing vocals for his childhood hero, Elvis Presley, along with Kenny Rogers, John Denver, Julie Andrews, George Jones, Waylon Jennings, Andy Griffith, Roy Orbison, Kris Kristofferson, Jimmy Buffett, Billy Swan, Mel McDaniel, and Willie Nelson. He started the Berry Hill Music Scene when he created a state-of-the-art studio in Nashville called Creative Workshop, which has been used by country superstars like Dolly Parton, Merle Haggard, Emmylou Harris, and The Judds, along with many others such as The Doobie Brothers, Little Carl Carlton, Jimmy Buffett, and Olivia Newton-John, just to name a few. Creative Workshop was rebuilt, then later sold to country superstar Martina McBride and her husband John, and is now known as Blackbird. Buzz became President of Southern Writers Group USA, a member of the Board Of Governors of National Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS), a member of the CMA and ASCAP, and was nominated to the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2005, the Nashville Public School Hall of Fame in 2006, and the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. Quite the impressive career! You can read his entire life story in his autobiography, Living The Rock 'N' Roll Dream: The Adventures of Buzz Cason.

There are well over 150 records on MusicMaster Oldies that were either written, produced, or recorded by Buzz Cason, including every single single ever published on the Hit Records label. If you want a big slice of pop music history, covering country, rock and roll, rhythm and blues, and more, give it a listen today!

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