Dave Brubeck, the jazz pioneer/pianist who was most famous for leading the Dave Brubeck Quartet with the 1961 instrumental hit, “Take Five,” died on Wednesday, December 5, 2012. He was a day away from turning 92.
By ROCKIN’ ROBIN
“HOW do you call your Loverboy?”
“COME HERE, loverboy!”
“And if he doesn’t answer…”
“(with a very seductive voice) Oh loverboy.”
“And if he STILL doesn’t answer…”
“I simply say, (singing now) Baby….”
That was the famous bridge and banter on the song, “Love Is Strange” by Mickey And Sylvia from 1957. It added up to a #7 hit on the Cash Box pop chart and a million selling single.
Mickey “Guitar” Baker, the guitarist who was best known as the Mickey half of the duo Mickey and Sylvia, died on or about Tuesday, November 27, 2012. Details are sketchy regarding his passing. He was 87 but the cause of death and where he died are unknown as of this writing. It’s believed that word of Baker’s passing first surfaced via a French newspaper. His most famous song, “Love Is Strange,” sounded like this…
According to Wikipedia, Mickey “Guitar” Baker was born October 15, 1925, in Louisville. He was put into an orphanage in 1936 at the age of 11. However, he ran away so many times that eventually the orphanage stopped looking for him. After unsuccessful stints as a pool shark and dishwasher, he decided to give jazz music a try. He wanted to play a trumpet but couldn’t afford one with the $14 he’d saved up. He instead bought a guitar.
Around 1949, Pee Wee Clayton, a jazz guitarist, especially inspired Baker, who at the time was in California. Mickey recalled, “I asked Pee Wee, ‘You mean you can make money playing that stuff on guitar?’ Here he was driving a big white El Dorado and had a huge bus for his band. So I started bending strings. I was starving to death, and the blues was just a financial thing for me then.”
In all, Baker recorded for at least seven labels… Savoy, Atlantic, King, Groove, Vik, RCA and Willow. Early in his career, he worked with R&B pioneers like Big Joe Turner, Ruth Brown, Ray Charles and Ivory Joe Hunter. He’s listed alongside Little Richard, Fats Domino, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry and Ike Turner among the key black performers who helped bridge the gap between R&B music and pop music. As of 2003, he was ranked #53 among Rolling Stone magazine’s top 100 guitarists of all time.
The late Sylvia (nee Vanderpool) Robinson, Mickey’s partner in the duet, was one Baker’s guitar students when they decided to become a singing duo in 1956. Mickey and Sylvia couldn’t match the success of “Love Is Strange,” though. Their followup, “Dearest,” barely made the Top 40 at #39 and four other chart singles missed the 40 altogether. The duo had broken up by 1962.
Much later, in 1973, Sylvia would sing what she thought was a demo of a song intended for Al Green. But she did so well with her sultry seductive voice that her label’s higher-ups decided the song belonged to her. The result was “Pillow Talk,” a comeback #2 pop hit. About six years later in 1979, she was the engineer-producer on the first Top 40 rap record, “Rapper’s Delight” by the Sugar Hill Gang.
The Everly Brothers, the duo of Caesar and Cleo and still another duo, Peaches and Herb, all had hits with “Love Is Strange.” So did legendary rocker Buddy Holly, whose very soft version of “Love Is Strange” sounded like this…
By ROCKIN’ ROBIN
By ROCKIN’ ROBIN