Wednesday, January 31, 2018

how to sell records 101. Borrow any one of Norm Grabowski's cars, and get some college girls who are happy to add to their modeling portfolio. Get a good musician. Done.

Les Baxter, the Godfather of lounge music, had joined Mel Tormé's Mel-Tones at the age of 23, the arranged and composed for swing bands in the 1940s, among luminaries such as Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra.

His first album, "Music Out of the Moon," featured a choir, one cello, one French horn, a rhythm section, and the ethereal sound and feel of outer space with an electronic musical instrument called a theremin.  The album signaled two firsts - it was the first time a long playing record cover had been printed in full color and it was the first modern expression of all the exotic music to follow, and the introduction to pop culture music of the theremin

Then he was the composer for 148 episodes of Lassie
His recording of "The Poor People of Paris" in March 1956 was a #1 hit and sold more single copies than any other recording during that decade
In the 1960s, he formed the Balladeers, a conservative folk group with a young David Crosby. He worked in radio as musical director of the Bob Hope and Abbott and Costello shows.

Baxter worked in films in the 1960s and 1970s such as scores for Roger Corman's films and beach party films including Muscle Beach Party and Beach Blanket Bingo.

Somewhere in the 60s, Hanna Barbera Records was formed, and used Brian Wilson acquaintance Danny Hutton as a consultant, and while he polished his musical gift before going on to form Three Dog Night, he directed HBR (Hanna Barbera records) through some crazy times and cool music, and Les Baxter was hired to press Hanna-Barbera Records single 456, a schmaltzy rendering of The Beatles song Michelle. (read over a cold drink, it's a trip) HBR also hired Roger Christian to write some songs, as he was well known for writing some Jan and Dean, Beach Boys, and other pop surf music

Hit after hit followed the rise of Les Baxter's fame. "Ritual of the Savage," a tone poem composed and conducted by Les, topped the success of his first album and established his name in the annals of music history permanently.

His famous “Quiet Village” attained the number one position on the charts three separate times – originally in the 1950s – again in the 1960s – and yet again in the 1970s. In all, he has done some forty albums, four of which have achieved the number one position. Of his twelve hit singles, all reached number one.

He made classic exotica records, Ritual of the Savage and Tamboo!, were hit successes, so Capitol Records went on a limb and used him to get teen record money and Les Baxter's Teen Drums was made.

And it's cool music:

A follow-up to the popular Skins! of 1957, Les Baxter's Teen Drums was a return to pure beat territory. "Ting Ting Ting" and "Brazil Nuts" start the album off with furious bongo bashing busy rhythms, but then slow to a more sedate pace as Teen Drums delivers its skeletal arrangements and tightly restrained beats.

Les Baxter's Teen Drums is exotica of sorts, perfect for the average space-age bachelor's cocktail party.

Les Baxter recorded these swinging tracks with various Pacific Coast drum stars, jazz, Afro-Cuban, Brazilian and Porto-Rican skin-thumpers. No music was written. They all simply sat down in a studio on Hollywood's Vine Street and started pounding.

oh yeah, the hot rod... Norm Grabowski's of course, later to be disguised as "My Mother The Car". Well, Les had dabbled in hollywood movie music, "Untamed Youth" 1957 with Mamie Van Doren, who Norm often acted with, as in Sex Kittens Go To College, 1960. That's probably why Norm's car is on the cover of this album

as you can see Norm and Mamie Van Doren in the same car here, photos by Erik Rickman for Hot Rod Magazine

Sidebar, the movie College Confidential, had in it's cast Rocky Marciano, heavyweight boxing champ, and Conway Twitty, country music star, along with Mamie Van Doren who both were in "Sex Kittens go to College with Jackie Coogan - who broke into Hollywood as the Kid in Charlie Chaplin's movie, but is most famous as Uncle Fester - and Charlie Chaplin Jr... along with Tuesday Weld, who was forced to be the family bread winner by age 8 due to her father's death, by 9 she had a nervous breakdown, by 10 was a drunk, and by 12 attempted suicide.

At age 18 Tuesday had an affair with co-star Elvis, later she married Dudley Moore but turned down the starring roles in Lolita, True Grit, and Bonnie and Clyde, but did star with Steve McQueen and Jackie Gleason in Soldier in the Rain, and was on Many Loves of Dobie Gillis for one season along with Norm Grabowski. And Tuesday was in the above movie with Mamie Van Doren, she also starred in Teacher's Pet with Clark Cable and Doris Day, and Jet Pilot with John Wayne, and The Big Operator with Mel Torme, who Les Baxter once played music with... and Mel, Norm, and Mamie all were in Girl's Town 1959 with this car in the LA River storm drains.

Steve McQueen and Mamie had a fling too in 1959. Because of her, McQueen publicly threatened to break Howard Hughes' nose if Hughes did not stop harassing Mamie. Needless to say, Hughes never bothered Van Doren again.

George Barris claimed to have built the car because Norm Grabowski sold the car to a prop man Kaye Trapp who along with father of Craig Breedlove, Norm Breedlove, was a special effects guy who modified the car for the show.

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