Brian Lord’s Radio Stories # 7
Big Daddy/BabyBlue, Forst/Bell, Jordan/Morris
Big Daddy Dave McCormick has, during his XXXX years in radio, done a lot of interviews. He’s good at it for a coupla reasons: one – he loves radio and two: music is his main hobby (along with movies and carpentry which he inherited from his dad who built him his first 78RPM record cabinet when he was three). This tale deals with two of the original giants of early rock ‘n’ roll: The Everly Brothers. Dave interviewed them, I did not but I had other dealings. Actually I could have recorded both Don and Phil but it would have been un-airable
CFUN’s Librarian, Mike Powley was/is a huge fan of the Everly Brothers, in fact a couple of years ago he sent me, as a gift, a CD of many of their hit recordings and some of their little known stuff. Mike included on the CD “I’m Here To Get My Baby Out Of Jail”. It was from an LP called “Songs our Daddy Taught Us” and had been released in the late 50’s on Cadence Records – a folk LP on which their harmony was the best I’d ever hear – then and now.
While we’re talking Everly Brothers who could forget Ebony Eyes. Today, it’s somewhere near the bottom of the toilet bowl but when it first appeared it was an overnight smash. Something like Presley’s Old Shep; huge when his second LP was released but it soon got what it deserved. (Why did people go for “death” songs … Tell Laura I love Her, Last Kiss … some kind of morbidity gene?) CFUN didn’t break Ebony Eyes in Vancouver, CKWX did. They played that mortuary anthem (‘the plane was way overdue’) every hour with “A CKWX EXCLUSIVE” booming right in the middle of it so CFUN couldn’t steal it. Dave & Mike Powley between them managed to shrink down a copy they’d taped off WX and we played it a few times … or at least about one minute and 42 seconds worth because a whole big chunk was missing.
Anyway back to the ‘live’ Everly Brothers. Dave had the following to say about his interview done in Vancouver, 23 years ago.
“I did meet & tape-interviewed PHIL (the saner brother) in 1986 – they played an outdoor stage at EXPO that summer. My friend/neighbor and RCA Promo man, John Ford, told me some wild stories about their “Star” demands when they performed here. They were on their last gasp, and did some recordings for RCA. No Hit singles. You may recall that Don’s daughter Erin was briefly married to AXL ROSE, of Guns N’ Roses, in the early 90’s, and that later Phil would have nothing to do with his brother. A tragedy, because they sang like angels, gorgeous brotherly harmony on their early records. Just think about “So Sad”.
My own association with Don and Phil took place many years later just south of San Francisco. They were playing a club near San Jose, where I was a DJ and as such got comps for the show. This was 1966 and they still had the ear of the public but were several pegs down from stardom which by that time had swung towards Brit Rock, Motown and Dylan.
After the show, The Everly Brothers, a couple of roadies and the house band and I all went out for dinner at a swank restaurant. Drinks were served and not long afterwards Don Everly stood up and threw a bun at Phil, hitting him on the ear. This after they’d been sniping at each other across the table like petulant children. Big Daddy has described Phil as the “saner” of the two but that does not imply that Phil was gonna take a bun the size of a baseball fired from five feet away by his obviously ditzy brother. Nor does saner mean completely sane. There was a lot of hassle, a lot of really bad foul language and the Everly Brothers looked more like black jacket thugs than when they had their heads together, singing about high school juvies.
We managed a quiet enough meal and headed back to the Club where they were headlining. The place had a gravel parking lot and upon arrival Don & Phil erupted out of their car and began throwing gravel at each other and squalling like cats in heat. “You &%$#@ ()!@#$ “&%$?!$ #@$%& etc etc... I’m sure you get the picture. It was loud and disgraceful and cars were slowing on the highway and rocks were flying (neither of them could hit a wall at six feet) and I knew I wasn’t gonna get my interview unless I wanted this drunken rubbish as background for I’m Here To Get My Baby Out of Jail.
Cameron Bell was one of CFUN’s early newsmen working evenings for Frosty Forst. Cam went on to take over my show when I left for California and ended up sometime later anchoring the 6PM TV news for Channel 8 for years prior to Tony Parsons. One night he thought he’d feed Frosty a joke. Cam, green, didn’t know Frosty wanted no-one in his control room and wasn’t of a mind to have some diaper-wet newsman feed him material. “How do you catch a rabbit, Frosty?” Forst just stared at Cameron who began to melt, turned walked out of the newsroom yelling over his shoulder, “You hide in the grass and make a sound like a carrot”.
Cam sat in the newsroom red-faced and shaken until a moment later he heard on his monitor Forst saying in his dry, sarcastic rap. “We have this newsroom guy Cameron Bell y’know? Well Cameron has a (pause) joke. How do you catch a rabbit? (pause) You wanna hear the punch line call Cameron Bell at 732-2222. I don’t do jokes.”
Goofs started to call and Cam took the phone off the hook. Frosty and Cam are good friends these days, having worked together since the…joke. But Cameron Bell never, ever tried to feed another funny to Forst.
George Morris did the 10AM news as Al Jordan was off air and I was about to come on at 10:05. This one day -- I saw it all happen -- Jordan came barging out of the control room, bathroom-bound as Morris was heading for the news booth next door. They collided. George’s newscast went flying in the air like oversized confetti. In an attempt to save George from falling, Al grabbed his ghastly purple shirt with “I Drive Sprites” painted on the back while George, flailing, kept yelling “Where’s my lead, where’s my lead?”.
George’s shirt gave way separating the word “drive” from the rest of the thing – leaving the word and some material hanging from Al’s fist. I remember Jordan and me trying to help George find his lead story as he half staggered, barebacked into the newsroom. He ended up leading with his kicker. Jordan did buy Morris a new shirt (no Sprite copy, though) and soon afterwards George went to Toronto and made zillions with his big Terry Reid voice which stretched down to his knees.
Next week: the music; Forst and I go to Seattle to see Bob Salter. Also -- the “consultant”.
Those who danced were thought to be quite insane by those who couldn't hear the music.