Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: Whatever happened to these two of my favorite recording artists of the 1960s and '70s: guitarist Buddy Fite, and singer Nancy Ames?

Buddy Fite was one of the finest jazz-pop guitarists I have ever heard.

Nancy Ames sang beautifully and with a Latin feel, and she appeared often on television variety shows.
—Jacqueline Jagmin, Milwaukee

DEAR JACQUELINE: Buddy Fite died one week before 9/11, on September 4, 2001. Cause of death given is an inoperable cancerous tumor on his neck.

Buddy's first two albums, both for the Cyclone label, are among his best.

His debut effort, “Buddy Fite” (Cyclone 4100), came out in 1969. He followed that in 1970 with “Changes” (Cyclone 4110).

For those unfamiliar with Fite, his proficiency is nicely summarized by producer Robert Mersey, in his liner notes on Fite's first LP:

“The proof of Buddy's genius is that the exquisite chord changes and great melodic lines which he plays are all instinctive; as he cannot read a note of music. The music comes from within and, no doubt, this is what makes him the great stylist he is.”

Though born in our nation's capitol, Nancy Ames (nee: Nancy Hamilton Alfaro), comes by her Latin feel honestly.

This daughter of a prominent Washington D.C. physician is also the granddaughter of Ricardo J. Alfaro, the President of Panama circa-1930.

Nancy's bond with South and Central American music is evident in many of her recordings, especially the albums “Latin Pulse” (sung in Spanish) and “Spiced with Brasil” (with gutiarist Laurinda Almeida).

However, Ames' best-known single is quite a departure from her usual fare: “He Wore the Green Beret” (Epic 10003) a 1966 answer song to Staff Sgt. Barry Sadler's No. 1 hit, “Ballad of the Green Berets.”

In 1964, about a year after her first records came out, Nancy became quite popular with TV viewers, especially males. Ames is the lovely blonde whose songs opened “That Was the Week That Was,” thus earning her the nickname, “The TW3 Girl.”

Nancy is the only cast member to appear in all episodes during both seasons of TW3.

For over 30 years, Nancy and her family have lived in Houston. Along with her husband (Danny Ward) they operate Ward & Ames Special Events.

Another star to kickstart his career on this news satire comedy is TW3's multi-talented host, David Frost.

As you may have already deciphered, TW3 is an abbreviated way of saying “That Was the Week That Was.” The title is made up of three sets of two words each of which begin with T and W.

DEAR JERRY: I was very sorry about the death of Buck Owens, but hearing of it reminds me of a question you may be able to answer.

One of the members of Buck's band, the Buckaroos, died fairly young. This fellow was a very good singer who often sang along with Buck.

I believe he had an album that I would love to buy, but I'll need some more details. Can you help?
—Frances Campbell, Paducah, Ky.

DEAR FRANCES: It's a good bet the man you're thinking of is Don Rich.

Throughout most of Owens' career, this talented singer-guitarist-fiddler served as Buck's right-hand man as well as leader of the Buckaroos. It is his voice you usually hear singing harmony with Buck.

Don's album, recorded without Owens but with the Buckaroos, came out in early 1971 and is titled “That Fiddlin' Man” (Capitol ST-643).

About five weeks later, he and Buddy Alan — one of Buck's three sons — issued an album of duets titled “We're Real Good Friends” (Capitol ST-769).

Less than a month away from his 33rd birthday, while riding his motorcycle on Highway 99 north of Bakersfield, Don Rich crashed into a guard rail and was killed (July 17, 1974).

IZ ZAT SO? Of all the big name recording artists whose music could have been the first 12-inch single, it seems odd this groundbreaking format would begin with a then-unknown guitarist.

Late in 1969, two stereo instrumentals by Buddy Fite, “For Once in My Life” and “Glad Rag Doll,” (Cyclone 6) came out with a label proudly announcing the disc as “The World's First 12-inch Single.”

It would certainly not be the last.

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