DEAR JERRY: Thanks for the nice write-up on the 1968 Definitive Rock Chorale record, “Variations on a Theme Called Hanky Panky,” as well as your courtesy when I phoned you.
It is very gratifying to have you write about anything in which I was involved. You even made me out to be greater than in reality, but why argue about getting the edge every now and then.
Because he did such a masterful job on a difficult project, I think the arranger, Sammy Lowe, also deserves to be acknowledged, if only by you. Not everyone could have accomplished what he did so well. In my previous notes on the session, I could not remember who actually did the charts.
The record got tremendous initial reaction and immediate airplay but went absolutely nowhere. I guess you couldn't dance to it. But then, who can dance to “They're Coming to Take Me Away,” which hit No. 1?
I tried to contact Kristie Miller, the one who originally wrote asking about “Variations on a Theme Called Hanky Panky.” I wanted to thank her for buying the record, and I thought a call from me would be a nice surprise.
Unfortunately, my search of the Decatur, Alabama area for her phone number or e-mail address turned up nothing.
Michael Rashkow, Columbus, N.C.
DEAR MICHAEL: I certainly do appreciate the letters and the call, and it is good that Sammy Lowe is officially credited for his contribution.
Hopefully, Kristie will read this, though she will surely be disappointed over not getting that surprise phone call.
This is turning out to be a good week in terms of hearing from some of the recording artists responsible for the music of our lives. Read on:
DEAR JERRY: I am glad to see you got the correct info to Sharon James (Grand Rapids, Mich.) about our group, the Royal Guardsmen. Man, it's been so long I'd forgotten some of those details.
The Royal Guardsmen times were fun, but after all these years music is still a big part of my life.
Not much to say about the other guys, as I haven't really kept in touch that much since I left the band, and that's really a shame, but life has to go on. Plus, I needed a real job for sure at that point.
I spoke to three former Guardsmen Chris Nunley, Bill Taylor, and Bill Balough a few years ago, and they were fine. I think they're still doing okay.
Unfortunately, Tommy Richards died in 1976 or '77 from a brain tumor. We were all in shock and miss him very much.
I migrated to this little town in Missouri about six years ago, after a 20-year stint around Nashville.
I always loved aviation and followed it around for a few years till I got here. I work with the EMS Helicopter outfit, Airevac Lifeteam.
I enjoy the music more than ever now and have done some children's projects that really got me back into the writing. Among them is the Grammy Nominated “The Child's Gift of Lullabyes," an RIAA Certified Platinum CD album I did with J. Aaron Brown.
Barry Winslow, Mountain View, Mo.
DEAR BARRY: I am grateful for the nice and informative letter. All those “what ever happened to” letter writers can now cross the Royal Guardsmen off their unsolved mystery list.
Could it be all those thrilling encounters with the bloody Red Baron fueled your interest in aviation?
IZ ZAT SO? People often ask if Grammy is an acronym, and if so, for what.
No, it is not. The origin of the term Grammy is simply that it is short for gramophone, the circa-1887 invention that eventually evolved into the phonograph, the record player, the hi-fi, and the stereo.
As an acknowledgment to those roots, today's award winning digital discs still take home the Grammy, though many of its recipients may have never owned a vinyl record, and do not know the story behind the name.