DEAR JERRY: Loved your recap of all those records Simon and Garfunkel made before they started using their real names, and gained fame.
You list four singles Paul Simon made for Amy Records, issued as by Tico and the Triumphs but with writing and production credit to Jerry Landis, another of Simon's pseudonyms.
I don't have any of those but I do have “I Wrote You a Letter” by Dotty Daniels, written by D. Goodman. This one says “Produced By Jerry Landis” (Amy 885). Surely this is another of Paul Simon's early works, but since you didn't mention it, I just ask.
Also, are Dotty Daniels and D. Goodman the same person?
Vince Delmonico, Bakersfield, Calif.
DEAR VINCE: You are correct, the Jerry Landis who produced the Dotty Daniels sessions is Paul Simon wearing one of his many different hats.
We did not mention it because the focus of that piece was limited to Paul and Art's own recordings. Perhaps the label on the A-side of the Amy disc is worn or torn, but I can tell you it is “Play Me a Sad Song,” written by “Jerry Landis.” His original recording of this song came out in 1961 (Warwick 619), and he thought it would be a good choice for Dotty's first record.
Her's is the same basic song, but Simon's new arrangement and production give it a contemporary 1963 girl group sound.
As you suspect, Dotty Daniels is really Dotty Goodman, and “I Wrote You a Letter” is indeed one of her originals, and a good pick for the B-side.
Thanks to my old pal, Kent Kotal, we connected with Dotty. This delightful lady has vivid memories of being a teenager who suddenly found herself and her first session to be the focus of a star-studded gathering at the Amy studio in New York:
DEAR JERRY: I am the artist formerly known as Dotty Daniels, who, as a teenager in 1963, was produced by Paul Simon for Amy Records.
Our first and best-known record is “Play Me a Sad Song,” and while it didn't make the national charts it still sold quite well in some areas.
For example, I know it went to No. 1 on WAVZ, New Haven, Conn., and was a Jack Walker Pick Hit on WLIB in New York.
I don't know if Billboard ever mentioned my record, but Cash Box magazine did make it a Pick of the Week. They even sent someone to interview me, and that meeting was set up at a place right around the corner from the Brill Building. Because I was just a kid, Amy Records asked Paul Kaufman, a songwriter and my friend, to chaperone me at the meeting.
I don't have a copy of whatever they ran, but would love to see it.
Besides Paul Simon's involvement with the session that produced “Play Me a Sad Song” and “I Wrote You a Letter,” we had Cissy Houston, Valerie Simpson, and the Sweet Inspirations (Doris Troy and Dee Dee Warwick) all providing the background vocals.
I specifically recall Cissy being about six months pregnant with Whitney when we recorded those songs.
Whitney Houston wasn't singing on the session, at least not to my knowledge, but she was definitely in the studio with us, albeit still in the oven.
Also, Big Dee Irwin and Freddie Scott were in on that session as music directors. I believe Freddie recorded “Hey Girl” later that same night, after we finished.
Another thing I don't have a copy of is our follow-up single, “A Casual Look” (Amy 891).
Thank you for your interest in my brief recording career.
DEAR DOTTY: You have some wonderful memories, and we are grateful you shared them.
I spoke to Cash Box's Archivist, Randy Price, who searched but cannot find an interview-based story in any of their issues from the spring and summer of 1963.
However, Randy did find, in the May 11 issue, their selection of “Play Me a Sad Song” as a Newcomer Pick of the Week.
Regarding your first record, they offer this glowing comment:
“It's more than likely that Dotty Daniels' name'll be a topic of disk conversation in the near future. The thrush's bow [songbird's debut] on Amy has that hit stamp notched into every groove. It's an emotional beat-ballad weeper that the chorus-backed songstress waxes with loads of feeling.”
You were in good company in that issue, as another Newcomer Pick was the Tymes' “So Much in Love,” a No. 1 hit that summer.
One month later, Billboard gave you and Big Dee Irwin a brief plug, both coincidentally in the same paragraph.
Their June 22, 1963 issue ran this regional action comment from their Philadelphia correspondent:
“A&L Distributors, Inc. promotion chief, Harry Fink, reports a sleeper in “Play Me a Sad Song” by Dotty Daniels on the Amy label, with a big start for Dimension label's Little Eva and Big Dee Irwin for “Swinging on a Star.”
IZ ZAT SO? That Paul Simon flourished after producing Dotty Daniels is well-documented. However, all of those involved in that session did quite well.
As lead singer of the Pastels, Big Dee Irwin enjoyed one hit, “So Far Away” in 1958, but “Swinging on a Star” became the first hit to credit him by name.
Freddie Scott's “Hey, Girl” became a Top 10 smash, and kicked off four years of charted singles.
After 10 years of singing with Nick Ashford, Valerie Simpson married him (1974) and, as Ashford & Simpson, enjoyed a string of hits in the 1970s and '80s, as singers as well as writers.
Cissy Houston delivered Whitney August 9th. In 1967, after three years of full-time mom duty, she became the lead singer of the Sweet Inspirations.
As for eventual superstar Whitney, she has logged far, far more time atop the albums charts than any female ever.