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Art & Inspiration Some "hot rod" music you may not have heard before

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Saxman, Jan 26, 2011.

  1. Hey guys, This is a little OT, but not really.

    I've been a professional musician for about 35 years. In about 1980 (when I was just a 20 year old kid) I met a cat named Johnny Zorro who was an incredible jazz guitarist. To make a long story short, I played with him for many years and still play with him from time to time. He's in his 80's now but still playing as well as he ever did.

    I won't presume to even begin to tell his story, but he played for years with Page Cavanaugh, he was a recording artist with Warner Bros. in the late 50's/early 60's, and he even appeared in an old Elvis movie. Through Johnny I have met many famous artists and heard many amazing stories.

    What's really cool is that there are various people out there who have discovered his old records and put them online.

    Check these out. Sounds like Hot Rod/surf music to me, man!

    Road Hog
    Coesville (check out the cool album cover on this one)
    Bongo Guitar

    I know many of you have known old hot rodders who have been mentors to you, Johnny Zorro has been that for me in music. It's an honor and a privilege to know him and I hope you will enjoy his music. Finding one of these records would be like a '32 Roadster barn find to me...well almost. Enjoy!
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2011
  2. beauishere
    Joined: Mar 17, 2004
    Posts: 607


    Cool. Thanks for the links.
  3. Sonny48
    Joined: Jan 12, 2011
    Posts: 131

    from Mo.

    That cat was a beatnic daddyo....sounds like a little Ventures goin' on too. Good tunes.


  4. sport fury
    Joined: Jul 25, 2009
    Posts: 593

    sport fury

    now that's the kind of music you want to hear when your cruising around in a hotrod. to me your thread is not off topic at all. you can not beat the combination of traditional hotrods and late 50's early 60's instrumentals.
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  6. Triggerman
    Joined: Nov 18, 2006
    Posts: 578

    from NorCal

    Coo tunes, it does sound like surf music.
  7. Jonnie King
    Joined: Aug 12, 2007
    Posts: 2,077

    Jonnie King
    from St. Louis


    Thanks for sharing this ! I remember the Page Cavanaugh Trio very well from when they played here in St. Louis.

    Before I got into Radio I was an actor for many years (Also played drums !). I worked at the Crystal Palace Nightclub in a comedy review in St. Louis' Gaslight Square, and you could find EVERY TYPE of music that you wanted in a two-block square area ! Rock, Jazz, Folk, Dixieland, Piano was ALL there !

    Again, thanks for bringing up Johnny Zorro ! What a great artist ! Oh, and did you know another superb jazz/pop guitarist, Barney Kessel, was from St. Louis ? He played on Julie London's first LP which included the classic "Cry Me A River".

    Much of my Personal History is on the Site, including a Special Page on "Gaslight Square" and The Crystal Palace.

  8. Saxman, awesome instrumentals! I'd have no problem cruisin' with those tunes playin'. Thanks for posting. :cool:

  9. sport fury
    Joined: Jul 25, 2009
    Posts: 593

    sport fury

    reminds me of link wray
  10. SLAMIT
    Joined: Sep 9, 2002
    Posts: 930


    That is rad!!!
  11. Thanks for your great comments, Jonnie. It was through Johnny Zorro that I got to meet the great Barney Kessel on a couple of occasions. Johnny brought him into the club where I was playing in La Jolla, CA. This was just before Barney had a stroke and wasn't able to play anymore.

    The Page Cavanagh trio was cool - those signature breathy unison vocals were awesome! Again through Johnny, I got to meet Page and sit in his living room around his piano and talk about music. It was the experience of a lifetime.

    I'm so glad to hear that you remember the trio!
  12. sololobo
    Joined: Aug 23, 2006
    Posts: 8,120


    Dude! This cat is amazing, this is one of my fave music styles and J.Z. is at the top of that game. You are so fortunate to have had such a cool mentor, sharing this is awesome. Not off topic for me bro, I play pandora radio on my computer almost non-stop and have a Duane Eddy station that I love while watching sports etc, just great background and not having to listen for words. Thank you!! ~sololobo~
  13. Jonnie King
    Joined: Aug 12, 2007
    Posts: 2,077

    Jonnie King
    from St. Louis


    Just two items that you may enjoy:

    1. My first trip to California was in 1962, and I stayed at the Hollywood Plaza Hotel on Vine...just across the street from the Brown Derby. I was told by many who were familiar with the L.A./Hollywood scene that THE place to go in the evening was "P.J's" on Santa Monica Blvd. (where No. Crescent Hts. intersected with Santa Monica).

    They had two music rooms at P.J.'s: The first as you came into the club had Eddie Cano & his group (Part of Jerry Lewis' "The Nutty Professor" was shot there, and Eddie & the group are in the pic.). Eddie's music was Latin/Pop rhythm & ballads...complete with congas & bongos when needed. (I still have the autographed copy of the album that they made: "Eddie Cano At P.J.'s" on Reprise)

    In the second room, which was in the back of the club accessed through a hallway, was the "John Lasalle Quartet" (John played piano & did some of the vocals.) which really had a great sound.

    During a break, after watching one of their sets, I saw that the superb guitar player was sitting by himself at a small area to the side of the stage. Lasalle had introduced the group before the break, so I went up to him and introduced myself, told him that I had played drums for years but that I was also an actor and was coming to study at the Pasadena Playhouse College. Told him really enjoyed his work, and that I was from St. Louis.

    He smiled, shook my hand, and said: "Why thank you so much ! I'm originally from Oklahoma, but I've spent much time in St. Louis. My name is Barney Kessel." We had a nice talk about St. Louis, Gaslight Square, and his great guitar work, until the break was over. He introduced me to Lasalle and he invited me to come back and visit anytime I was in Hollywood. What a REAL treat that was !

    2. St. Louis has always been a mecca for musicians, and a group of local musicians decided to pool their talents and opened a club at the corner of Delmar & Skinker called "Jazz Central". This was in the early 60's, and with the number of men in the "talent pool", every nite was a different group: one night they might feature a trio, another a quartet, then a sextet, and, on weekends sometime the entire group heldforth.

    It was a very interesting concept, THE place to be if you wanted to hear some of the coolest jazz around, and my friends and I went there a number of times. But, as it happens when anyone sets up a "club" or "bar", bills have to be paid & the place has to be run as a business...rather than an "artistic outlet".

    So, after a couple of seasons, Jazz Central closed down. And, shortly after that, re-opened at the height of the "twist" era as the St. Louis Version of New York's "Peppermint Lounge".

    All the best to you! Glad you got to actually meet & spend with both Zorro & Page, as well as Barney. Thanks for posting about the great Johnny Zorro, and re-opening my Memory Banks on the subject of great musicians.

    Cars & Music; Music & Cars: They ALWAYS go together !


    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jan 27, 2011
  14. Oh man! That's great stuff, Jonnie. Thanks for sharing those incredible stories. Super cool.

    I'm going to send a link to this thread so that Johnny Zorro can read it. I believe Johnny was playing in that neighborhood in that time period, so I'm sure he will remember a lot of what your'e describing. He's a member of an informal group called the Vine Street Irregulars, who are a group of musicians, composers, arrangers who get together annually for a reunion and to honor someone in the music industry. I got to go with Johnny once and met Kay Starr, Mitch Miller, Frankie Laine, Billy May and a whole host of others.

    Interesting stuff about the Jazz scene in St. Louis too!

    Just so we don't get too far off topic.. :D. Johnny was always fond of telling me the story of when he was making good money touring, he went out and bought a brand new 1953 Corvette.

    Thanks again, man!
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2011
  15. wrayeugene49
    Joined: Jun 26, 2009
    Posts: 262

    from eugene,or

    some cool tunes....Sandy Nelson has been a favorite of mine since I was a 50 years or so.....when 'ya used to see LP's at the checkstand in the grocery least back east...I have several from those stores....
  16. casper
    Joined: Apr 27, 2005
    Posts: 975


    What a bunch of great talent. Thanks for posting the links, I really enjoyed them !!!
  17. Greg'Hel
    Joined: Mar 27, 2008
    Posts: 213

    from Iowa

    Good stuff! Kinda reminds me of something you'd hear in a Frankie Avalon movie!
  18. Jonnie King
    Joined: Aug 12, 2007
    Posts: 2,077

    Jonnie King
    from St. Louis


    Congrats on meeting all of those great artists ! Frankie Laine ALWAYS one of my favorites ! His early work on Mercury was superb, and when Mitch Miller signed him to Columbia it took him to a whole other level.

    The pix I posted above are from my personal archives. PJ's & Brown Derby are from matchbook covers, the Eddie Cano album cover speaks for itself.

    AND, DIRECTLY ON TOPIC: During that time period I was doing some serious crusing in my '58 Thunderbird Hardtop (my first car;purchased in 1960); later when I moved to California in 1963, it was in my mildly customized '57 Dodge Royal Hardtop. (My CURRENT '57 Dodge D-500 is shown below.)
    Drove the Dodge to Cali., cruised it while I lived there (used to love "Tiny Naylor's" & "Bob's Big Boy" !) and drove it back home to St. Louis over Route 66...which was how you actually got there in those days ! Before it became an Historic Route.

    Below is a pic of a couple of buddies of mine, and myself, checking out the T-Bird in the early Fall, 1960.

    Ride on, stay safe my friend. Keep playin' those tunes !


    PS: If you forward these notes to Johnny, please give him the link to my Personal WebSite as he may remember the GREAT "Gaslight Square" area that flourished in the late-50's to the mid-60's.

    As I stated in my first Post, the "Crystal Palace" was one of the "crown jewels" of the International acclaim, and was the starting point for, among others, Barbra Streisand, Lenny Bruce, The Smother Brothers, and Phyllis Diller. What a thrill it was to act on that stage, with all of that History behind it ! Actually, here's the DIRECT link to that Page (And if you go back one Page, my Pasadena Playhouse/Calif. Info is there):

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jan 27, 2011
  19. S.F.
    Joined: Oct 19, 2006
    Posts: 2,894


    Bitchen, thats some great music right there....I want that shit on a cd, id rock it all day.
  20. IWB
    Joined: Mar 17, 2007
    Posts: 95


    Great stuff make's me wanna go on a cruise down P.C.H. .Sounds alot like Dick Dale what year did JZ put these out? Would love to know.Are they CD any where? Thank you for postin.
  21. S.F.
    Joined: Oct 19, 2006
    Posts: 2,894


    Ill be honest, it doesnt sound anything like the Ventures or Dick Dale...But it does resemble a little Duane Eddy twang
  22. I think these were released in about 1959-1960. I'll have to ask Johnny. I sent his wife a link to this thread. Johnny doesn't own a computer.

    I don't think this stuff is on a CD anywhere. He does have some of his later Jazz material on CD though. I recorded an album with J.Z. and some other friends (Kisti Murray, John Cain, Sal LaBella) in the early 90's (pre-CD) but it is long out of print.
  23. Thanks Sololobo. I'm glad your diggin' it!
  24. Wow, Jonnie King! I just checked out your website. You have a had an amazing career, my friend! THANK YOU for all the great stuff you've posted. I was reading you latest post a while ago and my wife walked by and wanted to know why I was sitting at the computer smiling!

    BTW, I'm diggin' your '57 Dodge! What a cruisin machine!!
  25. MXrider13
    Joined: Jan 27, 2011
    Posts: 130

    from Florida

    That was good, I love anything underground from the late 50s early 60s.
  26. jangleguy
    Joined: Dec 26, 2004
    Posts: 2,668


    Thanks man! Yet another lifelong semi-retired hot rod musician here. I'd heard Johnny Zorro's name around, but never heard his stuff, until now. Sounds like he influenced some of my favorite players, for sure...
    Thanks again,
    PS: If it hasn't come up yet, there's a 'social group' on the HAMB for musicians.
  27. Thanks Jangleguy. I didn't realize there was HAMB musician social group. I'll do a search.
  28. oh god that link had Boss by the rumblers that is the a drumers wet dream to learn to play the cut backs on that song is unreal. I have been looking for that for 30 years could not remember who had done it. THANK YOU for that bitchin link.
  29. swimeasy
    Joined: Oct 17, 2006
    Posts: 1,067


    Thanks for shairig this stuff,man!!! I love being turned on to new music!!

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