Colorradio.com - Oscar McLollie
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Oscar McLollie. Born around 1925, reputedly in Oakland, California. His first recording was on the Mercury label in 1950/1951. "I'm Hurt" backed with "Tears In My Eyes" was released on record number 8227. Though it did get some play on WMRY radio in New Orleans -according to author Steve Propes - unfortunately, it did not sell. When Oscar McLollie hooked up with Class records in late 1952, he had two records released, and The Honey Jump was one of them. That was pivotal in his early career, not only in the sale of records and the naming of his band, but in his popularity in Los Angeles and beyond. Under contract to Leon Rene of Class records, it was sold to the Bihari Brothers from the Modern label, and the first thing they did was to re-cut the Honey Jump, and send it out again. Members of the Honey Jumpers included Freddie Simon, George Favors, Maurice Simon, Chuck Norris, along with Pianists Austin McCoy and Christine Chapman. Chapman was from Indiana, played some in Chicago and moved to Los Angeles after getting booted from the local musicians union in Chicago. The lineup went through several changes, and some very notable Los Angeles talent came through the doors at various points of time. People like Randy Jones, Pete Fox, Cornel Gunter, and Young Jessie. Oscar McLollie and the Honey Jumpers had many great sides on Modern, with a lot of up tempo rockin grooves. When he recorded "Convicted" , it was his next really big selling disc. It got spins on stations all over the country. By 1956, the Honey Jumpers were no more, and after a pair of records at Mercury/Wing, McLollie moved back to his friends at the Class label for some more pop oriented sides. His biggest hit "Hey Girl - Hey Boy" was sung with Jeanette Baker, but he was not able to follow it up with another Billboard top 100 record. He re-sung a couple of his Modern label sides on Class, and by 1960, he was off to a few independent labels for some great ballads. Take a look at some of the fine records that were made by Oscar McLollie And The Honey Jumpers!
Not his first, but is the record that started it all for Oscar McLollie. Recorded and released either late 1952 or early 1953, it was waxed on Leon Rene's Class label. Though the label started in 1951, they started a new numbering system at 500. At least for a few records, anyway. It changed again as you will see further down the page. "The Honey Jump" was a hot instrumental that really warmed up the grooves. It might remind you of Joe Liggins cooker The Honeydripper, which was a hit in 1946. "You Can't Bring Me Down" is an odd song, and truly different. Vocal duties were performed by Paul Clifton.
With some definite sales of the Honey Jump, Class got another record on the store shelves. "Rain" is a nice ballad and is a group ballad. "Casino" is a rockin instrumental for the flip. Both songs show written by Oscar McLollie. He would be back to the class label later in his career, but Modern records was his next stop.
The first thing Modern records did was have Oscar McLollie re-cut "The Honey Jump" and Added vocals to PT I on the "A" side. Modern also billed the backup group as the Honey Jumpers, based on the hit song. Why not? They got some name recognition from the group and the song title. The flip, "The Honey Jump PT II", is strictly a smokin' hot instrumental. It was issued in the later half of 1953.
This is an odd release on the 45 RPM of the Honey Jump. They used the Class label session number of 3004 - just under the 45 RPM on the left, middle - to identify the issue, instead of the record number in series, that should be 902. After a small pressing run, they changed it as shown below. It is also the only Modern 45 I have with Oscar McLollie that has the address information at the bottom of the label.
The label information is the same as the previous 78 and 45, but this time the numbering series is in-line with what Modern was using in their sequence, and is number 902, like the 78. It is shown just under the 45RPM but is hard to read.
A great two sided record for Oscar McLollie and the group. The "A" side was "Be Cool My Heart" and the ballad. The flip was the jumper called "All That Oil In Texas." The flip is still my favorite song McLollie and the group ever made.
This is the first Oscar McLollie record I ever purchased. It wasn't for the plug side "Be Cool My Heart" which featured the voice of Berdell Forrest, but rather for the up tempo"All That Oil In Texas." They had a pattern of using a ballad on one side and a jump on the other. McLollie obviously kept close ties to Leon Rene of Class records, as he sung both of his penned songs on this disc.
"Lolly Pop" was next in line for Oscar McLollie and the Honey Jumpers. A lot of instrumental and a great vocal makes it a pleasing record to listen to. The flip is the first appearance of the ballad, "God Gave Us Christmas" and this disc was released in December of 1953.
After the 1953 Christmas season, Modern 920 was repressed with "Falling In Love With You" as the "B" side. A different Rene has writing credits on each side.
From 1954, Oscar McLollie and the Honey Jumpers were back with another great pairing. A great two sider, "Mama Don't Like" has about a 30 second intro, and the theme of the disc is similar to some later records by other artists."What You Call Em Joe" is a fun record with the usual McLollie charm and influences, Great bass part, upbeat and just plain fun.
Two jump sides on this 1954 recording for Oscar McLollie. "Hot Banana" and "Wiggle Toe." The latter is all about a dance and some instructions on how to do it. Can't say I have ever seen it done. Let's just hope no one slipped on a hot banana while doing the wiggle toe.
This is the 78 of another good selling record for the group. "Love Me Tonight" was Oscar McLollie's next to last release for 1954. It was one of another two sided jumper and is a great disc. "Take Your Shoes Off Pop" is a fun song. Notice that the name of the group, The Honey Jumpers, continues to be printed on the labels showing the backup group identification, as the platters continue to be released.
As were most of the releases on Modern and several of the Class records, there were 45's and 78's.
Lastly for 1954, a two sided Christmas disc. "Dig That Crazy Santa Claus" is an awesome Christmas tune. it has been featured on countless Christmas compilations and is a hot record. "God Gave Us Christmas" is the ballad side, and is fine in it's own right. This is the second appearance of the song, which was also shown above on Modern 920. And, the pairing was actually pressed up one more time as Modern 976 for the 1955 Christmas season.
A two sided jumper to start off 1955 with, "Hey Lolly Lolly" was certainly a tribute to the artist, sung by Oscar McLollie himself. On the flip, "Pretty Girl" kept the mood swinging as Oscar and his Honeyjumpers rattled a few phonographs and probably a neighbor or two!
Here is the 45 RPM version of the record.
Still rockin' out, "Eternal Love" is another great group record and features Oscar McLollie with the supporting cast of the Honey Jumpers. "Pagliacci" is a slow one, but ever so good. It's from a nineteenth century romantic opera and is based on Tonio, the clown.
Quite possibly Oscar McLollie's biggest hit on his own, "Convicted" had some very brisk sales for him and the folks at Modern records. He really stands out on this disc, and I believe that some of his future ballads were based on his vocal abilities from this one. He shines brightly and seems to be developing a real "crooner" approach. And it works. "Roll Hot Rod Roll" is a favorite amongst McLollie collectors. It's your basic fast hot rod song, and is a fun record to listen to. Christine Chapman is featured on piano and organ, on both sides of this record, issued in 1955.
Here is the 45 RPM record of "Convicted." I have always enjoyed the red Modern label with silver print.
Modern did press a bunch of their records on the blue label. And not just Oscar McLollie. This record continued to sell and was also pressed on the black and silver Modern label.
Somehow, Oscar Mclollie blew back into the Mercury/Wing stable. While he was blowing in, he took a couple of Leon Rene's songs with him. "God's Green Earth" was ballad/crooner all the way. He took advantage of a great recording studio and wonderful musicians, and belted it out. "Got Your Love In My Heart" was a mid tempo number that included a pop sounding girl group in the background, and some rip snorting horn players.
Here's the 45RPM. I really like the very ending of the flip, and both sides are a departure from the earlier sides with the exception of Convicted. Released in 1956.
Wing was actually a subsidiary of Mercury, so he cut a platter for the mother ship."Blue Velvet" is the standard we all know and love, and "The Penalty" is "just" another of Rene's songs. Heavy on the pop, the instrumentation, and amazing voice of Oscar McLollie. Released a few months after God's Green Earth, in 1956.
Without significant success on Mercury/Wing, Oscar McLollie came back to the Class Label. He also got back into using songs he helped write. "Say" is a ballad with a light female background group. As the label mentions, the orchestra was conducted by the Los Angeles great, Maxwell Davis. "Here Am I" was about the same pace as the "A" side, and is quite enjoyable. This was pressed up at the end of 1956.
On to 1956 and "King Of The Fools." Still in the pop mode, it sounds like a mixed group in the background. I like the instrumental break a bit better than the last few releases. On the flip "Scold Me", is a mid tempo waxing featuring Mclollie and his strong voice.
The next release was the only time Oscar McLollie got into the Billboard top 100. He did it as a duet with Jeanette Baker, another stalwart of the Los Angels music scene. Some of her early efforts were with the Dots on Huggy Boy's Caddy label. "Hey Girl-Hey Boy" is a fun song with each vocalist taking turns and also singing together. The upbeat combination of two voices and lively instrumentation gave this two thumbs up. It seems to be based on the Fats Domino song "La La", and not too far from the Mickey and Sylvia record "Say The Word." "Let Me Know, Let Me Know" is a strong flip. Jeanette Baker is not featured on this side.
Here is the 45 RPM record. Check out Googie Rene and his band, listed on both sides of the record. The class label was maroon in color for quite some time, before going to black. On the flip, the Hollywood Flames do the back up for McLollie.
Later issues of the hit were pressed on the black label. It showed that this disc had demand for a while and was quite popular. Shown is the later 78 on the previously mentioned black label. This pressing, likely was from late 58 or possibly early 1959.
The black label 45 RPM. This is the only duet that Oscar McLollie did with Jeanette Baker. They didn't get along well, and apparently one record was enough.
And then there was the Highland label. They apparently had a deal with Class and reissued some of their sides in the 1960's. On the flip, they shortened the tile by 50% and gave Jeanette Baker credit as well. OK, so they didn't pay real close attention to details, but they were keeping the music going.
So, if one duet works, why not try another? It seemed like a winning formula. Only problem is, they used a different duet-ess. "The Rock-A-Cha" had the same feel as the previous disc, but Annette did sound different. A good song but it just didn't get the National attention. "Let's Get Together" was not a bad flip. No one seems to remember Annette's last name, and have lost track of her. The record was done, it was not too successful, and they never saw her again.
"My Heart Speaks" was next in line, as they went back to the solo method. Shown above is a promotional copy and is signed by Oscar McLollie. It's a nice ballad, and they were back to featuring Oscar out in front. On the flip, they decide to cut another version of "Convicted." Both sides are good, and really are fine efforts from 1959.
If you can re-cut "Convicted", why not record another version of "The Honey Jump" It is a much different approach with the same basic melody. Pop sounding for sure, but pretty catchy - especially with a little bit of organ. "Call It Love" is a nice mid tempo record and was the "B" side. 1960.
The honeymoon with Class was over, and Oscar McLollie went on to some independent labels. From the Libra label, "World Of Chance" was waxed in December of 1960. It is also pop sounding, which was really the direction that he was heading anyway. Lot's of instrumentation on "I'll Never Love Again", and even though he just recorded once for Libra, it was solid. Note that the Billy Fields Orchestra was involved with the record, and Robert Scherman wrote the flip.
In July of 1961, Oscar McLollie stopped in at the Jet label. I don't know anything about the record company, but "You Belong To Me" was set for airplay. "Next Time You See Me" was on the flip. The Bobby Smith Combo handled the instrumentation and Bob Scherman's name pops up again, this time as A&R man. The above is a promo copy.
"Loves A Funny Little Game" was released in February of 1963. It is a duet with Nancy Lamarr, who incidentally is first billing. I don't have any other listings for her, so this may be her only record. "Tonight You Belong To Me" is the standard on the back side, Nancy Lamarr is absent. This is the first release on the label from Los Angeles. It is not to be confused with the label from New York, as I certainly did at first!
Lastly in my collection, is this platter on Showtime. Showtime was a great R+B label in the mid 50's that used the 1100 series. After the label stopped, it was reactivated with issue 595 in 1959, and it had a new label design, like above. Something happened between 595 and Oscar McLollie's 600 issue. I am guessing about 6 years is part of the story. This has a date stamp of either 1965 or 66, and when you listen to either side, you know it's not 1959. Unfortunately, there is no delta number in the dead wax to confirm, but I should be within a year. "Ignore Me" was the plug side and "Nursery Rhyme" is the flip.
Updates: When I originally created this page, Oscar McLollie had been reported living in Oakland, CA. I read numerous posts that he passed away July 4th, 2008, but have yet to substantiate it. He never liked to discuss his musical history and experiences much. Too bad, because not only was he an important part of our Los Angeles musical history, but we missed out on a lot of interesting and exciting information for an artist that was in the middle of it all, back in the 1950's and beyond.
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