Saturday, July 18, 2009

George Goodman and the Headliners

george goodman

Ya know, every so often Old Mon acts his age and spins an old doo-wop tune on his Kenwood. And one of the best, bar none, was a sixties ballad by George Goodman and the Fabulous Headliners called "Let Me Love You."

And hey, Old Mon's not alone in his admiration of the song. Paul Mawhinney, of Record Rama fame and vinyl collector extraordinaire, said this when he was asked what one song from his stacks of wax he would play for company:

"I would put a record on called 'Let Me Love You' by George Goodman & His Headliners, a wonderful ballad and a Number 1 record in Pittburgh and Baltimore. It’s the most released non-hit record in history!"

As far as we can figure, it was issued five times, twice on national labels. The record was first released in 1964 on Sharpsburg's Val label (#1), credited to George Goodman & His Headliners, and reissued a couple of times. (Val Records was local label operated by florist Augie Bernardi.)

It was released again on Warner Brothers in 1965 (#5632), and pressed again by A&M (#1011) in 1968 under The Headliners. It became a huge regional hit but never charted nationally.

In fact, the group had a little cottage industry going on with the label for a brief spell and was Val's big act; we suspect that it was Goodman's home base - he was also heavily into the industry side, producing, distributing, and promoting records - but we can't verify the Val connection. Their 45's from the Middle Street label were:

RECORD Val #1-1964
SIDE A: Let Me Love You (2:57)
SIDE B: Let Me Love You (instrumental - 2:57)
The song was written by Genne Salo and produced by George Goodman.

RECORD Val #3-1964
SIDE A: Starlight And Moonbeams (2:35)
SIDE B: I'm So Tired (2:40)
The song was written by Rodney Williams and George Goodman. Goodman also produced the session.

RECORD Val #5-1964
SIDE A: I'll Cherish Your Love (2:18)
SIDE B: Secret Love (2:20)

RECORD Val #6-1965
SIDE A: Need You (2:14)
SIDE B: Starlight And Moonbeams (2:18)

(Listing from Youngblood's Oldies Database)

And just who were these guys that had the doo-wop ballad down to an art form in a city that took its vocalists seriously? They were George Goodman (baritone), Rodney Williams (lead), and Melvin Peters (tenor).

The Hill's Goodman died young in the late 60s.  Travis Klein, of Itzy label fame, filled us in on his bio:  "George Goodman, from the Hill District, got his start in the mid 60's working for Herbie Cohen's Fenway Distributors on Fifth Avenue, Uptown. He was very involved in distributing and promoting R & B records for them and helped break Charlie and Inez Foxx's "Mockingbird" on Sue Records.

He later worked for Bell and a couple of other labels doing promotion but returned to Pittsburgh and went to work for Klein's Record Distributors. Drug and mental health issues caused his early demise."

Melvin Peters started his career with The Five Mellows, and also worked with the Del Vikings and Marcels. In the early 1960's, he joined Chuck Jackson and the Motown group The Originals. Then it was back home as a Headliner. He spent the seventies working with Solid Gold, Flashback, and the Katch. Now he's with a Cleveland group called Mellow Class.

After Goodman's death, we've been told, the Headliners played and toured regionally for awhile, before eventually heading to Texas to harmonize, allegedly as faux-Marcels (at least until the real Marcels found out).

And that's all we could find out about the short-lived Headliners, other than they're not to be mistaken with Motown's Headliners of the same era, and they're on several compilation albums, such as Itzy's Pittsburgh's Greatest Hits series. If you can add to their tale, give us a yell. Meanwhile, enjoy "Let Me Love You."

George Goodman and the Headliners - "Let Me Love You"


DustyRose said...

One of my fav songs....yep the chills hit me hard on this one & still does! Headhunters tho ??
also all these years I been singing take me in your arms & now was was I hearing wrong, is it heart ?? Thanks for this great post ;)

Ron Ieraci said...

Dusty - Thanks. I do appreciate the Headhunter note; I've had this post up for 15 months and you're the first to notice my gaffe. Got it fixed now.

And I wouldn't worry about the lyric. I thought it was heart, to be honest, but since it's not published anywhere I can find, who cares? (and when I listen, half the time it sounds like heart; the other half sounds like arms) It's whatever you think sounds right.

dave bernard said...

So, I got a Val re-issue with the vocal on both sides. Is the instrumental version a sax thing or what? One of the most beautifil non-hits ever.

Dave near Boston

Ron Ieraci said...

Dave - the Val original was backed with an instrumental version; I think they had a reissue with "I'm So Tired" on the B Side.

Warner also released a version with an instrumental version on the flip; I've not seen an A&M record.

As far as whether it was sax version or not, can't help you; I don't have the vinyl. I can tell you I've never heard of one with vocals on both sides; maybe it was a bootleg.

Anonymous said...

Was George a Goodwin or Goodman?

Ron Ieraci said...

Anon - thanks; good eye. That post has been up since 2009 and had over 1,000 hits, and you were the first to catch the typo. Fixed it up; appreciate the note.

Anonymous said...

Ron: Makes me feel good that your writing is now 100%. I was looking for death info on George Goodman, and that's when I notice the difference in names. I checked two states, Maryland and Pennsylvania. Was there another state where George may of been from?

Ron Ieraci said...

Anon - Goodman didn't leave anything behind as far as bios or obits go that I could find. I'll post if something pops up or I bump across someone from the era that knew his background.

Anonymous said...

Ron, would you know how old George Goodman was when he passed away? Also, how old was he at passing?

Anonymous said...

I bought "Let Me Love You" as a Warner Bros. new release in 1965. The instrumental is simply the backing track (minus the vocal).

I also bought "Need You" when it was reissued in summer 1967. The backing track is identical to the one on Johnny Jack's recording.

Anonymous said...

My all time favorite song. The first time I heard this song was at a dance at the Y.M.C.A. in downtown Pittsburgh.

travisklein said...

Ron, I think George died in Buffalo. He jumped out of a window. I don't know the year or his age. My guess is he would have been about 73 now.

Anonymous said...

I worked with George at Fenway Records in 1967. He was a great guy, very funny. Every once in a while he would sing and dazzle all of us in the warehouse. I'm sure that many besides me miss him.

Daniel Barr said...

Thanks for taking the time to post this........everyone!