When the Beatles ruled the pop charts, in the mid-1960's, there was a young hitmaker, who had moved from NYC to Louisiana, with his family, when he was a toddler. The young fellow had grown up, not with the British beat, but listening to the New Orlean's legends, not the smallest of those being Fats Domino. This had a huge influence on the young man's performing style.
Back in 1957, this wannabe star, at the tender age of 15, made his way back to NYC (birth place) to meet the famous rock "n" roll deejay, Alan Freed. Freed, who made superstars, liked the kid's music and arranged for a contract with a small record label. There was little success at that label, but it was a good beginning for a kid.
By the early 1960's, the singer had packed-up and moved to Los Angeles where he had developed a huge following as a live club performer with a rock-a-billy beat. The 21-year- old's live performances were so popular that he was hired to be the ongoing star attraction, house band, at a hip new nightclub -- the soon to be legendary Whiskey-a-Go-Go. This is where go-go dancing became elevated to a national craze, with girls in cages suspended high above the dance floor.
Many of the big stars of the 60's -- The Byrds, the Turtles, the Lovin' Spoonful, and others became regular attractions or took up residence at the Whiskey.
The young artist, with his Louisiana beat, had his first Top 40 hits on the "Imperial" record label. The hit songs, plucked from Chuck Berry's prolific library of tunes, were recorded live at the Whiskey and the hits made it all the way to #2 on the Billboard charts.
One of the artist's songs, featured what ends up being one of the most recognized guitar riffs in rock "n" roll history, see the bottom of this post. Despite having had many chart hits, all of them songs written by others, the only #1 this artist ever had was an original composition. Yep, he wrote it himself and it was a totally different style -- not rock-a-billy but a ballad.
Curious who this might be, and what song I am talking about? Here is a clue: The artist went on to be a top record producer with his own label -- Soul City -- where he discovered the Fifth Dimension. Still not enough information to make a safe guess? Well, to see the original artist perform his only #1 hit, from November 1966, click on the TV. Doing so will cut Lawrence Welk's Geritol off, so you can get to the rock "n" roll.
Bonus: If you were intrigued by the comment above, about this artist having recorded one of the most famous guitar riffs in rock history, here is your chance to find out what I am talking about. The tune was the theme song from a TV show, Secret Agent or Danger Man. Click on Patrick McGoohan's photo, to see and hear these famous guitar licks.