Gary: “I know that Russ and I really like the obscure and often overlooked people and songs in music. Well lets take a ride back to the Fifties and look at a man, who was not really famous, but he was a very talented producer and visionary.
He produced everybody from Charlie Parker to Lou Reed in 1959; he produced the first album by Big Brother and the Holding Company, featuring a new singer who’s name was Janis Joplin, Ted Nugent (the Amboy Dukes)… the list goes on, but I know that not many people have heard of him, nor would they know what he did.
Well, this is just a very small window into a man that by today’s standards was not overly successful, but made 4 or 5 of my favourite recordings, Bob Shad. I guess his love of jazz really prompted him to form his own label in 1948, Shad Records.
In 1951 he worked for Mercury Records as Director of Blues and Jazz and supervised sessions with Big Bill Broonzy, Dinah Washington, Buddy Johnson, Junior Wells and so on, but he was not really known outside of the music profession.
Bob would be almost 40 when in 1958 he left Mercury and went into his own business and labels, which would be Shad / Time / Brent (Junior was dropped because someone else already owned the name) and in the 1960s, Mainstream Records.
So this is just a very small look at what he accomplished. His daughter Tamara had a baby sitter named Billy Eckstine and of course being with Mercury Bob recorded, The Platters, The Crew Cuts, Patti Page and so on.
Videos for that time period and recordings that just made it into the top 40, but nowhere near the top ten, just do not exist. I own 30 original recordings from those small labels and that time period, those I will share and I hope you enjoy them.
Some of the Artists:
Here are some of the other songs that Shad produced on those labels that I find interesting!
In 1958 Bob signed a trio of Long Island NY kids called The Shades aka The Jades. Now in that group was a young 16 year old kid named Lewis Allen Reed or, as he would be known when he recorded , Lou Reed.
Now these “Guys” would eventually become a huge part of the L.A. Music Scene and be part of the Wrecking Crew, which was the studio group for about 5 years in L.A. Yes, this group had Leon Russell on keyboards, the great sax player Steve Douglas and of course on guitar, Jerry Cole.
A Latino Rocker, much in the vain of Ritchie Valens, he was the guitarist for Bobby Freeman of “Let’s Dance” fame. In 1960 Bob had him record two songs; one, in my opinion, is very close to “Come On Let’s Go” by Ritchie Valens, but you can be that judge. Both songs got a lot of local air play, but never broke nationally.
I could go on for quite a while, but this will be the last of those unknown, or probably not remembered singers and musicians.
Although Bob Shad was recognized as an outstanding producer of major Blues, Pop, Rock, and R&B recordings, his earlier production career actually began in the Jazz world. This segment is covered by my partner, Russ.