February 24, 2018

Consider donating your KC rock history items

Chuck Haddix, director Marr Sound Archives

Chuck Haddix, director Marr Sound Archives

Rhythm and blues, which is to say rock, music has no better friend in the Kansas City area than Chuck Haddix.
If he were only the director of the Marr Sound Archives in the Miller Nichols Library on the University of Missouri-Kansas City campus, that would be a significant achievement in preserving our area’s music history.
But since 1985, Haddix has devoted his Friday and Saturday nights to playing “the finest in blues, soul, rhythm and blues, jumping jive and zydeco” on the “Saturday Night Fish Fry” on KCUR-FM 89.3, providing Kaycee with a swinging weekend soundtrack. He does the club calendar, interviews visiting artists and locals alike, spins their records and drops knowledge gained from a life spent selling, promoting, chronicling and loving music.
I hope the Kansas City Rock History Project – this website and the book I hope to publish – have their place, and I hope you will share with me your memorabilia – posters, photos, matchbooks, etc. – to make the book the best it can be.
But I’m just one guy and not an institution that can offer care in perpetuity for any donations of papers, records, photos, etc., you might make. Chuck would like to expand the Marr’s holdings of local rock-era artifacts to add to its already awesome collection ranging from wax cylinders to jazz LPs to the personal effects of local music legends like Claude “Fiddler” Williams.
If you have locally made records, tapes or CDs, correspondence, fanzines, legal documents, notebooks, business cards, etc., that relate to Kansas City rock history, the Marr and its sister institution, the LaBudde Special Collections of the Miller Nichols Library, would like you to consider donating such items to enrich their collections.
I’d love it if you’d let me scan your stuff first before donating it to Marr/LaBudde. Hit me up at rick@kcrockhistory.com. Once your donation becomes part of the archive, would-be authors like me are are charged reproduction fees, and I’d like to avoid those whenever possible.
So, if you’re interested in seeing local rock history preserved, placed in context and made available to future historians, consider donating your items or collection to the Marr Sound Archives and/or LaBudde Special Collections.
Here’s a link for details on donations:

50th anniversary of KC Beatles concert coming up

Finley was reviled by KC baseball fans but loved by its Beatle fans.

Finley was reviled by KC baseball fans but loved by its Beatle fans.

Sir Paul McCartney returns to Kansas City for a concert this Wednesday, July 16, at the Sprint Center as part of his “Out There” tour. It will be the first time I have seen him perform, but it’s the rock icon’s fifth visit to our town.
The first, of course, was when the Beatles played a concert on Sept. 17, 1964, at old Municipal Stadium as part of their first American tour.
Paul’s next KC appearance came on May 29, 1976, at Kemper Arena on the “Wings Over America” tour. Four tracks – “Maybe I’m Amazed,” “Listen to What the Man Said,” “The Long and Winding Road” and “Letting Go” – recorded at Kemper appear on the triple live album bearing the title of the tour.
McCartney performed at Arrowhead Stadium on May 31, 1993, on his “New World” tour, followed by a July 24, 2010, show at Sprint Center on his “Up and Coming” Tour.
We’re blessed to have both surviving Beatles visit KC this year. Ringo Starr brings his All-Starr Band to Starlight Theater Oct. 4. He was last here June 28, 1992, playing at Sandstone.
John and George never returned after 1964.
I have been gathering information about the Beatles’ 1964 KC concert in preparation for a presentation on the 50th anniversary of the event. It’s set for 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 14 at the Central Library, 14 W. 10th St., as part of the KCMO Public Library’s free Missouri Valley Speaker Series.
I’m honored to have been asked to give this talk. And while I have some materials, I am desperately seeking more, both for the talk and for the book I hope to publish on KC Rock History. So if anyone out there has photos taken at the show, no matter how grainy, or other memorabilia, please write me at rick@kcrockhistory.com. You can scan and send it to me (high-res, please!) or loan it to me for scanning and be assured I will take good care of it. And please post your memories of the show below.

The man who sang “Kansas City” first

Britain's Ace Records has reissued the seminal "K.C. Loving" in this set.

Britain’s Ace Records has reissued the seminal “K.C. Loving” in this set.

While the song “Kansas City” is officially credited to rock ’n’ roll demigods Lieber and Stoller, the first man to record it, then-20-year-old Little Willie Littlefield, often claimed in the ensuing years to have written it himself.

It’s not hard to believe Littlefield had at least a hand in writing the song. After all, it was he who was hanging out on the corner of 12th Street and Vine in 1952, not Lieber and Stoller. They apparently never visited until 1986, to receive a key to the city.

From The Call June 20, 1952.

From The Call June 20, 1952.

According to articles and items in the “Running the Scales” column by Bee Flatt in The Call, Little Willie played the Orchid Room, located at the intersection made famous in the song lyric, in June and July 1952,
From The Call column "Running the Scales" by Bee Flatt, July 28, 1952.

From The Call column “Running the Scales” by Bee Flatt, July 28, 1952.

immediately before heading out to L.A. for an August recording session helmed by Ralph Bass. Those songs included “K.C. Loving,” released later that year on the Federal label.

In retrospect, “K.C. Loving” swings. It’s a happy meeting of boogie-woogie, jazzy saxophone and proto-rock ’n’ roll. But according to several sources, it hardly made an impact outside of the West Coast. It didn’t chart.

Apparently, though, Wilbert Harrison heard it, and his rollicking 1959 resurrection of the tune as “Kansas City” for the Fury label shot to Number 1 on the Billboard pop and R&B charts. That occasioned the re-release of Little Willie’s original, along with versions by Hank Ballard, Rocky Olson and Little Richard, with Richard adding different lyrics and welding it to his earlier “Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey!” Richard’s medley was the one covered just a few years later by those four lads from Liverpool, taking the song to new heights of popularity.

Meanwhile, Little Willie was fading into obscurity that was only to be relieved when he began touring Europe in the late 1970s. He moved to the Netherlands around 1980 and continued to perform in Europe — and occasionally the United States — until very recently. He played the Blue Room at 18th and Vine in 2008. According to his manager, Rolf Schubert, in this Washington Post obit, Little Willie Littlefield succumbed to cancer June 23.