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Friday, June 23, 2006

Jackie Gleason Honeymoons at the Paramount Theater - 1955

"PoPsie" knew Jackie Gleason very well. Gleason utilized PoPsie often for many of his projects during the 50's from his early forays into television on the Dumont Network up to his later musical projects on Capitol Records.

Gleason was excited in 1955 to have his show broadcast on CBS and wanted PoPsie there to capture the occasion. PoPsie shot many images of Gleason doing his show that evening and from what I can tell from the photographs, Gleason was the ultimate showman.

For a man his size, he was amazingly light on his feet. He had very few peers when it came to his comedic timing and he also had a great rapport with the audience.

Today, I'll let the photos do the talking, because when it comes to seeing a master at work, I can only sit back and watch with awe and envy... and I can tell that PoPsie and Gleason respected each others work.

I would also love to tell you how Gleason used to play as hard as he worked and of the photos of Gleason hanging out with Frank Sinatra after hours at Toots Shore's place in New York City, but as you know, that is another story for another time.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

May 5, 1966 - Jimi Hendrix wears a tuxedo onstage during one of the greatest soul shows ever

Sometimes you just happen to be present when the heavens align just right and you get to witness a one of a kind event that no amount of money could recreate. One of those events happened on the evening of May 5, 1966 at the Prelude Club in New York City.

One of the greatest collections of future Rock and Roll hall of famers were gathered under one roof to celebrate the arrival of a newcomer to the Atlantic Records family and it was a show for the ages.

The event was an Album release party for Percy Sledge, whose single, When a Man Loves a Woman was burning up the charts. Also present that fateful night were Esther Phillips, Don Covay and the one and only Wilson "Wicked" Pickett.

Representing the brain trust at Atlantic Records were Jerry Wexler and Neshui Etergun as well as other staffers at the label. PoPsie was the main photographer for Atlantic and most of the historical events of their label were captured in his images. This was no exception.

The backing band that night was led by "King Curtis" Ousley who with his group, The Kingpins, backed up many of the soul singers on Atlantic Records at that time. Sitting in with the Kingpins also that night was a wild haired guy who happened to play the guitar upside down.

As I reviewed the negatives for this session, I noticed that he looked vaguely familiar and I took a closer look at the negatives. I was shocked to see Jimi Hendrix smiling and wailing away alongside one of the greatest soul bands as a sideman in a tuxedo no less...

To say that you could knock me over with a feather would be an understatement. This happened to be one of his last gigs before he flew across the ocean in September of 1966 and became Jimi Hendrix, the legend.

All told there are over a hundred shots of this show and I'm currently trying to put together an article or book on this event so that the rest of the world can see exactly what a supernova looks like when it happens, but that's another story for a another time.