In October 1961, Ray Bourbon was booked for ten weeks at Tony’s Talk of the Town, a nightclub in Chicago.
The owner of the club was D.W. Summers, who had just started a small record label, Roslyn Records. He recorded Ray’s show on October 25, 1961, intending to release it as an album. He also booked female impersonator T.C. Jones at the club, and recorded his act for an lp release as well.
But, those lp releases never came about.
In 1959, the Payola scandals were making headlines around the country, with famous DJ’s like Alan Freed caught up in revelations that they received cash “under the table” payments for playing records on the air, without revealing that they were being paid to do so.
Summers was interviewed on a Chicago radio station about his experience owning a small record label, having to make the payments to get any airplay for his recordings. Life magazine featured an article on the Payola scandals in their issue of November 23, 1959 and reproduced a transcript of Summers’s interview. Eventually, he and others in the radio and record industries were called in for Congressional hearings.
With the fallout from the Payola scandal, Roslyn Records went under and the albums by Ray Bourbon and TC Jones went unreleased.
Summers, seeing my website about Ray in 2002, contacted me with plans to release his Roslyn master tapes on compact disc. He even sent me a mock-up test copy of Ray’s album.
The show, introduced by Jerry Day, is similar to the one that Ray would record at the Jewel Box a few years later. Unlike the Jewel Box album, however, Ray is a little more polished and lively and the sound quality matches most any of the big label nightclub releases of the period. Ray does a couple of classic songs and routines, “Millie” and “The Cafeteria”, and performs several sequences of short jokes and one-liners on topics such as the Freedom Riders and Eleanor Roosevelt’s “My Day” newspaper column. The total run time of the show is about 23 minutes.
Here’s a brief excerpt from the album with Ray tossing off one-liners and showing off his remarkable vocal range. It is copyrighted by D.W. Summers, Paradise Records, San Anselmo, CA; the excerpt is presented for research purposes under Fair Use provisions of copyright law.
I never heard back from Summers and have had trouble tracking him down. As I am restoring and remastering all of Ray’s released 78s and lps, I hope this interesting historical artifact can finally see the light of day after all these years with an official release from D.W.