DEAR JERRY: I have been searching for a song that was released in the very late '50s, or early '60s. It was a real tear jerker about the singer's lover, who boarded a plane and was killed when the plane crashed. I think the name of the song contained the word “Flight” followed by a number, such as “Flight 409.”
I thought the group that sang it was similar to the Eberly Brothers but I checked their discography and this song was not sung by them. I also checked the Browns and this was not one of their recordings either.
What makes this recording quite interesting, is if the flight number used is one that has been the victim of a real-life terrorist bombing, or a crash. If the flight in this recording matches one of the real flight numbers, then whichever group did this recording basically prophesied the destruction of the aircraft approximately 30 to 35 years before it really happened.
The actual flight numbers of planes that crashed can be found on the web. In fact, when I was searching for information about this song the flight numbers in crashes and bombings came up.
Any help you can give me would be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much.
James Fahringer, York, Pa.
DEAR JAMES: Since your mystery tune is a former Top 10 hit, and million-selling single, I'm betting most readers knew the answer before my turn to reply came.
It is indeed by the Everly (not Eberly) Brothers, an early 1961 release titled “Ebony Eyes” (Warner Bros. 5199).
Written by the prolific John D. Loudermilk, “Ebony Eyes” tells the tragic story of a soldier waiting for his fiancée to arrive on flight 1203, only to hear over the airport loudspeakers: “Would those having relatives or friends on flight number 1203 please report to the chapel across the street at once.”
I ran “Flight 1203” through several search engines and found nary a single reference to any news stories mentioning such a flight, so I can't give any prophecy points to John D. Loudermilk.
One easily available CD source for “Ebony Eyes” is the recently-issued “Last Kiss Songs of Teen Tragedy,” a 14-track collection that lives up to its title (Varese Sarabande 302 066 150 2).
A year after “Ebony Eyes,” the Beach Boys had a hit with “409.” Perhaps you got the size (cubic inches) of their engine confused with flight 1203.
DEAR JERRY: It was interesting to read your column about Lovelace Watkins, especially since I engineered his “Love Is” album when I was a staff engineer at Universal Recording in Chicago.
It was a tough one to do since there was no overdubbing at the time. The entire orchestra, background singers and Lovelace were all recorded together.
I do agree with Thomas Joyce, of Chicago, who wrote to you about Watkins. He had incredible control and a beautiful voice.
Incidentally, I have an album length recording of Ike (Fats) Cole with his trio, recorded in the late '50s at a time when I had my own studio. As you know, Ike is brother of Nat and uncle of Natalie. The tapes have never been published or released. Perhaps Natalie would like to have them. What do you think?
Jerry DeClercq (firstname.lastname@example.org)
DEAR JERRY: In 15 years of writing this feature, we have heard from countless recordings artists, publicists, and managers, but this is the first time that I can recall correspondence from a session engineer. Thank you for joining the pack. And perhaps a result of a couple of glowing mentions in the column, the previously unknown Lovelace Watkins is now known to millions.
As for the Ike Cole session tapes, Natalie would be the most logical person to contact, though I wouldn't rule out one of the CD labels specializing in the music of the '50s and '60s.
You know, Ike is not the most common of names. Yet both Ikes that first come to mind in the music field are both brothers to far better known singers: Ike Cole, and Ike Clanton, Jimmy's brother.
IZ ZAT SO? The idea for the aforementioned CD, issued “Last Kiss Songs of Teen Tragedy,” sprang from one of our previous columns about songs of that genre. One thing led to another and soon Varese Sarabande asked me to co-produce the project and then to write the liner notes.
Now you have even more motivation to check this one out.