Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: Since the death of Ray Charles, more of his music is getting played on the radio than ever.

One song I frequently hear is “Hit the Road Jack,” which is no surprise. But I never hear his “Jack” sequel, which I also remember being a hit.

In this song, the Ray Charles Singers take the lead and invite Ray to “come on back, Jack.” Ray, the voice of “Jack,” answers saying he doesn't want to come home, etc.

I have checked several compilations of Ray's hits, but they have only “Hit the Road Jack,” and not the follow-up.

How did this one song simply fall through the cracks?
—Jesse Carmichael, Evansville, Ind.

DEAR JESSE: This week you are joined by Bill Foster, of Spring Hill, Florida, who asks about the same song, which he recalls as being “Come on Back Jack.”

Other than inspiring Richard Barrett to write an answer song to “Hit the Road Jack,” neither Ray Charles, nor his Singers, have anything to do with this recording. It didn't fall through the cracks, it's just that it is by the Chantels.

Titled “Well, I Told You” (Carlton 564), it has the Chantels joined by Richard Barrett, singer, songwriter, and also their manager.

Obviously, Barrett's impersonation of Ray Charles is good enough to fool some listeners.

“Hit the Road Jack,” written by Percy Mayfield, became a No. 1 hit in October 1961, and “Well, I Told You” made the Top 30 a few weeks later.

As any sports fan knows, “Hit the Road Jack” is sarcastically played in stadiums and arenas when an opposing baseball team's starting pitcher is yanked, or basketball player fouls out of the game.

DEAR JERRY: The XM satellite channel heard in our office often plays “You're So Fine,” by the Falcons.

I know this was a big hit, but it sounds like the lead singer is in a cave. Either that or they made it in a garage.

That aside, it is the lead singer I'm writing about. Some dee jays say it is Eddie Floyd, while others say Wilson Pickett is the lead voice. Which is correct?

To me, “You're So Fine,” and especially “The Teacher,” sound more like Pickett and Floyd.

It is interesting that both of these fellows became R&B solo stars in the 1960s, and apparently both were in the Falcons group.
—Del Swanson, Torrance, Calif.

DEAR DEL: Neither claim is right about the lead singer on “You're So Fine.”

Because the Falcons' personnel included, at different times, both Eddie Floyd and the late Wilson Pickett, and since both became popular later, it is easy to understand the mix-up.

A charter member when the Falcons formed in 1955, Eddie Floyd fronted the group until around 1958. His replacement, Joe Stubbs, is the lead singer on their first three hits: “You're So Fine,” “Just for Your Love,” and “The Teacher.”

When Joe, whose older brother Levi Stubbs sang lead for the Four Tops from 1953 to 2000, left the Falcons in 1960, Wilson Pickett took over the lead. It is Wilson you hear on their 1962 hit, “I Found a Love.”

Unlike their other tracks, “You're So Fine” does sound as though Stubbs is significantly off-mike.

After his years with the Falcons, Eddie Floyd moved to Memphis and cranked out 17 hits for the Stax label, including “Knock on Wood;” “I've Never Found a Girl (To Love Me Like You Do);” and “Bring It on Home to Me.”

Post Falcons, Wilson Pickett really soared, with 49 hit songs.

Among those are several now regarded as 1960s soul classics: “In the Midnight Hour;” “634-5789;” “Land of 1,000 Dances;” “Funky Broadway;” “Mustang Sally,” and “Don't Knock My Love.”

IZ ZAT SO? Like Eddie Floyd and Wilson Pickett, Joe Stubbs also fared quite well after flying the Falcons' coop.

He worked next with the Contours, of “Do You Love Me” (1961) fame, then Joe sang lead for 100 Proof Aged in Soul, a group best remembered for “Somebody's Been Sleeping” (1970).

Finally this interesting trivia note: Dave Leveton (Booklyn, N.Y.) writes to point out that January 19th is the date that both Joe Stubbs (1998) and Wilson Pickett (2006) died.

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