Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: In the 1973 “Elvis, Aloha from Hawaii via Satellite” TV special, that was broadcast worldwide, trio of female singers sang in the background.

Can you tell me their names — individually and as a group, if they were in fact a separate group?

Is this concert available on video tape or DVD?
—Albert C. Hugg, St. Petersburg, Fla.

DEAR ALBERT: There are actually four female backup singers, though you surely refer to the three African-American singers on the stage, and not the soprano on their right, Kathy Westmoreland. These gals are a popular 1960s soul group named the Sweet Inspirations.

Apart from their impressive session work, most notably with Aretha Franklin as well as Presley, they turned out the Top 20 hit, “Sweet Inspiration,” in 1968. Yes, the tune is named after the group and not the other way around.

Individually, as seen on “Aloha from Hawaii via Satellite,” as well in over one thousand Elvis concerts in the '70s, the ladies are: Sylvia Shemwell, Myrna Smith, and Estelle Brown.

This TV spectacular — the first ever live satellite entertainment show, and seen by 1.5 billion people — took place on January 14, 1973. It is easily available in both VHS and DVD formats.

DEAR JERRY: Please settle a disagreement between my brother and me, over the song “Suspicious Minds.”

I contend this song was first recorded by the guy who wrote it, Mark James. My brother claims that Elvis released it first, in 1969.

Which of us is right?
—Bill Oliver, Orland Park, Ill.

DEAR BILL: You win this round.

Mark James wrote and first recorded “Suspicious Minds” in the summer of 1968 (Scepter 12221). Elvis discovered Mark's record, liked it, then recorded his version.

Presley's came out just about one year later, and went all the way to No. 1.

From 1969 forward, the tune became an stage energetic highpoint on the concert stage, and was included in most of his live shows.

DEAR JERRY: I recall a song that I heard in the late '50s or early '60s, which I believe is named “Stormy.” Even though the title is the same as the hit by the Classics IV, this is a completely different song. It is by a group called the Corsairs.

It is possible that when I heard it back then that it was being played as oldie.

Not one of the many references I have checked make any mention of the song even existing, so can you help me?
—Steve Ahl, Milwaukee, Wisc.

DEAR STEVE: Nothing at all like the Top 5 hit of 1968, by Dennis Yost and the Classics IV, the “Stormy” you seek came out in 1963 (Tuff 1847).

You are right about this tune being by the Corsairs, one of their many unsuccessful follow-ups to their signature song, “Smoky Places.”

This particular bunch of Corsairs is made up of three brothers — James, Moses, and lead singer, Jay “Bird” Uzzell — and a cousin, George Wooten.

“Stormy, Smoky Places,” and most of the quartet's other Tuff singles, can be found in the $15 to $25 range.

IZ ZAT SO? A letter from Dick Boney (Buickley, Wash) brings forth an idea.

Dick is but one of many who have, over the years, asked “what ever happened to” one of the hitmakers of the past.

Along the way, we have located and printed letters from stars such as: Bobby Goldsboro, Paul & Paula, Annette, Tony Bellus, Gene Pitney, Joe Dowell, Donovan, Sonny James, D.J. Fontana, Ronnie McDowell, Billy Joel, John Fogerty, Dave Clark, Peter Noone, Billy Swan, Linda Gail & Jerry Lee Lewis, and many others.

So who have we missed that you would like to know more about? For Dick Boney, it's Gene Vincent and Wilbert Harrison.

Send along the names of those performers you want us to research and we will do a special “What Ever Happened To” feature.

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