Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: My question is about the Statler Brothers singing group. Is it true that one of the brothers killed himself some years back?

Is the group still around? Hope you can answer me!
—Karen Stefanowicz, St. Petersburg, Fla.

DEAR KAREN: The Statlers' original tenor, Lew DeWitt, died about 13 years ago; however, the cause of death is listed as heart and kidney failure — certainly not a suicide.

While still a teenager, doctors diagnosed Lew DeWitt with a very serious inflammatory lower intestine disease known as Crohn's.

Beginning in late 1981, problems related to Crohn's Disease forced Lew to step away from the group. His replacement, Jimmy Fortune remained with the quartet to the end. He is now recording as a solo artist.

Off and on in the mid-'80s, Lew DeWitt returned to the studio and stage, but health problems plagued him and eventually he gave up show business.

Lew died on August 15, 1990 of heart and kidney failure, both complications sometimes associated with Crohn's Disease.

For those unfamiliar with the group's history, there never have been any Statlers, brothers or otherwise, in the Statler Brothers.

The original lineup does, however, include two brothers: Harold Reid, Don Reid, Phil Balsley, and Lew DeWitt. From 1961 through '63, they performed using the name the Kingsmen. Then along came the monster hit “Louie Louie,” by another group named the Kingsmen.

Aware they could no longer be Kingsmen, their search for a new name ended when Harold Reid spotted a box of Statler brand tissues in a hotel room. From that sighting came the name Statler Brothers.

The Statler Brothers retired last year. Their final concert took place October 26, 2002 in Salem, Virginia.

DEAR JERRY: I was thrilled to learn from you about the first long playing album made, as well as the first 45 rpm singles released.

To carry that line of information further, would you have any idea which of the many thousands of 12-inch singles is the first one made?

One reason the 12-inch singles have been so popular in the clubs is the spread-out grooves allow for far greater reproduction of the bass. That is why they became known as Disco singles.

Whenever possible, I always choose a 12-inch single, with usually superior sound, over a 7-inch one.

The first one I ever bought is “I Love the Nightlife (Disco Round),” by Alicia Bridges, but I'll bet there are earlier ones around.
—Don Eldridge, New Haven, Conn.

DEAR DON: “I Love the Nightlife (Disco Round)” is an early 12-incher, but the one I believe to be the first commercial single in the LP-size format came out a little over a year before Alicia Bridges.

In the spring of 1977, Salsoul Records issued a 12-inch single of “So Much for Love” by Moment of Truth, and until learning otherwise, this one is my pick for an honor that is very worthy of note.

You may be interested to know that I rate “I Love the Nightlife (Disco Round)” (Alicia Bridges) and “Born to Be Alive” (Patrick Hernandez) among the greatest Disco tracks ever.

DEAR JERRY: Seeing a remake on the shelves of “The Italian Job” film made me rent the 1960s original, starring the wonderful actor, Michael Caine.

The opening theme song is simply beautiful, and I'm hoping you can identify it. I know I have never heard it before.

By a Tony Bennett-like male vocalist, it is sung partly in Italian but mostly in English. Unfortunately, there are distracting background noises (car engines, etc.) on the film's soundtrack that I don't particularly need.

I must have it! Please help.
—Sandi Erickson, Lancaster, Pa.

DEAR SANDI: Your mystery movie song is “On Days Like These,” by Matt Monro (Capitol 2588). It came out, without sports car sounds, on a single in 1969, the same year as “The Italian Job.”

While seemingly perfect for Adult Contemporary formats, this one did not chart for Monro. That is probably why you have never heard it.

Though a bit more difficult to locate, there is a soundtrack album of “The Italian Job” (Paramount PAS-5007), also released in 1969. Of course it also includes “On Days Like These” sans sound effects.

This and all the tunes in the movie are composed by Quincy Jones.

IZ ZAT SO? Matt Monro's “On Days Like These” is the first music heard in “The Italian Job” film, but it is the song that plays near the closing moments that has acquired a cult following.

Titled “Get A Bloomin' Move On,” a.k.a. “Self-Preservation Society,” it is a Cockney-laced composition performed by a group named, of all things, the Italian Job.

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