Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne

FOR THE WEEK OF February 15, 1999

DEAR JERRY: I ran into a record that I think might be a valuable collectors item. It is a 45 rpm by actor James Dean, and someone named Bob Romero. It seems the title is “Ad-lib Jam Session.”
—Roma Lewiston, Madison, Va.

DEAR ROMA: On this unusual 1957 release, James Dean thumps conga drums and Bob Romero plays flute. Dean, killed in a California auto accident on September 30, 1955, made this jam session tape with no intention of it being issued as a record.

Regardless, anyone with anything marketable by Dean had it on the market after his death (September 1955) in an auto crash on a California highway.

With the photo sleeve, which pictures James Dean, this single is now worth $40 to $50.

DEAR JERRY: I am looking for the artist and album name which contains the song “Be a Woman.” It is circa 1968 or so. I thought it was by the original Fleetwood Mac group, but I have searched all of their old albums and can't seem to find the right one. Perhaps it's an old album that's now out of print. Your help would be appreciated.
—Michael Brumfield (

DEAR MICHAEL: Could it be that the tune you seek is by another band, such as the Illinois Speed Press?

Their one hit LP, appropriately titled “The Illinois Speed Press” (Columbia 9792) does contain “Be a Woman.”

Also, the time frame is right. “The Illinois Speed Press” came out in the spring of 1969.

DEAR JERRY: When the Kingsmen's “Louie Louie” played at a high school basketball game recently, me and a guy I was with got into a debate about who all had versions on record before the Kingsmen.

Can you share the background on early Louies with us?
—Sidney Decker, York, Pa.

DEAR SIDNEY: Richard Berry wrote and first recorded “Louie Louie,” the No. 1 party song of all time, in 1957 (Flip 321).

In 1961, Bill Englehardt's group, Little Bill and the Bluenotes (Topaz 1305) recorded it. Following their version almost immediately is the one by the Wailers (Etiquette 1).

None of the pre-Kingsmen releases became national breakout hits, though each received scattered, regional airplay.

As most know, by the end of 1963 “Louie Louie” belonged to the Kingsmen, a garage band from Portland, Oregon.

In case you're still counting, over 1,000 different recordings now exist of “Louie Louie.”

DEAR JERRY: I distinctly remember a fabulous recording of “You Don't Know Me,” that came out around 1959 or '60. Whenever I ask someone in the music shops, or even dee jays, some recall the hits by Ray Charles and Elvis, but none as early as the one I seek.

Any chance you know which one I mean?
—Barb Gersdorf, New Haven, Conn.

DEAR BARB: Good chance indeed. In early 1960, “You Don't Know Me” became the first hit for Lenny Welch (Cadence 1373).

Though better-selling pop recordings of this tune were made by Jerry Vale (1956), Ray Charles (1962), Elvis Presley (1967), and Mickey Gilley (1981), none topped the marvelous rendering by Lenny Welch.

What's it Worth? Get fast appraisals by e-mail!

IZ ZAT SO? In a 1985 Proclamation by Mayor J.E. Bud Clark, The Kingsmen are honored as the first musical group from Portland to achieve worldwide success.

Acknowledging the bands status, Clark proclaimed July 28, 1985 as Kingsmen Day in Portland.

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