Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: Before 8-track and cassette tapes, our family recorded lots of reel-to-reel music.

Boxes of these have now been found in an attic, along with the recorder used to make them.

From lists written on the boxes, there are many great tunes here, which we'd like to copy and preserve digitally.

My husband has a computer and the savvy to convert them, but we can't because when we play the tapes a loud squeaking noise covers most of the music.

Might be the result of 40 years in storage, but before trashing all of these tapes I'd like your opinion as to whether all of this work can be salvaged.

Could it be the player and not the tapes causing the squeaks?
—Brenda Caine, Aurora, Ill.

DEAR BRENDA: To eliminate the tape machine as the culprit in the Case of the Squeaky Tapes, simply find another player and play one of the squeaky reels. My guess is they will still squeak.

Being familiar with this curious phenomenon — which we audio technicians refer to as a “squeaky tape” — I am certain the problem is the tape.

Magnetic tapes are no different than journalists. The older they get, the more they squeak when they move.

There is a remedy I have used successfully.

With my conventional electric oven pre-heated to 150 degrees (F), I removed the tapes from their boxes (cardboard does not belong in any oven!) laying the plastic reels of squeaky tapes on a rack in the middle of the oven.

I removed them after about one hour and gave them just a few minutes to cool before playing.

I was thrilled with my freshly baked batch of tasty, squeak-free tunes.

Legal Notice: Though accurately stated herein, the facts of a personal experience in this matter are shared for information purposes only and are not intended as a recommendation in any manner.

Anyone who reads the daily news sees countless examples of people who do unthinkably stupid things and then, often assisted by a sleazy lawyer, look for someone else to blame. We will not be responsible for the actions of those unfamiliar with safe and appropriate oven use.

DEAR JERRY: In “D.O.A.,” the 1949 Edmund O'Brien film, he gets a poisoned cocktail at a San Francisco night club — all of which begins the story line.

At that club a small band is playing, featuring a wailing sax player. There is also a trumpeter, drummer, and pianist.

I cannot identify this group, even though credit is given for the film score itself .

I am especially curious about the sax man. Might it be Big Jay McNeely? If not, then who?
—Ted Juerisson, Milwaukee

DEAR TED: The house band at this club, called the Fisherman, is not named in either the script or the credits. So it's up to us to reveal their secret identities.

The musical focus is indeed the sax player, played by Van Streeter.

At the time, Streeter had a couple of Coral recordings to his credit, “Chitlins” and “Landslide,” so he knew how to handle a saxophone — a requirement since the actual recording heard on film is by Maxwell Davis.

A few years later, Davis' involvement with countless hits earned him the nickname, “Father of West Coast R&B.”

The others in the Fisherman's combo are John “Shifty” Henry (bass); Teddy Buckner (trumpet); Ray Laurie (piano); and Al “Cake” Witchard (drums).

For the film, Streeter and the others supplied the instrumental equivalent of a lip-sync.

Along with mention of the “D.O.A.” film score, we should acknowledge Dimitri Tiomkin, composer of the film's original music.

Here is but a tiny sampling of other memorable films scored by Tiomkin: “The Alamo;” “55 Days at Peking;” “Giant;” “Gunfight at the O.K. Corral;” “Guns of Navarone;” “High and the Mighty;” “It's a Wonderful Life;” “Lost Horizon;” “Rio Bravo;” “The Sundowners;” “Town Without Pity;” and “The Unforgiven.”

IZ ZAT SO? In the “D.O.A.” scene at the Fisherman Club, an uncredited actor is shown at a table with a blonde companion.

During the drum solo, he shouts “go on, go on, git it, git it,” his only appearance in the film.

This Jazz loving fan is Hugh O'Brian, in just his third movie.

Though his number of big and little screen roles exceed 100, he will be best remembered as television's Marshal Wyatt Earp.

Hugh O'Brian made history in another field in 1942, and it has nothing to do with entertainment.

Then, at just 17, O'Brian became the youngest Drill Instructor ever in the U.S. Marine Corps.

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