Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: What happened to Tommy Edwards, of “It's All in the Game” (1958) fame? I always thought he had such an easy, relaxed delivery of a song and that is something you don't hear much any more.

Is there a CD available with all of his hits? Any information would be appreciated. Thanks.
—Dottie VanHoesen, Lakeland, Fla.

DEAR DOTTIE: Spotlighting Tommy Edwards is a pleasure, as I have long regarded him to be one of the most underrated vocalists of the 1950s.

It is unfortunate that, of his 18 hits in a 10 year span, the only one you are ever likely to hear on the radio is “It's All in the Game.” While that is his biggest hit, and his only No. 1, Tommy gave us many other terrific tunes.

Fortunately, there is a 20-track CD, “It's All in the Game — The Complete Hits of Tommy Edwards” (Eric 11501-2), that includes just about everything one could want from this polished performer. One delightful bonus in this collection is the inclusion of Tommy's original 1951 recording of “It's All in the Game.” It is fascinating to hear the vintage treatment of this tune and compare it to his 1958, completely reworked, rock and roll ballad rendition.

The only shortcomings of this package are the misguided references in the liner notes to “cover” versions that are in fact remakes (i.e. “It's All in the Game” is still being covered in the '90s.”). As regular readers of this column know, it could only have been covered when it came out. Any version after 1958 is a remake!

On October 23, 1969, Tommy Edwards died in the town where he was born, Richmond, Va. He was only 47. Now here's another from our “whatever happened to” department:

DEAR JERRY: To us, Tony Williams IS the Platters. Whatever happened to this truly great singer?
—Paul & Kate Caru, Brooksville, Fla.

DEAR PAUL & KATE: You are absolutely right about Tony Williams being the heart and soul of the Platters, perhaps more meaningful to that group than any lead singer to any group.

Tony's enchanting voice fell silent on August 14, 1992 when, at 61, he died from emphysema and diabetes complications.

DEAR JERRY: In 1965, I lived next door to a truck driver who also made some records. His name is Howard “Slim” Jacobs, and he gave me a 45 he made for the Edisto label, with “That's Truck Drivin'” backed with “From Morning Thru Night.”

He also told me that he wrote the hit song for Ray Charles titled “Born to Lose.” Is there any truth to his claim.
—Sharon Hill, Huntsville, Ala.

DEAR SHARON: Frank Brown wrote “Born to Lose” in 1944, so unless Mr. Jacobs used Frank Brown as a nom de plume he did not write that tune.

I did locate one other interesting record, also a 1965 issue, by Slim Jacobs on Starday (723). It has “That's Truck Drivin'” backed this time with another trucker's lament, “Give Me 40 Acres (To Turn This Rig Around).”

Eighteen years before Ray Charles made “Born to Lose” (1962), the original version by Ted Daffan, sailed into the Top 3 on the nation's C&W charts.

IZ ZAT SO? The original music to the song we know as “It's All in the Game” is titled “Melody in 'A' Major,” and composed in the mid'20s by vice-president, Charles G. Dawes. At the time, Dawes served as VP under President Calvin Coolidge.

In 1951, songwriter Carl Sigman added the lyrics and “Melody in 'A' Major” forever became “It's All in the Game.”

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