DEAR JERRY: As a University of California Davis student during the Summer of Love (1967), I heard a lot of San Francisco-based singers and groups.
Sometimes, after being inundated with Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead, and the Doors, I would switch over to a Sacramento C&W station (KRAK) for some variety. I may have been the only student hip to current hits by both Jim Reeves and Jim Morrison.
KRAK played a song then by Sonny James in which he mentions their station, along with something about Sacramento's history, such as the gold rush and the Mother Lode.
Would it be correct to assume this recording existed only as a tape recording? I doubt they would make a record that couldn't be played on any other station.
Might you know the title, and if this tune is on any of Sonny's albums?
Tony Palmieri, Milwaukee
DEAR TONY: You're in luck. I also spent the summer of '67 in both San Francisco and Stockton, well inside KRAK's 50,000 watt coverage area.
Like you, I heard this song at that time and it immediately piqued my curiosity.
Fortunately, I knew one of the dee jays (KRAKer Jacks) and he gave me the inside scoop, then sent me a copy. Titled “Salute to KRAK,” written by Sonny James and Carol Smith, half of it honors Sacramento's past and present, and half salutes KRAK radio, northern California's “Country Giant.”
With Sonny James being a Capitol megastar, having 23 No. 1 hits including 16 consecutive, Capitol would be the one to press the records. Also, record companies are always anxious to please broadcasters.
Under their Capitol Custom imprint (WB 2535/2536), they made a few thousand copies and sent them to KRAK for use as giveaways.
You could even say they went directly from Capitol to capitol, bypassing the capital. (I've always wanted to use all three of those words in one sentence.)
This provided them with a quality recording, one that not only extols the station and city but holds its own with other mid-'60s hits.
KRAK played it often at the time, but not to a point of being too self-serving. Most of the records went to listeners via various promotions and contests.
I am not aware of any Sonny James LP or CD containing the atypical “Salute to KRAK.”
This KRAK track is scarce but not especially pricey, usually in the $15 to $25 range.
DEAR JERRY: Neither of us watched much late-night TV, but my husband says he once saw Johnny Carson singing.
Whether on his own talk show or elsewhere, he does not recall.
I know he chatted for a living, but I don't recall ever seeing him sing. Could he? Can you either confirm or refute hubby's claim?
Marianne Dunlap, San Jose, Calif.
DEAR MARIANNE: Hubby is right. Maybe you retired early that night.
Johnny made his fame and fortune talking, frequently introducing stars whose primary craft was singing. Yet, on rare occasions, he did join some very famous singers with a song.
Carson more than held his own vocally, as we know from his in-tune performances with Dean Martin; Frank Sinatra; Sammy Davis Jr.; and non-rat Pearl Bailey, just to name a few.
Not only did he sing on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson,” he also sang a bit on stage with stars whose concerts he emceed, but always at their invitation.
IZ ZAT SO? Though “Salute to KRAK” is still affordable, there are two other Capitol Custom records with prices in the $1,000 and up range:
1. “Spirit of America” backed with “Boogie Woodie” by the Beach Boys (Capitol Custom 50367/50368). The paper sleeve for this item explains its purpose: “I Was There KFWB Day! Wallichs Music City South Bay Store Opening Nov. 16, 1963.”
Merely for showing up at the event, many took home a tremendous souvenir.
2. “Music City KFWBeatles - The Beatles Talking” backed with “You Can't Do That” (Capitol Custom RB-2637/2638). This June 1964 issue also promoted Wallichs Music City record stores and KFWB radio.
The close relationship between Capitol and Wallichs Music City was because Clyde Wallichs, owner of the music stores, was the brother of Capitol Records co-founder, Glenn Wallichs.
KFWB landed a geographic connection, with their 6419 Hollywood Boulevard studio just a two-minute walk to either the Capitol Tower or Wallichs Music City.