...and will be presented in multiple more-readable installments, rather than here on the 'blog'.
We are totally psyched about our first new case in almost 5 years, on woefully under-appreciated Memphis guitarist Clarence Nelson, and the new and (hopefully) improved front page... check it out:
OK folks, there's been a few new developments here since I did that big update on Case One last Summer...
Our man out on the coast, Nick Danger (Third Eye), wrote in with this; "I’m in the middle of reading your piece on Joe Haywood, and had to take a stab at your question about 'Warm & Tender Love' co-writer Clara Thompson. In my database, the authors of this song are listed as Bobby Robinson and Irral Ida Berger. No Clara Thompson..." The database Nick is referring to is the one at Universal, which is where he works. I'd say it's a pretty reliable one! Nevertheless, here is how the song is listed at BMI:
"It looks like Berger & Thompson co-wrote a few Joe Simon numbers and the Irral label’s releases were almost entirely limited to Joe’s singles...
"Anyway, I look into Joe Simon... and Joe’s first recordings were for Hush Records – owned by Garrie and Clara Thompson! Does this answer questions or just pose new ones? Who is Irral Ida Berger??" Who, indeed! As it turns out, Garrie and Clara Thompson started out as talent scouts and promoters in a town called Sunnyvale, California, which is just outside of San Jose. Their pet project was a kid by the name of Benn Joe Zeppa, who was kind of a teen sensation in and around the Bay Area in the late fifties. In 1958, they started up the Hush label, originally as an outlet for Zeppa's recordings. In 1959, they signed a vocal group named The Golden Tones, a group which included a young kid named Joe Simon. Impressed with his talent, the Thompsons soon recorded him as a solo act, releasing four singles on him for the label.
Like Nick said, I'm not sure who Irral Ida Berger was, but at this point he joined forces with Clara Thompson as a songwriter, and Simon's next release would be the one on Irral. Our man Sir Shambling has an excellent page over at Deep Soul Heaven on Joe, and I lifted the scan at left of Simon's subsequent release from him. I don't know anything about the Gee Bee label, but I'm guessing that our man Irral Ida was behind it. This is the 45 that essentially launched Joe Simon's career and, as you'll soon see dear detectives, one that would cause all kinds of problems
The above is from the liner notes to a 1995 Charly R&B Masters release. The first mention of the single in Billboard is on September 12, 1964, and within a month the Vee-Jay release had 'peaked' at 102.
Sir Shambling himself got in touch last month with this; "Further to our recent discussions on this topic, I came across something of relevance in the notes to the Joe Simon Ace CD Mr Shout which were written by Alec Palao. He says: 'An immediate postscript to Joe leaving (Garrie) Thompson was the appearance of Percy Sledge's Warm And Tender Love, as much a blatant copy of My Adorable One as Simon's own When I'm Gone, and a Top 20 hit in August 1966. Duane Music pursued the publisher, who at first denied any plagiarism, but eventually settled out of court for a 50% split in the early 70s'
"Well When I'm Gone is indeed a dead ringer for My Adorable One, but I'm not so sure about their resemblance to Warm And Tender Love. I certainly wouldn't describe either tune as a 'blatant copy'. In fact listening to the whole of the Mr Shout CD last night I was still in the dark about which, if any, Joe Simon cut could have been the source of the dispute. I definitely didn't get My Adorable One as the source, but that's all probably an issue with my ears..."
Be that as it may, there is no mention in either set of liner notes of our man Joe Haywood's original December 1964 version of Warm And Tender Love, and I certainly wouldn't call the Sledge August 1966 version an 'immediate postscript' to Joe Simon being picked up by Vee-Jay two years before... but here's the part that really kind of blows my mind:
Percy Sledge actually cut his own version of My Adorable One for the When a Man Loves A Woman LP, which was released in June of 1966! This would certainly seem to indicate that everyone involved, from Jerry Wexler to Percy to Bobby Robinson had to have noticed the 'blatant' similarity of the song to Warm And Tender Love, which Atlantic would release as a single within a month, sending it straight into the top five on the R&B charts! What gives?
Interestingly, when Joe Simon appeared on The!!!!Beat around the same time, he chose to lip-sync (rather badly) to My Adorable One, rather than to his own recent hits, Let's Do It Over and Teenager's Prayer, no doubt in an attempt to get in on Sledge's recent recording of it, and to point out its similarity to his current hit.
So, my friends, regardless of the fact that Irral Ida and Clara settled out of court with Bobby Robinson 'in the early 70s' for half of the songwriting and publishing on it, how does one account for the claim that it was Joe Haywood who wrote Warm And Tender Love in the first place?
Well, although we'll never know for sure at this point, here's my theory; We know that John Richbourg was a big Joe Simon man, and was instrumental in getting Vee-Jay to cut him at Fame before the collapse of the label, and John's resultant signing of him to Sound Stage 7. I'm sure John R 'stayed on' My Adorable One, and played the hell out of When I'm Gone as well. It's not much of a stretch to imagine the young Haywood in Spartanburg hearing both songs on clear-channel WLAC, picking up some elements of the melody, adding the lyrics he had written years earlier, and presenting the song to Bobby Robinson once he arrived in New York in late 1964. Robinson, for his part, had probably never heard the obscure Joe Simon records, and made whatever deal he made with Haywood that allowed him to claim the composer's credit as his own. I imagine he figured he didn't have much to lose a year and a half later when he offered it to Wexler, probably giving him a better deal on the publishing than Atlantic could have wrangled with Berger and Thompson.
The fact that Bobby rolled over so easily, and gave up half his rights later on, may indeed indicate that he saw it as some kind of Karma - and half is more than Joe Haywood ever got...
Thank You Nick and John for your continued interest and support!
Well, folks, Detective Ray left this in the comments...
"I quote from Alec Palao's liner notes to Ace CDCHD 663: '. . Joe's next record appeared on the Irral imprint, a vanity label set up by the Thompsons for a songwriting friend of theirs, Irral "Swingin' Granny" Berger, about eighty years old at the time. With money to spare, Berger agreed to pay for the session if Simon would record her collaborations with Clara Thompson' and later on he refers to 'another Berger-financed subsidiary Gee Bee'"
Now, how about that? You know, the fact that 'Ida' was Berger's middle name should have tipped me off! 'Our man Irall Ida' was actually a woman! If she was 'about eighty years old' forty years ago, I imagine she's no longer with us...
Great work, Ray, thanks! ...and thank you Swingin' Granny Berger for everything!
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