The Salem Label

© Robert L. Campbell

NEW: June 30, 2022


Revision note:


Salem announced it was opening for business in the last week of October 1956 (Steve Schickel, "The Disk Derby," Chicago Daily Tribune, October 27, 1956, part 1 p. 18). Unusually for a Chicago indie of the period, it began its life as an LP label. Singles were introduced after four months and two 12-inch LP releases.

Salem was founded and run by Mort Hillman. Its address, at 64 West Randolph Street in the Loop, suggested a nexus with song publishing or music promotion. Hillman had previously worked for E. B. Marks, a music publisher, as its Midwest representative. He also operated a music publisher called Keith, which occasionally published his own songs (note the credit to Horstman and Hillman on the Corky Shayne LP).

Morton C. Hillman had seen a lot of the music business before he tried his own label. He was born in Cincinnati in 1926. He started on bugle and trumpet as a boy, graduated from Norwood High School, then performed in the USO during World War II. He was in Tommy Dorsey's trumpet section in 1947. He did radio and TV work in Cincinnati (he was the floor manager for WKRC-TV), then joined a touring vocal group called the C-Notes that appeared on the Arthur Godfrey Show in 1952 (James Wilber, "the Popular Beat," Cincinnati Enquirer, June 30, 1968, p. 9G; "The C-Notes," December 6, 2008, people vs. dr. chilledair, http://people-vs-drchilledair.blogspot.com/2008/12/top-to-bottom-78-rpm-acetate-label-mort.html.

The C-Notes did a small amount of commercial recording. They appeared on Jubilee 6002 with big band veteran Dolly Dawn (it was reviewed in Billboard on April 4, 1952, p. 56). They could also have been the C Notes who appeared on a Rosalind Paige single (Decatur 1005, reviewed in Billboard on July 26, 1952, p. 94). Mort Hillman said he sang backup on Eydie Gormé's first single. We're still unclear as to Hillman's activities during most of 1953 and 1954.

According to a biographical sketch on the occasion of a later job change, Mort Hillman arrived in Chicago toward the end of 1954, when he became the midwestern representative for a music publisher, E. B. Marks. After two years with Marks, he decided to start his own company ("Mort Hillman New Seeco Gen. Mgr." Cash Box, September 19, 1959, p. 33).

The liner notes on the back of Salem SLP-1 (written by the man himself) tell us that Mort Hillman was visiting Hal Kaitchuck at Boulevard Recording when Kaitchuck happened to be testing his studio speakers by playing a tape of Corky Shayne singing. This may or may not be true, but Hillman decided to record her and he used Boulevard for all three Salem LPs.

Corinne Shayne was born in Chicago in 1932. She sang with high school dance bands and then began working with Dick Marx (she considered him her coach) and Johnny Frigo, at supper clubs and hotels. She also made some local TV appearances before Hillman asked Kaitchuck how to contact her. For a brief biographical sketch, see "And MORE! from SSJ in October," October 5, 2009, people vs. dr. chilledairhttp://people-vs-drchilledair.blogspot.com/2009/10/and-more-from-ssj-in-october.html).

Hillman recruited bassist and arranger Johnnie Pate, who was leading his own group at the time and had already started a couple of record companies to present his music (the liners drop a footnote indicating that Pate appears courtesy of Gig Records). On the Shayne sessions, Pate used Floyd Morris (piano), Wilbur Wynne (electric guitar), and Charles Walton (drums).

The Corky Shayne album was announced in the Tribune item from October 26, and was given a display ad in Cash Box for November 17, 1956 (p. 21). The LP helped Shayne land a three-week gig in January, in St. Louis at the Crystal Palace. Cash Box noted that she was drawing there (January 19, 1957, p. 16). "Many here anxious to see her in Chi nite spot…."

Unfortunately, that didn't happen for a while. Shayne did a lot of traveling to promote her record. Hillman announced she was flying to Los Angeles in February to make some TV appearances, and that she was "tentatively" scheduled to open in New York on March 7 ("Salem Signs Johnny Pate as Musical Director," Cash Box, February 9, 1957, p. 24). Cash Box ran a photo of her appearing on a TV show in Providence, Rhode Island (March 9, 1957, p. 26). But as Hillman was gearing up to release singles, he promised that nearly everybody then on Salem's artist roster would make a personal appearance at a series of Teen Record Hops. These were Sunday afternoon affairs at the Aragon Ballroom, run by Jim Lounsbury, Jerry Leighton, and Steve Schickel (Schickel, who had a column in the Tribune, had run a story announcing the formation of the label). We don't know how many of these took place, and who really showed up. We know the Cheer-Ups, the Off-Beats, Shirley Forwood, Corky Shayne, and Bobby Christian had all been volunteered for them (Steve Schickel, "The Disk Derby," Chicago Tribune, April 6, 1957, p. 14).

We haven't spotted another notice on Corky Shayne in the Chicago papers before August 11, when the Tribune noted that Johnnie Pate and trio would be doing Mondays and Tuesdays at the SRO, and Shayne would be singing with them (pt. 7 p. 10). Pate had recorded his own LP for Salem by then; the Wednesday through Sunday headliner at the SRO was Gene Esposito, who had recently become a Salem artist himself. On October 20, 1957, the Tribune (pt. 7 p. 10) ran a photo of Pate and indicated that Corky Shayne was once again singing with him at the SRO. Salem would be around for less than a month after that. If there was further press coverage for Shayne in Chicago, we haven't found it.


Matrix Release # Artist Title Recording Release

Salem SLP-1 Corky Shayne … in the mood for a song? c. October 1956 November 1956
G9OP-9329 Side 1





Corky Shayne If I Only Had a Brain (Arlen-Harburg) c. October 1956 November 1956


Corky Shayne He's Just My Bill (Hammerstein-Kern) c. October 1956 November 1956


Corky Shayne My Love Is a Wanderer (Howard) c. October 1956 November 1956


Corky Shayne Back in Your Own Backyard (Jolson-Rose-Dreyer) c. October 1956 November 1956


Corky Shayne Now More than Ever (Kallison-Bradley) c. October 1956 November 1956


Corky Shayne Everytime (Martin-Blane) c. October 1956 November 1956
G9OP-9330 Side 2





Corky Shayne Autumn in New York (Duke) c. October 1956 November 1956


Corky Shayne Just Squeeze Me (Gains-Ellington) c. October 1956 November 1956


Corky Shayne I'm Glad There Is You (Madeira-Dorsey) c. October 1956 November 1956


Corky Shayne Teardrops (Horstman-Hillman) c. October 1956 November 1956


Corky Shayne I Hear a Rhapsody (Fragos-Baker-Gasparre) c. October 1956 November 1956


Corky Shayne Two Sleepy People (Loesser-Carmichael) c. October 1956 November 1956

Mort Hillman was obviously pleased with the Johnnie Pate group that had backed Corky Shayne, so his next project was to record Pate with his working trio. Again the session took place at Boulevard (far as we know, all new recording for Salem was done there—but only the LPs credited the recording engineer).

Whether it was a one-off deal with Salem, or a one-year contract, Pate didn't mind taking it. It's doubtful that either of his own labels had been particularly remunerative. The sessions for the Pate LP most likely place in late December of 1956. The RCA Victor Custom Pressing numbers put the two sides of Salem SLP 2 at the very top of the stack in January 1957. A local distributor (Cash Box, January 5, 1957, p. 12) was told that the next Salem LP would be by Johnnie Pate, and replied, "Salem'll sell a pot full." The liner notes were dated January 10. The album was released on February 1, 1957 ("Salem Signs Johnny Pate as Musical Director," Cash Box, February 9, 1957, p. 24).

In those days, recording a group live at a club was a hit-or-miss proposition sonically. Johnnie Pate had appeared at the Blue Note before, and his album was slated for release just in advance of his next engagement there, which started on February 6. Frank Holzfeind agreed to write the liners. But the tracks were made in the studio. This was known to happen in Chicago… In 1957, King would cut a studio recording of Lorez Alexandria with King Fleming and pretend the LP was done in a club. In 1959, Vee-Jay would package up a bunch of studio tracks by Memphis Slim and claim they were from the Gate of Horn. (Slim had performed there.) Several LPs on the Stepheny label were titled as though the artists were performing at Club Basin Street, the Black Orchid, or even at the Blue Note. Not when they made their LP tracks.

Hillman had high expectations for the Pate album. He announced that Pate was now the musical director for Salem (Cash Box, February 9, 1957, p. 24). Readers could have expected Pate would make more records for Salem with his trio (as far as we can determine, he did not). And Pate would "also now have charge of the arranging and conducting chores for all Salem releases" (there would be one more LP, and 14 singles—a couple didn't identify the accompaniment, while none of those that did cited Pate as composer, conductor, or arranger).

Cash Box gave SLP 2 a favorable review (March 2, 1957, p. 29), and on March 23, the trade paper (p. 41) ran a photo of the Gamble Hinged Music Company in Chicago: Johnnie Pate albums took up most of the front window.


Matrix Release # Artist Title Recording Release

Salem SLP-2 Johnnie Pate at the Blue Note late December 1956 February 1, 1957
H8OP-0008 Side 1





Johnnie Pate Dancing on the Ceiling (Rodgers-Hart) late December 1956 February 1, 1957


Johnnie Pate What a Difference a Day Made (Adams-Grover) late December 1956 February 1, 1957


Johnnie Pate It Might as Well Be Spring (Rodgers-Hammerstein) late December 1956 February 1, 1957


Johnnie Pate Falling in Love with Love (Rodgers-Hart) late December 1956 February 1, 1957


Johnnie Pate All the Time (Pate) late December 1956 February 1, 1957


Johnnie Pate Old Devil Moon (Harburg-Lane) late December 1956 February 1, 1957
H8OP-0009 Side 2





Johnnie Pate I Surrender Dear (Clifford-Barris) late December 1956 February 1, 1957


Johnnie Pate Yvonne (Pate) late December 1956 February 1, 1957


Johnnie Pate Tea for Two (Youmans-Caesar) late December 1956 February 1, 1957


Johnnie Pate Pennies from Heaven (Burke-Johnston) late December 1956 February 1, 1957


Johnnie Pate Carmen's Chaser (Pate) late December 1956 February 1, 1957


Johnnie Pate Slaughter on 10th Avenue (Rodgers) late December 1956 February 1, 1957


Salem wasn't meant to be a singles label. Never was a single taken from a Salem LP. But Hillman decided to make a move in February 1957, when he signed Bobby Christian to record "a series of singles," to be assembled into an LP later ("Salem Pacts Christian," Cash Box, February 23, 1957, p. 25). Christian got two singles out before Salem faltered without trying to carry out the LP project. Format-wise, 78s were on the way down by then; the only Salem 78 rpm we've seen was S- 1001. All others in the S 1000 series (unless a collector can prove otherwise) were strictly on 45 rpm.


Salem Singles (1957)


Hillman had his first batch of three ready for release in early April. Cash Box for April 13 (p. 14) had him dropping off Salem S 1001 through 1003 with Chicagoland DJs.


Batting leadoff was Bobby Christian's "Crickets on Parade." Sylvester M. "Bobby" Christian was a gifted drummer and multi-percussionist (including vibes, marimba, xylophone, piano). He was born in Chicago in 1911, and had been a member of the Paul Whiteman Orchestra in the late 1930s. He had done radio work with NBC's Chicago-based ensemble from 1944 to 1950, then spent five years in New York City with the WABC ensemble, then done a brief turn as percussionist. On returning to Chicago in 1956, he began leading his own big bands, largely to feature his unusual arrangements and his solo work on a huge array of instruments. Christian had released "Grasshopper Jump" on Formal FR-1002 about a year before; it seems to have sold for Formal. A few months later, he had a single out on Bally 1023. (From what we've learned about later releases of his work, Christian retained ownership in most cases, merely leasing his masters to these companies.) In turn, Salem S 1001 would enjoy significant sales action locally. It received a favorable review in Cash Box on April 20 (p. 8), and the company bought display ads in Cash Box on April 20 (p. 27) and May 4, 1957 (p. 27). Billboard completely ignored it.


Salem S 1002 was by a vocal group called the the Off-Beats (lower case as on the label) with the Dick Marx Orchestra, some extra help from the "Cheer-Ups". Both songs were intended as novelties and were written by Mascari and Wenzlaff, of Bob-Cor Publishing. The composers seemed to be unsure whether they identified with rock and roll or with Swing-to-mainstream jazz. So they tried one of each. "Finger-Snappin' Boogie" is a rocker that exhorts participants to snap their fingers on the 1 and the 3. The right procedure for rock and roll; wrong for jazz or R&B... The "Cheer-Ups" are not a vocal group; all three or so chant and shout, like cheerleaders. Dick Marx was a jazz pianist who by the beginning of 1957 had logged a lot of hours accompanying vocalists, including Lucy Reed and Lurlean Hunter. He'd worked with Corky Shayne before Hillman recorded herr. He'd released a couple of instrumental jazz LPs. Although his jazz combos were getting club gigs with some regularity in the mid-1950s, Marx picked up extra money working pop sessions in Chicago. On this occasion, the Marx ensemble consisted of the leader's piano, plus tenor saxophone, electric guitar, string bass, and drums. On the rock and roll number, the tenor sax and guitar dominate. "Too Much" was constructed like a Slim Gaillard number, employing a string of hipster reactions as lyrics. No Cheer-Ups needed here. Dick Marx and his bassist both contributed to an introduction to the song. The Off-Beats (three male vocalists; is there any way of recovering their names?) are not as funny as, say, Slim and Slam, but they are effective. Both numbers might have sold some platters, though the evidence we have today suggests otherwise.

Salem S 1003 was by Shirley Forwood "with Orchestra and Chorus." It would be interesting to know whose orchestra and chorus. Forwood had toured with the Teddy Phillips band, and both tunes are credited to Phillips, Jeffers, and Bender. What we hear on both sides of S 1003 is probably a five-person chorus (which may warrant a comparison with a contemporary edition of the Phillipairs, Phillip-Aires, or however they were being spelled), two electric guitars, piano, string bass, and drums.

Our best guess is that Shirley Forwood was born in 1935, though we could be off by a couple of years. The first mention we've found of her is from the Battle Creek Enquirer and News (March 14, 1955, p. 14). She was singing on a TV show, Koffy with Kibby, 9 AM Monday through Friday on WOOD Channel 8 in Grand Rapids. She was from Grand Rapids. Ads for the show ran for a couple of months.

The next mention we've found for her pertains to a big show in the Municipal Auditorium in Shreveport, Louisiana, April 3, 1956. It featured Ginny Simms and Teddy Phillips and his orchesra, with The Phillip-Aires (Phillips' traveling vocal group) and Shirley Forwood also on the bill (Shreveport Times, March 25, 1956, p. 4-F).

Around July of 1956, Shirley Forwood recorded "Two Hearts" b/w "Juke Box Lover" for the music publisher, Sun Valley, which had them out briefly under its own imprint. The tunes were by Phillips-Jeffers and Phillips-Jeffers-Star. The studio ork was directed by Warren Knoble. The sides were promptly picked up by Dot and are much better known as Dot 15487. On August 18, 1956, "The Disk Derby" column in the Tribune reported (part 1 p. 16F) that Forwood was in Chicago visiting DJs. The next day ("Shirley Forwood Will Sub on Channel 5 Show"), the Tribune announced (part 3 Radio) that she would be sitting in for Betty Johnson on the Bob and Kay Show, and her Dot release caught a mention in the St. Joseph, Missouri, News Press (p. 10C). On January 12, 1957 (Steve Schickel, "The Disk Derby," part 1 p. 12F), the Tribune announced that she was now a member of the cast of the Bob and Kay Show.

Teddy Phillips would show up on Salem under his own name (the label was in business just long enough to get him). When the Forwood session took place he was probably under contract to Bally, another small Chicago label that opened in December 1955, scored some hits in 1956 (releases by singer Betty Johnson, mentioned above, pulled in the most sales), but was in visible decline during 1957.

Both songs on S 1003 are sentimental pop numbers, notwithstanding a rhythm section that seems ready to rock and roll. "Good Night" is a wistful end-of-date song; "Johnny Come Back" is a teener that could have been done up Country-style but isn't. Shirley Forwood has a pretty voice that could have shone on different material; she is often double-tracked on each side when she doesn't need any of it.

Salem S 1003 got reviewed in Billboard (a magazine not favorably inclined toward Mort Hillman) on May 20, 1957 (p. 143). This was on account of Forwood's Dot release, which the scribes had thought would be a hit. Cash Box reviewed Salem 1003 on May 25 (p. 15), and Hillman was thinking highly enough of its prospects to buy a display ad for it (Cash Box, June 1, 1957, p. 26). It was the last display ad for Salem. In July, Steve Schickel, a DJ who gave favorable mentions to several things on Salem, noted that Jo Stafford and Vic Damone had made a cover version of "Good Night" for Columbia, and expected further sales on Salem S 1003 as a result ("The Disk Derby," Chicago Daily Tribune, July 20, 1957, part 1 p. 14F). Salem S 1003 was a well-made pop record, but we doubt further sales materialized. Around this same time Forwood appeared at the Aquateenial Jump, a show pitched to guess which age group at the Minneapolis Armory (Minneapolis Star, July 19, 1957, p. 11A).


About a month after S 1003, Hillman put out Salem S 1004, by the Frankie Masters Orchestra. We learn from a quick bio, by an entertainment critic for the Minneapolis Star who had never seen her sing before and needed to catch up, that when "very young" Shirley Forwood had traveled with Frankie Masters ("Don Morrison's 2 Cents' Worth," January 4, 1968, p. 33). Forwood can't be on S 1004, however, unless she had been a member of Masters' vocal group in 1954.

Mort Hillman had no trouble finding Frankie Masters in Chicago, assuming Masters didn't come looking for him. The leader had been in the Windy City for years. At the time of release his sweet band was finishing up its eighth year accompanying the ice show in the Boulevard room of the Conrad Hilton.

Masters was born in Robinson, Illinois, probably in 1904. While a business student at Indiana University, he led a band that played for campus events. One summer he got a job in the band aboard the SS President Madison, which steamed to Shanghai, Yokohama, and Manila. Heading to Chicago, he joined Benny Krueger's big band at the Tivoli Theater, later taking over the band's leadership. He was leading the band at the Terrace Garden in the Morrison Hotel when it introduced ice skating shows. In 1940, he moved to New York, where his band played in hotels and theaters. After marrying Phyllis Miles, his lead singer, Masters returned to Chicago, where for 10 years he was the bandleader in the Boulevard Room (Kenan Heise, "Frankie Masters, 86; Directed Big Band in Chicago Hotels," Chicago Tribune, October 31, 1990, p. 13).

Before the war, Masters' bands recorded for RCA Victor, Vocalion, Conqueror, and OKeh. In 1949, he was was signed to MGM Records.

After the MGM contract expired, Frankie Masters quit attaching much importance to getting recorded. In 1954, he cut one single for Utopia, a short-lived label operated by RKO. The Utopia release obviously didn't sell, because the leader reused the master of "Baby Buggy Boogie" for his Salem. In the trailoff vinyl, the 45 carries, in addition to the RCA Victor numbers, RKO and 45-1954B; and, how about that, it was the B side on the Utopia. "The Little Gates," which was not released on Utopia, has RKO and 45-1957B incised in the trailoff area. We're assuming it was recorded around the time that the RCA H series number would indicate, but for RKO, which dealt it to Salem. As with the Utopia, Frankie Masters' one appearance on Salem afforded him an opportunity to sell a record of songs he had written.

"Baby Buggy Boogie" is a cleverly worded Swing band boogie. Masters carried a full-sized big band, whose members got occasional solos (the pianist gets the obvious spot on the boogie). One might not expect such a band, under such a leader, to swing hard, but it did. It's just that there isn't anything on "Baby Buggy" that couldn't have been done by a bunch of other bands in, well, 1940. The vocal group includes one female voice in addition to Phyllis's, and three male voices. "Little Gates" could have been done as a Western number, but the band swings it, with brief spots for a tenor sax and the electric guitar. Here the Swing-Masters are definitely four men. A record like this might have sold at several points during the 1940s. In 1957?

Billboard didn't think so, tossing Salem S 1004 onto the under-70 list (May 27, p. 56).


Salem S 1005 was by one Kenny Gordon. We know nothing about him—except that he, too, was on Koffy with Kibby in Grand Rapids, Michigan, March through May of 1955 (Battle Creek Enquirer and News, March 14, 1955, p. 14). Shirley Forwood might have had something to do with Hillman's decision to sign him. Salem S 1005 had another Sun Valley publication on it, "The Great Beginning" by Phillips-Jeffers-Bender. The studio band and chorus were entrusted to Warren Knoble. Knoble could be tasteful, as he would be on the Chaya Nash session (see below). On Salem S 1005 Knoble went with over-the-top overproduction. First, the choir, a touch smaller than the Ray Conniff Singers, and much more solemn. Next the instrumentation of trumpet, three trombones, piano, electric guitar, string bass, and drums. When the brass are recessed, doing Glenn-Miller-like things, they're bearable. But the initial chord of "The Great Beginning" (and the final chord) are unintentionally spooky, with whoops from the chorus and fff blats from the trombones, one of which seems to be a bass model. Gordon's semi-operatic tenor makes "The Great Beginning" close to unbearable. "Play Fiddle Play" isn't a great song, either, but it doesn't sound right without a violin solo; in any event, it doesn't need to be nearly so melodramatic.

Billboard disliked the single so much, it stuck S 1005 on the under-65 list twice (June 3, 1957, p. 65; June 17, p. 73). Cash Box was more respectful (June 17, 1957, p. 73). Sales figures must have ensured there would be no more Kenny Gordon records.


Next, Hillman announced a licensing deal with Oriole Records (no connection with the American Record Company label that was now ancient history; this was an outfit that had started up around the beginning of the year, headquarters in London). Salem 1001 was to be issued on Oriole and sold in Great Britain and Western Europe. "It was also announced that an agreement would shortly be concluded with Oriole Records to handle the complete Salem catalog for the same area" ("Oriole to Release Salem Disks in England," Cash Box, June 8, 1957, p. 22; we wonder who wrote it). We are quite confident that a full-catalogue deal never came to fruition. We'd like to see an Oriole release of "Crickets on Parade," because we don't think this much even happened.


With five Salem singles in distribution and four more in the works, Hillman had gotten frustrated with the low ratio of revenue to carried inventory plus costs of selling. Unlike most indie-label entrepreneurs, he also had an opportunity to express his frustrations in print. He was interviewed by a music critic for the Chicago Daily News. Some opportunities are better passed up! 1957 was long before anything could go viral, but the Hillman interview got picked up (sometimes in abridged versions) by a bunch of other newspapers, and their headline writers had a field day with it.

The Chicago Daily News had recently hired Donal Henahan to write music reviews. Henahan, whose long career included winning a Pulitzer Prize, was a highbrow. He cared only for classical music, and while "longhair" concerts were in season in Chicago, spent most of his time covering them. Summer came and he had to find other things to write about. Despising rock and roll, Henahan decided on an exposé of the commercial record business, particularly the segment of it that marketed to teenagers. He went out and talked to DJs, record store owners, and record companies in the Chicago area. Most record company owners steered clear, but Hillman was happy to be interviewed at length, in his own office. Salem in June 1957 wasn't a rock and roll label (Hillman had probably just recorded some of the real thing, but hadn't released any yet). Hillman figured he might get some ink on "Crickets on Parade" and "Enough, Man."

It didn't work out as he expected. The exposé ran for five days in the Chicago Daily News, starting on June 10, 1957. The Daily News isn't available online. No problem, because the interview with Mort Hillman appeared in several other papers that are. The version in the Nashville Banner (June 12, 1957, pp. 1, 2), "It Takes More than Good Tune to Crack 'Million' Disc Market," pasted a few paragraphs in the wrong place but appears to be complete. Hillman is said to be 31 years old and his company is said to be 8 months old (both statements were correct). He is described as a "shouting, arm-waving citizen" (p. 1) who smokes a lot. The arm-waving citizen regales Henahan with his strategy for making a hypothetical tune ("Schlops De Bops") look like it's selling. A key piece is "vote-gathering."

A DJ gets maybe 200 records a week. What does he do, open and play each one? He'd go nuts. I got to get to this guy and put the record in his hands and persuade him to play it.
Or at least list it in his [DJ] poll [for Cash Box], even if he never plays it. (p. 2)

We are told that, after taking a phone call, Hillman continued:

Do you think "Schlops" is really No. 4 in Indianapolis? Of course not. Indianapolis never heard of it. But baybe [sic] the jockey down there is a friend of mine. To do me a favor he'll list it. (p. 2)

The point was that another DJ, seeing how "Schlops" is supposed to be No. 4 at a station in Naptown, might give it a few plays for real. Hillman went on to discuss sales figures (nobody, he said, ever audited them; a "gold record" might have sold 200,000 really), "tie-ins" with distributors, "hype" in general. He became uncharacteristically modest about just one practice, passing cash to DJs: "Let's say I've got friends in the business. They do me favors." (p. 2).

The interview did expose a lot of what was happening in the music business—to a writer who hadn't known the first thing about it. Hillman said that Eddie Fisher had been a hit-maker not so long ago and "Now he can't even get arrested." Henahan had never heard the expression. Besides, in June 1957 Hillman didn't have "Rock & Roll Ruby" or "Rock 'n Roll Killed My Mother" or either Nancy Dawn title ready to promote to teenaged record buyers. If he referred to the Bobby Christian semi-parody, "Enough Man," Henahan didn't work it into the article. Henahan had to go to DJs to get disparaging quotes about rock and roll and those who wanted to hear it on the radio. Naturally, the article never got around to the other side of Salem S 1001, "Crickets on Parade." A pop-swing instrumental wouldn't have interested Donal Henahan in a million years.

Welp. Billboard got wind of the Chicago Daily News series right away. The periodical couldn't afford to ignore it. Hillman, whose wife worked for Cash Box, described it as "the only magazine that swings any weight with the business" (p. 2 in the Nashville Banner version).

Observers in the business must have shaken their heads, sorrowfully assured that Mort Hillman had made a career-limiting move. He soldiered on.


Salem S 1006 was credited to one Tipsie Lee, with the Dick Noel Singers. Dick Noel was a known quantity at the time. For solo singing, he was under contract to Fraternity (Noel got the very first single on that label). But who was Tipsie Lee?

For starters, she was using a stage name and she was from Indiana. We learn from an article in her hometown newspaper, the Hammond Times, that Tipsie Lee was 13 years old and her real name was Shirley Zambo ("Hammond Girl, 13, is Vocal Star," July 24, 1957, p. B-3).

Shirley Zambo had been singing in public since she was 4 years old, appearing regularly at talent contests in the area. At age 6, she appeared on a radio talent show called "Stars of Tomorrow" (Hammond Times, January 17, 1950, p. 18). A few months later, she was on The Show Kids, a contest on local TV (Hammond Times, July 9, 1950, p. 15). Two weeks after that, she sang a current pop hit, "If I Knew You Were Coming, I'd've Baked a Cake," at an outdoor Civic Center concert in Hammond ("First of Civic Center Concerts to Be Held Tuesday; Feature Soloists,"Hammond Times, July 23, 1950, p. 30; "Featured in First Outdoor Concert," July 26, 1950, p. 1). At 12, she was a member of a girls' vocal quartet out of East Chicago that performed for clubs and civic organizations (Hammond Times, February 26, 1956, p. B-1).

From the H series numbers, it appears that "Travelin' Love" and "How Could You?" were made at different sessions, not too many days apart. We of course don't know whether other sides were recorded at either outing.

The Dick Noel Singers, on these occasions, were a male quartet. They got a few lines of their own on "Travelin' Love"; otherwise they were employed tastefully, never trying to take over the proceedings. "Tipsie" and the other singers were accompanied by piano, electric guitar (switching to banjo on "Travelin'"), string bass, and drums. A baritone saxophone was added on "How Could You," a perky pop tune under a mild rock and roll influence. "Travelin'" (complete with train rhythms for the intro and tag) is a Country song. We don't know how many takes were needed, but we hear Shirley Zambo hitting her notes. Both songs complain about faithless lovers, which makes them sound too old for her, and her vocal quality is somewhat girlish. She attempts several Country mannerisms on "Travelin'"; listeners may find them annoying.

Whadda ya know, Billboard dumped Salem 1006 into its under-65 list (July 1, 1957, p. 64).

Recording for Salem had to be the peak event in Shirley Zambo's career. The last notice we've found on her, when she was 17, was for a performance of Oklahoma at her high school, Hammond Vocational Technical. Different casts performed on Friday and Saturday night. Shirley was in the Saturday night lineup, May 13, 1961, as Ado Annie ("'Oklahoma' on Tech Stage Next Week,"Hammond Times, May 3, 1961, p. 42). Those who attended heard her when her voice had had a chance to mature; we don't know whether anyone else ever did.


Salem S 1007 was by a group called The Hi Fi Guys. One side of 1007 was a cover (of "Pink Champagne" by Joe Liggins). No clues there. But "Rock 'n Roll Killed My Mother" was published by Maurice and written by Ramon D. "Ray" Barlow. An item in the Indianapolis News (March 13, 1956, p. 6) reveals that the group (then playing Woody Armstrong's Purple Onion) was a trio. Bob Beasley played saxophone and drums; Dick Corn played the piano, and Ray Barlow was responsible for guitar, banjo, and bass. All three sang. There was talk about Al Morgan, a big-time pianist and pop singer who also played the Purple Onion, taking the Hi Fi Guys on tour with him (The Indianapolis News, April 24, 1956, p. 19). He didn't; the group kept working in Naptown.

Unusually, Salem S 1007 landed a review in Billboard (July 1, 1957), which gave the sides ratings of 68 and 66. The reviewer mentioned vocal duets on both sides, compared "Killed My Mother" to a Homer and Jethro number (it was a Country waltz), and complained that the lyrics weren't funny enough. How it sold we have no inkling; Hillman thought enough of it to release the rest of the session later, but S 1007 is hard to find today. The Indianapolis News also noted the Hi Fi Guys release ("Indianapolis Trio Cuts First Record," July 7, 1957, p. 12 section 6). The article declared that the trio had formed in 1955 and that they were currently playing the penthouse at LaRue's Supper Club. One of the biggest venues in Indianapolis, LaRue's had three floors; often there were different performances going on on each of the three. After their session with Salem, an ad for LaRue's shows the Hi Fi Guys contributing to a Fall and Winter Revue organized by Denny Dutton (Indianapolis News, September 23, 1957, p. 12).


The most obscure single, on a label that produced its share of obscurities, is Salem S 1008. It's credited Ray Evans, with an orchestra led by Ev Ralston. Definitely not the songwriting Ray Evans ("Mona Lisa," etc.); neither tune is an Evans composition. But there have been at least ten other Ray Evanses who made records besides this particular singer. And who was Ev Ralston? Did anybody review Salem S 1008, anywhere?

It turns out that Ev Ralston led a Dixieland band, with trumpet, trombone, baritone saxophone, piano, banjo, bass, and drums. None soloed, but the baritone sax lines are prominent and the saxophonist is proficient. Did Ralston played one of the aforementioned instruments? We have nothing to go on. Amidst this instrumentation, Ray Evans, equipped with a pleasant baritone, sang a neo-1920s number ("Oom-Di-Oddy") patterned to some degree after "Sweet Georgia Brown." And, we sadly must report, a neo-Minstrel number: "In the Evening by the Moonlight," celebrating a Southern rural setting on a pleasant night with plenty of "darkies" in the vicinity. Why would anyone in 1957 have been singing a new (sorta new? not already antediluvian?) song whose lyrics referred "darkies."

Hundreds of songs could have been sung, to better effect, in front of a competent Dixieland band. The obscurity of S 1008 was richly deserved. Why Mort Hillman didn't do anything with the other two sides from this session is easy to fathom. What's hard to fathom is why he recorded it.


Salem S 1009, amazingly, got a review in Billboard (July 1, 1957, p. 64). It tells us that Charlie Waterman was a Country performer. One of his numbers was considered a folk song (and there was no composer credit, not even a trad.). It would be nice to know where Waterman was from and what else he recorded, if anything. It also wouldn't hurt to find a copy of his record.


Three months after the first, Hillman decided to release that second 45 on Bobby Christian. "Indian Hop" b/w "My Theme" appeared on Salem S- 1010 around the end of July. "My Theme" used a high soprano vocalise that was one of Christian's devices during this period (it was acknowledged on the label as "obbligato by Vernyle"). Vernyle Christian was Bobby's daughter, born in Chicago on November 21, 1935. On September 14, 1957, Bobby Christian's band played for the after-dinner show at the First Annual Dinner-Dance of the Recorded Music Service Association, held at the Morrison hotel in Chicago. Among those making appearances were Shirley Forwood and "Vernyl [sic] Christian, Bob's daughter." Roulette, Bally, Mercury, Cosmic, RKO Unique and even RCA Victor were represented by singers or vocal groups ("RMSA's First Annual Dinner Dance Outstanding Success," Cash Box, September 28, 1957, p. 58). Vernyle would soon appear on "Cherokee," from Bobby Christian's LP for Mercury in 1958. She was on several tracks that Bobby made for Stepheny in 1958, usually doing a vocalise; she also sang a number with lyrics.

"Indian Hop" featured an electric guitarist (Christian often put electric or steel guitar solos on his records during this period), and a couple of sections from it, as the rhythms kept moving around, were rock and roll. It's possible the guitar soloist on "Hop" was Ronald Steele, who would become one of the most widely employed session guitarists in Chicago. Steele became Bobby Christian's son-in-law when he married Vernyle. The H series matrices put both sides back on the February 1957 date, which thus extended to at least the regulation four tunes. A further implication: if Steele was the guitarist on "Indian Hop," that had to be him on "Enough Man." The Chicago Daily Tribune noted the release of S- 1010 on August 3 (p. 14F) and Billboard reviewed "Indian Hop" on August 5 (p. 54). Did the trade paper mean to put in a sentence about "My Theme," then lose it to an editorial or layout error? Or did it still want to spite Mort Hillman?


Another "girl singer," Chaya Nash, recorded two sides with a studio ork led by Warren Knoble, who had previously handled Shirley Forwood's Dot session and Kenny Gordon's Salem session. We figure the Nash sides were done in July.

Billboard relegated Salem S- 1011 to the low-rated list on August 26 (p. 98).

When Salem picked her up, Chaya Nash had been in show biz, trying to break into the big time, for 8 years. She had performed (for a short while) on Broadway, enjoyed several extended runs in clubs in or near Miami, Florida, had sung (briefly) with Harry James' big band, had worked summer resorts in southern Wisconsin, and had done at least one soap opera on the radio.

Chaya Nachenberger was born in Chicago, probably in 1930. She started performing as a teenager, in the USO during World War II. The first press notice we've found for Chaya Nash is from January 1949. Billed as "Broadway's Youthful Singer and Actress," she made a couple of Friday and Saturday night appearances at Buss Latschar's Wooden Wheel Inn, just outside of Princeton, New Jersey (The Daily Home News [Brunswick NJ], January 19, 1949, p. 27; The Sunday Times [Brunswick NJ], January 23, 1949, p. 14). The Sunday Times item added, on what authority we hesitate to say, that she had been in Hollywood.

In 1953, she worked clubs in Miami and Miami Beach, Florida. She was at the Dream Bar in December (Miami Daily News, December 17, 1953, p. 8-B).

Chaya Nash put in at least one season of summer resort work at Nippersink Manor and Oakton Manor (respectively in Genoa City and Pewaukee, Wisconsin) in a floor show that alternated between the two manors. Accompaniment was provided by either Rey Mambo and his orchestra, or the Cuban Rhythm Boys ("Two Resorts to Feature Alternating Floor Shows," Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle, May 28, 1954, p. 8).

Somebody at the Tribune liked her. Chaya Nash got a writeup in the Chicago Tribune Magazine ("A Break!", October 17, 1954, pp. 22-23), which included a photo of her recording a radio soap opera (she had a regular role on "Judy and Jane," though the show was not broadcast in Chicago) and a photo of her playing her demo record for Harry James (a re-enactment, obviously). This was significant publicity, but it didn't land her a recording contract.

In 1955, it was back to Miami, where in August Chaya Nash was working the Driftwood Room at the Nautilus Hotel (Miami Herald, August 21, 1955, p. 13-D). A photo of Gail Quintal, the vocal headliner, is in circulation with a press release on the back from the Roney Plaza Hotel in Miami Beach, Florida. Ms. Quintal was booked into a show in the Bamboo Room at the Roney, starting October 2, 1956, along with Chaya Nash, pianist Tony Renard, and Serge Valdez and his Orchestra.

In May 1957, Chaya Nash sang in a revue at the Offbeat room (Chicago Sunday Tribune, May 19, 1957, part 7 p. 12). The Offbeat had previously been known for improv comedy. We doubt the revue, all material written by Sande Perlov and Marty Brill, enjoyed much by way of a run, but it could have been what brought her to Hillman's attention.

What we hear on S- 1011 is a musical theater artist. Chaya Nash never repeated what seems to have been a very brief run on Broadway, but that's where her heart was. Both songs are musical theater numbers (stylistically; we don't know whether either was included in an actual stage production) and she interprets them well. The Warren Knoble ork has three trombones, Glenn Miller style, and piano, guitar, bass, and drums. No superfluous strings, no choir. All nicely done, but where was the commercial demand? Listeners might like her record a little better today if Hillman had brought Dick Marx and his combo into the studio, but Chaya Nash would have sounded exactly the same.

In October 1957, Hillman was asked to bring a Salem artist to Lackland Air Force Base, in San Antonio. The occasion was a benefit event arranged by Bob "Coffeehead" Larson, a Milwaukee DJ who had learned that many of the servicemen at Lackland were from Milwaukee. Toward the end of the month, Chaya Nash was flown to San Antonio with Hillman to entertain the troops. This was somewhat of a deal: Freddie Montell and the Crew Cuts were there, and Dot Records provided emissaries ("Coffeehead Entertains," Cash Box, November 9, 1957, p. 27).


The Hi Fi Guys played rock and roll, mixed in with all their other stuff. The Saints, who were responsible for Salem S- 1012, were a rock and roll band. Many many many bands have gone as The Saints. This collection of sanctified beings, disambiguated as the 24th by that name on discogs.com, recorded just once. We've learned where the band was from, and the names of some of the members. All of which deepens the mystery—how on earth did these kids come to Mort Hillman's attention?

After two brief notices in a Minneapolis daily, The Saints were apparently mentioned in just one newspaper while they were performing. Austin, Minnesota, is a small town in the southern part of the state. mall enough, and close enough to the state line, that the local paper always reserved at least part of a page for Iowa news. Its population at the time Salem recorded The Saints was a touch above 20,000. The town's lifeline was the Hormel meat processing plant (it still is; Austin now celebrates its Hormelian heritage with a Spam Museum). On January 10, 1957, the entertainment column in the Minneapolis Daily Tribune included a paragraph that we shall reproduce in its entirety:

'We are having a benefit dance for a new singing group, The Saints, at the Terp ballroom in Austin, Minn., Valentine's night Thursday, Feb. 14," writes Garland Nash. "The purpose of the dance is to buy them all professional suits and to finance a trip to Omaha, Neb., to audition for the Ted Mack show." (p. 32).

The Minneapolis Daily Tribune would confirm that the benefit had taken place, 1289 had showed up, and enough money had been raised to pay for the band's suits. The article also confirmed that the group consisted of 4 singers and 3 instrumentalists (February 21, 1957, p. 36). What we don't know is whether the group ever appeared on the Ted Mack Amateur Hour. Up to this point, their local paper had taken no interest in them at all. On June 13, 1957 (p. 24), the Austin Herald ran an ad for an appearance that evening at the New Dance Barn, by the Rockets and the Saints. Then, per the Austin Herald (August 27, 1957, p. 12), we learn that on the 29th there would be a Rock and Roll Revue at the Terp, starring The Jags, special added attraction The Saints, "great new Salem recording stars."


A couple of months previously in 1957, there had been a single on Meteor—yes, that Meteor, out of Memphis—by Steve Carl with the Jags ("18 Year Old Blues" b/w "Curfew"). It was the very last single on Lester Bihari's not terribly prosperous label. Who'd a thunk it, the Austin Herald ad proclaimed the Jags were "combined with" "Big Steve" Leuthold. As in the Steve who was just back from Memphis, "The Home of Rock and Roll." Steve Leuthold was from Albert Lea, Minnesota, where he was born around 1937. Years later, as the operator of a Minneapolis-based hedge fund, he admitted to an interviewer that he'd sung and played guitar in "Steve Carl and the Jags" (Kara McGuire, "A Grizzly Truth: Veteran Money Manager Is Scared of the Market," Minneapolis Star Tribune, November 27, 2011, p. D5). In 1966, Leuthold diversified from the brokerage business in Minneapolis to open a beer and bratwurst venue called The Alps. His partner, Mike Pedersen, was also from Albert Lea and had also played in the Jags (Will Jones, "It'll Be Brat and Wurst," Minneapolis Tribune, May 18, 1966, p. 39).

The concert ad said The Saints' "hit" was "Sun Tan Legs." Ferris Radio and TV agreed; its ad in the Herald for September 13 (p. 12) put "Austin's Own 'Saints' | Sun Tanned Legs [sic]" at the top of a list with records by Paul Anka, Little Richard, and The Tune Weavers. But most of the ads from Austin made "Rock & Roll Ruby" the plug side. "Ruby" is a Warren Smith number that's been variously misattributed to Johnny Cash and George Jones, and had already been covered by Lawrence Welk [!]. (See the Austin Herald, September 12, 1957, p. 28; September 19, p. 23; September 27, 1957, p. 10). When a new hall aimed at teenagers opened in Austin, The Saints got top billing and the Saturday night dance (Austin Herald, September 27, 1957, p. 14). Fame was fleeting. The Saints' last advertised appearance was in a "Parade of Bands" at the Terp Ballroom in Austin, on October 30, 1957 (see, for instance, the ad in the Austin Herald for October 25, 1957, p. 14). Their Salem record was no longer being advertised, and for all we know it was the last time they performed.

The first thing we discover, listening to The Saints' only record, is that "Sun Tan Legs" is a calypso, delivering somewhat naughty lyrics to the girl with the sun tan legs. The total number of calypsos ever written and performed by 7 white high school kids from southern Minnesota (see below for the members' ages) has to be minuscule, but the Saints' performance is cute and not half bad. "Rock and Roll Ruby" might have been written by a Country musician who was a little annoyed with rock and roll. But The Saints' performance proves that the group could play rock and roll, sing rock and roll, and do vocal harmonies on rock and roll. And Barry Rush's guitar work (see below for the ID) is quite good. If Mort Hillman had asked for a couple more sides, he'd have had another releasable item.


The group was in existence probably less than a year. We have no idea where they performed outside of Austin, Minnesota—if they ever did. As far as we can tell, they traveled to Chicago to record. (It was the usual practice with Salem, and the sonics on their record are well-defined, with zero congestion.)

What else can we say about The Saints? A Canadian newspaper retrospective on a dead ceramic artist (Robert Amos, "Digging up an Artist's Unique Treasures," The Victoria, British Columbia Times Colonist, August 3, 2014, p. D3) reveals the following

David Toresdahl was born in Austin, Minnesota in 1939. He was an only child. His father's family were Lutheran missionaries and his mother's family ran bars. According to his widow, Louise Bohun, "He was in a four-man singing group called the Saints. When he arrived in California, it was their hit tune, Rock and Roll Ruby, that paid for his start at college" (quoted in the Robert Amos article).

Bohun, who met Toresdahl on Vancouver Island in 1996, was right about The Saints. About "Rock and Roll Ruby"? A hit tune? The likelihood that Toresdahl saw enough revenue out of Salem S- 1012 to pay for one semester at a state college was, er, remote. Supposing anybody outside the southern third of Minnesota managed to hear of the record, it was released by a company that would close its doors three months later.

Toresdahl had been retailing his yarns for a while. When he first arrived in Canada, in 1970, he led a reporter to believe that "He has even been a singer, in his earlier days in his home state of Minnesota, recording for Columbia on one cutting that sold close to a million" (Helen Bateson, "The Canadian Renaissance of the Arts: Brain-Drain in Reverse," The Province [Vancouver, British Columbia], December 12, 1970, p. 47).

The only way this could even be sort of true would be if Toresdahl joined another group called The Big Beats after The Saints broke up. The Big Beats, who… hmmm… played the Terp Ballroom in Austin at least twice, in June and July 1958, were the only rock and roll band in Minnesota to make a record for Columbia during that period. They worked Austin and Eyota and other small towns. But they weren't originally from anywhere near. They started in Dallas, Texas, with a 15-year-old leader who would eventually be heard of. His name was Trini Lopez. Did Lopez's group pick up local personnel in Minnesota? We haven't seen a roster for the band. But a photo of five Big Beats, in advance of their appearance at the Rainbow Ballroom in Eyota, includes a guy at the far right who looks like Toresdahl (Winona Daily News, May 8, 1958, p. 4). Supposing, then, that he was in the Big Beats, none of their singles could have sold close to a million.

The Saints were so evanescent, we've learned part of their personnel from an article about a group that formed as they were breaking up. Having neglected to provide a profile on The Saints, the Daily Herald, for January 7, 1959, got around to a feature article on The Highlights (Bill Riemerman, "Austin High School Junior's Tune Has Sold More than 70,000 Records," p. 14). The junior was Barry Rush, bass horn player in the Austin High School Band and lead guitarist for The Highlights. "The Highlights got started in October 1957 when three of the present unit were providing the instrumental backing for The Saints, a local singing unit." The three were Rush, Gary Bailey on rhythm guitar, and Allan Anderson at the drums. They added a string bass player and started working dances. After a while, they picked up a tenor saxophonist, also still in high school, from Albert Lea. The Highlights had a single out on Play 1004. Play, in turn, was a subsidiary of Mark, a record label from Minneapolis briefly operated by Chuck Sagle right after he left Mercury. Play 1004 was released in October 1958; Sagle put the release date right on the label, as had been the practice at Mercury during his tenure. The Highlights also backed a singer named Jim Eddy on Play 1001, another October 1958 release.

OK, enough of the Big Beats and the Highlights. Who the hell were The Saints? They were four singers plus three rhythm. "Sun Tan Legs" was credited to Nash, Rush, and Funk. Barry Rush was probably 15 at the time. Garland Nash was the author of the benefit dance appeal that ran in the Minneapolis Tribune in January 1957. That leaves Funk to be identified. Toresdahl, Nash, and Funk sang in the group. Rush, Bailey, and Anderson played in it. We're still one singer short of the full personnel.


Salem S- 1013 brought back the Hi Fi Guys, with the rest of their previous session. The other two sides featured a singer named Nancy Dawn. Her full name was Nancy Dawn Owen. She was born, probably in 1942, in Upland, Indiana. Nancy Dawn became a member of a family singing group, with two older sisters, when she was 4 years old. She began appearing on the Midwestern Hayride, WLW-T-TV Cincinnati, when she was 13. She never did rock and roll on the Midwestern Hayride, but on her Salem session, she sang a rock and roll number ("Glue Me Back, Jack") that was written for her by a friend (the same friend composed the tune on the flip).

"Glue Me Back, Jack" turns out to be a high quality rock and roll number, with clever lyrics. Nancy Dawn was probably 15 when she sang it; you might have guessed "Tipsie Lee's" age from her record, but you wouldn't have guessed Nancy Dawn's from hers. You also wouldn't know that her previous experience was all in Country. "Long Road" is also rock and roll, just not as good a song. Messrs. Barlow, Beasley, and Corn, moving amongst their instruments, are all the rock and roll band that Nancy Dawn needed. Bob Beasley is equally effective on the tenor sax and at the drums; how many musicians has anyone been able to say that about?

After marrying Tom Childs, Nancy Dawn lived in various towns in Ohio and Indiana, eventually settling in Muncie. The Muncie Evening Press ran a feature article on her in 1969, when her husband was the Assistant Principal at Delta High School and she was doing some radio and TV work in the area (March 5, 1969, p. 14). Nancy Dawn Childs would perform on local TV for many more years but would never make another record.


For S-1014, Teddy Phillips briefly joined Salem. His contract with Bally had expired, if he he'd signed one. (We don't know how many sides Phillips cut for Bally, but he got just one release. Bally 1036 was out most likely in August 1957). We'd thought Bally might have gone out of business, too, but release dates on Bally's last seven singles stretched through September into October. The company closed down in November, when Gene and Harry Goodman (also known for their partnership with the Chess brothers in Arc Music) bought the entire Bally catalogue.

Teddy Phillips was born in Oak Park, Illinois, on June 5, 1918. He started playing the saxophone (Phillips was known for his performances on alto and tenor) at Oak Park-River Forest High School, where he received encouragemeny from a band director. In 1934, he began working with dance bands, including those led by Bill Bardo, Ben Bernie, and Lawrence Welk. He also spent some time in radio orchestras (for NBC and CBS in Chicago). After military service in World War II, he started his own big band in 1944. The band was a big draw at venues in Chicago like the Aragon and Trianon Ballrooms, and Phillips was able to keep a big band together well into the 1950s. By the time Phillips made his single for Salem, he'd recorded a little for several different labels, his biggest production being a 1954 LP for Decca titled Concert in the Sky. He also was busy writing songs, to such an extent that some were published under a pseudonym ("Ted Simms"). Three of his tunes had already been recorded on Salem (two by Shirley Forwood, one by Warren Gordon). The songs on S-1014 weren't his; each gave part-composer credit to Dr. David Shapiro, whose day job was a pediatric practice in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The item in Cash Box that identified Shapiro (October 12, 1957, p. 14) also mentioned one Barney Fields as a partner in, or an employee of, Salem. If Fields was involved in anything Salem had done previously, we've found no trace of it.

There's been collector interest in S-1014 because of the vocal group that sings on "Believe in Tomorrow"; we're confident that no other Salem single has been reproed.

The Phillipairs were the band's regular vocal group. Some have maintained that the "Morrocans," on the other side of the record, were the Moroccos who had recorded for United and toured Australia. It would be nice to get confirmation on this. (There is reportedly a copy of Salem S-1014 autographed by Solly McElroy.)

Mort Hillman, with whatever help he was able to get from Barney Fields, didn't have much time to promote the Phillips single—less than a month—because Salem was about to close its own doors. In our epoch, nearly all copies seen for sale are repros.


Matrix Artist Title Release Number Recording Date Release Date
H7OW-0471 Bobby Christian "The Band with a Sound" Crickets on Parade (Christian-Armentrout) Salem S 1001 February 1957 April 1957
H7OW-0472 Bobby Christian "The Band with a Sound" Enough Man (Christian-Armentrout) Salem S 1001 February 1957 April 1957
H9OW-0336
U 3390
the Off-Beats | Dick Marx Orch. Finger Snappin' Boogie (Mascari-Wenzlaff) Salem S 1002 February 1957 April 1957
H9OW-0337
U 3400
the Off-Beats | Dick Marx Orch. Man, It's Just Too Much (Mascari-Wenzlaff) Salem S 1002 February 1957 April 1957
H8OW-0535 Shirley Forwood with Orchestra and Chorus Good Night (Phillips-Jeffers-Bender) Salem S 1003 February 1957 April 1957
H8OW-0534 Shirley Forwood with Orchestra and Chorus Johnny Please Come Back (Phillips-Jeffers-Bender) Salem S 1003 February 1957 April 1957
H9OW-0988
RKO 45-1954B
Frankie Masters and His Orchestra with Phyllis and the Swing-Masters Baby Buggy Boogie (Marchese-Masters) Salem S 1004 1954
[RKO Utopia]
May 1957
H9OW-0989
RKO 45-1957B
Frankie Masters and His Orchestra with the Swing-Masters The Little Gates (Marchese-Masters) Salem S 1004 February 1957 May 1957
H8OW-5619 Kenny Gordon | Orchestra under the direction of Warren Knoble The Great Beginning (Phillips-Jeffers-Bender) Salem S 1005 April 1957 May 1957
H8OW-5620 Kenny Gordon | Orchestra under the direction of Warren Knoble Play Fiddle Play (Deutsch-Altmann) Salem S 1005 April 1957 May 1957
H8OW-5715 Tipsie Lee with the Dick Noel Singers Travelin' Love (Camp-Smikle) Salem S- 1006 May 1957 June 1957
H8OW-5825 Tipsie Lee with the Dick Noel Singers How Could You? (Keith-Korgich) Salem S- 1006 May 1957 June 1957
H7OW-5885 The Hi Fi Guys Rock 'n Roll Killed My Mother (Barlow) Salem S-1007 May 1957 June 1957
H7OW-5882 The Hi Fi Guys Pink Champagne (Liggins) Salem S-1007 May 1957 June 1957
H8OW-5910 Ray Evans | Orch. Conducted by Ev Ralston Oom-Di-Oddy (Hoyt-McNulty) Salem S-1008 May 1957 1957
H8OW-5907 Ray Evans | Orch. Conducted by Ev Ralston In the Evening by the Moonlight (Bland) Salem S-1008 May 1957 1957
H8OW-5993 Charlie Waterman The Buffalo Skinner Salem S-1009 May 1957 June 1957
H8OW-5994 Charlie Waterman The St. James Infirmary (Primrose) Salem S-1009 May 1957 June 1957
H7OW-0470 Bobby Christian | Band with a Sound Indian Hop (Christian) Salem S- 1010 February 1957 July 1957
H7OW-0469 Bobby Christian | obbligato by Vernyle My Theme (Christian-Armentrout) Salem S- 1010 February 1957 July 1957
H8OW-7188 Chaya Nash | Warren Knoble, conductor Who's Gonna Love Me (Bivens-Walters) Salem S- 1011 July 1957 August 1957
H7OW-7189 Chaya Nash | Warren Knoble, conductor The Things I See in You (Raleigh-Wolf) Salem S- 1011 July 1957 August 1957
H8OW-8518 The Saints Rock & Roll Ruby (Cash [sic]) Salem S- 1012 August 1957 August 1957
H8OW-8517 The Saints Sun Tan Legs (Nash-Rush-Funk) Salem S- 1012 August 1957 August 1957
H7OW-5883 Nancy Dawn with The Hi-Fi Guys Glue Me Back, Jack (Albright) Salem S- 1013 May 1957 September 1957
H7OW-5884 Nancy Dawn with The Hi-Fi Guys Long Road (Albright) Salem S- 1013 May 1957 September 1957
H08W-0009 Teddy Phillips Orch. | Vocal-Morrocans [sic] Believe in Tomorrow (Shapiro-Back) Salem S-1014 September 1957 October 1957
H08W-0008 Teddy Phillips Orch. | Vocal-Phillipairs You Fascinate Me (Shapiro-Carr) Salem S-1014 September 1957 October 1957

Mort Hillman never got around to his Bobby Christian LP. Two tracks that Christian had done for Salem (both sides of S- 1010; there's no evidence that Christian got more than one recording session for the company) did show up early in 1959 on a Stepheny LP. Hillman had recently been in charge of sales and promotion there, and almost certainly got Christian signed to Stepheny before the bandleader cut some new tracks that were also used on the LP.


The final Salem LP was by Gene Esposito and his trio. Genaro Esposito was born in Chicago in 1929. His first instrument was the accordion, but by age 12 he was playing piano and trumpet. He played the trumpet in bands at Austin High School. He joined Musicians Union Local 10 when he was 16 (see David Heinzmann, "Chicago Jazz Pianist Genaro Esposito," Chicago Tribune, December 31, 1999, section 2 p. 7).

Esposito became known for his proficiency as a bopper, and was a frequent participant in Joe Segal's "modern" jazz jam sessions. In 1956, he and Red Saunders (sometimes competitively, sometimes cooperatively) were developing a recording project centered around a visiting Ghanaian drummer, whose name at birth was Kpakpo Kofi Warren Gamaliel Harding Akwei. He was born in what was then a British colony, the Gold Coast, on April 4, 1923. By the end of the 1930s, he had heard jazz on records and in 1943, he left college to go to New York City, where, using the name Guy Warren, he worked briefly with Miff Mole. In 1950, Warren and two other West African musicians traveled to London, where they worked with British jazz musicians. Warren returned to the US in 1954, arriving in Chicago early in 1955. In March, he made a big impression on the musicians and the audience at one of Joe Segal's early jam sessions. In late November, Gene Esposito And His High Lifers featuring Guy Warren were at Geno's Dance Lounge, 83rd and Jeffery (Southtown Economist, November 30, 1955, p. 10). Geno's was considered a jazz venue; what its patrons thought of the High Lifers would be interesting to know. We're sure no other band was playing anything remotely like this anywhere else in the United States.

Warren shuttled between New York and Chicago over the next few months, but when he was in town he and Red Saunders worked on material for a recording session. Almost certainly Warren was also developing material with Gene Esposito. For it was a Gene Esposito band with Red Saunders and Guy Warren as featured artists that recorded at Universal in September 1956. Red Saunders ponied up the session costs. (The way the session was put together, Warren, Saunders, and Esposito each ended up accusing the others of hogging the credit.) Decca purchased the LP master and released Africa Speaks—America Listens! in May 1957, not long before Esposito signed with Salem. Meanwhile, Esposito, Guy Warren, and bassist LeRoy Jackson had worked the Jazz Scene, a club founded by Max Miller, for a month in September-October 1956. In June 1957, Guy Warren was the drummer in a special trio that pianist Billy Strayhorn (who devoted most of his time to composing and arranging) put together for a run at the Blue Note.

When Mort Hillman took the Esposito trio into the studio, LeRoy Jackson was once again playing bass, and Billy Gaeto, another frequent participant in Joe Segal's sessions and the third drummer on the Decca LP, took care of the rhythm.

Cash Box mentioned Salem SLP4003 on August 17, 1957 (p. 17), though this apparently just meant that it had been recorded. The LP was definitely out by September 14, 1957 (Cash Box, p. 38). On September 16, Billboard gave it noticeably attenuated praise (p. 34). On September 22, 1957, with Esposito's trio still at the SRO Room, the Chicago Tribune (part 7, p. 12) included Salem SLP4003 in a roundup of new records by local artists. Esposito played trumpet on one track ("Blues in the Closet"), piano on all the others.


Matrix Release # Artist Title Recording Release

Salem SLP 4003 Gene Esposito The Gene Esposito Rhythm Section August 1957 September 1957
H8OP-8472 Side 1





Gene Esposito Sweet Sue (Harris-Young) August 1957 September 1957


Gene Esposito Lover Man (Davis-Ramirez-Sherman) August 1957 September 1957


Gene Esposito Mad about the Boy (Coward) August 1957 September 1957


Gene Esposito Blues in the Closet (Pettiford) August 1957 September 1957


Gene Esposito Softly as in the [sic] Morning Sunrise (Hammerstein-Romberg) August 1957 September 1957
H8OP-8473 Side 2





Gene Esposito Blue Monk (Monk) August 1957 September 1957


Gene Esposito That's Sumpin' Else (Jackson) August 1957 September 1957


Gene Esposito Dearly Beloved (Mercer-Kern) August 1957 September 1957


Gene Esposito Cherokee (Noble) August 1957 September 1957


Gene Esposito A Latin's Vamp (Esposito) August 1957 September 1957

The End of Salem


After its third LP, Salem didn't have long to run. Mort Hillman was still pushing singles in September 1957. His final effort (on behalf of Teddy Phillips' Salem S-1014) was expended in October.

Salem closed down in the second half of November 1957. Mort Hillman immediately resurfaced, as director of sales and promotion for Norman Forgue's Stepheny Records. Forgue, a craft book publisher with no music business experience, had started the company around a year earlier, producing one single as a favor to friends. Then from July through September 1957 (the J series numbers on some of the later Salems run neck and neck with those on a bunch of early Stephenys), Forgue recorded as many as 18 singles by as many as 16 different artists. With feeble promotion, less distribution, and artists most of whom people in their own towns couldn't have picked out of a lineup, how was a tiny record company going to avoid instant collapse?

Hillman was brought in the third week of November, replacing Forgue's first record promoter, Jerry Allan. Injecting as much hype into the pages of Cash Box as he could get away with, Hillman did the rounds of Chicagoland DJs, traveled some familiar routes in Indiana and Iowa (was Austin, Minnesota on his itinerary?), and lined up West Coast and East Coast distributors for the company. Stepheny lasted through the end of 1960 (for singles), established a subsidiary (singles-only) called Spinning that operated from the middle of 1958 to the middle of 1960, and was able to branch out into a line of LPs. Hillman ended up doing some of the company's A&R, receiving credit for producing some of the LP sessions. He had to be doing something right, for a while at least. However, Hillman had so many LP projects going that some weren't out when he left, and their release had to be delayed well into 1959. Mort Hillman "ankled" after a year at Stepheny, probably for a variety of reasons. One, clearly, was that he wanted to work in New York City. Forgue hired a replacement for Hillman in January 1959, strictly for sales and promotion. When Ralph Cox left in July 1959, Forgue didn't look for a successor. At a significantly slower pace, he continued with Stepheny/Spinning singles through the end of 1960, and maintained a glacial Stepheny LP operation (averaging one release per year) into 1962 before selling off his audio equipment and closing down for good. Stepheny had been more successful than Salem, but Hillman didn't want to mention it by name right after he'd left, and eventually dropped it from his résumé.

In November 1958, Hillman moved to New York City. He settled in the Whitestone neighborhood of Queens. His first gig was Vice-President and General Manager of Citation Records, run by arranger Irving Szathmary ("Mort Hillman Joins Citation," Cash Box, November 29, 1958, p. 37). On April 13, 1959, Hillman became the top executive for DJ Art Ford, who had several enterprises to operate when he not spinning disks: Ford was making movies, doing music publishing, running jazz festivals, and giving public speeches ("Hillman to Ford Office," Cash Box, April 18, 1959, p. 52). Hillman and Ford already knew each other; at least one signing to Stepheny had been on Ford's recommendation.

In September 1959, Hillman took over as general manager for sales and A&R, reporting to Sidney Siegel at Seeco Records. Seeco ("Mort Hillman New Seeco Gen. Mgr." Cash Box, September 19, 1959, p. 33) was expanding from Latin music (which had long been its specialty) into pop and Hillman was expected to recruit and sign artists; he even got a couple of jazz musicians to record LPs for the label. Mort Hillman settled in at Seeco. He was even able to get his (first?) wife, Marcia, involved in some of the company's projects. After 3 years at Seeco, he decamped to Jerry Blaine's Cosnat, an established distributor that also operated record labels, such as Jubilee and Josie. Hillman was expected to develop relationships between Cosnat's 9 offices (the number had grown just before he was hired, and would shrink while he was there) and rack jobbers. The company also wanted to launch a line of budget-priced LPs, which Hillman would oversee ("Cosnat Forms Rack Division; Mort Hillman Named Mgr.; Bows New Budget Label," Cash Box, September 22, 1962, p. 8).

Hillman left Cosnat in June 1964, to head sales and promotion at Regina, an indie that was trying to grow. A major assignment was building up the company's newtwork of distributors ("Regina Expansion Brings in Mort Hillman to Sales-Promo," Cash Box, June 6, 1964, p. 7). In January 1965, Hillman's travels with artists who recorded on Regina, including Jack LaForge, the pianist who was also president of the label, took him back through his home town (James Wilber, "the Popular Beat," Cincinnati Enquirer, January 24, 1965, p. 13-E). He departed from Regina in June 1965.

From selling records, and from squeezing as much A&R into his job description as his current employer would allow, Hillman took some time off, to sell ad space in Record World magazine ("Mort Hillman to Record World," Record World, June 26, 1965, p. 11). A rebranded version of Music Vendor, the magazine had previously been a minor player. Now it was aiming to put some major rivalry on Billboard, which had scorned him, and on Cash Box, which had published his press releases but hadn't pulled in the record sales he so often thought he was going to get. For three years, Mort Hillman's name was on the masthead (e.g., Record World, December 25, 1965, p. 4) as Advertising Manager, Eastern Division. Record World's head office was in New York City, but it maintained a separate West Coast Division, later opening offices in other parts of the US and in Europe. In March 1966, he was wedded to Ruth Herbst, a medical technician (New York Daily News, March 3, 1966, p. C16). This was probably his second marriage.

In June 1968, Hillman was hired as Vice President for Sales and Promotion at Audio Fidelity Records ("Hillman Named Audio Fi VP, Sales & Promotion," Record World, June 22, 1968, pp. 3, 31; James Wilber, "The Popular Beat," Cincinnati Enquirer, June 30, 1968, p. 9-G). Audio Fi never became a major label, but it would be the highest-profile company he ever worked for. Audio Fidelity underwent a major reorganization in 1971, before slumping at the end of 1970s and going inactive around 1984; more research is needed on the length of Hillman's tenure.

Mort Hillman had seen many changes in the music business, but he would not be around for the arrival of compact disks. In 1980, he went into politics. He ran as a Democrat for a seat in the New York State Assembly, winning and holding it for 6 terms. In 1992, he lost narrowly when redistricting, as it has sometimes done in New York state, put him up against a Republican incumbent from what had been a neighboring district ("New York Legislature: Leaders Buck National Anti-Incumbent Trend," Binghamton Press and Sun-Bulletin, November 5, 1992, p. 8A).

Hillman soon retired to Delray Beach, Florida, where he could still be heard from during local political controversies. Deep into retirement, he made tapes available for reissues of the three Salem LPs. Mort Hillman died in Florida on February 3, 2014, at the age of 87 (Cincinnati Enquirer, February 26, 2014, p. 14). His wife Ruth died in a nursing home in Newtown, Connecticut, on January 9, 2017 (Cincinnati Enquirer, January 11, 2017, p. 6B). She was 98.


Corky Shayne seems to have wrapped up her singing career within a year or two of her Salem LP. She moved to Los Angeles, where she worked as an assistant to various executives in the music business. There is one known mention of her singing in public, at a July 4 charity event in 1965 that featured film and TV personalities ("Valley Communities Mark 4th with 2 Days of Fetes," Valley News [Van Nuys, California], July 4, 1965, p. 10-A). Later she took up golf, getting seriously involved in the sport, and moved to Palm Springs. Corinne Shayne died of cancer in Indian Wells, California, in 2005 (see http://people-vs-drchilledair.blogspot.com/2009/10/and-more-from-ssj-in-october.html). Her obituary ran in the Chicago Tribune on August 22 (see https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/chicagotribune/obituary.aspx?n=corinne-shayne&pid=14925939&fhid=2025), and she was buried the next day in Waldheim Jewish Cemetery, Forest Park, Illinois.


Johnny Pate (as everyone's rendered his name, roughly since Salem closed) is still alive as we write. After some recording sessions in 1958, he put away his string bass and worked strictly as an arranger.


Bobby Christian kept right on going when Salem faltered. He worked with his big band, he made all kinds of guest appearances, his compositions for percussion ensemble were performed. He'd done one single for Formal, one for Bally, two for Salem. In May 1958 he released a single on Paul Gallis and Porky Panico's Phonograph label. We're not sure of the month for the sessions, but he got a release in 1958 on Mercury's Wing subsidiary; he also got an LP on Mercury, for which he did some new pieces and redid some old ones. The LP was released in November. Then he signed with Stepheny—Mort Hillman might have had something to do with that. Three new Bobby Christian singles and a 12-inch LP ensued; the LP consisted partly of old tracks and partly of new tracks. Before he was finished with Stepheny, Christian released a single in June 1959 on Top Rank, an American subsidary of the Otto Rank Organisation, putting him in such company as Dorothy Collins and Bert Weedon. After his final single on Stepheny (toward the end of 1959), Christian cut at one least one single with a Chicago startup called Fenway, one with Audio Fidelity, one with Audio Fi's Dauntless subsidary; he also put LPs out on Audio Fi and Dauntless. Next followed a bunch of singles with a local company called Mal, which he owned (1963-1965). Later, Bobby Christian appeared on some percussion ensemble LPs.

Bobby Christian died in West Suburban Hospital Medical Center, Oak Park, Illinois, on December 31, 1991. He was 80 years old and planning to do some more recording in Las Vegas. He left his wife, Josephine, 6 children, 25 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren ("Bobby Christian, Percussionist and Composer," Chicago Tribune, January 2, 1992, https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-1992-01-02-9201010344-story.html; Musician Bobby Christian Dead at 80," The Times-Press [Streator, Illinois], January 3, 1992, p. 9). The informant for the Tribune obituary was "studio guitarist" Ron Steele, Bobby's son-in-law.


Shirley Forwood proved the most durable of Salem's girl singers. She had another record out one month after Salem closed. This was for Fraternity, a company based in Cincinnati that had quite a few Chicago connections. Dan Belloc, for instance, directed sessions for Fraternity. Fraternity also released an LP by his big band. Another connection was singer Dick Noel, who had a new release on Fraternity at the same time as Shirley Forwood's (St. Petersburg Times, December 22, 1957, p. 4). Fraternity F789 featured "Two Ways," described by the St. Petersburg Times as "a good country style ballad." The tune was credited to Ethel Phillips, while the flip was by Ethel Phillips and Irv Fabrizio. Again, both were Sun Valley publications. Forwood's follow-up for Fraternity (F834, early 1958) included one Sun Valley tune. Backing was directed by Lew Douglas, also from Chicago, where he conducted a lot more pop sessions than Knoble.

Meanwhile, Forwood was getting radio work in Chicago, as was indicated when she made an appearance modeling the Plant of the Month, Cattleya orchids (Chicago Sunday Tribune, May 11, 1958, part 3 section 2). She was also snagging TV exposure, as in her guest appearance on the 15-minute show In Town Tonight (Channel 2) on October 23, 1958 (Chicago Daily Tribune, p. 26).

Forwood's contract with Fraternity presumably expired after a year. She would make just one more single, for an itty-bitty Chicago startup called Crystal, in 1959. None of her records had been hits, but she kept getting work.

We don't know where Forwood was in the early 1960s—she told the Minneapolis Star columnist that she'd spent 3 years in Paris—but in 1964 she surfaced in Minneapolis and made it her home. By June 1964, she was the "house singer" at the Park Terrace (Minneapolis Sunday Tribune, June 21, 1964, p. 4E), accompanied by a piano trio. Toward the end of 1967, she was booked into the Golliwog Room (there's a name that entertainment venues no longer use) at the Sheraton-Ritz Hotel, with the Stu Anderson Trio (Minneapolis Tribune, December 24, 1967, p. 6E). An ad promised "No Cover No Minimum No Dull Moments" (Minneapolis Tribune, January 4, 1968, p. 8). Her Golliwog run ended at the beginning of March, after 8 weeks (Minneapolis Tribune, February 25, 1968, p. E11). Forwood returned to the recording studio for the first time since 1959, though not with commercial release in mind. The Richard Nixon campaign in Minnesota had a song written for it that drew attention in other parts of the country. So Ralph Mendenhall's ork recorded "Nixon for President," with vocals by Bruce Winter, Dick Winter, and Shirley Forwood (Minneapolis Tribune, October 28, 1968, p. 24).

In 1972, Shirley Forwood was a member of an ambitious outfit called VI Park East: a vocal sextet (3 women, 3 men) with its own instrumental trio. Will Leonard ("Two Sextets, Price of One," Chicago Tribune, March 26, 1972, Arts and Fun p. 11) caught them at the Cantina Room of the Continental Plaza Hotel in Chicago. He described them as "a group of kids harking back to the swingy melodies of the '30s and '40s" who could also do contemporary pop. Shirley Forwood sang alto. The bass player was a guy named Dan Matsche. A group of that size was hard to keep together. A few months later Shirley Forwood and Dan Matsche were on the road with a quintet. Photos made it clear they were a couple. Forwood-Matsche, Unlimited finished a gig at the Town House Show Lounge in Cedar Rapids, Iowa (Cedar Rapids Gazette, November 24, 1972, p. 14). The blurb said they were "Direct from Los Angeles." But their next gig, umm, direct from Cedar Rapids, was at a steak house in Calgary, Alberta (Calgary Herald, November 24, 1972, p. 25). They must have caught some attention north of the border, as the last advert we've seen for them was from Regina, Saskatchewan (The Leader Post, February 3, 1973, p. 6).

The last Shirley Forwood billing we've found was at a "New Year's Fiesta," at the Sheraton Inn-Northwest in Brooklyn Park, a Minneapolis suburb. The dance to ring in New Year's 1977 was to feature Forwood and Reuben Ristrom (St. Cloud, Minnesota Daily Times, December 23, 1976, p. 10).

Probably in 1977, Shirley Forwood and Dan Matsche got married, and both became born-again Christians. Shirley Matsche no longer worked nightclubs. Dan Matsche volunteered for Good News Jail and Prison Ministries, attended Luther Rice Bible College (Jacksonville, Florida), and eventually became a chaplain. The Matsches left Minneapolis for good in 1982, moving to Orlando, Florida. Dan worked for a religious music production company there, and later became a regional director for Good News Ministries. Shirley got a job at the Epcot Center, in the Voices of Liberty, and stayed 6 1/2 years.

In January 1989, she left Epcot and joined her husband's jail and prison ministry full-time ("Couple Featured at Ministries Dinner," Hanford, California Sentinel, October 2, 1989, p. 6). She had been working steadily as a singer for something like 34 years. The Matsches were in the Orlando area until 1997, when they sold a house in Belle Isle Estate (The Orlando Sentinel, November 2, 1997, p. K-11). It appears Dan Matsche's ministry next took them to Colorado. In 2015, he was a chaplain at Fremont State Prison in Can˜on City (Tracy Harmon, "Inmates not Kicking This 'Habit,'" The Pueblo Chieftain, December 12, 2015, https://www.chieftain.com/article/20151212/NEWS/312129989. At the time of writing, Dan Matsche is credited as a prison minister in Can˜on City for St. Paul's (PCA) Global Missions; Shirley Matsche does administrative work for the ministry and sings at his Sunday services (https://stpaulpca.org/ministries/global-missions).


Frankie Masters continued to work the ice show in Boulevard Room at the Conrad Hilton. In April 1957, Herb Lyon ("Tower Ticker," Chicago Tribune, April 4, 1957, part 2 p. 12) announced that Masters' contract wouldn't be renewed at the end of the current season. That was a false alarm, because on June 2, the Chicago Tribune Magazine ran a feature about new house Masters had built in Cary, Illinois, overlooking the Fox River (Kathryn Loring, "Maestro's Hidewaway: Frankie Masters Is a Country Squire Now," June 2, 1957, p. 41). He was still working the ice show. The gig finally did run out two years later, after which Masters and band played hotels and other venues around the Midwest. He retired from bandleading in 1975. Frankie Masters died on October 28, 1990, in Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington, Illinois. He was 86 years old (Kenan Heise, "Frankie Masters, 86; Directed Big Bands in Chicago Hotels, Chicago Tribune, October 31, 1990, section 2 p. 13).


Toward the end of 1957, the Hi Fi Guys went their separate ways for a while. In January 1958, Ray Barlow was at LaRue's without the other two (Indianapolis News, January 6, 1958, p. 16). They rejoined forces; in August of the same year all three were at LaRue's (Indianapolis News, August 8, 1958, p. 11). Some version of the group was playing Brodey's Village Inn on December 30, 1960 (Indianapolis News, December 30, 1960, p. 7). They were co-billed with Wanda Stafford, "Recording Star." The Hi Fi Guys did not receive such billing; their two Salems were deemed ancient history.

We don't know what happened to the other two Hi Fi Guys, but Ray Barlow resurfaced in 1961, in a group called the Three Twins. The Three Twins were originally a vocal/instrumental group from Bloomington, Indiana, consisting of Al Douglas, who played piano and vibes, Art Iwan on violin and string bass, and Bill Bigger, who played guitar and string bass. In their original configuration, they recorded two singles for KaHill, an indie located in Des Plaines, Illionis, in 1955 and a single for a short-lived Chicago label called Banana in 1958. By 1961, the Three Twins consisted of Al Douglas, Ray Barlow, and Lenny Perretta. They released an album on the Break label. In 1965, the Three Twins returned to KaHill. In this edition of the group, Barlow played guitar and banjo, Al Douglas played string bass, Ken Riehl handled drums and percussion, at least one of them could pick up an accordion, and they all sang. KaHill, which had by then migrated from Des Plaines to Arlington Heights, Illinois, put out an LP on the group, The Three Twins in Two Moods. Repertoire ranged from "Inch Worm" to "The Banjo's Back in Town" to "Cottonfields" to "Unchained Melody" to something called "Calypso Twisto." Not too long after the KaHill LP, the same lineup released Two Sides of the Three Twins, an LP from a company called Aircap in Wichita, Kansas. The last appearance by Ray Barlow that we know of was in a duet with Dick "Two Ton" Baker, "Ping Pong Banjo." This appeared on Heartbeat HB-5, a single on a revival of Seymour Schwartz's Heartbeat label, in 1973.


From what we've learned, Chaya Nash never made another commercial recording. She married Dr. Robert Alvin Reifman, settled down in the suburbs, and continued in radio and TV work for a while, doing a voiceover for Kellogg's Raisin Bran. She entertained at meetings at her synagogue ("NSJC Sisterhood Luncheon," The Bugle [Niles, Illinois], February 24, 1977, p. 11). Through the late 1970s, Chaya Reifman was still taking an occasional paying gig in the Chicago area. For instance, she had a limited run, 5 days a week, at the Sheraton North Shore in Northbrook (Chicago Tribune, September 3, 1978, section 6, p. 23).

In the mid-1980s, she worked as a travel agent and taught part time in the radio and TV program at Columbia College in Chicago (Jacqueline Jones, "Radio Teacher Juggles with Different Careers," Columbia College Chronicle, December 16, 1985, p. 10). Chaya Reifman died of cancer, aged 70, in 2000, leaving her husband, two sons, and two grandchildren (Chicago Tribune, November 2, 2000, section 2 p. 11).


The most notorious member of The Saints, David Toresdahl, married Sharon Nelson on January 10, 1958, at Our Savior's Lutheran Church in Austin, Minnesota (Austin Herald, January 22, 1958, p. 5). He had probably not turned 19 yet, and was enrolled at Mankato State College. The Saints were history. According to the David Amos article in The Times Colonist (2014), David Toresdahl first exhibited his art at the Minnesota State Fair in 1962. We don't know how long he was married to Sharon Nelson. Shortly after the State Fair exhibition (and years after any proceeds from Salem S- 1012 would have been exhausted) Toresdahl moved to California, where he got his Master of Fine Arts degree in sculpture at Cal State Fullerton. He had been working in cast bronze, but at Cal State Fullerton got a sudden inspiration to switch to ceramics. After several years in Southern California, during which he completed a large number of pieces and worked as an art instructor at a community college, he married Susan Trouton. They moved to Vancouver, British Columbia in 1970. He spent the rest of his life in Canada, working and exhibiting in several places but ultimately splitting up with his second wife and settling on Vancouver Island. He died there in 2004.


Gene Esposito would have a long career in music. From 1963 to 1969, he led a trio at the Playboy Club in Chicago. In 1969, in honor of his days with Guy Warren, he led a band called the High Lifers. Moving to Los Angeles, he was the music director for the LA Playboy Club from 1971 to 1976. He moved back to Chicago in 1983, operating a nonprofit jazz organiztion and a record label called Jazz Idiom Ltd. He produced a number of tributes to Billy Strayhorn, who he thought had been unjustly neglected. Gene Esposito died at Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago on December 9, 1999. He was 70 years old (David Heinzmann, "Chicago pianist Genaro Esposito," Chicago Tribune, December 13, 1999, section 2 p. 7).


Teddy Phillips remained active as a bandleader for many years after his quick stop at Salem. In 1956, he'd hired a vocalist named Colleen Lovett, a recent high school graduate from Dallas, Texas; at some point in 1957 (possibly after his Salem session) they were married. In 1959, Lovett would record for Stepheny, with her husband directing the studio band; Teddy put out a single the same year for Thanx, a label that Bud Brandom operated for a hot minute, featuring two male vocalists. On both singles, Phillips led a quintet, making us wondering whether he could still afford to tour year-round with a big band. Before leaving Chicago, Phillips was the featured soloist on a LP for "Lil Wally" Jagiello's company, Jay Jay; Teddy played alto and tenor sax and Lil Wally's polka band accompanied. In the early 1960s, Phillips and Lovett moved to California. In 1964, Phillips observed the commercial success of Herb Alpert's Tijuana Brass and copied them with a band he dubbed The Mexicali Brass. The Brass consisted of 7 or 8 pieces and featured Colleen Lovett on vocals; between 1964 and the end of the decade they made a long string of LPs, first for Crown, then for other small labels in California. Alpert's formula also included releasing his records on his own label (A&M Records); Phillips didn't copy that part. Teddy Phillips and Colleen Lovett divorced in 1971. Teddy Phillips remained active on the West Coast in the 1970s. In the early 1980s, Phillips briefly led a Guy Lombardo tribute band. In later years, he most often appeared at benefit concerts on the West Coast. Phillips died of kidney failure at the age of 82, in Canoga Park, California, on March 10, 2001 (see James Janega, "Teddy Phillips, Popular Bandleader," Chicago Tribune, March 15, 2001 at https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-2001-03-15-0103150172-story.html). He left his ex-wife, two sons, and a grandson.



Salem lasted one year, numbered its 45s regularly, came reasonably close to numbering its LPs regularly. Because the release list didn't trip discographers up, it has gotten reasonable documentation in the past. Still, many other record labels have been called Salem. Several gospel labels have had Salem in their name. There was at least one other Salem, not mainly for gospel, right in Chicago—in the 1960s, unconnected with Mort Hillman's operation.

We benefited from the 45 rpm discography on Salem at 45cat.com—where it is Salem number four. The discography at discogs.com, also employing the Salem number 4 designation, includes the three LPs with the 14 45s.

For the first two Salem LPs, see Armin Bu¨ttner's discography of Johnny Pate's early work as a leader at http://www.jazzdocumentation.ch/pate.html. At Armin's Crown Propeller site is an entry on the conversion of Salem SLP2 into Stepheny MF4005: https://crownpropeller.wordpress.com/2012/10/13/johnnie-pate-at-the-blue-note-overdub/.


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