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pottsy

Billy Arnell - Tough Girl

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Thought I'd share this, some might find it interesting ?

 

Years ago I was fortunate enough to end up with Billy Arnells copy of Tough Girl. This was via a third party so unfortunately I didn't get to meet him. Anyway, with the record came an interesting news paper cutting that he'd kept since the records release.

Billy (real name Smith) was only 17 when Tough Girl came out. According to the news paper cutting the record was to be released as "Little Willie and the Sparkles" - Tough Girl B/W Little Baby.

 

I can't do scans at the moment so I've attached a photo, hopefully it will enlarge when you click on it.

 

post-2021-0-83025900-1414756023_thumb.jppost-2021-0-66171000-1414755722_thumb.jp

Edited by pottsy

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Great post mate! Always liked this tune, not because of its stand out brilliance but, because of the first time I heard back in the '70s the memories that it evokes - but that's another story ;-)

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I wonder what happened to him? What with the overthrow of the Beatles not quite going to plan  :ohmy:

I always found that scrap of newspaper fascinating Ady. Hope ya well mate?

Edited by John A

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I loved this at Wigan, tried to buy a copy of Richard, he'd let it go the week before, that killed me at the time.

To be honest, it's dated now, sounds like something by Russ Conway played an Blackpool tower organ now, still, it was a great atmospheric tune in the main hall, it was of its time.

Anyone remember the horrible vocal?

Was it Sammy Davis Jr or was that a cover up name, I seem to remember?

Edited by MrsWoodsrules

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There are always interesting back stories to these 45s ….. Billy Smith changed his surname to Arnell for the 45 release as he thought it sounded more showbiz ! … he was actually only 14 at the time but as the band were gigging in bars he had to pretend he was much older

 

Billy and Lou started the group together .. they lived less than a block apart in Fair Lawn NJ.  Later they added friends: Eddie Hoffman (organ) and Jack Gullone (drums).

 

Eddie became a teacher somewhere in Long Island. Jack ended up living in Northern NJ. He graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in Massachusetts.

 

The group played all over locally and by chance, meet Joe Martin of Apex-Martin Distributors in Newark, NJ. That meeting  led to the "Tough Girl" recording session.  

 

When they did the first version of Tough Girl, the producer (the original one) wasn't happy - nor was Joe Martin.  So he fired that producer and brought in George Kerr.   George didn't like the band, so they redid the entire thing without the Sparkels, only with Billy singing and Lou on guitar. George brought in Eric Gale on guitar, Bernard "Pretty" Purdie on drums, Bobbie Banks on Organ, and a forgotten bass player. In addition they used the studio horn section that Lou arranged for plus two trumpets, two saxes and two vibes players.

 

Billy ended up starting a record company and a recording studio in NY with a partner named Steve Loeb

 

Lou went on to have a very impressive career in the music industry which you can see here  http://www.louhemsey.com/About_Lou_Hemsey.html

 

Andy

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There are always interesting back stories to these 45s ….. Billy Smith changed his surname to Arnell for the 45 release as he thought it sounded more showbiz ! … he was actually only 14 at the time but as the band were gigging in bars he had to pretend he was much older

 

Billy and Lou started the group together .. they lived less than a block apart in Fair Lawn NJ.  Later they added friends: Eddie Hoffman (organ) and Jack Gullone (drums).

 

Eddie became a teacher somewhere in Long Island. Jack ended up living in Northern NJ. He graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in Massachusetts.

 

The group played all over locally and by chance, meet Joe Martin of Apex-Martin Distributors in Newark, NJ. That meeting  led to the "Tough Girl" recording session.  

 

When they did the first version of Tough Girl, the producer (the original one) wasn't happy - nor was Joe Martin.  So he fired that producer and brought in George Kerr.   George didn't like the band, so they redid the entire thing without the Sparkels, only with Billy singing and Lou on guitar. George brought in Eric Gale on guitar, Bernard "Pretty" Purdie on drums, Bobbie Banks on Organ, and a forgotten bass player. In addition they used the studio horn section that Lou arranged for plus two trumpets, two saxes and two vibes players.

 

Billy ended up starting a record company and a recording studio in NY with a partner named Steve Loeb

 

Lou went on to have a very impressive career in the music industry which you can see here  http://www.louhemsey.com/About_Lou_Hemsey.html

 

Andy

Great stuff Andy.

 

Peter

 

:thumbsup:

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Informative stuff as always Mr Rix...but can anyone remember what it was covered up as? I have a long running (good natured) argument with Flynn-san of Tokyo, who was far too young to be there :-) , but I can remember charging up to the stage at St Ives and yelling "what's this?"...and the answer came "The Sparkles - New Jersey Pike"...anyone confirm please?

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Informative stuff as always Mr Rix...but can anyone remember what it was covered up as? I have a long running (good natured) argument with Flynn-san of Tokyo, who was far too young to be there :-) , but I can remember charging up to the stage at St Ives and yelling "what's this?"...and the answer came "The Sparkles - New Jersey Pike"...anyone confirm please?

 

Never heard that before Jerry, so must have been a different c/u name...or was not covered at all at Wigan

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Martyn Smith from Bedford, who has an extraordinary memory regarding all things St. Ives, claims that this, along with many other sounds, were St.Ives firsts. I only did a Wigan twice that year (77) and fore end and back end of the year and remember St. Ives really giving Wigan a run for its money, both in terms of the crowds and quality of sounds. It was a long time ago, so my memory may be "spiked". :-)

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Martyn Smith from Bedford, who has an extraordinary memory regarding all things St. Ives, claims that this, along with many other sounds, were St.Ives firsts. I only did a Wigan twice that year (77) and fore end and back end of the year and remember St. Ives really giving Wigan a run for its money, both in terms of the crowds and quality of sounds. It was a long time ago, so my memory may be "spiked". :-)

spot on and clees macca, billy

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Why would George Kerr have been draughted in on this? Did he do Pop stuff as well the more obvious sounds he's associated with? 

 

I was thinking that too macca. I thought George Kerr was pretty much a black artistes only producer, or was Billy Arnell black? I've never heard one of his productions sound as poppy as the Billy Arnell record.

Edited by jordirip

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It was and is a fantastic sound black, white whatever colour its soul was in brilliant dancer inerpretation out on the floor and yes it was never better than at st ives 77 maybe someone should do a film on those other venues might be a tadge gentler than the one just done

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I was thinking that too macca. I thought George Kerr was pretty much a black artistes only producer, or was Billy Arnell black? I've never heard one of his productions sound as poppy as the Billy Arnell record.

Presumably thats him in the photo of the album sleeve holding the guitar, looks pretty much like a black man to me  :lol: although he could be one of the other 8 black men in the photo (yes I counted up, nine members named in The Brothers and nine men in the photo. Would these be the same 'The Brothers' who recorded the anthemic "Are You Ready For This" on RCA?) 

btw - Am I alone in thinking a lot of black artists were trying their best to sound white enough for plays on the white pop radio of the day (think of the many Drifters sound-a-like bands there were, for example) after all they were all trying to make hit records.... weren't they ? :wink:

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Billy appears on the far right  of this photo with Riot, a heavy metal outfit he and Steve Loeb signed in 1975. It's the only pic of him I can find.

 

http://books.google.es/books?id=ZyQEAAAAMBAJ&pg=PT13&lpg=PT13&dq=billy+arnell+fire+sign&source=bl&ots=E_KBBecY8p&sig=ZfeMwy61mcRMELnSAH7C8x1NcNc&hl=es&sa=X&ei=qh1VVOnvEJDjasSmgZAD&ved=0CCoQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q&f=false

Edited by macca

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Billy appears on the far left of this photo with Riot, a heavy metal outfit he and Steve Loeb signed in 1975. It's the only pic of him I can find.

 

http://books.google.es/books?id=ZyQEAAAAMBAJ&pg=PT13&lpg=PT13&dq=billy+arnell+fire+sign&source=bl&ots=E_KBBecY8p&sig=ZfeMwy61mcRMELnSAH7C8x1NcNc&hl=es&sa=X&ei=qh1VVOnvEJDjasSmgZAD&ved=0CCoQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q&f=false

Well here's another  (at least I think it's him) - all their names are helpfully written on and arrowed in marker pen :D

post-1918-0-12853900-1414865532_thumb.jp

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Presumably thats him in the photo of the album sleeve holding the guitar, looks pretty much like a black man to me  :lol: although he could be one of the other 8 black men in the photo (yes I counted up, nine members named in The Brothers and nine men in the photo. Would these be the same 'The Brothers' who recorded the anthemic "Are You Ready For This" on RCA?) 

btw - Am I alone in thinking a lot of black artists were trying their best to sound white enough for plays on the white pop radio of the day (think of the many Drifters sound-a-like bands there were, for example) after all they were all trying to make hit records.... weren't they ? :wink:

 

For some reason I always thought he was white John.

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Presumably thats him in the photo of the album sleeve holding the guitar, looks pretty much like a black man to me  :lol: although he could be one of the other 8 black men in the photo (yes I counted up, nine members named in The Brothers and nine men in the photo. Would these be the same 'The Brothers' who recorded the anthemic "Are You Ready For This" on RCA?) 

btw - Am I alone in thinking a lot of black artists were trying their best to sound white enough for plays on the white pop radio of the day (think of the many Drifters sound-a-like bands there were, for example) after all they were all trying to make hit records.... weren't they ? :wink:

 

 

The singer of the vocal version of Tough Girl is black? I'd take a lot of convincing...

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The Instrumental was the Big sound in the 70's, not the vocal.

It's a great instrumental, and when played loud in a venue it does sound atmospheric! Trouble is when ever it's played now it's always the vocal that's played.

Not a record for the deep soul fans!

The newspaper cutting is a great piece of lost music history, enjoyed reading it.

Edited by solidsoul

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Well here's another  (at least I think it's him) - all their names are helpfully written on and arrowed in marker pen :D

attachicon.gif1975.jpg

I'd seen that photo but wasn't sure that it was the same Billy Arnell, unlike the one with his partner at Fire Sign, Steve Loeb. The Billy Arnell featured in the group shot are of a west coast band called the Stumpbreakers. Could be him though. Apart from them recording hard rock acts like Riot he and Loeb recorded many of the nascent NYC Hip Hop acts of the early 80s. 

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There's another Billy Arnell who died in 2012 and was known on Youtube as BM_MIDI. He was based in NYC and well respected musician and contributor the Cakewalk forum. Not sure if it's "our" Billy boy though. 


 

Edited by macca

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Seem to remember Billy Arnell features on the credits of some of the Drifters Bell recordings from early 70's. Can't remember which ones though (Or was it on the Fantastics recording credits, same time same label ?)

Edited by Mick Holdsworth

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Informative stuff as always Mr Rix...but can anyone remember what it was covered up as? I have a long running (good natured) argument with Flynn-san of Tokyo, who was far too young to be there :-) , but I can remember charging up to the stage at St Ives and yelling "what's this?"...and the answer came "The Sparkles - New Jersey Pike"...anyone confirm please?

The Sprinkles - New Jersey Connection

 

Ref Shades of Soul Issue 11 (article by Andy Rix/Richard Domar)

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Might it have been New Jersey Turnpike, Jerry?  Do the residents of NJ refer to their famous freeway as 'the pike' by any chance? This is probably stretching chin-stroking to unbearable limits, I know. 

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It was and is a fantastic sound black, white whatever colour its soul was in brilliant dancer inerpretation out on the floor and yes it was never better than at st ives 77 maybe someone should do a film on those other venues might be a tadge gentler than the one just done

nope..........just a pop tune....nothing more nothing less

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It might be a pop record, and I'm all for maintaining the soul content, but accepting that the Northern scene hasn't always concerned itself too much with that I have always thought of this record as a NS dancers dream of a record.......atmospheric, the drum rolls, break down etc. Love it.....of its time....

Cheers,

Mark R

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