April 14, 1991 |
LaVern Baker is on the stage of the Village Gate nightclub singing "Jim Dandy," and as the sax man takes a solo, she starts to do the twist, then playfully mimes a pain in her back. It's been 35 years since Baker recorded "Jim Dandy" and decades since she's performed a scheduled nightclub engagement in the United States, but rock 'n' roll doesn't always forget.
August 26, 1995 |
Arriving at a friend's Manhattan apartment to conduct her first interview since having her second leg amputation because of diabetes, LaVern Baker briskly maneuvers her wheelchair as a nurse about half her age looks on with amused resignation. "She wears me out," the nurse says, while Baker deftly positions herself next to a sofa and gets right down to business. "I lost my legs," Baker, 65, announces. "But I didn't lose my mind. I'm tired of just sittin'. I want to do something.
July 7, 1996
In her piece on Yvette Freeman's salute to the great Dinah Washington ("What a Difference a Play Makes," June 16), Susan King refers to Washington as "the first female African American artist to cross over from rhythm & blues to the all-white pop charts with 1959's 'What a Difference a Day Makes.' " There are a few errors in that statement. The pop charts weren't all-white in the late '50s; dozens of black artists made the Top 40. Ruth Brown and LaVern Baker, the true queens of R&B, shared several pop hits between them, and Baker's "I Cried a Tear" entered the Top 10 months before Washington got there.
December 6, 1991 |
Most of the CD reissue news these days centers on the ambitious, three- and four-disc sets saluting artists as varied as Barbra Streisand, Fats Domino and the Monkees. Don't, however, overlook the many single disc albums that are being rushed out to tempt pop fans during the holiday season. Two of the latest entries in Atlantic Records' Remasters Series are devoted to Rock and Roll Hall of Fame members Clyde McPhatter and LaVern Baker.
April 18, 1991 |
Few performers have entered the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with more slender credentials than LaVern Baker. The singer's Top 30 hits like "Tweedlee Dee" and "Jim Dandy" brought a shot of rhythm & blues to the '50s pop charts, but they were minor novelty records, and she didn't establish any kind of vocal signature. Her contribution to the upheaval of the mid-'50s hardly seems essential.
January 18, 1991 |
It was a time for music and a time for comfort Wednesday at the sixth annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction dinner, and a cleansing Byrds reunion helped supply both. The annual dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria is normally a warm and festive affair as the record industry salutes some of the artists who have helped shape rock 'n' roll and pop culture over the past four decades. This year's induction class wasn't as star-studded as past ones, but the artists have all added substantially to the richness and scope of the music, especially in the areas of blues and soul.