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King Curtis' reign couldn't top drummer

Published Oct. 13, 2005

Question: I recently acquired an album by King Curtis, the saxophone master. The LP says King Curtis may have played on more hit records than any other musician, particularly among performers who were not often credited on the label. Is this so? What is King Curtis up to in recent times? _ Martin Irvington, York, Pa. Answer: King Curtis, born Curtis Ousley on Feb. 7, 1934, in Fort Worth, Texas, certainly played, uncredited, on hundreds of hit recordings by other artists. Besides his session work, Curtis managed more than two dozen hits under his own name, most notably Soul Twist, a Top 20 hit in 1962.

As frequently as King Curtis has been featured on other artists' hits, he is still far behind drummer Hal Blaine, whose percussion has been featured on about 1,000 top hits. What's more, Blaine is still pounding out a beat as a session drummer, which means the number of his guest appearances is still increasing.

You ask "what is King Curtis up to in recent times?" One hopes he's up somewhere near St. Peter. Curtis was fatally stabbed on Aug. 13, 1971, during a quarrel with a trespasser outside his New York apartment.

Question: I purchased an unusual heart-shaped, red Motown disc titled Pops, We Love You. The artists are Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson and Stevie Wonder. What's this all about? _ Jaye Kasmin, New Haven, Conn.

Answer: Pops was a nickname for Berry Gordy Sr., father of the Berry Gordy (Jr.) who founded the Motown family of labels. Pops, We Love You, a January 1979 release, was recorded to honor the senior Gordy on his 90th birthday. The heart-shaped edition _ it also exists on standard 45 rpm _ is valued at about $10.

Question: I am trying to identify a record from the early '50s that was simply hilarious. The late Jim Backus and a woman were having some champagne, and they began laughing harder and harder. By the time the record ended they were completely in stitches (as was anyone who was listening). Can you give me some information on this recording? _ Linda Rexrode, Harrisonburg, Va.

Answer: Shown on the label as by Jim Backus and Friend, this 1958 Top 40 hit is titled Delicious (Jubilee 5330). An original 45 should only run you about $8 to $12.

By the way, the woman on the record has never been identified.

Question: How is it possible that Patsy Cline went "out walking after midnight?" Technically speaking, any time in the wee hours of the morning (i.e. 1 a.m., 2 a.m., etc.) is before midnight, not after, right? _ Dick Hartmann, Brandon

Answer: Technically speaking, the wee hours of the morning are before midnight with respect to the 24-hour day. However, within the time line of Patsy Cline's life, her walk came after the stroke of midnight. Since she was older during her walk than at midnight, she therefore stated her situation correctly.

I enjoyed your question. It's nice to know how carefully some of you listen to those lyrics.

1991 World Features Syndicate Inc.