SPOTLIGHT ON AL BENSON AND THE PARROT LABEL
"My Baby's Gone"/"Feel So Good"
by The Five Thrills
on Parrot 796
released in 1954
"My Baby's Gone"/"Feel So Good"
Above: Photo of The Five Thrills, a Chicago group consisting of Gilbert Warren (lead tenor), Fred Washington (baritone), Obie Washington (second tenor), Oscar Robinson (baritone) and Levi Jenkins (bass). Fred and Obie were brothers. Jenkins also played piano for the group. In 1955, Warren had two releases on Parrot with The Orchids.
Click HERE for a webpage about the Parrot and Blue Lake Labels.
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Above Left: Article from The Billboard dated 1/29/49.
(Reference Links: Vitacoustic Old Swing-Master Kitty Stevenson)
Above Right: Picture of Al Benson at the WGES microphone from 1948. Benson began his Chicago disk jockey career in 1943 playing gospel, switched to jazz, and eventually found rhythm and blues as his ticket to success.
Billboard, September 20, 1947:
Al Benson, Negro disk jockey, joined the staff of WJJD last week with a 15-minute platter show across the board for Canadian Ace beer, making the first time a major independent has used a Negro jock show locally....
Billboard, April 1, 1950: [NOTE: This column is discussing record shop proprietors who started their own independent labels.]
....In the hot jazz department, Commodore Shop has kept its Commodore label lively since the 1930s. For a spell the line was distributed via Decca branches, but today it has independent distributors. Savoy Records, which also maintains a top slot among rhythm and blues labels, sprang forth from Herman Lubinsky's Radio Shop of Newark.... Regal Records, also a rhythm-blues specialist, is directed by Freddy Mendelson, who operates a shop in Elizabeth, N.J.... Chicago disk jockey Al Benson, who operates a string of rhythm and blues shops, produces and plugs his own Swingmaster label....
Billboard, March 31, 1951:
Chicago: ....Leonard and Phil Chess have cut a disking by Al Benson, the local r. and b. disk jockey, with Benson's vocal featured....
Above: Columns from The Billboard dated (L) 3/26/49 and (R) 3/31/51.
Above: Label image of Parrot 796 recorded in October 1953 and released in January 1954. Obie Robinson sings lead on "My Baby's Gone" and Fred Washington has that honor on the flip side. These are remakes of The Four Buddies' "My Summer's Gone" and The Five Keys' "Serve Another Round" under disguised titles. The flip side label shows "F. Washington" as composer. "Bronzeville" (see bottom of label) was an Afro-American neighborhood in the South Side of Chicago.
This is the first of two records by The Five Thrills, both on Parrot and both released in 1954. The Parrot label existed from mid-1953 to early 1956. It's subsidiary label, Blue Lake, began in 1954 and also closed in early 1956. Al Benson's first label, Old Swing-Master, was a joint venture with radio station owner Egmont Sonderling and existed from 1949 to mid-1950.
Vocal groups that had records on Parrot/Blue Lake include The Flamingos, Orchids, Rockettes, Pelicans, Five Chances, Parrots, Five Arrows, Chocolateers, Maples, and Fascinators.
Listen to this week's selections by The Five Thrills on Parrot 796 from 1954:
[Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]
A. Stream RealAudio...
1. My Baby's Gone
2. Feel So Good
BOTH played in sequence
[To download audio files, right-click on link and then select "Save (Link) Target As..."]
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