:: Time Out For Tears ::
:: I've Got The Blues ::
:: The Love Trip ::
:: The Lies That You Told Me ::
:: Bonnie & The Treasures - Home Of The Brave ::
What do toe-tapper Fred Astaire, madman Phil Spector and song poem maestro Rodd Keith have in common? Not a whole hell of a lot, but they can be somewhat linked together by an obscure session singer named Charlotte Ann Matheny.
Charlotte lived a few blocks away from the Santa Monica and Vine intersection in Hollywood during the sixties, making her readily accessible at Stan Ross and David Gold’s legendary Gold Star Studios, home to the infamous “Wall of Sound” (and now home to a strip mall where this contributor likes to scarf down cheesesteaks each week). Producer Al Hazan was asked by Ross to show his friends how a record was made, and Hazan enlisted Charlotte to do the vocals on a song he penned called “Daydreams.” The master tape belonged to Hazan to do whatever he wanted with afterwards, so he took it to Fred Astaire’s Ava Records. The Ava execs liked it so much they signed Hazan on as an A&R man, and released the song on a single, christening Charlotte with a name from Gone with the Wind: Charlotte O’Hara. Those execs apparently didn’t “give a damn” about Charlotte, because she wasn’t offered anything further.
A few years later in 1965, Phil Spector protégé Jerry Riopelle chose Charlotte to sing lead vocals on Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil’s “Home of the Brave.” The song was credited to Bonnie & The Treasures and released on Spector’s Phi-Dan Records. Incredibly loyal to the Spector sound, the song is gorgeous and has our heroine stirring up emotions by passionately pleading for a young boy’s right to attend school with long hair. Those Beatle haircuts sure caused a shitstorm back then. At the same time, Capitol Records released a different version of the same song by Jody Miller. Both singles entered the Billboard Hot 100 the same week: Bonnie & The Treasures peaked at #77; Jody Miller’s climbed to #25. Thus, anyone who remembers the song usually remembers Miller’s version. While I don’t have a copy of the record (yet), the song was included on an out-of-print cd called, “Poodle Skirts and Poni-tails Vol.1.” I’m breaking from our vinyl-only tradition and posting it, if only to provide Charlotte a little justice and offset the song poem selections.
So yes, in 1967 Charlotte began working for the Preview and MSR labels under lead artist and producer for the two imprints, Rodd Keith. There she cut an ample amount of song poem putridity with various “Bonnie” pseudonyms - Bonnie Graham, Bonnie Clive, Bonnie Braye, and with best friend (and Keith’s then-girlfriend) Nita Garfield as “Bonnie and Nita.” Charlotte and Nita eventually got out of the song poem game and became a songwriting team. They penned songs for Bobby Bland and the Jackson 5, among others, before Charlotte succumbed to breast cancer while still in her thirties in 1976. For more info on Charlotte, be sure to check out the excellent Spectropop site, which dedicates six pages to her life and career through remembrances and photographs from people who knew her, and without which I wouldn’t have been able to find a damn thing about her.