Sunday, April 25, 2010

Dave "Baby" Cortez

I remember a Dave “Baby” Cortez album displayed in the show window of Roxie’s, a store that gained some notoriety for its creative use of female manikins. Don’t ask.

Was this the world’s first superstar keyboard player? If having a number 1 hit makes you a superstar then maybe. Certainly he was the first to reach number 1 by playing the organ. Apart from the fact that he didn’t sing, he may have been a prototype for Billy Preston.

There isn’t a lot of information around about Cortez, and I don’t know why his epithet was “Baby”; he didn’t seem to look very babyish. Maybe he some habits we don’t know about.

Cortez, whose real surname was Clowney, put 8 records into the top 100 between 1959 and 1966 (that late!) but none but 2 made it higher than number 61, though both of those were top 10. I have those 2, and I don’t really remember where I got them; The Happy Organ probably came from a collections of rock and roll instrumentals. Given how many labels he recorded for, it’s no surprise that no collection is available.

Dave "Baby" Cortez:

The Happy Organ – Now that’s a provocative title if there ever was one. Cortez managed to create convincing rock and roll with a cheesy organ sound, and reach number one at that. From the spring of 1959.
Rinky Dink – This brings roller skating to mind, and it’s not just the title. From the fall of 1962.

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