TIDE / EDIT RECORDS – pt 1 &
The early development of this story dates to late summer 1980 when I interviewed the people for whom I had recorded in 1963. As I then occasionally tried to track down additional former Tide artists, 10 years passed before the completed version was published in Goldmine on 9/7/90. In 2011 I went back to it, updating, correcting and re-writing. Although several of these sources are no longer with us, my thanks still go out to: Bob Abrahamian, Tony Allen, Dave Barton, K. Terry Bright, Larry Bright, Alan Clark, Ken Clee, Bob Cotterell, Forrest Craig, Elanda Dent, John Dvareckas, Rena Fulmer, Tim Grobaty, Gayle Groff, Roberta Drexler Herring, Phillip Joyner, Denny King, Wayne Lewis, Ken McDaniel, Vic Blunt, Musician’s Union Local 47, Dave Otto, Steve Propes, Ray of Troy Upholstery, Harry Robinson, Pat Rocco, Cathy Saunders, Bernie Schwartz, Jim Small, Doris Stahl, Ruth Stratchborneo, Penny Tyler, Dedra Upshaw, Victor Upshaw, Troy Walker, Len Weisman and Wenzel’s House Of Music
This small Los Angeles record company, comprised of Tide and its sister label, Edit (Tide spelled backwards), had a perhaps surprising number of releases for an enterprise with such limited success. Only one record, Larry Bright’s “Mojo Workout,” made national charts and I’ve covered Bright’s story separately.
Ruth Etta Stratchborneo (b:1935?) had initially recorded for Larry Mead’s Vita label as Ruth Christie, as well as with the Candletts and the Christy Sextet. The latter release was instrumental and I was never aware of Stratchborneo playing an instrument so she probably simply hired studio musicians (including Rene Hall on guitar and Plas Johnson on flute) to record under her name. Cathy Saunders was probably also involved in some, if not all, of the Vita recordings, though she was apparently still known as Paula Sapp at that time. Saunders also used the name Paula DePores. These two young African-American girls became a team, possibly as early as 1956, and they apparently remained life partners.
Stratchborneo claimed to have worked as a singer, dancer and actor, and to have performed at military installations, hospitals, prisons and such, but it seems likely that those activities might have been volunteer work as a teen. She also claimed to have taught vocal instruction and choreography. I can’t speak to her dance skills, but I don’t believe she was qualified to teach vocal technique. From at least as far back as 1958 Ruth operated out of her home at 2146 West View St, four blocks off of La Brea Ave, south of Washington Bl in Los Angeles. She seems to have sometimes worked in conjunction with Lee Goren’s Talent Inc agency, at least in the early days of Tide.
About 1959 a white woman, Orena “Rena” Fulmer (nee Dunham; 8/9/23; East St. Louis, IL – 1029/11; Los Angeles, CA), also recorded for Vita and apparently began her connection with Stratchborneo and Saunders. Fulmer had sung in church and amateur shows while in high school in Stockton, CA, and claimed to have once sung with John Philip Sousa. (If so, it had to have been some sort of childhood event, as Sousa died in 1932). When she married and moved to Texas she sang in choirs and on radio and she recorded as Rena Wright.
In the latter part of 1959 Stratchborneo’s father reportedly helped her start her own record company to provide a better opportunity to promote her talents and to keep her from being taken advantage of in the business. (Interestingly, she seemed to have no problem taking advantage of others. Hers and her partners’ names are found on many songs to which they probably made no actual contribution, and Larry Bright said he never received a dime from the company, despite his chart record and its subsequent covers).
Some of Stratchborneo’s remarks in our 1980 interview displayed a very creative memory (to put it kindly); she claimed to have worked with Johnny Mathis, Kris Kristofferson and the Beatles, among others. She stated that she coached Dionne Warwick on her first record as Dee Dee Warwick doing “Boop Ditty Bop Bam Boom” in 1958. In reality that record was by Dee Allen on Vita, and of course it’s relatively well known that Dee Dee Warwick is Dionne’s sister. Another source said that Stratchborneo once mentioned working with Frank Sinatra. She made several comments that I knew to be erroneous because of my own involvement with the circumstances, so it was difficult to know where to draw the line on a great deal of the information she provided.
Although Stratchborneo and Saunders had previously recorded rock and r&b material for Vita, the initial focus at Tide seemed to be towards a pre-r’n’r standards type sound until Larry Bright came along with “Mojo Workout”. Perhaps the success of that record changed their direction. At any rate, the first Tide production was Stratchborneo’s version of “My Mother’s Eyes”, a song originally popularized by George Jessel in 1929. Stratchborneo co-wrote the flip and the record was released on both Tide and Liberty.
Eventually Stratchborneo, Saunders and Fulmer would write many songs together under the name Triune. The vast majority of the Tide catalog consists of their songs, but most are quite derivative with simple melodic and harmonic ingredients and plenty of cliché lyrics. Whatever musical prowess the records possess is probably mostly due to the quality arrangements and backing of the top studio musicians that they usually hired, along with performance of the other artists such as Larry Bright, etc.
Tide’s second release was by Pat Rocco (Pasquale Vincent Serrapica – 2/9/34; Brooklyn, NY). Rocco had extensive experience in stage, clubs and TV, and had done a religious LP on Cornerstone as Pat Serrapica. He did stage and club work with Jack Benny, Marge and Gower Champion, Phyllis Diller, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Jeanette MacDonald, Gordon McCrea, Dinah Shore and others. He also directed films and created an extensive collection of his photographs before becoming a political activist. He later directed the U.S. Mission in San Francisco. Rocco’s sole Tide release was Cole Porter’s “Too Darn Hot” (from Kiss Me Kate) backed with a song co-written by Stratchborneo and John Curtis (Stinson). That song is much stronger than the majority of Stratchborneo’s efforts, so it’s likely that most of the credit should go to Curtis. The performances and arrangements are first-rate swinging, show-type material. Tide invested in top-notch talent to record their solo artists, with arrangers including Ernie Freeman and Rene Hall.
Tide 003 by Dante is not related to Dante & the Evergreens on Madison and Imperial, nor to Dante Storace, who appeared on Darrow, Mercury and Decca. The Tide 45 charted on KFXM in San Bernardino.
In the early ‘60s in Los Angeles there was a popular TV commercial for Troy Upholstery that many locals remembered over two decades later. The jingle (“Troy, Troy, what a joy”) was sung by Norm Ratner, whose father owned the company. Tide was apparently in the same general neighborhood and Ratner went over and introduced himself. Despite the fact that Ratner had already had two 1959 releases on Imperial as Norm Richards, he perhaps thought the smaller label might give him more attention. He wrote “Until I Know,” a good pop/doowop effort by Alan Knight, who was working clubs around Hollywood at the time. It seems likely that Tide would have also released a single on Ratner, but no such info has yet turned up. Ratner went on to greater success as producer of the Leaves (“Hey Joe”) and some involvement with the Hues Corporation.
The Sea Witch, a club at 8516 Sunset Bl, was a hangout for many people breaking into the business, a few of whom, including both Larry Bright and Alan Knight, wound up on Tide. Knight (Winston Abraham Wheaton, 1940-84), who had attended Belmont High, had several releases, one of which was a version of “Bertha Lou,” a song that has quite a story itself, having been originally done by Dorsey Burnette, pulled off the market and issued by Johnny Faire (who is actually Donnie Brooks of later Mision Bell” fame), covered by Clint Miller, and then turned into “Twinkie Lee” by Larry Bright, prompting a lawsuit.
Cathy Saunders’ (spelled as Kathy on at least one release) many releases on Tide and Edit were mostly in a pop-soul style. Rena Fulmer recalled that Saunders lost out to a case of stage fright in her only attempt at a live performance. It also seems unlikely that Stratchborneo did much, if any, live performing. Of the three partners, Rena Fulmer (Wright) was by far the best singer.
For novelty record collectors there may be none more difficult to find than “Glub Glub Thing” by the Goldust Twins. The duo consisted of singer/bassist Dave Barton from Oneco, FL and Don Massey, a music teacher from Whitwell, TN, who was trying to break into acting. Barton, after working with the Night Beats in Bradenton, FL, had come to L.A. in the summer of 1960 and landed work (at the Sea Witch!) with a band that took over the name of the Gamblers, who had just scored a local hit with their instrumental “Moondawg”. This new version of the Gamblers also had a gig in Reno with the duo of Timi (Yuro) & Troy (Walker). “Glub Glub Thing” was listed in Paul Drew’s Record Report as briefly making the top ten in Atlanta. Barton returned to Florida in 1961 to rejoin the Night Beats shortly before yours truly joined that band to go on the road. He later became a successful booking agent in Nashville and handled some of the biggest names in country music. Massey reportedly returned to Tennessee to teach and he directed at a local Chattanooga playhouse. He may have later relocated to Fort Lauderdale, FL.
Tim Welch (7/12/41; Wichita, KS – 2/13/72; W. Hollywood, CA) was a pop singer in a kind of Frankie Avalon style. His “A Boy And A Girl In Love” is a teen ballad that got some airplay and he made a few local TV appearances. The peppy flip side, “Weak In My Knees,” with a nice piccolo solo, appears to be a song left over from Stratchborneo’s days with Vita, as the title came out on that label by Johnny Daril and the Med Tones. Welch had several later releases on other labels. In 1965 he worked briefly at Li’l Abner’s in South Gate, CA with the Mojo Men (more on them later) of which I was a member. At the time, neither of us knew of the other’s involvement with Tide. The singer continued playing various clubs in the area and was managed for a while by Jimmy O’Neil of Shindig fame. Welch was shot and killed in Hollywood in 1972.
Bobby Martin on Tide remains unidentified. It is not the Bobby Martin who became an arranger for the Gamble-Huff labels in the ‘70s and, of course, it is not the female Bobbi Martin, who hit with “For The Love Of Him” in the ‘70s. It remains unknown if there is any connection with many Bobby Martin releases on other labels, but it seems unlikely that there is any connection with the Midwestern Bobby Martin & the Tune Twisters (on Bel Kay, Ruby and Mar-Tone) or with the mostly c&w Bobby Martin(s) on Buccaneer, F&F, Lynne, Todd and Trend.
Stratchborneo said she hired Victor Upshaw as a dancer to do the Mojo Workout dance behind Larry Bright at shows, but a former girlfriend of Bright’s didn’t recall that ever happening. Upshaw (4/10/40; Birmingham, AL-11/5/90; Paris, FR) grew up in L.A. after his family moved there when he was three. He met Stratchborneo at a dance studio and, although he had no thoughts of being a singer at the time, he wound up recording two sides, one of which, “I Remember,” he described as a Nat King Cole-style ballad. Those recordings may have remained unreleased. He left shortly afterward for Paris where he was a successful director/choreographer, had his own TV show, and had additional releases, including “Dance The Popcorn”, backed by Mickey Baker of Mickey & Sylvia fame.
To my surprise, during a 1986 interview on the Steve Propes Show (KLON, Long Beach, CA), Tony Allen of “Nite Owl” and early L.A. doowop fame mentioned Ruth Stratchborneo and Larry Bright. When I contacted him he said he had spent a lot of time at Tide playing piano, contributing parts to songs, and sometimes staying overnight. He claimed to have co-written Bright's “I'm A Mojo Man”, although his name does not appear on it and Bright stated otherwise. Allen also said his sister did background vocal work for Tide; perhaps she is the Dee Allen who had the Vita release.
A release by the Tidal Waves probably consists of studio musicians and has no connection with the Tidal Waves on Buddah. The Nite Beats 45 is probably also by studio musicians. There is no connection with the previously mentioned Florida Night Beats of which Dave Barton and I were members, but it seems likely that Stratchborneo picked up the name from Barton. The side titled “Scrambled Eggs” was probably an alternate take of the track for Larry Bright’s “Bacon Fat”.
Rena Fulmer said that her recording “You Meant Goodbye” included a young Marilyn McCoo (5th Dimension) on background vocals. The record reportedly got airplay on KFWB in L.A. Fulmer left Tide around 1969 to do missionary work in Baja California for five years. She apparently remained somewhat connected however, as she assisted with the group Third Point in the mid-late 70’s. She went into real estate in 1975 and, having kept her voice in good shape, was the hog calling champ at the 1985 L.A. County Fair.
Bobby Charles on Tide is not the Bobby Charles (Guidry) from Louisiana who wrote “See You Later Alligator”. And although there was some interaction between the Tide and Highland labels with a Larry Bright release, the Tide artist is also not the one on Highland in 1959, who was Bobby Charles Taylor from Oklahoma City and who worked with original Drifter Bill Pinkney in the late 50’s.
Before his Tide recording, Charles Trent had a 1959 release on Tender in 1959. A bizarre side story is that the songwriter of both of the Tender sides was Percy Ivy, who had shot and killed Hollywood producer and label owner John Dolphin (Dolphin’s of Hollywood record store) on February 2, 1958. The crime was witnessed by two white teens who were there to present their songs – future session drummer Sandy Nelson and future hit songwriter and Beach Boy Bruce Johnston. Trent also co-wrote with songwriting brothers Ben and Len Weisman. (Ben co-wrote a few of Elvis’ hits from his films). Trent’s “I Hurt Somebody Once” on Tide is one of the songs that Tony Allen claimed to have written, but his name is not on it. Trent’s “Old Man Mose” on Del-Fi is a song that Louis Armstrong did in 1935.
Allen also stated that Tide artist Tommy Lee was Tommy Youngblood of the Shields, but there is no similarity in the voice, as the Tide artist sounds a white teen. Lee’s “Farewell To Love” is a nicely done bouncy shuffle with girl background plus a falsetto background voice, which also takes what would usually be an instrumental solo.
Football star Roosevelt “Rosie” Grier covered “I’m Going Home”, one of the Triune composed songs, on Spindletop (#102). However, when contacted in the 80’s at his Are You Committed ministry, Grier could offer no recollection of any direct dealings with Tide.
A girl group called the Honeycombs got a Billboard 4-star review for their “Strange Kinda Love”, which Tide released on the PRO label. It’s a safe bet that this is Ruth, Cathy and Rena.
In January 1962, the previously mentioned Night Beats (with me on drums) went on the road in the Midwest. That fall we picked up Milwaukee guitarist Denny King whose own group, the Darnells (no connection with the Darnells on Gordy), had fallen on hard times. A few months later, while appearing in Ishpeming, MI, we became good friends with a Canadian group, the Blue Echoes, who would later travel to Los Angeles and become the Canadian Beadles on Tide.
In early 1963 Denny King and I left the Night Beats, added Milwaukee bassist Tom Hahn to re-form the Darnells, and headed for SoCal with Dave Barton's suggestion to look up his old friends at Tide. We did so, and each of us recorded two vocal sides, along with two instrumental band sides. The sessions were done in a converted garage studio owned by retired postman Ted Brinson (11/28/08; NM – 4/1/81; Los Angeles) at 2190 W. 30th St in south central Los Angeles (reportedly the same studio where the Penguin’s recorded “Earth Angel”). All but Hahn’s vocals were released, and my single got a pick on KAPP-FM, a daytime only R&B station in suburban Redondo Beach, even though the record is a very white teen pop ballad; apparently Stratchborneo had a friend at the station. Collector Frank Merrill said that the KAPP playlist from 12/9/63 on which the record appears is considered one of the rarest radio station charts. (A happy moment came for me in September 1985, when I found a divider card for the record at Jane Hill's House Of Oldies in Santa Monica. There was no record, however, meaning that I had found what was probably the only store in the universe to ever have my record, and that someone had actually bought it!) The B-side includes an outstanding solo vocal background by studio singer Gwen Johnson, who was the sister of noted reed man Plas Johnson, and who sang the excellent solo background part on the Four Preps’ “26 Miles”.
The Darnells’ record, “Spooner,” a kind of surfy 12-bar rock tune, was used as a radio show opener by a DJ in Ishpeming, MI in October 1963 while we were gigging there. Denny King’s “She’s My Girlfriend” is a teener while the flip is a slightly r&b-ish ballad. The Darnells returned to Milwaukee and Hahn and I left to join a local outfit, the Cashmeres (no connection with any Cashmeres on record). In early 1964 when the Kingsmen put Larry Bright's. “Mojo Workout” on their In Person LP, Tide wanted to take advantage of the renewed interest in the song by putting out a single with one of their artists. They contacted Hahn, we recorded it at Kennedy Studios (augmenting our band with members of another popular Milwaukee group, the Skunks, who later recorded on several labels), and we changed our name to the Mojo Men. The record got brief airplay on WAWA, Milwaukee's only R&B station at the time, and we did one promo show with Harvey Scales (later charted with “Get Down” and subsequently wrote “Disco Lady” for Johnny Taylor) but otherwise it was business as usual.
While all this was taking place, guitarist Denny King had returned to Los Angeles and invited Vic Blunt, leader of the previously mentioned Blue Echoes from Canada, to join him as bass player. They recorded a surf instrumental under the name Mojo Men (Ever since “Mojo Workout” charted, Tide did their best to get maximum mileage out of the word “mojo”). The record, “Surfin' Fat Man,” began with Blunt doing his impression of Jackie Gleason's “And awaaay we go.” King recorded for Specialty in the ‘70s before becoming a booking agent in Sacramento; he later imported medical supplies from Korea. (Neither of these Mojo Men groups had any connection with the San Francisco Mojo Men who hit on Reprise in the mid-‘60s).
Besides Tom Hahn and me, the Milwaukee Mojo Men included Duane Smith, who had a Las Vegas show group in the ‘70s and later built West Coast Event Productions in Portland. OR, and Doug Weiss, who performed as Doug Masters in clubs around Minneapolis before relocating to Las Vegas where he was the Bobby Hatfield part of a Righteous Bro. tribute act. With some personnel changes the Milwaukee Mojo Men returned to Los Angeles in 1965 and evolved into the Portraits, recording for Mike Curb's Sidewalk Productions in 1967-68.
After the recording with Denny King, Vic Blunt returned to Sarnia, Ontario, leaving a tape of his Blue Echoes with Stratchborneo. A few months later she sent for the group and they came to Los Angeles with Blunt on guitar and vocals, Paul Case on drums and vocals and Bruce Pollard on bass and vocals. Blunt (12/18/43; Vancouver, BC) credited the Ventures and Fireballs among his early influences, as well as his father, who was a CBC studio guitarist. Blunt had previously written “Goin’ Home To Memphis,” a rockabilly song for Edmonton, Alberta DJ Barry Boyd. Drummer Case had a strong Roy Orbison flavor to his vocal style and Blunt said the group's entire LP was recorded in only 10 hours of studio time. This appears to be the only LP ever released on Tide.
Tide booked the group into a show at the L.A. Coliseum titled KFWB's Beatle Alley. Requirements were that the groups had to be from outside the U.S. and had to have some sort of Beatle tie-in, hence the name change to Canadian Beadles. Blunt said that both of their singles got airplay. “Love Walk Away,” which garnered a Canadian release on Quality, is a mid-tempo group harmony effort. “I’m Coming Home” is up-tempo minor key, probably inspired by “Comin’ Home Baby”. Stratchborneo and Fulmer, acting as an agent/manager team, booked them into clubs and shows but Blunt said that they were taking excessive commissions and that a lawsuit resulted in the three members being awarded $25,000 each, which they were never able to collect.
The. Canadian Beadles faded and Blunt formed a 10-piece show group called Center Stage. He recorded with Gary Paxton and Terry Melcher but nothing was released. At least one of his songs: “Questions I Can't Answer,” was covered by another Tide artist, Don Atello, and by UK singer Heinz, whose version charted there. (Heinz was Heinz Burt [7/24/42; Detmold, Germany-4/7/00; Hampshire, England], former bassist of the Tornados, who hit internationally with “Telstar” in 1962-63. Another of Blunt's tunes, “Before I Lose My Mind,” was cut on 3J (#301) by L.A. country artist Tony Treece, himself a later member of the Canadian Beadles. In 1985 Blunt was living in Sequim, WA and still playing full-time, having recently toured to Oregon and Arizona. He later moved Port Moody, BC.
TIDE / EDIT RECORDS – pt 2
Don Atello on Tide was Bernard Schwartz (10/30/45; Hollywood), a man with an interesting musical history. In 1980, when I saw the Atello record, I noticed a credit to Dale Bobbitt, a bass player with whom I had worked in 1976. I contacted Bobbitt (who had worked with the Sandpipers and who co-wrote “Free To Carry On,” their follow-up to “Come Saturday Morning”), and I was able to track down Schwartz in 1985.
“My brother loved Hunter Hancock,” he began. “He was on KPOP, I believe. That was the black station that I knew about in L.A., so it's funny that I ended up on a black label. My brother is very conservative but for some reason he was listening to r&b music, so I got into it that way and I thought I could write a song. I finally took some guitar lessons from Ray Pohlman. Ray went on to become a pretty big arranger and bass player, also musical arranger to the show Shindig many years later. His wife knew Sharon Sheeley (writer of many hits for Rick Nelson and others), so she introduced me to Sharon and I started writing with her. Dale (Bobbitt) was going to Fairfax High and owned a studio with his mother. He had recorded some songs and tried to place them; he took one of my songs to Jimmy Holiday. It was produced by a KGFJ DJ and arranged by Gene Page - ‘If This Is Love.’ I was blown away by this.”
Contract problems prevented the release of the record but Schwartz and Bobbitt continued to work together. Bobbitt was unable to sell one of the demos that Schwartz had done so Bernie took it to Tide. Why Tide? “I just looked in the phone book for a small label that was having a hit, because you're not going to call Columbia and say, ‘Hi, can I come over?’” And the name? “I was reading through some art books, I think, and he was a famous sculptor in the 1400’s; one word, Donatello. I wanted it to be one word but they didn't go for it. I said, ‘Fabian got one word, why can't I have Donatello?’” Of course this was long before the name became known as one of the Ninja Turtles.
Schwartz’ record, “She Will Break Your Heart,” got airplay on KDAY's Larry McCormack Show and Schwartz did dance concerts, met well-known L.A. DJ Huggy Boy, and played EI Monte Legion Stadium with Terry Stafford. “Forever Please Be Mine” is a peppy Bobby Vee style number, while a “Louie Louie” type riff sets the style for “Questions I Can't Answer”. Schwartz eventually wrote about 30 songs with Sharon Sheeley, but as far as he knows, none were ever placed. He also wrote for Marshall Lieb, well-known producer and former Teddy Bear (“To Know Him Is To Love Him”).
It was through Sheeley that Schwartz met Phil Everly and did a record for Warner Brothers on which Everly sang harmony and wrote the B-side. He recalled a custodian walking in during the session and asking if they were trying to sound like the Everly Brothers. The record, “Baby Bye-Oh” b/w “Something's Wrong” is probably of interest to those looking for Everly Brothers oddities. A second Warner single was released under the name Adrian Pride and one side was an obscure Ray Davies song, “I Go To Sleep,” which Schwartz was amazed to hear years later done by the Pretenders. These sessions used top studio men, including Billy Preston, Jim Gordon, James Burton and Don Everly.
As a writer Schwartz had his songs recorded by Power, the Yellow Payges, and the East Coast Kids in 1967. As a member of a group called Comfortable Chair he became good friends with the Doors while they were still playing clubs in L.A. When the Doors hit, Robbie Kreiger and John Densmore produced an LP for the Comfortable Chair, but the album died quietly. The group did a few concerts and broke up. One member, rhythm guitarist Greg Leroy, later worked for Neil Young in Crazy Horse.
When Schwartz got his draft notice he filed as a conscientious objector and was required to work at Goodwill to fulfill his obligation. “So I'm down there at Goodwill and it looks like rock ‘n’ roll is over for me,” he recalled, “and Sharon Sheeley calls me up. Says she's got this new writing deal with Coburt Records which is Pierre Cosette and Burt Sugarman.” Schwartz met with A&R man Eddie Ray and did three demos, which ended up on an LP, The Wheel. One of these songs was then chosen for another LP, the soundtrack for The Magic Garden Of Stanley Sweetheart, which starred a young and unknown Don Johnson. Trying another field, Schwartz auditioned unsuccessfully for the lead in the film How To Commit Marriage. He graduated from UCLA in 1968 and went on to finish a masters degree program by working at Camarillo Mental Hospital. He subsequently taught psychology, did seminars and wrote several books.
The name Gayle Star on Tide was a fairly obvious stage name and, with no other clues, I expected her to remain a mystery. In 2011 I googled “Gayle Star+Pain of Remembering” (one her Tide titles) and I was astounded to bring up an article from a 1968 St. Petersburg, FL newspaper mentioning her appearance at the Palmetto Womens’ Club, a place where I had played in 1960! Her real last name was Groff (b: 7/17/45) and in 1963 she graduated from the same Bradenton FL high school that I did. While still in high school she hosted the Teen Time show on WTRL in which she interviewed pop stars who appeared in the area. Soon after that she connected with Chicago-based manager Tony Ensweiler, who was visiting the Florida gulf coast. Initially based in Chicago, Star toured the Midwest as a guitar/vocal single and then headed to SoCal around 1965, gigging up and down the California coast with a drummer named Gary and a piano man named Frank as Gayle Star & the Knights.
Ensweiler got her the audition for Tide apparently by cold calling record companies. Star recalled that she had to sing “The Pain Of Remembering” with a phrasing that didn’t fit her usual style. Ernie Freeman arranged the A-side, Rene Hall the B-side, and the pop/rock songs feature nice vocals, though both songs have odd forms on the bridge. (Among the Triune-composed songs, there are several that use extra beats or odd phrase lengths, probably because Stratchborneo and Saunders both had difficulty staying in meter, a fairly common malady of amateur singers).
Star had write-ups in Teen Screen and Silver Screen and sang a mix of country and pop on her gigs. She returned to the Eastern US, still working as a single but sometimes singing with house bands, with Key West as one of her stopping points. She last gigged around the early 70’s and worked as a radio DJ in a few small markets, eventually settling in Massachusetts. To everyone’s amazement, her Tide release sold for nearly $1500 on ebay on 2011.
Jimmie Williams on Tide is actually Eddie Williams, who had a 1964 release on the Coronado label of Odessa, TX. He may have been from that area, or he might have recorded there while in the Air Force. One side of his Tide release was a re-recording of one the Coronado sides. The flip was also a re-recording, originally done as by E. Williams on JaaDee, a tiny L.A. label. Of course, when he re-recorded those songs for Tide, they suddenly included “Triune” as co-writers. Williams’ original JaaDee 45 sold for over $2200 in 2010.
“Money” by Ruth and Larry is probably Stratchborneo's voice overdubbed onto a master that Larry Bright had done for Dot. Tide had sued to obtain the master because they still had options on Bright, over six years after his original signing. In fact, although it has a record number, the Tide version might not have been released. One of Stratchborneo's solo records, “Dancing Feet,” was apparently getting some action around this time, as it was picked up by the Uptown label.
Tide signed the High Stepping Society, a group that was reportedly popular in East Asia and had appeared at Harvey's Lake Tahoe, but nothing was released due to disputes between the company and the group … no surprise there.
So far only one Tide release has turned up from 1966-76, a 1968 single by Wayne Stevenson & the College Boys From Watts Plus One. If the record sounds a little loose and live that’s because it was recorded in the living room at good old 2146 West View St. The boys didn’t care for “Twinkie Lee”, but Stratchborneo required them to record it. Stevenson (b: 5/17/49), who played keyboard and sang, was 19 at the time, a recent graduate of Fremont High with a track scholarship to Cal State Long Beach. Other members were Douglas Brooks on bass, Ronald Oliney on drums and Grover Goosby on guitar. With management by Louie Cole the band played proms and other such events, one of which was an exclusive party for local TV personality Ralph Story. Stevenson, who later replaced his last name with his middle name of Lewis, subsequently formed Swooper Records and had songs placed in three films.
Tide apparently became more active again in the mid-70’s with Third Point, a female vocal trio of Elanda Trenier Dent (b:1946), Marilyn Dolliole and Angel (last name unknown). They had begun as a five-piece male/female vocal group called the Talisman. Around 1975 an acquaintance named Tony (possibly Tony Allen?) told them that Tide was looking for a group. They reduced to a trio and typically used a four-piece band on gigs, which occurred about every other month. The band usually included well-known guitarist Melvin Robinson (had worked with Hubert Laws and many others) and a drummer known as Sunshine. A show at the Hollywood Palladium included backing by H.B. Barnum’s orchestra. Third Point also appeared at the Friar’s Club and the Five Torches, a venue at 11344 Crenshaw Bl (corner of Imperial Hwy) in Inglewood, as well as traveling to Vancouver, BC for a show. At some point Dolliole was replaced by Pam Hughes and Angel was replaced by Masheda Culpepper. Dent, who is a niece of members of the legendary Treniers, left circa 1977-78 to be replaced by Tammy Thomas. Apparently additional recordings were done with various members but they remained unreleased until a “Best Of Tide Records” package was issued in the 00’s. Tammy Thomas had previously sung in college choirs in Mississippi. After moving to Southern California she connected with keyboard player Clarence Bell, who has album credits with Stevie Wonder, Patrice Rushen and many other artists, and she became friend with Wonder. Thomas, who is one of 16 children, began working for the state of California but had also done gigs as a single opening for Tyrone Davis, the Isley Bro and others, and she had played Sam Cooke’s wife in a stage play title “The Inquest”. One day Stratchborneo called to check on the legality of advertising for a black singer. Thomas got leave of absence and said that Ruth paid her rent for six months while she rehearsed with Third Point, Their choreographed show then made an eight-week appearance in Manila and they subsequently toured to Singapore, Malaysia, London, France and Japan. Thomas returned to, and eventually retired from, her job with the state of California. In 2011 Elanda Dent was writing a mini rock opera while caring for her mother; Marilyn Dolliole did not respond to my inquiry.
David Wong Henn Kay, who had one Tide release, wrote “Beguiled” for Third Point and apparently became somewhat of a partner with Stratchborneo. “He paid us a weekly check,” said Dent. “He wanted to make sure we did his song right.” On some of the Third Point material Stratchborneo added yet another alias as co-writer, June Pasternak.
One of the Third Point songs was recorded again in 1982 by Ken McDaniel, who also dueted with Penny Tyler on a 12-inch disco release, which reportedly got airplay on KJLH in L.A. McDaniel said he had previously recorded “Do The Ali Shuffle” for another company in 1979 but could not supply any additional information. Penny Tyler had sung in talent shows at an early age and was motivated by the sounds of Diana Ross & The Supremes and other Motown artists. During her early teens she sang with the Young Adult Choir of the Double Rock Baptist Church and later served as Choir Director for Ablaze Ministries/Jean Perez International Network. She met Stratchborneo, who put her together with McDaniel for the duet. This appears to be the final recording ever released by Tide and there was apparently a video done for the song. In 2011 Tyler was singing Christian music and had released an EP and a single in 2008.
Tide had at least one cut, possibly unreleased, by Bombay-born singer Errol Mahal. In 1973 Errol Mario Ribeiro (2/21/45-3/20/00; Las Vegas, NV) had told a newspaper reporter how he chose his stage name: “The world thinks of India as the land of poverty and the Taj Mahal,” he said. “I could not call myself Errol Poverty so I decided to become Errol Mahal.” The singer came from a well-to-do family; his father, Alphonsus Ribeiro, was reportedly a high-ranking diplomat who later became administrative officer for India's atomic energy commission. Bob Bommarito, who played Hammond B3 in Mahal’s band Odyssey, said that Mahal’s father had required him to get a degree and he had earned one in electrical engineering.
Mahal had first sung professionally at age 17 in Vienna, where the family had relocated. He toured Europe, playing in Germany, Italy, Spain, Austria, Switzerland, and Great Britain before coming to the USA circa 1970. “He had every move in the book; he was a rising star in Europe,” said Bommarito, “but when he came to the United States he found out that didn’t mean anything here.” Mahal left the entertainment field but in 1973 a club owner persuaded him to sing again. He subsequently worked many clubs in the Long Beach/Orange County area and toured to Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico. His “Last Symphony” for Tide is an excellent ballad performance.
Besides the ever-present “mojo” connection, a few other Tide songs seem to indicate an interest in voodoo. Stratchborneo may have learned about voodoo but she apparently never learned about karma. Besides adding hers and her partner’s names as co-writers of Larry Bright’s “Mojo Workout”, she actually had the audacity to sue Arc Publishing in 1967 for the song “Got My Mojo Working”, which was popularized by both Ann Cole and Muddy Waters in the 50’s. Jimmy Smith had recorded a version of the latter song in 1966 and the following year Bill Cosby put it on his LP, Silver Throat Sings. However, Cosby’s version was credited as by J. Bright (Bright’s real first name was Julian), so apparently Tide received the royalties. This probably emboldened Stratchborneo to try to claim rights to the earlier song. One wonders how many times this might have happened on other “Mojo” recordings. Carrying that a step further, Tide had released a Cathy Saunders record titled “(I Said) Johnny B. Good.” It had no connection to the famous Chuck Berry song but perhaps the company hoped for the same type of confusion on that one.
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Tide seems to have had success in foreign countries with some of their copyrights and a few of their records were leased to other labels. It seems likely that most of their own releases were pressed in small quantities and they attempted several of their songs multiple times with different artists, etc. There were at least five different label designs and at least six different label colors used on Tide and at least two designs and colors on Edit. Stratchborneo said they issued colored vinyl and picture sleeves but I have yet to see any. She also said she had a label named Colbert, but I’ve seen no evidence of that either. She did apparently have a booking agency – or at least a name for one – called Colbert De Paree Artists, Inc. She and Saunders remained at the same 2146 West View St address, sometimes with other business ventures, for the rest of their lives; Stratchborneo died 11/17/98.
Stratchborneo’s pre-Tide efforts included involvement with eight of the final 11 releases on Vita, either as writer or artist. She and Saunders/DePores wrote “Green Backs”, recorded by Tobi Funaro and the record scored a Pick Hit of the Week on Peter Potter’s Juke Box Jury show on July 11, 1959. The song is a nicely done minor key piece with a jazz flute solo and fills.
Ruth managed the Galleons on Vita. They were a four-part male vocal group, consisting of college students Robert Cotterell, Merlyn “Mert” Nelson, Lew Parsons and Joe Sershan. They had met on Labor Day 1958 on Catalina Island and began singing together for fun. Stratchborneo heard them at a UCLA Spring Sing event. “She helped set up an appointment with Art Laboe of Original Sound,” recalled Cotterell. “He seemed somewhat strange so we did not pursue this contact – probably a mistake.” They rehearsed their material at the good old West View St home and they were backed on the sessions by Jackie Kelso’s band. The label shows Cotterell, Nelson & Parsons as writers on one side, but today’s BMI listing includes Stratchborneo, showing that she added her name to the work of others even back in the early days. Cotterell later formed the Sonrise label for Christian music and built Creative Sounds, a CD duplication company.
Johnny Daril & the Med Tones consisted of John Dvareckas (1/2/39; Worcester, MA), Harry Robinson (5/39; Trenton, NJ) and William Bowie (b: LA), who were hospital corpsmen at San Diego Naval Hospital (hence the “med” name). They worked on Dvareckas’ song “Come Back” and began calling record companies in L.A. The Pasadena-based Vita label showed an interest and the trio connected with Stratchborneo and rehearsed at her house. She and Sapp/DePores wrote the B-side. The Med Tones first show was at San Diego country club. They did many USO shows and one for Navy Relief that included Glenn Ford and Connie Stevens. The record charted in the top 30 on WORC in Worcester, MA in November 1959. Upon his Naval discharge, Dvareckas returned to the East Coast and sang locally for a few years before opening an occupational training center for the unemployed and disadvantaged, which he ran for 23 years. Robinson became a registered nurse and credential teacher in vocational medicine; Bowie worked for the IRS.
Gospel music impresario Kevin Jenkins was a neighbor who helped care for Ruth and Cathy in their final years and he apparently became their sole heir. His company, Sensational Entertainment, now owns all the Tide/Edit material and he has issued “The Best of Tide Records, 1959-79” in two volumes available as digital downloads.