(a true story within a true story)
During my college years, I helped earn a little extra money as a lead singer with a couple of local bands. The first regular working band I had the good fortune to become front man for was a long-standing local band that rose to local fame in the 60s with the same guitarist, Jeff Williams and a band of his namesake known as Jeff & the Atlantics. Jeff was an everyday sort of guy who had no problem not taking himself too seriously.
One night as we were enjoying a few drinks an hour or so before our gig was scheduled to start, Jeff told a story of something that had happened to him a few weeks before. He said he went out to his mailbox and there was a package waiting for him there. He wasn’t expecting anything, so he took it in the house and opened it up to find an LP of ‘Ray Stevens’ Greatest Hits’.
Now, nothing against Ray Stevens. I happen to like some of his stuff, and have even been known to post a couple of them on Facebook – both the old stuff and the new stuff. It is also important to point out that this story occurred in the 90s – well between Stevens’ earlier days of fame in the 60’s and 70’s and well before he made a resurgence with patriotic parody songs in the 2000’s.
Needless to say, Jeff was confused and thought that perhaps someone was playing a joke on him or bought him the gift as a gag. But despite asking around, no one wanted to own up to buying it. A week or so passed, and Jeff got his credit card statement only to find a charge for the album.
At first he was ready to get angry because he had been charged for the album. But then he went on to tell us that with some thinking back, he vaguely recalled coming back home after a night that involved some considerable drinking and not being able to get to sleep. So he turned on one of the local UHF television channels and also vaguely recalled seeing an ad for ‘Ray Stevens’ Greatest Hits’ and then thinking that ordering a copy might be a great idea!
As Jeff finished telling the story and we all had a good laugh, I proposed a toast. I raised a glass and said:
“Here’s to never having your career depend on the late night buying decisions of people too drunk to remember them!”
Before we could start drinking, Jeff in his typical humble fashion added:
“And here’s to never having your career end up with you being so drunk that forgot you were the buyer!”
As an aside, despite Jeff settling into his local-legend status and focusing on making a living instead of a starry-eyed pursuit of fame, among the songs he became known for locally included a song called ‘Gino is a Coward’ where he and his [all-white] band backed a well known local [black] artist by the name of Gino Washington.
Gino ended up gaining more notoriety for himself and Jeff by continuing to promote his former hits such that they had a resurgence both locally and in Europe again in the late 90s and early 2000’s on the oldies and nostalgia charts.
Here are a few Jeff & the Atlantic’s links:
- Heartburn – The Atlantics 1963 (audio recording with label)
- Jeff & The Atlantics – I’ll Find Him (audio recording 1967 with pictures)
(also on Spin the Groove)
- Bodine’s Christmas Party, 1985 Do the Locomotion (live recording with interview)
- Bye Bye Baby WFUM TV show
- Out of this World, Gino Washington w/The Atlantics 1963 (audio recording with label)
- Jeff & the Atlantics with Gino Washington WFUM
- gino washington tastefest detroit jeff and the atlantics
(I compiled all I could find currently on youtube into a single playist)
- Gino Washington w/The Atlantics ~ Gino Is A Coward (includes link of the song – song is also available at Boss Tracks)