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Goodnight, Sweetheart, Goodnight: RIP Pookie Hudson (72)

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  • Goodnight, Sweetheart, Goodnight: RIP Pookie Hudson (72)

    It is with a heavy heart that I pass along the news of the passing of Pookie Hudson. Chances are you have no idea who this man was. He wrote one of the greatest songs of the Rock N' Roll era. I was honored to meet this wonderful person and see him perform before he passed and I have never forgotten it.

    JAMES "POOKIE" HUDSON, SPANIELS' LEAD, DIES AT 72

    R&B Veteran Wrote "Goodnight, Sweetheart, Goodnight"

    James "Pookie" Hudson, the founder and lead singer of the influential
    1950s rhythm and blues vocal group the Spaniels, died Tuesday,
    January 16, 2006, at his home in Capital Heights, Maryland. He was
    72 and had been ill with metastatic lung cancer.

    Born in Des Moines, Iowa on June 11, 1934, Thornton James Hudson
    moved to Gary, Indiana at the age of 2 and grew up in the city. He
    began singing locally in church choirs before being approached by his
    Roosevelt High classmates, bass Gerald "Bounce" Gregory and second
    tenor Willie C. Jackson, to appear with them in a Christmas-time
    talent show in 1952.

    The three soon added first tenor Ernest Warren and baritone Opal
    Courtney, Jr. and rechristened themselves the Spaniels. In the
    spring of 1953, the group signed with Vivian Carter and Jimmy
    Bracken's new Vee Jay label where their first release, the
    bluesy "Baby It's You", reached #10 on the national R&B charts after
    being leased to the more established Chance firm.

    The quintet's signature tune, "Goodnight, Sweetheart, Goodnight", was
    recorded on September 23, 1953. "The only song that they (ever) made
    us do was 'Goodnight, Sweetheart.' We didn't want to do that,"
    Hudson recalled. "I wrote 'Goodnight, Sweetheart' about 1951, '52.
    I was going with this girl named Bunny Jean Davis. I would go to her
    house and I'd stay until her mother got tired of that. She
    said, `Look, son, your mama might not care about you being out after
    12 o'clock, but she didn't mean for you to be here after 12 o'clock.
    So I had to leave. I used to walk home from her house, and as I
    walked, I put 'Goodnight, Sweetheart' together. We just did it for
    the fun of it. I took it to the group and they put it together. But
    we never thought it would be a song. They made us do it. We went
    into the studio at 9 o'clock one night and we didn't get out until
    the next morning at 9 o'clock doing 'Goodnight, Sweetheart' 'cause we
    really didn't want to do it! But we ended up doing it and the rest
    is history."

    "Goodnite, Sweetheart, Goodnite" (Vee Jay had to switch it
    to "Goodnite" due to the threat of legal action from the publishers
    of the Noble-Campbell-Connelly standard, "Goodnight Sweetheart") was
    issued in March of 1954 and debuted on Billboard's R&B chart in May,
    remaining there all summer. The record peaked at #5, spending 16
    weeks on the chart. Opening with Gregory's "do-do-do-do-do" bass
    line, it was a well-polished, first rate performance with a creamy,
    quixotic lead vocal from Hudson. "Goodnite" would go on to become an
    R&B standard, closing countless dances and record hops over the years.

    No less than eight pop artists churned out cover versions of the song
    in the spring of 1954, led by the McGuire Sisters, who hit #7 on
    Billboard's pop charts while the original peaked at #24. "White
    radio stations didn't play black records then," Hudson
    explained. "They played white artists, and so we were limited to the
    black audience and black stations. There are a lot of people who are
    under the impression that the McGuire Sisters first
    recorded 'Goodnite, Sweetheart'."

    Despite a string of influential and successful recordings
    including "You Painted Pictures", "You Gave Me Peace Of
    Mind", "Everyone's Laughing", "You're Gonna Cry", "Stormy Weather",
    and "I Know", extending into 1960, the Spaniels, who underwent
    various personnel changes over the years, failed to reap the
    financial rewards due them.

    As a solo artist, Hudson recorded several singles in the early 1960s
    including "I Know, I Know", backed by the Imperials, which reached
    the lower rungs of the national pop charts in May of 1963. Hudson
    and a revamped Spaniels group returned to the best seller lists
    with "Fairy Tales" in 1970, and frequented oldies shows throughout
    the country. In 1960, Hudson relocated to Washington, D. C., and
    later lived in Philadelphia before returning to Gary in 1979.

    Over the years, the Spaniels went to court on numerous occasions in
    an effort to collect owed royalties. "I never lost the rights
    to 'Goodnite, Sweetheart'," Hudson explained. "They tried not to pay
    me for it, but I finally got a lawyer that killed that. Hudson, the
    group's principal songwriter, regularly received songwriting
    royalties from his compositions, including "Goodnite, Sweetheart,
    Goodnite".

    The Spaniels and many of the vocal groups of the 1950s have a right
    to be angry and bitter over their treatment by record company
    charlatans. Despite the wrongs of the past, Hudson made his peace
    with Vivian Carter. "I was a little angry for a while. They had
    been having the hog and I was on welfare, and they were living off my
    talent. But as I got older, I realized when you hold grudges you
    only hurt yourself. You take away your life trying to worry about
    something or hope that something happens to somebody else. So I went
    to the nursing home and me and her sat down and talked. She forgave
    me and I forgave her."

    In February, 1991, Hudson the Rhythm and Blues Foundation honored the
    original Spaniels with its' Pioneer Award. Along with a plaque, the
    group received a check for $20,000. Hudson, Ernest Warren, Opal
    Courtney, Willis C. Jackson, and Gerald Gregory reunited for the
    occasion, motivated four of the original members to regroup. With
    Billy Shelton replacing Warren, the Spaniels traveled to England for
    a week that year. "It was great," Hudson remembers. "You talk about
    kids, they were 24, 23 (years old). They knew all the words, they
    knew the songs. Some of them could hardly speak English. They were
    from Japan, all other countries."

    In 1992, the group was inducted into the United in Group Harmony
    Association Hall of Fame and returned to England for additional
    appearances. Despite the number of personnel changes over the years,
    the key to the Spaniels successful sound, the dynamic interplay
    between Hudson and Gregory amidst a strong harmonic background,
    remained intact for 45 years. The pair last worked together at a
    UGHA event in New Jersey in November of 1998. On February 12, 1999,
    Gregory died of brain cancer at the age of 64.

    In his last years Hudson worked tirelessly to keep the Spaniels' name
    in the limelight, often working with a quartet of newer members based
    in the Washington, D. C. area. They appeared together in the hugely
    successful 1999 PBS-TV concert show, "Doo Wop 50" and a 2005 follow-
    up, "Doo Wop Vocal Group Greats Live". Hudson's life and career were
    also featured in several books.

    "I ain't gonna slow down until they start throwing the dirt in my
    face and say, 'you're through'," Hudson declared recently. Diagnosed
    with a rare form of cancer in 2004, he underwent chemotherapy and
    radiation treatments and briefly returned to performing before
    falling ill again in the fall of 2006. "All of the people who wrote
    to me, prayed for me, donated, and thought of me through my illness
    were so important. I really appreciate it."

    (c) 2007-Todd Baptista- All Rights Reserved.
    Originally posted by aashee
    We are 100% grade A Disney Dorks.

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