The True Story Behind “Midnight Mary”!

June 30, 2007

joeypowers1.jpg

In the early 60′s, I went out with a few Iranian girls who actually told me that they were brought up to tell people what they wanted to hear, then go out and do the exact opposite. One of these girls, Jamela, was the beautiful daughter of a deposed general, who was exiled to the United States along with the Shah of Iran. I admit it was exciting to wonder who was following us on our dates, her father’s bodyguards…or the Secret Service! All of this danger, brought us closer together, and she revealed many aspects of her culture I never knew about. She told me that Iranian men showed no quarter to their enemy and were fierce warriors because they weren’t afraid of dying! It was only when she told me that she feared for my safety, did I take our cultural differences seriously! We continued to see each other secretly, however, which led me to co-write my first hit song, ” ( Meet Me At) Midnight Mary” (Raleigh/ Wayne).

Ben Raleigh (“Wonderful, Wonderful”, “Tell Laura I Love Her”) came up with the title, and we wrote it in a couple of hours. The next day we took it up to Larry Taylor at Bourne music, who gave us an advance and gave us money for a demo. For the next year, the publishers weren’t able to get the song recorded, then we were told that a new artist on Capitol records, Jerry Cole, had just cut it.

Although his record was good, I thought I could produce a better one. I had become good friends with one of my co-writers, Joey Powers, who had just been released from an RCA recording contract. We decided to go into the studio to do another demo good enough to become a master. We scrapped up $500.00, booked Associated recording studios, hired arranger Al Gorgoni and Charlie Macey to play guitars, Buddy Saltzman on drums and Jeannie Thomas who sang all the background parts.

The following week, “Midnight Mary”was turned down by every major record label in New York City! I remember playing it for my friends song plugger, Jerry Landis (Soon to become better known as Paul Simon) up at E.B.Marks music and Tony Dee, who was a promotion man for the company. They both suggested that I take my master up to Larry Uttal who had started running AMY Records. Larry, who was my former neighbor at 1650 Broadway, loved the record gave us our production costs back as well as a shitty percentage!

I remember as we signed contracts he asked me if I could make the bass on the master a little bit louder? I just looked at him and said, “What bass?” Larry smiled and handed me an extra $15 out of his pocket to add a bass and do a new mix.

$15 ? for a bass player And a new mix? Fortunately I had a few friends who did me some favors, including bass player, Russ Savakis. After the session I took the $15 and bought everyone hot dogs and some coconut champagne at a store around the corner from the Brill building.

A few months later, I remember taking publicity pictures and being handed a gold record by Larry Uttal, who whispered, “Now this doesn’t necessarily mean it sold a million records!”

It was November 22, 1963 and I had been preparing to record the entire “Midnight Mary” album during the four day weekend. I’d been flying to Columbus, Ohio every week to rehearse Joey Powers, who was going for his Masters Degree at Ohio State.

That night, as Al Gorgoni put some finishing touches on the arrangements, and Jeannie Thomas polished the background parts for her and Lettie Hamblet. Our usual crew of musicians, augmented with Paul Simon and Roger McGuinn on 12 string guitars, was going over the charts for the first session, due to start in a half-hour.

Joey Powers and I were riding into the city from the airport, when we heard the horrible, unconfirmed reports on the news. By the time we walked into the studio and saw the tears in most everybody’s eyes, we knew it was true, “President Kennedy had been shot!”

(To Be Continued)

Copyright 2007 by Artie Wayne

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47 Responses to “The True Story Behind “Midnight Mary”!”

  1. steveo_1965 Says:

    As usual, Artie, your recollections are suberb, and fun to listen to.Ty.
    By the way, what ever happened to pt.2 of Bob Dylan, is that here somewhere?…and now part 2 of Bobby Darin…
    lol
    I’ sorry to tell you, I just don’t get these guys like Larry Utal, dang skinflint…lol…at least he had the talent to recognize a good song!

    Steveo

  2. Zen Wizard Says:

    It looks like the song was a bigger hit in England than the US because it comes up on last.fm and not pandora.com.

    I can’t say as I remember it–but I was only seven, so maybe that’s why.

  3. Bob Jenkins Says:

    What ever happened to Joey Powers?

  4. Charlie Johnson Says:

    My girl’s name is Mary and I’m always searching for songs…..someone mentioned this title and I don’t remember it (I’m 46) but a few people just a little older said maybe the Yardbirds……..I just got back online and I’m glad I found you; the story is incredible!
    I need to hear it…..where can I find it?
    Thanks for the story
    Charlie….Worcester MA

  5. Charlie Johnson Says:

    now I’m addicted to your site for long time to come
    thanks again

  6. Mark Petty Says:

    “I need to hear it…..where can I find it?”

    Charlie, you can find “Midnight Mary” at these links:

    “Original Single Version”

    Song samples on this page.

    Mark in Minneapolis

  7. Bobby Johnson Says:

    I would love to know where Joey is now. I knew him well in the late 60s/early 70s when he fronted the best band in the Delaware Valley (Powers Flower). I believe he was later a wrestling coach at Ohio State, but I don’t know when.

  8. Dennis Putnam Says:

    I went to bear share and downloaded it

  9. Tony (Dee) DiGirolamo Says:

    The story still leaps off the page as I read it.
    Yes, Jerry Landis, now known to everybody on the planet, Paul Simon, and I worked together.
    As soon as I heard Midnight Mary, Artie told me it was a demo … I loved what I heard I told him it was a hit!
    I did suggest that he take it up to Amy Records.
    The rest is history … albeit, just a snapshot of Rock and Roll history.

  10. Frank Kielb Says:

    Whatever happened to Joey Powers ? Is there an email address ? I first saw him playing when he was on the road in Oswego, NY in 1966. Then I remember him from the late 60′s playing in the Philadelphia and Jersey Shore areas, playing with his band Joey Powers Flower. The band was Great ! After he stopped playing he bacame a talent agent. I think he was working for Jack Fisher Someone update me. Where is he now ?

  11. Joseph Ruggiero Says:

    Joey is a missionary in St. Petersburg Russia. He built a very successful recording studio that does Christian music in the Russian He has been there for 6 years.

    • Kathy LaGrace Says:

      I’m not sure you will remember me but my ex-husband Jack LaGrace and I first saw you at the Rahway Rec in the early sixties. You were Joey Powers and the Vanguards back then. We were regulars and saw you and the band every time you came back to Rahway. Have lost touch with Gene, Gary, Eddie and Paul. Wonder where they are now? You even sang at our wedding and we also visited you and Gail in Hazlet! When I came upon this site, I had to send this. Lots of wonderful and funny memories from those days past. I hope all is well with you. Please let me know how I can contact you.

      Kathy LaGrace

    • Kathy LaGrace Says:

      Cannot believe you are in Russia. I do hope all is well with you, Joe. I have many fond memories of those days in the early 60′s and traveling up to see you and the Vanguards in Messina, NY. The years may have passed but the memories will stay with me! I still live in Cranford, NJ. Jack passed away in 2009 and we had been divorced for many years. Wonder if you ever hear from any of the Vanguards????

      Would love to “catch up”. If you are inclined, let me know how I can get in touch with you.

      Kathy LaGrace


  12. Hi, Joseph!
    I shall soon come for continuation of work in studio

    Sergio :-)

  13. Ted Hammond Says:

    “Midnight Mary” by Joey Powers is also available on a Rhino compilation CD “Dick Bartley Presents One Hit Wonders Of The ’60s, Volume 1. There are Two Volumes. This is one compilation I just about can guarantee you can find five or more songs per CD that you like from that era.

    I was trying to find a list of hit songs that Buddy Saltzman played drums on and this came up. Anyone know where you can find such a list? The drums are certainly subtle on “Midnight Mary”, even at the end. Buddy reportedly played on tens of thousands of recordings, many as subtle background tracks for folk artists like Peter, Paul and Mary, others booming in the foreground such as his work with The Four Seasons.

  14. Dave Galvin Says:

    anyone know where I can obtain the sheet music for Midnight Mary? I’ve looked and can’t locate it.
    Thanks

  15. Rocky Brown Says:

    If you read the comments you will see that one is from Joseph Ruggierio. That is Joey Powers real name. I spent several Thanksgiving and Christmas nights with Joey and his family in New Jersey. Especially trading shots with his dad Tom. JP if you read this please contact me. therokxiii@hotmail,com

  16. George Says:

    Was on you tube typing in artist names from years ago and noticed Midnight Mary had been uploaded, so I had to play it,an absolutely brilliant song. I was a very young lad when my dad bought the Midnight Mary album and I remember him playing it on his bush mono record player. A lot of happy memories came flooding back from that time…Then I remembered that a lot of his albums where about to be thrown out but I saved that happening to them and stored them in my loft. I emigrated to Australia 2yrs ago and realised I hadn’t seen the box with all the old records so went hunting for them in the garage, loft and shed. The shipping company had lost 11 of our boxes so I didn’t expect to find them. After a couple of days looking, opening and resealing boxes, I found the box containing the lp’s marked books (shipping comp again). Anyway looked through them and there it was on “Amy Records” “Midnight Mary Joey Powers” I couldn’t believe it after all this time I had it. I have now transferred the twelve songs on to my computer, spent about 2 day working on the hiss pops and clicks it now sounds almost new. I had forgotten how great that album was/is. I now have to send a copy of it to my mum and brothers (I think it’s unavailable?) they to are looking forward to hearing it again after, must be about 25yrs :-)

    Joey if you read this a massive thank you mate..

    George

  17. Bobby Johnson Says:

    I can confirm that Joeys real name is Joseph Ruggiero. Joey, if that was you that posted the info about being in Russia, and you read these threads, just know that there are many many people here who remember you and your music fondly. Most especially the Powers Flower years. Long live the Anvil Inn!
    Bobby J. (the drummer, not your guitar player)

  18. Carolyn Nieto Says:

    Hi Joey, it’s me Carolyn. Remember me? You were my music manager for many years. How is Michael doing? Please tell him I said hello. I remember all of the good times that we had especially in Nashville. I was so fond or your Mom and Dad. I remember going to your house in Aberdeen, NJ with my family for a BBQ and playing baci. Please contact me if you can, just to say hello and to let me know how you are doing. I really miss you and hope to see you again someday. Thanks for everything you did for me. Please contact me if you can at carolyn.guglielmi@gmail.com.

    Love always,
    Carolyn

  19. Kathleen Thompson Says:

    Why can’t we download “Midnight Mary” on iTunes??? Where could it be?

  20. Dan L Says:

    We played the Shore early 70′s…Joey Powers Powers Flowers …big inspiration …I remember him rolling around on the stage…between songs…screaming echo echo as they turned up the mic…him being funny while they were adjusting the system….Might have been the Osprey, Manasquan.

    Also a tip of the hat to another mentor band of the time who were big time then… Salvation We learned alot from them as well…Osprey Manasquan.

    We went on to fill their slot all over…including Dudleys north Jersey, andthe Chatterbox in Seaside Heights. I think we played every other dump dive and cowboy bar there was in the Jersey/NY area in the early days…

    We made some money in the end…quite alot even by the standards back then, but the early years…of learning are my favorite…The six guys in a VW bug sneaking on the Parkway going up a hill to save a quater. Heading down to see Salvation and watch them all night South Jersey…Piecing together a guitar string because there was no money…ahh they early days…

    Joey and the guys from Salvation Chuck and the bunch…
    a nod sent your way…I hope all of you are well and happy…Dan

  21. Donna Baiocco Zirolli Says:

    ‘Joey Powers Flowers’. I was a kid when the band would come to the ‘Anvil Inn’ in Kennett Sq. I learned how to make psychadelic tissue paper flowers. ‘Hundreds’ to be hung in the bar when the band came to play. Talked recently to a DJ who remembers the powers band and song ‘midnight mary’ well. Funny I saw this site. So,If your readin? Thanks for the great music and good memories! My very best wishes to you Joey & I hope all the flowers are well!

  22. Harley Says:

    I loved reading about Joey Powers and the Flowers. I was a bouncer at both Bashores and the Dunes in the early 70s. At the Dunes the house band was Johnny Caswell and the Crystal Mansion. The Dunes opened at 11:00 P.M and closed at 7:OO A.M. We just opend the wooden shutters and let the sun shine in . Joey would come into the Dunes from either the Anvil Inn or Bashores and would immediately electrify the place. He was a great entertainer and a shore legend.
    I never could buy a drink or a meal when he was around because he always took care of the bouncers and bartenders. Harley Shoaff

  23. tom luggiero Says:

    Joey,how are you,this is cousin tom from nj,i hope all is well.

  24. Frank Kielb Says:

    I inquired about Joey Powers in Dec. 2007. Just checking to see if anyone has an update, heard from Joey or had a “Joey Powers” sighting ? Cheers, Frank Kielb, Talent Agent

    • Bobby Johnson Says:

      Frank,
      Look back up the postings to one from Joseph Ruggiero. That is Joeys real name and I assume he posted that information.

  25. Rick Says:

    I ran into your Web Site by accident and remembered a name from my past. JOEY POWERS.

    When I was in high school (40 years ago) I was an aspiring young singer songwriter. I ran into Joey (of Midnight Mary Fame) as a booking agent with the Fisher Agency. This was in the early seventies. I would bring my guitar to his office (I think it was in Hillside on Vauxhill road – or maybe not) I would play my songs for him and he would give me pointers or add some lyrics.

    He presented some of my music to Dave Apple of Bell Records but nothing ever came of it. He was however, an inspiration to me and my musician buddies.

    After some studio work and touring as a stage musician for several known artists, I left the music business after moving to Florida. That was nearly 30 years ago. I have since moved back to Jersey. I own a few jewelry stores and occasionally pick up the guitar to entertain family.

    I always wondered what happened to Joey Powers or Joe Ruggiero. Perhaps you know?

    Thanks!

    Ricky Jay


  26. I just wanted to add that I worked for Joey Powers in 1983 when i was FOURTEEN years old. I had decided at that ripe old age that I was not a good enough guitar player to be the next Eddie Van Halen, so I decided to stop going to high school and get into the music business. Joey’s chief Engineer Alan Douches hired me as an intern (i think gopher was the term used back in the day). I learned how to be an engineer the old fashioned way – one mic at a time. Anyway, at the time I met Joey he had become a ‘saved’ christian. As a nice jewish boy I had no idea what this was all about and quite honestly I did not care. All I knew was that I was around greatness. Joey’s studio was UN-BLANKING-BELIEVABLE. Not only as it loaded with killer gear and mic’s, the wood that made up the walls, floors, and control room were spectacular. Anyway, I am writing this mostly because I hope Alan and Joey stumble across it. I want to offer them my sincere thanks for introducing me to the music business at the ripe old age of 14. I am fairly certain these guys had no idea how old I was and did not care. They had free help!

    Anyway, Joey is and will always be a legend in my eyes.

    Thanks for reading everyone.

  27. Joe Mingori Says:

    I played keyboards and sang in Joey’s band in the early 70′s…hello to my band mates Stanley, Sab, Billy and Eddy…and especially Joey…thanks for so many great memories…(the sound of the low spark of high heeled boys)


    • Joe, I remember you, I was from Lancaster, Pa., met you at the Inn and later I talked to Bud Herr, and the group started playing at the Old Colony, we went to breakfast many mornings after the show, then the group went to the Village, and we would go to the Union Hall. I stayed in contact with Sab, he went back home, I even talked with Joey, he became a booking agent, got him a few people. Best night I had, we all went to my home, in Lancaster, had steaks, drank beer and listened to music. I followed the group from Lodi, NJ, the Seven Dwarfts and the Garter in up state Pa., on New Years Eve, when Joey was late. Loved you guys.

  28. Patrick Jeffers Says:

    Wow, what a story. I work at a hardware store called Orchard Supply Hardware in Pasadena,CA . Recently “Midnight Mary” was added to the overhead music tape played in all of the stores. I was Thirteen when it came out and have always loved it. Thanks to all of you involved in its release to us. I would love to some how get the album (maybe at Rino?). God love you all.

  29. Flossie Brooks Says:

    In the late sixties the rascals came to the Spectrum in Philadelphia. I was a sixteen year old teenager at the time and stratigically snuck my way back behind stage to try to see them as they made their way to the stage. Just as they were making their way to the stage, I was caught by a security guard and almost made to return to my seat, until Joey, who was seated w/friends behind the stage intercepted and directed the security guard to escort me to the private seating area there. What a moment in a sixteen year old life. I had a ring side seat the rest of the concert!

  30. JMM11b Says:

    This may be a true story but I have considerable doubt simply because the Shah of Iran left Iran in Jimmy Carter’s administration, late 70′s. So he may have gone out with Iranian girls but he wasn’t ever watched” or anything else by the shah. I do enjoy the song

  31. del bittle Says:

    I lived at the Anvil Inn when Benny&Joe would book PF, sometimes they were there for 5 night straight. The midnight sets of Hair, Jesus Christ Superstar, Sgt. Pepper’s/Abbey Road were unforgettable and I only wish that I had had the recording devices of today back then. I was friends with “Sab” the bass player and his Siberian Husky “Hassell”. I just picked up a 45 rpm copy of Joey and PF doing “So Say the Children of the Avenue”. This was a song added to “Hair” when the Broadway Show was updated. I did not buy it when they were selling them at the Anvil, but 40 years later I finally have a copy, it’s on RCA.
    I would go see Power Flower at the T-Bar on McDade Blvd and in the summer at Bay Shores. I believe Stan Carroll the organ player has passed. I do know after PF Stan played with the horn band Waterfront for a time. WF also played the Anvil and I have their LP somewhere. I also recall that Joey had a chick singer (Miss Vicki I believe) for a shot time when they were doing the JCSuperStar show.
    Enough for now…let’s keep this going and if you are out there Mr Powers…..thanks for the memories
    del bittle, kennett square, pa

    • Bob Johnson Says:

      It would be sad if Stan Carroll (actually Stan Borowski) had passed. Where did you hear that? Bobby (guitar player) lives in upstate New York and Sab (bass player) lives in Florida. Neither of them had heard from Stan in many years. According to these threads, Joey rune a recording studio in Russia.
      Finally, where did you find a copy of “So Sing the Children of the Avenue?

      • Jackie Reel Says:

        I am a good friend of Stan’s ex-wife Sandra and I can confirm that Stan passed away several years ago.


    • The song, So sing the children on the Avenue, I always felt was a great song, for that time, in fact anything Joey sang, just the way he did it, all the music was very great, he always put on a great show. I was at the Steel Pier, Ed Hurst, Summertime on the pier show, when Joey first sang that song. Most of all I remember the door man at the Anvil Inn, Andy, we became very good friends, would slip him a $20.00, and he would never look at the age of my date. Back in the day, I couldn’t go any place, without seeing someone wearing an Anvil Inn Tee-shirt, it was like a badge of honor, saying the Home of Power Flowers. Joey and the whole group were just plain people, great group, and in touch with the people who followed them. I remember one weekend at the Anvil Inn, they had a Toga Party, I would come down with a guy Cork, who did the light show for the group, between one set, we took rolling papers and made fake joints, and Joey would pass them out to the customers. They got off but it was the music and mostly they got off on Joey. Many night at the Anvil Inn, between sets, I would run to Hugo’s that was next door, get the group the breaded mushrooms and bring them back. I would always get my face painted, every night I could, then would race back to Lancaster to get into the after hour bars, drink till 7 in the morning and go home, and get ready to start over again. That got old, and I knew the owner of the Old Colony Inn, Bud Herr we went to the Anvil Inn one evening and Joey was signed to appear. The whole group changed the place, and it was better than it ever was and then Bennie from the Village, made him a deal he could not refuse. I didn’t have to drive as far. Between the drugs, the booze and the women and driving, it is a wonder I am still alive, but would do it all again.


  32. Excellent beat ! I would like to apprentice while you amend your site, how can i subscribe for a blog website? The account aided me a acceptable deal. I had been tiny bit acquainted of this your broadcast provided bright clear idea


  33. I believe this to be a very interesting story. Very enlighting about Iranian mens lack of value on their own life. Always wondered why they had to be sneaking around to meet. The fact that this is written from a true story, allows for lyrics to have more meaning. Two things that puzzle me: Where is the rest of the story??? Who wrote this, it starts out with the impression it is Powers, or is it Wayne???? (Copyright-Wayne)

  34. Tony Carfang Says:

    Joey,

    Your Alpha Phi Delta fraternity brothers would like to hear from you. We’re celebrating our Centennial and are trying to locate all of our distinguished alumni. Please contact me at centennial@apdfoundation.org

  35. Bill Scherer Says:

    As usual great comments to great articles. My question is what the heck is, or was, coconut champagne?


  36. WHERE’S THE REST OF THE STORY ?

  37. jim dawe Says:

    Joey, loved the song Midnight Mary and I have an MP3 version of the song but more importantly to me is that the B side, “Where do you want the world delivered”, became “Our Song” for my wife and I when we were dating in high school. I would love to get that on MP 3 and I have been searching the web for that for over 10 years! I can buy a used 45 of it but I do not have, nor do I want to buy, a record player. Any suggestions on how I can get an MP3 of the B side???


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