BEN RALEIGH R.I.P. ROCK N PERPETUITY!

May 26, 2007

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BEN RALEIGH  – 1997

One of my first songwriting heroes was Ben Raleigh, who was the lyric writer of hits like “Dungaree Doll”, “Wonderful, Wonderful”, “She’s a Fool”, “Love is a Hurting Thing” and one of my all-time favorites, “Tell Laura I Love Her” in 1962. I was introduced to him by one of my early mentors Paul Vance, who co-wrote “Catch a Falling Star”, “Itsy, Bitsy, Teenie Weenie Yellow polka dot bikini”. Paul wanted me and his nephew, Danny Jordan (who later became one of the Detergents) to write with Ben for a session we were recording as a duo for Diamond records.

Soon Ben and I just started writing together and started getting some good covers…Wayne Newton, Jack Scott, Leroy Van Dyke, Aretha Franklyn, Jose Feliciano, and Bobby Darin. Ben introduced me to Freddie Bienstock at Hill and Range, who asked us to write for several Elvis movies, to Arnold Shaw at E.B. Marks music who got us a hit with Helen Shapiro in the U.K. and to Al Gallico at Shapiro Bernstein, who offered me a chance to become the first Black country artist signed to major label.

At that time Ben was also writing with Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich, Sherman Edwards and Mark Barkan. I was lucky to have him on Wednesday and Saturday.

Then in 1963 we wrote and I produced “Midnight Mary” for Joey Powers. I still can remember taking publicity pictures and being handed a gold record by Larry Uttal (head of Amy/ Bell records), who whispered, “Now this doesn’t necessarily mean it sold a million records!”

We continued to write for several years and have covers by Dion, the Hues Corporation, Gene Pitney, Freddie and the Dreamers, etc. and when I was at WB Music I got the company to buy the renewal rights to his classic song, “Laughing on the Outside, Crying on the Inside”.

Two weeks before he passed away in 1997, we got together and updated “Midnight Mary”. Originally, our Hero worked on the railroad…( and with apologies to Joe Nelson, who wrote recently that it was his favorite part of the song] we changed the line to ‘Just got a job at the Airport. Also in the new version, Mary gets pregnant, which you couldn’t say in 1962.

In one of my last conversations with Ben, I asked him, which of all of his hit songs has earned the most money? He laughed and said, “Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?”, which he co-wrote in 20 minutes. He was offered a few thousand by Hanna-Barbera as a buyout…but opted for a royalty instead.

This was before the release of the Multi-million dollar making “Scooby-Doo Movie”…and it’s equally successful sequel!

From my forthcoming book, “I Did It For A Song”
Copyright 2009 by Artie Wayne
https://artiewayne.wordpress.com


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12 Responses to “BEN RALEIGH R.I.P. ROCK N PERPETUITY!”

  1. Tom Diehl Says:

    I’ve seen Ben Raleigh’s name on at least a few releases on the Diamond record label, mostly songs he co-wrote with Mark Barkan, but one of my favorites, If You See My Baby by the Pirouettes was co-written with Norman Meade (who Google tells me was actually Jerry Ragovoy). Ben co-wrote a song with Mark Barkan that I’ve got planned to use in my second Topshelf Oldies show coming up in a few days (Tuesday), but I had already planned to use it before I saw this blog, but I guess it’s a sign that i should absolutely play it, as i was having second thoughts about it and had considered cutting it out of the track lineup. Ben had tons of great songs, and I think this is a great tribute to him, Artie.

  2. Jim Allio Says:

    Love “Midnight Mary,” haven’t heard it in years. What a wonderful song. Ben Raleigh is one of my favorite songwriters. I loved his work with Mark Barkan on all those Lesley Gore songs: “That’s the Way Boys Are,” “Just Let Me Cry,” “I Don’t Wanna Be A Loser” and of course “She’s A Fool.” “Fool” was originally intended for The Chiffons but when their producers turned it down, it was brought to Lesley Gore and became a huge record for her. Seems Raleigh was able to write with and for a wide range of talents.

  3. Laura Says:

    Hi Artie,

    Your mentioning Diamond Records and Danny Jordan sparked a memory for me … a fairly recent memory of an eBay acquisition from a couple of years ago. It took me several minutes to find it just now but my search was rewarded when I located it among other 45’s in my record case – “Find a Little Happiness” by Jordan & Wayne, composed by Jordan-Wayne-Sardo, and the flip, “The Big House,” composed by Vance-Jordan-Wayne. Ben Raleigh isn’t represented on this particular 7-inch vinyl specimen, although I’ve collected so many Jeff Barry and Brill Building related records over the past few years that I’m certain I must have several with his name on them. In fact, while typing up this post I remembered my ‘Complete Raindrops’ CD which features two songs written by Ben with Ellie Greenwich (“More Than a Man” and “Talk About Me”) and one with Mark Barkan (“Can’t Hide The Hurtin'”).

    There is one track I’m particularly fond of, though, a certain record by a gentleman named Ray Peterson that has not just Ben’s name on the label, but also Jeff’s and mine! (Well, my FIRST name anyway.) Yes, you’ve got wonderful taste in music, Artie. 🙂

    Laura

  4. Ken Charmer Says:

    While I was transcribing Jean Thomas’s log books recently Ben’s name kept appearing on the writers list of the many demos Jean did. He was a prolific writer and lets hope they don’t get forgotten.

    See the list of just a few here.
    http://www.jeanthomas.info/Sessionlog1963.pdf

    Ken

  5. steveo Says:

    Dear Mr. Wayne,
    I am thrilled to hear about your experiences co-writing with this writing genius – Ben Raleigh.
    You both wrote some great songs together…and I also enjoy his writing with others.
    I am still very saddened to this day, even though i never knew or met him..that he died so tragically..I know the Hollywood area well, and my imagination fills in the blanks,as if I almost could see the aftermath of this tragedy(physical location of the house)We will remember Ben through his songs and his firends and co-workers who attest to his wonderfulness.
    RIP Mr. Raleigh

  6. Phil M. Says:

    Hi Artie, Great article on Ben Raleigh. I love that the people you worked with were not just colleagues, but cherished friends as well.

    That aside, you’ve got me curious to learn which label it was that you almost signed with as a country singer. I imagine there’s quite a story to that story, one I hope you will tell us one day.

    Best always, Phil M.

  7. joe cerisano Says:

    Wow,
    Since Joey Powers was my first manager ever in the music business. I’ve learned so much from reading your blog. I got my first real record deal with Paul Vance who Joey introduced me to. Even though the RCA record was never released it was my first brush with the big time. We recorded up at 914 recording studio in Blauvelt NY. It was at the end of Paul Vance’s career but it was still a big deal for me. It was also there that I met Vinnie Bell, the first studio guitarist I ever met and who brought in a whole rack of sound effect to the session. I was on cloud nine because also about two weeks after Bruce Springsteen recored “Born To Run” in the same studio. I’d heard your name Artie and Ben Raleigh’s mentioned many time by Joey many times but never really understood the complete history. Thanks Artie for the “rest of the story”. joec

  8. Joe Nelson Says:

    Hmmm… whata coincidence… just when I’m trying to trade my railroad job in for something on the airlines. I’m still writing songs, but I’m realistic enough to know it’s not a reliable source of income when you’re in your forties and have four kids to feed.

  9. meryl tankard Says:

    want to buy cd with song ‘wonderufl wonderful’ ..who sang it besides Johnny mathis..where can i get one please

  10. laura hurt Says:

    […] ???Love is a Hurting Thing??? and ???Tell laura I Love Her??? in 1962. I asked him, which ofhttps://artiewayne.wordpress.com/2007/05/26/ben-raleigh-rip-rock-in-perpetuity/YouTube – Luke and Laura AngelLuke and his Angel, Laura, have celebrated romance and …4 min 25 sec […]

  11. bloonsterific Says:

    Just wanted to tell you all know how much I appreciate your postings guys.
    Found you though google!

  12. Steve Says:

    Just discovered this site while I was researching some of Uncle Ben’s songs (Ben Raleigh was my father’s brother). Thanks, Artie, for your kind remembrances and thanks also to everyone else who posted their memories. Here are some of mine.

    My dad took me to visit Uncle Ben many times in the 50’s and early 60’s, before Ben moved from NYC to California. Ben always had records to give me and he frequently played new songs of his just as they were being released, sometimes playing them on his piano and other times playing the actual records. (Ben encouraged me to keep up with my piano lessons but in that regard I failed him– I never did achieve any musical proficiency.)

    Ben always asked our opinions of these new releases and I clearly remember one of those sessions. He said he wanted to know what we thought of this new song, saying “I think it’s a good song, but I’m not too sure about the singer– I’m concerned that his voice may not be strong enough. What do you think?”

    He went on to play “Wonderful! Wonderful!” and my father and I both said that we thought it sounded great. As I’m sure everyone reading this knows, that singer was Johnny Mathis.


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