Friday, July 26, 2013

July 26: Brenton Wood - "Gimme Little Sign" & “The Oogum Boogum Song" is 73-years-old today.

Alfred Jesse Smith - AKA Brenton Wood - was born in Shreveport, Louisiana. When he was a child, his family moved to San Pedro then Compton in Los Angeles, California. He was a member of the Compton High School track team and received several awards for his athletic achievements.

Following high school graduation, Wood enrolled in East Los Angeles College. Soon after, he took the stage name Brenton Wood, possibly inspired by the wealthy Los Angeles enclave of Brentwood. His musical interests were inspired by Jesse Belvin and Sam Cooke, and he began cultivating his songwriting skills, while also becoming a competent pianist.

Early singles for Brent Records and Wand Records failed to chart. After signing with Double Shot Records, Wood had a hit with "The Oogum Boogum Song" in the spring of 1967. It reached #19 on the US Billboard R&B chart and #34 on the Billboard Hot 100 listing.

In Southern California, "The Oogum Boogum Song" hit the top 10 on both KHJ (AM) in Los Angeles and on KGB-FM in San Diego.

His biggest hit came in September of the same year, as "Gimme Little Sign" hit #9 on the pop chart and #19 on the R&B charts. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc. It also peaked at #8 in the UK Singles Chart. (In the song, "Gimme Little Sign" is not sung. Instead the chorus repeats "Give Me Some Kind of Sign.”)

In late 1967, Brenton charted a third single, "Baby You Got It," reaching #34 on the Hot 100. Wood continued to perform, even recording a duet with Shirley Goodman.

He reached the charts again in 1977, when "Come Softly to Me." In 2001, he returned with an album of new material, This Love Is for Real.

Wood does not own the rights to any of his songs. They are all owned by the Los Angeles disc jockey, Art Laboe.


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