Tuesday, June 11, 2013

June 11: Thornton James "Pookie" Hudson of The Spaniels - "Goodnite, Sweetheart, Goodnite” - was born on this date in 1934 …


… he died on January 16, 2007 in Capitol Heights, Maryland on January 16, 2007, after a lengthy battle with cancer.

The Spaniels were an American R&B doo-wop group, best known for the hit "Goodnite, Sweetheart, Goodnite.” The group debuted in late 1952 at Roosevelt High School in Gary, Indiana as Pookie Hudson & The Hudsonaires. They changed their name to The Spaniels that spring and, upon graduation, became one of the first two artists to sign with Vee-Jay Records, the first large, independent Afro-American owned record label.

The group recorded their first song, "Baby It's You" on May 5, 1953. Released in July, the song reached #10 on Billboard's R&B chart on September 5, 1953. Some historians of vocal groups consider Pookie Hudson to be the first true leader of a vocal group, because the Spaniels pioneered the technique of having the main singer solo at his own microphone, while the rest of the group shared a second microphone.

"Goodnite, Sweetheart, Goodnite" was written by Pookie Hudson and Calvin Carter in 1953. In Spring 1954, it hit number twenty-four on Variety's pop chart, and rose to number five on Billboard's R&B chart.

The Spaniels played regularly at the Apollo, The Regal and other large theaters on the Chitlin circuit. The line-up changed numerous times over the ensuing years. The Spaniels were the top selling vocal group for Vee Jay. The band broke up when the label went bankrupt in 1966, but in 1969, the group reformed, releasing hits like "Fairy Tales" in 1970. Two Spaniels groups later performed simultaneously: one in Washington, D.C., and the original group still based in Gary. The D.C. based group, with Pookie Hudson and Joe Herndon, appeared on the PBS special, Doo Wop 50.

"Goodnight, Sweetheart, Goodnight" was featured prominently in two movies; American Graffiti and Three Men and a Baby. The best-selling version of the song was recorded by The McGuire Sisters in 1954. It was also recorded in 1954 by country music duo Johnnie & Jack.

The song became well known again in the late 1970s as the closing song performed by Sha Na Na on their weekly variety show. This song has the sub-title "it's time to go" with the now famous doo-wop bass line intro.

This bass line was however not included in the McGuire Sisters' cover version, made to sell to white audiences. Dick Biondi plays the song at the end of every show on Chicago's 94.7 WLS-FM.


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