Colorradio.com - Gene And Eunice
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Gene Wilson (also known as Gene Forrest) and wife Eunice Levy, together formed the duo of Gene and Eunice. Together, they recorded more than fifteen original records. They hit the Billboard pop charts with Poco Loco in 1959, and appeared on the R+B charts two different times with "Ko Ko Mo" and "This Is My Story." Beginning on Combo records of Los Angeles, they quickly moved to Aladdin, then to the Case label with four release. Then, a stop on king for a pair of recordings, , and another waxing for the small Lily label. One LP was released on Score, that included their recordings along with Shirley And Lee, Marvin And Johnny, and others. Bom Bom Lulu and several others were additionally issued on Jamaica's Blank label, and did well. Many records also were released in the UK on the Vogue label. The duo sold a bunch of records in their career, and were very successful on the road performing their music, right into the 1990's. I also show several of the solo records from Gene Forrest. He had a career of his own before teaming up with Eunice Levy, and made some great recordings. Eunice passed away in 2002, and Gene died in 2003. They leave a great legacy of fine music for us all to enjoy.
The first recording by Gene Forrest was waxed in the fall of 1951. "Everybody's Got Money" is flipped with "It Was You." He had vocals on both sides and was backed by the Eddie Beale Fourtette. These were blues recordings, and notice that although Gene Forrest probably wrote both songs, Recorded In Hollywood label owner John Dolphin has his name on those credits too. A fairly common practice in the music business.
This is the second outing for Gene Forrest. Recorded in 1952, he had top billing on "Thrill Your Soul." This time he was backed by the Freddie Simons Quintette. The flip is an uptempo instrumental featuring just the Freddie Simons Quintette.
His last recording for Recorded In Hollywood, "Picture On The Wall" and "Little Children" were more sides that Gene Forrest wrote. He is now listed as the "Gene Forrest Combo", this was also issued in 1952. The flip was a song about his kids, according to author Steve Propes.
In the summer of 1952, he made a one off recording for RPM. It was held until early 1953 for it's release. Now listed as Gene Forrest And His Orchestra, the plug side was the uptempo "Aching And Crying." The "B" side was a medium temp song called "I Want To Hold You." To my ear, it sounds like Chuck Higgins on saxophone for both of these sessions. Gene Forrest also shows lone writing credits for both songs.
Jump ahead to 1955, and teaming up with Eunice Levy, their first disc was hot. "Ko Ko Mo" hit number six on the R+B charts, and sold very well. This was the first issue of the song for the Los Angeles based Combo records. Gene Forrest has half of the writing credits on both sides.
The 45 RPM disc. The backing band was Jonesy's combo which included Brother William Woodman's band, who were the house band for Combo. It was recorded in Jake Porter's basement, who was the label owner of Combo records. The original bright red with black lettering was the same on original Combo records from issue 1 through 100, when it then changed to purple.
The titles are the same, but the recording is different and they are now on Aladdin. Seems Gene Wilson was still under contract to Aladdin as Gene Wilson and the Four Feathers. After the record starting selling, Aladdin rushed Gene and Eunice into the studio, this time with the Johnny Otis band, and re-cut both "Ko Ko Mo" and "You And Me." Notice it is now "Johnny's Combo", a direct dig against the previous Jonesy's combo. To make matters more confusing, Aladdin then advertised their record as the original! Ultimately, Aladdin was the bigger of the two independent labels, and they won out, in a real messy situation.
Here is the 45 of the record. The Aladdin label has more orange to it than the later maroon issues. All the other information is similar to the 78 issue. "Ko Ko Mo" has been recorded by no less than a zillion artists.
On their second try, Gene And Eunice hit it big again. "This Is My Story" also hit the R+B charts peaking at number eight in 1955. Writers were both Forrest and Levy, and the publishing is now Aladdin Music. This turned out to also be a classic as was "Ko Ko Mo" the previous record.
Here is the 45 RPM issue. Johnny's Combo is back again providing the background instruments. The flip "Move It Over Baby", was an uptempo song for the pair. The duo wouldn't have another major hit until they changed to Case records, however, they had a long string of excellent sides.
If nothing else, the record above showed that "This Is My Story" just continued to sell, long after the chart action was over. The record originally was issued in mid 1955, and Aladdin introduced the black label in late 1957. Further, it continued to be reissued on labels like Imperial and Era, and then a slew of classic reissue labels.
If it wasn't enough to have a major hit in the USA, this was popular in other countries as shown with the UK pressing, above. All the basic label information has been brought over.
Writing and recording is now the norm for the duo. The next release from later 1955, "Flim Flam", did not enjoy the same success as the previous discs, but were nice medium tempo outings.
The 45 RPM issue. Johnny's combo continues to be shown on the labels.
The fourth release for Gene And Eunice, "Have You Changed Your Mind", is a nice slow bluesey number. The flip,"I Gotta Go Home", another great up tempo side. This is the last record with Johnny's Combo listed. This was released in 1956.
On to the Maroon label color with the 45 RPM issue. Again, no real variation from the 78 RPM issue. The maroon Aladdin label continues for all but one 45 RPM release.
From 1956, "I'll Never Believe In You (Rhythm And Blues Waltz)" was the slow side. "Hootchy Kootchy" was the uptempo song. Both show writing credits from the pair.
The 45 RPM version. Aladdin records had a good thing going with Gene And Eunice, they were just trying to find the next big hit.
From later 1956, "Let's Get Together" was backed with "I'm So In Love With You." I like both sides of this one. The label decided to use "Vocal Duet" on this record label."
On 45, not much has changed. Both shared the writing credits, and Aladdin Music has the publishing.
Another of the Vogue issues from the UK. It appears they got on the bandwagon just a little late, as it is shown first published in 1957.
Possibly my favorite recording of Gene And Eunice, "Bom Bom Lulu." It is another very solid uptempo recording for the pair."Hi Diddle Diddle", is a nursery rhyme type song and uptempo as well. A good pairing for the group, to be sure. In addition, this was released on Jamaica's Blank label. Bom Bom Lulu was considered an early reggae song and had a lot of spins wherever Reggae was played.
The maroon 45 version of "Bom Bom Lulu" is shown above. This was purchased at the "House Of Music" in Walnut Hill Village. I believe that would be the Dallas Texas area. A great record for the pair. It was issued in 1957.
Another really great pairing for Gene And Eunice. "Strange World" did get some play on radio stations in the USA. One example is WALT in Tampa Florida
where it came in at number 48 in August of 1957. "The Vow" was on the flipside.
The 45 RPM version is shown above. Notice that the Ray Ellis orchestra and chorus is now shown on the label.
From 1957, "Don't Treat Me This Way" and "Doodle Doodle Do" were next. Ray Ellis still shown on the label. This was because Gene And Eunice spent a lot of time on the road doing live shows in 1957, and they had little time record in the studio. It was cut at the Capital Studios in New York.
The 45 RPM single. The "A" side was fairly short at 1:50, but then thinking about it, many of the records of the era were pretty short.
Gene And Eunice had one last recording for Aladdin. They also had a different set of musicians involved. Earl Palmer and his band were on it, Ray and Plas Johnson were involved. Also, Rene Hall had lead guitar duties. You could hear it on the radio some, but sales were not as expected. This later Aladdin 78 is black and silver, a departure from the blue and silver labels that were used during Gene and Eunice's recording span.
The 45 RPM version is shown above. On this release Aladdin went back to the blue and silver label. "The Angels Gave Me To You" and I Mean Love" sounded a bit different than the normal Gene and Eunice waxing of the past. This was the end for Gene And Eunice on the Aladdin label. This was released in 1958.
A switch to Case records in 1959 proved to be very successful. Their first record was their all time biggest selling disc. "Poco Loco" was a number 48 record on the Billboard charts staying around for a total of thirteen weeks. The title was a Chicano phrase for "A Little Crazy." The flip was a play on their earlier hot for Aladdin, but titled "Go On KoKoMo." The first press is shown above.
This is the second press, identified by the phrase "Distributed By United Telefilm Records Inc." United Telefilm had the Warwick label, and now they opened for business in Gardena California, and this was their first record for their new Case label. The musicians on this release included pianist Lloyd Glenn and his band.
Deciding to send out a promo on Case's second release, "Ah AH" was backed with "You Think I'm Not Thinking." The distribution is listed, and they have now identified Gene And Eunice as "The Poco Loco Kids!" Both Gene And Eunice continue to write their own songs.
Shown above is the stock copy. The record did not make the impact that everyone hoped for. Both slower to medium tempo songs, it was a decent pairing. Released in 1960.
In the "Poco Loco" style, "Without Love" and "You Drive Me Buggy" were next. I have not seen a promotional record for this or any other Gene And Eunice Case records except the previous one. Curiously, the distribution by United Telefilm was dropped from this issue and subsequent releases for the duo. Released in 1960.
This is really a great two sider for Gene And Eunice. It should have caught on. "Sugar Babe" and "Let's Play The Game" both sound great to me. Who knows why it didn't take off. Maybe because they had a couple of less than successful efforts, it was tougher for Case to attract interest to a great record. The Hollywood Argyles made a guest appearance on this disc. Released in 1960.
This is the lone Case EP issued. In all, Case issued about nine records, five of which were by Gene And Eunice. This EP included two songs only available on this EP, "Hully Gully" and "Beatnik." "Hully Gully" was a song about the dance and written by the duo. This was the end of the line for Gene And Eunice on Case records. Click and enlarge the cover.
Flip sides of both the cover and the labels, this EP was a bargain at only $1.00! "Beatnik" was an uptempo original song and was also written by the pair. Click and enlarge the cover.
There never was an original LP issued of just Gene And Eunice's work. The album above was the next best thing in my collection. It includes several duo's and was released on Aladdin's subsidiarity label, Score. Click and enlarge the pictures.
Trying to stay reasonably chronological, this is a duo called Gene And Ruth. To my ears, this sounds exactly like Gene Forrest. I still am not sure who the Ruth is, but the record sounds very similar to the Gene and Eunice discs. "It Shouldn't Happen To A Dog" is a mid-tempo record, and is good. The flip is "(You Got Your) Freedom." Issued in 1961.
There were actually three Gene And Ruth discs, and this is the third. "If And When It Happens" is really good, and has a very catchy sound to it. The flip is "Harchy Carchy." Issue in early 1962.
From 1962, this was recorded for a small independent label out of Los Angeles called Lilly records. There was about ten issues between 1960 and 1962. This appears to be the last one. The label owner shows as Ray Shanklin, but was apparently run by Charles Frost, who Eunice was married to at this time. "Got A Right To Know" was backed with "Ever Lovin Baby." The Gene on this record was Gene Taylor, as Gene Forrest was apparently done with the music business.
Maybe he wasn't done quite yet! Mike Gradny's Cenco records from Los Angeles issued this two sider by the pair. "Soul Loving" and Walking Away." The sound was more typical of the soul records of the 1960's and I show this was released in 1967. It's a nice record from Gene And Eunice.
I don't usually feature reissues from the 70's, unless they are a bit off the beaten path. This Deltone issue is likely from the early 70's, and they had trouble with the spelling and names of Gene and Eunice's songs. It made me think of some of the Jamaican releases, but this does not appear to be one of those.
Updates: Gene And Eunice as a duo, consistently recorded great songs. They sounded good together, and really sang together, on key with one voice and were in demand for at least six years during their heyday. They sold lots of records, made a statement in Jamaica, and hit the Billboard top 50 with "Poco Loco."
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