12. 1964

Big Al SingleDuring the early 1960's Big Al Downing and The Rhythm Rockers owned Washington, D.C. and Big Al's fortunes were on the upswing. Recording for V-Tone and then shortly thereafter for Lelan Rogers' Lenox Records, Big Al was recording some great music in a variety of musical styles. Plus my dad and Big Al were writing and co-writing several songs that were recorded by Fats Domino. The Poe Kat's fortunes were therefore also on the upswing.

In the meantime, Vernon and the other Rhythm Rockers put out some singles of their own, under the name of Spic and Span. They were still gigging full time with Big Al, but they were also taking time out to record songs like "Slipping And Sliding" and "Summertime Blues". The Poe Kat actually encouraged the developing "dual identity", figuring he might end up representing two hit acts.

The Chartbusters SingleIn April of 1964, Vernon and company went into the studio for the first time under the name of The Chartbusters. They added Vince Gideon on rhythm guitar, because at that time they were becoming strangely influenced by some young upstarts from Liverpool, England named The Beatles. At that session they recorded what was supposed to be their debut single, "Slippin' Thru Your Fingers". Having a little studio time left over, they recorded a song bass player Johnny Dubas had been working on entitled "She's The One" as the B-side.

The Poe Kat sent the recording to 25 labels, all of whom passed on it. The next label he tried to cultivate was Mutual Records out of Philadelphia. Mutual released the single, but almost all radio DJ's seemed to feel "She's The One" should be the A-side. Joey Reynolds at WKBW in Buffalo felt that way and jumped on "She's The One". He literally played the track over and over back-to-back one evening and the single took off.

Also at this time Big Al was approached by Columbia Records and was signed to a record deal. The Poe Kat was pretty much on top of the world, figuring he now had his two top acts. But "She's The One" became so big so quick that Vernon and the band wanted to split from Big Al and continue on exclusively as The Chartbusters. No amount of pleading from my dad could convince them that they should play it safe and continue to back Big Al. Big Al felt betrayed by the band - and my dad - and went off on his own. My dad then threw his lot in completely with The Chartbusters.

Big Al went on to become a #1 Country music artist. He has remained a performing musician continuously since his days with The Poe Kats. I'm pleased to report that about 20 years ago Big Al, Vernon Sandusky and my dad all became friends again. They would speak to each other a couple of times a year and that tradition remains to this day...