The Jodimars were a spin-off band from Bill Haley and the Comets. The nucleus of the band were JOey Ambrose (sax), DIck Richards (drums) and MARshall Lytle (bass), all of whom had played on "Rock Around the Clock". The disc was climbing the Top 10 in June 1955, as Joey, Dick and Marshall asked Haley for a $ 50 / week pay rise. After Bill's refusal, the trio decided to leave the Comets and start their own group. Three other Philadelphia musicians filled out the lineup: pianist Bob Simpson, drummer Jim Buffington and lead guitarist Charlie Hess.
A demo coupling "Flip, Flop and Fly" with "Rock-a Beatin' Boogie" earned them a Capitol deal. Not surprisingly, their music was very much in the Bill Haley style. Along with Haley, Freddie Bell and Boyd Bennett, the Jodimars are the principal exponents of what Charle Gillett has tagged "Northern band rock 'n' roll". At Capitol, they were produced by British- born Andy Wiswell. Their first single came out in November 1955, with "Well Now Dig This" on the A-side, probably their most famous number and a source of inspiration for the title of a well-known R&R magazine. Though several of their six Capitol singles sold well locally, the Jodimars never made a dent in the national charts. Capitol preferred to spend its promotional effort on established pop acts like Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Dean Martin and Tennessee Ernie Ford and the Jodimars saw their place as the company's rock 'n' roll act quickly disappear when Gene Vincent had a major hit in 1956 with "Be Bop-A-Lula". Perhaps the key drawback to the Jodimars was their lack of a strong lead singer, to match the quality of the backing tracks. Marshall Lytle and Dick Richards alter- nated as lead singers, but both sound rather like early-'50s pop artists who are desperately trying to sound hip.
Their fifth single, "Clara-Bella", was somehow picked up by the Beatles, who performed it in their set in the early 1960s and recorded it in 1963 for the BBC, a performance now available on The Beatles Live at the BBC.
During 1956, the Jodimars had a hectic touring schedule, but without a hit record, it was difficult to maintain the interest of the rock 'n' roll public. The group began their transition from rock & roll combo to show band with an extended engagement at the Hacienda Lounge in Las Vegas in the fall of 1956. After their last Capitol release, "Cloud 99"/"Later" (February 1957), their contract was not renewed. Undaunted, the group headed back west to resume their career as a show band, this time in Reno, Nevada, with great success. However, internal friction and star-consciousness made the group begin to unravel. A reformed line-up (early 1958) could not prevent the disintegration of the band in 1959. In 1958, Marshall had recorded four titles for Imperial Records, which were officially credited to "Marshall Lytle and the Jodimars". Three of these tracks were later recorded by other Imperial artists ""Be My Love Tonight" and "Hip Shakin' Baby" by Roy Brown and "Bring Along Your Lovin'" by Bob Luman.
During the 1960s, Joey, Dick and Marshall drifted out of the music business, but the Jodimars reunited in 1989 at a festival in the UK, and currently the trio is still touring with Franny Beecher and Johnny Grande as The Original Comets.
CD: The Jodimars, Let's All Rock Together (Rockstar RSRCD 007). Released in 1994, 28 tracks, the last seven of which are by Bill Haley, without any involvement by the Jodimars. The collection includes the two-song 1955 demo acetate, a few unreleased Capitol recordings and the four (previously unissued) tracks from the 1958 Imperial session with Joe Maphis. The 16-page liner notes (by David Hirschberg) for this CD are reproduced in their entirety at: http://www.rockabillyhall.com/Jodimars1.html
Other websites: http://www.rockabillyhall.com/Marshall1.html (Marshall Lytle)
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