The Big Voice of Faye
In late 1952 Joe Morris and his band had a new vocalist to replace Laurie Tate responsible for such hits as " Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere" and "Rock Me Daddy". The new singer was named Faye Scruggs, and right after New Year's Day of 1953 the first recording for vocalist with the newly renamed Joe Morris Blues Cavalcade, was Atlantic #985 - "I'm Going To Leave You" and "That's What Makes My Baby Fat". During the spring the entire aggregation leaves on an extended tour of one nighters throughout the South which serves to solidify the appeal of vocalist Scruggs. During the latter part of the summer, Joe Morris leaves Atlantic Records and moves to another New York R & B independent, the Herald Record Company headed by Al Silver. In September the newly named Faye Adams records her first side for Herald with the Morris band. It is #416 and features a gospel styled blues ballad called "Shake A Hand". The flip side of the record is "I Gotta Leave You".
"Shake A Hand" starts off with a huge word of mouth sale which gets radio to pay attention and soon is heard on all R & B outlets. Sales jump off the charts in certain areas of the country, especially in the Northeast and the deep South. Although consequent issues of the record on Herald list the record as by Faye Adams, Joe Morris career is given a boost by his participation on the session and his part in the development of Adams as a vocalist. Long time R & B vocalist Savannah Churchill records a cover version of "Shake A Hand" for her first release for Decca Records. Atlantic Records gets into the act by noting the huge popularity of "Shake A Hand" which causes the label to release some sides recorded by Faye Adams but never released originally. The first of these is Atlantic #1007 - "Sweet Talk" and "Watch Out I Told You". Adams plays the big theaters in the Northeast to huge crowds as a result of her hit record. The shows are held at the Howard in D.C., the Royal in Baltimore, and the Uptown in Philadelphia. The record is number one in sales nationally and number one in juke box plays by mid October, a great double number one for Faye Adams.
In early November "Shake A Hand" ends an eight week run as the number one R & B record in the nation. It is still selling well as Herald readies the follow up by Adams and Joe Morris. In early December Herald #419 is released - "I'll Be True" and "Happiness To My Soul". At year's end the record has broken big in New York and Philadelphia. Early in 1954 Herald Records big three appear for a week at the Apollo Theater - Faye Adams, Al Savage, and Joe Morris and his band. As the show moves to a series of one nighters in the South, they are joined by the Orioles. A music industry shows that in her first year on the scene, Faye Adams is the number four moneymaker among all R & B performers for 1953. The tour of the South does huge box office business through the Carolinas. In March Herald releases #423 - "Say A Prayer" and "Every Day" by Faye Adams with the Joe Morris band. This time the record does not get out of its own way and is quickly forgotten. In June Faye takes to the stage along with Al Savage, Joe Morris, the Five Keys, and Joe Turner at Alan "Moondog" Freed's Birthday Ball at a sold out (and then some) Akron Armory in Ohio. Herald Records comes back with "Somebody Somewhere" and "Crazy Mixed Up World" on #429.
In late August Faye decides to leave the Joe Morris band and go forth as a solo performer. She joins the giant Rhythm & Blues Show touring the Midwest. Some of the acts on the bill are The Drifters, Counts, Spaniels, Roy Hamilton, and the Rusty Bryant combo. The show opens in Cleveland where it is mc'ed by Moondog Freed. Over the Labor Day weekend, the show plays the Brooklyn Paramount in New York setting the stage for future shows there. In mid September Herald releases #434 - "Hurts Me To My Heart" and "I Ain't Gonna Tell". This time the record takes off big immediately stopping the two record slide for Faye on the label. Within three weeks "Hurts Me To My Heart" is number three best seller on the national charts and in the top ten on the juke box poll. Faye Adams joins Memphis Slim at L.A.'s 5-4 Ballroom. Constant touring for the rest of the year puts Faye back with Herald label mates Al Savage and Joe Morris, along with The Spiders, Ursala Reed, and Amos Milburn in a show called the R & B Hall Of Fame Tour for a series of one nighters in the Midwest. Many of the Hall Of Fame performers star on stage in Chicago for a Jam With Sam show mc'ed by radio personality Sam Evans. Faye ends the year playing a number of one nighters in the Northeast with Chuck Willis and Bill Doggett & his combo with Clifford Scott.
In January of 1955 Herald releases #1044 - "Anything For A Friend" and "Your Love". Herald announces that Faye Adams has sold more than two million records for the label, and is adding numbers as "Anything For A Friend" is selling well for the label. In late January Faye joins The Moonglows and Joe Morris & his band for a week at New York's Apollo Theater. Right after the Apollo engagement, Faye joins the Top Ten R & B Show kicking off in Norfolk, Virginia. On the bill are The Clovers, Moonglows, Fats Domino, Joe Turner, Amos Milburn, Charlie & Ray, Bill Doggett, and the Paul "Hucklebuck" Williams band. The tour will cover seven weeks. In late March Herald releases #450 - "My Greatest Desire" and "You Ain't Been True". A mid April show with Faye Adams and Ray Charles & his orchestra sets all time attendance records in South Florida at The Palm Gardens. In June Herald releases #457 - "The Angels Tell Me" / "Tag Along". In July Faye plays Cleveland with Gene & Eunice, Luther Bond & The Emeralds, and Beulah Bryant. In September Herald tries again with #462 - "Same Old Me" and "No Way Out". In October Faye does a musical number in the Studio Films motion picture "Rhythm & Blues Revue" Also in the film are Count Basie and his band, Sara Vaughn, The Larks, Joe Turner, Amos Milburn, Nat Coke, and others. The picture has its world premiere at the Royal Theater in Baltimore in early December.
In January of 1956 Herald releases #470 - "Teenage Heart" and "Witness To The Crime". The move to try and capture the teenage listeners for the new style of R & B is obvious with the tune "Teenage Heart" which is written by Alan Freed. During the spring Faye does two television spots in Chicago. In July Faye is part of the talent that appears at the Savoy Ballroom in New York for a benefit concert for sax player Arnett Cobb, who with his family was seriously injured in an automobile accident. In August Herald #480 - "Taking You Back" and "Don't Forget To Smile" is released and again does not do much in sales or airplay. In October Herald returns with "The Hammer" and in a bit of irony, a remake of "Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere" done by her predecessor with the Joe Morris band, Laurie Tate. For a change, "The Hammer" does well getting into the local top tens in Baltimore, Washington D.C., and Pittsburgh.
Through 1957 Faye Adams suffered the fate of so many of the great R & B performers of the late 40s and early 50s - they were seen as older recording artists whose time had come and gone, and the mainstream audience of White teenagers who now dictated the direction of the recording industry as far as single 45 rpm recording, were attuned to the teenage vocal groups and teen idols who followed in the wake of Elvis Presley. Herald soon lost interest even though the issue of the "Herald The Beat" LP revived Adams great hits for the label with moderate airplay. The late fifties saw her record for a few labels, none of which made any headway with rock 'n rollers. The best of these was probably "I Have A Twinkle In My Eye" and "Someone Like You" on Imperial #5471. By this time Imperial too, was probably more interested in Ricky Nelson than in long time label star Fats Domino.
Faye Adams (always called by Alan Freed as the "little gal with the big voice" ) was a very distinctive vocal talent and was rewarded with some big hits ( "Shake A Hand", "Hurts Me To My Heart", "I'll Be True" and "Anything For A Friend") along with moderate successes along the way. She was responsible for one of the signature tunes of the R & B era ("Shake A Hand") that defined that place in time for eternity. Faye Adams, one of the great voices of Rhythm & Blues music ever, set the standard for R & B music and led the way for the coming of the sound of soul music.
to next page . . . . . . . . . . .
back to title page . . . . . . . .