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Comments in blue are by webmaster RUSSELL WELLS.



A second time around for
Baker Knight


by Jason Ankeny 
allmusic.com


Perhaps best known for penning the Elvis Presley hit "The Wonder of You," Baker Knight ranks among the most prolific songwriters of the rock & roll era, authoring well over a thousand songs in a variety of musical idioms.

Born Thomas Baker Knight, Jr. in Birmingham on July 4, 1933, he lost his father at the age of six, and spent much of his childhood in the care of a series of relatives.  After serving three years in the U.S. Air Force -- during which time he learned to play guitar -- Knight studied technical illustration at the University of Alabama but in his spare time began writing songs, and in 1956 formed a rockabilly combo dubbed The Knightmares, signing to the tiny KIT label to release "Bop Boogie to the Blues."  The follow-up, "Bring My Cadillac Back," proved a regional hit and was licensed for national distribution by DECCA before it was banned from radio on the grounds it was nothing more than a free commercial for Cadillac. Decca next teamed Knight with arranger Ray Ellis for 1957's "Reelin' and Rockin' (Bippin' and Boppin' Over You)." The record attracted little attention, and when the same fate met "Just a Little Bit More" and "Love-A, Love-A, Love-A," the label terminated his contract.

Knight relocated to Hollywood in 1958 in pursuit of a film career that did not materialize. He nevertheless made fast friends with rockabilly great Eddie Cochran, and according to legend was even asked to contribute to Cochran's immortal "Summertime Blues," but fell asleep and did not awake until the song was completed. With the aid of Cochran's girlfriend, the songwriter Sharon Sheeley, Knight began peddling his own original compositions, initially hoping to interest The Everly Brothers in his evocative ballad "Lonesome Town"; teen idol Rick Nelson recorded the tune instead with support from the brilliant guitarist James Burton, and the end result was a Top Ten pop hit in 1958. The Knight-penned B-side "I Got a Feeling" cracked the Top Ten as well. In all, Nelson recorded 21 of his songs, including the million-selling "There'll Never Be Anyone Else But You," "Mighty Good," and "Sweeter Than You." Nelson also wished to cut Knight's "Just Relax," but its writer refused, instead opting to record the song himself for CORAL, with Cochran sitting in on guitar. The 1959 single proved a flop, and after the follow-up, "Pretty Little Girl," also went nowhere, CORAL cut its losses and dropped Knight from its roster.

Knight wrote "The Wonder of You" for crooner Perry Como, but Como's arranger, Dick Pierce, instead suggested the tune to pop singer Ray Peterson, whose 1959 version was a Top 30 hit on both sides of the Atlantic. Among the record's fans was Elvis Presley, who in early 1970 added "The Wonder of You" to his stage repertoire. Presley eventually issued it as a single, topping the U.K. charts and scoring a major U.S. hit as well. By that time, Knight was well established as a songwriter, although he'd also continued recording to little avail, with singles for RCA, CHESS, and CHALLENGER. In early 1966, Dean Martin recorded "Somewhere There's a Someone," the first of 11 Knight compositions the Rat Packer cut over the next six years. Knight also authored several songs for Martin's pal and REPRISE label owner Frank Sinatra, including the big-band ballad "Anytime at All," and in 1965 signed to the label as a solo act, bowing with the single "Man with a Plan." Two years later, Knight issued "I Feel Sick About the Whole Thing," later a cult classic thanks to its grandly psychedelic flip side, "Hallucinations." He also wrote for the REPRISE psychedelic act The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, proving his uncanny ability to master virtually every musical genre.

Knight spent the 1970s tailoring his music to the country market, writing hits for Ernest Ashworth ("A Week in the Country"), Hank Williams, Jr. ("One Night Stands"), Jerry Lee Lewis ("I Don't Want to Be Lonely Tonight"), and Dave & Sugar (the Top Five smash "I'm Gonna Love You"). In 1976, Mickey Gilley topped the country charts with "Don't the Girls All Get Prettier at Closing Time," earning Knight the Academy of Country Music's Song of the Year honor. A year later, he signed to WARNER BROS. for what would prove his final major-label release, "If Only."

In all, Knight earned eight Citation of Achievement honors from the publishing organization BMI, but in 1985 he was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, which greatly limited his efforts in the years to follow. He eventually constructed a home recording studio and in time resumed his long-dormant solo career, self-releasing the LPs The Way I Hear It, Music Is My Woman, and the instrumental Music for Romantic Dreamers through his website. Shortly after publishing his memoirs, A Piece of the Big-Time, Knight died of natural causes on October 12, 2005. 


 We're pleased to present here two of Baker Knight's
later compositions and recordings...

BAKER KNIGHT - High School Days
(2.68 MB - MP3 format - total length: 2.55) 
BAKER KNIGHT - These Songs of Yesteryear
(3.41 MB - MP3 format - total length: 3.43) 

ARCHIVE:

JUNE 2014:  CHARLES SMITH & THE COACHMEN - Going Wild
                     CHARLES SMITH & THE COACHMEN - Hard to Find  
MAY 2014:
BOBBY MIZELL / GLEN LAYNE - Sunset Blues
 / B. MIZELL - Heart and Soul
APRIL 2014: BOBBY EDWARDS - You're the Reason
MARCH 2014: DALE SERRANO - Ou We Man
FEBRUARY 2014: BOB CAIN & THE CAIN-BREAKERS - Butterbeans; Hey Little One
JANUARY 2014:
THE BLEUS - Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself

DECEMBER 2013: SHARON WYNTER - We're Breaking Up Again; Bad Dreams
NOVEMBER 2013: BAKER KNIGHT & THE KNIGHTMARES - Bring My Cadillac Back
OCTOBER 2013: JERRY WOODARD - Long Tall Texan
SEPTEMBER 2013:  THE TORQUAYS -- Pineapple Moon

BIRMINGHAM RADIO CLIPS OF THE MONTH
September 2009 - August 2013:

August 2013:
WSGN 610 - August 18, 1968: Jim Taber's last show

July 2013: WYDE 850 - October 1984: Lee Masters (final show) 
June 2013: WAQY 1220 - August 9, 1969: James Enright
May 2013: WYDE 850 - January 1976: Duke Rumore 
April 2013: WVOK 690 - January 1976: Joe Rumore
March 2013: WSGN 610 - March 18, 1967: Steve Norris (Sat. evening)
February 2013: WSGN 610 - February 16, 1973 - final Steve Norris show
January 2013: WMPS 680 (Memphis, Tenn.) - 1977: Jon Anthony [tribute to JRRA]  
December 2012: WAPI 1070 - December 1953: West End High School play
November 2012: WSGN 610 - November 1972: composite (Davis / Bass / Kincaid)
October 2012:
WSGN 610 - October 4, 1967: Dick Kent
September 2012: WERC 960 - February 1979: Coyote Calhoun
August 2012: WKXX 106.9 - May 1979: Charlie Martin (Steve Davis sub)
July 2012: WENN 1320 - 1966 & 1967: Weldon Clark & (unknown)
June 2012: WSGN 610 - August 1972: Amaysa Kincaid; Scotty Brink
May 2012: WVOK 690 - March 19, 1967: Johnny Hayes ("Dixie Hits")
April 2012: WSGN 610 - April 9, 1977: Johnny King (Easter afternoon)
March 2012: WAQY 1220 - March 18, 1967: Doug Layton
February 2012:
WSGN 610 - May 24, 1969: Steve Norris

January 2012: WBCO 1450 Bessemer -- January 1957: "Spider"
December 2011: WAPI-TV 13: Cousin Cliff - December 25, 1961
November 2011: WERC, 01/21/76 ... Dick James, Jim Christian
October 2011: WZZK(FM) ... November 1982 station composite
September 2011: WAPI-FM -- "FM 95", September 1984: McCarthy/'Deah'
August 2011: 1955 Dial scan (from Montgomery, Ala.) - WVOK, WEZB, WILD, et al
July 2011: WERC-FM - July 1976: "Dapper Dan", 11 PM hour
June 2011: WAPI-FM "95 ROCK" - October 1982
May 2011: WSGN JINGLE MEGAMIX: 1950s - 1980s
April 2011: WSGN 610 - April 25, 1985: Steve Price, Orlando Beavers; final minutes!
March 2011: WAPI 1070 - 1943: Stanleigh Malotte "A trip inside the Pipe Organ"
February 2011: WERC-FM 106.9 - October 1974: "Captain Jack"
January 2011: WSGN 610 - December 29, 1967: Jim Taber
December 2010: WSGN 610 ... Christmas party gag tape, 1960 (T. Charles)
November 2010: WAPI-TV 13 - November 25, 1961: "Popeye Show" audio
October 2010: WKXX 106.9 - March 1979: Charlie Martin
September 2010: WJLN 104.7 - September 27, 1973: Wayne Braden
August 2010: WSGN 610 - May 2, 1973; June 23, 1973: John Bass
July 2010: WYDE 850 - October 3, 1967: Duke Rumore
June 2010: WSGN 610 - June 29, 1964: Jim Taber
May 2010: WAPI 1070 - assorted aircheck clips, 1949-1965   rundown
April 2010: WAQY 1220 - March 12, 1966: Layton & Charles show
March 2010: WYDE - early 1960: Sam Hale "House of Hits"
February 2010: WSGN - Bill Bolen newscast, 06/16/1964 - 10:55 a.m.
January 2010: WERC 960 - August 22, 1973 (debut of top-40 format)
December 2009: WKXX 106.9 - 1978 Profile / WKXX 106.9 - 1979 Profile
November 2009: WVOK 690 - 10/28/1949: Joe Rumore & Jean Foster
October 2009: WSGN 610 - 09/30/1949: "Quiz Man" w/Pappy McDonald
September 2009: WVOK 690 - 10/03/1949: "Hi, Neighbor Time" with Joe Rumore

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