Eddie Rambeau -From Rockwell to Rock N'Roll
By John J. Grecco
From the lush green fields of Hazelton, Pennsylvania with it's small town quaintness and Norman Rockwell settings, steps forth a multi-threat of talent named Ed Rambeau.
Ed was the typical child of the baby boom generation growing up in a family of 3, one brother, Bob, and a sister named Joan, living the life many saw depicted in shows like "Father Knows Best", "The Donna Reed Show" and "Leave It To Beaver". From a very early age, Ed showed an absolute love of music, singing along with the hit records his older sister would buy. At this very young age he willingly played the part of the family Disc Jockey, taking requests from his sister, never giving a second thought to the fact that he hadn't learned to read yet. Since he couldn't read the song titles, Ed devised a system of memorizing what songs were on what record labels, which enabled him to zoom in on a tune his sister requested, and stack the record on the old Victrola.
Although Ed lived the typical small town life attending Sunday services and participating in school activities, destiny had plans for his future. While still in High School, a chance meeting brought the forces of Ed together with Bud Rehak. Seeing the talent and potential Ed had, Bud singed him to a contract, becoming his first manager. Around this time, shows popped up on television like American Bandstand, and sock hops became the rage at many schools and auditoriums. Capitalizing on this sock hop and rock and roll phenomenon, Bud booked Ed into numerous sock hops where he would start to hone his talents performing before an audience. With Ed singing abilities and Bud's accompaniments on piano at the sock hops, his local popularity with the teens took off whereby he was brought to the attention of a local disc jockey named Jim Ward.
Having a keen eye for talent, in 1961 DJ Jim Ward set up an interview for Ed with the hot Philadelphia label, Swan Records, whereupon they signed him immediately. Although Ed now had a valid record deal, it came with a stipulation, that his last name be changed. Although born Edward Fluri, it appears the powers that be at Swan Records were not confident in Fluri being a marketable name, henceforth Ed was re-christened Eddie Rambeau. Although his first effort, "Skin Diving'" was quite catchy and timely for 1961, it only had regional success, but enough to warrant more recordings for the Swan label. Swan, in the very early '60s, had been a staple on the national charts since late 1957, placing platters in the Top 40 by acts such as Billy and Lillie, Freddy Cannon, Danny & The Juniors and others.
"My Four Leaf Clover" was the next release for Ed, but once again, that too would gain only regional popularity. Ed's third release, "Summertime Guy" showed much promise and should have been his breakout hit with it's timed right for the season lyrics and catchy background music, but fate was about to pull a Joker out of it's deck of cards. In Chicago, Ed was literally minutes away from debuting the song on T.V. when he was summoned to the control booth. He was informed, that the song was pulled from broadcast and a replacement tune was needed now. When questioning this last minute decision, he was told that because Chuck Barris wrote the tune, and since Barris also worked for ABC Television, it would appear inappropriate for them to push the song on an ABC show. Not only was "Summertime Guy" pulled from ABC's Chicago affiliate, but every ABC T.V. broadcast nationwide, plus all radio stations that ABC had ties to.
With ABC's reasoning and action on "Summertime Guy", one is left to ponder why this didn't also apply to another Barris' penned tune called; "Palisades Park", also released on the Swan label. Although ABC pulled the plug on "Summertime Guy", it was resurrected a couple of years later by none other than Chuck Barris himself. As Chuck was making his rise through the ranks of ABC, he needed a theme song for a new game show he developed and was also producing. Not wanting a good tune to go to waste, Chuck took the background music of "Summertime Guy" and used it as the theme song for "The Newlywed Game".
Not one to give up after the "Summertime Guy" debacle, Ed struck gold with the next release, but this time as a writer. Ed, his writing partner, Bud Rehak, along with Frank Slay Jr. penned the infectious dance tune; "The Push And Kick". South Philly native, Mark Valentino, Swan Records' newest discovery, waxed the tune and it rode up the national charts to number 27 in December of 1962.
After a couple of more releases at Swan, including one where Ed was paired up with Marcy Jo, he would be parting ways shortly from the Philly label. While recording at Swan, Ed became more prolific with his writing with Bud Rehak and the legendary Bob Crewe. Crewe himself, a veritable rock and roll genius, had made his mark in the business early on with his work at Cameo/Parkway records with The Rays and at the tiny Swan label.
Much like the male teen idols of the late '50s and early '60s dominated the charts for a time, the girl group sound was now catching on fire, blazing up the charts. Bob Crewe, now at Chicago's Vee Jay label, was having some minor success with Tracy Dey and was virtually unstoppable with The Four Seasons, but another Crewe discovery would provide Ed with a Top 10 smash. Early 1964 saw the curvaceous blonde beauty, Diane Renay, take Ed, Bud Rehak and Bob Crewe's penned "Navy Blue" to the number 6 position nationally and number 1 position in various regional charts. At the height of the British Invasion frenzy, "Navy Blue" stayed on the national Top 40 charts for 8 weeks. Wisely, Ed and Bud Rehak had Diane follow "Navy Blue", with their tune; "Kiss Me, Sailor". Although it didn't fare as well as its predecessor, "Kiss Me, Sailor" made it to the number 29 position nationally and higher regionally. Another tune co-written by Ed called; "Soft-Spoken Guy" gave the record buying public a definite reason to play the flip side.
During his tenure at 20th Century Fox Records, Ed managed to cut a solid side called; "Come Closer" for the label. It was also around this time that 20th Century Fox lured Mary Wells away from Motown and brought in another writing staff. With Mary on Fox's priority list, other artists and writers seemed to fall by the wayside.
Ed's next move was over to the Amy, Mala, Bell conglomerate in New York. Not only was Amy, Mala, Bell gaining momentum with acts like Del Shannon, Adam Faith, and others, but Bob Crewe would soon have his own label, Dyno Voice, which they would distribute. Keeping in the girl group vein, Ed co-wrote a very catchy tune for Tracy Dey called; "Hanging On To My Baby", released on the Amy division. Although a solid number, and much in demand by collectors today, "Hanging On To My Baby" would only have regional impact.
A trend during this time period was for British Acts to cover tunes by American groups and watch them climb the U.S. charts. Some prime examples of this practice were: "Do Wah Diddy Diddy" by The Exciters, covered by Manfred Mann, "Sha La La" by The Shirelles, again, covered by Manfred Mann, "Don't Throw Your Love Away" by The Orlons, covered by The Searchers, "Go Now" by Bessie Banks, covered by The Moody Blues, "We Gotta Get Out Of This Place" by Barry Mann, covered by The Animals and "Twist And Shout" by The Isley Brothers, covered by The Beatles. With the practice of covering American tunes becoming even more predominant as 1965 rolled around, Ed was about to beat the British at their own game. In early '65 a tune, building momentum in the U.K., was brought to Ed's attention. With catchy lyrics and a smooth arrangement on the melody, Ed was about to rise up the charts with his version of "Concrete And Clay". Released in early summer of 1965, Ed's version competed with the British based band named Unit 4+2, who also wrote "Concrete And Clay"Both versions of the tune went neck and neck with each hitting the Top 40.
With "Concrete And Clay" a solidified hit for Ed, he made numerous T.V. appearances on various shows including two on the very popular ABC show Shindig. His first appearance included "Concrete And Clay" and also its follow-up release, "My Name Is Mud". For Ed's second appearance, still very much in demand, "Concrete And Clay" was performed once again followed by his new release at the time, "The Train". Hearing it today, one has to wonder, for it's time, why "The Train" didn't fare well, but unfortunately no logical answers can be ascertained for that. Aside from Shindig, Ed also was booked on Dick Clark's "Where The Action Is" along with the "Upbeat" show.
Aside from keeping up with his own recording career, Ed also kept up with his penning of tunes for other artists including Frank Sinatra Jr. and The Four Seasons. One prime example of Ed's writing was a tune for Dee Dee Sharp called "Deep Dark Secret". Today, "Deep Dark Secret" is a highly sought after disc, especially for Northern Soul aficionados. Anyone, even those with limited dancing skills, would be hard-pressed from moving their feet to the grinding beat of this classic.
After only a few short years having successful releases with Ed, The Toys and Mitch Ryder, Bob Crewe closed up shop at Dyno Voice when Amy, Mala and Bell evolved into just Bell Records, (now known as Arista Records). Bob moved on opening Crewe Records with artists such as Oliver and Lesley Gore, whereas Ed stayed on ushering out the '60s and into the '70s by signing to the "new" Bell Records.
While it was to be a short tenure at Bell, it was in many ways Ed's decision as he was about to change direction in his career. Although two records were released under the moniker of Eddie Rambeau, a third was released under the name, Eddie Hazelton, most likely drawing the new last name from his hometown and high school. This turning point, third release, was a version of "Good Morning Starshine" from the Broadway play, "Hair". It was around this time that Ed took a hiatus from his singing career and threw himself into writing and producing for others full time.
The music industry, like any other, had some major changes as the 1970s progressed. As the'70s were shifting into high gear, the sound of the '60s was now just a passing memory. Where the British Invasion, Motown Sound, Girl Groups and Surfer Boys once rode the charts past the mid '60s and the infiltration of the dazed message and protest songs which dominated the charts at the end of the decade, the'70s saw the industry promoting new sounds that were at complete opposite ends of the spectrum, "Disco" and the growing "Hard Rock" movement.
With Disco's upbeat and danceable rhythms, Ed welcomed the sound of the '70's with open arms. Although Ed has many excellent '70s productions under his belt, one most memorable one was from a local group he discovered from the New York Area. After hearing the group's performance, noting their talent and potential, Ed put the wheels in motion signing them to his management company and polishing up their act. His first move was to come up with a new name for the group, whereby he christened them, "The Front Runners". Ed secured a deal for the group with fairly new, Tom Cat Records. It appeared at the time that Tom Cat was a wise choice for the groups debut disc, after all, they recently signed Ronnie Spector, had Jimmy Wisner producing some tracks at the label, and they were distributed by RCA. With a deal in hand and keeping their vocal style in mind, he re-worked the Toni Fisher classic, "The Big Hurt" into a swirling disco beat anthem. For the flip of the group's first disc, Ed penned a mover titled: "Lullaby Brazil". Now with a finished product, the group's debut disc was released, receiving very good reviews, not to mention repeated plays at Discos from coast to coast. With all signs indicating a sure fire hit for "The Front Runners", they along with the other artists at Tom Cat were about to have the rug pulled out from under them. As quickly as Tom Cat Records opened shop, their doors were shuttered just as fast, leaving all their artists and producers in the lurch. After things went awry at Tom Cat Records, Ed continued on writing and producing other artists at various labels for a time, but he would soon be setting his sights on yet another facet of the entertainment field, acting.
Having a bit of an adventurous side with a very outgoing personality, Ed, lined up with other thespians in hopes of landing an acting role. For Ed, it seemed that he was a natural for adapting himself for the character roles he auditioned for as he was picked up almost immediately for his first role on stage. Over time, Ed found himself appearing in numerous plays both on and off Broadway. Just a few short years before he recorded "Good Morning Starshine", then after breaking into acting, Ed ironically landed a role in the cast of the long running play, "Hair"!
For some time Ed was a staple in the theatres, but never one for complacency, another aspect of this man's talents was about to emerge. Ed started dabbling in painting and found that others were quick to snap up his works of art. With his newfound success in the art field, he also got into photography with a vengeance, whereas before he was able to capture a moment in a song, he was now able to capture moments on canvas and film. Today, Ed resides in New York and travels the world over performing, needless to say, Ed's camera is never too far off for to him capture the essence of the places he visits. Aside from performing around the world, he is still very active in the studio with many releases under his belt over the past few years.
Whether referring to Ed's singing, writing, acting, painting or photography; his many talents know no boundaries.