Now it can be told (or actually, it was already told in the pages of 16 Magazine)!
John Fred formed his first Playboy Band in 1956. They made their first recording three years later. But John would have to wait another nine years before he finally recorded a hit record. It was a monster hit, but alas, it would be his only hit.
John Fred grew up in the Baton Rouge area of Louisiana listening to the local music scene, especially Fats Domino. At 15, he started playing at weekend dances. His group attracted enough attention that he was offered a record contract with the small Montel label. His first session in New Orleans actually saw him recording in the same studio as his idol, Fats Domino. Unfortunately, the early recordings of John Fred and His Playboy Band never got any airplay outside of his home state.
So, John put his musical career on hold and attended Southern Louisiana College on a basketball scholarship. He graduated in 1964, formed a new Playboy Band and hit the road.
1968 found the group playing Florida. At one gig, one of the guys in the band was trying to hustle a young girl in the crowd who was sporting those large sunglasses that were popular that year. Unfortunately for him, when she removed the glasses, well, let’s just say the lad was very disappointed. John thought the situation was hilarious. So, he started writing a song about it with his fellow bandmate Andrew Bernard. They quickly veered into grabbing pop culture references at random, including bits from TV commercials and more. The took their inspiration for the title from the Beatles’ “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.” And that’s how “Judy in Disguise (With Glasses)” was born. The song was a sensation, rocketing all the way to a 2-week stay at #1! It turned out to be a mixed blessing as John Fred and his band never managed to record another hit record, despite multiple attempts.
We’re not sure what happened to the rest of the band, but John himself went on to a long career behind the scenes in the music business as well as playing occasional live gigs.
Stevie Nicks’ song “Landslide,” recorded by Fleetwood Mac, has been a fan favorite since it appeared on the band’s breakthrough album in 1975. But it had been written two years before.
The first (and only) Buckingham Nicks album had come out and was met by massive indifference. The duo had been dropped by their label (Polydor) and had gone to Aspen so that Lindsey Buckingham could rehearse for a tour with Don Everly. This was during the time that the Everly Brothers had split up and Lindsey was recruited to take Phil’s place.
When Don and Lindsey hit the road, Stevie stayed behind to contemplate whether she wanted to continue with her music career. It was during this time that she wrote “Landslide” about her decision to stay with music.
As Stevie herself tells it: “So, during that two months, I made a decision to continue. ‘Landslide’ was the decision. ‘When you see my reflection in the snow-covered hills’—it’s the only time in my life that I’ve lived in the snow. But looking up at those Rocky Mountains and going, ‘Okay, we can do it. I’m sure we can do it.’”
And she was right. Within a year, Mick Fleetwood had heard their debut album and had called the pair with an invitation to join Fleetwood Mac. They were paid the princely sum of $800 a week, each. Within another year, their contributions would complete Mac’s evolution from British blues band to international pop sensations.
1969: The Jimi Hendrix Experience plays their last gig, appearing for the final time at the Denver Pop Festival.