Saturday, August 15, 2009

WITCH DOCTOR - JOHNNY 'SCAT' BROWN

Lee Gordon was an entrepreneur and recording artist who left America to set up shop in Oz. Johnny O’Keefe was one of his major acts. Lee set up an Oz record company called Leedon.

Amongst Leedon’s early releases were a couple of foreign singles credited to the mysterious Johnny 'Scat' Brown: "Indeed I Do" and "Mama Rock". The flip sides of both records were performed by totally different artists despite the fact the b-side of "Indeed I Do" also listed Johnny 'Scat' Brown as the singer. The performer of "Little Star", the flip of "Mama Rock" was shown as Moon Rockets, another mystery act.

"Indeed I Do" and "Mama Rock" had been recorded in the USA, featuring vocals performed by an Elvis Presley sound-alike singer, Johnny Powers. The singer's identity was unknown to Leedon staff at the time, as the tapes had been sent to them from the USA by Lee Gordon without any recording details. As a result, company manager Alan Heffernan created the pseudonym
Johnny 'Scat' Brown.

These singles had been preceded by another Leedon single also billed to Johnny 'Scat' Brown which featured cover versions of current American chart hits, Sheb Wooley's "Purple People Eater" and David Seville's "Witch Doctor". However, after listening to the tracks it is evident this first Johnny 'Scat' Brown single release is a completely different artist as he has a slight lisp in places.

Some of these singles were released locally in the face of 'embargo' restrictions placed on them by publishing companies such as Chappell Music. In the picture you’ll note there is a duty stamp from this publishing company attached to the label.

According to former Leedon employee Max Moore, Heffernan's cousin discovered decades later (the 1970s), that although there was a real Johnny 'Scat' Brown performing in the USA, the person who had recorded "Indeed I Do" and "Mama Rock" was indeed noted rockabilly artist Johnny Powers. Johnny's CD of greatest hits is still available in America as I write, which includes the aforesaid singles.

A decent copy of the vinyl 45 rpm of "Witch Doctor" currently sells for about $40A. Here for free is a download of "Witch Doctor" and "Purple People Eater" by the anonymous singer working under the name of
Johnny 'Scat' Brown:

"Witch Doctor"

http://rapidshare.com/files/267621997/johnny__scat__brown_-_witch_doctor__vinyl_tom_mix_.mp3

"Purple People Eater"

http://rapidshare.com/files/267627571/johnny__scat__brown_-_purple_people_eater__vinyl_tom_mix_.mp3

Dedication:
Mike, one of our long term family friends died suddenly today 15-8-2009 aged 53 leaving his wife to cope with not only his loss but the loss of her own father 3 days before. It is with reverence I leave this message of love and support for Rose M. our dear friend and her 2 sons - Tom & Liz.

4 comments:

  1. Thanks Tom for these - had them in my collection(plus the other Leedon "Phantom Tracks")many years ago.

    I cant imagine the degree of trauma and sorrow in your friend's household - I also offer a message of support

    JohnG

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  2. I cannot believe that someone has posted a copy of the Witch Doctor/Purple People Eater...I have fond memories of the track from an early age as it was in my mother's record collection...I also remember it for another reason, it was the first record I broke!!! I remember my mum going apeshit over it (quite rightly!) and I still feel the shame all these years later....maybe I should send her this MP3 and ask her if she remembers my act of unintended kiddie carnage!

    One good thing came out of it, from the age of six/seven I have always had a huge reverence for the fragile nature of vinyl ;)

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  3. Tom

    Thanks for the link to Witch Doctor - Johnny 'Scat' Brown, but I think it needs refreshing.

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  4. The recording of "Witch Doctor" on Aussie Festival by Johnny Scat Brown was released on the u.s. Bell Record label as by Jerry Ash #80

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