Here’s a week’s worth of Fazzios as posted daily on the Crown Facebook. The Fazzios are a series of 1963-1964 Crown LPs meant to be in the style that other labels were releasing at the time which featured portraits of recording artists on the covers. Of course Crown was budget so Bihari eschewed liner notes and each side featured 5 instead of the normal 6 cuts.
This much we know about Fazzio: He bought frames and canvases at Turner’s frame shop on 7th in what was formerly an arts district, near the Chouinard Art Institute (the original Cal Arts). The Fazzio covers started out a photographic images on fiber board that were painted over. The fiber board texture is often evident on the faces which Fazzio colored. He filled in backgrounds with prominent brush strokes while clothes and other features ended up blurred and messy. All were signed by Fazzio’s now famous signature.
If you’d like to own an original Fazzio used on many of these Crown LP covers, Russ & Sherree over at their vintage shop in Lomita, CA have an incredible collection of the original Fazzios. Stop by their shop and see for yourself. They’re great, friendly folk.
Started out (day 46) with this iconic 1963 Crown: Ike Turner on a Fazzio cover. Turner was Bihari’s main A&R man in the great early days of the label while Fazzio was Bihari’s schlockiest cover artist in the budget era. This LP features several outstanding and raw cuts with gritty distorted guitar work including Hey Miss Tina, Bayou Rock & The Blues All The Time, a long cut in which Turner & the band mimic different blues guitar styles including BB King & Elmore James.
Day 47 – This 1963 John Lee Hooker Fazzio was one of my first Crown purchases from a used bookshop in Berkeley, 1969. Hooker sides were recorded in Detroit between 1948 & 1952 by Bernie Besman who started leasing Hooker cuts to Modern as early as 1948. About 1952 Joe Bihari took over recording Hooker in Detroit. Much more info on Hooker’s life & discography at this site by Clous Rohnish which you can download as a PDF. Highly recommended for fans of Hooker.
Day 48. Marvin Phillips first teamed up with Jessie Belvin, a bon fide Bihari hit maker who was unfortunately killed in a car crash in 1960. Marvin teamed up with several Johnnys including Johnny Dean, Emory Perry & Willie Egans. These are all Bihari recordings from the mid-1950s.
CST 469 CST 355
A budget posting 2 for 1 Fazzio listing on day 49: Bihari cropped the original 1963 Fazzio for a second 1964 Jimmy Smith release, teaming some Don Gardner/J. Smith cuts w/a different artist, The Arthur Glenn Quartet.
Drummer Don Gardner was a Philly native whose early band featured Jimmy Smith and a guitarist named Thornel Schwartz, nicknamed “Grid Grind Puts. Several cuts on CST 355 feature tough guitar work including a tight version of Bill Doggett’s Honky Tonk. These Crown cuts might have been leased to Bihari from Bruce Record singles recorded in Philly though who knows? He later recorded with Dee Dee Ford, Baby Washington & others. Bill Davis is probably Wild Bill Davis, an organ player who bridged swing & 50’s jazz scenes. The LP featuring Arthur Glenn has a more tasteful feel throughout. Can’t find a word about Arthur Glenn.
Day 50–R&B singer Chuck Jackson (bit of a crooner) was a member of the Del-Vikings, left on a solo recording career, first to sing Burt Bacharach-Hal Davis songs and still performs today. Young Jessie also had a long solo career and sang with the Coasters when he was through with Modern. The cuts here are rockin’ featuring Mickey Baker (probably) on guitar and includes his hit Mary Lou.
Day 51. This 1964 Nat King Cole/Lester Young LP features post war recordings & overlaps cuts on Aladdin releases so not sure if this is original Bihari recordings. These same cuts are featured on several other Crown & Modern jazz LPs. Lots of critical praise for this pairing but the overall sound on these measly five cuts put me to sleep.
Day 52. Good pairing here of blues belters with Nelson being inspired to sing by hearing Joe Turner in an Oakland bar. Belting bartender Joe Turner was such a prolific recording artist that it may be impossible to know if he actually recorded these cuts for Crown which features a couple live recordings. Jimmy Nelson sang with Joe Liggins & others, and these cuts are all singles released on RPM and other Bihari labels in the early 1950’s.
Day 53. Fazzio “paints” a lovely portrait of Little Richard singing gospel songs on Sunday’s Fazzio posting. Little Richard was switching labels at the time and recorded these numbers for Bihari in the 1963. The recordings feature typical gospel organ, piano and a doo wop-style choir backing Richard. He does a credible job singing gospel but sad to say his voice here is never going to inspire me to seek salvation.