Dave "Baby" Cortez
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|Dave "Baby" Cortez|
|Birth name||David Cortez Clowney|
August 13, 1938 |
|Oral History, Dave Cortez reflects on his first hit record." Interview date November 14, 2012, NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) Oral History Library|
Clowney attended Northwestern High School in Detroit. His father played the piano, and encouraged him to pursue a musical career. Clowney played the piano for 10 years, then he took up the organ.
Clowney made his first record in 1956 under his own name but it was not until three years later that he scored a major success using the stage name Dave "Baby" Cortez. His instrumental, "The Happy Organ", was the first pop/rock hit to feature the electronic organ as lead instrument; it featured drummer Gary Hammond and was co-written by noted celebrity photographer James J. Kriegsmann and frequent collaborator Kurt Wood. The guitar solo is by session musician Wild Jimmy Spruill. The 45 rpm single was the first instrumental No. 1 on Billboard magazine's Hot 100 chart. Before making his big break with an instrumental record, Clowney had sung with two doo-wop groups, the Pearls and the Valentines.
Cortez had another Top Ten hit in 1962 with "Rinky Dink" on Chess Records. This record became well known in the UK as the signature tune of the Saturday afternoon programme Professional Wrestling, introduced by Kent Walton, although few knew the name of the tune or the artist. The song has a strong resemblance to 1957's "Love Is Strange" by Mickey & Sylvia, since it used the same guitar riff.
In 2011, after a 39-year hiatus from recording, Cortez returned with a new album on Norton Records backed by Lonnie Youngblood and His Bloodhounds, including underground luminary Mick Collins of the Dirtbombs and the Gories.
- Dave "Baby" Cortez and His Happy Organ (RCA Records, 1959)
- Dave "Baby" Cortez (Clock Records, 1960)
- The Fabulous Organ of Dave "Baby" Cortez (Metro Records, 1960)
- Music 'Round the Clock (Clock, 1961)
- Rinky Dink (Chess Records, 1962)
- Organ Shindig (Roulette Records, 1965)
- Tweety Pie (Roulette, 1966)
- In Orbit with Dave "Baby" Cortez (Roulette, 1966)
- Baby Cortez the Isley Brothers Way (T-Neck Records, 1970)
- Soul Vibration (All Platinum Records, 1972)
- With Lonnie Youngblood and His Bloodhounds (Norton Records, 2011)
- "The Happy Organ" (Clock, 1959)
- "The Whistling Organ" (Clock, 1959)
- "Hurricane" (Clock, 1960)
- "Rinky Dink" (Chess, 1962)
- "Happy Weekend" (Chess, 1962)
- "Hot Cakes" (Chess, 1963)
- "Organ Shout" (Chess 1963)
- "Count Down" (Roulette, 1966)