Liz Damon's Orient Express
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Liz Damon's Orient Express was a 1970s band from Hawaii, featuring lead singer Liz Damon, two female backup singers and a rotating backup band. The name apparently derived from the original backup band being entirely Asian. Their only song to make the Billboard Hot 100 Top 40 was "1900 Yesterday", which made it to #33 on the U.S. and #15 on the Canadian charts in early 1971. Most impressively, it peaked at #4 on Billboard's Easy Listening survey.
Damon's backup singers on the 1970 album At the Garden Bar, Hilton Hawaiian Village were her sister Edda Damon and Sydette Sakauye. In the early 1970s, Sakauye left and was replaced by Meri McPherson. While the Damon sisters and McPherson appeared to be constants, their backup band appeared to undergo numerous personnel changes.
Meri McPherson married Native Hawaiian activist and Kamehameha Schools classmate Kela M. Whifa after leaving the group in 1984. He was the inspiration for the Sons of Hawaii hit song "Kela Mea Whifa" written about a Maui sugar mill. McPherson also sang back-up for a few years with the Cowsills.
Currently, the band has reformed and is on the "Liz Damon and the Orient Express" Facebook page.
Performances and recording
The band was the house band at the Garden Bar at the Hilton Hawaiian Village for 18 months and recorded its first album, At the Garden Bar, Hilton Hawaiian Village in 1970. Originally released on Makaha Records, it was then picked up by White Whale Records, who released it as an eponymous album and also released "1900 Yesterday" as a single.
Liz Damon's Orient Express released Burt Bacharach's "Loneliness Remembers (What Happiness Forgets)" for the Anthem label in late 1971, and it became their second and last US chart single, and the only charted version of that song, which was originally recorded by Dionne Warwick.
The group released three more albums during the 1970s consisting mostly of covers. In 1979, the group released a comedy album. During the late 1970s, the band moved to Las Vegas, Nevada where they performed until their breakup in the mid-1980s.
Only Liz Damon's Orient Express is available in print today, although "1900 Yesterday" appears on some compilations of 1970s mellow music.
- Liz Damon's Orient Express (1970) (also At the Garden Bar, Hilton Hawaiian Village)
- Try a Little Tenderness (1970) (aka Liz Damon's Orient Express II, Anthem Records)
- Me Japanese Boy (I Love You), Delilah Records (1973)
- Heaven in My Heart (1978) (also released as Cartan Tours Presents Liz Damon's Orient Express as an advertising record for Cartan's packaged Hawaiian tours.)
- Warning: This Album Could be Hazardous to Your Ego! (1979)
- "1900 Yesterday" (1971) from Liz Damon's Orient Express
- "But For Love" (1971) from Liz Damon's Orient Express
- "Loneliness Remembers" (1971) from Liz Damon's Orient Express II
- "All In All" (1971) from Liz Damon's Orient Express II