Wren Radio

(Frank) And, we’re back. Now, you know, we’ve talked about every now and then that I am with WREN, wrenradio.net, which plays the oldies of the 50s, 60s and early 70s. And I’m a disc jockey there on the weekends. And the thing is, is what we have found out when we’ve been doing the show, is that there is a lot of talent from Kansas that is either a performer, or a composer. And the thing is, well big deal, every state has that. But think about this, there are 3 million people that live in the state of Kansas, so per capita we have a lot of people… (Deb) We sure do. (Frank)…that have been and are currently in the entertainment industry. (Deb) We sure do. (Frank) I mean, we’ve got…where we do this show, today we’re in the shadow of the Capitol as you can see. Rick Kready, who is the manager of this place, his son of course, is on Broadway. Did you know that? Jeff Kready. (Deb) And we will do a segment on Jeff, I promise. (Frank) Yes, we will. (Deb) We’re gonna do it. Cause that boy deserves his own segment. I promise we’ll get to that one. (Frank) So anyway, we’ve done opera singers. We’ve done soap opera actors. And now, we’re gonna do another composer. And I’m not gonna give it away because it’s kind of like one of those, oh Paul Harvey’s, now you know the rest of the story. It’s about a composer and a friend of yours I believe, the son of this composer. (Deb) The son of…that’s right. (Frank) And he happened to write a very, very famous song. (Deb) She…she. (Frank) She yea, she did. (Deb) She wrote the lyrics to the song. (Frank) Right. You want to do this story? (Deb) –Laughs– (Frank) Anyway, it is a fun story and wait for the end of it, when it’s like and now it’s the rest of the story. (Deb) You know, maybe we could just do that. Paul Harvey’s gone, we can do that. (Frank) Yea, we can do it. (Deb) We can just do it. (Frank) I don’t think it’s copyrighted. So, anyway… (Deb) Maybe not. Everything we do is like the rest of the story, you know. There’s so many cool connections. I was just over at the Kansas Humanities Council talking with Murl Riedel over there and we were talking about…you know they find a lot of really cool things all over the state. And you know, you think you’ve got a handle on it, you think you know everything, and then all of a sudden it’s like, wow, I had no idea. You start connecting the dots and putting everybody together. And it’s just amazing. And yea, this next story… (Frank) Now, I will kind of give you a hint. You probably most know this song because Connie Francis had a big, big hit of it, it’s called, My Happiness. Take a look. Lou & Betty Blasco met while working at Jenkins Music in Kansas City many decades ago. At that time, Jenkins was a midwestern dynasty with stores in five states and a thriving music publishing arm. Lou was also a musician who performed in the famed Coon Sanders Nighthawks, an early Kansas City jazz band. He had an eye for talent, too, and it was Lou who convinced Decca Records to sign two unknown artists – Count Basie and the Andrews Sisters. After Lou and Betty married, they decided to start their own publishing business. One of Lou’s properties was a melody written by a local bandleader years earlier and in 1947 he asked his wife to pen some lyrics to go along with the tune. The talented singer/songwriter did just that and Lou recorded a duo performing the song later that year. On the flip side was a forgettable novelty song, which the recording label was pushing. Thankfully, a DJ mocked it in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; flipped the record over and played, My Happiness. It spent fifteen weeks in the top 10 and was named the Song of the Year by Cashbox Magazine in 1948. It also demonstrated that an independent record label could find success in a business dominated by big labels like RCA and Capitol. Lou and Betty built their dream home in the new suburb of Leawood with the royalties from that song, but the story was far from over. On July 18, 1953, an 18-year-old truck driver paid about four bucks to make a demo record at the Memphis Recording Service. He chose his mother’s favorite song, My Happiness. At that time, a young Elvis Presley was a few years from immortality and the Blascos had no way of knowing that their song would launch one of the most incredible careers in music. Sadly, Lou passed away from cancer in 1954 before seeing the success of Elvis, or Connie Francis, or any number of artists who covered the song. In time, My Happiness would be recorded by Bing Crosby, Jim Reeves, Fats Domino, Frank Sinatra, and Chris Isaak, and many, many more. Betty passed away peacefully in 2006, and Lou and Betty were inducted into the Kansas Music Hall of Fame in 2008.