Los Angeles-based Cary Baker's Conqueroo is one of the go-to publicity firms for folks in the roots-music game. Baker grew up in Chicago and has been instrumental in keeping the memory of a number of old-time Chicago bluesmen like Arvella Gray's memory and music alive. His earliest song memory:
"My first song memory was 'This Diamond Ring,' by Gary Lewis & the Playboys," Baker says. "My parents were staunch classical-music fans who played Chicago's then three classical stations in their car. But I was in a Sunday School carpool and the other parents rocked WLS and WCFL, the city's Top 40 stations. I just remember liking the whole sound of the record - the riff, the teenage, slightly flat vocals, the lyrics.
"I'd heard the Beatles, but oddly the day I heard 'This Diamond Ring,' I found myself compelled to find out more about rock and roll, which led to my subsequent explorations of blues, soul and country, and a lifelong jones for all things music to this day. Only later did I find out that Al Kooper co-wrote the song and Leon Russell was the producer."
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Nick Tremulis, leader of the Nicolas Tremulis Orchestra is another Chicagoan with deep roots in the Windy City's music scene, having grown up in a musical family. Tremulis, who has a radio show with punk pioneer/painter Jon Langford, recalls his earliest music memory:
"I asked my mom, and she said 'Spanish Harlem' made me freak out before I was walking. That would have been around 1961 or '62, so it could have been either Ben E. King or the Drifters version, I'm not sure."