Steff, the Remains and Buddy Greco ?!?
Listen – Steff – Where Did She Go – MP3
I hope hat everyone has recovered from the Halloween festivities and is ready for a new week.
First off, it behooves me to direct you over to the mothership, i.e. Funky16Corners where the fifth anniversary of its foundation in the blog-o-mosphere is being celebrated this week with not one, but two new mixes of Beatles covers in the soul/funk/jazz bag. If it weren’t for the old F16C, Iron Leg would likely never have gotten out of the starting gate, so take a moment to stop by and soak up the good vibes, then come on back.
The tune I bring you today is yet another fantastic example of record-related serendipity.
I recently bid on and won a large lot of 45s (more than 200) , so that I might get my hands on one specific record that had eluded me for a long, long time. I paid no more for the lot than I would have if presented with a copy of said record, and figured that everything I got on top of that disc would be, in the argot of the streets, “gravy”.
And what a lot of gravy it was. In addition to the one psych 45 I picked up a grip of soul and funk 45s as well as a couple of very interesting pop/rock things.
One of those records – not coincidentally today’s selection – is one that was completely unknown to me. When I’m going through stacks of 45s in a situation like this, I make three distinct stacks:
Unknown records that require further examination (like today’s record)
I even make a second trip through the garbage just to make sure I’m not missing anything.
When I return to the ‘unknown’ stack, more often than not about 80% of the records end up in the garbage. Any record collector worth their salt will let you know that not everything that looks interesting is interesting, and conversely, sometimes the least interesting looking things turn out to be quite good.
Case in point: Steff.
When I saw the Steff 45 in the stack, my first instinct was to assume that it was a girl singer. However, the catalog number on the Epic 45 put it somewhere in the mid-60s, so I put it aside and continued digging.
When I finally dropped the needle on ‘Where Did She Go’ I was gobsmacked to hear a beat-cum-freakbeat guitar riff opening the song, followed by the accented voice of a male singer with a little bit of a growl in his voice. The verse was a little bit rougher than the melodic chorus, but I was digging the tune, a lot.
I set out upon the interwebs to see what I might dig up on Steff, and ultimately the answer was “not much”.
However, among the few tantalizing bits I was able to discover was the picture of Steff you see above (next to the Remains and Buddy Greco (?!?) from a trade magazine ad. ‘Where Did She Go’ was apparently released in late 1965 and even charted regionally in the American south.
Steff’s last name was Sulke, and as far as I can tell he hailed from Germany. He released at least two 45s on Epic, and another two (under his full name) on Dial, all of which – for some strange reason – charted in Louisville, Kentucky.
As I said before, ‘Where Did She Go’ straddles the beat era, edging right up into the beginnings of the freakbeat sound without diving into it whole hog. That said it’s a very groovy slice of pop and I hope you dig it as much as I do.
NOTE 1/2/10: I just got this info via comments from DJ Sam Hale:
“It’s a pleasure to have found this site and again hear Steff’s “turntable hit” that scored well in Atlanta and a few other markets. At that time, I was a DJ at WQXI, then, the leading station in ATL. Stephan Sulke was visiting his (deceased) father’s sister in ATL and, through connections at her company, had arranged for Steff to get a “tour” of our station. It so happened that I was the one to greet him. As we talked, I learned of some initial success he had had as a youngster in Europe and he played me some of his new material.
Buddy Killen was a friend of mine in Nashville, a former “bull fiddle” player on the “Grand Ole Opry” that Jack Stapp had hired to work his growing music catalog at his publishing firm — Tree. He also was a talented writer himself, and was involved in the early success of many artists that recorded in Nashville, including Roger Miller, whose songs Tree published. (It’s Buddy’s fingers you hear snapping on “King of the Road”). I phoned Buddy and asked him to call the “A” players for a session which we did at the Columbia studios. A day later I got an urgent call from Buddy saying that Billy Sherrill (Nashville A&R Director) for Epic wanted them. I transferred the rights to Epic for the $3,500 the session had cost me on the promise they would work the records. I personally purchased a full page ad in BILLBOARD and Epic gave Steff shared space on several ads they ran for a few weeks.
Steff returned for a second session at Epic with Billy and Buddy but, when there
was no further build-up on the initial excitement of “Where Did She Go”, they did not release any further cuts (and there were at least a couple of great ones in the can).
Had Steff stayed in the states for a while, I’m confident he would have made it here but he determined to build his own studio in Switzerland from which he developed several great records for the European markets and, to this day, is still doing well.
He had sent me several sides cut in Switzerland which we placed on DIAL (the early note is correct that Buddy had developed Dial and a distributiion deal through Atlantic for Joe Tex, with whom he generated many hits. FOREVER by the Little Dippers was also Buddy’s — he wrote and recorded it at the end of another session when there was still time on the session clock to have the background singers do it. “Sugar
Lips” by Al Hurt was also his composition. Unfortunately, he died fairly quickly from a pancreatic cancer diagnosis a couple of years ago.
‘hope this helps. Cordially, /s/ Sam Hale
P.S. As to the Dial record’s charting in Louisville — Terrell Metheny (Mitch Michael) was PD and a dear friend. We had worked together in Nashville and ATL, and later in Milwaukee. /sh”