Jazz sex kitten Ann Richards posing for Playboy magazine in 1961
It was a night of technical hitches a-go go! Like I’ve said before the decks and controls for the lights, etc in the DJ booth at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern are as complicated as the control panels of a helicopter! When I was setting up the venue's manager was kindly helping and somehow the dry ice machine got accidentally switched on – and then we couldn’t work out how to turn it off again. Dry ice kept billowing out, filling the whole venue with thick smoke. Finally he had to phone someone to instruct him how to switch it off. Mercifully it was all resolved before punters started arriving: I was thinking we’d need to fling open all the doors to air the place out, but by the time people arrived there wasn’t even a hint of grey mist.
Later one of the performers realised she’d brought the wrong CD for her number and she couldn’t dance without it. She had the song on her iPod but try as we might we couldn’t get any audio when we tried to play her iPod through the decks – nightmare. And none of my music was suitable for her act. To her eternal credit, at the last minute she did a whole other routine based around the music she did bring and really saved things – and the audience was none the wiser.
Otherwise: a great night. The crowd was up for it, the two featured burlesque performers (Sophia St Villier and Marianne Cheesecake) were both seasoned Dr Sketchy veterans, and Ophelia Bitz emceed again in her inimitably sassy and casual way.
Early on I eased into things (and calmed my frazzled nerves!) with some lounge, Fifties Cool Jazz and Latin exotica – as the night progressed the music got sleazier and more raucous. I had to play a Juliette Greco track (the classic “La Javanaise”, written for her by Serge Gainsbourg) because some friends and I went to see the legendary Parisian beatnik chanteuse's breathtaking concert at The Royal Festival Hall on 21 November – that merits its own blog, which I'll try do soon.
I’m a sucker for obscure jazz and blues singers with tragic life stories. Sick, I know. Someone who definitely fits that bill (and who I play on a regular basis at Dr Sketchy) is the beautiful and talented but doomed 1950s jazz vocalist and sex kitten Ann Richards. As a rising starlet under the wing of her husband, big band jazz leader Stan Kenton, Richards seemed destined for great things. But while she emerged from the same 1950s cool jazz style of singing as Julie London and June Christy, Richards sadly never quite achieved their level of stardom. After her marriage to Kenton ended her career began to circle the drain: posing for Playboy magazine in 1961 to promote her Ann, Man! album backfired, leading to scandal rather than reviving interest in her career. From there Richards succumbed to depression and alcoholism (although apparently never stopped performing, singing in jazz clubs in Los Angeles) until she died aged 46 in 1982 of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Thankfully her music lives on and her reputation has been rehabilitated. Ann Richards deserved a lot better, and I highly recommend her sultry, swinging Ann, Man! album (from which her finger-snapping rendition of the Dinah Washington standard “Evil Gal Blues” comes from). See more pics from Richards's Playboy spread here.
Hurt - Timi Yuro I Remember You - Chet Baker Playboy's Theme - Cy Coleman Life Is But a Dream - The Harptones One for My Baby (And One More for the Road) - Marlene Dietrich Exotique Bossa Nova / Quiet Village Bossa Nova - Martin Denny La Javanaise - Juliette Greco Requiem pour un Twister - Serge Gainsbourg Mack the Knife - Hildegard Knef Blues for Beatniks - John Barry (Beat Girl soundtrack) Besame Mucho - Betty Reilly Eso - Conjunto TNT Kiss Me Honey Honey - The Delmonas Tonight You Belong to Me - Patience and Prudence Honey Rock - Barney Kessel Somebody Buy Me a Drink - The Earls of Suave Honey's Lovin' Arms - Robert Mitchum Little Things Mean a Lot - Jayne Mansfield I Love the Life I Live - Esquerita Save It - Mel Robbins A Week from Tuesday - The Pastels I Would If I Could - Ruth Brown Nosey Joe - Bull Moose Jackson Interlude - Sarah Vaughan Harlem Nocturne - The Viscounts Honeysuckle Rose - Lena Horne Mack the Knife - Bill Black's Combo Falling in Love Again - Billie Holiday You're My Thrill - Chet Bake (instrumental version) Everybody Loves My Baby - Brigitte Bardot The Boulevard of Broken Dreams - Sam Butera No Love for Daddy - Serge Gainsbourg I'm in Love Again - Lizabeth Scott I Feel So Mmmm - Diana Dors She Acts Like a Woman Should - Marilyn Monroe Blondie's Strip - John Barry (Beat Girl soundtrack) The Beast - Milt Buckner Mack the Knife - Eartha Kitt (you can never play too many versions of Mack the Knife) Baubles, Bangles and Beads - Marlene Dietrich Some Small Chance - Serge Gainsbourg (Strip-Tease soundtrack) Lovin' Spree - Ann-Margret Begin the Beguine - Billy Fury Desfinado - Si Zentner Blockade - The Rumblers Bacon Fat - Andre Williams You Can't Stop Her - Bobby Marchan Cherry Wine - Little Esther Tuxedo Junction - Bill Black Combo Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby? Dinah Washington Evil Gal Blues - Ann Richards The Stripper - John Barry (Beat Girl soundtrack) Night Train - Alvino Rey Drums A Go Go - The Hollywood Persuaders Fever - Timi Yuro Blue Kat - Chuck Rio & The Originals Summertime - Little Esther Revelion - The Revels The Girl Can't Help It - Little Richard Chattanooga Choo Choo - Denise Darcel Jungle Drums - Earl Bostick I Put a Spell on You - Nina Simone Stop and Listen - Mickey and Ludella Drive Daddy Drive - Little Sylvia Bewildered - Shirley & Lee I'll Upset You Baby - Lula Reed Stranger in My Own Hometown - The Earls of Suave
The titty shaker du jour:
Don't miss out! Keep track of upcoming Dr Sketchy's here.