[This post was substantially updated after finding and researching a 1973 album recorded by Pete Brady – “Sing Me A Smile”, which was previously undocumented in all the usual places.]
In this first post looking at albums from Creed Taylor’s specialty recording period, between 1956 and early 1961, I am going to take at look at one half of this lineup, Peter Brady. I’ll look at the Blazers, the kings of the “drinking songs” separately.
As far as I’m aware, this was Brady’s only recording with Creed Taylor. However, around this time there were many albums that didn’t contain any credits, let alone full credits. It is more than likely Brady may have sung backing vocals on other albums. As I found out, Pete went on to record later in the 1960’s, with some fanfare, for Capitol Records. In fact, Brady was still performing and recording in 2011, when he made a rather good, big band Christmas album. As always, if you have any information about Pete Brady, please leave a comment or get in touch!
Pete Brady And The Blazers – Murder Ballads
Label: ABC-Paramount – ABC-310, ABCS-310
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album, Mono/Stereo
If your browser supports play while scrolling, press play and read-on. This is the complete album I put together to accompany the post.
Gunsmoke, Cowboys and TV
By the time the album was recorded in late 1959, Gunsmoke had transitioned from being a radio program for 10-years, to being a hit TV series which started in 1955. It quickly became the #1 television show in it’s Monday 7:30pm time slot. The tales of lawman Marshal Matt Dillon had such a big impact on TV that the other networks started their own western TV series in competition with the CBS Series. Wagon Train aired on NBC between 1957 and 1962, which ran on the same network NBC with Bonanza before transferring to ABC, In September 1959, Bonanza debuted on NBC, featuring the Cartwright Family in Virgina City, Nevada. Following Bonanza, NBC also produced The Virginian, starting in 1962.
Given the addition of Bonanza, there was no doubt a market for Cowboy/Country music, and Murder Ballads was just one of the offerings from ABC Paramount and Creed Taylor.
The album is listed in the POPOULAR listing of February Album Release in Cash Box magazine. It was reviewed in the February 15th, 1960 issue of Billboard magazine, page-34, as having “GOOD SALES POTENTIAL”.
*** MURDER BALLADS
Pete Brady and The Blazers. ABC -Paramount 310 – A dozen gory ballads dealing with hangings, shootings, etc. Package is well produced by Creed Taylor, with good sound and arrangements showcasing Brady, who sings in forthright style. “The Duel.” “Naomi Wisc.” “The Hangman’s Knot” are included. Offbeat, but well done, and of folk and historical interest..
Who is Pete Brady?
Trying to find out who Pete Brady was complicated, mostly because of course there were two famous fictional “Pete Brady” characters, Pete Brady the middle son of The Brady Bunch the TV series, which didn’t start until 1969, ten years after the album release. Also, in 1959, CBS TV started screening the British television adaption H. G. Wells, 1897 novel The Invisible Man. In the TV adaptation, which ran for 27-episodes, the main character’s name was changed from Dr. Griffin to Dr. Peter Brady. Add to that, Peter Brady, another, but different Canadian who was one of the original presenters UK children’s TV show Magpie.
Pete Brady, the singer, could be one or two people, based on what I’ve been able to find online. My supposition though is it is one person. Born in Canada, and bought up in the mid-west. Pete recorded and likely toured as Peter Brady and his Playboys. The May 1957 issue of Rustic Rhythm magazine includes a full page article on Brady and his Playboys. According to the liner notes for Travelin’ The Country Way, the band had been touring many parts of the United States, including Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe, and Elko Nevada. This is corroborated by the March 10th, 1958 issue of the Canadian Music World magazine. It passes on a report by “Hank” Jones, a local [Canadian] bassist, whose son is a steel guitarist in the Playboys. It reports:
Bill Long, with Pete Brady and his Playboys checked out of the El Mocambo Tavern last month after almost a year, are currently playing niteries in the Las Vegas and Reno, Nevada area.March 10th, 1958 issue of the Canadian Music World magazine Page 27.
[Note: The El Mocambo is a live music and entertainment venue in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Located on Spadina Avenue, just south of College Street, the bar has played an important role in the development of popular music in Toronto since the 1940s. Bill Long, mentioned a couple of times, inc. The Rustic Rhythm article as “guests” with the band, is likely to be the the same Bill Long who recorded four albums for American Heritage Music Corporation in the first half of the 1950’s and was also a Canadian. ]
Pete Brady and his Playboys, with Bill Long, “are back at their old stand, El Mocambo Tavern in Toronto” reported the June 29th, 1959 issue of Billboard magazine, on page-7. After that, there is no further record of performances, or recordings of Pete Brady and his Playboys. It’s quite possible that back in Canada, after the never-ending cabaret and show performances and lack of success in the USA caused the band to break-up and go their own way.
Interestingly, I did find an November 1956 Ross Reports Talent showsheet that list a Peter Brady, a singer, appearing as “talent” on the November 5th, 1956 episodes of Arthur Godfreys Talent Scout. Talent Scout was a live show, screened on CBS, that was unique, in that a December 1956 episode was the first entertainment program to be videotaped for broadcast, and used for a time-delayed rebroadcast.
Pete Brady in New York
It’s my supposition that Brady then went on to New York either directly, or based on the album liner notes, via Florida. The Murder Ballads album liner notes, by then regular Taylor collaborator, David Drew Zingg give a hint of how Brady came to be signed.
Singer Pete Brady, heard here on his first record album, has had as colorful and varied a career to date as many of the folk heroes he sings of with such authority.
Brady started his adventures in show business with something less than a five-star success. One of four contestants on Horace Heidt’s show at the age of fifteen, he lost out to four young men whose act involved a comb and barber coats—in fact, Brady recalls, he finished fourth.
After a stint in the Navy (he enlisted at 17), some of Brady’s activities have included a road tour with the “Three Lads and a Lass,” working as a salvage skin-diver for a Miami junk yard, singing in a night club, attending Indiana University as a pre-med student, holding down a lifeguard’s post, fighting professionally in preliminary bouts at Madison Square Garden in New York, appearing as a professional water-skier at Florida’s Cyprus Gardens, working around the country as a tennis pro, and playing drums with Stan Getz. He started getting serious about his chosen field, singing and acting, when he appeared with such stars as Tony Bennett and Don Cornell at the Bal Masque in Miami. In 1958, he opened at Giro’s in Hollywood, where he was spotted by Warner’s and signed for a series of Westerns, yet to be released.
In 1959, Pete appeared in the widely heralded television version of Budd Schulberg’s “What Makes Sammy Run?”, opened at Manhattan’s east side “Baby Doll” club, and was signed by ABC-Paramount for “Murder Ballads”.
Racing around Manhattan (where he currently lives) on a bicycle, Brady tries feverishly to keep up with his commitments—further recording sessions, his film series and television work, his night club job—and, who knows, perhaps a few bouts in the ring or appearances as a marathon roller-skater on the side.David Drew-Zingg, Liner notes to Murder Ballads, ABC Paramount
[Note: Horace Heidts talent show came after his big band, and was a touring show that was known to visited the mid-west and Canada. At least one Three Lads and a Lass ensemble were a creation of manager-impresario-showman Vaughan Ladd, out of Florida. None of the references or pictures I can find of the name members of the group. It’s possible Pete was just a stand-in. The group sang regularly at the Coral-Bamboo Room in the Eola Plaza Hotel, Orlando, but also toured throughout 1953 to 1955. A 1951 lineup of the Norman English Three Lads ensemble was Ronald English, Nancy Blackburn, Galen Rosher and Eddie Graft according to the Lansing State Journal Dec 16th, 1961 issue. There are references going back to a group with that name going back to 1937. A 1973 issue of the Delaware County Daily Times discuss Three lads and a Lass featuring a Lorraine Sharkey, it reads like there were multiple groups using the same name. In the Battle Creed Enquirer advertisement, one of the members has a resemblance to Pete.]
The liner notes refer to Pete’s appearance in “What Makes Sammy Run?”, in the off-Broadway production. A few years later, between February 1964 and June 1965, the Broadway cast version featured Steve Lawrence as Sammy Glick. At the time of recording, Lawrence and wife, Eydie Gormé were the stars at ABC Paramount.
It’s easy to imagine Brady after the Playboys split up, doing whatever was needed to get by, which included water skiing, boxing, and tennis, as well as, apparently “riding his bicycle around Manhattan.” There is no record of Pete, or Peter Brady in either the IBDB (Broadway database) and only one in IMDB(TV, Movie database) that we’ll look at. I can find no no recordings with Getz that include Brady, or any other mention of Brady playing the drums. It’s the gigs or recordings with Getz, if they existed, that also point to a potential introduction to Taylor. Taylor around this time was starting on the work to form Impulse! and would jump to Norman Granz’ Verve, where Getz was had been recoding since 1955, when the label was called Norgan. Less well known is that 1964, Taylor also formed Verve Folkways, a folk music subsidiary of Verve. Given the live music scene in New York City around this time, there is no doubt there paths could have crossed.
Ironically, as seen in the image gallery below, the Billboard review for Murder Ballads was directly above the The Wes Montgomery Trio, Wes’ first album for Riverside. Wes would go onto to record many albums for Creed at Verve and A&M/CTI.
There really isn’t any record of what happened after the album release, at least through to 1962. In 1962, Brady recorded a more cowboy/country album “How The West Was Swung” for RCA Victor. The album was more like what Taylor had been doing with Elton Britt four years before. Taking traditional western numbers and putting a modern band and production on them.
In October 1962, the fledgling Tonight Show with Johnny Carson aired for the first time on NBC. The October 29th show billing was Shelley Winters, Earl Garner, comic Charlie Manna, and singer Peter Brady. I’ve not been able to find this episode online or DVD, and it’s likely among the early episodes that were never recorded, taped over, or otherwise destroyed.
Where’d Pete Go Next?
Pete Brady as was, looks to have reemerged in 1964 to record a new album for Capitol, called “Peter Brady – An Exciting New Voice On The Move.”. According to Cash Box magazine (May 23rd, 1964 P16), the 45/single “The Masquerade is Over” with “Melanie Goodbye” was released in May 1964. Starting in April 1965, Cash Box documented the Pete Brady on the Move tour, which it reported:
HOLLYWOOD—Peter Brady, recentCash Box, April 3rd, 1965 P34 “Peter Brady On The Move”
addition to the Capitol fold, last
week began a 10,000 mile round-the country
auto tour promoting his first
album release for the label, “An Exciting
New Voice on the Move.”
the following week, Cash Box reviewed the album:
A new face on the horizon, Peter Brady makes a memorable debut into the album field with this initial Capitol package. The artist, who can put a song across without echo chambers or gimmicks, displays a multi-faceted talent as he glides through tender ballads, backed by the lush string arrangements of Marty Paich, then explodes with his stimulating renditions of solid swing numbers with Shorty Rogers brass. Top tracks here are the kick-off romancer, “Who Are We?,” and finger-popper “Something Happens To Me.”Cash Box, April 10th, 1965 P34
By the May 1st issue of Cash Box, Brady had stopped over “on the eastern leg of his cross-country tour, and [had] dropped in to visit Cash Box staff.” Brady is pictured with “diskery promo hand Tom Rogan” before heading for Washington D.C.
Backed by complementing arrangements by Marty Paich and Shorty Rogers, song stylist Peter Brady makes an auspicious debut on the Capitol label. Lyrics are obviously first and foremost ‘n s arm, rich style. He has selected a well-balanced Program of seldom heard semi-standards. “Here I’ll Stay,” “The Masquerade Is Over” and “Mam’selle” are standout performances.”Billboard Magazine, Album Reviews – April 10th, 1965 – P64
Marc Myers, Jazzwax, has a great review of Peter Brady and the backstory to Pete’s change in style, and the quality and significance of the of the album. In Jazzwax style GO HERE. Marc also discusses why the album didn’t reach the levels it might have. Changing times.
Capitol also released “New Move On The Move” as a “little LP” LLP, a 7″ vinyl record that played at 33 1/3 RPM. It contained 6-tracks from the original album, and was aimed at the budget end of the market and Jukebox programming. SXA-2286 – Peter Brady – New Voice on the Move  Yound And Foolish/Things Are Swingin’/Mam’selle//The Masquerade Is Over/Something Happens To Me/For All We Know
The Florida Connection
It’s unclear when Pete settled in Florida, certainly later in life. He also regularly spent time there even in the sixties. Here are some of the performance dates, especially those in Florida.
|1965, Feb. 5th||Tucson, AZ|
|1965, Dec. 15 24-25 -31, Jan 1-13- 14- 15- 16||Residency at the Colonial Inn, St Pete’ Beach, two performances per night|
|1966, March 16||Double bill with Kitty DeVeny at the Port-O-Call, St Pete’ Beach|
|1966, Oct. 20th||Top Of Korner, Peachtree at 6th; Fran Warren, Peter Brady, Chuck Lawson trio.|
|1967, April 27th-29th||Rehearsal and performance at the Bay Front Center, St Pete’|
|1967, May 2nd||La Riveriera, Tampa Bay|
|1968, Nov. 8th||S.P.J.C Lynch Auditorium, Scholarship benefit for students|
The April 20th, 1967 issue of the Tampa Bay Times reported in it’s suncoasting column, that “… And baritone Peter Brady back in town -(Brady’s big-eared friend, the big Weimaraner dog their listening).” Peter was apparently rehearsing for an April 29th Rodgers and Hammerstein pops concert with full St. Petersburg Symphony Orchestra. Interestingly, after his 10,000 road trip around the US, which didn’t gain much publicity outside of Cash Box in New York City. The following weeks Tampa Bay Times ran an advert for Gene Krupa at La Riveriera, and proudly declared “COMING MAY 2 – PETER BRADY”.
Moonraker – Fort Lauderdale
1973, Pete first appeared at the Top Gallant Room of Warren Foster’s Moonraker Restaurant in For Lauderdale.
In the August 31st, 1973 issue of the Miami Herald, in her NIGHTLIFE column, Kittie Oliver reveals that Brady had
recently recorded the them song for the Burt Reynolds picture, “The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing.” The song was written by Paul (Old Fashioned Love Song) Williams and is a pop tune called “Dream.” Brady got the chance to release the tune just a few days ahead of Tony Bennet and he’s bracing for a battle on the radio stations to see which one makes good…August 31st, 1973 – The Miami Herald, NIGHTLIFE column, Kittie Oliver
Either way, the liner notes for the album, confirm for the first time, that Pete Brady is in fact the same Peter Brady that recorded all the albums, including the Peter Brady and the Blazers album for Creed Taylor and ABC Paramount, as well as the RCA and Capitol albums that followed. The only thing I can’t prove, is that this Pete Brady is the same Pete Brady and his Playboys.
The ‘Shot” that (nearly) ended Pete’s career
It is reported that sometime in 1970, Brady was injured in a pro-celebrity tennis match, causing serious issues with his voice. The Tampa Bay Times interview Brady in 2002, reports
In 1970, while he was playing the lounge at the Sahara in Ins Vegas. Brady participated in a celebrity tennis tournament. White making a backhanded hit. Brady’s left-handed partner accidentally hit him in throat with an aluminum racket designed by Rene Lacoste and favored by pros such as Jimmy Connors. The blow damaged Brady’s larynx so badly, he couldn’t sing.
Just when his single. The Masquerade Is Over, was getting good airplay. Capitol and Brady parted ways. “It was a mutual understanding.” he said “I didn’t sound like a singer anymore.”Tampa Bay Times, Aug 4th, 200 P62
The 2002 Tampa Bay Times article, actually notes that Brady had settled in St Petersburg. Pete was continuing to sing at the First Baptist church of Clearwater, where his wife, Connie Fay-Brady is the pianist. As well as his album/CD “Swingle Jingle Christmas“, which is actually a great big-band, crooner style Christmas album; Pete also has four other self-released albums.
Given Brady recorded a 1973 album, and spent May until December that year playing nightly dates at the Moonraker, obviously one, or both of two things are true. One, the tennis incident was after 1973. This is unlikely since Pete would be less well know at that point, and probably not get invited to a pro-am celebrity tennis tournament in Vegas. Two, Pete or the journalist was confused about the shower comeback singing in 1998, as reported in the longer 2002 Tampa Bay Times article.
A Late Christmas with Pete and the Big Band
Asides from all the questions about Pete’s background and music history, I’d really liked to have asked which of the online sources for the album does het get money from? I’m guessing he get’s nothing from CD sales, since both CDBaby and Gary Paxton’s Garpax/Branson Music group are wound-up. I’m hoping that Pete’s wife, Connie Fay-Brady is the pianist on the track “The Christmas Song“, outstanding.
I called the listed number for Pete, but it is disconnected. I reached a number for Connie and left a message, I hope they are both safe. Pete and Connie will now be their late-80’s or older. Again if you have any more details, saw Pete sing live or have anything to clarify in this article, if you know Pete, get in touch.
Peter Brady | Discography via Discogs
Pete Brady via bandcamp.com
Peter Brady via JazzWax Exciting New Voice – JazzWax
Santa Claus is Coming to Town, write-up via Branson Show News: Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
Lost and found: The Return of Pete Brady [via the Herald-Tribune, 2002]
2/3/21 10:15 added subtitle, fixed typos, spellings
2/13/21 12:45 major update to add album mix videos and additional recordings.