Chancellor of Soul's Chronicles-Journals Dedicated To The
Historical Preservation Of R&B, Pop and It's Artists and Music


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Shorty Long

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                          As a tree stands tall among the everglades,  a man’s talents has to

                          be measured by his ability.  Shorty Long’s ability was to entertain 

                          audiences and have lots of fun at the same time.

 

                          Frederick Earl Long was born on May 20, 1940, in Birmingham, Alabama.

                          He earned the nickname  ‘shorty’  because of his diminutive height of

                          5 feet.  Shorty’s interest in music came through his rearing at

                          Birmingham Baptist Church where he mastered the piano.  His early

                          influences were Johnny Ace and Little Willie John.  His early gigs

                          were in a Birmingham club called the Old Stable. He landed his first

                          professional job as a musician as a host on a radio show featuring

                          the legendary Ink Spots.  Shorty was a gifted musician that played

                          many instruments;  piano, drums, organ, trumpet and harmonica.

 

                          Long arrived in Detroit in 1959 and was signed on Harvey Fuqua’s

                          label, Tri-Phi and recorded 3 singles,   ‘I'll Be There’ b/w  ‘Bad Willie’ 

                          ‘Too Smart’  and   ‘Going Away’  b/w   ‘What’s The Matter’.

 

                          As Harvey Fuqua married Berry Gordy’s sister Gwen,  his Harvey/

                          Tri-Phi labels and signed artists, including Shorty, became a  part

                          Motown’s corporation in 1963.                            

                                              

                          Shorty inaugurated Berry Gordy’s subsidiary Soul label (intended for

                          blues artists) with  ‘Devil With The Blue Dress On’  in March 1964.

                          Although it never charted for Long,  it became a huge hit for

                          Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels in October 1966. ‘Out To Get

                          You’  b/w  ‘ It’s Crying Shame’  was Shorty’s second uncharted

                          single in August 1964. Shorty is featured on harmonica on this

                          early dance classic.    

 

                          Shorty waited two years before his next release.  ‘Function At

                          The Junction’  b/w  ‘Call on Me’   a funky good time dance classic

                          charted (No. 42 on Billboard’s R&B singles chart Nov 26, 1966).

                          Composed by Long and Eddie Holland,  they follow the footsteps

                          of another tune  ‘Wang Dang Doodle’  by Ko Ko Taylor describing

                          partygoers from Ling Ting Tong from China to the cast members

                          of the popular TV series at the time,  ‘I Spy’.  The lyrics cleverly

                          camouflages each partygoers from diversion backgrounds, to come

                          one, come all and have a ball.  ‘Function At The Junction’ was

                          released in March 1966 but died a quick death. It was revamped

                          in the fall of 66’ when a popular line dance developed in Chicago.  

 

                         Shorty was dedicated to heroes of rock ‘n ’roll when he remade the

                         Big Bopper’s  1958 classic hit ‘Chantilly Lace’  b/w Your Love’s Amazing’

                         (no chart action) in January 1967. He collaborated with the late

                         Clarence Paul and compose a classic follow-up to ‘Function At The

                         Junction’  with  ‘Night Fo’ Last’  b/w ‘Night Fo’ Last (instr.) charting

                         (No. 42 R&B March 30, 1968).  Long’s next release would gain him

                         international stardom  with  ‘Here Comes The Judge’.  Written by

                         Shorty,  Billie Jean Brown (who supervised Motown’s Quality Control

                         Department) and Suzanne De Passe (assistant to Berry Gordy at the

                         time)  the song was based on a satire (featured on NBC’s  No. 1 comedy

                         show  Rowan and Martin’s  Laugh In) created by legendary comedian

                         Pigmeat  Markham, about a judge.  Sammy Davis Jr. was cast as the

                         amusing barrister who warns the members of the court the judge’s

                         no-nonsense attitude. 

 

                         Released in May 1968,  ‘Here Comes The Judge’  backed with  ‘Sing

                         What You Wanna’  hit  (No. 4 R&B on July 13, 1968) battling a chart

                         competition with Pigmeat Markham’s release on Chess Records

                         in June 1968  (No. 4 R&B July 27, 1968).  The  ‘heeear ye’ opening

                         of Shorty’s version was contributed by Sammy Davis Jr. who at the

                         time was negotiating a deal with Motown.  A self-titled  ‘Here Comes

                         The Judge’ LP was issued in the fall of 1968.    

 

                         After the assassinations  of Dr. Martin Luther King and Robert  F.

                         Kennedy , Shorty traded his novelty trademark for a more subdued

                         image with a release of   ‘I Had A Dream’  b/w  ‘Ain’t No Justice’

                         in February 1969 and his last release,  ‘A Whiter Shade Of Pale.

                     

                         On Sunday,  June 29, 1969, Shorty Long was fishing along the

                         Detroit River when suddenly a big tanker was coming down

                         the river and overturned his boat. Sadly, he drowned and died

                         instantly.  During the fall of 69’, Motown issued a posthumous

                         LP entitled,   ‘The Prime Of Shorty Long’.  Shorty’s legacy was

                         was honored with an induction into the Alabama Jazz Hall Of

                         Fame in 1980.

                      

                         Shorty Long’s contribution to the music world will continue

                         to remain testament  to a man who’s stature was measure

                         by his talents not by his height. He is truly one of the unsung

                         heroes of the Motown Sound. 

 

 

                                                             Soulfully Yours,

                                                                Mike Boone

                                                         (Chancellor of Soul)                 

 

 

                                                              (Oct  2008)

 

 

                            Materials should not be used or altered without expressed

                            permission of the author,  Mike Boone (Chancellor of Soul)   

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