Baby Boomer Tails in Black and White

Posted on November 30th, 2013 in 1950s,Black History & Personalities,Celebrities,Music,Pop Culture by Terry Hamburg

The moment I heard them, I was sure they’d be Big Stars. The Belvederes were the epitome of early black boomer music groups: voices like angels, sharp looks, smooth stage moves. They wrote their own music.

Well, I’m walkin’ in the garden
Just passin’ the time with you
(With you, with you, with you)
Walkin’ in the garden
Just passin’ the time with you-ou-ou-ouou-ou
Feelin’ so happy
Lookin’ at the sky of blue.

I ran up to them after a high school dance: “You guys are cool. Do you have a fan club? I’d like to start one.”

My step-father was a doctor. I was one of those baby boomer kids whose generous allowance was burning a hole in his khaki pockets. I sprung for promo pics and rented a hall to host a “Meet the Belvederes” night. The group cut a demo on my dime: Walkin’ in the Garden. The flip side was Her Eyes Had the Glow of Surrender.

Her eyes had the glow of surrender
And her lips were so tender
As we stared
At the moon up above
Uh, woo-do, woo-do, woo-do, woo-do, woo

This happened in Joliet, Illinois. In those early boomer days, it was unusual in small town America for blacks and whites to associate. If they did, there was usually some professional connection, like halfback and coach, foreman and worker, or housekeeper and child. It was fine for me to recognize our black live-in maid (who practically raised me), give Mattie a hug and cozy up to her on the bus seat. Off the bus, we walked our separate and not so equal ways.

One day after a high school show, the Belvederes and I went to a local restaurant. They were dressed in full tuxedos with tails. We got a few stares but everyone reckoned that these were show business guys and I must be their young manager or fan club president. We were treated properly, if not enthusiastically. A week later we returned to the restaurant after a rehearsal. The Belvederes were dressed in street clothes. Our reception was very different, people barely concealing their surprise and hostility.

I knew racism existed, but was never on receiving end before. “Clothes make the man,” it’s said. At the very least, they can shape perceptions.

My Belvederes were a one non-hit wonder (Walkin’ in the Garden) and not to be confused with any other Belvederes.

Baby Boomer Trivia Questions

Black singers are not usually associated with country music. One, however, has had thirty-six #1 hits on the Billboard Hot Country Song Charts. Who is he?

  What’s the next line of this song and what group brought to its biggest mainstream success?

They asked me how I knew
My true love was true
Oh, I of course replied
Something here inside cannot be denied…

Who was the first black boomer music favorite to make the cover of The Rolling Stone?

Jimi Hendrix
James Brown
Chuck Berry
Tina Turner

Answers to questions at end of post




Charlie Pride wanted to be a baseball pitcher. He played in the Negro League, later knocked around the minors, and got tryouts with a couple of big league teams. When it became apparent he wasn’t destined for diamond greatness, Pride pursued a country music career. Nice fall back plan. For him and us.

  What’s the next line of this song?

They asked me how I knew
My true love was true
Oh, I of course replied
Something here inside cannot be denied
Smoke gets in your eyes.
The Platters’ version was the best known.

On the cover of the Rolling Stone: Jimi Hendrix was the first.

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