Dave "Baby" Cortez Biography

David Cortez Clowney, 13 August 1938, Detroit, Michigan, USA. Cortez played piano in church as a boy and progressed from there to Hammond organ, performing on the chitlins’ circuit through the Midwest and California in the late 50s. From 1955-57 he performed with vocal group the Pearls and in 1956-57 also worked with the Valentines and the Jesters. In 1956 he made his first recording (under the name of Dave Clooney) for the Ember label. He recorded for RCA - Victor Records in September 1959 and had a number 1 pop hit with Clock Records (‘The Happy Organ’) in the same year. This lively instrumental was the first pop hit to feature the organ as lead instrument. In 1962 he hit again with ‘Rinky Dink’, a crude ‘Louie Louie’-type instrumental that could define 60s teen rock naïvety. Cortez recorded an album for Chess Records in 1963 called, predictably, Rinky Dink and then signed with Roulette Records, who issued Organ Shindig, Tweetie Pie and In Orbit. After signing to the Isley Brothers’ T-Neck label - a Buddha Records subsidiary - Cortez released Baby Cortez The Isley Brothers Way in 1970. Two years later he recorded Soul Vibration with Frank Prescod (bass) and Bunky Smith (drums), with producer Joe Richardson giving the bass a funky depth comparable to dub. The hilarious dialogue of ‘Tongue Kissing (Try It, You’ll Like It)’, plus liner notes by the organist’s mum, helped make the album a gem. Following its release Cortez returned to the live circuit once more.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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