Song:The Happy Organ
Album:The Cruisin' Story 1959
Dave "Baby" Cortez topped the charts in 1959 with the instrumental classic The Happy Organ. A few of his other songs charted but this was his biggest hit. He was born David Cortez Clowney Aug. 13, 1938 in Detroit. His father played piano and he encouraged Cortez to play. In 1956 he released a single as David Clowney and he was also a member of The Pearls. Then he signed with Clock Records. The story goes that Cortez was supposed to record a vocal track but he lost his voice. So instead he played an organ riff clearly based on the song Shortnin' Bread. They came up with this in the studio and the title of the song came later. Cortez wrote The Happy Organ with James Kriegsmann who was famous for his photographs of black celebrities. But he also wrote a few songs. The guitar solo is by legendary session musician Wild Jimmy Spruill who also played on Wilbert Harrison's Kansas City. The Happy Organ topped the Billboard Hot 100 in 1959. At the time, Cortez was touring with Little Anthony & The Imperials. Clock licensed The Happy Organ to RCA for national distribution. After a couple more singles and an album, Cortez left Clock for Chess and scored a top ten hit with Rinky Dink in 1962. The problem is you can't get both hits on the same CD because they are on different labels. So I suggest this 2CD various artists budget comp from the British label One Day Music. In the 60s, Cortez recorded for Roulette and in the 70s for The Isley Brothers' label T-Neck and All Platinum. In 2011, Cortez recorded his first album in years with veteran sax player Lonnie Youngblood. Here's a video for The Happy Organ by Dave "Baby" Cortez.