The “Golden Hits Of The 60s” 

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(Barry Stuart)

Era 3141

No. 3    March 20, 1965




His mama had her heart set on getting a girl child.   Jewel was to be her name.  Ma didn’t get no daughter,

but the babe got the name just the same.  “Nobody bothered me about that through,” said Jewel Akens, in

an exclusive interview.  “It must be cause I’m a jewel, you see.”


Akens (b. Sept. 12,1940, Houston, Terxas) almost never got to record “The Birds And The Bees.”   “I had to

wait three years for that song.   You see, when I first meet Herb Newman [Era Records owner] he said, ‘I

like your voice.    It’s got a commercial sound.  Come back in three years.’   I said in my head, ‘Three years!’

Well, believe it or not, three years later I’m knockin’ on his door.  He said, ‘I’m ready.’


By this point, Jewel already had an extensive music history.   At age 11, Jewel was singing in church, the Hill

Zion Baptist Church.  “I usta live next door to this blues house,” said Jewel, “called lrenes; it was.  I’d hear

all these guys pick and sing.  My daddy didn’t want us listenin’ cause he was real religious–but you couldn’t

help but hear it. The first thing ever remember singing is ‘Wintertime  Blues,’ Lester Williams, it was by.  I

loved that so much I wrote a blues when I was nine, called ‘Raining Blues.’   My mama usta say, ‘One of

these days you’re gonna be a star, you’re gonna be something.’   She was sick, bad, and before she passed

away, she said, ‘If I don’t make it, I want you to go to California and be a star.”


In 1949, his family was up-rooted and moved to LA.  In his teens years, he sang with the Four Tunes and

later with a friend named Eddie Daniels, the Four Dots were formed.   Someone introduced them to Jerry

Capehart, Eddie Cochran’s manager, songwriter, and  confidant.   The Dots cut a single for Freedom

Records in 1959 and Akens and Daniels, recording as Jewel & Eddie recorded several sides for bot Jerry

Capehart’s Silver and Capehart labels; notably, “Opportunity.”  Rumors have persisted that Eddie Cochran’s

guitar can be heard on these collectable singles.  “Yeah, Eddie did the music on that; just the music.  We

were good buddies, close friends.   He played on all my stuff I recorded for Crest.  I also did some

background sessions for John Ashley, this pretty boy actor, who was in some movies like Hot Rod Gang.

He was pretty good.


“As the Four Dots, we also did something called ‘Don’t Wake Up The Kids,’ that came out on Liberty.  That

was like a regional hit, in about 1960.”


For Imperial in 1961, Jewel and probably Eddie and possibly some reconstituted Dots calling themselves the

Astra­ Jets recorded what was to become one of the finest and now one of the hardest to find double-sided

neo-doo wop delights, “Boom A Lay” b/w “Hide & Seek”.


When Newman gave the go-ahead sign to Jewel, Akens was fronting yet another group, called the

Turnarounds.    Newman recorded them on a song called “Ain’t Nothin Shakin” and asked them to sing

backup behind Jewel on a tune Newman’s 12-year old son had written about those birds and bees and

things.  Akens and the group disagreed over the songs merits, the label credits, and split up.


“I knew it was a hit…,” Akens said; “just knew it.  I sang it for my wife and anybody I could find.  And they’d

all say, ‘It’s cute.’  I worked on the melody and the four or five different arrangements we went throughout.

We even tried bird whistles, but that didn’t work.”


The lyrics were pre-teen, no debate.  But there was an underlining  thrusting, hypnotic  rhythm that was

definitely post pimples.   “Yeah.  Yeah.  Well, you see, I was getting ticked by the 27th take,” Akens added,

“that’s why there’s those heavy accents in parts of the song like on ‘Let me tell ya ’bout the birds and…”‘


As directed, Akens was charged with going back into the studios to record more in that nursery rhyme vein.

The immediate issuance, “Georgie Porgy,” (#68, 1965) sold fair in parts of the country.  “I never liked that

thing,” said Jewel.  “I wanted to sing, not do novelties.”  Nothing further charted.  He toured with the

Monkees, recording–what he considered to be his  finest recordings–cover versions  of THURSTON

HARRIS’  “Little Bitty Pretty One,” ARTHUR ALEXANDER’s “You Better Go Now” and the Monkees’ “I

Wanna Be Free.”


In 1973, Jewel co-produced the critically-acclaimed Super Taylors, a  duet album of Southern Soul by Ted

Taylor and LITTLE JOHNNY TAYLOR (no relation).  Two years later, American International Artists issued

Akens’ remake of Sam & Dave’s “When  Something Is Wrong With Baby.”


“I’ve been lucky,” he said.  “And a lot of that probably has to do with my being versatile.  I’ve been able to

make a living with my music,  performing and touring,  all these years.  Depending on where I’m booked, I

sing old standards, or rock’n’roll  hits, even country. I’ve no  complaints.  I’d like to get another hit, though.

And every now and then, I do get tired of ‘tellin’ about the birds and the bees’ but life’s been good to me.”