The “Golden Hits Of The 60s” 

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(Edward Heyman, Victor Young)

Era 3068

No. 5     April 14, 1962




Ketty was born Revoyda Frierson, on August 16, 1934, in Hope, Arkansas.     Papa was a poor farmer, and

Ketty was one of 15 siblings.    After winning  a scholarship, she moved to California to attend San Francisco

City College as a nursing major.   She sang in church and in the school choir, acting on the side  insummer-

stock productions.     While performing at the Purple Onion, Ketty met country singer/comedienneDorothy

Shay.    Dorothy, “The  Park Avenue Hillbilly,” had made the country charts in 1951 with “Feudin’ and

Fightin’,” and helped make some record-business connections for Lester.


Four Preps alumnus  (and later STANDELLS producer) Ed Cobb and Lincoln Mayorga were eager to record

Ketty.     Cobb tracked down  just the right tune for her–“l’m A Fool To Want You”–and someone dug up

Dick Haynes’ 1945 hit, “Love Letters,” for a flip side.   “We recorded in a room over a garage,” Ketty recalled

to DISCoveries‘ Jon E. Johnson.      “The piano, bass, drums, and guitar were all we had space for in the

main room, and I had a little…  well, it was like a toilet.     I was forced to sing it in the toilet.”


“I’m A Fool To Want You” b/w the sensuous-sounding “Love Letters” was released by Era Records.     Once

“Love Letters” proved to be a hit, an LP (Ketty  Lester, 1962) was shipped by the independent, as were a pair

of charting follow-ups “You Can’t Lie To A Liar” (#90, 1 962) and “This Land Is Your Land” (#97, 1962).

RCA released a few LPs and a number of singles, but nothing further attracted much of an audience.    Elvis

covered “Love Letters” in 1966, and took it to number 19.    Before a momentary retirement to care for her

son and her husband (who had suffered two heart attacks), Ketty cut some unsuccessful disks for  the

Tower and Pete labels.


Ketty had continued acting after college.   ln1963, she even won an Off-Broadway Theatre Award for her

role  in the revival of A Cabin in the Sky.    The producers of the TV show “Julia” noticed Ketty in an L. A.

production of A Raisin in the Sun and offered her the lead role in the series that   eventually starred

Diahann Carroll.    Numerous TV appearances on episodes of  “The FBI,” “Laugh-In,” “Love American

Style,” “Marcus Welby, M.D.,” and “Sanford and Son” followed.     She co- starred in films like Blacula

(1972), The Terminal Man (1974),and The Prisoner of Second Avenue (1975);  was a cast member on the

soaps “Days of Our Lives” and “Rituals”; and was a regular for four years on “Little House on the Prairie.”


Mega Records approached Ketty about returning to the recording studio in 1985.    “[They] actually wanted

me to sing pop, but I said I wanted to make an album of Christian music.    With the experiences that  I’ve

had …it could have only been the will of God that I have been able to help my husband the way have.   So

when [Mega] asked me if I would record again, I told [them] no, unless I could do at least the first one for

Jesus.”   The label agreed and issued I Saw Him in 1985.