From Janet M – Here’s some trivia and it has to do with (sort of) – musicians – a-la your Funk Brothers question. Here it is… who were the only two musicians that played with both Hank Williams (the original) and Elvis Presley?

Mr. Pop History – None other than Chet Atkins and Nashville musician Grady Martin. Atkins and Martin were members of the celebrated Nashville collective nicknamed the “A-Team – along with Atkins, they were Buddy Harman, Floyd Cramer and Hank Garland.

Chet Atkins had a second life – as a producer for RCA Nashville. Together, he and rival producer Owen Bradley over at Decca turned Nashville into a hit machine during the late 1950’s and into the 1960’s.
grady martin

From Lind L – Hello Mr. Pop History. My sister and her daughter sell May Kay products and do you, or could you give a little history on her company?

From Lind L – Hello Mr. Pop History. My sister and her daughter sell May Kay products and do you, or could you give a little history on her company?

Mr. Pop History – She was born Mary Kathlyn Wagner and founded Mary Kay back in 1963. She parlayed $5,000 into a $billion company. Her biggest competitor was Avon – which was and still is the largest direct-sales cosmetics firm. The company created an award system designed for women with prizes such as mink coats, diamond rings and the famous pink Cadillacs. Pink was Mary Kay – as she once owned a 19,000-square-foot pink mansion.

Mary Kay Ash retired from the company in 1987 and passed away in 2001 at the age of 83.
Mary Kay copy

From Marlena J – What was the name of the “Funk Brothers” documentary movie? I’d like to purchase it.

Mr. Pop History – There was such a movie saluting the skilled group of Detroit studio musicians who helped create the sound of the Motown label. “The Funk Brothers” reigned from 1959 to about 1972 and they were the backing musicians on so many Motown hits from that era – but not all!

The name of the movie is ”Standing in the Shadows of Motown” and came out November 2002. Interestingly – Johnny Griffith (66)– a member keyboardist, died from a heart attack hours before the Detroit premiere of the movie – which he was to attend.
Funk Brothers

From Brandon L – Radio embarrassments… I have a radio question for you? I hear so many “magic potion’ commercials on radio – and I was wondering – does anybody on the radio side care about what they put on the air?

Mr. Pop History – Not really. as, as long as your “mercial” is decently produced and you have the money for air time, you can get on the radio. Stations will take anybody’s money, or so it seems.

The other trend is getting anybody on staff to be a spokesperson for a product. I mean anybody – from a personality, producer to an intern. It’s quite amazing. It’s all pressure to get the buy.

One of the biggest radio scams was something called “Body Solutions” – another weight-loss program. These guys bought time on top radio stations – and used DJ’s and personalities to hawk the product. This was back during the later 1990’s. The company was later accused of deceptive advertising. Those personalities and stations were eventually left holding the bag – because the company got way behind on their payables. Stations weren’t paid and the personalities had egg on their face. Body Solutions was one of radio’s big embarrassments.

Another one – does anybody remember the mattress company that advertised heavily on Howard Stern’s morning show around 1990? Turns out they were re-selling old mattresses! Stern himself use to endorse this company with “live’ reads on his show. WOW! Did he have egg on his face! I know someone who bought one of those mattresses.

Mr. Pop Remembers Soupy Sales…

If you lived in the New York area, Soupy Sales was introduced to us back in September of 1964, when “The Soupy Sales Show” debuted over Metromedia’s WNEW-TV Channel 5. Soupy had conducted a similar show over KABC-TV in Los Angeles.

Five nights a week you could count on him for sidesplitting laughs, quirky humor and zany characters such as White Fang, Black Tooth and Pookie. Soupy’s response to those characters and situations was a big part of the experience.

You had to watch Soupy. Those words of wisdom such as “Be true to your teeth and they won’t be false to you” and the proverbial knock on the door with “Mr. Arm.” You never saw the man, but the dialogue between he and Soupy was always hilarious, supplemented by grainy film footage for effect. It was on the cheap and you knew it, but it all worked so well. I later learned that the characters (including Mr. Arm) were the work of the late Frank Nastasi.

I was lucky enough to have met Soup and see one of his nightclub acts. He was hilarious. And, I loved his humor. I can’t help but smile when I think of the man – Soupy Sales.

From Al S – Can you tell me when Jim Varney – the Ernest (hey Vern) comedian became ill? And, when did he pass away?

Mr. Pop History – Funnyman Jim Varney was diagnosed with cancer back in September of 1998 and passed away February 10, 2000. He was only 50.

He once said of his “Ernest’ character – “Everybody likes Ernest unless they’re too cool. The people who like sports cars and sunglasses are not our audience. They like that action-adventure, tough-guy stuff. From 14 down and 25 up we have a huge audience. Older people aren’t afraid to laugh at him, and kids aren’t self-conscious yet.”
Jim Varney

From Livia H – Hello Mr. Pop Culture. Can you please tell me or explain the various recordable digital audio formats that came just after the compact disc? What’s the difference between DAT and DCC? Thank you.

Mr. Pop History – It went something like this. CD’s came out in 1982 and by the late 1980’s, were becoming a force to be reckoned with. About that time, digital audiotape and digital cassette tape came out. DAT offered a vast improvement over tape fidelity and survived into the 2000’s, but was never that popular. About the same time, the digital compact cassette from Philips came out, coinciding with the arrival of Sony’s MiniDisc system – a smaller CD that used mp-3 technology. DAT and DCC’s were totally different tape systems. They weren’t even the same size.

Neither one of these technologies took off here in the States, although the mini-disc was pretty popular in Japan.