Q: I’ve been searching for a long time for a late 1940s chime player I think was named Geordie Hormel. His records were probably 45s. If you can identify any of his records, would it be possible to also suggest where I might order copies?
A: It is possible you may have more than one musician confused. Geordie Hormel, grandson of George A. Hormel, founder of the Hormel meat packing company that brought us SPAM, was indeed a musician. Determined to follow his own star, Hormel rejected pressure to join the family business and decided to become a musician. During the ’50s and ’60s Hormel composed music for many of the era’s hit television shows including “The Fugitive,” “Lassie,” “Rin Tin Tin,” “The Untouchables” and “Ozzie and Harriet.” His instrument, however, was the piano, which he started playing before age 6. In 1968, he opened The Village recording studio in West Los Angeles which has had a veritable who’s-who of major recording artists parade through its doors. Hormel died at the age of 77 in 2006. Although we have found a few of Hormel’s records available from online resellers, we have not been able to find any chime music recorded by Geordie Hormel.
Q: Can you tell me who wrote the theme music to both the old “Batman” television show and the James Bond films?
A: We can see why you asked because both songs are based similarly on so-called “surf music,” which was popular in the early-‘60s. The “Batman” theme as composed by Neal Hefti, who also composed the distinctive theme song for “The Odd Couple.” Befittingly, authorship of the “James Bond Theme” has been the subject of some controversy. The theme has been used in every Bond movie since 1962’s “Dr. No.” Officially, authorship is credited to Monty Norman and two courts have twice ruled in his favor despite testimony offered to the contrary by John Barry who arranged the theme.
Q: Can you give me some information on Johnny Cash’s song “Folsom Prison Blues”? I know he had a hit with a song by that name in the ’50s and then again in the ’60s. Was it the same song?
A: They are the same song, but one is the original studio version and the other is a live version. “Folsom Prison Blues” was Johnny Cash’s second single for Sun Records in 1956 and his first Top Five country hit. The following year, Cash was invited to play at a prison in Huntsville, Texas, by prisoners who had heard the song. This performance was followed by appearances at a New Year’s concert at San Quentin Prison for many years. By the mid-’60s, Cash began talking with his record company about recording a live album. After initial resistance, he finally got his wish. In January 1968, Cash and his backing band, the Tennessee Three, his future wife June Carter Cash, and the Statler Brothers performed before the prisoners at Folsom Prison in California. The resulting album, “At Folsom Prison,” became a huge hit and reinvigorated Cash’s career. The album and the single “Folsom Prison Blues” topped the country charts in 1968.