Tuesday, May 3, 2016

RIP Hardy Martin July 17 1936-May 1,2016

From the Courier Journal
79, of Louisville, KY went to be with his Lord peacefully on May 1,2016. He was born on July 17, 1936, in Louisville, KY and resided in Jeffersontown,KY. Hardy loved the Lord and loved his family and was always smiling and never knew a stranger. With a positive attitude Hardy was a friend to all and was motivated by helping others. Hardy loved and lived life to the fullest until his Lord took him home.
Many of Hardy’s accomplishments included Eagle Scout Award, 1952; Raced for the Ford Team; Attended and played football at University of Kentucky; Drafted by the Boston Red Sox in 1955; Past guitar player for the following Bands: Black Mountain Boys, Carnations & Trendells; Performed two years on the Dick Clark Tour; Formed SAMBO (Sanders Allen Martin Booking Agency); Formed Allen-Martin Recording Studio & Productions Company; Co-founder of Triangle Talent, Jefferson Audio & Video Systems and Lewellyn Martin, Inc; Founded numerous record labels including Tilt and Jam Records; American Federation of Musicians Member; Co-Founder/President IED (Innovative Electronic Designs); Co-invented and patented programmable Low Impedance Digital Attenuator 1982; Co-invented and patented Multiple Input Audio Program System 1982; Ran audio & video for the Kentucky Colonels basketball games; Co-invented and patented Sound Mixer Devices 1983; Invented and patented Balance Amplifier Device 1986; Accomplished Pilot; Active Church Member at Beargrass Christian Church for over 30 years; Participated in the Big Brother Big Sister Program; Avid Senior Softball Player for the Louisville Thunder; A Member of the K-Club at University of Kentucky; Inducted into the Southern High School Hall of Fame in 2010 (member of the Class ’54).
Preceded in death by his parents, Oliver Hardison & Dorothy Martin; daughters, Sarah Martin and Betty Jo Davidson; sons, Hardison George “Pewee” Martin Jr., and Robert Wayne Martin; and Son-in-Law, Jeff Davidson.
He leaves behind a loving wife of 43 years, Wanda Martin; brother, Charles Martin (Susie); daughter, Kim Martin Braun; sons, Kevin (Maria) and David Martin (Lisa); grandchildren, Jesse Davidson (Renee), Jennifer Martin Wilson (Kevin), Michael Braun (Larissa), and Josh Braun (Macee)and Amber Denman; great-grandchildren, Jordyn, Kayleigh, Brady, Tyla, Bradley, Jaxon, Tessa, Colin, and Nolan; a nephew and many nieces.
Visitation will be Wednesday at Beargrass Christian Church, 4100 Shelbyville Rd, from 12:00pm-8:00pm and Thursday from 10:00am until 1:00pm. Funeral service will also take place at Beargrass Christian Church on Thursday at 1:00pm. Entombment will be at Evergreen
In lieu of the customary forms of sympathy, memorial contributions may be made in Hardy’s name to the Susan G. Komen Foundation. (In memory of his daughter, Betty Jo Davidson.) All floral deliveries need to be directed to Beargrass Christian Church.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Seeing The Beatles In Indianapolis September 3 1964

The Beatles In Indianapolis September 3 1964

I had the opportunity to see the Beatles at the outdoor show at the old fairgrounds dirt track . I rode the Greyhound Bus from Louisville and stayed with a cousin of Doris Kaufman (one of my Louisville friends ) . Tickets were $3 ( I was making  75 cents and hour ) my Indianapolis friend was able to snag 2 tickets 

 I will include information from the Indianapolis paper , interview information below and also video clips from the Indianapolis TV station 
The Beatles had done an afternoon show indoors . video here    because of demand a second show was added and because indoor auditorium was booked took place at the dirt racing track . The opening act for the Beatles was The Exciters .
Before the Beatles came out we talked with two women who were sitting in front of us who were a little older than my 19 years . But as soon as the cars pulled on the track carrying the Beatles these 2 ladies began screaming like the rest of the crowd . 
(The first show began at 6.21pm, and was watched by 12,413 fans. Afterwards they held a press conference, before returning to the stage for the second show. This time 16,924 were at the venue. The Beatles later said the fans' reception was "quite quiet" in comparison to the other dates on the tour.)

"Fab Fair" - A Look Back at the Beatles 1964 Visit to the Indiana State Fair

Transcript of PRESS CONFERENCE Before Show .

The Beatles traveled from Philadelphia to Indianapolis, playing two shows on September 3rd at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. After a fun and entertaining chat with the press, and a quick meet-and-greet with a group of lucky locals, the Beatles took to the stage.

According to motor racing writer Bob Jennings who was one of the teenagers in attendence that day: "There was an afternoon show in the fairgrounds Coliseum before a packed house of something like 10,000 screaming fans. Ticket demand was so hot, an evening show was hastily scheduled in front of the grandstand on the one mile dirt race track because the Coliseum was already booked for another State Fair event. I was able to get tickets to the evening show... a couple hundred yards from the stage. There was an electricity that's hard to describe... about the only thing I can compare it to is the start of the Indianapolis 500."

Ringo Starr would later remember in his 1982 radio program 'Ringo's Yellow Submarine,' "A fond memory was in Indianapolis. When you're touring you can't sleep normal and you don't eat. I think that's what drives us all crazy when we're touring. You don't know where your head is after a long tour. So I was wandering around the hotel 'round about 4 one morning in Indianapolis, and I met these two policeman who had a police car outside. So I said, 'Ahh, just nothing to do and I can't sleep.' And they said, 'Well, let's go for a ride.' So, they let me drive the car which was great. Then we went screaming all over the city and it got so crazy that we were being chased by another cop car. (laughs) We had to pull into this alley and turn the lights off and all hide in this police car -- me and two big cops are all hiding in a police car in Indianapolis. And this other cop car goes past us... and then the guys say 'Well, we got out of that so what else are we gonna do?' But it was fun... in a police car hiding from the police. I think they thought someone just stole it. (laughs) Probably my driving on the wrong side of the road."

Following their two performances that day in Indianapolis, the Beatles departed for Milwaukee Wisconsin, the next stop along their frantically-paced 1964 North American Tour. 

                                          - Jay Spangler, www.beatlesinterviews.org

Q: "Where do you gentlemen stand as far as the draft is concerned in England?"

JOHN: "About five eleven."
RINGO: "It comes from that door over there."
JOHN: "Oh, you mean the Army. We all miss it. And if we didn't, we'd all hide in the south of Ireland."
Q: "How closely was your script of the movie, 'A Hard Day's Night' scripted? How much of it did you fellas ad-lib or wing?"
PAUL: (long pause) "Uhhhhhhhh..."
JOHN: "Most of it was script. You can tell the script bits. They're all sort of semi-Irish/Welsh things. Most of it was script. A lot was ad-libbed."
Q: "I'd like to direct this question to John and Paul. Out of all the compositions that you've written, which do you..."
JOHN: (anticipating the question) "We don't know."
PAUL: "Which is what?"
JOHN: "Which is your favorite."
Q: "Which is the best?"
JOHN: "'Land Of Hope And Glory' was one of my favorites."
Q: "Who decides who's going to sing the lead of a particular song you may do?"
JOHN: "It depends on alot of things. If I write.... If we write 'em together, he sings higher than me so basically I normally sing lead and he sings harmony. If I can't make it he sings on-tone."
Q: "Do you write alot of the songs in the hotel room?"
JOHN: "Well, yeah."
Q: "Ringo?"
RINGO: "Yes?"

Q: "It's rumored that you have written some things for symphony orchestras."
BEATLES: (laugh)
RINGO: "I don't even write letters."
Q: "As you're confined to your room all day, what do you do?"
GEORGE: "Oh! Tennis and waterpolo."
PAUL: "Football. Cricket."
RINGO: "We just sit 'round."
PAUL: "Sit 'round, read, tell jokes, play Monopoly."
RINGO: "Watch television."
PAUL: "Smoke."
JOHN: "Hide from the security. Things like that."
Q: "Does it get boring?"
RINGO: "No."
JOHN: "No, it's great."
Q: "If you could just walk down the street without anyone recognizing you, what would you like to do?"
JOHN: "Well, we used to do that with no money in our pockets, so there's no point in it. It's a dead loss."
Q: "Fellas, what's your opinion of the Animals, the group with the big song?"
BEATLES: "Great!"
PAUL: "Very good group. They're nice fellas, too."
Q: "Have you seen them before? Have you seen them perform?"
BEATLES: "Yeah."
GEORGE: "In England."
PAUL: "And they're nice fellas from Newcastle, you know."
RINGO: "Good lads."
Q: "Political question!"
PAUL: "Alright."
JOHN: "Great."
RINGO: "Get out!"
Q: "What's your favorite... Goldwater or Dowdy?"
JOHN: "MacMillan."
JOHN: "God save the queens."
Q: "John? Have you written a book?"
JOHN: "Yeah?"
BEATLES: (laugh)
RINGO: (chuckling about the reporter asking the question) "Who IS she?"
GEORGE: "Oh god."
JOHN: "Yes, I have!"
Q: "What is it called?"
JOHN: (pauses) "...Uhh, 'In His Own Write,' you see."
PAUL: "So he's gotta be deep. Something deep coming up any minute."
Q: "What's it about?"
JOHN: "Rubbish!"
JOHN: (half-jokingly) "You should buy it. That's the least you can do after saying that."
Q: (snide tone) "Why don't you send me an autographed copy?"
JOHN: "I can't be bothered."
Q: "Do you fellas have a favorite American singing group?"
PAUL: "...favoriteSSS."
JOHN: "We've got so many."
PAUL: "American colored groups."
GEORGE: "The Detroit sound. All of the people from Detroit we like."
JOHN: "Nearly all of them."
Q: "What do you think of our American group called the Beach Boys?"
GEORGE: "Great."
PAUL: "I like them very much, yeah. Very good harmonies."
JOHN: "We've never seen any of them Live, but they all make good records."
Q: "Ringo, what's your favorite color?"
RINGO: "Umm..."
Q: "They say all sorts of stuff. What is it really?"
JOHN: (to Ringo) "What do they say about you?"
RINGO: "I don't know what do they say about me?"
GEORGE: "What is it, Ringo??"
RINGO: "Black, I'll say! What's yours?"
Q: "What do you do with all the presents you get?"
JOHN: "What presents?"
RINGO: "We ship most off them back to England."
PAUL: "Well, any of the ones that we can't keep, or the ones that are impractical, like a fifty-foot cake that we could never eat."
JOHN: "We've never had a fifty-foot cake!!"
PAUL: "No, I'm exaggerating!!"
PAUL: "...a three-foot cake, you know. We give it to a charity or hospital or something."
Q: "Paul, what was your reaction to the movie (A Hard Day's Night) after you had seen it yourself?"
PAUL: "Umm, I don't know, you know. With us being in it, I just watched us all the time. So the first time I just didn't think anything. But after a bit I just thought we weren't very good, but that the director was very good. I think he's a very good director, but we weren't much good."
Q: "Do you think you will ever be invited behind the Iron Curtain?"
JOHN: "If they've got enough Rubles, or whatever they've got."
Q: "I understand they do not have an income tax."
JOHN: "Well, they've got no money, either."


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

RIP Bill Applegate , Trumpet in The Premiers and at Sambo Studios

Published in The Courier-Journal from Aug. 5 to Aug. 6, 2014 


passed away on Sunday, August 3, 2014 after an 11-month battle with
 pancreatic cancer. He was born July 16, 1943 to the late Emmett Russell Applegate and Margaret Virginia Carmody.
Bill was a proud 1961 graduate of Male High School and went on to graduate from the University of Louisville. Bill financed his college years playing in The Premiers, a 60s blues band, and as a studio musician for the old Sambo Recording Company. Bill joined the Kentucky Medical Association in 1968. He never forgot that his first day’s assignment as a new member of the staff was to clean up a large basement storage closet. He retired as executive vice president in 2007 after 39 ½ years of service. He helped in setting up Kentucky Physicians Care in 1984, a program in which Kentucky volunteer physicians, Kentucky hospitals and major pharmaceutical manufacturers provide free medical services to non-insured low income Kentuckians. The program continues today as Health Kentucky and has served thousands of Kentucky patients.

In 1991, Bill served as president of the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA), an international organization of meeting planners. He was the program chairman for the entire meeting in 1988. He received the Kentucky Medical Association Outstanding Lay Person Award in 2003 and received the Medical Executive Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Medical Association in 2007.

Bill met the love of his life, Susan, on a blind date in 1972. They were married six months later and were never apart for over 41 years. They loved to travel and shared many beautiful experiences, visiting most of the United States and parts of Europe. They also loved to take sunny day drives in their ’91 Miata, find a back road not previously explored, and take it, with the attitude that all roads go somewhere; let’s take this one and see where it goes.

By far, Bill’s biggest thrill was not only the day his beautiful daughter Amanda was born, but also the day he so proudly guided her down the aisle to her waiting husband. He was a happy father of the bride.

In his youth, Bill was a good trumpet player; throughout his life, he was a pretty good handyman;
 in his retirement, he was a wannabe finish carpenter.

Left to cherish Bill’s memory are his wife, Susan; daughter Amanda Hess (Jeremy); sister, Pat Picheo (Lou); mother- and father-in-law, Claire and John Huneke; brothers-in-law, Bob Basler (Barbara), Dan Huneke (Lauren Theobald) and John Huneke (Ruth); sister-in-law, Belinda Peterson; many nieces, nephews, greatnieces and great-nephews.

Special thanks to Tascha, the best oncology nurse, for her compassionate care. Also thanks to Renato LaRocca, MD, Linnea, Deanna and all the others connected to the Norton Multidisciplinary Center for never letting us lose hope. Thank you to all the amazing nurse and aides who paths we crossed at Norton Suburban, Norton Downtown and Norton Brownsboro hospitals. You always kept dignity as your first priority and your care was impeccable. We love you all for your great skills.

There will be a private burial at Cave Hill. A celebration of Bill’s life/visitation will be held Sunday, August 17, 2014 at Big Spring CC from 1-6 p.m.Gather beginning at 1 p.m., ceremony at 2 p.m.

Blogger's Remarks :
I knew Bill at Gottschalk Junior High(1958) and at U of L (1962-63) in the band . Great person and a solid musician .

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Beggar With A Dream

I have a fondness for the doo wop music of the 50's and early 60's .
A leading songwriter and performer of the pop flavor ( vs the street corner flavor) of doo wop  was Barry Mann .
From Wikipedia : Mann's first hit single as a writer was "She Say (Oom Dooby Doom)", a Top 20 song for The Diamonds in 1959. Mann co-wrote the song with Mike Anthony (Michael Logiudice). In 1961, Mann had his biggest hit to that time with "I Love How You Love Me", written with Larry Kolber and a No. 5 single for The Paris Sisters. (Seven years later, Bobby Vinton would take the song into the Top 10.) Also in 1961, Mann himself hit the Top 40 as a performer with a novelty song co-written with Gerry Goffin, "Who Put The Bomp", which parodied the nonsense words of the then-popular doo-wop genre and made the Top 40.[1][3]
He and his wife Cynthia Weill  did an off broadway show entitled " You Wrote That ?"
These are just a few of their tunes (from Wikipedia ):

Songs written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil[edit]

Carole Bayer SagerCarole KingCynthia Weil and Barry Mann in December 2012

Any hey , may I offer you 2:19 of heaven  from 1960 by the Five (In the Still of the Night)  Satins called " Beggar with a Dream " http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GTTXk-Gkb2A
And on seeing the label on the Youtube video found  Barry Mann as one of the writers  along with  Noel Sherman so here is the demo version that Barry Mann cut - Barry Mann - Beggar with a Dream "

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Thank You to C D Kaplan for a remembrance of Cosmo

Click this link to read and hear the song clips
Remembrance of Cosmo

Cosmo: Let Him Go, Let Him Go, God Bless Him

Posted: September 8th, 2013 | Filed under: CultureMusicRuminations | 9 Comments »
cosmo1If there’s one image that lingers, one that underscores why I miss Tommy Cosdon oh so much, it’s the one in my mind’s eye from the summer of ’61. Taylorsville Road Frisch’s, the one known as the Atherton Big Boy. Cosmo and a couple of his Sultan band mates are sitting in a car around back . . . listening to “It’ll Be Easy.”
Maybe on WAKY. Perhaps WKLO,
Whatever, it was an indelible teen moment. American Graffiti.
Our band, our guys. Guys we knew. On the radio. In the Top 40.
Oh, what a time it was. Such a time.
Cosmo’s passing reaffirms for the thousandth time that those halcyon days of Friday nights dancing at the VFW are long ago far away, it underlines one last definitive time that we can’t go back.
Our sadness is as much about us as it is about Tommy. We who grew up at that special time in Louisville are the lucky ones. And now, with our aches and pains and daily reminders on the obit page, and the sad news about Cosmo, we know for absolute sure there will be no more one more once. We’ve lost the chance to ask that gal or guy across the room from Waggener or Sacred Heart to slow dance. Those memories are finite.
How many times did I hear Cosmo’s amazing voice?
Hell, I haven’t a clue.
VFW. Zachary Taylor. Richmond Boat Club. School dances. On the Belle. At the Watterson or Henry Clay or Seelbach Hotel.
The first time, at an Atherton sock hop.
Another memorable moment was when The Sultans opened for the Beach Boys at the Fairgrounds. They wore gold tuxedos.
Cosmo’s singular musical interlude I particularly cherish came at his club, his most successful business venture, The Head Rest. It happened to be the night before the tornado, which closed the joint down for a long while. (Before the neighbors later after its reopening closed it down for good, voting the Crescent Hill precinct dry, because too many of us parked on their lawns and peed in their bushes.)
I can’t recall what band was playing. But Tommy sat in and let loose with the most soulful, inspired version of “St. James Infirmary” I’ve ever heard.
The guy felt it. How many times did I hear him carry on about Bobby Bland or some other blues shouter known mainly by the cognoscenti? I recall him waxing ecstatic when the band worked up a cover of The Capris’ “There’s A Moon Out Tonight.”
For years I tried to get him to join me in New Orleans for JazzFest, regaling him about sets from “The Tan Canary,” Johnny Adams, or Aaron Neville or Bobby Marchan. But there was always Derby week in the way. When I mentioned one year on my return, of hearing Hank Ballard & the Midnighters, Cosmo just sighed, assured me he’d make it down. He never did.
But, oh my, that voice. A perfectly soul-infused, teen rock & roll voice.
Suitably nasal. Slightly thin. Often a quiver. Emanating both yearning and bravado. Full with woe and wonder.
He was a good guy. A friend. My junior year at Atherton, I ate lunch with him daily, along with he who would become Dr. Death, George Nichols.
Yes, Cosmo was a character. Ran a glob of glue in the Derby named Rae’s Jet, who finished last. Owned a place on Fourth Street called Cosmo’s Wiggery. For years had a great Derby Sunday party, when he lived in Pee Wee Valley.
But, above and beyond all the rest, it’s the songs.  “It’ll Be Easy,” of course, The Sultans’ first and biggest hit.
Their cover, with Cosmo singing lead, of The Gladiola’s “Sweetheart Please Don’t Go.”
After Tommy left The Sultan’s for solo gigs with The Counts, there was the cute and clever, “Small Town Gossip.”
“I’m A Little Mixed Up,” which I include because, well, because a lot of you really like it, and because my buddy Mike, who helped me download all these tunes so they could be included here, warned, “You gotta include ‘I’m A Little Mixed Up.”
And my personal favorite, his splendid version of Frank Bugbee’s  haunting “I Belong To Nobody.”
There really isn’t a way to describe how his inimitable croon soothed my soul. Carried me through hard times when only melody could calm the heartache.
Cosmo was one of many coulda woulda shouldas. Most every town had one at the dawn of rock & roll.
But . . . he was a cut way above the rest.
And . . . he was ours.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Singer Tommy ‘Cosmo’ Cosdon, 71, concert to raise money for medical bills will be Oct. 6 2013 at Jim Porter’s Good Time Emporium, Louisville

The Courier Journal 09/07/2013, Page B003
Singer Tommy ‘Cosmo’ Cosdon, 71, dies

He also worked in horse industry



Tommy “Cosmo” Cosdon, widely considered to be the greatest singer to emerge from Louisville’s first wave of rock ’n’ roll bands in the late 1950s, died early Friday. He was 71..

Cosdon was also a veteran of the thoroughbred horse-racing community as a trainer, jockey agent and bloodstock agent. He trained Rae Jet, last-place finisher in the 1969 Kentucky Derby.

“He had two great interests: music and horses,” said longtime friend and band mate Wayne Young. “I’m not sure if horses weren’t first.” Cosdon battled cancer last year and was diagnosed as cancer- free in January, said lifelong friend Jim Harbolt, but the chemotherapy weakened his immune system and led to cerebral histoplasmosis, which causes lesions on the brain.

Harbolt said Cosdon requested no visitation or funeral, but a celebration of his life is being planned. A concert to raise money for Cosdon’s medical bills will be Oct. 6 at Jim Porter’s Good Time Emporium.

Cosdon’s legacy in Louisville will be as a singer and showman, said Marvin Maxwell, who remembers Cosdon galvanizing audiences as a member of The Sultans in the early 1960s. Maxwell later performed with Cosdon in the Shufflin’ Grand Dads, which began in 1992, and the current incarnation of Soul, Inc.

“He was Mr. Showman,” Maxwell said.

Maxwell said that in 1992, the Shufflin’ Grand Dads, which also included Young, performed at a festival in Mainz, Germany, as part of a sister-cities program.

“You can see on the video that it was pretty ho-hum, but when we brought Cosmo on the people got to their feet and he got them so wound up that we had five encores,” Maxwell recalled, “and I swear before the last one I heard the stage manager say, ‘We’d better let them go on again or the crowd’s gonna tear the stage down.’ “And it was Cosmo who got them up and going.”

Cosdon debuted in 1959 as singer of The Sultans, and the band’s 1961 single, “It’ll Be Easy,” was the first by a local group to reach No. 1 on Louisville radio stations. He broke away to start a solo career in 1961 and immediately scored a No. 3 hit with “I’m A Little Mixed Up,” a raw slice of blue-eyed soul.

Young met Cosdon on the recording session for “I’m A Little Mixed Up” and was briefly a member of Cosmo and The Counts, which was formed shortly after “I’m A Little Mixed Up” was released. Cosmo and The Counts became Cosdon’s best-known group, performing off and on for decades.

Cosdon’s voice had crossover appeal, Young said, with a strong rhythm and blues feel. He frequently sang at The Cherry Club in Lebanon, Ky., a successful black nightclub, and was a regular at clubs throughout Kentucky and Indiana.

“He was a natural entertainer and he could just light people up — it was amazing,” Young said. “He could still do it. His voice had gotten better over the years, but it was the energy that he brought that was so impactful.”

“All he had to do was get up on stage and he had the audience in his hands,” Maxwell said. “He did that better than anybody I know of in this area.” 

Contact Jeffrey Lee Puckett at 
(502) 582-4160, jpuckett@courier-journal. com, and on Twitter @JLeePuckett. 

John Thomas "COSMO" Cosdon 22 September 1942--06 September 2013 from Jim Harbolt

John Thomas "COSMO" Cosdon
22 September 1942--06 September 2013

        It is a summer night somewhere in Louisville, sometime in the 1960s or ‘70s, and a party is in progress. A rock n’ roll band – the Sultans? Epics? Monarchs? – is working through its set of dance music, and young couples are working up a sweat doing whatever the current dance craze happens to be. Love is in the air, thick as the cigarette smoke and sweet as the cold beer, and then comes the moment everyone has been awaiting:

“And now put your hands together and let’s welcome…Cosmo!”

And there he is, our very own king of rock n’ roll, already wiping the sweat off his forehead with a white towel as he turns loose that incredible whiskey voice on “High-Heeled Sneaker” or “Hold On, I’m Comin’,” or maybe even one of his hits, something like “You Got Me Goin,’” or “I’m A Little Mixed Up” or one of the others that topped the local charts but never went national.

Say what you will about J.T. “Cosmo” Cosdon – and everybody who ever met him has a story or two or three – the boy could flat sing. He was a white guy who sounded black, which is why he was the only white entertainer allowed to perform in The Cherry Club of Lebanon, Ky., the black nightclub where Little Richard, Tina Turner and others made stops on their way to international fame.

Of course, he was equally welcome at the Golden Horseshoe and the Club 68, the low-budget nightclubs down the road that competed for the hearts – and the spending money – of college kids from Louisville and Central Kentucky. But he was a hit everywhere he performed, from Gypsy Village at Fontaine Ferry Park in Louisville to Joyland Casino in Lexington to the dim little joints in small towns in Saturday Night America.

Cosmo was a consummate showman, a natural entertainer who could work a room with the best. He sang sweet love songs for the ladies and hard rockers for the guys. In his early days, when he was fronting The Sultans, he wore a gold lame Nehru jacket. But in his later years, he would usually just show up in a black shirt. No costumes or tricks for him. Just good ol’ rock n’ roll, soul, and rhythm n’ blues.

As rock singers go, Cosmo was not what you would call a pretty boy. He wasn’t tall and his body expanded, through the years, where he couldn’t really get mad when somebody would call him “the round mound of sound.” He also grew a beard that turned from gray to white as the years went on. But looks never mattered when it came to Cosmo. It was all about the music and the show. Nobody ever left a Cosmo performance unhappy.

Truth be told, a lot of guys wanted to be like Cosmo. He saddled a horse in the 1969 Kentucky Derby, for heaven’s sake. The noble steed’s name was Rae Jet, and he finished last, far up the track from the victorious Majestic Prince, but he was there. That’s what mattered. And woe be the the journalist who ever spoke ill of Rae Jet, as my friend Jim Bolus once did in a story about the worst horses ever to run in the Derby. You want hot? Cosmo was hot.

After he gave up training, he still hung around the horse business. He was a fixture on the backstretch at Churchill Downs the week before the Derby. He worked a while as a jockey’s agent, then spent some time as a bloodstock agent. For a guy like Cosmo, the gypsy-like lifestyle of the racing game was perfect. He loved the action and the hustle. He identified with people looking for a way to get a little edge on this tough proposition known as life.

But, mostly, the reason a lot of guys secretly envied Cosmo was that he always was his own man. Unlike the majority of us, he rejected the 9-to-5 life so he could be his own boss, beholden to nothing except the sometimes erratic beat of his own drummer. He never got rich, or even close to it, and he didn’t care. All it took to make him happy was a pretty woman on his arm, a wad of cash in his pocket, and some good whiskey to wash down the laughs.

The closest he came to the business world was when he owned and operated The Head Rest on Frankfort Avenue. It was a refuge for musicians, hippies, street people, jaded journalists, and lonely hearts. You could always count on finding some great jukebox music there, and, if you were lucky, maybe somebody who could share your broken dreams, at least for a night.

Nobody had more fun than Cosmo. On the golf course, he acted like Titantic Thompson, the legendary hustler who would bet anybody on anything. This wasn’t necessarily the smart thing to do, considering that his game never reminded anybody of Jack Nicklaus. But Tommy didn’t care. Win some, lose some – so what? All that mattered was the fun of it.

Being a local rock icon and saddling a horse in the Kentucky Derby is a pretty good exacta for one lifetime. But there was more to Tommy. He had a serious side that he was loathe to reveal to even his closest friends. Behind the façade he presented to the outside world – a little rough around the edges, irascible, jaded – Cosmo was a softy. He was a sucker for underdogs and for people who were down on their luck. He also loved cats, horses, and little kids.

No telling how many wedding receptions and private parties he did for little more than beer money. He was kind and generous, but just didn’t want anybody to know it. His whims had to drive Tommy Jolly crazy. For years, Tommy was Cosmo’s business manager and a horn player in his band. He shared Cosmo’s love for music and for performing. They never thought about getting rich. The fun and the love was reward enough.

When Cosmo began his career in the late 1950s and early ‘60s, every town in the nation had a kid or a band that wanted to be the next big thing. To become a national celebrity, to get an invitation to appear with Dick Clark on his “American Bandstand” TV show, all you needed was one song, one sound. The “one-hit wonders,” as they were known, were the meteors of the music world, blazing brightly for a short time before vanishing back into the nothingness from whence they came. Does the name Phil Phillips (‘Sea of Love”) mean anything to you?

Cosmo deserved at least that much national fame simply because he was a legitimate talent. He had the pipes and the presence to hit it big. But he never got that one song, that one break, that’s essential in the cruel and whimsical world of pop music. He got close, ever so close, but something always happened to keep him in Louisville, where he was the darling of WAKY and WKLO back when those stations were playing the local artists over and over. 

But nobody should feel sorry for Tommy because his story is not a sad one. There is something to be said for being a local star. When you think about all the senior proms, sock hops, reunions, and weddings that he played over 50-something years, it’s possible to make the argument that he brought happiness to more people than any single Louisvillian of his generation.

Even when he was fronting for the Sultans, the Counts or another group, there was no question that Cosmo was the star. All he had to do to kick a party into high gear was hit the first note. He was equally at home strutting under the bright lights of a big stage or getting down in a dark and sweaty club where the beer flowed in a golden river and the parking lot was as good a place as any for a fight.

Louisville will not see his like again. Society has changed too much. Much of what passes today for music is an affront to Cosmo’s version of “Summertime” or “Unchained Melody.” Kids and young adults don’t go dancing anymore, so there’s no Gypsy Village or Colonial Gardens. Nevertheless, good ol’ rock n’ roll is hardly dead. It’s just on Medicare, that’s all.

As Tommy became progressively ill, his body shrank and his voice was reduced to a barely audible croak. It was difficult for his friends to imagine that the good times were over because Cosmo, throughout hundreds of concerts, had promised us they would last forever.

But, in a sense, he was right. They’ll last at least as long as there’s anybody still around who can remember what it was like when Cosmo was in the house and it was showtime and here came that voice, sending us off on another night of fun and love and good ol’ rock n’ roll.

Jim Harbolt

Please pass this along to friends and fans of our friend, Cosmo!