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We finally met at Butlin's Skegness – Sept 2014.
The History of Judy Street and the track WHAT !
Judy was born in Indiana in 1949, married a Corner, and soon became known as Street-Corner. Judy Street seemed like a much easier name for a recording artist, so when the opportunity arose, she dropped the Corner name and readily assumed her new identity. Her musical influence came from her father who was a concert pianist and her mother a flute player in a marching band. The family moved to Phoenix and were well known in the area, with Judy soon becoming the main attraction, singing and playing percussion with her father.
Conrad Bachmann found Judy in Phoenix, Arizona, singing in a bar. He said, “Do you want to be a star?”
Sept 1968, in Hollywood, California, “What” was made but it was supposed to be the “B” side of the 45, somehow, the record was sent to England in the 70's where it was played by a DJ 's at Wigan Casino and became a monster hit and only many years later via Napster that Judy discovered that “What” was number 23 in the top 500 Northern Soul Hits.
Judy says: I did not write the song, H B Barnum wrote it. He was the producer in Hollywood that Conrad hired to make this record. Conrad was an actor/manager at the time and I lived in Phoenix and I was singing in a band in Phoenix at a club called the Ramada Inn. He was just traveling to Phoenix on business and listened to me sing and loved my voice. He wanted to manage my career and the first thing he did was move me to California and set up the recording of “What” and “You Turn Me On” with H B Barnum.
The "A" side was "You Turn Me On". H B also wrote this song but co-wrote it with Ben Raleigh. At the time I was only 19 years old and everyone thought that this would be a very cute and a little bit sexy idea for a young girl to sing. These were the songs that H B picked out for me. He really was in charge and I believe he was the one who sent the song to the UK, about 1973. As the writer, I hope he received some writer's royalties on his song, but I really don't know.
The Strider label (meaning - moving forward) was created especially for this release by Conrad Bachman and Little John who was a character actor in Hollywood at that time.
The recording was quite an experience, I was backed by the incredibly talented Blossoms who were doing a lot of similar session work at the time. There was a full string section and a small brass section, and of course the complete rhythm section. My contract with my manager was for a limited amount of time and needing to pay the bills, I moved on to join a group called, "The Swingin' Society" who toured the U. S. extensively, working for large hotels, mainly singing top 40's hits and show tunes.
I never even knew about the song being a huge hit. If I did, I could have done a tour of England and promoted my career with that hit. I never did get to go to England and perform. The only thing I heard about in 1973, is that a group called "Soft Cell" had recorded a cover of my song “What.”
I was asked to do the magazine article, after they found out who I was, and wanted an interview about the singer, Judy Street. I really didn't realize how BIG this song was from 1973. It was played so much at Wigan Casino, that I heard the story, every time I sang the chorus, "Oh tell me, WHAT" Everyone would CLAP on the word "What". EVERYTIME!
23 out of 500!! WOW
For the years, from 1970 through 1990, Judy performed with her own bands, singing and drumming, all over the United States including Bermuda to Hawaii. In 2005, the “real” Judy Street was introduced to Northern Soul, Great Britain and she did several interviews in magazines, books and on radio.
Judy Street - 2011
I currently teach piano and drums in my home studio in Nashville, TN. I love being able to “give back” to the music world. My students range from the age of 5 to 18, beginners to advanced. In my studio each week, I see almost 40 students. They participate in a Costume Recital in October, Pianorama in November, a Christmas Recital in December, a SACC (Scales, Arpeggios, Chords, Cadences) testing in April and a Studio Recital in May. I am blessed each year to see their progress.
My husband and I have 4 children between us. Taylor lives in California and writes and produces movie soundtracks. Beth lives in Colorado and is a singer and musician and song writer. Sean lives in Southern California and is an actor. Shannon is finishing up his under-graduate degree in Trumpet Performance. As you can see, they all are artists in their own right.
My husband, Tom is a guitar player, singer and song writer and plays in Nashville with his own band. When I am not busy with students, I sit in with his band at the club, Rippy's. When you get to the United States, come in to see us at Rippy's in downtown Nashville!
I will sing “What” for you.
By: Judy Street - November 2011
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