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DONNIE BROOKS


Donnie Brooks' Family and Friends Tribute Video

Dear One and All,
         Thanks to all who donated time, energy, talent and their support to make the Donnie Brooks Memorial show a fantastic success! It was an honor to MC this event for my friend and evident from the heartfelt testimonials offered that Donnie will surely be missed by all. Hands down, it was a great affair with an impressive turn out from fans, friends, family and Donnie's showbiz contemporaries who came to perform and pay tribute to Mr. Mission Bell.
         With over twenty acts including the likes of: Al Wilson (Show & Tell); Bob Duncan (of the Diamonds); Jewels Akin (Birds & the Bees); Robert Zapata (of Cannibal & the Head Hunters); Alan Clark & Glen Glenn doin' their Rockabilly; Brandon Scott (the Great Scott performed his magic); and ... (Forgive me for not listing them/you all) ... and all backed brilliantly by Jerry Cole, Billy Cormier, Ronnie Jayne, Howard Deere and (I'm sorry - I can't recall the other names at the moment but they were a sterling group of musicians!!!) ... and ... Whew! I bet that Elks Club in Burbank never rocked like that before!
         In closing, I hope you enjoy the attached slideshow and these few lines of mine. - Ari

Life of the Party
        ©Ari Dane 2007
They said he was the life of the party
Everybody claimed him as a friend
Everybody said they're gonna' miss him
I guess that's what matters in the end
        He said you should always leave Îem laughin'
        He greeted everybody with a smile
        I once saw him helpin' out a stranger
        You won't see his likes in quite a while
Some people have a lot of secrets
Some people always hedge their bet
One thing we always knew for certain
What you see is what you gonna' get
        A rambler and a gambler takin' chances
        Playin' safe never was his style
        With appetite and love for all life offered
        I still can see him burnin' up the miles
They said he was the life of the party
Everybody claimed him as a friend
Everybody said they're gonna' miss him
I guess that's what matters in the end




Born John Dee Abohosh in Dallas, Texas on Feb 06 1936, this young man was destined to become one of Rock and Roll and Rockabilly's brightest stars.

He assumed the name Johnny Fairecloth when his stepfather adopted him, and moved the family to the San Deigo, California area. Johnny became interested in music at an early age and began performing at school functions to standing ovations from his fellow students.

The family then moved to Ojhi, Calif. where he attended, as he says, "Our Lady Of Perpetual Punishment School". He actually attended Sacred Heart Grammar School and Vila Nova High, where his vocal teacher, Mrs. Reardon, got him on a radio station in Ventura, Calif. station (KBCC) doing a 15 minute classical music show. Al Berkman a local promoter and Eddie Fisher's vocal coach began teaching Johnny stage, dance and music presentation.

He began singing for various local clubs, fairs, weddings, and doing some demo recordings for a local label in Los Angeles, Fable Records. He eventually recorded three singles for Fable using the name Johnny Faire. All were numbered #601 for some unknown reason.

From there he signed with Surf label doing demos again, but as fate would have it his great friend and mentor Dorsey Burnette had recorded a little song called" Bertha Lou", but was still under contract to Coral Records, so Surf couldn't release it! The owner of surf called on Johnny Faire to recut the vocal track by taking Dorsey's vocal off and inserting Johnny Faire's voice on what has become one of the premiere rockabilly classic's of all time!

Johnny Faire then moved onto Jolt label for one record using the name Johnny Jordan. Jordan being the name of the owner of the record company.

Then a one shot deal with a major label of the time Era Records, again recording a Rockabilly classic "Hollywood Party" under the name Dick Bush. The name being a high school joke. He so impressed Era owners, Herb Newman and Lew Bidell, with his vocals, he was signed to a contract with Era and Became DONNIE BROOKS.

His first recording as Donnie Brooks was a sad love song (popular at the time) called White Orchid, which was released on the west coast to moderate success selling over 50,000 copies. This proved to the company he was a sellable talent. (NOTE Australian sales were around 200,000 copies and charted there in the #1 position).

Herb Newman, owner of Era records, was confident he had a star on his hands and purchased a song titled "Wishing Well" written by Willam Michels which he, Donnie and Dorsey Burnette rewrote. Burnette had a hit at the time named" Tall Oak Tree" and that line was added to the now titled "MISSION BELL" ... How tall? Taller than the tallest tree. "Mission Bell" to date has sold over 8,000,000 copies! This earned Donnie his first of Three Gold records. His follow up hit was "Doll House" (5,000,000 copies). Quickly followed by Memphis with 2,500,000 copies. They were right - a new star was on the scene! His appearances on Dick Clark's Bandstand brought him to the attention of the world and movie producers.



Donnie Appeared in Three
Motion Pictures:


"A Swingin' Summer" with Raquel Welch!
"Get Yourself A College Girl" with Nancy Sinatra, and
"The Love-ins" starring James McArthur.






Donnie started touring with many of the popular rock acts of the time such as the great Roy Orbison, Jan and Dean, Bobby Vee, Connie Frances, Johnny and Dorsey Burnette and even The Dave Clark 5.

Sammy Davis hired Donnie to open for himself and Frank Sinatra at Frank's Lake Tahoe casino for one year! He also has been the opening act and M/C for Reba, Bob Hope, Mel Tillis and Glen Campbell.




CLICK HERE


Page posted December, 2003






© Rockabilly Hall of Fame (R)