Sunday, February 21, 2010

Roots of the Cramps #2 P.J. Proby


P. J. Proby (born James Marcus Smith), under the further pseudonym of "Jett Powers," recorded an incredible one-chord song called "Go Girl Go." The Cramps borrowed the music, wrote new lyrics, and sent it back out into the world as "Weekend On Mars."

P. J. Proby (born James Marcus Smith, November 6, 1938, Houston, Texas, United States) is a singer, songwriter, and actor who has portrayed Elvis Presley and Roy Orbison in musical theater productions as well as enjoying a successful recording career in his own right. The stage name P. J. Proby was suggested to him by his friend Sharon Sheeley[1] who had had a boyfriend of the same name at high school. In 2008, Proby celebrated his 70th birthday and EMI released the Best Of The EMI Years 1961-1972.

Proby was educated at San Marcos Military Academy, Culver Naval Academy and Western Military Academy. After graduation he moved to California to become a motion picture actor and recording artist. Given the stage name Jett Powers by top Hollywood agents Gabey, Lutz, Heller and Loeb,[2] he took acting and singing lessons, and appeared in movies with small roles. Two singles "Go, Girl, Go", and "Loud Perfume", were released on an independent label. Proby was brought by Sharon Sheeley to audition at Liberty Records in 1961 and he recorded a number of unsuccessful singles for the label. In 1962 he began writing songs and recording demos for artists such as Elvis Presley and Bobby Vee.

Proby travelled to London after being introduced to Jack Good by Sheeley and Jackie DeShannon. He appeared on The Beatles' television special in 1964. Under the production of Good, Proby scored a string of exuberantly-styled UK top 20 hits in 1964 and 1965 including "Hold Me", "Together" (featuring session guitarists Big Jim Sullivan and Jimmy Page), "Somewhere" and "Maria" (the latter two taken from the musical West Side Story). Further, of particular note to Beatles fans, Proby recorded the Lennon/McCartney composition "That Means a Lot," a song The Beatles had attempted several times before deciding to give it away. Despite these hits, Proby's UK career gradually lost momentum after a number of controversial live appearances - including a notorious trouser-splitting incident at a February 1965 show in Luton - led to performance bans by the ABC theatre chain, its TV namesake and BBC TV. A run of minor hits in 1966 was followed by a number of flops, and in March 1968 "It's Your Day Today" gave Proby his last UK chart entry for nearly 30 years.

In the early 1990s Proby was offered a recording contract by John G. Sutton from the Preston based, J'Ace Records. This led to the release of a single "Stage of Fools", and an album entitled, Thanks. It was distributed internationally by BMG. Granada TV featured Proby in a documentary and BBC TV featured Proby, on their current affairs programme This Week. Proby suffered a heart attack whilst on holiday in Florida in 1992 which curtailed his activities until the following year. Then he reappeared on stage in the biographical musical Good Rockin Tonight, followed by playing himself in Only The Lonely. A year later Proby returned to a new production of Elvis - The Musical, and released the album Legend. The album featured songwriting and production contributions from Marc Almond, and Neal X from Sigue Sigue Sputnik. A resulting single, "Yesterday Has Gone", a duet with Almond, reached number 58 on the UK Singles Chart at the end of 1996.

In 2002, Van Morrison recorded a song for his album Down the Road entitled "Whatever Happened to P.J. Proby?" In November 2008, Proby celebrated his 70th birthday. To commemorate the year, EMI released a 25-track retrospective, Best Of The EMI Years 1961-1972. This featured A-side and B-side of his singles, eight rarities that debuted on the CD format, and two previously unreleased recordings (which were Les Reed and Barry Mason's "Delilah"; and Jim Ford's "I'm Ahead If I Can Quit While I'm Behind"). Reed wrote the song "Delilah" for Proby's 1968 studio album Believe It Or Not, but it was omitted from the finished release. Also around this time, Proby wrote and recorded a Christmas single entitled "The Bells Of Christmas Day" along with local guitarist and producer, Andy Crump. (Wikifuckinpedia)


  1. P.J.Proby......what a singer & personality!!
    One of the greatest names in showbusiness but has never been given the credit his incredible talent deserves!!

  2. now dis guy can sing listen to maria no one can sing like pj

  3. No Justice!!!