While I’m sharing music folks I met in Las Vegas, I must share my experience working with one of the giants of the music of the fifties. Samuel “Buck” Ram was a pivotal talent whose vision and influence opened the door for African American performers to have their efforts released on the major labels of the day. His most popular group was The Platters. Styled after the Mills Brothers and Ink Spots, his Platters went one step further by including a female singer. The lead of that first group was Tony Williams. Many ‘leads’ followed including Sonny Turner and Monroe Powell. After my tenure at KORK, Buck and his partner in Personality Productions, Inc., Jeanie Bennett, asked me to join them as Buck’s Assistant. That really meant to assist Jeanie in finding performance sites for the group; writing news releases and publicity articles and (the most interesting assignment) driving Buck around, listening to his stories and accompaning him to ‘recording sessions’. He had the original tracks for all The Platters’ hits and was determined to add orchestra to them. He felt there was another opportunity to get the top of the charts with a ‘formal classic’ sound. Buck died before that dream became a reality. Wipedia has the story of Buck’s Platters and you will find it most interesting. His story would make an interesting read. Buck Ram had suffered a stroke and had difficulty talking, but when he did talk, it was like taking a class in Pop Music 601. Buck was of Jewish descent, but there was no evidence of practicing his faith. He had a tendency to push the envelope of legality, yet never crossing that line. He enjoyed saying, “But as a Christian, you wouldn’t go along with my plans, right?” I knew that much of what he would propose was to see if I rose the the bait. He was a gentle giant of the music industry, whose vision, genius and determination resulted in benefits for performers and many hours of memories in musical magic for all of us to enjoy. There may be those who found fault with Buck Ram, but shall always love the man who loved his performers and those with whom he labored. Buck Ram left us in 1991, but his time here lives on in his music. Every time you hear, “Only You” or “The Great Pretender” or “Magic Touch” or “Twilight Time” or get nostalgic when you hear, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”, think kindly of Samuel “Buck” Ram and his legacy. He made the night a little brighter, donchaknow.
(Tomorrow I will share some interesting stories shared by Buck)