I was both surprised and saddened by the recent passing of Tim Hauser just a week ago. He was not only the guy who founded the famous vocal group The Manhattan Transfer; he was a friend and did a weekly vocal music show on KCRW back when I was Music Director. His show was called Sunday Sings Jazz on Sundays and was on from noon till 2 PM. He was a great lover of music and life and wore his heart on his sleeve. You could hear it in his voice when he sang, as well as when he was doing his radio shows.
Tim, as frontman of the Transfer while his KCRW show was running, was on the road a lot. He would come in, record his shows onto DAT or reel-to-reel. He was always well-prepared with his playlist printed out, and always brought original-issue 45 rpm 7″ sides in order to get the most authentic sound. When he needed a sub, he always called on his chum, Billy Vera. Musically, they were on the same page: two peas in a pod.
Eventually, I gave Billy Vera a show, too. He featured a lot of ’50s R&B, doo-wop, and jazz. I didn’t know it at the time, but found out later that he had written and produced some #1 hit records for Bonnie Raitt and Lou Rawls. Billy also had his own popular band, Billy and the Beaters. Today, he fronts a big jazz band.
In remembrance of Tim, it seemed only natural to invite Billy over to share some of Tim’s favorite songs and personal stories, which is what today’s show is all about. Both guys had serious 45 rpm singles collections and big classic Seeburg jukeboxes at home to play them on. They were close friends and share a deep appreciation for each other’s tastes.
Tim Hauser founded the Transfer while driving around Manhattan making ends meet as a cab driver. Two of his fares turned out to be jazz singers: Janis Siegel and Laurel Massé—both of whom joined the band in its first incarnation. Massé was severely injured in a near-fatal auto accident in 1979 and had to leave the band, which was when Cheryl Bentyne stepped in. It didn’t take long for The Manhattan Transfer to become the top vocal group with hits like “Operator,” “Tuxedo Junction,” “Route 66,” and their version of Joe Zawinul’s song “Birdland.” The group’s amazing talent and impeccable four-part harmonies won them numerous Grammies and took them on major tours all over the world.
Tim Hauser was born in Troy, New York, on the dark day of December 12, 1941, when America was heading into World War II. He grew up mostly on the Jersey Shore, in Asbury Park and Ocean Township. He took to vocal pop music at an early age and sang in various ensembles. But it was in 1956, when he heard the group, Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, that his path was forged. Tim once told me that hearing them was like “God hitting me with that lightning bolt saying, ‘Here it is, kid. If you miss it, it ain’t my fault.'”
Tim Hauser, you are loved and will be missed. You were a great musician and human being.
Billy and I have chosen ten of Tim’s’ favorite songs to share with all of you. I hope you enjoy them.
Here are two videos of The Manhattan Transfer performing “Operator” and “Java Jive.”
Watch Tim on “Java Jive” as his alter-ego ‘Cadillac Daddy.’ Vocalist Laurel Massé is featured in this early Manhattan Transfer video.
Rhythm Planet Playlist: 10/24/14
- Count Basie & Joe Williams / “Goin’ to Chicago” / Jazz Tribute to Chicago / U-5
- The Videos / “Trickle, Trickle” / Goldisc Records from the Vault Vol. 1 / Goldisc
- The Chantels / “He’s Gone” / The Best Of the Chantels / Rhino
- The Charts / “Why Do You Cry” / The Jesters Meet the Charts Doo Wop / Classic Records
- Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers / “ABC’s of Love” / The Best of Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers / Rhino Atlantic
- The Heartbeats / “Crazy for You” / Single / Roulette
- The Love Notes / “If I Could Make You Mine” / Harlem Holiday Vol. 1 / Oldies.com
- The Flamingos / “Golden Teardrops” / The Only Doo Wop Album You’ll Ever Need / AP Music LTD
- The Cliques / “Girl in My Dreams” / The Book Of Love / Cherished Records
- The Harptones / “That’s the Way it Goes” / That’s the Way It Goes / Collectables