Billy Joe & The Checkmates

b. Louis Bideu, 21 March 1919, El Paso, Texas, USA. Under the pseudonym Billy Joe Hunter he fronted this fictitious recording group. Bideau, or Lew Bedell as he was then known, started in showbusiness as a comedian and had his own radio show in New York in the mid-50s. In the early 60s he teamed up with noted arranger/composer Ernie Freeman, who had recently had a big hit with ‘Raunchy’. Together they wrote a catchy xylophone-led instrumental that they named ‘Percolator’, as it reminded them of the sound of coffee percolating. As it was early 1962, they added the almost obligatory word ‘Twist’ to the title and the record flew into the US Top 10. Maxwell House coffee used this perky tune for a US television commercial. Billie Joe continued to record charming instrumentals with titles such as ‘One More Cup’ and ‘Claire De Looney’, but never again achieved chart status.

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