SEATTLE SONGSTRESS, Lola Sugia is a charming vocalist whose professional career began back in 1940. Over the years she fronted several of the town's highest profile dance bands including those led by Jackie Souders, Pep Perry, Curt Sykes, Max Pillar, Norm Hoagy, & Wyatt Howard. In addition: she'd been a childhood friend of Seattle's pop star, Bonnie Guitar, the sister of prominent area bandleader & accordionist, Frank Sugia (who was a longtime peer of jazz great, Joe Venuti) – and her daughter is the active jazz singer, Maia Santell.
It was in 1959 that she met radio personality, Johnny Forrest, while recording some radio jingles for him at KOL which was based at the Northern Life Tower (1212 Third Avenue). That same year was when Tacoma's pioneering rock band, the Wailers, saw their classic discs issued by the New York-based label, Golden Crest Records. That deal came about when the teenaged band was being briefly managed by Atillio "Art" Mineo – an old-school Italian restaurateur & orchestra leader. Mineo had earlier formed a partnership with Seattle's top audio engineer, Joe Boles -- & their music firm's name was a contraction of their surnames: Bolmin Publishing. The Wailers soon dumped Mineo – he was too controlling & didn't have any feel for rock 'n' roll – but his connection with Golden Crest (which stemmed from his own New York days where he'd been associated with Paul "The King of Jazz" Whiteman's orchestra) remained intact & he also got Tacoma's Chessmen signed to the label.
At one point Golden Crest executives visited Seattle where they held auditions in a ballroom at the Olympic Hotel (411 University Street). Among those who auditioned were Seattle's hot R&B combo, the Counts (who weren't signed), & Seattle's "Scandihoovian" musical humorist, Stan Boreson (who was signed). And too, a combo of local rock 'n' roll-hating jazzmen cut a parody tune -- "Disgusting" -- recorded it with Boles, & Golden Crest released their 45 under the pseudonym of the Byron Gosh Trio.
It was 1960 when Sugia & Forrest married & also cut two delightful pop tunes he had penned: "Blue Tears" & "Weathervane." The recording session occurred at Boles' home studio (3550 Admiral Way) & it featured some notable jazzmen: Phil Odle (piano), Joe Adams (sax), Al Weid (bass), Norm Hoagy (vibes), & Keith Purvis (drums). Upon release, "Blue Tears" (with Sugia's sweetly overdubbed harmonies & Odle's winning piano triplets) garnered a bit of airplay on KOL & KING radio – & it must have sold reasonably well for Golden Crest as it used to be a common item in the Northwest's used record shops, but today it is rather scarce. Nice to hear that it will appear on the forthcoming Best of Golden Crest CD!