"Eddie's Story"

Foreword . . .

Perhaps one of the most prolific artists of the mid-twentieth century: Little has ever been written of this remarkable man and the legacies he left behind. A musician, a singer, a poet, a composer, an arranger and a producer: If the question were ever asked, which of these did Eddie do best? The answer of course would be ––All of the above. The foregoing depicts the life events of Eddie Sulik; a story of how one man touched the lives of so many through his God given gift.

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"How The Legacy Began"

Born in Sagamore, Pennsylvania, during the depression, Eddie Sulik was the youngest of eleven children. His father worked as a coal miner. Both Eddie’s parents migrated from Czechoslovakia in the early 1900s. Eddie's family moved from Pennsylvania to a small farm in Stratford, Connecticut, when he was just a boy.

By the age of twelve, Eddie borrowed a guitar from his older brother who taught him a few chords. Eddie’s mother had an almost operatic voice; she would sing ethnic folk songs to the children, Eddie would follow in harmony. His debut concert performance was at a seventh grade talent show, at the Eli Whitney Elementary School. He literally brought his teachers and classmates to tears with his performance of the tearjerker –– “Old Shep”.

In his youth, Eddie was quite an athlete. At the age of 19, he tried out as a pitcher for the New York Yankees. He didn't make the team, but, did sign a minor league baseball contract with a Leavenworth, Kansas ball club, that was on contract with the New York Yankees. After his first season, Eddie grew tired of traveling, and returned home to Connecticut.

Eddie's first love was always music; relatives say, that he would sit on the porch of his family’s small farmhouse and practice guitar for hours on end. Listening to Country & Western radio shows, Eddie would sound out the notes and chords on his guitar and write down each lyric. As a musician, he was completely self-taught.

Eddie working in construction at age 19

He left this job for a short-lived career in baseball

In 1951 Eddie was drafted into the U.S. Army. He served most of his term stationed in Anchorage, Alaska, during the Korean War. Eddie joined a C&W band and played weekend furloughs at a local pub, just outside of Anchorage. One of the pub's patrons told a local radio station about Eddie's performances. The station invited Eddie to play his guitar and sing 'live' on their radio show; Eddie obliged.

At the time, Eddie was covering a lot of Hank Snow's material. When performing on stage, many people in the audience that heard Hank Snow's records, but didn't know what he looked like, thought that Eddie was actually Hank, because he sound so much like the country legend.

After being discharged from the Army, Eddie returned home to Connecticut. He worked days in construction, operating heavy excavation equipment. After work, he played with various C&W bands. One of the earlier bands he played with was a band called 'Lou Marvin and The Sons of the West'.

One Saturday night, while on a date, Eddie took a drive to Secaucus, New Jersey, to visit the 'Copa Club', owned by famed Country singer and recording artist, Shorty Warren. The 'Copa Club' was one of the largest C&W nightclubs in the Northeast. The house band always wore full western wear; and the walls were covered with framed photographs of artists that performed there, including Country legends such as Elton Brit and Hank Williams Sr.

Shorty Warren was at his club that night, and stopped by the couple's table to be cordial. During their conversation, Eddie mentioned that he sang and played guitar. Warren asked Eddie if he'd like to get up onstage and do a song for the audience. Feeling that he was Put on-the-spot, Eddie paused for a moment and said, "sure, why not?" He asked if the house band could back him on the song "I'm Movin' On". Warren said, "I don't see why not, they backed Hank Snow on the song when he played here at the club".

The response from the audience was overwhelming. Shorty Warren said that the performance was as good as Hank Snow's, and offered Eddie a job, right there and then, to play with his house band. Eddie told Warren that he lived in Connecticut, and that the commute would be just too much. However, he did stand by his offer to fill in with the band when Shorty was in a bind.

During the mid-1950s Eddie was busy writing songs, and became involved with a new style of music called Rockabilly. Friends, Ray Buzzeo and Al DeFelice had a local band called the 'Country Cousins'. They were actually a Country duo with a few sidemen. (Buzzeo, later became a favorite Nashville session musician/songwriter with Pete Drake, during the 1960s.) Eddie filled in for the band during certain performances; in return, the 'Country Cousins' provided Eddie with session accomaniment on some of his early demo recordings.

Tuning-up before a Country and Western show

In 1956, Eddie married his sweetheart, Jean; a stunning redhead whom he had met a few years earlier, while home on furlough from the army. The couple drove to California for their honeymoon. On the way, they stopped at the Ozark Jubilee in Missouri. Eddie struck up a conversation with the stage manager and played one of his demos for the man. The man was quite impressed and gave Eddie the name of a producer and booking agent in Los Angeles. When the couple arrived in California, they dropped by to see the agent. After hearing Eddie's demo record, Eddie was offered a job at a top LA nightclub. The job was to start in three weeks, with a starting salary of $1,500.00 per week. Although the offer was tempting, it came with no long-term commitment. Eddie regretfully, declined the offer.

Back in Connecticut, Eddie started playing a gig at the Emerald Room and Soundview Hotel; a first-rate nightclub, located directly on the water-front of the Long Island Sound, in the town of Milford. The club was known for live music and comedy, including headlining acts such as Frank Sinatra; Jackie Gleason and Lenny Bruce. But, mostly, the club was known for its popular burlesque acts that would come in from New York City; including names like Gypsy Rosalie and Marta Dane. Eddie started playing a one-man show during the dancer’s intermissions. Eventually, he became the club’s resident Master of Ceremonies.

Eddie on stage at the Emerald Room

One afternoon in 1959, Eddie stopped by Columbia Records' offices that were located in Bridgeport, Connecticut, with a demo of his latest composition, "Loving' and Losing". Eddie hoped that one of Columbia's artists might consider recording the song, therefore earning him at least a songwriter's royalty.

Don Law, Director of Artists and Repertoire of Columbia's Country and Western division, happened to be in from Nashville. Law agreed to meet with Eddie, and said that he might have someone for the song. However, months later, Law phoned Eddie and offered him a contract to record the song himself.

During the time that lapsed from their last meeting, Eddie started rehearsing with a guitar player and background singer from his hometown. Eddie suggested that Law sign them both as a duo. Law was at first hesitant, being that he never heard how the two sound together. Law said that he would back Eddie with the finest session musicians and background singers that Nashville had to offer. Law said that Eddie didn't need any further accompaniment and that the deal was strictly for him.

After further persuasion by Eddie, Law came around, especially after realizing the impact that the Everly Brothers were making as a Pop duo. Law later admitted that he had regrets for not signing the Everly Brothers when he had the opportunity to do so years earlier.

On November 2, 1959, Eddie arrived in Nashville with his new singing partner. Originally, they were to go by the name "the Long Island Sound". The name was later changed to the Echoes, with mutual consent by the label prior to release of their first record.

The recording session took place at Bradley Film and Recording Studio on 16th Avenue (Music Row) in Nashville, Tennessee. The session started at 2:30 p.m., and ran to around 6:30 p.m. (including one hour of overtime). Law was confident with Eddie singing the lead, but was still concerned with the background vocals. Law took no chances, he brought in the "Anita Kerr Singers" to sing background vocals, however, the Echoes kept tight harmonies throughout. The Anita Kerr singers did however, add a nice touch to the recordings.

Law brought in heavyweight guitarists, Hank (Sugarfoot) Garland and Grady Martin; Martin, also co-produced the session with Don Law. Joe Zinkan played bass, and Buddy Harman played drums.

Members of this group were part of Nashville's inner circle of session musicians, nicknamed Nashville's A-Team. They were later credited by many, as the creators of the original 'Nashville Sound'. Their performances can be heard, either individually or collectively, on recordings that include those of Elvis Presley, the Everly Brothers, Marty Robbins, Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Buddy Holly, Brenda Lee, Willie Nelson and Hank Williams Sr., to name just a few.

In the studio, the producers listened closely to the demo records that Eddie brought in a briefcase. They selected four of Eddie's original compositions. The songs that they selected were titled: "Do I Love You? - 'Deed I Do", "Loving' and Losing', "Ecstasy", and a new song that Eddie had just written titled, "Bye-Bye My Baby". They paired the arrangements so close to Eddie's original demos, that the play times were identical.

Don Law was extremely pleased with the outcome of the recording session. He told Eddie that his vocals were every bit as powerful as that of Elvis Presley, and that the Echoes were sure to make a big Hit.

The next month, the Echoes performed 'live' with the Anita Kerr Singers at the Columbia Records' Christmas party, for the executives and employees of the label. Their debut performance was well received by all.

When the records were released in January, 1960; The Echoes were in demand for radio interviews, TV appearances, and live performances throughout the Northeastern United States. They appeared on stage with superstars: Johnny Tillotson; The Temptations; The Duke Ellington Orchestra; Johnny Burnette; The Bachelors and many others. Television shows in which they appeared, included “Clay Cole’s Dance Party”, airing live from Palisades Park in New Jersey. In 1960 they even ran a brief New England tour with the Miss Universe Pageants, headlining with the Richard Maltby Orchestra.

Turn back your clock-radio to 1960


An original un-touched photograph: Camera on Eddie

1960 TV appearance: The Echoes on Connecticut Bandstand

By the summer of 1960, all four of the Echoes recordings (Eddie's compositions) received favorable reviews in Billboard, while reaching Top-Ten status on local charts within the Northeast.

(REPRINT) - BILLBOARD: “Reviews of THIS WEEK’S SINGLES- July 4, 1960.”



*** Bye Bye My Baby - COLUMBIA 41549- Interesting novelty in the rocker style is sung pleasantly here by the group, backed brightly by the combo -BMI

** Do I Love You - The Echoes handle this swinging rocker with gusto over good support -BMI

*** Loving and Losing - COLUMBIA 41709- A weepy country ballad. The boys have a pleasant rural harmony sound not unlike that of the Everlys. Nice easy-going listening -BMI (2:41)

*** Ecstasy - There’s a Latin tinge to this relaxed ballad. Boys again hand it a nice harmony reading in front of guitar support -BMI (2:32)

Historically, the Echoes records couldn’t have been released during a worst time. It was the height of the infamous payola probe. The scandal broke when it was reported that certain recording artists and their managers were illegally paying radio stations for airplay. Although the Echoes had no involvement with payola, they became innocent victims of the paranoia it brought forth. The scandal was definitely limiting airplay for the duo outside of the Northeast. Don Law suggested, they take on a national tour to promote the records until this all blew over. The Echoes manager had other ideas. All this led to differences (artistic and other) and the duo decided to part in 1961.

Packing the house during every performance, Eddie was performing up to four nights per week at the Emerald Room as a solo performer. He never actually stopped doing his one man show at the club, even during the Echoes period.

Between 1961 and 1965 Eddie wrote, arranged and produced some of his very best works. Eddie incorporated various degrees of Rock & Roll; Country & Western; Pop; Swing; and Latin sounds into a style all his own.

Archie Bleyer, the former Head of Cadence Records, heard about Eddie’s recent works. Years earlier, Bleyer made quite an impact on the career of the Everly Brothers. Two weeks before Christmas of 1965, Bleyer invited Eddie to his New York City office to discuss a recording and publishing deal. Bleyer also arranged for Producer Chet Atkins to attend. Atkins was top man at RCA Victor at the time. But tragedy struck the night before. Eddie was involved in a fatal car accident while coming home from a business dinner meeting. The accident happened when a tire blowout forced his car into a tree. At the age of 36, Eddie left behind three young children, including a fifteen month old boy named Eddie after his father.

The record executives never heard the recordings Eddie prepared for their meeting. The songs were kept’ out of public circulation for over three decades; packed away in a briefcase just as Eddie left them. But this was not the purpose for which these songs were intended. God gave Eddie a gift in which he willingly shared with others. He left behind a remarkable legacy of compositions and archived performances. Through the new CD titled "A Farewell Legacy", Eddie’s final masterpeices have now been made available for the first time ever for all the public to embrace.

Copyright 1999; Revised Copyright 2000; Edward Michael Sulik. All Rights Reserved.

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Eddie Sulik's Farewell Legacy

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