Saturday, April 5, 2014


That tough looking lady above is Carol Doda. If you've spent a good amount of time in San Francisco, there's a high probability that you know who she is. She's kind of an icon up there. She was on the marquee at the Condor Club for years, the star attraction from the early sixties through the eighties. An exotic dancer who kept bumping and grinding into her mid-forties. Longevity is one thing, The real reason she's so well known is because she was the first topless dancer. Later when the sizzle started wearing off, she became the first bottomless dancer. But that's not why she's here.

While Doda was at the Condor, the singer performing the soundtrack to all of the carrying on was Bobby Freeman. Freeman had a hit at age seventeen with "Do You Wanna Dance" in 1958. He followed it up with a few singles and LPs, but nothing matched the success of the first record. By the time he ended up at the Condor he was two years removed from recording, and his window was closing. Then, in 1963, when Doda went toplesss, you can guess what happened. The crowds started getting bigger, and the shake meant added attention for Freeman. And that's where young A&R man for a new label, Autumn Records, spotted him. A twenty year old Sylvester Stewart, who would later be known as Sly Stone, signed him, wrote "C'mon and Swim", and got him in the studio, producing the session and playing organ on it. The song was a hit, and it may never have happened had Doda kept her top on. Hurray for boobs.

Hat's off to On the Flip-Side for hepping me to the Doda factoid. One last thing, check the last three songs below. Freeman's earlier stuff has wicked guitar all over it. If you tell me it's Mickey Baker, I'm gonna freak.

Bobby Freeman - Do You Wanna Dance mp3 at DK Presents 1958
Bobby Freeman - C'mon And Swim mp3 at Beware of the Blog 1964
Bobby Freeman - S-W-I-M mp3 at Junk Shop Juke Box
Bobby Freeman - Big Fat Woman mp3 at Rocky 52
Bobby Freeman - Betty Lou Got a New Pair of Shoes mp3 at Rocky 52 1958
Bobby Freeman - Mardi Gras Rock mp3 at Rocky 52 1959

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