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ROSA LEE BROOKS

NAPOLEON XIV
Definately one of the oddest and far fetched connections to Jimi Hendrix is the Rosa Lee Brooks (appearing as Rose Brooks) cover version of "They`re Coming To Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!" which Peter Strömbäck (once again) kindly brought to my attention.

Rose Brooks
"They`re Coming To Take Me Away / I`m Moaning" (Soul City Records 750) USA July / August 1966

Rose Brooks A sideRose Brooks B side



The original version of the song by Napoleon XIV (aka Jerry Samuels) was released in 1966 and was a huge hit in the USA and internationally.

Napoleon XIV
"They`re Coming To Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa! / !Aaah-Ah ,Yawa Em Ekat Ot Gnimoc Er`Yeht" (Warner Bros. Records 5831) USA early July 1966

Napoleon XIV A sideNapoleon XIV B side

Rosa Lee Brooks` cover is an "R & B Version" released on the Soul City Records -label in late July / early August 1966. Soul City was a Los Angeles based label (which explains the Rosa Lee Brooks involvement) owned & started by Johnny Rivers.3 The Rose Brooks single actually seems to have been the label`s first release, there are no preceding catalog numbers.

Johnny Rivers was one of the organizers (and performers) of the "Monterey International Pop Festival" in 1967, which of course marked the American debut performance of the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Johnny watched the JHE performance from the side of the stage. 6

The Napoleon XIV single came out in early July 1966, the "Record Ramblings" column in Cash Box mentioned the 45 in the 16 July 1966 issue:
"Insane record of the year has to be Napoleon XIV`s "They`re Coming To Take Me Away" which Warner Bros.`Marvin Deane has play on, on both WABC and WMCA locally" 5

Cash Box 23 July 1966:
"This laff cut is the fastest breaking single in the history of Warner Bros.- Reprise, reports Joe Smith, vp and general manager, with a five-day sales figure of well over 500.000. The Top 100 this week bears this out, as the side skyrocketed to the number 20 spot in its first week on the chart." ... "In fact, Samuels is an engineer at Associated Records, a New York studio, and turned the various dials that produced the novelty."

Funnily, Napoleon XIV followed Jimi to the UK, Cash Box 22 October 1966:
"Another visitor to London is Napoleon XIV who arrives Oct. 16th for a three-week tour promoting his current Warner Bros. single "I`m In Love With My Little Red Tricycle." Many TV and radio dates have been lined up and Pye also issued an album tagged after his international hit "They`re Coming To Take Me Away Ha Haa!" 4

Soul City moved fast, announcing the release of the Rose Brooks version just some three weeks after the original came out. The Brooks version is a straightforward cover, the only promised R&B here comes from Rose being an R&B singer by trade, musically the song uses exactly the same instrumentation, arrangement and lyrics as the Napoleon XIV version. 2

The B side of the single, "I`m Moaning", was written by Willie Hutchison aka Willie Hutch. Another interesting connection with Hutch later writing for the 5th Dimension and the Jackson Five.






SOURCES
1 In case anyone doubts the identity of Rose Brooks a full page ad in the Record World 30 July 1966 advertising the single helpfully includes the well known promo shot of Rosa Lee Brooks, which she herself has posted on her Facebook page in several versions.

2 ASPCA, mentioned in the song lyrics, is:
"The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals® (ASPCA®) was the first humane society to be established in North America and is, today, one of the largest in the world.
Our organization was founded on the belief that animals are entitled to kind and respectful treatment at the hands of humans and must be protected under the law. Headquartered in New York City, the ASPCA maintains a strong local presence, and with programs that extend our anti-cruelty mission across the country, we are recognized as a national animal welfare organization." https://www.aspca.org/about-us

3 full page ad advertising the single in the 30 July 1966 issue of Record World

4 Cash Box 22 October 1966 in the "GREAT BRITAIN" -section

5 the single is mentioned in the 9 July 1966 -issue of Billboard under "SPOTLIGHT SINGLES", "Predicted to reach the top 60", the 16 July 1966 -issue of Cash Box under "RECORD RAMBLINGS" and listed as a regional breakout in the Billboard 16 July 1966 -issue. The Record World 30 July 1966 issue has an item about Napoleon XIV on the front page stating that the "Single Has Sold More Than A Half Million Since Release Two Weeks Ago."


6 https://www.forbes.com/sites/jimclash/2015/05/14/johnny-rivers-when-hendrix-torched-guitar-at-monterey-fire-marshal-jumped-10-feet/#34b627b54232