In memory of Johnny Peret

In memory of Johnny Peret
In memory of my friend Johnny Peret, vibist, drummer, accordeonist extraordinaire

Sunday, January 13, 2013


EP VERSAILLES  90 M 374 (France, 1963).

I have found records in some strange and unexpected locations.  This EP was found in the 80s in Moroni, capital of the Indian Ocean archipelago of the Comoros.  It had a stamp of “Radio France - Comores”, discarded by the radio station after independence probably.  The record was dirty but in fairly audible conditions.  Certainly in better condition than the Albert Ayler ESP LP I had seen used as a table-math!

Enjoyable Northern Soul with some funky organ solos (courtesy of Georges Arvanitas).

Tony Middleton was born June 26, 1934. Born and raised in Richmond, Virginia, he moved to New York withe his mother in the mid-1950s. Although he participated in various sports through the years (including amateur boxing in his late 20s), he was always involved in music as well. In 1952 he became the lead singer of the 5 Willows (who would later be billed simply as the Willows); in 1956 they had a hit record, "Church Bells May Ring". He left the group for a solo career in 1957. After recording for several years without chart success, he moved to Paris in 1962, where he acquired a large following. 

Middleton cut his first French session with Michel Legrand, who wrote the score for Joseph Losey’s movie ‘Eva’ which starred Jeanne Moreau and Stanley Baker. Tony’s contribution was the glorious vocal on ‘Adam & Eve’ that was featured in the movie and was issued on a Phillips EP in Europe and the UK.

While in Paris, Tony shortened his surname to Milton and cut a number of well known songs like ‘I Can’t Stop Loving You’ and ‘Comin’ Home Baby’, under the direction of US guitarist Mickey Baker that were only issued in France. Of these recordings Tony later said “Yeah, they wanted a Ray Charles kinda thing so that’s what I tried to give ‘em”.

Middleton returned to New York and recorded for several more labels over the next decade, including A&M, Columbia, Scepter, MGM and ABC/Paramount, for whom he cut the powerful "You Spoiled My Reputation" in 1965. He is featured singing lead on several records by Burt Bacharach, including "My Little Red Book" (1965) and " I Come To You" (1973, duet with Cissy Houston). He also sang on recordings by other artists including Smokey Robinson, Della Reese and Nell Carter. Later he returned to the Willows and toured with them for a decade on the oldies circuit. Although Tony Middleton did not have major solo success, he has something of a cult following on the Rare/Northern Soul scene via several excellent dancers. Paris Blues was recorded for Bell (1776, Broadway, New York) subsidiary record label, Mala in 1966. This autobiographical number concerned Tony's down-and-out stay in the French capital in the early 60's. Enormously popular in 1976, 'Paris Blues" still commands a high price today for this big city style production by Claus Ogerman, particularly on original blue issue copy.


Details of the session (source

Recorded at Studio CHARCOT , Paris on 23rd January 1963.

Arranged and produced by Mickey Baker.

Musicians: Charles Hernandez (flute), Robert Jeannoutot (oboe), Jo Hrasko (alto sax),  Pierre Gossez (tenor sax), William Boucaya (baryton sax), Georges Arvanitas (org/pn), unknown (gtr), Rene Duchaussoir (bass gtr), Michel Gaudry (bass), Willie Lewis, Chrisitan Garros (drums) + 4 female voices (Fans of French Jazz will easily spot some famous jazzmen in this list!)

Georges Arvanitas
Trivia :
Tony Milton appears as himself in the French film Nous irons à Deauville ( Francis Rigaud – 1962)

UPDATED LINK - 19/07/2017


  1. Have a shot of thythm & blues for breakfast.

  2. Thanks a lot for this merveille ! and oui I confirm : gaudry who was The Man in Paris, always accessible, he played with every american de passage in Paris (even once with Billie holiday !) and Boucaya (not Foucaya lol !), very active in the fifties also ! Thanks again !

    1. Merci Bhowani. J'aimerais bien trouver les 2 autres EP de Milton. J'ai egalement deux EP fr Mickey Baker sur Versailles que je vais poster un de ces jours. Beaucoup de jazzmen francais (et europeens en general) faisaient du studion pour gagner leur vie.

  3. seems deeper than average, givin it a try... N

  4. chouette blog avec des découvertes régulières - Possible de réactiver un lien pour le little Milton? j'ai écouté le comin' home baby sur youtube et aimerai connaitre la suite - d'avance merci ainsi que pour le travail généré pour le blog.