Ram Jam

  • Ram Jam - Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Ram [Epic Records JE 35287] (1978)


Andrew Hamilton [allmusic.com]

The members of Ram Jam were Bill Bartlett (former lead guitarist of the Lemon Pipers), Peter Charles (drummer), Myke Scavone (lead singer), and Howie Arthur Blauvett, who sang with Billy Joel in two earlier groups (the Hassles and El Primo). Ram Jam's only hit, ''Black Betty,'' created quite a stir when Epic released it. The recording session was the brainstorm of Bartlett and bubblegum producers Jerry Kasenetz and Jeff Katz. Two Civil Rights groups, the N.A.A.C.P. and C.O.R.E., called for a boycott of the song, claiming it insulted Black women. Despite the controversy, it still reached the number 18 spot on Billboard's pop chart in September 1977. The Cincinnati band Starstruck had released a more driving, riveting version of ''Black Betty'' on the Truckstar label before Ram Jam's version came out. Starstruck's version received little airplay or recognition; ironically, future Ram Jam member Bartlett had been a member of Starstruck when they recorded ''Black Betty.''

In the early '90s the producers remixed ''Black Betty'' and got an international hit for their efforts. The band released two LPs: Ram Jam (1977) and Portrait of the Artist as a Young Ram (1978). Epic issued three singles by the rockers. Blauvelt joined Spitball, a funky blues-type band, in the '90s, and performed with them until he died of a heart attack. Billy Joel often dedicates ''We Didn't Start the Fire'' to Blauvelt when he performs live.