Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Rambeau, Part II

Back in the 1960s, there was a young man who was making quite a lot of noise in the music industry, whether people realized it or not. If they danced and sang along to hits like Mark Valentino’s “The Push And Kick” or Diane Renay’s “Navy Blue” and “Kiss Me Sailor,” they were digging the songcraft of Eddie Rambeau and his frequent collaborator Bud Rehak. If they tuned in to a popular television series such as Shindig, they might have seen Mr. Rambeau swingin’ and swayin’ as he sang “My Name Is Mud,” “The Train,” and Unit 4+2’s “Concrete And Clay,” all of which brought Eddie a fair amount of success as a recording artist. This multi-talented lad with the well-groomed appearance and boy-next-door charm was simply made for teen idol status. The girls screamed at him on TV and ambushed him in person.

But now, Eddie Rambeau has grown up. And changed his name. To Ed Rambeau.

Ed Rambeau is no longer in the ‘60s—now, he’s in his 60s. Fortunately for him, he’s always looked younger than his actual age. And he’s no cute and cuddly boy-next-door type. He’s a hunky, swaggering ladies man who occasionally sings songs with naughty lyrics and has a tendency to pose topless—or just in a pair of short shorts. I personally could stand to see fewer such photos, but who’s to fault Ed for showing off what he’s got? After all, the females still love him, although it is a somewhat more mature crowd now. But they still scream at him and they leave him MySpace comments containing all sorts of come-ons and titillating graphics. You might say that Ed Rambeau is putting the “sex” in “sexagenarian.”

Please refrain from throwing rotten tomatoes at me.

Musically—and his music is what matters most, right?—Ed Rambeau has been recording in his own studio in New York and using the internet not only to promote his work but also to stay in close contact with his impressively loyal fan base. He records and releases new albums at a dizzying pace. Ed still knows how to write a good song and puts those skills to use every now and then. But more often, he covers other people’s material, tackling a mind-boggling variety of styles. Who else can swing a standard like “This Could Be The Start Of Something Big,” move on to a recent pop favorite such as “Livin’ La Vida Loca,” soul it up with “Wake Up Everybody,” then rock a bit on “Proud Mary,” and do it all convincingly? Ed adds his own signature style to each song he sings, and sometimes his interpretations are noteworthy for their arrangements and productions as well as his vocals. He took a minimalist approach to Cher’s “Believe” while retaining the basic feel, transformed Low Rawls’ “You’ll Never Find (Another Love Like Mine)” into a downbeat ballad (though he also did it in its original Philly soul style), gave Dionne Warwick’s “Walk On By” a swanky uptown treatment, and recast The Bee Gees’ “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart” as a heart-wrenching slab of pop-soul. He’s also known for taking many classics and revising the lyrics, often in a humorous fashion—lest you think that “The Lady Is A Tramp” originally contained the line “To get ahead, she would never kiss butt.” A former Broadway actor, Ed also records numerous songs from musicals, proving that showtunes often make great pop songs as well; I’m particularly fond of his reading of “Storybook” from The Scarlet Pimpernel, which I never even knew existed as a musical until Ed enlightened me.

My original game plan was to interview Ed and use a few quotes for an article, but he gave me such fascinating answers that I had to publish the interview in its entirety. Here is a recent e-mail correspondence between me and today’s Rambeau:

SJ: When did you resume your recording career?

Ed: Actually I left recording for a while to study acting and then played on Broadway and traveled with Jesus Christ Superstar for a while then returned to recording in the early ‘80s, I believe.

SJ: When did you start using the internet to distribute and promote your music?

Ed: I suppose I've been using the internet about 3 years now.

SJ: Have you been working consistently with Bud Rehak throughout the years?

Ed: Bud is a very dear friend and we work off and on together. He and I did a great deal of special tributes to various Stars and Personalities. Kind of like a “This Is Your Life” in song. We've done them for Bernadette Peters, Kaye Ballard and many many others.

SJ: How do people react to the new Rambeau versus the old Rambeau—specifically, the spunky sex symbol versus the clean-cut boy next door?

Ed: Well, it's almost hard to get them to listen to my music. Once they see the CD cover they always comment on that and very seldom say anything about my music until much much later. Perhaps I'm selling the wrong thing here. LOL. But the women seem to love it. Here's a funny story that just happened today. I went to Port Authority Bus Terminal to purchase a ticket to New Jersey and I asked for a Senior Citizen rate. This large black woman looked at me strangely so I said, "You wanna see my ID?" And she replied, "Hell, no! I wanna see your body!" So I just happened to have a few copies of the new CD with me and when I handed it to her she took one look and began fanning herself with the CD itself. So I gave her a copy.

SJ: What inspires you to perform such a wide variety of material?

Ed: All my life I've listened closely to fellow performers and discovered I had the ability to emulate their sound. So what I try to do in my cover recordings is kind of get the essence of the original performer with a slight Rambeau touch. People are used to the original sound and have a hard time accepting a change so I try to reproduce the original sound as closely as I can and then throw in some of my own style.

SJ: When and how did your love of showtunes begin?

Ed: As far back as I can remember. I suppose it's because a great showtune has a great lyric and a singer is a story teller. What better way to tell a story than with great set of lyrics? My very first Broadway show (that I saw as a high school student) was Bye Bye, Birdie. From that moment on I was hooked.

SJ: With covers, how do you decide whether to stick to the original arrangement or change it?

Ed: I prefer to change it unless the original arrangement is so identifiable with the song that it almost forces me to use it. I've often done many songs two different ways.

SJ: Why change the lyrics to some of the standards? How do people react?

Ed: Many standards are so old and have to be brought a little up to date. Sinatra did it in his time and many artists still do it. I think it also grabs the listener who is familiar with the original lyric because they're suddenly hearing something unfamiliar and it makes them listen. I've never had a bad reaction to any lyric changes that I've made...thus far anyway.

SJ: Describe a typical session at Studio Rambeau.

Ed: I make myself a hot cup of coffee and then turn on my equipment. Then I put the original version on two tracks with the original singer (because I'm terrible at reading lyrics). Then I put my instrumental track on two other tracks and set up my vocal track. I listen to the first few lines of the original singer and then record those lines. Then the next few and so on. But it isn't always done that way. Many times (as with standards) I know the lyrics so I just sing the entire song completely thru and then hone the lines I feel I can do better. Listening is very important because it inspires you to do other things so I listen over and over and over looking for that inspirational moment. It usually takes me anywhere from two to five hours to record a single song. Then it has to be mixed which usually takes another hour or so. Some songs I get in one take but I usually go back the next day or so and correct things that I don't like and know I can do better.

Many thanks to Ed Rambeau for the interview.

To hear literally hundreds of Ed’s songs, visit:

Also visit:;

And to learn more about Ed’s previous ventures, visit:

[Have you read the article from Red Bird Entertainment? Okay, here’s why ABC put the kibosh on “Summertime Guy” and not “Palisades Park.” ABC had granted Chuck Barris permission to peddle “Palisades Park”—which was titled “Amusement Park” at the time—because ABC didn’t believe in the song. When it became a hit, ABC got egg on its face and was determined not to let that happen again. The rest, as they say…]

Copyright © 2007 S.J. Dibai. All rights reserved.


  1. Wonderful Blog SJ on a Wonderful multi-talented man.

    Love from Rosemarie

  2. Very cool interview, SJ, thanks so much for the presentation and for spicing up the text with your own humor and observations. Great writing! (The part about Ed putting the "sex" in "sexagenerian" is brilliant.)


  3. It was rather nice to be able to read such an interesting interview done with a different style. I enjoyed it immensely. Thanks SJ and of course Ed.

  4. I've been meaning to point out for a while that I exhibited a bit of ignorance here. Ed's version of "How Can You Mend A Broken Heart" was based on Al Green's version. I didn't realize that until after writing this article. Growing up, my dad went through an Al Green phase, my mom didn't like him at all, and I was indifferent with the exception of, oh, two songs.....


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