A notable figure in rock as a songwriter in the 1950’s and 60’s, he started off as a recording artist and would continue releasing records on the side for the rest of his career without ever attaining the success he had as a hitmaker for others.

Lincoln Chase was born in New York City in 1926 to West Indian immigrants and attended the American Academy Of Music before signing as an artist with Decca records at the tail end of 1951.

The company was trying once again to infiltrate the rock market and in Chase had someone who fit their ideal a little better since he was musically educated, but because he was a studio novice he’d theoretically be easier to mold how they saw fit. It’s telling that he wasn’t recording his own compositions either but while he did well enough with their submissions, he wasn’t quite a distinctive enough vocalist to be noticed and with average material and musical arrangements that were fair but derivitive, plus appearing on a label with no cache among rock fans, his sides were destined to be overlooked.

He went on to record for other major companies including RCA and Columbia, but soon began making a name for himself as a composer, initially getting sides with OKeh artists including Big Maybelle and Chuck Willis, then with Atlantic where he wrote for Ruth Brown before hitting bit with “Such A Night” which the Drifters took to #2 in 1954. Along the way he even got Tony Bennett to record one of his songs. In 1956 he wrote his biggest hit, “Jim Dandy” (and later its sequel) for LaVern Baker giving him a reputation as a reliable hitmaker.

Buoyed by this success he was able to cut his own full length album for Liberty Records in 1957 that went nowhere. However two years after that he became Shirley Ellis’s manager and by the mid-1960’s had turned her into a star thanks to his compositions including “The Nitty Gritty” and “The Name Game”.

He gave recording another shot in 1973 with another album, the cleverly titled Lincoln Chase ‘n You which didn’t do well commercially but gained a measure of cult acclaim in the years since.

Chase passed away in 1980 at the age of 54, a recognizable name for those who look at writing credits, but not a familiar voice to anyone but hardcore crate diggers in rock’s past who’ve come across his own records. But when tallying his contributions across the spectrum in rock’s first quarter century he definitely made his mark.

LINCOLN CHASE DISCOGRAPHY (Records Reviewed To Date On Spontaneous Lunacy):

(Decca 48270; January, 1952)
A calculated, slightly compromised but ultimately capable attempt at rock ‘n’ roll by Decca with their newest signee Chase who delivers a solid enough vocal that – like the arrangement – gets better as it goes along with two good sax solos to bolster its appeal. (5)

(Decca 48270; January, 1952)
Singing an unissued Orioles song, one written by Sonny Til himself no less, Chase obviously can’t match Sonny’s vocals, nor does he have the benefit of the other Orioles to provide a cushion, but with a good effort and a decent sax in the arrangement he doesn’t embarrass himself. (3)