Ram Jam - Black Betty, taken off " Ram Jam", their debut album, released in 1977. A US east coast act, they were formed in the mid seventies by bassist Howie Blauvelt, previously a member of Billy Joel's early group, " The Hassles ". Other members of the band were Bill Bartlett (ex-Lemon Pipers) on guitar, Myke Scavone on vocals and Pete Charles on drums. They had a massive Top 20 hit with their version of the Huddie "Lead Belly" Ledbetter classic, a song which caused a bit of a stir in that it was considered offensive to black women, even though it was originally penned by a black blues and folk singer. Although the group released a fairly good second album, ( Portrait of an artist as a young ram ), in 1978, they never had another hit and they faded into obscurity before the beginning of the eighties. The song "Black Betty" is still hugely popular in the clubs. It was re-released in 1990, reaching number 13 on the charts.


Biography by Andrew Hamilton
The members of Ram Jam were Bill Barlett (former lead guitarist of the Lemon Pipers), Pete 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 Records released it. The recording session was the brainstorm of Barlett 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. Starstruck's version received little airplay or recognition; ironically, future Ram Jam member Barlett 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 only 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. Barlett continued to play in the southwestern Ohio/eastern Indiana area. 


Bill Bartlett
Howard Arthur Blauvelt
Peter Charles
Myke Scavone


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Ram Jam - 1977 - Ram Jam - 3/5

Ram Jam - 1978 - Portrait of the Artist as a Young Ram - 4/5



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