Leon, J.J., and the Super Dupers

Super Dupers LP

Having grown tired of the fourteen-hour days in the recording studio playing on other people’s records, Leon Russell decided in 1965 to work for legendary producer Snuff Garrett, who was starting his own independent production company and record label, Viva Records. Snuff hustled the business and Russell handled the production chores, which included arranging, producing songwriting, and sometimes as a musician. Along with his considerable talents, Russell also brought along fellow Tulsan J.J. Cale, who along with his own list of talents, also acted as chief studio engineer.

Building on the success of a cartoon character record that Garrett, Russell and Cale had produced with Cale as the artist in November, 1965 (Dick Tracy – Liberty Records), the trio conceived an entire album of cartoon songs, which they hoped would also build on the success of the upcoming TV series on ABC-TV – Batman!

Garrett and Russell successfully pitched the idea to Mercury Records producer Shelby Singleton, and the group headed to New York City to work on the project.

Among the musicians hired to work on the album were a band out of Florida that had just been signed to Mercury’s sister label, Smash Records, named The Spotlights. Two members of The Spotlights would later go on to form the highly successful Allman Brothers Band – Gregg and Duane Allman.

According to Cale, he was in one room writing lyrics, and Russell was in the studio leading the musicians to play his original arrangements. When needed, Russell also played and sang on some of the tracks. The resulting album was meant to be released on Smash Records with The Spotlights listed as the artist, and a catalog number was even assigned, however the final release never occurred. The result was a phantom album, which has never been seen by even the most hardcore collector. The songs eventually surfaced on the budget label Pickwick Sales on their Design Records subsidiary, and billed as The Super Dupers. It also spawned many reprints as well as numerous 45 RPM releases under various labels and artists. The Spotlights eventually did release two 45 singles from the sessions on the Smash Records label in 1966, including “Batman and Robin,” “Dayflower,” “Dick Tracy,” and “Little Orphan Annie.” 

Author: Steve Todoroff

Rusty Russell

Rusty Russell spent his high school and college years in Wichita, Kansas, attending Wichita State University on a trumpet performance schollarship. His dabbling on guitar became an obsession, and he left school for a years-long stint in Denver, playing in club bands and teaching guitar privately. After a brief return to Kansas, Rusty answered a call for a road gig based in Nashville. From 1984 until his move to Tulsa in 2019, Rusty worked in Nashville as a guitarist and bassist on tours, in clubs, and in recording studios. He also built careers in journalism (a decade as Nashville Editor for Guitar Player Magazine, writing hundreds of articles for GP and other national publications) and photography. Rusty was a contract shooter for Getty Images, and also shot dozens of album/CD and magazine covers & articles. His musical road work includes touring with artists like Louise Mandrell, George Fox, Blues legends Charles “Wigg” Walker and Johnny Jones, and The Burrito Brothers (on bass). After thirty-six years in Nashville, Rusty moved with his wife, Lynn, to Tulsa to be near his extended family. He’s currently busy with club work, a few recording sessions, and teaching advanced guitar students.

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6 Comments

  1. Randal Berry on June 25, 2018 at 6:27 am

    Outstanding research! Great job, Steve!

  2. Judy Johnson on August 24, 2018 at 7:30 pm

    Love Leon singing on Captain Marvel Jones! And am really enjoying this blog too. Thank You!

    • Teresa Knox on August 24, 2018 at 7:57 pm

      Thank you Judy!! We love Leon singing on it too. Glad you like the blog! Steve is terrific!

  3. Steve on June 7, 2020 at 1:43 pm

    Love this album! My dad purchased this album when I was around 4-5 years old. (1969-1970) My brothers and I played this album so much, my dad made us pay for his record player needles because we wore so may out. I eventually acquired the album from my dad after I moved out, but seamed to have misplaced it or lost it over the years moving around. I have since then looked through many storage items hoping to find it, although I no longer have a record player for it.
    If my memory serves me correct, it was quite worn and scratched.

    Anyway, I still love hearing those songs, plus I still know most of the lyrics from the couple of thousand times we played the album. Great memories!

  4. Robert Fltoo on March 8, 2022 at 6:45 pm

    I just found this. It’s great to have some information on this album. I got the LB in Kindergarten in 1969 and then lost it around 1975. I just rediscovered it about a year ago and have “clean” MP3s of the entire Super Record of Superheroes along with a “clean” MP3 of Dick Tracy. For fun I recently made a “music video” for Batman and Robin. Here’s the link for anyone interested: https://youtu.be/tQcYcGqqrBI

  5. Cathleen Doyle on May 24, 2022 at 9:26 am

    Did Link Wray’s Batman in l966 on Norton come before or after?

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