Actually, I thought we'd put this one to bed a couple of years ago when we went round and round on this topic ... but apparently not ... so we'll share some of this with you again ... along with some NEW information that has surfaced thanks to the recently released "The Complete Liberty Singles" Collection put out by Collectors' Choice Music, featuring ALL of the Gary Lewis and the Playboys singles, A-Sides, B-Sides and a few rarities thrown in for good measure, too.
It's an EXCELLENT collection and belongs in everbody's music library ... like we keep saying, regardless of how they MADE these records, Gary Lewis and the Playboys put together an INCREDIBLE string of hits in the '60's that STILL sound just as fresh today.
Anyway, on with the debate!!!
re: GARY LEWIS:
>>>My husband I thought it would be fun to go see Gary Lewis on Monday night at the Music Pier in Ocean City NJ - it was! He and his band put on a really fun show, sang all their hit songs and a lot of other groups hits of the 60s. Gary had a ball singing and telling stories. His voice - well, he was a bit off key and whiny through most of the songs - but his exuberance made up for all that, in my opinion. He was gracious to stay after the show and sign autographs for the crowd. (Eileen)
>>>We saw Gary a few years ago ... nope, not one of the better vocalists out there ... but he sure did seem grateful and appreciative of the career he was able to enjoy back in the '60's ... and he was genuinely having fun up on stage, performing for an audience again. We've covered the fact that Lewis may not have even sung much on his own records back then, typically following a "guide vocal" laid down by someone else! (kk)
I BELIEVE I SENT YOU THIS BEFORE, BUT GARY LEWIS IS ADAMANT THAT IT'S HIS "VOCAL" ON ALL OF HIS RECORDINGS. THE OTHER FELLOW YOU HAD MENTIONED SANG SOME HARMONY ON THE ACTUAL TRACKS, BUT NO LEADS!
MICHAEL G. BUSH
We've spent numerous pages in Forgotten Hits over the past several years discussing just how much Gary Lewis was involved with his own recordings back in the day. The general consensus seems to be that yes, he DID sing on the hit records ... usually following a "guide vocal" laid down by a guy named Ron Hicklin. We've even heard from some of the folks who were present at the actual recording sessions who told us that Lewis pretty much just mimicked, "followed-along" or tracked his voice on top of these guide vocals. According to the recently released CD collection "The Complete Liberty Singles" ... which features interviews with ALL of the key players involved in these sessions, here is how THEY all ... unanimously ... recall the recording routine for Gary Lewis and the Playboys:
Gary's inexperience as a studio vocalist presented Snuff (Garrett) with a challenge ... enter Ron Hicklin.
Bones Howe, who engineered the early Playboys sessions, remembers the "This Diamond Ring" date well. "When we started to do vocals, Gary was having trouble getting through the first pass. He was not an experienced singer. I suggested to Snuff that he get Ron Hicklin to sing with Gary."
Ron immediately hopped into his car and drove to Hollywood. "They had gotten to the point where they didn't know what to do, so I said, 'Let me put a harmony part on with him.' Snuff thought that my voice, mixed with Gary's, would smooth his out a little and he liked the lift it gave to the song." In fact, Ron's harmony contribution worked so well that he became an integral part of the Gary Lewis sound.
Gary double-tracked his own voice on "This Diamond Ring" but from then on, the lead vocal became a Gary / Ron duet. "I sang all the leads right along with Gary," says Ron, 'the two of us on the same mic at the same time. Whatever he was doing, I could phrase it right with him at exactly the same time, almost as if we were linked mentally. Then we'd do the overdubs, multi-tracking the voice, and then I would do any backgrounds myself."
When asked about singing "live" with the studio players, Gary explains, "I never sang live. Everything was tracked first."
For an idea as to how Gary really sounded on his own, give a listen to his 1968 hit "Sealed With A Kiss". Incredibly, here is what Lewis said about his own recording: "I hate the way I sang that song and I hate the way Snuffy produced that record. He left me totally bare. Only one voice, no effects whatsoever. I was singing flat and sharp with no confidence. I'm embarrassed for anyone to hear that song."
So, naturally, THAT'S the one we'll feature today!!! (lol)
Compare THIS vocal to ANY other Gary Lewis and the Playboys hit and you'll see what I mean ... it doesn't take a genius to determine that ALL of Lewis' hits were "enhanced" in some fashion. Yes, without question, he double-tracked, triple-tracked and maybe even quadruple-tracked his voice on many of these recordings ... but he ALSO had some vocal help from Ron Hicklin, whether it be a guide vocal to follow, a "sing-along" or a prominently featured harmony ... or, in most cases, all of the above! As I've said numerous times now, I don't have a problem with ANY this ... these were HIT records and this was the Gary Lewis Sound ... it just seems that somebody ought to own up to this arrangement after all these years. (kk)
Sealed With A Kiss
Lewis also said about this tune,
"If I could have been given another chance to sing that, I would have taken it in a second. That's the only song I will never listen to as long as I live. I cringe every time I hear it."
Please understand that what you've just read above isn't what I have to say about these recording sessions ... or my OPINION about whether or not Gary Lewis really sang or didn't sing on these records ... everything expressed above is in the words of the people who were THERE at these sessions ... including Gary himself!!! (Hicklin also says that it wasn't until he received a personal check for $25 in the mail, thanking him for helping out on his son's recording session, that he realized that he had just been singing with comedian Jerry Lewis' son! He had simply been introduced to "Gary Lewis" and that was it! And be honest ... didn't you ever wonder, when watching Jerry's Muscular Dystrophy Telethons, why Gary NEVER sounded like his records when he'd perform live on these shows?!?!?)
You've got to remember that it wasn't the least bit unusual for musicians to come in and "enhance" the sound at these sessions ... this is the way records were made back then ... and The Wrecking Crew built their whole reputation by being the "go to" guys whenever you needed to get the sound just right ... and, as such, they played on the majority of The Playboys' hits, too. Gary's band would then LEARN these musical bits and pieces so that they go out on the road and perform the songs live. Using someone else's VOCALS, however ... especially to strengthen those of the lead vocalist, was a bit unusual. (In all fairness, Gary typically double or triple-tracked his vocals anyway on these records, leading me to believe he simply wasn't a strong lead singer ... prior to their recording contract with Liberty Records, Guitarist Dave Walker sang most of The Playboys' leads when they performed at Disneyland ... Gary was simply the drummer in the band. Lewis was moved up front in the studio in order to best capitalize on his show-biz name and connections. He pretty much BECAME the lead singer by default!!! With no real singing experience, it's not the least bit surprising to think that he may not have been ready to assume this role ... without the necessary training and "dues-paying" normally associated with most lead singers, odds are his voice was too weak to achieve the effects they were looking for without some enhancing or over-dubbing. His ability to stay in tune and on pitch is another matter entirely. Needless to say, he probably wouldn't have made it to The American Idol finals!!! lol)
ALL that being said, it doesn't in ANY way diminish the success these guys had on the charts ... or how well their records STILL stand up today. Gary Lewis and the Playboys had fifteen straight Top 50 Hits between 1965 and 1969 ... and the first seven of those made The Top Ten: This Diamond Ring (#1, 1965); Count Me In (#2, 1965); Save Your Heart For Me (#2, 1965); Everybody Loves A Clown (#4, 1965); She's Just My Style (#3, 1966); Sure Gonna Miss Her (#9, 1966) and Green Grass (#8, 1966). Even his version of "Sealed With A Kiss", in all its cringe-inducing glory, peaked at #8 in Cash Box Magazine in 1968 ... and was a Top Five Hit here in Chicago. (kk)
re: '60's FLASHBACK:
Here is some of the discussion that ran a couple of years ago in Forgotten Hits when the subject of Gary Lewis singing (or not singing) on his hit records first came up:
How dare you suggest that Gary Lewis couldn't sing ... the next thing you'll tell me is the Cubs haven't won a World Series since 1908 ... or that Lovie Smith defines the word "charisma."
Rumor has it that Jerry Lewis got Gary signed to Liberty Records, but as stated before, his voice sucked so bad that they wouldn't sign him to a contract till he had over six months of voice lessons!!!
I think we're ALL about to learn more about GARY LEWIS' "vocal abilities" than any of us were EVER supposed to find out!!! Read on!!! (kk)
I've heard it from several good sources that it's not Lewis on those recordings, but a studio singer. Sort of the Mili Vanilli of his day. Not sure who to believe, but if you've ever heard him live, you gotta wonder.
I HAVE heard him live ... and it's NOT a pretty sight!!! (lol) Keep reading!!! (kk)
And didja know, This Diamond Ring was first recorded by Sammy Ambrose on Musicor Records. When the Gary Lewis version was rushed out, someone did not double check the label information so all copies of the single that are out show the writers credit as Kooder - Levine - Bras. Tom Diehl
This Diamond Ring by Sammy Ambrose
Actually, I no sooner got YOUR email and then I received one from AL KOOPER HIMSELF!!! Check it out! (kk)
Ron Hicklin was the guy who "sang along" with Gary Lewis on his records. Ron was a very talented session singer at the time. The song was written as an R&B tune originally pegged for The Drifters, but they turned it down. Because it was originally an R&B tune, I never liked or understood the Gary Lewis version. S'matter of fact, I recorded it myself on my album "Act Like Nothing's Wrong" in 1975. It's reprised from that out of print work on RARE & WELL DONE: A double album on SONY-Legacy released in 2001. It's also on iTunes. That explains the original concept of the song. Only a music publisher would have sent that song to Snuff Garrett, who, as far as I know, NEVER produced an R&B record.
Keep up the good work.
By the way, my favorite Lewis / Hicklin hit was Count Me In, which I believe was written by Glen D Hardin. Jim Keltner, drummer to the stars, started his career as a Playboy, as did Carl Radle, and Tom Triplehorn, guitarist & father of actress Jeanne.
Bye for now -
So there's the inside scoop on who REALLY sang the GARY LEWIS vocals.
I ALSO asked AL KOOPER about the erroneous label credit ... evidently a far more common practice than one might think!!! (We recently talked about Davie Allan's name being regularly misspelled on his record and the music charts a short while back here in Forgotten Hits!) kk
The three of us (Levine & Brass) had a writing cubicle at a publishers office at the time. We had a professional sign made up for the door that said:
Kooder -- Levine -- Bras
Count Me In
Yeah I read in a book or something how it was originally intended for the Drifters. Supposedly Kooper wasn't at all happy with the finished product as it didn't turn out like he'd heard it in his head. Let's face it, the Drifters are another couple of zip codes away from Gary Lewis & the Playboys!
I think I heard an interview once ... (was it Gary?) ... that his father un-pulled strings that would have kept him out of Viet Nam ... and while he was in Viet Nam, his then-wife spent all his 'Playboy' money ....
PS ... and Jerry Lewis' office was his bathroom! He had it set up ... desk, phones, all the acoutrements ... but he was able to sit on the throne all the while, while doing his business ....
I GOTTA GET OUT MORE !!! ...
So ol' Jerry was doing his business WHILE he was doing his business, eh?!?!?! Jerry Lewis has always been a FASCINATING character to me. I read once that he only wore a pair of socks once ... he considered them disposable ... and wouldn't wash them and wear them again. There are some VERY good books out there that tell his story ... and the biography that Lewis wrote about a year ago ("Dean And Me") will just grab you by the heart. Despite the way things often appeared in public, I honestly believe that Jerry NEVER stopped caring about and loving this man. (kk)
Apparently the "mystery voice" on all those Gary Lewis records is not as well kept a secret as I originally thought ... I easily found the following published reports earlier today: Click here: The PF Recording Sessions!
And, Ron Hicklin ALSO apparently sang on a number of Partridge Family recordings!!!
Check out THIS blurb from the ever-(un)reliable WIKIPEDIA!!!
The Ron Hicklin Singers were Los Angeles studio singers let by Ron Hicklin. The group mainly consisted of Ron Hicklin, Tom Bahler, John Bahler and Jackie Ward. While most people don't know the group by name, their sound was unmistakable and heard everywhere. Sometimes they were credited under other names. For example, when singing the theme to Love, American Style, they were credited as The Charles Fox Singers. The Hicklin Singers also sang the TV themes to Batman and Flipper. They were also the vocalists on the majority of the Ray Conniff Singers albums. Further, they were part of the vocal sounds of the Anita Kerr Singers, Henry Mancini and Percy Faith's orchestra.
Brothers Tom and John Bahler were part of Imperial Records vocal group "The Love Generation" in the sixties. Ron Hicklin was the real lead singer of Gary Lewis & The Playboys (with Lewis' vocal slightly faded into the mix). He also sang the lead vocals for the TV theme from Happy Days. Jackie Ward had a hit on her own as Robin Ward with 1963's hit "Wonderful Summer".
As the Ron Hicklin Singers, the group backed up or were the real vocals on tunes by The Monkees, Gary Puckett & The Union Gap, Paul Revere & The Raiders, The Brady Kids and most famously known for being the singers behind The Partridge Family. They sang commercial vocals including campaigns for Kawasaki ("Kawasaki lets the good times roll"), Datsun ("Drive a Datsun, then decide") and McDonald's ("You deserve a break today").
ID jingle companies throughout the last four decades utilized The Ron Hicklin Singers in their productions including "The Heller Corporation". Jones TM utilized the Ron Hicklin Singers on syndicated ID jingles packages including HOT HITS, YOU (The "You" Campaign), GOOD FEELINGS and several others. JAM Creative Productions also utilized their vocals in several of their packages.
Today, the group is split up and mostly retired. John Bahler lives in Banson, MI, and conducts the "new" Lawrence Welk orchestra. His wife, Janet Lennon, is a member of The Lennon Sisters. John also runs Portraits By Bahler. Tom Bahler retired to Playa del Rey in 2005. Ron Hicklin is still a studio singer, contributing vocals to Harry Connick, Jr.'s Christmas CD in 2004.
Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ron_Hicklin_Singers"
And here's some GREAT information on the band courtesy of classicbands.com:
Click here: Gary Lewis and The Playboys
I don’t care what Gary Lewis was doin’ on those records, he made a bunch of excellent 45’s! Ken
>>>Ron Hicklin was the guy who "sang along" with Gary Lewis on his records. (Al Kooper)
Notice Al Kooper said Hicklin "sang along with" Gary Lewis. He did not say that he sang "in place of" Gary Lewis. This was a common practice for many singers in those days to get that "double tracked vocals" sound, which was very common on records. Listen to the Lesley Gore songs and it sounds like more than one person on lead vocals. Thinking about Jerry Lewis, (who had a national hit in the 1950s on Decca with Rock A Bye Your Baby) about eight minutes into the film, The Family Jewels issued in July, 1965, Jerry Lewis (as the chauffeur) sits down to listen to a phonograph record. It's his son's band's (Gary Lewis & The Playboys) biggest hit, "This Diamond Ring." The Gary Lewis record was introduced supposedly, from what I have read, by Murray The K in January, 1965 , but the film was probably shot by then and being edited, so having the song in the film probably would have gotten a record deal. According to Wikipedia, in 1965 Gary Lewis was Cash Box Magazine's "Male Vocalist of the Year," winning against nominees Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra and was the only artist during the 1960s to have his first seven single releases reach Billboard Magazine's Top 10 on the Hot 100 chart. So other folks besides myself liked his records. So let's kinda hold up on Gary bashing as he has left us some good music, even with his limited vocal talents.
Most accounts I have read state that Gary Lewis' voice was HEAVILY doctored in the studio ... even looking at the reports we published referencing Ron Hicklin's contribution (who I had never even heard of before, by the way!) state that Lewis' voice was "buried in the mix". Personally, I don't really care either way ... these were GREAT pop records that still hold up EXTREMELY well today ... and the "studio musicianship" of The Playboys was absolutely stellar. (Look who they had to work with!!!) The facts are really pretty simple: Gary Lewis and the Playboys had 14 straight National Top 40 Hits ... and their 15th release, "Rhythm Of The Rain", didn't miss by much. (It peaked at #49 in Cash Box Magazine.) Among those hits were EIGHT Top Ten Records, including a #1. Those are impressive stats by ANYBODY's standards ... yet these guys have ALWAYS been dismissed as lightweights. If you can name ANY other artists who posted similar stats between 1965 and 1969, I'll bet you that today we refer to THEM as "Superstars"!!!!!
Regarding your recent piece on Gary Lewis and the Playboys, there was a comment about "their stellar musicianship". Whoever toured with Gary Lewis, Hal Blaine's discography lists This Diamond Ring, Count Me In, Save Your Heart, She's Just My Style and Sure Gonna Miss Her, so I'd guess the rest of the players were studio guys as well. I'm with whoever said "so what, great product", I'm with them. It's a bit like the Monkees -- the best songs, played by the best players, produced by the best producers yields great pop songs. They just SOUND good, and you know by now that my sweet spot is the well-crafted pop song. My secret guilty pleasures include a lot of songs from people and bands who wouldn't pass the critics' definition of "serious artists".
The New Colony Six
The band that performed on stage as Gary Lewis and the Playboys was NOT the same band that performed on the records ... for those, most of The Wrecking Crew were utilized ... and Leon Russell was a significant member of that team, handling not only the keyboards, but also co-writing, arranging and producing many of these tracks. And if Lewis' vocals were doctored to the extent that we've been told through the previous feedback to this piece, why do they STILL sound so "borderline" at times?!?!? That being said, you are 100% right ... I absolutely LOVE their records!!! Maybe the flaws are part of their charm ... maybe Lewis was just a likeable enough performer ... maybe it was the stellar musicianship and production of the records and the strength of the material ... but whatever it was (and odds are it was a combination of ALL of the above), they made some GREAT, GREAT records!!! And the general consensus from our readers seem to echo your sentiments ... "We don't care HOW they made the records ... we just LOVE 'em!!!" (kk)
Paul was right, Gary Lewis’ vocals were often double tracked to get a fuller sound. He was not in the background. He is very pronounced on his records. His Diamond Ring is still the best, just an excellent Pop-Rock record.
The more I research this, the more discrepancies I find ... and, let's face it, neither Gary Lewis or Rob Hicklin are going to confirm ANYTHING for us at this stage of the game!!! I've heard that Gary's actual vocals were buried so deep into the mix that you couldn't even hear him sing ... but I don't think this is true as there definitely IS a Gary Lewis tonal quality to these recordings. I've ALSO heard that Ron Hicklin recorded a "guide" vocal to keep the thing on-key ... Lewis then sang OVER Hicklin's vocal, often multi-tracking his own voice to achieve that fuller sound. That's probably the more likely scenario, listening to all this music back now. (And, having seen Lewis perform in concert a couple times now, I can only say that he DEFINES what American Idol Judge Randy Jackson refers to as "pitchy"!!!)
I sure didn't know about the Gary Lewis & the Playboys / Leon Russell connection. Is he in the pictures? I'll have to check. A bio I read says that he was one of the Playboys! I always liked him. The recent info on his work with Gary Lewis and the Playboys was interesting. I'd only been familiar with his later work; the solo stuff, and the Concert For Bangla Desh appearance, that was very good. addlepate
Yep, Leon wrote, produced and performed with The Playboys for a few years ... primarily in the studio, but he was also photographed quite often with the band. Keep in mind, the legend goes that Gary Lewis and the Playboys (then simply "The Playboys") auditioned to perform at Disneyland without telling anyone who they were or about Gary's famous dad and then were "discovered" and offered a recording contract. (At the time, Lewis was just the band's drummer ... the lead vocals were being handled by guitarist Dave Walker. It wasn't until they were signed to Liberty Records and it became public knowledge that this was Jerry Lewis' kid that Gary moved up front both vocally AND ahead of the band's name on all their records.) I'm not sure how much truth there is to that whole Disneyland legend ... keep in mind, the Gary Lewis legend ALSO states that "This Diamond Ring" was first offered to Bobby Vee, who turned it down ... but in our special Gary Lewis and the Playboys segment a few years back, we debunked THAT story completely ... courtesy of Bobby Vee himself ... and Al Kooper, who cowrote "This Diamond Ring" with The Drifters in mind!!! I'm more inclined to believe that "Daddy" helped Gary secure his recording contract upfront. The Playboys, however, WERE a "real" band ... Snuff Garrett just preferred to use more "seasoned" musicians in the recording studio to crank out these hit records and that's how The Wrecking Crew came into play. (kk)
I once spoke to someone who had access to some of the Gary Lewis multitrack tapes while working on a project at Capitol and he mentioned that for some of the early hits, there were nine different tracks for a song spread out over three 4-track tapes (one tape would be recorded for the backing track music and would be mixed down to mono on one track of another 4-track tape, vocal overdubs added, those mixed down to mono on one track of another track of a 4 track tape with the backing track still remaining in one track on its own, and then the remaining two tracks used for more vocals). They had also mentioned to me that Gary's voice is the main one you hear on his records, as his vocal was often recorded 3 or 4 times with Hicklin's vocals using only one or two tracks (listening to some of the re-mixed versions that are out on cd, with the vocals split between the two speakers, you can certainly hear multiple vocal parts in each speaker ... citing Green Grass as an example, I think Hicklin is doing the harmony vocals but that Gary is handling the lead).
Will the REAL GARY LEWIS please sing a tune for us? Comparing these two songs, you'd hardly think it could be the same singer. "My Heart's Symphony" sounds to me like Boyce and Hart, while "Count Me In" sounds like someone else whose voice has been modified or masked with a touch of Dyna-Phase.
My Heart's Symphony
You're pretty close -- check out this tidbit on the vocal recording of This Diamond Ring:
During the recording of Gary Lewis and The Playboys 1965 number one hit, "This Diamond Ring", The Playboys were used sparingly. Studio musicians, including Tommy Alsup on guitar, Leon Russell on keyboards and Hal Blaine on drums were used instead. Even Gary's vocals got some help from a singer named Ron Hicklin, who did the basic vocal track; then producer Snuff Garrett added Gary’s voice, overdubbed him a second time, added some of the Playboys, and then added more of Hicklin. Garrett would later say: "When I got through, he sounded like Mario Lanza".
The above can be found among a whole slew of fascinating stuff in this site:
Click here: - rock and roll trivia - classicbands.com_
This Diamond Ring
You really know how to hurt a guy. When I was about 16, I was riding in the car with my mom when Gary Lewis's song, Paint Me A Picture, came on the radio. My mom said that's sorta what I sounded like when I played guitar. At the time I had no knowledge of the nuances that went into making a record. As far as I knew, your band went into the studio, made the tape, and that was it. Now ya tell me it's not Gary Lewis! I saw Gary Lewis in concert about 1985. It seems to me he sounded no better or no worse then many 60s bands on oldies circuit then as now. Methinks that many a band has had their vocals punched up back then, with or without their knowledge.
Actually, "You Really Know How To Hurt A Guy" was by Jan and Dean!!! (Just kidding!!!) And, "(You Don't Have To) Paint Me A Picture" just may be the MOST appropriate song title we could use in conjunction with Gary Lewis' recording career!!! Hey, the guy made GREAT records. (How naive was I??? At one time, at a very early age, I used to think the artists were actually there in the studio at the radio station performing these songs on the air!!! I could NEVER figure out how they could pack up ALL their stuff and run over from the WLS studio to the WCFL studio to play "Hanky Panky" again just three minutes later!!! LOL) Did your Mom suggest recruiting Ron Hicklin to sing along with you during your street corner serenades??? 'Cause THAT would be down-right scary!!! (kk)
Paint Me A Picture
I just happened to catch 'Gary Lewis & The Playboys' early this morning on the Jerry Lewis Telethon and his singing sounded more nasal and thin than ever - he sounded more like his old man!
I found a interesting site on The Wrecking Crew.
Apparently a great many of our 60's bands weren't playing their own instruments in the recording studio. Check out The Wrecking Crew Top 10 list at the bottom of the site! I think you'll be particularly interested in item # 6 ! LOL Bob
Click here: AmericanHeritage.com / The Wrecking Crew
This is a GREAT article ... and it just shows you again how IMPORTANT these studio musicians were in creating the music we all know and love and hold so close to our hearts. (I'm telling you guys ... you have just GOT to go check out this new Wrecking Crew Documentary that I've been talking about for the past year and a half ... an OUTSTANDING behind-the-scenes look at how ALL this great music that we all know and love was really created!) Isn't it funny how it always seems to be The Monkees who are singled out for not playing their own instruments ... a quick glance at The Top Ten on the above site shows that The Beach Boys, Simon and Garfunkel, The Mamas and the Papas and Herb Alpert ALL supplemented their sound by way of these studio session whiz-kids. The article also mentions The Byrds, The Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan. What's so unusual about THAT list??? ALL of those artists have been inducted into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame ... as have The Beach Boys, Simon and Garfunkel and The Mamas and the Papas!!! But the MAIN excuse given for The Monkees having been ignored is because THEY didn't play their own instruments!!! Now is that a double standard or what??? Don't get me wrong ... I'm not for a minute suggesting that The Monkees (who wrote precious little of their own material) belong in the same category as musical geniuses like Brian Wilson, Paul Simon, John Phillips or Bob Dylan ... but come on already ... let's get OVER this whole "didn't play their own instruments" thing and look at what The Monkees DID bring to the table!!! Stop hiding behind the same old "they didn't play their own instruments" excuse. And, for the record, EVERY SINGLE ONE of these Wrecking Crew musicians ought to ALSO be inducted into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame ... because they TRULY, TRULY deserve it!!!! (Isn't that the whole purpose of the "Sidemen" category?!?!?) kk
TOMORROW MORNING I'M OFF TO LAS VEGAS FOR THE JERRY LEWIS TELETHON. I'M ACTUALLY PLANNING ON TALKING TO GARY LEWIS THIS WEEKEND ABOUT THE "SINGING" THING (THOUGH I'M SURE THAT'S HIS VOICE ON THE RECORDS! GARY WAS NOT CARUSO, BUT REMEMBER THAT EVEN GEORGE MARTIN SAID THAT HE HAD TO DOUBLE TRACK LENNON'S VOICE BECAUSE IT WASN'T STRONG ENOUGH!! THE POINT HERE IS GARY MADE SOME DAMN GOOD RECORDS (A LOT OF THEM!), AND WE SHOULD ENJOY THE MUSIC OR LISTEN TO SOMETHING ELSE! MIKE BUSH
I don't know how much Gary Lewis is going to be willing to share with you regarding the making of those records ... let's face it, he's still earning a living performing these songs ... but I've maintained throughout all of this discussion that I'm of the opinion that I really don't care HOW these records were made because they're GREAT records!!! And the public certainly agrees with that statement ... they rewarded Gary with fifteen straight Top 50 Hits!!! If Gary DOES reveal any insight, please share it with us ... or, by all means, invite him to join in on the Forgotten Hits fun!!! Perhaps he can clarify a point or two along the way! As for Lennon double-tracking his voice on The Beatles' records, without question this was regularly done by ALL of the artists of the day ... whether to enhance their vocals or simply sing harmony with themselves. As strong as The Mamas and the Papas were vocally, they would quite often have as many as FOUR sets of their voices on any given record, making it virtually IMPOSSIBLE to reproduce their sound live on stage. Over in The Beatles' camp, John in particular was always looking for new ways to make his voice sound different ... "I want it to sound like I'm singing underwater" ... "I want it to sound like a thousand Tibetian Monks chanting" ... "Can we move the microphone into the loo? The echo is FANTASTIC in here!" "What would it sound like if I was laying on the floor" ... or "hanging upside down" ... or "singing through this plate of glass" ... or "cam you run that tape backwards" ... and on and on and on. ALL of this was part of their experimentation to try to create new sounds that hadn't been heard on record before ... NOT because they were trying to cover up a Mal Evans "track" vocal laid down ahead of time showing the guys how to sing their song. BIG difference there in my mind (kk)
I HAD TO SMILE AT ONE OF YOUR READER'S COMMENT ON "I WON'T MAKE THAT MISTAKE AGAIN" BY GARY LEWIS, BECAUSE WE JUST TALKED ABOUT THIS SONG THE DAY BEFORE. I TOLD HIM HE SHOULD INCLUDE IT IN HIS SET, AND HE SAID IT WAS THE FIRST SONG HE EVER WROTE. NOT BAD!! AT THE TIME WE WERE EATING ICE CREAM (HIS COFFEE, MINE PISTACHIO) IN THE LOBBY OF THE SOUTH POINT HOTEL IN LAS VEGAS. MICHAEL G. BUSH
It's not a bad little song ... in fact, I think they wasted it as a B-Side ... I believe "I Won't Make That Mistake Again" had the potential to be another Top 40 Hit for the band. (I didn't know that Gary Lewis had written this song ... now THAT's kinda cool!!!) kk
I Won't Make That Mistake Again
BY THE WAY, GARY SAID IT WAS AL CAPPS WHO SANG THE BASS VOCAL PART ON "SHE'S JUST MY STYLE" (RIGHT FROM THE HORSE'S MOUTH...) MIKE
Now THAT's the kind of cool stuff we want to know about!!! (Did the subject of Ron Hicklin come up at all??? I think THAT would be a tough one to discuss ... even after all this time ... especially with Gary still out on the road making a living singing the hits. There are certain secrets better kept, I suppose ... but check out The Wrecking Crew piece above ... these guys REALLY deserve some credit ... and although I think MOST knowledgeable music people do know who they are, there are still MILLIONS of "Average Joe" music fans who have no idea. I don't think it's debunking the myth at all in this case ... more a case of FINALLY giving credit where credit is due!!! And that's just ANOTHER reason why people need to see this new film. (kk)
She's Just My Style
re: ONE MORE PLUG:
Having just exhausted you with our Gary Lewis rambling, let me take just one more moment of your time to encourage you to see the INCREDIBLE Wrecking Crew Documentary put together by Denny Tedesco ... it is MUST-SEE viewing, not only because of the EXTREME talent involved with this band of musicians ... but also because it CLEARLY shows you just how hit records were made back in the day. Be sure to check out their website for information regarding upcoming film festival appearances, out-takes not shown in the film and all the latest details regarding this fine, fine film: Click here: The Wrecking Crew Movie Tommy Tedesco, Carol Kaye, Hal Blaine, Don Randi, Glen Campbell, Earl Palmer