Tuesday, November 3, 2009

This Week, The Sunday Comments Are Going To Come Out On Tuesday!!!


This is the brand new Rhino Nuggets Box, just recently released as part of their on-going series, this time spotlighting the L.A. Scene, circa 1965 - 1968. Thanks to Forgotten Hits List Member Joe Klein, we've been fortunate enough to run an EXCLUSIVE interview that Joe did with Merrell Fankhauser, the guy who wrote the surf instrumental classic "Wipe Out", already one of the top vote-getters in our Top 50 Favorite Instrumentals Poll. (More on this to come in the next several days!) Meanwhile, here's another little burb, courtesy of our buddy Artie Wayne: (kk)
Hey Kent --
How ya doin'?
Here is an excerpt from Randy Lewis’ L.A. Times review on Rhino’s new collection “WHERE THE ACTION IS! LOS ANGELES NUGGETS 1965-1968” ... as you already know, this is a hot, new release and should be of interest to ALL of your Forgotten Hits Readers:
“The mid-'60s was a remarkably dynamic time in pop music, so it's no surprise that Rhino Records' latest edition of the Nuggets series, this one focusing on L.A., has a breathtaking range of recordings from the city's heavy hitters.
The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, the Doors, the Beach Boys,
Randy Newman, the Mamas & the Papas, Arthur Lee & Love and, yes, the Monkees are all featured among the collection's 101 tracks, as are dozens of colorful acts that largely have been forgotten by just about everyone but the producers of this four-CD set."
One of those lesser known acts, The Impacts, includes my longtime friend and sometime collaborator, Merrell Fankhauser, co-writer of one the biggest surfing instrumentals of all-time, “WIPEOUT.” Just yesterday, New Media Joe (Klein), interviewed Merrell for Kent Kotal's Forgotten Hits special instrumental issue, which appeared on Monday.
New Media Joe gives us a preview…
Merrell told me that he is very excited about the compilation and feels a deep sense of pride that one of his own songs "TOMORROW’S GIRL", made the cut.
“It really feels great to have this all but forgotten hit included on a package alongside such a great lineup of legendary acts from that era," Merrell says. "It's also great to be getting recognition for my own modest contributions to the music scene all these years later."
He added that on Sunday, November 1, Merrell will be attending a big shindig, video screenings, and signing event for WHERE THE ACTION IS, hosted by Rhino at the fabled Greek Theater in Hollywood. He'll be signing copies of the album for fans, along with Forgotten Hits regular contributor Billy Hinsche (Dino, Desi & Billy), Bobby Hart (Boyce & Hart), Van Dyke Parks, and Mark Tulin (The Electric Prunes). Merrell is bringing a camera man and is planning to interview Andrew Sandoval, the man who put the Rhino package together, to include in an episode of his own cable television show, TIKI LOUNGE."
-- Joe Klein
Read New Media Joe’s whole story about the new Rhino compilation, which was posted Monday, November 2nd, on FORGOTTEN HITS. Then, later in the week, read the first installment of “THE TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS OF A SURF MUSIC LEGEND — THE WIPE OUT STORY,” which documents Merrell Fankhauser's incredible life and career, exclusively on FORGOTTEN HITS!
Here’s the song that I co-wrote with Merrell “CALLING FROM A STAR,” which was produced by Art Munson (Dick Dale and the Deltones), New Media Joe and myself. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0pll4QbQZW4
Copyright 2009 by Artie Wayne
Here is the official page for the box set at the Rhino Records website:
(You'll find the COMPLETE track listing there ... along with ordering information) kk
To visit Merrell's website, click here:
To read New Media Joe's company blog, click here:
Artie Wayne

Sounds like we missed one heck of a party in L.A. ... just got this from one of The Monkees Lists I'm on ...
Here’s your chance to catch four episodes of “The Monkees” that haven’t been seen since 1973!

Rhino celebrates the breakthrough success of “Where the Action Is! Los Angeles Nuggets 1965-1968” with the “Los Angeles Nuggets Extravaganza” Sunday, November 1 at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood.
The day’s events include:
Noon: A widescreen Monkees Marathon, featuring “The Case of the Missing Monkee,” “Monkees Marooned,” “The Chaperone,” and “The Frodis Caper,” all presented in rare 35mm prints with the revised soundtracks featured during their Saturday morning run in the early ‘70s! These versions have not been screened since 1973.
Host Andrew Sandoval, master of Monkee trivia, will also show rare trailers and commercials featuring the band. After the screening, Sandoval leads a Q&A session featuring Bobby Hart, plus other surprise guests.
4pm: Catch rare screenings of archival promotional films featuring the Mamas & the Papas, Sonny & Cher, Boyce & Hart, and the Turtles. Then stick around for “Mondo Mod,” the 1967 flick focusing on the Sunset Strip and Hollywood Boulevard in their prime, narrated by KHJ DJ Humble Harv.
7:30pm: “Riot on Sunset Strip” (1967), featuring The Standells, The Chocolate Watchband, and The Enemys. Then watch “The Pad (And How To Use It),” an obscurity unavailable on DVD – a lonely bachelor finds himself mixed up with a sexy swinger, featuring a heavy does of Whisky a Go Go footage.
Plus, live performances, a special signing session, sales of vintage merchandise and righteous Rhino giveaways!
Sunday, November 1, starting at Noon at the Egyptian Theater, 6712 Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood CA
Click below for details:
Hi Kent,
Thanks for mentioning the Pirate Radio movie in Forgotten Hits. I was not aware of this movie and look forward to seeing it. A friend of mine was a DJ for Radio Caroline. Also, an oldie that I always really liked that you never hear anymore was recorded by a former DJ at Radio Caroline. His name is Keith Hampshire and the song is "Daytime Night-Time." It charted at the end of 1972 and almost cracked the Billboard Top 40. It did a lot better in my area. His follow-up to it was a cover of Cat Stevens' "The First Cut is the Deepest" (before Rod recorded it.) Keith's version made it to Number 1 in Canada. I contacted him a few years ago and got a prompt, friendly reply. I'm attaching "Daytime Night-Time." He has information about his days at Radio Caroline along with other interesting information about his career on his website:
Les Peterson

I'm familiar with Keith's version of "First Cut Is The Deepest" ... it was actually the first charted version here in The States of this Cat Stevens classic. (It made The Top 40 in Cash Box Magazine.) But I was NOT familiar with "Daytime, Night-Time" ... not a bad track at all (and included today on the website.) Drop Keith a line and have him check us out ... I'm sure he'd have some VERY interesting memories to share with our readers! Thanks, Les! (kk)


The Drive, WDRV-FM here in Chicago, is running their A-Z special again this week, this time pulling out 2000 songs from their incredible Classic Rock Library and playing them in order alphabetically from A to Z. It just kicked off yesterday ... (it took them about eight hours just to get through the A's!!!) ... so there are PLENTY of great tracks still to come ... and it should all wrap up just in time to hear this year's edition of Bob Stroud's Rock And Roll Roots launch party Sunday Morning at 7 AM. (When I turned it on this morning, they were up to the "live" version of "Cherry Cherry" by Neil Diamond!) A guaranteed crowd-pleaser, this'll make for GREAT background music no matter WHERE you're listening across the country this week. A "Listen Live" link is posted below:

Click here: The Drive 97.1 - The Soundtrack Of Our Lives

Since we are talking so much about Reprise (the Soupy Sales "Frankenstein" 45 was on Reprise as well!), how about asking Al Kooper about HIS Reprise experiences? The Electric Prunes signed in 66 and DD&B in 65, but Al Kooper connected with Reprise in early 1964! A year before Nancy Sinatra had her first charter with "So Long, Babe" and almost 2 years before "Boots" started walking up the charts, Nancy recorded her first 45 for her dad's new label, Reprise. That cover of the Debbie Reynolds hit "Tammy" failed to garner much attention. Her followup was closer to the hits of the day. Listen to "Just Think About the Good Times" from the first weeks of US Beatlemania in 1964. Maybe that is why it did not hit, but to me, this song combines the piano of "Johnny Get Angry" sound with the "Johnny Angel" vocalization. A hit formula, one would think. It failed, but the song was written by "Levine-Levine-Brass-Kooper"!!! I am sure this must be the one and only Al Kooper writing well before "This Diamond Ring" hit the big times. Maybe Al can fill us in on this and if he ever met Nancy about the song? The photo is of my Canadian promo 45 labeled 3/64.

I'm quite sure that IS the same Al Kooper based on his song-writing partners on this one. I dropped him a "Dat You?" note for confirmation but haven't heard anything back yet. Was curious how this one got into Nancy's hands! (kk)

Lest we forget, the Edwin Hawkins Singers were a big part of the hit by Melanie, "Lay Down Candles In The Rain."
Citizen Bill Chicago
They sure were ... and their teaming with labelmate Melanie resulted in a #3 Cash Box Hit back in 1970 ... the first of seven Top 40 National Hits Melanie would have over the next three years. (We're lucky to hear ANY of them ... you're most likely to hear "Brand New Key", her #1 Smash from 1971 or an occasional spin of "Lay Down (Candles In The Rain)" ... but when's the last time you heard "Peace Will Come (According To Plan)", her verison of "Ruby Tuesday", "The Nickel Song", "Ring The Living Bell" or "Bitter Bad"??? (kk)

Wow! Its been 59 years since the NL Champs, The Philadelphia Phillies, went up against the AL Champs, The New York Yankees.
In what was called the closest one-sided World Series in baseball history, the very young 1950 Phillies team (dubbed the Whiz Kids) lost to a veteran Yankee's club: 1-0, 2-1, 3-2 and 5-2. Philly fans hope for a different result this time around.
Pic Attached: Charlie Gracie Jr. visits with BASEBALL HALL OF FAME
PITCHER: ROBIN ROBERTS who pitched for the Phils in that 1950 World Series.
Roberts was a 6-time 20-game winner with the Phils and played in 7-All Star games. At 83, Robin is still with us. Look for him at one of the home games later in the week! He appeared on the TODAY SHOW today.
Charlie Gracie, Jr.

Kent ...
Here's a song about Yankee History. Fitting song during The World Series.
Frank B.
YouTube - Talkin' Yankees Baseball

My wife Carolyn and I went to see a concert this past Saturday night as guests of Gene Cornish of the Rascals, whose group the New Rascals (including another original member, Dino Danelli) were appearing with the Turtles (Flo - Mark Volman and Eddie - Howard Kaylan) and Peter Noone and Herman's Hermits (five very talented musicians, including a former member of the Cars).
An excellent cover band from Albany opened at 7:30, the New Rascals came on at 8, the Turtles at 9:10 and Peter shortly after 10. The show ended at 11:15.
Sadly, Gene needs to get a good lead vocalist for his Rascals, as this one, who also plays the B3 and keyboards, sang very flat and was also sloppy on the keyboards. Gene and Dino still play great and the group ended their part of the show strong with the up-tempo songs "People Gotta' Be Free" and "Good Lovin'" with excellent instrumental solos and three part vocals that covered the lead's faults. Gene's group was probably only included as part of this show as he is from Rochester, NY. Gene has gone through many health problems this year, from cancer to a quadruple by-pass, so it was still good to see him on the road and playing again.
The Turtles were next and they had great musicians with them. Howard's lead vocals were strong as always, and Mark's vocals were good, although he sounds like he may have a health problem as his breath is very short and there is a tremor in his speaking voice. His humor is as dry and quick as ever though, and they were excellent, although this crowd, whose average was probably 55-60, probably didn't care for the two songs included that they had recorded with the Mothers of Invention or the two that they had released as Flo and Eddie. These were really well done though, as was all of their Turtle's material. Very, very professional.
Then came Peter. He was certainly in the perfect place to close the show as there were many Noonatics in the crowd, all waving their glow sticks at the correct times! Peter is the complete showman with perfect comedic timing and a voice as strong as ever. As many women in the crowd were saying, Peter looks the same except for the small tire around his waist, which, for those of you who haven't seen his show recently, he uses as part of his schtick, claiming that his ass is moving up. He and the Turtles have obviously been touring together for quite a while as he often uses them as the butt of his jokes, especially mentioning their age. He interjected a hilarious imitation of Mick Jagger half-way into his show, complete with Mick's strut.
Every vocal was perfect and he did a marvelous version of "Mrs. Brown ..." with only his guitarist.
The Turtles and Peter Noone were great examples of how a band from the sixties can continue to perform before good crowds today, as their ensembles were tight and professional, and I would strongly recommend your seeing them if they come to your area. My wife, who has been subjected to many oldies shows in her lifetime, not all good, really didn't want to go to this show, but by the time this very long show ended, she was glad that she went.
Danny Guilfoyle
Peter Noone and The Turtles do quite a few shows together throughout the year ... and it's ALWAYS a good time. Sorry to hear about Mark's voice ... the biggest complaint I've heard about these guys is that the humor is sometimes too raunchy for their often very young audience. (The kids seems to LOVE The Turtles' music ... most likely influenced somewhat by their parents ... but this stuff is TIMELESS and catchy as hell ... it's virtually impossible NOT to sing along!) And Peter Noone has won OUR award for Oldies Showman Of The Year for the past decade now ... ALWAYS a GREAT show and the crowd CLEARLY loves him. I haven't seen Gene Cornish's version of The Rascals ... we caught Felix Cavaliere's version a few years ago and my biggest complaint during that show was that his back-up band is so young, I didn't get any sense of feeling and appreciation for this great music ... it was like they were just up there playing the notes without any emotion behind it ... yet when they broke into a KILLER version of Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love" at the end of the show ... yes, they played Zeppelin at a Rascals show!!! ... they rocked the house. I did not know about Gene's recent health problems so we wish him the best. Thanks for your review. (kk)

Hello again folks-
Just a note letting you know that tickets are now on sale for the November 22nd party at the Abbey Pub (3420 West Grace St, Chicago).
Go to the website at:
www.chicagopopfestival.com and click on the link to the Brown Paper Tickets Site in order to make your purchase. The link is on the Events/Party page at our website.
Or, simply use this link:
There will be some great performances throughout the day, so come on down and give a listen and join in the jams that will take place as things roll along. The party starts at 1:00, but we will probably keep playing music til they kick us out.

Chicago Pop Festival Jazz Ensemble: Bob Centano, Josie Falbo, Al Goldberg (Yama & the Kharma Dusters), Audrey Morris, Alejo Poveda (Chevere), Dean Rolando, Kestutuis Stanciauskas (Streetdancer)

Chicago Pop Festival Preview: Tricia Alexander, Muriel Anderson, Al Day, Mesa, Michael Miles, Rokko & The Hat, Special Consensus Alumni Band, Greg Trafidlo. Wilderness Road

Chicago Pop Festival All-Star Jam featuring: Jimy Sohns & Michael Gotshall of the Shadows of Knight, The Roseland Band, Saturdays Children

Plus appearances by: Members of The Dirty Wurds, John Benischek, Andrew Calhoun, Chris Farrell, Perry Jordan (Heartsfield), Amy Lowe, Ronnie Rice, Jimy Rodgers (The Mauds), Harlan Lee Terson (Lonnie Brooks Band), Chris Shannon (The Escavels), Norm Siegel, Unity Bluegrass, The Cascades, Members of the Flock, Members of the New Colony Six AND MORE!!

Is it just me, or does Linda look uncannily like the cross-dressing singer Marilyn, ex-drug crony of Boy George who had a hit with "Calling Your Name" in the 80's? Compare pics- pretty scary! (While you're at it, compare a pic of Sigourney Weaver from 'Ghostbusters' and Marc Bolan of T-Rex ... uncanny!) Later.
LOL ... Frannie says you are DEAD ON with this one!!! Honestly, it looks like whatever work Linda has had done in the past has "settled" and fallen ... and why is SHE the one tied to this big Vegas Elvis event??? (Notice, too, how in EVERY caption she's referred to as Brody Jenner's Mother?!?!? What's up with THAT??? Is THAT her only claim to fame these days???) kk

Taylor Mitchell, an up-and-coming Canadian singer-songwriter, died after being brutally attacked by coyotes earlier this week.
Taylor Mitchell :: So sad...
I had not heard about this ... but what a TRULY sad and horrific way to go ... and just as her career was getting off the ground. (kk)

Kent ...
I want to thank Clark Blesch for the nice things he said about me and my partner Kelli Ross. Yes, in the '60s we ran the publishing companies of Quincy Jones, Bobby Scott, Lesley Gore, Levine and Resnick, as well as a 14 year old Janis Ian. I recently heard from Janis when she made a few few comments on my Ellie Greenwich tribute.


I can't believe that I left "Last Night" by the Mar-Keys out of my top ten. A couple of other songs that may or may not have been mentioned that are great instrumentals are "Record Hop Blues" , by the Quarter Notes and "Jay Dees Boogie Woogie" by the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra (a perfect song for jitterbugging). Danny Guilfoyle
As you've probably seen by now, "Last Night" and "Jay Dee's Boogie Woogie" BOTH made our Top 200 "Eligibles" List ... now, let's see how they do! (kk)

NOTE: Haven't seen our "Eligibles" List yet? Simply scroll back to October 31st and November 1st and you'll find close to 200 Titles listed, ALL eligible for YOUR votes as your All-Time Instrumental Favorites!!! Remember ... voting ends on Friday, November 20th ... so get your votes in now!!! (kk)

>>>Speaking of Canadian Sunset, give this one a listen and see if it sounds a little ... eh ... familiar, lol. (Tom Diehl)
It sure does. It sounds like Run Baby Run by the Newbeats.

Hi Kent:
This is not a category which The Beatles would excel, but you might add “Cry For A Shadow” which features young George Harrison rockin’ out.
It has already received eleven votes!!! Actually, I've always enjoyed this song ... the ONLY Lennon - Harrison composition they ever recorded ... and a neat little "inside" tribute to Cliff Richard's band! (kk)

Yakety Sax by Boots Randolph has to be on a top 50 list, it is recognizable everywhere and any sax player worth his salt has cut his chops on that tune. Besides remember all those great sax breaks Boots played on during the rock and roll era. Everything out of Nashville almost including Brenda Lee, Elvis Presley, Connie Francis and even REO Speedwagon. Good Stuff!
Paul Urbahns

Boots is a guy who belongs in The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in the "Sidemen" Category for sure! "Yakety Sax" was his biggest pop hit (#33 Cash Box, 1963) ... but his GREATEST work was behind the scenes ... a top session saxophonist for decades! Will "Yakety Sax" make The Top 50??? That's up to YOU guys!!! (kk)

Yikes - I don't see GREEN ONIONS by Booker T and the MG's on the list - that should be #1 IMO!
Joan Gand
The Mauds and Blue Road
Oh, it's on there ... and WAY up towards the top in the voting right now, too!!! Definitely a classic! (kk)

Did I miss out on the nomination process for the favorite instrumentals? I have many favorites but my most favorite is Little Wing by Stevie Ray Vaughan and hope it was included.
You'll find that one up on the website as one of the "eligibles" ... but it's got a LONG way to go before it makes The Top 50 Contenders list!!! Maybe this mention will spark another vote or two. Thanks, Ed! (kk)
By the way, Stevie Ray Vaughan's version of this guitar classic was a Grammy Nominee for Best Rock Instrumental back in 1992!

Funny, would any of my beloved Mills Brothers recordings be considered? Tiger Rag, Sweet Georgia Brown, they could certainly imitate a band when actually it was them and a guitar. Maybe they go too far back to be considered. Just offering. Happy November
Sweet Dreams
Charlie Fraser
An interesting point ... while there were no lyrics being sung, it was their incredible VOCAL stylings that made these types of records so unique ... I wonder what Joel Whitburn would have to say about some of these recordings! (kk)
Hi Kent,
You really are getting some interesting inquiries about instrumentals. I would not qualify the Mills Brothers’ “Tiger Rag” as an instrumental as the song is less than 2 minutes and includes well over a minute of vocals, including a great 25 second segment of ‘scat’ singing. “Sweet Georgia Brown” could qualify, as the song is 2-1/2 minutes long and has approx. 40 seconds of vocals. That’s how I’d judge them as to whether or not I would put the [I] symbol in my books. However, if your readers put them on their list, then why not count them. There’ll always be a dispute about songs like “Moon River”, “Boss Guitar” and “Fingertips”, so you may just want to count whatever songs are submitted.
I’m eager to see that final countdown.
We've officially set the criteria as what your current edition of "Top Pop Singles" classifies as an instrumental ... as such SEVERAL great songs that had been earning votes had to be eliminated, including "Born Free" by Roger Williams, "Moon River", "Days Of Wine And Roses" and "Dear Heart" by Henry Mancini, "Fingertips, Part II" by Stevie Wonder, "Unchained Melody" by Les Baxter, "So Rare" by Jimmy Dorsey and one of MY personal favorites, "Forever" by Pete Drake, which I featured earlier in this series. (You'll also see that Randy Price's Top 50 Instrumentals List has been updated on The Forgotten Hits website to reflect this criteria.) At least we're now all playing on the same field!!! (lol) Thanks, Joel! This Mills Brothers idea certainly is an interesting concept 'tho!!! (kk)
Click here: Forgotten Hits - Top 50 Instrumentals, 1955 - 1979
(Remember ... this is a MATHEMATICAL Compilation of The 50 Biggest Instrumental Hits of All-Time, based on the combined chart positions of the records in Billboard and Cash Box Magazines. What we're looking for NOW is YOUR all-time favorites ... which instrumentals have stood the test of time in YOUR mind??? Keep those votes coming, folks ... we're already over 7000 strong!!!) kk

Hi Kent,
Dare I suggest The James Bond Theme' as a contender for instrumental.
Very best wishes.
It's not only on the list but doing QUITE well in the voting ... as is "Goldfinger" and "Ringo's Theme"!!! Thanks, Vic! (kk)
Thanks, Kent.
Wow! I'm on three of the contenders.
I don't know how you keep the Web Site so full and interesting, but please don't stop.
Keep up the very good work.

Here are my 10 favorite instrumentals in more or less the order they came to mind. I chose them on the scientific basis of "did I love them?" It takes true genius to convey such beauty with no words. How does anybody fall in love without this enchanting music as a backdrop? This was fun ... especially listening to them all again. Thanx!!!
1 Take Five~Dave Brubeck
2 Exodus~Ferrante & Teicher3 Harlem Nocturne~Viscounts
4 Maria Elena~Los Indios Tabajaras
5 Petite Fleur~Chris Barber Jazz Band
6 Sleepwalk~Santo & Johnny
7 Mahogany Hall Stomp~Louis Armstrong
8 Asia Minor~Kokomo
9 A Fifth of Beethoven~Walter Murphy
10 Classical Gas~Mason Williams

Hi Kent,
Love your site and particularly the "Favorite Instrumental" idea. I played with Dick Dale and the Del Tones back in the early 60s and played on a number of his records. I guess my favorite would be Miserlou (though I didn't play on that one). One I did play on was "King Of The Surf Guitar". I know you have a lot of music creators in your readership so Artie Wayne thought you might be interested in my new website:
www.MusicLibraryReport.com. It's a site where songwriters and composers comment and rate their experiences with music they may have placed with these libraries. In the two months it has been up we have over 200 libraries listed and nearly 800 comments from songwriters and composers. The site isfree and you do not need to use your real name or e-mail address when commenting. Take care!

-Art Munson

P.S. I'd also have to vote for "Memphis" and "Rumble" also.
Great to have you onboard, Art ... BIG fan of your work. Hopefully you'll share some of your memories with our readers from time to time. Meanwhile, be sure to check out Art's new website! (kk)

We've had a couple of inquiries about the Raymond LeFevre hit "Soul Coaxing" (Ame Caline) ... we've received a rash of votes lately for this one in our Favorite Instrumentals Poll ... and, apparently, Ron Smith has experienced the same bit of "ballot box stuffing" for his bi-annual Labor Day 500 Countdown these past few years. Although the song reached #36 on The National Charts back in 1968, it was a Top 20 Hit for this Canadian Native back home. (Ron tells me it's also one of Scott Shannon's favorite instrumental tracks!) With 62 votes and counting, it's apparently become one of YOUR favorites, too! I asked Ron about this somewhat "obscure" song (kk):
Obscure? Don't tell Scott Shannon. He loves the tune as much as we do. OldiesMusic.com is truly an international site, so it's not surprising that oddities occur in our now-biannual Labor Day 500. There's a New Zealand contingent that votes a couple of even-more obscure songs onto the list. But yes, the Canadian visitors are rather fond of "Soul Coaxing."

As I recall, a discussion started about the tune on our bulletin board back in 2001. The song had been a top 20 tune at CHUM in Toronto and was well-liked by some of the Canadian regulars. Others (like myself) chimed in on the song's merit and when the ballots were tabulated the song made #148 on that year's list. The response from those who questioned how it could have gotten that high made the tune a "cause celebre" and the next year it did even better, coming in at #105. It was 2004, though, when this "in joke" among the regulars took off. Raymond got to #12 on that year's list -- clearly with the help of non-Canadians. Since then it slipped a bit, coming in at #30 and #65. But this year an actual campaign seems to have been started with Raymond's death and the song cracked the top ten -- #8.

If there wasn't such great affection for this tune I'd probably crack down on what you call "ballot-stuffing." But I've learned that when "Raymond's Raiders" come at you -- stand aside. In 2011, I hear some might start voting for "The Day The Rains Came," which did even better on the Canadian and American charts.

-- Ron

And what DOES Scott Shannon say about "Soul Coaxing"??? ... (kk)


A friend of a friend is writing a book and needs someone to ID the group in this picture. They performed in 1957 at Notre Dame University. Can anybody ID this group? BTW, The Lettermen was a local backup group.
He’s looking to identify the vocal quartet in the attached picture (more info below.) If you recognize them, it would make it possible for him to include the picture in his upcoming book. Feel free to pass this on. Thanks for trying to help me with this. Hopefully if you send this out to your contacts, someone who is familiar with the groups of this era will remember.
I'm trying to identify the vocal quartet that sang at Notre Dame University on April 5, 1957. My photo of that group is attached. They look a little like the Ames Brothers, but I don't think that's the group. Notre Dame frequently had name groups come to entertain, like the Four Freshmen, so I expect this group was a "name" group as well. I have over 30 shots of the group, so if more are needed for identification, let me know. I’m putting together a book of my photos of various celebrities from the late 50s, like Louis Armstrong, Debbie Reynolds, etc., but I really need this group's name to include them.
BTW, the band, the Lettermen, was a local South Bend / Notre Dame collegiate group that was playing for the quartet that evening.
Many Thanks!
Tony Waitekus

I don't think it's The Ames Brothers ... so I sent your inquiry along to Gary Pike of The Lettermen to see what HE might remember. In return, we got a VERY interesting history lesson on The Lettermen ... sounds like The Lettermen who you saw perform at Notre Dame University back in 1957 was NOT the same group that rose national fame a few years later .... check it out (kk) :
Hey Kent,
I can't really speak about that Quartet at South Bend ... but I certainly do know the history of our Lettermen ... they were formed here in Southern CA. Jim and Bob knew each other in college (BYU) and came to the LA area in the late 50's singing as a duo and in other various combinations until Bob had to go into the Army Guard for six months. That's when Jim joined a Las Vegas lounge group called Bill Norvis and the Upstarts, which is where he met Tony. After that gig was through, Jim asked Tony to join him and Bob. Jim had released a single with the brand new Warner Bros. Label earlier with no success. Bob's older brother, Karl Engemann, was a producer there. They recorded "Their Hearts Were Full Of Spring", took it to WB and secured a contract. There they released two singles with no national success in 59 or 60. Karl moved on to Capitol Records for a better job as VP of A&R. The guys were not happy with WB and called Karl. He got them out of their contract with WB and set up an appointment with Nick Venet at Capitol. Their first release with Capitol was "That's My Desire" being the A side and "The Way You Look Tonight" as the B side. Capitol beat the record to death trying to sell "That's My Desire" but it died a quick death and everyone thought it was a dead record. Some jock in Buffalo, NY (I wish I could remember his name) started playing "The Way You Look Tonight" and getting a lot of reaction so he called the tower and told them, but they paid no attention. He kept playing it and WABC in NY City started getting requests for it and this forced them to start playing it. That's when Capitol took notice and started pushing it. It was the Lettermen's first hit in late 1961.
At the same time our Lettermen were getting started there were two other Lettermen groups out there that we knew of. One was an R&B group with five black guys.. They recorded for Liberty Records and had a single out called "Hey Big Brain" but it didn't happen. (You can sometimes find their single on eBay) There was another group called "The Lettermen Trio" headed up by Sammy Vandenberg ... they also had no record success. There could have been more out there because it was such a good group name for that time period. Anyway, all of these groups could use the name until one had a hit record ... then that group had the exclusive rights to use the name.
After "The Way You Look Tonight" hit, Capitol's lawyers sent out cease and desist letters to all the groups they knew were the using the name. Sorry to make a short story long but these guys at Notre Dame had absolutely no connection with the famed Lettermen. (For one thing, we were NEVER a quartet). All of us guys are from the west ... Tony was born in PA but came to Southern Cal. when he was a kid. Bobby was born in Michigan and came out west as a youngster also.
On a different note, you should be getting a cd in the mail I just sent with an interesting story about the song "Turn Around, Look At Me" and Glen Campbell, who we know well as he played guitar on at least ten of the first Lettermen albums before he became Glen Campbell ... and about the Vogues hearing our version and wanting to record it. Also I included a couple of songs that were instrumental hits that hardly anyone knew had lyrics. We recorded quite a few that were known to have lyrics but these two maybe will surprise you. I think they turned out very nice..
Well, I hope I answered the question of your friend who is writing the book. His Notre Dame 1957 Lettermen Quartet has no connection with our Lettermen. We have in the mid 60's and 70's done concerts at Notre Dame, but impossible for 1957.
Till next time,
Thanks, Gary ... can't wait to hear the CD you sent ... maybe we'll even share a track or two with the rest of our readers. I had NO idea that the "Lettermen" name was so wide-spread and popular back then ... but I suppose it makes sense ... what a GREAT name for a group of High School or College Guys singing together ... in their lettermen jackets!!! Meanwhile, we've run the photo of Tony's Mystery Group in the hopes that SOMEBODY out there may recognize them so that they can be properly credited in this new book. (kk)

We saw the new Michael Jackson film "This Is It" over the weekend. It's really nothing short of amazing. We've all seen concert video footage before ... but sadly THIS show never made it to the big stage ... Jackson died eight days before his "comeback" tour was due to kick off. (I know, I know ... HE kicked off before the tour did!!!) The rehearsal footage removes ANY doubt that Michael still "had it" ... his voice is in top shape and he's still got the moves. Even when he was performing at 50% (which he does several times during the film, trying to "save his voice"), he still outshines most of today's pop star talent. And at 50, he not only matches his two dozen dancers step for step, but he LEADS this group, all the while still singing the lead vocals!!! The visuals the audience would have been treated to are nothing short of astounding ... but this was to be, after all, Michael Jackson's swan song. The incredible stage sets, intermingled with newly shot video footage and pyrotechnics have to be seen to be believed. And there was NO question that Michael knew EXACTLY what his audience expected of him ... and he knew exactly how to play into their hands, whether it meant a sudden stop, a finger point, a foot shuffle, a grab of his crotch or a quick flip of his jacket ... Michael was timing the show to perfection ... as he knew HIS audience expected nothing less. How truly sad that he left us at a time when he clearly had so much left to give.

MOST IRONIC MOMENT: There's a scene near the end of the film where they're rehearsing a spot in the show where Michael's supposed to climb aboard a cherry-picker and then rise and rotate around the audience and stage ... and they kept stressing the extreme caution being used to insure that the star of their show NOT be hurt prior to the tour ... how TRULY shocking it must have been when Michael died. Virtually ALL of his "support players" truly idolized this man ... many flew half way around the world just to have the chance to be part of his extravaganza ... only to lose their chance (and their paychecks) when Michael OD'd. What a sad, sad waste of talent ... the point of which is driven home during nearly every moment of this rehearsal footage.

BIGGEST SURPRISE: How EMPTY the theater was!!! After all the hype about world-wide sell-outs in a matter of minutes once the tickets went on sale, I'll bet OUR theater was more than two-thirds EMPTY for this screening! I heard it still did blockbuster business over the weekend ... as of this morning, it was well past $100 Million ... but there was no evidence of that in OUR theater, where I fully expected to be sitting shoulder-to-shoulder to a packed house of MJ Fans.

NOT SO SURPRISING: Word comes now that the "Two Weeks ... And ONLY Two Weeks" run is already being extended ... and that pre-orders for the DVD and BluRay Editions of the concert are already being taken worldwide.

HIGHLIGHTS: Two ... for me, "Smooth Criminal" was nothing short of amazing ... and the black and white vintage film footage only added to the whole mystique. Also "The Way You Make Me Feel", for its rehearsal footage, working out the kinks and timing at the beginning of the song. "This is why we rehearse, people," Jackson can be heard to say more than once during the program. Was the show ready to hit the road? Hard to say ... there is nothing to indicate how old any of this rehearsal footage really was ... and it seemed to be culled from four or five separate rehearsals, based on Michael's wardrobe changes. Certainly there were still some major kinks to be worked out ... and knowing the truth now about Michael's physical condition and dependance on medication leaves your head spinning when you see the rigourous workout he put in on a daily basis getting ready for the big show.

DISAPPOINTMENTS: Two ... and both fall into the "That's Just Wrong" category. First of all, a tribute to the early hits of The Jackson Five ... the background set featuring the old J5 logo is incredible to look at ... but having four OTHER singers come up out of the floor on risers to sing with Michael is just plain wrong. A better approach would have simply have been to acknowledge that these are some of the songs that launched his career, back when he was singing with his brothers. Having ANYONE else perform with Michael as a faux Jackson Five is just wrong. (And, due to some technical difficulties ... which appeared to be Michael having problems with his earpiece ... and forgetting the words!) TWO of The Jackson Five songs never made it through the rehearsal footage. (The background band sounded fantastic on "I Want You Back" but Michael never sang a word ... and "The Love You Save" was barely mumbled. But then things settled in and Michael did a very powerful reading of "I'll Be There", a Jackson Five classic.) The other MAJOR disappointment was during the film's end credits when Michael's new song "This Is It" was credited ONLY to him as the songwriter, despite all the press surrounding Paul Anka's involvement with this song. It seems to me some last minuted editing could have been done to rectify this gross injustice. (Not that the song's all that great ... it isn't ... but right is right!)

Other than that ... HIGHLY recommended. If it IS extended through Thanksgiving Weekend, we just may head back to the theaters to catch the iMAX edition of the film!!! (kk)