Saturday, July 18, 2009

You Won't Believe What I Just Heard ...

Today's Forgotten Hits piece was written on Wednesday and Thursday, after spending several hours of those two days in the car and listening to the radio. Imagine my complete surprise ... and sadness ... to hear on Friday afternoon that Gordon Waller of Peter and Gordon had passed away. PURELY by coincidence, one of the topics I had written about two days before involved hearing one of their rare singles on the radio.

Gordon Waller was a sometimes-contributor to Forgotten Hits over the years ... we had talked about doing an interview after our Peter Noone piece ran but it just never came together. He was pretty good about answering our questions when they came up and was especially helpful when it came to discussing the health condition of his friend Mike Smith of The Dave Clark Five ... in fact, he was helping us to keep tabs on when (or IF) the live concert DVD of the fund-raising tribute concert for Mike was coming out ... despite numerous announcements, it STILL hasn't seen the light of day. (You'd think, at the VERY least, that they'd have released it after Mike's death as some sort of memorial and tribute to this great artist.) How sad it is that after so recently mourning Mike's passing, Gordon has now left us, too.

Frannie and I had the pleasure of seeing Peter and Gordon perform at a Chicagoland Beatles Fest a couple of years ago (I'm sorry, "The Fest For Beatles Fans" ... I STILL don't get that!!!) ... and it was a VERY entertaining performance. The guys were in GREAT voice and it was so nice to finally see some of my earliest musical favorites together again, performing live. I got a notification around 2:20 on Friday that Gordon had passed away ... I don't think the media had even been notified yet ... but within the hour it was pretty much the subject of most of the mail that was coming in. We'll miss you, Gordon!

Peter and Gordon performing at Chicago's Beatlefest, 2006

Here are the first few responses we received, including the pre-media announcement from new FH reader Steve Sorkin:
Hi Kent,
I am a fairly new reader of your great blog. And a faithful listener to KXOK-AM and Johnny Rabbit back in the 60's!
I just had an unusual experience I wanted to "blog" about. It was unusual for me but it is probably now commonplace for many people, especially younger ones, and will become more common all the time. I found out today that Gordon Waller of Peter & Gordon, the old 60's group, died of a heart attack. It still hasn't hit the news wires as far as I can tell -- I found out because my daughter Hannah is a "friend" on Twitter with the daughter of Peter Asher of Peter & Gordon. The daughter is a singer in a modern rock band that Hannah likes, and she tweeted that Gordon had died today. A weird way to get the news but sort of surprisingly personalized! As your readers know, Gordon's passing is just one of several rock deaths in recent weeks. Last week the lead guitarist for Paul Revere and the Raiders, Drake Levin, died. Awhile back Delaney of "Delaney and Bonnie" passed away. Freddie of Freddie and the Dreamers died a few months back. And through the years, the Dave Clark Five is now down to just three. Originally four-member groups the Beatles and the Who are of course now just two, and the Mamas and the Papas only have one person left standing. I guess over 40 years a few people are going to move on. (Although as far as I know only one person from my elementary school class of 1967 has died.) Oldies rock and roll for fans like me has truly become a bittersweet listening experience! Great music and fond memories of good times tempered by the passing of time and the realities of life, and death.
Thanks for letting me invade your virtual space,
Steve in St. Louis, MO

I just heard that Gordon Waller (from Peter And Gordon), passed away early this morning from cardiac arrest. As yet there is no official notice on the P/G web site. I do believe that Gordon was 62. Thoughts and prayers to his friends and family.

YET ANOTHER SAD LOSS! GORDON WALLER -- of the famed British Invasion duo PETER & GORDON -- passed away today (8/17) at the age of 64!
The GRACIE FAMILY extends its heartfelt condolences to GORDON'S family and to our friend, PETER ASHER. The guys were long time fans of Charlie's, dating back to the early days when Charlie began performing in Great Britain. Late last year, the guys invited the entire Gracie Family to their Philly-region concert -- a great honor ... and they put on a wonderful show!
GORDON WALLER actually treated Charlie to his own versions of BUTTERFLY and FABULOUS that night -- something we will treasure for a long time to come.
Here's to the "Everly Brothers of the British Invasion," as they were often dubbed.
Again, our hearts go out to the family, friends and fans of Gordon Waller a wonderful man and musician. May God Bless his soul!

And then this from Ron Smith's website:

The duo's MySpace page has this message: We are deeply saddened to report that some time after 8:00 p.m. last night east coast time, Gordon Waller went into cardiac arrest and was taken to the emergency room. Despite intensive efforts on his behalf by hospital personnel, Gordon passed away early this morning. Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers. His partner of nearly five decades, Peter Asher, will be issuing a statement shortly. We hope you will join us sending love and condolences to his family.

Peter Asher then left this comment:

Gordon played such a significant role in my life that losing him is hard to comprehend – let alone to tolerate. He was my best friend at school almost half a century ago. He was not only my musical partner but played a key role in my conversion from only a snooty jazz fan to a true rock and roll believer as well. Without Gordon I would never have begun my career in the music business in the first place. Our professional years together in the sixties constitute a major part of my life and I have always treasured them. We remained good friends (unusual for a duo!) even while we were pursuing entirely separate professional paths and I was so delighted that after a hiatus of almost forty years we ended up singing and performing together again more recently for the sheer exhilarating fun of it. We had a terrific time doing so. Gordon remains one of my very favourite singers of all time and I am still so proud of the work that we did together. I am just a harmony guy and Gordon was the heart and soul of our duo. I shall miss him in so many different ways. The idea that I shall never get to sing those songs with him again, that I shall never again be able to get annoyed when he interrupts me on stage or to laugh at his unpredictable sense of humour or even to admire his newest model train or his latest gardening effort is an unthinkable change in my life with which I have not even begun to come to terms.

Here is Ron's official obituary:

Gordon Waller, one-half of the duo of Peter and Gordon, suffered a massive fatal heart attack Thursday night (July 16) at his Connecticut home and died early the next morning at the age of 64. Born Gordon Trueman Riviere Waller in Braemar, Scotland, Gordon met Peter at London's Westminister boarding school as a teen and the two would climb over the school's spiked wall to play at local clubs surreptitiously. After graduation, the two continued their musical careers, helped enormously by Peter's sister's boyfriend -- Paul McCartney -- who wrote three of their hits -- 1964's #1 "A World Without Love", "I Don't Want To See You Again" (#16 - 1964) and "Woman" (#14 - 1966). In fact, six of their first eight American hits were top 20 records, including "Nobody I Know" (12 - 1964), the Del Shannon-penned "I Go To Pieces" (#9 - 1965) and the Buddy Holly composition "True Love Ways" (#14 - 1965). All told, the duo scored 14 American chart records, even after Jane Asher broke off her engagement to Paul. The duo broke up in 1968 as touring (and hits) became difficult. Peter became a talent scout for Apple Records and later produced Linda Ronstadt and James Taylor. Gordon's attempt at a solo career fizzled, but he did appear as Pharaoh in "Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" in London's West End and scored the James Dean biographical film, "Race With Destiny." The two reunited in 2005 and played, among other dates, the Buddy Holly memorial at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa this past February. Said Peter: "Gordon played such a significant role in my life that losing him is hard to comprehend -- let alone to tolerate. He was my best friend at school almost half a century ago. He was not only my musical partner but played a key role in my conversion from only a snooty jazz fan to a true rock and roll believer as well. Without Gordon I would never have begun my career in the music business in the first place. Gordon remains one of my very favourite singers of all time and I am still so proud of the work that we did together. I am just a harmony guy and Gordon was the heart and soul of our duo."

(Since I ended up updating this Friday night anyway, I was able to include another great radio surprise that I heard this morning!) Read on ...


With our "No Radios" policy at work, I don't get to listen to much music during the day anymore ... but this week I was out in the car seeing customers and was able to jot down some musical observations:

For starters, while eating lunch at IHOP (where they had a VERY strange mix of music playing) I heard the rare Peter and Gordon version of "To Know You Is To Love You". I don't think that I have EVER heard that song on the radio before ... EVER!!! Despite being a mid-sized hit in 1965 (#24 in Billboard and #32 here in Chicago), it just isn't one I remember hearing. A pretty disappointing version, too, I might add ... especially in light of their EXCELLENT remakes of Del Shannon's "I Go To Pieces" and Buddy Holly's "True Love Ways", their two preceding chart singles. Certainly I was familiar with their version of the tune, thanks to their various Greatest Hits collections over the year ... but it was still a shocker to hear it come on the radio. Talk about your UNEXPECTED Forgotten Hits!!!

Then, the other night when nothing was on TV again (as usual), Frannie and I watched the Randy Quaid / Paul Reiser movie "Bye Bye Love". Heavy on Everly Brothers tunes (including some very nice remakes by artists like Jackson Browne and Timothy B. Schmidt and Dave Edmunds), it was a REAL pleasure to hear The Everlys themselves sing their 1960 Hit "So Sad (To Watch Good Love Go Bad)", which was used in two different scenes. THAT'S a song that deserves a spin on the radio once in a while ... it climbed to #7 nationally and went all the way to #2 here in Chi-Town. (By the way, the other day in Forgotten Hits we talked about "Don't Worry Baby" remakes ... you'll find one of the better ones on this soundtrack, too, done by The Everly Brothers with The Beach Boys handling the background vocals.)

Another nice surprise was hearing Scott Shannon play "I've Found Someone Of My Own" by The Free Movement from 1971, another #2 Chicagoland Hit that climbed to #5 in Billboard but still doesn't get a whole lot of airplay. This is EXACTLY the kind of song we keep talking about ... one that EVERYBODY knows and will most likely sing along with ... but not one that needs to be played to death every single day. Hearing this one three or four times a year keeps it fresh and makes you appreciate it that much more.

(By the way, am I the ONLY one out there who finds a striking resemblance between "I've Found Someone Of My Own" from 1971 and The Four Tops' hit "Ain't Now Woman Like The One I've Got" from a couple years later? Listen to some of the background arrangements and see if you don't agree!) kk

Speaking of being played to death, while in the car ... and this is the Honest To God Truth ... within fifteen minutes of button-pushing I heard "What I Like About You" by The Romantics THREE TIMES on three different radio stations. Playing around with the buttons again, I heard Free's "All Right Now", Bad Company's "Can't Get Enough Of Your Love", ZZ Top's "La Grange", Rod Stewart's "Maggie May" and "Brother Louie" by Stories TWICE EACH in about a twenty minute time frame. THIS is what I mean by over-saturation ... and TOTALLY unnecessary. Why is radio SO content to play the SAME stuff over and over and over again when they know that every OTHER radio station in town ... and in the rest of the country for that matter ... is playing the same crap?!?!? Why doesn't ANYBODY take that bold step to program something DIFFERENT for a change?!?! Do something that makes you stand out and break away from the pack of the rest of the run of the mill stations!!! It'll make people tune in that much more often to see what OTHER surprises you might come up with later. Instead, we get Tunnel-Vision Radio day in and day out in EVERY city in EVERY state across the USA. To paraphrase The Everlys, "So Sad To See Good Music Go Bad" ... you're making us HATE these songs!!!!!

And here's to the bonehead request of the day ... during the lunchtime hour somebody emailed in a request to one of those All Request Lunch Hour Shows asking for "some early Beatles". Now I'M thinking, OK, this has got to be something pre-"A Hard Day's Night", using that track as the benchmark / cut-off point for what MOST people would consider "early Beatles" ... and then, of course, because my wheels are ALWAYS turning, I try to guess WHICH Beatles song they're going to play before it actually comes on. Imagine my COMPLETE surprise when the airhead DJ on The River played "Hello, Goodbye" from late '67 / early '68!!! EARLY Beatles?!?!? What on earth is THIS chick doing in radio?!?!?

On the plus side, right as I pulled back into the parking lot at work I heard Scott Shannon answer a request for "something by Johnny Tillotson" at which time he played "Poetry In Motion" and then even gave a little update on what Johnny's doing now. OK, now THAT'S more like it. (Hell, I heard him play "The Ballad Of Thunder Road" by Robert Mitchum as somebody's First 45 a few weeks ago!!! AMAZING!!!) Pretty cool feature, that "First 45's" thing, eh?!?!?

Anyway, here's YOUR chance to listen to a few of these rarities here today ... 'cause there's just no telling when you'll hear ANY of them again. ('Cause you just know that there's SOMEBODY in the programming department insisting that "We just GOTTA squeeze in House Of The Rising Sun, Hold On, I'm Comin', Oh, Pretty Woman and Suspicious Minds a few more times today first!!!" So Sad.) kk

ONE MORE THOUGHT: One thing that I HAVE noticed now that I can't listen to music during the day anymore ... my tolerance for this repetitive mix has virtually disappeared ... when I finally AM able to listen, the LAST thing I wanna hear is the same crap we've been complaining about for the past ten years here. Kudos to EVERY jock who made me smile this week by playing something DIFFERENT!!!

I just happened to catch part of Jim Shea's morning show on Friday ... and heard him play his "Real Good, Feel Good" song ... which was The Buckinghams' version of the James Brown tune "I'll Go Crazy", a Top 20 Chicagoland Hit that "Bubbled Under" in Billboard in early 1966 ... and, even COOLER, he followed it up with a vintage 1964 Coca Cola Commercial featuring Roy Orbison. THOSE are the kind of oldies radio surprises that are gonna make you turn the volume up a notch to see if you're really hearing what you can't believe you're hearing!!! WTG, Jim! (kk)

Friday, July 17, 2009

July 17, 1971

(click chart to enlarge)

Riding high on the WLS "All Hit Music" Survey this week was Carole King's classic "It's Too Late", which was enjoying its FIFTH week at #1 here in Chicago. In at #2 was ANOTHER Carole King-penned tune, "You've Got A Friend", included in her chart-topping album "Tapestry" and covered with great success by HER friend, James Taylor. Tommy James was enjoying some solo success at #3 with "Draggin' The Line", a song that would move to #1 the following week.

Some of our local talent also made The Top Ten ... Chase was sitting at #5 with their horn-rocker "Get It On". (Sadly, four members of the band would perish in a plane crash three years later.) Although "Get It On" never made Billboard's Top 20, it was a Top Five Smash here in Chicago, where we still hear it from time to time, particularly on Bob Stroud's "Rock And Roll Roots" Radio Program.

The Grass Roots were sitting at #7 with their big hit "Sooner Or Later" ... and a song that they turned down placed three points higher ... although they rejected "Don't Pull Your Love" as being "not hit material", it, in fact, became a HUGE hit for the musical law firm of Hamilton, Joe Frank and Reynolds.

Rounding out The Top Ten was "Funky Nassau" by The Beginning Of The End (talk about your Forgotten Hits ... this one always seemed like a "Tighten Up" rip-off to me for some reason ... but it was a big hit nonetheless) and the recently discussed Forgotten Hits Favorite "Never Ending Song Of Love" by Delaney and Bonnie.

A few surprises? How about "I'm The Only One" by Lobo, in at #11 ... I honestly don't think I could hum this song if I had to ... it was another local hit that didn't do much on the national charts ... in fact, "I'm The Only One" charted in Billboard as the tag-along B-Side to the bigger hit "She Didn't Do Magic" ... and even THAT one stopped at #46.

Despite their TREMENDOUS success in the second half of the '60's ... even giving The Beatles a run for their money at one point and time ... The Monkees did not fare well as solo artists. Only TWO solo releases made The Chicagoland Top 20 ... last year, Mike Nesmith's "Joanne" peaked at #13 here ... and this week in 1971, Davy Jones' only Top 20 solo hit, "Rainy Jane", written by Neil Sedaka, was in at #18 on the WLS chart ... it never rose above #52 in Billboard.

A couple of others worth noting: the very moving Tom Clay narrative reading of "What The World Needs Now Is Love / Abraham, Martin And John" was brand new on the chart at #24, one of my all-time favorite B.J. Thomas songs, "Mighty Clouds Of Joy" debuted one spot below it at #25 and a great, over-looked Tony Orlando and Dawn song, "Summer Sand", was holding down the #13 position.

We'll listen to a few of these today ... and maybe some of the 'LS jocks will get on board and play one or two of these on the air, too!

What The World Needs Now Is Love / Abraham, Martin and John
by Tom Clay

Mighty Clouds Of Joy by B.J. Thomas
(Play THIS one today and I guarantee you you'll get some calls!!!)

Summer Sand by Tony Orlando and Dawn

Thursday, July 16, 2009

More 1964 Memories

Kent -
Your story from this week's newsletter, written by David and titled "Countdowns", about his memories from reading "Be True To Your School", and the Scott Shannon mention about this particular week's hits in 1964, brought back a flood of memories from that summer to me, so "Thanks" for that.
I lived in Denver, and Denver was, of course, the home of Fabulous KIMN Radio, featuring DJ talent such as Ted Atkins, Hal "Baby" Moore, Pogo Poge, Jay Mack, Danny Davis and others. I hate to think I can't remember all their names ... they were in ALL our heads day in and day out, playing the hits and being our friends.
In that week of July, the band I was in, The Surfin" Classics, had just worked out that Beach Boys song "I Get Around" that David mentioned. We were playing in a lot of Denver Teen Clubs that summer, and in Colorado beer bars in the mountains, and we were thinking about changing the title to "I'll Buy A Round" ... and singing the words "Round Round Buy A Round ... I'll Buy A Round ... yeah" ... lol.
The Surfin' Classics played all the time for Frat parties in Boulder and at famous Tulagi's on The Hill there, and up in the mountains in Estes Park at Jax Snax almost every Friday night, and now and then up in the little mining town of Aspen at Galena Street East. Also I met the most beautiful girl in Denver, (and soon to be my wife) Sharon that summer, plus I had a 1953 Ford Convertible with a continental kit, plus I was in a "Boss" band, so as you can see, life was hummin' and the world was my oyster. What a summer!
Thanks for all the memories you churned up in my head Kent. Thinking back and remembering those times makes getting older a lot easier, having something to read from you and the others who write in, that focuses on those times. The Beach Boys added so much to our teen years it's incredible to me at times when I remember what great and innocent fun we had back then. I'm enclosing a recent 'remix' I did on my home studio of their hit song "Getcha' Back". I added some extra vocal and 12 string guitar tracks and boosted the highs a little. This is how The Surfin' Classics sounded back then, and soon we'd be managed and produced on Capitol subsidiary Tower Records by Roger Christian, who co-wrote "Little Deuce Coupe", "Don't Worry Baby", "Spirit of America", "Shut Down" and many other songs with Brian and also songs with Jan and Dean. If you want to, put this new 'remix' in the newsletter.
Always your fan and a regular and grateful reader,
Van Dorn
Thanks, Van Dorn, I appreciate your loyalty and support. "I Get Around" is simply a CLASSIC track ... but sometimes I think we forget or take for granted just how good it really is. It's one thing to listen to it now when it comes on the oldies stations but it was REALLY something else hearing that blast out of our radios for the very first time way back when ... when it was brand new ... an excitement I can't even put into words ... you just had to LIVE it. (I recently discussed this very topic on Jim Shea's radio show using "California Girls" as an example. Listen to that intro ... by 1965 standards, it was damn near SYMPHONIC!!! We had never heard ANYTHING quite like that in pop music up to that point in time ... Brian Wilson moved us LIGHT YEARS ahead musically and, although certainly highly regarded, I feel he sometimes doesn't get the full credit he deserves ... so much of that 1964 - 1965 period in music focuses only on The British Invasion ... but HUGE things were happening here, too, musically, with artists like The Beach Boys, Motown, The Byrds and soon, The Mamas and the Papas and Simon and Garfunkel and SO many others!)
Back then it seemed like EVERY new record was a HUGE step forward musically ... the artists literally challenged each other and the bar was raised with every new release. There was never a more exciting time in music ... and, because records typically only stayed on the charts for a month or two back then, there was ALWAYS new music coming out ... many of these artists were charting four or five singles a year ... and, in some cases, releasing as many as three albums!!! (By the '70's and '80's, artists were taking four to five years to complete a single LP!!!)
Surprisingly, as well known as it is today, "Don't Worry Baby" didn't get a whole lot of airplay back in 1964 when it was first released as the B-Side to "I Get Around", which was clearly the favored side by radio. (I've always wondered how they measured chart sales back then when two-sided hits were fairly common ... how did THEY know which side of the record we went into the record store to buy?!?!?) "Don't Worry Baby" peaked at #24 back in 1964 ... but today is probably played as much, or possibly even more often than the A-Side. (I've always wondered if it was the "intended" hit ... the picture sleeve at the time clearly showed "Don't Worry Baby" as the lead title!) It's been recorded by just about everybody since then, including a few times where The Beach Boys sang the background harmonies on someone else's record!!!

As for you guys making up your own words to "I Get Around" with "I'll Buy A Round", that, too, seems to have been a fairly common practice back then. I think we ALL did that ... and, in Bob Greene's book "Be True To Your School" (which it sounds like a bunch of you have been reading lately!), he mentions a party where he and some of his high school buddies got together and sang (to the tune of yet ANOTHER Beach Boys Hit, "Dance, Dance, Dance"):
"After five days of school, we've had enough of the class
We get a six-pack of Colt and get drunk on our ass"
"At a weekend dance, we never show up first
We gotta wait awhile so we can quench our thirst"
all brand new lyrics to THEIR song "Drink, Drink, Drink"!!!
And, finally, I'm happy to feature your latest remix on "Getcha Back" ... clearly a work in progress as you continue to tinker and fine-tune things. Thanks for sharing this one with our readers! (kk)

... and, speaking of Bob Greene's books ...

After reading about Bob's friends from '64 in his book "Be True To Your School", I thought it would be fun to look some of them up on Facebook.
Well, Kent, finding them on Facebook has proven quite interesting. Every time I search on a name from the book and find that person on Facebook, I look at that person's friends list and see more and more of the same names Bob mentions in his book. It's amazing how this network from Bexley has kept in touch - or at least has found each other online after more than 40 years. Bob, I'm seeing a book proposal here: The Bexley gang, 50 years later, courtesy of the Internet. I hope Bob's getting some real encouragement from the FH gang ... it's great that he's still writing new stuff ... lots of people care about him.
BTW, The Friday chart thing sounds like a great feature. I do agree that it was interesting how the stars aligned this week and you ran the '64 chart the day after Scott Shannon mentioned "I Get Around", and I and others have been reading "Be True To Your School". Perhaps that's a sign ....
David Lewis
Well, we're going to give the WLS Chart thing a few more tries ... maybe some of the local jocks will pick up on this and feature some of our Forgotten Hits suggestions on their programs. (Watch for a look back at 1971 on tomorrow's web page.)
If you enjoyed "Be True To Your School" ... and it sure sounds like you did ... then you've just GOT to read "All Summer Long" next. I'm quite sure that in his WILDEST dreams, Bob Greene never even IMAGINED someone having the interest ... let alone the technology ... to find some of these people via The Internet when he first published his book back in 1987 ... some twenty years ago. While "All Summer Long" is reportedly a work of fiction, it tells the story of three old friends who grew up together (in Ohio, naturally!) who decide to take a summer road trip after their 25th High School Reunion. Many of the memories shared clearly come from Bob's own youth. (In fact, you'll find a couple of "cross-over" references between these two books ... Bob is at his very best when he writes what he knows and feels in his heart ... and this era of music and Americana clearly touched him deeply.) Watch for references to the "Butter Cow" at The Ohio State Fair ... and an obvious affection for a particular Beatles song, "Things We Said Today":

FROM BE TRUE TO YOUR SCHOOL: The stations play the greatest songs. It seems like there's all this good new stuff coming out right now, and the stations play it all the time. The whole "A Hard Day's Night" soundtrack album is always playing ... "A Hard Day's Night" ... "Tell Me Why" ... "I'll Cry Instead" ... "I'm Happy Just To Dance With You" ... "I Should Have Known Better" ... "If I Fell" ... "And I Love Her" ... "Can't Buy Me Love". Plus, there's another new Beatles song that's not from the movie -- it's called "Things We Said Today" and I Like it better than any of the others. (Ironically, three of the jocks that Bob Greene listened to growing up in Ohio and mentions by name in his book ... Jim Runyon, Jim Stagg and Jerry G. Bishop ... would all make their mark here on Chicagoland radio, too!!!)

And then, his diary entry from ten days later:

I bought a new Beatles album today. It's called "Something New". A lot of the songs are the same ones that are on the "A Hard Day's Night" soundtrack ... the soundtrack was put out by United Artists records and "Something New" is put out by Capitol, the Beatles' usual label. I bought it because "Things We Said Today" is on it. That one song is worth the price of the whole album to me.
-- Bob Greene

And then this from "All Summer Long", which came out in 1993:

"I Should Have Known Better" had been playing on the car's tape deck, and it faded out and then there was the soft, insistent sound of a repetitive guitar chord, and, as if having been instructed, we fell silent. The evening had turned to full night, and there was just a touch of chill in the air, and the song we were hearing was "Things We Said Today".
It was never a huge it; it was a song on a relatively minor Beatles album called "Something New", released at the end of the summer of 1964. I don't know why "Things We Said Today" spoke to us so intensely; I suppose that is part of the magic of music --- a song insinuates itself into your life, and becomes a part of you, and you never know exactly why.
That August of '64, cruising in other cars in another town, "Things We Said Today" narrated the last days of summer for us. The song was about realizing how much you have, even as you have it, and knowing that you're in the middle of precious times. Tonight we were together again, and those voices from all those summers ago sang to us in the night:
You say you will love me, if I have to go
You'll be thinking of me, somehow I will know ...
Did we really understand back then? Did we even partially apprehend that the moments we were living through then would someday enrich our lives in ways so important that we would hardly be able to verbalize them?
Ronnie drove and none of us spoke.
Me, I'm just a lucky kind,
Love to hear you say that love is luck ...
Probably we couldn't have known; probably it was just a song. Even back then, though, even when we were just three friends on the threshold of a life we could barely imagine, that song had the ability to silence us. Even back then we would listen quietly as if someone were telling us something of consequence.
So tonight Ronnie drove on, down streets where children were growing up and people were sensing stirrings of romance and family secrets were forming. He drove down streets to which we'd never return, and we felt a little out in the open in that white convertible, three friends on a summer night. Hardly anyone else was out; a man and a woman walking hand in hand, and, on the other side of the street, five kids laughing as they hurried somewhere on foot. In the car, from all those summers back, the voices sang:
Someday when we're dreaming,
Deep in love, not a lot to say,
Then we will remember
Things we said today.
It ended, and a moment passed, and then Michael said, "I hadn't realized it was such a short song."
Depends on how you measure, I thought. How long is a song? This one had been playing, in our heads and in our hearts, for almost thirty years.
-- Bob Greene

You can add my name to the Bob Greene book club. At your suggestion, I just finished reading "When We Get To Surf City" -- and I'm now moving on to "All Summer Long" and "Be True To Your School". Just reading what you've already written about these two books makes me know that I'm going to enjoy them. Thanks to Bob Greene for expressing our memories so well -- and to Forgotten Hits for sharing them with us.
Mike Davis
"When We Get To Surf City" was the first Bob Greene book I ever read. (Actually, that's not entirely true ... I seem to remember reading his Michael Jordan book way back when but that one was devoted to a very specific topic.) What makes "When We Get To Surf City" ... and books like "All Summer Long" and "Be True To Our School" so special for OUR audience is EXACTLY what you just said ... Bob has a way of expressing those memories in a way that we ALL can relate to ... they truly ARE shared memories. Clearly, this era of music had a profound and long-lasting effect on Bob ... and while "When We Get To Surf City" is MOSTLY about life on the road with The Jan and Dean Band, it ALSO captures the spirit of what made this music so great and enjoyable in the first place. As soon as I read it, I contacted Bob and told him that he was going to LOVE Forgotten Hits and just HAD to get on our list ... basing it on nothing more than how well he conveyed his message in his book. He's been a devoted reader ever since and has told me about a number of people he's met this past year who have told him that they picked up a copy of his book thanks to the good reviews they'd read in our little newsletter. Well, it's real EASY to write a good review when the book is as powerful as this one is ... it SPEAKS to us and I believe that ALL of our readers will enjoy all three of the above-mentioned titles. While we may not yet challenge Oprah's Book Club, it makes me feel good to know that so many of you have trusted OUR instincts on this material and picked up copies for yourselves. Again ... the power of music shines through each and every time. (kk)

By the way, Bob Greene's LATEST book is now available online and at book stores everywhere ... "Late Edition: A Love Story" looks back at the glory days of the newspaper ...

("You remember newspapers, right??? It's what they had before blogs."

-- Craig Ferguson last night after Paul McCartney's appearance on The David Letterman Show.)

Certainly a topic that Bob knows well from his own illustrious career ... and once again he promises to take us back to that musical era that we all know and love so well.

And, real quick ... speaking of Paul McCartney's appearance last night on David Letterman ... was it just me or was some of that the most uncomfortable, awkward interviewing you've ever seen??? Both these guys are seasoned pros yet Letterman came off as a complete doofus with his line of questioning ... and it looked like McCartney was getting more than a little irritated on at least a few occasions. We expected more ... so Paul, if you're reading this today ... and I KNOW you are ... drop us a line and we'll give you The Forgotten Hits Treatment ... we'd LOVE to talk to you!!! (Although I have to admit that I really DID like Letterman asking him about the whole "Paul Is Dead" thing after all these years!!! lol)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

More Concert News

On June 26, my husband and I saw Gordon Lightfoot at Westbury Music Fair. I hate to say this, but he's lost it. First, when he came out on stage, he was so thin. It was the day after The Gloved One died. He made a remark to the audience that shocked everyone because everyone gasped. He said "Michael Jackson isn't doing what we're doing tonight." A very tasteless joke. While he sang a lot of songs, he didn't sing the ones most of us were familiar with. He never sang "That's What You Get For Loving Me" and "Early Morning Rain." The stage usually revolves, but they not only blocked off the entrance to the stage with curtains, but those seats as well and the stage stayed put. He was not sold out therefore making it easy to get to and from the rest rooms, where there are usually long lines, the snack bar, and driving out of the parking lot.
We did get tickets to see Foreigner on October 1. And we're driving out to Westbury to buy tickets for Lou Christie, Shirley Alston Reeves, Johnny Santos of Johnny and Joe, Kenny Vance and the Planatones and others on the same show. That should be a great show. Lou Christie is my show because my husband picked Gordon Lightfoot and Foreigner.
We've run a couple of negative reviews here lately (and have come under a little bit of fire from some of the artists on the list, questioning what POSITIVE effect this will have on Oldies Music. One went so far as to say that I'll have a tough time attracting more artists to come onboard if this is the way I'm going to treat them!) Well, I disagree ... in this day and age ... and in an EXTREMELY tough economy ... each and every one of us music fans out here have to weigh the decision as to who we want to see in concert. I think that these artists can learn a lot by reading what their REAL fans have to say, rather than listening to their promo people and hangers-on who are ALWAYS going to tell them what they want to hear, simply to stay employed or part of the inner circle. Hearing from a fan's perspective what their expectations are ... and who delivered the goods and who didn't ... can become a very valuable tool for these artists if they simply take the time to listen and consider what the fans have to say. The opinions expressed in THIS column come from the REAL, honest-to-goodness fans out there who have supported these artists for YEARS, buying their albums and singles and CDs and now tickets to their shows along with programs and T-Shirts and who knows what else. I believe that these artists DO have an obligation to these fans to put forth the BEST show possible ... and, if it isn't fun for them anymore ... or, they aren't able to do so ... get off the road for a while and re-evaluate what's important to you. (We've heard similar reports lately about other artists, many of whom ARE on the list and, knowing this, the reviewers have asked that I NOT publish their comments and reviews so as not to offend anybody. I think this is a far GREATER crime ... let these artists know that we, as oldies fans, have a choice as to who we go out and see ... and we DO have certain expectations that we count on you guys to fulfill. Simply put, you guys need to BRING IT each and every time you perform ... because in many cases we're paying hard-earned cash to see it and to hear it!!! Heck, I've even walked out of a couple of FREE shows recently because the performance was SO bad that it wasn't even worth watching for FREE!!! Now how sad is THAT?!?!?)
Anyway, you guys want the support of the fans ... and this is how you get it ... EVERY show counts ... go on out there and give it your best shot every single night, and the fans will come ... I guarantee it. And THESE are the shows we want to hear about here in Forgotten Hits. We will do EVERYTHING in our power to help get the word out and let the oldies fans which shows are definitely worth seeing ... by the same token, we will ALSO let them know which shows they may wish to take a pass on. (kk)
P.S. That being said, the ONE artist who UNANIMOUSLY comes in as the BEST oldies show around ... hand down ... has GOT to be Peter Noone!!! He goes out there and gives it his all EVERY single night ... and wins the crowd over each and every time. We've been saying it for years and continue to hear it season after season after season from our readers ... some of these OTHER artists can certainly learn a thing or two from ol' 'erman!!! (kk)

Do you have any information on where or when Cummings.Bachman concert will be that you mentioned in Schaumburg? Can you buy tickets at the door or do you have to purchase them thru ticketmaster or other? Carolyn
Sounds like it's JUST The Randy Bachman Band ... no Burton Cummings ... too bad ... the two of them TOGETHER would have been a GREAT show!!! (I'm sure we'll still go ... love Bachman's stuff, too ... but the chance to see the two guys who CREATED all of the early Guess Who hits again would have been awesome!!!) In any event, it's free ... part of Schaumburg's Septemberfest ... a VERY packed house ... September 5th.
The following night is Starship with Mickey Thomas and Bobby Kimball of Toto ... THAT sounds like the good one! (kk)

Dear Kent -
Thanks so much for the info on Schaumburg Fest. I will be there. Wouldnt miss Randy Bachman. Too bad Burton isnt with him but I have seen Randy by himself and he is great.
Have a great week and keep up the good work ...



Wolfgang's Vault has just posted a Dwight Twilley concert from Rockabillys in Houston, Texas, circa 1982 ... you can check out one of our newest Forgotten Hits list members right here: Click here: Dwight Twilley Band Live Concert at Rockabillys (Houston, TX) May 1, 1982

The rained out performance of The Jamez Band, featuring original Cryan' Shames lead guitarist Jim (James) Fairs has OFFICIALLY been rescheduled for Wednesday, August 26th, at The Bolingbrook Performance Art Center in Bolingbrook, IL ... and it sounds like ALL of the special guests originally scheduled to appear will be on hand. This should be an OUTSTANDING show ... check The Cryan' Shames website for more details:

Click here:

Meanwhile, the guys kick off a four-night-stand at Festa Italiana up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, beginning tomorrow night and running through Sunday. Special vocal guests include Sonny Geraci (of The Outsiders and Climax, who, you may recall, filled in for many of Rob Grill's Grass Roots dates when Rob was recuperating from surgery a few years back), Dennis Tufano (original lead singer of The Buckinghams), Jimmy Sohns of The Shadows Of Knight and Jimy Rogers of The Mauds. (Don't be surprised if a few more of our "Local Heroes" show up, too, as "surprise guests"!) The whole thing takes place at Henry W. Maier Festival Park; 200 N. Harbour Drive in Milwaukee, WI 53213. This sounds like a VERY hot event. For more details, Click Here (kk)


Don't forget ... Paul McCartney will be performing tonight on The David Letterman Show ... kinda neat that he's returning to Shea Stadium for his New York concert and now heading back to The Ed Sullivan Theater, too!!! Talk about reliving some precious memories!!! You can catch it all on CBS tonight starting at 10:35 PM Central time. (kk)

The Four Lovers

Just got this from one of our readers:

First, I have to tell you I am a huge doo wop fan. Also I have an internet club, for musicians, with over 1000 members from more than 40 countries. A younger musician asked me an interesting question the other day. He asked if I considered Franki Valli and the 4 Seasons a doo wop group. He was only familiar with their big hits. My answer was "yes, in their pre 4 Season days, and also in their early days".

Now he, and most members in my club, were not aware of Franki Valli's prior group, The 4 Lovers. This, in spite of at least 2 hits (Girl of My Dreams and You're the Apple of My Eye) and at least 2 appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show. These were definitely doo wop songs. But in the early days, the 4 Seasons also recorded a B side song called "Soon" that was certainly doo wop. Any chance you can find it and give us a listen? Also, I have not yet seen the hit play" The Jersey Boys" and I wonder if it touches on the pre 4 season days?
Bob Hughes


Web Site:

The Four Seasons absolutely began as a doo-wop group, singing on the street corners in Jersey ... in fact, "Jersey Boys" covers this period of their career quite extensively ... and you get to hear the actors perform all kinds of '50's doo-wop tracks in the production ... at the end of the play, as each cast member looks back over their long career, one mentions that NOTHING they ever accomplished was any greater than the first time they "made that sound" under the lamp post back in Jersey.

The Four Lovers never had much of a chart career (although "You're The Apple Of My Eye" did reach #62 on the Billboard chart back in 1956, SIX YEARS before The Four Seasons hit #1 with "Sherry" ... so much for overnight success!!! lol). "Jersey Boys" is a MUST-SEE ... it's playing ALL over the country right now and no matter how big a fan of the music of The Four Seasons you THINK you may be ... you will come away with an appreciation for this music 10,000 greater than what you brought to the theater that night. (We've already seen it six times ... and it ain't a cheap ticket, either!!! lol) HIGHLY reccommended.

It traces EVERY phase of their career and points out all kinds of interesting tidbits along the way. The early street corner years, playing virtually ANY style of music in the clubs (or bowling alleys) trying to make it and find their sound ... YEARS of singing background on other people's records before being allowed to finally cut their own ... the sky-rocketing success of those early singles (including three straight out-of-the-box #1's ... the behind the scenes drama of personnel changes, loan sharks, mobsters, divorce and personal tragedy ... the MONSTER comeback in the mid-'70's with their disco hit "Who Loves You" and their last chart-topper "December, 1963" ... it's ALL here along with a KILLER soundtrack that'll blow you away. The Four Seasons hit The Billboard Chart nearly 50 times ... and 31 of those hits reached The Top 40 ... and that doesn't even take into account Frankie's solo hits!!! (You'll be amazed at how many GREAT Four Seasons songs you don't hear on the radio anymore!!! And, by the way, the original cast soundtrack is OUTSTANDING ... definitely worth picking up ... and it literally covers the entire show.)

My only beef with the entire production is the bit at the end when the original Four Seasons reunite for their Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction and one of them says "But this award means the most ... because it comes from the PEOPLE" ... wrong, wrong, wrong!!! Don't even get me STARTED on THIS whole topic again!!! But the people have absolutely NO say-so in regards to who gets into ... or even nominated for ... The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame ... that line REALLY needs to be edited ... it iritates me EVERY time I hear it.

As for "Soon" ... actually, "Soon (I'll Be Home Again)" ... that ended up on the B-Side of their version of the Fats Domino hit "Ain't That Shame", a 1963 hit for the group. Today we'll feature both "You're The Apple Of My Eye" by The Four Lovers AND "Soon" by The Four Seasons ... clearly, THEY loved doo-wop music as much as YOU do!!! (kk)

Monday, July 13, 2009

A Few That We Missed

Being a big Paul Revere and the Raiders fan from day one, I was saddened to hear of the passing of Drake Levin of Paul Revere and the Raiders. I heard it on Mark Simone's Saturday Night Oldies Show on WABC in New York. Here is the tribute on Phil "Fang" Volk's web site. There are other pictures below the article. May Drake rest in peace.
Remembering Drake Levin: August 1946 - July 2009

" you on the other side of Forever..."
I've lost my dear friend, my Raider buddy, and the music world has lost a guitar icon.
Drake and I met over 50 years ago in Nampa, Idaho. He was a city boy from Chicago, and I was a city boy from Los Angeles. Our families transplanted us to the farmlands of Idaho, where we became fast and loyal friends, and aspiring musicians. I had just got a guitar for Christmas (1959) from my parents, and Drake and I set out to conquer the world with our music. Although we weren't sure how we were going to do that, we had a dream that some day it would happen. Five years later, the dream was happening. Drake and I were filming a TV show with Dick Clark called "Where The Action Is." Some of the guests artists were Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons, Jan & Dean, The Supremes, Bobby Rydell and Frankie Avalon. These artists were already well on their way to super stardom, and our little rock band, Paul Revere & the Raiders, was now riding the same "glory train" with them and the adventure of a lifetime had just started for me and Drake. Several national tours followed, along with 5 gold albums and 12 hit singles, before Drake, Smitty and I broke out on our own to form The Brotherhood, who produced 3 albums for RCA Victor. The last tour Drake, Smitty and I did together for the Raiders in March - April of 1967 was a massive success. We played almost every major arena in the country, and on many occasions had double-billing with The Beach Boys and the Rolling Stones. Our music dreams that Drake and I had formed way back in the farmlands of Idaho, surrounded by sugar beet fields, corn fields, and golden fields of wheat and barley, had come to pass – we were actually living the dream. We were "brothers" in music, and The Brotherhood was a natural transition after the Raiders broke up. It was always our resolve to write music that would promote peace, love and unity in the world. We wanted to create music that had a real positive message. Drake and I became a very prolific songwriting team. At the end of that last Raider tour, I got a phone call from home that my older brother George had just died in Viet Nam. Drake was the first person I told, and he held on to me while I broke down in tears. He was a true and loyal friend. Drake always considered my family his "second family" because he spent more time at my place then anywhere else. George had helped him learn to play guitar, and because of our close friendship Drake was more or less "adopted" into our family When my mom passed away in 2006, he shed so many tears as if it was his own mom. I've always appreciated how much love Drake had for my brothers and sisters and my parents. We all will miss him greatly, as we do "Smitty" who we lost in 2001.
Drake leaves behind his loving and loyal wife Sandra of 37 years, his mom Charle, his brother Jeff, his sister Lori, and his two sons David and Darby. Our thoughts and prayers go out to them in their time of grief.
Drake Maxwell Levin also leaves us a stunning and soulful legacy of music as one of the seminal pioneers of some awesome rock & roll music and some of the most memorable guitar solos during the "glory days" of the 1960's.
One of my last conversations with Drake at the hospital in San Francisco was awkward and difficult. It's hard to know what to say when you know you won't see your buddy again, (that is, until the New World and the resurrection that Jesus promised in the Bible) I finally mustered the courage to say: " ... alright my brother, I'll see you down the road ..." I heard him say as I walked from the room, holding back the tears: "I'll be waitin' for ya ..."
-- Phil Volk

Drake Levin, guitarist with Paul Revere and the Raiders from 1963 to 1967, died of cancer Saturday (July 4) at the age of 62. Born Drake Maxwell Levinshefski in Chicago in 1947, Drake played in a Pacific Northwest band called the Sir Winston Trio before being invited to join the Raiders. He appeared on ABC-TV's "Where The Action Is" with the group and played on such hits as "Just Like Me" and "Kicks", but left the group to join the national guard (thereby avoiding the draft). He returned briefly a year later before joining Phil "Fang" Volk and Mike "Smitty" Smith in the group Brotherhood and an eventual solo career, including respect as a studio jazz guitarist in San Francisco. Despite suffering a stroke, Drake returned for a 30th anniversary reunion concert in 1997.
-- Ron Smith

Drake Levin was one of the seminal guitarists of the 60's. It's his phenomenal work you hear on "Just Like Me" and "Kicks" among others. Not only did Drake play with the Raiders but he also did gigs with Lee Michaels, Ananda Shankar and, more recently, many Bay Area blues bands.
Drake died on July 4th after a battle with cancer. He fought the long, hard, brave fight.
I'm including a link to an obit from the NY Times. Drake leaves a musical legacy of which few others can boast.
Drake Levin of Paul Revere and the Raiders Dies at 62 - Obituary (Obit) -

From left, Mark Lindsay, Mike Smith, Phil Volk, Paul Revere and Drake Levin

of the rock band Paul Revere & the Raiders.

Drake Levin, of Paul Revere & the Raiders, Dies at 62

Drake Levin, who played lead guitar for the teen-idol rock band Paul Revere & the Raiders during their biggest hit-making years in the mid-1960s, died July 4 in San Francisco. He was 62.
The cause was cancer, said his wife, Sandra.
Paul Revere & the Raiders, a band that coalesced around the organist Paul Revere Dick and the singer Mark Lindsay, began in the 1950s in Caldwell, Idaho, near Boise, where it was first known as the Downbeats. It later established itself in Portland, Ore., then moved to Los Angeles and became nationally known in 1965 when the band began making regular appearances on the television dance show “Where the Action Is,” starring
Dick Clark.
The band had a driving pop sound and an irreverent, almost campy humor. Members wore color-coordinated colonial-era outfits onstage, and they often performed their songs to a kind of antic choreography.
Mr. Levin joined the Raiders in 1963, and for the next three years or so (he left for a time to fulfill a stint in the National Guard), he provided the pulsing guitar riffs and clean propulsive solos that gave the band, beyond its entertaining facade, a legitimate rock ’n’ roll grounding. He had left the group by the time the Raiders recorded their biggest seller, “Indian Reservation,” but he played on a series of hits, including the antidrug song
“Kicks,” which Rolling Stone listed at No. 400 on its list of the 500 greatest songs of all time, and “Just Like Me,” which the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame included on its list of the 500 songs that shaped rock ’n’ roll.
Maxwell Levin was born in Chicago on Aug. 17, 1946. Many sources cite his birth name as Levinshefski, but his brother Jeff said the family’s version, Levinchevski, was shortened to Levin many years before his birth.
When he was 13, his family moved to Boise. As a young man he played in a band called the Surfers, along with a bassist, Phil Volk, who would later join the Raiders. After his Raider years, Mr. Levin worked as a blues musician, playing alongside the organist Lee Michaels, among others. More recently, he played in the band
the Sinners.
In addition to his wife and his brother, who lives in Pinole, Calif., Mr. Levin is survived by a sister, Lori, of Humboldt County, Calif.; two sons, David, of Wilmington, N.C., and Darby, of Los Angeles; three daughters, Debbie, of San Diego, Cathie, of Chaska, Minn., and Saida, of London; and six grandchildren. Bruce Weber / The New York Times

One of MY favorites by Paul Revere and the Raiders was the song they used to tell their own story ... "The Legend Of Paul Revere". Apparently, it was one of YOUR favorites, too ... as the flipside of their 1967 Top Five Smash "Him Or Me, What's It Gonna Be?", "The Legend Of Paul Revere" earned 339 of your votes in our recent Favorite, Forgotten B-Sides Poll, placing it at #18 on our Top 200 Favorite, Forgotten B-Sides Countdown List! Here it is again today for your listening enjoyment. (I LOVED the feel-good music of Paul Revere and the Raiders and count them amongst my '60's favorites. We'll miss you, Drake!) kk

Click here: Forgotten Hits - Your Top 200 Favorite, Forgotten B-Sides


In case you did not see this ... Phil / Pray For Surf
Clara Berry — Jan's Mom — Has Passed Away

September 2, 1919 — July 9, 2009

The matriarch of the Berry Family — Jan Berry's mother — has passed away. She was 89, and will be missed by a large extended family and many friends. So long, Clara . . . and thanks for everything.


Paul McCartney will be making his first-ever appearance on The David Letterman Late Show THIS Wednesday Night, July 15th, as his U.S. media blitz continues. You can check this program out at 10:35 PM Central Standard Time on CBS-TV. Paul ALSO just announced another "non-tour date" appearance ... in addition to his August 19th appearance at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas, McCartney will also be appearing in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Monday, August 17th, at The BOK Center. We FULLY expect more dates to be announced shortly!!! (kk)