Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Sunday Comments ( 01 - 10 - 10 )

Kent ... How ya' doin'?
Losing three music legends in less than a month is hard to deal with, especially if you’ve got a painful personal history with some of them. Here are my stories.
1>Songwriter/producer WILLIE MITCHELL (“Let’s Stay Together”, “Tired Of Being Alone”) includes a video of Willie and Ann Peebles talking about how they wrote “I Can’t Stand The Rain”.
>Publisher AARON SCHROEDER, who once tried to lock me in an office until I did a rewrite to his satisfaction.
3>Publisher FREDDY BIENSTOCK and what happened when I brought him Michael Jackson’s music catalog.
Artie Wayne

I think in Boston we only had the Shadows of Night version. A Happy and Healthy New Year to you and the family, Kent!
The chart performance of the two "hit" versions bears this out ... The Shadows Of Knight's version TOTALLY eclipsed the Them original on the U.S. Charts. In hindsight, Parrot Records may have blown it on the reissue ... chalk this up to another case of "timing is everything" ... by the time The Shadows Of Knight got around to recording "Gloria", Them had already placed TWO songs in The American Top 40, "Here Comes The Night (#18, 1965) and "Mystic Eyes" (#29, 1965) (Their original release of "Gloria" PRECEDED these two ... it stalled at #88 and another earlier release, "Baby Please Don't Go" didn't fare much better.) By the time The Shadows Of Knight released their remake (March of 1966), Them was already an "established" group. Had Parrot released the original version of "Gloria" IMMEDIATELY, it just might have overtook The Shadows Of Knight's version ... but they waited five weeks and by then The Shadows owned the commercially popular version. Even so, Them is WELL recognized as Van Morrison's first foray into the pop charts ... and both "Gloria" and "Baby Please Don't Go" still receive a fair amount of classic rock airplay some 45 years later! (kk)

Okay, this is the last I'll say on the matter. The Shadows of Knight's version was truly more commercial and granted, did place higher on the charts, than "Them". My point is "Long Tall Sally" by Pat Boone kicked Lil Richard's original version in the ass in sales and chart position. Now when I go to my collection and want to hear "Long Tall Sally" you'll have to guess real hard to determine which 45 I'm going to play. A matter of personal taste ... that's all it boils down to.
Alex Valdez
Noolab Wolley

EXACTLY ... the reason for my point / counterpoint was because you said MY "personal taste" was biased being from Chicago ... when, in fact, there IS no right or wrong answer to this one ... it's whatever floats your boat!!! (To quote that very wise man above ... yes, that would be me ... The Shadows Of Knight's version became the "commercially popular" take ... and remains the one you're most likely to hear all these years later. That being said, the same CANNOT be said about Pat Boone's version of "Long Tall Sally", however!!!) kk

An aside to Connie Szerzen: Even though I worked at WXRT during your time at WIND, I always listened to you. I often thought about asking you out, but I figured you had enough guys stalking you already. If I send you the best of WIND charts from 74, 75 & 76, will you autograph them?
Rock And Roll Never Forgets

Consider your autograph request passed along! (kk)

One of the biggest joys for me is doing shows with recording artists who don't do too many interviews. For that reason, many of these artists fall into the "Whatever Happened To" category.

A few weeks ago I decided to try to locate Frank Gari, a hit recording artist from the 60s, who had three successive national top 40 hits: "Utopia," "Lullaby Of Love" and "Princess." I was also aware that Frank was the lead singer of the City Surfers on "Beach Ball," one of the most popular records on my Record Page (it peaked at #2 on its popularity chart). Roger McGuinn plays guitar and Bobby Darin plays drums on that record and both do backup singing! My efforts to locate Frank proved to be successful and, I must tell you, I was absolutely astounded at what I found out about him. I was delighted that he agreed to do this show with me.
Probably most people know Frank just for those three hit singles mentioned above. But what he has accomplished in the past 40 years after "the hits stopped coming" is, to use an old cliche, "the stuff that dreams are made of."
Yes, you'll hear the aforementioned four records during this show because it represents his beginnings. But then we'll focus on, as the late Paul Harvey would have said, "the rest of the story." Frank's biggest success was to come beginning in the late 60s when he founded "Nitondo" Productions, a jingle company which became one of the most popular in the country and serviced more than 450 radio and TV stations. Frank and his company created the very first TV image campaign ever and that campaign, for Channel 5 in Cleveland, led to his company becoming one of the most successful radio - TV production companies in the country. Nitondo evolved into Frank Gari Productions, Gari Communications and currently the Gari Media Group. Frank's company created "Hello Milwaukee" which was and still is the most successful TV image campaign in the history of broadcasting, having been syndicated to 110 cities in the country and also overseas. And, oh yes, for good measure Frank wrote, produced and sang the very first Wendy's commercial ever. Remember it? (It's included in the show.) And, very important, Frank credits legendary TV personality Clay Cole for CHANGING HIS LIFE and it wasn't simply because Frank appeared on his show. That story is simply incredible!
Frank's story is inspirational and this was such a fun interview in every respect. This is a man who has truly found his own "Utopia" on so many levels.
Following are the tracks on the show in sequence.
1 Utopia -- Frank Gari (loop)
2 Lil' Girl -- Frank Gari
3 Utopia -- Frank Gari
4 Lullaby Of Love -- Frank Gari
5 Princess -- Frank Gari
6 Beach Ball -- The City Surfers
7 "Genie Automatic Garage Door Picker Upper by Alliance" -- commercial jingle
8 "Catch 5" -- image campaign jingle
9 The first Wendy's commercial ever -- Frank Gari
10 "Hello Cleveland" -- image campaign jingle
11 My Reverie -- Frank Gari
Bonus Track: Be My Girl -- Frank Gari
Bonus Track: Remember Then -- Frank Gari and the jingle singers
To access this Frank Gari radio interview show or any of my previous ones, please visit the "Jersey Girls Sing" website at When that home page comes up, please click the "Ronnie Allen Theater" (the name has a yellow background) in the picture on the right-hand side. That will bring you to my index page. Please click on "Ronnie's Radio Page" and you will then be able to access the show (it's the first one listed under the blue heading "Current Radio Interview Shows") or any of my previous ones, which are listed in reverse chronological order.
Ronnie Allen

The interview with Joel Whitburn on Ronnie's Radio page was quite informative. I was especially amused at his statement that Billboard had tried to publish a Top Pop style book prior to Joel's efforts, but gave up because their charts were so full of errors. This tradition continues at where the archive charts are so full of errors and omissions to be almost worthless. Some weeks are completely missing (whatever happened to January 13, 2001?), some are obviously the wrong chart, and many have errors in total weeks, peak or last week entry. I used to inform them when I caught a mistake, but they ignore me.
Ed Erxleben

I thought this link may be of interest ...
... unless, of course, you already knew about it.
Nope, haven't seen this one before ... my, what an interesting concept!!!! (lol) kk

Meanwhile, Clark Besch and I found ourselves up on a couple of Buckinghams websites after our piece on The Bucks' commercial for Mr. Norm's ran on The Forgotten Hits Web Page a few days back! VERY cool to not only make this rare discovery ... but to ALSO be able to share it with Buckinghams fans around the world! (kk)

Click here: The Buckinghams Concerts: Carl Giammarese, Nick Fortuna, Tom Scheckel, Bob Abrams, Bruce Soboroff


I just finished reading Bob Greene's latest, "Late Edition", and found it quite enjoyable. FH readers who have been in the media business, whether radio, TV, or print, will especially enjoy this one from Bob. And, since Bob served time as a copy editor, his books contain absolutely no typos or grammar errors - ever. He personally checks them. Check it out!
And, since you're in the printing industry, I wanted to mention that Bob Greene's book includes the word "rotogravure." It's been a long time since I've seen that word in a book. Even longer since I've heard it in a song. Do you know what popular (not rock) song includes "rotogravure"?

David Lewis
I haven't read this one yet ... got a TON of new books here during the holidays ... it may be a while! (lol) But I've heard some REALLY good things about it! (kk)

... MGB
I thought we did ... but of course I can't find it again now!!! (lol) Let's see what comes back on this one. (kk)

Dear Kent,
We are prayerfully searching for a forgotten hits category song. The title is “Leroy” by Norma Tracy & Cinderella Kid. The song is about a doggie named Leroy. The song will always be special for our family. Please, let us know if you can assist us in finding a recording of Leroy.
Many thanks,
Allan Waller
Edgewater, NJ
Strange how many times this one has come up here these past few weeks!!! We
just featured this one on the website:
Click here: Forgotten Hits
Scroll back and you'll find postings on 12/31/09, 12/26/09 and 12/21/09, all pertaining to this song!!! (kk)

By the way, watch for more HELPING OUT OUR READERS features later in the week!

I'd have to guess that MOST of our readers have never been invited to vote for THEIR favorites for next year's induction of The Vocal Group Hall Of Fame. Well, we've got a link that'll allow you to do just that. You may be surprised by some of the choices offered this year ... keep in mind that a good number of acts have already been bestowed this honor ... it's still cool just to be able to have SOME say-so in the final election process. (Wow ... imagine that ... a Hall Of Fame that actually allows the opinions of the FANS to count for something!!! Whodathunk?!?!?) Anyway, here's all the info you need ... but you need to act quickly ... the deadline is next Friday, January 15th!!! (kk)

Your participation is requested to vote for new Vocal Group Hall of Fame Inductees. Voting is done online at the Vocal Group Hall of Fame website Voting closes January 15, 2010.
Please visit the Vocal Group Hall of Fame website
for a full list of current Inductees and for Vocal Group Hall of Fame Foundation information and updates.

The commercial piece in FH was terrific ... looks better than it did when it ran in Hz! I'm a major fan of "Heaven Scent" myself! Thanks so much again, Kent!

Rich Appel
Being able to feature your Hz So Good Top 100 Favorite Commercials segment only made it better ... thanks, Rich! (kk)

Thank you for the Jake Holmes piece. Jake certainly knows a thing or two about commercials, and should have had much better success with this nice 1972 release than he experienced. There's a YouTube clip of him doing this song live just last year, so he still gets requests for it 37 years after the fact.
David Lewis
Amazingly, I've never heard this song before! "So Close" never charted here in Chicago ... but was a #29 Hit in Cash Box Magazine in late 1970. (It reached #49 in Billboard.) This one ought to stir a memory or two for people in certain parts of the country ... I can't even imagine the last time they heard anybody on the radio play it!!! Thanks for sharing! (kk)


Relative to the Bucks and seeing the piece and all the jingles, we did a radio ad for Topps Department Stores using "I Confess" - "I confess to have a willingness and wanting for Topps" and then it went downhill from there. Wish I had a copy of it to share but do not and don't think I ever even heard it played.

Will close with hopes for all of us to experience mo bettah 2010s!

Ray Graffia, Jr. / The New Colony Six

>>>"Happiness Is a Kent" (Kotal) Forgotten Hits Newsletter! The two are different songs. I do believe I also heard the jingle "Happiness Is" song on a Ray Conniff or Readers Digest album. The one I was referring to was off one of my old Association CD's put out, I think, in 1984, called "Songs That Made Them Famous". I also have this song on my old scratchy 1967 LP "Insight Out". This Association album features their big hit "Windy". The song was written by The Addrisi Brothers, Dick & Don. The brothers also wrote The Association's #2 hit "Never My Love". I always thought their own two mini-hits, Billboard #25 "We've Got To Get It On Again" and #20 "Slow Dancin' Don't Turn Me On" fell into my own They Should Of Been Bigger Hits category. Give "Happiness Is" a listen and see if it sounds familiar. Take care. (Jerry jfk)
I ran this comment the other day but was unable to run the song clip because it came in as an MP4 and my computer can only do MP3's!!! (Has this technology already passed me by?!?!? I just got this thing a year and a half ago!!!) Anyway, I wanted to feature it here today, so here goes (for all our Association fans out there!) kk

Does anybody else remember "Give me rival dog food ... arf arf ... arf arf."
To this day I can't hear Strauss' "Blue Danube" without thinking about those lyrics.

Ed Erxleben

Here are a couple of commercial jingles most of your Forgotten Hits readers would never have heard, unless they were within hearing distance of Canadian radio stations.
They're both sung by David Clayton Thomas, who at the time fronted a band here in Canada called David Clayton Thomas & The Shays. David also had several Canadian charted hits in 1964 & 1965 ("Boom Boom", "Walk That Walk", "Take Me Back" and "Out of The Sunshine" and in the summer of 1966, he charted in Canada and the U.S. with the song "Brainwashed" (that one went Top 10 here in the 'Great White North').
The Coke jingle was part of the '60's series that included all the great hit makers singing for Coke - Tom Jones, Petula Clark, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Lesley Gore, Joe Tex, The Supremes, Jan & Dean, Nancy Sinatra, Gary Lewis & The Playboys etc. Here in Canada, Coke's agency, McCann Erickson, recorded commercials with The Guess Who, 5 Man Electric Band, Robbie Lane, The Mandala and quite a few other Canadian acts but they only aired in Canada. The Canadian ad agency producer was Jack Richardson. He was so taken with The Guess Who's sound during the Coke sessions, that he left the agency and became their long time record producer.
The second jingle is a 60 second one for Wildroot Formula 3. A few years later, David took his gravelly voice to New York and hooked up with Al Kooper's old group, Blood, Sweat & Tears and the rest, as they say, is ...
David CLayton Thomas is back living in Toronto and has written his autobiography which used to be available from his website but I checked it earlier today and only CD's and DVD's are available.
Doug Thompson (Toronto)

Very cool ... thanks, Doug. (You're right ... most of us will NEVER have heard these before!) Now, if you can send me a couple of those Guess Who jingles, I'd LOVE it ... BIG fan here of these guys!!! Thanks! (kk)
OK Kent, here are two Guess Who for Coke jingles from 1969.

And what a fitting ending to all this ... I just received THIS note from our FH Buddy Ron Dante!

Hi Kent

Been out of town for the past few weeks and missed your "Jingles All The Way". Just caught up today with your column.

So happy to see a bunch of spots I sang on including your number one, "When You Say Bud". My friend Steve Karman wrote and produced all those spots and won a ton of Clios for his work. He also wrote the Beneficial Finance commercial among hundreds of other major spots. On most of his sessions the singers were me, Jerry Keller, Kenny Karen, Jeanie Thomas, Leslie Miller and Valerie Simpston.

Out of your top 50, I sang on at least 7 of them. Beneficial Finance, Coke "Coke Is It' ... written by the late Tom Dawes, Pepsi "Taste That Beats The Other Cold", Robert Hall, written by Charlie Fox, who also wrote the theme for "Happy Days". My biggest commercial was Pepsi's "You've Got A Lot To Live" written by none other than Joe Brooks ("You Light Up My Life").That one won the Clio for best spot of the year.

I had the honor of singing the lead on many of the Coke spots including "I'd like To Teach The World To Sing".

Your list and all the great comments brought terrific memories of those sessions.

Ronnie D.