Monday, April 5, 2010

More Of Your Recent Comments

Hope you all had a nice Easter Holiday ...
Here are some of your most recent comments!


Hi to my friends in the Oldies community!

It was such a beautiful weekend here in the Big Apple, I thought I’d share a little Spring Fever with you. It’s “Spring is Here” by Group 5ive, my vocal jazz group. (That’d be me singing bass / baritone)

To my Australian friends, I’m afraid you’ll have to wait another half/year.


Paul Evans

>>>The Fireballs staged another comeback in 1968 with the feel-good rocker "Bottle Of Wine". (It went all the way to #9, becoming their second biggest hit of all-time!) Sounding NOTHING at all like their other records, it had, instead a Barry McGuire / New Christy Minstrels feel to it ... yet, despite its Top Ten Status and it's catchy sing-along chorus, you don't hear this one a whole lot anymore on the oldies stations. (kk)
Hi Kent,
Well, to be totally honest, the first time I heard Bottle of Wine, I really thought it was me singing it, too, but I couldn't remember recording it ... lol! And then when the song became such a mega hit, I really wished it had've been me that recorded it, but alas, here am I, alive, healthy and enjoying every minute of my life in my 75th year.
Barry McGuire
LOL ... this song ALWAYS sounded like a Barry McGuire / New Christy Minstrels song to me ... in fact, at the time I would have SWORN that that was YOU singing it!!! (Let's face it ... it didn't really sound like ANYTHING else The Fireballs had ever recorded ... but it put the band back in The Top Ten for the first time in four years!)
Quite honestly, by 1968, The New Christy Minstrels sound wasn't in keeping with the so-called "hit" sound of the day ... yet this record seemed to borrow HEAVILY from your tried-and-true musical school book and became a monster hit in the process.
Always great to hear from you ... thanks, Barry! (kk)


Hi Kent ... Check this out ...
There's only one place you can hear Bill Graham introduce the Allman Brothers at the Fillmore East, Steve Miller ask for more PA volume at Winterland, or Robert Plant kill time with the Fillmore audience while Jimmy Page re-tunes in the background. It's the same place you can listen to the greatest live music of all time in full, uncut concert format.It's not Heaven, though it may feel like Heaven to rock music purists. It's the Concert Vault, the world's greatest collection of vintage concert recordings.Where does it come from? In 2003, Wolfgang's Vault acquired master recordings from the archives of Bill Graham Presents. These live concerts were recorded at legendary venues like the Fillmore East and Winterland between 1965 and the late 1980s.
John Madara
We've mentioned Wolfgang's Vault a number of times in Forgotten Hits ... it's a GREAT way to hear long-lost concerts in excellent quality ... sign up for their newsletter and you'll get weekly updates about their latest postings (and the website has all kinds of OTHER nostalgic goodies to look at, too!) DEFINITELY worth a visit if you're not already on their mailing list! (kk)

Last week, we ran FH Reader Mike Mertes' review of The Paul McCartney Concert at The Hollywood Bowl. Here's the official "Rolling Stone Magazine" take on this concert:
Paul McCartney Revisits Beatles Classics, Solo Gems at Hollywood Bowl Marathon
3/31/10, 12:52 pm EST

Photo: Mazur / WireImage

Has Paul McCartney been borrowing Bruce Springsteen’s trainer? At 67, the former Beatle seems determined to suddenly turn his gigs into E Street-style marathons. When McCartney did an American mini-tour last spring and summer, fans (and,
at the Coachella Festival, some curious acolytes) were astonished by shows that stretched out to the two-and-a-half hour mark. Returning to U.S. shores with a slightly revamped revue that he’s dubbed the “Up and Coming Tour,” McCartney now has an even longer set list that brings his concerts up to a plentiful two hours and 45 minutes. In other words, Rosalita ain’t got nothing on Eleanor Rigby.
Look back at McCartney’s history with the Beatles in photos.
After a kickoff show in Arizona, McCartney chose to bring his 2010 tour to the Hollywood Bowl, site of the Beatles’ legendary 1964 and 1965 appearances. He’d been back to the Bowl once as a solo artist, in 1993, but naturally got ruminative about this latest return Tuesday night, in the first of two shows at the historic venue. “The first time we came here, we were little kids,” he told the crowd. “It looks like that now. Then, we thought we were great big men … You couldn’t hear anything we were singing because of the girls screaming.” If he was fishing for a swell of girlish screams, he got it. “Yeah, like that! But nowadays, we are louder.”
And longer. The Beatles’ sets in the mid-’60s usually lasted barely a half-hour and consisted of just over a dozen songs. At Tuesday night’s Bowl show, out of 38 songs that were played in full or (in a few cases) in part, no fewer than 22 were Beatles songs — almost twice as many as the screaming girls would have heard (or at least seen) at the Fabs’ own shows back in the day.
The essentials of the set list were familiar to any southern Californians who made the trek to
Coachella a year ago, or who caught up with the 2009 tour via a live CD set and DVD that were filmed at last summer’s New York Citi Field shows. But he’s mixed it up enough in the new year to please even frequent flyers. The show now begins — as it did on the “Wings Over America” tour, McCartney’s one concert trek of the 1970s — with “Venus and Mars” and “Rock Show,” though there was just enough of the latter number to get to the line about “rock & roll at the Hollywood Bowl” before the opening medley kicked over to the more familiar “Jet.” Another “Wings Over America”-era number, “Letting Go,” is being reintroduced as a staple for the first time since 1976.
But this tour also features several premieres that have never been part of a McCartney (or Wings, or Beatles) tour before. “This is a song we have not performed on American soil,” he said by way of prefacing “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” such a crowd favorite that it’s amazing as dedicated a crowd-pleaser as Macca has never gotten round to it live. John Lennon famously hated the tune, but you had to wonder if even if he might’ve approved of this arrangement, which de-emphasized the piano in favor of an organ part that slyly established the 1968 oldie as an actual ska song.
Also making their tour debuts: the Beatles’ “I’m Looking Through You” and the once prescient, now nostalgic “Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five.” The latter brought the tally of songs performed from 1973’s Band on the Run to five making it even better represented than Let It Be and the White Album, each of which contributed four numbers to the show.
As with last year’s shows, McCartney covered two of his fellow Fabs, doing a version of George Harrison’s “Something” that started as a solo ukelele rendition before kicking into a familiar full-band arrangement, and appending a singalong of John Lennon’s non-Beatles “Give Peace a Chance” to the mostly Lennon-penned “A Day in the Life.” His ’80s elegy for Lennon, “Here Today,” described as being “in the form of a conversation I didn’t ever have with him,” further cemented the decidedly Beatles-centric tone of the show. If you hate the Beatles and think Paul didn’t really hit his stride until he hooked up with Denny Laine, be sure to go home early: Once the show gets into its last 14 numbers, only one — the fireworks-laden “Live and Let Die” — is not a late-1960s chestnut.
Is Paul pandering to nostalgia in his old (or at least post-”When I’m 64″) age? Possibly. But for the tiny percentage of attendees who might think that’s a bad thing, there are more than enough signs of ongoing vitality. McCartney’s last two albums, Memory Almost Full and Electric Arguments (the latter released under the name the Fireman), were his two most invigorating works since the early ’90s. Memory is now represented in the set only by the mandolin-driven “Dance Tonight,” and is more of an interlude than a highlight. But Arguments‘ “Highway” and “Sing the Changes” would do a rocker one-third McCartney’s age proud. (As on last year’s tour, the latter number was accompanied by a spacey filmic backdrop that had a computerized visage of President Obama morphing into and out of a 2001-style starfield.)
Moreover, McCartney has had the wisdom to stick with a terrific four-man backing band that — seemingly paradoxically — mostly replicates the original Beatles and Wings arrangements, yet still brings a slight garage-band flair to those duly faithful arrangements.
And Macca himself? He never once avoided any of the night’s repertoire’s hundreds of high notes (except for a slight downward deflection at the end of each chorus of “Two of Us,” which seemed to be an artistic choice, not a vocal mandate). And he doesn’t shy away from his classic Little Richard-influenced howls any more than he does his falsetto. When, more than two and a half hours into your show, you’re able to slate “Helter Skelter” as your penultimate number, you’re making a better argument for the benefits of veganism than the PETA booth out in the lobby ever could.
One other completely superficial note: Macca may be rocking the suspenders look like no one this side of Larry King … But, at 67, still no sign of a gut! We should all be “Letting Go” this much.
After a second night at the Bowl, McCartney is set to play Miami April 3rd, followed by trips to Puerto Rico, Ireland, and the U.K. in April and June. Further U.S. dates are promised but yet to be announced. Expect some real Fab Four-style screaming from fans if he fails to bring what is widely considered his best set list ever back to the States for a full tour.
Visit all of our essential Beatles coverage.
The Hollywood Bowl, March 30, 2010:
“Venus And Mars / Rock Show (excerpt) / Jet”

"All My Loving”
“Letting Go”
“Got To Get You Into My Life”
“Let Me Roll It” (with “Foxy Lady” coda)
“The Long And Winding Road”
“Nineteen Hundred And Eighty Five”
“(I Want To) Come Home”
“My Love”
“I’m Looking Through You”
“Two Of Us”
“Here Today”
“Dance Tonight”
“Mrs. Vandebilt”
“Eleanor Rigby”
“Sing The Changes”
“Band On The Run”
“Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da”
“Back In The U.S.S.R.”
“I’ve Got A Feeling”
“Paperback Writer”
“A Day In The Life (abbreviated) / Give Peace A Chance (excerpt)”
“Let It Be”
“Live And Let Die”
“Hey Jude”
Encore One:
“Day Tripper”
“Lady Madonna”
“Get Back”
Encore Two:
“Helter Skelter”
Paul McCartney Pays Tribute to Lost Beatles at Coachella
Chris Willman
Yep, sounds like QUITE the show ... might have to break my cardinal rule and set foot inside Wrigley Field after all if he brings the show to Chi-Town!!! (lol) kk

>>>I remember several years ago when McCartney was playing at what was then The Rosemont Horizon and the fire marshals wouldn't let him do the on-stage fireworks during "Live And Let Die" ... the whole episode caused quite a stir and was on the news for DAYS!!! So, after the tour was over, McCartney came BACK to Chicago and played outdoors at Soldiers Field ... and did REAL fireworks during "Live And Let Die" ... we LOVED it!!! (McCartney ultimately got his way ... and Chicago got an extra, unscheduled concert ... and, since he did the very same indoor fireworks at 30-something OTHER shows that year without ANY incidents, The Rosemont Fire Department looked QUITE ridiculous!!! Paul's been doing the "Live And Let Die" fireworks and explosions / laser light show since his very first U.S. tour back in 1976 ... it's ALWAYS a concert highlight, no matter how many times you've seen it ... and the Rosemont Fire Department were truly cramping his style!!! lol) kk

Hi KK:

McCartney has been using pyros for years with "Live & Let Die" However, I don't think the fire marshals have anything to feel silly or embarrassed about if they decided to nix their use at a show. In fact I applaud their serious attention to safety. I'm sure McCartney's people can rig up a similar big screen effect should that be necessary. Carelessness with pyros and rock n' roll don't mix. To most music fans I think the memories are still relatively fresh of that nightclub pyro caused fire during a Great White show that killed about a hundred concert goers ... I think people in the US as well as around the world ought to be thankful that firefighters have our backs 24/7. Any questions???

Best Regards!


Yes, you can turn me on! I'm on the radio!

Surf City Sounds Plus:

A Forgotten Hits Exclusive!!! Billy Hinsche just sent me some AWESOME photos from McCartney's Phoenix, AZ Show ... including some backstage pix of Billy with the band!!! Thanks, Billy ... the list is gonna LOVE these!!! (kk)

Billy's "Invited Guest" / Backstage Pass from the concert

Three awesome stage shots (above) ... plus one from the big screen (below)

Paul "Wix" Wickens (Keyboards / vocalist) - only British band member - 18 yrs. with McCartney - and Me

Me with Guitarist / Bassist / Vocalist from LA - Brian Ray

Me, Abe Laboriel, Jr. (Drummer / vocalist) from LA, Brian Ray

Kent - Use whatever photos and captions you like. I took them (or they were taken of me) at the Jobing Arena in PHX, AZ a few days ago. I'm happy to say that after his two hour soundcheck, Sir Paul walked over to me backstage and shook my hand.


Billy Hinsche
What an experience ... and, from what I've heard, what a show!!! Thanks so much, Billy ... our readers will LOVE these!!! (Maybe when you get a few moments, you can share YOUR review of the concert with us, too!!!) kk

I just found a new website blog devoted to The Kinetic Playground:
Here's a little blurb about a Flock appearance there:
March 7-8, 1969: Kinetic Playground - John Mayall / Richie Havens / The Flock
The Flock were an interesting band, a sort of only-in-Chicago concoction of progressive rock and soul. The group featured electric violinist Jerry Goodman leading a horn section. During this period, Columbia had signed four bands from Chicago, and chose to put out all their albums at the same time (May 1969) to make it seem like there was a "happening scene" in Chicago. In fact, there was a lot of great rock music coming out of Chicago, but stunts like this made fans suspicious. (The other groups were Aorta, Illinois Speed Press and Chicago Transit Authority.) The Flock’s horn section joined Mayall for his last set on Saturday night. Mayall was very enthusiastic about the group, and wrote the liner notes for their debut album. -- Tom
As shown in our Flock mini-series, these guys shared the stage with some of the most elite of the elite back in the day ... and held their own with the best of them. Hopefully, our little tribute introduced a few new fans out there to some music they might otherwise not have been familiar with. (kk)

Brand new on YouTube ... the song "Lighthouse" from Flock's 2nd Columbia album, "DINOSAUR SWAMPS" - 1970
Fred Glickstein

Your analysis of "A World Without Love" in Chicago failed to account for the "Top Tunes Of Greater Chicago" charts where Bobby's version traveled independently of Peter & Gordon's and - while not as big of a hit - appeared on the chart first and made the top ten on its own. This was unusual for that chart as two versions of the same song generally traveled together (or one disappeared early):
5/11/1964 - Bobby Rydell Up & Coming
5/18/1964 - Bobby Rydell Up & Coming;
5/18/1964 - Peter & Gordon Up & Coming
5/25/1964 - Bobby Rydell 32; 5/25/1964 Peter & Gordon 38;
6/1/1964 - Bobby Rydell 20; 6/1/1964 - Peter & Gordon 12
6/8/1964 - Bobby Rydell 18; 6/8/1964 - Peter & Gordon 7
6/15/1964 - Bobby Rydell 9; 6/15/1964 - Peter & Gordon 6
6/22/1964 - Bobby Rydell 10; 6/22/1964 - Peter & Gordon 2
6/29/1964 - Bobby Rydell 21; 6/29/1964 - Peter & Gordon 2
7/6/1964 - Bobby Rydell 35; 7/6/1964 - Peter & Gordon 3
7/13/1964 - Peter & Gordon 5
7/20/1964 - Peter & Gordon 7
7/27/1964 - Peter & Gordon 17
8/3/1964 - Peter & Gordon 24
8/10/1964 - Peter & Gordon 33
However, all of this is irrelevant. I was able to occasionally play Bobby's version on Real Oldies 1690 (while not "far superior," I really liked his background singers adding "Forget him" at the end and the little pause after the word "stay" shows how he made songs his own), but that was a local Chicago station. Scott is on all over the country and has to go with the national hit which CLEARLY was Peter & Gordon's.
-- Ron Smith
Since Scott's listener specifically cited Bobby's WLS chart appearance, that's the one I concentrated on ... Scott wanted to be able to respond to this email, so that's the information I provided to him. Let's face it, the 50,000 watt signal of WLS was heard all over the country and, as such, the WLS Silver Dollar Survey was ALSO a big deal nationally ... and, since The True Oldies Channel still airs on WLS-FM here in Chicago, it provided the perfect tie-in. (Shannon's done a few other WLS-related bits lately, including playing the very first #1 Record on The WLS Silver Dollar Survey a few weeks ago ... in fact, he's even got a copy of that chart posted on his website now!!!)
Click here: True Oldies Channel
Since "The Top Tunes Of Greater Chicagoland" was not tied to any specific radio station, it never received the proper recognition it deserved. Distributed at select record shops throughout the city and suburbs, it probably more-accurately conveyed the actual SALES of these records better than the WLS and WCFL surveys ever did and, as you know, we've collected these charts for YEARS now (and have been ALL over your case to get your next book out, formally recognizing these surveys!!! lol)
On the one hand, it's AMAZING to think that Bobby Rydell's version debuted first ... but not really ... he was, after all, the established star at this time ... Peter and Gordon were complete unknowns ... but as stated in our original response, there's NO question as to who the song belonged to ... hand-delivered by Peter's Sister Jane's boyfriend at the time, Paul McCartney wrote the duo's first hit ... and it was a #1 smash!!!
I, too, like the little "Forget Him" reference during the end fade ... always thought that was a nice touch ... and, as I said, it's not a AWFUL version ... in fact, if anything, it's pretty much in keeping with many of Bobby's OTHER hit records during this era.
While I agree that Scott DOES have to play the hits that the whole country will recognize, I LOVE the fact that he'll branch out from time to time and feature some of these "local hits" ... let's face it, no matter WHERE you grew up, there were regional hits all over the country that still rank high in our personal memories yet draw blank stares from those who never got to hear them the first time around. Of course, Forgotten Hits has always played up the angle of discovering "brand new" oldies that you may have missed back in the day ... and this is a good one!
On a final note, I wish WLS-FM would find a way to broadcast YOUR program, counting down the hits from the old, vintage WLS-AM Charts ... it would be the PERFECT home for a show like this and would also GREATLY play up the incredible musical heritage that WLS has in this great city. Even just a two-hour Sunday afternoon countdown would provide some of that "appointment radio" listening that we talk about all the time ... now how do we convince the "powers that be" at WLS to get this show on the air?!?!? (Maybe our Forgotten Hit Readers can launch a grass-roots campaign to get this thing off the ground?!?!? Start sending your letters NOW to the new WLS-FM Program Director,
Michael LaCrosse / 94.7 WLS-FM, Chicago's True Oldies Channel / 190 North State Street, Eighth Floor / Chicago, Illinois 60601) kk

... and, speaking of The British Invasion ...
Check out this Variety review of the brand new British Invasion DVD Series, courtesy of Bob Merlis:
1960s Brit invasion new again on DVD: Dusty Springfield, Small Faces top rarities collection
As the 50th anniversary of the Beatles' formation draws nearer, interest in Brit pop from the early to mid-'60s -- not to mention legacy recordings in general -- continues to spike. On the heels of the recently reissued "T.A.M.I. Show" concert film (1964), "The British Invasion," a five-DVD collection of titles showcasing rare video archives of Dusty Springfield, Gerry & the Pacemakers, Herman's Hermits and the Small Faces, is being released this week. The titles, from Reelin' In the Years Prods., in association with Voyage Digital Media, are being sold separately.
In addition to interview footage from the subjects and their contemporaries, the series is notable for its collection of unadulterated performance clips from talents in their heyday. "We're about showing the whole song, showing it right, and focusing on the music," says David Peck, who is producing the series with partners Phil Galloway and Tom Gulotta.
In just a matter of a few years, the San Diego-based company boasts the world's largest music video library, representing the archives of more than 35 national TV outlets, many of which are based in the UK, Europe and Japan.
In addition to its "British Invasion" series (which will announce a new installment of titles April 8), the Grammy-nominated production firm is responsible for acclaimed DVD collections of classic Motown and Stax artists; traditional folk and blues singers, and a "Jazz Icons" collection that includes rare performances from artists ranging from John Coltrane to Count Basie. Reelin' In The Years also maintains the licensing for these archives to other film, TV and DVD projects.
"They were very thorough and full of love and seemed to enjoy the job," said Ian McLagen, keyboardist for the Small Faces, who went on to work with The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and Rod Stewart. "I was amazed because much of this footage I had never seen before."
Peck said finding all these rare clips has resulted in some surprises and "disappointments."
"Oddly enough places where you thought this footage might be, didn't have much," he explained. "The BBC has very little left from the '60s. Unfortunately, they taped over a lot of it; threw it out.
"There was a TV outlet in France that had a lot of the shows from Olympia Theater in Paris. They had to make room, so they got rid of a lot of the music footage that had been taped there. It was all thrown into a dumpster, including the first show ever played by The Jimi Hendrix Experience. There was footage of the Beatles and the Stones. When I heard about it, I actually had tears in my eyes. That kind of thing happened all the time."
In addition to running remastered and uninterrupted performance clips, the titles include extensive interviews and archival photos.
"We're fans first and video directors second," said Peck. "We figure if it cuts the mustard with us then it will be good for everyone else."
I haven't had a chance to watch all of these yet ... but what I HAVE seen is OUTSTANDING!!! The DVDs are available through here:
Click here: British Invasion: 5 DVD Box Set featuring Bonus Disc: Dusty Springfield, Small Faces, Herman's Hermits

>>>Did you catch The Beach Boys (with John Stamos) on "Dancing With The Stars" last night? What did YOU think? Is it just me or was Mike Love brought out on stage simply to make Buzz Aldrin look younger??? The Boys performed a medley of three of their biggest hits: "California Girls", "Kokomo" and "Fun, Fun, Fun" ... but for me the only song playing in MY head when they were finished was that Kenny Rogers classic: "You got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em" ... painful!!! (kk)

Click here: YouTube - The Beach Boys on "Dancing With The Stars"
Maybe it's time for Mike Love to retire. He was on "Dancing With the Stars" last night and sounded terrible. It also bugs me that his band was called "The Beach Boys" when he's the only original member. To me, the Beach Boys will always be Brian Wilson, Carl Wilson, Dennis Wilson, Al Jardine & Mike Love.
I watched that show last night. My first thought was that it's time for him to retire. If he can't make the music sound like it should, he shouldn't even try. None of us are what we were 40+ years ago, but we don't try to be.

I saw the boys in Dayton Ohio last year and old Mike sounded pretty good. They put on a great show. At their ages if we want all originals we won't see many shows.

My daughter Nicki saw The Beach Boys perform at Ravinia last summer, too, and said they were FANTASTIC!!! On the other hand, she agreed that they were absolutely AWFUL on "Dancing With The Stars" and watching Mike Love was downright embarrassing!!! Listening to him was even worse!!! (kk)
They really should call themselves "Essence of the Beach Boys." They have retained the original sound (except for poor Mike, who has completely lost his voice). They need a Mike sound-alike. Basically they are a Beach Boys tribute band.

The above comments come from Ron Smith's excellent website ... you can post YOUR comments there, too ... just click on the link! (kk)
The Beach Boys playing on Dancing With The Stars was a chance for a new generation of entertainment-lovers worldwide to see and hear a sound that for years influenced the Boomer Generation like no other act. Those interesting, perplexing, and in many ways "dynamic" years in the 60s will never be duplicated.
The thing is, as far as History lessons in the future go, to me it's almost a "you had to be there to understand it" type of thing. I was inspired by a thought I had in prayer one night to write a song about The Beach Boys called "Three Brothers, A Garden and Love". The little voice in my head, my "prayer voice", explained to me that the "Three Brothers" meant the Wilson Brothers, the "Garden" was symbolic of Al Jardine since Jardine is the French word for "Garden", and the "Love" was about "Mike LOVE" and as we all know, Love is pretty neat to have around, right?
The song idea is sort of strangely meditative when you think about it, (and I DID think about it, and I wrote a song) I hope you like the symbolism of all the references to some The "original" Beach Boys' 60s song titles, and also the references to the Vietnam War and to Jack and Bobby Kennedy.
The 60s that us "Boomers" grew up in changed the World forever, and The Beach Boys were there giving us a great energetic tour of our teenage years with song titles like "Wouldn't It Be Nice" and "Fun Fun Fun".
So seeing them on Dancing With The Stars was really great and I wish Brian and Al could have been there with Mike, but seeing The Beach Boys "in the house", playing live on National Television, was a real thrill.
I want to send you a sincere "Thanks" Kent, for all your great work on this newsletter. Keeping my memories alive through your interesting writing and the behind the scenes stories that keep coming in, all helps my time go easier as the years go faster.
Your Friend,
Veeder Van Dorn
The "Denver in the 60s" Moonrakers


Unfortunately, I did not see the "Dancing With The Stars" performance, but as I've said so many times over the past six or eight years ... you don't go to a Beach Boys show to see a Beach Boy ... you go for the great music that has stood the test of time for--many songs for nearly a half century.
So, regardless of whether or not Mike is singing (and he appeared to be singing only a portion of the lead vocals on this short set), the real 'star' of any Beach Boys show, or configuration, is 'the music.'
Just this past week I was at a MAPCO purchasing my twice weekly POWERBALL / MEGA MILLIONS ticket (I have a better chance of winning the LOTTO than making a decent profit owning my recording studio after 30 years:), and the clerk -- a black gentleman, probably in his early 30's -- who was waiting on me noticed I was wearing one of my Reyn Spooner Beach Boys shirts ( He made the comment that when he was a bit younger, his Dad had taken him to see The Beach Boys and, during the show, when the clerk told his Dad how great they were, his Dad had replied: "There's only one original Beach Boy up there." To which the clerk replied, "it doesn't matter, I love the music!"
Of course, the clerk had no clue that he was talking to a former manager of the band, so I told him I appreciated his comment and that I'd spent nearly ten years with the group and we'd been friends for 47 years. He replied: "That must have been fun." To which I replied, as I always do, "No, it was fun, fun, fun!" This only helps to illustrate my earlier response that going to a Beach Boys show now is all about the music ... the 'music' is the real 'star.'
In fact, to the real 'die-hards,' fans that remember the group back in the 60's, 70's and early 80's -- up until the time of Denny's tragic death in December 1983, it's simply not "The Beach Boys" without a "Wilson" on the stage. While I am not privy to all the 'insider' info anymore -- I find it highly unlikely that will ever happen -- 50th Anniversary of not. But, like so many loyal fans, I, too, can dream :)
Mike's band -- while all competent musicians -- have been inconsistent over the past few years ... members coming and going ... Mike Kowalski (who had been playing drums and percussion with the BB's since the 60's), Chris Farmer, John Stamos, Adrian Baker, Eddy Carter, and others. Oddly (and I need to watch the clip again to confirm) the cameras did not appear to focus on Bruce Johnston during this filming and while Bruce is not technically an 'original' Beach Boy -- after nearly forty-five years with the band, he certainly has earned my admiration and respect. I have not seen Mike and Bruce 'live' in seven years (Ashland, KY), but they did an excellent job at the time, including a stand out version of "Why Do Fools Fall In Love." There were an estimated 35,000 there for the outdoor show, but at least three of those band members are no longer with the band.
In the case of Brian's band -- there has been little, if any, major turnovers in nearly ten years. I was honored to introduce them when they played the historic Ryman Auditorium here in November 2008. It's an excellent band, led by Jeff Foskett -- and featuring "The Wondermints." All members are 110% devoted to Brian and take great pride in honoring the Beach Boys musical legacy. For them, it's not only a gig, it's a passion.
As to Alan, he, too, has been traveling with a large entourage ... often including early Beach Boy David Marks, Dean Torrence, Billy Hinsche, Alan's two son's, Matt and Adam, and long tme friend and BB touring band member, Ed Carter, who, like Kowalski, has been with various configurations of the band for decades. Shortly after the split between Alan and Mike, Al's group also included Brian's two daughters, Carnie and Wendy. Owen Elliott, Cass's daughter, was also in the 1999 / 2000 group, which was initially booked as "Alan Jardine Beach Boys Family and Friends." To hear their combined harmonies, up to seven vocal parts, was a great gift to behold.
Al was sued to restrain him from making virtually any reference to "The Beach Boys" name -- the group he had co-founded. The group name is owned by Brother Records, and while Alan is still a stockholder, he does not control the Board of Directors.
Don't get me wrong ... I'm a huge fan and friend of all the members (whichever configuration). I love all of them as 'family.' I am also deeply honored to have worked with them and known them for nearly forty-eight of their fifty years. So, for me, Mike's "Dancing With The Stars" performance was not 'painful' per se, but the group was certainly not up to it's 1963 to 1966 standards when all the guys were healthy, full of youthful energy and optimism -- to say nothing of that they are, like many of us, nearly 45 years older:) But at least we still have Mike, Alan and Brian with us -- they still continue to entertain us with those incredible songs that have stood the test of time.
What's great about going to any of their shows is seeing three generations of the audience singing along to each and every song ... a family literally drawn together by the music ... a grandfather holding his granddaughter or grandson, while his own son or daughter stands next to him. Those scenes still give me goose bumps after all these years and I remember those early years as if it were yesterday.
"Those were the days, my friend, I wish they'd never end, those were the days, those WERE the days."
Fred Vail
As you know, you'd be hard pressed to find bigger Beach Boys fans than Frannie and I ... but we were both genuinely disappointed in Mike's performance the other night ... quite honestly, the last few times we've seen him on TV, he just hasn't had the voice to do these songs justice.
As an "insider", I'm sure you're aware of Brian's original vision to have the MUSIC of The Beach Boys continue without them ... instead, putting the very best musicians and voices up on stage ... younger renditions of themselves if you will ... to keep the music fresh and exciting for each new generation to come.
With that thought in mind, believe me when I say that nobody was more surprised than me to see Brian take to the stage again, especially in light of all the horror stories from the early days and his genuine dislike of playing live in front of an audience (and all that that entailed.) But you hit it right on the head ... Brian with The Wondermints shows the true PASSION of this music ... honestly, they outshine the best version of the band that The Beach Boys ever put on stage ... and their genuine love and affection for both the music and the man who created it shows with every note they play and sing.
We've heard from SEVERAL readers over the years who've said that NO version of The Beach Boys performing on stage without a Wilson Brother deserves to be up there calling themselves The Beach Boys ... and for years Mike, Bruce, Al and Carl kept the legend going ... but honestly it may be time to rethink things.
For the record, I very carefully selected the adjective "painful" ... because I, too, remember just how great these guys really were ... also for the record, writing a negative review criticizing these guys was every bit as painful 'cause I really, really love 'em ... but I also call 'em as I see 'em. (kk)

One Last Thought: In the case of Mike Love and The Beach Boys, I totally agree that the music speaks for itself ... and there aren't many artists out there over the past 50 years who have even come CLOSE to creating the wealth of musical memories and rock and roll classics as these guys ...
That being said, the REALITY of the situation is this: us OLDER fans KNOW and LOVE this music, because we experienced it first hand ... any new generation(s) coming along should experience it the same way ... and these recording hold up SO well and sound just as fresh today that most will come to know it and love it the same way WE did ... simply by LISTENING to it.
But seeing Mike Love up there TRYING to make this music sound and look relevant in 2010 just isn't cutting it if he no longer has the vocal chops to pull it off. It's a thin line we walk sometimes in Forgotten Hits ... we have dedicated ourselves to keeping all of this great music alive ... not only in the minds and hearts of those of us who first experienced it but also as a means of exposing all of this great music to those who weren't fortunate enough to have been around at the time we were all soaking it in. Much like an athlete ... no matter how GREAT they once were ... there comes a time when that phase of your life is over ... a hard statement to make, coming from one who has spent the past eleven years recruitng and encouraging artists to come on board and share their memories alongside those of their fans ... providing one more forum to interact with those fans ... let them know what you've been up to ... tell them about your upcoming performances or new releases ... but ALWAYS portraying this music in the best possible light.
If even some of your most dedicated and devoted fans are starting to cringe when they see you perform, chances are you aren't winning over any NEW fans in the process. In the eyes of ANY new audience seeing or hearing this music for the first time, it simply comes off as "some old guy up there trying to sing" ... and they'll IMMEDIATELY tune it out without ever really listening to it or giving it a chance. THAT's why I say let the music stand for itself ... don't embarrass yourself or downgrade this music just because you've been doing it for 50 years.
I can only IMAGINE what this must look like to the kids today growing up with Lady Ga-Ga, Beyonce, Britney Spears, Lil Wayne and Adam Lambert!!! Once again, the athlete analogy works best ... at some point, you just can't "play the game" the way you used to ... and, for the past several years anyway, it seems that Mike Love can barely muster a whisper when singing his classic hits. MOST of the older fans will "forgive" you for a while because of all the joy you've brought us over the years ... but he honestly doesn't look healthy up there anymore ... and it's hard to imagine that he's actually still having fun, fun, fun doing this at this stage of his life.
Read some of the stellar reviews published this past week for Paul McCartney's shows ... nearly three hours of top-notch rock and roll. Similarly, we've run VERY positive reviews recently about artists like Tommy James and B.J. Thomas and Peter Noone and Freddy Cannon and Henry Gross and Alan O'Day and Jay Black and Johnny Maestro and many, many others who sound JUST as good today as they EVER did.
For me, it becomes a problem when the artist is no longer doing justice to this music ... and, worse yet, perhaps TARNISHING it in the process. THAT'S when I say, let the music stand ... you've HAD your time ... let's not do anything to diminish this great music now ... simply put, "know when to hold 'em and know when to fold 'em" ... and keep that wonderful memory live in the minds and the hearts of the fans.
I'll NEVER forget back in 1966, during the height of SO many new musical sounds, styles and bands, when Frank Sinatra went all the way to #1 with "Strangers In The Night". I couldn't believe my ears!!! What the hell was this OLD guy doing on the charts along with all my favorite artists?!?!? And hitting #1, no less!!! Hadn't he already HAD his time in the sun?!?!?
Well the fact is that in 1966, Sinatra was 51 ... but to ME, at the time, he was ANCIENT!!! (And that's coming from a guy who this year will turn 57!!!) Meanwhile, many of our generation's favorites are still out there doing it in their late 60's and early 70's ... and, in many cases, drawing some of the largest audiences around the globe ... and we LOVE the opportunity to get out and see them.
Since, as Fred mentioned earlier, we're on the eve of the 50th Anniversary of The Beach Boys, maybe THAT would be the fitting moment to "call it a career" ... put any and all old animosities aside, get the surviving members back together one last time for some nationally televised mega-show (featuring the best from ALL of their back-up bands, including a variety of "special guest stars") and go out with a bang!
On yet a completely different note, did you see what's going on on "American Idol" this week? Once again, the finalists will be dipping into the catalog of Lennon and McCartney ... what the heck is up with that?!?!? On the one hand, you've got the judges CONSTANTLY telling these kids to "be contemporary" ... "stay current" ... "DON'T be old-fashioned" ... and yet then they have them perform the songs of The Beatles, Barry Manilow, Elton John, The Rolling Stones and / or Smokey Robinson every week ... then invite musical guests like Usher, P Diddy and Lady Ga Ga herself on to the show under the pretense of showing the kids how it's done today. How much more confusing could they POSSIBLY make it?!?!? Talk about your conflicting messages!!! And then telling them week after week after that their "song choices are all wrong"!!! Heck, YOU guys picked the theme, NOT the contestants!!! No differently than Simon week after week telling somebody that "That sounded like something that you'd hear at a Theme Park" only to have the remaining ensemble do EXACTLY that at every show opening with their "Up With People" weekly routine!!! It just doesn't make any sense!!! But I digress! (kk)