And by that I mean LITERALLY just in ... I was all set to publish this week's edition of The Sunday Comments when I received an email from Ron Smith regarding Dave Fisher of The Highwaymen ... unfortunately, it's more sad news ...
Dave Fisher, founding member, musical director and lead singer of the Highwaymen, died Friday (May 7) at the age of 70.
While still a high school student in New Haven, Connecticut, Dave sang with a doo-wop group called the Academics that released three singles on Ancho Records (while he was with them). Moving on a year later to Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, Dave started the Highwaymen with Bob Burnett, Steve Trott, Chan Daniels and Steve Butts. Originally calling themselves the Clansmen, they quickly changed their name due to its unsavory connotations. The new moniker came from the Alfred Noyes poem of that name.
After honing their act for two years on campus, the quintet travelled to New York, where they quickly picked up a manager, producer and recording contract.
Their first single on United Artists Records was the classic folk tune, “Michael (Row The Boat Ashore).” Released during the height of the “folk boom,” it’s not surprising that it sailed to #1 for two weeks in the Summer of 1961. It was followed early the next year by the double-sided hit, “Cotton Fields” (#13) and “The Gypsy Rover”(#42).
The group steadfastly refused to leave school, performing only on weekends, which slowed their success. “I’m On My Way” only reached #90 in 1962 and “The Bird Man” finished their chart run at #64 that year.
While most of the others went on to law or business schools when the group disbanded in 1964 (Steve Trott served at one time as Assistant U.S. Attorney General and became a federal judge), Dave stuck with music, recording solo records for Columbia and MGM Records before eventually working with former Four Preps singer Glen Larson on the music for his television productions (including the 1987 production, “The Highwayman”).
A lawsuit filed by the original Highwaymen against the later JohnnyCash - Willie Nelson - Waylon Jennings - Kris Kristofferson incarnation was settled amicable when Dave’s group opened a concert for the others and then granted them limited use of the name.
-- Ron Smith
re: THE RIP CHORDS:
Hey Kent ...
Our show with Peter Noone was a blast ... sold out!
Peter was in great form, as always.
Here are a couple of photos taken of us from the Balcony during our portion of the show.
We're gearing up for some cool Summer shows now.
More later ...
Mitch Schecter / The Rip Chords
... and, for more Summertime Fun Fun Fun ... check out this report from Bob Greene, one of our FH favorite authors (sent in by Ron Smith) ...
re: THE BEACH BOYS:
(CNN) -- The dirty and tattered piece of paper, with remnants of thick black industrial-strength tape still stuck to its edges, would not necessarily seem to be a harbinger of summer. But those capitalized words running down the page ...
CATCH. SAFARI. CAL GIRLS. BE TRUE. GET AROUND ...
I pulled the piece of paper from the surface of the stage right after the show had ended. There was a copy of it next to the base of each microphone stand, so the musicians could look down to see what they were supposed to play and sing next. The capitalized words were shorthand for each song:
"Catch a Wave." "Surfin' Safari." "California Girls." "Be True to Your School." "I Get Around."
Summer's coming, all right.
I had caught up with the Beach Boys in Fort Myers, Florida, on a Friday night this spring. They were scheduled to play at the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall. It will soon be half a century that they have been singing and touring. Fifty years since they really were little more than boys, writing and singing the songs of summer for the first time.
-- Bob Greene
After touring as part of the Jan and Dean band for close to fifteen years, Bob Greene knows a thing or two about summer concert fun. (His book "When We Get To Surf City" became a Forgotten Hits favorite last year as more and more of our readers picked up a copy.) Bob's best books have always had some pretty popular music ties ... he's a REAL fan (and a Forgotten Hits Reader!!!) You can catch a wave ... and the whole Beach Boys article here:
re: MARK ESKIN:
Wow, what a small world. Last September my wife and I were invited to a party at an old friend's house in Park Ridge. I noticed that the list of invitees had two people with the same first names as my wife and I.
At some point that evening I went up to Mark Eskin and told him that I was the other Mark with the same wife's first name and we shared a laugh or two and started talking like two old friends. I had no clue he was involved in the local music scene.
What a nice guy and it's so sad to hear of his passing. It's kind of interesting that when I saw the post on your page and looked at his picture I said to myself, I know him and for some reason I said I think he was at the Dean Torrance concert last summer. Then, as I read further, it all came to me. Way too soon to have your life come to an end.
And knowing the way Mark liked to check out the local music scene, it's quite possible you DID see him at the Dean Torrence concert last summer!!! (I remember Jimy Sohns of The Shadows Of Knight being there!) There was quite a turn-out on Sunday to say goodbye ... as they say, Mark would have been proud to know he touched so many lives. For many of us, music is the common thread that makes Forgotten Hits so special ... but along the way we've also been able to meet and get to know some very special people. Music is the bond that links us ... and Mark truly loved music. (kk)
So sad to hear about Mark Eskin passing away. I always enjoyed seeing him and talking to him. Mark sure loved music! I would see him at area festivals enjoying other groups. He will be missed!
I hope NC6 SURVIVES! It seems every year they pay fewer gigs. What a shame for a great local group that had the most top 40 hits in Chicago, more than any other local group.
It is too bad Dick Biondi 50 years special was on Sunday night. The city should have something at the Taste with all the great '60s groups that got their start in Chicago honoring Dick or someone should have a concert honoring Dick with all the proceeds going to Dick's favorite charity.
President of the Lovejoy Music Club where Vinyl lives!
Although all of the New Colony guys were there on Sunday, it didn't seem like the appropriate time or place to talk about future plans. I'm sure once they've had a chance to assess all that's happened, we'll hear something from the band that we'll then post on the web page. Thanks, Mike. (kk)
re: STILL IN THE GAME / AND GETTING OUT OF THE GAME!!!:
Incredibly, I received these two emails just a day apart!!!
I plan to post one more radio interview show on my Ronnie Radio Page and then retire.
It will be show #90, including the 88 "Ronnie Remembers" shows and the two vintage shows.
My decision is not based on any health issues and is primarily based on my desire to take time off from them and devote it to other things.
I thank you so much for your recent very generous "Ronnie Allen" installment of Forgotten Hits. My decision will, of course, allow newcomers to sample the existing interviews without being inundated with new ones.
Is my retirement carved in stone and "for good"?
Keep in mind that Frank Sinatra retired. And Brett Favre retired.
So yes, please feel free to read between the lines.
For now I plan to enjoy my time off.
For later I may still be enjoying my time off but then ... ????
I'd like to say thank you to all Forgotten Hits members who have commented on my interview shows over the past two and half years. Some of you have complained that you have not had the time to catch up on all of them! Well, I will be giving you that opportunity by not adding more of them.
My Radio Page is at: http://www.jerseygirlssing.com/RonnieRadioPage.html
Hope you enjoy your time off, Ronnie ... I'm sure you'll be back!!! (I've been talking about "cutting back" for at least five or six years now ... this is the FIRST year I've actually been able to do so ... but I just love this music too much to give it up completely!)
If you think that there are any of these artists who might enjoy participating with Forgotten Hits from time to time, please pass along our info ... it's a GREAT way for them to stay in touch with their fans and let them know about upcoming appearances and releases ... I'd love to add a couple hundred more artists to the list ... these are stories that NO ONE else can tell! Glad to run a "final plug" for you ... you're right ... this will give fans a chance to catch up on SO many great interviews they may have missed. Meanwhile, take care ... take it easy ... and stay in touch! (kk)
Hi Kent ...
Just a quick note to let you know that I'm still in the game!
We’re just about into the American Patriotic Season.
Memorial Day (May) / Flag Day (June) / Independence Day (July)
I’m attaching an Mp3 of my song, “HAPPY BIRTHDAY, AMERICA”. All plays are much appreciated! The song’s accompanying You Tube video can be found at: http://www.paulevans.com/
... and help ...
My You Tube video, “Santa’s Stuck Up In The Chimney”, ended last year’s Christmas season with over 140,000 views. If you know anyone who might be putting together a Christmas CD or DVD compilation, please let him/her know that the “Santa” video can be viewed at http://tinyurl.com/2dye7rg and that I can be reached at: email@example.com.
Thank you all – and have a great summer!
re: THE FIRST TIME EVER I SAW YOUR FACE:
The first recording of "The First Time" I ever heard was done by Marianne Faithful.
I found it on the album "Marianne Faithfull, Faithfull Forever," London PS 482 (stereo). Side one, band 3. I never heard any that beat it. When I hear Marianne sing "The first time ever I lay with you ... " I wish --- oh, I wish.
re: THE FORGOTTEN HITS BOOK CLUB:
I've recently reviewed a couple of bios -- one on Stevie Wonder and the other the forthcoming book on Matt Monro. I thought I'd send you copies to run in Forgotten Hits. (In oldies circles, Matt may not be everyone's cup of tea ... but back home in England, he had eleven Top 40 Hits.) Hope you enjoy these.
-- Ron Smith
It was hard not to get excited when I saw that the first real biography of Stevie Wonder was being released (“Signed, Sealed, Delivered: The Soulful Journey Of Stevie Wonder” by Mark Ribowsky; John Wiley & Sons, Inc.; ISBN: 0470481501). Ribowsky is no rookie; having released bios on— among others— Phil Spector, Satchel Paige and the Supremes. His effort this time is a mixed bag.
The first test of any book about oldies is to catch the easy errors. If the writing and editing is that poor, it doesn’t bode well for the rest of the book. So it was with some trepidation that I read Ribowsky write that Motown’s Berry Gordy co-wrote songs for “Detroit homeboy Jackie Wilson after the flashy singer quit the Drifters to go solo.”
Of course he meant the Dominoes. But anyone who confuses Jackie Wilson with Clyde McPhatter — who sang with both groups — is probably not the best choice to write a Motown artist’s biography. The blurb on the back of the book says “Ribowsky
spends time on details other writers have taken for granted.” Those “other writers” however, probably never confused the release date of Stevie’s “Fingertips” with the day it was recorded (live in Chicago). And those “other writers” are probably aware that the Angels — not Lesley Gore — sang “My Boyfriend’s Back.”
Its dust jacket tries to sell the book with sensationalism, pointing to Stevie’s “long struggle with sexual addiction and suicidal depression.” But the actual book never really supports these assertions. In fact, Stevie is quoted as saying he’s “[n]ever gonna take my life.”
Like his book on the Supremes, which ends with Diana Ross’ departure, Ribowsky relegates Stevie’s life from 1984 on (26 years!) to the epilogue.
Heavy on detailing each of Stevie’s early albums with the major cuts on each, the book still manages to fill in the details of his life, many of which have gone buried over the years. But even more details — like where his mother came up with the last name of Morris for the pre-teen singer when her surname was Hardway and his father’s was Judkins — remain buried. With Stevie turning 60 and reluctant to open up about his life himself, a more definitive bio may never be written. Which is all the more frustrating.
-- Ron Smith
That's too bad about the Stevie Wonder book ... after I first saw it posted on your website (www.oldiesmusic.com, by the way for the three or four oldies music fans left on the planet who may not have visited it yet!), I was really looking forward to reading it ... now, not so much. As you and I have discussed many times in the past, it is REALLY disheartening to find what I would consider to be such OBVIOUS errors on information that is pretty well known ... it makes me all that much more skeptical and suspicious that when I get into an area that I know absolutely NOTHING about, I cannot help but wonder how accurate and true THESE facts might be. (I mean, if he got the SIMPLEST facts wrong, what are the odds that any of this "rarer" stuff is even remotely accurate???) Unfortunately, it typically only get worse from here ... most likely the next author who takes on Stevie's bio will use some of the misinformation in this book as one of his sources!!! (kk)
In these days of competition over who will be the artist to sing the theme song from the newest James Bond film, here’s a trivia question for you: Who was the first artist to do so? (Hint: There was no song from “Dr. No” other than the iconic “James Bond Theme” used in all the films. And the first Bond title song never charted in the U.S., though it made the top 20 in Britain.)
The answer is “From Russia With Love” by Matt Monro, who’s known in the U.S. for a couple of soft top 40 hits — “My Kind Of Girl” (#18-1961) and “Walk Away” (#23-1965). Matt fared much better in his native England, where he rang up eleven top 40 hits, five of which made the top ten.
So why are we now blessed with an exhaustive 600+ page book on the life of a singer who died back in 1985 (“The Singer’s Singer: The Life And Music Of Matt Monro” by Michele Monro; Titan Books; ISBN: 9781848566187)?
The answer is, because the Matt Monro story has never really been told until now. In doing research for my countdown radio show years ago, I was able to dig up little about his background. I knew he had been a bus driver whose big break came when George Martin needed a Frank Sinatra stylist for a Peter Sellers project he was working on. But beyond that surface, there was little else.
(That comparison as the “British Sinatra,” by the way, would haunt Matt for much of his career. Who needs a British Sinatra when the American one was alive and well and recording, too? However, it was the Chairman of the Board himself who said after Matt’s death, “His pitch was right on the nose; his word enunciation letter perfect; his understanding of a song thorough. He will be missed very much, not only by myself, but by his fans all over the world.”)
“The Singer’s Singer” is written by Michele Monro, Matt’s daughter, who studiously avoids putting herself into the story. As she says in the introduction, “It is not about my life with my father.” As administrator of his estate, she had access to interviews and photos that other authors would have found blocked to them. And yet, there seems to be no attempt to lionize her father or whitewash any faults (in describing Matt’s joining the post-war British army at age seventeen, for example, she quotes him as saying, “I had somebody’s husband after me.”) Perhaps, twenty-five years after his death, there’s no need to tell anything but the truth.
From his days as a child escaping the bombing of London in World War II to his first performances at the age of fourteen, entertaining while in the army in Hong Kong, struggling as a big band singer while holding down “real” jobs as a milkman and bus driver, BBC broadcasts with Cyril Stapleton’s Orchestra, demo-ing other’s songs while his own floundered, the Peter Sellers project and subsequent success with George Martin in the studio through the dénouement of a long career and health problems, including the liver cancer that eventually took his life, Matt’s story — as told by Michele — is detailed enough to serve as his legacy but not so much as to ever get boring.
It’s easy to dismiss Matt Monro (especially in the U.S.) as just another anachronistic easy listening singer in an age of rock ‘n’ roll. But he was far more than that. And his story deserves to be told in this manner. Michele admits the book was written for her son, who never knew his grandfather. But we’re fortunate to gain the same insights into the singer that Max will.
--- Ron Smith
I remember liking Matt's late-1964 Hit "Walk Away" ... it was a fairly popular record here in Chicago, where it peaked at #17. "My Kind Of Girl" was the bigger national hit ... that one went all the way to #18 on The Billboard Chart. But you're right ... MOST of us will dismiss Matt as just another one of those middle-of-the-road singers ... until you actually hear him sing. (I always liked Jack Jones, too ... and think his 1965 version of "The Race Is On" belongs on oldies radio ... and, since THEY won't play it, WE WILL!!!) By the way, did any of you see him on the TV Land Awards the other night? Absolutely AMAZING!!! He sang a revamped version of "The Love Boat" but man, he hit some INCREDIBLE notes there at the end!!! (Not bad for a man of 72 ... and he looked real good, too!!!) kk
re: DIGGIN' FORGOTTEN HITS:
i just would like to thank you for having such a beautiful website that we can place our memories on. i also wish to thank you for your thoughtfulness and consideration.
god bless you, kent ...
Thanks for the kind words. Forgotten Hits has ALWAYS been about sharing the memories ... it's all you readers out there that make this happen. (I'm just the guy who tries to glue it all together!!! lol) Thanks again. (kk)
Got a great "Helping Out Our Readers" segment planned for tomorrow ... please check back.
Meanwhile, if you've got a comment, memory or question you'd like to share, drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org ... and then check the website often to see if your comments appear!