Friday, May 21, 2010

Wrapping Things Up In Wisconsin ... With A Robbs Reboot

I thought it might be fitting to wrap up our week-long salute to Wisconsin Rock by rerunning part of our Local Hits feature on The Robbs, one of the most popular bands to come out of this era ... and area ... in the '60's.

We've featured The Robbs several times before over the years in Forgotten Hits ... in fact, after we spotlighted the band in our very first Show Me Your Hits / Local Hits Feature, zeroing in on their Wisconsin chart success, we were genuinely surprised to hear that these guys had charted a few singles on the local charts elsewhere around the country despite never scoring a National Top 100 Hit ... and that these charted hits weren't even necessarily the same songs in all cases. And, we were even more surprised to find out about their career on the OTHER side of the recording glass with Cherokee Studios.

Here ... in '60's FLASHBACK style ... is what we're calling The Robbs ... Revisited ... highlights from our last series along with several of your comments. Enjoy!

'60's FLASHBACK:
In the liner notes for the recently re-released album "The Robbs", drummer Craig Krampf jokes that "We were the kings of 'bubbling under'" ... and, to a degree, he's right!

The Robbs "bubbled-under" on Billboard's Top 100 Chart with the tunes "Race With The Wind" (#103); "Rapid Transit" (#123); "Movin'" (#131); "Last Of The Wine" (#114) and "I'll Never Get Enough" (#108) and fell to the same fate when, as Cherokee, they released "Girl, I've Got News For You" (#116 in 1971). In addition, we found out that their song "Bittersweet" (which never even got THAT far) topped the charts down in San Antonio, Texas back in 1967.

As we learned last time around (thanks to a little bit of help from FH list member Jean Theel), these guys were from Oconomowoc (not Milwaukee), Wisconsin, where they enjoyed a pretty loyal following. Consisting of three brothers (David, Robert and George Donaldson), they assumed the identities of Dee, Bruce and Joe Robb respectively and recorded a couple of local singles for the Argo, Todd and Score Record Labels under various monikers like Dee Robb, Robby and the Robins and Dee Robb and the Robins, all without success. They played musical chairs with the drummer's role until 1965 when Craig Krampf (quickly dubbed Craig Robb) came on board. (It was assumed / promoted that he was their cousin ... which, of course, he wasn't ... but nobody was about to deny anything that might slow down the promotional machine!)

These guys CERTAINLY were given fair consideration at a shot at pop stardom ... Dick Clark heard them at a performance here in Chicago (at The Teen World's Fair) and signed them for an appearance on his hit television series "Where The Action Is" and "American Bandstand". (He was also instrumental in securing a recording contract for the band with Chicago's Mercury Records, who quickly issued their first single, "Race With The Wind".) In fact, The Robbs became pretty much semi-regulars on "Where The Action Is" and Dick Clark held nothing back in his efforts to make them the next big thing. Their pictures were soon in all the teen magazines yet, despite ALL of this publicity, they STILL never cracked the National Top 100!

Locally here in Chicago, "Race With The Wind" shot up to #16 on the WLS Chart ... and did even better back home in Wisconsin. We featured it as part of our Chicagoland Local Hits series back in 2004 ... and were then surprised to hear from a couple of other readers who ALSO knew a thing or two about The Robbs! (Seems that a couple of their other releases achieved Local Hits status in various parts of the country ... including a #1 showing in San Antonio, Texas, with their single "Bittersweet" ... yet, collectively, they could never build enough momentum around any one song to break through on the National Top 100.)
***

A few months ago, I spoke with one of the reissue labels about releasing a “Best of the Robbs” CD. The response was basically: “Did they have any hits?” I knew I had just lost that battle. The war is not over and now, thanks to the people at Collectors' Choice Music, here are the vinyl transfers to prove the case for a Robbs compilation CD.

In many cases where bands did not reach the coveted “Hot 100”, there are not enough releases to have a compilation CD. The Robbs, however, had many 45’s and a terrific album to choose from, as well as many unreleased gems. Beginning in the early sixties and living on through the present, via Cherokee Recording Studios in Beverly Hills, the Robbs’ history covers forty years! This CD focuses on the Robbs’ “glory years”, bittersweet (sorry) as they were. With early successes in their Milwaukee home area, the group gained fans quickly. Eventually, Dick Clark “discovered” them and the group became regulars on his ABC-TV mid-60’s afternoon teen band show, “Where the Action Is”. With the national TV exposure, they landed a national recording contract with Chicago’s Mercury Records label. Their self-written first single, “Race With the Wind”, got promoted nicely by Clark’s “Action” and “American Bandstand” TVers, and began selling across the Midwest, roaring into Milwaukee’s top 10 and reaching a respectable #16 on Chicago’s 50,000-watt AM juggernaut WLS radio “Silver Dollar Survey”. With all this going, plus their pictures plastered all over the teen magazines of the day, it seemed the Robbs were destined for stardom.

Two more single sides did not equal the success of their debut in sales, but were nonetheless great records. “Next Time You See Me” hit #1 on Los Angeles’ KRLA “Top Requested” chart, while their cover of P.F. Sloan’s “Bittersweet” (issued with the typically cheesy Mercury records black and white picture sleeve) failed to get much public reaction.

April of ‘67 brought us their only “two-sided winner” (in Milwaukee) in “Rapid Transit” and “Cynthia Loves”. With “Transit” sounding much like the new hit, “Western Union” by the Five Americans, maybe there was an oversaturation of “dit-dit-dit” songs for the public’s taste, although both are great songs. “Cynthia” sounded much like Tommy Roe’s hits of the day and led them towards their last Mercury 45, the bubblegummy “Girls Girls”. Released at about the time Mercury put the bands’ 45s onto LP, “Girls” failed with sales again.

Oddly enough, the album would make the Billboard Top LP chart in January, 1968 after the band had been dropped by Mercury!

It was during this time in ‘67 that the Robbs began producing other Milwaukee bands like the Destinations. Eventually, they would become full time producers, but not before more attempts at recording stardom. A move to Atlantic Records in early 1968 brought changes in the Robbs’ sound. Early in ‘68, the American Breed’s “Bend Me, Shape Me” was a huge hit, relying on a brass foundation. The Robbs’ May 45 release, “I Don’t Want to Discuss It”, used a similar style in their most upbeat release yet. November saw “Changin’ Winds” become not only their new single, but also their long-term move towards the country-rock field. Neither song did much outside the upper Midwest and Atlantic dropped the Robbs at year’s end.

From 1969 into the early 70’s, the Robbs would record for Dunhill / ABC Records. One of Dunhill’s biggest artists were the Grass Roots and the Robbs’ singles would reflect their stablemates’ sound with two equally great poprockers, “Last of the Wine” and “I’ll Never Get Enough”. Again, only the upper Midwest seemed to hear these great releases.

The Robbs were recording enough material for a new LP, but without a hit 45, Dunhill never released an LP. Their 45 “B” sides were great country-rockers and would lead to a name change to “Cherokee” in the early 70’s. Now on Dunhill’s parent label, ABC Records, “Cherokee” started out with a 45 and album release. In retrospect, it seems many of the hot 60’s rockers moved to country-rock in the early 70’s. Unfortunately, the public usually didn’t notice. Same was true for “Cherokee” and after another 45, the group called it quits. However, the name stuck for the group’s recording studio and has been quite successful producing music for top artists over the years since.

For all the great music, publicity and accolades the Robbs have garnered, their success was, indeed, “bittersweet”. Sales always eluded the group and thus, it seems, has kept them from a current day CD compilation release, as well. This CD brings their best from all four record labels, as well as highlights of their Dick Clark years, as well as some later unreleased gems. Hopefully, someone will take up the charge for the Robbs and get a CD comp made someday, but in the meantime, dig the “Robbs: Bittersweet Years”!

-- Clark Besch, 2003

This excellent report was filed by Tom Diehl as part of our Local Hits Comments Page ... Clark Besch, now a regular contributor to Forgotten Hits, wasn't even on our mailing list yet at this time. Tom also sent me a copy of the aforementioned CD (excellent, by the way ... there are even a few excerpts from the old WCFL "Most Requested" Countdown where a couple of uncharted Robbs songs figure prominently.)

After our original piece on The Robbs ran in 2004, we received nominations for a couple MORE Robbs songs to feature ...

Bittersweet by the Robbs was a FABULOUS folk / rock song that was a # 1 hit in San Antonio in early 1967.

Wmbradspa

I always liked RACE WITH THE WIND ... but my very very favorite Robb song is BITTERSWEET! To this DAY I still play the 45 a lot.

Allan0318


Their best years came after leaving Milwaukee. The band bought a home in Encino, CA. After evolving into a country-rock group, Cherokee (and still failing to chart), they decided that their main calling was engineering and producing. The guys built a studio in their ranch and one of the first LP's they ever worked on was "Pretzel Logic" by Steely Dan. They went on to engineer many other big name groups and recording artists like David Bowie, Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, John Mellencamp, Aerosmith and Guns 'n' Roses. (The list of musicians that they have worked with is certainly impressive.) Drummer Craig Krampf even co-wrote a song for Journey lead singer Steve Perry's solo album called "Oh Sherrie". This song went to #3 on the charts and has won BMI awards, including the prestigious "Million Broadcast Performances" award. Craig also co-wrote three other songs on Perry's "Street Talk" album. The Robb brothers are now award winning producers / engineers of countless platinum-selling artists.

-- Jean Theel

From left to right: Joe Robb, Craig Krampf, Bruce Robb and Dee Robb.

During our various tribute features on The Robbs, we have featured "Race With The Wind", "Bittersweet" and "Rapid Transit" ... we've also featured the band in both of our Show Me Your Hits / Local Hits Series.

The last time we covered The Robbs we told you that by the time Mercury Records finally got around to releasing an album by these guys, The Robbs had already left the label!!! Even at that, the LP was pretty much just thrown together, consisting of all eight sides of their first four singles, not a chart hit amongst them ... and then a couple of new songs of filler. But THIS may be where Mercury missed their calling. One of those "new" tracks was a tune called "See Jane Run", and it's got "1967 Pop Hit" written all over it! As part of today's Robbs Recap, we'll feature all four of these tracks one more time.
For a little bit more on the impressive history of The Robbs, you may want to check out their Cherokee Studios website! Cherokee Studios

DIDJAKNOW?-1: When The Robbs first went into the recording studio to cut "Race With The Wind" here in Chicago, they didn't have a bass player. According to drummer Craig Krampf, "Our configuration was, at the beginning, sax, guitar, drums and Hammond Organ. Bruce played the foot pedals, just like The Rascals, so that was our bass for live gigs. We never had a bass player. But, much like The Doors did on later things ... and The Rascals did also ... we would bring in a bass player to play on the records. A little sidelight for "Race With The Wind" was that Pete Cetera (later Peter Cetera of the '70's and '80's super-group Chicago) was the bass player." (Producer) Lou Reizner knew Pete from around the city and invited him to play on the session. "But it didn't work out well at all. I mean, he did not play well and basically we brought my brother Carl up from Milwaukee ... who's a psychologist but also was a musician ... and Carl played on "Race With The Wind". We ended up erasing Peter Cetera's bass playing ... which was kind of cool!"

DIDJAKNOW?-2: During my interview with Bruce Mattey, guitarist / vocalist for The New Colony Six for our special spotlight series on THAT band, Bruce told me that he toured on and off with The Robbs during the mid-'60's while also fronting his own band, The Revelles.


During my time with The Revelles, I continued playing off dates with other groups. In fact, many people wondered which group I was a member of. You see, I just played. Period.

I was then approached again by the Robbs, whom I had worked with several times prior and during the time I was in the Revelles. I joined up with the Robbs and was to take over for Dee who played guitar and fronted the band.At this time the Robbs were still working, booking any date they could through a guy named Con Mertin out of New York. He'd pop up every so often and always had the next few gigs set up. Reaction to the band was always good. During this time, we were doing original tunes and lots of early Blood Sweat & Tears along with some Buffalo Springfield.

One gig took us to Columbus, Ohio where we headlined. Opening act was Baby Huey and the Babysitters, a GREAT soul band from Chicago. I knew who they were, but the others didn't have any idea who they were. So Huey opened and I was floored. We also had horn men and they were wowed. On the other hand, the crowd could have cared less. We went on and the crowd came to life. Not saying that Baby Huey was a better sounding act than us, but I guess it was not what was happening at the time. Sometime, I believe about a year later, Baby Huey passed away.

(EDITOR'S NOTE: Baby Huey and the Babysitters were one of the most popular club bands to play around the City of Chicago back in the mid-'60's ... they played EVERYWHERE!!! Not a week went by when you didn't hear advertisements for the band on the radio ... yet, despite an incredibly loyal club following, they never scored a local hit on the charts. kk)

Anyhow ... The (brothers) Robbs' Dad owned an company in Wisconsin that he was going to sell and then contribute dollars to a studio project that was then in the talking stage. (Later to become Cherokee). The family also had grandparents with some big bucks, which they planned to borrow from and, along with Dad's help, seal a deal on an old sound lot owned by (I think ) Universal. We were on the road and Dee asked if I'd be interested in relocating to CA.

I was just about to get married (5/1969). The boys owed me back pay for several gigs and I had doubts about what would happen in CA. So I proposed that I'd come out after they paid the back monies owed. Needless to say, I never received the check and we parted ways.

I went back to Chicago, bought in as a partner in a Clark Gas Station to produce income while putting together The "Creative American Rock Ensemble," better known as C.A.R.E. That became my next venture while The Robbs went on to produce quite a few hits out of Cherokee Studios in California.

I think about all the guys I've had the pleasure to have ever played with during my life. Although many of us haven't talked for years, there remains a fond place in my heart for each of them. This includes the Donaldsons, too (Robbs) and the Bear - their cousin who was the Best next to Dee. The "Mega Big" time wasn't in the stars for many of the Chicago bands, but we didn't do too bad. We were able to do what we loved. Making music, having fun and bringing a few others along on the trip with us.

My Favorite Line: Oh, Rock and Roll I Gave You All the Best Years of My Life. (Mac Davis)

Sincerely,

Bruce Mattey




Rapid Transit



Race With the Wind



Bittersweet



See Jane Run

Thursday, May 20, 2010

More Local Hits From The Wisconsin Scene

Since we've been focusing on Milwaukee Local Talent this week, this seemed like a good time to run a recent email I received from WRCO Disc Jockey Phil Nee!


Hi Kent!
I think we all are having a little Spring fever these days. I have included a couple of songs from our hometown heroes file. A song called Spring Fever from Vilas Craig and the Kollege Kings. They were from Richland Center, Wisconsin, and they recorded the song in Minneapolis in the Spring of 1959. It was around the same time that Bobby Vee was recording his record Suzie Baby. Spring Fever is a hard rocker for its era. It has been popular with record collectors over the years.











The second song, Brown Eyes, was recorded in Sauk City, Wisconsin and released on Cuca records. It was the group's biggest record in terms of radio play. They were then known as Vilas Craig and the ViCounts. It has been one of the most requested songs on my program over the years. There are many people that remember this record in Madison and Southwest Wisconsin, and Northern Iowa.











Phil Nee
Wrco


Since once again I wasn't familiar with these guys, I asked our Milwaukee FH Investigative Team of Ken Freck and Gary Myers what they could tell me about Vilas Craig and his various bands ... I didn't get a whole lot back but here's a little more insight:


They were out of Northern Wisconsin ... did a few nice Rockers and a lot of Teen Rock / Teener stuff. Some nice records. I don’t have any personal knowledge of them. Gary Myers book would be the best source for info on them that I know.
Ken Freck

Musical Memories Record Store


Vilas Craig is covered in "Do You Hear That Beat". I didn't try to differentiate between the Kollege Kings and the ViCounts. Craig had numerous musicians go through his bands (I think I have most of them listed) and I don't know that it would have been worthwhile to try to figure out which guys played under which band names.
He had quite a few releases and I especially like "Little Miss Brown Eyes", which I first heard when I did my first road gig in Madison (1/62) and we did a demo session for the same producer.
I list 13 releases for him from '59 - '65, several of which were on his own label, a few on Cuca. He said his first one was cut at Kay Bank (MN) on the same day that Bobby Vee was cutting "Suzie Baby". I list 17 musicians in his bands from that period and he also used Milwaukee's Royal Lancers on one session. I have about 2-1/2 pages on him in the book.
Quite honestly, he was not a big help in my research and it's my understanding that he was very difficult to work with. In fact, one former band member, upon learning that Craig was working as a single in the 90's, said, "That's good - that way he can get along with himself."
Gary Myers
Author, "Do You Hear That Beat"

Lol ... we've all known guys like that ... Davy Jones recently remarked that Peter Tork, despite now working alone as a solo act, was STILL having "creative differences"!!! (lol) Thanks, Gary!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Forgotten Hits Interviews The Tygers

When Tony's Tygers recorded their very first record back in 1968, the boys were all still teenagers. Producer Jon Hall took them into his Teen Town Records Studio and cut a track called "Little By Little", written by then 16-year-old Tony Dancy and Denny Duchrow.

The original line-up included Dancy on vocals and guitar, Duchrow on drums, Craig Fairchild on keyboards, Dave Kuck on guitar and Fred Euler on bass. As their record started to garner all kinds of local airplay in and around the Milwaukee area, selling like hotcakes at all the local record shops, A&M Records out in California took an interest in the band and signed them for a national distribution deal. Despite this sudden attention, "Little By Little" still failed to make the national charts ... although it DID climb to #2 in Milwaukee on WOKY, kept out of the #1 Spot by The Monkees' two-sided hit "Valleri" / "Tapioca Tundra". (Ironically, BOTH records were reviewed the same week in Billboard Magazine as "picks to click"!)


(click photos to enlarge)

The band continued to play to huge crowds in and around the area and, in 1969, recorded their first and ... until VERY recently ... ONLY LP. Later in 1969, Drummer Dennis Duchrow was drafted and sent off to Viet Nam. It was at this point that Lanny Hale entered the picture ... and today, some 40 years later, it is Lanny, Craig and Tony who have reunited as The Tygers to FINALLY record their second album!!!

I asked the guys about the early days ... and wondered how aware Lanny was of the original Tygers prior to joining the band.

KENT KOTAL / FORGOTTEN HITS: Lanny, you weren't in the band at the time of the initial recording ... but certainly you must have been aware of their local success and appeal ... how did you come to know the rest of the guys and what was it like when you were first asked to join the band?

LANNY HALE: In 1966, after finishing high school, my family moved to Milwaukee from Indianapolis. I had been in a typical band of that era and enjoyed it, so I went to work immediately to start a new one in Milwaukee. I found a keyboard guy first, actually a Farfisa player back then, a guitar guy, and, with me playing bass, rounded out with a good little drummer. We went to work as The Rynge. Tony’s Tyger’s, as they were called back then, were one of the hot groups in the area. The Rynge ended up in the same management company as The Tygers and we occasionally opened for them. Due to problems with our drummer’s father sporadically refusing to let his son play gigs, we had to let him go. We began the search for another drummer. During this search period, we were instructed by management that we would have to play a certain job that we clearly weren’t ready for as we had no drummer. This critical piece of information did not restrain their insistence and forced us to go. Since I had fiddled with drums in my bedroom at home in the past, we borrowed one of the interviewee’s drum sets, practiced for a couple of nights and played the job as a three piece, with me singing from behind the drums, not that common in those days. It worked out fairly well and The Rynge became a permanent three piece group. On a subsequent job opening for The Tygers, some of their members approached me, surprised to see that I was now playing drums and singing (they were a heavily vocal group).

KK: And then The Tygers' original drummer, Dennis Duchrow got drafted, right?

LANNY: Right ... and when their drummer subsequently left for Vietnam, I was called to audition for the drummer position in The Tygers. It was very exciting to get the job as I believed this was “the” band in those parts. The big wave from the single had died down and the album didn’t do much so things weren’t as hot as the previous year ... but there was still great enthusiasm for the future.

KK: The official Tygers website (Click here: The Tygers) says that your joining the band had a special caveat attached to it ... that being that if the band hadn't hit the big time in the next year or two, you were heading off to medical school. Once things began to cool off for the band, were you able to fulfill that dream?

LANNY: Yes, in early 1971 I got my acceptance into medical school and shortly after that the band split up with Craig and Tony moving to California and continuing their music careers there. Fred went to Chef and Hotel Management training and now runs one of the largest Hyatt Regency Conference and Resort complexes in Florida.

KK: While Tony and Craig stayed involved with the music business in some fashion, you really had a 40 year break in the action in this regard. What was your career during these interim years? And are you still doing that now?


LANNY: Well, eight years after I left the Tygers I graduated from my ophthalmology residency program and started a career as an eye surgeon in Milwaukee and am still practicing there today.

At this point, Tony and Craig also joined in the conversation ...

KK: Who were some of the artists you toured with or appeared with in the late '60's and early '70's? Any shows in particular that really stand out in your mind? Any television appearances we might want to look for?

TONY: OFF THE TOP OF MY HEAD, ROY ORBISON, DEL SHANNON, THE MONKEES, TOMMY JAMES ... MAYBE CRAIG AND LANNY CAN REMEMBER MORE. WE APPEARED ON A FEW LOCAL TV SHOWS INCLUDING ONE AMUSING ONE WAS WHERE WE WERE ALL LIP SYNCHING TO “LITTLE BY LITTLE” AND WE ALL SWITCHED INSTRUMENTS. FUNNY TO US, BUT NO ONE ELSE WOULD HAVE KNOWN!

LANNY: I remember a big outdoor show we did in Nashville in the late 60’s that featured Roy Orbison, Bobby Goldsboro, the Classics IV and others. There were a number of small local / regional TV shows that we appeared on, but none that you would be able to find today.

CRAIG: Lanny just described one particularly memorable concert in Nashville and some of the people we played with. That one also came to mind immediately for me. I think Andy Kim was on that bill as well as the other artists Lanny mentioned. We participated in a number of concerts in Nashville, which was a very musically liberal town. They loved good music regardless of the genre. We played with country musicians as well as rock musicians and the crowd response was always great. One of the appeals for me has always been performing before big crowds. Earlier in our history, prior to the release of "Little By Little", we did an outdoor show in Milwaukee that attracted around 20,000. That really felt like the big time, girls going crazy, screaming fans, a crush of people leaving their seats to get closer to the stage. When I think of some of the other artists we performed with, including Gary Puckett and the Union Gap, The New Colony Six, and Del Shannon, we've been pretty lucky to have been in such good company. We did a lot of local television shows, particularly in Nashville and Milwaukee. On one of the tours we stopped in Cleveland to film for the television show, Upbeat. Ironically, I saw very few of the shows I was involved in. I do recall a moment when we got rather casual about the TV thing, It was in Nashville and we were doing a lip-sync thing to our record, so there were no live sounds being produced. We all switched instruments. It was my debut on guitar. It may even have been my left-handed debut.

KK: When we did a profile of The New Colony Six a few years ago, we talked about the big show they did up there in Milwaukee ... it was a virtual Who's Who of Pop Music Stars on the bill that day!

LANNY: Kent, it's funny that you mention the New Colony Six, as we played with them at the Performing Arts Center in Milwaukee in the first "rock" concert ever done in that facility back in the late 60's.

(EDITOR'S NOTE: Also on the bill that day Tony's Tygers and The New Colony Six played The Milwaukee Pop Festival at County Stadium, June 22, 1969, were The Classics IV, The Bob Seger System, Gary Lewis and the Playboys, The Cryan' Shames, Tommy James and the Shondells, Andy Kim, The Buckinghams, The Guess Who, The Royal Guardsmen, Eddie Floyd and the Bar-Kays and Freddie and the Freeloaders ... a simply AMAZING line-up and all for a ticket price of $1.50 - $3.50 per ticket!!! The 29,041 that attended that day would most likely agree with that assessment!!!)

KK: After enjoying quite a bit of local success with "Little By Little" on the Teen Town label, A&M Records picked up your record for national distribution ... what was that like when you first found out that A&M Records was taking YOUR record national? Did you get to fly out to the west coast and meet with Herb Alpert at the time? What kind of follow-up strategy was discussed back then?

TONY: WE THOUGHT WE WERE DESTINED FOR STARDOM. WE WERE WRONG. OUR MANAGER, JON HALL, FLEW OUT TO CALIFORNIA TO MEET WITH HERB ALBERT. FOLLOW-UP STRATEGY? WHAT’S THAT?

CRAIG: No wonder we didn't have a follow-up hit! No follow-up strategy! Now you tell us. I think prayer may have been the main strategy - praying that the release number two generated as much excitement as release number one. It was very exciting to be signed to a major label. It was the realization of a dream. Things like that happen so rarely. Our manager represented us in the negotiations with A&M, so we had to experience that moment vicariously, through his description of the event.

After the attention started to dry up locally, Lanny pursued his medical dreams and Craig and Tony moved out to California. Both were fortunate enough to stay in the music business, sometimes even working together on certain projects. In fact, when they first arrived in L.A., the duo landed a gig as staff writers for Wednesday's Child Productions, where they wrote music for nationally known TV shows like "The Brady Bunch" and "The Flintstones". They also really honed their vocal chops, singing background on any number of recording sessions well into the '70's.

Over the next several years, Tony would work with Ambrosia, El Chicano, Dusty Springfield, Burton Cummings and John Lennon ... a big step up the musical show-biz ladder when compared to the likes of The Brady Bunch and The Flintstones!!! Craig became an engineer at Larrabee Sound Studios in Hollywood, working on recording sessions for Sonny and Cher, Liza Minelli and Johnny Mathis. Tony and Craig even reunited in Milwaukee for a brief period of time, forming the band Quiffy .. but despite a tremendous following, worldwide fame and fortune continued to elude them.

KK: Tell us about some of the artists you worked with during the '70's. What was that like? Again, any stand-out memories you'd care to share?

TONY: A FEW OF THE ARTISTS I WORKED WITH, OR MET ALONG THE WAY INCLUDE: THE BRADY BUNCH, LTD, LARRY CARLTON, LEE RITENAUER, DUSTY SPRINGFIELD, AMBROSIA, EL CHICANO, JIM PHOTOGLO, BURTON CUMMINGS, WILLIE NELSON, JERRY LEE LEWIS, JOHN LENNON, TOM JONES, MICKY DOLENZ ... THERE WERE OTHERS, BUT MEMORY FADES, ESPECIALLY MINE. IT WASN’T UNCOMMON AT THE TIME IN L.A. THAT YOU’D MEET WELL-KNOWN PEOPLE. AT THE TIME, IT SEEMED AS IF THAT’S JUST THE WAY IT WAS, NO BIG DEAL. I HAD LOTS OF FUN, BUT I NEVER TRIED TO PARLAY ANY OF THESE CONTACTS INTO BUSINESS DEALS. LOOKING BACK, I CAN SAY THAT I MISSED A LOT OF OBVIOUS OPPORTUNITIES. THAT’S WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU DON’T HAVE A MANAGER BEHIND YOU.

KK: Had all of you guys stayed in touch during the past 30-40 years?

TONY: YES. CRAIG AND I WERE INVOLVED IN SEVERAL OTHER BANDS. LANNY OCCASIONALLY SENT AN EMAIL OR MADE A PHONE CALL. DAVE IS MY COUSIN, SO I SEE HIM OFTEN. I SEE FRED ONCE IN A WHILE, AND THE SAME WITH DENNIS. WHEN I’M IN L.A., I USUALLY AM IN TOUCH WITH JOE.

LANNY: Essentially, yes. Fred moved away, worked his way up the Hyatt Hotel chain and ended up in Florida, and apparently never played again. I was the most removed of the remaining three as Tony and Craig continued to work together on and off during the ensuing year. Craig settled into Milwaukee, Tony rambled the most, playing in different parts of the world. In the 90’s Tony, Craig and I added a fourth voice and started practicing some very difficult Hi-Lo’s and Four Freshman tunes. We never performed them live but recorded a couple of songs in a local studio for fun. Every few years or so, we would have discussions about getting back together but the timing was never right until recently when we were able to put it back together and the new CD is the result.

CRAIG: Sporadically. Tony has usually been the person who has kept us connected through parties at his place. If one of the guys returned to Wisconsin, Tony usually orchestrated the event. Party at Tony's.

KK: Lanny, you had to keep YOUR musical chops up, too, right, in order to sound this good on the new CD!!!

LANNY: I never lost the desire to play but just didn’t have the time to do it. I started acquiring instruments and recording equipment about ten years ago in anticipation of the day it would work out. I would occasionally beat on some silent electronic drums I had, play some bass, and sing along with some tough tunes of the past. I hadn’t been writing songs since the early 70’s and after some rhythm guitar practice, started writing again.

In the late '90's, all the guys found themselves back in Milwaukee ... and soon, up on the stage together again, too.

KK: What first prompted the band to do the 1997 reunion for Maritime Days? Was there talk then about having another go at it musically?

TONY: IT WAS RATHER CASUAL, AND NOT A BIG DEAL. I THINK I WAS THE ONLY ORIGINAL TYGER, MAYBE CRAIG WAS IN THE BAND AT THE TIME. SINCE THIS WASN’T THE ORIGINAL BAND, WE DIDN’T EVEN CONSIDER “ANOTHER GO”. WE GOT TOGETHER TO HAVE FUN AND DO SOME LOCAL COVER BAND GIGS.

CRAIG: The Maritime Day gig was a chance to see who was still out there, who remembered, who cared. And we did get a great fan response. Confirmation that we still "had it". At the time, I think we were more focused on the next gig rather than a long future.


KK: Then what prompted this latest reunion? And how did it get to the next level of actually going into the studio and recording some new material after all these years?

TONY: IT GOES BACK TO OUR “IDEA”. THE IDEA IS THAT A GROUP OF GUYS WHO ARE 60 YEARS OLD CAN STILL CREATE A HIT RECORD. WHO SAYS YOU HAVE TO BE 20-SOMETHING TO HAVE A HIT? IT’S JUST BEEN THAT WAY FOR SO LONG THAT IT HAS BECOME CONVENTIONAL WISDOM. LANNY AND I CAME UP WITH THE SAME INSPIRATION INDEPENDENTLY. HE WAS IN SCOTTSDALE, AND I WAS IN ITALY – WHEN WE GOT TOGETHER LATER THAT YEAR WE SHARED OUR IDEAS. THEY WERE THE SAME. WE ARE HOPING TO BRING PEOPLE IN OUR AGE GROUP BACK INTO THE ATTENTION OF THE POP MUSIC INDUSTRY. AFTER ALL, THERE ARE 78 MILLION OF US OUT HERE. LANNY BUILT A STATE OF THE ART STUDIO IN HIS BASEMENT AND LEARNED HOW TO ENGINEER. WE WROTE A BUNCH OF SONGS AND IT WENT ON FROM THERE.

CRAIG: The three of us had stayed in contact over the years, Tony and I actually working together on and off and Lanny keeping in touch via e-mail. After a series of e-mails and phone conversations, we got together one evening at a local bar to kind of check-in and review some thoughts Tony and Lanny had come up with. My view of it is that they independently came to the conclusion that there is no new music currently being created for those who enjoyed vocal music of the 60's and 70's ... and we all agreed that there is a market for it. The question was what we wanted to do about it. The thoughts evolved into something like, Hey, it's not getting any earlier. Let's take another shot at this. While old bands getting together to relive their past is generally not news - lots of bands do that - old bands attempting a serious re-entry is. That's where we think the story is. We mutually believe that we can do this - so that lead to the next steps: putting it all together by writing, recording and ultimately performing.

The quality of the vocals may just be the most impressive thing about the new LP ... they're nothing short of phenomenal. With very strong instrumentation behind them, listening to this LP truly is like taking a step back in time ... yet there's still something incredibly infectious about it all ... and their passion for this music genuinely shines through.

I couldn't help but wonder ... after all this time ...

KK: What kind of rehearsals went into all of this? Was it a "natural" step to start playing music together again? (They say that once you gel musically, it tends to click immediately, even after a 25 or 30 year break in the action. Tommy James recently said that when he got back together with the original Shondells a short while back, it was like no time had ever passed at all! Everybody just instinctively knew their parts without anybody having to say a word!)

TONY: THERE WEREN’T ANY REHERSALS ... WE JUST STARTED WRITING AND RECORDING. THE MOMENT WE STARTED WRITING, IT WAS AS IF NO TIME HAD ELAPSED. TOMMY JAMES IS CORRECT. AS EINSTEIN SAID, “THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE IS ONLY A STUBBORNLY PERSISTENT ILLUSION”.


KK: I think Desmond Hume said something similar on "Lost"!!! (lol)

LANNY: I felt the vocals were surprisingly good after all these years. We always blended well together and that sound was still there. We take pride in the fact that our vocal sound does not reflect our chronologic age.

CRAIG: The key in vocal music is the blend. We just seemed to have it. Like it was never lost. We have a unique sound and we faithfully recreated it after all those years. Feedback on the CD generally includes something that notes how strong the vocals are and how unexpected that is after all these years. It's true that you need to keep up your chops, but I think the experience we've had over the years has actually improved the musicality of the group.

KK: Speaking of that, what has been the reaction to the new CD? I really enjoyed it and that's why I wanted to do this special feature and interview on The Tygers. Are you getting some local air play there in the Milwaukee area? Radio shows? Any new gigs lined up?

TONY: SO FAR IT’S BEEN GREAT! WE ARE GETTING SOME AIRPLAY ON THE INTERNET, AND ARE WORKING ON GETTING PLAYED ON LOCAL MILWAUKEE STATIONS. NOW AND THEN “LITTLE BY LITTLE” IS STILL PLAYED LOCALLY. WE ARE ACCUMULATING FANS ALL OVER THE WORLD, AND ARE LINING UP GIGS FOR THE SUMMER.

LANNY: The early reviews have been very favorable. We have gotten a limited amount of local and even international airplay but it’s tough nowadays to break into the serious radio lineup. We know we speak to a certain segment of the population and we just want to reach them and see if they enjoy this neo-retro style that we seem to have created.

CRAIG: The reaction has been great. People like the tunes, the performance both vocally and instrumentally, and the arrangements. Unlike the old days when radio was the way to get your music out there, the internet, which has been our primary venue, has been a great way of getting heard. People from all over the world have commented on our music. It's amazing.

KK: What are the future plans for The Tygers? (Here in Chicago, most of our "local heroes" play all summer and then go back to their "real" jobs for the remainder of the year!) What can we look forward to down the road ... more concerts? Another LP, perhaps ... hopefully NOT 40 years in the future!!! (lol)

TONY: THE PLAN IS TO GET A HIT RECORD. WE AREN’T EXACTLY LOOKING TO BE LOCAL HEROES, BUT RATHER AIMING AT NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL SUCCESS. WE WILL BE MAKING MORE RECORDS, AND WILL BE AT IT THIS SUMMER. IF THIS ENDEAVOR IS SUCCESSFUL, WE PLAN TO START A PRODUCTION COMPANY THAT IS FOCUSED ON ARTISTS OF OUR GENERATION. EVERY U.S. CITY HAS DOZENS OF GUYS WHO HAD LOCAL SUCCESS BUT NEVER BROKE NATIONALLY – WE HOPE TO HELP GIVE THEM ANOTHER CHANCE.

LANNY: We face some new long-distance logistics issues at the moment but all of these are solvable with the right amount of enthusiasm. We have new material already forming on the sidelines and another CD is easily done if we sense that people understand this one and enjoy the feel as much as we do.


CRAIG: The plan is a hit record. Then we hit the road and reap the socioeconomic rewards - fame, fortune, freedom. Ideally the only "real" would be the music thing.

KK: What's it like running into people who saw the band 40 years ago at some of your new concerts? What has the reaction been to you guys getting back together again?

TONY: I DON’T KNOW YET. STAY IN TOUCH!

LANNY: We're hoping that we can answer that question more accurately in the very near future.

CRAIG: The fans - I can't believe how old they've gotten! Just kidding! They're all still as young on the inside as they were 40 years ago. They're still cheering, drinking and staying out late. Having performed with Wisconsin groups over the last 28 years, I've been in front of some of those former Tyger fans rather continuously, so regarding their perception of me, the ravages of time have been gradual and less startling. Those who love vocal music are very enthusiastic about our getting together. I don't have women camped out on my front door as in the past - not that kind of enthusiasm - but then again, who knows, a hit record could change everything.

KK: Well, if the new shows bring you out Chicago-way, be sure to ring me up ... I'd love to come out and see you guys! Before we wrap things up here, anything special that you'd like to say to the fans out there?

CRAIG: It's never too late to rock.

LANNY: Turn the volume up a bit, sit back with a glass of wine, listen to the CD and hopefully you’ll sense something familiar and new at the same time. Then pass it on.

TONY: YES. YOU ARE NEVER TOO OLD TO FULFILL YOUR DREAMS. NEVER GIVE UP. IT’S NEVER TOO LATE. OH, AND … “WE’RE BACK”!

KK: Thanks Guys ... hopefully we can help to get the word out to a few more fans through The Forgotten Hits Website!

LANNY: Thanks Kent and Forgotten Hits!
Please check out our website:
www.thetygers.com ... for song samples and ordering info. And check back often as we may have some exciting news any day now regarding a break out performance. On behalf of Craig and Tony and The Tygers, thanks again!


Tony's Tygers First LP (Circa 1969)

And their Second Album ... 40 years in the making!!!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Tygers - Part Two


Tony's Tygers were just a bunch of teenagers when they first came to the attention of Milwaukee Record Producer Jon Hall of Teen Town Records. They cut their first single "Little By Little" / "Days And Nights" in 1968 and, thanks to a push from future Broadcasters Hall Of Fame Jock Bob Barry (who also wrote the liner notes for their first LP ... and the brand new SECOND album released 40 years later!), the guys soon found themselves all over the local radio dial.

That original band line-up included Tony Dancy on vocals and guitar, Craig Fairchild on keyboards, Dennis Duchrow on drums (he and Dancy wrote their first hit), Fred Euler on bass and Dave Kuck on guitar.

As sales for "Little By Little" began to pick up, the BAND was picked up, too ... by Herb Alpert's A&M Record Label out in Los Angeles. Now with a national release on their hands, Tony's Tygers began to tour a little bit, finding their names on the same bill as several other hot artists of the day such as The Monkees, Tommy James and the Shondells, Roy Orbison, Gary Puckett and the Union Gap, Del Shannon and many others.




In his book "Do You Hear That Beat - Wisconsin Pop / Rock in the 50's and 60's", historian Gary Myers described Tony's Tygers this way:
Tony's Tygers
Tony Dancy - gtr (2/28/51; Milwaukee)
Dave Kuck - gtr
Craig Fairchild - kb
Joe Turano - kb
Fred Euler - bs
Dennis Duchrow - dr
Lanny Hale - dr
Donna - voc
Gloria - voc
RELEASES:
Normandy LP 30867 - Battle of the Bands (3 LP set live at Ridge Arena, Braintree, MA 8/67) featuring Silence Is Golden / I've Got You Under My Skin along with others by various artists
Teen Town 102 - Little By Little / Days And Nights (also as Tonys Tygres) 2/68
A&M 921 - Little By Little / Days And Nights 4/68
Teen Town 105 - Can't Believe / I Still Love Her 6/68
Teen Town 107 - Debbie On My Mind / I'll Know ?/68
WRIT EP - Debbie On My Mind / (2 by Robbs, 1 by Skunks) ?/69
Jamie 1378 - Sing It Altogether / Resurrection (Tygers) ?/69
Teen Town LP 102 - Little By Little ?/68
Passion Target 1014 - Midnight In The Park / She's A Very Special Girl 12/70
Teen Town 121 - Headaches And Heartaches / Castaway ?/71
Although the Tygers and the Tigers both performed in Milwaukee about the same time, never the twain did meet. "I don't think they knew we existed," said Tony Dancy referring to Danny Peil & the Tigers. "I do every once in a while get asked about that and I'm usually not sure what they're talking about." Dancy's group was the younger one, just beginning their teen gigs about the time that Peil's band was changing their name (from the Apollos), and not really hitting their stride until after the older one had dissolved.
In the summer of 1967 the Tygers won an area battle of the bands and traveled to Boston where they came in second. "Little By Little," the band's first record, did well enough to earn a national release on A&M but, despite an album and three more singles, not much happened. "The other ones I kind of don't even consider," Dancy said. Finally, in an attempt to inject new life into the band, Dancy added two girl singers and changed the name to Passion. The resulting two singles are barely remembered even by Dancy.
With a move to Los Angeles in 1971, Dancy landed a gig as a staff writer composing music for Flintstones cartoons, the Brady Bunch and other television shows. He formed another band, Quiffy, along with Milwaukee keyboardist Doug West and tried for a record deal but none materialized. Dancy later returned to Milwaukee and continued to play clubs. From the vantage point of 1994, the Tyger who made the biggest tracks was keyboard player Joe Turano, who worked with superstar Michael Bolton. In the 00’s, Dancy formed a new version of Tony’s Tigers n Milwaukee.
Unrelated Tigers: Colpix, Roulette (Tony Sales & the Tigers)
Gary E. Myers / MusicGem
(When it comes to the Wisconsin Music Scene, Gary Myers wrote the book ... literally!!! In fact, he's written TWO of them! You can pick up both "DO YOU HEAR THAT BEAT - Wisconsin Pop/Rock in the 50's & 60's" and "ON THAT WISCONSIN BEAT - More Pop/Rock/Soul/Country in the 50's & 60's" from his website here): http://home.earthlink.net/~gem777/
Gary's been a regular contributor to Forgotten Hits for years and, in fact, has even put together a special book offer for all of our interested Forgotten Hits Readers:
I'm selling "C stock" copies of "Do You Hear That Beat" for just $10 (these are copies with slightly wrinkled or slightly discolored covers), and I recently reduced the price of "On That Wisconsin Beat" from $31.95 to $26.95. Shipping for 2 books is $4.50 and I take PayPal. Please write if you have any questions.
Gary E. Myers
gem777@earthlink.net
Thanks, Gary, for letting us run your original piece on Tony's Tygers.

Fellow Milwaukee FH Reader Ken Freck, who owns the Musical Memories Record Shop in Milwaukee, also mentioned a competing band called simply "The Tigers" that were on the scene at the time ... but it sounds like it was Tony's Tygers that were causing all the excitement back in '68. Ken sent me a couple of Milwaukee Top 40 Charts, showing their break-through hit "Little By Little" all the way at #2, just behind The Monkees' #1 Hit "Valleri".


(click charts to enlarge)


Here are a few more Tygers photos from back in the day:






Tony's Tygers ... with the "Pick Hit of The Week" at #21!

Hi Kent:
I found a couple of surveys for you with Tony's Tygers 45's on them.
They only had one major hit here which was "Little By Little". Excellent Pop-Rock song. They had others that charted a little bit or got some airplay, but nothing to the extent of "Little By Little".
"Little By Little" was big here. It was on the local Teen Town label. After it became a huge hit here, A&M records picked it up & released it. Both issues turn up fairly regularly here.
There was another group here locally around the same time called simply The Tigers, led by Danny Peil but it was Tony's Tygers that had the big chart success in Milwaukee.

I was fairly young when they were in their heyday, so just vague memories of them playing at the clubs around town & CYO Dances. I was more of a Robbs & Messengers guy, so I remember sneaking in to see them a couple of times.
The Tygers played the local scene mainly from 1967 to around 70, and then split for various reasons. Led by Tony Dancy, They have partially reunited several times since, playing local venues & reunions etc. which are always fun. They also put out one LP after "Little By Little" became big local hit. (I will try to find a copy of that LP and send you a pic).

Ken

Ken has also been a regular contributor to Forgotten Hits for several years ... and, as the owner of the Musical Memories Record Store in Milwaukee, I'm sure he's seen a number of Tony's Tygers records come across his countertop over the years!!! (By the way, you'll see a picture of The Tygers' first LP in tomorrow's edition of Forgotten Hits.)

In Fact ... tomorrow Forgotten Hits interviews Tony's Tygers!!! Stay tuned!

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Tygers - Part One

A few weeks back we told you that The Tygers had just released their second album (called simply "Second Album"!!!)

What makes that such big news is the fact that the band released their FIRST album back in 1968!!!


Tony's Tygers scored a local hit in Milwaukee with their 1968 release "Little By Little" ... in fact, it went all the way to #2 on the local charts there. (Although it never officially charted in the national trades, this is EXACTLY the kind of song and artist we LOVE to feature in our "Show Me Your Hits" / Regional Hits Series!!!)


(click to enlarge)

1969 band members Tony Dancy, Lanny Hale and Craig Fairchild regrouped in 1997 for a special Maritime Days concert in Milwaukee ... and the guys had so much fun playing together again, they actually stayed together until 2002, playing local gigs in and around the Milwaukee area before parting ways again.

Now, they're back together again with a brand new LP ... and I've been listening to it all week long!

There's something comfortably familiar about the sound of this album ... it's just the kind of thing you would have expected to hear back in 1969 / 1970 ... and a great example of what's missing in much of today's music in the way of catchy melodies, clever lyrics and exceptional harmonies.

The musical influences are obvious ... Steely Dan ... Poco ... and along the way, you'll also notice some not-so-subtle nods to Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Association, Phil Spector ... you'll even hear a touch of artists like The Monkees and The Hudson Brothers if you listen closely enough. It might just be a line of melody here or a chord exchange there ... but all the hints are there ... yet none of this gets in the way of the music ... in fact, '60's and '70's music fans like us will catch themselves smiling in knowing recognition when they come across certain musical passages. Each song is still unique in its own way ... I think you'll find the album very listenable and enjoyable. In fact, the vocals are top notch ... some remarkable harmonies for a bunch of old guys!!! (lol) And the sidemen musicians balancing out the trio really fill in the gaps ... as I said, a thoroughly enjoyable listening experience.

(I joke about the "old guy" aspect of the band because collectively the guys seem to have adopted a credo of "Who says you have to be 20 years old to have a hit record?" Now pushing 60, The Tygers sound every bit as fresh today as they did 40 years ago when they recorded their first LP ... and prove that there just may be something to that whole "older and wiser" theory!!!)

My personal "pick hit" for Most Likely Single would have to be "Night Walker" ... it's got all the makings of a radio hit. We'll spotlight that one today ... and then take a look back at the early years ... and the in-between years in the next day or two.







Another LP favorite would have to be "Scottsdale Blues" ... it really doesn't sound like anything else at all on the album ... and the guys have a lot of fun with the lyrics on this one ... proving that money problems are relative, I guess ... we've all got 'em ... just on different levels.



You can visit The Tygers' website here: Click here: The Tygers.

Simply click on the "Shop" Button to order a copy of the new CD.

And be sure to check back tomorrow to hear a little bit more about this band!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Sunday Comments ( 05 - 16 - 10 )

re: DICK BIONDI:
>>>The City of Chicago is FINALLY honoring Dick Biondi with a new segment of real estate called "Dick Biondi Way". Our buddy Jim "J.C. Hooke" Pilster of The Cryan' Shames should be VERY pleased ... he has been campaigning for this honor for YEARS now. Robert Feder's column this morning announces that thanks to the efforts of Chicagoan (and fellow broadcaster) Bob Sirott ... and a City Council vote ... the area adjacent to 360 N. Michigan Avenue, home to WLS Radio for SO many years ... will OFFICIALLY be renamed "Dick Biondi Way"! Hot on the heels of Biondi celebrating the 50th Anniversary of his first Chicagoland broadcast for the station, this just couldn't come at a more appropriate time. (kk)
Kent,
This is indeed great news for Dick Biondi! I talked at length with Jim Pilster earlier this year about his hopes to have a huge Chicago veterans of rock show and the Biondi street dedication. Now we need Bob to try and push for the other Pilster dream of the connecting concert to the Biondi event. I was hoping Bob might feature Jim or another Chicago Gold person to plug for such an event. Bob's show with Ramsey Lewis was just superb. Who would know that Ramsey quit piano lessons after one try only to be pushed back to it right away by his parents? Anyway, the Biondi street dedication will be great and I loved the special -- especially listening to it on AM DXing from Lincoln! That's the WLS I want back!!
Speaking of 50 year anniversaries ... my longtime friend and broadcast legend, Dusty Rhodes, of Cincinnati will celebrate HIS 50th anniversary of starting in Cincy radio where he has been most of his career on 9/3/2011!! How time flies. Many of you might have heard him on WLW throughout the 80's and 70's on that "blowtorch" or the classic days on 1360 WSAI alongside the likes of the KingBee Ron Britain.
WLSClark

re: THE CARPENTERS:
Hi Kent,

http://www.karencarpenterbiography.com/
This is the web link to an upcoming book release by a friend of mine. He has researched this info for almost 20 years and I expect this will be a big hit. It's already got good support with advance sales on Amazon.com. If you are interested and need more info or better contact info, let me know.
Peace!
Chip Cogswell
First Choice PROductions
Burleson, Texas
Please keep us posted on this, Chip ... I know that there are a number of people on our list who would LOVE to read this in-depth bio. (kk)

re: MATT MONRO:
Matt has always been seriously under-appreciated here in the States. His voice on this track is unmatched, and the overall production is equally top-notch.
David Lewis








re: RICK NELSON:
Just read your article about Teenage Idols and how Rick Nelson was listed as #5 of all time. I know a lot of us grew up watching "Little" Ricky on the Ozzie & Harriet TV Show and that's what launched his career. He'd always perform one of his hit singles at the end of every show. One thing about Rick, he and Michael Landon (Bonanza) had to have the best hair of all time! (And NO I'm NOT gay)
Interesting thing about his tune "Garden Party" ... the song that was inspired by a flawed concert in the fabled Madison Square Garden in the early '70s. The place was sold out for an old time rock 'n roll show featuring many 50's and 60's artists. In attendance that night were John Lennon and Yoko Ono and even Bob Dylan dressed in disguise.
Among the artists appearing that night was Chuck Berry, who performed "Johnny B Goode and looked like the old Chuck Berry. In fact everyone looked the same ... that is ... except for Rick.
When Rick took the stage with his Stone Canyon Band, people didn't recognize him because he had looooong hair and looked nothing like the little Ricky that they remembered from the TV show. He got up and sang a few of his old hits, including "Hello Mary Lou" and then, thinking the audience was satisfied, went into some different material which included "Honky Tonk Women" (Rick Nelson style) and some country flavored tunes fueled by a pedal steel guitar. Well the audience only wanted to hear the old hits and pretty much booed him off the stage.
That night he sat down and thought about it and figured "If memories are all I sang, I'd rather drive a truck" .
A footnote here ... the Stone Canyon Band consisted of members of Denver's old Soul Survivors and Randy Meisner (original bassist for the Eagles). Together Allen Kemp (Soul Survivors) and Meisner stacked their vocals on top of Nelson's in angelic harmonies.
And now YOU know...THE REST OF THE STORY
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fxdiraVxwkI
Bill Cody
Besides being an early rocker himself, Rick Nelson was a HUGE fan of early rock and roll music ... he made his first record to impress his girlfriend who was an avid Elvis fan. And, in the original hand-written lyrics to "Garden Party", Rick described the lick he played right at the end of the tune as his "Carl Perkins ending"!!! (lol) Years later, Nelson did a live television concert with Fats Domino, another artist he greatly admired. (Ricky covered a few of The Fat Man's tunes early in his career, including his very first single, "I'm Walkin'". Fats joked that "Ricky Nelson bought me this ring" as he flashed this HUGE diamond ring to the audience, crediting Rick's "cross-over" sales as being the big money-making factor back in those early days of rock and roll while a number of radio stations still weren't playing black artists on their programs. The two rock and roll legends then proceed to perform "I'm Walkin'" together ... an AMAZING piece of rock and roll history. We found THAT clip on YouTube, too! (kk)
Click here: YouTube - Fats Domino & Ricky Nelson - I'm Walking (Colour)

re: BOBBY DARIN:
KK ...
I vaguely remember you saying you were going to re-run a series you did about Bobby Darin. Am I right about that ?
I missed it the first time around. Since Friday would've been his Birthday, it might be a good idea to do it now.
Frank
One of our most widely-read and acknowledged series was the month-long piece we did on Bobby Darin back in 2003 ... so much so that we even received the endorsement of Bobby's estate, the official commemorative Bobby Darin Website, and noted Darin Historian Jimmy Scalia, who we had the pleasure of meeting when we were invited to the official unveiling of Bobby's star on the Las Vegas Strip right in front of The Flamingo Hotel. I've been talking about revamping the series for the website for YEARS now ... it's just such a HUGE undertaking that I haven't had the time to devote to it. (I'd have to estimate it at close to 100 hours of work just to get it ready and lately I've been lucky to be able to devote 4-5 hours per week to Forgotten Hits.) That being said, it absolutely IS our intention to get this up there eventually. (The Bobby Darin Page has said "Coming Soon" for ages now!!! lol) And, quite honestly, at least once or twice a month we'll get an email from somebody who has heard about our series, wanting to know how they can get a copy ... so we truly do appreciate the response and reverence this series has generated. All I can ask is that you be patient ... we're working on it during every available "lull"!!! So stay tuned. (Naturally, we'll run an official announcement once things are posted and ready to go ... meanwhile, we've got a few OTHER new features we're trying to get up on the web page right now.) Thanks for asking, Frank. (kk)



... and, speaking of some of our favorite website series ...

re: YOUR TOP 200 FAVORITE, FORGOTTEN B-SIDES:

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

Kent:
When I click on the 'sixtiesoldiesguys songs' link, to go to Rich Grunke's web
site for the songs he posted, I get a Web page cannot be found.
Could you please email me a direct (http) link. It might work for me.
Thank you.

Larry G.
I believe that that link was only "live" for about six months or so ... to the best of my knowledge, these tracks are no longer accessible on the web. Sorry. However, Mr. C. WILL be playing selections from this list on his program again this Tuesday Night. Affectionately known as "The Flip Side Show", you can access it here:

Hey there KK;

For the next couple of Tuesdays I plan to play some cuts from your "Top 200 B-sides" list. So everyone is welcome to tune in to The Flip Side Radio Show on www.radiofreenashville.org on Tuesdays at 7 p.m. Central time. I'll be playing actual 45s on real turntables, as usual (scratches and all).

As I say on the show every week: I'll see you on the Flip Side!

Mr. C.


re: OTTO, THE STAGGERING DRUNK:
>>>I’ve always enjoyed collecting unusual novelty records, however, there is one that has eluded me for over 55 years. At the end of 1954 a record titled “Otto The Staggering Drunk” enjoyed a brief stay among the top selling records in Cleveland. I believe that the record was an import on the Polydor label and that the artist was “Crazy Otto”, “Happy Otto”, Der Schrage Otto” or simply “Otto”. (Joel Whitburn)
It appears to me that "Otto, The Staggering Drunk" is the artist credit, not the song, on the 45. I say this because he has had records issued as Crazy Otto, The Oblique Otto (Der schr├Ąge Otto), etc. ... and the song itself may just be called Otto. That said, I sadly don't own the 45 (it would be on Polydor, yes), nor do I know anyone who has even heard of it. Good luck finding it, Joel!
-- Tom Diehl
Please tell Tom Diehl thanks for his response.
Joel Whitburn
If this record was by OTIS, the staggering drunk, we could start by searching the Mayberry Jailhouse ... but I think this one's gonna be a little tougher to find ... especially if Joel Whitburn's already got 55 years invested in his search!!! If ANYBODY out there can help us with this quest, please drop me a line! (kk)

re: THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW:
>>>The Ed Sullivan clips on PBS and DVD are very nice. It is too bad they don't put some of the lesser groups on like The Remains, Thomas Group etc. who had some great songs & regional hits. That would be interesting as well. (Ken)>>>Did these artists actually appear on The Ed Sullivan Show? (kk)
Yes, occasionally there were some one hit wonders and lesser acts on Sullivan. I have seen The Remains clip. I would assume The Thomas Group would have a little leverage because of Danny Thomas.

Ken

re: ROCK CON UPDATE:
Man, this just keeps getting better and better! Check out the latest list of music stars who will be hand!
Dear Friends,
The guest list for
"ROCK CON: Weekend of 100 Rock Stars" is growing. We are delighted by some of the wonderful artists who are joining us for the ROCK CON Fan Fest, and we wanted to share the current roster with you ...
Al Rappa (Bill Haley’s Comets); Alannah Myles ("Black Velvet"); Andy Pratt ("Avenging Annie"); The Angels ("My Boyfriend's Back") Note: Bernadette, Linda, Jiggs, Denise, Arleen & Peggy will all be appearing!; Barbara Harris (The Toys "A Lover's Concerto"); Beki Brindle Scala (Grace Pool, & lead guitarist: Jerry Lee Lewis, Rick Danko, John Sebastian); Beverly Bremers ("Don't Say You Don't Remember"); Bryan Laye ("Tangerine Lane"); Bruce Kulick (KISS); Charlie Gracie ("Butterfly"); Clarence Collins (R & R Hall of Fame: original member of Little Anthony & The Imperials); Clay Cole (The Clay Cole Show, author "Sh-Boom"); Dan Lavoie (famed Harp Guiarist); The Delicates ("Black & White Thunderbird," "Submarine Race-Watcher's Theme"); Demon Boy (star of the new “Demon Boy” comic book series); Dennis Ferrante (John Lennon's Recording Engineer); Dinky Dawson (Rock's Most Famous Sound Man); The Dovells (“Bristol Stomp” “You Can’t Sit Down”); Earl Slick (legendary David Bowie guitarist, also played on Lennon albums); Eddy Kelly (American Bandstand dancer); Eerie Von (Danzig, Samhain); Eli Brown (The Vagrants); The Fifth Estate ("Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead"); Gary Van Scyoc (Elephants Memory, John Lennon's Live in NYC 70’s band); Gene Cornish (R & R Hall of Fame: The Rascals); Gerrit Graham ("Beef" in "Phantom of the Paradise" - composed with Bob Weir/Grateful Dead); Glen Burtnik (Styx, ELO); Greg Hawkes (The Cars); Harriet Schock ("Ain't No Way to Treat a Lady"); Hilton Valentine (R & R Hall of Fame: The Animals); The Human Beinz ("Nobody But Me"); Ian Lloyd (The Stories "Brother Louie"); Ian Mitchell (Bay City Rollers); J. Morrison (Tuff Darts); Jane Weidlin (The Go-Gos); Jay & The Americans ("She Cried”); Jim Carrick (Spanky & Our Gang); John DeSalvo (Tuff Darts); John Ford (Strawbs); John Ford Coley (of England Dan & John Ford Coley: "I'd Really Love To See You Tonight”); John Idan (R & R Hall of Fame band: The Yardbirds); John Hawken (Renaissance, Spooky Tooth, Strawbs, Nashville Teens); Johnny Winter (legendary Rock Blues guitarist); Jonathan Tiersten (Jonathan Tiersten & the Ten Tiers); Karina Bradley (“Dance Floor Diva”); Kat Gilbert (West Coast songtress); Kasim Sulton (Utopia/Meatloaf); Kristen Capolino (Heavy-metal Teen guitar phenomenon); Lezlie Deane (Scary Cherry & The Bang Bangs); Linda Jansen (former original lead singer of The Angels: "Til," "Cry Baby Cry"); Little Anthony (R & R Hall of Fame: Little Anthony & The Imperials); Livingston Taylor ("I Will Be In Love With You"); Marty Balin (R & R Hall of Fame: Jefferson Airplane, and Starship); Mary Weiss (The Shangri-Las “Leader of the Pack”); Michael "Mac" McNenney (Thunder Road Band); Mike Konopka (Nazz); Nelson Slater ("Wild Angel" album, produced by Lou Reed); The 1910 Fruitgum Company ("Simon Says," "1 2 3 Red Light”); Pat Dinizio (The Smithereens); Pat Horgan (Thunder Road & Garage Band Series); Paul Nelson (Johnny Winter Band guitarist); Paul Petersen (Donna Reed Show - "My Dad"); Peg Pearl (Aura); Peppy Castro (Blues Magoos); Pete Bremy (Vanilla Fudge/Cactus); Pete Fornatale (Rock historian/veteran DJ helped define progressive FM rock radio); Peter DiStefano (Porno for Pyros); Peter Sabatino (The Vagrants); P.J. Soles (from The Ramones' "Rock & Roll High School"); Randy Jones (Village People); Ralph Scala (Blues Magoos); The Rip Chords ("Hey Little Cobra"); Rick Mullen (Commander Cody/Don McLean/Van Morrison/Savoy Brown); Robert Gordon ("It’s Only Make Believe" "My Gal is Red Hot"); Robey ("One Night in Bangkok" – starred in TV's "Friday the 13th: The Series"); Ron Dante of The Archies ("Sugar Sugar" and The Cuff Links “Tracy”); Scott Cummings (Michael Jackson’s bodyguard for 15 years); Shaun Weiss (Beatles attorney Nat Weiss' son - the only person to have attended both Ed Sullivan shows, the Shea Stadium concerts + the Beatles' final Apple rooftop concert); Sid Bernstein (World-famous promoter who brought The Beatles to America); Silvio Ennella (Thunder Road Band); The Smithereens; The Soul Survivors ("Expressway to Your Heart"); Spanky McFarlane (Spanky & Our Gang, The Mamas & The Papas); Stewkey (Nazz); Terry Sylvester (R & R Hall of Fame: The Hollies); Tom T-Bone Stankus (Dr. Demento/ "Existential Blues"); Tommy Bia (Thunder Road Band); Tommy Frenzy (Tuff Darts); Tommy James ("Mony Mony"); Victoria Levy (The Hoosier Mamas); Vince Martell (Vanilla Fudge); Walter Egan ("Magnet & Steel"); William Finley (Phantom in the rock musical "Phantom of the Paradise")
We hope to see you there.

Cheers,
Charles
www.ToursandEvents.com
"ROCK CON: Weekend of 100 Rock Stars"

And, speaking of New Jersey ...

re: THE JERSEY SHORE:
Wildwood on the Travel Channel
Watch Samantha Brown 'Twist' with Chubby Checker at Cool Scoops on the "Jersey Shore Episode" of Great Weekends.Premieres Thursday May 13th at 10:30 pm on the Travel Channel.
Check your local listing for more info.(Filmed last June in the Wildwoods)
Chubby will be back to Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Twist with a Commemorative First Day Issue Envelope in June at Cool Scoops.
Details to follow.
-- Paul Russo
Unfortunately, I didn't get this posted in time for the official premier (but fortunately The Travel Channel is planning on running this special several more times in the next few weeks ... so check your local listings for more details.) I was fortunate enough to see it and it's a lot of fun ... not only does host Samantha Brown twist with Chubby at Cool Scoops but by program's end she's up on stage singing with Styx and REO Speedwagon! A very enjoyable half hour ... with an up-close look at The Jersey Shore ... makes me wanna go back REAL soon!!! (kk)

re: AMERICAN IDOL:
Kent ...
Just heard that Elton John was offered $ 33 Million, to replace Simon Cowell - as a judge on American Idol. W o W ! All that money to sit there and tell people they have a lousy voice. I can do it for $ 1 Million. L o L.
Frank B.

Since the deal never materialized, I guess it's now safe for me to "officially" announce that I, too, was at one point up for consideration for American Idol Judgeship as Simon Cowell's replacement ... but, unfortunately, we just couldn't come to terms. (Actually, I approached THEM about the position ... bottom line is that we simply couldn't agree on what my services would have been worth. Producer Simon Fuller, the mastermind behind the whole Idol franchise, told me flat out that he didn't think that my throwing in my two-cents every week was worth more than the "face value" of that opinion ... and that was the end of THAT negotiation!!!) Coming off the most boring season in Idol history ... (I'd have to estimate my own viewership is down by at least 80%!!!) ... maybe it's just as well. (kk)

re: A CORRECTION REQUEST FROM ONE OF OUR READERS:
We just heard from Bob Rush, whose comments we recently ran regarding his friend Tony Marc of Danelectro Guitars ... guess he wanted to clarify a few things regarding his recent posting ... and we've always given our readers the chance to do so ... so here goes, direct from Bob Rush (with a quick reminder about this particular topic):
>>>Here's a nice story: my long-time friend, Tony Marc, who is in the vintage guitar business, had the foresight to procure the name "Danelectro" back in 1979 when the company was out of business. When they began manufacturing again in 2000, Tony cashed in. Always a good friend and a very generous person, Tony gave me a re-issue Danelectro bass, as well as a Fender Telecaster (!)I was on the phone with Al Jardine and I told him about my new guitars, and about Tony. One thing led to another, then a 3-way call. Al told us about a green Dano baritone guitar of Glen Cambell's that Al used to mess with. So, Tony sent him one (!) Heck of a guy, huh? Al's delighted, and sent me a photo of his new guitar (which I'll send you as soon as I can figure out how to transfer it from my Blackberry!), of which I guess I am the godfather. (By the way - he / we sent friend Billy J. Kramer a Dano, too. He was speechless.)

Keep up the good stuff, Kent. (you're a helluva a lot more interesting than Lefsetz!)
Best,
Dr. Robert (Bob Rush)
>>>Cool about the Danelectro Guitars ... my cousin has worked for Hamer Guitars for something like 30 years now ... amazing how many of these they give away to artists in the hopes of getting them to endorse their products. (I remember Paul McCartney saying one time how when you're just first starting out in the business, you scrimp to save every penny you can to buy a half-way decent guitar ... and then when you actually make it ... and can afford to buy the very best of everything ... they GIVE them to you!!! Peter Noone said, too, that because Herman's Hermits used to endorse certain brands of guitars, drums and microphones, they used to get free ones to use in their concerts ... but when they toured with The Who, The Who used to take all these "freebies" and smash them as part of their show-closing finale, often times before The Hermits ever even got to play them!!! lol) kk
Dear Kent,
Another great issue; your work is nothing if not honest and accurate, and it is in this spirit that I want to offer some insight into my recent contribution regarding my friend Tony Marc:
My original letter seems to have been possibly perceived as an act of commercialism, but I was simply relating a nice rock and roll story about some good people and friends, Al Jardine and Billy J. Kramer, who I introduced to a kind and generous man who is another dear friend - Tony Marc.
Having read your editorial commentary, Tony told me that Danelectro does not have any endorsers, nor does it actively seek them, because their name is already well established in rock and roll. In fact, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, Rick Neilsen, Joe Perry, Eddie Van Halen and other artists have themselves contacted Danelectro and purchased up to ten guitars each. This is not something we hear about from Danelectro.
I thought Al, and Billy, would enjoy meeting Tony, and vice versa, and I was right. After long 3-way telephone conversations, and out of the goodness of his heart, Tony gave his new friends guitars from his personal collection, as he did me (and I assure you, my endorsement of a guitar would have little impact on a company's sales except, perhaps, by some of the kids in my neighborhood!)
I wrote and sent you the story because I thought it would be interesting to your readers to read of yet another humanistic side of rock, and because I felt my unsung rock and roller friend, Tony Marc, deserves to be recognized for his abiding kindness.
Thanks for running this correction. Keep up the good stuff, Kent!
All the best, as always.
Bob (Dr. Robert) Rush
Happy to print your comments, Bob ... and, for the record, in NO way did I mean to imply that Tony giving ANYONE a free guitar was a tactical business move ... I fully and completely appreciate the sentiment and unselfishness of his acts of kindness and didn't mean to in ANY fashion insinuate otherwise. (By the same token, as my gesture of a peace offering, I'd like to ALSO state for the record that if he'd like to give ME a free guitar, I'm not too proud to accept it!!! lol)
You are correct when you say that for the artists of the caliber you mention in your above email simply PLAYING this brand of guitar is endorsement enough ... and please know that I didn't intend to imply otherwise. (However, in all fairness, Paul McCartney's and Peter Noone's comments are REAL ... and we ALL know that this is often the way the game is played. That being said, despite all the "freebies" offered him, isn't it cool that Macca still plays his old Hofner Beatles Bass every chance he gets ... man, talk about your vintage guitars!!!) Apologies to ALL parties concerned to anyone who may have taken offense to my comments ... I can only say that if you DID, you simply misinterpretted my intentions. Meanwhile, my olive branch / peace offering acceptance of a free guitar still stands!!! (lol) Thanks, Bob! (kk)

re: WELCOME TO THE LIST!:
Hello Kent,
My name is Jerry Bennett. Ray Graffia suggested that I get on your 'Forgotten Hits' mailing list. I host a weekly radio show in Everett Washington called 'From Here To Obscurity'. The show's focus is on 60's garage, psychedelic and other unheard or unplayed music of that period from all over the world. I am originally from Indianapolis so I am somewhat familiar with some of the Midwest music scene. Please visit my Myspace page for information about the show:
http://www.myspace.com/from_here_to_obscurity
Thanks,
Jerry Bennett
From Here To Obscurity
KSER 90.7 FM
Everett, Wa
www.kser.org
Welcome aboard, Jerry ... your thoughts, comments and memories are ALWAYS welcome here! And thanks for doing YOUR part to help keep all of this great music alive! (kk)

re: READERS' LINKS:
Here are some oldies-related links sent into us by our readers this past week:

The Teen Tones Sunday Kind Of Love Oldies Television Juke 25
Check out The Teen Tones "Sunday Kind Of Love" ... that's Robert Klein on bass!
Stu Weiss


Kent:
I stumbled across this by accident:
http://britrockbythebay.blogspot.com/2010/05/alan-price-april-1974.html
Some fair photos and stories.
== Bill

THE OFFICIAL "WILD" WAYNE WEBSITE
Kent ...
Check out this group from Spain.
I don't write to you for a month, then I bombard you with E-Mails.
Frank B.


re: CLIP OF THE WEEK:
This week's video comes courtesy of our buddy Wild Bill Cody ... probably the biggest Roger McGuinn / Byrds fan I've ever known!!! A VERY intimate trip with Roger (and his wife Camilla) as they travel by train from Florida to New York ... thoroughly enjoyable!
Sit back, relax and enjoy ... and isn't Camilla a sweetie?
Wild Bill
Posted on April 17th, 2008 at 1:31 pm: What happens when you give a music legend a home video camera and ask him to record an intimate concert on a train from Florida to New York City? All aboard for a trip through rock history with the Byrds founder Roger McGuinn.
http://growingbolder.com/media/Entertainment/Music/Roger-Rocks-on-Rails-127764.html#content_tabs
Bill Cody

re: GREGG ROLIE:
I think I may have recently mentioned that Billy James of Glass Onyon Productions sent me a copy of Gregg Rolie's new CD, "Rain Dance". For those of you out there who may not know, Gregg was the original lead singer and keyboard player of Santana back in the early hit days. (He and guitarist Neal Schon eventually left to form Journey, where Rolie turned over the lead vocal duties to the amazing talents of Steve Perry!)
Anyway, Gregg Rolie has just released a brand new LIVE CD where he covers a number of these early Santana hits ... and I've got to tell you that it's absolutely FANTASTIC!!! (There's a lot to be said for having the original vocalist perform these tunes ... taking nothing away from Carlos Santana, as his style is unparalleled, I have to give major props to the rest of the band, too, as they faithfully recreate some of the best-known and loved music of the early '70's.) The band is rounded out by Kurt Griffey on Guitar, Alphonso Johnson on Bass, Wally Minko on Keyboards, Michael Carabello on Congas, Ron Wikso on Drums and Adrian Areas on Timbales ... and as stunning as the vocals are on this CD, the instrumental accompianment is every bit as steller. Tracks like "No One To Depend On", "Evil Ways", "Black Magic Woman", "Oye Como Va' and "Soul Sacrifice" sound just as good today as when they were recorded way back when ... especially when one considers that these are being recreated in a live enviornment. Gregg, if you guys are headed out Chicago-way at all this summer, please let me know ... we wanna be there to see you rock! (kk)
More information can be found at:
Click here: Gregg Rolie Band - Official Website - Home





re: NEXT WEEK:
Next week in Forgotten Hits ... a VERY special feature. We take a look at (and give a listen to) the brand new Tygers CD ... and even interview the guys about what it was like to FINALLY record their second LP ... just 40 short years after they released their FIRST album back in 1969! Don't miss it ... it all kicks off tomorrow right here on The Forgotten Hits Website! (kk)


Got a comment, question or an announcement that you'd like to share with our readers? Just drop me a note at forgottenhits@aol.com ... and then check the website often to see if your letter appears!