Wednesday, February 16, 2011



Just a comment or two on Wednesday's comments.
The comments on the song ROCK AND ROLL HEAVEN reminds me of past songs which had to do with rock and roll stars who went on to their reward after they passed away.
I don't know if you have done anything like this in the past but a couple of songs which come to my mind first are Johnny Cymbal's 1963 recording of TEENAGE HEAVEN and Eddie Cochran's 1959 recording of TEENAGE HEAVEN.
Probably the biggest "heavenly" song here in OKC was Tex Ritter's 1961 Capitol recording of I DREAMED I WAS IN HILLBILLY HEAVEN. I don't know if Tex Ritter did this elsewhere, but he recorded the song and instead of using Western stars like he did in the original, he inserted the names of local DJ's that were working here in the OKC area.
"I Dreamed Of A Hillbilly Heaven" was a pretty good-sized hit here in Chicago, too, where it peaked at #7 back in 1961. Not sure I quite get the connection of replacing some of our fallen heroes with the names of "live" deejays ... but hey, whatever got the record played, right??? (kk)

Speaking of "Rock And Roll Heaven", we may have ruffled a few feathers with this one when we inquired as to just how much (if anything) Sonny Geraci had to do with the writing of the song. (Scroll back to February 9th if you missed our original posting.) Questioning stuff like this in search of "The Most Accurate Truth" really isn't new territory for Forgotten Hits ... remember a month or two back when we questioned why, on the Mike Curb version of the Robin Luke Hit "Susie Darlin'", an additional songwriting credit was added to the record label? Or how about our Bobby Parker feature regarding the true origins of the Marv Johnson / Dave Clark Five Hit "You Got What It Takes"?

Anyway, here are a few tidbits that we received in Sonny's defense. (I tried to find some YouTube clips of Geraci performing the song live in concert, thinking that this might provide a true representation as to how he introduces the song on stage, but every single one of them seems to have mysteriously disappeared!!! lol)

>>>I didn't know that Sonny Geraci wrote "Rock & Roll Heaven"!
(Mitch Schecter / The Rip Chords)
Huh? Alan O'Day wrote it. (David Lewis)
>>>I can only tell you that when I saw Sonny last July, he ABSOLUTELY gave the impression that he had a hand in writing the song. (kk)

>>>Although I know he sings it in his show, I have never heard Sonny claim that it was his idea. (Alan O'Day)
>>>So says Alan O'Day ... who really DID write "Rock And Roll Heaven" (kk)
Sonny spoke onstage of recording the first version of this song, and he did an amazing version of it. I think he was actually talking about creating that first recorded version of it ... not writing it ... my mistake.
BTW, Sonny spent quite a bit of time talking with Richie and I before the show and he is an amazing guy. Just for recording "Time Won't Let Me", he is an icon in my eyes.
Mitch Schecter / The Rip Chords

Based on some of what you'll read below, I think Sonny has accurately presented the story many times in the past ... but knowing what I heard with my own two ears, I also feel comfortable in stating that he may also "embellish" that story from time to time when performing it on stage. (In fact, the first time I heard him say it, I was dumbfounded ... "How could I possibly not have known this?!?!?" I remember asking myself. It bothered me SO much that when I got home that night, I looked it up to see whose names actually appeared in the songwriting credits. Checking SEVERAL sources, I saw that Geraci's name was NOWHERE to be found ... so now I was REALLY confused!) First to record it ... yes. Had a hand in writing it??? I don't think so.

And honestly there is no NEED to embellish this story. Sonny Geraci has had an EXCEPTIONAL career. The Outsiders scored four straight Top 40 Hits in 1966 ("Time Won't Let Me", #5; "Girl In Love", #21; "Respectable", #13 and "Help Me Girl", #37.) With Climax, he scored another immediate classic when "Precious And Few" went all the way to #1 in Cash Box Magazine in 1972. In fact, telling the story of "the one that got away" is even MORE interesting ... the fact that he heard the potential in this tune is a GREAT credit to his musical credibility ... plus it wasn't a "hit" until the lyrics were reworked, by which time his recording had already been out for a couple of years. FAR better to rest your credibility on THOSE laurels than to get caught up in one of these "What did he just say?" scenarios!!! (kk)
Well done, Kent. Tell it like it is!!! :)
Alan O'Day

Kent ...
Here it is. This is from Gary James interview with Sonny on Classic
This is pretty much how Sonny explained it onstage.
Q (GARY JAMES) - This song "Rock and Roll Heaven", that was written by Climax keyboard player John Stevenson, didn't Alan O'Day write that song?

A (SONNY GERACI) - That's one in the same. Johnny wrote "Rock And Roll Heaven" and he called me over to his house to play it for me. "I wrote this song, it's gonna be a big record for you. It's gonna be the biggest song you'll ever do!" He was pretty excited about it. I listened to the song and the verses you hear are not the verses you hear on the record. It's kind of different. But the hook ... he wrote "If you believe in forever, life is just a one night stand. If there's a rock and roll heaven, they've got a hell of a band." I knew that it was great. I got pretty excited about it. So, I got a hold of Marc Gordon, who was the head of our label at the time and he thought we needed to bring somebody in to make the verses prettier, to fit my voice. So, he brought in Alan O'Day. So, I met Alan O'Day and made the verses pretty, so it would fit my voice. Together they collaborated and it was a 50 / 50 deal. I thought it was gonna be a smash. Nothing happened, but we were pretty cold by then. We had two or three stiff records in a row that didn't do anything for a lot of reasons. Warner Brothers had the publishing on that song. They kept coming into the studio when we were recording. They had something up their sleeve which I found out later. They knew The Righteous Brothers were going to get back together again, 'cause they were broken up. They were kind of holding back on that song because they wanted them to do it. They thought they could have a big hit record with it. And in that few months time when we did it, Bobby Darin passed away and so did Jim Croce. Their names were not mentioned in our song because they were still alive. So, The Righteous Brothers stuck their names on it, re-recorded the song, put it out and had a million seller with it. That one hurt. (laughs) It was written for me.

The above excerpt comes from Gary James' Classic Bands website ... which Tom Cuddy ALSO sent us a link for. (See below ... now you can read the whole thing!) kk
Hey Kent -
Here's an interview with Sonny Geraci:

Kent ...
Check out this list. I say maybe 1 out of 10 (# 6) can be considered a Rock Star.
Frank B.
Top Ten: Rock Stars With Stars

Or how about the Ten Most Important Rock Documentaries Of All Time???
Here's a list that Warren Cosford just sent us!
I know Jim Carroll - he and I did the CBC 'Midday' show together in about 1994 when I was still considered a 'futurist' ;)
He's always been a pompous ass, very full of himself. But the article looks interesting, nonetheless.
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What?!?!? The brand new Justin Beiber film isn't on this list?!?!? Now how can THAT be?!?!? Since some of those listed involve ficticious bands, I would quickly add The Beatles' "Anthology" and "This Is Elvis" to the list. Plus there have been a number of EXCELLENT Made For Home Video releases that are quite exceptional including profiles on The Mamas and the Papas, The Turtles and Sam Cooke ... and how about "Standing In The Shadows Of Motown" ... or the struggling-to-be-released "The Wrecking Crew"?!?!? All FINE pieces of musical entertainment, high in informational content. (kk)