Monday, May 9, 2011

Forgotten Hits Presents "The Grooviest Week Ever"!!!

Back in 2003, Forgotten Hits proclaimed ... 

and then celebrated ... 

Back then, everything went out by email ... 

So we thought we'd update the series ... 
SUPER-SIZE it, if you will ...
And post it on the web page now so that the whole world can see the fruits of our efforts.

First up ... The Duke Himself ... Mr. Gene Chandler!!!


Gene first burst on the pop scene in 1962 with his #1 Smash (and all-time rock and roll classic) "Duke Of Earl".  Born right here in Chicago, Illinois, in 1937, his real name is Eugene Dixon.  After a four year stint in the army, Dixon rejoined the group he had started back in 1957 prior to his time in the service, The Dukays.  Shortly after his return, the group was signed to the small Nat Records label.
The Dukays hit the pop charts twice:  In 1961, "The Girl's A Devil" went to #64 and in January of the following year, "Nite Owl" peaked at #73.  ("Nite Owl" went all the way to #19 here in Chicago, where it was also released on our home-grown Vee Jay Record Label.  In fact, The Dukays recorded their own version of "Duke Of Earl" for Nat, but Vee Jay rushed it out as a SOLO single by lead singer Dixon, who they quickly re-christened Gene Chandler, reportedly taking the new surname from Gene's favorite actor, Jeff Chandler.)  A follow-up single called "Walk On With The Duke" was released with yet ANOTHER name change ... this time Chandler was billed as The Duke Of Earl!  It flopped, eventually topping out at #74 on the Cash Box Chart.
After moving to the Constellation label in 1964, Chandler had a few more Top 40 Pop Hits:  "Just Be True" peaked at #19 in 1964, "Bless Our Love" hit #39, also in 1964, "What Now" snuck in at #40 in the early months of 1965 and "Nothing Can Stop Me" went all the way to
#15 later that year.  
Several more releases followed, but none of them did very well on the charts.  A label change to Brunswick in 1967 ... and a pairing with Barbara Acklin (who just had a solo hit with ANOTHER great Forgotten Hit called "Love Makes A Woman") in 1968 produced another #40 Hit with "From The Teacher To The Preacher".
Then, in 1970, Gene Chandler was back ALL over the radio with his GROOVY Hit "Groovy Situation", which went to #11 in Cash Box, #12 in Billboard and all the way to #2 here in Chicago!  It's a great piece of early '70's pop / soul and still deserves to be heard today.  It's also a GREAT way for us to kick off our GROOVIEST WEEK EVER here in FORGOTTEN HITS!!!

THE COMEBACK KID:  You can't count "The Duke" out ... nearly ten years later, Chandler was back on the pop charts ... this time on the Chi-Sound Label ... with his dance hit "Get Down", which went all the way to #19 here in Chicago.  (It peaked at #50 on the National Charts.)  And he still performs in oldies shows today ... most often in top hat and tails, cape and walking stick ... where he once again becomes "The Duke Of Earl"!!!


Speaking of comebacks, the pop / soul duo of Peaches and Herb scored one of the biggest in pop music history when, after ten years without a Top 40 Hit, Herb Fame (Feemster) recruited his THIRD "Peaches" (Linda Green, who replaced Marlene Mack, who filled Peaches' shoes from 1968 - 1970 ... the original Peaches, Francine Barker (Hurd), enjoyed the duo's first round of hits from 1966 - 1967, which yielded a total of six Top 40 Hits, including the Top 20 smashes "Close Your Eyes", "For Your Love" and "Love Is Strange") and found himself back on the charts with back-to-back MONSTER hits.
Fact is, they came back bigger than EVER, first with the Disco Dance Anthem "Shake Your Groove Thing" in 1978, (another one of today's GROOVY songs!), and then with their 1979 #1 chart-topper "Reunited".  A couple more attempts followed (and I believe Herb went through two or three more Peaches(es) in the process) ... but it just wasn't meant to be.  
(Hey, lightning still struck TWICE for this group ... which is STILL twice more than it did for many, many artists attempting to forge out a career in show business!)
Speaking of show business, Herb Fame retired from the biz for a short while and worked as a police officer between his two chart runs.  In fact, now in his late 60's, Herb still works as a Civil Servant in Maryland and occasionally performs on the weekends with his SIXTH "Peaches", Meritxell Negre, (the first non-Black Peaches!) from Barcelona, Spain.