Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Sam Cooke Way ... And Other Thoughts Of The Day

I've been hoping our FH Buddy Erik Greene would file a report with us regarding the recent street-naming ceremony that took place a couple of weekends ago here in Chicago, dedicating Sam Cooke Way at 36th and Ellis, boyhood home of this soul and rock and roll legend.  (Unfortunately, we were unable to attend due to some other commitments ... but here's the whole scoop, courtesy of Sam Cooke's nephew, Erik Greene!)  kk
Hey Kent,
It took more than four years and three aldermanic changes to get it done, but Sam Cooke's street-naming ceremony was absolutely fantastic! Just like Forgotten Hits remembers great music of days gone by, my intention was to honor one of music history's great pioneers. 
As word of the street naming began to spread, it was obvious that Sam's popularity and status as a native son would make the event even grander than I had initially imagined. Legendary Chicago DJ and the proclaimed Mayor of Bronzeville Herb Kent MC'd the ceremony. Soul legend and Cook County Commissioner Jerry "Iceman" Butler spoke on the program, as did 3rd Ward Alderman Pat Dowell.
During the dedication itself, I took time to recognize the corner of 36th and Ellis Ave. as the spot where Sam's boyhood apartment building once stood. I gave praise to a number of significant musical artists that were raised in Bronzeville -- Nat King Cole, Lou Rawls, Mavis Staples, and Dinah Washington to name a few -- and presented Sam's remaining siblings, my uncles L.C. and David Cook, with an honorary street sign to remember the afternoon. The rain and heat were kept at bay (although it was a little humid), and we celebrated Sam's life and musical legacy in a way he would've appreciated. We were Having a Party, and a great time was had by all!
You'll find some great pictures here:
Erik Greene
Author, Our Uncle Sam
And, speaking of incredible intersections ...

We've run this before ... the live street-cam at the infamous (and infectious!) intersection / street crossing in front of Abbey Road Studios in London ... where (pretty much any time of day) you'll find fans "doing the walk" and posing!  (kk)

Fun to watch how many do the famous Beatles still when crossing the road, decades later!

>>>A clip from the much beloved Lawrence Welk show of the early 60's.  (I'd say more, but don't wanna give it away.)  BillClick here: YouTube - The Lawrence Welk Show: 
>>>LOL ... NOT the kind of thing you expected to see on "The Lawrence Welk Show" ... that's for sure!  Thanks, Bill!  (kk) 

If you think that is wild, did you know that Mr. Welk had the Chantays play "Pipeline" on the LAWRENCE WELK SHOWW!!  If only they had let Myron Floren solo!!!  (Clark Besch)

What I find particularly interesting about this clip is look at the way The Chantays are dressed ... collar-less suits just like The Beatles would bring into so-called "revolutionary" fashion ... some seven or eight months later here in The States!  I don't know how many teenagers were sitting through Lawrence Welk with their parents back in 1963 (I know I couldn't STAND it!!!), but it's remarkable that something like this could go COMPLETELY unnoticed until The Fabs fed it back to us the following year!!!  Now that's unreal!!!  (kk) 
Hey Kent, 
Just read your "Weekend Comments". Love the Watusi video!!!!
Henry Gross

>>>If you're in your car or at home on Saturday afternoon at 2:07 pm, tune in Rob Hart on WGN Radio (720 AM or online at as he interviews me about the Beatles concert of long ago, 1965.  
(Clark Weber)
>>>Clark tells some GREAT stories in his book about this whole experience.  You can check it out here:   

Click here: Clark Weber's Rock and Roll Radio: The Fun Years, 1955-1975 (9780979789229): Clark Weber, Neal Samors,
Might anyone know if there is a podcast of his interview yesterday?  I did not see one on WGN page.
Clark Besch
I missed it, too ... and I really wanted to hear it.  Remembered at 3:15 ... which was a full hour too late!  Do you have any audio to send us, Clark?  (kk)

Morning kk;
You’re not alone; one of our daughters also forgot to listen. No, I didn’t bother to tape it.
After doing the show, my radio genes kicked in and I looked up the recent Arbitron ratings for WGN. At one time the station dominated the 35+ demos. Now, according to the May ratings, WGN on a Saturday afternoon ranks 11th in the 35 / 64 demo. Those programming bozo’s brought in by Sam Zell & Company managed to lose 22% of WGN’s audience in a matter of a few short months.  
Clark Weber

Burton Cummings did a great version of this song - thanks so much for sending. I can't stop playing it!
I love it, too ... my guess is this probably started out as a joke, poking fun at his former bandmate's stuttering lyrics ... but once the big band / lounge arrangement kicks in, it's all for real ... and Cummings does an INCREDIBLE job of pulling it off.  One of my all-time favorites by him ... this sucker coulda been a hit!  (kk)
That's a great version of 'You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet' by Burton Cummings.
Yep, we've featured it a few times now ... and it always gets a good reaction.  (Cool if somebody on oldies radio would play it, too ... shake things up a little bit!!!  Maybe do a Guess Who / BTO / Burton Cummings three-play ... take one of those songs that Randy and Burton did together (like MY favorite, "Undun"), follow it up with something ELSE by Bachman-Turner Overdrive ... (maybe "Takin' Care Of Business", since you're probably going to play it four times today anyway) ... and then run that right into Burton's solo version of "You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet" ... now THERE'S some creative programming that'll leave your listeners with their jaws dropped wide open.  Betcha get a great reaction to THAT triple play!  (kk)
I like this version better than the original!
Hi Kent,
Don't know if you knew that Kooper was losing his sight. He used to participate in the Spectropop group, too, but hasn't in quite some time. I don't know if that's the reason, but I was guessing it's a factor.
Gary E. Myers / MusicGem

Yes, actually he's talked about it a few times here in Forgotten Hits ... meanwhile, he also just produced Charlie Gracie's "comeback" record (so there's nothing wrong with his EARS apparently!!!)  Good guy and very helpful ... and, as I said a FANTASTIC story teller.  He paid me one of the highest compliments a few years ago:  "Thank you for spreading the truth" ... a comment like that ... from a MAN like that ... means the world to me.  (kk)

>>>Man, I would LOVE to see Johnny Rivers come to Chicago ... never had a chance to see this guy and it sounds like a GREAT show!!!  (kk)

I agree ... I would love to see Johnny Rivers here!!!
Mike DeMartino
While Johnny puts on a great show (I've seen him twice, the second time was somewhat local to me but for the first time I saw him, a friend and I drove over a thousand miles to see him), he is truly the biggest jerk I've ever met in the music industry.
I went through his autograph line with an orange vinyl Asian pressing of one of his albums (which was pressed using the original US stampers, by the way).  He looked at it and scoffed that "this must be some crappy bootleg".  After everyone had gone through the line, I went back one more time to try to get a short promo liner from him to use on Topshelf Oldies, (mind you every other liner I've ever gotten has run on average 7 seconds long), however when I asked him if he would mind doing one for me, he looked at me, said "I don't have time for this right now", and walked away from me, choosing to go chat it up with some female standing 20 feet in the opposite direction.  Now this was the first time I'd seen him, and I assumed he was having a bad night. 
The second time I saw him, he was not out doing autographs but the concert promoter, who is a friend of mine, let myself and a few other people backstage to see him ... as we were heading in his direction, he told the promoter he would be out in five minutes to sign some autographs, so we were ushered out of the backstage area and waited patiently for him.
A few minutes later, the promoter came out and said Johnny had left out the door leading outside from the backstage area.
As far as I'm concerned, he's zero for two ... and I won't pay money to go see him ever again.
Tom Diehl
Well, I dunno, Tom ... big rock star, hangin' out after the show ... who's he gonna pay more attention to ... the record geek with the Asian vinyl or some pretty girl 20 feet away ... kinda sounds like a no-brainer to me!!!  (lol)  But I've been disappointed several times, too, after a show when the artist was supposed to come out to visit with the fans and then ducked out a back exit instead.  (Most disappointing one ever:  Mike Smith of The Dave Clark Five ... man, I would have LOVED to talk to him ... and then a few short years later he was gone.  Worst part about it:  he had just put on one of the BEST live shows I've ever seen in my entire life ... and all I wanted to do was tell him so.  Now that opportunity is gone forever.)
I still think I'd lay my money done to see Johnny Rivers live in concert 'tho ... tremendous career with hit after hit after hit ... and someone I've never seen live.  All the more thrilling because it was his early live shows that launched his career!  (kk)
Alan O'Day just sent me a little video designed to accompany his early hit composition "Easy Evil", a song we featured the demo on several months back in Forgotten Hits.  It first appeared on his Facebook page earlier this week (along with YouTube. MySpace and several other media sites) and now we're happy to feature links for it here in Forgotten Hits, too.  GREAT song!!!  Enjoy!  (kk)
Meanwhile, Henry Gross sent me a couple more tracks from his two recent CD releases.  
(Seriously ... 74 tracks for $25?!?!?  Where else you gonna find a deal like THAT?!?!?)
BOTH of these CD's are available at "bargain basement prices" on Henry's website ...

We've also been sent to give a listen to ... and to let YOU listen to ... a few things you may not have heard before ...

Kent -
Maybe you could give Paul some space ... he was definitely a Rock and Roller that should have gone much further. Many people knew him and are not aware of this news. 
Alex Valdez / The Yellow Balloon
A very very good friend has passed on.  Though I hadn't seen him in years, I am saddened to get this news.  The ravages of illness had changed his looks.  Back in the 60's this guy knocked 'em dead in a group out of Detroit.  He was a monster blue eyed soul-singer  with his blond hair like Rod Stewart, and played the bollocks off of the guitar. His bass player was Mike Urso from Rare Earth and his drummer was John Bredeau from Hamilton Joe Frank and Reynolds.  The girls would come for miles to hear him wail and play that guitar.    We shared the  same birthday  and had a lot of good times , once upon a time. 

Great voice and guitar.  RIP, Paul.

Hey guys:
My good friend Rick Roberts, who was the voice and wrote most of the songs for Firefall ("You Are The Woman", "Just Remember I Love You" et al) and was a member of the Flying Burrito Brothers for years, has been deathly ill for a long, long time. Well guess what? He has fought back valiantly and has worked his ass off trying to get back into the music scene. Well, he's got a new song that I am totally excited about, that I emailed to some heavy hitters in the Indie Promotion biz in Chicago to see how we can get this aired!
I will tell you, as a radio veteran, it's nearly IMPOSSIBLE to get ANYTHING played unless you have some major promotion AND bucks behind it. Rick has NONE of this. But he DOES have the HEART and the SOUL ... and this song has some CHOPS.  I think if you listen carefully to this, the "hook", the lyrics, the voice, everything about it sounds so Firefall-esque and COULD stand the test of time! That is ... if someone would just give it the time of day. I know it's nearly IMPOSSIBLE to get ANYTHING played on commercial radio now-a-days without major promotion and major BUCKS! But with this guy's talent, this is a NO-BRAINER!.
I did talk to Rick and asked  him if he would possibly consider re-arranging this, maybe with a more potent lead guitar and even possibly with a pedal steel so we could introduce it to a country music type format . Again, the lyrics are THERE, the vocals are THERE, the HOOK is THERE. As in Rick's number one Firefall Million Sellers, this song has HIT written all over it.
Please give it a listen and give me your feedback. Listen two or three times before you respond.
Wild Bill
Actually, I think the song sounds fine just the way it is ... and you're right, it has a great hook and a great feel to it ... fits well within the classic rock format based on Roberts' credentials.  But you're also right ... it's tough to get radio to play ANYTHING off the playlist these days.  (Kinda makes you wonder where the future classics are going to come from!!!)  Happy to help get the word out, however ... fans deserve a chance to hear this great new song.  And best wishes to Rick Roberts for a continued healthy recovery.  (kk)

And, speaking of new music ... 

Frannie and I had the pleasure of attending The Drive's 10th Birthday Party at The Rosemont Theater the other night and seeing America and Jethro Tull in concert.  (Truth be told, we left between shows ... never was much of a Jethro Tull fan and we had to get home to our daughter.  I was going to ask my good friend Paige Wiser to make up something for me that I could use as my Tull review but then thought better of it.  {Inside joke!})
America played a VERY loud, short and somewhat rushed set of wall-to-wall hits ... and also featured three songs from their brand new upcoming CD release "Back Pages", which will hit the market on July 26th.  Described by Gerry Beckley as a collection of songs they wished they'd written, we were treated to three new "remakes" by the band, including the Joni Mitchell / Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young / Matthews Southern Comfort hit "Woodstock" and "Till I Hear It From You" by The Gin Blossoms, a personal favorite.  More details to come on this new release ... in fact, we may even have a brand new track to "Sneak Peek" for you next week ... so stay tuned!  (kk)