Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve ... with Chicago!

We kicked off this year's Countdown To Christmas with Chicago ... so it only seemed right to end the series with these guys, too!
With a brand new Christmas CD this year ("O Christmas Three" ... their third holiday offering!), a live concert video shown in movie theaters last week, and a special Christmas Concert on Ice recently shown on NBC, these guys have been all over the place this holiday season.

Here are a couple recent comments we received, including an interview with our FH Buddy Lee Loughnane that recently ran in The Huffington Post.  (We've even got one more track from the new CD to share!)
Merry Christmas to all!  (kk)

Hi Kent,
I meant to write sooner about the Chicago movie.  I went to see the movie with a good friend who is also a big Chicago fan.  I really enjoyed seeing the tour footage of so many great Chicago songs and also some very good interviews.  The sound recording as excellent, some of the best sounding live music I've ever heard!!!
The Christmas songs are scattered throughout the film and are very dynamic, much more so than hearing them on the radio!  Overall the movie was excellent, except for the very end.  The film ends with a music video that, in my opinion, would have been better as a straight performance of the song.  The video has a lame storyline with a very good actor, Joe Mantegna, and just wasn't necessary.
Merry Christmas to all
Eddie Burke,

FH Reader Tom Cuddy also sent us this interview with Lee Loughnane from The Huffington Post, conducted by Mike Ragogna.

A Conversation with Lee Loughnane 
Mike Ragogna: Yeah, we've got Lee Loughnane of Chicago. That's right.
Lee Loughnane: How are you doing, Michael? 

MR: I'm doing good, how are you sir?
LL: I'm doing fine.

MR: Nice. Hey Lee, you're up to Chicago XXXIII--that's a pretty big number. Who knew you guys would have made so many albums and been together for so long.
LL: We had no idea it would go this long either!

MR: What is it like 33 records in?
LL: From the beginning, we thought we would have one, maybe two albums. It's like the impossible dream we're having here. 

MR: As far as Chicago, tell me about the early days.
LL: We went to school together, many of us. The three horn players went to DePaul University and Robert went to Roosevelt University, which was about a block away. We actually saw him playing in a club on the Southside, Bobby Charles and the somethings, I forget what it was. He was like a Ray Charles clone at the time. Robert said he wanted to come play with the band and he already had a book of 50 original songs. We had a good start but the club owners didn't let us play the originals, they wanted us to play the Top 40 hits of the day. They thought that's what would bring their clientele there and keep them there drinking, and doing what you do in a club. From there, we decided to stick it out as long as we possibly could, but we had no idea it would be 44 years later. It will be 45 years in February of 2012 that we have been together. Four of the original members are still with us--myself, Walter Parazaider, James Pankow, and Robert Lamm. Then the other guys that have come along since--Jason (Scheff) has been with us 27 years or something like that. The newest member, Lou Pardini, has been with us a couple of years already, and that's longer then most bands are together. 

MR: You're back together with Phil Ramone on this album.
LL: Yes, we called Phil and asked him if he would like to produce a Christmas album with us. He said, "Yeah, when do you want to do that?" So, we actually recorded it last October in Nashville. All of the writers chose a Christmas song and arranged it and brought our arrangements into the studio and presented them to the band. Then the band went into the studio and made them "Chicago." 

MR: How long did it take to record it?
LL: It only took us three weeks to record the entire album, overdubs and everything.

MR: You had it all charted out?
LL: Yes, exactly. 

MR: The hint that you were in Nashville is that you have Dolly Parton on "Wonderful Christmas Time."
LL: Right. Dolly happened to be in the studio I don't know if she happened to be recording or just hanging out, but Jason went up to the front of the building and Dolly Parton and her manager was with him. She had no idea that she was going to be singing, she was just coming back to say hello. The next thing she knew, she was out singing a couple of lines on "Wonderful Christmas Time." She was so kind and really a nice lady. 

MR: You also have the group America on "I Saw Three Ships."
LL: We have toured with them before, and they are good friends of ours. They actually did their recording part of it from California and then sent the files to us. When everything is said and done, it sounds like we got into the same room and recorded it. 

MR: What do you think of that process, long distance recording?
LL: It's a unique process, but it can still work. The proof is in the pudding when you hear the record. It's interesting that it's come to that, because that wasn't even possible that many years ago. You had to be in the same city, in the same room. Now you can use a remote system that's not even incorporated in a truck. We have a Pro Tools Native HD system that we're going to start recording original music with next year, and putting it right out from our web platform.

MR: I remember a few years ago, I was in a storage room with pallets and pallets of Chicago analog masters. There were endless rows of tapes.
LL: It's now all digital. Now we're looking at hard drives and files. Hopefully they don't get corrupted. 

MR: I don't think I would have enjoyed looking at pallets and pallets of hard drives as much.
LL: (laughs) It's a different world, with the tapes. When you pull out an old tape, hopefully, the oxide would stay on the tape when you started playing it. When you would see it start to peel off, you had to take the tape off immediately and bake it in a convection oven. It puts the oxide back on the tape so you can play it one or two more times without destroying the tape. If that oxide comes off, there's no sound anymore. 

MR: The chemistry behind many of the older analog tapes was better than what followed.
LL: That's the thing with any media, you never know how long it's going to last. Seemingly, because it's brand new and shiny and lasts great, it's going to last forever. So, we don't really know how long hard drives are going to last either. You're going to have to keep moving those files from one hard drive to the other just to maintain the integrity. 

MR: Yeah, that's right. Hey, getting back to Chicago XXXIII--O Christmas Three, one of my favorites is your cover of Richard Carpenter and Frank Poole's "Merry Christmas Darling" with Bebe Winans on there. How did you get Bebe on the project?
LL: He lives in Nashville, and one of the guys called him up. All I know is he appeared in the studio and was going to sing the song. Interestingly, he didn't know the song before, so he learned it line by line, and by the end of the song, it sounds like he has been singing it all of his life. He sang it so well that we just left it.

MR: Speaking of singing, although you didn't record as many lead vocals as your band mates, you're no stranger to singing. You sang "Let It Snow" from Chicago XXV: The Christmas Album.
LL: Yeah Chicago XXV, that was a lot of fun. We did that on the Macy's Parade and a few other TV shows, it was very cool. 

MR: You're also the writer for "Call On Me," "No Tell Lover," "Together Again," and "This Time."
LL: You must have Googled me. (laughs) 

MR: What, I can't know that stuff? (laughs) Lee, Chicago these days versus early Chicago, what do you think the difference is between them?
LL: Well, when we started, people said we were very experimental. We had the horn ensemble. Then the music business changed, and around our seventh album, the music industry decided to stop paying unlimited copyrights on a record. The decided that they were only going to pay ten. That eliminated double record sets and long songs, because if you did over ten songs, songwriters had to share their royalties with each other and they decided not to do that on the whole. It wasn't a matter of talking this thing over, it was a worldwide phenomenon that occurred as a result of economics. That changed the music industry, and I feel we continued being experimental but in a smaller shorter window. We still have that about us today. We're still an experimental group, and we will now be able to do the kind of experimentation we used to do when we got together. Now, unfortunately, Terry and some of the other guys aren't with us, so it will be a different look at who we are now.
Interestingly enough, we met with a company called Fathom Events up in Colorado a few months back. They said that they would like to help us promote our Christmas album, and they said they could do a theater event for us. They said they needed 90 minutes of content with surround 5.1 sound. We had just come from a four week tour of Europe and we had filmed the whole thing, luckily, and all of that was already edited together, so we just continued filming and put together a 90 minute retrospective of our year on the road from the band's point of view. Riding on the bus, going into dressing rooms, going over little vocal parts, and just practicing the little intricacies of songs that once you get out on stage, you can't really hear each other as well as you'd like to, but at least you know what not you're going to be singing. So, some of that stuff is on there. We do some interviews and you see us travel the world. When you see us play our performances, you see it from the wings and right on stage. It feels like you're on stage with us.

MR: The name of the show is Chicago The Band Presents An Evening of Holiday Music and Greatest Hits.
LL: That's what they're calling it. That's what's been confusing with some of the people, because we're playing shows in six or seven of the cities that the event is going to be in, you know, in the theaters, and they've been complaining that it looks like we're playing a concert there and it's keeping people from buying tickets. So, I just want to tell everyone it's not a concert, it's a look at the band from a completely different standpoint. The concert will be one song after another, which will run through our whole career from the first album all the way through XXXIII.

MR: With your hit "25 Or 6 To 4," I think everyone knows the title but not what it means. What's the story behind the song?
LL: The simplicity of the title, I think maybe is a little off putting. It's nothing mysterious at all. Robert was writing a song, getting tired, and looked across the room and he could barely see. It was four o' clock in the morning, and it was either 25 minutes or 26 minutes to 4 AM. I think he went to bed, and pulled the pin then. 

MR: (laughs) I guarantee you most people didn't know that story.
LL: It takes some of the mystic out of the title. 

MR: What about "Colour My World"?
LL: "Colour My World" came out of a movement in the Ballet for a Girl In Buchannon, which is a 14 minute piece that James Pankow wrote for the second album. Interestingly our first single came out of that 14 minute piece called "Make Me Smile," which is the beginning portion of the suite, and also it's a reprise at the end. So, we took them out, stuck them together, and that became "Make Me Smile." Radio would not play us previous to that. On our first album, we released "Beginnings" and "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?" They wouldn't play them because we didn't have a hit yet, which was sort of interesting that little catch-22, "How do you have a hit if you can't get anything played?" So, we came out with the second album, and they were interested in "Make Me Smile" and it became a hit, so we went back and released those songs and they became hits as well.

MR: "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?" Is that it or is there any story behind that?
LL: I think the lyrics are the story. He was walking down the street and somebody came up and said, "Do you know what the time is," and he says, "Does anybody really know?" Sort of a smart ass answer.

MR: My favorite kind. Got anything on "Just You And Me"?
LL: When Jimmy introduces "Just You And Me" every night, we have now started saying that our songs have two audiences--people that were married to them, and people that were conceived by them. (laughs)

MR: And my all-time favorite is "If You Leave Me Now."
LL: That was an after thought as well, everybody had pretty much left and we needed one more song. We had gone back to LA--most everybody, Cetera was still at the ranch in Colorado. They recorded "If You Leave Me Now," and that was our first international number one success.

MR: There's just a beautiful mixture, with that song, of sound and performance.
LL: It was a very interesting phenomenon how that occurred. Then, of course, once that success was there, the record company and radio stations wanted us to recreate that over and over again. That's not the way creativity really works. From then on, we were put into a niche that said we were a ballad band, and as far as I'm concerned, the ballads were experimental. Those tunes are not what your normal ballad would do. They are interesting songs--I think they change keys about two or three times before you even get to the verse. This is experimental musical, and usually someone starts out in one key, and if they change keys at all, it's to move up the feeling of it toward the end of the song. It's not a matter of course or to make this song interesting musically. 

MR: Can I ask you a possibly touchy question?
LL: Sure. 

MR: Personally, I always saw a connection between Blood, Sweat & Tears, and Chicago. Was there?
LL: No, what it was was that Al Kooper, who was a staff producer for CBS in the late '60s, saw us play at the Whiskey A Go Go in LA, and he went, "That's what I want to do." He went back to New York, wrote the songs for the first album, hired the studio players to come in and do it, and they had their record out before us. We were the 12-to-8 (recording) shift. When we finally got to New York to record our first album, we knew the music backwards and forwards, but we hadn't worked in the studio yet. So, we were freaked out when we had that microphone in front of us that was going to hear every little nuance of every note. We had to learn how to record as well. As I said, we did the 12 to 8 shift. We started at 6 in the evening and ended at 6 in the morning. Then Simon & Garfunkel came in and they had the studio blocked out. We couldn't get into the studio again 'til that next night. It only really took us a couple of weeks to record the whole album, that's my recollection. As far as being the same as Blood, Sweat & Tears, they put out their record and we put out our record. The differences in the two of them was that our influences came out of the music, and Al wanted to combine jazz and rock and he did that just by writing songs. But the jazz players played like jazz players, and the rock players played like rock players. It wasn't a melding of the genres. 

MR: Getting back to the new album, it's called Chicago XXXIII: Oh Christmas Three. Clever title.
LL: We were going to call it just Oh Christmas Tree, because in Chicago, they go, "One, two, tree," but we decided against that. (laughs)

MR: I also wanted to bring up "Rockin' And Rollin' On Christmas Day" with Steve Cropper.
LL: It was a lot of fun. Jason's father actually played with Steve at some point in his career as well as with Elvis Presley and Elvis Costello. Jason knew Steve since he was a boy, and he asked Steve if he wanted to come in and play on one of our tunes, and we chose "Rockin' And Rollin' On Christmas Day."

MR: And back to "Merry Christmas, Darling," which is one of my favorite Christmas songs of all time.
LL: Ah, yeah the Carpenters. 

MR: What a classic Christmas song it's become.
LL: It's perennial, it keeps coming back every year. It has been made as a classic, and that's one of the reasons it's going on the album. It doesn't sound forty years old--you don't find out until forty years later that it's timeless. You have no idea when you're actually writing it.

MR: What is your advice for new artists?
LL: If this is your passion, do not let go of it and move forward. It's always going to look like there's no way you're going to make it. Trust me, there's a way, and if you're intense enough as we were, once you get your foot in the door, you never take your foot out. You just keep getting better on the instrument, your writing, your singing, and all of the stuff that goes with it. If you're intense and that's your passion, go for it. That's pretty much with any business. Find what you're most interested in, the thing that comes the easiest for you, then do that. That's where you're going to be the happiest in your life. 

MR: Anything we haven't covered?
LL: I have one other thing that I wanted to add. On "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree," we did a music video of that, and we asked our friend Joe Mantegna, and an up and coming comedic actor named Kyle Mooney, who's got a following on YouTube, to come in and do some acting parts. So, we wrote a little story and filmed "Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree" that is now up and playing on our YouTube channel chicagotheband1. We have many thousands of plays already.

MR: Terrific. Lee, it's really great that you've guys have stayed together all of these years. And the future?
LL: Our manager has already booked many shows for next year, so you will be seeing us, and check out the website and all of the tour dates will be up there. As I said we're going to start recording brand new material and releasing it on the website. 

MR: You're meeting the future head on.
LL: Yes, we have a traveling world class studio coming on the road with us.

MR: Any other predictions for Chicago, like for maybe a year from now?
LL: We will be talking again, and we will be going over the 45th year. I don't know what we will be coming up next, but this year has been interesting because this is our first theatrical event. Hopefully, it won't be our last. This is our introduction to it, and it (was played) on Monday December 6th, and it might be repeated on December 15th, there are a bunch of theaters that have committed to that.

MR: Lee, Thank you so much for spending time with us.
LL: Thank you very Michael, it's been a pleasure talking to you.

1. Wonderful Christmas Time - with Dolly Parton
2. Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree
3. I Saw Three Ships - with America
4. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays
5. What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?
6. It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year
7. I'll Be Home For Christmas
8. On The Last Night Of The Year
9. Merry Christmas Darling - with Bebe Winans
10. Rockin' And Rollin' On Christmas Day - with Steve Cropper
11. My Favorite Things
12. O Christmas Tree
13. Jingle Bells
14. Here Comes Santa Claus/ Joy To The World

And this from the winner of the Chicago Christmas CD through our Forgotten Hits Christmas Give-Away:

Hi Kent, 
Thank you so much.  The Chicago CD just showed up at work, perfect timing, we are closing the campus down Thursday at 4:oo pm and will not be returning until January 3rd.  I will be checking in the Forgotten Hits while I am home relaxing.  Thank you for the perfect Christmas gift will be listening to this tonight with my feet up and a glass of bubbly.  Have a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. 
Your friend in the oldies ... 
Janice Burns 
Orlando, FL

Here's one more from the guys ... it's their version of "Jingle Bells", wrapping up another holiday season here in Forgotten Hits!  (kk)

Meanwhile, we've got a few OTHER winners to congratulate, too!
Copies of Joel Whitburn's "Christmas In The Charts, 1920 - 2004" are going out to Rich Klein of Plano, Texas, and Ed Salamon of Nashville, Tennessee.  Joel Whitburn picked their names out of our Christmas stocking and is personally sending off copies of his special Christmas Chart book. Congratulations!!!
And, we've got a few Runners Up Prizes to give away, too!
FH Reader Dwight Rounds has donated six copies of HIS book "The Year The Music Died", a look back at "the best era of pop music, 1964 - 1972".  Congratulations go out to Fred Glickstein of Arlington Heights, IL, Dereck Staines of Hertfordshire, England, Bill Savage of Neosho, Missouri, Rich Altman of Crystal Lake, IL, Mark Bertram of LaCrosse, Wisconsin and John Ryall of Carle Place, New York, each of whom will be receiving a copy after the first of the year!

And ... speaking of Christmas in the Charts ... and Chicago ... FH Reader (and publisher of the WLS and WCFL local chart books) just sent us this note regarding his research and Christmas tunes on the charts, Chicago-style:

I spent more than a few minutes over the past few days compiling the
Christmas / Winter hits on the Chicago charts (enclosed). And, just as I'm sure Joel Whitburn found out -- many of your favorite hits never actually charted.
Here would be Chicago's Top Twenty-Five Charted Christmas songs (leaving out the "Winter" songs and religious songs not specifically about Christmas).
1) The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late) -  The Chipmunks with David Seville (1958, 1959, 1962)
2) Do They Know It's Christmas - Band Aid (1985)
3) I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus - Jimmy Boyd (1952)
4) Nuttin' For Christmas - Barry Gordon (1955)
5) Santa Baby - Eartha Kitt (1953)
6) The Little Drummer Boy - Harry Simeone Chorale (1958, 1959, 1962, 1963)
(A version by Eric Jay tagged along one year, but I'm leaving it out)
7) Snoopy's Christmas - The Royal Guardsmen (1967)
8) White Christmas - Bing Crosby (1951)
9) Christmas Dragnet - Stan Freberg (1952)
10) Twinkle Toes - Crew Cuts (1954)
11) Monster's Holiday - Bobby "Boris" Pickett & the Crypt-Kickers (1962)
12) Mary's Boy Child - Harry Belafonte (1956)
13) Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer - Gene Autry (1951)
14) Pretty Paper - Roy Orbison (1963)
15) Jingle Bell Rock - Chubby Checker & Bobby Rydell (1961, 1962)
16) Santa Claus Is Watching You - Ray Stevens (1962)
17) The Twelve Gifts Of Christmas - Alan Sherman (1963)
18) Santa Claus Is Coming To Town - Four Seasons (1962)
19) Baby's First Christmas - Connie Francis (1961)
20) The Happy Reindeer - Dancer, Prancer & Nervous (1959)
21) The Christmas Song / White Christmas - Andy Williams (1963)
22) Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer - David Seville & the Chipmunks (1960)
23) Happy Xmas (War Is Over) - John Lennon & Yoko Ono (1971)
24) Jingle Bell Rock - Bobby Helms (1957)
25) Nuttin' For Christmas - Kenny & Corky (1959)
You want forgotten? Try numbers 9, 10, 21 & 25.
Merry Christmas.
-- Ron

I'm surprised to see how many of these we featured this year!  Thanks, Ron ... that's quite a list ... and Merry Christmas to you, too!  (kk)

And, this just in ... Bob Stroud will be doing a very special Christmas Edition of Rock And Roll Roots on Christmas Music, featuring all kinds of Christmas Rock and Roll Classics on his program.  
You can tune in and listen live here:  
Click here: The Drive 97.1 - Soundtrack Of Our Lives

To ALL of our readers ... 

Friday, December 23, 2011

On The Twelfth Day of Christmas ...

Look for Darlene Love to make her annual Christmas appearance on The David Letterman Show tonight.  (It really has become QUITE the tradition!!!)  Meanwhile, check out Tom Cuddy's review of her recent show in New York!  (kk)

Darlene Love has been putting rock and roll into Christmas since 1963, when she was a featured vocalist (although not always credited) on Phil Spector’s legendary Christmas album.  

When I was invited to Darlene’s annual New York holiday concert earlier this month, I jumped at the invitation. She headlined two sold-out nights at BB King’s in Times Square and she was simply amazing.  At 73 years young, her voice still possesses the power, quality, and excitement it has demonstrated for 50 years in show business.  

Backed by a super tight and impressive 7 piece band and 3 background vocalists, Darlene ignited the 90 minute performance with her first number “Joy to the World.”  

You didn’t have to wait to have her finish too many songs before it was evident why she was inducted in the R&R Hall of Fame in 2010.  

Throughout the night she gave her fans a great balance of Christmas favorites (“White Christmas,” “Christmas Song, (Chestnuts Roasting)”, songs she recorded for Phil Spector (“The Boy I’m Going to Marry,” “Wait Till My Bobby Comes Home,” and tunes she wished she had recorded:  

-- Don’t Make Me Over

-- You’re All I Need To Get By

-- What’s Going On

-- Ain’t No Mountain High Enough 

Halfway through her set she gave the audience a surprise and introduced her sister, Edna Wright, who was the original lead singer of the 70s R&B group the Honey Cone.  Darlene changed her last name at the request of Phil Spector.  Darlene left the stage and Edna belted out two of her hits:  

-- Want Ads (#1 Billboard smash in 1971)

-- One Monkey Don’t Stop No Show (#15 in 1971)  

As she shined through arrangements of tunes she did for Spector (Da Do Ron Ron, He’s a Rebel, River Deep, Mountain High), she talked about how troubling it was to record songs for Phil Spector and be promised that she would credited as the vocalist on the record, only to find out that Phil had misled her.  “But keep in mind, look who’s standing on this stage tonight, while he’s sitting in some lonely jail cell for the rest of his life!”  

She shared with the crowd how excited she was to continue her tradition this year with David Letterman. 

On Dec. 23rd she was scheduled to perform Letterman’s favorite holiday song for the 25th year on his show: the Jeff Barry / Ellie Greenwich written “Baby Please Come Home,” another gem from the Spector Christmas album.  

The last time she had a chance to sing with Bruce Springsteen (at the R&R Hall of Fame) she knew for a couple of months in advance, but didn’t know what he wanted to sing.  And because she wanted to be prepared and not let anyone down, she called Bruce’s management a few weeks in advance to find out.  She was told Bruce hadn’t decided and probably wouldn’t make a decision until a few days before the event.  Well, it turned out the song he picked was “A Fine, Fine Boy”.  So from that point on, every show when she sings it she dedicates it to Springsteen.  

A great piece of trivia: Darlene played Danny Glover’s wife in all four of Mel Gibson’s “Lethal Weapon” movies.  

- Tom Cuddy 

New York, NY
Kent ...
I know that you like to find out about the story behind the Hits.
Find out how "Let It Snow" got from Vaughn Monroe to "Glee" (12/13/11) B.
We featured the Vaughn Monroe version the other day (one of Frannie's favorites, by the way!) ... and (coincidentally) we watched the two Glee Holiday Episodes back-to-back the other night, too!  (Boy, what's happened to that show?!?!?  This season is SO disappointing!!!)  kk

Not FH oriented. Just very well done.
Written and sung by a high-school classmate from 40 years ago.
David Lewis

Kent ...
Here's a Free Christmas Song download from The Belmonts.
Frank B.
Enjoy this MP3 from
"The Bell That Couldn't Jingle" By The Belmonts
To download, please go to:
Have a happy holiday and don't forget to tune in to The Don K. Reed Christmas Show on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day!!!
And here's a free Belmonts song for our Jewish friends.
Enjoy this MP3 from
"The Eight Days Of Hannukkah"
To download, please go to:
Have a wonderful holiday!
The Belmonts
And, speaking of The Belmonts, Frank also tells us about a brand new radio program featuring The Belmonts:
ACAPPELLA FRIDAY NIGHTS with JOHNNY Z premiers Friday Night, December 16th at 7 pm est. Great groups, great a cappella!!! Join us at www.thebelmonts.netThe Belmonts Internet Radio "oldies 24/7
Happy Holiday!!!!
The Belmonts
Hi Kent,
I just got done reading forgotten hits and see that someone mentioned "It's Christmas Once Again" by Frankie Lymon. This has always been one of my favorites and thought I would send it to you for your readers. Merry Christmas to you and yours and to all in Forgotten Hits Land. : )

Hey Kent,
I've got yet another forgotten Christmas song that never gets played anymore ...
What about "Must Be Santa" by Lorne Greene?
I've had a copy of this wonderful bouncy Christmas 45 on the RCA label ever since I was about 6 or 7 years old (I'm 55 now), and I still pull this one out of my collection every Christmas and play it.  The only other way that I can hear "Must Be Santa" by Lorne Greene is by pulling it up on YouTube ... Great Christmas tune!!
Jerry Schollenberger 
Not familiar with this one ... and I'm a BIG "Bonanza" fan!  Here's the YouTube link that Jerry is talking about:     
Click here: Must be Santa by Lorne Greene - YouTube
Hard to believe that Bob Dylan is covering Lorne Greene!!!  (lol)  kk

And congratulations to Paul Evans, who's enjoying a VERY Happy Holiday Season ... his animated video for "Santa's Stuck Up In The Chimney" just passed 600,000 views!!! 

(Meanwhile, "Lonely Christmas" has yet to break 100!!!  lol  
Bah Humbug!!!)  kk

Here are a couple of "Almost Christmas" songs suggested by our readers that didn't quite make the cut this year ... 

Hi Kent, 
One winter time song that you never hear is Carol for Lorelei by the Cryan Shames off the Scratch in the Sky album.  While not necessarily a Christmas song it has a great Midwest winter feel to it.  Keep up the great work! 

I know you've featured this one before as one of your Forgotten Hits, but I've always associated Tommy Roe's "It's Now Winter's Day" with Christmas and the holiday season, too.
One of my favorites by Tommy, too.  No, not really a Christmas tune ... but definitely "of the season".  (kk)

I have three songs in mind which would also make for good "Christmas fare":
SONG OF JOY by Miguel Rios
JOY by Apollo 100
NUTROCKER by B. Bumble & The Stingers or Emerson Lake & Palmer
Tal Hartsfeld

... and one that did ... 

Hey Kent,  
I heard a song the other day that I had never heard before and I liked it immediately. The song was “This Could Be The Night” by The Modern Folk Quartet and it sounds like a mixture of Beach Boys and Christmas music! Are you familiar with this song? What do you think? It struck me as “almost” a Christmas song and I bought it from ITunes!  
Merry Christmas!
Eddie Burke,
Orange, CT
No, I have NOT heard this song before ... but I really like it!  No question about it ... it definitely has that Beach Boys feel to it.  I sent a copy to David Beard of "Endless Summer Quarterly" to get his reaction.  (kk)
This is a nice cover of Harry Nilsson's song, which Brian recorded in 1995.
Not really a Christmas song ... so consider this one a "break in the action" ... 'cause it's still a song worth hearing and knowing about.  (kk)

Hey Kent!
Just watched your video of Mariah singing "All I Want For Christmas" four times!  Always one of my favorites.
Wanted to send you two tunes in keeping with "the spirits" of the season you may enjoy.
"What a Christmas" and, for something unusual, a New Years song from my May 2011 CD "Right as Rain", "Happy New Year" (To Almost Everyone).
Rock on!
Here's to a great holiday season. Let the champagne flow and here's to a healthy and happy 2012 to you And all your readers.
Henry Gross
Thanks, Henry ... Happy Holidays to you and yours, too!
We'll feature your Christmas tune today ... and your New Year's tune on New Year's Weekend ... along with the NEXT one shown below!  (kk)

Hi Kent,
I've been enjoying my daily Forgotten Hits.  I wonder if you are aware of Bob's Christmas song, "A New Year's Carol?"  I'm attaching it just in case you haven't heard it.  It's a song everyone should hear this time of year.
Happy Holidays,
Actually, we've featured Bob's "New Year's Carol" for the past two or three years now ... and it's always played to a great response from our readers.
I think THIS year we'll save it for New Year's Weekend ... give you guys something to look forward to!!!
Thanks again for sending ... and have a very happy holiday season!  (kk)

>>>How about "The Second Miracle" ... am I the only one who remembers this Christmas song from Christmas, 1962, by Ral Donner on Reprise?  It did get enough airplay on WLS for me to run out and buy the 45 at Polk Brothers!  Great song that I have never heard mention of or heard on the radio since!  (Allan0318)

>>>I'm wondering if Ral Donner released a two-sided Christmas hit (or rather "non-hit" in this case, since neither of these tracks ever charted) ... because Ron Smith also had a Ral Donner track on HIS list this year.  ("Christmas Day")  Thanks to FH Reader Tom Diehl, we've got BOTH of these tracks available to share today ... from Ral's Reprise period.  (kk)
The Ral Donner sides are off my Starfire reissue 45 from the 70's, but as far as I know they are the exact same recordings as issued on Reprise in the 60's (especially since his other Starfire 45 that I own sounds nothing like this Ral does, and was definitely done in the 70s)
Honestly, I wasn't very impressed with EITHER of these tracks ... Ral's certainly released better ... but hey, it's Christmas Time ... and you guys wanted to hear 'em!!! (kk)
Yep, Ral Donner's "Christmas Day" and "Second Miracle" are two sides of the same record.
-- Ron Smith
FYI, Christmas Day is the B side of Second Miracle.  WLS picked the Second Miracle side, since I never heard Christmas Day on the radio and heard Second Miracle quite often.  Christmas Day was the rocker and Second Miracle the ballad.  At this point, Ral sounded more like Elvis than Elvis.

Speaking of Ron Smith, he tells us that Chicago's very own Survivor has reunited with their former lead singer ... and released a new Christmas single to boot!
In Ron's own words,
It's no Eye of the Reindeer ... but it IS at #6!
-- Ron Smith
I think the guys are sounding GREAT on this record.  (Can we still say "record"?!?!?)  Nothing mentioned about Jim Peterik being involved with the reunion but I'm encouraged by what I'm hearing right here!  (kk)

One more favorite (or two or three!!!)
Every year for the past three or four years I've featured Ron Dante's version of "Angels Among Us" ... this has grown to be not only one of my favorite songs to listen to at Christmas time ... but one of my all-time favorite recordings, too!  I love the way he does this ... so we're sharing it again.

Another oldie that didn't make the cut this year ... but definitely deserves some holiday airplay ... is Buck Owens' 1965 Hit "Santa Looked A Lot Like Daddy".  (Boy, if Robin Robinson got in trouble here in Chicago for dispelling the Santa Myth on the nightly news a couple of weeks ago, I can't even imagine what they'd do to ol' Buck if he released this record today!!!  lol)

As we wind down this year's edition of The Twelve Days of Christmas, I've got to say MY most-heard Christmas song this past season has absolutely been "Last Christmas" by Wham.  And, in a real twist of fate, I'll betcha I heard the Sarah McLachlan version of "Happy Xmas" more times than I heard the John and Yoko original.  

But I haven't heard ANYBODY play "Stewball" by Peter, Paul and Mary.  WHAT?!?!? 
No, that's not a Christmas song ... but if you've never heard it before, give it a listen ... they recorded this in 1963 but the song dates back considerably further than that ... perhaps as far back as the 17 or 1800's!!!)
And, after you listen ... can somebody PLEASE explain to me how George Harrison got sued for copping the music for "My Sweet Lord" from "He's So Fine" ... but John Lennon ... long recognized as one of the greatest songwriters in pop music history ... got away with putting his own name on THIS one?!?!?  (kk)

And this one made my day yesterday!!!  Too Funny!!!
It's a brand new JibJab video of our old 1980's group Blind Spot, put together by our lead guitarist, Mike Mertes.  
The thing that cracked me up the most is that he had each of us playing our actual instruments in the video!  (Damn, we were pretty good!!!)
Thanks, Mike!  (kk)
(Of course, if you're going to watch THAT, then you might as well listen to some of our OTHER greatest hits, too!!!)  kk 


Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Christmas Bonus (2)

Forgotten Hits Reader Gary Renfield (he of RIP RENFIELD Fame) put together this little feature for our Forgotten Hits Twelve Days Of Christmas Series. 

(You can also find it on Gary's website this week:
So that makes this our SECOND "Christmas Bonus" this week.  
(Or does it simply make this "The Eleventh and a Half Day of Christmas"???)
Watch for a special wrap up on Christmas Eve, too!

Meanwhile, enjoy this interesting piece on Little Jimmy Boyd!


I had no idea!

R.I.P Jimmy Boyd (January 9, 1939 – March 7, 2009) 

Jimmy was an American singer, musician, and actor.  He was best known for his recording of the novelty song "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus".

A goofy kid, a novelty song, but huge as a crowd-pleasing entertainer!

I was shocked to read that the BIG song this guy is known for 
sold 2 1/2 million units the first WEEK ... and over 60 million to date!  THIS GUY WAS HUGE IN HIS DAY!  (And he was also 13 years old at the time!)

BANNED IN BOSTON by the Catholic Church, he personally persuaded them to reconsider.

In pre-grammy years, he was presented with two gold records (made of real gold, of course) 
AFTER SALES OF 3 MILLION, Columbia Records presented him with a silver saddle.  (He was a rider)And, he had other hits duet-ing with Frankie Laine & Rosemary Clooney!

Appearances (5) on the ED SULLIVAN SHOW when that was considered the pinnacle of success.  (Apologized and got Giselle McKenzie on Sullivan for bumping her)

Some of his other tv appearances?  How about the shows of Perry Como, Doris Day, Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Patti Page, Merv Griffin, the TONIGHT SHOW, Shindig, American Bandstand, and many more.

In a nutshell ... Born, poor as dirt to a cotton picker, ho worked to support HIS 21 brothers & sisters, he moved to California ... Mother and two sons on the train ... Dad forced to hitch-hike & hop trains.  Still 'scratching' for survival.  His first 'crowd' experience was at a weekly country-western get together at a local barn.  His brother got the band to egg-Jimmy on ... 

A musical family, he not only played guitar, but his 'odd' voice and age made his talent a real crowd pleaser.  (A very talented kid!)  The organizers, looking to broadcast, started paying him $50 an appearance.

In Los Angeles, he auditioned and later won on the
AL JARVIS TALENT SHOW, leading to a regular stint on the show, which led to regular appearances and comedy skits with Frank Sinatra on HIS show.

His star rose with his association with Mitch Miller.  But regretted NOT moving on (ala Frank Sinatra) when he disagreed with the direction of the music. 
(Jimmy wanted to 'rock', Mitch didn't) 
His loyalty to Miller might have cost him, he stayed with Mitch and instead concentrated more on ovies and television, and finishing his education.  (Bachelor Father, Betty White Show, My 3 Sons, even INHERIT THE WIND)

He was the youngest allowed to appear in the BIG rooms in Las Vegas! (during the 'rat pack' years)  He was admonished by management for doing 3 encores (at the request of the cheering audience) instead of just the one ... HE WAS KEEPING PEOPLE AWAY FROM THE GAMBLING TABLES!

Along with his music he was a 'pistol', and at 14, he was able to ad-lib relevant one-liners
that endeared him to the audience!

HE DID IT ALL, BUT WASN'T A FAN OF THE 'ROAD'.  He played the theater circuit for several years  that was popular at that time — including The Capital, Paramount, and Seville theaters in New York City, Chicago, Hartford, Montreal, and Toronto.  He performed at 90,000 seat-plus venues such as Soldier Field, The Rubber Bowl, The Plantation, Red Rocks and others, in Chicago, Ohio, Colorado, Hawaii and Canada, along with hundreds of one-nighters on the road throughout the U.S., Canada, and England.

In 1960, he married BAT GIRL (Yvonne Craig) ... a year later, he was drafted into the army and stationed in Texas, which led to their divorce in 1962.

Boyd married a second time in in 1980. He and Anne Forrey Boyd had a son together, but divorced in 1984.  He remained single for the rest of his life.

I may have glossed-over details in my summary, but for the rest of the story ...