Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Most Accurate Truth: LAST KISS

re:  WE GET MAIL:  

Sometimes it's good ...  

I am Bill Mack's daughter, Kim Davis. Your blog brought tears of joy and sadness. I miss him so much! Thank you for your kind words! I just wish that he would have been included into the rock and roll hall of fame. It breaks my heart. Again, thank you.
Kim Davis 

Sometimes it's NOT so good ... 

My name is Leo Lucas I am the trademark owner of the Cavaliers.
You know you have a great service to share with our oldie people. The only problem is that I don't think you check on the people that give you information on groups. The article I'm talking about is the one on myself saying that I am one of the Texas Cavaliers.  The person that gave you information on my group was only a fill in keyboard player that plays in bar bands and never was a music arranger for the Cavaliers. His name was Arnie Karr and he still plays for bar band groups. Don't get me wrong there is nothing wrong with what he does ... but there is something wrong in giving out bad and fake info.
Let me tell you about my Cavaliers and my tie with the song Last Kiss.
We worked for Josie Music as a back up band, both vocally and instrumentally. We were in the studio in New York when Frank came LATE to re-record Last Kiss. We backed him.  That's all there is with this whole thing. We kept the name of Wilson going for all these years since 1986. I trademarked the name the first time in 1990 and I still own it.  I spoke to Wilson many times when he was alive. When the record was released I was in Viet Nam fighting for our country. Not hiding like Mr. Arnie was. Maybe you can understand the frustration I have in reading something like your article. Arnie knows better. He even brought my friend Vito Balsamo into his garbage. He doesn't know the true story of anything.  To let you know, I never took anything away from Frank Wilson. He had a lot of problems and he did what he had to do.  I've been in touch with Sid Holmes many times. He is a true gentlemen and I enjoy speaking with him.  My group is still carrying on the name and our music.  Please don't take info from people like Arnie Karr. He is the fake here.  You have a great page and do a great service for us keep it up.  
Yours Truly, 
Leo Lucas / The Cavaliers   

Hi Leo!
I got your email and your points are well taken ... over the years we have received COUNTLESS responses to our series on the history of "Last Kiss" ... and nearly every single one has praised it as being the most accurate accounting of the events around the mysterious group The Cavaliers.  A few people related to members of the band have thanked us for FINALLY telling the whole story.   

If you read the whole article, you'll see the debate addressed about whether or not Wayne Cochran wrote the song or not ... and my stance has always been that unless somebody can prove otherwise, we're going with the documented version of the story.  (Repeated efforts to contact Cochran to talk about this went unanswered ... but no documented proof indicating otherwise was ever received so we're going with the story as it has always been told.)

Unfortunately, I have to take the same approach with your claims ... nothing that we came across during any of our research indicates that you were a member of The Cavaliers at the time "Last Kiss" was recorded ... if you can offer documented proof otherwise, I'll be happy to run it ... the fact that you NOW own the name means nothing to me ... our article was about "back then".

The original article (run as part of our emailed newsletter back in 2002, I believe) took MONTHS of research due to all the conflicting information floating around about the members of the band.  Then, over the next two or three years, the series was updated numerous times because new names kept popping into the picture.  The only thing that's certain is that YOUR name wasn't one of them!!!  So again, if you can offer CONCRETE proof that you were, in fact, involved with this original recording, I'll be happy to run it.  But NONE of the documentation or photographs we reviewed pertaining to the time of this recording indicate that Leo Lucas was part of the original "Last Kiss" Cavaliers.

Truth is, I finally gave up trying to nail down with 100% certainty the members of the band ... SO many people have come forward over the past 48 years claiming to have been part of the band at the time that I actually lost track ... I literally had to start a "scorecard" to keep track of them all!!!

I finally just let it go as this, which is exactly how it currently appears on the website:

"This four-piece band (which apparently really had about THIRTY-FIVE members, all of whom now claim to have been involved with the original recording) went into RON NEWDOLL's recording studio to cut a new version of LAST KISS. (As near as we can determine, the ACTUAL participants on that recording were J. FRANK WILSON, LEWIS ELLIOTT, ROLAND ATKINSON, GENE "BUDDY" CROYLE, JIM WYNNE, sitting in on piano,and GWEN COLEMAN (the only one of three scheduled background female vocalists who actually showed up for the session ... and, in some cases, referred to as ATKINSON's ex-wife!)"

And that's the way it'll stand until somebody can prove otherwise.

As to the character of Arnie Karr, I can only say that I've know Arnie for about 12 of 13 years, or as long as I've been doing Forgotten Hits.  (I haven't talked to Arnie in AT LEAST six or seven years now ... in fact, I don't even know if he still reads Forgotten Hits anymore.  He's no longer on our mailing list for our alerts.)  However, if I'm not mistaken, he ALSO questioned your legitimate link to the original Cavaliers numerous times during your relationship with him and, from what I understand, you were never able to produce any documentation that would convince him otherwise ... so while I appreciate your letter and the directness of it all, you're not giving me anything here to make me change my position.  If you're able to do so, please let me know ... as Forgotten Hits has ALWAYS prided itself on presenting "the most accurate truth" about every subject we cover.  But hundreds of hours of research has taken me to where we are today regarding the true story behind "Last Kiss" ... so unless you can prove or convince me otherwise, I'm going to let the story stand "as is".
From Arnie Karr's comments, circa 2002:

I'm reasonably convinced that Leo Lucas, the leader of the Cavaliers, had absolutely nothing to do with the recording of "Last Kiss" and was not a part of any singing group that toured with J. Frank Wilson. (Listening to the tune, it's obviously a very spare musical combo, J. Frank and some chick with a very high falsetto.) Even though I've worked with him for 5 years, Leo Lucas has always said that he WAS part of the group, but he's never offered any proof. Similarly, he's never offered any proof that he has a legal right to the Cavaliers name or the "official" name of the group, J. Frank Wilson's Cavaliers. Of course, people buy and sell names all the time, and I've performed, for instance, with The Shangri-Las that include no original members.
The plot thickens. Earlier this year, the brother of J. Frank Wilson contacted Leo to ask about what right Leo had to use the name "J. Frank Wilson's Cavaliers." Leo assured him that he'd negotiated directly with J. Frank and had the paperwork to establish his ownership. The brother was reassured when Leo said he'd send him all the relevant paperwork. Apparently, the paperwork was never received. Tonight, I heard from the group's bass player that he'd heard that the brother went public with this tale of deceit in Rolling Stone magazine... apparently the issue before the current one. The bassist hadn't seen it and wasn't sure whether it was an editorial or an advertisement. I was unable to find it on the Rolling Stone web site or via any search engines. (I'll check Nexis at work tomorrow.) If you've seen this item by any chance, please let me know. If not, I wanted you to be on the lookout for it and also have this record of the bizarre world of doowop and oldies bands.

For the record, neither Arnie nor I ever found a copy of this article that supposedly ran in "Rolling Stone" ... so I don't know if it ever did or if they just dropped it, too ... probably because it was just too damn confusing to sort out! Interestingly enough, however, shortly after our piece first ran, The Cavaliers dropped their name and began performing as "The Golden Group Memories" ... now I wonder why THAT is!!!  (Maybe the early efforts of Jon "Bowzer" Bauman's "Truth In Music Act" had a little something to do with it, too!)

Last we heard, J. Frank Wilson's brother decided to let it go and Leo Lucas has been using the name freely ever since.  Perhaps he DOES have the legal right to the name ... based on all that he has said above, I have no reason to doubt that he purchased that right to use The Cavaliers name as his own ... but this does NOT give him the right to rewrite history in the process.  NOTHING we came across in our hundreds of hours of research ever indicated that Lucas was a member of The Cavaliers when "Last Kiss" was first recorded (and became a #1 Hit for J. Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers.)  Certainly he must have SOME record of proof on the momentous occasion, right???  Then let's see it!!!  (kk)

For our complete piece on "Last Kiss", click here:

From our original article:
Other CAVALIERS mentioned during the course of our research for this series were PHIL TRUNZO, JERRY GRAHAM, BOBBY WOODS, JOHNNY HUNTER, GRADY CLARK, JOHN MAYBERRY, MIKE HODGES, RAY SMITH, BOB ZELLER, CHARLES USERY, CALVIN BELL, RON MILLER, BILLY WOOTEN, JIMMY WHEELER, all of the surviving MUNCHKINS from the THE WIZARD OF OZ film and the ENTIRE DALLAS COWBOYS Football Team, 1962-1968! And this doesn't include the LEO LUCAS / ARNIE KARR version of the band performing in 2002 when this article first appeared in Forgotten Hits!  Which begs the question ... How many other FH list members ALSO played on this record???  (kk) 

By the way, we're not done here ... we've already received brand new comments from both Arnie Karr and Leo Lucas on this topic ... so stay tuned to Forgotten Hits for more dirt and low-down on this classic #1 Hit!