Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Still Catching Up (Part Two)

The list of music stars who have left us since Forgotten Hits last regularly published new material is staggering ...

Here is just a short recap of some of those we've lost in the last two months ...

Herb Reed, the last of the original Platters, one of the biggest groups of the early days of Rock And Roll ("Only You", "The Great Pretender", "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" and SO many other great hits)

Bob Welch, solo artist and one-time member of Fleetwood Mac  ("Sentimental Lady", "Ebony Eyes")

Jimmy Jones ("Handy Man")

Andy Griffith (television icon, who also had a hit record in the early '50's called "What It Was, Was Football")

Larry Hoppen, founding member of Orleans ("Still The One", "Dance With Me") 

Marvin Hamlisch (Composer of so many great motion picture hits, who had his own smash hit with "The Entertainer", an old Scott Joplin tune that he reworked as the theme to the hit movie "The Sting")

Don Grady ("My Three Sons" and a member of Yellow Balloon, who scored a hit with a song ALSO named "Yellow Balloon") 

Bob Babbitt (bass player extraordinare of Motown's legendary Funk Brothers)

Jon Lord (keyboard player for Deep Purple)

Kitty Wells (country superstar)

Ron Smith (of has been our designated (and dedicated) Grim Reaper of Rock And Roll for several years now ... and we rely heavily on his updates ... and now it looks like FH Reader Ronnie Allen has dedicated a portion of HIS website to remembering the dearly departed, too ...

At Jersey Girls Sing we -- Denise Ferri and Bernadette Carroll and I -- have re-designed our "Gone But Not Forgotten" webpage, in which we acknowledge the passing over the past five years of noted entertainment personalities both musical and non-musical.
We've replaced the comments about people with links to articles with more detailed information.
Here's what it looks like now.
Please notify your readers of the change.
Also ... if anybody feels that we've left someone out who should be included, please let us know.
You can do that by writing me, Ronnie Allen, at
Thanks, Ronnie ... a nice tribute to the dearly departed ... a list that's been growing MUCH too long ... and far too often ... of late. (kk)  

And, not doing too well ...  

Hello Kent,
Yes it is true that Earl (of "Speedo" and the Cadillacs fame) is not in the best of health, and he is now in the hospital trying to keep living. If you can let fans know, they can write to him in care of me .
Thank you.
Gary Lewis
411 West End Avenue
New York City, N.Y. 10024
Our latest Forgotten Hits / True Oldies Channel Top 20 Summer Favorites List had just come out right when the computer crashed ... and now it feels like summer's almost over!!!  Here are a few of your Summer Favorites Comments that were lost in the shuffle ...   

Scott Shannon ran another VERY successful Top 20 Summer Favorites Countdown again this year on The True Oldies Channel ... and a few of you guys chimed in, too, with some of your choices for summer songs near and dear to your heart ...
To celebrate the 'longest day of the year' and the 'first' day of summer, here is one of my favorite 'oldies,' -- The Jamies' "Summertime, Summertime," which reached #26 on the Billboard chart in 1958.
Yes, I could have selected my dear friends, "The Beach Boys," and their smash, "All Summer Long," but -- as the lyric states: "we've been having fun all summer long" -- so it's a bit premature. I'll save that one for September.
As to The Jamies' single, if you were growing up in Sacramento during those great rock and roll years, you would have most likely tuned in to KXOA, KGMS, KRAK, or KCRA -- all played a mixture of Top 40 or MOR (middle of the road) music. KROY, which flipped to T-40 in 1960 -- joined the other stations and gave us teenagers a wonderful musical palate from which to choose.
Those mid and late 50's, early 60's, were great years for radio and records and kids really got a musical education. You could tune in and hear some of the best in rock -- Elvis, Ricky Nelson, Buddy Holly -- and, at the same time, hear a 'crossover' country record by Johnny Cash, Marty Robbins, Don Gibson or Patsy Cline. You would also occasionally be introduced to pop and jazz with singles by the great Frank Sinatra and Bobby Darin, Tony Bennett, Vince Guaraldi, and Doris Day. Even the Mormon Tabernacle Choir had a hit single. It WON the Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Group or Chorus for "Battle Hymn of the Republic" in 1960. Yes, you got a full musical education just by listening to Top 40 and MOR radio!
I don't recall which one of those stations was the culprit, but at least one of them occasionally played The Jamies single at 33 1/3 RPM instead of the way you'll hear it on this clip, at 45 RPM. Slowing it down put a cool rhythm and blues 'spin' to it. If you happen to have one of those old 'relics,' a phonograph, try it out! Of course, you'd also have to have the single. There's probably only one of you on this list, Ed Salamon, who could come up with it! Ed has most of the great singles and albums from the rock era ... and actually -- unlike me -- has them all organized!
By the way, this clip features a juke box and vintage footage of the kids dancing on "American Bandstand." You'll note there's not a tee-shirt in sight! No shorts, no flip flops. All the guys wore sport jackets and ties, or suits, and all the gals wore dresses or skirts and blouses. A lot has changed since the 50's!
If you want to check out other favorite 'summertime' related songs, check out Kent Kotal's and see how his Top 100 countdown came out. My old friend, John Sebastian -- and his group, The Lovin' Spoonful -- came in at #1 with "Summer In The City," The Beach Boys came in at #4 with "All Summer Long" and The Jamies anchored the Top 10 at #10. I'm sure you'll find your favorite 'summertime' record somewhere on this list.
Amazingly, 'the boys of summer,' The Beach Boys, landed fifteen -- yes, 15 -- songs in Kent's "All-Time Summer Favorites." I guess that's why their 50th Anniversary Celebration tour continues to draw great crowds and great reviews!
Have a great 'summertime, summertime!'
Fred Vail / Nashville, Tennessee
My, what a great collection of Summer Hits. I can't disagree, but three of my favorite songs of summer were not on your list. I'll bet there are hundreds of personal favorites that people have a special affinity for for unique reasons.
Here are my 'Special' Summer Songs:
1. Saturday Night At The Movies - The Drifters
2. The Bristol Stomp - The Dovells
3. Walkin With My Baby - Bobby Vee
Heck these remind me of more ...
4. Rain Rain Go Away - Bobby Vinton
5. It Might As Well Rain Until September - Carole King
6. Abigail Beecher - Freddie Cannon
Oh my what great songs we had! How lucky to have lived and experienced those wonderful decades!
Charlie Fraser

Kent --
The recent postings regarding the Top Summer Songs reminded me of something I did 20-plus years ago on the topic.
The local alternative weekly had invited its readers to send in their lists of the Top 10 greatest summer songs ever -- either songs that reminded them of summer (like Beach Boys hits), or songs that were popular during the summer, such as the Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction." I decided to have a little fun with this -- to see whether I could get the editors to scratch their heads.
I selected a song that was not only a bit rare, but had absolutely nothing to do with summer, either in its theme or in the time of year it was released: Engelbert Humperdinck's "Les Bicyclettes de Belsize," released in the late fall of 1968. I sent the newspaper my list of 10 summer songs, with many typical ones (such as "Summer in the City" by the Lovin' Spoonful), but including "Les Bicyclettes de Belsize." I then asked many of my friends to send in their lists too, with nine legitimate summer songs (whichever they chose) but making sure to include "Les Bicyclettes" on their lists.
This of course, was before e-mail, so lists arrived at the newspaper in various forms, on several types of paper, with varied content EXCEPT that each of them listed "Les Bicyclettes" as a summer favorite.
Sure enough, when the "Our Readers' Favorite Summer Songs" list was finally published, "Les Bicyclettes de Belsize" was in the Top 10 -- along with a note from the editors saying "Who knew?? We can't understand this!"
Just goes to show that tilting a popularity poll isn't something that was invented along with the Internet! And in case you're wondering, no, I've never done that again.
Henry McNulty
LOL ... TOO funny. (Of course "Les Bicyclettes de Belsize" just happens to be one of MY all-time favorite summer songs, too ... that one ALWAYS makes me want to put the top down!) GREAT story!
Many years ago, we used to print The Memorial Day Top 500 Countdown List for the local oldies station ... and one year I told the buyer that the only way I would accept the order this year was if "Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport" was listed at #1. Knowing my love of the oldies, I think he half believed me! As it is, the list went out as planned ... with "I Should Have Known Better" by The Beatles ... STILL a pretty unlikely choice ... in the top spot! (kk) 


Thank you for this wonderful Creedence Clearwater Revival article. It's a joy to read.
A Verbeek
He's talking about our CCR Series from 2003 ... you can check it out here (if you haven't read it already!) kk
Hello Kent,
I noticed on the instrumentals lists posted on your other website that "the third men theme' wasn't on either of them.
I think it should be.
Sweet Dreams,
One of those lists reflects the actual chart performances of the songs listed ... and "Third Man Theme" was never really a very big hit. The OTHER list reflects the "fan favorites" as voted upon by our readers around the globe. Evidently not enough of them felt strongly about the song either! (kk)
Examiner Columnist Jeremy Roberts has really been on a roll lately ... first , two-part series profiling our favorite "Third Of June" Girl, Bobbie Gentry ... and then an interview with one of our favorites, B.J. Thomas!
You can check 'em all out here:
A few years ago we ran a special series spotlighting some classic Bee Gees tunes that you might have missed during those periods where they fell out of favor with radio.  (We ran it recently when Robin Gibb passed away ... scroll back to find it if you missed it the first time around.)
Now columnist Bob Lefsetz comments on some of his favorite Bee Gees songs ...
"Jive Talkin'"
Four years is an eternity in popular music.
But that's how long it was since the Bee Gees' last hit, "How Can You Mend A Broken Heart". In the interim Jethro Tull released an album containing only one track, FM trounced AM and "Free Bird" became an anthem. But in the sporting goods store I worked in on Hollywood Boulevard, they still broadcast AM, that's all they had.
And I lived to hear this.
It was my second sporting goods store gig. The first one was around the corner, on Highland, neither of these establishments exist anymore. And the clientele was always a trip. Talking to Jack Nicholson, H.R. Haldeman coming in for Tretorns. Never mind the delusional street people dropping in for the air conditioning.
I never had a soft spot for the Bee Gees. But when "Jive Talkin'" came out, suddenly I did. I guess we like things that connect us to the past that are not pure nostalgia. "Jive Talkin'" may be lumped into the disco camp, but really, it's not. It's just a hit record. With a groove and flourishes that make you wince and smile at the same time. The keyboard riff, the percussion breakdown...this is one track I've never burned out on, it's the link between what once was and was yet to be.

"Stayin' Alive"
Somehow, in the history of popular music, a taint has been placed upon this track, people dismiss it, look down their noses upon it.
That's what success will do for you. Bring out the haters, the history rewriters. Sometimes something's so great, you can't say a negative thing about it, and when it comes to "Stayin' Alive", that's the way it should be.
Forget the disco backlash, blowing up records in Comiskey Park, everybody loved "Stayin' Alive", not only the polyester-clad dancers but the dyed-in-the-wool rockers. Because it's so damn good!
You've got to understand, it snuck up on people. It wasn't like today, with endless movie hype. A film with John Travolta based on a Nik Cohn story in "New York", which years later turned out to be completely fabricated ... there was no built-in desire.
And then you went to see it.
Travolta walking down the street with a swagger, putting one slice of pizza atop another, it was movie magic ... and it wouldn't have been half as good without the soundtrack, "Stayin' Alive".
Movies were platformed, they didn't open in thousands of theatres, word took months to spread, "Saturday Night Fever" was an immediate hit, but unlike today's flicks, it played for six months, not six weeks.
And the more the movie played, the more people bought the soundtrack, the more these songs were on the radio. The Bee Gees ended up on a victory lap they still haven't recovered from.
That's the power of a hit song. Especially when matched with a hit movie.
And don't you love those drums at 3:44!

"If I Can't Have You"My favorite non-Bee Gees song on the soundtrack was the Trammps' "Disco Inferno"... But that was not a movie original, that was another of those disco songs we rockers secretly admitted we loved. But my second favorite was a movie original, by Yvonne Elliman, "If I Can't Have You", written, of course, by the Bee Gees, not that many knew this at the time. ..
And this is one of the rare cases wherein the writers' version is inferior, still, listen, you might not have heard it ...
And talk about a hook ...
"If I can't have you
I don't want nobody baby"
We all know this feeling, it's the human condition.

"Holiday"Despite the cheery title, this song has such a depressing feel.
Maybe that's why it appeals to me.
We live in an upbeat world where if you've got problems you're scuttled aside, unless you're a celebrity and go on "Oprah" and confess. But that's anything but personal. Depression is personal. As is so much of the greatest music, beamed directly from the speakers into your heart.
This was not the first Bee Gees track I heard, but it was the first one that clicked.
We had season tickets at Bromley. A ski area with a lot of character that faces south and is right upon the highway which I love with all my heart. And at the end of each ski day, the teenagers would congregate on the main floor, around the corner, where the jukebox was.
I'm gonna do a whole playlist on the tracks that emanated from that machine, that changed my life, that I had to buy. Stuff you wouldn't expect, like "Boogaloo Down Broadway", by the Fantastic Johnny C ... and this.
You see that's what's great about a jukebox, about the AM radio of yore ... you don't get to hear what you want to, but what others want to. And then you end up hearing these songs enough they become your favorites too.
I can still see the townies, with their Moriarty hats pushed up high. The tension between the locals and the weekenders, the way we connected as the winter months wore on, drinking our hot chocolate and eating our monster glaze donuts. That's what's great about life, the memories. When you're depressed, you think back and you smile.

"New York Mining Disaster 1941"This was the first Bee Gees song I heard. But since it was not on the Bromley jukebox, I did not know it as well.
What I love is the endless repetition of "Mr. Jones" ... you think he really exists.

I was always flummoxed by this. How a band from the U.K. via Australia could pick out such a tiny state and write a song about it.
Massachusetts was just the next state over. The one we drove through to get to Vermont, the one that contained my grandparents.
You know how you feel a special connection with a song that mentions your name? That's how I feel about this song. Especially in the sixties, all the glamour, all the references, were based on California, the west coast. Sure, most of the people lived on the east coast, but popular culture seemed to be based out west, but not in this song.

"Lonely Days"And I love all the aforementioned records. "Massachusetts" was the follow-up to "Holiday", they were on a roll. But then came "Words", "I've Gotta Get A Message To You" and the execrable "I Started A Joke". Who was this music made for? Sure, I could get depressed, but this music seemed to be made for hobbits who never left the house, who never saw the sun shine, people who were perpetually under the weather. You made fun of these songs. And if you say otherwise, you weren't there.
But then there was a last hurrah. Just when I'd written them off, the Bee Gees released my favorite song, "Lonely Days" ...
The track started off like another dirge, and then ...
"Good morning mister sunshine, you brighten up my day
Come sit beside me in your way"
The harmonies were exquisite, they made you feel all warm inside, the strings swirled underneath ... And then there was the rhyme of "restaurant" and "nonchalant" ...
And then the song changed completely, it became a rocker ... Someone started banging on the piano, like you would at home, only with more talent, there were random horns, you felt like you were at a football game and wanted to get out on the field and march with the band.
Then the track devolved into dreaminess, something the Beatles were so good at, but the Bee Gees did well too. The track went back to the quiet verse ... But when the chorus came back this time, it was truly vociferous.
The brass is squeezing out the notes, the boys are shouting and harmonizing, the strings are swirling ... it's a tour de force.
And I'll bet what Barry Gibb is feeling right now is lonely. With three of his four brothers deceased. You don't want to survive, you want to go first, otherwise it's just too painful. You've got no one to share your memories with, no one to sing with ...
But we the listeners are not burdened by the death of three of the brothers Gibb. For us, the songs still live. This was an act that hung in there, kept trying, for decades, experimenting, getting it right. Their only mistake was to become so successful that the public put them in a box and they became inhibited by their own legacy.
Spotify playlist:
-- Bob Lefsetz
And, speaking of The Bee Gees, Barry Gibb fulfilled a lifetime dream of performing at The Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee, a couple of weeks ago. (Incredibly, The Brothers Gibb never did a show there!)
Performing with Ricky Skaggs and his band, Barry performed three songs (including two of The Bee Gees' best known hits, "To Love Somebody" and "How Can You Mend A Broken Heart".
Official Opry YouTube clips are available here:
I first heard about Barry's upcoming show from Scott Shannon on The True Oldies Channel ... and then found this short blurb on Ron Smith's website, too:
Bee Gee Barry Gibb fulfilled a lifelong dream Friday (July 27) by performing at Nashville's Grand Ole Opry. He performed with Rick Skaggs, though two of the three songs they sang were Bee Gees tunes.
-- Ron Smith
More tomorrow (if we can pull it together in time!)