Sunday, September 16, 2012

Our IDES OF MARCH WEEKEND Continues (The Ides Of March, Part 2)

Yesterday, we told you about another group called The Ides Of March who hailed from Essexville, Michigan.

Today we're going to feature the OTHER group that recorded under that name (or, as I like to call them, "the semi-famous ones"!)  It's The Boys From Berwyn today in Forgotten Hits!

Over the past fourteen years we have given Chicago's Ides Of March the spotlight treatment numerous times.  (In fact, for MOST of those fourteen years, we saluted The Ides Of March ON The Ides Of March, March 15th, approximately every 365 days or so!)

But this NEW Ides of March (out of Michigan) threw me for a loop as I'd never heard of them before.  I grew up knowing and loving OUR group by that name (a name they chose after studying Julius Caesar in a class at Morton West High School in Berwyn, Il ... the same high school I graduated from 40-something years ago.)

These guys were our hometown heroes.  They rose to national fame when "Vehicle" drove to the top of the charts in 1970 ... and as recently as Labor Day Weekend, we got one of the jocks on our list to feature their recent "One Hit Wonder" song as the theme song for his One Hit Wonders Top 100 Countdown Weekend.  (That reminds me .. I've STILL got to get that list up on the website!!!)

I've seen the guys countless times in concert ... and it is ALWAYS a great show.  Incredible to think that most of the original members have stayed together in some fashion for all of these years.  (And, as Jim Peterik likes to point out when they perform "One Hit Wonder" in concert ... "C'mon, didn't we have at least one-and-a-half hits?!?!?")

That's because in addition to "Vehicle" (a song we STILL hear every single day, at least once or twice), The Ides scored a #7 local hit with "You Wouldn't Listen" in 1966 (#42 nationally) ... and a #2 Hit with "L.A. Goodbye" in 1971 (#72 nationally, and of the grossest musical oversites of all time ... this record should have been a SMASH!)

Anyway, with so many Ides of March fans on the list, we figured we'd run some recent comments that we've received ... along with a few memories from group leader Jim Peterik himself.

Sit back ... and enjoy ... our salute to The Ides Of March!

On the Ides front, a couple of years ago I discovered a very obscure LP by the Ides issued on the Brylen label, copyrighted in 1982, called “We’re Gonna Shine!” It contains an early, demo version of “Roller Coaster,” some unreleased material the group recorded for Parrot and stereo versions of “You Need Love,” an early version of ‘Sha La La La Lee” (which fades and does not have the much better extended, cold ending used on the later 45 version) and a Peterik original titled “I Just Put It Out of My Head,” with lead vocal by Larry Millas. The other tracks (including their cover of “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore,” issued on a belated Sundazed 45) are in fake stereo. Although copyrighted in 1982, it apparently was not released at the time, and a handful of warehouse copies somehow surfaced a couple of years ago, which is how I obtained mine (still sealed!). I recently contacted Clark Besch about the LP, who wrote to Jim about it. Jim replied that his drummer had picked up a copy for him a year or so ago and it “was like finding the Dead Sea Scrolls.” He had no idea the material had ever been released, though he did remember it all very well. He is particularly amused at his original lyrics used in the demo for “Roller Coaster,” including the line “a girl in love is the grooviest,” changed in the released version to “a girl in love is the greatest thrill.” The LP also includes an outstanding otherwise-unreleased Peterik original, “Please Don’t Tell Me Lies,” which Jim recalled as being a song that was a favorite of his dad, who always asked the group to play it, and a great version of Johnny Cash’s “Train of Love.” Brylen obviously had no idea who wrote “Train of Love,” as it’s credited on the LP to Paul Anka, who wrote a completely different song with the same title!
Wow, I would love to get a copy of this LP ... and I'm sure Jim would, too.  Any idea how we might go about doing so?  (kk)

Hey, Kent,
Since you are featuring a special Ides weekend "event" I finally found and dug out a special mix of the "Vehicle" follow-up "Superman" by the Ides of March. Just as we talked about "Training Wheels" being a great follow-up choice for "LA Goodbye" and just as I was recording the Kris Erik Stevens Summer, 1970 tape, across at WEXI-FM in Arlington Heights, they aired this special mix of the new Ides 45!! Same backing track as the 45 version, but a slight variation in Jim Peterik's vocals. Maybe Jim can give some insight into how WEXI-FM got this tape before 45 release and if this happened any other time for the Ides that he remembers? Jim?
Clark Besch
Sounds like this was a new one on him. Thanks to SO many Ides of March fans on our list like yourself (who has supplied the lion's share of these rarities!), we've been finding some REALLY cool, long-lost gems lately ... and have been sharing them with Jim Peterik who, in turn, then shares them with the rest of the band ... and all their many fans via The Ides of March website.  He had completely forgotten all about some of these (or just figured they were lost forever in the annals of time) ... and was especially pleased to hear Dick Clark feature "You Wouldn't Listen" on American Bandstand, courtesy of WLS Jock Ron Riley back in 1966 ... something he never even knew had happened! (In fact, I believe this is now part of The Ides Of March website as well!)
Here's what he had to say about the alternate version of "Superman":

Wow ... I never knew about an alternate Superman. That's just super, man!

Hi Kent,
I enjoyed seeing Jerry Schollenberger’s post on Pete Wright’s Sunlight label. Most of the handful of singles issued on Sunlight, apart from the three New Colony Six 45s, are very tough to find. (The Ral Donner release goes for around $200.) I tracked down most if not all of them some time ago. The 45 Jerry refers to by Chicago DJ Eric Stevens was actually issued under the name Jan Erik Stevens. The A-side, “Training Wheels,” was written by none other than Jim Peterik!
Michael Thom
Well, THAT would be an interesting one to hear ... can you send us a copy? (kk)

We eventually got a copy from Clark Besch ... along with a memory or two from Jim Peterik, who wrote the song for Kris Erik Stevens to record ...

I love this song! Training Wheels ... I wrote it for the Ides originally. After I played it for Frank Rand and Bob Destocki (our management), they had me play it live for buddy WLS Disk Jockey Kris Erik Stevens at a dinner party held by my brand new wife Karen at our tiny apartment in Riverside. 

Kris brought his stunning stripper girlfriend! Kris Erik Stevens had an opportunity to make a record for some investors. The Ides cut the demo at CBS studios at the tail end of an Ides session. The managers gave me the instructions to sing it poorly cause Kris could barely sing. 

Well, I couldn't sing it bad enough. Little did I know that Kris passed it off as his own voice to the company! When it came time to cut it, the results were disastrous. He tried his best but ... 

The record that came out is Kris's best attempt at copping my "bad" vocal. It's a cool tune out of the L.A. Goodbye / Landlady mold. I'd love to hear it as I have no record of it.

In fact, you never really know just who you're going to hear from in Forgotten Hits ... check this out!  

Hi Kent ...
Thanks for remembering ... Really takes me back to see and hear my record “Training Wheels” again. You can obtain more about my career path from my web site ... ... but briefly following my radio career in Chicago WLS & WCFL ... I did a stint @ KODJ and KIIS-FM here in LA ... and then went on to open my own business ... KRIS STEVENS ENTERPRISES, INC. in Los Angeles ... which was a success story unto itself ... and I loved that aspect of my life as well. Today ... I continue to perform Voiceovers for clients worldwide ... as my voice remains my instrument ... and my talent lies in speaking rather than singing :) 
I had a rock band prior to getting into radio --- so making a record was a must for me. I went on to do an album as well --- which never really saw the light of day ... but consisted of songs I’d written and recorded ... and Jimmy Peterik and the Ides of March performed most of the music trax for me on the album as well. It was entitled Kris Erik Stevens – “Feelings”. We recorded most of it in Chicago @ Universal and RCA recording Studios.
As I understand it Training Wheels went top 5 in Detroit --- and did well in Miami and various other large & medium market cities ... but either way ... the reality is ... I had fun recording it ... and was blessed to have the opportunity and some exposure with that single nationwide. I’ve attached a few pix from back in Chicago, when I recorded the song. Plus two photos taken in Italy a few weeks ago August, 2012. Life continues to be colorful!
Hope this gives you a bit of insight for your Forgotten Hits site ... which BTW I think is a great site!
My best ...
Kris Erik Stevens
Los Angeles, CA


Thanks for sharing "Training Wheels" by Kris Erik Stevens. Beautiful tune with kind of a Bob Lind feel to it. I don't remember the record but no one will forget Kris on WLS during the latter half of the "glory days!"

Interesting to read the stuff about Kris Erik Stevens in Thursday's FH. We were flying into Denver on Thursday morning (yesterday as I type) and as we were about to land I said to my wife "I wonder if Kris Erik Stevens is still making the train announcements at the Denver airport." We got off the plane, walked to the shuttle train, and heard his fantastic voice once again. I also remember being in my car listening to WLS one night when Kris announced it was his final night as a WLS DJ.
David Lewis

It's great to hear that Kris Erik Stevens is doing well. I always enjoyed his radio show at WLS. "Training Wheels" could easily have been a great song for the Ides I think, if done like LA Goodbye with their harmonies and better production. In fact, I wish they'd record it new now! C'mon, Jim!

It's funny that Kris says he fronted a rock band back then. I am guessing more of a lounge act pop band instead figuring the song we are talking of and B side "I Kept on Loving You" which is also done much like the Carpenters version without the lush production. He says the name of his album was "Feelings" so I am guessing THAT would have been the Jim Webb song that the Lettermen did an absolutely GREAT job with as an A side. Webb also released this as a 45. I wonder if that LP exists or if it was recorded and shelved. Would be great to hear if the Ides did the backing on the LP, too.

With Landeceker, Lujack and Winston getting all the hype back then, it is easy to overlook some of the other great jocks of that era like Kris, Chuck Buell, Jerry Kaye, Steve King and the even faster revolving jocks door at 'CFL.

I had my tape rolling in August, 1970, during one of Kris' shows and here are a few excerpts. It was a particularly bad reception night, so lots of fading, but I was used to it by 1970, y'know? It's a lot of in and out of music jocking, but it was the time of "five in a row" as you'll remember and hear. Kris did have a personality but not much said here. He made comments on then VP Spiro Agnew on this tape, but too hard to hear. Another great voice from the Big 89.
Clark Besch

And let's not forget Bob Sirott, launching his multi-media career right around this time, too. WLS had some pretty amazing talent on its roster, back in the day when personality was encouraged rather than shunned. (kk) 

I just happened to be listening to the rebroadcast of our Forgotten Hits "Walk Don't Run" Marathon Radio Special on Phil Nee's "Those Were The Days" program a couple of weeks ago ... and was introduced to a song I wasn't previously familiar with ... "Run Back To Mama", a track recorded by Chase in the early '70's, that was not only co-written by Jim Peterik of The Ides Of March but ALSO features Peterik on lead vocals. Apparently Jim performed with the band for a short period of time. Chase, of course, is best known for their 1971 #22 Hit "Get It On", a record that reached The Top Five here in Chicago, from where the band hailed. (Sadly, they may best be remembered as yet another rock and roll casualty, four members of the band, including leader and namesake Bill Chase, perishing in a plane crash in 1974.) The song has a very definite Chase / Ides Of March sound to it ... so if YOU'RE not familiar with it either, here's a great chance to check it out! Thanks again to Phil Nee for running our program ... apparently to great response! (kk)

Now how freakin' weird is this?!?!? I no sooner typed the above paragraph and then received the following email from FH Reader John LaPuzza

Hey Kent,
I enjoyed hearing "One Hit Wonder" by Ides of March, you featured on Friday. Did you know that their leader and lead vocalist, Jim Peterik, was featured on the album, "Pure Music", by that rockin' horn band, Chase? He sang two songs, "Run Back to Mama" (my favorite), and "Love is on the Way". Chase was unique among the bands with horn sections. They had four trumpets in the group. Leader and lead trumpeter, Bill Chase, wanted to merge big-band jazz with rock. They are only remembered by their one hit, "Get it On", but their albums contained some exciting, knock-your-socks-off music, that could "blow away" all the competition.
I found a '74 video of Jim Peterik with Chase. The song on record is MUCH better, though. :-)  
- John LaPuzza

We've done a TON of Ides Of March coverage over the past fourteen years ... but this Chase connection has never come up before. I wondered if maybe after the demise of the original Ides Of March in the early '70's, Jim was working with Chase while some of the other former band members were teaming up with some of the guys from The Cryan' Shames to form The Ides-Shames Union ... yet ANOTHER band we gave the spotlight treatment to in Forgotten Hits (including an extremely rare, never before released recording!) You can find some of that stuff here:

I asked Jim about the Chase connection ...

I was never a part of the Ides Shames Union ... but I guested with them at Beginnings on Vehicle once! 

Chase was managed by our management company, Lee Productions ... Frank Rand and Bob Destocki ... and they put me together with them. I showed them a song I wrote with the Ides, Boys and Girls Together. They loved it and put it in their debut album. 

I have great memories of the whole Chase band, sitting in the control room at United Western Studios on Sunset as we recorded Superman. I was super charged that they were there and you can hear it in my over the top vocal. Then Bill approached me with a horn riff that started as a little bird singing it to him over and over one morning while he was camping in Canada. He woke up, jotted it down on staff paper and fell back to sleep. He sang it to me and from that I created Run Back To Mama from their Pure Music album. Then we co-wrote Love Is On The Way. The title cut was cut but never made the record. Such a shame. I have a bad cassette of it. I'm gonna recut it with the Ides.

Bill was my hero. Gone way to soon. And his talented band. The day the horn riffs died.

Check out all the latest Ides of March information on their official website: