Thursday, January 31, 2013

Thursday This And That


If you, like millions of other Americans, have always had an uncontrollable urge to lick the back of Johnny Cash's head, you will soon have the opportunity to do so ... The United States Post Office has just announced that The Man In Black will be one of three brand new Music Icon Stamps to be released later this year! (kk)

Chicagoland Radio And Media has a GREAT article running today on legendary Chicagoland broadcast legend Bob Hale. Hale will be celebrating the 54th Anniversary of Buddy Holly's last live show this weekend at The Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa. Hale MC'd the show that night on February 3, 1959, when Buddy Holly's plane went down, killing the young singer along with Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper. Don McLean later immortalized the event as "The Day The Music Died" in his chart-topping hit "American Pie."  
Hale first made his mark on Chicagoland Radio the following year when he was one of the original seven deejays hired by WLS for their format change to Top 40 / Rock And Roll Radio ... and he has shared some of his memories with Forgotten Hits over the years as well.
You can check out the full report right here:
Leroy "Sugarfoot" Bonner, frontman for the hit-making funk music band the Ohio Players, has died in southwest Ohio. He was 69.
The Ohio Players, known for their brassy dance music, catchy lyrics and flamboyant outfits, topped music charts in the 1970s with hits such as "Love Rollercoaster," ''Fire," ''Skin Tight" and "Funky Worm."
A spokeswoman for a Newcomer Funeral Home in the Dayton suburb of Kettering said Monday morning that the family hadn't scheduled any public services. There was also a posting about his death on his current band's Facebook page. No other information was released immediately about his death Saturday.
Born in Hamilton, Ohio, Bonner teamed up in the 1960s with core members of a group called the Ohio Untouchables to form the Ohio Players. The band had a string of Top 40 hits in the mid-1970s, and continued to perform for years after that. He had remained active in recent years with a spinoff band calle d Sugarfoot's Ohio Players.
"Humble yet charismatic, soft-spoken and of few words, the weight of his thoughts, lyrics and music has influenced countless other artists, songs and trends," stated a posting attributed as an "official family announcement" on the Facebook page of Sugarfoot's Ohio Players. "He will be missed but not forgotten as his legacy and music lives on."
Marshall Jones, the bass player and a founding member of the Ohio Players, called his bandmates "a bunch of the most creative people - especially Sugarfoot - that I have ever been around."
"It's kind of crazy," Jones, 72, told The Associated Press of Bonner's death. "I'm still feeling fragile."
Jones said after years of playing music, the band's sudden stardom, with No. 1 singles and huge crowds in venues such as the Superdome in New Orleans, was stunning.
"I sit back now, and it was all a brilliant blaze," he said. "I think 'Damn, did I do that?' It was just 'Zoom!' That was a s tarburst. And like all things like that, it fizzles."
Jones said he, Bonner and other band members were delighted and flattered when "Love Rollercoaster" gained new fans through a 1990s cover by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Bonner had said he learned about music in Hamilton, where he was the oldest of a large family, playing harmonica, learning guitar and sneaking into bars as an adolescent to play with adult musicians. He said he ran away from his home some 20 miles north of Cincinnati at age 14, and told the Hamilton JournalNews in 2009 that he had only gone back there once. He explained he had bad memories of growing up poor.
He wound up in Dayton, where he connected with the players who would form the band. Their lineup changed at times, but featured horns, bass, guitar, drums and keyboards.
"We were players. We weren't trying to be lead singers, but we became one of the first crossover singing bands," Bonner told the Dayton Daily News in a 2003 interview. He said he initially played with his back to the audience, because he didn't want to get distracted.
While the band used sexual innuendo, Bonner said he didn't relate to some of the explicit lyrics and attitudes of later pop music and rap.
"There is nothing but the old school and the new fools," he said. "It's a shame the way these artists are preaching badness to a drum beat."
Way before their #1 Disco Hits "Fire" and "Love Rollercoaster", we first discovered The Ohio Players as a funk band when their 1973 Hit "Funky Worm" went to #15 on the pop charts. (Talk about your Forgotten Hits ... when is the last time you heard THIS one?!?!?) While their music always did well on Billboard's R&B Chart, their other Top 40 Pop Hits include "Ecstasy" (#31, 1973); "Skin Tight" (#13, 1974); "Sweet Sticky Thing" (#33, 1975); "Fopp" (#30, 1976) and "Who'd She Coo?" (#18, 1976).   kk
NOTE:  DivShare is not working properly this morning ... so we'll have to share "Funky Worm" at a later date.

Oh yeah ... while I was never a big fan of the group, I may have noticed a couple of their album covers in the stores ... 
Click here: Album Cover Gallery: Ohio Players complete album gallery (kk)    

Also passing away this week was Patty Andrews of the Andrews Sisters ... here is a piece from FH Reader Fred Vail:
Yes, they may have pre-dated rock by 20 years -- their first hit was 1937 -- but very few recording artists in history had the track record and impact that The Andrews Sisters brought to the music scene. They were heroes to the millions of GI's they entertained thoughout WW2.
And now, nearly 75 years after America's entry into that war, nothing quite captures that period like the music of Glenn Miller, The Andrews Sisters, Bing Crosby and Sinatra and The Dorsey's. If Benny Goodman was the King of Swing, Patty, Laverne and Maxine were certainly the 'Queens' of Swing and Jitterbug music.
Not only great harmony but an overall totally entertaining act -- dance, slapstick, you name it -- they did it and did it superbly. RIP Patty Andrews -- at age 94 you certainly led a great life and left an even greater music legacy.
Fred / Treasure Isle

Here's one you're going to want to catch the next time it comes around.
It's a brand new documentary called "Paul Williams: Still Alive", a warts-and-all profile of one of the most successful songwriters of the '70's. Williams became a Pop Culture Icon, warbling God-awful renditions of the hit songs he wrote for other artists like (most notably) The Carpenters, Three Dog Night, Barbra Streisand, Helen Reddy ... and Kermit The Frog!!! (In fact, just TRY getting "The Rainbow Connection" out of your head after you watch this special!) He also starred in numerous TV shows and movies and was a fixture on the talk shows and "celebrity stars" specials. (There is quite a bit of footage here of Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show where Williams was almost a staple ... as well as vintage clips of Paul sky-diving out of an airplay and canoodling on The Love Boat.
Deeply entrenched in drugs and alcohol (but clean and sober now for over twenty years), film-maker Steve Kessler does an exceptional job of creating just the right balance to show the ups and downs of Paul's fabled career. Highly recommended. (kk)
Now playing on Showtime (and available next week on DVD)
Here's a blurb from Jeff March's daily "Where Have All The Pop Stars Gone" Facebook Post:
"Can't You Hear My Heartbeat," the second chart hit by Herman's Hermits, made its debut at No. 85 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart on January 30, 1965, and cracked into the top 40 within three weeks. The label gave songwriting credit to "John Carter and Ken Lewis," which were the pen names of John N. Shakespeare and Kenneth A.J. Hawker -- who wrote Danny Hutton's 1966 tune "Funny How Love Can Be" and the Music Explosion's 1967 hit "Little Bit o' Soul." Mickie Most produced the recording session for "Can't You Hear My Heartbeat," which climbed the U.S. pop charts as high as No. 2, a position it held for two weeks, as described in the Herman's Hermits chapter of "Where Have All the Pop Stars Gone? -- Volume 1." The song remained on the charts for 15 weeks. In the U.K., Columbia Records released "Can't You Hear My Heartbeat" as the "B" side of "Silhouettes."
-- Jeff March
You can get your daily dose of rock and roll trivia here:
Frannie and I watched the premier of the new FX Television Series "The Americans" last night ... and quite enjoyed the espionage of the modern-day Cold War, circa 1981 ... just enough thrills, suspense and humor to keep you glued to the screen. Special props to whoever is in charge of the music being used on this program. It kicks off with The Who's "Eminence Front" (which actually peaked on the charts in 1983 but that's just me quibbling.) The song is being used in their advertising campaign for the new series and also plays well as the series theme song. (You just can't have enough Who songs being used as television themes!!! Seriously though, this is one of my favorites ... and it really sets the mood for the series.) The opening scene had "Harden My Heart" by Quarterflash playing in the background ... a song you still hear fairly often on the radio ... and there was a fun, playful scene of the KGB Russian Agent shopping at the mall with his daughter, trying on a pair of cowboy boots and then practicing his Texas two-step in the floor shoe mirror to Juice Newton's "Queen Of Hearts". And, of course, you had the obligatory "In The Air Tonight" by Phil Collins pulsating in the background during a love-making scene. (Hey, they were using this one on television soundtracks as far back as they '80's ... so while it remains on my radio over-played list, it TOTALLY fit within the context of this episode ... and, in all honesty, it sounded GREAT!) It was a nice blend of late '70's / early '80's music that lends itself well to the soundtrack ... in my case, almost to the point of distraction ... but also to my pure enjoyment. That's because the OTHER music that really blew me away. "Tusk" by Fleetwood Mac was used to great effect in a couple of scenes (and I have a feeling will continue to be used for these more intense situations). I heard Bob Stroud play this as his One 45 at 1:45 feature a couple of months ago and it took me weeks to get it out of my head ... now it's back! (We even featured it as our Today's Forgotten Hit ... as, despite all of the over-saturation of the other Fleetwood Mac music on the radio, this is one you rarely if ever hear ... a bizarre track that had everybody scratching their heads when it was first released ... but much catchier now, all these years later. There was also a great scene that included April Wine's "Roller", another track you rarely hear. The music director has done a great job of capturing the spirit of the music of this era ... and obviously is a bit of a fan himself, to come up with some of these great distractions! Overall, this show looks like a winner ... and we'll keep watching. Do yourself a favor and check it out On Demand and see if you agree. (kk)