Friday, April 5, 2013

Gary Lewis and the Playboys - Part 2


Let's face it ... Forgotten Hits is known for asking those tough, hard-hitting questions ...

To Ron Dante:  "Who's that bangin' on the piano?"

To Al Kooper:  "What the hell do you DO at 5:30 AM on a Sunday Morning?!?!?"

To Alan O'Day:  "A Forgotten Hits Reader tells me that The Book Of Rock Lists mentions Undercover Angel as one of the best songs about masturbation ... and he wants to know if this is really what that song is about ... so please tell us ... is this assessment right on the money ... or perhaps just a beat off?"  

So ... after all the talk earlier this past week about the Mae West album (and whether or not it featured Gary Lewis and the Playboys or, as the LP indicated, a band called Somebody's Chyldren) ... and all this talk about "Sure Gonna Miss Her" ... it got me to wondering ... 

Did Dino, Desi and Billy ever do any gigs with Gary Lewis and the Playboys?  

Think about it for a second ... aren't you just a little bit curious as to how the second generation dynamics played out between Martin and Lewis?  

I mean their dads were like The Beatles of comedy for that generation ... mob scenes and riots and then 30 years of not speaking to each other.  

I hadn't ever really thought about this before ... and I'd never seen any other publication question it ... so now I just HAD to know!!!  

(I already find it INCREDIBLY interesting to think that nearly EVERY kid in America caught the rock and roll bug in the mid-'60's after seeing The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show ... no matter WHO their parents were!!! And I figured that the REAL scoop just might make for an interesting story or two that we could share with our readers.)  

So I asked Billy Hinsche what he knew about any of this ... and then he passed my inquiry on to Gary Lewis, too. (Sadly both Dean and Dino are gone ... but Gary and Jerry are still around.)  

Part of the premise of Martin and Lewis was that Jerry Lewis was the clown ... the incomparable buffoon ... while Dean was the suave and sophisticated leading man ... a golden-voiced crooner to boot ... with handsome, debonair looks. (Jerry meanwhile seemed to go out of his way to look and act like a chimpanzee!!!)  

So imagine how Dean must have felt ... after the duo had split and gone their separate ways ... when Jerry Lewis wound up on the pop charts with a Top Ten Hit when he recorded the old Al Jolson classic "Rock-A-Bye Your Baby With A Dixie Melody"!!! 


Dean would continue to have pop hits, too ... even knocking The Beatles out of the #1 spot in 1964 with "Everybody Loves Somebody". He reinvented himself as the lovable drunk and hosted his own television series for years ... later acting as Master Of Ceremonies for a long-lasting series of Celebrity Roasts.

But what about the kids? Did they get along? Was there a respect (or competition) between them? Were they in any way influenced by whatever ill will may have been circulating between their parents? I just had to know!!!

So I asked!

But ...  as is sometimes the case ...

Unfortunately, the story isn't as exciting as I had hoped. (Not that I was looking to dish some dirt, mind you ... but I wasn't expecting to find out that the two never crossed paths at all!) 

Here is what Billy Hinsche had to say: 

Hi Kent,
The short answer is no, Dino, Desi & Billy never did any gigs with Gary Lewis and the Playboys.
The longer answer is that I had never even met Gary until about 10 years ago, just prior to when he teamed up with Ricci Martin for a Martin & Lewis "reunion" in Las Vegas at The Suncoast Hotel (where I was the Musical Director for Ricci's tribute to his dad) to do a few songs made famous by the original Martin & Lewis comedy team featuring Dean & Jerry. "Every Street's a Boulevard in Old New York" was one of the songs. It was the only show they ever performed together onstage, to my knowledge.
Getting back to your original question - DD&B grew up in Beverly Hills and were a few years younger than Gary, who grew up in nearby Bel Air, We attended different grammar schools and high schools and never got acquainted as I said, until recently. I have never met his father but have met a few of his brothers since meeting Gary, who I now consider a dear friend. We see each other whenever he performs in Vegas and I always enjoy spending time with him and his lovely wife, Donna, whenever they come to town.
I hope your readers find this story of interest,
Billy Hinsche  

Meanwhile, Gary Lewis tells us that there's really no story here ... he never even MET Dino Martin!!! (And see, I would have thought that the rebellious kids of the '60's wouldn't have cared WHAT their parents thought ... they still would have gone their own way ... but apparently this wasn't the case with these guys.) Interesting to see, however, that Gary has since done a "Martin And Lewis Reunion" with Ricci Martin, as described by Billy Hinsche above. (kk)  

I'm sorry to say that I never met Dino Martin, or ever spoke to him and never collaborated with him in any way. So there's nothing I can tell you about that. Sorry it's such a nothing story.

How big were Gary Lewis and the Playboys???
Check out this list of hit records below!
(And a pretty impressive list it is, too!!!)

1965 - This Diamond Ring (National Peak = #1)
1965 - Count Me In (#2)
1965 - Save Your Heart For Me (#2)
1965 - Everybody Loves A Clown (#4)
1966 - She's Just My Style (#2)
1966 - Sure Gonna Miss Her (#8)
1966 - Green Grass (#6)
1966 - My Heart's Symphony (#10)
1966 - (You Don't Have To) Paint Me A Picture (#15)
1967 - Where Will The Words Come From (#20)
1967 - The Loser (With A Broken Heart) #31
1967 - Ice Melts In The Sun (#121)
1967 - Girls In Love (#35)
1967 - Jill (#30)
1968 - Sealed With A Kiss (#8)
1968- Main Street (#67)
1969 - Rhythm Of The Rain (#49) 

And it wouldn't be Forgotten Hits if we didn't feature at least one of these ... and it's one of my favorites.

Kind of a different direction for the band at the time, here's "Where Will The Words Come From", a #20 Hit from 1967.

And I just HAD to share this clip one more time ... I love it!!!  (Seth McFarlane REALLY outdid himself with this one!)

And be sure to catch Gary Lewis and the Playboys as part of The Happy Together Tour this summer. 

Joining them on stage will be Gary Puckett, Mark Lindsay, Chuck Negron and (of course!) The Turtles (aka Flo and Eddie ... aka Howard Kayland and Mark Volman ... aka Howard Kaylan and the Full-Blown Somethings!) An incredible 65 Top 40 Hits between them!!! 

Check the website for concert dates and locations near you!
Click here: Tour Schedule

Dates so far:
May 21st - NYCB Theatre at Westbury - Westbury, NY
June 8th - Hard Rock Live Biloxi - Biloxi, MS
June 11th - Stafford Centre - Stafford, TX
June 12th - Wagner Noel Performing Arts Center - Midland, TX
June 13th - Long Center for the Performing Arts - Austin, TX
June 14th - Ruth Eckerd Hall - Clearwater, FL
June 15th - Seminole Coconut Creek Casino - Coconut Creek, FL
June 19th - Keswick Theatre - Glenside, PA
June 20th - State Theatre - New Brunswick, NJ
June 21st - NYCB Theatre Westbury - Westbury, NY
June 22nd - Tarrytown Music Hall - Tarrytown, NY
June 23rd - Filene Center At Wofl Trap - Vienna, VA
June 26th - Cain Park - Cleveland Heights, OH
June 27th - Penns Peak - Jim Thorpe, PA
June 28th - Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom - Hampton, NH
June 29th - North Shore Music Theatre - Beverly, MA
June 30th - American Music Theatre - Lancaster, PA
July 4th - San Diego County Fair / Del Mar Fairgrounds - Del Mar, CA
July 9th - Sandy Amphitheater - Sandy, UT
July 10th - Taachi Palace Hotel and Casino - Lemoore, CA
July 11th - Chumash Casino - Santa Ynez, CA
July 27th - Paramount Theatre - Asbury Park, NJ
August 2nd - Casino Rama - Rama, Canada
August 3rd - The Colosseum at Caesars Windsor - Windsor, Canada
August 4th - The Wisconsin State Fair - West Allis, WI
August 6th - Indiana State Fairgrounds - Indianapolis, IN
August 7th - Fraze Pavilion - Kettering, OH
August 8th - Centennial Terrace - Sylvania, OH
August 9th - Iowa State Fair - Des Moines, IA
August 21st - Effingham Performance Center - Effingham, IL
August 22nd - Kentucky State Fairgrounds - Louisville, KY
August 23rd - Paramount Theatre - Aurora, IL
August 25th - Corn Palace - mitchell, SD
August 26th - Minnesota State Fairgrounds - St. Paul, MN
August 27th - The Sanford Center - Bemidji, MN
August 28th - McPhillips Street Station Casino - Winnipeg, Canada
August 30th - Little River Casino - Manistee, MI
Always check the website first for new additions and verification