Monday, May 20, 2013

Monday Morning Melodies

Who would have ever thought that Generation 2010 would embrace some of these vintage tracks as part of their musical landscape?

But, thanks to repeated use in movies and television commercials, we've found that even some of the most unlikely candidates can be popular again with a whole new generation ... you just need to introduce them to it!

Makes you wonder how they might react to some of these pseudo-vintage "other era" oldies!

Why not give a couple of these tracks a spin ... and test drive this theory yourself.  We would LOVE to hear the results.  (Who knows ... you just might win over a new listener or two along the way!)   

re: ALAN O'DAY:  
Wow - I hadn't heard the news about Alan O'Day, though I knew he had been declining over the past couple of months. We were fortunate enough to see him a couple of times at some writers' night gigs here over the past couple of years. A super nice guy all around - not to mention some incredible talent.  
David Lewis
Alan's last release, "I Hear Voices", holds up well against anything I've heard these past few years. He was enormously talented and gifted as a songwriter and I am so happy I got to know him a little bit over the past few years. This one hit me hard ... he knew what he was up against (and really didn't want that information shared with the rest of the world) ... yet he stayed active and dynamic through it all. (Witness his newest track from the film "You Don't Say".An under-appreciated talent for sure. (kk) 

Hello Kent, 
Thank you for all of your wonderful help on my Monkees book. I received an email this morning about the passing of Alan O'Day. What a shock! I had the chance to meet him a couple of times. He was a very funny and joyful human being. I was planning to interview him about Davy Jones recording his song "Rubberene." I wonder if anybody ever talked to him about that song. I certainly would like to include Alan in my book. As each day passes by, we are losing family members and friends who have touched our lives in a very special way. Embrace the moment and make every minute count. We lost our undercover angel to rock & roll heaven. 
Peace & Love, 

Hi Kent, 
Very sad to hear about the passing of Alan O'Day. I called him about a year ago to ask him some questions out of the of the blue. He was recording in his studio but took the time to speak with me for a few minutes. What a talented man and a class act. He will surely be missed.
Cory Cooper

At 2:00 on Sunday Afternoon the #1 Search on Yahoo was "Alan O'Day Dies" ... who would have ever thought? What a GREAT honor to this man. (#2 was "$600 Million Dollar Powerball Winner" ... man, how is that even possible?!?!?) Whodathunkit? But his music ... "Undercover Angel", "Rock And Roll Heaven", "Angie Baby" and others ... touched our lives. Isn't it sad that so many of these artists never see or hear this recognition and appreciation when they're still with us? I'm sure radio stations all over the country were playing some of Alan's tunes this past weekend and recognizing his contributions then. Alan, I am happy to have known you ... but SO sad to see you go. (kk)     

Several years ago Forgotten Hits did a little bit of digging to get to the bottom as to who really wrote the song "Rock And Roll Heaven", the #3 Hit for The Righteous Brothers back in 1974. The "controversy" began after we (and a few other FH Readers) heard Sonny Geraci talking about how HE had a hand in the writing of this song. This was news to me ... and to quite a few other people as well, who actually WERE involved in the writing of this song! 
Now Sonny Geraci is generally recognized as being the first artist to RECORD this song ... he cut it with his group Climax in the early '70's (albeit a slightly different version lyrically, as you can hear by the sound clip included below.) We talked to a couple of the principles who where there at the time and asked them to share their recollections with our readers. (kk)

'60's FLASHBACK:  
>>>I didn't know that Sonny Geraci wrote "Rock & Roll Heaven"!  (Mitch Schecter / The Rip Chords )  
>>>Huh? Alan O'Day wrote it. (David Lewis) 
The impression Mitch got from the concert was that Sonny had the original idea for the song and co-wrote at least some of the lyrics. FH Reader Tom Cuddy (who was at the same show) explains that a member of Sonny's band started the song ... but then Sonny turned it over to his friend Alan O'Day to finish. I can only tell you that when I saw Sonny last July, he ABSOLUTELY gave the impression that he had a hand in writing the song. (I believe that he was also the first artist to record it when he was fronting the group Climax, who had the huge hit with "Precious And Few" back in 1972 ... but it went absolutely NOWHERE until it landed in the hands of The Righteous Brothers a few years later.) 
I asked Alan O'Day about this last year when I first heard Sonny's story but never got a response. I'm hoping that this time he can shed a little light on this for our readers ... if only to help us once again present "The Most Accurate Truth". The publishing papers that I've seen do NOT list Geraci's name on this song ... but what I heard with my own two ears certainly implied that he not only had a hand in writing it but that it was his original inspiration that kicked the whole thing off in the first place. (Also, a quick check of Joel Whitburn's book doesn't list John Stevenson as a member of Climax so, again, I'm confused as to his connection to Sonny and / or Alan.) Help us out, Alan!!! (kk)
Hi Kent,
Thanks for asking!
"Rock 'n' Roll Heaven" as a title was being performed live by Johnny Stevenson in a Los Angeles club when Warner Brothers Music Professional Manager Artie Wayne heard it, took Johnny aside, and told him that the chorus and the title was a hit concept, but the verses needed to be written better. I was a staff writer with WB Music at the time. Artie put Johnny with me and we wrote it together, with verses referring to rockers who had passed on. Sonny Geraci was not present at that point and I don't believe I even met him until sometime later. I demoed the song on my analog 4 track recorder, with Johnny and me singing ... then WB "showed" the song and got it cut by "Climax, featuring Sonny Geraci".
I have never heard Sonny claim that it was his idea, although I know he sings it in his show; and I don't remember Johnny ever saying anything to that effect. But as often happens, memories get cloudy over time (including mine) and everyone has their own perspective. Whatever dialogue or inspiration might have occurred between Johnny and Sonny, I was not aware.
I can't put my hands on the O'Day / Stevenson demo, but attached is Sonny's version from the vinyl single. You may notice that the people mentioned in the verse are different than those on the Righteous Brothers' later version (also attached). For that story, I'll quote (with permission) from Artie Wayne's book "I Did It For A Song": 
Dennis Lambert remembers, “I had signed the Righteous Brothers to my label, Haven, in 1974. Brian Potter and I were gathering songs and writing for them when Al Coury (President of Capitol) sent me a demo of “Rock And Roll Heaven”. After listening to it and recognizing its potential for the Righteous Brothers, Brian and I realized that it could really benefit from an “updating” in light of who had passed away in recent years (Jim Croce, Bobby Darin, etc.) I asked Alan if he and Johnny would consider doing a rewrite. Alan suggested WE do it and run it by him and John when we were done. That’s what we did … they were happy (we didn’t ask for anything) … we were happy (an already good song was made timelier) … the Righteous Brothers were happy (they really liked the production) and we had a smash hit in the weeks and months that followed.”
© 2011 by Artie Wayne
I was always impressed that Dennis and Brian didn't ask for a piece of the song for doing such a great rewrite. But this turned into a win - win situation with the Righteous Brothers' "comeback" hit.
Fast forward to 2007. Still friends with Artie Wayne, who reminded me (repeatedly) that R&RH needed another update. Finally, with his help, I crafted new lyrics to celebrate more recent "icons", and we produced a demo in Nashville with talented artist and session singer, Ronnie Kimball.
I hope your readers will visit my site and click on the updated tribute: (We're certainly open to suggestions for current artists to record the song!) There's also a cool YouTube video, produced by Sebastian Prooth:
Best to you and all your subscribers!

THE MOST ACCURATE TRUTH: Once again, we're presenting "The Most Accurate Truth" regarding "Rock And Roll Heaven", as told to us by one of its principle songwriters. Our intention here is only to set the record straight (and nothing more) and if Sonny Geraci would like to offer an opposing point of view, additional facts and insight or share a few more memories in this regard, we're certainly welcome to hear them. (Johnny Stevenson passed away a while back so his "back story", unfortunately, is not an option. And, since this piece first ran, Sonny Geraci had some serious health issues of his own. However, we never did hear an opposing view to the story we presented so we're sticking by our findings.)  
My feeling is, simply put, that Geraci is not (nor has he ever been) regarded as a songwriter ... a great singer, to be sure, but a successful track record in songwriting really isn't part of his resume. However, Sonny very well may have been instrumental in the original concept of this tune ... but if he was, Alan was not aware of it, nor did Stevenson ever convey this to him. In that two very well known and successful songwriters (Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter) did, in fact, contribute to the writing of this hit ... without even taking any credit for doing so ... it just doesn't seem right to have someone who quite likely had NOTHING to do with the actual writing of the song imply that they did. Makes for a great story on stage, I'm sure ... not unlike Micky Dolenz recently telling fans how he partied with The Beatles and then went into the studio to watch them record "Oh! Darling" ... great story ... but the simple fact is, it NEVER really happened. (kk)   

Hi Kent -
Saw the Ides of March and Peter Noone and Hermans Hermits at the Aurora Paramount Theater
They were great ...  
The Ides opened the show and shared stories that the originals have been friends since "Cub Scouts". They will celebrate their 50th anniversary next year!! 
Peter Noone and Hermans Hermits were FANTASTIC! They did all their hits plus Peter did imitations of Mick Jagger, Tom Jones and Davy Jones! He added a lot of funny jokes and his band were colorful and very upbeat, dancing on the stage!!! He is adorable and I would definitely see them again!!!! 
He was giving autographs in the lobby after the show, but I couldn't stay. The British Invasion is well and alive!!!!  
Peter Noone and Herman's Hermits NEVER disappoint ... ALWAYS a rousing show ... and a GREAT time! The Ides Of March were an odd choice as the opening act but their performance is always solid an entertaining. We didn't make it to this one (talked about it but it never happened). Glad to hear that you had a great time! (kk)

I haven't seen this posted here before so thought I'd pass this along. 
Bobby Vee, Freddy Cannon, Connie Francis, Fabian, Dick Clark, and more on Hollywood Squares in the late 70's. Here's the link for part 1. You'll see the link to part 2 at the site.  
Reminded me how much I loved that show.  
Click here: Bobby Vee & More on Hollywood Squares Rock and Roll Legends Week 1978 Part 2 - YouTube  
VERY cool ... no, I'd never seen this before. 
I was talking to Scott Shannon last night and we hit on the topic of The Rock And Roll Hall of Fame ... and how they don't ever seem to go back to correct so many of the oversights they've made along the way. Instead they just keep focusing on the brand new "eligibles" passing the 25-year mark since their first recording, continuing to ignore so many of the artists they've snubbed before ... artists like Connie Francis, Chubby Checker, Freddy Cannon ... and so many others that helped shape the very sound of rock and roll. Not to mention '70's staples like Chicago, The Guess Who, The Moody Blues and Hall and Oates, the most successful duo of all time. Sadly, at this rate SO many more of these artists will leave us before they ever get their due ... if they ever do at all.
Meanwhile, cool clip ... I don't even remember them ever doing this! (kk)