Thursday, August 29, 2013

6 from the '60's

It all starts here with a kid named Gary Schelton out of Fort Wayne, Indiana.

In 1961, he changes his name to Troy Shondell and scores a Top Ten Hit with his very first chart record, "This Time".  That record went all the way to #1 here in Chicago where it got a HELL of a lot of airplay and became a huge hit.

Incredibly, kids in the Midwest hearing that record think that "Shondell" is such a cool name that TWO bands spring up at the same time, calling themselves "The Shondells".

One was led by a kid out of Niles, Michigan, named Tommy Jackson ... who changed HIS name to Tommy James.  In 1963, his group The Shondells recorded a song that they found on the B-Side of an old Raindrops 45 called "Hanky Panky" for the local Snap Records label.  They sold copies at some of their live shows and it got a little bit of airplay on the local radio stations but, for the most part, the record went absolutely nowhere ... until a disc jockey in Pennsylvania started playing it on his show.  When he did, the song exploded and Tommy James had to move to the East Coast, put together a brand new band of Shondells (the others had long since broken up) in order to tour in support of the record and record some new material.  In the process, they became one of the biggest acts of the '60's.

Meanwhile, that left a bunch of young teenagers in Berwyn, Illinois, with a problem.  They were now going to have to change THEIR name from "The Shondells" to something else.  Studying the William Shakespear play "Julius Caesar" in school, the band zeroed in on the whole "Beware The Ides Of March" theme ... and suddenly rechristened themselves "The Ides Of March".  Their BIGGEST hit would come in 1970 when "Vehicle" topped the charts all over the country ... but in 1966 they released one of MY favorite hits of the '60's, "You Wouldn't Listen".

Speaking of William Shakespear, he wrote a few other things you may have heard of ... including a little ditty called "Romeo And Juliet".  (You didn't REALLY think I was going to say "Jack And Diane", did you?!?!?)  Another group out of the Midwest ... Michigan this time ... called The Reflections took their up-tempo pop love song "(Just Like) Romeo And Juliet" into the Top Ten right at the upstart of The British Invasion in 1964 ... and this one STILL sounds great every time it comes on the radio.  A true '60's classic.

Speaking of Michigan ... and "Reflections" ... Motown Records, "The Sound Of Young America" out of Detroit, carved out a HUGE piece of musical pie for themselves in the '60's, dominating the charts throughout the decade with hit after hit after hit.  Perhaps their most successful act of this era was The Supremes, who in 1967, changed their name to Diana Ross and the Supremes and recorded this soulful slice of psychedelia, "Reflections", yet another HUGE Top Ten Hit for the group.

And finally, while Motown may have been the music of choice in Detroit in the '60's, it wasn't the ONLY music being played up there.  A young man by the name of Bob Seger scored his very first Top 40 Hit in 1968 with a GREAT track called "Ramblin' Gamblin' Man".  It would be nearly ten years before he'd have another one ... but Seger has gone on to become one of the best-known, best-loved ambassadors of rock and roll ... one of our elder statesmen, if you will, who is still packing them in today.

Six great songs from the '60's ... all of which (if you stretch things far enough) have something to do with one another ... all of which are featured today in Forgotten Hits ... as the '60's continue during our very special salute.