Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Saturday Surveys ( 07 - 26 )

Every Friday we've been looking back 50 years to re-examine The British Invasion ... but here in St. Paul, Minnesota, it looks like it's America's Band that's topping the chart this week in 1964.

The Beach Boys have a two-sided hit with "I Get Around" / "Don't Worry Baby" ... and you'll find Johnny Rivers, The Four Seasons, Roger Miller and Jan and Dean firmly positioned in The Top Ten this week, too.

That isn't to say that British Acts aren't well represented.  Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas hold down the #2 spot with a two-sided hit of their own, "Little Children" / "Bad To Me", followed by The Dave Clark Five at #7 with "Can't You See That She's Mine" and Dusty Springfield's "Wishin' And Hopin'" at #9.  Peter and Gordon have back-to-back hits on the countdown this week with "A World Without Love" at #12 and their follow-up release "Nobody I Know" at #13.  Both songs were written by the hit song-writing team of John Lennon and Paul McCartney who also happen to have the #14 record this week with their very OWN two-sided hit "A Hard Day's Night" / "I Should Have Known Better".  (You'll also find The Beatles at #35 with "Love Me Do" / "P.S. I Love You" and premiering at #39 with "Ain't She Sweet", a tune they recorded in Germany several years earlier.)

I think it's great that one survey can encompass so many different styles of music ... jazz ("The Girl From Ipanema" by Getz and Gilberto) at #17, show-tunes ("People" by Barbra Streisand at #25), folk music ("Today" by The New Christy Minstrels at #37), Motown Soul ("My Guy" and "Where Did Our Love Go" by Mary Wells and The Supremes respectively), the Sounds of The British Invasion, middle-of-the-road stuff like Dean Martin's "Everybody Loves Somebody" playing right alongside The Trashmen with their latest, "Peppermint Man".

The Beach Boys also topped this KDKA Chart from 1965 with "California Girls".  (Probably not a whole lot of surfin' goin' on in Pittsburgh that summer!)  Their latest jumps from #14 to the top of the charts!

The Righteous Brothers have a two-sided hit at #2 with "Unchained Melody" / "Hung On You" and The Beatles premier at #10 with their latest, "Help!"

Check out the #4 Record ... "Happy Feet Time" by The Monclairs.  (This one "bubbled under" in Billboard, peaking at #108 ... but here in Pittsburgh, it was a Top Five smash!)  And they weren't a local group either ... Joel Whitburn's book refers to The Monclairs as "an R&B band from Cleveland, Ohio"!

All-in-all, an interesting Top 50 Chart from this week in 1965.

Now here's a station that clearly went its own way!  

Check out THIS Top Five ... The Carpenters are on top with "Yesterday Once More", followed by The Charlie Daniels Band with their first big pop hit "Uneasy Rider".  Another somewhat novelty country / swamp song follows by way of Jim Stafford's "Swamp Witch", a song that predated his big break-through hit "Spiders And Snakes" by about six months.  (It only climbed as high as #39 in Billboard ... so seeing it at #3 is a real treat!)

And then you've got Deep Purple with THEIR classic "Smoke On The Water" settled in at #4 ... and Gilbert O'Sullivan climbing to #5 with his latest, "Get Down", a record that would top the charts here in Chicago.

The Carpenters ... Jim Stafford ... Charlie Daniels ... Gilbert O'Sullivan ... and Deep Purple ... ALL ranking in The Top Five this week on KOMA!!!  (Now THOSE were the golden days of Top 40 AM Radio!!!  lol)

You'll find a couple of other country cross-over hits as you scale down the survey ... "Behind Closed Doors" by Charlie Rich, "Lord Mr. Ford" by Jerry Reed and "I'd Rather Be A Cowboy" by John Denver just to name a few.

There are also a couple of other novelty tracks ... "Monster Mash" by Bobby "Boris" Pickett and "Back When My Hair Was Short" but Gunhill Road are at numbers 8 and 7 respectively ... but rockin' hits like "Money" by Pink Floyd and "We're An American Band" by Grand Funk Railroad also found a spot on the chart this week.  And check out the David Gates solo hit "Clouds" at #22 this week, too.

There are a few surprising Top Ten Hits on this KXOK Chart from 1969, too!

The Grass Roots hold down the #1 Spot with their latest, "I'd Wait A Million Years", something they were never able to achieve on the Billboard Charts.  The #3 Hit is "Abergavenny" by Shannon, a song that did pretty well here in Chicago, too ... but peaked at #47 on the Billboard Hot 100 Pop Singles Chart.  Cat Mother and the All-Night Newsboys are at #4 with "Good Old Rock And Roll" (a song we featured a few weeks back) and Elvis is at #6 with "Clean Up Your Own Backyard",  a record that wouldn't climb any higher than #35 on the Billboard chart.

Sitting at #11 is the Underground Sunshine version of The Beatles' classic "Birthday".  (That record went all the way to #2 here in Chicago ... but petered out at #26 in  Billboard.)  Listening back to it now, it's a wonder it charted at all ... it's a pretty awful rendition!   And check out The Rolling Stones at #17 with their mis-spelled hit "Honkey Tonk Woman" (which has an extra "e" where it doesn't belong ... and is MISSING the "e" where it does!!!)

And what's wrong with THIS chart from Radio Splendid 1200?  Well for one thing all of the songs listed are from about six months EARLIER on everybody else's charts!!!  In fact, "Mellow Yellow" dates back to the previous year!!!

But tracks like "I'm A Believer", "Good Thing", "Penny Lane", "Kind Of A Drag", "Ruby Tuesday", 'Tell It Like It Is", "Snoopy Vs. The Red Baron" and "Georgy Girl" were all Top Ten Hits in January and February of 1967 ... NOT at the end of July!!!

So this is either a SERIOUS typo on the date ... or maybe D. Michael was broadcasting out of his basement at the time.  (I can't find any official call letters anywhere on this chart ... nor the name of a city!)

It IS cool to see The Cryan' Shames ranking at #14 with "I Want To Meet You" (actually "I Wanna Meet You" on the label) ... and check out The Electric Prunes' hit "I Had Too Much To Drink"!!! (lol)  While that very well may have been true, the REAL title of their biggest hit was "I Had Too Much To DREAM (Last Night)"!!!  They've also got The Casinos premiering at #25 this week with "Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye" ... which debuted in Billboard back on January 14th ... a full 24 weeks earlier!!!

Friday, July 25, 2014

50 Years Ago This Weekend (7/25)

THE BEATLES' latest hit, A HARD DAY'S NIGHT leaps from #21 to #2 this week on the Billboard Hot 100 Pop Singles Chart … it'll top the charts in another week.  Its flip side, I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER, makes the chart this week as well, debuting at #75.  Never one to miss an opportunity to sell additional BEATLES product, Capitol Records rush releases two more singles from the film's soundtrack … AND I LOVE HER / IF I FELL and I'LL CRY INSTEAD / I'M HAPPY JUST TO DANCE WITH YOU.  Eventually they'll all chart … but this week AND I LOVE HER is the first to do so, premiering at #80.  (BEATLES Movie soundtrack music could also be found on two hot new LPs … the A HARD DAY'S NIGHT Motion Picture Soundtrack Album released by United Artists … and SOMETHING NEW, a new hodge-podge compilation LP slapped together by Capitol Records.  Didn't matter … we still bought 'em both!)  In fact, GEORGE MARTIN's instrumental version of THIS BOY (now retitled RINGO'S THEME for the film) ALSO broke into the charts this week, debuting at #94.

Other British Invasion Hits on the Billboard singles chart this week:  CAN'T YOU SEE THAT SHE'S MINE by THE DAVE CLARK FIVE (#7), WISHIN' AND HOPIN' by DUSTY SPRINGFIELD (#9), NOBODY I KNOW by PETER AND GORDON (#14), DON'T LET THE SUN CATCH YOU CRYING by GERRY AND THE PACEMAKERS  (#17), DON'T THROW YOUR LOVE AWAY by THE SEARCHERS (#21), BAD TO ME by BILLY J. KRAMER AND THE DAKOTAS (#24), A WORLD WITHOUT LOVE by PETER AND GORDON (#28), YOU'RE MY WORLD by CILLA BLACK (#31), LITTLE CHILDREN by BILLY J. KRAMER AND THE DAKOTAS (#41), TELL ME by THE ROLLING STONES (#49), I BELIEVE by THE BACHELORS (#50), HOW DO YOU DO IT by GERRY AND THE PACEMAKERS (and featured last week in Forgotten Hits), at #53, NOT FADE AWAY by THE ROLLING STONES (#58), AIN'T SHE SWEET by THE BEATLES at #67, giving THE FAB FOUR a total of FOUR songs on the chart this week, and IT'S ALL OVER NOW, a brand new ROLLING STONES release, holding down the #100 spot.  That gives the British Rockers nearly 20% of the positions on this week's chart.

Here in Chicago, "A Hard Day's Night" / "I Should Have Known Better" moves into the #2 position on The WLS Silver Dollar Survey, just behind "Rag Doll" by The Four Seasons.  (Fittingly, The Four Seasons replaced The Beach Boys at the top of the WLS Silver Dollar Survey the week before!)  Dean Martin has wedged his way between The Beatles and The Dave Clark Five with his eventual chart-topper "Everybody Loves Somebody" (#3), pushing The Dave Clark Five's hit "Can't You See That She's Mine" down to the #4 spot.  At #5 are Jan and Dean with "Little Old Lady From Pasadena" before three British hits in a row hold steady in the Chicagoland Top Ten:  "Don't Throw Your Love Away" by The Searchers (#6), "Nobody I Know" by Peter and Gordon (#7) and "Don't Let The Sun Catch You Crying" by Gerry and the Pacemakers (#8).

Other Chicagoland British charters include "Wishin' And Hopin" by Dusty Springfield at #12, "I Believe" by The Bachelors at #21, "I'll Keep You Satisfied" by Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas, new on the chart at #28 (another track given to them by the songwriting team of Lennon and McCartney), "How Do You Do It" by Gerry and the Pacemakers at #30, another new two-sided hit for The Fab Four at #35 ("I'm Happy Just To Dance With You" / "I'll Cry Instead", more soundtrack music from "A Hard Day's Night" … Capitol Records would release a total of THREE singles from this film!), followed by a brand new hit at #38 by Lulu and the Luvers, featuring their version of a rock and roll classic, "Shout"!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Thursday This And That

re:  This And That:  
Hey Kent,  
You weren't kidding -- that was one big-ass edition of Sunday Comments in Forgotten Hits -- you are now in the Lightning Round for the three-biggest publications to come out of Chicago:  Forgotten Hits, the Sears catalog, and Playboy -- speaking of, when the hell are you going to start featuring a Centerfold -- or maybe a feature pictorial like Johnny Winter's Limousine Ladies!  Ha!Cheers,
Tim Kiley

FINALLY!!!  Vintage Vinyl News is reporting that "Motown 25", the television special that launched Michael Jackson into the musical stratosphere is FINALLY being released on DVD.  In fact, it sounds like fans will have the opportunity to purchase either the complete TV special as it aired or an extended 3-Disc Set that will feature all kinds of unaired performances, rehearsals (and even a little backstage drama!) shows a release date of September 30th through Time-Life.  More details here: Click here: Motown 25 Television Special May Finally Be Coming to DVD ~ VVN Music    

JC Hartsfield, one of the original founding members of the band Heartsfiield,has passed away. JC was involved in a serious motorcycle accident on July 4th. Recently, JC had been enjoying his retirement and loved to ride that bike. We'll miss you JC. Hope you are jammin' with Perry Jordan.
The visitation for JC Hartsfield will be Friday, July 25th from 4-6pm with a service at 6.
It will be held at the Filbrandt Family Funeral Home in South Haven, MI.
1076 S Bailey Ave
South Haven, MI 49090
Tel: (269) 637-0333
-- Ken Voss
There was a time when Heartsfield seemed to be the opening act for virtually EVERY major act that came through Chicago.  Although it was never really a hit, FM radio played the heck out of "Music Eyes" for awhile ... a really good song, actually.  We've featured it a few times before ... so this seemed like as appropriate time as any to run it again.  (kk)

A few days ago when it was announced that Johnny Winter had passed away, I thought immediately of his 1971 remake of the Stones' JUMPIN' JACK FLASH. It did make our local survey here but I don't think it charted very high. I got it out the other night to play it for the simple fact that I really couldn't find the 2:55 45 version on you tube.  There were just live recordings with the bulk of them in the 4-5 minute range. 
Going back to the STRING songs, I always liked Fabian's 1960 version of STRINGALONG as opposed to Ricky Nelson's. Likewise the String-a-Longs' version of WHEELS instead of Billy Vaughn's. 
Larry Neal

Hi Kent-
Loved this last edition of Forgotten Hits.
Worked at Wrigley Field Friday for the Billy Joel concert - he sounded great, as usual! Great band, all the hits. He started to introduce one of his songs this way ... "This song has a lot of high notes and I can't promise I'll hit them all anymore, but I'll just sing it anyway. This way you'll all know you're not listening to pre-recorded music!"  He did fine, but it was pretty funny, although a sad commentary on 'live' concerts these days! Awesome show though! I love those Wrigley Field shows - it's like old home week for me, I spent so much time there growing up! Then worked the Crosby, Stills & Nash concert yesterday and, while I really love them, to be honest their voices left a little something to be desired. But loads of great memories from that era! 

Hi Kent -
Thank you for the FANTASTIC edition of Forgotten Hits from July 20th. It was a potpourri of EVERYTHING worth reading! I came across an old 45 while I was changing the records in my jukebox called "Night Theme" by a group called The Mark II. I am guessing that it came out in the early sixties. It'
an instrumental.
What is unusual is that it was written by Wayne Cogswell and Ray Peterson. I am guessing that it may have been the Ray Peterson from "Tell Laura I Love Her" fame????
It's a catchy tune that could have been played as a closing song for a late night radio show in the 60's!!!!
If you know anything about it, I would like to know. When in doubt ask the Master!

Night Theme" was a #75 instrumental hit in 1960 released by The Mark II.  Mark II consisted of the duo of Wayne Cogswell and Ray Peterson, who also wrote the song.  Funnily enough, after doing a bit of checking online, I found an equal number of websites that said that this WAS the same Ray Peterson who sang "Tell Laura I Love Her" ... as I did stating that it was NOT the same Ray Peterson.  I checked Joel Whitburn's book, too, as typically Joel would cross-reference these two acts in the short bio he runs for every artist to ever make The Billboard Charts ... and see no such reference ... so I'm inclined to think they are two different people ... but if somebody out there can send me concrete proof otherwise, I'll be happy to definitively announce the opposite!  (How's THAT for a "politically correct" answer?!?!) kk

Johnny Winter releases perhaps his greatest album on September 2, 2014! Step Back features an amazing list of musical guests and takes Johnny back to a more aggressive style of blues… one that helped shape the musical icon. Produced by Paul Nelson.
Step Back Track Listing:  
1. Unchain My Heart – Johnny Winter
2. Can’t Hold Out (Talk To Me Baby) – Johnny Winter with Ben Harper
3. Don’t Want No Woman – Johnny Winter with Eric Clapton
4. Killing Floor – Johnny Winter with Paul Nelson
5. Who Do You Love – Johnny Winter
6. Okie Dokie Stomp – Johnny Winter with Brian Setzer
7. Where Can You Be – Johnny Winter with Billy Gibbons
8. Sweet Sixteen – Johnny Winter with Joe Bonamassa
9. Death Letter -Johnny Winter
10. My Babe – Johnny Winter with Jason Ricci
11. Long Tall Sally – Johnny Winter with Leslie West
12. Mojo Hand – Johnny Winter with Joe Perry
13. Blue Monday – Johnny Winter with Dr. John  

-- Ken Voss

Kent ... 
Pass this on to record collectors on your list.
Frank B.

Click here: Clean Your Vinyl Records and Make Them Sound Like New With This Unbelievable Tip « WCBS-FM 101.1   
I dunno ... I'd be afraid that if I didn't apply it just right and couldn't get it off, I'd ruin that record forever, never able to play it again!!! There's GOT to be a better method than this!  (kk)

Flock leader Fred Glickstein sent us this excellent Four-Star Review of the release of the long lost Flock album "Heaven Bound" ...  
The lost album from The Flock holds the secrets of what might have been!   
Brent Black /   
Chicago and Blood Sweat and Tears were and are still considered the pioneers of the jazz / fusion movement. News flash ... toss a horn section in a rock band and that doesn't make it jazz. Moving on ... The Flock were an eclectic mix of improvisational adventure that included strings, pedal steel, and a saxophone. Violin wizard Jerry Goodman later left to join Mahavishnu Orchestra. The band reformed yet the natural evolution of the band did not seem to fully materialize.  
Heaven Bound would have been their fourth release but has sat quietly on the shelf gathering dust as time, careers and musical tastes changed at perhaps the most turbulent and creative point in America's artistic history. Tight harmonies, classic rock guitar and the same improvisational spirit keeps The Flock alive and allows Heaven Bound to be a great addition to any library.  
4 Stars   
Many thanks for mentioning The Flock album in Forgotten Hits.  It’s very good ... you WILL like (even LOVE!) it!  
Fred Glickstein / The Flock   

I see the interesting Jim Croce CD of early tracks.  I kind of expected the following song to be on it.  I believe "Age" was a 1969 track released at one time by Capitol.  I cannot remember now.  My first knowledge of Jim was when I got a DJ copy of "Age (Where I Started Again)" by Horatio in 1969 on the Event label.  This was the same label as the Buchanan Brothers' hit "Medicine Man" that year.  I imagine Horatio is a fake name and wondered who really sang this track, the first I'd ever seen of Jim Croce's name (he wrote the song).  Horatio had another 45 on Event and both sides were Cashman, Pistilli and West 45s, so am guessing this great trio sang the Horatio track.  CP&W wrote the terrific "California on my Mind" by Morning Mist on Event as well, and am pretty sure this TV commercial song was performed by them, too.  I've sent along an MP3 of the Horatio version to share.  Meanwhile, here's the nice Croce version from youtube.
Clark Besch

How'dja like to be out to lunch and find these guys sitting at a table next to you?!?!  (kk)

Here's the official flyer. Hope to see a slew of you there. I couldn't ask for a more perfect cast. And the director, Margaret Ledford, is legendary. Winner of Best Director in 2011 and a six-time Carbonell Award nominee. 
CAVEAT: In case you haven't heard, this play contains sexual situations -- in fact it's ONE BIG sexual situation -- and there is plenty of "adult language." Probably not a good idea to bring the kids.
MONDAY, JULY 28 – 7:30 p.m.
By Bob Lind
Documentary journalist Allyson Lamont, known for asking her subjects probing personal questions, finds the tables turning when she takes on libertine poet David Bridge. Her interviews with him force her to go places inside herself she would rather avoid. Before it’s over, she will confront her deepest-held beliefs about sex, love and honesty – and whether they have anything whatsoever to do with one another.
GableStage is located in the eastern section of the Biltmore Hotel.
1200 Anastasia Avenue, Coral Gables, FL 33134
(305) 445-1119
Valet parking is available
Free parking is available in the Biltmore parking area west of the hotel.

-- Bob Lind

Robert Feder is reporting that Steve Dahl has raised his subscription price by 20% for folks looking to listening to his syndicated podcasts.  (Hmm ... maybe all that extra publicity we gave him a couple of weeks back drove more fans to his website!!!  Just don't forget my 10% Stever!!!)  Actually, the deal was (keyword "was") that if you took an annual subscription you paid $99.95 to listen ... folks paying by the month were paying $9.95 ... so all he's REALLY done is level things off ... at a new annual rate of $119.95, annual subscribers just aren't getting their "two months free" anymore.  Kinda makes sense, I guess, since the network now offers 40 new shows a month ... when it launched, Dahl was the only one broadcasting! (kk)

A George Harrison Memorial Tree Has Been Destroyed ... By Beetles!!!
Kent ...
I guess Beetles don't like Beatles.
Frank B. 

>>>The biggest surprise on this week's 1976 survey is the #13 Hit ... it's the re-release of The Beatles' track "Got To Get You Into My Life", a single pulled from their new "Rock And Roll Music" album.  Although the track peaked at #7 on The Billboard Hot 100 Pop Singles Chart, it would climb to #1 in several local markets (including here in Chicago) ... and sounded every bit as good in 1976 as it did when it was recorded for the "Revolver" album ten years earlier.  The Beatles had only been apart six years and they were already winning over a brand new audience.  (kk)  
The most amazing thing about the Beatles' hit was that it was the freshest sound on the radio, six years after the Beatles stopped releasing new music and even longer since they had recorded that song.  A pretty sad reflection on mid 1970's radio.
And, incredibly, you STILL hear this song all the time and it STILL sounds fresh and new, even after literally THOUSANDS of listens!  Another Beatles / Revolver track that seems to play constantly is "Drive My Car" ... yet that track was never released as a single ... yet today it's just GOT to be one of the most-played Beatles tracks on the radio!  (kk)

ZZ Top bassist Dusty Hill is slated to undergo surgery to remove two kidney stones this week, necessitating a delay in the start of the group’s US summer tour.  The kidney stones were discovered in the course of a routine physical examination where Hill’s doctor advised him that they should immediately be removed, lest they cause more serious problems down the line.

ZZ Top dates affected include Morton, MN (July 25), West Bend, WI (July 26), Cincinnati (July 27), Louisville (July 29), Asheville, NC (July 30) and Bethlehem, PA (August 1). 
It is expected that Hill will make a full recovery following two weeks of recuperation. ZZ Top’s tour is now set to launch on August 6 in Sturgis, SD with the band joining forces with Jeff Beck for a string of tour dates immediately thereafter.
Keeping a stiff upper lip regarding the whole proceedings, bandmate Billy Gibbons decided to chime in!:
Just after we heard the news of the delay of the start of ZZ Top's tour,  Billy Gibbons, the band's front man, got in touch with an update from bandmate Dusty Hill.  
Billy recounted the lines of the immortal Robert Johnson blues "Stones In My Passway" while Dusty Hill chimed in, "I got stones in my passway," then going on to sound a positive note, added,  "... but my doctor says not for long."   
With a bit of r&r, ZZ Top will soon be back on the road as Dusty, taking yet another cure from Robert Johnson, notes, "we're booked and we're bound to go," adding,  "I had stones in my passway but you know those old boulders couldn't last, I had stones in my passway but those stones will soon be in my past."   

Also knocked out of commission for a little while is our FH Buddy Paul Revere.  Under strict doctors' orders, Paul will be sidelined at home for a spell while the band completes their currently booked engagements.  FH Reader Tom Cuddy found this posted on the Official Paul Revere and the Raiders website the other day:    

Hey gang, Paul Revere here!
You know, 2014 has been just a great year for the band so far, thanks to you guys. We've played killer shows to great audiences all over America, and we're having a blast - Disney, Busch Gardens, the "Where The Action Is" cruise, Las Vegas and every supermarket opening and pie eating contest along the way.  
Even though I've had some health issues, nothing can stop the old man. I'm like the Energizer Bunny! I jump on my tour bus and go from city to city, packing a trunk full of great Raider songs, tight pants and bad jokes - all against doctor's orders, by the way!  
I've been the worst patient these guys have ever seen, and they've been on me to take a break all year. So, we finally did take a break, and recorded two new singles (due out in September), but that's not good enough for them. They want a longer break. I told them, "Hey, I've got to hit the road, I'm booked! And I'm bored!!"  
Well, you can't ignore doctor's orders forever, and I have to give in this time or these wonderful men and women might stop trying to help me. It breaks my heart to have to stay home while the band goes out without me to our next block of dates. You don't even know how much it kills me. But the truth is, The Raiders kick major butt with or without me.  We've designed this show to run like a Ferrari, even if it's only firing on 11 cylinders. It's built for speed from the ground up. High energy and fun is what a Paul Revere and The Raiders show is all about, and that's always the same, no matter which one of us shows up in a body cast.
So come out and see my boys, and tell them how much you miss me. We have the absolute best fans. I love you all and will see you soon.   
The show must always go on!  
We wish you a speedy recovery, my friend.  This has been a tough couple of years, I know ... (to say the least!) ... but there are very few entertainers who "love the greasepaint" the way you do ... and we're looking forward to a few more "kicks" before we're through!!!  (kk)   

I am always pleased (and a little bit amazed!) at the volume of new people discovering Forgotten Hits every day. (I guess it just depends on what you're searching for ... because it seems that we've covered virtually EVERY musical topic known to man at some point or time during the past fifteen years , sooner or later you're going to stumble across us on via Google, Bing or any of the other major search engines out there!)  So it was a very pleasant surprise to receive this email the other day ...

Dear Mr. Kotal:
I have just read your article at:  I thank you for writing it.  I am a newer Dusty fan, and am interested in anything about her life.  I agree with you that most writings about her talent and life lack in describing anything about how she did what she did musically.
I enjoyed your article tremendously and I appreciated how you approached the subject matter.  So, thank you very much for bringing this to readers even though it was some five years after her passing.  I do believe you wrote the article in 2004?
You have created a fan in me and I will look forward to finding more of your articles. 
All the best to you,
Teresa Boler 
Thank you, Teresa!  Hope you'll continue to check us out from time to time!  (kk)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Let's Live For Today

I got this email about a week ago ... I always find it interesting how new people continue to discover Forgotten Hits every single day, depending on what they may be searching for ... even if it's an article we did way back in 2009!!!  

Hello Kent -  
I must respectfully disagree with much of the background you wrote about the song "Let's Live For Today". 
Back in the late 1990's I began digging into the background of the Grass Roots favorite of mine. It took a couple of years, but once all the evidence was gathered, I was able to piece together my own take on the song's background, with input from some of the Rokes themselves, Bobby Posner and Mike Shepstone, among others. Their telling of the song's background differs greatly from what you wrote about it. First of all, the Rokes started off as a British group who found a home in Italy. The Living Daylights were not from New York, they were from the UK.  
Rather than try and retell the entire story in this e-mail, you can read my story about it here:   
The finished product was originally published on Bob Shannon's web site in April, 2003. Bob himself initially inspired the digging, whereas I found the pieces and pieced them all together.  
Fred Clemens   

I reviewed Fred's analysis ... honestly, I don't know that it's all that different than mine ... other than one obvious error on my part (the origins of a group called The Living Daylights), I think we pretty much tell the exact same story ... but since we're always in pursuit of "the most accurate truth" I wanted to share it with you today as a means to better explain the history of this song ... released SEVERAL times before The Grass Roots' version finally caught on here in The United States.   

Click here: Forgotten Hits: Let's Live For Today

My piece was designed to be short and to the point ... almost a "script", if you will, for Scott Shannon to use on his True Oldies Channel Rock And Roll Remakes Weekend (which we plugged as part of the original posting.)  

Fred's goes into far more detail (and takes the topic FAR more seriously than WE did!  lol) ... but most of this can be attributed to LOTS of label and foreign release information.  (For the most part, the general HISTORY of the song is pretty identical.)  On the plus side, he also had the opportunity to interview members of The Rokes, whereas my piece was culled from my own research on the topic.  (Ironically, Fred's piece ran on DJ BOB Shannon's website as one of those "Stories Behind The Hits" type features.)     

Fred starts out by chronicling the "roots" and evolution of The Grass Roots ... no arguments here.   

He states:  The Grassroots (original spelling) started out as a studio concoction made of primarily of its producers, Steve Barri and P.F. Sloan.  the "group" was beginning to have some success with a song called "Where Were You When I Needed You", so a real group was needed in an effort to promote the song.  After some searching, which included a west coast group calling themselves the Bedouins, a group called the Thirteenth Floor (not to be confused with The Thirteenth Floor Elevators) was chosen to fill the group's identity.  Headed by lead singer Rob Grill, the group was filled out by Warren Entner, Creed Bratton and Rick Coonce.   

OK, I agree with all of that so far ... and will even take it a step further.  Reportedly the original Grass Roots version of "Where Were You When I Needed You" (it was actually first recorded by Herman's Hermits as part of their "Hold On" film soundtrack nearly a year before) was sung by singer / songwriter P.F. Sloan.  He and co-writer Steve Barri recorded the track with a bunch of studio musicians (including several members of The Wrecking Crew) in 1965.  

The duo had achieved some earlier success as The Fantastic Baggys but never intended to take their efforts beyond the studio walls.  After the record became a hit, however, it became imperative to find a band to tour as "The Grass Roots" in order to cash in on this new-found success.  Once The Bedouins were recruited to "masquerade" as The Grass Roots for live appearances (after a series of auditions held at The Whisky A-Go-Go), they cut the song again, this time with lead singer Bill Fulton handling the lead vocal.  (They also found work as Barry McGuire's back-up band, a fellow Dunhill Records artist hot at the time with his #1 Hit "Eve Of  Destruction".  In fact, if you're ever able to catch Barry McGuire's appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show", that's The Bedouins version of The Grass Roots backing him up on stage!)  

When The Bedouins started complaining about having no control over the direction of their career, they were dumped and replaced by Rob Grill and company (known then as the above-mentioned Thirteenth Floor) ... who recorded the track for a THIRD time for use on The Grass Roots' first album.  (It is the Rob Grill version that has been commercially available ever since.)    

So that's the group history in a very quick nutshell.  (For more on this ... and an INCREDIBLY in-depth interview with several of the members of The Grass Roots who passed through their revolving door line-up over the years, we STRONGLY recommend the Jeff March / Marti Smiley Childs book "Where Have All The Pop Stars Gone? Volume 2".  I should point out that it was the record label, Dunhill Records, who owned the name "The Grass Roots", which is how they were able to bestow it on so many variations of the band in these early years.)   

Our 2009 report states:  The song that we all know today as "Let's Live For Today" was originally recorded in Italian by a group called The Rokes ... they released it as "Piangi Con Me" ("Cry With Me") which, I guess, got a fair amount of airplay in Italy back in 1965.  Fred's article concurs with this so far.

Then a group called The Skope (according to Fred Clemens, from The Netherlands) heard the song and attempted to do a literal English translation of the lyrics ... all of a sudden "Piangi Con Me" became "Be Mine Again". They released THAT as a single ... and it quickly proceeded to bomb.  Clemens, however, states that the record charted at #36 on The Dutch Charts in January of 1967 ... but I've not seen any documentation of this claim ... nor does he offer it in his article.

Here's where we start to differ.  In 2009, I wrote:  Next, a New York group called The Living Daylights liked the melody enough to re-write the lyrics and, for the very first time, "Piangi Con Me" and "Be Mine Again" became "Let's Live For Today". Although The Living Daylights record got a little bit of airplay in New York City ... enough to make it a Top Ten Hit on the WOR Survey (see below), it STILL wasn't a hit nationally, as most people outside the New York market never had a chance to hear the song.

Apparently THIS is incorrect information ... despite charting Top Ten on WOR in New York, The Living Daylights were NOT a New York-based band ... but rather another group from England.  Clemens reports that (per chart guru Randy Price, who we consult with regularly), WOR simply chose to play The Living Daylights' version of the song over The Grass Roots' hit ... despite this fact, it never really made much of a dent on the national US charts.

But quite honestly that's the ONLY discrepancy I've been able to find ... so I'm not quite sure I understand why Fred wrote "I must respectfully disagree with much of the background you wrote about the song."  What else about our report do you disagree with?  We pretty much cover everything you did, point for point.  (If I'm missing something here, please let me know ... 'cause I just don't see it!)  Again ... our goal is to present "the most accurate truth possible" ... so the LAST thing I want to do is post incorrect information ... but I can't find another single discrepancy!   

Fred Clemens states:  It was only a couple of months later that The Rokes decided on an English language version of their now Italian classic.  That song would be called "Passing Thru Grey".  After recording the tune, it was decided by their publisher in London (Dick James Music) that the lyrics were in need of a change.  So, with some new words by the publisher's writing staff, "Let's Live For Today" was born.  The Rokes recorded the song expecting to have it released in the UK right away.  But somehow or other, the song came into the hands of another group from the UK, The Living Daylights, first.  The Living Daylights were a band from Newcastle.  In early 1967, The Living Daylights' version saw release on the Philips label.  It is said that this was the version that got the attention of Grass Roots member Warren Entner, who happened to be in Europe at the time.   

Here's where Fred Clemens loses me ...   

In comparing The Living Daylights' version and arrangement to the one recorded by The Grass Roots, he states that he finds "little comparison in terms of arrangement and style.  In fact, I'd have to say that The Grass Roots version more emulates The Rokes arrangement and sound than The Living Daylights version.  The problem is that The Rokes' English version had yet to be released! 

Clemens then goes on to speculate (his word, not mine) on how The Rokes' new version of the song may have come into the hands of Warren Entner and The Grass Roots.  In that on at least three occasions during the course of his article Clemens admits "this is entirely speculation on my part", I'm not quite sure how he can justify stating that HIS version of the story is far more definitive than mine ... but I will acknowledge the fact that there IS a lot more detail offered in the way of foreign pressings and variations between these recordings in his accounting ... so it's still highly recommended if you're looking to piece together more details regarding this song's convoluted origins!  

My article states that somewhere between the time that The Living Daylights' version started getting airplay and charting in America and The Grass Roots' hit version was released, The Rokes went back into the studio and cut ANOTHER new version of their song ... in English this time ... calling it "Let's Live For Today" as the song had now come to be known.  (Clemens says The Rokes re-recorded their English version BEFORE The Living Daylights cut their take ... but that it sat in the can for a while, eventually being released AFTER The Living Daylights' version started to circulate.  The exact timeline of these events may be tough to ever prove or ascertain ... suffice to say that BOTH versions seemed to appear at right around the same time.)

Regardless, this version unfortunately bombed, too!  (Thanks to the three-strikes-and-you're-out rule, The Rokes were virtually never heard from again ... despite being the FIRST band to actually record SOME version of this classic '60's hit!)  It did see release here in The States, however, on the RCA Record label, which Fred shows in his in-depth article.  The Living Daylights' version was pressed as Buddah Records #2 ... and The Grass Roots' hit version was released a short while later on Dunhill.  

HYSTERICAL SIDENOTE:  Under the heading of WAY too much information, some time back a famed Chicagoland sportscaster shared with all of our Forgotten Hits Readers that he lost his virginity to this tune!!!  (Now THAT's a "Coppock's Topic" for a whole 'nother day!!!  lol)  

But wait!!! Believe it or not, there's even MORE to this story!!!  

Way back in 1961 The Drifters recorded a song called "I Count The Tears" ... give a listen to THIS tune and see if the chorus doesn't sound just a little vaguely familiar.  

According to Carl Wiser's Songfacts website (, who interviewed Geoffrey J. Felder, son of legendary songwriter Doc Pomus (who WROTE "I Count The Tears" for The Drifters), his father never pursued any type of legal action against any of the parties involved with the various recorded versions of the song we all know and love as "Let's Live For Today". Here's what he had to say about it on the Songfacts site:   

The "Sha-la-la" chorus is very similar to The Drifters' hit "I Count the Tears," which Pomus and Shuman wrote. Pomus was upset about the obvious similarity, and even though lawyers called him to suggest that he should sue, he did not. The main reason was because he was not that kind of person. If you were a thief and stole from him, as long as he could still support himself and his family (and no one was physically injured of course) he would let it go. He felt that you'd get what you deserved in the end. The other reason was that at the time the song was released he was under contract with Hill & Range (later to become Warner / Chappell) and they would have had the authority to sue and not him.   
-- Geoffrey J. Felder, son of Doc Pomus  

Clemens disputes this connection as well.  He states:   

Some insist that the hook (Sha-La-La-La-La-La) was stolen from The Drifters' tune from 1961, "I Count The Tears" ... But Bobby Posner of The Rokes assures me that this is merely a coincidence.  An even odder coincidence would be a different song of the same title ("Let's Live For Today") also using "Sha-La-La"'s as part of the lyric that was also done back around 1961.  The group was called Robby Robber and the Hi-Jackers and was released on a Coronet LP "Let's Twist Again".  Again Clemens won't commit to a definitive correlation:  "I'll leave you to speculate on that one."  

Listen to both tracks and see what YOU think ... I'm sticking with MY original theory that it was The Drifters' track that most inspired the creation of "Let's Live For Today".  (Actual this one's a no-brainer if you ask me!!!)

Oh yeah, one more thing ... (as if all of this isn't already complicated enough) ...   

Did you know that there are actually TWO sets of lyrics sung on The Grass Roots' hit version? Original pressings featured the lyrics "I need to feel you inside me / deep inside me".  Deemed just a little too explicit for 1967 radio, an edited, "cleaned-up" version was quickly put together changing the lyrics to "beside me", which became the most-common, "accepted" version of the hit.  Apparently, however, the two different vocal mixes were unintentionally used for the mono and stereo pressings of their "Let's Live For Today" LP without the label realizing that they'd mixed the tracks.  Because of this, mono pressings of the LP say "I need to feel you ..." "inside me" / "deep inside of me" while stereo versions of the same LP say "beside me"!!!  (Naturally, we've got both of THOSE tracks for you here today, too!)

Sadly, we lost Rob Grill in 2011 after a long illness from which he never really recovered.  Those last years were NOT easy ones for him ... but his recorded legacy will live on for my decades to come.  Rob's wife Nancy posted this announcement the day he died ... ironically listening to the song "Let's Live For Today" at the moment he passed!   

My dear husband Robert Frank Grill, 67, of Mt Dora, Fl, passed away peacefully in my arms at 11:37 a.m. (EST), while listening to one of his favorite songs ... "Let's Live For Today."  He loved his fans and he loved The Grass Roots! 
Thank you for all of your prayers, love and support during this time.
Nancy Grill