Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Sunday Comments ( 01 - 04 - 15 )

re:  Happy New Year!:  
Kent ...  
Don't forget --- all of our Oldies just got a year older!  
Frank B.  

Kent ...  
Happy New Year ... and all the best for 2015, buddy.  
Keep up the great work.   
Regards -  
Sam Boyd   

Happy New Year, Kent, and thanks for all you do for us music fans.  
Mike De Martino   

I want to wish you, your family, and all of the great folks who are part of the Forgotten Hits family. the Happiest, Healthiest, and Safest for the New Year!!!!!!!!  God Bless and keep up the great work!!!  I look forward to another GREAT year of Forgotten Hits!!!!!!!!!  
Pete Garrison  

Thanks, All ... we also received word from long-time Forgotten Hits Reader Bill Hengels, who has helped us out many times in the past by supplying copies of local survey charts.  Bill's had a rough year ... they found more brain cancer and he's gone through a serious bout of rehab ... but hopes to be home again in the next few weeks.  He really hit home when he told me that, despite it all, he's still managed to keep up with Forgotten Hits while laid up in the hospital.  (Now THERE'S a loyal, dedicated reader for you!!!)  
Thanks, Bill ... and all the best for a speedy recovery.  Hoping to see you out as some of the live outdoor shows again this summer.  Meanwhile, we ask that all our readers keep Bill in their prayers during this difficult time.  (kk)  

re:  The Royal Guardsmen:
I found our interview with Barry Winslow of The Royal Guardsmen to be quite enlightening, especially when we discovered the TRUE story behind the recording of "Squeaky vs. The Black Knight".  Knowing now that this record was made as a "back-up plan" for "insurance purposes" in case Peanuts creator Charles M. Schultz put the kabosh on their record playing up The World's Most Famous Beagle, Snoopy, as the central character, one can only breathe a sigh of relief to know that ALL of this was worked out before the band and the label had to resort to "Plan B".  Somehow, I just don't think the outcome would have been anywhere near as successful. 

But then how did copies of this ultra-rare recording make their way to Canada?  CHUM, Canada's #1 Source for Pop Music, charted the record under its most-familiar title, "Snoopy Vs. The Red Baron" ... and I asked our Great White North FH Buddy Doug Thompson if he recollected anything unusual about the different pressings at the time.

I was at CHUM when "Snoopy" came out and it definitely was Snoopy vs The Red Baron we played.  I think where that would have been a problem was in Britain, where any trademarked name would NOT be played on the BBC.  Pirate radio would have played "Snoopy", but not the Beeb.
For example, "Beep Beep" had to be re-recorded by the Playmates to replace the line:  "While riding in my Cadillac, what to my surprise, a little Nash Rambler was following me, about one third my size" in the original to: "While riding in my limousine, what to my surprise, but a little bubble car was following me, about one third my size." 
Ray Davies had to fly back from a U.S. tour to re-record one line in "Lola".  Instead of the line "I met her in a club down in old soho, where they drink champagne and it tastes just like Coca-Cola", Ray had to re-sing "I met her in a club down in  old soho, where they drink champagne and tastes just like cherry cola, c-o-l-a, cola."
The Kinks LP version has the original lyrics.  The single was changed.
"Snoopy", at least in Canada, remained as Snoopy.
Of course I remember that whole Kinks thing - it's probably the most famous example of a lyrics change - but what is REALLY weird is that the Squeaky single seems to have been a Canadian only pressing! I'll send you a copy when I get home tonight. VERY strange. Sounds like they recorded it as a back-up plan and never had to resort to using it - yet somehow Canadian singles were pressed with the alternate title and lyrics. Be sure to check out Friday's posting - I think you'll find it interesting! 
Thanks Doug!  (kk) 
If CHUM ever received the Squeaky version, they certainly never played it ... not to my knowledge anyway.

I really enjoyed your interview with Barry Winslow in FH. With the discussion of the word "hell" being in or not in THE RETURN OF THE RED BARON, it seems to me that I heard the word the first time I played it just now. However, the 2nd and 3rd times I played it, I did not hear it. It reminded me of Johnny Horton's BATTLE OF NEW ORLEANS in which a similar verse is sung. Same with the song HIDE AND SEEK recorded by the Sheep and Bunker Hill. I also remember Homer & Jethro's 1959 take of Johnny Horton's tune called THE BATTLE OF KOOKAMONGA in which they could not and did not sing the word "nude". Don't forget as well Jimmy Dean's BIG BAD JOHN in which the term "man made hell" is used. However, that is used in a different context.
Larry Neal

Mornin' Kent, 
Again, thanks so much for the article ... deeply appreciated. 
One more large thank you.
I've already received a few CD orders thanks to you publishing the interview ... and I hope a few more readers will stop by to visit to order copies of the cd as well!!!   : )
You have a great day, Amigo!
Blessings -
You can pick up a copy of Barry Winslow's solo CD "Transition" here:

And this from Barry, too ...

Hey Kent,
I forgot to mention that the Royal Guardsmen got back together and recorded a "one off" song (with all the original remaining five members) titled "Snoopy vs Osama" back in 2006.
John Burdett and I wrote it, and it was done to honor all our men and women in the armed services fighting these insane desert wars, to maybe help boost some moral.  Like "Transition", it's never really been promoted, but it's made a little noise on its own.
It was fun to do, and I have it available for digital download on CD Baby as well.
Anyhoo, here's the URL ...

re:  Goodbye, Elly May!:
Donna Douglas did a little recording you might want to check out.  She sings on the 1968 "Beverly Hillbillies" TV cast album (Harmony HS 11269), which was reissued on CD in 1993 as Columbia 7296.   She also cut a solo album in 1989: "Gospel and Country Favorites" (2-Prism LR) as well as one 1963 single, "He's So Near" b/w "Turn Around" (Arlen 742).    Donna helped write the 1989 religious musical "Who Me" which was issued on cassette only (Prism Music LC 8891) but does not perform in it.
Gary Theroux
Published death reports also highlighted the fact that she sued producers when the Whoopie Goldberg film "Sister Act" came out, claiming that they had taken her idea for the movie ... it was thrown out of court.  She did, however, successfully sue Mattel over the issue of an Elly May Barbie Doll a few years ago ... which kinda surprises me since I wouldn't think she'd have any claim to the rights to that character.  (I can see the producers and creators of the television show winning a suit like that ... but not Donna Douglas!)  Apparently an undisclosed settlement was reached.  (kk)    

Enjoyed the tribute you had on Donna Douglas. Since FH is about music and records, the first thing I thought of were two records that Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs made back in 1963 while the show
was on the air. The two records in question, THE BALLAD OF JED CLAMPETT and PEARL, PEARL, PEARL, made our local top 40 radio station's weekly survey. Don't know how high they got without
Donna Douglas' performance on the Twilight Zone was shown a few days ago on the SyFy Channel  where every New Year's Day they show a marathon of Twilight Zone episodes. I was just the
opposite of you in that I watched every episode of Twilight Zone but rarely watched Beverly Hillbillies.
Max Baer, Jr. is alive and you probably were thinking of his dad, who is deceased. Junior's dad was the heavyweight boxer with the same name.
Larry Neal
Normally we'll try and catch a couple of Twilight Zone episodes on New Year's Day but we didn't this year for some reason.  I think I've only seen the "Eye Of The Beholder" episode once or twice in all these years ... like I said, I was never much of a fan.  (I know that Telly Savalas episode by heart, however!  lol)
Flatt and Scruggs charted here twice ... "The Ballad of Jed Clampett" went to #17 in 1962 on The WLS Silver Dollar Survey ... and "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" (used in the film "Bonnie And Clyde") spent one week on the WCFL Chart as a "premier".
Early on, Max Baer, Jr. was probably MOST famous as the son of the one World Heavyweight Champ who shared his name.  (Baer, Sr. went on to become a boxing referee, too.)  When Jr. landed the role of Jethro on "The Beverly Hillbillies", all of that turned around.  He's 77 now and the last surviving cast member.  We found a photo of Max, Donna Douglas and Buddy Ebsen from several years back at some type of a cast reunion party held for Buddy.  Here it is ... (kk)

I truly mourn the loss of Elly May.
What 12 year old kid didn't go nuts over that sumptuous blonde? She was as much a part of my pubescent years as Chubby Checker, Dee Dee  Sharp, Elvis, Little Eva, Rosie and the Originals and Freddy "Boom Boom" Cannon.
However, while I toss a bouquet in Elly's direction, lets keep this in mind ... I've had various jobs, like most broadcasters, where I've been known to die five days a week.
I can't help but wonder if Elvis and Elly ever sampled their respective goodies.  A C-note says they did.
Tie me kangaroo down, sport.
Love ya, man
Happy New Year.
Chet Coppock
C'mon, you just KNOW they did!!! (lol)  I'm telling you, that's probably the only reason she got cast in that God-Awful film!!!  I HAVE to believe some time before the filming wrapped, "Little Elvis"  HAD to make an appearance or two ... although who knows, maybe not ... Douglas never starred in another hit film.  (kk)
And, speaking of Elvis ...

If you've still got a few bucks left in your pocket after the holidays, it sounds like Lisa Marie is auctioning off Elvis' old planes (including the one that bears her namesake!)

I have to agree with you on EVERY ONE of your female battle girls choices!  Donna was pretty, even tho Jethro just said "Aw she's just a dumb old girl.  I dun gradiated from the 6th grade!  Wanna hear me cypher?  Naught times naught equals naught!"
Clark Besch
Of course Jeannie and Samantha each had their evil twins to contend with from time to time ... and Jethro had Jethrene!  (lol)  Despite their best efforts, Donna still ranked as the more attractive eye candy, however!  (kk)

Whew Kent,
I am not sure I can soften (sawwwwwwy) the feelings you have projected toward Elly May, BUT I can add a fact to your memories.  Jethro was Elly May's cousin.  Doesn't change a thing does it? 
Sorry, that's all I got.
OMG, you're right ... it was COUSIN Jethro!!!  (Guess I didn't pay as much attention to him as I did to her, eh???)  kk   

After reading your love letter today in tribute to Donna Douglas, who passed away this week and will always be remembered as Elly May Clampett on the Beverly Hillbillies, I thought I would share with a photo that has never been published.
When I was programming WPLJ-FM in New York City for 19 years, many of those years my wife and I would host an annual "Fall Fling" at our home for the PLJ staff, their families, and some industry friends.
Every year we would invite a retro TV star that we had grown up watching. That star would pose for Polaroids (remember them?!) and sign autographs. One fall (late 1990s) we welcomed Donna Douglas. She was a sweetheart. Not much different from her iconic TV character. She was outgoing, patient and polite to all our guests. 
The picture I've sent features from, left to right: me, Freddy "Boom Boom" Cannon, Donna Douglas and singer-songwriter Charlie Quintal (some say a Kent Kotal look-a-like!)
Although Donna was a delight, nothing topped the fall when we had Batman (Adam West) welcoming our guests. But that's a story for another time!
- Tom Cuddy

Cool shot!!!  I met Adam West at one of those Celebrity Collectibles Shows ... ironically, he had pre-signed photos for sale of himself and Julie Newmar in full Batman costumes ... Julie had already signed her signature and then Adam added his to make the photograph complete.  A few years later, I found "Catwoman" selling the same photos at a similar show where Adam's photo was pre-signed and SHE signed live!  (Obviously, they must have sold quite a few of these!!!)
I was fortunate enough to get a picture of me, my daughter Kris (talk about dating yourself ... she just turned 26 last month ... amazing!) and the incredible Julie Newman.  This pre-dates "To Wong Foo" ... so I just went with the standard autograph ... but this, too, is a one-of-a-kind shot!  (kk)

A few years ago we polled our audience for their All-Time Favorite Television Themes ... Scott Shannon and The True Oldies Channel jumped on board and even counted down the results on Scott's program!  "The Ballad Of Jed Clampett" came in at #7.  The complete list is recapped here: ... and you can hear Scott Shannon count down The Top 20 from this list right on our website (!) here:

re:  The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame:
I can not care less about the RRHOF. Whether someone was inducted into it means nothing to me. Sure, there's a great museum there I'd like to visit, if and when, but I have enough things to worry about in life.
Bob Frable,
There are far more pressing things on MY plate as well, Bob ... The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame has become most notable (at this stage of the game anyway) as being the ones you can ALWAYS count on to let you down if you're a fan of '50's, '60's and '70's music ... but I, too, would still like to visit the museum ... and we're hoping that this year is FINALLY the year we do so.  (kk)    

For those people who probably have not visited Cleveland in the past ten years or more, you should come here when the weather is good and see why it is now one of the top 10 places to visit.  And with the Republican National Convention coming here in 2016, the construction, activity, and upgrading of the city of things that will remain long after the politicos are here will make it even better.  I have now lived here for 41 years, and it was a good choice, especially being in the record (music) industry.
Also, as you indicated, our readers should keep in mind that the physical building here in Cleveland has nothing to do with the nomination process.  Bill Withers?  that is a joke. You mentioned Chicago, Guess Who, Moody Blues?  well, how about Freddie Cannon, the Tokens (more than just a vocal group if you know their history)  Connie Francis, and the biggest pre British Invasion travesty, the man who changed American Culture and how we danced:  Chubby Checker.  Thank you.  Now I feel better!

Hola Kent,
Didja ever think you'd see 2015? And still be entertained by the same songs we grew up with? It proves that "Rock 'n Roll is here to stay". Still listenin' and still having a ball.
Thanks for the update on the real villian(s) of the debacle that is the voting procedure to enter the 'Hall' ... certainly Cleveland has it's travails but at least they gave the "Hall" a home. Perhaps if the good people of Cleveland managed the voting all would be 'peachy keen'.
Here's to a vibrant 2015! Keep struttin' to the tunes ... they keep us all young.
Thank you, Kent, for all your efforts ... they are much appreciated.
Sweet Dreams,

The R&R HOF committee will have no credibility in my eyes until the more than deserving Poco, Yes (members from their two classic line-ups) Moody Blues and Todd R. are inducted (and many more who are deserving, especially in light of so many that have somehow snuck in)  My visit to Cleveland is delayed another year......MJS. 

re:  This And That:
FH Reader Tom Cuddy sends us this recent article about Mike Love's latest excuse for cancelling the rest of The Beach Boys' 50th Anniversary Reunion Tour ... Love has a new biography coming out next year where he'll tell his version of the band's history ... should prove to be a VERY interesting read.
Sadly we missed what would have been our last chance to see a full reunion of the surviving Beach Boys ... but I will tell you that both the Live Concert DVD and Live CD are well worth grabbing ... both capture the essence of the show and help to preserve that one last breath of what remains of the full band.  Factor in the tributes to both Dennis and Carl Wilson and the addition of David Marks to the line-up, and you've got the whole ball of wax.  Too bad only one album of new material came out of the whole process ... but it was a doozie!  "That's Why God Made The Radio" became The Beach Boys' highest charting album in decades ... and proved that these guys STILL have the magic, some fifty years later!  
Click here: The Beach Boys Live in Concert: 50th Anniversary: Beach Boys: Movies & TV 
Click here: The Beach Boys: The Beach Boys Live - The 50th Anniversary Tour: Music

The Beach Boys are opening their 50th anniversary tour in Tucson on Tuesday, which seems a bit random: What could the Sonoran Desert possibly … 
Read more
The Beach Boys will open their 50th anniversary tour at Casino del Sol's AVA April 24. Read more
Beach Boys founding member Mike Love will release “Good Vibrations: My Life As a Beach Boy” in 2016 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Beach Boys’ biggest hit.
The memoirs and the “Good Vibrations” anniversary might be reason enough to launch a major tour akin to the Beach Boys 50th anniversary trek that kicked off in Tucson in spring, 2012 ... but don’t expect to see founding members Brian Wilson and Al Jardine on the lineup as they were in 2012.  “There’s no plans, but then again I’m not opposed to it,” said Love, who with longtime Beach Boy Bruce Johnston, licensed the Beach Boys name in 1998 and legally controls its use. He and Johnston have toured as the Beach Boys since the 1990s. 
His incarnation of the Beach Boys will perform the first concert at the newly renovated Tucson Arena on Saturday. (See Caliente Thursday for more.)
Love caught a lot of heat from the media and longtime Beach Boys fans when he announced at the end of the 2012 reunion tour that he planned to go on without Wilson and Jardine. Some headlined the announcement as Love firing the pair. But in a phone interview in mid-December — and in countless interviews since the tour wrapped — Love said the 50th anniversary tour was meant to reunite the original members for that tour only.
Love described the tour as “a good experience for the audience to see all of us, the remaining living members of the group, together.”
“But I was disappointed in the fact that I was told that I was going to be able to write some new music with Brian Wilson, but it never came to pass,” he added.
“I’m not going to say everything’s rosy because I was misled. If it was just Brian and I around a piano in a studio, that would be great. But that was just not allowed. When he and I wrote songs together, they were big hits. The chemistry between the two of us — with my lyrics and hooks and his musical abilities, which are incredibly great — we came up with everything from ‘Surfin’ Safari’ to ‘Good Vibrations.’ We had a dozen big hit records.”
The Beach Boys released the band’s 29th studio album, in June 2012. The title song (and hit single) from the reunion album, That's Why God Made the Radio, was written by Brian Wilson and Jim Peterik (of Survivor and The Ides of March)." The following spring, Capitol Records released “The Beach Boys Live — The 50th Anniversary Tour.”

Happy New Year, Kent ... My best to you and the Forgotten Hits nation.
As you know, from time to time I do tend to think out of the box.
Anyway, on New Year's Eve, I hopped into the memory bag to tap in to a soul classic: "Does Your Mama Know About Me" by Bobby Taylor and the Vancouvers.
I don't recall the tune getting the time of day from 'CFL or WLS but it scored big on WVON and I believe it charted around 35 - 40 nationally on Billboard.
But that's not really the point. The song is a rich, very poignant statement, about the uncertainty of a young man dating a white girl.  The sense of trepidation is overwhelming.
Mind, you Kent, "Mama" was released in the late 60's when George Wallace was running for the oval office and interracial marriage was absolutely beyond taboo.
Bobby's vocal is so poignant, so filled with romantic angst and frustration, it can actually make you cry ... or at least feel the pain of secondary status he conveys.
Side note: Tommy Chong played guitar on the song.
Round 2: Bobby later went on to help define the musical and show business personality of the Jackson 5.
"Does your mama know about me ... does she know just what I am ... will she turn her back on me or accept me as a man."
4-stars. Recommend that all f.h. readers check it out on you tube ...
would love to hear your comments - pro or con.
Last but not least, my new book "Buffone", the life and times of ex-Bears linebacker, Doug Buffone, will be out in 2015.
Chet Coppock
Author...Chet Coppock: Laying it on the Line
Host: Chicago Blackhawks Heritage Series
Bobby Taylor and the Vancouvers hit #29 with their biggest hit in 1969 in Billboard Magazine ... and you're right, it was Bobby who REALLY discovered The Jackson Five and helped get them signed to Motown.  (Early stories also credited Gladys Knight, who was very high on the band, too ... but when it came time to introduce them to the world on The Ed Sullivan Show, Diana Ross was given full credit, and she became tied to the group forever more.)
Here in Chicago "Does Your Mama Know About Me" peaked at #22 on both the WLS and the WCFL chart, thus besting its national showing ... but I honestly don't remember hearing it a lot at the time.  A couple of years earlier only WCFL was bold enough to go with Janis Ian's similarly themed track "Society's Child" ... so the walls surrounding this great taboo were slowly crumbling down.
Interestingly enough, back home in Canada (from whence they came), "Does Your Mama Know About Me" only charted for four weeks on CHUM, peaking at #32.
Another interesting sidenote ... not only was Tommy Chong a one-time guitar player for the band (he's on their biggest hit), another pretty well-known guitarist spent some time with the band, too, in the early '60's.  You may have heard of him ... Jimi Hendrix???
From our special Jimi Hendrix profile we quote:
'60's Flashback:
By the end of 1962, HENDRIX had moved to Vancouver, Canada, where he began playing as a regular member of BOBBY TAYLOR AND THE VANCOUVERS at the infamous DANTES INFERNO Club.  In 1963, JIMI returned to The United States and began touring and recording with a virtual Who's Who of early '60's musical superstars. Between 1963 and 1965, using the stage name JIMMY JAMES, HENDRIX toured with or backed up artists like SAM COOKE, JACKIE WILSON, LITTLE RICHARD, SLIM HARPO, HANK BALLARD, THE SUPREMES, TOMMY TUCKER, THE ISLEY BROTHERS, IKE AND TINA TURNER and KING CURTIS ... all the while, remaining an unknown (but, apparently, in demand) background guitarist.

Hey Kent,
This morning, as I first looked out the kitchen window and saw the snow coming down on a car parked across the street, I instantly thought of this song. I haven't heard it in decades (thanks to today's radio). I've been told that the group was the front act to one of the first Rolling Stones tours in the US. The Tradewinds was actually the original name of the band, Styx, but that was later changed, because of this hit.
- John LaPuzza
Ironically, while working on our brand new survey feature for 2015 (50 Year Flashback: 1965) I had JUST featured "New York's A Lonely Town" when I received your email ... so the timing couldn't have been better.
Fans can check out the youtube link above ... and then enjoy the song again on The Forgotten Hits Website when it rolls around in March!  Thanks, John.  (kk) 

By the way, this brand new weekly feature kicks off tomorrow in Forgotten Hits ... 50 Year Flashback ... EXCLUSIVELY on the website every Monday in 2015!   

You probably have heard or read that country artist Little Jimmy Dickens passed away on Friday at the age of 94. I just have one record by him and that is his 1965 recording of MAY THE BIRD OF PARADISE (FLY UP YOUR NOSE). Personally, I always did like it. It peaked at #15 here in OKC on
our local top 40 radio station's weekly survey during the month of October, 1965.
Larry Neal
I figured at 94 this was going to be a tough road of recovery for Little Jimmy Dickens ... which is why I was surprised to hear that about 48 hours before he died, he had made some improvements healthwise ... and then he was gone.
Nationally "May The Bird Of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose" made it all the way to #15 on The Billboard Hot 100 Pop Singles Chart ... pretty amazing really.  (It was a #2 Billboard Country Hit.)  Here in Chicago, it went to #32.  While it was never one of my favorites, this guy sure had an illustrious country career, joining The Grand Ole Opry way back in 1948!!!  Incredibly, he had performed live on stage in Nashville just five days before his stroke on Christmas Day!  (kk)

My brother and I saw Joe Cocker in 1975 - 76 or so at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. I wasn't a huge fan, but I liked his music. Well, it was obvious from the first song he was falling down drunk on stage. It was the only time I'd ever walked out of a concert halfway through. The saving grace was the opening act ... Little Feat! We had never heard of them but Feat had a sizable fan base in the Washington, DC area, and quite a number of them turned out that evening. We got our dose of rock and roll from them! Apparently Joe had been in and out of rehab more than a few times, and was living quietly in Colorado when he died. RIP, dude.
- Larry Cave

In other oldies news this past week, Olivia Newton-John is reporting that she'll be releasing a 2-CD Set from her Las Vegas live show later this year.  (Now THAT'S something I'd like to see live in person!)  Jeff Lynne (who celebrated his 67th birthday last week) is reportedly "putting the orchestra back together" for a world tour in 2015 ... ANOTHER show that I would LOVE to see.  And congratulations to Peter Asher, formerly of Peter and Gordon and also record producer of great renown for the likes of Linda Ronstadt and James Taylor (as well as overseeing things at Apple Records during the early days.)  He's being named Commander of the Order of the British Empire!

Liverpool, England :  This summer, Beatles fans from throughout North America will be traveling to Hamburg, London and Liverpool for a “Magical History Tour.” 55 years ago, The Beatles traveled to Hamburg, Germany, and fans will get to follow in the Beatles’ footsteps in the city where The Beatles turned from boys to men. In John Lennon’s own words, “I grew up in Hamburg, not Liverpool.” 
The visit to Hamburg is part of the 32nd annual “Magical History Tour” from August 22 - September 2, 2015, which brings fans to all The Beatles' homes, schools, clubs, homes, early hang-outs and other sites in the three main cities connected to the history.  
The fully-guided, professionally-escorted tour includes visits to Penny Lane, Strawberry Field, the Cavern Club, and all the places that fans have dreamed of someday visiting, plus Hamburg landmarks such as the St. Pauli disctrict, the Reeperbahn, Kaiserkeller Club, Indra Club, Top Ten Club and the legendary Star Club. It is the 55th anniversary of The Beatles in Hamburg. Beatles friend, confidant and bodyguard Horst Fascher has been invited to host the group in Hamburg. 
Highlights of the tour include “Beatle Week” in Liverpool, featuring the International Beatles Convention, live nightly Concert extravaganzas, annual Music Festival, Liverpool's Beatles Auction at LIPA plus guided coach tour aboard the yellow bus hosted by David "Liddypool" Bedford and walking tour escorted by Rene "Beatles Unlimited" Van Haarlem. There is a dance party at the legendary Cavern Club, admission to the Beatle Story exhibit, a Ferry Cross The Mersey, exclusive concerts at some of original Hamburg clubs where the Beatles got their start, and an evening with Pete Best's family at BestFest in the Casbah Club. 
In London, landmarks include the Beatles three recording studios Abbey Road, Trident Studios and Twickenham, an afternoon visit to Chiswick Park where The Beatles filmed their "Paperback Writer" and "Rain" videos, and locations from all The Beatles films, including 1965's "HELP!" in commemoration of that film and album's fiftieth anniversary. 
Travelers will not only experience every Beatles-related landmark in Hamburg, London and Liverpool, but will  meet and greet many Beatle associates, relatives and dignitaries who take part in the annual festivities. The vacation is hosted by long-time Beatles aficionado, entrepreneur and super-fan Charles F. Rosenay!!!, producer of "NYC FAB 50," The Beatles' 50th Anniversary in New York. 
The August 22 - September 2, 2015 tour is presented by Beatles fans for Beatles fans and is open to all ages. The basic tour package price at only $2599 based on double occupancy with other add-on options. Price deluxe accommodations, transfers, ground transportation, breakfasts in Liverpool and all events, parties, admissions, guests and activities. Packages with flights start at $2999 per person, with group departures from New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and other cities in the U.S. and Canada. Single supplement available. Space is limited. 
For further information, write: Liverpool Productions, 315 Derby Avenue, Orange CT 06477 USA, email or phone toll-free (866) L-I-V-E-R-P-O-O-L-T-O-U-R (direct line is 203-795-4737).  The Facebook events page is, and the website for the tour is  
As The Beatles once sang "It's Guaranteed to Raise a Smile."

Long-time Friend of Forgotten Hits, Charlie Gracie, gets the star biography treatment this month ... VVN is reporting:  
January will bring the release of a new book on rock pioneer Charlie Gracie
Rock & Roll's Hidden Giant: The Story of Rock Pioneer Charile Gracie is scheduled to be released on January 20 from Alfred Publishing. Written by Gracie with John A. Jackson, the book features introductions by Sir Paul McCartney and Cliff Richard.
Gracie started his career performing around his hometown of Philadelphia before being heard by the owner of Cadillac Records who signed him to a contract. Charlie was rocking before it became fashionable, releasing songs like Boogie Woogie Blues and Rockin' 'n' Rollin' in the early 50's.
He moved to 20th Century Records before finally settling in at Cameo in 1956 and, the following year, he scored two hits with Butterfly (1957 / #1) and Fabulous (1957 / #16). He had even more success in the U.K. whereFabulous went to number 8 and the followup, I Love You So Much It Hurts, peaked at 6.
The hits brought Gracie to The Ed Sullivan Show and American Bandstand and he became only the second American rock act to tour the U.K.; however, when Gracie sued Cameo for unpaid royalties, it virtually ended his career in the U.S. when he was banned from performing on Bandstand who had a close relationship with the label.
Over the years, Gracie has continued to have a huge audience in Europe and, since the late-90's, he has had a resurgence in the U.S. with the release of five albums and the PBS special Fabulous (2007).
According to the press release for the book:

CHARLIE's inspiring story traces his rise to the top of the charts through his fall from fame--thanks to the "chew-'em up, spit-em out" cut-throat world of pop music. 
From his upbringing on the streets of South Philadelphia to the tragic death of his great friend Eddie Cochran to experiencing the dark side of Dick Clark and the early days of the music industry.
CHARLIE's unfaltering integrity and talent were the constant guides in his life, providing an uplifting story of family and perseverance.
Rock and Roll History would not be the same without CHARLIE GRACIE and this remarkable account is essential for ALL fans of Rock & Roll! 

You do such a great job keeping us posted on upcoming concerts in the Chicago area, I thought I’d start the New Year with a list for your readers along the Northeast corridor of some 2015 gigs in the New York area:  

KC & the Sunshine Band, Jan. 23 
Foreigner, Feb. 12 
Doo Wop Concert (Lou Christie, The Marcels, Danny & the Juniors, The Teenagers and more) March 21 
ZZ Top, March 15 
Temptations & the 4 Tops, March 7 
Moody Blues, March 27 and 28 
America and the Beach Boys, April 24 & 25 
Dion, July 11

Felix Cavaliere’s Rascals, Jan. 30 
Peter Noone, Feb. 5 
Edgar Winter and Rick Derringer, Feb. 6 
Rick Springfield solo, Feb. 26 
Uriah Heep, March 1 
Don Felder, March 18 
Michael Bolton, March 25 
5th Dimension, May 29  

BB KING’S, Times Square, NYC  
David Cassidy, Jan. 10 
Melanie, Jan. 13 
Jeffrey Osborne, Jan. 23 
Robin Zander Band, Feb. 5 
Peter Noone, Feb. 6 
Jody Watley, Feb. 18 
Don McLean, Feb. 19 
Vanilla Fudge, Feb. 27  
-Tom Cuddy

And finally, FH Reader John LaPuzza shows us that there may be hope for some of us yet!!!