Sunday, September 13, 2015

Mitch Aliotta

Tonight is the party for Mitch Aliotta of Aliotta, Haynes and Jeremiah (and formerly of The Rotary Connection, featuring Minnie Ripperton), being held at WIRE in Berwyn, IL.  Aliotta passed away a couple of months ago ... and the "party" is being billed as an all-star jam, remembrance and fund raiser to help Mitch's family with medical bills, debt and other expenses. 

Ray Graffia, Jr., founding member and front man of The New Colony Six asked me to please point out that, despite a report from Chicagoland Radio And Media (which was also published here in Forgotten Hits), he is unable to appear at the tribute this evening (and had informed the powers that be in regards to this event of this back on August 20th of this fact.)  As such, he asked me to please print a retraction, along with his regrets and condolences to the family, as he didn't want fans who showed up at the venue to be disappointed by his not being there to participate, thinking he was simply a "no show" for the concert.

However, I should point out that WIRE will still be rockin' tonight as numerous bands and local deejays WILL be coming out to remember one of our Local Heroes ... so fans of the groups Aliotta, Haynes and Jeremiah and The Rotary Connection ARE encouraged to stop by as ticket proceeds ($15) will go to Mitch's family to help offset medical expenses ... so not only is it all for a good cause, but it's also a life celebration.  (Bandmate John Jeremiah passed away in 2011, leaving only Skip Haynes, who wrote their best-know hit "Lake Shore Drive" as the last surviving member.)   

Tickets can be purchased in advance at this link HERE (or at the door) for $15.  For those unable to attend but who wish to help out, a GoFundMe page has been set up for the Mitch Aliotta Memorial Fund. That page can be found HERE(kk)


I only met Mitch Aliotta a couple of times.  He was dating (and then later living with) one of my best friends from high school ... and, thanks to the local success of "Lake Shore Drive", the band was at the peak of their hot streak at the time.  Thanks to this connection, we were once afforded the opportunity to open for Aliotta, Haynes and Jeremiah at an appearance here in Chicago.  (For the life of me, I can't remember the name of the venue ... but it was some type of "coffee house" setting, very popular at that time, in probably 1973 or 1974.)

Beth, my classmate, was one of those "best friends" girl friends who was a big part of my life back then.  (We even had one of those goofy high school pacts that if neither one of us were married by the age of 30, we'd just marry each other ... simply so that we could say that we were!)

Fortunately, it never came to that ... and in reality we dated exactly ONE time (naively figuring that since we were such good friends, why WOULDN'T it work?)  I'm sure that today we would both agree that it was a complete disaster, although I think we can also look back and smile.  (I took her to see the movie "Woodstock" in 1970 ... halfway through the film ... and after about 30 seconds of making out in the theater ... we both burst out laughing, saying that this was just too weird and never going to work.  Fortunately we were able to stay close friends for a few years after that until real life got in the way and, as even the best of friends so often do, went our separate ways.  While I've never left the area, she moved around a bit ... but we did have a chance to visit again at a high school reunion a few years back, as well as by email after Mitch passed away in July.)

By my count, Mitch definitely broke her heart several more times than he melted it, and because she was important to me, it hurt me to see her treated this way ... so my personal feelings for Mitch are tainted ... although there's no denying the fact that his band left us with one of the ultimate Classic Rock Tracks.  By ALL counts, it was for the best when they finally split ... and hey, today she can still talk about the time she dated a genuine rock star!

Bandmate Skip Haynes, who wrote the song "Lake Shore Drive", has participated with Forgotten Hits several times in the past ... he even gave us the "exclusive" story behind their hit several years back (which, I see by Googling this morning, has been picked up by several other media sources as well.)  You can read the complete (and ORIGINAL) version of the story here:

As well as listen to the VERY special, one-of-a-kind Forgotten Hits version of their tune here ...

"Lake Shore Drive" proved to be a VERY popular FM track.  The band often explained that, while written specifically about Chicago's famous piece of concrete that runs along Lake Michigan, they found out that SEVERAL cities across the USA have a Lake Shore Drive ... so folks around the country were also able to relate to the song. Incredibly it never officially charted nationally ... or here in Chicagoland either for that matter, despite the fact that it was (and still is) a radio staple here in Chi-Town.

Like Ray Graffia, Jr., I am unable to attend tonight's festivities ... but our hearts goes out to all of Mitch's family, friends and fans as they gather in his honor this evening.  (Ironically, thanks to a prearranged event, I'm having breakfast with Ray ... along with "The History Of Rock And Roll" creator Gary Theroux, who's in town for a wedding, later this morning ... and I've got a hunch "Lake Shore Drive" and Aliotta, Haynes and Jeremiah will probably be one of the topics of discussion!)  If any of our readers ARE able to attend, we'd love a full report to run as a follow-up piece next week.