Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Tuesday This And That

re:  Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr.:  
Without question, one of my most anticipated concerts this year was Sunday's performance of Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr., at The Arcada Theatre.  Unfortunately it didn't live up to the hype I had already created in my head as to what my expectations would be so I came away disappointed.  
Backed by a seven piece band (and supplemented by three more backing vocalist they referred to as "The New Dimension", I was primed for a REAL Fifth Dimension hit parade.  When all was said and done, they did less than a dozen of their own hits and filled out the rest of the two hour set with cover versions of other tunes ... well known, but not what we had come to see.  (For example there was an eleven-song Beatles medley ... all Paul songs, btw ... which is about as many of their OWN hits that they performed that night.)  
The whole show was "over-polished" ... so well timed and rehearsed that it didn't feel natural and, as such, there was very little "feeling" or connection with the audience throughout most of the set.  (I had SO been looking forward to this so it was an especially big letdown for me.)  
Don't get me wrong ... the crowd loved them ... there were several standing ovations throughout the performance but for me the only deserved one in my opinion was for Billy Davis, Jr.'s powerful performance of "A Change Is Gonna Come" ... and perhaps the "Let The Sunshine In" finale to "Aquarius". 
All-in-all, a disappointment ... even that much more obvious after being COMPLETELY blown away by The Orchestra at the same venue on Friday Night.  (Here's a group of guys who, at best, shared the limelight with one of the greatest creative minds in rock and roll, Jeff Lynne, yet the house was filled and these guys knocked out killer performances of each and every track, all faithful to the original versions.)  This was NOT the case with Marilyn and Billy.  Stand-out tracks for me were "A Change Is Gonna Come", "Sweet Blindness", "Stoned Soul Picnic", "Go Where You Wanna Go" and Marilyn and Billy's #1 "solo" hit "You Don't Have To Be A Star".  (kk)  

Frannie managed to take a few shots from our sixth row seats (thank you, Ron!!!) ...

I hope she sings "If I Could Reach You." It is by far the best recording of her career.  
David Lewis 
I've always loved that one, too ... it was one of my "goosebumps" songs from our feature that ran right around the same time as Tom Apathy's review from last year ... but unfortunately it didn't happen.  I rank it right up there with "One Less Bell To Answer" as Marilyn's two finest moments.  The show was split between their own hits and numerous other cover versions (with the slight edge going to the cover tunes.)  Kinda surprising (and very disappointing) in that they so rarely tour. 
Also missing Sunday Night were their signature tunes "California Soul", "Workin' On A Groovy Thing", "Blowing Away", "Puppet Man", "Save The Country" and "Last Night, I Didn't Get To Sleep At All".  (kk)

Hi Kent,  
I enjoyed the article on Marilyn McCoo and Bill Davis, Jr. I was fortunate to see them when they were with the 5th Dimension and they appeared in a theater in the round in Niles, IL. I forgot the name of it.  I also saw Jerry Lee Lewis and Fats Domino there on a "double bill' ... what a buy!!!
Marilyn McCoo is a Karen Carpenter type of singer in my opinion. What a GREAT song she sings  "One Less Bell To Answer" (my favorite).
Please keep us informed about Jimy Sohs! Great job as usual Kent!!!
You're thinking of The Mill Run Theatre ... I was only there once but there was a time when the absolute biggest names in show business used to play there on a regular basis.  (It was one of my parents' favorite night spots back in the day.)
I took my little sister to see The Jacksons there during the "in between years" ... I think Janet was maybe 4-6 years old at the time ... the group had already left Motown but had yet to score any really big hits for Epic.  Incredibly the place was less than half full!!!  My guess is that never happened again.  (kk) 

Enjoy Kent!  
I always thought Marilyn was gorgeous ... I actually think Billy has aged better than her ... HA!  Vocals are still good!   
I thought they BOTH looked great in those photos you sent ... and on stage Sunday Night as well.  Billy's voice was better than ever ... he absolutely KILLED it on "A Change Is Gonna Come", for me, the highlight of the entire performance.  Marilyn's voice is still strong ... and she can still hit and sustain most of high notes ... but some of this felt emotionless and, again, over-rehearsed.  Too many unnecessary runs ruined what should have been her most powerful performance, "One Less Bell To Answer". Overall, on a scale of 1 - 10, I have to give this one a "3" ... there were times when I actually felt bored, waiting for them to finally do another one of their OWN hits.  (One thing that helped ruin it for me ... before the show started they ran about a 12 minute video clip of the group in their prime, performing virtually all of their biggest hits.  At that point I couldn't help but wonder what there was to look forward to ... they weren't going to do ANY of these better than they did in the clips we just saw!  Unless they were going to come out on stage and blow the doors off, it was pretty much a given that it'd be all downhill from there.)  kk   

This sounds like a great show, Kent. Interesting that the review was from a show in Lakeside, Ohio. It's about ten minutes from the ferry to Kelleys Island, where I'm going for Memorial Day Weekend.

Hey Kent,  
Do you know if Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr. be returning to the Arcada?  
I can’t tell from reading. That particular post is dated June, so maybe it’s from the future?  
Bill F.
The review run on the website on Saturday was from last year when reader Tom Apathy caught the duo in Lakeside, Ohio.  We'd been pushing ever since to bring the act to The Arcada, which finally happened this past Sunday.
I don't know if they've been rebooked yet (this was their first appearance at The Arcada Theatre) but Billy Davis, Jr. DID make a point near the end of the program of saying that they'd love to come back here again ... a very receptive audience, even if the show didn't particularly work well for me.  (kk)  

Here's McCoo and Davis back when they were still in The Fifth Dimension -- on "The History of Rock 'n' Roll."  
Gary Theroux

re:  The Orchestra:
Speaking of great concerts, we were absolutely blown away by The Orchestra Friday Night at The Arcada Theatre. 
Featuring various members of different incarnations of Electric Light Orchestra / ELO / ELO II and ELO III, we figured the musicianship would be outstanding ... but were concerned that the vocals just wouldn't cut it since Jeff Lynne has such a distinctive voice.
But the fact is, the vocals were OUTSTANDING.  (It's almost hard for me to say this but The Orchestra performed "Turn To Stone" better Friday Night than Jeff Lynne did at his Hyde Park DVD concert which won A+++ reviews on our website a few months ago!)
Even more amazing ... the band features three lead vocalists trading off the leads ... and often within the same song ... and all have a very similar sound that when blended together virtually replicates the sounds of the hits we all know and love.  (There is just enough "Jeff Lynne" in their voices to pull this off ... and the background blend is nothing short of incredible.)
They covered the band's entire career and did bang-up jobs on nearly every track. 
Stand -outs for me included "Showdown", "Mr. Blue Sky", "Evil Woman", "Sweet Talkin' Woman", "Livin' Thing", "Can't Get It Out Of My Head", "Telephone Line" and, far and away, "All Over The World".  (Word of advice:  drop "Xanadu" from the line-up ... it just doesn't work ... and isn't that great a song to begin with.)
I have mixed emotions about cover and tribute bands, especially since Jeff Lynne is supposed to be out touring the US himself later this year ... and that DVD concert is so incredibly powerful ... but in that these guys were actually part of the band at some point in time ... and did such an incredible job of recreating (and preserving) the music, I'm willing to cut them some slack and give them a very high Forgotten Hits recommendation.  (I can honestly say that it will take something pretty incredible to knock these guys out of our Top Ten Concerts of 2016 Year-End List!)  
It's just amazing to think, sitting there watching them perform for a little over two hours, that ALL these songs ... save "Roll Over Beethoven" ... were written by the same man ... and yet he STILL isn't in The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, despite inventing an entire new side to rock music.  Jeff Lynne has got to be one of the most underrated, underappreciated artists of the past 40 years.
The current line-up consists of:

Mik Kaminski, playing this awesome electric blue violin.  Mik joined the original Electric Light Orchestra in 1973 after famously answering an ad they ran in Melody Maker Magazine looking for a guy who could play the violin (!) and stayed with them through 1986.  He is a founding member of The Orchestra (2001).  (Mik's son has recently been added to the line up, playing an electric cello and guitar)

Eric Troyer - keyboards, guitar, lead vocals.  Eric worked for years as a session singer and can be heard singing background on hits like Billy Joel's "Uptown Girl", John Lennon's "Woman", Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse Of The Heart" as well as songs by Aerosmith, Kiss, James Taylor, Meatloaf, Lou Reed and many others.  He is also a founding member of The Orchestra.

Parthenon Huxley - lead guitar and lead vocals and another founding member

Louis Clark - keyboards, lead vocals ... joined the original ELO for their "El Dorado" album and is also a founding member of The Orchestra.

Gordon Townsend - drums and ANOTHER founding member

Glen Burtnik - bass and lead vocals and a member of The Orchestra since 2009.  Over the years, Glen has performed as Paul McCartney in "Beatlemania" and spent ten years with Styx

Funny thing is about four or five years ago The Orchestra's manager approached me about helping to plug the band and asked me to run some links to some of their upcoming shows.  I was hesitant to do so because I felt that without Jeff Lynne there simply couldn't be another version of ELO.  Along the way I heard several good things about them, checked out some online videos and ended up plugging  few of their shows.  Now I'm SO glad that we had the chance to see them.  Highly recommended if you happen to find them out your way.  (kk)

>>>We were at The Arcada Theatre on Friday Night to see The Orchestra ... 3000% better than I EVER would have imagined they'd be.  The place was packed and the crowd was up on its feet for nearly the entire performance.  (kk)
Saw Orchestra two years ago ... loved 'em ... just effin' great! 
Chet Coppock

re:  On The Radio:
Kent ...
Am I reading this right?
Now they're telling us what songs to vote for.
Gotta love it ... now THAT's creative radio programming ... pick your favorites ... from this list of songs we're going to play every day anyway!!!  (kk)

re:  Happy Birthday, Charlie Gracie ... #80!!!:
The other day we ran a filmed birthday testimonial from Graham Nash ...
Today we've got one from Paul McCartney ... and also some words from Charlie Gracie himself!  (kk)
Paul contributed to the foreword in Charlie's autobiography: R&R's HIDDEN GIANT (Alfred Music Press)

Charlie Gracie, Jr.

And here's that Graham Nash link again for those who may have missed it the first time around ...

The Philadelphia Music Hall Of Fame Honors CHARLIE GRACIE today with a birthday bash and musical tribute at the Clef Club Theater:
It's #80 for Philly's 1st R&R Star, CHARLIE GRACIE, born on this day, May 14, 1936!

At this point in my life, I've fulfilled my destiny. Only God knows how much time I have left in this world ... but I can honestly say I've enjoyed this chapter of my life.
My family and my fans are everything!
I'm grateful for all the honors, but for me, the audience is everything. 
If I can go out on stage - be it a hundred people in a pub or restaurant - or 3,000 at a festival in Europe - my goal is to make them happy. That's what my entire life has been about. I thank God everyday for the privilege.
I hope they know I love them as much as they've loved me -- and more so!
Charlie Gracie

Hey Kent ... 
It's been a while since I've been in touch, but I haven't missed an issue. Things are busy here, and I wanted to share a couple of things with our friends here. 
This past Sunday we performed a song at the 80th Birthday party for Philly's first Rock and Roll Star, Charlie Gracie. We performed a song that I wrote called "Top Of My List" which was inspired by Charlie. I've attached a couple of photos from the amazing event ... one of us onstage and one with Charlie Gracie. We had Joe Terry from Danny & The Juniors onstage with us (far right in the onstage photo), providing the all important Rockabilly handclaps along with Richie Rotkin. 

Also, on Sunday May 29th, we are playing a show in Staten Island NY with The 1910 Fruitgum Company for "Fleet Week". There will also be a few others on the bill. I've attached a poster for the event.
This summer sees us playing in NY, PA, Iowa, Las Vegas, and other stops. Our website, www.theripchords.net is a good place for the readers to stay informed of our whereabouts.
More info on our mini tour of Iowa (Surf / Hot Rod Music coming to the heartland!) during August, coming to you soon!
And, Richie and Arnie will reunite onstage in Las Vegas for their 75th Birthdays! More on that coming too!
Be well, and keep in touch!
Mitch Schecter / The Rip Chords

re:  The Beach Boys:
Yesterday marked the 50th Anniversary of the release of The Beach Boys' album "Pet Sounds".
Although not especially embraced by the fans at the time of its original release (most thought it was just too far out there for a group who previously had spent its entire career singing about cool cars and the girls on the beach) it has since become iconic, cited my many critics as the greatest album ever made ... ground-breaking in every way ... and the inspiration for The Beatles to create something even better ... which begat their "Sgt. Pepper" LP.
Beach Boys / Brian Wilson Examiner Columnist and Publisher of the great Beach Boys Fanzine "Endless Summer Quarterly" David Beard has put together quite a bit of new interviews and looks back at this landmark LP.   


Sorry, been  up to my neck in alligators, as they say down south. Saw the subject line and it perked me up. Seeing all those great Elvis / Beatles songs together was mind blowing. And it all basically happened in a 15 year period: 1955 to 1970. 
I was blessed to see Elvis perform six times, three at the Vegas International Hilton (the dinner show with Brian and Alan, and their wives -- actually, AJ and I were so blown away, the two of us went back for the midnight cocktail show:).  I also saw him in Charlotte, NC, Atlanta and Nashville. All large venues, so the Hilton show was especially mind-blowing.  
But today (Monday, May 16), on the 50th Anniversary of "Pet Sounds," is another reason for the e-mail. Cannot say it enough. Last Thursday, I did a special tribute on my "Facebook" page (Fred Vail) and it's received hundreds of likes, shares, comments. Hope you can check it out. Lots of folks say that "Pet Sounds" is the greatest American album of the 'rock era.' They rank it #2 after "Sgt. Pepper." I've iven that a lot of though over the years and in my humble opinion, since even the great, late George Martin was quoted as saying, "without Brian and "Pet Sounds," there may not have been a "Sgt. Pepper." Add to that Sir Paul Mc Cartney ranks "God Only Knows" as his favorite song  of all-time, so it's a pretty case for "PS" to be ranked #1. Brian and Tony Asher, BW's co-lyricist on the album, took a huge chance even mentioning "God" in the title of the song, by the way.   
I owe you another e-mail. I think I'll go over some interesting "Elvis" tidbits, as 2017 will mark the 60th Anniversary of historic RCA Studio "B." Dare we forget, this year, 2016, is the 60th Anniversary of that great Elvis/Carl Perkins song, "Blue Suede Shoes."  
Fred / Treasure Isle Recorders, Inc.
Music City, USA

re:  Dionne Warwick: 
Dionne Warwick announced plans for an upcoming biopic last week ...
Sounds like LeToya Luckett (formerly of Destiny's Child) will play Dionne and Lady Ga Ga will portray Cilla Black.  Also attached to the film are Olympia Dukakis as Marlene Dietrich and Danny Glover as Dionne's father.  No word yet on who might be portraying Burt Bacharach.  (kk)
By the way, Dionne will be appearing at The Arcada Theatre on November.

re:  Two-Sided Hits: 
This is the first time I have read through this list and I was amazed at how many times Ricky Nelson showed up on the list.  Over the years, I don't believe he was ever given the credit he deserved for all of his hits.  I was a huge fan of Ricky Nelson, he was a great talent that is now greatly missed.  Thanks for all the work that went into providing this list, it is quite the conversation piece.  I love your blog, keep up all of the good work.

There are certain artists that just seemed to excel at scoring two-sided hits during the rock era ... and Ricky Nelson was certainly one of them.  (In the late '60's and early '70's, we found the same to be true of Creedence Clearwater Revival.)  As you look over the list it becomes pretty obvious who the "go to" artists were when it came to "double A-sides".  A great recap of the charts as they were ... and an INCREDIBLE radio special just waiting to happen if anybody wants to pursue this further.  (Be sure to check out the companion piece, The Top 200 Greatest Forgotten B-Sides ... these two features combined would provide quality weekend double plays for the entire year!)  kk

Some thoughts on The Local Guys ...

re:  Jim Peterik - The Songs:
Here is my review of "The Songs" by Jim Peterik
Let me first state that I have been a life long fan of the Ides of March and Jim Peterik's music over the last five decades.  Thus, you may think I am jaded towards his new CD release, but even if I am to some extent, I wanted to give the CD some well earned props.  First, thanks to Kent for letting me WIN a copy on FH.  Although, his review of the new CD was a bit rough on Jim, I will admit that none of these versions of Jim's HIT catalog will surpass their original forms.
That said, I think the CD is quite good!  It does several things.  The first is the showcasing of a voice that has only gotten better and stronger in the last 50 years.  Jim's voice is amazing still today after singing many of these songs thousands of times in their "usual" state.
IF you had never heard the originals of these songs, there's a good guess you would have thought it was a great CD.  Not only are Jim's vocals great, but you can understand every lyrics line.  The new CD uses an amazing array of instruments performed by dozens of players making each arrangement unique in its own way, and often a bit tough to tell what song it is until it gets going.  A lot of the credit goes to Producer Fred Mollin, who had this idea over a decade ago and pushed and helped Jim come up with these astonishing arrangements that most would not fathom to even dream of.  Fred's work as a producer goes from Grammy Winning "Sometimes When We Touch" by Dan Hill thru recent albums from Johnny Mathis, Barbara Streisand, America and even Rita Wilson!   
The booklet has loads of info and photos from all the people that helped bring this true work of art to fruition.  Now, some words about "The songs!!"
Beginning with the opening re-working of "Vehicle," you get the idea things are a bit different than you might expect.  Instead of the horn rock classic, you get the feeling you are about to hear BJ Thomas's version of "Rock and Roll Lullaby!!!"  You get a mysteriously mellow guitar solo by Johnny A. (Whaa??  No Peterik??) unlike the original, but just as entertaining.  The country-fied "Is This Love" is sung in such a way that with the same instrumental backing, it could be a huge hit for one of the famous female country singers hitting hard these days.  The biggest surprise might be the way Jim's biggest hit ever, "Eye of Tiger" begins as if it is about to break into a Rascal Flatts song with Tim O'Brien providing excellent harmony vocals for Jim.  Add in a fiddle solo as well as a mandolin and you have a blue grass effect that works well.  Mollin creates an "Eleanor Rigby" styled strings arrangement for "caught up in You."  On "LA Goodbye," Jim trades the familiar acoustic guitar sound for a nice piano arrangement and a electric guitar solo.  "Hold on Loosely" is done in a style that could be a HUGE country hit for today's stars of the genre.  That includes a very cool Jeff Taylor accordion addition reminiscent of "We Can Work it Out!" 
I think the Beach Boys' "That's Why God Made the Radio" is my favorite record of this century.  Co-written by Jim, here, he gives us his rendition not that unlike the Boys' except for being a solo vocal through most of the song.  You can hear the lyrics better and it really comes off great.  When there are harmony vocals, they come from Jim, Fred and Jim's son Colin and they come across much alike the Beach Boys.  "High on You" is quite an arrangement.  Beginning as if a Martin Denny instrumental, this song arrangement could have been a hit for Trini Lopez in the 60's, or Jimmy Buffet in the 70's or Toby Keith and Willie Nelson in the 2000's.  Throw in influences from Paul Simon's "Me & Julio" including whistling from Colin Peterik and you have quite a work of art.  "I Can't Hold Back" has a Rolling Stones' "Angie" feel to the guitar arrangement here.  "Heavy Metal" turns itself into a southern rock effort here with its blues-y harmonica styling.  When it gets into the song, it's a song Crow would have been proud to cover in the 70's.  "The Search is Over" has a folksy Bob Dylan-like harmonica sound to it.  "Miracle at Ground Zero" is almost like a "Band-Aid" choir sing-along style anthem offering up hope from a tough new century beginning. 
Possibly the best song presented on this CD is the song that pulls the whole project together.  It closes the album with the real story of why this was created. "The Same Muse" tells us that Jim Peterik is still using his artistic inspirations (or muse) he has all these 50 years on.  He's waxed many songs where he reflected on his life in music, but this certainly is as good if not better than those that have come before.  "It's the same muse, running like a fuse.  Inspiration across the years, searchin to find the perfect chord."  The muse has never let him down and he's STILL makin' his mark in this year of 2016.  These are words from Jim Peterik's soul.   
"The Songs" may not fit what you thought you would hear, but it is WELL worth hearing this one a few times and getting the whole scheme of these songs and Jim Peterik's great vocals and writing talents over the decades.
-- Clark Besch  
Thanks for the thoughtful and balanced review!
Warm regards.  
re:  The New Colony Six: 

I was on your website at: http://forgottenhits60s.blogspot.com/2010/01/helping-out-our-readers-new-colony-six.html and I saw the following text included:
JERRY SCHOLLENBERGER: When I put together the "Colonized" CD for Rhino Records, the Greatest Hits CD, I got more mail about "Long Time To Be Alone" than any other track on the CD. People just LOVED that song and many were hearing it for the very first time. It was, by far, the favorite, most singled-out track on the whole album.
I don't see that either "Never Be Lonely" or "Long Time to Be Alone" are on the Rhino release "Colonized".
They are not on the copy of the CD I have nor are they listed on the Amazon posting for the CD.
Is there some version of this CD that was released with those songs on it? I'd be interested in getting a digital copy of those songs. I've had to live with burning a copy of each from my old scratchy 45.

I'm not sure what listing you're looking at on Amazon but "Long Time To Be Alone" was absolutely on the Rhino Greatest Hits CD release.  ("Never Be Lonely", the B-Side of that record was not ... but is a beautiful song in its own right.)
"Long Time To Be Alone" was a low-charting single at the end of The New Colony Six's chart run.  It went to #93 in Billboard but was a #13 hit here in Chicago ... and, believe it or not, went all the way to #1 in Hawaii.  (In fact, Ronnie Rice told me it was on the strength of that record that the band got to go to Hawaii for several concerts.)  The single was re-released a few years later with "Never Be Lonely" as the A-Side but the best it could muster was a #123 showing in Record World.
Here's "Never Be Lonely", a beautiful track ... but unfortunately mine is from the original 45, too.  (I've talked with a couple of different record labels about updating The New Colony Six's Greatest Hits to include more tracks and get this back on the market again ... but things have been moving VERY slowly in this respect.  I recently had breakfast with Ray Graffia, Jr., of The New Colony Six and Gary Theroux, who put together "The History Of Rock And Roll" syndicated radio special, and Gary told us that he licensed several NC6 tracks for release on some of the compilation CD's he put together for Reader's Digest.  With all this new buzz being generated by the Cornerstones Of Rock shows, now is the PERFECT time to get these tracks back out on the market again.  Anybody else out there interested in helping us make this happen?)  kk

re:  Cornerstones Of Rock:
Comments are still coming in ... so here's what we're going to do ...
Today we're going to run the last batch of "general" comments ... good, bad or otherwise ...
And then, from this point forward (beginning on Thursday) we are ONLY going to run comments offering suggestions and solutions as to how to best deal with the unhappiness with the DVD and CD as currently released.
This means anything that you, the readers (and WTTW subscribers) feel would help to smooth this whole thing over so we can all get on with our lives!  (lol)
Consider what it would take (within reason, of course) to make you, as a customer, happy with your purchase.  We'll then run the list, present it to WTTW and see if something can be done to appease those who feel they were short-changed by receiving a product that was less than advertised.
Fair enough?
So get your suggestions in NOW so that we can put together a practical list on Thursday and finally put this matter to bed.  NOTE:  ALL comments will run anonymously ... so no matter who you are ... or how you may be affiliated with the artists, hosts or PBS Station, feel free to speak freely so that we can consider and come up with a viable solution that works for all parties concerned.  (And then, once WTTW comes up with their own solution ... which, of course, we're hoping they will ... we'll run the info here in Forgotten Hits and then let you know how you can obtain that which is being offered.)

It hurts me to see Ron Onesti getting piled on for the quirks which stripped "Cornerstones" of a portion of its built in charm. Anyone who knows Ron knows his heart is as big as Trump Tower.
He is a businessman and a  rocker. He loves the box office but he loves the musical magic.
I think the world of Ron and know his every intention with this project was positive. Somehow, I get the vibe that if Jimy Sohns had just been given the green light to sing "Gloria" there would be no issues. That in itself is a shame - a major league shame.
Ron Onesti is one of us ... a guy who appreciates the sounds of our youth. The Arcada is his heart and soul.
Cornerstones was his baby. As you said, the bright side was Ray Graffia and Ronnie Rice back together for the first time in 40 years, The Shames reuniting to create their unique blend of harmony and the Buckinghams dropping the in-house rancor for one night.
This show was a massive undertaking.
I would like to hear WTTW weigh in on its culpability with what left so many people disturbed.
Chet Coppock

I agree ... and I can assure you that it is NOBODY's attempt to drag Ron or any of the artists through the proverbial mud on this thing.  They promoted what they were told was going to happen ... and then WTTW took a short cut and, in the process, shortchanged all of the subscribers who sent their money in in good faith.  WTTW has been noticeably and conspicuously silent throughout this whole uprising.  My hope is that this means they've seen the errors of their ways and are contemplating ways to make things right ... but this is purely speculation on my part.  Until we hear from them directly everything remains status quo.  At the very least we would expect there to be some sort of disclaimer moving forward spelling out exactly what folks are getting for their money ... despite what they may have been told they would be receiving during the original broadcast that prompted them to send in funds in the first place.  Absolutely NO slap on Ron or ANY of the artists ... this is all WTTW's doing ... or undoing as the case may be. (kk)

I just saw what Ron Onesti had to say, and for the most part I agree with him. WTTW did not purposely mislead anybody. They had every intention of releasing a complete DVD and CD that had all of what was on TV and more. At the last minute, the station lawyers stepped in and made them pull "Gloria" due to a licensing problem. WTTW could not afford to get sued or to lose more money than they brought in for those discs just because of one song. I was told they tried hard to get "Louie Louie" to sound right, but the voices were way too far from the mics and it sounded horrible. Because they wanted to put out a high-quality product, somebody high up made the call to pull that song at the last minute, too. It was not done on purpose to upset anybody. It was done in the name of quality. 
Now in the above paragraph, the word purposely is the key. If I was driving home and did not purposely mean to lose control of my car, but still accidentally bumped into a parked car, damaging it, I would still have to make things right with the owner of the parked car, even if the damage was not done by me on purpose. So here is where I also agree with you. WTTW damaged the donors of the "Cornerstones" program by not delivering what they promised you would receive when making a donation. They need to do something to make it right. It can be as simple as a letter sent out from the station officials apologizing for the situation. (Something they should have done along with the DVD when it shipped out, in my opinion.) They could potentially hold a live "Cornerstones" event and give out tickets to the show to anybody who donated and purchased a DVD. They could also finally obtain the rights to "Gloria" and re-issue the DVD with all songs on it, including the sloppy "Louie Louie." That third option, as much as I know you want it, is the least likely due to the extreme costs involved. The whole situation sucks, but I'm not thinking there is going to be a way to make everybody happy. It is just an unfortunate series of events.
There is another sad side effect to all this too ... "Cornerstones of Rock" was supposed to be a semi-regular series. With all of the complaints coming in and the licensing issues WTTW has had to deal with, I'm betting that this has soured them on the idea of doing more shows in this series. That is a shame. They did bring "Soundstage" back recently and those shows are often turned into DVDs, but I'm betting the singers are asked to not do any cover songs and to allow WTTW the rights to distribute DVDs of the shows. I'd like to see a lot more "Cornerstones of Rock" shows (maybe even some Chicago-based "Cornerstones of Soul," or "Cornerstones of Blues," or "Cornerstones of Funk," as well), but my hunch is that the entire project is now dead.
There are no winners in any of these situations.
--anonymous by request

I would HATE to think that the bungled handling of this one event would cause them to abandon other Cornerstones and Soundstage projects ... WTTW has a rich heritage in bringing specialized music to the fans ... and I really do believe that if they simply make things right and clean up the initial mess made with the first Cornerstones project, and then make sure to know EXACTLY what they can and can't advertise and distribute in the future, the fans WILL come back ... because we LOVE this music and want to own a small part of it.  First, clean up your mess ... make this right with the people who donated money in good faith and deliver on your promises ... and then get ALL of your ducks in a row and continue to bring us top quality projects in the future.  (kk)

Hi Kent,  
As always it’s great to read Forgotten Hits ... you continue to put together a great website. When I talk to my clients who are oldies lovers I always mention ForgottenHits.com along with rewoundradio.com and of course Ron Onesti’s Arcada Theatre. 
It was great to see you again, albeit briefly, at the Alan Parsons Live Project Show last week. One thing that I really like about this band was summed up by one of it’s members: It’s a “Brotherhood” that Alan has put together that makes it so great. Everyone participates, everyone. Seriously ... how many bands that bear the “leader's” name are more of a team rather than one singer and backup musicians? Alan Parsons and his brotherhood are one hell of a great show, I recommend to everyone. 
Then there is the WTTW controversy surrounding the CD / DVD release from the Cornerstones of Rock performance. While I have not been able to see the show, although I try, I think you nailed it on the head with today's response to Ron Onesti’s letter. IMO I think WTTW should have delayed the broadcast or at least the release of the recorded materials until they had their ducks in a row. In the few years I have known Ron, he has done nothing short of producing and presenting the highest quality of entertainment at reasonable prices. If there is a definition of “Stand up guy” in the dictionary his picture is there. 
Again Thanks again for all your efforts, I’m sure I’ll see you soon. 
Scott Schultz, 
McHenry, IL
Agreed ... they don't come any better than Ron ... and I know that everything Ron, Jim Peterik and Carl Giammarese offered in the way of DVD extras during the telecast came from what they were told by WTTW the disc would contain ... so why these plans were abandoned is anybody's guess.  Like most, I think a second DVD housing all the bonus footage promised would have been preferred over an audio CD simply rehashing the same tracks already found on the DVD without audio.  Again ... GREAT plans and expectations  ... poor execution and follow-through.  (kk)

Hey ... James Fairs here ...
I can only report my own experiences. 
I went into this with a healthy dose of skepticism. I knew Joe Thomas and Frank Pappalardo, and had worked with each of them in the studio (and most certainly enjoyed it!) ... but there were a host of unions, and new characters and as you can, I'm sure, understand, these situations can get dicey.
But key figures, like Jimy Sohns, held the event to a higher standard: we were brothers and sisters who had lived through the inception of it all, and we became determined to do right by it. 
We found a surprising ally: the promoter!!! (Usually one of the last places rock players might look). Ron Onesti has shown good faith over and over again, and it has made a profound difference. We work each show with an eye to making it better than the last ... and each of us probably wonders how it might look in a year!
So I'm truly sorry that some people got short-changed on their donations. We had no say in that, but anyone involved still feels badly when well intentioned people get burned.  
Please give this show a shot, and know that we're doing the same.
All the best,
Perhaps a special show where your proof of purchase of the dvd acts as your ticket to get in (as suggested above) isn't such a bad idea.  An even BETTER idea would be to then have the opportunity to purchase the missing additional footage at the venue, thus raising money for both the guy putting on the show AND the station (in an attempt to recoup their expenses of producing the second DVD).
It's THESE kinds of positive suggestions and solutions we're looking for ... so please, put on your thinking caps and get back to us with your ideas.  Again, ALL entries will run anonymously ... so feel free to let your guard down and think outside the box.  We would LOVE to start running these ideas on Thursday ... so get back to me soon!  (kk)