Sunday, January 1, 2017

January 1st, 1967

The brand year begins with the following Top Ten Records in America:  

#10 - Standing In The Shadows Of Love - The Four Tops

#  9 - Mellow Yellow - Donovan

#  8 - Coming Home Soldier - Bobby Vinton

#  7 - Good Thing - Paul Revere and the Raiders

#  6 - Sugar Town - Nancy Sinatra

#  5 - That's Life - Frank Sinatra

#  4 - Winchester Cathedral - The New Vaudeville Band

#  3 - Tell It Like It Is - Aaron Neville

#  2 - Snoopy Vs. The Red Baron - The Royal Guardsmen

#  1 - I'm A Believer - The Monkees  

The #1 Album in the Country as 1967 begins is "The Monkees" by The Monkees, their debut album which is now in its ninth week at #1.  

Speaking of The Monkees, they performed live on New Year's Day at Municipal Auditorium in Nashville.  

Gary Lewis, son of comedian Jerry Lewis, and leader of The Playboys, who have been ALL over the charts the past two years scoring hit after hit after hit (and currently hold down the #35 spot on this week's chart), is drafted into the US Army.  In an interview with Gary James of, when asked why, with his celebrity status and all his father's connections, he couldn't have avoided the draft, Gary replied:  "I had a really good role model. When I was thinking about getting out of the draft, I thought of Elvis going into the service at the height of his career and doing what he had to do for his country without complaining.  So, thinking of how Elvis did that, I thought to myself, I'm going to do the same thing and I'm going to be proud the rest of my life for it, and I am. It's just amazing how many Vietnam vets come up to me at these shows and thank me for doing what I was supposed to do. So, I wouldn't change that for anything."   

Speaking of Elvis, today he signs a new contract with Colonel Tom Parker which explicitly recognizes that they are engaged in what amounts to a partnership or joint venture.  According to the terms of this contract, Parker will continue to collect a 25% commission on all of Elvis' movie salaries and guaranteed record company advances .. but will now also receive 50% of any profits or royalties beyond the basic payments from these record and film contracts … as well as 50% of any "special" or "side" deals.  Basically stated, Elvis provides 100% of the talent but then  equally splits the financial results of that talent with his manager.  Unreal!  

Sonny and Cher are banned from The Tournament Of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California, for supporting the 2000 demonstrators (known as The Sunset Strip Rioters) speaking out against a year-long campaign by sheriffs and police to clear the Strip of "loitering teenagers".  

The New Vaudeville Band appear on The Ed Sullivan Show tonight performing their former #1 Record "Winchester Cathedral" along with "Whispering" and "Shine".  

Meanwhile, The Doors make their first live television appearance in Los Angeles on the KTLA-TV Program "Shebang", where they lip-sync their first single "Break On Through". Later this year they'll make an appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show performing their #1 Hit "Light My Fire" before being banned for life for not deleting the line about "getting higher" per Mr. Sullivan's request.  When told afterwards that they'll never play The Sullivan Show again, frontman Jim Morrison said "Who cares … we've already done it."  

The First Annual New Year's Wail is held in San Francisco.  Among the artists performing that evening were The Grateful Dead and Big Brother and the Holding Company, featuring Janis Joplin.  The concert was arranged by the San Francisco Chapter of Hell's Angels as a good will gesture for all of the Haight-Ashbury hippies who got together to bail Angels members Chocolate George and Hairy Henry out of jail after their arrests at the Death Of Money Parade held December 17, 1966, an event staged by The Diggers, a radical community-action group of activists and improvisational actors, cofounded by actor Peter Coyote.  (Making their political statement, the actors dressed in animal masks and carried a large coffin full of fake money down Haight Street singing "Get out my life, why don't you babe?".)  

Number One at the Box Office this week:  The Sandpebbles


I talked with Gary Lewis about being the "lead story" in our Salute to '67 this year in Forgotten Hits ...

Kent Kotal / Forgotten Hits:  OK, tell me about The Ed Sullivan Show. 

GARY LEWIS:  OK, well the Sullivan Show, everybody knew that if you got asked to do that show, that was going to be a high point in your career.  So we went on there and debuted "This Diamond Ring" to the country and I know that had a lot to do with that going to #1 for us … and then we got asked back six different times to do it.  So within the release of our first seven singles, we did six Ed Sullivan Shows … and so all seven of those tunes went to The Top Ten.  

kk:  You had a string of hits there that just wouldn't stop … for awhile, it was just unreal.  

GL:  Oh yeah, it was just great … it was really great … and then I got my draft notice!

kk:  Let's talk about that.  1967 was still a big year for the Playboys … in fact, you guys  had a few hits that year … "Where Will The Words Come From", "The Loser (With A Broken Heart)", "Girls In Love", "Jill" ... it's funny because the very first entry in my 1967 calendar for the year, January 1st, is: Gary Lewis gets drafted.

GL:  That's right …   

kk:  Tell me about that.   

GL:  That was my first day in the Army … New Year's Day … and, since it was a holiday, nobody was around.  We hung out, not knowing where we were supposed to be, who we're supposed to see … are we supposed to talk to anybody? … what's going on … no, nothing until the 2nd.  But it was … I didn't really like going in, but by the end of it, when I was comin' out, I knew that it was a good thing that I did it, it really was.  I had to grow up a little.   

kk:  I read a quote from you that you kind of used Elvis as a role model. 

GL:  Well, that's exactly right … when I got my draft notice, that's the first thing that I thought of … well, Elvis did it, I'll do it.  And everybody's tellin' me, "You're nuts!  Your dad could have gotten you out of that!" .  Well, I didn't want that, ya know?  I just didn't want it … so I went. 

kk:  And I don't know if you even know this or not, but two days later … two days after you went in, Carl Wilson of The Beach Boys filed for conscientious objector status.   

GL:  Oh really?!?  No, I didn't know that!  

kk:  Yeah, it was like two days later.  

GL:  I did not know that!   

kk:  Yeah … I mean, it was a different time, for sure … January, '67, I had just turned into a teenager right then, so I probably wasn't really all that aware about all that was going on outside my own little bubble of suburbia ... but let's face it, you weren't that much older than me. 

GL:  No, I was barely 21.  And I suppose I could have done that ... asked my dad for help ... but that wasn't what I wanted ... I wanted to do this on my own and face whatever was in store for me.
kk:  I tell people that the day The Beatles hit America, Paul McCartney was twice as old as me … and now he's only eleven years older than I am now … and it just doesn't seem fair!

GL:  Laughing … ha, ha … oh yeah, yeah … funny!

kk:  But he used to be TWICE as old as me!

GL:  Yeah, yeah, right!

kk:  Now you're in the army ... yet Gary Lewis and the Playboys had four hit records that year ... so how did that happen?  I mean, you were gone!  Did you go in and prerecord a bunch of stuff before you went into The Army?

GL:  Yeah, when we found out that I was going into the service, Snuffy (Record Producer Snuff Garrett) said, "Let's just go in and cut what I think can all be singles", so we recorded like four or five songs and just put them in the can and just released them while I was overseas.

kk:  Well, that definitely kept things goin'!

GL:  Yeah, right.

kk:  Now did you do any entertaining when you were in the service, or no?

GL:  No, they wanted me to get a band together and go around and play USO clubs around the country and stuff and at that time I didn't want to be anything special … I didn't want to BE special … I just wanted to be one of the guys that had to go thru everything that you have to go thru … I didn't want any kind of favoritism … and thank goodness I thought that way.  'cause I gotta live with all these guys!  And if I would have been shown any kind of favoritism it would have been a real drag … so I said, "No thank you, please just give me a job" and so they stuck me in the supply room.  (laughing)

kk:  Yeah, but that probably made it a heck of a lot easier in the long run overall!

GL:  Yeah, it probably did, actually, you know.  I mean I just had the foresight to understand that if you're pointed out as something special and you're getting favors and this and that, it just would not have been a good two years.

kk:  So when you came back, obviously the music scene had changed quite a bit … '67 … one of the reasons I focused on '67 is that just really seemed to be the year of change … EVERYTHING changed.

GL:  Oh man, did it ever … yeah, that was it … Jimi Hendrix … Janis Joplin … and I'm going, you know, "Oh my God, where do I fit into this?"  And then when I got out of the service I said, "Snuffy, what are we gonna do" and he said "Nothing - there's no market for you."

kk:  Oh wow!

GL:  Just like that … boom!  I mean, pie in the face.  So that's when I really started not liking him too much because he could have come up with something … I mean, he ran Liberty Records … Al Bennett was the President and The Boss and all that, but Snuffy … he would do anything that Snuffy said … so Snuffy was actually in charge.  And if he wanted to do something, he could have, so I was pretty upset about that.

kk:  Well SO many things changed … it was such a volatile time … 

GL:  It was, it really was.

kk: Think about all of the guys who were HUGE, top of the charts artists until The Beatles hit … and then all of a sudden they couldn't even get played on the radio anymore.

GL: That's exactly right … and I didn't think of that until YEARS later … and it's absolutely true … and the guy that worried the most was Elvis!

kk:  FIfty years later, tho, and you're still doin' it, man … I mean who would have EVER thought!

GL:  Oh my God … NEVER!  We've done 52 years so far … and that's the best gift I could have EVER been given.  I'm truly blessed.

kk:  And you're still havin' fun … and the folks are havin' fun watchin' it … you can't ask for anything better than that, you really can't!

GL:  No, no … and it's true … ALL the people we play to are just SUPER good people … they're probably the same people we played to in the '60s!

kk:  (laughing)  No, I think you've picked up a couple of generations since then (lol) … 'cause I've gotta say, this is infectious music … there's just something about this music that spans every age group … and as they discover it … I remember watching my kids grow up whenever they'd have a birthday party or something, they would still play the music of the '60's … didn't matter what era it was … it was still that feel good music of the '60's.

GL:  Ah, yeah … that's cool … you know, people tell me that all the time at our shows … "Oh my God, where is music like that now?"  And I say "Well, you know, I don't know the answer to that one but thank you for saying so."

kk:  One other thing from '67 that I wanted to ask … and this fact totally surprised me … "This Diamond Ring", which is one of my FAVORITE records of all time, was such a HUGE, huge hit when it first came out … but did you know that it didn't actually go gold until 1967.  Does that seem right to you?  Kinda odd?  I mean, that record was HUGE … BIG #1 Hit.

GL:  Yeah, that's right … I think that's because it got to #1 too fast … that's what I think.  It went up the charts SO fast … like maybe five or six weeks … that it didn't have time to sell all that until later on.

kk:  That could be.

GL:  That's what I think anyway.  Ever since 1965, I've got five "Diamond Ring" gold records, and three of all the others … so they keep coming because these songs have continued to sell.

kk: Wow - that's great!

GL:  I love it!

kk:  Now do you still get royalties on any of this stuff?

GL:  Yeah, sure … oh yeah, we made a GREAT deal with Liberty Records … a lifetime deal!

kk:  Well, that's just awesome … because a LOT of guys don't!

GL:  Oh, I know, I know … somewhere in their career when their popularity kinda sinks a little bit, they sign things back over to the record company, and that's the mistake right there.

kk:  Well, I appreciate you taking some time today to talk about some of this stuff, it means a lot … please follow along as we relive 1967 this year in Forgotten Hits ... and feel free to chime in at any time with some "fly on the wall" memories.

GL:  Oh sure, my pleasure … any time you want to do this, just shoot me an email or give me a call.

A rare shot of Gary in his Army Uniform - supplied by Gary Lewis!