Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Tuesday This And That

Hi Kent, 
I landed a rare interview with Herb Alpert in 1977 while working as a writer / producer with "American Top 40."  I was particularly jazzed by this opportunity as it was Alpert's success with the Tijuana Brass that inspired me to take up the trumpet when I joined my school band in Fourth Grade, a mere ten years earlier.
I conducted the interview in Herb's office on the A&M Records lot on an afternoon in March.  I specifically was curious about his decision to cut a vocal record, "This Guy's In Love With You," in the midst of an unbroken string of hit instrumentals.  This was the most comprehensive answer I have ever heard, before or since, on the subject.
"I was getting ready to tape a TV special, "The Beat of The Brass," for CBS and during rehearsals the director, Jack Haley Jr., came to me and said, 'You have that damn horn in front of your face in every segment of the show.  We need to do something with you without the trumpet.  Can you sing?'
"So I told him, 'yeah' -- before the Brass, I had cut several records as a vocalist and, with the right song, I could do a passable job.  So I went to Burt Bacharach, who was signed to A&M, and I asked him if he had something that might be a good fit for me.  He remembered a tune that he and Hal David had demoed on Dionne (Warwick) a couple of years earlier, but had never released.
"As we were wrapping up the taping of the special, I went into the studio and cut the song, including a bridge on trumpet, and we turned it into a segment on the show.  Response was so good when the program aired that we released it as a single and it became the biggest hit I ever had."
The irony of landing his only Number One hit with a vocal performance when he was the top-selling instrumentalist in the world was not lost on Herb.  However, two years after our interview, he finally topped the charts with the hit instrumental "Rise."
By the way, while I was on my way back to my office following our conversation, Herb called my office and spoke with my boss, evidently saying something to the effect of "Where'd you find this kid?  That was one of the better interviews I've ever done."
As I was still fairly new on the job, and probably still on some sort of probationary status, that call from Herb certainly helped cement my position with the company and "AT40."  Despite many future visits to A&M, I never ran into him again or got the chance to thank him for such a nice, thoughtful gesture.  So … if you happen to read this, Herb ...  It was always a real bonus when meeting a musical hero to find them to be a splendid human being as well.
And thank you, too, Kent!
Scott Paton 
What a great story.  Despite all his riches, Herb Alpert still strikes me as a very down-to-earth man … certainly blessed and appreciative of the career he has had … but also willing to share that cheer and good feeling with others he meets along the way.
When we saw him at The City Winery last year, after he was prompted to sing his #1 Vocal Hit, he consented but offered the disclaimer: "My voice isn't what it never was." 
While he only topped the chart twice in Billboard (with “This Guy’s In Love With You,” #1 for four weeks in 1968 and “Rise,” #1 for two weeks in two weeks in 1979), he did reach #1 in Cash Box Magazine with with his late 1965 instrumental hit, “A Taste Of Honey.”  (kk)

The ABBA return news stirred up one of my personal favorite concert memories. I was one of the fortunate Americans to actually see ABBA in concert. The concert was held at the Milwaukee Auditorium in the late seventies. The Auditorium seated only about 7,000 fans, as ABBA had not reached the heights in the US that they had in the rest of the world, and the concert produced very little buzz here in Milwaukee. I recall the concert being absolutely first-rate, with ABBA doing all their hits spot-on and the ladies demonstrating tremendous charm and stage presence.  At the end of the show the band welcomed a large choir of local children on stage to sing “Thank You for the Music”, a wonderful conclusion to a great show. I’ve always felt very lucky to have seen ABBA live and I like to brag to young Mamma Mia fans that I am probably the only person they know who saw the real thing.
Bob Verbos
I never had the pleasure of seeing them live in concerts … one of those regrets I can't undo at this point.  I'm not sure I'll buy into the whole "hologram tour" … but I'll definitely be watching the NBC television special to check it out!  (kk)

Vintage Vinyl News is reporting of a new Linda Ronstadt tour … and this is something I would LOVE to see!  (Special alert to Ron Onesti … this is right in your wheelhouse with some of the special shows you’ve done at The Arcada … no idea what her travel plans are … or what the budget for a show like this would be … but this is DEFINITELY something worth looking into!)  kk

Linda Ronstadt Is Returning To The Stage For “A Conversation With Linda”
Maybe Linda Ronstadt can no longer sing but that doesn't mean that she can't talk about her career.
Ronstadt had one of the most diverse music careers in history, starting in folk and country, moving to rock, operetta, big band / pop and mariachi music, seeing success with every change.
Ronstadt retired from music in 2011 and, two years later, revealed that she was suffering from Parkinson's Disease which has robbed her of her storied voice.
On Thursday Night, April 26th, Ronstadt returned to the stage at the Scottsdale Center For the Performing Arts in Scottsdale, AZ, where she presented "A Conversation With Linda."  Included during the evening was an audio - visual presentation on Ronstadt's career told through archival photos, videos and music based on Linda's 2013 autobiography Simple Dreams: A Musical Memoir. The presentation was then followed by an audience question-and-answer session.
"A Conversation With Linda" was also presented on Sunday, April 29th, at the Fox Theatre in Tuscon, AZ … and additional shows are already booked for September 15th at the Angelico Concert Hall in Dominican College in San Rafael, CA, September 21st at the Harris Center at Folsom Lake College in Folsom, CA and on September 29th at Mountain Winery in Saratoga, CA.
Let’s see if there is anything we can do to bring this show to Chicago!!!  (kk)

Hi Kent,
Thanks so much for your Box Tops Interview!  They hit it big because of their special sound. Although Alex Chilton was the big voice of the group, it sounds like they have recreated the sound again.
Bill Cunningham and his family have quite a musical resume. I loved all their songs and currently have "Soul Deep" in my juke box.
But when in doubt ask the master:  Was "The Letter" one of the shortest hit records ever made?  The only other short record I can think of is "Stay" by Maurice Williams & The Zodiacs???
Both of those records clocked in at just under two minutes, two of the shortest #1 Hits on record.  “The Letter” ran 1:58 and “Stay” lasted all of 1:37.  Other #1 hits that said everything they had to say in under two minutes include “Teddy Bear,” “All Shook Up” and “Surrender” by Elvis, “I’m Henry the VIII, I Am” by Herman’s Hermits (although I think when Peter Noone performs it today it sometimes goes on for about ten minutes … “Millionth verse, same as the first!”), “He’s So Fine” by The Chiffons, “The Stripper” by David Rose and “Yakety Yak” by The Cosaters.  (kk)

Best Box Tops tune = Soul Deep
That’s a great one, all right.  I often have a hard time ranking my favorites in any particular order by most artists because they often change depending on my mood at any given particular time.  The same would be true of The Box Tops, but (as mentioned in my interview) “The Letter,” their biggest hit, would not even make my Top Five.  Like you, I especially enjoy “Soul Deep” … but also “I Met Her In Church,” their rendition of “I Shall Be Released” (my favorite version of this song), “Cry Like A Baby” and “Neon Rainbow.”  (I’d even rank “Choo Choo Train” above “The Letter” … but that’s just my own personal taste.)

I recently read Alex Chiton's bio, "A Man Called Destruction" by
Holly George-Warren. I highly recommend it. 
Gary E. Myers / MusicGem

Burton Cummings has put his LA home on the market for $4.95 million.  (He reportedly bought the property five years ago for $1.75 million … not a bad return on his investment!)
Known locally as “Cummings Castle,” this place has to be seen to be believed … and we’ve got some incredible photos to prove it.
I dunno … Burton and I have become pretty tight over these last few years … think he might let me have it for $4.948 million???  (kk)

A quick triple play from Chuck Buell …

>>>I don't think I ever heard of Chuck Buell at WLS.   (Dennis)
Who is this Dennis guy . . . ?  I never heard of him!
Chuck Dah-Buell-Ell-Ess!

>>>“The Farm Report,” which began in the 1920s and ran early mornings on WLS Radio prior to their switch over to Top 40 on May 2, 1960, may have been what the station was best known for. That and the National Barn Dance!  (kk)
Add to those two well-known historical programs, the last lingering ABC radio network entertainment show on the network-owned WLS, a daily hour-long old-style late morning talkative interruption to the otherwise young-sounding and contemporary Rock ‘n’ Roll music format of the Big 89, “Don McNeil’s Breakfast Club.” 
That show began on June 23, 1933, and aired for over 35 years through December 27, 1968.  1968!   It continued as a formatically incompatible programming desert for eight years after WLS made the commitment to Rockin’ the Windy City!
I remember the "Club's" last year of 1968, when John Rook, who had been programming WLS for only a short period of time then, brought me into Chicago from Denver, Colorado, to host early evenings. He shared with me some of his battles with the ABC Radio Network Powers in New York.  I remember John telling me one of his top priorities was to get that Breakfast Club OFF the air. The Network, however, did not want to let go of such a long-term program that had been on their air for over three decades. While it took Rook around a year to do it, he finally did win his victory and WLS went from a 23-hour a day Top 40 Radio station to a full-blown 24!
Chuck Buell
Yeah, I forgot about that … Don McNeil’s Breakfast Club was a radio institution … and couldn’t have been further from the format WLS had switched over to and their core listening audience.  (Were the old folks REALLY tuning in at 5 am to catch Don McNeil and then switching off before the dreaded Jimi Hendrix music started blasting out of their tiny transistor radios?!?!)
Incredible to think that it took THAT long for the station to commit to its new format … but clearly this was more of a “corporate decision” in the hands of parent company ABC than anything the folks running things day-to-day on the local scene would have wanted.
You can find a VERY detailed history of WLS on Scott Childers’ History of WLS Website here …  http://www.wlshistory.com/

Well, that was quite a surprise for me when I opened the Forgotten Hits Edition last week and saw the Buell Tribute Clark Besch put together!  It was a fun review, albeit in no particular order, spending some time with the collection there! Thanx for the effort, Clark.
Just a couple of clarifications on the two opening audio segments, however; the first voice on this track (KIMN) is NOT me.  Apparently, someone sitting in for me one day.  The rest of the audio is basically just the full version of "Those Were the Days."  I did not sing on that song!  {:~} 
That is also NOT me on these Coke Spots either. The commercials I was involved with were full singing versions with I doing the taglines at the end.  Not I singing on those either!  {:~} 
Other than those two items, I can't deny any of the stories that followed! 
Fun stuff!  And, admittedly, those were the days, my Friend! 

Micky Dolenz (of The Monkees) and Paul Michael Glaser (Starsky and  Hutch) at this weekend's East Coast Comic Con at The Meadowlands Expo Center, New Jersey.

(photo by Jodi Ritzen)

Also on Saturday, Micky was presented with the official key to the town of Secaucus, by Mayor Michael Gonnelli, at a Dolenz-sponsored Make-A-Wish event at Charlie’s in Secaucus Saturday.  

L-R: Dolenz and Gonnelli
David Salidor

>>>Only the Madison Crucibles with their intriguing "Salem Witch Trial" 45 actually was one such in the top 30.  Chicago's USA Records signed the Invaders for their new release "The Flower Song" which was this week's "Battle of Sounds Winner!" 
For whatever interest it may be, the Invaders were from Green Bay and had additional 45s on Calendar and Capitol. The Invaders and the Crucibles are both included in my Wisconsin books.
Gary E. Myers / MusicGem 

I was so jealous of WISM back then.  They were on 1480 AM in Madison, WI, and I was on 1480 AM In Geneva, IL.  We played MOR (Faith, Mantovani, etc.) and there was no way we could pick-up WISM.  We protected each other with directional signals. I was in my late-teens and the last thing I wanted to play was MOR.
Jon M

Question from Fred Glickstein of the Flock:
"Did you hear that Bob Dylan's getting back together?"
:- )