Sunday, June 24, 2018

The Sunday Comments ( 06 - 24 - 18 )

From Frank B …

And some quick well-wishes to Michael Nesmith ...

(Monkees fans will get it!)

And now on with the show ...

>>>Coming up to Summerfest?  (Ray Graffia, Jr.)

>>>As you know, we have another great Cornerstones concert coming up in Milwaukee at Summerfest on June 28th. It will be slightly longer show starting at 3:30 – 4 pm. The Buckinghams, along with the Ides, Cryan Shames, New Colony Six and Jim Sohns should have the opportunity to play a couple extra songs.  (Carl Giammarese) 

>>>Gearing up for Cornerstones at Milwaukee Summerfest.  Definitely can’t wait. We are on the Uline stage at, I think, 3 pm. I believe George Thorogood will be Destroying soon after.  We’ve added some cool songs for our longer sets, including an extended Shadows classic cover of Got My Mojo Working - possibly the fastest song ever committed to vinyl!  But Mike Borch is up to the challenge!  Teddy Aliotta is lubing up his Hohner blues harp as we speak.  After the show we will be cruising the fest with cheese curds and a brew in hand taking in the awesome entertainment. And keeping Milwaukee famous.  All the bands are ready to rock. See you there!  (Jim Peterik)

As you have already noted, the Cornerstones of Rock show will be at Milwaukee’s Summerfest on Thursday, June 28th, at 3 PM. Please pass along the fact that this is “Throw Back Thursday” at Summerfest. Tickets are only $5 before 6 PM (see Summerfest web site) and there are 50% beverage prices until 6. This is a great opportunity to see this show at a reduced price then stick around to enjoy the other 10 stages of music and more food choices than you can imagine.
I’ll be there!
Bob Verbos

Honestly, we hadn’t planned on making the trip for Summerfest this year (and certainly didn’t make any overnight accommodations!)  and it would be tough for me to do so on a week day.  Here’s hoping some of our readers (and you guys as well!) will report back with all the details.  This sounds like it’ll be a really good time!  (kk)

>>>I just finished watching a show called Classic Rock Live on AXS TV. This episode was a tribute to Jim Peterik, and included performances by Survivor (with the late Jimi Jameson), .38 Special, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Night Ranger, and Starship. Jim Peterik and the Ides accompanied the various guests who played some of their greatest hits. The Survivor and .38 Special selections were those written or co-written by Jim, but I am unsure what the connection was with the others.  The show was filmed at the Soundstage venue and dated 2012. I also noticed in the credits the names Martha Davis and Ray Parker but did not see them (must have been edited out). All in all, a good show - I was particularly happy to see  Jimi Jameson, was surprised to see Dave Bickler come out to sing Eye of the Tiger, and enjoyed Mickey Thomas sing Fooled Around and Fell in Love and We Built This City.  AXS TV typically airs its shows multiple times. This one is worth looking for.  (Bob Verbos)

>>>I'll have to keep an eye out for this one … I've never seen it but it sounds great.  Maybe Jim can shed some additional light on the circumstances.  It almost sounds like a Deluxe Edition of Jim Peterik's World Stage!  (kk)

Hi Kent!
Regarding the show that was aired recently on Axs, I still haven’t had the chance to see it - I don’t have the channel.  When a friend sent me the trailer a few days before it aired I didn’t even know where the footage was taken from. Lol!
I was totally surprised to find it was a Soundstage taped in April, 2008, that sat on a shelf until now.  I’m looking forward to watching us a full 10 years younger. Lol! I remember the night and the warm and enthusiastic response of the audience to all my amazing and talented friends on stage. Great memories. Great music. Rock on!

I checked the AXS Website and found that this program will run three more times in the not-so-distant future, including a couple of airings next week … so set your DVR’s!

Monday, June 25th, at 10:35 am
Tuesday, June 26th, at 1 am
Tuesday, July 10th, at 9 am

FH Reader Tom Cuddy sent us this interview that Burton Cummings recently did with a Canadian Reporter for ET Canada.  He’s still having a tough time with escaping the horrors of reliving the moment of impact … and, as mentioned here earlier, is seeking medical counseling on coming to grips with how to do so.
“What the doctors told me at the hospital was – and I’ve tried to hang on to this – is that, they say, ‘Don’t go to what could have happened. Think of how lucky you are.'” --- Burton Cummings 
Read the whole interview here:

I enjoyed the Paul McCartney / James Corden 20 minute segment last night.  In fact, I watched it AGAIN, right after it was over. I did not care much for the actual karaoke, as it was poorly executed most of the time. What I liked was the people of Liverpool and the scenes they went to and especially, the bar scene. It was like a scene from "A Hard Day’s Night," BUT instead, with the OLD folks rushing in and singing along. Everyone got a big thrill and I did, too, as I watched it unfold in the bar. James was truly moved by the event, too. I'm not sure James knew the words to "When I’m 64," but the lady who owned the house did! She had to have been tipped off, as well as the bar crowd, probably being regulars who may have been told there was something going on. How do you explain a big curtain and tables being pushed together in a bar without suspicion??? Doesn't matter … great idea and came off well. Maybe he'll have a DVD of the whole six hours sometime.
Clark Besch
I kinda doubt that but it sure was fun to watch … I think BOTH of them had emotional moments where they let their guard down, which made it all that much more effective for those of us watching at home, especially having grown up in this era.  (Can you imagine being one of those on the street or in the pub and seeing Sir Paul come by?  Even to have been another customer at the Penny Lane Barber Shop would have been awesome!)
We are SO fortunate to have grown up while all this was going on.  And it’s clear that Paul is still every bit the charmer he always was … all the way down from a baby in a stroller to some of the older patrons at the bar.  Great show.  (kk)

Just when I thought Sir Paul was slowing down, you prove me wrong.
I loved the part where they discussed the timelessness of The Beatles’ music.  They were supposed to be a flash in the pan, fifteen minutes of success novelty fluke of the ‘60’s … and yet here it is, some 50+ years later, and their music is still as popular and relevant as it ever was.  Can you even imagine a bar patron ANYWHERE in the world not being able to sing along with every word to any of the songs Paul performed that night?  He, too, is timeless … and STILL making brand new music today.  Amazing!  (kk)

THE BOX TOPS will travel to HAMBURG GERMANY to appear SEPTEMBER 6th on "Gottschalk's 1968 TV SPECIAL, along with DONOVAN and Easy Rider star PETER FONDA.  They will perform their worldwide mega-hit THE LETTER. 
Stay up to date on BOX TOPS' news at

Hi Kent: 
Thanks so much for mentioning the “Summer of Me” in your newsletter today. 
Also, in response to Larry Neal’s comment about not hearing “My Dad” by Paul Peterson all day on Father’s Day, we played the song twice that day, and we were likely the only station in Chicago to do that (even including all the non-commercial stations).  Our playlist also included three versions of “Daddy’s Home,” “Daddy’s Little Girl,” “Son of My Father” and “Color Me Father,” all songs neglected by terrestrial radio for decades now.  It’s really pushing it to play those songs in the era of PPM ratings measurement, but we’re committed to filling the huge programming gap that continues to exist on traditional radio.
Hope you had a good Father’s Day!
Rick O’Dell
Programming Director
“Son Of My Father” is a GREAT track that has totally fallen between the cracks in Radioland. I remember that WLS played the Giorgio version (#23) and WCFL played the one by Chicory (#9), clearly the bigger hit here in Chicago despite Giorgio’s being the original version … but in this particular case, they sounded virtually identical anyway!   
We found completely opposite results on the national charts where it was no contest …  the Giorgio version peaked at #34 and Chicory’s stalled at #82.  (kk)

We’ve done both Mother’s Day and Father’s Day salutes in the past … in addition to the Paul Petersen hit “My Dad,” I also quite enjoy a song with the same title done by Ray Stevens … you can check it out here …

Put that one away for next year's Father's Day Program!  (kk)

Joel Whitburn is researching the Cash Box regional charts.  Great!  I hope he expands this to the entire run of these charts.  What I'd really like to see is the years before the WJJD survey and the Hot 100.  Regional charts are few and far between in the pre-1956 era.
He mentions on his web page that some of the records in the book are unavailable at any price.  Could they be DJ promos that did not generate enough interest to be released?  In that case, the record was hardly "popular," even if it showed up on somebody's top ten list.  The airplay charts are fascinating, but for an accurate indication of record popularity, I prefer the juke box, and most especially, the sales charts if I can find them.  
Cash Box had regional juke box charts since before I was born.  Regional sales charts are harder to find.  The earliest full Chicago charts I can find were Billboard regional charts that go back to March 17, 1951.  Later, Cash box sent requests to individual stores for their top ten, but another publication beat them to this by years.
On November 26, 1947, Variety printed its first record sales chart.  This chart was put together by getting top ten lists from stores in various cities across the country.  Variety did not print the individual charts.  Rather they put together a national chart using the individual local charts.  The position of songs on the list from the reporting store (which for Chicago was always Hudson Ross) would only be shown if that song made their national chart.  So we have Chicago "chart fragments" of ten or fewer entries. The number one record always made the cut, though, so we can see the number one seller in Chicago for every week that Variety printed a sales chart, from November 26, 1947 till the regional charts began in 1951.
There were a couple of interesting discoveries, even from this small amount of data.  For example, on the WLS, WCFL and WJJD charts, if you use the criterion most weeks at number one like Whitburn's Pop Annual books, the all-time biggest hit in Chicago is a tie between "My Sharona" by the Knack and "Another One Bites The Dust" by Queen, both of which topped the WLS chart for 10 weeks.  If you add the regional charts into the mix "Blue Tango" by Leroy Anderson makes it a three-way tie.  If you add the Variety charts they are all relegated to second place.  On March 15, 1950, "The Third Man Theme" by Anton Karas began a 12-week run at #1, making it, by that measure, the biggest Chicago area hit of all time. 
Another record broken is local hits that didn't chart nationally.  The biggest hit to chart in Chicago on the WLS, WCFL, WJJD and regional surveys without appearing at all on Billboard's national chart ... including Bubbling Under ... was "I Need Love" by the Third Booth, which reached #2 on WLS in 1968. On June 16, 1948, however, "By The Beautiful Sea" by Spike Jones was #1 in Chicago on the Variety sales chart.  It never charted nationally.  Research indicates that it was banned by the censors who mistakenly thought it contained off-color lyrics.  Apparently, a good way to sell a record in Chicago is to tell people it's morally objectionable.  These days you can hear it on You Tube.
I hope Joel's book inspires more interest in pre rock-era regional records.
Ed Erxleben

As for WLS survey collecting, for me it was always about getting the original sheets.  Of course, at the time, it was the only way of getting them. :-)
What I have scanned is available on line:
The 1964 photocopies are the ones that WLS sent me.  Even they ran out of copies to send me.  They should have known better, considering I sent in a SASE every week. :-) 
I have all of the "gold" surveys (Aug 63 to the last one issued).  One of which, the 6/03/66 issue I have 35 copies.  Yep, they stuffed that many in the envelope.  What is even nice about that issue, it also has Ron's pic.  Check out the images on the web site.  Download and print to your heart's content (both sides).  Of course, you'll never be able to get the "gold" surveys to print like the originals.
I forgot to mention that I have a WLS Survey collector's item.  Within the 16 copies of the 8/26/66 survey that I received, there was a copy that has the survey on both sides, i.e., a printing error.  I do not know how many surveys were printed on a sheet of paper.  In theory, there should be that many printer error copies out there.
Also, due to a printing error (12/23/66), song #22 only lists "I Got a Feelin'" … But it was tied with "Tell It Like It Is" by Aaron Neville.
As for knowing the listings on each survey, I do have the books.
And no, the Rat Fink I'm talking about is not the Rat Feenque mentioned in Thursday's posting.  You have to look at the WLS photos that you posted the links for.  You can't miss it.  The only hint I will give is that there is an appearance in three of the photos.
Mike Brown
Having worked in printing for virtually my entire life (I interned under Ben Franklin back in the day), these kinds of errors happen but are never supposed be left in the run and to get out to the public … in all my years of collecting, I have never seen one with the survey printed on both sides.  Your logic is correct … there wouldn’t be just one … but I wonder if ANYBODY out there has seen or owns another!  (kk)

As for there being archives of every chart at WLS, I had mentioned earlier that I didn’t think so … and FH Reader Clark Besch (a WLS and WCFL Expert) agrees.  He sent us this email …

Thanks to Mike for those great 1967 photos!  Loved 'em. 
As to if WLS has a complete set of their charts, I'll tell a short story about that. 
In the early 80's, then WLS music director (or maybe program director), Tim Kelly and his father bought an FM station here in Lincoln.  It was TWO blocks from my house, if you can believe that.  I had no idea there was even a station there, as it was a religious station before they bought it. 
They changed the calls to KYSS (KISS-FM) and were going top 40 format that "was gonna take the town by storm" and blow the competition away.  Well, that didn't happen and the station imploded in two years. 
I became acquainted with Tim and helped them with their oldies weekends just before the CD era took hold.  Tim was the main guy in the beginning, setting up the rotations and DJs and such with his father taking hold as time went on and Tim thought things were set up OK.  In the beginning, Tim was flying between Lincoln and Chicago constantly, so I never knew if he would be in town when I went down or not.  They gave me most of their extra DJ 45s that they did not use and that was well worth the trips and chatting.  He brought his Chicago WLS background with him to the programming here.  They would play "It Could Be We're In Love" on their oldies weekends off my 45!  The Chicago programmer also played "No Time To Lose" by Tarney - Spencer and "Whistle Down the Wind" by Nick Heyward, which were unknown songs otherwise here in Lincoln, but WERE Chicago favorites.  Both became great favorites of mine due to their airplay here.
I asked Tim if he could get copies of the WLS surveys at WLS and he said they had them.  He DID get me a typed list of each weekly #1, which at that time, was great, too.  He asked me to get as many of those #1's as I could for the KISS oldies weekends.  He did not say about the individual surveys, but Mike Callahan of Both Sides Now visited the station in 1980 and tells me they did NOT have any copies of the individual charts.  SO, no luck getting any originals as I wanted, BUT he did get me all three Animal Stories LPs, with one autographed by Uncle Lar and Lil Tommy!  What a thrill!  Eventually, I got all the 60's charts Xeroxed or original except the second and third in 1960, I think. 
As time went on, Tim drifted away from the station works in Lincoln and his right hand man DJ, a youngster, was eventually fired because he was taking payola from the Rocshire record label.  IF anyone has the 80's "Radio & Records" papers, they were like a religion to programmers back in the 80's.  I got all of the old KISS copies and they usually had their top 40 list printed in them, probably thanks to Tim being who he was.  Anyway, I thought it was odd that their top 40 printed in RNR had two singles from Roxbury in their Top 40 when neither was getting airplay ON the station.  Tim's right hand man was in charge of sending the charts in, I think, and Tim began to wonder and soon his guy was fired.  The two Rocshire singles were by Chad & Jeremy (a comeback single) and Tony Carey.  Both Tim's buddy AND the label went belly up soon thereafter.  Not to mention MY no longer getting records free and access to a person actually working at the Big 89!  Thus, the behind the scenes workings of a radio station. 
Clark Besch

Here are a couple of survey stories from my past as well …

YEARS ago I heard that somebody broke into the WCFL Studios during a radio station tour and stole their complete book of original surveys.  Although this is something I’ve never officially confirmed, I’ve heard it from so many people over the years that I have to believe there must be some element of truth to it.  (Probably embarrassing for the station to admit at the time.)
Because WCFL didn’t print copies of their survey for distribution, finding copies of the in-store charts that were on display at a limited number of record stores in and around Chicago, would be a real find.
Fortunately, there were enough of us survey geeks out there who actually went into the stores and wrote down the entire list so that most of this chart information still exists today … but copies of the actual charts would be akin to The Holy Grail of Survey Collecting.  (That being said, I DID find a couple of copies posted online … see below)

Way back when, I used to faithfully go to my local record store every week (and then later walk thru Sears on my way home school on Fridays) to pick up each new week’s WLS Silver Dollar Survey.  As such, I amassed a pretty complete collection of my own, week by week.
For some reason, this really annoyed my dad … I have no idea why … but I would sit in my room, go over my WLS and WCFL charts, type my own surveys and play whatever songs I could from my then-limited record collection as a way of counting down my own Top 20 Charts.
Flash forward a few years and my dad shows me this ad that he found in one of the Chicago newspapers (I can’t remember now for sure but I believe it was The Chicago Tribune) about a couple of college students who were looking for a few specific WLS Surveys in order to complete a research project they were working on.  My dad said, “You’ve got a bunch of these things … why don’t you give them a call and help these guys out?”  After a bit more pressuring, I did, and the two guys came by to pick up the surveys they needed for their “research project” … took my surveys and were never heard from again.  (I immediately thought that these must be charts they were missing from their own collection and they found some sucker kid to hand them over to them.)
The only good thing that came out of this was that I eventually ran an ad of my own looking for WLS and WCFL surveys in order to fill the gaps in my collection and met a fellow collector named Jack Levin, who has now been a friend for a good forty years now.  (In fact, I hooked new FH Reader Mike Brown up with Jack just this past week so that he could fill a few gaps in HIS survey collection!)
I also got interviewed by The Chicago Tribune about my unusual hobby. 
The woman who wrote the Antiques / Collectibles column called me after she saw my ad and interviewed me for the paper.  After I told her about being ripped off by those two college students a few years before, she even put my contact information into the paper so that other collectors could contact me if they had surveys available to sell or trade. 
I’ve met literally HUNDREDS of survey collectors since then, many of whom have collections FAR more extensive than mine, who are now regular Forgotten Hits Readers … guys like Clark Besch and Frank Merrill and Ron Smith and Ed Erxleben, whose names you’ll see oftenin our pages.
The hobby that used to annoy my dad so much has turned into a great bonding opportunity over the years.  (kk)

Hi Kent,
Thank you so much for including me in your blog. Anything I can do to help you out you just need to email or call me and I’ll be there for you.
PS: Here’s a picture of me and Sonny & Cher on the Merv Griffin Show

Now that’s just awesome!  (kk)

Tommy Roe's horse looks real good.
I guess he won't think about a song for the horse --- till he's running in triple crown races next year.

Here's my wish list for a second Royal Philharmonic cover of Beach Boys tunes,
Intro: Meant For You ~ Wake The World
Add Some Music To Your Day
Dance, Dance, Dance
Little Girl I Once Knew
Let Him Run Wild
Sail On Sailor
Break Away
Little Bird
Surf's Up
Til' I Die
Medley: Surfin USA, Don't Back Down, Catch A Wave
Surfer Girl
Slip On Through
Outro: Aren't You Glad

FH Reader (and renown author) Harvey Kubernik’s got the cover story in the new issue of “Record Collectors News,” reporting about the new dvd release Bang!  The Bert Berns Story, which we’ve been telling you about for the past year now.  (It’s a GREAT film with lots of GREAT music … you owe it to yourself to check it out!)

Music meets the mob in Brett Berns’ and Bob Sarles’ documentary about one of the greatest songwriters of the twentieth century
Legacy Recordings, the catalog division of Sony Music Entertainment, issued BANG! The Bert Berns Story Official Soundtrack for the first time on vinyl as a two LP set on December 8, 2018.
18 selections offer an insight into the stellar musical catalog of Bert Berns (November 8, 1929 - December 30, 1967) who was notable for having been a hit songwriter, wildly successful record producer and label chief whose work juxtaposed him not with only R&B greats but also pop artists, British Invasion acts and American rockers.
Berns was inducted as a non-performer and received the Ahmet Ertegun Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016 to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. 
The LP includes “Piece of My Heart,” Erma Franklin, “Tell Him,” The Exciters, “Twist and Shout,” The Isley Brothers, “Cry Baby,” Garnet Mimms & The Enchanters, “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love,” Solomon Burke, “Here Comes The Night,” Them, “Are You Lonely For Me Baby,”  Freddie Scott, “Cry To Me,” Freddie Scott, “Brown Eyed Girl,” Van Morrison, “Am I Grooving You,” Freddie Scott, and “Piece of My Heart,” Big Brother & The Holding Company – a cover of the Erma Franklin song featuring Janis Joplin’s lead vocal.
The saga of Bert Berns is told in BANG! The Bert Berns Story documentary film that was launched worldwide on Apple Music and iTunes in 2017 where it immediately became the #1 documentary on the platform. 
The film which played the film festival circuit and was theatrically released earlier in 2017 has garnered critical kudos which takes into account its subject’s enduring musical legacy.
BANG! The Bert Berns Story debuted in spring 2017 at SXSW and screened at numerous festivals including Boston Film Festival, where it won the Best Music Award, as well as Chicago’s CIMMFest (Best Soundtrack), Seattle International, Athens International, UK’s Doc ‘N Roll, Vancouver International Film Festival, Buffalo Film Festival, Mill Valley Film Festival and others.
And now BANG! The Bert Berns Story is finally available on DVD. The expanded retail item features an hour of outtake bonus footage incorporating Paul McCartney, Keith Richards, Andrew Loog Oldham, Ronald Isley, Ben E. King, Solomon Burke, Brenda Reid, Betty Harris, Mike Stollar, Charlie Thomas, The Strangeloves, Carmine “Wassel” DeNoia, Doug Morris, Brooks Arthur, Cassandra Berns, Don Drowty, Garry Sherman and Joel Dorn.
The DVD is available through
Bert Berns, unlike his music business contemporaries, was equally at home producing American soul artists in New York as he was working in London during the height of the British Invasion where his songs were covered by the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Animals and Them.
THE SUDDEN DEATH OF BERT BERNS ON December 30, 1967 of a heart attack is the final scene in my book 1967 A Complete Rock Music History of the Summer of Love.
“One of the side benefits of America opening its doors to our version of their music was we got to meet our heroes and villains,” volunteered record producer, author, and deejay, Andrew Loog Oldham in the same pages. “Bert Berns was a hero.” Oldham formerly managed the Rolling Stones while producing their studio recordings during 1963-1967.
One LP on the Bang label made a big impact on Staff Sergeant Roger Steffens in Vietnam, who had been shipped off to military service in May 1967, Nam in.November '67. 
“Michael Herr’s Dispatches understood better than anyone that it was a rock ‘n’ roll war,” Steffens explained in 1967 A Complete Rock Music History of the Summer of Love.
“Among the albums we heard in Vietnam that helped put our ‘shituation’ into perspective was Van Morrison’s 1967 Blowin’ Your Mind, produced by Bert Berns,” recalled Roger. “People primarily bought it because of ‘Brown Eyed Girl.’ But they weren’t ready for ‘T.B. Sheets.’ Here was a real flat out rock ‘n’ roller, who had been in Them suddenly making poetry. Blowin’ Your Mind was the trailer for Astral Weeks.”
“I MADE BANG! THE BERT BERNS STORY because this extraordinary untold story needed to be told by the people who worked alongside my father as he created his vast and unique body work,” said director Brett Berns, a graduate of the University of Virginia and veteran of the Israel Defense Forces Paratrooper Brigade.
“Bert Berns was one of the greatest music men of the twentieth century, yet he was also the most obscure. His death at a young age, combined with the neglect of powerful figures intent on burying his legacy, caused him to virtually disappear from the history of rock and roll. It thus became my life’s ambition to champion my father.
“I was only two years old when my dad died in 1967. Knowing that his rheumatic heart would take his life, he would tell my mother, ‘my children will know me through my music.’ In tandem with my sister Cassandra, I set out to learn the meaning of this riddle and what we discovered was a revelation so great that it called for historical revision. For buried beneath the sands of time was a unique canon of music and a story greater than fiction.
“My greatest personal realization was that only through the telling of his dramatic life story would my father be recognized for his part in our musical history. He had been so utterly forgotten that only a multi-media barrage would make people take notice of this lost icon,” reinforced Brett.
“I began interviewing subjects for the film nearly a decade ago. Being a first time filmmaker, I partnered with seasoned veterans and spared no expense on production. I personally conducted every interview and learned the fundamentals of editing. One door opened the next, and the greatest legends of rock and roll fell into the project along with a number of characters never before seen on film. 
“It wasn’t until world class editor and director Bob Sarles joined the project that the film truly took flight. A brilliant documentary filmmaker, Sarles reshaped the film, brought his best people on board to conduct B roll and re-creation shoots, orchestrated animations and graphics, and used Joel Selvin’s biography as the bedrock for the film’s narration. Musician, actor and deejay Stevie Van Zandt’s narration brings the voice of Bert Berns into the film.
“What began as a passion project designed to introduce the world to Bert Berns has evolved into both an important historical document and an inspirational example of how to live life with courage and create art with passion, love and collaboration. With my father entering the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2016, my greatest ambition is to share BANG! The Bert Berns Story with the world.”
FILMMAKER BOB SARLES, CO-director and editor of the film has his movies on permanent display at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, Experience Music Project in Seattle Washington, and the Stax Museum of American Soul Music in Memphis, Tennessee.
In 2017, I spoke with Sarles about the acclaimed documentary.
Q: Talk to me about editing. How do you weave the narrative tales with the music? 
A: I have directed and produced a ton of music related film and television content, but I also edit all of my own films, and continue to edit projects for others. It is the filmmaking craft that I have the most experience at, so I always look at a project from the editing standpoint. I have learned from decades of editing documentaries and television shows how to construct a compelling story out of the materials I have at my disposal.
In this case, and in much of the music related films I’ve made, the most important element in telling the story is the music of the era. The initial cut Brett was working on usually started with a song, but because Brett lacked the experience of an established editor, he would often let the song play until it ended or the story he was telling was completed. Sometimes I cut songs sometimes to use a lyrical hook, whereas other times I used a musical break to score an emotional scene. Everything was done in service of the story we were trying to tell.
I look at the music first as score and try and edit with the music to maximize its emotional impact on the story. Clearly, if you are telling the story of the recording of ‘Twist & Shout’ you are going to use the appropriate version of that song in that part of the film. Brett, with his great knowledge of his father’s output, was incredibly helpful in suggesting the lesser known songs in the Bert Berns cannon for emotional hooks, even if that song may have been produced at another part of the timeline. Fortunately, we had a very deep well of amazing music to draw from.
In the few instances where we needed original music created for the film I turned to my old friend Barry Goldberg, the great organist from Electric Flag (currently in band The Rides with Stephen Stills and Kenny Wayne Shepard) who has scored a lot of film and television, to compose and produce those interstitial music cues which integrated seamlessly with the needle-drop Bert Berns music cues that made up the majority of the film’s soundtrack. 
Q: What is the challenge of telling a story about someone who left the planet 50 years ago but the catalog continues to be utilized and heard?
A: The single biggest challenge we had, and one that is rarely noted, is the fact that we did not have a single frame of film or video footage of Bert Berns himself. Any home movies of Bert were lost over the years. That was a tremendous handicap. But, by utilizing photos we had of Bert and augmenting them with other archival footage, we were able to disguise that fact. That the Berns kids controlled a good portion of the publishing made using Bert’s music easier. Neil Diamond’s decision to not participate in the film meant we had to work around not having his catalogue available to us. 
In the end that wasn’t nearly the problem we originally thought it might be, as the film is the Bert Berns story, not the Neil Diamond story. The easy part is that many of the songs used in the film’s soundtrack are recognizable, and trigger an automatic emotional response in the audience. This is why these songs are still around. So many of them remain timeless.
Q: When you first began the venture, to now viewing the finished product, what were your initial impressions about Bert Berns and what did he become to you after you completed the portrait?
A: I initially thought of Bert Berns as a talented guy with an ear for great pop music. After immersing myself in the subject and the music I came to learn that he was a tremendously soulful guy and was responsible for helping to create some of the deepest soul music ever produced. He was a lot more than ‘Twist & Shout,’ ‘Tell Him’ and ‘Hang On Sloopy.’ The sides he recorded with Solomon Burke, Betty Harris, Freddie Scott and Erma Franklin and so many others are simply sublime and right up there with the greatest soul records ever made.”
During May, 2018, I asked Brett Berns about the vinyl soundtrack of the documentary and the just released retail DVD product.
Q: Tell me about assembling the vinyl soundtrack to your documentary. I know there have been numerous collections of Bert’s tunes, masters and for music publishing usage, but how did you and your sister Cassandra choose these specific recordings for the soundtrack?
A: Record industry legend (and BANG! star) Doug Morris produced the very first compilation of my father’s work in 2002, The Heart and Soul of Bert Berns. ACE Records in the UK followed with three complete volumes of The Bert Berns Story. The BANG! soundtrack on double vinyl is a trophy for the film and all who took part in making it happen. Sony Legacy, who controls my father’s Bang and Shout record labels, did a masterful job with the gatefold package. One of the film’s principal producers, Michael Borofsky, produced the soundtrack. We came up with the track list together, aspiring to represent both the documentary and the larger body of work. The combination of classics and rare gems is an ideal counterpoint to the movie.
Q: As you embarked on this project, what was the initial goal
of the endeavor?
A: Bert Berns was one of the greatest record men of the twentieth century, but also the most obscure. Time and politics had buried his name. Thus the primary goal of the film was to raise awareness of the legacy and propel my father’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. My dad fathered three children during the last three years of his life, knowing he would not live to see us grow up. “My children will know me through my music” was his mantra. And through a long journey of discovery, my siblings and I made his dream come true.
The film is a pillar of this effort, along with Joel Selvin’s epic biography Here Comes The Night: The Dark Soul of Bert Berns and the Dirty Business of Rhythm & Blues and the Broadway bound musical Piece of My Heart: The Bert Berns Story.
Q: And now after countless viewings at museums and movie theaters, along with critical acclaim, and the DVD is being released, what new emotions and feelings emerged about your father and his influential catalog?
A: I was struck by the reaction to the movie from audiences in the theater. With 50 international film festival screenings and a U.S. theatrical release, the film made a deep impact on audiences as they laughed and cried together in the cinema. I think people fall in love with Bert Berns, and with his music and his story. The love for my dad expressed by my father’s colleagues on screen is infectious. For me personally, I’ve become closer to the father I never knew. His daring example has inspired me at every turn.
Q: Tell me about the bonus features. Did you always know that there was at least an extra hour of footage that could be incorporated into a DVD? Does the bonus footage add or further expand the saga? Or viewed as extra glimpses from them?
A: It became clear early on that, following a decade of interviews, we had enough material to make two films. When my co-director and editor Bob Sarles came aboard the project, he structured the story mercilessly, cutting many of my favorite moments. When I would object, he would say ‘DVD extras!’
The interview outtakes both expand on the story and provide additional revelations. Keith Richards riffs on ‘the sensitivity and the toughness’ of the songs. Ronald Isley and Paul McCartney tell the complete ‘Twist and Shout’ story. And the 10 minutes of my father’s well-connected friend Carmine “Wassel” DeNoia is a short film in and of itself.
Q: How ‘bout a few behind the music reflections about the shoots of Keith Richards, Andrew Loog Oldham, Paul McCartney, Van Morrison, Cissy Houston, Brooks Arthur and Ronald Isley. They all seemed very receptive in general to talking about Bert’s music and the impact on their repertoires. Van Morrison seemed to embrace Bert’s short role in his musical career after somewhat distancing himself for many decades.
A: I was admittedly terrified at having to sit opposite so many towering giants during the interviews, but the affection shown by my father’s colleagues made it a joy each and every time. My dad’s engineer Brooks Arthur was among the first to be interviewed and joined me as a producer. Solomon Burke asked for a king’s throne in his rider and delivered a sermon. Brenda Reid cried tears of joy throughout her interview. Cissy Houston reminisced about Bert and his collaborative spirit — she wrote (uncredited) many of the background vocal arrangements on those records.
Paul McCartney invited us into his home, shook everyone’s hand on the set, and was so prepared that he basically interviewed himself. Andrew Loog Oldham gave a passionate no holds barred interview and helped bring Van Morrison and Keith Richards into the project. We went to Belfast to interview Van, who was gracious and welcoming. Keith Richards was the very last interview. I’ll never be able to properly express my gratitude to the stars of BANG! The Bert Berns Story.
Q: Has the movie and the soundtrack succeeded beyond your wildest expectations and brought attention to the music and life of Bert Berns? We also discover your colorful mother Ilene.
A: The film has truly exceeded my every ambition. BANG! was the best reviewed documentary of the year. It inspired the Sony Legacy soundtrack. And it got my father into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. My mother — who was the most difficult interview to secure — is also immortalized in the film and was able to see it on the big screen before her death last year. With DVD and international broadcast release this year, we look forward to sharing the movie with the widest possible audience.
Q: What were some of the key things you can say about collaborating with director Bob Sarles?
A: Bob Sarles and his wife Christina Keating are brilliant documentary filmmakers — a team that brings two lifetimes of experience to a project. I had been conducting interviews for close to a decade, learned the basics of editing, and had a (very) rough cut of the film. It was Berns historian Joel Selvin who introduced me to Bob, who would spend a year reshaping the material into a movie. Bob is a storyteller who taught me narrative structure.
It was Bob’s idea to include narration, and he used text straight out of Joel’s book for the script, read fittingly and artfully by Stevie Van Zandt. We worked closely together, but I knew that – like my father did with his artists — I should give Bob a free hand. For me it was a master class in filmmaking. Bob’s contribution proved so transformative that he earned a co-director credit. 
Q: Do you like the world of music documentaries after doing one? Do we need them for the real story? What advice would you give to producers and directors and estates involved in the undertaking?
A: It’s been said that we are living in the golden age of music documentaries. Music docs have taken the Oscar three times in the last six years.
Standing In The Shadows of Motown inspired me to make this film — I had even originally envisioned filming performances of the songs. But we had too much story to tell, and let the original masters serve as the score.
My advice to filmmakers is to let the truth guide you and leave the rough edges; be selective and don’t try to tell the whole story; be true to your vision and don’t take notes until you’re finished; exercise patience and perseverance; and remember the difficult work begins when the film is finished. Find a great publicist (like Bob Merlis), promoter (like Elliot Kendall), sales agent (like Cargo Film) and benefactor.
Funding these projects is extremely difficult. We were fortunate to have Bert Berns as our angel investor, and still had to beg and borrow our way to the finish line. Film festivals are critical to building buzz and proved key to our success with BANG. And if the stars align, you’ll distribute your film with Abramorama — leaders in independent documentary distribution.
Harvey Kubernik is the author of 14 books. His debut literary music anthology Inside Cave Hollywood: The Harvey Kubernik Music InnerViews and InterViews Collection, Vol. 1 was published in December 2017, by Cave Hollywood. Kubernik’s The Doors Summer’s Gone was published by Other World Cottage Industries in February 2018.

And finally, FH Reader Ken Voss sent us this link to a look back fifty years ago …

While a lot of political photos, lots of music memories

Of course, we look back fifty years every weekend with our on-going Saturday Surveys Series where, this year, we’re running a Top 40 Radio Chart from EVERY State in the Nation showing the most popular music in there area from exactly fifty years ago, 1968.  Be sure to check it out … and scroll back to see any issues you may have missed.  (Yesterday we visited Vermont … and next Saturday we’re off to Florida!)  kk