Of course the lead story this weekend was the death of famed Record Producer Phil Spector.
Spector created “The Wall Of Sound” by massively layering multiple instruments on top of each other, often times playing the very same notes in order to create a sound so powerful that his records just jumped out of transistor radios, sounding like nothing else on the air at the time.
His records of the early '60's made disciples of up and coming artists and fellow producers like Brian Wilson and Sonny Bono. The musicians he assembled, later to be known collectively as The Wrecking Crew, were suddenly the most in-demand musicians in town, playing on hundreds of hit records throughout the '60's.
In early 1970, after producing his solo hit "Instant Karma," John Lennon handed him over a massive pile of tapes that was to become The Beatles’ swan song album, “Let It Be,” essentially telling Spector, "Here, have a go at this." By this point, The Fabs were bored with the results and no longer interested in drudging thru them ... and were barely even speaking to each other.
When the final result was released, long-time Beatles record producer George Martin, who produced the original sessions commented that the disc should be properly credited as “Produced by George Martin … Over-Produced by Phil Spector.” (Paul McCartney hated the results so much that he campaigned for decades ... and finally achieved ... a release of the original mixes as he feels The Beatles would have preferred them, issued as "Let It Be ... Naked.")
Spector then immediately went to work on solo albums for both John Lennon and George Harrison. (Ironically, when the new reissue of George Harrison’s landmark breakthrough solo LP “All Things Must Pass” is released later this year, that will be one of he biggest adjustments we’ll hear … Phil Spector’s handiwork is being taken down a few notches on the remix in order to give the album a more universally acceptable sound, circa 2021, minus the boatloads of echo and blur of sound they all found so fascinating in 1970.)
Spector, of course, famously produced The Ronettes (he even married their lead singer Ronnie, who described him as “a brilliant producer, but a lousy husband), The Crystals, The Righteous Brothers and many others, ranging from Ike and Tina Turner to Sonny Charles and the Checkmates to The Ramones.
In 2008, Forgotten Hits ran a month-long series on Spector’s career. It was written and assembled by FH Reader Steve Knuettel, a MAJOR Phil Spector fan and collector and, as such, offered much deeper insight than anything else out there written about the man as our series was illustrated by numerous EXTREMELY rare recordings written and/or produced by the man. At the time, he was on trial for murder and, in fact, he was found guilty of murder during the course of its run.
For years we have considered re-posting the complete works on the Forgotten Hits archives website … but it is truly a massive piece of work. (When printed out, it comes to just over 140 pages!!!) Plus that website doesn’t allow us to post any music, which I feel may be the strongest drawing card to such a piece.
As such, I am currently looking into other options and already have a couple of ideas under consideration. As soon as we have something concrete lined up, we’ll be sure to announce it here.
Sadly, we lost Steve Knuettel a few years back as well. I know he would have been very proud of the fact that not only was his piece so highly regarded by music fans all over the world (wait till you see the comments we received on this thing!), but that it will now live on forever for others to discover and enjoy.
Stay tuned. (kk)
Darlene Love, another incredible voice that Spector shared with the world, had this to say after hearing of his death ...
I’m feeling a range of different emotions right now. I feel a sigh of relief but emptiness, too. Another chapter in my life has come to an end. A truly sad ending to a brilliant music pioneer. I will say, if it weren’t for Phil, there would never be a Darlene Love.
-- Darlene Love
Ex-wife Ronnie Spector, who wrote a book about her time with her domineering and abusive husband, had this to say ...
It’s a sad day for music and a sad day for me. When I was working with Phil Spector, watching him create in the recording studio, I knew I was working with the very best. He was in complete control, directing everyone. So much to love about those days. Meeting him and falling in love was like a fairytale. The magical music we were able to make together was inspired by our love. I loved him madly and gave my heart and soul to him. As I said many times while he was alive, he was a brilliant producer but a lousy husband. Unfortunately, Phil was not able to live and function outside of the recording studio. Darkness set in, many lives were damaged. I still smile whenever I hear the music we made together, and always will. The music will be forever.
-- Ronnie Spector
I recognize the influence on music that Phil Spector had and also the differences of opinion created by his visions that enveloped the studios. While part of me says, “Yes, we need to recognize him,” most of me says, “phhhhhtttttttt!!” So I, too, am curious to see what you come up with. Shelley J Sweet-Tufano
What I'm going to come up with ... for now anyway ... is written above. Reassembling the complete Phil Spector series will be a massive undertaking and not something that can be turned around quickly ... but we will keep you posted as things move forward.
Like you, I have always had mixed emotions about the man. Listening with the benefit of hindsight, I can hear some of the uniqueness of his work ... but also an awful lot of excess. Couple that with the complete endangerment he placed every artist he ever worked with in and it's a wonder that more people weren't killed along the way. (Maybe they were.)
All of that being said, Joe Marchese has written a brilliant piece on Phil Spector for The Second Disc, explaining some of the mixed emotions we all are feeling at this time. Sad? Disappointed that so much talent could also have such a dark side. (No differently than most of us have felt throughout his storied career, I guess ... while you can attribute some of Spector's antics as "all for show, just trying to live up to the legend, the truth is Phil was a very, very sick individual who spent most of his life drawing other very talented people into his madness.)
Check things out from this perspective ...
Phil Spector died from from COVID-related complications. He was diagnosed four weeks ago and went to the hospital but recovered well enough to return to prison. But he relapsed, had trouble breathing and was rushed back to the hospital, where he died on Saturday.
James Holvay / Debi Otto
Original reports showed that Spector died of natural causes, but then TMZ came out with reports that he had contracted Covid-19 about four weeks earlier. After he was hospitalized and treated for that, it was determined that he had "sufficiently recovered" and was then returned back to prison, where new issues developed immediately, forcing him back to the hospital for further medical care. He died there on Saturday. (kk)
Also passing away last week … Tommy Mara of The Crests and Don Miller of The Vogues, two amazing vocal groups that lit up the charts in the 1950’s and ‘60’s. (kk)
Our buddy Sam Tallerico put together another OUTSTANDING Lost And Found Oldies Show this weekend, this time spotlighting the years 1971 and 1966 with tributes to The Super Charts and the television debuts of “All In The Family” and “Batman,” which were both celebrated in Forgotten Hits this past week, too.
I have to vote this episode, hands down, the best selection of music in a single program that I have heard to date …
Sammy is all over the place with musical variety … everything from The Archies to Emitt Rhodes (yay!) to clips from both aforementioned television series to Bobby Darin (a GREAT track, by the way!) to Diana Ross to The Smothers Brothers (!) to Mike Douglas to just about everything in between. (Man, you just don’t hear a radio program covering this kind of ground in just two hours time!)
Kudos, Sammy, on another fine job! (And Part Two of this segment will air next Saturday at Noon Central.)
Meanwhile, you can listen to the rebroadcast of this week’s show here:
And WE got kudos for variety this week, too … read on …
When I opened Forgotten Hits this morning, I realized just another reason why I am ardent reader of your publication. And that is the fact that you just never know what's going to be in the pinada!
One minute, it's Neil Diamond, one minute, The Stones, but I must say -- The Four Preps, "who woulda thunk?"
Do I like Neil Diamond? Damn right –
Did he evolve and get a bit saccharine at times? Damn right -- but in his catalogue, there is a little something in one of his "eras" for someone … well, almost!
Did he take a helluva lot more musical gambles than the Stones? –
Arguably, yes ... but, you can't argue with the sales record of either Mr. Diamond or the Stones.
But I must say, the biggest surprise in the pinada today was the Four Preps!
No, they didn't move as many units as Neil Diamond or Mick and the Stones, but they were one helluva harmonious group. A really great sound, and some quality hits.
Do they appeal to everybody? Probably not, but then again: "You can please some of the people some of the time ... etc."
Or, as my Irish Mother used to say: "Everybody to their own taste, said the old lady that kissed the cow!" I always loved the Four Preps.
And back to my point …
That's just one of the reasons I am a fervent reader of Forgotten Hits … it is never short of surprises!
It was like the day I read Chuck Buell was a Glenn Miller fan -- I thought: "Thanks for the validation, Chuck … now I don't feel like the 'Lone Ranger!"
Let's face it, everybody has an artist or genre that they don't wear on their sleeve but it just happens to appeal to them. Who knows, maybe just maybe, Ozzy Osbourne has a Glenn Miller album in his collection -- hell, maybe there is even a Neil Diamond "Jonathan Livingston Seagull" album in there, too – ok, well maybe I wouldn't go that far! But, I'm just sayin' ..."
Thanks to you and Forgotten Hits for a "lotta pinadas" –
And, who doesn't love surprises!
As always, Tim, thanks for the very kind words.
And for all of you out there who like Neil Diamond, Me-TV-FM is doing a Neil Diamond Birthday Salute Weekend this weekend. It all kicks off at 7 pm (Central TIme) on Friday Night ... and they'll be featuring Neil's music all weekend long. Give it a listen if you get a chance! (kk)
FH Reader JR Russ tells us that Movie Ticket Radio (TM) will have its premiere weekend on WEBR1440 and webrradio.com Niagara Falls, Buffalo, this weekend, airing Saturday and Sunday from 6 pm to midnight, Eastern. This is a whole new broadcasting concept and is definitely worth checking out.
JR is the guy who brings us WCFLChicago.com, a salute to one of Chicago’s Top 40 giants from back in the day, always offering a wide variety of music that goes beyond the scope of your traditional terrestrial oldies radio stations. (kk)
While this particular commercial may be new (I saw it three times myself on TV last night!), Amazon's use of the song isn't ... I remember covering it before in FH a few months back ... and being just as bewildered then as to how such a complete, unknown Chuck Berry track might have been selected. (In fact, it was probably YOU who first brought it up!!! lol)
No clue ... but an usual choice for sure! (kk)
>>>On January 15, 1967, The Ed Sullivan Show welcomed The Rolling Stones under one condition — they change the lyric of “Let’s Spend The Night Together” to “let’s spend some time together.” (TVLine)
Flipping around on the TV the other night we spotted Gary Puckett singing the modified lyrics "Did no one ever tell you THE WAY OF LIFE" on an Ed Sullivan show clip. Seems he was also forced to modify the lyrics to another of their hits.
And, of course every bit as famous for NOT changing their lyrics on the broadcast were The Doors, refusing to drop any reference to “getting higher” during their liver performance of “Light My Fire.” Afterwards, they were scolded backstage and told that they would never perform on the show again … to which Jim Morrison replied “That’s OK … we’ve already done it.” (A man of principles if nothing else, I guess! Thankfully, he didn’t unleash the snake during that particular performance. He was, after all, The Lizard King!) kk
LOVED the photo of you, your daughter and Julie Newmar!
Our mutual friend Gary Strobl still talks to her on occasion and does some video work yearly at her son's birthday party.
While ‘The Ballad of Batman’ is really not a song I would be listening to more than I had to via the radio, it does remind me of assignments I have received from students over the years, used to enhance visual presentations. There is enough merit there to receive an excellent grade if presented live or by recording.
Batman and His Grandmother … not so much … although the time it would have taken a student team to write, find appropriate song inserts, and record it still would have given them a glowing grade.
After reading the blog earlier, I discovered that one of the songs mentioned - "Ballad of Batman" by The Camps - was actually released on Cameo Parkway back in 1966. I guess even popular labels like that had to cash in on the Batman craze!
The Camps also released a record simply titled "Batmobile."
Here's one that I have on CD somewhere from the appropriately named Gotham City Crime Fighters. You may be able to guess why this never reached Number One. 🙂
Incidentally, my wife met Adam West a couple years before his passing at a convention she attended. Also in attendance was Chubby Checker - because my wife was a volunteer, he sat down by her and sang part of The Twist, and allowed her to take a photo with him! I wish I would've been there! Both Adam and Chubby were extremely gracious from what she told me.
Adam West just seemed like such a fun and accessible guy over the years, genuinely basking in the glory of what this role did to cement his career for the next several decades to come … but I’ve reached out to Chubby Checker numerous times over the years and just can’t get him onboard with what we’re doing, despite all our efforts to draw attention to his incredible career and campaigning for his rightful place in The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. Honestly, I just don’t get it … I see it as the perfect match … and a GREAT way for him to stay in contact with his fans … we were even able to finally book a show for him to appear here in the Chicago area at The Arcada Theatre (which, of course, like every other live event known to man, has been indefinitely postponed because of the corona virus.) Hopefully we’ll finally have a chance to meet face to face then (masks or no masks!) … but I’m a huge fan and have the utmost respect for all he’s done to leave his imprint on the history of rock and roll. (kk)
So you LOVE it when this Batman stuff comes out together without any effort
on your part ... OK.
Hearing the Camps’ knock-off on Saturday's FH reminded me of one I used to play at several suburban stations around Chicago. Plus it was always the most requested "un-heard of song" at area DJ parties as late as the early 1980s. My copy is from vinyl and I took a photo of the record label. You can see that it's been through a lot of stations.
Here is the Brothers Four with Ratman and Bobbin and the Clipper Caper.
Saint Charles, IL
And I just couldn’t resist passing this one along …
Two all-time classic ‘60’s tv casts square off against each other for a Celebrity Family Feud!!!
Best Classic Bands has come up with a “Top Ten ‘70’s Rock Songs Playlist of Songs You Know By Heart” … probably because they’ve been beaten into our heads for so long now that there is simply no means of escape.
To say that there are no surprises on this list is a given … it’s kinda exactly the point.
And, since The Drive no longer publishes their daily play log on their website, you can use this as your daily guide to know exactly what they’ll be playing each and every day for the rest of all eternity. Add nine Aerosmith songs per day, eleven more by Led Zeppelin, six or seven each from AC/DC and Pink Floyd and you’ll have captured their complete on-air library ad nauseum. (That’s why their annual A to Z feature is such a welcome departure from the norm … you FINALLY get the chance to hear something other than the same two hundred songs they play like clockwork each and every single day.) kk
You talked about the 4 Preps ...
Diamond Dave Somerville and Bruce Belland were members of that group.
Here’s a clip of Bruce Belland and David Somerville on The Johnny Cash Show – YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOzfYnnBKi8
Brian Hyland is on Cousin Brucie tonight. I know he's going to play that "BIKINI” song. I'm going to ask Cousin Brucie to play one of my favorites, "I'M AFRAID TO GO HOME" or "GINNY COME LATELY."
Brian Hyland had TEN National Top 40 Hits between 1960 and 1971 … and he is still making great new music, circa 2020/2021, too.
The big obvious hits, of course, are “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka-Dot Bikini” (#1, 1960), “Sealed With A Kiss” (#3, 1962), “The Joker Went Wild” (#19, 1966) and “Gypsy Woman” (#3, 1970) … but Hyland also reached The Top 40 with ”Let Me Belong To You” (#20, 1961), “Ginny Come Lately” (#18, 1962), “Warmed over Kisses” (#24, 1962), “Run, Run, Look And See” (#25, 1966), “Tragedy” (#34, 1969) and “Lonely Teardrops” (#35, 1971).
Here is Brian Hyland's Latest Release … a remake of the 1962 Everly Brothers hit “Crying In The Rain.”
Instead of recording albums, he's releasing singles on Spotify and other streaming services. That's what he told Cousin Brucie on Saturday Night.
He dedicated Sealed With A Kiss to his girlfriend, just like we used to do in the old days. I love it.
You know who did a REALLY nice remake of this song?
Micky Dolenz, on his "King For A Day" album, saluting the music of Carole King.
He sings it with his sister Coco ... and I think it's a pretty powerful recording. (kk)
FH Reader Uncle T. Jay (The Vinyl Lark) offers us inside track on what he calls “New Product at the 2021 Small Electronics Show” …