I loved reading your blog today and seeing a piece on music from across the pond and down under, mate.
I was eleven years old when my family moved to Melbourne, Australia, in 1992, which is when I first started listening to oldies music on a station called Gold 104. (It’s still on the air today as a much more generic classic hits station that sounds the same as a lot of stations over here.)
Back then, a certain percentage of songs they played had to be from Australian artists. I was hooked on popular bands there like Sherbet (“Howzat”), John Farnham (“Don’t You Know It’s Magic), Axiom (“A Little Ray of Sunshine”) and fifties-sounding band Daddy Cool. I didn’t realize that Ol’ 55’s version of “Looking For An Echo” was a remake of an American song or that songs I heard by American artists such as “Wheelin’ West Virginia” by Neil Sedaka or “Top Forty, News, Weather and Sports” by Mark Dinning weren’t big hits in the States.
I also loved British artists like Cliff Richard, Blue Mink, Hank Marvin and T-Rex that were oldies radio staples then. Although I moved back to the U.S. long ago, I’m still trying to find copies of songs I listened to in Australia. Thankfully, iTunes has made several of them available throughout the years.
And to show you what people enjoyed overseas back in the 70s, here’s a compilation CD I purchased containing “The Pushbike Song” and “Hot Love,” among others.
It's amazing how the music we grew up with still sticks with us all these 40-50 years later ... which is kinda the whole point behind Forgotten Hits ... no matter where you grew up, there are certain songs and artists that mean a lot to you, even if they didn't make that much of an impact on the world or national charts. We've featured songs that were Top 20 Hits here in Chicago that other readers had never even heard before ... but have now grown to know and love. (Many years ago we did a "Show Me Your Hits" / Local Hits series, spotlighting some of the biggest local big city hits that never even made The National Top 50 ... I can't tell you how many new, great discoveries I made just putting that whole series together.)
It's all about the sharing. Over the years, we've also featured many "It Really Shoulda Been A Hit" features ... and dee jays like Dave The Rave and Sam Tallerico have made it their business to sprinkle in a nice mixture of songs you know ... with songs you should know about. (That's what keeps things fun and exciting ... and also helps to cut down on some of the excessive overplay SO many songs are still receiving every single day to the point that we keep turning them off when we COULD be discovering something "new." (kk)
I saw you mention that “The Pushbike Song” never charted in Chicago. That made me pull out my Ron Smith books, to find out if that was true.
Growing up in Stickney, IL, I heard the song on WCFL. I even bought the 45 at G. C. Murphy’s in Berwyn after hearing it. So, although it didn’t chart in Chi-town, it did get played. I still have the 45.
Both of Chicago’s powerhouse Top 40 stations would give a record a shot by giving it a minimum amount of airplay to see if it caught on with their listeners for a week or two. WCFL was pretty good about logging each week’s “Premiers,” most of which never really turned into anything substantial on the chart. (We’ve had a few people who worked for WLS at the time tell us that The Top 20 Records on the WLS Silver Dollar Survey were a pretty good representation of what the records stores were reporting in sales and listener requests were generating … but the bottom half of the survey was often just giving a record, label or promoter a chance to see if they caught on with the listeners. Even The Beatles charting for two weeks in 1963 with “Please Please Me” was done more so as a favor to the folks at Vee Jay Records.)
Bruce Mattey, currently a member of The New Colony Six and previously a member of The Revelles in the mid-‘60’s, told me that WCFL played their record “Little Girl,” a GREAT piece of ‘60’s Garage Band Music, for about three weeks but it never officially charted either … and I don’t recall ever hearing that one on the radio. (And I think I would have remembered it ‘cause it’s a real catchy tune!)
That was the way of Top 40 Radio in the ‘60’s … ALWAYS looking for the next big thing, no matter where it might come from. (kk)
As Joel Whitburn himself might say,
For Those Of You Who Have A Heart For The Charts,
I think you’ll like this brand new article in the new issue of Billboard Magazine. It spotlights Paul Grein and his Chart Beat column, now celebrating its 40th Anniversary …
>>>It looks like Keith’s website hasn’t been updated once since we first ran this link back in 2010!!! But he DOES have some interviews posted from the early 2000’s, including one from WGN, one with Rollye James and one from The Lost 45’s Show. And, most amazingly, one conducted by none other than Phil Nee, dating back to 2002, who sent us today’s email that inspired today’s ‘60’s FLASHBACK! [Don’tcha just love it when all this stuff ties together?!?!] This has to predate Phil and I even knowing each other by more than a few years! (kk)
Wow! I had forgotten about that interview.
I have a few others floating around the internet. One of my interviews is on a release from Sundazed. My interview with Bryan McClean of the group Love is my only national release. I did the interview with him shortly before he died and they wanted to put it on a solo album they put out on him. My name is also in the fine print of the New Colony Rhino release you mentioned. I sent them some info and interviews. I also have a few spares of that cd. I should try to sell them if they are going for that much!
I think you and I first began talking in 2007- 2008. It was shortly after one of the Colony releases and Ray Graffia told me I should get in touch with you. Our first special, I believe, was the top instrumental countdown in 2009.
I love doing your show and the way you incorporate our ideas and countdowns into weekend listening … we’ve done quite a few of these now and it’s always a good time.
I think Ray probably contacted you about us after we ran our month-long tribute to The New Colony Six … which was in 2005 (before we had the website.) I keep toying with the idea of updating and reposting that series but (as with MOST things in my life, it seems!) I just can’t ever find the time to do the fun stuff. (I’m still working on reposting the Phil Spector Series!!! I had set a personal goal of April 1st for that one … and I’m going to end up missing that date, too!) kk
Glen Fisher (publisher of The Doo Wop Ramblings Newsletter) was telling us last week about the push to get Johnny Maestro recognized by The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. He had even been talking with Johnny’s brother, Ron Mastrangelo, about it.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t really work like that. The Rock Hall has their own agenda and ideas about who does and doesn’t belong.
was, without question, one of the unique greats, with a voice well worth recognition.
Here’s some feedback generated by a recent email from long-time FH Reader Danny Guilfoyle …
Rock and Roll, as most of us know it, has certainly taken many strange detours over the years.
We were lucky to grow up during the original age of rock and roll and Johnny Maestro was right there at the forefront with his first group, The Crests. His incredible lead vocals were heard with this groundbreaking group beginning in 1957. I say groundbreaking because they were the ultimate interracially mixed group, consisting of one Puerto Rican, three African Americans, including one female, and one Italian American.
Beginning as a doo wop group with the classics My Juanita, Sweetest One and Pretty Little Angel, they then released the unforgettable 16 Candles, followed by nine straight Billboard Top 100 chart hits, including The Angels Listened In, Trouble In Paradise and Step By Step.
Johnny also had solo Top 40 releases with What a Surprise and Model Girl.
After a number of releases on various labels, including I’ll Be True with the Tymes, Johnny joined the Del Satins and they, in turn, joined a group called the Rhythm Method to form The Brooklyn Bridge.
Beginning with The Worst That Could Happen, the Brooklyn Bridge sold over 12 million records, including albums, with chart makers Blessed Is The Rain, You’ll Never Walk Alone, Your Husband, My Wife, Welcome Me Love, Day Is Done and Down By The River.
Johnny Maestro and the Brooklyn Bridge became one of the most sought after self- contained groups ever and continued to perform together until Johnny passed away on March 24, 2010. Freddy Ferrara and Les Cauchi, original members from the Del Satins, have also since passed away.
This man belongs in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, as do his groups, the Crests and the Brooklyn Bridge, and yet strangely, he and they HAVE NEVER EVEN BEEN NOMINATED!
How can this be possible?
Many of his contemporaries have stated that he had the best lead voice ever! His career spanned 55 years and his groups never changed the keys of his songs … that’s the amazing voice that he had.
They called Frank Sinatra “The Voice.” Johnny Maestro WAS “The Voice.”
He was one in a generation!
I agree, Danny. What can we do to bring this to the attention of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Board?
I agree this is a travesty, but The Hall has forgotten so many fifties and sixties artists that deserve to be in that, as far as I'm concerned, they stopped being "Rock and Roll" years ago. They are the Popular Music Hall of Fame at best.
[Sadly, if this were the case, Johnny Maestro would actually have a FAR better chance of getting in!!! Unfortunately, The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame no longer knows what it wants to be … or what criteria it needs to uphold in order to maintain any sense of credibility, something they lost DECADES ago due to their continuous bonehead moves. – kk]
When I worked with Johnny ,he was a great guy. He recorded two songs of mine and his record company asked me to produce an album. Nate, the man I spoke with, had me call him in two weeks. I called and was told “Nate sleeps with the fishes - he had his hand in the til.“
I decided then perhaps I’d better pass.
Johnny was the best, as were his band mates ... terrific people who I had the pleasure to work with.
Rest In Peace, Mr. Voice!!!
Whenever I ask Gene Cornish why so and so is not in the R&R Hall of Fame, he tells me about a rule stating that the induction process requires that the entire group be inducted. I guess lead vocalists are not considered Hall of Fame material.
[Interestingly enough, a few years back The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame corrected what many felt was an oversight when they previously had inducted Bill Haley, Buddy Holly, James Brown and Gene Vincent WITHOUT their back-up groups, The Comets, The Crickets, The Fabulous Flames and The Blue Caps … so perhaps this is what Gene is referring to. However, I look at this as proof that The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame CAN overturn some of the ridiculous wrongs they’ve committed over the years by mass-inducting all of their oversights in one, special, “catch-up / make it right” ceremony … and this REALLY needs to be done. Instead, they seem to prefer to rewrite history by placing equal importance on many of the acts they’ve inducted over the past several years who made little or no substantial, long-lasting contribution to the furtherment of rock and roll music with those who paved the way in the first place. – kk]
Anybody out there remember our whole big book slamming campaign back in 2012 when Irene Brodsky’s book on Johnny Maestro came out?
It was AWFUL!!! And yet the more we talked about how BAD the book was, the more copies it sold!!!
In fact, Irene got irritated with us because she had to go back to the printer … TWICE … in order to print enough copies to fulfill all of the new orders she was getting thanks to our negative coverage!!! (It is, without a doubt, one of the WEIRDEST experiences I’ve ever had doing Forgotten Hits!)
This page recaps the bulk of it … and if you hit the “Older Posts” button at the bottom, you’ll find even more … but this was truly one VERY strange series of events!!!
Meanwhile, we LOVE Johnny as much as the next guy out there … but our opinions really do not count in the eyes of The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Nominating Committee … it doesn't matter if 100,000 people sign a petition stating his case ... the bottom line is, if they don’t put him on the ballot, he ain’t gettin’ in. I’m not saying it’s right … I’m just saying that that’s the way it is. (kk)
Check this out: https://forgottenhits60s.blogspot.com/search?q=johnny+maestro
And we’ll leave you with this …
One day you are talking about singers having "a sock in the pants."
Today you mention "Fort Dicks," which I assume is really "Fort Dix."
You, my friend, definitely have a groinal area obsession!!!
Thank you -