salutes the great Larry Lujack (SUPERJOCK!) this Saturday afternoon (THAT'S TODAY, PEOPLE!!!) from Noon –
3:00 (Eastern) They’ll be airing clips
of Larry from both WLS and WCFL. You can
tune in to Listen Live at rewoundradio.com. (Short notice, I know ... but SO worth it!!!) kk
THE MAGGIE MAY CONTROVERSY CONTINUES!:
I believe Chuck Buell about Maggie May, but he did NOT get it charting on WLS for two months while it was already #4 on KRLA, so that part is odd.
Personally, I loved it when it came with the intro on radio, but today, I find it boring and love "Reason to Believe."
Rod had 45s???
Lately I have trouble relating to some of the articles in FH simply because at some point in time after 1968 I stopped buying 45s and only purchased albums.
For instance, I did not know that Rod Stewart was actually on 45s, but I purchased all of his early albums, especially with The Faces. In 1970 you could actually see Rod Stewart and the Faces at local regional bars as follows …
10/18/70: The Scene in Milwaukee with opening act Fuse. Ironically Rick Nielsen and Tom Peterson of Fuse are currently in a band that opens for a number of Rod’s upcoming shows this year. I attended this show.
[Yeah … I think they're calling themselves Cheap Trick these days! – kk]
11/3/70: Dewey’s in Madison, WI.
11/13/70: The Syndrome, Chicago, IL. Once again, I attended this show and it was one of the most remarkable shows I have ever seen. I don’t remember the location or the name of the venue. It appeared to be a classic old theater and there were a number of balconies, maybe three. The shows were all excellent and this show was very well received. I am not sure of the exact number, but the band was called back for somewhere between five and eight encores. In 1970, an encore was not yet a scripted part of the show. The crowd had to demand it and the artist had to earn it. Rod played the final song laying flat on his back on stage as he was too tired to stand up.
I really enjoyed the "Maggie May B-side" story. Seems to me I remember that happening with initial B-sides, Donovan's "Atlantis" and Lee Michaels' "Do You Know What I Mean," among others. As proven so many times, the "ears" in the record company board rooms sometime miss the mark. Another reason why we miss the under-rated influence of "Mom & Pop", grass-roots" radio. It's okay if milk is homogenized, it's just not a good characteristic in the radio business. Like money, power in the hands of the few isn't always a good thing for everyone.
There have been SO many instances where the record companies got it wrong when it came to picking the hits. The deciding factor has ALWAYS lied with the public. Thankfully, we grew up in an era where a disc jockey could flip a record at his on discretion and turn those “throw-aways” into huge hits. (Steam’s “Na Na, Hey Hey, Kiss Him Goodbye” immediately comes to mind … as does one by our local buddies,, The New Colonoy Six. The original intention was to “rock the band up a little bit” with “Come And Give Your Love To Me” after they scored with a couple of ballads … but the aforementioned Larry Lujack told the promoters they were plugging the wrong side of the record. Sure enough, once they flipped it over, “Things I’d Like To Say” became the biggest national hit The New Colony Six ever had!
This was also an era where both sides of a record could chart … sometimes independently of each other and other times as “tag-along” B-Sides. It was a FAR more exciting time in radio … and in record buying, too. (Who didn’t come home and play BOTH sides of their new 45’s to see if perhaps there was an undiscovered gem on there???) You knew both sides of a Beatles 45 or an Elvis 45 were probably going to be great … but if nobody would have ever flipped the record over to see what Rick Nelson put there, “Hello Mary Lou,” “Waitin’ In School,” “My Bucket’s Got A Hole In It” and “It’s Late” might have never been heard!!!
You can find The Top 200 Biggest Two-Sided Hits of All-Time here …
And 200 more Fan Favorites here:
This has proven to become a VERY popular feature on Me-TV-FM where they play BOTH sides of the record back-to-back to remind you just what a “sound investment” record buying could be back then! (kk)
Hey Kent ...
Great job sussing out the story of how "Maggie May" went from B-side to smash hit. We've updated the Songfacts entry with this new information. A music director in Chicago is certainly more likely to trigger this reaction than a DJ in Cleveland.
Congratulations: another thrilling, fun-packed edition of FH!
And ... I'm a bit confused re: the stories behind "Maggie May" and radio airplay. (This is of particular interest to me since I was MD at a top Baltimore FM at the time and "Maggie" was my choice, too.)
First of all ... I have the utmost respect for the dj's who grace the pages of FH ... yet … in looking through radio surveys from that time, I see some discrepancies.
"Maggie May" was a HB pick at KHJ on 8/18/71 and hit the (published) WLS survey at #27 on 8/30/7. (I can't find any summer '71 surveys for WMMS.)
By that time, quite a number of stations were already on it, including debuts at KJR on 7/31, WIXY (8/06), WQAM (8/07), KQV (8/10), and WRIT (8/11).
It was also ranked at #4 on KRLA on 7/06 and #1 on KCBQ on 8/20. Some stations ranked both Maggie May and Reason To Believe together, such as WMEX (#1 on 7/22) and WRKO (#1 on 8/12).
I'm sure that getting adds at powerhouse stations in Chicago and LA gave Maggie May a great boost in profile and sales … however, I do wonder about the earlier airplay elsewhere. Perhaps I misinterpreted the stories you printed.
Again ... no flaming intended ... just curiosity from another music geek.
We heard similar tales from others on the list … that “Maggie May” had already been charting (in some cases, for WEEKS) before it first hit the WLS Chart. (I’m thinking this is why so many of the synopsizes that I read attributed the success of the B-Side taking off to the large number of jocks across the country who felt it was the stronger side … some of which, I’m sure, was based on strong listener response.
Who flipped it first? Songfacts originally said WOKY … but that info was deleted after they went with Chuck Buell’s story after reading yesterday's edition of Forgotten Hits.
As for me, I’m not convinced WHO pushed for it first … but I DO have to admit that I cannot believe how quickly the bandwagon developed once this happens. (Truthfully, it seems to really only be a matter of a few weeks, tops, before it did.)
A bit more digging on my end (based on the resources available to me here) shows that “Reason To Believe” premiered FIRST on the Billboard chart dated July 17th, 1971. It showed up on the Record World and Cash Box charts a week later on July 24th.
“Maggie May” premiered on all three charts on August 14th … or three weeks later. If KJR, WIXY, WQAM, KQV and WRIT were all already charting the record before the August 14th date (which really wasn’t all that uncommon … this kind of chart action is, after all, what inspires a record’s move up the national charts), then I’ve got to give kudos to ALL of these stations … despite the fact that WOKY, WMMS and WLS are not listed among them, yet all seem to lay claim to breaking the B-Side as the hit. (This reminds me of our research years ago to determine who played the first Beatles record in America ... but that one was easier to calculate because we had documentation proving who was airing these records ... and when. Here, we're just able to observe the result of DOZENS of stations making the switch, one right after the other. I don't know that anyone could EVER prove who aired it first at this point!!! Of course, this ALSO means that EVERYTHING we told you in this regard yesterday was wrong!!! Lol)
KRLA charting “Maggie May” at #4 on July 6th seems almost impossible … “Reason To Believe” (the intended A-Side) hadn’t even been released yet!!! So this one just doesn't make sense. (Can someone produce a copy of the actual chart showing this? All I've been able to find are retyped copies ... and that's not concrete enough evidence for me on this one.) That being said, the song hitting #1 on WMEX on July 22nd and on WRKO on August 12th are also baffling facts, as Billboard didn’t first mention “Maggie May” until their August 14th Chart!
Even more incredibly, these tracks didn’t appear back home on the UK charts until September!!! (Where you would think, if the record really DID break here in America first, the British radio stations would have selected the side proven to be the success here in America, and made “Maggie May” the automatic A-Side there, too … yet it premiered in Great Britain two weeks AFTER “Reason To Believe” first charted there on September 4th. By the time “Maggie May” finally premiered on the British charts on September 18th, it was practically already a Golden Oldie here in America! (lol)
I also see that it didn’t appear on the WCFL chart (WLS’ main competition here in Chicago) until September 9th … two weeks after its WLS debut on August 30th … which (based on documented charts) was NINE full weeks AFTER the record was first charting in LA. (So Chuck Buell calling Ted Atkins at KHJ in August when WLS jumped on the record and KHJ immediately starting to air it would have meant he was already a good six weeks behind his competition at KRLA if “Maggie May” was already the #4 record in town on July 6th.) I think we’re going to need a score card for this one!!!
This being said, Chuck Buell has the gold record thanking him for getting behind the record … so now you’ve gotta wonder how many gold records they handed out for “Maggie May!!!”
I checked one more source before putting this to bed for the night …
Which brings us right back to Square One!
VH1’s “Rock Stars Encyclopedia,” first published in 1996 states:
“Rod Stewart’s version of the Tim Hardin ballad, ‘Reason To Believe,’ peaks at US #62, but DJs (the first being in Cleveland, Ohio) flip the record over and ‘Maggie May’ becomes the airplay-friendly A-Side.”
So there you have it.
What, I don’t exactly know … but the truth is out there somewhere. SO many stations jumped on “Maggie May” that it’s almost impossible to know who fired the first shot … but the fact that it was charting WEEKS before as an A-Side tells me that this had to happen earlier than we were originally led to believe … and I don’t know that we’re going to be able to pin that down definitively here.
That being said …
If ROD says Cleveland, then I think I’m going to have to go with Cleveland until proven otherwise.
However, that COULD be relatively easy to do if anybody out there can produce WMMS and KRLA Charts showing when "Maggie May" first appeared on their countdowns. (kk)
DIGGIN’ FORGOTTEN HITS:
It continues to amaze me the incredible amount of time you spend in putting your blogs together. Unbelievable!!!!!!!
I’m always blown away when I visit your Forgotten Hits site ...
Unbelievable man! Huge undertaking ... Amazing content … Difficult to believe you find time to sleep at night.
You’ve captured the Greatest Days of the Rock Radio era.
Chuck Buell and I remain close ... we were a great team together ... and had so much fun and respect for each others’ on-air work. Good times for certain.
You deserve a ton of accolades from your masterpiece work ...
Great to relive that era over and over again with a connection to Forgotten Hits.
And Thank you!
Kris Erik Stevens
Wow, thanks, guys …
To hear that from two such highly-respected on-air personalities makes me feel like maybe I’m doing something right here!!! So thanks again … it means a lot. (kk)
THIS AND THAT:
Despite the GREAT year 1971 had for music, those teen things keep it way down the list from 60's years for me overall. I have a friend, John, who has the amazing decades-long collecting idea of getting EVERY song from the year 1971! I have helped him some, but he has amassed an amazing group of songs from that year. THAT is HIS year for sure and he worked at Billboard a year later. You should contact him, Kent. He reads Forgotten Hits.
As to the Eric Carmen MeTV-FM tribute, it is weird how he is shunned by radio these days and yet the Raspberries AND himself had AWESOME hits.
Somewhere I have on a personal taping off Lujack in the mid-70's where he makes fun of the Raspberries' Chicago concert by reading a newspaper clipping on the air about how kids "THREW things at the Raspberries" and then tongue in cheek chastised kids who did so.
I think very highly of virtually everything Eric Carmen was involved with … both with The Raspberries and as a solo artist … as well as the songs he wrote that were recorded by other acts. (Shaun Cassidy did GREAT versions of “That’s Rock And Roll” and “Hey Deanie,” both Top Ten Hits in 1977-1978 … and how about “Almost Paradise” from “Footloose” by Ann Wilson of Heart and Mike Reno of Loverboy, ANOTHER Top Ten hit from 1984. (In addition to writing hits for other artists, Eric also did some AMAZING covers of his own along the way.
I’d love to hear that Lujack bit …
he did sarcasm better than ANYBODY!!!
(Be sure to check out the Rewound Radio spotlight feature we mentioned later today! I’m sure Art Vuolo will be listening!!!) kk
I will definitely be tuning in to hear that show. There is SO much Lujack material out there! I loved him.
Nick Digilio is the best thing that happened to radio in last two decades and I miss him on WGN, but he also did an incredible tribute to Larry Lujack upon his death while Nick was still a big star on WGN. (I will send it to you under separate cover.) I have been listening to Nick’s tribute again and I’ve gotta say that Nick Digilio was ALSO a great, great talent! I miss him and wish WGN would get back on the air!
Got this great article that FH Reader Edward Kolodziej sent in from The Wall Street Journal (of all places!) celebrating the 50th Anniversary of “Who’s Next!”
I had NO idea about all of the back story for what could have been Pete Townshend’s next Rock Opera, “Lifehouse.” (I guess the 6-CD set spotlighting much of this unreleased music is long out of print … but Edward told me that you will see a copy pop up on eBay every once in a while … should you have an extra $300 to spend!!!)
All in all, a fascinating read. You can check it out here:
Meanwhile, there seems to be a bit of controversy (all seemingly fueled by keyboardist Bobby Whitlock regarding who played exactly what on George Harrison’s recently rereleased first solo album, “All Things Must Pass.” (And Whitlock isn’t pulling any punches! Especially when it comes to fellow keyboardists Gary Wright, Billy Preston and Gary Brooker.) He even gets in a dig about George’s wife Olivia and son Dhani, saying that “they weren’t there … they don’t know.”
The general consensus is that the credits as to who played exactly what has ALWAYS been murky at best … but essentially, between them, Eric Clapton and George Harrison put Derek and the Dominoes together for this album ... and these were their “warm-up” sessions!!!
(Which means that, effectively, Eric then went on to steal George’s band AND his wife with the release of their album “Layla!!!”) kk
Stan Lark, longtime bassist for Jimmy Gilmer & the Fireballs, passed away on August 4th from cancer. Playing on all of their hit songs, from "Sugar Shack" to "Bottle of Wine" … and everything in between ... Stan Lark would play bass with the group from their beginnings in 1957, until he retired from touring in 2016. RIP.
People remember the BIG hits by The Fireballs but tend to forget that before Jimmy Gilmer moved up front and center and gave them their #1 smash “Sugar Shack,” the band had already been scoring instrumental hits on the charts with songs like “Torquay” (#34, 1959), “Bulldog” (#21, 1960) and “Quite A Party” (#27, 1961) Their early instrumental recordings have been described as “TexMex meets Surf Music,” a description that probably isn’t too far off the mark.
The Fireballs came back strong in 1967 with their Top Ten Hit “Bottle Of Wine” (#7) and charted one last time in 1969 with “Long Green,” a song that only went to #43 nationally in Cash Box (and again, inexplicably 30 points lower in Billboard!) but was a #10 hit here in Chicago.
Formed in Raton, New Mexico in 1957, The Fireballs were produced by Norman Petty, who also handled many of Buddy Holly’s recordings at his famous Clovis recording studio. (In fact, after Holly’s death, The Fireballs recorded new backing tracks to some of Buddy’s demo vocals from the vaults for an album in 1962, much to the chagrin of many Buddy Holly fans.)
It was at Petty’s urging that they brought singer / guitarist / pianist Jimmy Gilmer onboard in 1960, beefing up the lead vocals in their stage act. Three years later, they recorded the biggest hit single of 1963, “Sugar Shack,” which topped Billboard’s Hot 100 Pop Singles Chart for five straight weeks. Their next couple of singles also charted (albeit progressively lower): “Daisy Petal Pickin’” (#15, 1964), which tried desperately to cash in on the “Sugar Shack” Cordavox sound) and then “Ain’t Gonna Tell Anybody” (#53, also 1964.) After that, Gilmer pursued an (unsuccessful) solo career.
Jimmy was born right here in Chicago in 1940 but was raised in Amarillo, Texas, before moving to Raton, New Mexico. (Ironically, Gilmer himself would record a tribute to Buddy Holly solo album.) He rejoined The Fireballs a couple of years later and was on their late ‘60’s hits, “Bottle Of Wine” and “Long Green” … but was not singled out as the lead singer. Stan Lark would spend his entire adult life playing bass guitar for The Fireballs, retiring in 2016. (kk)
Back in 2013, the subject of The Fireballs’ hit “Bottle Of Wine” came up and I made the comment that I always thought the lead vocal sounded a lot like a Barry McGuire / New Christy Minstrels record.
Imagine my surprise when I got this FROM Barry McGuire!!!