Wednesday, December 31, 2008

April Wine

Although they've pretty much always been considered a Canadian Band, April Wine actually formed in Nova Scotia back in 1969. After relocating to Montreal, Canada, the following year, the group first burst on the U.S. scene in 1972 with their Top 40 Hit You Could Have Been A Lady. (#27, Cash Box; #32 Billboard; and a #7 Hit here in Chicago! Their website says it topped the charts in Canada ... but my CHUM Book shows it peaking at #6.)

They wouldn't have their next U.S. Top 40 Hit for seven years, when Roller went to #34 in Billboard in 1979. In 1981, they cracked The American Top 20 for the first (and last) time with their biggest hit, the power ballad Just Between You And Me, which went all the way to #9 here in Chi-Town!

The group line-up at the time of their break-through single consisted of Lead Vocalist and Guitarist Myles Goodwyn, Guitarist David Henman and his brother Ritchie Henman on drums, and Bassist Jimmy Clench (who had just recently replaced their cousin, Jimmy Henman, and would later go on to perform with Canadian Rock Sensations Bachman-Turner Overdrive and Loverboy.) Over the years, the band's line up changed a number of times, at one point even expanding to a sextet ... later members included Bassists Steve Lang and Breen LeBoeuf. Guitarists Brian Greenway, Gary Moffet, Steve Seagal and Carl Dixon and former Mashmakhan member Jerry Mercer on the Drums.

Ironically, their 1972 break-through hit was actually a cover of a song written and first recorded by the British band Hot Chocolate, who wouldn't hit the charts here Stateside for another three years!

Two other "personal favorite" tracks previously featured in Forgotten Hits include their slowed down version of The Beatles' "A Hard Day's Night" classic Tell Me Why and the banned-for-obvious-reasons If You See Kay.

Goodwyn, who retains the legal rights to the band's name, has reformed the group a number of times over the past several years ... in fact, you can check out all of their most current tour information here:
Click here: April Wine - Tour Dates

DIDJAKNOW???: In 1977, a concert was announced at The El Mocambo Club in Toronto, Canada, featuring April Wine as the headliners. Their warm-up band that evening was to be an unknown rock group called The Cochroaches. However, the whole event was a ruse ... The Cochroaches were, in fact, The Rolling Stones, who recorded their Love You Live album there that night! (April Wine's release, the Live At The El Mocambo Club LP, didn't fare quite as well!!! lol) The gamble paid off, however ... April Wine would go on to tour as the opening act for The Stones, Rush, Journey, Styx and Nazareth into the early '80's.

THIS JUST IN: From Ron Smith's web page: Myles Goodwin, the 60 year-old lead singer of April Wine, was hospitalized Friday (November 28) after collapsing at the Montreal airport and striking his head. The group was on its way to a concert in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where they were to have reunited with two other original members.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Remembering Delaney Bramlett

Delaney Bramlett, the singer and songwriter best remembered for his work with former wife Bonnie and with Eric Clapton, died Saturday in a Los Angeles hospital from complications from gall bladder surgery. He was 69. Born in 1939 in rural Mississippi, he served in the Navy and paid his dues upon his return in Los Angeles clubs -- even recording demos ofpotential Elvis Presley songs for songwriter Ben Weisman. His contacts paid off as he joined several other musicians as the Shindogs on the ABC-TV show "Shindig", which is when he met firey Bonnie Lynn O'Farrell. The two soon married and began touring as Delaney and Bonnie. Eric Clapton was impressed enough to ask the couple to open for his group Blind Faith in 1969. When Eric's group disbanded he actually joined Delaney and Bonnie "and Friends" in the studio and on tour (as well as recording Delaney's composition, "Let It Rain"). Other "friends"included Dave Mason, Duane Allman, Leon Russell, Rita Coolidge and several members of Eric's Derek & the Dominos. Early songs like "Comin' Home" (#84-1970), "Soul Shake" (#43-1970) and "Free The People" (#75-1970) showed more promise on FM radio, but "Never Ending Song Of Love" (#13) and "Only You Know And I Know" (#20) in 1971 established the duo as major stars. Unfortunately, their relationship was stormy, at best, and ended when Bonnie walked out and Delaney gave up touring to raise their two children. Two more songs by them charted -- "Move 'Em Out" (#59-1972) and "Where There's A Will There's A Way" (#99-1972) beforeDelaney and Bonnie became just a memory. Delaney concentrated on songwriting early on, but eventually returned to recording, however without the success he had known earlier. Ironically, his most-successful composition was a song he wrote with Leon Rusell about Bonnie -- "Superstar (a #2 hit for the Carpenters). Their daughter Bekka followed in his footsteps, singing at one time with Fleetwood Mac.
-- Ron Smith

Never Ending Song Of Love was a #1 Smash here in Chicago ... yet today it's another Forgotten Hit that virtually never gets played on the radio. (Their Top 20 version of Dave Mason's Only You Know And I Know, which hit #6 here in Chi-Town, is another one you never hear!) Tagging along with his buddy, Eric Clapton, George Harrison performed with the band for a short while, too, after The Beatles split up. We've got both of Delaney and Bonnie's biggest hits here for you here today!

Kent Kotal

Musician, Songwriter. A rhythm guitarist and vocalist, he was half of the husband and wife music duo Delaney and Bonnie. They are best known for the hits "Never Ending Song of Love" (1971) and "Only You Know And I Know" (1971). In addition, they are remembered for the many artists with whom they performed and recorded with such as Eric Clapton, Rita Coolidge, Duane Allman, Dave Mason and George Harrison. One of the results from their association with such artists was the noteworthy album "Delaney and Bonnie and Friends On Tour With Eric Clapton" (1970). Born in Mississippi, Bramlett established himself as a topnotch songwriter during the 1960s. Among the hits he co-wrote are Eric Clapton's "Let It Rain" (1970) and The Carpenters' "Superstar" (1971), which has since been covered by many other artists. He died from complications after gallbladder surgery.

A songwriter, recording artist and producer, Delaney Bramlett influenced and made measurable contributions to the careers of many notable recording stars, including Leon Russell, Eric Clapton, Joe Cocker, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Dave Mason, Rita Coolidge, Billy Preston, John Lennon, Elvin Bishop and Duane Allman. With wife Bonnie, their biggest hit, “Never Ending Song of Love” was one of most popular songs of the early 70’s and was recorded by more than 100 artists. At 69 years of age, Delaney Bramlett died Saturday, December 27th in Los Angeles as a result of complications from gallbladder surgery.
-- John Rook

Regarding Delaney Bramlett's passing, i was deeply saddened to learn of his death, as i had recently discovered some of his early solo records for GNP-Crescendo (i will admit that i never cared for any of the Delaney and Bonnie records, but i do own one because it was given to me as a gift from a friend, and i never get rid of gifts). I'm attaching one of the early records, Better Man Than Me, which could've been a hit certainly sounds like one to me!
-- Tom Diehl

This is a picture appearing in Clapton's autobiography.
David Lewis

Monday, December 29, 2008

A Forgotten Hits Twin Spin: Featuring A 2-Fer From The Association

L.A.'s The Association are pretty well represented on oldies radio today thanks to four of their Top Ten National Hits ... Along Comes Mary (#7, 1966); Cherish (#1, 1966); Windy (#1, 1967) and Never My Love (#1, 1967) are all part of regular oldies rotation.

When we put together our recent True Oldies Channel / Forgotten Hits / Twin Spin Weekend, we included their other Top Ten Hit, Everything That Touches You (#10, 1968) as the "forgotten half" of the featured pair ... but that still left a couple of great tracks on the shelf.

One of my personal favorites is 1968's #23 Hit Time For Livin' ... a nice up-tempo tune that rarely (if ever) gets played.

I've also always been partial to No Fair At All, a #51 ballad from early 1967 that made The Top 20 here in Chicago. To my ears, this one ranks right up their with the best of their other Soft Rock Tracks ... yet it just never received the national chart success that I felt it deserved.

Other seldom-heard Top 40 Hits include Pandora's Golden Heebie-Jeebies (#26, 1966 ... and off the radio for good reason ... it's awful!!! In fact, The Turtles once called this the worst follow-up to a #1 Record in music history!!!) and Six Man Band (#29, 1968). By 1969, the big hits had stopped ... Goodbye Columbus (title track from the Ali McGraw / Richard Benjamin Movie); Names, Tags, Numbers And Labels and an early '80's "comeback" attempt, Dreamer, all fell short of The National Top 50.

Another list favorite seems to be Requiem For The Masses, the B-Side of Never My Love ... the almost chorale-like chant that scored enough of your votes as a Favorite, Forgotten B-Side to rank at #52 on our Top 200 List.

(Visit to view the complete list!)

The Association are back out on the road again right now with most of the original members intact. A show we attended last summer proved that those impeccable harmonies we fell in love with on their records could most likely be attributed more to studio wizardry than any sense of "live" vocal talent ... there were actually cringe-inducing moments during one of the very few shows I've ever left early!!!

But tracks as good as No Fair At All and Time For Livin' certainly deserve a spin at least once in a while ... so today they're being featured as our very own Forgotten Hits Twin Spin!!!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Up In A Puff Of Smoke

The Unsinkable Polly Brown (oh wait ... that's the OTHER one!) had her 15 minutes of fame in 1975 with the Top 20 Hit Up In A Puff Of Smoke. Brown had formerly sung lead with Pickettywitch, a British pop group who scored a Top 40 Hit in 1970 with That Same Old Feeling. (It hit the Top 5 in the U.K.) She then joined Sweet Dreams, a soul / reggae duo, that hit the lower ranks of the charts in 1974 with the minor hit Honey Honey. (The other half of this duo was Tony Jackson.) Brown, a white singer born in Birmingham, England, performed in "black face" and Afro-wig with Sweet Dreams, under the stage name of Sarah Leone ... and really perfected her soul chops during this period. In fact, when she finally pursued a solo career, her producer must have told her to "go in and do your best Diana Ross impression"! Don't believe me? Give a close listen again to Up In A Puff Of Smoke with that thought in mind! (You probably haven't heard it in years anyway!!!) Amazingly, her biggest U.S. Hit failed to chart back home in Great Britain!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Underground Sunshine

After we featured our Forgotten Hits 40th Anniversary Salute to The Beatles' White Album, we thought that we would feature this rarely heard Forgotten Hit, too!

You probably haven't heard the Underground Sunshine version of Birthday on the radio in close to 40 years!!! Why would you ... when they can play the far superior original Beatles version instead?!?!?

But, amazingly, this light-weight (almost sterile) version went all the way to #19 on The Cash Box Chart in the Summer of '69 (and, incredibly, all the way to #2 here in Chicago!!!)

Underground Sunshine consisted of the unusual match-up of Montello, Wisconsin based Chris Connors (aka John Dahlberg) on guitar and vocals and Jane Little (real last name Whirry) on keyboards ... (Jane is the younger sister of radio personality Johnathan Little) ... who teamed with German-born brothers Bert and Frank Kohl (actually Koelbl), on bass and drums respectively.

Their very "vanilla" version of Birthday would be their only chart-hit but it earned them a spot on American Bandstand as well as the right to record what is now considered to be a very collectible psychedelic album called Let There Be Light.
(Honestly, every garage band in the city worth their guitar strings added Birthday to their repertoire after The White Album came out ... and virtually every single one of them performed it better than these guys ... but they were the ones smart enough to release it as a single!!! Like I said, you probably haven't heard it on the radio since ... but in 1969, this was the version of Birthday that they were playing on the air!!!)

Follow-up versions of David Gates' (of Bread) Don't Shut Me Out and the Classic Rock Classic Jesus Is Just Alright failed to chart at all and the band split up shortly thereafter.

(You can find more information on Underground Sunshine in Gary Myers' book Do You Hear That Beat, which profiles all of the Wisconsin Rock Bands of this era!)

Monday, December 22, 2008


One of the earliest Forgotten Hits we ever featured was Abergavenny by Shannon, a Top 20 Hit here in Chicago in the Summer of 1969 ... and one that just missed The National Top 40, peaking at #42 in Cash Box Magazine and #47 in Billboard.

British rocker Marty Wilde never really enjoyed the chart success here in the States that he had back home in the U.K. Here, his only chart single, Bad Boy,
topped out at #45 in 1960. In Great Britain, he scored a dozen Top 40 singles, including six Top 10's ... pretty much all remakes of American hit records.

Wilde's version of the Dion hit, A Teenager In Love, went all the way to #2 and remakes of Donna (Ritchie Valens) and Sea of Love (Phil Phillips) both hit #3. Endless Sleep (by the recently departed Jody Reynolds) went to #4 and the previously mentioned Bad Boy (a rare Wilde original), while not able to crack The Top 40 here in the U.S., was a #7 smash in Jolly Ole England. By 1962, the chart hits had pretty much stopped happening, even across the pond.

In 1969, Marty teamed with producer Jerry Ross and, under the studio name Shannon, released what would end up being Wilde's biggest U.S. Hit. (Amazingly, this one didn't chart at all in Great Britain!)

But Marty Wilde's best U.S. achievement just may have been his daughter Kim Wilde, who went all the way to #1 with a remake of her own in 1987 when she covered The Supremes' 1966 chart-topping hit You Keep Me Hangin' On. (The single was produced by her brother ... and Marty's son ... Ricki).

After the success of Abervavenny, neither Shannon nor Marty Wilde ever hit the charts again.

DIDJAKNOW?: In the late '60's, Wilde tried a comeback by forming a trio with his wife Joyce (Baker) called The Wilde Three. (The "third" in that trio??? Future Moody Blues member Justin Hayward!!!)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Red Skelton

>>>Anybody remember the Stones doing early tracks on Red Skelton? Vintage stuff! Ken

According to, The Rolling Stones appeared on Red Skelton's Program
twice in 1964 ... first on September 29th (when they performed Tell Me) and then again on November 1st when they featured Tell Me, Carol and It's All Over Now. Other British Invasion Artists appearing on Skelton's program that season include Manfred Mann, The Searchers, Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas, The Honeycombs and The Kinks. Skelton must have felt he was "into something good" ... the following season, Petula Clark, Freddie and the Dreamers, Peter and Gordon, The Hollies, The Animals, Silkie and The Rockin' Berries all made appearances. (Yep, it'd be cool to get copies of these musical segments, wouldn't it?!?!?)
Kent Kotal

Sadly, the "Best of Red Skelton" DVD set referenced in Leftovers #46 is hardly that. It was compiled from the half-hour series of shows Skelton made for NBC in 1970-1 during the tail end of his television career. Skelton’s TV series was in the Top 10 for 20 consecutive seasons – making him the most successful comedy entertainer in the history of that medium. In a TV Guide interview in 1964, the magazine asked Red why he had written into his contract that after each airing, all rights to each episode would revert to him. Why would he want them? After all, they’d never be rebroadcast. Incredibly, Skelton stated that he foresaw the day when people would own home libraries of movies and TV shows, just like they do books, and when that happened, he wanted to be ready to offer his old shows. The reporter found that amusing. Think about that. Eons before the introduction of home video, Skelton could foresee something that TV Guide considered laughable in 1964.
In the late ‘60s, a new word entered the world of broadcasting: demographics. Before then, audiences were measured en masse – not broken down into any sort of groups. And what early demographics revealed was that Skelton’s show, although among the Top 5 of all prime-time series, was attracting too many older viewers to suit the brass at CBS. For that reason, Skelton was ordered to add more rock groups to his mix of guest performers. He did, but was still attracting the largest share of older viewers in his time period. The fact that he was also attracting the largest share of younger viewers too did not seem to matter to the powers-that-were at CBS. Finally, near the end of fall 1970, during the summer rerun period, CBS abruptly cancelled Skelton – despite the fact that he had one of the highest-rated prime time series on television (attracting numbers that any TV producer today would kill to get). Skelton – and the rest of the industry – was shocked. And it being so late in the year, the other key networks at that time (NBC and ABC) had their fall schedules locked up.
What to do? In reviewing their planned 1970-1 season, NBC found one half-hour that they could bump from the line-up. It wasn't a full hour, as Skelton had had at CBS, but it was better than nothing. And that's how Skelton wound up back on NBC, where he'd actually started his career in 1951-3, before CBS snatched him away.
The problem was that Red Skelton in 1970 was stunned, brokenhearted and bitter over his abrupt and uncalled for cancellation. He limped through the 1970-1 season, but felt like a suddenly broken man. His heart was no longer in it -- and it shows in that DVD set. After shooting the final episode, Red simply walked away from television – and, except for a few one-man shows taped much later in Canada, essentially never appeared on the medium again. In fact, he was so hurt, he wrote into his will that all of his TV tapes were to be destroyed upon his death. Fortunately, his widow prevented that from happening – but still none of that footage has ever been legally released on VHS or DVD -- except for one clip. Red's classic 1969 performance of "The Pledge Of Allegiance" does appear as a bonus on that DVD set. The audio of that performance was released as a spoken work single (Columbia 44798) and actually climbed Billboard's Hot 100 to #44 that Mach. It certainly sounded interesting on the radio in 1969, alongside The Beatles, Aretha Franklin, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Sly & the Family Stone and Led Zeppelin!
You may find in DVD shops other Red Skelton TV videos and wonder where they came from. Those were compiled from kinescopes of his very first few seasons on television – performing in shows that were never copyrighted because no one then thought they would ever be broadcast again. Skelton tried to block their video release but, because those early shows were technically in the public domain, he was unsuccessful – and, of course, got no royalties from the sale of his work. Only later did Skelton (and others) get around to protecting their TV works with copyrights.
Ironically, I almost resurrected the footage Skelton wanted to destroy. A couple years before Red’s death, I wrote up a proposed three-hour retrospective TV special and CD set built almost entirely out of the CBS video footage. I sent it to Skelton, who had rejected many similar proposals before. For some reason, though – maybe because he could read between the lines that I really knew and honored his work -- he became quite enthused by mine. (When I’m working as a comic actor, I often channel Skelton into my own performances.) Red phoned and cheerfully invited me out to visit him at his home in L.A. to discuss the project. I was elated – until one of my superiors at Reader’s Digest – a starstruck fan who liked to brag about hanging out with celebrities -- decided that he should go instead of me. Making things worse, he invited along a sleazebag producer friend of his. I feared the worst and sure enough it came true. Skelton was at first upset that they had come instead of me – but then, after hearing the sleazebag producer offer his own slimy pitch, became angry and had them both thrown out of the house. Thus abruptly ended my dream of lovingly assembling the ultimate Red Skelton keepsake video treasury.
The main villain at CBS, by the way, was a man named Jim Aubrey. He was the same guy who, after discovering that CBS had carefully maintained preservation film vaults, ordered all the stuff in them destroyed. “Why should be keep this junk?” was his attitude. “No one’s ever going to want to see it again.” To the largest extent, the other TV networks followed suit. Some reels were stolen, of course; some wound up in the hands of collectors. The last of the Dumont network's film archives, for example, were dumped into New York's East River in 1971. Aubrey’s short sightedness is the reason why so many documentaries on the history of television run the same brief clips. That’s because those brief clips, saved years ago for some previous documentary, are often all that is left. All the rest of hundreds of series’ footage was scrapped.
I sometimes refer to the fact that, culturally, there are really three parts of the United States. There's New York, L.A. and America. Aubrey felt most at home on the chic Manhattan cocktail party circuit. With that in mind, after being chided by his upper crust Park Avenue pals for having the audacity to air top-rated shows like “The Beverly Hillbillies” and “Green Acres,” Aubrey ordered his Tiffany network stripped of all “rural programming” in 1971 – regardless of ratings. “Why – everybody KNOWS that the land west of the Hudson River is simply flyover country," Aubrey's friends would say. "WE certainly don't know anybody there."
What would television give now for the kinds of numbers those programs attracted?
Gary Theroux

Our copy of Skelton's reciting of The Pledge Of Allegiance (featured eons ago here in Forgotten Hits) is a pretty worn, scratchy version ... but FH List Member Tom Diehl was able to provide a pretty "cleaned up copy" for us to feature on the website today.

Kent Kotal

Has this one ever been reissued on cd? My copy was a fairly distorted mp3 file dubbed off of a 45, but i tried to clean it up some ... this is the end result ... hope its better than what you've got.
Tom Diehl

Much better, thanks! (With this segment now available on DVD per Gary's notes above, maybe a clean copy will surface after all!)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

An Interview With John Madara

Our recent series spotlighting the career of JOHN MADARA has moved over to The FORGOTTEN HITS Web Page ... you can find ALL kinds of interesting tidbits here on specific recordings and artists. Meanwhile, we've put together the best of our interview segments to post on the Forgotten Hits Blog Page.

Click here: Forgotten Hits - John Madara's Greatest Hits

Click here: Forgotten Hits - John Madara Remembers ...

Although JOHN MADARA had his GREATEST success on the OTHER side of the recording glass, he got his start as a singer trying to launch a solo career. I asked him to tell us a little bit about those early days.

FORGOTTEN HITS: Had you always wanted to be a singer? Did you come from a musical family?

JOHN MADARA: Not at all. I was the only one of six children interested in music. I was born and raised in Philadelphia, living in the projects my whole young life and quitting school when I was 17 and going out to work full time to support my brothers and sisters. The one passion that I had from around 14 years old was singing. I would love to sing along with the current records -- Johnny Ray, Tony Bennett and Guy Mitchell. Eventually I was singing along with The Clovers, The Moonglows and Billy Ward and The Dominos. I just loved the music so much. So while working three jobs, I found the time to take vocal lessons, which led to my making my first record, "Be My Girl." which I paid for myself.

A very early JOHNNY MADARA Publicity Shot

A very early JOHNNY MADARA Publicity Shot

FH: It's not a bad record ... but not a major success either. Did that in some fashion push you into the other areas of the music business that you ultimately pursued?

JM: I was signed to Prep Records, which prevented me from recording "Do The Bop" or "At The Hop" for another label. After "Do The Bop" was not accepted by Capitol, I did record some additional sides for Prep, which was their subsidiary label. But nothing happened with these. These were things that I had nothing to do with writing or producing. After seeing the success of "At The Hop" and with Danny and The Juniors being on the road, I did write a couple more of the Danny and The Juniors records,one being "Dottie".
(EDITOR'S NOTE: DOTTIE ultimately peaked at #41 on BILLBOARD's Top 100 Chart. JOHN ALSO produced DANNY AND THE JUNIORS' Top 20 follow-up hit to AT THE HOP, ROCK AND ROLL IS HERE TO STAY.)
JM: Afterwards, I did record a few more sides as a solo artist. One of the songs David and I wrote was called "I'm So Alone," which was one of the first songs we wrote after "At The Hop." All of my records always got a lot of play in Philly, and I was a big star in Allentown, PA. But after opening up my record shop and hooking up with David, the writing and the producing seemed to really fulfill my creativity, though we did make some more Johnny Madara records, "Good Golly Miss Molly"and "Vacation Time," which made the national charts and "Heavenly." (EDITOR'S NOTE: I don't show ANY of JOHNNY MADARA's solo records reaching the BILLBOARD or the CASH BOX Charts ... I think that, in all likelihood, these were "regional" Philadelphia hits.)

FH: Meanwhile you and DAVID WHITE were starting to score more hit records working with OTHER artists.

JM: Yes, David and I were starting to have a lot of chart records and that really took up all of my time. In fact, I did not get a chance to record for about 2 years, when we did "The Spokesmen -- The Dawn Of Correction." The Spokesmen also had a version of The Beatles' "Michelle," which also made the national charts.

FH: Your website,, is now offering a NUMBER of these original recordings for sale as various CD compilations.

Click here: Rock & Roll, Sound of Philadelphia, Music, 50s, 60s - That Philly Sound JM: After David and I broke up, I did make a couple of more records, and I'm having all of my recordings digitally restored right now. I would love to send you a couple of those later recordings that I did with Daryl Hall and John Oates singing background.


The team of JOHN MADARA and DAVID WHITE certainly scored their share of hit records ... both as songwriters AND as producers. Early hits like AT THE HOP by DANNY AND THE JUNIORS, BIRTHDAY PARTY and 442 GLENWOOD AVENUE by THE PIXIES THREE, THE BOY NEXT DOOR by THE SECRETS, THE FLY by CHUBBY CHECKER, YOU DON'T OWN ME by LESLEY GORE and 1, 2, 3 by LEN BARRY dominated the playlists of most radio stations around the country. In 1965, they started their own publishing company which, over the years, held the the rights to the earliest DARYL HALL and JOHN OATES compositions as well as some of the early GAMBLE and HUFF tunes that were the precursor for THE SOUND OF PHILADELPHIA that would so dominate the '70's. Among the titles in their early catalog you could find EXPRESSWAY TO YOUR HEART by THE SOUL SURVIVORS, COWBOYS TO GIRLS by THE INTRUDERS and HEY WESTERN UNION MAN, ONLY THE STRONG SURVIVE and NEVER GONNA GIVE YOU UP, all hits for Chicago's own JERRY BUTLER. JOHN eventually SOLD his publishing company to MICHAEL JACKSON in 1984. Along the way, MADARA went on to dabble in movies and television ... and even cowrote one of the BIGGEST hits to EVER grace the Australian Charts, SADIE, THE CLEANING LADY, for JOHNNY FARNHAM. Their music has been used in COUNTLESS films (including AMERICAN GRAFFITI, AMERICAN HOT WAX, DIRTY DANCING, GREASE, HAIRSPRAY, THAT'LL BE THE DAY, WOODSTOCK, MR. HOLLAND'S OPUS and THE FIRST WIVES CLUB amongst DOZENS of others.) So I needed to know ... what ultimately split up the team of JOHN MADARA and DAVID WHITE? And were they on good terms today? I asked JOHN MADARA these very questions:

FORGOTTEN HITS: You guys really had a pretty AMAZING run of hits going there for a while ... what ultimately split up the team of JOHN MADARA and DAVID WHITE?
JOHN MADARA: David and I stopped working together in 1967. It was the psychedelic era. David and I had different opinions on the type of records that we wanted to make. This was during the recording of the Bunny Sigler LP.

FH: The times, they were a-changin'!!! By 1967, The Original Philly Sound that YOU guys came up with was virtually non-existent. Ironically, two of your proteges, KENNY GAMBLE and LEON HUFF, would take The Sound Of Philadelphia to brand new heights in the new decade ... even the earliest stages of this were being set with great R&B Records like EXPRESSWAY TO YOUR HEART by THE SOUL SURVIVORS and COWBOYS TO GIRLS by THE INTRUDERS ... both HUGE cross-over pop hits. But right around the time of the BUNNY SIGLER recordings, CAMEO / PARKWAY RECORDS was ready to close their doors.
JM: We had just made a label deal for our own label with Amy / Mala / Bell Records. The label was called Luv Records. So when we dissolved our relationship, David took the label deal, as he was going to record Johnny Caswell and Maureen Gray. And along with other co-publishing arrangements on some of our songs, we parted company.

FH: How did that work out?
JM: The records that David made for the Luv label did not sell, and eventually the label folded. David then went on to form a group called The Crystal Mansion and had a chart record, "The Thought of Loving You."

FH: And meanwhile, what were YOU working on?
JM: I went on to sign Daryl Hall and Chubby Checker ... I had Leon Huff ... I signed Tom Sellers, who went on to have tremendous success as an arranger and producer and Tim Moore, who went on to write "Second Avenue" for Artie Garfunkle and had success with his own albums. After that, I formed the group, Gulliver, and then Gulliver begat Daryl Hall and John Oates. I also had many other Philly chart records. I moved to California in 1972 where I had success with Bo Donaldson and The Heywoods, Denny Doherty and other artists that I had chart records with.

FH: So you weren't exactly sitting on your hands!!! (lol)
JM: Out in California, I did two seasons of TV for Sid and Marty Kroft, where I wrote and produced all of the music for three different shows that ran on network TV, one being a group called Kaptain Kool and The Kongs, for which I had to come up with the sound and identity ... these were real terrific records for the mid '70s. I also did several films, but the one I am the most proud of is the Ralph Bakshi animated film, "Hey Good Lookin," for which I co-wrote 18 pieces of music with the singer of the songs, Ric Sandler, a real good artist. The film went on to get rave reviews and has since become a cult classic. Ralph Bakshi is best known as the creator and director of the animated films "Fritz The Cat," "American Pop," and "Lord Of The Rings." Also during this period I wrote the sports theme for The ABC Television Network. I also had a Top 50 record with Wayne Newton.

FH: Did you ever work with David again? And are you on friendly terms now?
JM: David and I did attempt to do a production of a song we wrote called "Keep On Dancing" in the '80s. It's a killer song ... and it would be a tremendous song for any great girl artist today. It's written as a metaphor for life: don’t give up, don’t give in, gotta live your life to win, gotta keep on dancing. I love this lyric and it’s a real good, positive message for life. Celene Dion could have a top 5 record with this song and an up-to-date production, though I love what David and I did, and the lead singer is really sensational. This song is really a “Hidden Hit” just waiting to be discovered.

FH: It's great that you can still work together again after all these years ... to a degree, you've shared a VERY special and unique history together ... I'm glad that the "business" and the years haven't gotten in the way of that.
JM: Needless to say, David and I had a great run of hits from 1957 through 1967, having over 25 chart records, 3 number ones, 1 that went to number two, and many top 50 records. David and I speak and e-mail each other frequently, and we both have a tremendous love and respect for each other. And, of course, David is one of the writers of the "At The Hop - The Movie" story.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: AT THE HOP is a screenplay that JOHN is hoping to get into production later this year ... it's a GREAT profile of 1950's Philadelphia and the early rock scene there ... and a number of VERY big names are already attached to this project. We'll keep you posted as things develop!)

(A couple of recent photos of John Madara and David White)

FH: Meanwhile, you're STILL recording today, aren't you???
JM: Last year I had a chance to do a reunion with The Pixies Three and recorded with them for a CD they were doing and for a show called "The Best of The 60's Girl Groups." The song is the Ray Charles' classic "What'd I Say." This is the latest thing that has my voice on it as of a year ago. It was a lot of fun doing it. There's a part of me that would love to do a CD with all brand new original songs. I think my chops are still pretty good, and it would be a great challenge to do a real contemporary CD.

FH: I think it's great that you're still involved with all this stuff ... putting out the compilation CDs of your earlier work, putting together the AT THE HOP Movie and even lending your vocals to a track now and then! Music really HAS been your whole life!
JM: Music is the ONLY thing I ever wanted to do ... and I've been VERY lucky over the years to have been involved with some VERY talented musicians and recording artists. The constant creativity of working on the "At The Hop" film and a trance dance instrumental CD that I have been working on for the last year are very rewarding, but there will always be a part of me that misses singing.

FH: You had mentioned earlier that you were restoring a number of these old recordings ... are you still coming across some things that you had forgotten about?
JM: I'm always finding things. I just found a master that I did in 1973. I HAD to record singing something with the Wrecking Crew ... and this one was never released. It's our version of "One Fine Day", the old Chiffons hit. And I found some recent photos of a session I did with Tony Danza and Artie Butler ... I cut some tracks with Tony Danza and they're pretty good. The background singers on "The Waters" are Artie Butler and myself. I found some recent photos of Dave White and myself, including a picture of Dick Clark receiving a special award for the sale of twenty million 45 records of “At The Hop” with David and myself. There's a photo of Walt Gates (he was the piano player on “At The Hop”) and myself ... The Pixies Three with Brooks Arthur & Madara & White and another of Joe Renzetti with Madara & White.

FH: You had the opportunity to work with a NUMBER of artists who went on to have GREAT success in the '70's and '80's ... DARYL HALL and JOHN OATES, KENNY GAMBLE and LEON HUFF ... in fact, you'll find ALL the details to these early sessions now posted on our FORGOTTEN HITS Web Page:
Click here: Forgotten Hits - John Madara Remembers ...
However, I get the sense that your early nurturing hasn't always been recognized and appreciated by some of these artists ... hopefully, I was able to make some of these points in this series. This and the fact that you had to SHARE credit for some of your earlier efforts like AT THE HOP and 1, 2, 3 with artists who had absolutely NOTHING to do with the writing of these songs. Suffice to say the music business easily lives up to its reputation as being a pretty dirty business!
JM: Kent, I have sent you many stories, but the one thing I don’t want to come off as is that I am complaining or unhappy with the music industry. I would like this series to be the story of my career and some of the different events that have not only happened to me, but to many other artists, writers and producers as well. I have a tremendous amount of respect for the talent of Gamble & Huff and Hall & Oates and I don't ever want to come off as bitter about any of the different relationships that I’ve had in my career ... but I do want to set the record straight. I am very happy to have been a part of the music that I love so much, and it has been a joy to have created the music that I have been responsible for and a joy to have worked with all of the talented artists throughout the years. My career has been more than I could have ever hoped for. The last thing that I ever want to do is to come off as being ungrateful.

FH: I appreciate that, JOHN, and I think our readers will, too, once they read some of these chapters posted on the website. I am still VERY honored that you chose FORGOTTEN HITS as the means to tell your story.
JM: I know that you are going to do a great job with this series. This is the first time that anyone has ever done a story on my career. I am very grateful for your interest in my life. As I stated before, no one has ever documented my career, and overall it has been a great ride!
Click here: Forgotten Hits - John Madara's Greatest Hits

Click here: Forgotten Hits - John Madara Remembers ...

Sunday, August 10, 2008

You Got What It Takes

It certainly came up innocently enough ...
One of our FORGOTTEN HITS Readers sent me an email requesting more information on MARV JOHNSON, the guy who scored a hit with the song YOU GOT WHAT IT TAKES back in 1961.

I was going thru my 45's and found a great tune you NEVER hear: Marv Johnson's "You Got What It Takes". Its one of my top 20 of all time records ..... Any history on this tune, Kent? As I always say, when in doubt ask the Master!
Carolyn Mondragon

And, as I typically do, I researched this a little bit and then gave my best answer:

Well, let's see ... FIRST of all, MOST folks are going to best know this song thanks to the FANTASTIC remake done by THE DAVE CLARK FIVE, circa 1967 ... but it was MARV JOHNSON who FIRST took it into The Top Ten back in 1960. (#5 in CASH BOX and #10 in BILLBOARD for JOHNSON; THE DC5 hit #8 and #7 respectively with THEIR version seven years later.) MARV JOHNSON had four OTHER Top 40 Hits that you rarely hear anymore: COME TO ME went to #30 in BILLBOARD back in 1959; I LOVE THE WAY YOU LOVE (#8, CASH BOX, 1960); YOU'VE GOT TO MOVE TWO MOUNTAINS (#20, BILLBOARD, also 1960) and HAPPY DAYS (#39, CASH BOX, 1961). JOHNSON teamed up with MOTOWN Founder BERRY GORDY in the late '50's ... in fact, some music historians credit him as "The Co-Creator of The Motown Sound." Whether that's true or not, he DID record BERRY GORDY's VERY first commercial release ... before UNITED ARTISTS picked up COME TO ME for national distribution, it was FIRST released as TAMLA 101 in the Detroit area, where JOHNSON was born. (The tune was co-written by MARV JOHNSON and BERRY GORDY, who JOHNSON met while working in a Detroit area record store. In fact, despite the fact that they were released on another record label, BERRY GORDY wrote and produced ALL of MARV JOHNSON's Top 40 Hits!) He would eventually go BACK to work for MOTOWN in the mid-'60's, first as a recording artist and then in the sales and promotions department in the early '70's. He died in 1993 after collapsing during a performance in South Carolina.

I featured the song (NOT one you hear all that often on Oldies Radio anymore) ... and, I thought that this was pretty much the end of it.

But a few days later, I received an email from syndicated DeeJay DAVE THE RAVE that told me something that I DIDN'T know!!!

Just for the record .... the song "You've Got What It Takes" by the late Marv Johnson and later by the Dave Clark Five, was originally done by Bobby Parker in 1958 on the VeeJay label #279. I don't do mp3's but perhaps a more tech savvy individual on this list also has the 45 or belongs to one of those collector hubs and can share the original version to those on this list. I can certainly play the tune on my Saturday nite show between 10pm-3am on .
Dave The Rave

Naturally, I was intrigued ... I had never heard the BOBBY PARKER song before ... and couldn't figure out why on earth GORDY or JOHNSON would give the song to another artist to record before releasing their OWN version ... this just didn't make sense to me! So I decided to investigate this a little bit further ... first, my reply to DAVE THE RAVE:

I think a number of our readers would probably tune in to hear that!!! (DAVE just confirmed that he'll be playing this tune on his RELICS AND RARITIES Program this Saturday Night!!!) Weird to hear about the BOBBY PARKER version 'tho ... since MARV JOHNSON reportedly cowrote the song with BERRY GORDY, you'd figure they'd want to keep it to record for THEMSELVES before handing it over to another artist!!! Be sure to tune in to DAVE THE RAVE's RELICS AND RARITIES Show this Saturday Night to hear the ORIGINAL version played!!! (Thanks, DAVE!!!)

The story was something like Berry Gordy stole the writing credits on the song or had the credits signed over to him. However, the VeeJay 45 released in late 1957 or early 1958 clearly indicates Bobby Parker as the writer.
Dave the Rave

Whoa ... the plot thickens!!! I'd never heard THIS story before ... now I KNEW that I'd have to look into this further! (Weirder still because GORDY and JOHNSON reportedly cowrote all of MARV JOHNSON's OTHER hit records, too!!!) Now I just HAD to hear the 1958 BOBBY PARKER version ... so I next contacted FORGOTTEN HITS Regular TOM DIEHL to see if HE might have a copy. I also mentioned this unusual songwriting scenario and he researched things a little bit further! What he found is that BOBBY PARKER did, in fact, first copyright the song back in 1958 ... 2 1/2 years before the MARV JOHNSON single was released, crediting JOHNSON and BERRY GORDY as songwriters!!! And, not being all that familiar with BOBBY PARKER, I came across ANOTHER little bit of info while researching this further ... this time indicating that THE BEATLES "borrowed quite heavily" from BOBBY PARKER's WATCH YOUR STEP recording when they came up with the famous guitar riff that runs throughout their #1 Hit I FEEL FINE!!!

First up, here's the copyright information that TOM came up with:

Here's what really makes this interesting .......... first, the listing from BMI:
BMI Work #1719262
Songwriter / Composer: BOBBY PARKER
Current Affiliation CAE/IPI # 60791968

And then the listing from ASCAP:
Title Code: 550018836
(Note that MARV JOHNSON's name doesn't even appear here on the copyright!!!)

How can the same song be published as belonging to both parties who claimed authorship?
Under two different publishing companies??
Something certainly doesn't add up ..... i'm surprised there hasn't been any lawsuits ....
Tom Diehl

You're right ... something just DOESN'T add up here, does it?!?!?
(See, we learn something new here in FORGOTTEN HITS ALL the time!!! lol)
So next we decided to try to contact BOBBY PARKER himself to see if perhaps HE can shed a little light on this!!!


Thanks to FELIX McCLARIEN, President of The DC Blues Society, I've now been in touch with BOBBY PARKER ... and not only did we talk about this song (and BOBBY's early days performing with OTIS WILLIAMS AND THE CHARMS, BO DIDDLEY, THE PAUL HUCKLEBUCK BAND ... who backed him up on his recording of YOU'VE GOT WHAT IT TAKES ... and many other legendary names of the day ... MUDDY WATERS, HOWLIN' WOLF, JIMMY REED, LITTLE WALTER, BIG JOE TURNER, T-BONE WALKER, LOWELL FULSOM, LITTLE WILLIE JOHN and countless others) ... but we ALSO got him to agree to appear on DAVE THE RAVE's Program to talk about all of this further!!! (FYI: BOBBY PARKER is still VERY active on the blues scene ... he recently appeared in a live DVD video performing with CARLOS SANTANA and BUDDY GUY!!!)

Yes, he's been ripped off ...

Yes, he's been cheated and mistreated ...

So yes, he's got the RIGHT to sing the blues!!!

And now he's talking ALL about it right here in FORGOTTEN HITS!!!


I first mentioned that I had heard from some of our readers that THE BEATLES "borrowed quite heavily" from BOBBY PARKER's WATCH YOUR STEP recording when they came up with the famous guitar riff that runs throughout their #1 Hit I FEEL FINE!!! I wasn't familiar with this track before but, now that I've heard it, I'd have to say it sounds a WHOLE lot more like ONE WAY OUT by THE ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND than I FEEL FINE by THE BEATLES. But then again, I've probably heard this SAME riff in any number of songs over the years!!! (Of course SOMEBODY had to be the FIRST one to play it ... was that "someone" really BOBBY PARKER?!?!?) I asked BOBBY about this tune:
BOBBY PARKER: I've been in litigation for close to 50 ... maybe even 55 years ... about some of this material that was stolen from me. They had "Watch Your Step" on John Lennon's Jukebox ... and then that went out all over the country on PBS Television and people heard about it ... and John Lennon said how that guitar part ... how he had "borrowed" that guitar part for HIS record ... and pretty soon everybody knew about "Watch Your Step" ... I go over to England now and that's all they wanna hear ... they don't even care about the new stuff I'm doin'... I'm out there playin' with Buddy Guy and Robert Cray ... and they just wanna hear "Watch Your Step" from John Lennon's Jukebox!

KENT KOTAL: What can you tell me about "You've Got What It Takes"? By ALL appearances, you wrote this tune back in 1957 / 1958 and had it copyrighted at that time with BMI Music.
BOBBY PARKER: I wrote "You've Got What It Takes" ... that was MY song ... I did it. Even had The Paul Hucklebuck Band playing on it behind me. I performed with them for seven or eight years ... you remember that song "Do The Hucklebuck"!!! And Paul "Hucklebuck" Williams, he even got the copyright for me 'cause I was only about seventeen or eighteen years old at the time. And then Berry Gordy just stole it out from under me ... just put his name on it. And what could I do? I was just trying to make a living, playing guitar and singing ... how was I going to go out and fight Berry Gordy, big as he was, and Motown Records?

KENT KOTAL: Well this was a hit ... and a BIG hit ... a couple of times! And I'll tell you what, YOUR version sounds like a hit record, too ... like it SHOULDA been a hit!!!
BOBBY PARKER: Well it WAS a hit ... it was all over the place playing on the old Wurlitzer Jukeboxes ... that one and the flipside, "Blues Get Off My Shoulder" ... everywhere we traveled we heard it on the jukeboxes ... it was real popular. You got to remember things were different back then ... you had your black audience and you had your white audience. We used to play in these old Tobacco Warehouses ... they were HUGE buildings and we would fill these places up ... and all the black people would sit on one side of the audience and all the white people would sit on the OTHER side of the audience ... 'cause that's just the way it was then back in the '50's and into the '60's.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: BOBBY PARKER's version of YOU'VE GOT WHAT IT TAKES never made ANY of the National Charts ... not even the R&B Chart ... which makes me wonder just how well known it actually was ... ESPECIALLY if BERRY GORDY was able to just TAKE it from him without any conflict or controversy!!! I have to believe that somewhere along the line, he HEARD the song, liked it, figured it could be a hit if done by another artist or marketed by another label ... and just ran with it ... and nobody ever questioned a thing because nobody knew anything about it! I STILL don't see how it could be copyrighted by two different music agencies and by two different songwriters ... unless that was just one more way that this was manipulated so as to be swept under the carpet without drawing too much attention as to what was really going on. I'm no lawyer, but I would have to think that that fact ALONE would warrant at least SOME legal investigation ... and potential payback of past due royalties!!!)

KENT KOTAL: What was that like to know that this record was selling like crazy and that your name had been taken off of it?
BOBBY PARKER: There wasn't really nothing I could do about it ... it was just too big and I didn't have any way to fight them. I once documented something like 600 times they've taken my guitar riff from "Watch Your Step" and used it some place else ... in some other song ... but I wrote that riff ... I played that for the very first time. You wouldn't BELIEVE how many times it's been used again and again in other pieces of music.

KENT KOTAL: Well, let's start back at the beginning here ... one of the things I also read was that you started your career with OTIS WILLIAMS AND THE CHARMS ... is that correct?
BOBBY PARKER: I was born and raised down in Lafayette, Louisiana. My Dad played the Hammond Organ and my Mom was a Gospel Singer ... so we always had music running in our family ... so I like to think that I came by my rhythm naturally. We moved out to Los Angeles, California, when I was about seven or eight years old ... and shortly after that I started to learn to play the guitar. By the time I was a teenager, the situation out there in California was getting real bad ... a lot of the gangs were starting to take over the schools and beating up and threatening a lot of the children ... just all these different cliques and gangs springing up all over the school. And I was maybe about 17 years old and I was doing this show there at the school, playing my guitar for this concert we were giving, sort of a talent show, and I come to find out that Otis Williams and The Charms are out in the audience ... or well, a couple of them ... two or three of them ... were there anyway ... and they heard me play and they asked me if I would like to go out on the road with them. And I told them that they had gotten there JUST in time ... 'cause I had just about had it with school and all the gangs ... and of course my parents didn't want me to go but I just couldn't handle it anymore there at the school ... so one day I told my parents that I was going to school but I really got on this bus with Otis Williams and The Charms and we took off for Cincinnati, Ohio, which is where they were from. And my parents didn't like that ... they thought that they had taken me ... but it was what I wanted to do ... so we did that for about two years ... and I just went out on the road singing and playing guitar with Otis Williams and The Charms. And I would check in with my parents all the time but they didn't like it ... so they sued for custody for me to come back home, saying that I had been taken.

KENT KOTAL: Now YOU'VE GOT WHAT IT TAKES was released on the VEE JAY Record Label ... a company right out of here in Chicago.
BOBBY PARKER: That's right. That's back when Ewart Abner was with the label ... and then shortly after I was there, Jerry Butler came in.

KENT KOTAL: Did you record that here in Chicago?
BOBBY PARKER: Yes, well I actually LIVED there in Chicago for a little while ... over there on Cottage Grove. I spent a lot of time in the Grant Park area. And that's where I met Bo Diddley and I spent some time playing with him. Of course, he just passed recently, bless his soul, but he taught me SO much about the music business, when I was playing in Bo Diddley's band. And then I met Phil and Leonard Chess of Chess Records and Checker Records 'cause that's where Bo Diddley did his recording. And it was at Chess Records that I met Muddy Waters for the very first time ... he was actually the Maintenance Man there at Chess Records back then ... and Howlin' Wolf ... Jimmy Reed ... and Little Walter ... all of those early Chicago Blues Greats. And then I got invited to play with The Paul Hucklebuck Band ... and I played with them for seven or eight years. You know them ... "Do The Hucklebuck" ... you know that song ... and they had some REALLY good players in that band ... Noble "Thin Man" Watts ... and through them I got to meet guys like Big Joe Turner and Little Willie John ... T-Bone Walker ... Lowell Fulsom.

BOBBY has played with some of the BIGGEST names on the blues scene over the years and recently has been working with BUDDY GUY, CLARENCE "GATEMOUTH" BROWN and ROBERT CRAY ... and even did a "live" video with CARLOS SANTANA that came out on DVD a couple of years ago. But he's ALWAYS looking for more work ... more places to play.

BOBBY PARKER: I still play all the time ... but I'm not playin' tonight!
KENT KOTAL: Well then that IS the blues!!! (lol)

His work is VERY popular over in England ... and he performs pretty steadily in The U.K. ... where they know ALL of his older material.

BOBBY PARKER: They always want me to play "Watch Your Step" since they saw it on John Lennon's Jukebox ... John Lennon had that song on his jukebox and he said that that guitar riff inspired him with his song. (I FEEL FINE). Once people saw that they had "Watch Your Step" on John Lennon's Jukebox ... and then that went out all over the country on PBS Television and people heard about it ... and John Lennon said how that guitar part ... how he had "borrowed" that guitar part for HIS record ... and pretty soon everybody knew about "Watch Your Step" ... I go over to England now and that's all they wanna hear ... they don't even care about the new stuff I'm doin'... I'm out there playin' with Buddy Guy and Robert Cray ... and they just wanna hear "Watch Your Step" from John Lennon's Jukebox! I once documented something like 600 times they've taken my guitar riff from "Watch Your Step" and used it some place else ... in some other song ... but I wrote that riff ... I played that for the very first time. You wouldn't BELIEVE how many times it's been used again and again in other pieces of music.

KENT KOTAL: Well, I think your version of YOU'VE GOT WHAT IT TAKE is every bit as good as the one that became the hit version ... in fact, it SHOULD have been a hit! They were nearly identical.
BOBBY PARKER: Well it WAS a hit ... it was all over the place playing on the old Wurlitzer Jukeboxes ... with those big ol' acetate records that they used to make at the time. That one and "Blues Get Off My Shoulder" ... everywhere we traveled, we heard it. You got to remember things were different back then ... you had your black audience and you had your white audience. We used to play in these old Tobacco Warehouses ... they were HUGE buildings and we would fill these places up ... and all the black people would sit on one side of the audience and all the white people would sit on the OTHER side of the audience ... 'cause that's just the way it was then back in the '50's and into the '60's.

Thanks to TOM DIEHL, we've got BOBBY PARKER's versions of YOU'VE GOT WHAT IT TAKES and WATCH YOUR STEP here for you today. BOBBY told me that he TRIED to go after BERRY GORDY for any monies owed him ... and has been in litigation SEVERAL times over the past 50 years ... in fact, he's STILL trying to track down some of these artists NOW to see if perhaps he isn't owed SOMETHING for the material he first created ...

BOBBY PARKER: But they all just keep runnin' from me. You gotta remember that we were just kids back then ... we didn't really know anything about the business and the copyrights and all that ... I mean, we knew they had all that stuff, but I was just 17-18-19 years old ... I just wanted to play the music and get back out on the road ... we didn't have lawyers back then and we didn't really think all that much about it ... it was that big fish / little fish scenario ... there was nothing that I could really do against somebody like Berry Gordy and Motown ... I mean they were HUGE! So we kept trying to get at them but they just kept duckin' me ... and some of these artists are STILL duckin' me all these years later.

If anybody out there thinks that they may have a way for BOBBY to collect his due, PLEASE get in contact with me ... it costs a LOT of money to pursue this (and I believe that BOBBY has spent his share over the years ... and the money just always seem to run out when going against some of the deeper pockets described above.) Both DAVE THE RAVE and I have pledged our support with this and have done our part to help to get the word out there ... come on, after 50 YEARS this man is due SOMETHING!!!

Kent ...
Amazing, intuitive, footwork regarding You've Got What It Takes! This has got to be beneficial to Parker's 'litigation' in getting the rights to that wonderful tune back in his name. You're a class act guy!
Ron Kolman

Thanks, RON ... on the one hand, I just don't see how this can continue to be overlooked ... on the other, I have to shrug my shoulders and say "How is it that NOBODY knew about this?" and "Why hasn't anything been done up till now?!?!?" "How has this POSSIBLY not come up or to light for all this time?!?!?" It truly is AMAZING to me ... especially since this all came up so INNOCENTLY in FORGOTTEN HITS ... and let's face it ... certainly this is not the ONLY time this kind of crap has gone on in the music business ... but THIS song was a Top Ten Hit TWICE!!! Shouldn't SOMETHING have been said and done on BOBBY PARKER's behalf prior to NOW?!?!?

The most LOGICAL thing to do next would be for me to talk to BERRY GORDY about this incident ... but I'm not so sure he'll want to talk to me ... especially after he hears my very first question:
KENT KOTAL: Mr. Gordy ... how is it that BOBBY PARKER recorded the song YOU GOT WHAT IT TAKES two and a half years BEFORE you reportedly wrote it and had it copyrighted?
Honestly, I don't know WHO we should notify first: The Authorities ...
or The Psychic Network!!!!!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Beach Boys: 1985 (And A Happy Ending!!!)

In 1985, THE BEACH BOYS got together with producer STEVE LEVINE (who had guided the recording career of CULTURE CLUB with great success in the early '80's) and produced a new album called, simply, THE BEACH BOYS. Critically panned as being "too perfect" (it was the first time THE BEACH BOYS had recorded digitally), I, personally, think it is one of the finest LPs they ever recorded. (One reviewer described it as "technically perfect yet generally sterile.") The lead-off single was a smash by BEACH BOYS standards ... GETCHA BACK went all the way to #25 and, again, proved that the harmonies were still intact. The follow-up single, IT'S GETTIN' LATE, rocked a little harder than most of their recent material and had a great hook-chorus ... yet it only charted as high as #78. The last single pulled from THE BEACH BOYS album was the pretty BRUCE JOHNSTON ballad SHE BELIEVES IN LOVE AGAIN, which never charted at all. A cover of the BOY GEORGE-written tune PASSING FRIEND and the STEVIE WONDER track I DO LOVE YOU made for great LP cuts but never were considered for single release. (Instead, the B-Side of IT'S GETTING LATE was the 1976 single re-release IT'S OK ... go figure!)

THE BEACH BOYS tried a few other tricks to jump-start their career. In 1984, a one-off single with their former East Coast rivals THE FOUR SEASONS produced the awful EAST MEETS WEST single ... it never charted (deservedly so.) In 1986, the single ROCK AND ROLL TO THE RESCUE snuck up to #68 on both National Charts. It was originally included on an LP called 25 YEARS OF GOOD VIBRATIONS, and was sold at their concert appearances only. The follow-up single, a remake of THE MAMAS AND THE PAPAS classic CALIFORNIA DREAMIN', came from the same LP. (It went to #49 and really isn't a bad version ... former BYRDS guitarist ROGER McGUINN plays 12-string guitar on that track ... and it very well may have paved the way for former Papa JOHN PHILLIPS to be involved in what would be THE BEACH BOYS' biggest hit in 22 years ... he cowrote KOKOMO with producer TERRY MELCHER, SCOTT McKENZIE and MIKE LOVE ... and, incredibly, in 1988 THE BEACH BOYS were back at #1!

Could there possibly BE a more appropriate song to finish up our special BEACH BOYS series than HAPPY ENDINGS? Released as a single in 1987, the unlikely pairing of '60's icons THE BEACH BOYS and '50's rock pioneer LITTLE RICHARD teamed up to record a beautiful ballad written by BRUCE JOHNSTON and TERRY MELCHER (as in "BRUCE & TERRY") for the WHOOPI GOLDBERG motion picture THE TELEPHONE. THE BEACH BOYS are in fine voice and LITTLE RICHARD just may be at his most restrained ... their voices blend perfectly together ... and this one SHOULD have been a hit. (Of course, someone would have actually had to play it on the radio in order for that to happen!!!) Their very next release would be another duet ... this time the "God-Only-Knows-Awful" WIPEOUT with THE FAT BOYS ... and THAT one went all the way to #12!!! Soundtrack music would become a big part of THE BEACH BOYS' repertoire during this period ... MAKE IT BIG from the SHELLEY LONG film TROOP BEVERLY HILLS and the title track from the JOHN RITTER film PROBLEM CHILD were just a couple of songs that never saw the light of day on the pop charts. However, the following year, they would have one of the biggest hits of their career when KOKOMO (from the film COCKTAIL) went all the way to #1. Who would have thought? Soon, THE BEACH BOYS were a hot ticket item again (and all over the TV screen as well .... they were pretty much "adopted" by the FULL HOUSE gang!)

DIDJAKNOW???: The original single release of KOKOMO featured the #1 BEACH BOYS hit on the A-Side and the LITTLE RICHARD classic TUTTI FRUTTI on the B-Side! (Both songs were featured in the Soundtrack to COCKTAIL.)
The music of BRIAN WILSON and THE BEACH BOYS will never die ... and, hopefully, we've introduced you to a few new tracks you may not have been familiar with during this special series ... or, at the very least, some songs you just don't get to hear very often. With the option to go see AL JARDINE's "BEACH BOYS FRIENDS AND FAMILY" show or the ever-touring MIKE LOVE / BRUCE JOHNSTON version of THE BEACH BOYS or, even better yet, a chance to go see the reclusive BRIAN WILSON live in concert (with his incredible back-up band, THE WONDERMINTS), there's plenty of opportunity to catch a wave and have fun fun fun here in the new millennium. (Shortly after this piece was first published, MIKE LOVE won a HUGE court settlement entitling him to sole use of THE BEACH BOYS name ... JARDINE will have to use a different moniker the next time he hits the road. LOVE also won the royalty rights to DOZENS of songs previously credited to BRIAN WILSON, despite the fact that LOVE had, in fact, collaborated on them.) And, BRIAN WILSON has a BRAND NEW album coming out on September 2nd ... so the music just keeps on comin'!!!

Thank you for spending a week with us as we shared one of our favorite artists with you.