Saturday, January 31, 2009

I'm Easy

Actor Keith Carradine hit the pop charts as a singer back in 1976 when his song I'm Easy was released as a single from the hit Robert Altman film "Nashville".

In fact, Carradine wrote and performed three songs for the film's soundtrack ... and I'm Easy actually made The Top Ten in Cash Box Magazine that year. (It peaked at #17 in Billboard but topped their Adult Contemporary Chart. Here in Chicago, I'm Easy went all the way to #4!)
DIDJAKNOW? - Actor Gary Busey also auditioned for the role of Tom Frank, the part that ultimately went to Carradine ... although he didn't get the part, one of the songs Busey wrote for the film, "Since You're Gone", was used in the film's soundtrack!

Keith's family tree includes some pretty impressive acting roots ... and limbs!!! His father John (The Grapes Of Wrath, The Ten Commandments, Captain Kidd and literally HUNDREDS of television guest spots) and his half-brother David (the Kung Fu television series and the "Kill Bill" films) have certainly made their presence known on both the big and the small screen ... and Frannie and I really enjoyed Keith's appearances as Special Agent Frank Lundy (and Deb Morgan's May / December Romance Interest) on the hit Showtime Television Series "Dexter" a couple of years back.

As we wrap up a rather "Easy" week here in Forgotten Hits, we just couldn't ignore THIS one!!!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Make It Easy On Yourself

Yesterday we told you about a song (Am I That Easy To Forget) that hit The National Top 20 twice yet never gets played ... today we're featuring a song that made The National Top 25 THREE times ... yet still falls into that oldies radio black hole.

Make It Easy On Yourself first climbed to #20 for Jerry Butler back in 1962. Three years later, The Walker Brothers reached #16 with their remake. Finally, in 1970, Dionne Warwick (who pretty much made a career out of singing Burt Bacharach songs) hit #25 with her rendition ... yet you rarely (if ever) hear ANY of these versions on the radio.

We'll fix that today by featuring all three ... hopefully some of the jocks on the list will give some airtime to THEIR favorite reading.

Jerry Butler

The Walker Brothers

Dionne Warwick

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Am I That Easy To Forget?

Here's a song that made The National Top 20 TWICE ... yet STILL doesn't get played on the radio anymore!!!

Back in 1960, film actress Debbie Reynolds took her version of Am I That Easy To Forget to #19 on The Cash Box Chart. Next to her #1 smash Tammy (from the film "Tammy And The Bachelor", in which she also had a starring role), it was the second biggest pop hit of her short recording career. Her version was actually a remake of a song that topped Billboard's Country Chart the year before for an artist named Carl Belew. (Before we get a ton of letters, we should point out that Reynolds also had a #3 hit back in 1951 thanks to a duet she did with Carleton Carpenter. The track was called Aba Daba Honeymoon, and it was featured in the film "Two Weeks With Love", which also co-starred the pair. That song was a remake of a song that first hit #1 for the duo of Arthur Collins and Byron Harlan way back in 1914! Because Forgotten Hits primarily covers The Rock Era, circa 1955 - 1980, that makes Debbie's version of Am I That Easy To Forget
her second biggest pop hit in OUR book!)

Reynolds was a beautiful film actress whose career, in retrospect, seems to be overshadowed by her marriage to Eddie Fisher and the ensuing battle with Elizabeth Taylor (who reportedly stole her man as part of Liz's never-ending marriage-go-round) and the fact that Star Wars actress (and latter-day author) Carrie Fisher is their daughter. In reality, Debbie starred in over thirty films,

including "Singing In The Rain", "How The West Was Won", "The Tender Trap", "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" and, profiling another singer, "The Singing Nun".

Eight years later, British crooner Engelbert Humperdinck took his remake of Am I That Easy To Forget to #18 on The Billboard Chart. It was one of FIVE Top 20 Hits that Engelbert scored between 1967 and 1970 ... yet you're not likely to hear ANY of them on oldies radio anymore. Tracks like Release Me (#3, 1967); There Goes My Everything (#20, 1967); The Last Waltz (#21, 1967); Am I That Easy To Forget (#18, 1968); A Man Without Love (#18, 1968); Les Bicyclettes De Belsize (#22, 1968); The Way It Used To Be (#26, 1969); I'm A Better Man (#38, 1969); Winter World Of Love (#13, 1970); My Marie (#27, 1970); Sweetheart (#38, 1970); When There's No You (#37, 1971); Another Time, Another Place (#40, 1971) and his Top Five comeback hit, After The Lovin' (#5, 1977) were pure Middle-Of-The-Road, Adult Contemporary Fluff, but ALL scored well enough to make The Top 40 on The Pop Charts, too! (While it's true that Engelbert's music appealed more to our Moms than to us young rock and rollers, certainly at least a COUPLE of these ought to get a spin on the oldies channel every once in a while!) To this day, Engelbert is still quite a drawing attraction in Las Vegas ... a quick check of his schedule shows Humperdinck performing in casinos and show lounges all over the world!

Click here: Tour Schedule

Am I That Easy To Forget??? Apparently so!!!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Easy Question

We've been taking things "easy" this week in Forgotten Hits ... no point in changing things up now!!!

There aren't a whole lot of Elvis "Forgotten Hits" anymore ... MOST of his recordings are familiar to even the most casual music fans out there. Over the course of his career, The King Of Rock And Roll hit the pop charts an incredible 146 times between 1956 and 1977 ... heck, he's even hit it five MORE times since his death in '77 with remixes like "Guitar Man" (#28, 1981); A Little Less Conversation (#50, 2002) and Rubberneckin' (#94, 2003)!

One of my favorite never-played Elvis oldies is Easy Question, a #11 Hit for The King back in 1965.

The song was released as a single in conjunction with the release of Elvis' 18th movie, "Tickle Me." This was the film that The Colonel arranged to be made to help save the Allied Artists Film Studio. Allied Artists was on the brink of financial disaster, close to filing bankruptcy, when they approached The Colonel about securing Elvis' services to make a film, knowing full well that ALL of Elvis' movies made money ... their feeling was that this might be JUST what the studio needed in order to turn things around.

The Colonel agreed ... and even cut Elvis' normal Million Dollar Salary to just $750,000 (plus 50% of the film's profits) to help out ... but then told the studio that there was not enough money left in the budget to create a new motion picture soundtrack!

Realizing that an Elvis Presley movie without any Elvis Presley songs in it wouldn't solve their financial problems (or fly with the public), they worked out an agreement with RCA Records that allowed them to take a bunch of previously released Elvis LP recordings not all that familiar to the mass public, modify a thing or two here and there and then use them in the film! It worked ... Easy Question (an early Forgotten Hits favorite) ended up being a #11 chart hit and the follow-up single, I'm Yours, also used in the film, went all the way to #9. The film made money ... in fact, at a reported gross of close to $5,000,000, it was the third highest grossing film in the studio's history. At the time, Allied Artists Studio Head Steve Brody told the press that Elvis had saved his studio: "You might say that they were ready to wheel the patient out when Dr. Presley came in." (Sadly, despite the brief reprieve, Allied Artists still ended up closing their doors a short time later.)

Songs included in the "Tickle Me" film include the hit singles Easy Question / It Feels So Right (from Elvis' 1962 LP "Pot Luck" and 1960 LP "Elvis Is Back, respectively), I'm Yours / Long Lonely Highway (from "Pot Luck" and, believe it or not, the "Kissin' Cousins" Soundtrack LP), as well as the "Tickle Me" EP cuts I Feel That I've Known You Forever and Night Rider (both from "Pot Luck"), Slowly But Surely (from "Fun In Acapulco"), Put The Blame On Me (from "Something For Everybody") and Dirty Dirty Feeling (from "Elvis Is Back").

Hey Jocks, why not treat your listeners to something different by Elvis today ... and give Easy Question a spin. (Of course, the DOWN side would be that you'd only be able to play Suspicious Minds 34 times this week instead of the normal 35 times ... but your listeners just might thank you for it later!!!)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

From Easy Livin' ... To Easy Loving

Yesterday we featured the 1972 Uriah Heep Hit "Easy Livin'" ... so today we figured that the NATURAL follow-up would be to spotlight 1971's Freddie Hart tune "Easy Loving".

Hart topped Billboard's Country Chart for three weeks with this ballad ... but it also crossed over in a big way to the pop charts, peaking at #12 in Cash Box Magazine and rising to #17 in Billboard.

Freddie's chart career began back in 1959. (By then he was already 33 years old!) He hit Billboard's Country Top 40 nearly forty times over the next 22 years and "Easy Loving" became the first of six consecutive #1 songs on Billboard's Country Chart. (That string included Easy Loving; My Hang-Up Is You; Bless Your Heart; Got The All Overs For You; Super Kind Of Woman and Trip To Heaven.) Ironically, he never hit the pop charts again (which officially makes him a One Hit Wonder in OUR book!!!)

You'd be hard pressed to find another artist with as diverse a career outside of music as Freddie Hart. Born Frederick Segrest in Lochapoka, Alabama, in 1926, Freddie was one of fifteen children. He learned to play the guitar when he was just five years old. He quit school when he was twelve and ran away from home, taking odd jobs like picking cotton, washing dishes, laying pipeline and working in sawmills, steel mills and on oil rigs to earn a living and survive. When he was just fourteen years old, he lied about his age and enlisted into the United States Marines. Hart saw action during World War II, serving in Iwo Jima, Okinawa and Guam. After being discharged from The Marines, Freddy began working as a self-defense instructor at The Los Angeles Police Academy, where he earned a black belt in karate. (He also mastered judo and jujitzu!) In 1950, he moved to Phoenix and a year later was working as a guitar player with country legend Lefty Frizzell (who also let him take a crack at the microphone as a singer from time to time.) For a short while, he was even a TV star, appearing regularly on the "Town Hall Party" television series.

"Easy Loving" was a track buried on side two of Freddie's 1969 album "California Grapevine." Two years later, a disc jockey named Jim Clemens started playing the song on his WPLO Atlanta radio program and all of a sudden, it started to click. The attraction soon spread to other country radio stations across the country and Capitol Records quickly released it as a single (followed up by a hastily put together album of the same name, gathering tracks from some of Freddie's earlier releases.) Before long, the song crossed-over to the pop charts, too, and, when all was said and done, Freddie Hart, at the ripe old age of 45, had a major hit record on his hands. "Easy Loving" went on to sell over a million copies and won The Country Music Association's "Song Of The Year" award in both 1971 and 1972. During his long career, Hart also wrote hits for a number of other country artists, including Patsy Cline, George Jones, Buck Owens and Porter Wagoner. (He says he was first inspired to try songwriting when he met Hank Williams back in 1951, explaining his songwriting philosophy this way: “I try to put down in my songs what every man wants to say, and what every woman wants to hear." Clearly, it worked.

After his records stopped having an impact on the country charts, Freddie successfully raised fruit and cattle, owned his own trucking company, opened a chain of karate instruction studios and ran a school for handicapped children. He continued to record sporadically, even releasing a couple of Gospel albums, but rarely makes singing appearances today. It's said that Freddie is a self-made millionaire, several times over. All in all, a pretty successful life for a boy who left home at twelve to find his own way!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Easy Livin'

One of those early '70's bands that seemed to get ALL kinds of respect on the FM Rock Dial was Britain's Uriah Heep ... but you rarely hear anything by the band on today's tightly formatted play lists.

While Stealin' may be considered their best-known track (jeez, what early '70's rock band didn't do THIS one?!?!?), their ONLY trip to The National Top 40 came a year earlier when Easy Livin' hit #32 in Cash Box Magazine and #39 in Billboard in 1972.

Through the years, the band went through close to thirty personnel changes ... but the most revered line-up seems to be David Byron (vocals), Mick Box (guitar), Ken Hensley (keyboards), Gary Thain (bass) and Lee Kerslake (drums). Uriah Heep made their greatest impact on the Album Charts with million selling LPs like Demons And Wizards, The Magician's Birthday, Sweet Freedom and their Live LP ... but the band (led by Mick Box) continues to perform today.
Click here: The Official Website of Uriah Heep

DIDJAKNOW?-1: The band took their name from the Charles Dickens novel "David Copperfield".

DIDJAKNOW?-2: Amongst all the personnel changes, one of the drummers passing through was Nigel Olsson, best known for his work with Elton John's band ... and his OWN Forgotten Hit, Dancing Shoes.