Friday, August 21, 2009

8 - 21 - 1965

Last week we told you how The British Invasion had inspired a bunch of young kids from Beverly Hills, California to start their own rock band ... and THIS week, the results of that inspiration are sitting at #9 on The WLS Silver Dollar Survey.

(click to enlarge chart)

Dino, Desi and Billy (like thousands of OTHER kids across America) picked up guitars and bought drum kits hoping to emulate the sounds of their favorite new artists of the day. Depending on your point of view, THESE kids were either blessed or cursed by the fact that the parents of two of the members were already established American icons. (There were cynics on both sides of the fence on this issue ... some would argue that this group couldn't possibly fail, due to these established family connections ... while others HOPED that they would for that very same reason!!!)

Dino's father was Dean Martin, whose #1 Hit "Everybody Loves Somebody" topped the 1964 WLS Chart we featured last week in Forgotten Hits. Martin, of course, was well known as a singer, an actor, a television star and a top-drawing Vegas show act ... the consumate entertainer. Desi's parents were Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, stars of perhaps the most revered show in television history, "I Love Lucy." Billy was Billy Hinsche, a neighborhood friend and school mate, who completed the trio ... and went on to become a touring member of The Beach Boys Band as well as Carl Wilson's brother-in-law. (Today he still performs regularly with any number of acts ... and participates from time to time with our Forgotten Hits mailings!)

Their break-through hit, "I'm A Fool" (which incorporated that popular "Louie Louie" riff a few months before The McCoys would ALSO use it in their #1 Hit "Hang On Sloopy"), became a #17 Billboard Hit ... but here in Chicago, it was HUGE, going all the way to #4 on The WLS Chart. (You'll find that McCoys Hit debuting on the chart featured this week at #35! You'll also learn about ANOTHER all-time classic rock song inspiration for "I'm A Fool" in Billy Hinsche's comments below!) Sadly, "I'm A Fool" is another one of those GREAT records that seems to have slipped through the cracks on most oldies playlists ... so we're hoping that by featuring it here today, we might just inspire a few of the jocks on the list to feature it on THEIR radio programs, too!

Also in The Top Ten this week was the local hit "Little Miss Sad" by The Five Empressions (aka The Five Emprees), a song that we'll be featuring in a couple of weeks in another one of our WLS Survey features. Other songs included in this week's Top 40 Countdown that seem to have fallen off of the Oldies Radar include "Looking Through The Eyes Of Love" by Gene Pitney, in at #21, "Who'll Be The Next In Line" by The Kinks, right behind it at #22 ... (I know, I know ... why play this one when you can play "You Really Got Me" four times a day instead!!!) ... and "I'm A Happy Man" by The Jive Five, which sat one spot lower at #23 this week in '65.

A few more surprises can be found a little futher down the chart: "Moon Over Naples" by Bert Kaempfert was the #26 record, followed by one of MY favorites by Chad and Jeremy, "I Don't Wanna Lose You Baby", a song we featured AGES ago in Forgotten Hits. Below that came "Candy" by The Astors, "Give Me All Your Love" by Gerry and the Pacemakers, "A Little You", a GREAT little long-forgotten tune by Freddie and the Dreamers, "I'm Alive" by The Hollies, "I'll Take You Where The Music Is" by The Drifters, "Drums A Go-Go" by The Persuaders, "A World Thru A Tear" by Neil Sedaka, another one of my favorites, "Mohair Sam" by Charlie Rich (that's the song that Elvis kept playing on his jukebox over and over and over again the day he met The Beatles!), "It's Gonna Take A Miracle" by The Royalettes and another local hit, "Trouble With A Woman" by Kip and Ken.

Clearly, there was some GREAT representation by The British Invasion Artists looking at that list of titles above. The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Tom Jones, The Dave Clark Five, The Yardbirds and The Fortunes ALSO scored Top 40 Hits this week with "Help!", "Satisfaction", "What's New Pussycat", "Catch Us If You Can", "Heart Full Of Soul" and "You've Got Your Troubles", respectively.

American acts in The Top Ten included Sonny and Cher (who not only had the #1 Record with "I Got You Babe" but also held down the #33 spot with "Just You"), The Beach Boys with "California Girls" (#3), Billy Joe Royal with "Down In The Boondocks" (#7), "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me", the eternal favorite by Mel Carter (in at #8) and Bob Dylan, who sat at #10 with his big hit "Like A Rolling Stone."

Another over-looked classic held down the #14 spot ... TV Star Patty Duke had a HUGE hit record that week that radio rarely remembers with a song called "Don't Just Stand There", a virtual Lesley Gore / "You Don't Own Me" clone.

Today we're featuring three of my favorites from this week's countdown ...

"I'm A Fool" by Dino, Desi and Billy, "A Little You" by Freddie and the Dreamers" (when's the last time you heard THIS one?!?!?) and "Don't Just Stand There" by Patty Duke.

Aww ... what the heck!!!
Sorry ... but I've just GOTTA feature "Mohair Sam", too ... this one is just WAY too good a song for radio to continue to ignore (although our radio buddy Phlash Phelps has played this one for me a few times on XM60s!!!)

I asked Billy Hinsche to share a few Dino, Desi and Billy memories with our readers ... and we hit the motherlode!!! GREAT stuff here, Billy ... thank you SO much for sharing this with us!!!

At your request, I have written a short piece on Dino, Desi and Billy ... use whatever you like!

Dino Martin and I were longtime best friends and classmates in grammar school (Good Shepherd of Beverly Hills) and started out as a duo - just me and Dino, following the lead of Chad & Jeremy and Peter & Gordon, and both of us just playing 6 string acoustic guitars.

It wasn't long before we realized that having a drummer would be a good idea and we should "go electric" and proceed as a trio. We knew that Desi Arnaz, Jr. (in a younger class) could play drums and so we asked him if he wanted to start a group with us - we asked him during a lunch break out by the basketball court. He was happy to accept the role as our drummer (his older sister, Lucie Arnaz, was our classmate).

We played at local neighborhood parties and made $20 a show. I remember thinking - how do we split this equally?
Our rehearsals began at Lucille Ball's outside playroom and eventually moved to

Dean Martin's large den, that had a small riser for a stage.

Over time, we got better and better as musicians and singers. Jeanne Martin (Dean's wife) picked up the phone one day, called Frank Sinatra and told him that he had to hear us play - she thought we were really good.

We auditioned for Mr. Sinatra as he and Dean listened to us perform a few songs in the bar area of the Martin home - perfect, right ? There they sat - old blue eyes and old red eyes!

After the audition, Mr. Sinatra walked over and asked if we would like a contract on his label, Reprise. Of course, we gladly accepted his kind and generous offer.
We were shocked to learn that we wouldn't be playing on our first recording session but would have professional studio musicians record the tracks instead of us. This hurt our feelings, as we thought we were good enough to record for ourselves but didn't realize how things worked in the LA recording scene even though, apparently, it was commonplace, as we know today. I remember that Jerry Cole played guitar on our first two sides but I don't recall who the other musicians were. On subsequent recordings it shouldn't surprise anyone that the Wrecking Crew played on our sessions though, over time, Dino, Desi and I recorded and were incorporated more and more onto our tracks.

I don't think most people know that the first song we released was a dud, sold nothing and went nowhere ("Since You Broke My Heart" / "We Know"). I wanted us to record "Since You Broke My Heart" after I heard it on a Searchers' LP. I didn't realize at the time that it was written by the Everly Brothers - no wonder I liked it so much. The B side, "We Know," was pitched to us as having been "turned down by the Beatles," so we eagerly agreed to record it, since anything that even came close to being a Beatles' song was good enough for us. Even though we performed "Since You Broke My Heart" on the Hollywood Palace TV Show on November 28, 1964 (Tony Martin hosted and the broadcast was in black & white), it got little airplay.

In 1965 (I was 14 years old), our Producer and A&R man, Jimmy Bowen, brought in a young country gentleman named Lee Hazlewood to try his hand at producing us and it yielded our first and biggest hit, "I'm a Fool" / "So Many Ways". If I'm not mistaken, it went Top 20. Earl Palmer played drums and James Burton played guitar on "I'm a Fool". If I had to guess, I believe that Ray Pohlman played bass, though it *might* have been Carol Kaye -- sorry for the lapse in memory. But give me a break - after all, it's been 45 years !@#$%

It opened the doors for us to tour with the Beach Boys, Paul Revere & the Raiders, Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs, and many tours of our own in both the US and Canada. Over the next 4 years we recorded four albums for Reprise and had six songs that charted on the Billboard / Cash Box Hot 100.

As a result of the success of "I'm a Fool" (written by Red West - yes, THAT Red West & Shindig regular Joey Cooper), we appeared in countless articles and pictorials in Gloria Stavers' 16 Magazine, Tiger Beat, etc., and did all the relevant television shows of the day including Shindig, Shivaree, Hullabaloo, Sam Riddle's 9th Street West, the Lloyd Thaxton show, Where the Action Is, the Joey Bishop show, the Mike Douglas show, the Dean Martin show and Sammy Davis Jr.'s Thanksgiving Day Special for kids. We even made appearances on the Hollywood Squares and the Dating Game.

But the TV appearance that was the most important and memorable was the Ed Sullivan show. It was the first color broadcast of the Ed Sullivan show and we did it at the CBS studios on Beverly Blvd. / Fairfax in LA - not in the studio in NY, so it was historical on several levels.

We were also in the Matt Helm (Dean Martin) spy spoof flick "Murderer's Row" wherein we performed Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart's composition of "If You're Thinkin' What I'm Thinkin'" - one of our charted hits.

You can still see our RC Cola TV commercial on YouTube and filmed at the Hollywood Bowl:
But getting back to the main topic - I found out many years later that Red West had based 'I'm a Fool" on Elvis Presley's "Dont' Be Cruel". The titles even rhyme! When you compare the two songs you can see the similarities, especially lyrically in the first verse of each song:

"Don't Be Cruel" (Otis Blackwell / Elvis Presley)
You know I can be found
Sitting home all alone
If you can't come around
At least please telephone
Don't be cruel
To a heart that's true

"I'm a Fool" (Red West / Joey Cooper)
You know where I can be found
(Dontcha' know) I'll be waiting by the telephone, girl
While you're out running around, yea
I'm sitting home all alone
I'm a fool, just a silly fool
To be in love with you

I think it is very cool that Dino, Desi & Billy had this connection, albeit minimal, to Elvis.

Thanks for including "I'm a Fool" as a topic in your newsletter.
Billy Hinsche
Dino, Desi & Billy

Dino, Desi & Billy publicity photo taken on Dean Martin's tennis court
Photo credit: © Guy Webster circa 1968
Visit: and

Thanks again, Billy ... this is GREAT Stuff ... and I know that our readers will love it. (I never knew about the "I'm A Fool" / "Don't Be Cruel" connection ... amazing how even 40-something years later we're STILL learning new stuff about this great music that we love!) kk

Thursday, August 20, 2009

1969: And In Other Sports ...

The Cubs and The Mets weren't the ONLY sports story in 1969 ...

In addition to the Amazing Mets winning the World Series, you can't forget that it followed Joe Namath and the Jets winning Super Bowl III in January.


Ah, yes!!! Broadway Joe!

Actually, history has been rewritten to show the 1969 game as Super Bowl III ... but the truth is, this is the first year the battle between the NFL Division Leaders was actually CALLED "The Super Bowl", a phrase coined by Kansas City Chiefs Owner Lamar Hunt after reportedly seeing his grandchildren playing with a Super Ball! (NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle initially wanted to call the ultimate play-off game "The Big One" ... thankfully, the other league owners liked Hunt's idea better!!!)

The Championship Series was initiated as a means to help pacify the merger of The National Football League and The American Football League into one football dynasty forever after known as The NFL. The best two teams in each conference would play each other in the game designed to show COMPLETE supremacy in the sport of football.

The heavily favored Baltimore Colts won ten games straight that season behind the arm of quarterback Earl Morrall, substituting for an injured Johnny Unitas for most of the season. They finished the season 13-1 (and even that one loss was avenged when they shut out The Cleveland Browns 34-0 in The NFL Championship Game.) Even though Unitas was ready to play by Super Bowl time, Colts Coach Don Shula went with the guy who had gotten the team this far in the first place. (Morrall won The NFL Player Of The Year Award and threw 26 touchdowns that season!)

Meanwhile, The New York Jets, 18-point underdogs at game time, led by Broadway Joe Namath ... probably an even bigger celebrity OFF the field than he was on ... dominated the game after showing virtually no interest in preparing for it. Instead, he was seen out late partying with his flock of female fans or sunning himself by the pool. Namath was a footloose and carefree soul, often spouting off to the press and totally amerced in his own celebrity. But he DID promise a Jets victory ... and to this regard, he delivered. It's still considered to be one of the best Super Bowl games ever.

It's often said that when the truth and the legend collide, you should always print the legend. Such is the case with Joe Namath. Taking NOTHING away from his abilities or showmanship, the fact is that although Namath won The NFL / MVP Award that year, his season was uneven at best. (It was a running inside joke that in a loss to The Buffalo Bills, Namath threw SEVEN touchdown passes in that game ... unfortunately only four of those were to his own team ... the OTHER three were intercepted, allowing The Bills to capitalize on these mistakes and win the game!) While the memories may be golden, the truth is that this was pretty much the norm ... Namath threw more interceptions that season (17) than touchdown passes (15). But he kept his promise at Super Bowl time by delivering a Jets victory and, as such, has gone down in the annals of sports legend for his performance during that game ... despite the fact that he not only didn't throw a touchdown pass during the game, but, in fact, did not even attempt a single pass in the entire fourth quarter!!!

The popularity of football had been overtaking America's so-called "National Past-Time" for a few years already ... and, in during the 1969-1970 football season, the idea for Monday Night Football was born ... giving arm-chair quarterbacks one more opportunity to see their favorite teams play each week ... and the match-ups were typically geared with the ultimate sports fan in mind. (This new trend also gave birth to "Tuesday Morning Quarterbacks" ... and an AWFUL lot of sleepy Tuesday Mornings as millions of normally early risers stayed up WAY past their bedtimes to catch the end of the game!!!)

Major League Baseball was trying out new ideas to keep their fans interested, too. With newly-appointed Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn in place, discussion of the designated hitter first came into play in 1969 (although it wouldn't be adopted until 1973.) The general feeling was that baseball was becoming dominated by superior pitching ... perhaps the addition of another "clutch hitter" in the line-up would liven things up a bit and bring more excitement to the game. (The counter philosophy to all of this was that this change would take away one of the ultimate managerial skills of knowing WHEN to take a pitcher out of a game ... if he's pitching well, do you let him bat in the late innings or, if you're down a couple of runs, do you bring in a pinch hitter and go to the bullpen?) Ultimately, only The American League adopted the designated hitter rule ... although The National League abides by it when playing in American League ballparks now that inter-league play is part of the regular season ... as well as in the post-season.

Four new expansion teams were added to the major leagues that season: The Kansas City Royals and The Seattle Pilots (later Mariners) in The American League and The San Diego Padres and The Montreal Expos in The National League. With 24 teams now in existence, for the first time, both leagues were divided into two divisions, an East and West Division, now requiring a Play-Off Series prior to The World Series. (Baseball would expand again into THREE divisions, adding a Central Division in 1994.)

In other baseball news, former Yankees Great Mickey Mantle decided to hang things up before the start of the 1969 baseball season ... this after 18 years with The Bronx Bombers. On June 8th of that year, Yankee Stadium held a special Mickey Mantle Day when they retired his uniform #7. Mantle was named American League MVP three times during his illustrious career.

Speaking of baseball's greatest hitters, former Boston Red Sox Great, Ted Williams, was named manager of The Washington Senators that season as D.C. Stadium was renamed Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium. Although The Senators finished 23 games out of first place, Williams was STILL named American League Manager of The Year for improving the team's record by 41 games from the previous season.

Curt Flood made baseball as well as national headlines after the 1969 season when he refused to accept a trade from The St. Louis Cardinals to The Philadelphia Phillies. Appealing first to Commission Bowie Kuhn ... and then all the way to The Supreme Court ... Flood filed for what today is known as "Free Agency". Flood argued "After twelve years in the major leagues, I do not feel I am a piece of property to be bought and sold irrespective of my wishes. I believe that any system which produces that result violates my basic rights as a citizen and is inconsistent with the laws of the United States and of the several States.
It is my desire to play baseball in 1970, and I am capable of playing. I have received a contract offer from the Philadelphia club, but I believe I have the right to consider offers from other clubs before making any decision. I, therefore, request that you make known to all Major League clubs my feelings in this matter, and advise them of my availability for the 1970 season." Flood would not win his case ... and ended up sitting out the 1970 baseball season ... but the rights of players were forever changed after he took his stand in 1969.

And here's a little known fun baseball fact: In 1963, San Francisco Giants Manager Alvin Dark remarked during a post-game interview, regarding the consistently weak hitting by his legendary pitcher Gaylord Perry, "They'll put a man on the moon before HE ever hits a home run." On July 20th, 1969, Perry hit his very first major league home run ... literally HOURS after Neil Armstrong took his first step on the moon!!!

Meanwhile, two basketball legends squared off against each other in The NBA Finals that year. Bill Russell of The Boston Celtics and Wilt Chamberlain of The L.A. Lakers faced each other for the last time in this classic match-up, won by Boston in the seventh game after Chamberlain injured his knee and was unable to return to the court. It would be Russell's last year on the court. (In fact, his "official" status that season was Player / Coach.) Wilt The Stilt had only recently come over from The Philadelphia 76ers and fell right into form leading The Lakers to The Division Championship Series. (Nice of him to squeeze in some of those basketball games between his 10,000 bedroom conquests!!!)

In 1969, Boxing Great Muhammad Ali was still serving out his suspension from boxing as part of his draft evasion conviction a couple of years before. With Ali stripped of his title, Joe Frazier was crowned the new World Champ and in 1969 he defeated Jerry Quarry. (Both would prove to be fitting Ali nemesis when Ali returned to the ring the following year. In 1970, The State of Georgia allowed Ali to fight Jerry Quarry and in 1971 the first of the legendary Ali-Frazier Fights was held.) One of the all-time boxing greats, Rocky Marciano, passed away in 1969.

Another guy making headlines that year was young Mario Andretti, who won The Indianapolis 500. In fact, he won eight other races on the Indy Car circuit, won The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb and was named Athlete Of The Year by ABC's Wide World Of Sports. Ironically, despite winning The Daytona 500 in 1967, The Indianapolis 500 in 1969 and The Formula One World Championship in 1978, Andretti never again won at Indy.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

1969: Cubs - Mets (Part 2)

God, it was athletic poetry. Sadly, it was the last great hurrah. August 19, 1969, dawned hot and muggy in Chicago with the Cubs and Kenny Holtzman going head to head against the Atlanta Braves.
The Cubbies were so rich with new-found success that players were already talking about how they'd distribute play-off tickets. Keep in mind, this club hadn't been to a World Series since 1945. By the way, the last time I checked the meter, this club STILL hadn't been to a World Series since, uh, 1945. Hey, any club's entitled to a bad century.
How could you blame the Cubs for feeling like acne-faced, 12 year old little girls, screaming about The Monkees? Nobody west of Time Square thought the Mets, under the venerable Gil Hodges, had a chance in the old National Legaue East to catch up to the Cubs ... the gap was just too great. Cub Power wasn't just in vogue, it was becoming a way of life.
Sports Illustrated threw Ron Santo on a cover in July with the caption, "Chicago's Raucolus Cubs."
Do you remember the drive by Henry Aaron deep in sixth or seventh inning of that Cubs - Braves ballgame? The Hey - Hey man Jack Brickhouse, also the Godfather of my daughter, was behind the mic for WGN. Jack broadcast a number of no-hitters and thought he had another in his grasp until the Aaron blast. Brick actually said, "There goes the no hitter" as Bad Henry's fly ball appeared to be headed toward a face to face meeting with an apartment building across Waveland Avenue.
Now, this just had to be an act of God or ex-Cubs boss P.K.Wrigley. At the last instant, the ball just died ... flat out hit an invisible shield and was caught by Billy Williams in the "well" in left. You had to see it to believe it and I was fortunate enough to be part of the act.
As a young reporter, I was dispatched to Cubs park by the news department at WFLD TV to interview Holtzman. Kenny was obvioulsy thrilled. His blood pressure had to be running about 190 over 130. But I'll never forget his last few remarks to me.
"You know this is great," Holtzman told me. "But just imagine how our fans will react when we get to the playoffs."
So bring on the Titanic. Bring on the Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. The Cubs, as I recall, were 8 games up on the Mets following the day's action.
About three weeks later, they were Max Schmeling on the canvas after he rematched Joe Louis. The Cubs epic collapse took the life out of this city during a wonderful summer.
It also set the table for a lousy Bears club, a club that invented bad breaks and bad karma, to go 1 and 13.
The Cubbies, despite 92 regular season wins, weren't a winner. They were Norman Bates' mother in "Psycho."
Yet, to this day, that team is still beloved, deified by baseball fans in our town.
Ernie, Ron, Billy, Rebel Hundley, Fergie Jenkins ... they all deserved a better fate. It just wasn't in the cards. The Mets down the stretch were trip aces ... The Cubs were Jake La Motta getting pounded by Sugar Ray Robinson.
It shouldn't have been that way ... but it was ...
No reason ... it just was.
Still hurts.
Always will.
Chet Coppock
Thanks, Chet, for that account ... as only YOU could deliver it!!!
Don't forget to order a copy of Chet's brand new book, "Fat Guys Shouldn't Be Dancing At Half Time". More info here: Click here:

Hey Kent,
Love your new segment on the year of "69".
Being 12 years old back in that glorious year, I have many memories. I remember sitting in front of the TV watching Walter Cronkite when they landed on the moon. I went outside with binoculars to see the astronauts on the moon (what a dumbass I was, huh?).
But, I will say my biggest memory of "69" was the Chicago Cubs. Ernie Banks with his slogan for the year of " The Cubs will Shine in '69" had the Cub fans hoping.
The season started out so great with Willie Smith hitting a pinch homer in the opener and Jack Brickhouse letting out a huge " HEY-HEY that-a-boy, Willie".

(Not exactly a PC comment nowadays!).
Yes, the Cubs season was underway with a great victory!
And as the season went on, the victories continued ... the Cubs were in 1st place until September 9th, when on that night a black cat walked past Ron Santo in the on deck circle at Shea Stadium ... uh-oh, our lead was fading and now the dreaded black cat -- could this be happening? ...
Although the Cubs did win the game that night to stay in 1st place, that was the end and the Cubs would never see 1st place again.
A team called the Mets came from behind to overtake the Cubs and even go on to win the series. Cub fans still look back and say WTF happened!!!
Yes, the Mets, a team that lost 120 games their first year in the majors only 7 years earlier, go on to win the series.
Cub fans do have one good Mets memory from that year. A guy named Jimmy Qualls in a July game at Shea Stadium earlier that year broke up Tom Seaver's perfect game in the 9th inning with a base hit. The season ended and the hope faded, but hey, wait 'til next year!!!
Well, I've been a Cubs fan for 43 years and I'm still waiting for that year arrive.
Don't laugh, Met fans ... your boys aren't doing so hot this year either.
But all kidding aside, the Cubs and Mets have a great rivialry because of that year. Here it is 40 years later and we're still talking about it, the Mets fans for winning it and the Cubs fans for what might have been.

Mike Mertes
C'mon, enough already!!! Cub fans have been hiding behind the excuses of black cats and billy goats for DECADES now!!! Somehow they just seem to collapse under pressure ... yet they have always been OUR "lovable losers"!!!
Quite honestly, in 1969 they probably just burned themselves out ... their season PRIOR to September was exemplary ... they literally could do no wrong. Maybe they got a little over-confident? Maybe they just got tired. Maybe it just wasn't their year ... but a 17-game spread turn-around at the end of the season wasn't something you typically saw ... so the Cubs' collapse ... and the rise of The Mets became the focal point of the nation that summer.
Personally, I hated to see Tom Seaver lose his perfect game ... it would have just made for just one more incredible highlight in a pretty inexplicable season. (Ironically, outfielder Jimmy Qualls was only in the line-up that day because Cubs Manager Leo Durocher had benched regular outfielder Don Young for dropping a routine fly ball the day before that Durocher said his thirteen year old son could have caught!!!)
The bottom line is, The Mets' statistics for 1969 are truly nothing short of amazing. Dubbed by The New York Media as "The Lovable Losers", The Mets set the record for the most games EVER lost by a major league team in a single season when they dropped 120 games in their inaugural season. It's a record that STILL stands to this day, giving whole new meaning to the phrase "From Worst To First"!!! In fact, The Mets finished dead last in five of their first six seasons. Previously their best season (the first under new manage Gil Hodges) saw them finish sixteen games below .500. But, as mentioned yesterday, even these depressing statistics don't accurately paint the picture of just how consistently horrible they really were.
The Mets had never been more than two games above .500 during their first seven seasons ... and had never been more than ONE game over .500 past the first week of any previous season! And, quite honestly, 1969 didn't start out any more promising. The Mets lost their season opener to The Montreal Expos ... an expansion team that didn't even EXIST the year before ... that's right, a team that had never even played a Major League Game before came out and defeated our Lovable Losers! In fact, they lost seven of their first ten games. Meanwhile, The Cubs won their first four games and eleven out of their first twelve. Without question, they were shaping up as the team to beat.
Whereas The Mets didn't really have a "star" player in their line-up, the entire Cubs infield of Ernie Banks, Glenn Beckert, Don Kessinger and Ron Santo was named to The National League All-Star Team that season, along with catcher Randy Hundley. Their pitching staff included Ferguson Jenkins, Kenny Holtzman and Bill Hands ... and they had the great Billy Williams in the outfield! HOW could THIS team lose?!?!? At The All-Star Break, The Cubs held a commanding eight game lead over The Mets.
What The Mets may have lacked in offense, they more than made up for with an INCREDIBLE pitching staff ... and many of these "also-ran" position players had career seasons. Little by little, they whittled away at The Cubs lead ... and, when the dust finally settled, they pulled off a seventeen game turn-around, going from being 9 1/2 games behind to winning the division by eight games. TRULY AMAZING!!! (kk)

Hi Kent.
You asked for some Mets memories from 1969. I was only eleven, so don't have much.

I lived in Queens, and with my best friend, would take the bus into Jamaica, the E or F train to Roosevelt Avenue, then transfer upstairs to the Flushing Line to Shea. And we did this by ourselves!
We saved ahead of time to buy field level box seats for a doubleheader against the Cardinals that summer. Great seats near first base (I believe the tickets were $6.50). I can't tell you who won the games. About the only thing I remember is that Tommie Agee struck out five times.
The other doubleheader we went to was Banner Day, which we tried to go to every year. Between games, the fans got to go on the field with their homemade banners. They would enter in center field, walk across to home plate, then around the sidelines back to the outfield. Prizes were given for the best ones. Had to have been hundreds of people marching around the field. A lot of fun, actually going on the field. After the game we would wait around by the players parking area and get autographs as they left. Still have some of them.
Again, not much for you. We were just kids.
Also, have to give a mention of the Jets winning the Superbowl earlier that year.
Thanks, Rich ... yes, we'll cover some of the OTHER sports headlines of 1969 tomorrow in Forgotten Hits! (kk)

When I think of 1969 I can't help but think of the recent movie "Frequency". It's one of our top favorites, blending so many elements that I'm interested in. Heck, you have a hot woman, kids and bicycles, baseball, ham radio, cops and firefighters, time travel, imperfect people struggling to figure life out, some great acting - and the good guys win! (That's not a comment on the Series: I didn't have a favorite.) Too far off the beaten path for Forgotten Hits?
David Lewis

Not at all ... "Frequency" is one of OUR favorite recent movies, too ... and I had forgotten how big a part 1969 played in the film. (In fact, the Cleon Jones / shoe polish incident becomes a MAJOR part of the drama!!!) If you haven't seen this film, it's well worth renting ... it's also been playing on cable quite a bit recently. (kk)

Regarding The '69 Mets ... In those days, all the World Series games were played during the day, so that meant during school hours for weekday games. Normally, in my northern New Jersey high school, bringing a transistor radio to school was frowned upon, but the excitement surrounding the Mets in the Series that year was so high that for most of my classes I was allowed to listen to the game through my radio's earpiece and, at the end of each inning, update the score on the blackboard.
- Randy Price
I had forgotten about that ... being all day games, I mean!!! I guess I went to a pretty progressive school ... I remember the teachers having the radios on IN THE CLASSROOM ... Shop Class in particular ... so that we, too, could listen in to the games. The whole city was pretty much in a Cubs Frenzy for most of the season ... 155 days in first place will do that to a team that hadn't won a World Series in over sixty years!!! So when The Mets finally overtook the Cubs and headed into Post Season Play, we pretty much collectively went from frenzy to funk ... a LOT of people refused to watch or listen to the games at all! (Chicago's kinda like that!!! lol) kk

THIS JUST IN: I just found this posted regarding former Chicago White Sox Infielder (and Mets World Series Hero) Al Weiss ... sounds like a reunion is in the works for the '69 team ... and just look who's planning to attend!
Click here: Former Mets infielder Al Weis is always in the Spirit of '69

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

1969: Cubs - Mets (Part 1)

OK, before we go any further, there's probably something that you REALLY should know about me first ...

I have NEVER been a Cubs fan.

I discovered baseball ... and The Chicago White Sox ... in 1963 ... and have been a fan of this team ever since.

I don't even know what it is about the Cubs that made me not like them ...

I was never really part of any inter-city rivalry between the two clubs ...

(although, quite honestly, there DID seem to be some sort of unwritten law growing up in Chicago that you couldn't like both teams ... you had to like one or the other) ...

But, in all fairness, I can ALSO honestly say that nobody TAUGHT me to hate The Cubs ... or to like The White Sox ...

I just did!

In fact, I remember as a kid my Dad taking me to half a dozen Sox games and then insisting that we make just ONE visit to Wrigley Field so I could better appreciate the fact that Chicago was home to TWO major league teams.

I hated it ...

With a passion!!!

I STILL hate ANYTHING to do with Wrigley Field and that whole area ...

Not the LEAST of which is the parking situation.

Doesn't matter WHEN the game ends ... you can STILL be boxed in a parking lot for the next four hours while the patrons visit the neighborhood bars of Wrigleyville.

And when I say "boxed in", I mean boxed in ...

They literally have parked me rear view mirror to inter-locked rear view mirror ...

where there was absolutely NO way to get your car out without doing some type of damage to it.

To this day, I will ONLY go to Wrigley Field if The Cubs are playing against The Sox ...

And even then, I'll only go maybe once every three or four years.

Suffice to say ... quite emphatically ... I have NEVER been a Cubs Fan.

That being said ... the closest I ever came to BEING a Cubs Fan was 1969.

That was the year that they nearly won it all.

I had never seen them put a better team on the field. The line-up was nothing short of amazing:

Catcher Randy Hundley ... First Baseman Ernie Banks ("Mr. Cub" ... he of "Let's Play Two" fame back in the day when they regularly scheduled double-headers as part of the baseball season) ... Second Baseman Glenn Beckert ... Shortstop Don Kessinger (who would go on to manage The White Sox a few years later) and legendary Third Baseman Ron Santo. This was a Hall-Of-Fame caliber infield that for SOME reason (short of Banks) has managed to elude induction for all these years.

The outfield consisted of Billy Williams, one of the nicest guys in baseball, Don Young and Jim Hickman ... and high-quality reserves like Al Spangler, Willie Smith, Oscar Gamble and Adolfo Phillips.

And how about that pitching staff? Fergie Jenkins Bill Hands and Ken Holtzman ... between these three starters, they won 58 games that year ... and the team won 92 under the leadership of scrappy Leo Durocher. The bullpen was led by Ted Abernathy and Phil Regan and for MOST of the season these guys could do no wrong. Billy Williams and Ferguson Jenkins would ultimately join "Mr. Cub" Ernie Banks in The Cooperstown Hall Of Fame ... and Ron Santo STILL ranks as one of their greatest omissions. The truth is, they were nothing short of amazing ... but soon that very adjective ... and the division lead ... would move some 800 miles east and into the hands of The New York Mets.

How sudden and extensive was the collapse?

On August 19th, The Cubs held a 9 1/2 game lead over The New York Mets. Up to this point, The Cubs had spent 155 days in first place ... it was a foregone conclusion that they were the best team in baseball that year and were on their way to winning their first pennant in nearly 25 years. They started the season by winning 11 out of their first 12 games ... but once September hit, they dropped 17 out of 25 games (while The Mets went 23-7) and this ultimately sealed their fate. (In fact, The Mets won 39 out of their last 50 games of the season ... and earlier in the year had put together an 11-game winning streak!) When the dust finally settled, it was The Mets finishing over The Cubs by a margin of eight games ... a total spread of 17 games during the last six weeks of the season!

I cannot tell a lie ... there was a part of me that rejoiced at the collapse of The Cubs (as a number of Sox fans did ... you just KNEW they were gonna blow it!) ... and the outcome of this season has haunted the team ever since. (The Cubs hadn't made it to The World Series since 1945 ... and they STILL haven't; The Mets, on the other hand, had only been in existence for seven short seasons ... and literally went "From Worst To First" after being a complete laughing stock under previous manager Casey Stengel.) In 1962, The Mets lost 120 games, a record that still stands today as the most games ever lost by a major league team in a single season. How consistently bad were they? Incredibly, other than 1966, The Mets had NEVER been over the .500 mark in ANY season past the third game of the season prior to winning it all in '69! (To paraphrase Time Magazine, if, as they say, baseball is a game of inches, then The Mets were missing by YARDS!!!)

Their line-up wasn't really the stuff that legends are made of either ... I paid particular attention to former White Sox players Tommie Agee (one of my all-time favorites), catcher J.C. Martin and infielder Al Weis (now used primarily in reserve, Weis had hit a grand total of seven home runs spread out over the past ten seasons ... but then hit one in The World Series as a Met and became a national hero!!!), Cleon Jones (remember the shoe polish controversy?!?!?), Ed Kranepool, Bud Harrelson, Jerry Grote, Rod Gaspar ... hardly household names some 40 years later ... but the pitching staff boasted a couple of young newcomers named Tom Seaver and Nolan Ryan and, along with starter Jerry Koosman and relief ace Tug McGraw, The Mets put together a team ERA of 2.99. Led by Seaver's 25 wins, The Mets won 100 games that season. (In fact, Seaver one-hit The Cubs that season, too! Sports Illustrated Magazine named him Sportsman of the Year, 1969.)

Join us tomorrow as we present memories from the perspective of BOTH dugouts, as recalled by some of the fans who witnessed this incredible season! They'll recount their joy and jubilation ... or reveal some emotional scars that STILL haven't healed, even after 40 years.

By the way, former Cub (and White Sox) Don Kessinger recently wrote the forward to a book called "The Miracle Collapse of the 1969 Chicago Cubs" ... you can find it here ... interesting reading for sure if you're stuck in 1969 like WE have been all month long!!!

Click here:

Monday, August 17, 2009

More Of Your Comments

With all that's been going on here lately, our schedule is a little out of kilter right now ... but here are a few more of your recent comments:


From my book:
Friday, August 15-17, 1969, Bethel, New York
A three-day ticket was $24. With 400,000 people this should have raised $9.6 million. However, it was impractical to try to collect money, fans were climbing over the fences, and it became a “free concert.” The only revenues were from tickets purchased before the event, which amounted to $1.1 million.
Abbie Hoffman and Paul Krassner handed out thousands of fliers urging guests not to pay the admission fees. When Hoffman, Yippie and political activist, took the stage and grabbed a microphone, Pete Townshend literally kicked his ass, and he fell off the stage. Hoffman screamed at the Who, but no one could hear him because of the loud music.
(Actually, when he tried to climb up on the stage, Townshend butted him with the neck of his guitar, knocking him off the stage, all the while screaming "Get the fuck off my fucking stage!!!" lol WTG, Pete!!!) kk
To the attendees’ credit, there was no violence. The drugs of choice were LSD and marijuana, neither of which induces violence. If the chic drug were alcohol, it would have been an entirely different story.
Michael Lang: “You see how they function on their own, without cops, without guns, without clubs, without hassles, everybody pulls together, and everybody helps each other, it has been working since we got here, and will continue working when we go back. This thing is happening.”
The festival got off to rough start. The scheduled starting time was 4:00 p.m.. However, the performers were spread around in hotels miles from the site. Because of the traffic jam, the promoters were frantically contracting for helicopters to shuttle in the performers and supplies. But the helicopters were late. A four-seater finally arrived after 4 p.m.; it could handle only single acts. Lang had two choices: Hardin, who was drifting around backstage stoned, or Richie Havens, who looked ready. Three days of music started at 5:07 pm Eastern Daylight Time on August 15, 1969, with Richie Havens. Every time Havens tried to quit playing, he had to continue. The other acts hadn't arrived. Finally, after Havens had played for nearly three hours (!) - improvising his last song Freedom.

The most profound response during the movie: “What is it that the musicians have that they can communicate so well to the kids?”
Michael Lang: “Music.”
John Sebastian: “This is really a mind fucker of all times, man. I have never seen anything like this, man. Wow, just love everybody around you, and clean up a little garbage on your way out. There is a cat whose old lady had a baby, and it made me think that this really is a city. This is for you and your old lady, and whew, the kid is going to be far out.” (A more mature Sebastian had this to say about the Lovin’ Spoonful many years later: “We were accused of optimism. We did not want to have any part of ‘I kind of gave my toe in pop music, but I really have a concern for international affairs. We are entertainers. What kind of insight are you going to get from us? The protest movement was done well by Bob Dylan, but not necessarily by the second tier after him.”)
Woodstock did not launch any new music stars, but the festival, and especially the movie, did wonders for the fame of many of the groups (much more than Monterey Pop). This book’s survey showed that if there were no Woodstock movie, the portion of people who would have heard of Joe Cocker was 66%, Country Joe and The Fish, 48%, Ten Years After, 45%, and Richie Havens, 41%. There were quite a few other groups that remained obscure because they were not featured on the movie.
Arlo Guthrie got a boost from the movie, but was better more known than those above, largely from having a famous father.
Guthrie: “I don’t know like how many of you can dig how many people there are, man. Like I was rapping with the fuzz. Can you dig it? There are supposed to be a million and a half people here by tonight. Yeah, it’s far out, man.”
Country Joe McDonald believed that his fate was sealed right after he shouted: “Gimme an F.” McDonald said, “After the movie came out, that’s all I was known for. ... It’s pretty hard to top the ‘Fish Cheer.’ I don’t know if I can do that.”
Michael Lang, another of the organizers: “Financially, this is a disaster.”
Interviewer: “You look so happy.”
Lang: “I am very happy. You could not buy that for anything. It has nothing to do with money. These people are communicating with each other.”
Interviewer: “You have to make $2 million to break even?”
Lang: “The point is that it is happening, and that is enough for now.”
Yeah, right. Of course it has nothing to do with money for them, because they were not paying the $2.4 million ($12.0 million in 2004 dollars) costs to run the festival. If it had nothing to do with tangible things, there would be no sound system, land lease, food, water, restrooms, stage, paid musicians (all of them), security, etc. Jimi Hendrix was the top paid performer at $18,000 ($90,000), and the land lease cost $25,000 ($125,000).
Announcer: “It is a free concert from now on. We are going to put the music up here for free. The people who put up the money for it are going to take a bit of a bath, a big bath. They are going to get hurt. These people have it in their heads that your welfare is hell of a lot more important, and so is the music, than a dollar.” The financial backers had no choice.
When Woodstock became a “free” festival, this, of course, did not apply to the performers. When groups refused to go on stage without being paid their full fee (the groups had received a small amount up-front, but much less than the standard 50%), they were threatened by the promoters that an announcement would be made about the situation. The groups certainly did not want to be seen as greedy. However, the promoters also had reasons not to upset the crowd, including destruction of all the equipment (“peace and love” had its limits). The management of the Who held firm, and was paid the remaining $11,200 fee ($1,300 was paid in advance) with a certified check at 3:30 a.m., from financial backer Joel Rosenman. Michael Lang was nowhere to be seen, as he did not want to be bothered with paying the performers.
John Roberts was the individual who risked his own money to finance Woodstock Ventures, the business that funded the festival. Without him, there would have been no festival at all. Woodstock Ventures got into financial difficulty because there were two people spending money who had no incentive to control costs. Kornfeld’s promotional expenses were more than $150,000, 70 percent over budget. Lang’s production expenses had soared to $2 million, more than 300 percent over budget.
Lang recalled: “My idea was just to get it done, whatever it took. We had a vision, and it all came true. I made a decision that we needed three major acts, and I told them I didn’t care what it cost. If they had been asking $5,000, I’d say, ‘Pay ’em $10,000.’ So we paid the deposits, signed the contracts, and that was it: instant credibility.”
Woodstock Ventures paid bands money unheard of in 1969. Bands were reluctant to sign up with an unknown entity, but the big breakthrough came with the signing of the top psychedelic band of the day, The Jefferson Airplane, for the incredible sum of $12,000. The Airplane usually took gigs for $5,000 to $6,000. Creedence Clearwater Revival signed for $11,500. The Who then came in for $12,500.
Ventures spent $100,000 to clean the trashed festival site. Not many people heeded John Sebastian’s advice about picking up trash. A huge hole was dug and filled with tons of shoes, bottles, papers, clothes, tents, and plastic sheets, and was burned. The smoke that burned for days brought Ventures a charge of illegal burning from Bethel officials.
A local banker, Charlie Prince, went way out on a limb, extended $250,000 of credit to Woodstock Ventures at a crucial time. Because additional ticket revenues were not coming in, and some acts (Janis Joplin, the Who, and the Greatful Dead) refused to perform until they were paid, the festival could not continue without more money.
Roberts, Lang, Kornfeld, and Rosenman (the fourth of the organizers) had made personal guarantees to pay the bills. But only Roberts' family had enough assets to pay off Woodstock's debt, and did. Roberts' father and brother told the Wall Street bankers that they never had run out on debts and they weren't going to start now. The Roberts family paid off the debt.
The following were at both Monterey and Woodstock:
Stephen Stills; David Crosby; Country Joe and the Fish; Ravi Shankar; Janis Joplin; Jefferson Airplane; Jimi Hendrix; Canned Heat; Grateful Dead; Who
(in order)
Richie Havens

(the movie advertisement says that they were the first “band” to appear)
Bert Sommer
Tim Hardin
Ravi Shankar (55 minutes)
Arlo Guthrie
Joan Baez
Country Joe McDonald
John Sebastian
Keef Hartley Band
Incredible String Band
Canned Heat (rare obscure group with two lead singers, Bob Hite and Al Wilson; Wilson has the falsetto voice, and Hite the raspy one)
Creedence Clearwater Revival (11 songs)
Janis Joplin
Sly and the Family Stone
Jefferson Airplane
Joe Cocker
Country Joe and the Fish
Ten Years After
The Band
Johnny Winter
Crosby Stills Nash and Young (16 songs)
Early Monday morning
Paul Butterfield Blues Band
Jimi Hendrix (there were only about 30,000 people left for his performance)
Iron Butterfly was scheduled, but got stuck at the airport
-- Dwight Rounds
Good stuff, Dwight! Woodstock memories were ALL over the radio this past weekend ... incredible how "MAINSTREAM" this all has become some 40 years later!!! (We had planned to watch the whole thing again ourselves this past weekend ... but could never string together the necessary four straight hours to do so!!! But, MAN I love this film!!!) By the way, the website link to order Dwight's book is right here (kk):

This young man opened at Woodstock on Saturday. Be sure you read his bio first.
A rare one from Woodstock. A great song done by a guy from the cast of "Hair."
The other link is for the news story.
David Lewis

I'm intriqued by your teaser for the "Summer of '69" hits coming.
Looking forward to seeing this.
On the same note I went and visited the "Summer of 67" page you have up. Decided to give it an upgrade by posting ALL 50 B sides of the Chicago Summer of 67 hits at my website.
The songs are available in 5 zipped folders.
Now for the bad news. I have taken down the folders of the Top 200 B sides I made That is where I made all of them available at my web site for a short time. The "short time' has expired so the link at your page stating where to go to get them is no longer valid. But I hope I am making up for that with these Summer hits B sides.
Maybe I will do this same thing for the "Summer of '69" hit's B side when you come out with it. We'll see.
Lastly, since I am big into the 60's B sides, I would welcome anyone to come visit and grab some B sides at my Yahoo site "Bside45 - The B side".
Here is the description I use of the site:
"The B side of the vinyl 45 is an interesting genre. Some B sides got promoted to A sides and became hits or became a minor hit of their own. Others showed a different side of the artist. Some were instrumentals, or appeared on several 45s but never made it on a LP. Others were simply throwaways so the "writer" could share in the A side's potential royalties. This site will specialize in sharing and appreciation of the B sides of the songs that hit the top 100 during the 1960's for the most part but with a major emphasis on the Top 40.
I will try to add up to 10 songs every week from a radio station for a particular week's survey for that week in the 60's plus some scans of those B sides. It may not be the same as Billboard's chart for that week, but that is something that will be a good thing since local charts didn't match up exactly. Usually you will find a surprise or two on each chart. If the B side was either lucky enough or good enough to make the national top 40 it won't be included in the posting. Over time, I will probably be duplicating some songs. I'll try to vary the stations and years each week, but will keep the same time frame for that week and today's date."

For example, here are the B sides of recent week's posting from a chart. They are all from A sides that hit the top 10 on the same regional chart for that week in 1968. Can you name the A sides?
Rolling Stones - Child Of The Moon
Hugh Masekela - Bajabula Bonke
Doors - Love Street
Status Quo - Gentleman Joe's Sidewalk Cafe
Dells - Love Is So Simple
Cliff Nobles - Love Is All Right
Donovan - Teen Angel
Jerry Butler - Beside You
Bobby Goldsboro - She Chased Me
Steppenwolf - Everyone's Next One
Rich G
Cool, thanks Rich ... always nice to cross-promote some of these features. (And, in all fairness, I can't discuss B-Sides and NOT mention Mr. C's Flipside Show, airing Tuesday Nights at 7 PM Central Time ... you can Listen Live here:
Click here: The Flip Side Radio Show - Home
Meanwhile, here are links for our Favorite, Forgotten B-Sides List AND The Biggest Hits Of Summer, 1967, BOTH available on The Forgotten Hits Website:
Click here: Forgotten Hits - Your Top 200 Favorite, Forgotten B-Sides
Click here: Forgotten Hits - The Summer Of Love Countdown
The Top 50 Hits from The Summer of '69 will most likely wrap up our 1969 feature this month. (As I said, our schedule has become just a little bit hap-hazzard lately so we're still trying to work things out. Since we'll be in San Francisco this weekend, it's unlikely you'll see any postings for Friday, Saturday, Sunday or Monday at all ... unless we can sneak in our WLS Chart before we take off on Friday Morning!) kk

Thanks Kent for responding.

Sorry for thinking you made a mistake about Color My World.
That’s very interesting it was the B side for both records.
I have a few more favorite B sides that I would like to share.
1. Gotta Get Away / B side of We Ain't Got Nothing Yet - Blues Magoos
2. You Make Me Feel Good / B side of Kind of a Drag - Buckinghams.
It is also the B side of She's Not There by the Zombies
3. Make Up Your Mind / B side of Keep On Dancing - The Gentrys
4. Like The Seasons / B side of Happy Together - The Turtles
5. We Got a Groovy Thing Going / B side of Sounds of Silence – Simon & Garfunkel
6. Distance / B side of Sunday Will Never Be The Same - Spanky and Our Gang
7. Gonna Build A Mountain / B side of What Kind Of Fool Am I? - Anthony Newley 8. I Can't Explain It / B side of Hang On Sloopy
Thanks again.

If you check the link above, I think you'll see that a couple of these made our final countdown list, too ... and there are some on YOUR list that never even got mentioned. (We finally had to stop allowing nominations once we hit one thousand titles!!! lol) Anyway, thanks to the FINE representation we received from the music fans out there, I think our list has become pretty much the definitive ranking for the best B-Sides out there ... especially when coupled with our Top 200 Biggest Two-Sided Hits Of All-Time list! (kk)

Hey Kent,
So sorry to hear about Mark's passing. But just think, he's riding on the bus with Les Paul right now, picking up all kinds of guitar pointers for their great gig in the sky. Again, I'm so sorry.

Hope you had a chance to tune in my show on Friday night. At 9:30 I did a tribute to Les Paul. I played excerpts from my old-time radio convention where he appeared on my music panel in 1999.

DJ Stu Weiss

Kent -
I just heard that Les Paul passed away. He was one of the greats and definitely an innovator in the way the guitar sounds and is played.
He was playing clubs into his 90's and although arthritis was setting in he said, "If you only have two fingers to make a chord, you have to figure out a way to make that chord sound right."

He was an inspiration to a lot of guitarists ... including myself.
In 1965 he released an album called "Pickin' on the Beatles". Here are a few tracks from that release.
Keep up the good work, Kent!!!

I used to have that album, too ... but it disappeared over the years. Here's one of MY favorites from that LP ... Les' version of "She's A Woman"! (kk)

Les Paul - 1997 RIP
Click the Link to view on YouTube:
Small tribute to a wonderful guitarist and recording pioneer! I took this video in 1997 in NY. Les could be very funny onstage.
A George Manney film.
The family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Les Paul Foundation, 236 West 30th Street, 7th Floor, New York, New York 10001
George Manney

And, let's face it ... were it not for the fact that Les Paul invented double-tracking, we may have never even known about Gary Lewis!!! (lol) kk

Speaking of which ...

The information on Gary Lewis was very interesting. I especially like that original version of This Diamond Ring. If you've never read Al Kooper's books do yourself a favor and do so. He's a very funny writer with stories going back to the 50s and a great sense of the absurd in the rock and roll world.
Keep up the good work
Tim English
Al participates with us from time to time ... VERY knowledgeable and head-set on getting the facts straight ... which we REALLY appreciate here in Forgotten Hits. I've read one of his books and thoroughly enjoyed it. Sounds like he's been working on the brand new Charlie Gracie CD, featuring British Rockers Graham Nash and Peter Noone! We're still hoping to have either a track or a snippet from that to "sneak peek" to our readers in the very near future. Thanks, Tim! (kk)

No matter who sang it, my favorite Gary Lewis record is “Where Will the Words Come From?”

Aside from The Bee Gees / "Words" intro, this one always reminded me of a Beach Boys track ... I agree ... one of his better recordings. (kk)

Gary Lewis & the Playboys had seven great top 10 hits in a row. Flips like Little Miss Go Go and Without A Word Of Warning were also excellent.
There are two versions of Sure Gonna Miss Her. The hit version had more Spanish guitars and straight drumming. The other version had all sorts of drum rolls and was featured on some of the greatest hits albums.
Is that Hal Blaine on drums on both versions? I prefer the alternative version with the drum rolls.

I've heard both versions that you are talking about. My guess is that it IS, in fact, Hal Blaine handling the drums on both versions ... hopefully, we'll get a confirmation on this shortly. Thanks! (kk)


"Time Stands Still" (awful as it is!!!) most DEFINITELY proves that Gary is Jerry's son!!! (lol) I think we've covered this topic ad naseum at this point ... again, I urge EVERYBODY out there to check out this Wrecking Crew Documentary. It doesn't matter WHOSE music you fell in love with in the '60's ... odds are these guys were involved with it in some fashion!!! (kk)

I am happy to post a few of the images from Dennis Tufano and the Cryan' Shames performance, candids, and rehearsal on WGN-TV noon news from August 14,2009. I will post more on my site after they've been sent out to the media and Dennis has had a chance to see them. This was an appearance that was initially scheduled for a few months before and then had to be rescheduled. Sorry this event was not posted in the blog, Dennis' site or Twitter beforehand. All parties involved discussed it and thought it was better to wait until it actually aired before posting info that could have been subject to last minute changes. In the news business, "Stuff happens" and features and entertainment get pushed aside for breaking news which was also the case today of why you did not see an interview to go along with the great music! This was a great day for all! Special love, gratitude and Thank-yous to: Jan Hughes, Tom Barnas, WGN-TV staff, Steve Sanders and Tom Skilling for stopping by the set to say hello!
Here is the WGN-TV video again:
Submitted by: Linda Matlow - Publicist & PA for Dennis Tufano.
From the blog:

and, speaking of The Cryan' Shames ...

It has become my habit to sometimes try my hand at late night web surfing. On one of my recent nocturnal jaunts I came across your story about the Ides Shames Union.
As Toad quite elegantly noted, this was a band Dave Remedi and I helped organize. He was still with Columbia at the time and I had just left my partnership with Frank Rand and Bob Destocki. As such we had been the managers of The Ides of March.
The Ides dissolution left several great musicians without gigs. They tried other bands and even other occupations, as did I. However we all seemed to gravitate back to music.
It was at that point the idea of The Ides Shames Union burst forth. One of the hardest things for a new band to develop is some sort of name recognition and following that would make it saleable. With a new group featuring key members of two of Chicago's most successful groups we felt we had a good start.
Now on to the recording question. Actually that was one of the motivating forces behind the project. Both Dave Remedi and I felt we could sell this group and their songs to a major label. Back then we were quite young and delusional.
However we did spend several hours recording at Marty Feldman's Paragon studios. You will not find tracks attached to this Email. Nor will you hear the postman ringing your bell to deliver a CD or even a tape. And although Alzheimer’s seems to have found a home with elderly musicians at least managers and record promoters always remember recording sessions. That being said, I have no idea where the tapes are.
Yet as Tony Bennett always says, "thanks for remembering".
John Galobich
Thanks for writing, John ... great to hear from you. So now the quest begins to find these tapes!!! Maybe YOUR memories will spark a memory or two from some of the other guys involved with this band!!! (And, of course, if we DO track down some of the material from these sessions, you can count on hearing it right here in Forgotten Hits!!!) kk

Hi Kent ...
Just finished reading Bob Greene's new book "Late Edition". I say everybody should read it. Tells about his love for the newspaper business. When JFK got shot, Bob was still in school. He wrote an article about it and brought it to newspaper office, hoping to have it printed in the next days paper. That didn't work. He fell in love with newspapers then. He went from copy boy, to sports writer, to reporter. I told him he was lucky to find out at such an early age, what he wanted to do with the rest of his life. Sad to note that a lot of newspapers are going out of business. Most people get news from the Internet. Some young people have never bought a newspaper. I told Bob if he ever lost his job, he can go back to touring with the Surf City All Stars.
Frank B.

I haven't had time to read this one yet ... been brushing up on all my 1969 facts lately!!! But I have every intention of picking up a copy ... actually, it'd probably make for an interesting read on the flight back and forth to San Francisco! (kk)

re: ELVIS:
With all the mention of Chips Moman in today's FH, many people forget that he and Toni Wine ("Groovy Kind of Love" ... "I'm gonna make your life so sweet") have been married over 35 years and live here in Nashville.
David Lewis
I did not know that. Both have enjoyed incredibly successful careers in music. (kk)
So ... did the whole world start as recently as 1969 ... or have you bought into the general radio theme of when "oldies" started?
John Rook

No, not at all ... actually, we've been saluting 1969 all month long here in Forgotten Hits ... everything from the Moon Landing to "Hair" to Woodstock to Elvis and The Beatles ... this week, we'll be looking back at the collapse of The Chicago Cubs and the incredible rise of the Amazin' New York Mets. But you're right ... MOST of oldies radio today, if they play Elvis at all anymore, seems to focus on his 1969 Hit "Suspicious Minds" and his 1972 Hit "Burnin' Love" and that's about it ... completely ignoring (save for special weekend programming) the first 108 titles he placed on Billboard's Top 100 Chart. And, to make matters worse, Billboard themselves seem to be short-changing The King these days, too ... with so much focus now on the anniversary of "The Hot 100" (which officially kicked off in 1958), they've eliminated eleven of Elvis' earlier #1 Records ... including landmark tunes line "Heartbreak Hotel", "Hound Dog", "Don't Be Cruel", "All Shook Up", "Teddy Bear" and "Jailhouse Rock", all topping the charts prior to the name change from "The Top 100" to "The Hot 100". This hardly seems fair ... YEARS ago it was universally decided that "The Rock Era" began the week that Bill Haley and the Comets reached the top of the charts with their huge hit "Rock Around The Clock" ... now we've eliminated all of 1955, 1956 and 1957 and half of 1958 from the record books!!! This includes MAJOR hit records by early rock pioneers like Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Fats Domino, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Everly Brothers and countless others.
We always seem to have the debate here about what's an oldie and what's NOT an oldie ... some will argue that nothing after the arrival of The Beatles constitutes a REAL oldie ... others will say "How can you include Disco in the oldies category?!?!?" MOST feel that nothing beyond 1980 belongs ... honestly, the debate will go on forever ... it used to be that anything 25 years or older was considered an oldie ... but that brings up back to 1984. Quite honestly, these days it's rare to hear ANY "oldie" that pre-dates 1964. If we're willing to make this 1984 concession, however, I don't think that we should just eliminate and ignore the songs and artists that LAUNCHED the whole rock era in the first place. Such an exclusion would simply be sacrilige!!! THESE are the guys who spawned the whole "Rock" genre!!! There's nothing wrong with "adding to the list", I suppose ... but NOT at the expense of each NEW entry allowing you to eliminate an OLD entry.
Yes, "Suspicious Minds" was big ... but NOT as big as the 1956-1958 Elvis Hits listed above. Most would agree that THAT's the REAL Elvis Presley!!! (kk)

Hey Kent,
When I saw today's post with all the Elvis stuff, I remembered that I had found this track on the internet a few years back. It's from an Elvis convention or show from the time when that tour with his musicians played along with videos of him performing, do you remember when that was?, I forget what year, but, Lisa came out and sang along with the video of Elvis, ala Natalie Cole Unforgettable, and someone in the audience recorded it. The sound quality is not great and you can hear people talking also, but it's a nice thing and done way before Lisa did any formal recording of her own.
Yes, I remember this ... I had a much cleaner copy at one point but can't seem to find it now. There was all kinds of talk about this coming out as a duet ... and I believe a video was done, too ... then it just disappeared. (Probably not the way Lisa Marie wanted to launch her career.) Her debut album really wasn't bad ... it just wasn't all that special either. It, too, has long since disappeared (soon to be a collectors' item, perhaps???) kk


You never hear these:
Short Shorts : The Royal Teens

Ballad of Davy Crockett : Fess Parker
Summertime Summertime : Jamies
Honolulu LuLu : Jan & Dean
George Vorndran
ALL big hits that rarely receive airplay today. And, since "Summertime, Summertime" has come up a few times here lately ... and since summer is almost over ... we'll feature THAT one here today! (kk)

Here's an almost forgotten one ... considering this made it to number 15, we should hear it more often. I'm talking about "Talk Talk" by The Music Machine.
Thanks again for keeping FH looking so good (and relevant) while all the other stuff's been happening to you guys.
David Lewis
One of those heavy, garage-band tunes from early '67, "Talk Talk" was a Top Ten Hit here in Chicago, where it reached #8. (Who knows ... it just may show up on one of our up-coming WLS charts!!!) Personally, I'm not so sure this one has aged all that well!!! But it certainly WAS a hit ... so we'll feature it here today, too! (kk)

Hi Kent,
Have a great thought for a Forgotten 45 ... "Does Your Mama Know" by Bobby Taylor and the Vancouvers ... Thanks!
Jim Shea
Not a very BIG hit ... or even necessarily a very GOOD one ... "Does Your Mama Know About Me" peaked at #29 in Billboard in 1968. I'm sure that you already know this ... but Tommy Chong (from Cheech and Chong fame) was a member of this band ... and Bobby Taylor is the guy who REALLY brought The Jackson Five to the attention of Motown. (It was later decided that Gladys Knight ... and then Diana Ross ... should be given the credit since they were much better-known names!!!)
Knew about Tommy ... did not know about Bobby and the Jacksons ... good stuff! Thank you Kent!

In 1968, The Jackson Five opened for Bobby Taylor and the Vancouvers right here in Chicago at a club called The Regal Theater. Taylor was blown away by Michael's stage presence and after the show, by convincing Joe Jackson that he personally knew Berry Gordy and could arrange an audition for his boys with The President of Motown, persuaded The Jacksons to return with him to Detroit that night after the performance. (The Jacksons had already had some local success in and around Gary, Indiana, with a record they made for Steel Town Records and were already driving their audiences wild when they opened for bigger name acts here in the Midwest ... but the opportunity to audition for Motown was just too hard to resist!)
Taylor then videotaped the group (with Michael doing some of his best James Brown moves) and sent the film off to Berry Gordy, who was out in California at the time. Gordy called back IMMEDIATELY and said "Sign these boys up!" (In fact, Bobby Taylor produced some of the very first tracks The Jackson Five recorded for Motown Records.)
Gordy next put them out on the road as an opening act for Gladys Knight and the Pips, who began introducing them as her new discovery. (Evidently Bobby Taylor and the Vancovers ... with their one modest "Forgotten Hit" ... was no longer considered a big enough deal to fuel the publicity machine!)
However, by the time The Jackson Five had their first hit record ("I Want You Back") and were ready to appear on The Ed Sullivan Show, Gordy had engineered things so that his girlfriend Diana Ross could take credit for the boys' discovery ... in fact, he even made sure she was seated in the audience that night so that Ed could have her stand up and take a bow when he introduced her from the stage!!! (Of course by this point, Gordy ALSO shaved two years off of Michael's age ... making him appear to be an even GREATER young singing sensation than he really was! lol)
Taylor was eased out of the picture once Gordy set up "The Corporation" to handle the writing and producing of The Jackson Five's material. History has been rewritten in such a way as to exclude him completely from The Jackson Five Story ... glad to pass this information along to help set the record straight!

I have two questions that perhaps your amazing group of experts can answer:
1. Up until some time in the '50's, songs had a distinct ending. Then suddenly rock songs started to have "fadeaway" endings where the last line(s) were constantly repeated while the volume gradually reduced to nothing. Who was the first to do this? Is there a good story about this?
2. Also in the 50's songs started to be recorded in something like an echo chamber. Who was the first? Many of Elvis' first recordings had this sound but I assume others did it before him. What can your experts tell us about this?
Keep up the great work!
Steve Davidson
Well, I don't have any immediate answers to these ... but these are very interesting questions that have NOT been asked before, so thank you for that!!! Let's put it out to the list and see what kind of responses we get! Thanks, Steve! (kk)
I also put your question to Jerry Osborne, he of the all-knowing Record Price Guides that have become such a huge part of all of our lives!!! Here's a quick answer from him to get the ball rolling ... we welcome input and suggestions from our OTHER readers as well:
An hour later and I would have missed your mail, as I am headed for the Seattle airport, then on to music conventions in Nashville and Memphis. These questions have not come up before, but I might use them down the line.
>>>Up until some time in the '50's, songs had a distinct ending. Then suddenly rock songs started to have "fadeaway" endings where the last line(s) were constantly repeated while the volume gradually reduced to nothing. Who was the first to do this? Is there a good story about this?
Without the benefit of any time for research, the first one that pops into my mind is "Milkcow Blues Boogie" (Rec. 12/54). As for charted hits, "Mystery Train" (Rec. 7/55) might be the one.
The VERY first R&R tunes, "Rock and Roll" (Paul Bascomb, 1946); and "Rock and Roll" (Doles Dickens Qunitet, 1948); "Rocket 88" (Jackie Brenston & His Delta Cats, 1951); "Crazy, Man, Crazy" (Bill Haley & Comets); as well as both sides of the first two Elvis Sun singles, all end "cold" (i.e., abrupt).
Oh yes, the two "Rock and Roll" titles noted are completely different songs. Both clearly predate "Rocket 88," for those who are keeping score.
>>>Also in the 50's songs started to be recorded in something like an echo chamber. Who was the first? Many of Elvis' first recordings had this sound but I assume others did it before him. What can your experts tell us about this?
Known early on as "double tracking," then later as "reverb," the first hit, and a No. 1 at that, which comes to mind is "Hey There," by Rosemary Clooney (summer '54).
Hope other readers will add any earlier ones in these two categories, but, like the first couple on the dance floor, these will get the ball rolling.
Hey Steve, you might see your questions show up in Jerry's weekly newspaper columns ... or, at the very least on his incredibly insightful website! You can learn all kinds of fascinating little-known facts here:
Click here: "MR. MUSIC"

Hi Kent
Still enjoying all the columns and comments - you all do a wonderful job.
I have a question. Do you or anyone else know if there is a cd available that only has 60's dance craze songs on it, such as the twist and the pony, mashed potatoes, etc. I'm having a 60's party for New Year's and would like to run a dance contest for just the dances. Let me know if there is such a thing
I remember a few years ago a couple of Dance CDs coming out (of questionable authenticity I might add) that spotlighted some of these dance crazes. The series was called "30 Top Teen Dances" and featured literally EVERYTHING you're looking for: The Twist by Chubby Checker, The Locomotion by Little Eva, Mexican Hat Rock by The Applejacks, The Stroll by The Diamonds, Mashed Potato Time by Dee Dee Sharp, Pony Time and Limbo Rock by Chubby Checker, The Madison by Al Brown's Tunetoppers, The Bristol Stomp by The Dovells, Willie and the Hand Jive by Johnny Otis, The Wah-Watusi by The Orlons ... even The Bunny Hop by Ray Anthony. (Other titles included Peppermint Twist by Joey Dee and the Starliters, The Duck by Jackie Lee, The Jerk by The Larks, Walking The Dog by Rufus Thomas and even The Monster Mash by Bobby "Boris" Pickett!!!) Too bad somebody hasn't thought to release a LEGITIMATE series like this as I believe there definitely is a market for it. (Surprisingly, we found a listing on for the first of these CDs ... which should get you just about everything you need for your party!!!) If you hurry, you just might be able to get your hands on a copy before they pull it off the market! (kk)
Click here:
Thanks so much for your help - I went to the web site and was able to order one. Thanks again!

I've been researching the song Frankie and Johnny, which was also named Frankie and Johnnie & He Done Me Wrong. I am in the process of compiling a CD of all the artists that sang the song. I would think that there would be a list somewhere. So far, I have 43 versions, mostly country, but of course not all of them. The odd part is that out of all these Artists, I can find only 3 Female Artists (so far). Mae West, Lindsay Lohan, and Ethel Waters.
The song itself also has a hazy beginning, although it evidently was written in the early 1800's. Can you tell me where I could find a list of Artists, especially female artists that sang the song, or if you've ever researched the song itself.
Thanks very much.
Arnold Kirkbride

I personally have never researched this song but I'm sure the information is out there somewhere. (A COMPLETE list??? I dunno about that! With a song like this that dates back that far, that's quite a challenge. In fact it's doubtful that you could track down a copy of every recorded version with this one!) But hey, let's put it to the list and see what they come back with ... at the very least, we should be able to get you another dozen suggestions of female recordings for your collection. (We did a similar piece on the song "Stagger Lee" a while back ... in fact, you can find "The Story Behind The Song" on our website):
Click here: Forgotten Hits - THE STORIES BEHIND THE SONGS


I'm really enjoying your series on Woodstock which reminded me of the "Super Bowl of Rock" here at Soldier Field in the mid 70s. I didn't get to attend myself but understand there were some big acts like the Stones and Pink Floyd to mention a few. I wonder if some of your other readers remember this. I don't see much on the internet.
Dave / Hoffman Estates
I absolutely remember the promotion (although I don't specifically remember The Stones being involved.) Hopefully some of our local readers will respond with some details on this one. (These types of shows became very common attractions in the late '70's and early '80's ... but I personally never attended one!) kk

Well, here's proof that "Be A Lover" by the Dana Sisters exists and that's the real title and artist. Still need to find the record number.
--Ron Smith,s,w,p,b,v&results_pp=20&start=1 If anybody out there can help with this information, please contact me so that Ron can complete this entry in his History Of The Chicagoland Radio Charts. Thank you very much! (kk)
Bill Merrill of Saturday Night Oldies told me that he had sold a copy of Be A Lover by the Dana Sisters and that the label number was Kedlen 2003.
Ed Erxleben

Kicking off tomorrow in Forgotten Hits ... a look at the 1969 Chicago Cubs ...
and the New York Mets!