Saturday, January 16, 2010

Helping Out Our Readers: The New Colony Six

>>>With regards to "The New Colony Six", I recall them being on some of the shows we were on when touring the midwest. At the time I guess I paid them no real attention as we were intoxicated with what we were about and the business at hand. As of late I've been Youtubing, listening to their songs, and I have to say that they had some kickass songs. Whoever wrote them had real skills, and the harmonies are spot on. So you can chalk up some sales of their CD's to me. All of this writing is of course my humble opinion. (Alex Valdez / Yellow Balloon)
>>>For some reason, the impact of The New Colony Six seems to have been diminished in hindsight over the years ... but during the '60's, they scored more Top 40 Chicagoland Hits than ANY other local act ... an incredible 17 in all ... and they STILL sound great today. And these guys wrote ALL their own songs ... pretty impressive indeed! (kk)
Please send my kudos back to Alex – always did love the time change in their eponymous single, Yellow Balloon, and their harmonies as well. Please extend thanks from Gerry, Ronnie, Les, Chuck, Chic, Pat and me since, as you know, we all took our share of writers’ credits. Stay warm; take care of the crew and thanks, as always, for keeping me (and thousands of others – tens of 1,000s?) informed and entertained through FH.

Wishing a prosperous New Year for all of us,
Ray Graffia, Jr. /
The New Colony Six

Hi Kent -
I've got a question that's probably been covered here before at some point. A friend of mine me a song via email by The New Colony Six entitled ''Someone's Waiting For You''. I'm a huge NC6 fan but I'd never heard this lovely song before. Could you or some of our readers give me some particulars on this tune. What year was it recorded, lead singer, record label, group personnel at the time, etc.
This is my all time favorite group of the late 60's but I have no knowledge about this song.
Help please!! Thanks to all!
Happy New Year and Rock On!
I'm not familiar with a song by The New Colony Six with that title ... but I think the song you're referring to is most likely "Never Be Lonely", one of their last singles. Originally released as the B-Side of "Long Time To Be Alone" when the single was first released on Sunlight Records (1004), it got a fair amount of airplay on WBBM-FM back when it was a soft-rock station. T
he song was originally done by The Boyz, another local Chicagoland band. When The New Colony Six got picked up by a major label in the early '70's (MCA Records), that single, "Long Time To Be Alone" / "Never Be Lonely" was released again (this time as MCA 40215) but on this go 'round the sides were reversed and "Never Be Lonely" was promoted as the A-Side. Great track ... but it never officially charted. Here in Chicago, "Long Time To Be Alone" (one of their very best ballads ever) reached #13 on the old WCFL Chart ... and, if I'm not mistaken, it was a Top Ten Hit in Hawaii, too, allowing the band to travel there for some live appearances (and one heck of a vacation!!!)

First released as a single in 1971 on Sunlight, the band at the time consisted of Gerry Van Kollenburg on guitar, Chuck Jobes on Keyboards, Billy Herman on Drums, Pat McBride on percussion and, on this one, the beautiful lead vocal of Ronnie Rice. From here, the line-up gets a little muddy. Conversations with a number of the NC6 band members (and with band historian Jerry Schollenberger) only made things MORE difficult to understand!!! (You'll see our notes on tracking this information down for you at the end of this piece ... but I've gotta warn you ... even with a scorecard it's confusing as hell!!! lol)

Reportedly new onboard was Bob Wilson, formerly of The Boyz, who had written and first recorded "Never Be Lonely" (which is how The New Colony Six came to be in possession of this great song.) He also wrote their 1970 Hit "People And Me" ... but, his tenure in the band is suspect at best ... while researching this piece I was told that he ... "WAS" ... "was NOT" ... and "was for about a heartbeat" ... an official member of the band. It sounds to me like he may have been supplying them with material but was never "officially" a band member. (More of this is explained below!)

The only OTHER title I can think of that you might be thinking of is "Someone Sometime", their last charted hit. (#109 Billboard, #19, WCFL, 1972.) It's a much more up-tempo tune, written by new member Skip Griparis (whose unreleased NC6 track "Muddy Feet On The Mississippi" became all the rage here in Forgotten Hits a year or so ago when it was released on the "Signs" / rarities CD.)

Just to be sure that ONE of these is the song you're referring to ... and in an effort to avoid any further confusion ... as well as appease some of the many OTHER New Colony Six fans on the list ... I'm featuring ALL of these tracks here today!!!

I mentioned the other day that we once did a month-long tribute to The New Colony Six here in Forgotten Hits. Here are some excerpts from that piece as they pertain to these specific tracks:

Their next release, "Long Time To Be Alone", just may be the prettiest ballad the band EVER recorded. In fact, now comparisons to artists like Bread would be the ultimate compliment. It was Ronnie Rice's crowning moment as lead vocalist, eclipsing all of his otherwise excellent performances on record. (If any Ronnie Rice vocal is capable of bringing a tear to your eye, this is the one that'll do it ... and it's also one of his personal favorites ... yet for some reason he refuses to perform it today!)

This one absolutely should have been a MONSTER ... yet it tanked at #93. Again, WLS passed on the single, but WCFL played it enough to rank #13 on their Top 40 Chart.

JERRY SCHOLLENBERGER: When I put together the "Colonized" CD for Rhino Records, the Greatest Hits CD, I got more mail about "Long Time To Be Alone" than any other track on the CD. People just LOVED that song and many were hearing it for the very first time. It was, by far, the favorite, most singled-out track on the whole album.

And the flip side was nearly as pretty. "Never Be Lonely" didn't really get much airplay when it was first released as the B-Side but, a few years later, the single got picked up by MCA Records and they flipped it over and made "Never Be Lonely" the A-Side. I remember hearing this one quite often on WBBM-FM, the soft-rock station at the time. Both songs are amongst the best examples of latter-day New Colony Six ballads and BOTH deserved a far-better fate than they received. (Incredibly the band was doing their best to SHAKE their ballad-image ... when clearly it was their greatest strength at the time.)

FORGOTTEN HITS: What's the New Colony Six song that SHOULD have been the hit ... should have been noticed?

RONNIE RICE: As far as record-wise you mean?

FH: Yeah, what's the one that SHOULD have been given the chance?

RR: "Long Time To Be Alone", I think, should have been a great New Colony hit. I don't know if it ever really had the potential. I love the song. I mean, it did get a minimum amount of airplay here at home. On WBBM-FM. And unfortunately it goes to show you that even with legitimate hits, it was still hard to get something played on the radio. But ultimately it's up to the people ... the audience ... they're the answer. If you hear something twice on a radio station, you know whether you like it or not ... or whether it continues to grow on you. But if you just get a minimum amount of exposure, that can make it or break it. "I Will Always Think About You" is a great example. When you get a record that's debuted at 3:00 in the afternoon and it's the #1 Request of that evening, what does that tell you? So that shows you that "Long Time To Be Alone" did not have that behind it 'cause if it DID have it, it would have been a hit, too.

FH: Now that's funny because in talking to Jerry Schollenberger, once the Greatest Hits CD came out, he got more mail about that one song ("Long Time To Be Alone") than ANY other song on the album ... as people were discovering it for the very first time.

RR: Now that's interesting. I've always loved "Long Time To Be Alone" and maybe it just didn't get enough airplay, who knows.

FH: But that kind of surprised me ... because when the people bought the Greatest Hits CD, that's the one they latched on to ... because they HADN'T heard it before ... it never got the airplay it should have gotten. People who were buying the Greatest Hits CD were buying it for the songs that they knew ... yet they were blown away by this one ... a track many of them probably hadn't heard before. I think "Long Time To Be Alone" could still be a hit today if given a chance.

RR: Well, you never know ... there are exceptions ... sort of like TV shows that need the time to grow on you .. I don't know ... maybe that WOULD have been a bigger hit if it were given a chance. "I Will Always Think About You" and "Things I'd Like To Say" were IMMEDIATE hits ... I mean, a week later, "I Will Always Think About You" was #1 in Louisville. So why didn't "Long Time To Be Alone" catch on with the amount of airplay it got ... maybe it just needed a little more airplay. It'd be nice if someone did it over again.

FH: Well, they actually did that right? I mean, it first came out on Sunlight and then a while later MCA picked it up and put it out again. Were they trying to give it another chance at being a hit?

RR: Yeah, it came out again, but as a B-Side.

FH: Yeah, they plugged "Never Be Lonely" instead the second time around, which is also a great song.

RR: Yeah, Bob Wilson wrote that, too ... and "People And Me".

DIDJAKNOW: Despite its lack of success on both the Chicagoland and the national charts, "Long Time To Be Alone" was a Top Ten Record in Hawaii!!! In fact, our FH Buddy Clark Besch found a couple of Hawaiian Charts from KPOI to reflect the success of this record and their earlier hit, "Roll On", each of which performed better in HAWAII than they did here back home in Chicago!!!
I was just going thru deleting emails from the past two weeks and found the one from the weekend asking for Hawaiian charts with the NC6 song! OOPS! I forgot and it got buried by the time I got home Monday. Anyway, HERE they are! Note that "Roll On" set the stage with its' charting near (or in) the top 10 on KPOI. A few months later, "Long Time" was at least #4 (see last week position here) on KPOI. Hawaiian top 40 stations played some cool FH's judging by their charts, especially in the 60's. Obviously, the NC6 were known, by the chart I sent with "Can't You See Me Cry" also. One FH fave I spot on the 72 chart is "Daisy Mae" by Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds -- a great tune.

(click charts to enlarge)

Signed back up to a major label, The New Colony Six would release one more single for MCA Records. (Prior to this release, Sunlight Records issued another single as well.) Unfortunately, neither one made any real impression on the national charts and, by late-1973 / early-1974, the band called it a day.

After a virtual revolving door of band members (Rice left to resume his solo career, Bruce Gordon joined on bass ... guitarist John Camelot came on board ... Rick Barr picked up the drums ... a young singer / songwriter named Skip Griparis, who would go on to much greater heights as a comedian and sometime-movie actor, wrote and sang their final two recording efforts) ... and even band historian Jerry Schollenberger can't provide the names of ALL of the band members who passed through The Colony those final two years ... in fact, he mentioned to me that at one point, they actually hired a girl lead singer, (ala early shades of Rufus and The American Breed!!!) By the time it was all over, only Gerry Von Kollenburg remained from the original band line-up conceived nearly ten years before. But what a track record they left behind here on the Chicagoland charts ... 17 Top 40 Chicagoland Singles.

FORGOTTEN HITS: You had 17 Top 40 singles here in Chicago but only two National Top 40 Hits. Does that bother you in hindsight? Do you feel you got a fair shake?
RAY GRAFFIA, JR.: We may have only had two national Top 40 Hits, but lots of them hung around the Bottom 60 for weeks and weeks and weeks! We spent (according to rock historian and major Colony fanatic, Jerry Schollenberger) 198 weeks on the national charts without ever hitting #1. Does it bother me? Not really - I was pretty happy with our success. I figure you can't really miss what you've never experienced, so without having done Ed Sullivan's show, I didn't miss it, but, in retrospect, it sure would have been nice to have had the national success.

Their last two singles were really pretty good records, but by then, nobody was listening. "Someone, Sometime" became a #19 hit here in Chicago on WCFL (again, WLS ignored it) and "bubbled under" on the national chart at #109. Their last release, "I Don't Really Want To Go", sounds a lot like the kind of stuff that bands like Poco and artists like Nick Lowe would soon be releasing ... maybe The New Colony Six were simply ahead of their time ... or, more likely, they had failed on a national level so many times that, by now, most radio station programmers never even gave the record a spin. Too bad ... it's a nice little pop tune ... and definitely worth a listen here today!


Sunlight 1001 - Roll On / If You Could See (1971)

Sunlight 1004 - Long Time To Be Alone / Never Be Lonely (1972)

Sunlight 1005 - Someone, Sometime / Come On Down (1972)

MCA 40215 - Never Be Lonely / Long Time To Be Alone (1974)

MCA 40288 - I Don't Really Want To Go / Run (1974)

In trying to sort out the "official" New Colony Six line-up circa 1971 - 1973, we consulted with band historian Jerry Schollenberger (who also called Ronnie Rice, Gerry Von Kollenburg and Skip Griparis). I also personally talked to Ronnie Rice and Drummer Rick Barr. Between ALL of us, here's what we were able to come up with (confusing as some of it may be!!! lol)

Here is ALL the info that Skip Griparis left on my answering machine last night regarding the NC6...

(1.) Skip says that he WAS NOT in The New Colony when the songs "Long Time To Be Alone" and "Never Be Lonely" were recorded. Skip states that he did not officially join the band until the end of 1972. (Something doesn't add up here, since the 45 of "Someone Sometime" was released in April 1972, which Skip co-wrote with Billy Herman, and also sang lead on.) However, Skip also said that he "unofficially" wrote songs for the New Colony (as well as recorded with them) prior to "officially" joining the group. It's possible that Skip DID write and record "Someone Sometime" before he actually became a member of The New Colony Six.

(2.) Skip (vaguely) recalls the band member line-up on the recording (besides himself) of "Someone Sometime" to be: Chuck Jobes (organ), Billy Herman (drums), Bruce Gordon (bass), Gerry VanKollenberg (lead guitar), and Pat McBride (who sang harmony along with Skip's lead vocals).

I called Ronnie Rice this morning to ask him if he was involved in the recording of "Someone Sometime". Ron told me that although he was still a member of the band at that time, he was not on that recording.

Ronnie also told me that he couldn't remember who the other band members were when they recorded "Long Time To Be Alone" and "Never Be Lonely".

One last thing to mention ... contrary to previous reports, Bob Wilson (writer of "Never Be Lonely") apparently never was at any point, a member of the New Colony Six. Reports now say that Bob only wrote songs for the group.

So there you have the scoop, Right from the horses' mouths.
This era of the New Colony Six is still as clear as mud to me. A lot of unclear and conflicting facts STILL remain.

Jerry Schollenberger

Ronnie told me that, to the best of his knowledge, Bob Wilson was never officially a member of The New Colony Six ... he was a friend of the band and, as such, gave them access to a couple of songs that he had written. (Sounds like today Bob is the principal at a school down south ... good for him!) Skip Griparis had a similar arrangement ... as a friend of the band (and a member of a group called Trinity, who Pat McBride was working with as a side venture through his production company), Skip "donated" a couple of songs for The Colony's catalog. He didn't join the band until later and then did so at Ronnie Rice's reccommendation ... it sounds like Ronnie "hand-picked" Skip as his own replacement once he had decided to resume his solo career!

Skip wrote some GREAT tracks for The New Colony Six (and had a great voice and unique guitar style, too.) One can only wonder what other hidden gems might be sitting in the vaults somewhere ... when "Muddy Feet On The Mississippi" was unearthed a couple of years ago, it became all the rage here in Forgotten Hits ... a GREAT "woulda, coulda, shoulda been a hit" type track!

I also talked with Rick Barr, the band's current drummer, who did a few sessions with the band back in the early '70's. He, too, was part of Trinity ... and it sounds like Trinity handled most of the backing tracks on The New Colony Six hit single "Roll On"!!! (Who knew?!?!?)

FORGOTTEN HITS: Hi Rick! I'm hoping that you can help me with this New Colony Six Timeline ... Everybody's memory seems to be a little foggy ... and everybody I've talked to remembers things slightly differently.

Were you with the band yet during any of the Sunlight Recording Sessions? When did you come onboard? We're trying to pin down the line-up at the time of these sessions ... but it sounds like the band members were still changing during this era. Obviously, Ronnie Rice was there for "Long Time To Be Alone", as he handled the lead vocal on this track. I've heard that Bob Wilson ... was ... was NEVER ... and was "for about a heartbeat" ... a member of The New Colony Six ... but since he wrote both "Never Be Lonely" and "People And Me", I'm assuming he had to have SOME connection with the band. (Didn't he also sing "Never Be Lonely"??? And, if not, whose vocal IS that??? And how did he come to be associated with The NC6, being in a "competing" band?)
[Editor's Note: Ronnie Rice told me that HE sang "Never Be Lonely", a BEAUTIFUL song that should have done much better than it did. In fact, he said that nothing would please him more than to see someone re-record both "Long Time To Be Alone" and "Never Be Lonely" as he feels BOTH songs still have enormous hit potential. And I've got to agree with him!]

By the time of the last Sunlight recording, "Someone, Sometime", Skip Griparis seems to have been a member (and lead singer) since, I believe, he WROTE this song. Other names that seem to fit this time period are Gerry Van Kollenburg (he was there from start to finish), Ronnie, Skip, possibly Bob, YOU, Bruce Gordon, Billy Herman, Chuck Jobes and Pat McBride. (This adds up to a whole lot more than "Six"!!! Lol)
[Editor's Note: Ronnie Rice told me that by the end it had gotten ridiculous regarding the number of musicians involved with the band ... he said that on some nights there were more people up on stage than there were in the audience!!! New Colony Thirteen anyone?!?!? lol]

Skip says he was writing songs for The NC6 before he was actually a member ... and denies BEING a member for "Someone Sometime" (but clearly that's HIS song and him singing, right???) Ronnie says he was still a member of the band at this point but does not appear on this recording. (In an earlier conversation he had told me he had already left to go solo by this point.) Even "Roll On" is confusing ... Billy Herman WROTE the song ... but reportedly Pat McBride sings it (with Ronnie Rice handling only the middle eight) ... yet I think at one time you told me that YOU played the drums on this record (which is REALLY bizarre since Billy Herman was a drummer!!!) Was Billy already gone by the time the band decided to record this song?

Obviously, I'm VERY confused ... but want to get the facts straight ... you know me, we're ALWAYS trying to present "the most accurate truth possible" ... and that's been somewhat difficult this time around, as it seems that everybody remembers things differently. I talked with Jerry Schollenberger (who knows the band's history better than THEY do) about this and even he agreed that this period in the band's history is about as "clear as mud" ... even HE didn't know for sure ... and he confirmed that he's heard different stories from different members at different times over the years. (Meanwhile, Bruce Mattey says that HE did a number of "uncredited" recordings with the band, too!!! But he's never been specific as to which tracks he's on ... and it sounds like this would have been more during the "Attacking The Straw Man" era.) So I don't know WHAT to believe!!! Anyway, I'm hoping you can shed some light on this ... I would really appreciate it!!!

RICK BARR: The mystery is really simple. Skip Griparis, Bob Wilson, Kevin McCann and Tom Richards were Trilogy. Trilogy was managed by Sanctuary Productions, which was owned by Pat McBride and a partner.
[EDITOR'S NOTE: Ronnie Rice told me that he had also invested some money in Pat's production company and that while not real successful, McBride WAS able to place a few artists with various record labels at the time.]

So, both Skip and Bob wrote songs that Pat shopped to The New Colony. "Someone Sometime"’s lead vocal I believe to be Pat McBride, 'though Skip’s wonderful 4-octave voice is definitely on the chorus harmonies. Bob Wilson wrote "Never Be Lonely" back in about 1965 and recorded and released it with his band at the time, The Boys. The Colony recorded it in about 1969 or 1970 and released it as a single a few years later. "People And Me" was also written by Bob, and figured strongly in Trilogy’s set list.

"Roll On" WAS written by Billy Herman. Pat McBride was again on the lead vocals, with Ronnie on the bridge. I did play drums on the session, which was essentially the Trilogy line-up. There was some discord in the Colony organization at the time, and they relied on us for the band track on both "Roll On" and its original flip side "Come on Down", which is also the flip on some copies of "Someone Sometime" — or, at least it is on a copy I have. The Colony and Trilogy shared a lot at the time, with Pat McBride producing, Brian Christian engineering and various other common players and writers. I do think I recall that on the "Roll On" session, everybody and his brother is in on the final choruses, including Brian Christian, all sort of circling around one mic in the center of the studio, laughing, vamping and generally having a really good time. "Roll On", by the way was The Colony’s 4th biggest hit, reaching #54 in Billboard, and though I don’t remember a lot of airplay in Chicago, it did very well in many markets, and really helped the band’s industry position for a few additional years. "Roll On" was recorded in January of 1971, and released that summer, which was the plan all along, since it’s a summer song — sand and sun and even a puppy, for heaven’s sake.

I joined the band in ’73, playing on the final release “I Don’t Really Want To Go” and its flip side “Run”. We disbanded in 1974, only to regroup in 1988.
Gerry Van Kollenburg was in the original lineup. Bruce Gordon joined early on, replacing Wally Kemp, and Chuck Job — fantastically talented and creative guy — joined early on replacing Craig Kemp — whom you saw at the Bolingbrook show sitting in with us as the original keyboardist on “Last Night”. Wally was there at the Colony party you attended, playing and singing great. He’s the one who still knew all the arrangements. I had heard Bruce Mattey was asked to join the band and did so, but soon thereafter received an offer to join the Robbs, whose hit “Race With The Wind” was getting national airplay, so he went on the road with them.
So, there you have it — as much as I can contribute. I have very few photos of the period. I was too dumb to think to document that great period, working with all those talented and wonderful people. I do have a few from the final date in 1974, and I’ll see if I can dig them up.

Hope that helps. If anything more comes to mind, I’ll let you know. In the meantime, best to you and yours in 2010.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Helping Out Our Readers: With Two Barry - Barry Big Number One Hits From The '60's!!!

Hi Kent,
I seem to remember Barry McGuire's "Eve of Destruction" all over the radio in 1965 and this prompted me to go out and buy the 45. It reached #1 on the Billboard chart during the week ending September 25th, yet it doesn't show up on any of the WLS charts. I've read that, at the time, some radio stations had banned the song. Would you or any of your readers know if WLS banned it, or that it just didn't reach the top 40? I've also read that WCFL held a contest called "The Battle of the Barrys" where listeners called in and voted between Barry McGuire's "Eve of Destruction" and Barry Sadler's "Ballad of the Green Berets" (a little Vietnam politics), so I assume WCFL played it. I don't know if it placed on the WCFL charts. Any help with this "not so Forgotten Hit" and WLS?Thanks ...
Frank (Chicago)
ps. After thousands of votes, Sadler was supposed to have won by one vote!

WLS passed on "Eve Of Destruction", despite it going all the way to #1 on the national charts. (WCFL wasn't playing Top 40 yet in the Summer of '65 so this wasn't even an option.) I, too, remember the song receiving a fair amount of local Chicagoland airplay ... and on The Top Tunes Of Greater Chicago Chart (which was distributed at local record stores all over the area), the record reached #8. (Since this chart wasn't tied to a specific radio station at this time, this would have been more a reflection of SALES, meaning you weren't the ONLY one in town buying this single! And let's face it ... record stores wouldn't have STOCKED the single unless SOMEBODY was playing it ... and buying it. As I recall, this was probably more of a WIND thing!)

I remember my Mom loved the tune, too, and Barry McGuire's whole persona. We featured the story behind the Barry McGuire tie-in to The Mamas and The Papas a while back in Forgotten Hits ... and just recently featured "The Dawn Of Correction" by The Spokesman, an "answer song" written by FH List Member John Madara. As for the "Battle of the Barrys", I'm not familiar with that one ... but WCFL did all kinds of crazy things like this back then so it's entirely possible!

Apparently S/Sgt. Barry Sadler's hit, "The Ballad of the Green Beret", WAS considered "politically correct" enough to receive airplay on WLS ... it ultimately peaked at #2 on The Silver Dollar Survey in early 1966.

Here's some more on this topic, '60's FLASHBACK style:

A topic that seems to come up from time to time here in Forgotten Hits is the subject of Protest Songs ... with America entrenched in yet another seemingly endless (and pointless) war, several of our readers have suggested that "Eve Of Destruction" may once again be the most appropriate song of the day.

Back in 1965, after Barry McGuire topped the pop charts with his rendition of the P.F. Sloan anthem (our buddies The Turtles ALSO recorded this tune), songwriter John Madara felt compelled to voice his OWN opinions as to the current state of affairs, circa 1965. He quickly assembled his songwriting partner David White (along with WIBG DeeJay Ray Gilmore ... who, by the way, is now working as Sean Casey in Boston) and went into the studio and cut "The Dawn Of Correction" ... and released it as a brand new single by The Spokesmen. In no time at all, the record started climbing the charts, eventually peaking at #22 in Cash Box Magazine.

We couldn't help but wonder ... in hindsight ... with The War in Viet Nam escalating ... and more and more opposition to the war rising at an even FASTER pace here at home at the time ... what John's thoughts were now, some 40-years after the fact.

FORGOTTEN HITS: Obviously "Dawn Of Correction" was a quickly-put-together "Answer Record" to "Eve Of Destruction" ... and these types of records seem to have not only a short "shelf life" when it comes to relevancy, but also have to come out almost IMMEDIATELY on the heels of the other hit record to make any sense at all. Did you first try to place it with any other artists or was it just quickest and easiest to go into the studio and cut the record yourselves to get it out right away?

JOHN MADARA: We wrote the song on a Wednesday, recorded it the following Monday, and it was released by the end of the week. We did not have an artist at the time to record it, so we did it ourselves. We did take a positive stand with our lyrics and tried to answer Barry McGuire's statements in his lyric.

FH: LOL ... yeah, I guess that qualifies for "immediacy"!!! (lol) Your record was a very "positive" record as to the state of the country at that time ... or at least it STRESSED the positive aspects of what we had accomplished as a country. Did you catch any flack for that ... war protestors were really just first coming into the spotlight at this time.

JM: We had positive reactions and negative reactions. One of the reactions was when the Spokesmen worked with the Byrds on the Hollywood-A-Go-Go TV show. After we performed the song, we were hanging out later on with David Crosby and the Byrds and David said to us, "Do you guys really believe that shit you're singing?" Also, we could not perform the song on many of the TV shows that we did, i.e., Shindig, American Bandstand, etc.

FH: In hindsight, when the War in Viet Nam was deemed to be a war we couldn't win ... and probably some place we shouldn't have even been ... did you have any regrets or change of heart regarding recording this song? (By then, it was probably, at best, a "forgotten" novelty track ... but I mean did you PERSONALLY have any regrets?)

JM: In 1966, after recording Joey Heatherton for Decca, we started dating for the next two years, and I was invited in 1966 to go on the Bob Hope tour to Vietnam with Joey. I always felt a little uncomfortable about the lyrics. After the trip to Vietnam, I saw what our soldiers were going through and how much the war made no sense at all. I definitely had some personal regrets with "The Dawn Of Correction" lyric. When we wrote the song, we were never for the war, we were just for America, and we felt that "The Eve of Destruction" was a slap against America. Because of the anti-war sentiment, "The Dawn of Correction" was obviously taken the wrong way.

We dug a little deeper into Barry McGuire's career during our Mamas And Papas Series several years back. Here's a short excerpt from that:


Folk-club pal Barry McGuire got The Mamas And The Papas their first audition with producer Lou Adler and Dunhill Records. That fateful day, they performed "Go Where You Wanna Go", "Monday, Monday" and "California Dreamin'". (Ironically, these songs would become their first three singles!)

Lou Adler had never seen or heard ANYTHING like them before. (He literally could not believe his eyes and ears ... hence the title of their first album.) He pretty much knew he needed to sign them right away before any other label in town had the chance. Although the final details needed to be worked out, he asked leader John Phillips what he wanted in order to sign and John replied, "I want a steady stream of money coming from your office to my house." The truth was, The Mamas And The Papas were broke ... down to their last ten dollars.

Adler said that he would hire them to sing backup vocals on Barry McGuire's new album, "This Precious Time", as a means to earn some money until they were ready to start their own recording sessions. As more of a favor to earn him some songwriting royalties, McGuire also cut one of John Phillips' own compositions, a little tune called "California Dreamin'". The arrangement and backing track were IDENTICAL to the one eventually released as The Mamas And The Papas' version. In fact, they simply removed Barry McGuire's vocals, inserted their own, and replaced what was once a harmonica solo with the flute solo we all know and love.

Phillips supposedly begged McGuire not to release his version as a single so that HIS band could have a chance at the song. McGuire agreed, stating that, after all, it was John's song in the first place. It turned out to be a career-making decision for both artists involved. Truth was, Barry McGuire was having a hard time getting airplay after "Eve Of Destruction" ... the song was controversial and had been banned by many radio stations around the country ... yet STILL sold well enough to hit the top spot on the charts.

McGuire would never have another Top 40 Hit ... but "California Dreamin'" launched the careers of The Mamas and the Papas.

BTW: Barry McGuire had some pretty impressive help on his first few solo recordings. Not only did The Mamas and the Papas sing background on his "This Precious Time" album, but the backing group on his hit single "Eve Of Destruction" was none other than fellow Dunhill group The Grass Roots! (kk)


I asked WLS Disc Jockey (and then Program Director) Clark Weber what he remembered about the discussions that ultimately led to the decision that Barry McGuire's "Eve Of Destruction" would not be played on the radio station. In that WLS was all about appealing to their "teen audience", I wondered what other circumstances may have contributed to this decision ... after all, Protest Songs were a big part of the '60's Music Scene. Here's what he told me:

Hi Kent;
I remember the song and the situation that it engendered quite well. I was the program director at WLS and placed the song on our playlist. The uproar that it created was almost immediate. Sponsors both big and small began calling and complaining about the song. VFW and American Legion groups were furious, and I have no doubt that both local and national Democrats had a vested interest in trying to keeping it off the air. President Johnson ordered the troops into Viet Nam based on a bogus confrontation with alleged North Viet Nam gunboats in the Gulf of Tonkin, an election was coming due and they wanted to be seen as no nonsense protectors of the world. ABC was also mindful of the fact that the FCC was controlled by the Democrats and they didn’t want to stir up a hornets nest.
Remember that cards, letters and evening phone calls on the WLS switchboard were the only way in which the teen listeners could voice an opinion. There were no on air call in’s. As a matter of fact, the DJ didn’t even have a phone in the studio. At the time our 17 year old high school switchboard operator was Ed Schwartz (who later became Chicago Eddy Schwartz) and I had him keep tabs of the yea's and neigh’s when we pulled it. As I recall, the kids were pretty evenly split on the ban ... however Schwartz took time to write me a note saying that he personally felt it was wrong to take it off the air.
Paul Harvey’s studio was on the next floor and I saw him in the hall on day and he expressed satisfaction with it being taken off the air saying it was the most unpatriotic song he had ever heard. My personal feelings at the time were that we were wrong to get involved in that war. The last time the Democrats beat their war drums I wound up in Korean waters in the Navy for 3 years, 11 months and 14 days and we lost over 34,000 GI’s.
The uproar lasted not more than two or three weeks and I don’t believe it hurt our ratings although I have no proof of that. What it did do was cause talk among the kids about the WLS ban whether they agreed or disagreed with it. We had the same situation with “They're Coming to Take Me Away” and “Rhythm in the Rain.”
I hope this fills in some of the blanks.

Thanks, Clark! For the record, WLS DID jump on Barry McGuire's follow-up single ... and "Child Of Our Times" went to #25 later that year. (I remember my Mom having this 45 ... WITH the Picture Sleeve ... which is now in my personal collection.) After a successful stint with The New Christy Minstrels (his voice is QUITE distinctive and really stands out on their early hits "Green Green" and "Saturday Night"), McGuire soared to the top with "Eve Of Destruction" and then pretty much disappeared from the charts. As stated above, he was instrumental in getting The Mamas And The Papas signed to Dunhill Records, and that fact alone should be considered a MAJOR musical accomplishment in ANYBODY's book. As we discovered some years ago when we last covered this topic, he's still out there performing and recording. You can visit his website here:

Click here: ...

In fact, you'll see that he has several live appearances coming up! Barry McGuire ALSO has an AMAZING website called Trippin' The Sixties that you'll want to add to your favorites immediately. It's the kind of site that'll have you coming back day after day after day to see the latest updates. Obviously, Barry has a GREAT affection for this music that was the '60's ... and it REALLY shows here on his website. Click here: Trippin the Sixties

I'm hoping to be talking with Barry McGuire in much greater depth once he gets back from his overseas tour ... and you can count on reading ALL of that right here in Forgotten Hits! In the meantime, here are a few words from Barry himself for all of our FH Readers:

Hi Kent,

I'm on the road for two weeks, home for two weeks from February 2nd through 16th and then gone again for six weeks to Australia / New Zealand until April 1st. In the meantime, if you and your readers would like to check out my show site, you'll see that there are several videos on the Video page, and we're updating the "On This Day" page daily. You'll find tons of stories and photos of our on the road adventures on the Blog page - just have a browse around and it'll give you an idea of what I'm up to these days. You'll also find my show schedule there and see that a lot of my old albums are now available for digital download from the Store page.

The new show is called "Trippin The Sixties." I'm working with a dear friend of mine, John York, (The Byrds.) We've done about 70 shows in the last two years all over the world. The show has a new website,, that I know everyone who goes there will really enjoy browsing around. John and I have just recorded a new album called "Songs from the Kitchen."
That's about it for now. Looking forward to talking more with you once I get back,


Meanwhile, that OTHER Barry ... as in S/Sgt. Barry Sadler ... had one more chart hit when "The 'A' Team" peaked at #18 in 1966. He was discharged from military service after severely injuring his leg in a booby trap while serving in Viet Nam. When his music career stalled, Sadler began writing adventure books and over twenty titles were published over the next several years. (It was later disclosed that Sadler had written only the first couple of these while the others were "farmed out" to a variety of writers who published their work under Sadler's name.)

The REST of his civilian life wasn't quite as exemplary ... and, after all the fame associated with him thanks to his military career, he didn't exactly die a "hero".

In the late '70's Sadler shot and killed Country And Western Songwriter Lee Emerson in his own driveway. He pled guilty to voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to four to five years in prison ... but only served thirty days. In 1988 he was shot in the head during what was reported to be an attempted robbery at this Guatemalan home. (One report I read said that he was shot in a taxi.) The circumstances surrounding this shooting have become the subject of much speculation and rumor ... yet another unsolved rock and roll mystery! In addition to the most commonly believed robbery story, there are also reports circulating that Sadler committed suicide, that he accidentally shot himself while showing off to a female companion and that he was assassinated for allegedly training and arming the Contras. (According to his companion at the time, he had been training Nicaraguan counter-revolutionaries and had been receiving death threats.) Whatever the circumstances, Sadler remained in a coma for several months after the shooting, ultimately dying of heart failure in 1989. The New York Times official obituary reported at the time that "the cause of death was not given" and that "an autopsy would be performed." The obit goes on to read that "Mr. Sadler had been hospitalized since he was critically wounded in what a companion said was a robbery. The companion said at the time that Mr. Sadler had been training Nicaraguan rebels in Guatemala and had received death threats."

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Rock And Roll Fantasy: The Three Greatest Acts That Never Were ... And Why They Deserve To Exist

More like a HARD ROCK CAFE without hamburgers!!!

A few weeks ago, Y103.9 DeeJay Jim Shea asked me if I would publish his Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Essay in Forgotten Hits ...

Absolutely, Jim!!!

(Incredibly he addresses Gary's VERY comment ... received THIS MORNING, by the way ... in his piece!!!)

Here you go!

The Three Greatest Rock Acts that Never Were ...
And Why They Deserve to Exist
By James Shea

“Next to the Sex Pistols, rock and roll and that hall of fame is a piss stain. Your museum. (sic) Urine in wine. We’re not coming. We’re not your monkeys. If you voted for us, hope you noted your reasons. Your (sic) anonymous as judges but your (sic) still music industry people. We’re not coming. Your (sic) not paying attention.”

-The Sex Pistols, after hearing of their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction in 2006 (Sprague)

Let us begin by agreeing that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio, its millions of patrons, and all of its sponsors do not represent a giant piss stain.

And let us also set aside the irony of a band taking a figurative public leak on the very institution that was welcoming and honoring them for, among other things, taking several very public leaks (packed with real urine goodness) on their adoring fans.

Let us also agree that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is not just a Hard Rock Café, minus the overpriced food. Actually, they just started serving overpriced food last week (rim shot here).

Seriously, there is a temptation to dismiss any sort of discussion regarding the relative merits, influence, and legacy of anyone and anything, from rock stars to badminton players, as subjective and silly.

Let us agree that Rock Music is important, Rock History is important, and getting it right is very important.

The people at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum seem to think getting rock history right is very important. The Hall’s mission, as stated on their website is “ … to educate visitors, fans and scholars from around the world about the history and continuing significance of rock and roll music.”

It is interesting to note, in contrast, a mission statement on the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s website: “ … to honor excellence.” The people at the Rock Hall make no mention of honoring excellence or even technical proficiency. The music industry often awards gold records to those who make lots of money. The Rock Hall website is conspicuously devoid of any words describing the inductees as good for business (ironic, considering that if Elvis and the Beatles had just made wonderful music, and hadn’t made tons of money, there would be no Rock and Roll Hall of Fame). They only describe them as “legendary”. So we must, for now, live with a system with no quantifiable criteria for induction (like baseball batting averages). An act is legendary merely because the people at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame arbitrarily say it is legendary.

To that I say: we’re not gonna take it; never did and never will.

Imagine, if you will, that somebody got the bright idea that there should be a US President’s Hall of Fame. Sure, the first class of inductees would be Washington, Lincoln, Kennedy, and Reagan. Sure, all the Jefferson and Roosevelt fans would scream bloody murder, and then sober up and realize that if the US President’s Hall of Fame’s mission statement included something about education, that the omission of any President, for any reason, even the impeached pair of Johnson and Clinton, would compromise the museum’s historical accuracy, and therefore, its mission.

Granted, the analogy is not perfect. A President’s Hall of Fame that omitted William Henry Harrison would probably only be depriving the public of a good lesson about the value of zipping your lip in a monsoon. Also, I don’t think that a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame that omitted a moderately successful and otherwise nondescript disco-era act like Chic, or a politically inert Euro Pop phenomenon like ABBA would invalidate its historic, legendary vision, or ruin its credibility with rockers. Although it should be noted, for grins and giggles, that both Chic and
ABBA were “nominated”, but only ABBA had enough support to gain induction.

The exact nature of the support needed to gain induction (and just what a political crapshoot that can be) will be addressed in a moment. For now I come to the heart of my argument: that there are three legendary acts in rock and roll, all of which present a body of work so historically and financially significant, that rock historians who do not include it, who do not embrace it, who do not recognize it as legendary, have created a history that is mere rock and roll fantasy.

Can you sell 115 million albums worldwide (Ruhlman) and not be a legend?

Yes, according to the people at the Rock Hall. Neil Diamond still awaits his rightful place in rock history, despite the fact that, now pushing seventy, he still maintains the ability to get a 20 thousand seat, sold out venue, literally rocking.

In 2008, Neil Diamond ranked 7th on the list of top concert grosses with $81,206,383. (Toscano) Needless to say, you can’t just show up at age 70 and be a rock star. You have to have a significant history. Neil Diamond’s history is a
scholarly essential; rich and illustrative of his era, dating back to the legendary Brill Building, where he honed his craft alongside some of the best rock and roll songwriters of all time.

Diamond has written several rock songs (“I Thank the Lord for the Night Time”, “Cherry Cherry”, “Sweet Caroline”) that will be played on radio as long as it remains a vital medium. And to those who say he’s merely a crooner, not a rocker, remember that ABBA just got inducted.

If you have ignored the legend of Neil Diamond, the man who wrote I’m a Believer, then it would logically follow that you would also ignore the group that, in singing it, created a representative slice of the golden era of rock and roll: The Monkees; Mickey Dolenz, Michael Nesmith, Davey Jones, and Peter Tork had as stunning and fleeting a ride on the rock and roll roller coaster as has ever been seen. It truly was stunning, because nobody believed that there could be a four man band that would make everyone stop talking about the Beatles, even for one moment. And it was fleeting, because the Monkees chose to incriminate themselves in order to expose the carnies controlling the ride.

True, the Monkees added only vocal to their early work, the same as many Motown groups like the Temptations (enshrined in 1989). The Monkees also were not all proficient in the instruments they appeared to play on television, but this is just another way of saying that they created something in the studio that could not be faithfully reproduced live on stage.

Understand that using hired musical guns soon thereafter became the norm for top groups of that era: the Beach Boys (enshrined in 1988), the Doors (enshrined in 1993), and yes, The Beatles (enshrined 1988); who showed class by refusing to pile on in the Monkee beat down. John Lennon likened their humor to the Marx Brothers, and George Harrison said, “When they get it all sorted out, they might just be the best” (“The Monkees”), referring to the technical proficiency they displayed, once they had assumed control of their music.

Which leads us to the question: in terms of technical proficiency, which group was the best? You could (and I will) argue for yet another act relegated to drooling just outside the window of I. M. Pei’s magnificent, quirky edifice on the shores of Lake Erie: Chicago. Their first double album, Chicago Transit Authority, extended the musical boundaries that defined rock and roll. At the band’s core was a traditional, yet rock solid, foursome of guitarist Terry Kath, keyboardist Robert Lamm, drummer Danny Seraphine, and bassist Peter Cetera. But add to that a horn section, comprised of saxophonist Walt Parazaider, trombonist James Pankow, and trumpet player Lee Loughnane, and you had something that had never been heard before. Chicago debuted with their successful incorporation of jazz and rock the same year Miles Davis (enshrined in 2006) was credited with the invention of jazz rock fusion upon the release of his album Miles in the Sky. Another band that has received more critical praise than Chicago (with far less popular success) is Steely Dan (enshrined in 2001).

In terms of combined single and album sales, Chicago ranks as the second most popular US band of all time (Ruhlman), behind only the Beach Boys. Can such a group go the way of a Guantanamo detainee, and simply disappear, along with fellow Chicagoans; the Buckinghams (snubbed by the Rock Hall), and The Ides of March (also snubbed), all of whom shared The Chicago Sound? In reality, the answer is no. Chicago has the distinction of having had a chart album in five consecutive decades. But in the revisionist Rock and Roll Hall of Fame history
book, the answer is yes.

Are the members of the Roll and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation merely clueless, or somehow biased and corrupt? They appear clueless. I don’t feel there’s any outright corruption involved here, but I could certainly understand a bit of record label bias.

In 1997 the Young Rascals and Crosby Stills Nash and Young were part of the induction class. These are two fine, yet short lived acts (CSNY stayed together only two years), the resumes of which would be dwarfed by Neil Diamond, or the Monkees, or Chicago. Oh, and did I mention that the Monkess made their music on Colgems and Diamond and Chicago spent the lion’s share of their careers
with Columbia, while the Rascals and CSNY were with Atlantic? Did I further mention that this is the very label founded by the man who chaired the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation from its inception until the time of his death, in 2006: Ahmet Ertegun?

Again, I expect someone who has signed and nurtured an act to have some sort of bias, but bias is hard to prove, so I withdraw it. A better description of the current Foundation would be royally arrogant, according to Roger Friedman of Fox News. His stunning March 14, 2007 article, entitled, “Rock Hall Voting Scandal: Rock Group Actually Won” revealed that the Foundation, despite its lofty, stated goals of elevating musicians, had given only $9,000 to indigent musicians and $53,000 to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, despite an excess of $11 million in holdings.

It had also fallen under the iron rule of Rolling Stone Magazine publisher Jann Wenner, who had “appointed himself” Chairman following the death of Ertegun. Wenner then proceeded to weed out any dissenting voices on the committee, which votes on which nominees get inducted, and by Freidman’s head count, boasted only 3 actual musicians among its members.

Friedman’s article broke the story of (Epic Records artists) The Dave Clark Five; one of the brightest examples of “British Invasion” rock to hit America in rock’s golden age, whose members had been perennially snubbed until their Rock Hall nomination in 2007. When the votes were initially tallied, the band had enough for enshrinement, only to have that reversed by a last minute executive order. Wenner, it seemed, felt that the year’s enshrinement class, “didn’t have a rap group,” and so the DC 5 were usurped by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, according to Friedman’s anonymous source.

If true, this allegation leaves us to wonder how many times worthy acts have been deprived of their rightful place in the Rock Hall by such arbitrary whims, which seem designed to satisfy some sort of ethnic quotas. The use of quotas can be effective in helping minorities realize their potential in various jobs or institutions of higher learning, but when artistic potential has already been realized, the music, its influence, artistic merit, commercial success, and historical significance should be the only determining factors as to whether it has made the people who created it worthy of induction.

The usually docile music public took notice of the voting scandal. Operating in damage control mode, the committee overwhelmingly voted to enshrine the Dave Clark 5 the following year. On March 10, 2008, Tom Hanks delivered the words that lead singer Mike Smith had waited most of his adult life to hear: the Dave Clark Five’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction speech. But he did not hear it. Mike Smith had died 11 days earlier at age 64.

Is it silly and sentimental to look upon the rock stars of our youth and see anything more than faded faces on a weathered record jacket? Take a longer look, and you will see real people with real feelings. You will see people who devoted their lives to something that gave us pure joy. You will see people who need you to return the favor. Sign petitions. Let the people at the Rock Hall know how you feel. Insist that they enshrine Neil Diamond, the Monkees, and Chicago. Insist that they turn their shady rock and roll fantasy into accurate and enduring rock and roll history.


Friedman, Roger. “Rock Hall Voting Scandal: Rock Group Actually Won” Fox Entertainment Group. 14 March 2007. Web. 11 Nov. 2009.

“The Monkees.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia foundation. May 2009. Web. 8 Nov. 2009

National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. National Baseball Hall of Fame Library, “n.d.”. Web. 8 Nov. 2009

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees Overview. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, 2007. Web. 8 Nov. 2009

Ruhlman, William. “Biography of Neil Diamond.” AMG, 2009. Web. 8 Nov. 2009

Ruhlman, William. “Biography of Chicago.” AMG, 23 Jun. 2009. Web. 8 Nov. 2009

Sprague, David. “Sex Pistols Flip Off Hall of Fame.” Rolling Rolling Stone Magazine, “N. p.” 24 Feb. 2006. Web. 7 Nov. 2009.

Toscano, Paul. “Highest Grossing Concert Tours of 2008.” National Broadcasting Company, “N. p.” 3 Feb. 2009. Web. 7 Nov. 2009

Feel better now, Jim??? (Sometimes it really DOES help to vent!!! lol) And we've certainly done OUR share of venting these past few years. (This topic REALLY gets under my skin ... FAR more disappointing than what The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame is and has become is knowing what it COULD have been ... and SHOULD have been. When The Museum was first founded, we felt vindicated ... Rock And Roll Music was FINALLY being accepted as an ART Form ... it was our validation ... we had CREDIBILITY ... but now it's become a joke ... the artists THEMSELVES don't even care anymore about who gets in and who doesn't. The very concept of ranking artists like Elvis, The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones side by side "equally" with the likes of Grand Master Flash, Solomon Burke, Leonard Cohen, Bonnie Raitt, Miles Davis and Percy Sledge is just TOO much to bear ... and, like Jim says above, we're not going to take it anymore. This isn't the PEOPLE's Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame ... this is Jann Wenner's PERSONAL Hall Of Fame and it REALLY needs to stop. SOMETHING has to be done to restore ANY sense of sensibility, reason, rationale, reliability and honor ... and until they DO, less and less people will care. (Interestingly enough, when it came time to throw themselves an (albeit EARLY) 25th Anniversary Birthday Bash, it wasn't Iggy Pop and the Stooges or Afrika Bambaataa or Leonard Cohen that they invited to play. No, when it came time to actually going out and SELLING tickets, they went after a virtual Who's Who of Rock Royalty ... Bruce Springsteen, U2, Simon and Garfunkel, Billy Joel, Mick Jagger, Dion, Aretha Franklin, Crosby, Stills and Nash, John Fogerty, Stevie Wonder and Smokey Robinson ... because they KNOW who the REAL rock stars are. (Sadly, so many of the greatest rock artists have already passed before us ... but when it came down to "puttin' on the ritz", they KNEW who to invite.)

I'm not sure ANYTHING we do will ever change things ... Jim's suggestion regarding petitions has been tried numerous before ... and failed each and every time. We know of petitions for DOZENS of artists that have been submitted ... some with as many as 10,000 signatures on them ... and yet these artists never even made the ballot. This committee seems to have its own agenda ... and no amount of protest from the public has had ANY impact to date. (Again I suggest allowing the fans to vote in one new member each year ... get a feel for whose music REALLY impacted our lives. The fact that much of this music has never been off the radio for the past 40 years ought to tell you something ... clearly it had SOME impact!!!)

Some have called this year's inductees the "worst class ever", suggesting again that perhaps the most deserving acts have already been inducted. I disagree ... from my perspective, artists like ABBA, Genesis and The Hollies are finally getting their due. (Jimmy Cliff and "eighth time's the charm" Iggy Pop and the Stooges are ALSO being inducted this March.) Far more impressive (in my opinion) is the recognition of songwriters Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, Ellie Greenwich and Jeff Barry, Mort Shuman and Otis Blackwell, all LONG overdue for recognition for their contributions to the evolution of rock and roll music. But The Hall still has a LONG way to go in terms of setting things right. Certainly ALL of the acts mentioned by Jim Shea above deserve THEIR rightful spot in The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. In addition to Neil Diamond, Chicago and The Monkees, our Forgotten Hits Readers seem to feel very strongly about The Moody Blues, Linda Ronstadt, Hall and Oates, The Guess Who, Pat Benatar, Heart, Todd Rundgren, Jack Scott, Freddy Cannon, Tommy James and the Shondells, Herman's Hermits, The Turtles, Paul Revere and the Raiders, Chubby Checker, Pat Boone, Connie Francis, Three Dog Night, Paul Anka, The Electric Light Orchestra, Neil Sedaka, The Zombies, Johnny Rivers, The Doobie Brothers, Jim Croce and Grand Funk Railroad.

Will some of these artists ultimately be enshrined ... most likely ... but it seems that The Hall is far more focused on inducting each year's batch of newest eligibles than it is in looking back at what got rock and roll to where it is in the first place ... and that's a shame. As we've stated so many times before, less and less of these "pioneers" are still around ... every year our hearts are saddened by the passing of more and more of our musical heroes. Induct these artists NOW so they can bask in the recognition ... let some of these "new kids" wait an extra year or two ... most of the folks on OUR list have already waited twenty or more! (kk)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Some Of Your Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Comments

Whenever we tackle the topic of The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, a couple of things happen ... we tend to strike a nerve with those most passionate members of our list who feel strongly (one way or another) about the way things are currently structured within the selection process ... then we get a list of a couple of dozen of artists who you guys feel have been short-changed by this process ... along with a critique of the artists that are being inducted instead. Too often that passion turns to anger (and then things start to get ugly!) Quite honestly, our readers seem to be split 50 / 50 on this topic ... about half of you are fascinated by the insight and perspective some of the commentators bring to the table, especially regarding artists you didn't know were NOT in The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame ... most people just ASSUME that somebody of Chicago's caliber, for example, HAS to be there, when this clearly isn't the case. They're genuinely SHOCKED to learn that Chicago, Neil Diamond, The Moody Blues and (until this year) The Hollies have never been inducted.

The OTHER half are sick and tired of hearing us go on and on and on about The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, most often because you guys stopped caring about (or giving any credence to) the artists they select and continue to ignore long, long ago ... from THIS batch of readers, we get nothing but "Enough Is Enough Already" emails. (As such, I've got literally a couple of hundred of Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Comments that have never been run in Forgotten Hits, because you can only beat a dead horse for so long before you lose your audience ... and, let's face it, what we write here is never going to change anything anyway!!!)

So, with that thought in mind, we'll present just a few of your comments, followed by an "Open Letter To The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame" submitted by Y103.9 DeeJay Jim Shea (coming up TOMORROW on The Forgotten Hits Web Page) ... and then we'll put this topic back on the shelf for awhile. (I'm sure it'll come up again once the Induction Ceremony comes along in March ... but for now, we'll just give it a rest.)

I should start off by saying ... as I have said DOZENS of times these past few years ... that MY objection isn't so much to the artists being selected ... I've stated dozens of times that I'm not advocating UN-inducting ANYBODY ... whoever is in, STAYS in ... between ALL of us, I'm sure we can find at least SOME shred of validation as to why they were selected in the first place ... I just think that the nominating process needs an overhaul. FAR too many GREAT artists are continually overlooked in favor of newer acts who have really done nothing to further or expand the horizons of rock and roll. (Case in point: The Ventures waited 23 years to get in ... all THEY did was invent a whole new genre of rock and roll instrumentals ... and that's not what is routinely written off as a "popularity" comment by some of you "nay-sayers" out there ... truth is, The Ventures really only had a couple of "hits" ... but they influenced THOUSANDS of future musicians and revolutionized the way rock and roll music could be presented. Yet it took 23 years for The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame to recognize them.) Meanwhile, FAR less-worthy acts are being inducted on their very first ballot ... and it just doesn't seem right.

Over the past several years I've offered several suggestions that might help "streamline" the selection process (and help The Hall save some face along the way.) One way would be to have a "Mass Induction Ceremony", picking 25 acts heretofore ignored but certainly deserving, and hold a SEPARATE Ceremony (on PBS for example, who seems to be far more willing to cater to our age demographic, which would tune in to watch this program in DROVES I would imagine!) At least this way, they could recognize these artists while they're still HERE and able to APPRECIATE the acknowledgement.

Another idea was to have ONE Artist each year elected by THE PEOPLE ... go ahead and let The Hall pick from their list of Favorite Flavors Of The Month ... but allow the fans at least SOME say as to who REALLY belongs enshrined within The Rock Hall Walls. Sure, this'll take a lot longer to recognize some of this long-deserving talent, but at least artists like Neil Diamond and The Guess Who and Chicago and The Moody Blues and The Monkees would FINALLY get in!!!

I also wanted to mention again a website that we referenced several times in our original Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Series ... Click here: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame of the Future - News, Analysis, Voting & More - Future Rock Legends ... and strongly suggest, when you've got the time, that you pay this site a visit and spend some time there ... there are WAY more facts here than you'll ever digest in one sitting ... and what's REALLY neat is that they not only tell you who's in but they ALSO tell you everyone who has EVER been nominated ... who is eligible (and for how long they've been eligible ... and ignored) ... and then even handicap these artists by predicting the odds of them EVER being inducted into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. All in all, VERY interesting, entertaining and insightful reading. Very special thanks to our new FH Buddy Neil, who hosts this incredible site.

And now, on to some of your comments ...

Remind me again ... why should we give a rat's ass what the RRHF thinks?
The idea that a self-appointed arbiter of taste can decree who is or is not worth listening to, is a contradiction of everything Rock And Roll stands for.
Ed Erxleben

>>>you can't HONESTLY tell me that Laura Nyro, Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen,
Bonnie Raitt and / or Percy Sledge rocked harder than ANY of the artists mentioned above. (kk)
I don't think rocking hard has anything to do with who gets nominated or selected for the RocknRoll Hall of Fame. It's just who "they" decide to let in the club. One of the nominating board members even had the nerve to say in print, when asked about Linda Ronstadt, that he didn't think Linda ever was really a rock singer. But then in the next breath, he out of nowhere said that he would be more likely to support Emmylou Harris as a nominee. No further comment is necessary.
Tony Partridge

>>>As pointed out many times in these pages, there are no "right" or "wrong" opinions when it comes to music ... music works on SO many levels that it affects each and every one of us differently (kk)

So true. There are so many arrogant music enthusiasts that believe just the opposite. If you disagree with them, you are wrong. I have been called a "bigot" (how original), and narrow minded when I disagree with some of them. They go into a fit of rage. Their identity is threatened when they realize their supposed music expertise is just an opinion.
Dwight Rounds

Regarding your Forgotten Hits Hall of Famers re-post of the most Deserving and Denied Artists, I have to take issue --
Number of R&B artists on the list: 1
But Paul Anka, Pat Boone and Peter Paul & Mary made the Top 40.
Back to drawing board.
Tom Lane
You have to understand that this is not MY list ... this list was compiled using the votes and opinions of our nationwide readers, all of whom are oldies music fans. The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame has inducted a TREMENDOUS amount of R&B acts over the years ... and, without question, they are all deserving of such an honor ... there is no QUESTION as to the impact that R&B had on what ultimately became known as Rock And Roll. But the people have spoken ... based on literally THOUSANDS of votes, the music fans selected THEIR Top 40 List of The Most Deserving and Denied Artists ... nearly a hundred others made the "Runners Up" list. We tend to listen to the votes and opinions of the "many" rather than accept the theory that Jann Wenner has ALL of our best musical interests at heart by handling the selection process himself. (kk)

Hoping one day the R&R HoF will recognize Jan & Dean - Tons of great singles while spanning several genres as they became the Monkees before there was such!

There seems to be a definite block out on the Philly Artists from the early days of rock and roll ... although latter day megastars like Daryl Hall and John Oates are being ignored, too. As it currently stands, just to be nominated you have to have released your first record 25 years ago ... once reaching that milestone, to keep so many of these artists waiting ANOTHER 25 years is RIDICULOUS!!! And the saddest part of all is that there are fewer and fewer of these artists around to enjoy and appreciate the recognition ... yet so many of the "new kids" are getting in on the first ballot! Not at ALL what we all thought The Hall was GONNA be! (kk)

>>>I still don't see Todd Rundgren on that list ... (Diana)

I understand your beef with the Rock 'n' Roll Hall Of Fame. Diana bitches every now and then about Todd Rundgren not being inducted into the Rock Hall while Madonna is. My reply to her is that, since the RRHOF is operating the way it is, perhaps it's a blessing that he hasn't been inducted. Which brings me to this: I know who my heroes are and so it doesn't matter to me if the Rock Hall acknowledges them or not.
We're seeing more and more artists starting to denounce the ways and means of The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame for this very reason ... it just doesn't MEAN anything anymore to be a member. (Back in 2006, The Sex Pistols refused to attend the induction ceremony, calling the museum a "piss stain". I'm not even a Sex Pistols fan, but that's a pretty bold statement to make for an artist who WAS selected!!!) We've reported in the past that several of the voting members didn't even bother submitting their ballots because they didn't feel any of the candidates on the list were truly worthy ... what does THAT tell you about the caliber of the artists being selected ... even their own "team of experts" can't find anybody redeeming to induct!!! (This is because the NOMINATING Committee is an entirely different group of people than the VOTING Committee ... and, as has been addressed before, MANY petitions containing ten thousand signatures or more from the public demanding consideration for a particular artist have been routinely ignored.)
We've ALSO addressed the issue before about the debate as to whether too many people are being denied induction ... or too many people are being inducted. Honestly, you can look at it both ways. Let's face it, once you've acknowledged Elvis and The Beatles and Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly and Ray Charles and Sam Cooke and The Everly Brothers ... The Beach Boys, Little Richard, Fats Domino, James Brown, Jerry Lee Lewis, Aretha Franklin, Bo Diddley, Carl Perkins, Eddie Cochran, Stevie Wonder, The Rolling Stones, The Supremes, The Temptations, Bob Dylan, CCR, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, The Yardbirds, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Santana, The Eagles, The Mamas and the Papas, Eric Clapton, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Michael Jackson, Queen ... how on earth do you induct artists like Solomon Burke, The Flamingos, Bonnie Raitt, Percy Sledge, The Velvet Underground, Etta James, Ruth Brown, Leonard Cohen, Patti Smith or Grand Master Flash into the SAME Hall Of Fame?!?!? How on EARTH can you equate these artists to those who have gone before them ... claim that they helped to shape rock and roll music in the same way or on the same level or have had the same impact as the "first tier" of artists. Maybe they should have stopped a long time ago ... let in those 50 or 60 TRULY deserving artists and said, "That's It ... this is the BASE core of The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame ... now every year we'll induct another five or six artists that deserve SOME level of recognition ... but on a different 'tier' than these others." Honestly, if everybody out there made up their own list of the MAIN 50 who just could not be denied, setting all bias aside and simply weighting that list on those artists that are undeniably deserving ... we'd probably (for the most part) agree on 80-90% of these artists ... because they flat-out BELONG there. How many more could you list ... of "second tier" deserving artists ... before you'd find somebody like Percy Sledge on your list? 50 more? 100 more? 200 more??? 600 more?!?!? Miles Davis? Buddy Guy? GREAT artists to be sure ... in their chosen field of jazz and blues ... but Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame artists? Honestly, if you WERE to make such a list ... would you REALLY put Bonnie Raitt or Patti Smith or Leonard Cohen nearer to the top of that list than Chicago, The Guess Who, The Hollies or Neil Diamond? Forget the "Popularity Contest" aspect of this ... make your OWN list ... but be honest and subjective ... you can ONLY list 200 deserving artists. Would Laura Nyro or Solomon Burke or The Velvet Underground or Grandmaster Flash or The Red Hot Chili Peppers or Percy Sledge REALLY make your list ... or do you see where I'm going with all of this??? (kk)

>>>How about the top selling American Duo of the 70's - Carpenters? Karen and Richard made some of the finest recordings and sold in numbers that qualify them for induction. True, they didn't rock out ... but musically, it's hard to top what they produced from 1969-1983. (Chip Cogswell)
>>>Yeah, you'll get some arguments on that one ... Hit Parade Hall Of Fame, yes ... "Soft Rock" Hall Of Fame, definitely ... but The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame??? Ain't NEVER gonna happen!!! (kk)
Hey Kent:
As one who thinks the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame is Stupid, why not put The Carpenters in? Being Wenner and the rest of the politically motivated numbskulls have no real set criteria for getting in, put them in! They might put Donna Summer in! Neither belongs in because neither is Rock at all, but if you put one in, then why not the other. The Hall is filling up with nonsense every year anyway. I actually couldn’t stomach much of The Carpenters stuff when it was out, but after 35+ years of Radio dreck, they don’t sound half bad anymore. Why not! They actually should get rid of the hall of fame part of it and just have it as a museum of Rock n Roll, then everybody has a chance to be included that had some input in the culture.
The Museum is a BEAUTIFUL tribute and houses an INCREDIBLE collection of memorabilia representing the music we all know and love ... and ALL walks of musical history have been routinely represented. (They even had a "One Hit Wonders" section up for quite a while.) kk

I agree with you on the Stooges. Things like this remind me of why I stopped reading Rolling Stone magazine years ago. I always felt like they tried to force groups like the Stooges down our throats. They made it seem that if you liked an act like the Guess Who, the Raspberries, Tommy James, or Neil Diamond you were a nerd that did not know anything about music. This nerd has not had many requests over the years for the Stooges or Afrika Bambaataa.
Phil Nee

Yeah, remember when Rock And Roll Music was "Feel Good" Music??? Artists like The Guess Who, The Raspberries, Tommy James and the Shondells, The Turtles, The Monkees, Herman's Hermits, Paul Revere and the Raiders EXCELLED at giving us music that simply made us FEEL good ... and we reacted accordingly. Conversly, I don't think I've EVER had a song by The Stooges or Afrika Bambaataa stuck in my head ... nor would I want to!!! In fact, I honestly couldn't sing one if you ASKED me to!!! So much for THEIR long-lasting contributions to rock!!! (kk)

On the subject of the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame: This subject has been beaten to a pulp, stomped on and left for dead. Nothing we are gonna say or do is gonna make a difference. However I've noticed that many of us have become as bad as our parents were when criticizing what music has come to. Keep in mind we always favor the music we grew up with. For most of us, that's from the mid 60s to mid 70s. 20 years from now, your kids will be bitching about the lack of Madonna, Mariah Carey, Justin Timberlake, or the flavor of the month songs from the radio, if indeed there is still music to be heard on the radio and that is a distinct possibility. Interesting that the Beatles "1" compilation was the top album of the past decade. It's the only one of the top 10 I bought. In fact it's the ONLY Beatles release I've ever bought. Those 2 million 1963 dollars that Capitol Records spent promoting them finally caught me. Did anyone notice that the top money making act of the decade was the Rolling Stones? One suspects if they have to wheel Mick & Keef out there, they'll still perform. I forget the dude's name, but I read a couple weeks ago that the guy who wrote the Hokey Pokey passed away at age 100.
Rock And Roll Never Forgets

A couple of years ago The Cryan' Shames did their "Gramps With Amps" Tour! (lol) And I still remember Mark Volman of The Turtles thanking security for keeping all the wheelchairs in the audience from rolling up to the stage. We're ALL getting older and, without question, our greatest affection will always be for the music we grew up with. (Hey, that's the whole basis for Forgotten Hits!!! lol) And Madonna, Mariah Carey, Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears and any host of OTHER recent musical celebs will most likely find their way into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame some day, too. (Hell, Madonna's already there ... and she certainly DESERVES it.) But some of these recent nominees (like The Red Hot Chili Peppers and the aforementioned Afrika Bambaataa) just haven't earned the stripes that SO many of these other long-denied artists have. Honestly, how DO you measure a career in 20 years if Wenner has his way and has the eligibility criteria changed? Especially when sustaining a 40 year career seems to mean nothing!!! (kk)

Just read your post on the proposed RRHOF rule changes, and I agree with you 100%. Thought you might be interested in something we're doing over at:

Ted Cogswell

I appreciate where you're coming from, Ted, and I can only wish you a lot of luck. We've had numerous discussions with John Rook over the past couple of years regarding HIS alternative Hall Of Fame, The Hit Parade Hall Of Fame, recognizing artists who performed well on the charts ... a MUCH broader spectrum of recording artists in ALL fields of music ... with a reward system based on actual performance and statistics ... and a situation where the votes of the fans DO count toward the induction process. Yet, despite a Virtual Who's Who List of Prestigious Names attached to this committee, even THEY can't shake the whole "American Music Awards vs. The Grammys" stigma ... The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame was SUPPOSED to be IT!!! The Be All / End All ... and they CONTINUALLY abuse this privilege. (I swear they throw a "ringer" in there every year JUST to get everybody's fur up and earn a little bit more publicity ... that old adage that "there's no such thing as BAD publicity" seems to fuel this organization each and every election period! And I get that ... honestly, when else, other than nomination time and election time, do we even THINK about The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame during the course of the year??? Quite honestly, they seem to bask in the controversy ... let's pick at least one jaw-dropper each and every year to keep people talking ... and let's ignore these other artists, offering absolutely NO explanation as to what makes them unworthy of such an honor.) That being said, I went ahead and voted for MY Ten ... the real shame is that there's no way to AWARD these artists this honor. (Not sure how you came up with your "First 25" but picking ten was easy ... holding it to ONLY ten was the hard part!!!) Somehow I believe that ALL of these artists always knew what their contribution was to the evolution of popular music ... and it was SO profound that we STILL hear that contribution to this day. (kk)