Friday, April 30, 2010

Mark Eskin

Chicago Music Fans lost a good friend, a great musician and true music lover earlier this week when guitarist Mark Eskin passed away at the age of 52.

We got to know Mark as a member of The New Colony Six for the past 14 years ... but Mark lived to play music and sat in with any number of bands whenever the opportunity presented himself.

He was also known as "Beatle Mark" in Instant Karma, a John Lennon tribute band that really captured the essence of Lennon's music and put on an incredible show. (In fact, a couple of years ago they took their act out on the road ... all the way to Jolly Ol' England!!! ... where they performed for appreciative audiences across the pond!)

Mark also performed with The Sting Rays ... and, over the years, we've seen Mark sit in with The Cryan' Shames as well as take the stage for any number of local musical events. In addition, we would run into him all the time at numerous local concerts in and around town over the years ... seems like if he wasn't up there playing the music himself, he was one of the many, many fans out in the audience, taking it all in.

Our heartfelt sympathies go out to his wife Flo, who we also had the pleasure of getting to know thanks to our New Colony Six connection ...

There have been all kinds of memories posted on the web over the past 48 hours ... you'll find links to a few of them below ... along with Mark's own words about what it was like to perform that night with the ORIGINAL members of The New Colony Six the night before their induction into The Saint Pat's Hall Of Fame!

Thanks for all the music and all the memories, Mark ... we'll miss ya!
Kent Kotal / Forgotten Hits

It is with heavy hearts that The Instant Karma Band must inform you of the sudden passing last evening of our band mate, friend and lead guitarist, Mark Eskin. As everyone knows, Mark was a wonderful soul who always loved The Beatles and always loved to play rock and roll. He will be greatly missed. We ask for your love and prayers for Mark, Florence his loving wife and his family.
As our guitars and eyes gently weep for our loss, Mark is now in the heavens probably trading licks with George and John. Cheers to our great friend Mark!
Peace and Love,
The Instant Karma Band

It is with heavy hearts that we have to tell you that our very good friend and fellow Sting Ray Mark "Beatle Mark" Eskin died yesterday April 28, 2010 at his home in Morton Grove. We have set up an
online memorial to Mark and hope that friends will share their stories, photos, videos and condolences.
Visitation for Mark will be: Sunday May 2, 2010 ... 3-8pm ...
Grein Funeral Home ... 2114 West Irving Park Road ... Chicago, IL
(773) 588-6336
There will be another opportunity to meet with family on:
Monday May 3, 2010 ... 1pm ...
Rosehill Cemetery ... 5800 North Ravenswood Avenue ... Chicago, IL
Mark's wife Florence has said that she "wants lots of musicians, acoustic instruments and singing. We are not going out quietly."
Please forward this to anyone who loved Mark or call people who don't have email.

Dear Friends,
I'm sure by now many of you know that one of our good friends and a member of the NC6 MARK ESKIN has passed away. I understand that this happened sometime yesterday, Wednesday April 28th. Presently the reason that caused Mark's passing is not known.
I wish the best and prayers are with his family and especially Florence, Mark's most loving wife, friend and biggest fan.
Mark was a great friend to many of us. He was a fine person who loved life and his music. He will be missed. Words are never enough to heal the hurt but they are all we have.
With regrets,
Bruce Mattey / The New Colony Six

I cannot believe that we'll never again laugh over "inside" NC6 stage jokes; miss you already ...
Ray Graffia, Jr.
Mark Eskin, of the New Colony Six, Instant Karma, and various other bands around town, passed away yesterday. Mark was truly a fan of music, a great musician, and a good friend ... always had a smile on his face, and a guitar in his hand ... he'll definitely be missed ...
our love to his wife, Flo.


How cool is this?!
I've been playing lead guitar & keyboards for the Colony for almost 12 years & I finally get to meet & jam with most of the other original members! It was absolutely wonderful (especially since I first heard the New Colony Six on WCFL in December, 1966 when I was 8 years old)!
I was especially honored when Ronnie Rice asked me if I would actually play at the induction ceremony. What a fabulous time! I'll treasure these memories for the rest of my days!
Mark Eskin
It was a very special and magical night indeed when the original band members got back together again ... in fact, these beautiful photos that are on display on the website today were taken that night by original New Colony Six Guitarist Gerry Van Kollenburg! We felt very fortunate and privileged to be there that night ... it's certainly a night WE won't ever forget either! (kk)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Dick Biondi - Celebrating 50 Years on Chicagoland Radio

From today's Robert Feder column:
This weekend’s celebration of Dick Biondi’s 50th anniversary on the air in Chicago just got 50,000 watts bigger: The live special from 7 p.m. to midnight Sunday will air not only on Citadel Broadcasting oldies WLS-FM (94.7), where Biondi still holds forth every weeknight, but also on news/talk sister station WLS-AM (890). Biondi was among the stars who launched the Top 40 format on WLS-AM on May 2, 1960. Fans are invited to leave voice-mail messages of congratulations to Biondi at (312) 984-5350. In conjunction with the 50th anniversary salute, Scott Childers is adding new features and additional enhancements to his website at Childers is the author of Chicago’s WLS Radio, published in 2008 by Arcadia Publishing.
-- Robert Feder

Now in all fairness, Biondi hasn't REALLY been on the air for the past 50 years here in Chicago ... but he certainly has spent MOST of the last 50 years coming to us live from right here in The Windy City.
Dick Biondi debuted as one of the "originals" on WLS-AM in 1960 when the station switched over to its Top 40 / Rock format but was then famously fired in headline-making fashion three years later, the true details of which seem to be foggy in virtually EVERYBODY's memory after all this time.
After being the first disc jockey in America to play a Beatles record at the station in '63, he then departed for Los Angeles where he also introduced The Beatles live on stage at The Hollywood Bowl! (You can see our landmark feature on this whole topic on the OTHER Forgotten Hits Web Page here: Click here: Forgotten Hits - Who Played The Very First Beatles Record In America?)

A return gig to WCFL in 1967 brought him back to Chicago for a short while ... subsequent spots on WMAQ and WBBM-FM kept him in our consciousness until he landed at WJMK (Magic 104) in 1984, Chicagoland's then premier oldies station. He held THAT spot for nearly 20 years (until WJMK switched over to the Jack-FM format), paving the way for Scott Shannon's True Oldies Channel to SAVE the oldies nationally after a similar incident occurred in New York City. WLS-FM, our local True Oldies outlet, snatched Biondi up immediately and he's been back on the air ever since.

Other famous on-air time was spent in Buffalo, NY (BEFORE his first stint at WLS ... in fact, Biondi was one of the jocks featured in that "Cruisin'" Vintage Radio LP Series) and KRLA in Los Angeles ... but without question his BEST radio years have been spent here in Chi-Town where Dick Biondi is literally an institution. (Jim Pilster of The Cryan' Shames has been campaigning for quite a while now about renaming one of Chicago's streets "Dick Biondi Way" ... a fitting honor for one who has done so much for our great city over the years. In fact, watch for many of our "local heroes" to show up during Dick's very special broadcast Sunday Night.)

(A Chicagoland Favorite by The Wild I-Tralian, Dick Biondi!!!)
Congratulations, Dick ... we love ya! Thanks for being so much a part of our lives these past 50 years ... and here's wishing you 50 more!!!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Up-Coming And Recent Events


We Lost Him 50-years Ago This Month! April 17th, 1960
PHILLY'S ORIGINAL ROCKER -- CHARLIE GRACIE -- headlined the Big 50th Anniversary Memorial Concert for his late friend -- Rock n Roll Hall of Famer EDDIE COCHRAN in Chippenham, England -- the city where Eddie was killed in that infamous taxi accident. The event drew abut 3,000 from around the U.K and several countries in Europe.
Charlie and Eddie were good friends and played several show together in the late '50s. Charlie has a week to go his five-week British concert tour and will return for another month of shows this fall.

1. Charlie Jr. & Charlie Sr: location of Eddie's fatal in crash -- Chippenham, England.
2. Charlie and Eddie: 1957.
3. Charlie next to Eddie with Everly Bros. looking on -- Chicago 1958.
4. CHARLIE GRACIE with THE CLASS OF '58 -- ON STAGE AT THE OLYMPIAD ARENA in Chippenham England -- site of the Eddie Cochran 50th Anniversary Memoral Concert / Festival on April 16 / 17 / 18, 2010.

Charlie Gracie, Jr.

On May 1st, Philadelphia House is proud to announce a truly extraordinary concert experience in a wonderfully intimate setting ... the Philly Pop Music series.
The series will include the filming and recording of each performance and the marketing and promotion of the series. Curator for this series is George Manney.

Where:7312 Castor Avenue / Philadelphia, PA

We will also be screening part of the music documentary in production, Philly Pop Music, The Lost Pioneers. The film features archival footage, performances & interviews of the great Philadelphia musical community. The event will be hosted by WMGK 102.9 - Sirius / XM DJ, Michael Tearson.
Featured performers on May 1st include:
Philadelphia's power pop sensation Nazz, featuring original lead singer Stewkey. Their live shows recreate searing, letter-perfect 4-part harmony driven versions of their classics "Hello it's Me" & "Open My Eyes" in addition to newer songs. Voted one of the top 100 cult bands by Mojo Magazine (UK), Nazz were light years ahead of most contemporary American bands.
The late-1960s Philly-based outfit, American Dream, featured the talents of NE boys, Nicky Indeliato - singer / rhythm guitarist, and singer / guitarist Don Lee Van Winkle. One of the first acts signed by Bob Dylan manager, Albert Grossman, to his newly formed Bearsville label (which was distributed by Ampex), their self-titled 1969 debut was also notable as one of Todd Rundgren's (Nazz) first outside productions.
Philly boy Jeff Washington's CD, Neptune Moon, showcased Jeff 's guitar work & won favorable reviews. Jeff has performed in concert & on tour with: Melba Moore, Lee Andrews & The Hearts, Mary Wells, Freda Payne, Albert King, Freddie Jackson, Blue Magic & Chaka Khan.
The Soul Survivors began a strong following playing venues in Atlantic City & Philadelphia. While enjoying great success in Philadelphia, they attracted the attention of record producers Gamble & Huff. Into the recording studio they went, emerging with "Expressway To Your Heart", a song that would climb to #3 on Billboard's R&B chart and #4 on it's Top 100 list. In polls taken by both the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia’s City Paper, The Soul Survivors "Expressway" was voted the number one record ever to come out of Philadelphia. Today, Charlie and Richie Ingui & The Soul Survivors just released a new CD titled, "Heart Full Of Soul".
Also performing on May 1st will include members of the NE bands: Edgar Murray, Stone Dawn, Cats and more!
Where is this all night rave located at???
7312 Castor Avenue

Philadelphia, PA
A night not to miss in Philadelphia!

I would love to see the original Rascals. I still maintain their '65 hit "I Ain't Gonna Eat Out My Heart Any More" is one of the most underrated songs in rock 'n roll history.The organ combined with Felix's lead vocal make it such a remarkably soulful slice of music. I've always wondered what an Otis Redding or a Percy Sledge would have done with that song. I'm not sure either guy would have matched the sense of urgency and angst that the Rascals brought to the table with that record.

Side Note: I'm still surprised after all these years that the song didn't have greater chart success.
Sure you already know this ... Henry and Street Gold have Dion coming to the Chicago Theatre in June for The Annual Doo-Wop Show.

Keep on rockin'
Chet Coppock
Without question, it's a GREAT track ... one of MY favorites by The Rascals, too. (For the record, that's actually Eddie Brigati handling the lead on this one ... but you're right ... Felix had / has one of the most soulful voices every waxed!)

Despite stopping at #52 in Billboard, it was a #17 Hit here in Chicagoland in early '66 ... right before they scored their first #1 Hit with "Good Lovin'".
The Rascals always did very well here in Chicago: "I Ain't Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore"; "Good Lovin'"; "Groovin'"; "A Girl Like You" (my favorite); "How Can I Be Sure"; "It's Wonderful"; "A Beautiful Morning"; "People Got To Be Free"; "See" and "Carry Me Back" all made The Top 20 here in Chi-Town ... and "You Better Run" (#21); "I've Been Lonely Too Long" (#23) and "A Ray Of Hope" (#22) just missed. (Wouldn't it be awesome if these guys loved playing together again so much that they decided to stay together for a reunion tour?!?!?) kk

Hi Kent!

Loved the column this weekend. Great stuff.

My show at BB KING'S in NYC this coming Jan 30th is going to be hot!

Not only my friends Dennis Tufano, Sonny Geraci and Bo Donalson but expect some very cool, special guests that night. The show starts at 7:30.

Rock on,

Ronnie D.

Wish we could be there to see this one. And, speaking of Dennis Tufano ...

Thanks for the mention for the NY gig.
Here's another closer to home. This is my baby, as you know, and I am really looking forward to this show.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Sunday Comments ( 04 - 25 - 10 )

The Drive (WDRV-FM, 97.1FM), Chicago's premier Classic Rock Station, is playing 2000 tracks from their massive library in yet another one of their very popular A - Z Programs ... it all kicked off on Friday afternoon and, as always, the selection of music is nothing short of INCREDIBLE!!! (Typically, these run about 7-8 days ... and this time around, they're promising more "Deep Tracks" from some of your favorite albums, along with all the usual FM Classic Rock Favorites ... and quite a few surprises ... when Dr. Hook's "Cover Of The Rolling Stone" came on the other night, I actually had to double-check the station to see if I was still listening to The Drive! lol) It's ALL great stuff ... you'll find yourself listening non-stop ... and, to help you do so, we've not only provided a Listen Live Link but also a list of all the songs being featured during this special event:
Click here: The Drive 97.1 - The Soundtrack Of Our Lives
Click here: WDRV#bottom

Last Friday when Jim Shea interviewed Tommy Smothers on his morning Y103.9 program, Tommy announced that the duo is "taking a break" after this current round of appearances wraps up at The Orleans Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas on May 16th. Understandably, he was saddened to hear this news ... The Smothers Brothers have been performing non-stop for fifty years now, entertaining several generations with their rare brand of music and humor. And they're hotter than ever right now ... their controversial CBS Television Series is in the process of being released on DVD (Volumes 2 and 3 are currently available ... for some crazy reason, they decided to release the seasons BACKWARDS!!!) and a great new book, "Dangerously Funny: The Uncensored Story Of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour" by David Bianculli is a very popular, MUST READ for anybody who grew up enjoying their long-lasting career.
Anyway, Jim has been making his appeal for a more fitting send-off to this legendary duo ... he recently copied me in on an email he sent to Chicagoland Media Columnist Rob Feder that I also wanted to share with our Forgotten Hits Readers:
I stumbled on to what may be (in retrospect) a pretty big story in the history of American entertainment, and I thought you might like to know about it.
I've been trying to get Tom Smothers on the air for about a year, and finally had him on today. He was warm and funny and serious as hell and it was great listening.
When I asked if there would be something new on tv he said no, and as a matter of fact, after 100 years of touring (50 for Dick, 50 for Tom) they were about to "take down the tent and clean up the cage" and take what he called a "sabbatical" from touring as of May 16th. Their performance at the Orleans Hotel in Las Vegas would be their final show.
Now I know the boys are not prone to Brett Farve theatrics or "Farewell Tours", so if they were to go away, this is exactly how they would do it. And I respect them for that along with everything else.
But I just think this is a bigger story than the kind you give to a dufus suburban radio guy in Crystal Lake. I feel this story needs to reach a broader audience.
I confirmed the story with their manager, Donna Seltzer. I don't know if you can do anything with this story or even want to ... I just thought I'd let you know.
Jim Shea

Mornings y103.9
I agree, Jim ... The Smothers Brothers deserve a fitting "send off" if this is, in fact, the end of the road for them. They brought SO much joy into our lives ... and set SO many landmarks along the way ... perhaps there are some people in our extensive audience who can help to make this happen. If so, please feel free to contact me and I will in turn hook you up with whomever we need to in order to pull something together.
As author David Bianculli points out in his book, if you have enjoyed the likes of Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In or Saturday Night Live, you have the inspiration of The Smothers Brothers to thank. Bianculli goes on to write:
"When Michael Moore takes his time in the spotlight during a live Oscar telecast to scold President George W. Bush for sending America to war without due cause, The Smothers Brothers, in spirit, are there. When The Dixie Chicks make an anti-Bush comment onstage and suffer a backlash from conservatives before reemerging triumphantly with a new ht and a slew of Grammy Awards, the Smothers Brothers are there. When Bill Maher resurfaces on HBO's "Real Time With Bill Maher" or Jon Stewart skewers politicians and the media on Comedy Central's "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart", The Smothers Brothers are there. When Stephen Colbert attempts a comedic run for the presidency, The Smothers Brothers are there."
Between all of the artists on our list (many of whom appeared on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour way back when), the deejays, artist reps, media folk, etc, my hope is a few of you out there will respond with some ideas. Clearly there's not much time ... May 16th is only a few weeks away ... but perhaps after they say "Good Night" THAT night, we can have a more fitting, universal setting to bid them farewell. Please let me hear from you!!! (kk)
P.S. By special request, we featured a Smothers Brothers "Fan Favorite" a few years ago when we ran their "Chocolate" routine as part of our Forgotten Hits Newsletter. Today, I'm running one of MY personal favorites, "You Can Call Me Stupid" from their classic "Mom Always Liked You Best" LP.

re: TOP 100 OLDIES:
KENT ...
Just checked my 'collection' versus the top 100 requested oldies ... I scored a 99 out-of-a 100! How I missed Sky Pilot - Animals I can't figure ...
I'll get right on it ...
It's a GREAT record ... one of my favorites by them! (Here's the "short single edit" to get you started!) kk

We just can't stop watching this one ... it's the Broadway Cast of "American Idiot" performing last year's Green Day Hit "21 Guns" ... an absolutely INCREDIBLE version of this great tune. (Amazing to think where the Broadway Musical Stage has gone these past few years with more and more pop music crossing over to The Great White Way ... who knows ... long term THIS may be the way the music of our generation is best represented and remembered most!) If you haven't seen this clip yet (or aren't familiar with the song), you've got to check out this clip ... a VERY moving performance ... and the vocals are nothing short of perfection.
Click here: YouTube - Green Day & The Cast Of American Idiot - 21 Guns - album out 4/20

>>>Gotta be the weakest schedule EVER!!! (Then again they thought they might not do it at all this year ... so it coulda been worse, I suppose!) kk
Hey, don't you want to see "Fenton High School Graduate's" Bands?????
Very weak although I have never seen the Ides Of March. Always missed them when they played. And to all of those who thought Vehicle was their first hit see below. #30. I walked a mile to 95th and Western with a friend to buy this record. It's not such a nice neighborhood now. The Chicago Catz were pretty good, too.

(click to enlarge)

I'm sure we'll still get to a couple of these. The Ides Of March put on one of the BEST live shows you're ever going to see ... highly recommended for anyone in the area. (They open the concert series this year on June 9th) Because of Jim Peterik's success with The Ides of March, Survivor, .38 Special, etc, you'll be treated to a wide mix of music ... and a very high-energy performance.
Yes "You Wouldn't Listen" was a HUGE hit here in Chicago, ultimately peaking at #7 despite a #42 showing in Billboard ... now HERE'S a track that absolutely should have been a huge national hit ... it is SO "of the time" ... so yeah, we'll feature it again! Thanks, Bill! (kk)

... and, speaking of Chicagoland Hit Makers ... I just got THIS email from Ron Smith!

This is from Chicago magazine. Mostly good choices, though I disagree for the most part with the rankings:


The attached photo was shot at British Consulate in New York at launch party for British Invasion DVD series from Reelin' In The Year Productions / Voyage Digital Media / Naxos of America. The first releases in the ongoing series cover the late Dusty Springfield, Small Faces, Herman's Hermits and Gerry & The Pacemakers. Gerry Marsden was unable to attend to due performance dates but Ian McLagan (left) of the Small Faces and Keith Hopwood of Herman's Hermits were on hand. Gerry, as it happens was on screen at the moment McLagan and Hopwood met -- for the very first time in their lives, it should be noted. At the event, producers revealed the artists confirmed for the second series of British Invasion DVDs: Manfred Mann, The Pretty Things and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's newest inductees, The Hollies -- with more to be announced.


Hey Kent,
Saturday AM I woke up as 3 am and was channel surfing. I came across this movie on TCM called " Get Yourself a College Girl" from 1964. I only saw the last 1/2 hr, but it's one of those classic B movies. It has The Dave Clark 5, The Animals, The Standells as musical acts and the movie stars are Mary Ann Mobley (Looking quite fine btw!!), Nancy Sinatra (not looking too bad herself) and Chad Everett.
I hope TCM shows it again as I don't recall ever seeing it.
Below is the original trailer I found on youtube.
Earlier on Friday night TCM showed "The Silencers" with Dean Martin ... it was one of Martin's Matt Helm movies. Dino is so classic in those movies; he plays the Bond character perfectly and they gave him all the neat little gadgets, too.
Hope all is well.

I just checked to see if "Get Yourself A College Girl" was available on DVD but apparently not ... nor is the soundtrack CD available. Too bad ... from what I remember it's a pretty horrible flick but some GREAT musical guests are on the bill. (Check out Video Beat ... I'm pretty sure THEY have a copy available!!! They do ... see link below!) TCM typically does "theme weeks" with some of their movie selections ... hopefully, BOTH of these will run again 'cause I'd love to see 'em, too!!! (kk)



OK, the planets must TRULY be aligned!!! Last night all four of the original Rascals reunited for a benefit concert in New York City ... man, we would have LOVED to have been there for this. Here's the official piece that ran in Live Daily the other day:


By Phil Gallo / LiveDaily Contributor

The original lineup of The Rascals will reunite Saturday (4/24) for a fund-raising concert in New York. Eddie Brigati, Felix Cavaliere, Gene Cornish and Dino Danelli will perform at Robert DeNiro's restaurant Tribeca Grill to benefit the Kristen Ann Carr Fund that supports programs designed to help teenagers and young adults with cancer and other serious illnesses. It will be the first time the blue-eyed soul legends have performed together since their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997.
Steven Van Zandt, who along with his wife Maureen is being honored at the annual fundraiser, gave The Rascals’ induction speech at the Hall. He has been trying since 1980 to get the group to reunite.
"I speak on behalf of the band when I say all the money offers in the world could not entice The Rascals to reunite," guitarist Gene Cornish said in a statement. "But four phone calls from Stevie and without hesitation we enthusiastically and immediately agreed to both support this wonderful cause and honor Stevie and Maureen."
The Kristen Ann Carr Fund was founded in 1993 by Bruce Springsteen's co-manager Barbara Carr and her husband, writer Dave Marsh, after Sarcoma claimed the life of their 21-year-old daughter Kristen. The fund has established a comprehensive sarcoma laboratory at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and provides sarcoma fellowships in both surgery and oncology at MSKCC.

Hoping that these guys continue to talk and leave some doors open ... what an incredible reunion tour this would be!!! (We can dream, can't we?!?!?) kk


Thanks for featuring a great song by Bread in today's edition. I always like to hear their non-hits and album tracks better than the ones that were over played. The second side of the group's first greatest hits album is pretty good with 'Mother Freedom', Truckin', and 'Let Your Love Go'.
Keep up the good work.
Phil - WRCO

BIG Bread fan here ... and actually "Mother Freedom" and "Let Your Love Go" were modest hits in their own right, especially here in Chicago where "Mother Freedom" went all the way to #12 and "Let Your Love Go" peaked at #11. (Nationally, these two reached #37 and #20 respectively ... yet you never hear EITHER of them on the radio anymore!) kk

I am a baby boomer disc jockey on a small internet radio station:

I love your web site ... thanks for keeping the best music alive and well ...

DJ Scarlett Hayze

Thanks, Scarlett ... glad you're enjoying Forgotten Hits! (kk)

I just wanted to tell you how happy I am with Forgotten Hits. I look forward to it every week. And I an always pleased when I see something about Top Shelf Oldies, an internet radio show that I listen to every evening.

The Great and Wonderful Malcolm Colllins

Well, thank you for the great and wonderful compliment!!! (kk)

And a quick thank you to everyone who has been supporting the website ... we're closing in on 200,000 visitors and we REALLY do appreciate it!