Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Another Buckingham Speaks

After our series on The Buckinghams wrapped up last weekend, we received a heartfelt email from 
Nick Fortuna, bassist and long-time member of the band.  
I felt it deserved to be run as a stand-alone piece ... so we share it with you today.  (kk)

Just got back from Rochester, MN, where we played to a crowd of 20,000 people and had a great time. Saw your series this morning and since you’ve printed Marty’s response, I’d like to add mine.
Dennis misstates about when I joined. I came into the band in the third week of The Buckinghams’ appearance on the show, All Time Hits. Curtis Bachman had left them to join Saturday’s Children. I was lucky because Curt and I were the same size and the band outfits were a perfect fit. A Youtube clip of Unchained Melody proves this:
Those were good days I remember perfectly.
Though it’s true that I am not an original member of the band The Pulsations or earliest beginning of The Buckinghams, I am a Founding Member as far as Spectra Sound , USA Records and Columbia Records are concerned.  Columbia Records acknowledges this because of the royalty distributions I get. Carl is too nice to say this, but I don’t hesitate. Dennis, Marty, and I receive royalty checks today, and have for the past 20 years, because Carl and I took the initiative to hire accountants and lawyers and we worked in their behalf for four years to get Sony to pay them. Carl and I talked about all this before the royalty search started. We footed the upfront bills for that search ... not Marty and not Dennis. Let’s be clear. My friend Marty, who was not on our national #1 hit we had, “Kind of a Drag”, was in the band less than two years, but has enjoyed the proceeds of that brief period in his famous career. Neither guy has complained about not feeling like a part of the band when they cashed the checks.
Dennis knows that legally he is not entitled to bill himself as a Buckingham and he doesn’t share in the trademark as recognized in court, no matter what he says in your column. I don’t want to get into a big deal here, Kent, but both Dennis and Marty billed themselves as The Original Buckinghams in the fall of 2008, but it was in Manila because they know they are not legally allowed to do so in the U.S. Here’s another clip that proves it:
The fact is, Carl and I own the trademark, not Dennis. Let’s get that straight. Dennis can sing as the original voice of the records as long as he wants to and that’s cool. You know if someone doesn’t bill themselves as a Buckingham in the US but does outside the country, then he knows what’s legal.
It’s a shame both guys gave up on something years ago that was great, and now maybe they need for people to still remember them as part of that great thing. But they’ve been gone almost 30 years (Dennis) and 40+ years (Marty). Moved on to bigger things ... better things (or so they thought when they chose to leave). Done well, both of them. But what Carl and I have done the past 30 years is work ... very hard work ... and we made a commitment to stick with it for 30 years and the fans responded to it. Dennis’ Chicago fans are glad to see him singing with the Cryan' Shames and Sonny Geraci’s band. I wish the guy well.
Whoever wrote that our web site didn’t include Dennis and the history of the band is wrong. It’s been on the site and always has been:
Carl and I have never denied any of the original Buckinghams their rightful place in history, or the hearts of all those who came out to hear us, especially in Chicago. There are rumors all over this business, Kent, and jealousy is usually the cause. Thanks for doing your part to set the record straight.
Nick Fortuna
Thank you, Nick, for sharing your memories and perspective.  Marty's comments came as a complete surprise as I wasn't expecting them ... in hindsight, there's a part of me that wishes I would have pushed you for some comments upfront, especially as such a long-time member of the band ... but, in all honesty, I don't know that they would have been as honest and heartfelt as what you wrote today.  I believe that you've made a powerful statement ... and in a very professional, passionate and eloquent way ... and I thank you for your input.  It does me proud to be able to present the recollections of four of the guys who WERE The Buckinghams during their biggest, hit-making hey-day ... and I commend you and Carl for keeping the spirit alive for all these years.  (kk)