Saturday, August 29, 2015

Danbury Fields Forever, 2015 - The Full Report

But the first concert at Shea Stadium was shocking the world with the effects of Beatlemania.  Sid Bernstein didn't make it to the 50th anniversary, but he had attended several others here at Danbury Fields Forever.  This year it is dedicated to him and to Dennis Ferrante who engineered John Lennon, solo artist, to newer heights after The Beatles. 
This year it begins for me on June 4th, when Charles Rosenay sends me a reminder / invite.  I jump on the band wagon immediately.  One of my co-workers, also a DJ, emcees the show with Gary Theroux.  So I go to work and say, "Hey Ken, I have my ticket for Danbury Fields.  It's the 50 year Shea Stadium anniversary this year."  "Yeah, Charles Rosenay usually asks me to co-emcee so he probably will again."  "Oh Ken, he has your name on the advertisement so I would book the day off.  I already have."

And suddenly June, July and half of August are gone.  August 15th is here and I head out to Central Connecticut State College Ives Concert Park in Danbury, CT to participate in Danbury Fields Forever, 2015.  My first remark is:  More people need to know about this and utilize it!  This is the perfect place for families and friends to spend the day.  It runs from 12 - 8 pm.  There are playscapes for kids, food, drinks (alcohol and none) and an almost continuous string of performing groups paying tribute to The Beatles.  Someone slaps a VIP wrist-band on me.  This is the second time this week - both were surprises.  Nothing changes because I wear it, but it upgrades my self-esteem.  I enjoy being a viper.  WAIT!!  That should read VIP-er.

There are eleven bands that will play today.  All are co-ordinated to sing different Beatle eras.  This eliminates hearing 'I Want to Hold Your Hand' eleven times.  Nothing wrong with that, but as we discuss here on Forgotten Hits, there are so many other songs that are great.  Let's hear them all!  I cannot speak about each in turn as that is EIGHT HOURS of music and you will have fallen asleep after the fifth hour of my rhetoric.  I am going to attempt scanning and uploading photos, after I send this so hopefully, you can view this with the excitement and love I felt. 

What impresses me is that there are very young performers here, as well as seasoned Beatle lovers.  There are women in some units.  It is not a march of "Beatlemania" bands, each trying to outdo the other.  They are all there to express love of and for The Beatles, who changed music history so profoundly.  The final band, 'The Hofners', are attired in Shea Stadium clothing and will give the entire Shea Stadium set list.  Clever, huh?  'Penny Lane' is performing Sgt Pepper in full dress "Pepper" jackets, 'AfterFab' performs the solo years, 'NumberNine' does psychedelic, and 'The Blue Meanies' (who performed a benefit concert for Davy Jones at BB's) get to take the stage with Hilton Valentine of 'The Animals'.  Hilton is the honored guest here today, looking and sounding great!  I have never before seen Hilton perform live.  My videos show him as the sleepy eyed (yep, probably reasons for that) swaying lead guitarist on The Ed Sullivan Show.  A security guard says to me as I snap pictures, "If you buy something, he will let you take a picture with him."  My reply is probably abnormal, "I may just do that, but it won't be just to get his picture."

I must add a personal note that I see a high school friend of my kids' who played in a Beatles tribute band with two brothers and is now still playing bass with The Hofners'.  Eleven years ago I asked him what he wanted to do with his music.  "I hope to make a living playing Paul for the rest of my life."  I cry watching him.

There are memorabilia vendors, authors signing books about The Beatles and even one on The Monkees.  You can hear the music from the stage as you wander around 'Danbury Fields'.  You can sit in a lounging chair on the grass or in a folding chair in front of the stage.  You can be in the sun or the shade.  (MAN, IT'S HOT TODAY).  Ken Michaels is an enthusiastic emcee.  "Listening to eight hours of Beatle music ... is there any better way to spend the day?!"  Gary Theroux offers his Rock n' Roll history, which may be lost on some, but I think there may be ways to showcase it and blend it throughout the day.  Ken Michaels' radio show is called 'The Beatles, Every Little Thing'.  Gary's is 'The History of Rock n' Roll'.

Charles Rosenay is my idea of a good producer.  He is visible, handling cell calls and problems, but not star casing himself.  We gotta do something about the sound system though, guys!!!  We all kidded about the crackling making it feel like a vinyl record show and thankfully you could not hear crackling during the music but each time it cut out was frustrating and time-eating.  Thankfully, Charles extended the concert past 8:00 pm so all groups could perform fully. 

John and Paul met at a church fete'.  And the rest ... as they say ... is history.  What better way to honor The Beatles each year, but with a fair-like atmosphere? 
-- Shelley J. Sweet-Tufano
We got this from Charles Rosenay, who has been organizing these Beatles tributes and tours for quite some time now.  (In fact, he just wrote me from Liverpool where he and a bunch of Beatles fans are visiting many of The Beatles' old haunts right now ... and promises more info when he returns home in September!)
Thanks to everyone who attended the Fab 4 Music festival this past weekend. The bands were great, the venue was terrific and everyone who came had a FABulous time.
Now we would like to invite you to REMEMBER LENNON: IMAGINE 75 on October 9, 2015, the exact date of John's 75th birthday. Great seats are now available for this very special theatrical concert event at the College Street Music Hall on 238 College Street across from the Shubert Theatre in New Haven. 
REMEMBER LENNON: IMAGINE 75 presents one of the greatest John Lennon impersonators in existence, a world-class backing band, and audio-visual accompaniment all adding up to a respectful tribute recreating the concert John may have performed had he still been with us.
With most of the world-renowned Lennon tribute acts, close your eyes and you think you're listening to John. With this production, keep them open and you'll be equally amazed. Fans from throughout the East Coast will "Come Together" to pay tribute to John on this landmark birthday. 
REMEMBER LENNON: IMAGINE 75 is a unique extraordinary musical theater experience celebrating the music, the memory, the magic and the LIFE of John Lennon. Don't miss this once-in-a-lifetime concert event. 
Imagine ... 75. 
Website : 
Info: 203.795.4737,
Invite your friends on our Facebook "Event" page :
We also heard from Gary Theroux, who has MC'd the Danbury Fields Forever extravaganza for the past couple of years ...  
Liverpool Productions produced the “Danbury Fields Forever: Fab 4 Music Festival” Saturday, August 15, at Ives Park in Danbury, CT.   For the second year in a row I hosted the show, accompanied by Beatles expert Ken Michaels, who has helmed his own Beatle-themed “Every Little Thing” radio series for more than 30 years.    
The day was a scorcher – over 90 degrees – but that didn’t stop multitudes of Beatle fans of all ages from coming out to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their favorite group’s legendary 1965 Shea Stadium concert.  All day and into the night the crowd was serenaded by a wildly diverse array of Beatle cover bands and soloists, all of whom took turns giving their own spin to songs John, Paul, George and Ringo recorded either collectively or as solo stars.  
The featured bands were The Blue Meanies, The Hofners, Penny Lane, Number Nine, The Oh Nos, AfterFab, The Navels, StrictlyBeatles and The School Of Rock.  Eric Herbst from DizzyFish and Nekita Waller also performed.    
A special treat was the presence of Hilton Valentine, who played lead guitar as a key member of The Animals on their 1964-6 hits (“House of The Rising Sun,” “I’m Crying,” “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood,” “It’s My Life,” “Don’t Bring Me Down,” “We Gotta Get Out Of This Place”).    
Hilton had a booth among the many vendors where he was signing memorabilia and had not intended to perform.  Fan encouragement, though, finally drove him to mount the stage for two numbers, including John Lee Hooker’s “Boom Boom” (which The Animals had revived in late 1964).   
Hilton looked almost ghost-like -- quite pale and frail as he strapped on his guitar -- but clearly he has not lost his finger-pickin’ prowess.  Hilton and I spoke briefly in the wings afterward and I hoped to score a post-show interview with him but as his wife was tired Mr. and Mrs. Valentine wound up leaving shortly after his brief set.
-- Gary Theroux, "The History of Rock 'n' Roll"
And while all of this was going on on The East Coast, here in Chicago we were celebrating the 38th Annual Fest For Beatles Fans (which will ALWAYS be known as "Beatlefest" to me, no matter WHAT they call it!!!)
FH Reader (and noted rock photographer) Mike Bush told me that the line of fans waiting to meet Dick Biondi was the longest line at the entire event.  (He is SO well-loved here in Chicago!)
Dick was signing simulated copies of the original WLS Silver Dollar Survey that first charted The Beatles' "Please Please Me" in March of 1963.  Several years ago, Forgotten Hits proved definitively that Biondi was the first disc jockey in America to play a Beatles record on the radio the month before.  Incredibly, Dick is still on WLS (albeit the FM station) all these 52 years later ... and was just the host for The Happy Together Concert in Bolingbrook a few weeks ago.  (I swear this guy has more energy than I do ... and he's 186 years old!!!)  kk

Friday, August 28, 2015

Happy Together 2015

Still getting lots of comments on this year's Happy Together Tour ... most feel that ALL of the artists perform too short a set ... but felt especially cheated by the four songs performed by The Turtles ... as headliners (and namesakes) of the tour, fans simply expected more.

This is one of the people I subscribe to on youtube. 
He has posted several from the 8/16 concert at Bolingbrook. 
Thanks, Stacee ... several clips here to watch!  You can even catch all 13 1/2 minutes of The Turtles set.  (Jeez, based on their share of the gross this year, I wonder what that works out to a minute???  Even The Beatles used to play a half hour back in the day!!!)  I can't help but feel that Flo and Eddie have abandoned their fans to a certain extent and it's become more about the money than the entertainment value or bang for your buck.  Granted The Turtles ALWAYS put on a great show ... and getting six headliners on the same stage for $60 - $75 is an incredible value ... but 13 1/2 minutes by the headliners?  And only four songs?!?!  It just doesn't seem fair.  (I guess maybe they've found that they can make more money in the courtrooms than on the road these days ... Siriusly!!!)  kk  

I agree with you 100% on your Happy Together review.  The Turtles should have played more than four songs - The Association's harmonies were painful to watch - and Mark Lindsay and The Cowsills absolutely stole the show. 

Thank you SO much for telling us about the Happy Together show in Bolingbrook.  We were all set to shell out $70 a ticket to see the same show in Aurora - so seeing it for free was a real treat.  You just can't beat this line-up - worth every penny!  

>>>Bruce Soboroff was playing keyboards for three nights including Bolingbrook. The regular keyboard player Manny Focarazzo's mom passed away suddenly and he had to rush back to NY. Bruce was good enough to fill in and did a great job with no rehearsal and over thirty songs to learn with all the transitions. Thank you Bruce.   All our thoughts and prayers go out to Manny and his family. (Carl Giammarese) >>>And ours as well ... but kudos to Bruce for stepping in and just nailing it under what had to be some enormous pressure.  Baptism by fire as they say!  WTG, Bruce!  A tip of the hat to his fine musicianship for sure!  (kk)  
I am so sorry to hear about Manny's mom.  She and Godfrey Townsend's mother attended The Happy Together show at Westbury.  The Turtles did salutes from the stage to both mothers with Howard Kaylan running into the audience yelling, "Maamaaaaa!" and dispensing hugs.  How great that she was able to see Manny performing locally (for her) and feel the pride and witness the love.  My prayers are with Manny and his family at this time. 

Saw the show in New Brunswick, August 2. Everyone was great except the Association, who just weren't in sync with the band on the slow songs.  
Charles Farina     

The Cowsills were the highlight for me ... they still sound great.  No offense to ANY of the other groups, but I have seen them before, at least once to six times.  There's just something about the Cowsills ... their song's just make you feel good! Beautiful voices! Great songs!! 
I agree that The Turtles need to mix it up a little more from year to year ... too many repeat performers doing the same songs each time out.  In all fairness, they tried that last year by adding Mark Farner and Mitch Ryder to the line-up ... but those artists just aren't known for their "feel-good" songs of the '60's.  Others wrote in stating that now that since The Grass Roots don't feature ANY original members, they don't belong on a high-profile tour like this one ... they had absolutely NOTHING to do with the recording of these hits.  It's a fine line ... but there is absolutely NO doubt that The Cowsills were a GREAT addition to the line-up this year.  We've seen them three times now and they were spot-on excellent each and every time.  (kk)   

>>>Lou Christie would make the PERFECT addition to next year's Happy Together Tour Line-Up.  (Are you reading this, Flo and Eddie???)  Let Lou come out and do his four or five biggest hits and the audience will go nuts!  (kk) 
I think Lou Christie would make a GREAT addition to the Happy Together tour - change things up a little bit and pump in some new blood.  We seem to get the same act year after year and it starts to get old after awhile.  (I'll bet I've watched Carl put on his old jacket for at least ten years now - we get it - he's kept his "youthful, boyish figure" - he's still thin and and trim and fit and extremely good looking - but all of these guys have been doing much of the same schtick for YEARS now!!!)  Liven things up with some new blood. I have to believe that by this time most of the audience is "repeat business" anyway - so why not treat them to something new and different each year.  There are SO many artists from the 60's and 70's that are still out there performing that we never get the chance to see - give us something new and exciting to look forward to next year!  
Although the Lou Christie idea was mine, I doubt that it'll ever happen ... The Happy Together Tour seems to revolve around the stable of Paradise Artists.  That's why you get The Turtles, The Buckinghams, Gary Puckett and the Union Gap, Gary Lewis and the Playboys, The Grass Roots, Mark Lindsay, Micky Dolenz and Chuck Negron again and again.  Adding The Cowsills this year was a MAJOR coup.  (They even joked on stage that the reason they hadn't been asked before was because they were too young ... nobody in the group was over 62 ... and that typically the day you receive your AARP Card you also get an invitation to join The Happy Together Tour!)  They've gone over in a VERY big way ... and are definitely one of the highlights of the show ... and one of the best touring bands out there. 
But as mentioned earlier, Flo and Eddie DID try to mix it up a little bit last year by adding Mitch Ryder and Mark Farner of Grand Funk Railroad ... but these acts just don't fit the motif of "Feel Good" '60's Music.  Still I have to believe there are other artists out there who would make welcome additions to the show.  You're right ... they pretty much draw the same crowd every year ... so why not treat them to something new.  Many of these fans have been loyal to you for 50 years now ... and 30 years on The Happy Together Tour alone!  (kk)   

Like just about everything in life sooner or later all good things must come to an end ... and the 2015 Happy Together Tour is winding down right now with shows through the middle of next week.     

However, FH Readers in Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota and Ohio still have a chance to see the show ... details below ...   

Friday, August 28th - Oaklawn Racetrack - Hot Springs, AR
Saturday, August 29th - Riverside Casino and Gold Resort - Riverside, IA  
Sunday, August 30th - Bluestem Center For The Arts - Moorhead, MN 
Monday, August 31st - Minnesota State Fairgrounds - Saint Paul, MN  
Wednesday, September 2nd - Mahoning County Fairgrounds - Canfield, OH

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Lotsa Lou ... And More Reviews!

When it comes to prayer, I used to reply, "I don't do weather." Meaning I thought it should just take its course.  Then I realized:  If I don't ask, how will God know?  So, now I ask.  I do believe that God answers with "No" at times, but I have seen an increase in weather-related "answer to prayer" since I started asking.  And now it looks like you have a weather "break-through" for tonight.  Glad to see that it finally worked out!  In this case, the third time's the charm.  I say to my students, "two heads are better than one to figure it out.  Team Up!"  Enjoyed the review ... and so did Lou ... as soon as I notified Lightning Strikes, he twittered your review!
Lou said he really enjoyed meeting and talking to you the other night and he loves your site.  The Lightning Strikes site noticed that your favorite Lou Christie song is 'Beyond the Blue Horizon'.  They said they get more email about that recording than any other Lou has done. 
That really sucks about Jay and the Americans ... I have seen them give outstanding and upstanding shows.  However, even in ours and their heydays, our music heroes got sick, over-partied, struggled through personal issues, etc. ... and come up with some bad reviews.  I truly think they are more diligent now in creating a memorable event for EACH concert, and alas, this cannot always happen.  As kids, we never thought about the fact of what would happen as our idols got older.  I'm amazed to see them, well into their 70's, still charming the stage.   
"Beyond The Blue Horizon" has ALWAYS been my favorite ... even in the pre-"Rain Man" days!  (I remember being shocked when I heard it in the film because I didn't think anybody else even KNEW about this song!!!  It didn't perform very well on the charts and deserved a FAR better fate than it got.  They really should have re-released it to ride on the coat-tails of the film's success.)  The arrangement is just outstanding.  You can barely hear Lou whispering the lyrics on the first verse and then it just continues to build throughout into the tremendous crescendo at the end.  I absolutely LOVE it!  
As for Jay and the Americans, I was truly disappointed ... I was so anxious for Frannie to hear them as they completely blew me away the year before when they opened for Herman's Hermits starring Peter Noone ... so I absolutely know they are capable of putting on a killer show.  Probably just an off night ... and perhaps more due to the outdoor venue and sound conditions as The Bronx Wanderers were also really weak on Friday Night ... but blew the doors off on Sunday after they closed the Lou Christie show. (kk)  

Just to clarify the numbers, back in the day when WLS banned RHAPSODY IN THE RAIN and was instrumental in getting it banned from all the ABC radio stations, that meant only seven stations altogether, and I believe only one other station was top 40 at that time, namely WABC. As I recall, WXYZ in Detroit was well into the process of switching to MOR in that time frame. They're a maybe for making it three stations total if my memory is off, albeit those were three huge markets. 
The upshot is Gene Taylor's Gestapo tactics that yanked EVE OF DESTRUCTION, BALLAD IF JOHN AND YOKO, FRIDAY ON MY MIND, and so many other hits, including of course RHAPSODY IN THE RAIN, from the WLS playlist did damage to Lou's sales and career ... and no doubt many other stations were influenced by WLS' decision, thus taking the totally unfair ban beyond three key markets. 
WLS was a great station in its day, but they could be the Fun Police when they felt like flexing muscle. 
Bill Fortune
Gene Taylor's comments gained momentum when they were picked up by Time Magazine, thus prompting other stations outside the ABC umbrella to ban the song as well.  The re-recorded version was rushed to radio stations as soon as possible but by then most of the damage had already been done, thus stopping the record at #16.  (Here in Chicago, WCFL capitalized on the fact that WLS wasn't playing it ... and it ultimately peaked at #14 here.  (kk)

I enjoyed your assessment of the Lou Christie concert you attended over the weekend, and I especially enjoyed the photos you took. From what you said and wrote, Lou mentioned that his GYPSY CRIED went to #1. Through the years there have been some concerts I have attended in which said artist or group commented on a particular song they were going to sing or just sang, making it to #1. Probably the average concert fan doesn't remember if the song went to #1, only that it was a big hit as we know it today. Probably went to #1 in the artists' or groups' mind. To be honest with you his recording of BEYOND THE BLUE HORIZON, I am not familiar with. If memory serves me right, his RHAPSODY IN THE RAIN was pulled about two weeks after it was being played here in OKC. TWO FACES HAVE I has got to be my all time favorite of Lou's. Every so often when I hear that song, I am reminded of an incident in school when I was talking to a friend of mine about that song. I mentioned that the song was number one with a guy by the name of Robert Louis Stevenson. The friend never got the connection. 
Several years ago (back when The True Oldies Channel was still running here in Chicago) Scott Shannon read a news story about a woman in India who gave birth to a baby with two heads.  I called him immediately and told him that he had just missed the PERFECT opportunity to play "Two Faces Have I" on the station ... to which he replied "You are one sick puppy."  lol  (kk)   

It was great seeing you Friday night in Addison for the Italian fest.  I’m only bummed that I didn’t return Sunday night to see what sounded like a great concert!  I, too, agree that Jay and the Americans were way off Friday night.  I have seen them before and LOVED them.  Something was missing Friday night.  I also have to say that one thing for me put a big damper on Friday’s Bronx Wanderer’s show.  After Jay and the Americans were done, the crowd was subjected to over an hour of preparation, organization, and sound checks by the Bronx Wanderers.  I know the bands need time to set up, but this group subjects us to “Check Check Check” way too long.  I saw quite a few people leaving.  They just got tired of waiting.  There must be a way to speed up the process a bit.  I’ve seen the Bronx Wanderers quite a few times, and it has happened each time.  Consequently they had to cut short their show because of the curfew.  I hate to complain, though, as the summer outdoor concerts are the best bargain in town!!    I’m glad you finally got to see Lou, and I, too, would love to see him at the Arcada.  Hope it happens.  
I know Ron's been trying to book him for a long time ... and I know that they discussed a return engagement ... so let's continue to hope for the best.  Meanwhile I'm just glad that I finally got the chance to see him after all these years!  (kk) 

Kent - 
The concert was great but too short. But some Lou is better them no Lou. Wish he did some of his songs for the encore (Painter,Trapeze or Shake Hands). What a great voice for his age!
Mike DeMartino
Pretty much exactly one hour ... but good from start to finish.  (I still can't get over how good the band was with just an hour of rehearsal.  Lou's Drummer and Musical Director Ron Wilson agreed that they were one of the best "pick-up bands" he'd ever worked with.)
Honestly, I think Lou may have been running out of gas by the end of the show ... but I was happy to see him hold it to an hour and give a solid performance throughout.  (kk)  

I got to meet Lou Christie at a meet and greet prior to a concert a couple of years ago and he was certainly one of the nicest entertainers I've ever had the pleasure to meet. I had a couple of 45's with me for him to sign and he graciously signed all of them, including "Shake Hands And Walk Away Crying" (which I never knew even charted, though it's long been a huge favorite of mine). Lou mentioned to me that his sister is singing background vocals on it. 
I've seen the Bronx Wanderers twice in concert and they were fantastic both times. I can't remember for certain, but I believe it was Stu Weiss who introduced me to their music when he was still on Topshelf Oldies.  
I've seen Jay III and The Americans once, and they were good.  
I've seen some artists I felt should "hang it up", but I admire them for wanting to still be pleasing to their fans, who come to see them and relive the memories, not necessarily to expect them to sound exactly like they did 50 years ago. One example is Jimmy Beaumont and the Skyliners ... always a fantastic show no matter what, but sometimes Jimmy's voice is not very strong and other times he sounds better than I've ever heard him (such as the last time I saw them).  
By the time he forcibly retired, Bobby Vee's voice was all but gone, but he was still putting out music that his fans loved and I admire him for that. I know he would've gladly kept on performing but that unfortunately was not the case. He loved meeting and chatting with his fans, as many artists do ... and I admire any artist who is willing to spend time meeting fans and signing autographs and taking pictures, because I know that's got to be physically hard on all of them, but they get to bring an extra added bit of pleasure to their fans that way.
Tom Diehl
So many of the performers I've met recently seem SO much more appreciative of their fans today.  Back in the day when they were in the eye of the hurricane, socializing with the fans was virtually impossible (and, in many cases, downright dangerous!)  But today as they look back at what really provided them with a life-long career, I think they have come to appreciate the fans that much more.
Some will sign, some won't.  I remember several years ago a discussion here in Forgotten Hits where artists were signing items but then DATING them ... because far too many "fans" were then taking these signed items and turning around and selling them on eBay trying to collect big bucks.  Others will sign just about anything.  (If you look at that one picture of me and Lou that ran the other day, you'll see the marker right in his hand!)
A FH Reader told me he once went to see Bobby Rydell and brought about 15 albums with him to the show for Bobby to sign.  MOST folks in line were probably pissed ... why is this guy over-doing it and taking advantage of Bobby's time ... surely ONE album would have been enough ... but Bobby, good sport that he is, told the reader "If you bought 'em all, I'll sign 'em all"!!!
I've seen some of these lines last for up to two hours after the concert ... and probably would have left rather than sit through all of that.  In that respect, some of these artists are EXCEPTIONALLY gracious, especially when some belligerent fans tell them "You wouldn't HAVE a career if it weren't for people like me."  Get over it ... nobody owes anybody anything!!! (kk)
 (photo by Frannie Kotal)

After seeing the Lou Christie show on Sunday, Frannie went to YouTube looking for more clips ... and let me tell you, you're going to find a WIDE range of assortment here, encompassing ALL of the good, the bad and the ugly!  (lol)  We were especially partial to this appearance Lou made on The Midnite Special back in 1974, possibly to promote his new release (which most likely would have been "Beyond The Blue Horizon" at the time) ... but also performing the biggest hit of his career.  (kk)

     Hi Kent,  
     Always good to see the great Lou Christie getting a  mention.  So good to know also that he’s still hitting the notes. Here are a couple of Lou’s songs from the 70s that you might like to share:    
   1.  The Neil Sedaka - Howard Greenfield song, “Sing Me Sing Me”, which Lou cut for Buddah in 1972. This was arranged by Lew Warburton who wrote arrangements for the Fortunes and Edison Lighthouse in the 70s. He also helped revive the Drifters’ career by arranging a string of UK hits for the group. Lou’s producer here, Biddu, produced a lot of good disco stuff in the 70s, including Tina Charles’  "I Love to Love (But My Baby Loves to Dance)" in 1976.  Neil Sedaka’s version of “Sing Me” appeared on his 1976 album, “Steppin’ Out”.    
2.  The Tony Romeo song, “Summer Days” on Slipped Disc in 1976. The late Tony Romeo also arranged and produced this one for Lou. It was originally recorded by the Partridge Family on their “Sound Magazine” album in 1971. Tony Romeo had written Lou’s big hit, “I’m Gonna Make You Mine” in 1969. He also worked with Lou on his albums, “Paint America Love” and a self-titled one on Three Brothers Records, both in the early 70s.  Lou certainly branched out musically, working with some of the best arrangers and producers over the years.     
Switching continents to Australia, Lou’s “Two Faces Have I” reached #20 in that country in 1963. That position was topped by a local band, Ol’ 55, who took the song to #15 in 1980. Ol’ 55 formed in the mid-70s along the lines of Flash Cadillac & The Continental Kids in the US and Showaddywaddy in the UK. They did originals along with great covers. Ol’ 55’s 1976 album, “Take It Easy, Greasy” peaked at #3 in Australia. Segue to 1980 and Ol 55’s album “The Vault” featured some more covers such as “Good Timin’”, “Keep Your Hands Off My Baby” and “Vacation”. There was also a version of Lou’s “Two Faces Have I” and a sticker on the cover stating this. “Two Faces Have I” was a Top-20 hit for the group and, hopefully, a little earner for Lou (as composer) from the Great Southern Land.   
Best wishes, 
Mike Edwards


Wow, I totally love the "Summer Days" track!  That's one that should have been a hit for sure!  (It went to #89 in Record World ... and didn't chart in Billboard at all!)  kk

Don't miss tomorrow night's '70's Pop Fest at The Arcada Theatre ... check out this line-up:
Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods
Tim Corwin, original drummer of The Ohio Express
Frank Jeckell, original guitarist of The 1910 Fruitgum Company  
Elliot Lurie, original lead singer of Looking Glass
and Kyle Vincent, latter day member of The Bay City Rollers 
Now that's a rockin' line-up ... especially when you consider that Ron Onesti has also booked Bret Michaels, Quiet Riot and Blue Oyster Cult for his CineFest next weekend!!! 
Check out THIS hit list:
# 1 - Billy Don't Be A Hero - Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods (#1)
# 2 - Saturday Night - The Bay City Rollers  (#1)
# 3 - Brandy - Looking Glass  (#1)
# 4 - Simon Says - The 1910 Fruitgum Company  (#1)
# 5 - 1, 2, 3 Red Light - The 1910 Fruitgum Company (#3)
# 6 - Indian Giver - The 1910 Fruitgum Company  (#3)
# 7 - Yummy Yummy Yummy - The Ohio Express  (#4)
# 8 - Money Honey - The Bay City Rollers  (#7)
# 9 - You Made Me Believe In Magic - The Bay City Rollers  (#7)
#10 - Chewy Chewy - The Ohio Express  (#8)
#11 - I Only Want To Be With You - The Bay City Rollers  (#8)
#12 - Who Do You Think You Are - Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods  (#13)
#13 - Down At Lulu's - The Ohio Express (#19)
#14 - The Way I Feel Tonight - The Bay City Rollers  (#19)
#15 - Jimmy Loves Mary-Anne - Looking Glass  (#22)
#16 - Beg, Borrow and Steal - The Ohio Express  (#23)
#17 - Mercy - The Ohio Express - The Ohio Express  (#26)
#18 - Goody Goody Gumdrops - The 1910 Fruitgum Company  (#28)
#19 - Rock And Roll Love Letter - The Bay City Rollers  (#28)
#20 - Special Delivery - The 1910 Fruitgum Company  (#28)

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Lou Christie

Third time's the charm!   

Twice before we've had tickets to see Lou Christie and BOTH times the concerts ended up being cancelled ... a HUGE disappointment because Frannie and I have ALWAYS enjoyed Lou's music and his incredible voice.   

For a while there it looked like Sunday's Show at The Little Italy Italian Festival in Addison, IL, was also in jeopardy.  All week long they had been forecasting severe thunderstorms for this event, a beautiful outdoor set up packed with great food, drinks, novelties and music.

But at the last moment they took all of the rain out of the schedule.  (Of course the moment they did that it then proceeded to rain for about two hours Sunday Morning!  lol)  And then, at about ten minutes before noon, the clouds parted, the sun came out, the temperature leveled off at a perfect 75 degrees with a nice cool breeze, and we headed out to catch the show.  Without a doubt, the Weather Gods were smiling on Ron Onesti this past weekend as he was able to offer PERFECT weather along with several days just jam-packed with fun and entertainment for his Little Italy Festival.

Lou doesn't make it to Chicago very often but this show was well worth the trip.  (In fact he told me that he was heading home right after the show.)  He played to a VERY receptive audience who on multiple occasions gave him standing ovations.  (Lou quipped from the stage that a standing ovation means SO much more to him today than it did during all his "hit years" ... because he knows how much harder it is for all of us to stand up now!)

Lou's voice was in fine form throughout his performance.  (The first question everybody asks when you have an entertainer with such a distinctive sound is "Yeah but can he still hit the notes?  Does he still sound like himself?")  I am happy to report a resounding "YES!" to both of those questions ... although it can't be easy!  (Christie turned 72 earlier this year but you'd never know it to listen to him sing.  Like I always say, when you've got it, you've got it!)  He was spot on vocally from start to finish.

ALL of the hits were represented including "the dirty version" of "Rhapsody In The Rain", "The Gypsy Cried", an extended version of "Two Faces Have I" that allowed the members of the band to show off their individual musical skills a little bit (all the more amazing since this was a pick-up band put together specifically for this show here in Chicago ... kudos to musical director and drummer Ron Wilson for assembling such a tight-sounding outfit, who rehearsed for all of one hour before the show started ... these guys ROCKED!  Absolutely NO ONE in the audience would have been any wiser than to think they hadn't all been playing together for YEARS!), "I'm Gonna Make You Mine", "Beyond The Blue Horizon" (my personal favorite) and, of course, his show-stopper "Lightning Strikes", a #1 Hit from early 1966.

All in all, a very enjoyable show ... and we're hoping that Lou will take Ron up on his offer to return to The Arcada Theatre for another extended show.  (Lou, if you're reading this, I guarantee you that you will absolutely LOVE this venue ... and will want to make it one of your "regular stops" for years to come.)  With acts like Neil Sedaka and Paul Anka already booked to play The Arcada in the coming months, Lou Christie would be a PERFECT fit.  Here's hoping they can pull it together.

Speaking of which ... now HERE's a guy who would make the PERFECT addition to next year's Happy Together Tour Line-Up.  (Are you reading this, Flo and Eddie???)  Let Lou come out and do his four or five biggest hits and the audience will go nuts!  (Check out the Lou Christie Hit List below!)

I am happy to report that we met up with dozens of Forgotten Hits Readers on both Friday Night and Sunday Night ... so thank you all for coming out to see these great shows.  Very special thanks to FH Reader (and major Lou Christie fan) Shelley Sweet-Tufano, Lou's Musical Director Ron Wilson, Lou Christie's personal assistant Kathy Morris and, of course, Ron Onesti for getting us back stage after the show for a brief visit with the star of the show, Mr. Lou Christie, who was very familiar with our work here in Forgotten Hits.  It was a real treat.

Frannie snapped this photo of us back behind the stage where all the trailers were parked ... and here are a few photos I took with my cell phone of Lou and Company on stage.  Arcada Photographer Luciano Bilotti sent us a few professional shots as well.  Great time ... great concert.  (kk) 

Me and Lou after the show
(photo by Frannie Kotal)


Above Eight Cell Phone Shots
by Kent Kotal
(yeah, we had GREAT seats ... 
And the beautiful, sunny day didn't hurt either!!!) 

The Bronx Wanderers closed the show all three nights ... our first chance to see them and it was quite a treat.  (Readers have been telling us for years that we've got to check these guys out.)  They REALLY blew us away on Sunday Night when they opened with a medley of Bee Gees hits followed by a few songs by The Beach Boys ... all spot-on renditions that we hadn't experienced at their earlier performance on Friday while we were there to see Jay and the Americans.   

As for Jay and the boys, my two-word review is simply ... VERY disappointing ... especially since I had just seen them last year when they opened up for Peter Noone and Herman's Hermits at The Arcada and witnessed a near-perfect show.  It must have been something in the air Friday Night ... (The Bronx Wanderers didn't sound that great either on Friday ... but more than made up for it with a stellar show on Sunday Night) ... or perhaps Jay III wasn't feeling well ... but key notes were being missed throughout their set and the harmonies that were SO impressive the summer before in St. Charles just weren't making it here in Addison.  I honestly felt bad for them ... and really felt let down as Frannie had missed their show last year and I was really anxious to show her how good they sounded.  Sadly, it was a major disappointment.  Hey, ANYBODY can have an off night ... one spectator at the concert told me that he had seen Lou Christie four times before Sunday's show, including a couple of shows where his voice was just completely gone.  He said he asked Lou why he went on when he knew he couldn't sing and Lou replied, "Because I didn't want to let down my fans who paid to see me" ... to which this audience member replied "So instead you let them down by giving them a bad show that they're now going to remember as what Lou Christie sounds like today ... and, worse yet, report their findings to all their friends!" 

It's a fine line ... and, let's face it, it isn't getting any easier as we're all getting older.  We want to preserve those "perfect memories" but we still want to see our musical heroes and relive those memories one more time.  Jay and the Americans are capable of putting on a top-notch show because I've seen them do it ... it just didn't happen Friday Night.  And Lou Christie can still bring the crowd to their feet when he sings the way he did on Sunday ... and we loved it!  (kk)

Some GREAT shots courtesy of Luciano Bilotti (who even caught another one of me and Lou backstage after the show!)  Man, what a difference a good camera makes!!!  (lol)  Thanks, Lou ... as always, GREAT stuff!!!

1963 - The Gypsy Cried  (#15 National / #EX Chicago - NOT #1 as Lou stated in concert)
1963 - Two Faces Have I (#3 / #1)
1963 - How Many Teardrops  (#41 / #19)
1965 - Lightning Strikes  (#1 / #1)
1966 - Outside The Gates Of Heaven  (#45 /#17)
1966 - Rhapsody In The Rain  (#16 / #14 - on WCFL - for all of Lou's fond memories of the station and disc jockeys like Dick Biondi, WLS was instrumental in getting this record banned on all of the ABC Radio Stations across the country!)
1966  Painter (#73 / #xx)
1967 - Shake Hands And Walk Away Crying  (#95 / #22)
1969 - I'm Gonna Make You Mine  (#5 / #2)
1974 - Beyond The Blue Horizon  (#72 / #xx)