Saturday, October 17, 2015

Cornerstones Of Chicago Rock - Taking A Look From Another Perspective

From what we've heard by all accounts, last night's taping of The Cornerstones of Rock was nothing short of incredible.  All of our local heroes came home to perform together again, everybody was in top form and the audience loved it ... and, best of all the entire proceedings were taped for all posterity.  (There have even been some rumblings that, depending on how well this program is received when it finally airs in a month or two, they may just take this act on the road so that other fans across the midwest can enjoy it too!) 

While one might think that coming on the heels of The Benefit Concert For Marty Grebb, organized by Dennis Tufano, former lead singer of The Buckinghams and staged at The Arcada Theatre back in May of this year, this incredible reunion of all our local greats might have lost some of its impact.  After all, many of us had just seen most of these same artists perform their biggest hits a few months before.  But this obviously wasn't the case as the audience rose to its feet again and again as each and every act wowed them with the music we all grew up loving here in The Windy City.   

Some of the biggest drawing cards this time around were the facts that it was all being filmed for broadcast and included some of the great Chicagoland artists overlooked at the earlier event such as The American Breed (who haven't performed together in close to 40 years!) as well as tributes to both Chase and Aliotta, Haynes and Jeremiah. 

As mentioned in our piece yesterday, the inclusion of some non-Chicago artists like The McCoys and The Standells takes away some of the focus from the super-active Windy City Music Scene of the late '60's and early '70's.  And, even at that, other deserving and notable acts like The Mob (featuring Jim Holvay, who wrote four of The Buckinghams' biggest hits ... how the heck did Carl overlook inviting THIS guy?!?!), Spanky and Our Gang, The Flock, Jamestown Massacre and several others who dominated the club scene despite not making the charts were not included in this '60's celebration.  (Sadly one of MY personal favorites ... and one of the most dynamic performers I've ever seen ... Jimy Rogers of The Mauds ... couldn't be there to enjoy his spotlight moment ... as he passed away a few years ago.) 

Chicago is very proud of its rich pop music heritage ... we've executed our "bragging rights" here in Forgotten Hits for YEARS now ... so the concept really isn't all that new.  In fact, thirty years ago Photographer Michael Bush reunited most of these very same acts to appear at a local record convention.  
(Of course, it's been awhile since this happened ... and the comradaree between these participants was at a much higher level back then ... sadly, far too many of these artists have been nurturing long-standing wounds over the past several decades ... so it HAS been nice to see some of these folks bury the hatchet every now and then and make nice with one another again ... even if it is just for a special "one night only" occasion.) 

Last year, The Ides Of March hosted "The Cornerstones Of Chicago Rock" as part of their 50th Anniversary (although truthfully the premise was pretty bogus at best ... but then again, as we've learned recently, for all of his incredible talents, loyalty isn't one of Jim Peterik's strong suits ... even when it comes to artists he's been friends with for forty years or more!)  

Billed as a tribute to the lead singers, Ray Graffia, Jr. of The New Colony Six ... one of the original founders of the band ... and the guy who STILL fronts the band in concert to this day ... was left off the bill in favor of Ronnie Rice, who joined the group midway through their second album.  (Truth be told they BOTH should have been there, a wrong that was finally corrected at the WTTW taping last night.)  Without question it was the music of Ronnie Rice that put the band on the national map ... but these days you've practically got to pry a New Colony Six song out of him in concert ... while Ray has continued to perform the complete hit collection (seventeen in all on the Chicagoland charts) on a regular basis.

Also snubbed last year was Dennis Tufano, the guy who sang every hit The Buckinghams ever had.  Sure, Carl Giammarese has kept the "brand" going for upwards of 35 years now ... and he's done an excellent job of doing so ... but everybody knows that the voice on all those hit records belongs to Dennis.  For The Ides to build a showcase around the premise of saluting the lead singers who set the tone of the Chicago music scene ... and then NOT invite Dennis Tufano, was nothing short of insulting.  

And, as far as new and unique concert concepts go, truth be told, Jim Pilster of The Cryan' Shames has been presenting "Chicago Gold" as part of his Cryan' Shames concerts for at least 10-12 years now, often bringing up guest vocalists like Ronnie Rice, Dennis Tufano, Jimy Sohns and Jimy Rogers while The Shames provided the back-up sounds of the music that helped shape our lives back in the '60's, much as The Ides Of March did last night on The Channel 11 stage.  (Jimmy and I have been talking for at LEAST that long about trying to get a WTTW / Soundstage television special together to pay tribute to all these excellent musicians ... but it never went anywhere.)  In that respect, kudos to Jim Peterik for finally pulling it off.  This is a special that needed to be made.  (It still would have been nice to tape some special interviews ... and edit in some of the original clips from back in the day to show all of these acts when they were in their prime.  Hopefully WTTW has a few tricks and surprises up its sleeve in this regard that will do even further justice to this great heritage of music before it officially airs.)    

That being said, the distribution of songs allowed on the program was a bit distorted.  The biggest news of the day was the fact that all four original members of The American Breed were reuniting on stage for the first time in over 40 years.  So, under the huge national spotlight, they brought up Gary Loizzo, Al Ciner, Chuck Colbert and Lee Graziano and then allowed them to perform exactly ONE song together.  (Now granted, it was their biggest hit, "Bend Me, Shape Me", a #1 Record in Chicago as well as in Record World Magazine ... but shouldn't they have been given a little bit more of the spotlight after waiting this long to return to the stage?  And then, after all of that, they didn't even play their own instruments ... The Ides Of March backed them up instead!!!)  Simply put, this isn't something you're going to see every day ... it would have been nice to give the band a little more time.  The reunion of The American Breed was a major coup ... these guys just haven't done any of these "nostalgic" shows. Lead vocalist Gary Loizzo retired from performing to take a seat behind the console, producing much of Styx's early work ... so to see him embrace this opportunity to once again take center stage was a true delight.  Who knows if it will ever happen again?  I believe they should have been able to enjoy a longer moment in the sun.    

The Ides Of March did a great job of filling the role of the "house band", providing back up for all of the various singers who took the stage that night.  The only other group allowed to perform on their own was the current line-up of The Buckinghams. NOBODY out of Chicago had more national hits than these guys did in the '60's ... FIVE Top Ten Hits!!!  They were voted the #1 Group of 1967 by no less an authority than Cash Box Magazine.  (Keep in mind that 1967 was The Year of The Monkees, The Summer of Love and "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" ... so there is NO way to over-emphasize the importance of this honor!!!)   

I will admit that it was really nice to see Carl Giammarese extend the olive branch and invite former lead singer Dennis Tufano up to sing a couple of songs as The Buckinghams' Special Guest at the end of their set ... I have seen few concert attractions more heart-warming than watching Carl, Nick, Dennis and Marty performing together  at The Marty Grebb Benefit Concert a few months back ... it was truly something magical, especially since, by Carl's own admission, he's spent the bulk of the past 35 years trying to make audiences forget Dennis ever even existed!  (My understanding is that inviting Marty to participate in last night's taping was considered as more of an afterthought ... but Marty was already booked for another gig at that point.  It would have been REALLY nice to see HIS performance permanently documented on film, too.)  

It was great, too, to see Aliotta, Haynes and Jeremiah honored with a finale reading of their classic hit "Lake Shore Drive".  Having lost two of their three members recently, it was especially fitting to see them included in this Chicago salute ... and represented by Skip Haynes, the song's writer, and Ted Aliotta, Mitch's brother and one-time member of the band.  Photographer Jack Mongan told me that Skip Haynes said that, other than the original recording, the band had never performed the song live before with the iconic violin part that so dominates the record.  Thanks to the incredible Anne Harris, this, too, has now been captured for all eternity.

Squeezing in songs by The McCoys and The Standells (does anybody other than me even remember tracks like "Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White" and The McCoys' version of "Come On Let's Go"???) cut into time that could have been spent on our local heroes.  (Even the group-ensemble finale of "Louie Louie", while certainly fitting in the context of a garage band program, took precious time away from the guys we really wanted to see.) 

In my opinion, one of the greatest oversights of the night had to be allowing The New Colony Six only four songs ... it was THESE GUYS that broke down the door in getting local music played on AM Radio Giants WLS and WCFL back in the mid-'60's.  To only give them four songs (and not acknowledge the fact that, without them, we may never even have had the chance to hear all the great local groups that came along afterwards) is just plain wrong.  At the very least it would have been nice to see them squeeze in a couple more songs.  (In fact, Ronnie Rice told me that one of his biggest thrills last year at The Ides' 50th Anniversary Event was singing "I'm Just Waitin', Anticipatin'" accompanied by The Ides Of March horns ... he says the song never sounded so good.)  Yet fans in the viewing audience weren't treated to this one (which clocks in at all of under two minutes) in order to fit in more time for The McCoys and The Standells, two groups who aren't even from Chicago.  Similarly, it would have been nice to include Ray's 1968 hit "Can't You See Me Cry" as well as "You're Gonna Be Mine", the first song that Ronnie and Ray ever wrote together. 

Don't get me wrong ... sooner or later SOME band would have been the first to breakthrough (also the name of The New Colony Six's first album, by the way) on Chicago radio ... but the fact of the matter is that the ones that DID it were The New Colony Six).  Once they crashed the doors down, The Shadows Of Knight, The Cryan' Shames, The Ides Of March and The Buckinghams were able to walk through that door in 1966 and also stake their claim to local rock and roll sainthood ... but it was The New Colony Six that first opened that door allowing them to do so. 

(Many of these artists have spent a good amount of time attempting to "rewrite history" over the past 45 years.  "Gloria" was NOT the first Chicagoland Hit to breakthrough on the national charts ... and it did NOT go to #1 and sell a million copies.  A landmark recording?  Yes ... absolutely ... Rolling Stone Magazine even named it one of the most important recordings in rock and roll history ... but the guys who hit first were The New Colony Six.)  

Much has been made over the years about the evolution of The Ides Of March ... from the early, garage band sounds of "You Wouldn't Listen" to the sophisticated horns and driving beat of "Vehicle" just four years later ... without question, a remarkable feat.  But what about The New Colony Six?  

They started off as a true garage band in every sense of the word, performing songs like "I Confess", "I Lie Awake", "Dawn Is Breaking", "At The River's Edge" and others, all precursors to a genre we would eventually call punk rock twenty years later.  Then they went into their "pop" period with hits like "Love You So Much", "You're Gonna Be Mine", "I'm Just Waitin', Anticipatin'" and "Treat Her Groovy" before hitting it large with the ballad phase of their career and soft-rock hits like "I Will Always Think About You", "Things I'd Like To Say", "Can't You See Me Cry", "I Want You To Know" and "I Could Never Lie To You".  Then they came back again to wrap things up with the balls-out, up-tempo rocker "Roll On" followed by two of the most beautiful ballads most people never heard, "Long Time To Be Alone" and "Never Be Lonely".  Over the course of their career, these guys explored four or five different genres of music and succeeded at every single one of them!  Certainly ANY one (or two or three) of those songs would have been more fitting to include than "Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White" by The Standells!!! 

If The New Colony Six are the band most lacking in respect for their contribution to the evolution of the Chicago sound in the '60's, then The Cryan' Shames have to be the guys most grossly ignored.  Between 1966 and 1969 they churned out some of the best-sounding, precisely executed music to ever come out of The Windy City ... yet despite totally dominating the Chicagoland Charts, they barely made a dent on the national scene.  You couldn't find better harmonies out there ... several other groups of this era have often admitted that they aspired to be "as good as The Cryan' Shames" ... including The Ides Of March and The Buckinghams.  Hits like "Sugar And Spice", "I Wanna Meet You", "Mr. Unreliable", "It Could Be We're In Love", "Up On The Roof", "Young Birds Fly", "Greenburg, Glickstein, CHarles David Smith and Jones" and "First Train To California" as well as key album tracks like "Dennis Dupree From Danville" and "Cobblestone Road" insured that they were always on the radio during this era.  Reuniting original members Jim "Hooke" Pilster, lead vocalist Tom Doody and guitarist / chief songwriter James Fairs was a dream come true for any Cryan' Shames fan who grew up in the '60's. 

Add in The Shadows of Knight and tributes to Chase and Aliotta, Haynes and Jeremiah and this was a pretty killer night of Chicago rock, encompassing all of the "biggies".  But it still could have been better handled.  This show, which is being used to kick off the brand new PBS Series "Cornerstones", should have been ALL about Chicago ... then they could have done an "American Garage Band" special down the line ... and featured FAR more groups to better represent this genre than the two that performed last night ... by all means, expand this into a monthly music series, each time exploring a different area of the music of our generation ... but it is absolutely fitting that the very first program should all kick off right here in Chicago on a show that originated here in Chicago, featuring the guys who originally put our city on the map way back when. 

Stay tuned for broadcast dates ... and as soon as we get news as to how you might be able to purchase the entire, full-length performance on dvd, we'll let you know, as this is something you'll surely want to add to your collection. 

Really happy for Ray and Ronnie.  Wish Jerry, Chic, Craig, Pat and myself could be there, too.  Now THAT would be a cornerstone!  
Do be Colony!  
Wally Kemp
MY hope is that after Ronnie and Ray experienced the electricity of the crowd during this performance, they'll consider putting together a series of shows spotlighting the complete history of the band ... and include many of the original and subsequent members in some fashion, much like what was done at The St. Pats Hall Of Fame induction a couple of years ago or The New Colony Six Reunion Concert in the '80's.  Imagine getting a New Colony TWELVE together (with a horn section and minimal orchestration) and putting on a series of shows that covers their entire catalog.  (And, if things keep moving forward at the rate they are right now, there just may be a brand new New Colony Six Greatest Hits CD to promote in the process!!!  Stay tuned!)  kk  

Gee ... I know a former Chicago DJ  who went into TV ... and could have been a "knowledgeable" host. But, modesty prevents me from naming him!  
Bob Hale  
I'll be the first to admit that Wendy Snyder was an unusual selection to host this thing ... I would have immediately thought of either Bob Sirott or Bob Stroud to handle these honors ... or even just let Ron Onesti run with the whole thing, knowing how much he loves and appreciates this music.  His energy would have kept the whole thing moving at an entertaining pace.  But you, too, Bob, would have made an excellent choice ... as would Clark Weber (who first programmed these tracks on the radio) and Dick Biondi.  At the very least they should have taped brief snippets with everybody to edit into the piece.  (Guys like Art Roberts and Larry Lujack, both of whom are no longer with us, had an impact as well.  It was Lujack who told The New Colony Six that they were promoting the wrong side of their new record and got them to flip it over, making "Things I'd Like To Say" their biggest national hit.  And it was Art Roberts who suggested the "call and response" feature in The Ides Of March's biggest hit "Vehicle".)  SO much more could have been done with this special had they taken the time to do so ... but then it would have had to run for six hours and would likely only draw an audience of a few hundred die-hard fans like ourselves!  (lol)  kk    

Hi Kent:  
I disagree with you a bit on the inclusion of “Sunshine Psalm” in the Cryan’ Shames set. It’s a B side that should have been an A side. It was covered by a few Midwest groups at the time (Sometimes called “I Need Her”), and has gained popularity over the years with Record collectors of Garage Rock, Psych Pop etc. It’s a nice track that should have been re-titled and tried to get a hit out of it.    
The American Breed not doing “Step Out Of Your Mind”?   Whose brain fart was that??    
If The Cryan' Shames were doing a retrospective of their own work, "Sunshine Psalm" (along with several other album cuts and B-Sides) would be expected ... but within the context of a "Chicago's Greatest Hits Of The '60's" concert, NOBODY's going to know what it is ... and not question what it's doing there ... especially when legitimate hits were already being left off the set list.  
My hope is that a program like this renews interest in ALL of the Chicagoland bands of the '60's (most of whom have found it EXTREMELY difficult to find work the past few years due to all the festivals trying to save a few bucks by hiring "copy bands" instead).  Perhaps with some heightened awareness, groups like The Cryan' Shames and The New Colony Six will begin lining up summer gigs again after this "Cornerstones of Rock" television special airs.  (Even The Buckinghams may fine next summer a little leaner now that they've been dropped from The Happy Together Tour.)  
As for The American Breed, I can only surmise that because they haven't stayed in touch with one another or kept up performances over the past forty years, it was somewhat difficult to regroup and present themselves as a band again.  Maybe one song was all they could muster up for the program.  I, too, believe "Step Out Of Your Mind" should have been part of the set list ... "Green Light" and either "Ready, Willing And Able" or perhaps the better-known (thanks to multiple cover versions) "Any Way That You Want Me" would have been nice, too.  
Gary Loizzo has been on the other side of the board for so long now that maybe he doesn't miss performing as much as one might think ... but The American Breed are one of only TWO Chicagoland Bands of the '60's to reach #1 on the national charts.  "Bend Me, Shape Me" topped the Record World Chart and "Kind of a Drag" by The Buckinghams reached the summit in Record World and Billboard.  For the record, despite decades of comments to the contrary (and no matter how deserving it may have been) "Vehicle" officially peaked at #2.  (Honestly, I believe it blows the other two away ... but those are the facts, Jack ... I mean Ken!)  kk

Fact ... Not Fiction:

According to The WLS Charts (and the reference source of Ron Smith's EXCELLENT book, "Chicago Top 40 Charts, 1960 - 1969", documenting these lists), here is the actual sequence these artists first hit the charts here in Chicagoland back in 1966.  (Note that The New Colony Six actually did it first ... with two weeks to spare, in December of '65 ... and still nine weeks before The Shadows Of Knight first appeared with their smash "Gloria".)  It's also interesting to see that most of these records performed better in Record World Magazine than they did in Billboard ... Record World must have placed a heavier emphasis on what was happening here in The Windy City at the time ... usually the #2 or #3 market in radio.  (National Chart Information courtesy of Joel Whitburn's Comparison Chart Book.)

12/17/65 - The New Colony Six - I Confess  (#2 here in Chicago ... and peaked at #64 nationally in Record World Magazine; #80 in Billboard)

2/18/66 - The Shadows Of Knight - Gloria  (#1 here in Chicago ... and peaked at #6 in Record World Magazine; #10 in Billboard)

3/25/66 - The Buckinghams - I'll Go Crazy  (#19 here in Chicago, "bubbled under" nationally)

3/25/66 - The New Colony Six - I Lie Awake  (#19 here in Chicago on WCFL; #20 on WLS; #97 in Record World'; #111 in Billboard)

5/20/66 - The Shadows Of Knight - Oh Yeah  (#13 in Chicago; #39 in Billboard)

5/27/66 - The Ides Of March - You Wouldn't Listen  (#7 in Chicago; #41 in Record World; #42 in Billboard)

6/3/66 - The Buckinghams - I Call Your Name  (#14 in Chicago; "bubbled under" nationally)

7/1/66 - The Cryan' Shames - Sugar And Spice (#4 in Chicago; #39 in Record World; #49 in Billboard))

7/1/66 - The New Colony Six - Cadillac  (#27 in Chicago; "bubbled under" nationally)

8/19/66 - The Buckinghams - I've Been Wrong  (#13 in Chicago; "bubbled under" nationally)

8/26/66 - The Ides Of March - Roller Coaster  (#19 in Chicago; #92 in Billboard)

8/26/66 - The Shadows Of Knight - Bad Little Woman  (#19 in Chicago; #88 in Record World; #91 in Billboard)

10/21/66 - The Cryan' Shames - I Wanna Meet You  (#6 in Chicago; #62 in Record World; ##85 in Billboard))

11/11/66 - The Shadows Of Knight - I'm Gonna Make You Mine  (#25 in Chicago; #90 in Billboard)

11/18/66 - The Buckinghams - Kind Of A Drag  (#2 in Chicago, #1 in Billboard and Record World)

12/16/66 - The New Colony Six - Love You So Much  (#2 in Chicago; #55 in Cash Box and Record World; #61 in Billboard)

The American Breed didn't chart with their first hit until 1967.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Cornerstones Of Rock: American Garage Bands - Chicago Style - A Forgotten Hits Exclusive!

Tonight's The Night!!!   

A few weeks ago we told you about the taping of a WTTW / Sound Stage television special featuring all of our Local Heroes from the '60's ...   

They're calling it their "Cornerstones Of Rock" series.  The Ides Of March are bringing together members of some of the biggest Chicagoland Groups of the '60's:  The Buckinghams, The Cryan' Shames, The American Breed, The New Colony Six and The Shadows Of Knight ... together again on one stage to perform their biggest hits before the television cameras that will document this collection of artists who dominated the local scene ... and the national charts ... back in the glory days of Chicago Rock ... and preserve it for all time.   

Here's a link to our original piece from about two weeks ago:   

Tickets to the taping sold out in the blink of an eye ... and it's been the talk of the town ever since the details were announced.  (Several of our Forgotten Hits Readers will be attending ... and we're hoping that they'll report back with full coverage of the event since we are unable to attend.)   

Between you and me and the lamp post, we first learned of this event several weeks earlier than it was officially announced ... but were asked by Jim Peterik of The Ides Of March and Carl Giammarese of The Buckinghams to refrain from mentioning anything about it on the website with the promise that when they were ready to launch, we would be the first to know and the story would break as a Forgotten Hits Exclusive.  As such, I have to admit that it was VERY disappointing to see all the details outlined by several other sources instead when we could have been (and should have been) the ones to exclusively break the story first worldwide.  (Instead, out of respect and loyalty to the participants, we held back any early announcement, waiting for approval and the official word to let 'er rip.)   

Clearly, loyalty only runs one way in this regard as, despite giving more press to both The Ides Of March and The Buckinghams than probably ALL of the other media sources in the world combined over the past sixteen years of doing Forgotten Hits, we were robbed of the honor of exclusively breaking the news first ... and then denied tickets to the concert as well as access to the rehearsals.  I'm happy to report, however, that in the process I've learned a very valuable lesson ... from now on I'll simply follow my journalistic instincts and go with the "breaking story" every time ... lest it be pulled out from under me while silently waiting for the go-ahead in unfounded trust and broken promises.  (After all, that's what makes or breaks a great publication, isn't it? ... the ability to scoop everybody else with key, breaking news.  The story comes first ... consequences be damned!)   

So with this newly infused thought process in mind (thanks, guys!), I am happy to announce today that Forgotten Hits has learned EXCLUSIVELY the proposed set list for this major event being taped tonight.  (If you've ever been to any television tapings before, you're probably already aware that something like this is always subject to change should things run long, not play well, or end up on the cutting room floor during final editing.  Things are rarely taped in sequence and, in order to arrive at the best possible product, songs are often stopped, restarted and then performed again in order to obtain the most perfect take.  With The Ides Of March acting as the "house" back-up band for the majority of these artists, things may run a little bit smoother than normal ... but if you're one of the fortunate few able to attend ... I heard there are only 400 seats ... I'd still prepare yourselves for a lengthy, somewhat slow-moving night.  But be patient ... because you'll be treated to some GREAT music every step of the way.)   

In all likelihood, when all is said and done the special will only run an hour (or, at best, 90 minutes) when it actually airs ... add in the typical pauses for pledge drives and isolated commentary and interviews and it becomes quickly apparent that the two hours that are being filmed Friday Night will never be fully aired on the station ... which allows fans to hope that through a significant donation to PBS, we might be able to purchase the complete, full length concert on dvd instead.  While no official airdate has been announced yet, speculation seems to put it at late November / early December ... and "Cornerstones Of Rock" may become more of a "regular" feature on PBS as well, with additional chapters and profiles, ultimately airing in other cities across the country, too, much the way Soundstage did several years ago.  

As previously announced, Wendy Snyder will oversee the basic program as host (although it looks like Ron Onesti is now also involved in some capacity as well.  Ron has recently become a WTTW spokesman for many of their musical fund-raising events ... sort of our very own version of T.J. Lubinksy ... only FAR more personable and charming!!!  WTG, Ron!)  And while we were banking on seeing an all-Chicago program, the show is taking some of the focus off our local scene by now featuring not only The McCoys (as tipped here a couple of weeks ago) but also The Standells.  (Too bad in a way, as the set lists of some of our local heroes have been cut short in the process to allow time for these other artists to perform.)    

The Ides Of March will kick off the program with "A Little Bit Of Soul", the Music Explosion hit from 1967 ... and a garage band favorite.  (For the complete list of All-Time Greatest Garage Bands ... as voted upon by our Forgotten Hits Readers ... be sure to check out the link below.)     

They're then scheduled to go into their own hits "You Wouldn't Listen", "L.A. Goodbye" and "Superman", followed by a tribute to Chase, performing their big hit from the early '70's, "Get It On" with a guest appearance by one-time Chase member Dartanyan Brown.  The Ides then wrap things up by playing their own biggest hit, "Vehicle", after which Jimy Sohns will join the band on stage to perform three of The Shadows Of Knight's biggest hits, "Shake", "Oh Yeah" and "Gloria".    

Next up ... The New Colony Six, featuring lead vocalists Ray Graffia, Jr., and Ronnie Rice.  Ronnie and Ray will be performing four of their hits:  "I Confess", "Love You So Much", "Things I'd Like To Say" and "I Will Always Think About You".  (Just four tracks for the guys who kicked the doors down and got AM Giants WLS and WCFL to start featuring local talent on the airwaves?  Now that doesn't seem quite right!!!)  It's especially nice to see Ray included this time around, as he was snubbed last year at The Ides similar "Cornerstones" show, despite being not only a founding member of the band (Ronnie joined later) as well as the guy who still fronts the group whenever they perform. 

After The New Colony Six, you'll get The Cryan' Shames.  (Sadly these guys never had a National Top 40 Hit ... and believe me when I tell you, they were ROBBED ... their music was amongst the best to ever grace our city ... yet they get FIVE songs to The Colony's four!!!  As Rodney might have said, "No respect, I tell ya".)  They'll kick off their set with "Sunshine Psalm" (huh?!?!  My guess is that this'll be the first song dropped from the broadcast as NOBODY knows it.  I'm also willing to bet that this was a concession of some sort to get original songwriter and guitarist James Fairs back up on stage with Jimmy "Hooke" Pilster and Tom "Toad" Doody!  Man, I would have traded this one for "Mr. Unreliable" or the classic "Greenburg, Glickstein, Charles David Smith And Jones" in a heartbeat!!!)  The group then shines on a couple of my all-time favorites:  "Up On The Roof" (rumor has it that Carole King had The Cryan' Shames' version played at her second wedding), "I Wanna Meet You", "It Could Be We're In Love" (#1 in Chicago for four weeks back in the Summer of '67) and "Sugar And Spice", a record that blows The Searchers' original version away!   

After that, you should experience one of the most anticipated highlights of the evening ... the long-awaited reunion of The American Breed, who perform their #1 Hit "Bend Me, Shape Me".  (All four original members are back for this one, the first time they've appeared together on stage in about 40 years ... yet they, too, will be backed by The Ides.)  And, after all of that, they're only doing one song!!! 

The program then shifts gears to feature The Standells ("Dirty Water" and "Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White") and The McCoys ("Come On, Let's Go" and "Hang On Sloopy")  Unfortunately this detracts from the concept of this being a program saluting our local heroes ... in retrospect, an All-Chicago edition followed by an All-Garage Band edition (featuring some of the biggest names of this era from around the country) would have made far more sense ... but that isn't the direction they've chosen to go.   

So, after this brief diversion, out come the headliners ... The Buckinghams, who broke through in a way no other Chicago band from the '60's did, scoring five National Top Ten Hits.  For this portion of the program, the entire current line-up of the band will perform (sans The Ides), bringing out original lead singer Dennis Tufano to sing the last couple of numbers.  (Rumors of Marty Grebb's participation have not been confirmed at press time.)  Kudos to Carl Giammarese for extending the olive branch and bringing Dennis Tufano back to share in this momentous occasion.  (Last year at The Ides show the guy who sang every hit The Buckinghams ever had wasn't even invited!)

And then a two-part finale ... first, a tribute to Aliotta, Haynes and Jeremiah with a performance of the classic "Lake Shore Drive", featuring Skip Haynes, the writer of this song and Ted Aliotta, brother of the recently departed Mitch.  (John Jeremiah passed away a couple of years ago.)

This will all be followed by an "encore" group ensemble performance of The Greatest Garage Band Song Of All-Time, "Louie Louie". 

So there you have it ... tonight's program in a nutshell (all you need to know before it even airs!)  Attendees, please send us your comments and reviews ... and if ANYONE out there gets the word on when this program will air, please let us know this as well so we can pass the information along to our readers.  (We're chomping at the bit to see it!) 

Check back tomorrow for more commentary (some of the underbelly of an event like this isn't always a pretty sight!) and, shortly thereafter, some exclusive photos from our FH Buddy Jack Mongan.
Also next week we'll have a review up on the site of the Stevie Wonder / "Songs In The Key Of Life" concert that we'll be attending this evening while all this is going on at the WTTW Studios.   

Stay tuned!

Kent Kotal 
Forgotten Hits

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Thursday This And That

re:  The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame:  
I have been trying to vote for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees since you first posted the information. I have used the links provided. I have made my choices and upon submitting them I get this ... FORBIDDEN (403) ... CSRF Verification Failed ... Request Aborted.
I don't know what I am doing wrong.
I had some difficulties, too ... I can only attribute this to the volume of people on the site at the same time.  Think about it ... the nominees were announced on Friday Morning ... and by 8:00 Sunday Night over 117 Million Votes had already been cast.  (Now THAT'S some heavy traffic)  
By the way, leaders at 8 pm Sunday Night were:
Chicago (25.3 million)
Yes (19.7 million)
Deep Purple (19.5 million)
Steve Miller (19.4 million)
The Cars (18.6 million)  
At this point, Janet Jackson was in sixth place, TEN MILLION VOTES BEHIND The Cars.  Considering how long some of these top five acts have been on our Deserving and Denied List, this makes The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Nominating Committee look even more foolish than usual!  
And this is only the beginning (Chicago pun intentional) ... the online voting doesn't end until DECEMBER!!!  There's no telling how high this vote count is going to go!  (kk)

Tom Cuddy sent us this clip of Scott Shannon of WCBS-FM shows his support of Chicago for The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame ... no doubt about it, he has been one of their largest supporters for over a decade now.  Looks like justice will finally be done next year.  (kk)

We're hearing from several sources that Chicago doesn't belong in The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame because they were a soft rock band.  What?!?!? Just listen to their first several albums ... they were the very definition of fusion back then ... blending rock and jazz into a whole new artform.  Listen to tracks like "Beginnings", "Questions 67 and 68", "Listen", "South California Purples", "I'm A Man", "Make Me Smile", "25 or 6 to 4", "Lowdown", "Free", and hits like "Dialogue", "Feelin' Stronger Every Day", "Old Days" and "Alive Again" and THEN tell me that this group doesn't rock ... right up there with the best of them ... and better than most.
Because The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame waited so long to finally recognize them, folks can only seem to focus on the material they recorded in the '80's under the guidance of David Foster ... go back and listen to the albums that launched their career.  These guys should have been inducted twenty years ago!!!  (kk)

My five choices would be Chicago, Cars, Steve Miller, Spinners and Yes [even though I can't stand them]. I will guess that something like NWA will get in as the RRHOF loves putting in some artists who have very limited recording careers but attract attention.
Mark the Shark
I voted for the exact same five you mentioned ... all artists who have paid their dues and forged ahead with a unique approach to music.  (Plus they make for a nice mix, too.)  This weekend WLS-FM was saluting the members of The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, with special emphasis on the newly nominated Class of 2016 ... and while I didn't listen long, it's a pretty safe bet that this Classic Rock Station did NOT feature any music by NWA, The JB's, The Smiths or Nine Inch Nails ... nor have they EVER played a track by any of these artists.
On the one hand, it seems like the only way to do a feature like that, saluting the new cast of nominees, is to play SOMETHING by EVERYBODY, just to give your audience a taste of what it's all like ... but the fact of the matter is that, even within the context of a special show like this, this music STILL doesn't fit ... and might put off their audience long enough to switch to another station playing something a whole lot more familiar and listener-friendly.  When I see this happen, I cannot help but wonder "Then what makes them worthy of Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction???"  (kk)

I am stunned that people don’t have a problem with people like Janet Jackson for nomination to the R&R HOF. She’s Madonna with a better tan. This is why the HOF has been such a Clown Show. I don’t know what you exactly call the gobbledigook dance stuff these people do, but it Ain’t Rock & Roll!!! At least Ringo, Joan Jett & Cat Stevens do some Rock tunes! Whether they belong in can be debated, but they fit the criteria more than JJ & Madonna, etc. It’s all a big farce anyway ... they put in way too many people each year and it’s gotten so watered down with fringe elements and non-Rock artists. Yuck!   

A final update from Tom Cuddy (along with a quote from Chicago's Lee Loughnane) ...

ROCK & ROLL HALL OF FAME: Fan Vote Is Through the Roof   
Wednesday 02:54PM Oct. 14, 2015 PT   
Chicago has 23-percent of the vote with a month-and-a-half to go.  
While rock fans have been voicing their opinions for years that band such as Deep Purple, Cheap Trick and Yes should be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, it's Chicago who is leading this year's fan vote.  
As of Wednesday afternoon, the band that brought horns to the forefront in rock, has garnered 23% of the vote, which breaks down to 37.4-million votes. Four acts are battling for second, but trail Chicago by 12-million votes. They are, in order: The Cars, Yes, Steve Miller and Deep Purple.   
Janet Jackson has just under 10-million votes, with Cheap Trick behind her with just over two-million. Los Lobos brings up the rear with 360,000 votes. But, there is still plenty of time as voting runs until December 9th. You can place your vote at  
If the current order stands, then Chicago, Yes, Steve Miller, Deep Purple and The Cars will make up a fan ballot to go along with the other 800 ballots cast by artists and music historians. The three previous winners of the Rock Hall Fan Vote – Rush, KISS and Stevie Ray Vaughan – were all inducted the following April.  
The Class of 2016 will be announced in December with the ceremony set for April in New York.  
This year's vote is by the far the biggest ever. Last year there were only 60-million votes total.   

Rock Hall Fan Vote standings as of Wednesday afternoon 
1. Chicago 23.52% (37,361,735 votes) 
2. The Cars 16.19% (25,721,652) 
3. Yes 16.17% (25,689,145) 
4. Steve Miller 15.97% (25,372,090) 
5. Deep Purple 15.95% (25,336,645)
6. Janet Jackson 5.91% (9,389,328) 
7. Cheap Trick 1.28% (2,037,711) 
8. The Spinners 1.25% (1,992,024)
9. Chaka Khan 1.14% (1,806,198) 
10. Chic 0.83% (1,310,967) 
11. The J.B.'s 0.58% (925,264) 
12. N.W.A 0.39% (625,988) 
13. Nine Inch Nails 0.31% (488,810) 
14. The Smiths 0.27% (431,161)  
15. Los Lobos 0.23% (359,967)   

In an interview last year, Chicago trumpet player Lee Loughnane shared his feelings about their omission thus far from the Rock Hall.    
We used to think more about it than we are now, because it’s inexplicable why we wouldn’t be in it. To be able to work at this level this much time later it doesn’t mean anything to be in it or not be in it -- or, if it does, we haven’t been able to experience that yet. If it does happen, that’s something that will happen and then be gone, ‘cause any award or accolade that you are given is fleeting. Then you have the next moment after the ‘Thank you very much.’ What do you do now? Move on.

And, speaking of Halls of Fame ...

re:  The Memphis Hall Of Fame:
Keith Richards to Induct Scotty Moore, Jimmy Fallon to Induct Justin Timberlake Into the Memphis Music Hall of FameMemphis, TN … Highly anticipated additions for this Saturday evening’s Memphis Music Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at The Cannon Center in downtown Memphis are expected. Jimmy Fallon, host of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, is scheduled to induct friend Justin Timberlake. Keith Richards, guitarist and member of The Rolling Stones, is scheduled to induct friend and rock guitar pioneer Scotty Moore.
Scheduled musical performers for the 2015 Memphis Music Hall of Fame include Steve Cropper, guitarist and former member of Booker T. and the MGs, who will join famed drummers Jim Keltner and Steve Jordan in tribute to inductee Al Jackson, Jr.  Tracy Nelson, blues vocalist and lead singer for Mother Earth will be performing in tribute to inductee Memphis Slim. Also, scheduled to perform will be Grammy®-winning R&B artist, Melanie Fiona. Charlie Rich’s son, musician Charlie Rich, Jr. will honor his father in song.
This year, the Memphis Music Hall of Fame is honoring 2015 inductees Alberta Hunter, Al Jackson, Jr., Scotty Moore, Charlie Rich, Sam & Dave, and Justin Timberlake. Inductees Sam Moore of Sam & Dave and Justin Timberlake are scheduled to attend. They join such previous Inductees as Elvis Presley, B.B. King, Al Green, Jerry Lee Lewis, Howlin’ Wolf, Isaac Hayes, Johnny Cash and others, bringing the roster to 54.
Tickets for the October 17 event are available from Ticketmaster by calling 1-800-745-3000 or by visiting All attendees are subject to change.
The Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum administers the annual Memphis Music Hall of Fame announcement and induction, in cooperation with Memphis’ many music organizations and attractions. The Memphis Music Hall of Fame museum is now located at 126 Beale Street between the Hard Rock CafĂ© and Lansky Clothiers. For more information about the Memphis Music Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and the Hall of Fame museum, visit    

re:  Neil Sedaka:  
Love the Neil Sedaka song. I know I have never heard it before but it is that sexy movie sort of song. It almost made me think of an older James Bond movie soundtrack song.  Love it.  
Glad you were finally able to get the post up. A lot of interesting stuff.  
It's a very pretty song ... apparently he's recorded a couple of different versions of it over the years but it still never reached chart success.  Frannie says when she hears it, she wants a martini!  (kk)    

Sedaka or Jobim?  
Compare this to the Sedaka track "Alone At Last." Start listening at about :25 after the long intro.  
David Lewis  
There's no question that there's a similarity here ... and they were recorded about 20 years apart!  (kk)    

re:  This And That:  
One of your readers commented on a copy of Billy Joe Royal's (RIP ... loved him) 'Down In The Boondocks' you posted reminded me of another unique recording.  I had a copy of Pete Townshend's 'Let My Love Open the Door' a few years back that gave the most interesting sensation thru ear buds when the music went from ear to ear.  A music buddy tried to duplicate the sound because he remembered it, too, but we just couldn't get there.  Do you recall this copy or know where I can find it; and would you post this in your 'Helping Our Readers' section so someone else may recognize what we're talking about?   It'd be nice to know what album the song was on originally when something like this comes up.  Thanx for still caring about OUR music as much as your readers do.   
Sorry, but I'm not familiar with that one ... but that's not to say that one of our astute readers out there won't know exactly where to go.  Stay tuned.  (kk)  

UPDATE:  Before our posting even went out, Patti solved her own request!  
The one attached is the copy I referred to in my previous e-mail (see below)  I found it in my 'favorite songs' folder.  If you look on the DETAILS page in PROPERTIES you'll see the information lists 'My Music' as the album and the date as 1996.  I have no memory of where I got this, but would dearly love to know where it originated if you have any clues.  Thanx!  
Now that I've actually heard it, it's got to be from some type of compilation CD of some sort as I don't see an album by that name associated with Townshend directly.  (Or perhaps a British import with a slightly different mix?)  It's definitely not the hit single version ... or the one featured on the "Empty Glass" LP from which this song first sprang.  Those are just guesses on my part ... does anybody know for sure?  (kk)   

Here are a couple of shots of Burton Cummings performing at The Ridgefield Playhouse, in Ridgefield, CT.  During the show Burton also spoke about his fondness for Gerry Marsden, lead singer of Gerry and the Pacemakers and then sang one of his personal favorites, "Ferry Across the Mersey."  Burton said his t-shirt is to acknowledge his appreciation of the music of Richie Valens.  Not only is he sensational in concert, but he has such a huge passion for music in general and the artists that have inspired him. I, too, have seen him with and without a band, and have enjoyed him either way tremendously.  Although you have to prepare yourself not to expect "American Woman," when he's without his band.
-- Tom Cuddy

(Forgotten Hits exclusive photos by Tom Cuddy)

The Fest For Beatles Fans has some REALLY cool looking Fab Four lava lamps available ... I like them all ... but I think the "Rubber Soul" one is still my favorite.  Check 'em out here:


And, speaking of The Beatles ...
>>>KEWB lists this week's #1 song as "Yesterday" by Paul McCartney ... despite the fact that it is also charting the B-Side of that record, "Act Naturally", which is sung by Ringo.  ("Yesterday" premiered on our WLS Silver Dollar Survey as Paul McCartney, too ... but after that it was properly credited to The Beatles.  (kk) 
As for "Yesterday" being credited to Paul originally, he performed the song on Sullivan as a solo ONE day before Capitol released the 45 in the US.  Thus, early chartings likely attributed the song to Paul upon seeing the TV show.  Both A & B sides had been getting airplay for a month through UK imports of the "Help!" album which the US counterpart had omitted these songs from. 
The Pete Best LP ad reminds me that we got the LP in a Wichita record store two years later.  There was a huge stack of them and we had never heard of Pete Best!  We wondered if it was another Beatlemania cash in LP by an obscure soundalike, but upon close reading, decided to buy it for 2.99.  It was the real deal and included their "What'd I Say" version we had recorded off radio earlier.
Seeing Yesterday and Act Naturally at #1 with Help and I'm Down at #14 shows there was still some extra saturation in late 65 of Beatlemania.  It got worse fast.  Capitol Starline's 45 release of the old cover of "Boys" created more controversy and saturation.  
On October 11, 1965, Capitol Starline "reissue" label released 10 old Vee jay tracks on five singles.  "Boys" got the main attention, even garnering Billboard's "Top 20 Singles" prediction in the Oct 23, 1965 issue!  The very same week, the record was already listed as #102 on the Hot 100 Bubbling Under.  It seems that Capitol realized it was not a great idea to promote the old song and tried persuade stations from playing it as a new release the following week. 
The song started at #38 on WLS on Oct 22 chart and then zoomed to #18 and quickly disappeared.  Attached is the WLS chart from Oct 29 and also the WABC New York chart from Oct 23 where "Boys" was the pick hit while "Yesterday" was #1 and "Help!" #12. 
To add more proof of Beatlemania's hold in late 1965, here's a clip from my tapes that has NOT been passed around.  In just an hour, you'll hear the three singles featured four times on the Dan Ingram afternoon drive time show!
More interesting may be seeing (and hearing) "Eve of Destruction" on WABC check and #4 on their chart.  With ABC close ties between WABC and WLS, you will not find "Eve of Destruction" on a WLS chart.  In Billboard, Gene Taylor made headlines singling out "Destruction" as not appropriate for the station to play.
Clark Besch
Several points to your comments ...
WLS charted "Yesterday" first as a Paul McCartney single as well.  I remember questioning this years ago and, after showing the chart to both Clark Weber and Dex Card, Card called the survey a "fake".  It absolutely isn't ... check with ANYBODY who has this chart in their collection and that's the way WLS published their Silver Dollar Survey for the week of September 3, 1965 ... which is all that much MORE amazing since Macca didn't do the song "solo" on Sullivan until September 12th ... nearly ten days AFTER WLS first charted the record this way.  (Although it premier at #20 that week, WLS had been playing the track for five weeks off the British "Help" soundtrack LP.  Ron Riley regularly featured Beatles tracks not available in America due to the different album configurations released by Parlaphone in the UK and Capitol Records here in The States.

"Boys" charted for five weeks on WLS, peaking at #18.  I seem to recall listening at the time and one of the deejays explaining that The Beatles themselves had asked that radio stop playing the record as a single as it was no longer in keeping with their current sound of the day.  I believe he even said that this would be one of the last times they'd be playing the record!  (Keep in mind the boys were about to go back into the studio to record what would become their "Rubber Soul" album ... and their music was never the same again after that!)  In fact The Beatles had just appeared here a couple of months before at Comiskey Park ... this is the concert that I had a free ticket to courtesy of my cousins ... but my Dad wouldn't let me go because it would have been too long a trip to pick me up the next day in Deerfield ... and yes, it HAS emotionally scarred me for life!!! As you can imagine, WLS was playing EVERYTHING Beatles-related to help hype the concert.

It wasn't JUST Vee Jay tracks that made these special Capitol Starline releases ... in fact, the B-Side of "Boys" was "Kansas City", which appeared here in America on the "Beatles VI" LP, several months after first making its appearance on the British "Beatles For Sale" album.
The others in the series (there were six singles released simultaneously in all) were "Twist And Shout" / "There's A Place", "Love Me Do" / "PS I Love You", "Please Please Me" / "From Me To You" (which is how I FINALLY got my copy of "From Me To You" since it has never appeared on a commercially released Beatles LP during the time the band was together), "Do You Want To Know A Secret" / "Thank You Girl" and "Roll Over Beethoven" / "Misery" (another track that never made a Capitol LP).
Fab4 Collectibles has a beautiful set of these available ... you'll find all of the details here:

Just wondering where KEWB was located.  Occasionally I don't recognize the call letters on your weekly charts.
Jon M
Radio. It's a sound idea!
It looks like they broadcast out of the Oakland area.  In fact, I found this cool website where you can listen to old audio clips of the station, circa 1959 - 1966!  Check it out!  (kk)

Hello Kent!
I will be sending you a review of the KOOL103 Caravan Of Stars concert in Jackson, Tennessee, soon.  It was a fantastic concert that included a tribute to Billy Joe Royal and I will be sending pictures along with the review.
Billy Joe is certainly missed by all his friends, fans and all the performers who have performed with him and in Jackson.  I especially miss him because he was one of my all time favorite music heroes and legends!  It was always fun spending time with him. He was truly special and such a great man who loved and adored everyone and treated all his fans like old friends.
Thanks for all the great stories!  I will see you on Friday at the Chicago Cornerstones Of Rock!  
Take care,
Unfortunately you won't see ME there ... we'll be at the Stevie Wonder show ... but please send us your review of the show!  (And that goes for any of our other readers able to attend, too!)  kk

Hi Kent -  
Just a note for readers ...  
Veteran music industry guitarist / manager RICK LEVY is now tour manager / bandleader for TOMMY ROE and manager / rhythm guitarist for THE BOX TOPS.  
Both legendary acts will be performing regularly and ... in some cases ... packaged together.  
Rick is also a professional potter, residing in St. Augustine Beach, Florida.  
Looking forward to finally meeting you and Tommy Roe next March when you hit The Arcada Theatre!  (kk)

Just got this from Carol Ross, Tommy James' manager, who tells us that plans for a movie based on Tommy's book, "Me, The Mob And The Music" continue to move forward ...

Producer Barbara DeFina announced that Matthew Stone - whose credits include Intolerable Cruelty, Soul Men, and Free - has been signed to adapt Tommy James’ critically acclaimed autobiography Me, The Mob & The Music: the gripping, true life tale of Tommy’s tumultuous relationship with Morris Levy, head of Roulette Records, which was a front for the Genovese crime family in New York.
Starting with the #1 1966 smash “Hanky Panky,” Tommy James - with the Shondells and solo - unleashed a staggering string of mega-hits, including “Mony Mony,” “I Think We’re Alone Now,” “Draggin’ The Line,” “Crimson and Clover,” and “Crystal Blue Persuasion.” In 1969 alone he sold more singles than The Beatles.
Barbara DeFina, of DeFina Film Productions, is producing the film with James. Her many credits include Goodfellas, Casino, Cape Fear, and the upcoming Silence.
Matt Stone is represented by ICM Partners and Nelson Davis LLP. George Sheanshang and Mark Schwartz represent Barbara DeFina and Tommy James.
A couple of weeks ago we told you that Tommy was finishing up a new album featuring a series of "unplugged" remakes of many of his greatest hits called "Accoustitronics", which will feature a few "celebrity guests".  And Tommy's coming back to Chicago on November 13th at The Rialto Square Theater in Joliet.  (kk) 
>>> For anyone interested in the best-selling records charts of the 1940s, the online archive at now includes the charts from that decade:  As the Cash Box charts from this period listed more records each week than the concurrent Billboard charts, there are many records on these charts that never appeared on any Billboard chart.  The online chart archive now has the entire 52-year history of the Cash Box best-selling pop singles charts, from late 1944 through late 1996, when the original print edition of the magazine ceased publication.  (Randy Price)  
It's great to see that Cash Box charts from the forties are now posted on Randy Price's excellent Cash Box site.  I have been looking for Chicago area charts from the forties, and Cash Box published weekly city-by-city Juke Box charts from that time.  Unfortunately the only place that seems to have a complete collection is William And Mary College, and getting copies would involve traveling to Alexandria, VA.  Maybe someone on your list could "help out a reader" if they know of any other places these would be available.  Thanks for all your help, Kent, and for keeping us oldies-lovers connected.

All you radio buffs out there are going to LOVE this website ... in fact, you'll probably spend hours here just browsing around!

Mr. Kotal,
I am sorry to bother you but I am hoping you can help me.  I have been trying to find out the progress of Sonny Geraci since his illness and I have had no luck.  Mr. Geraci is very special to me, but not because of his singing (which is and always has been fantastic and he is beautiful!) but because of his determination to get through this very dark time in his life. You see I have been through some dark times of my own (from 2012 to early this year) and although I cannot even imagine what he has been through, I have imagined that he has been determined to make it through this time and that has been the driving force that has helped me through mine.  I know with our determination and our Father in Heaven beside us, we will both be SURVIVORS!! If possible could you please let me know of a website that has updates on Mr. Geraci?  I would really appreciate any help.
Thank you,

PS - Sorry for the war & peace email :)
No worries.  I think the family has been fairly private with Sonny's progress, but we're hearing good things. (I'm not aware of a website that offers "health updates" ... but this is what his good friend Dennis Tufano told me recently):
Sonny Geraci is slowly coming back. Mentally he is in very good stead but physically he is not strong enough to get on the stage. He’s working hard to get back out there. The jerk who stole the money has been released from his prison stay and there’s hope that he will be paying back the money or go back to prison.
I will keep you posted as much as they keep me posted. Thx. 

I'm sure that most of you know that Dennis is referring to the guy who ripped off all the funds raised for Sonny's benefit concert in Statesboro a couple of years ago ... this guy ought to be made to pay back every penny and then some for taking this money under false pretenses.  A number of us made donations to Sonny's health fund in an effort to help his family with all the medical bills ... and this asshole pocketed the take. 
The GOOD news is that it sounds like Sonny is working hard to get back up on that stage and perform again.  He has a very loyal following ... we get letters regularly asking how he's doing ... but as I said, his family is seldom forthcoming with new information. 
Thankfully Dennis has kept us up to date whenever possible so we can help pass the word along to Sonny's many fans.  (Dennis is one of the most genuine, kind-hearted people you'll ever meet in this or any other lifetime.  His selfless efforts to help those in need ... like Sonny Geraci and Marty Grebb ... people whose music has touched SO many lives ... is unparalleled.   Dennis, you're a saint and we love ya.  (kk) 

Dennis also updated us on Marty Grebb ...  

Marty is doing well under the circumstance of his health. He’s a very positive and optimistic soul. He is loved and his music is his peace.  He has a full performance schedule with The Weight band.  If you haven’t heard them, you must ... they are the THE BAND incarnate!!! 
Marty is an INCREDIBLE musician ... I am SO proud and pleased that he has been able to rise above all the pettiness and bullshit and just live his life to the fullest, doing what he loves doing the most.  This is all that much more commendable under the circumstances.  You guys have brought so much joy to us all over the years.  At some point, we all come to realize that there just isn't enough time in our lives for all the behind-the-scenes crap that goes on in your chosen profession.  It's so easy to get wrapped up in all the games that you lose sight of what drew you to this in the first place ... which is the love of the music.  (When you guys were organizing the benefit concert at The Arcada, there was all kinds of craziness and innuendo going on that the general public never knew anything about.  Marty's simple response to me in the heat of all this nonsense was simply:  "Ahh ... drama"  (lol)
Please keep us posted, too, about the fund-raising video and how folks can order a copy.  Proceeds from this will also go to Marty's health fund.  Thanks, Dennis!  (kk)  

Kent ... 
I wonder if you and your readers remember these funny guys.  
Frank B.

Boys, boys, boys ...

This story made headlines this week as Tom Jones lashed out at his (apparently) former friend and labelmate, Engelbert Humperdinck.  (The two were also tied together due to their association with manager Gordon Mills throughout the '60's.)  

Tom Jones Calls Engelbert Humperdinck a "C***" (Twice!); Engelbert Dismisses Gracefully    
by Paul Cashmere, Noise11    
Music legend Engelbert Humperdinck was shocked to learn that Tom Jones used the "C word" when talking about him to a British newspaper last week.   
Jones had been bottling up the sentiment for decades when he let fly to The Metro. When asked about their rivalry, Jones replied, “It’s as I say – ‘once a c*** always a c***”.  Engelbert was taken aback by the comment, especially the language used considering Tom’s Knighthood. In response he posted “to be honest i feel sorry for Tom always being in a bad mood. Life is too short to hold anger inside. I wish him luck”.  
When Tom Jones and Engelbert Humperdinck were chart rivals in the 60s and 70s, they were both managed by the same man, Gordon Mills. Mills and Jones’ formed their own record label, MAM, with Engelbert as the label’s biggest star. The label became the UK’s biggest independent label of the early 70s but tensions raised when Engelbert left the label. “I have always held Gordon Mills in very high esteem. He was my friend. He believed in my talent but for the sakes of my career I felt it best to branch away from MAM,” Engelbert told  
Tom apparently took Engelbert’s departure personally and has been bottling the tension all these years.  
British record producer Simon Britton, who worked with both Engelbert and Tom on the All Together Now charity single commented, “Tom Jones totally overstepped the mark in an interview today in the Metro Newspaper regarding an Icon & True Gentlemen. To use the C*** Word twice in One Sentence is not acceptable. In fact it’s Disgusting… Just a little bit bored of Tom’s stories of “When I Was with Elvis” and so on.. How the Hell did Tom earn the Title Sir? This is a Gentlemen & Sir if you Will.. ‪#‎Truth”.
Engelbert has put the outburst behind him as he prepares for his trip to Australia next week for his 2015 Australian tour

Jones (or as I like to call him, Old Mr. Sock-In-The-Pants) has had a few media outbursts recently ... he made headlines a few weeks ago when he was ousted as one of the judges on the British version of "The Voice", to be replaced by Boy George.  Chill, baby!  (kk)  

re: Happy Together, 2016:  
Here's the official line-up for next year's Happy Together Tour. 
Headlining (of course) are The Turtles ... along with Mark Lindsay and Chuck Negron, two co-headliners that always bring the house down ... and The Cowsills (who stole the show last year with their impeccable harmonies.) 
Also back this year is Gary Puckett (I've lost count of how many of these tours he's done now) and new-comer Spencer Davis (which is a bit of a surprise since all of The Spencer Davis Group's hits were sung by a young Stevie Winwood!) We had strongly campaigned for Lou Christie, who would make the PERFECT addition to this line-up where the artists typically come out and perform their four or five biggest hits, accompanied by a shared back-up band.  (We saw Lou this past summer and he was fantastic.  Here's hoping Flo and Eddie will give him some fair consideration for Happy Together, 2017!!!)  kk

For some reason Box wouldn't let us embed the music files last night or this morning ... the only thing we were able to do was post links to the music ... which we hate to do as it forces you to leave the website in order to hear it ... and we don't EVER want you to leave the website!!! (lol)
I apologize for the inconvenience but they didn't answer my "Help Request" in time to resolve for this morning's posting.  (kk)