Saturday, December 12, 2015

Our Top Five Concerts of 2015

Our countdown continues today of the five best shows we saw in 2015 ...  

#  5 - BRIAN WILSON - The Genesee Theatre - November 11th  

If you're going to go see somebody perform the music of The Beach Boys, you may as well go see the Master Genius himself ... the guy who composed, arranged and orchestrated this timeless music ... and I can't imagine a better vantage point to see him than from the front row at The Genesee Theatre!  Topping off the evening was the fact that we got to take a few of our Forgotten Hits Readers with us.   
Supported by a ten piece band, Wilson ran through the hits in rapid-fire fashion.  Throughout the night, he shared the lead vocal duties with special guest Al Jardine, Al's son Matt (who now handles all of the high harmonies and also solo'd on several tracks), Darian Sahanaja (fresh off the road from The Zombies reunion tour, celebrating their "Odessey and Oracle" album) and Scott Bennett, who was all over the stage filling in on various instruments throughout the performance.  (In fact, many of the members of Brian's band are capable and quite adept and proficient at playing multiple instruments, filling in wherever necessary to give the audience the fullest sound possible ... at times it felt like you were actually in the recording studio, the music was so perfect and precise.) 
Most would call this "the concert of a lifetime" ... and Brian's band is an AMAZING group of accomplished musicians who love and appreciate this music every bit as much as we do.  As such, it made for the PERFECT evening.

#  4 - BURTON CUMMINGS - The Arcada Theatre - September 18th
To say that Burton Cummings put on yet another great show at The Arcada Theatre Friday Night is a given ... we've seen him four times now in the past three years and he never disappoints ... and Friday was no exception ... a rockin' good show from start to finish.  He simply isn't capable of putting on anything less than a great show!  
Burton Cummings held two spots on last year's Best Concerts list ... one for his "Up Close And Alone" show at The City Winery and again for his full band performance at The Arcada.  (That doesn't mean there were slim pickings last year ... it's just that both of these shows were THAT good!  The fact that this music can play so incredibly well in both settings is a true testament to both the songs themselves ... and the man who created them.)   
I've probably seen Burton perform about twenty times now over the years, dating back to his '70's shows with The Guess Who ... right on through his solo shows in the mid-'70's (backing up everyone from Melissa Manchester to Alice Cooper!!!) ... and then again through a couple of the Guess Who reunion shows when they passed through town ... and he has NEVER put on anything less than a stellar show.  Here's hoping he'll be back Chicago way again next year ... this is a show NOT to be missed!
Complete review here:

#  3 - ALAN PARSONS LIVE PROJECT - The Arcada Theatre - May 29th

Last year Parsons captured both the #1 and the #2 spots on our Best Concerts Countdown.  That's because we saw him perform BOTH shows at The Arcada.  After being completely blown away by the 7:00 set, Frannie insisted that we stay for the next show, too ... and, incredibly, it was even better than the first! 
This year's show was every bit as good ... and he easily would have topped our list again were it not for some formidable competition.  Still, for all you doubters out there, check out this band in concert ... you will NOT be disappointed.  (And you locals on the list will have every chance to do so when Parsons returns to The Arcada Theatre on May 7th next year ... once you've seen him, I'll betcha it ranks high on YOUR list of "Best Concerts Ever", too!!!)  In fact, we just watched the dvd of their concert in Spain from 2004 the other night ... just can't get enough of the incomparable Alan Parsons.    
The Alan Parsons Live Project transformed the small, friendly confines of the sold out, historic Arcada Theatre into The Royal Albert Hall for the evening through their musical magic ... it was literally rock and roll royalty putting on a majestic performance of the highest caliber ... the show was nothing short of magnificent.   
To a man, this has to be one of the most accomplished collections of musical talent to ever grace one stage.  Song after song ... EVERY song ... they continued to amaze their very receptive audience, who awarded them with standing ovations throughout the evening as each stellar performance seemed to surpass the last.

#  2 - THE MARTY GREBB BENEFIT CONCERT (starring The Buckinghams with special guests Dennis Tufano and Marty Grebb, The Ides Of March, Ronnie Rice, Jimy Sohns and The Shadows of Knight, The Cryan' Shames, featuring Jim Pilster and Tom Doody, The Chicago Experience, and more) -The Arcada Theatre - May 7th

Nothing topped the electricity of this show for me this year ... to have all of our Local Heroes reunite on stage for one big night ... and for one good cause ... was nothing short of magic.  (The only missing link was the absence of The New Colony Six, who had performed their own benefit concert at The Arcada just a few weeks earlier.  As such, only Ronnie Rice was on hand to represent the band.) 
The show was brilliant from start to finish ... and I was proud to be associated with it in ANY fashion.  Emails exchanged for weeks afterwards ... and the dvd of the entire proceedings should be available shortly.    
I don't care WHEN you've seen The Buckinghams ... WHERE you've seen The Buckinghams ... or in what CONFIGURATION you've seen The Buckinghams ... you have NEVER seen The Buckinghams look and sound like this!!!    
Many of the same players reunited recently for the WTTW - PBS "Cornerstones Of Rock" concert ... and next year, they'll be making several appearances together at concert venues all over the midwest ... The Very Best Of Chicago Rock, together on one stage.   
You can catch our concert review recap here:

#  1 - STEVIE WONDER - The United Center - October 16th

We knew instantly that it was going to be hard to beat THIS show as Concert Of The Year.  The multi-Grammy-winning album "Songs In The Key Of Life", performed in its entirety, live on stage was something to see ... and we wouldn't have missed it for the world.  Stevie's performance was outstanding from start to finish ... and the additional 45 minute encore of non-stop hits was out of this world. 
The show has since been brought to a close ... so we feel VERY fortunate that we were able to see it when we did.
But I'll tell you first hand that Stevie Wonder still has a WHOLE lot to offer as a GREAT entertainer.  Here's hoping he'll be back again real soon, doing a "Greatest Hits" show covering his entire career ... 'cause I wanna see THAT one, too!!!
Wonder pulled out all the stops in his efforts to recreate the album in all its original glory ... at times there were as many as THIRTY musicians, background singers and dancers and musical directors up on stage with him ... including a killer, dynamite brass section as well as a mini orchestra of strings.  I will go on record right here and now and say unequivocally that I can't imagine that Stevie Wonder could have performed this set of music ANY better forty years ago when it was brand new than he did Friday Night at The United Center (nor would have had the resources then to do so.)  Start to finish, it was an amazing, incredible night of music ... with Stevie in EXCELLENT voice throughout.   

Friday, December 11, 2015

Best Concerts of 2015 - Let The Countdown Begin!

We saw a LOT of great shows this year ... so narrowing it down to just ten is a difficult task.   

Here are some of the shows that just missed the cut ...  

THE NEW COLONY SIX - The Arcada Theatre - April 19th - Benefit Concert for The Rhythmic Arts Project 

THE HAPPY TOGETHER TOUR - Bensenville Performing Arts Center - starring The Grass Roots, The Cowsills, The Association, The Buckinghams, Mark Lindsay and The Turtles - August 16th 
Highlights:  The Cowsills and Mark Lindsay ...  
Full review:  

GEORGE BENSON - The Arcada Theatre - May 6th 

RICHARD MARX - The Genesee Theatre - December 4th review:   

PAUL REVERE'S RAIDERS - The Arcada Theatre - May 17th review:   

TONY ORLANDO - The Arcada Theatre - July 26th 

STEVEN WRIGHT - The Genesee Theatre - January 18th   

GINO VANNELLI - The Arcada Theatre - May 16th 

Once you've had the chance to review this list of "Best In Show", you'll see why people are saying that The Arcada Theatre is now the #1 Music Venue in the Midwest for big name entertainment ... the fun just never stops!  We saw SO many great shows at The Arcada again this year ... and host Ron Onesti is already gearing up in a VERY big way for 2016.  Be sure to check out the website often for updates.
#10 - GRAHAM NASH - The Arcada Theatre - July 28th

I've never seen The Hollies ... or Crosby, Stills and Nash (with or without Young) ... so the chance to see Graham Nash (who was always my favorite anyway!) perform a solo, acoustic show was a real treat.  (Actually he wasn't completely alone ... Shane Fontayne supplied ample back-up both musically and vocally.)
Graham is a great story teller ... both onstage and in print (I'm reading his biography right now ... which Frannie picked up ... autographed no less! ... in the lobby after the show.)
Nash did two full sets, encompassing the music of his entire career.  Again, a more charming entertainer (chock full of British humor) you're not going to meet.  
"Playing in a setting like this, I don't have to do any of Crosby's songs ... or any of Stephen's songs ... or any of Neil's songs ... instead I can play whatever the fuck I want."

#  9 - NEIL SEDAKA - The Arcada Theatre - October 4th

Never pass up the opportunity to catch a true legend.  
I had seen Neil Sedaka twice before Sunday Night's show at The Arcada ... both times as part of his mid-'70's comeback, fueled by Elton John signing him to Rocket Records.  (For the first show, back in 1975, he was the opening act for America ... less than a year later, Neil was the headliner, supported this time by newcomers England Dan and John Ford Coley ... in both cases, EXCELLENT shows.) 
As such, it had been quite awhile since I'd seen him.  And Frannie caught the show as a first-timer.  
Let me tell you, his voice hasn't lost a thing ... he did an impeccable set of music and was entertaining as could be, offering up all kinds of interesting tidbits from his long career.
Here's a guy who could play Vegas all year long and never have to worry about an empty seat.  I'm SO glad we decided to go!

#  8 - LOU CHRISTIE - Addison Italian Fest - August 23rd

Twice before I had tickets to see Lou Christie live in concert ... and BOTH shows got cancelled ... so when I heard he was going to make an appearance at this year's Italian Fest in Addison, I knew I had to go for it.  (Naturally, they forecast rain ... which may have pre-empted his show once again ... but instead the sun broke through and we were treated to a beautiful show, presented in glorious sunshine!)
Christie has long been a favorite of ours ... and he was in fine voice that afternoon.  I had the chance to meet him after the show and we have stayed in touch ever since.  (How cool is it to receive a "Happy Birthday" greeting from Lou Christie?!?!  And earlier this week I got a Christmas Card!!!)
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.
I'm hoping he'll return to Chicago next year for an appearance at The Arcada Theatre ... and even recommended him as the perfect candidate for one of the up-coming Happy Together Tours.  (He'd be the PERFECT addition to the show ... someone we all haven't seen a dozen times already ... and able to go out there and do his five biggest hits and leave the crowd wanting more!)
Complete review here:

#  7 - RONNIE MILSAP - The Arcada Theatre - September 27th

When Ronnie Milsap announced that this would be his farewell tour, I knew we had to go.  I have enjoyed Ronnie's music for SO many years ... but have never had the chance to see him perform in concert before.  If I had any disappointment at all, it was that he didn't play another hour longer!  He barely scratched the surface of his incredible string of 40 #1 Country Hits, many of which crossed over to the Pop Charts as well, making Milsap a much-loved performed in ALL genres of music.
Ron Onesti hinted that Ronnie had mixed emotions about leaving the road ... here's hoping he decides to make a return appearance real soon!  
This show is pure musical magic from start to finish ... no glitz and glamour ... no special effects ... just good old fashioned playin' and singin' ... with the emphasis on the music every step of the way. 

#  6 - HERMAN'S HERMITS starring PETER NOONE - The Arcada Theatre - May 30th

Noone's voice has only gotten purer and richer with age.  He can completely transport you back to a time when he was 17 years old ... I swear, he never ages ... and this music still has the same kick and appeal just as it did (as Peter points out) over 20 years ago when they were making records as the original Herman's Hermits.  (Never more clearly than during a Herman's Hermits concert is the point driven home about how timeless this music really is ... we saw five year olds singing along with every word and dancing in the aisles!)  The show-stopper for me was "The End Of The World", a song he has long claimed to be his Herman's Hermits favorite ... I have NEVER heard him perform it better ... absolutely goosebump-inducing ... a simply beautiful reading of a classic.  Since about 70-80% of the show is played for laughs, one forgets just how well Peter Noone can still sing ... but when it's time to play it straight for a few minutes the true, lasting quality of his voice really shines through. 
There aren't many performers as entertaining and captivating as Peter Noone ... while one could argue that he has it down to a science, it never feels that way ... Noone is so engaging and personable each time out that every show seems fresh and new, no matter how many times you've seen him.  (That's why his loyal group of Noonatics attend multiple shows in multiple cities every single year!)
His two set show at The Arcada Theatre was no exception.  The band featured more British Invasion hits than ever in order to fill out the length of the show, but Peter has a way of making every song touch your heart.  He already has a full schedule booked for 2016 ... including a return trip to The Arcada on June 4th.

Join us tomorrow as we count down The Top Five Concerts of 2015!!!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Best Concerts of 2015

Looking back, I'm guessing that we went to about two dozen concerts last year ... along the way we saw everybody from Alan Parsons to Peter Noone to Graham Nash to Burton Cummings, Stevie Wonder, George Benson and Brian Wilson ... with several others thrown in between.   

It's always hard to do a "Best Of" list because you don't want to leave anybody out.  That being said, I can unequivocally say that the WORST concert event of 2015 that I witnessed had to be the David Cassidy Show at The Arcada Theatre.  (March 26th)  

I know that host Ron Onesti had the best intentions ... bring David up on stage ... do some one on one Q & A and then open it up to the audience ... give him a chance to talk about his new album, reflect back on his career ... and generally just have a loose, fun evening with his fans.  

Cassidy, however, had his own agenda that night ... he knew EXACTLY what he wanted to talk about ... and no matter what questions Ron asked him, he steered the conversation back to the topics he wanted to cover.   

He also looked in poor health ... almost skeletal in appearance ... and was fighting a terrible cold and case of laryngitis ... so was really in no position to sing anything.

That's not to say there wasn't a poignant moment or two. Cassidy seemed to be holding his own personal intervention when he discussed alcoholism in regards to how it has affected his family ... stating that his grandfather was an alcoholic, his father, actor Jack Cassidy, was an alcoholic (with a raging temper), and that he, too, was an alcoholic ... stating that one of his greatest fears was that he may have passed this hereditary trait down to his own son.  This particular segment was especially touching ... David acknowledging his weakness and then stating "But I'm working on it".  That made his subsequent issues this past year all that much more disturbing and frustrating ... as he clearly doesn't have a handle on it after all ... and despite therapy and owning up to his illness, he is not in control.(Cassidy made headlines all over the world after he appeared intoxicated on a British talk show, talking about his divorce ... and was later arrested for leaving the scene of an accident where, although never tested, it was believed he was driving under the influence of alcohol.) 
To an extent, Ron egged him on, trying to get more out of the interview process ... HE knew what David was contracted to do ... but Cassidy only wanted to talk about what he wanted to talk about ... and cut the whole evening abruptly short, simply leaving the stage when he was done saying his piece, leaving a bewildered looking Ron Onesti in front of the audience with not much more to say than "Well, I guess the show is over ... thank you all for coming."

Truth be told, it was a pretty sparse crowd that night ... and anybody who may have come in the doors a David Cassidy fan most likely left with a much lower opinion of the fallen rock star.


If I'm being completely honest, the best concert I saw in 2015 was Jeff Lynne at Hyde Park in London ... but that was on DVD so it really doesn't count.  (Still, he put on an AMAZING show that I have probably watched at least a dozen times now ... I can't WAIT for him to tour The States in 2016!)   

But OUR list will be based on the Ten Best Concerts We Actually Saw ... LIVE AND IN PERSON ... During 2015 ... and we'll start counting 'em down tomorrow ...right here in Forgotten Hits!   

(Who made the list???  Well, you'll have to stick around in order to find out!)

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Chuck Negron Concert Review

We've got a guest columnist today sharing a review with our readers ... welcome back to Rich Turner, who just caught Chuck Negron, live in concert, down in Clearwater, Florida! 

Take it away, Rich!  


Well, I just saw the "official" Three Dog Night just three weeks ago here at our annual Ribfest in St. Petersburg, Fl (and sent in a review which you put on the blog, thank you!) Now it was time to see perhaps the real deal, Mr. Chuck Negron himself, former lead vocalist of the aforementioned. 

For the last few Decembers, Clearwater, Fl, has hosted a Christmas celebration they call "Miracle On Cleveland Street. It is usually the first Saturday night of December (this year December 5 to be exact) and they close off several blocks of the main downtown drag, yes Cleveland St. They erect a stage, have music, vendors and stuff for kids. Last year the featured music artist was Little River Band (or, as we all know them as, the band that plays Little River Band music.) This year the main act was Chuck Negron. And it's completely free! Bring your chairs, get a $3.00 beer or a slice of pizza and enjoy the, yes, 70 degree nighttime temperature here in Florida in December. Christmas is less than three weeks away. 

The opening act before Chuck was a local Pat Benatar tribute band by the name of Fire And Ice ... and they were great! Not only did they play a nice selection of Benatar tunes but also did a few other 80's songs, too. Any 80's band that had a hit with a female vocalist was covered by Fire And Ice. Their lead singer, who I only know by her first name of Rosemary, was great. Great-sounding and great-looking with what I really love, big 80's hair.  The rest of the band was just three guys, playing, guitar, bass and drums and their sound was big and impressive. They even rocked up a couple of Christmas tunes like Santa Claus Is Coming To Town and Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree. I was very impressed and even more impressed when I got to meet Rosemary after the show. She was very appreciative of my good words and I promised to check out her band in the future. Now I know that all this doesn't mean much to anybody except Tampa Bay area residents but I still wanted to give them a plug. They are on Facebook. 

Now on to Chuck. 

I saw Chuck Negron just last March on the Happy Together Tour down here in Plant City, Florida, at our annual Strawberry Festival. Yes, we get a lot of festival events down here! You may have heard the weather is nice year 'round. It's Florida. I sent in a review of that show which you also ran, thanks again.  

At that show, Chuck was backed by the Happy Together Band and, of course, only played five songs, as that is pretty much the limit for the acts on the Happy Together tour. So I was really looking forward to seeing him do a much more complete show with his own band.   

His band came out and consisted of a keyboardist, guitarist, bassist, drummer, and one final guy switching off on guitar and keys. Chuck was introduced and he slowly walked onto the stage as the band broke into Family Of Man. Let me put this out there right now ... Chuck is 73, but he could easily pass for late 50s or early 60s in appearance ... but he doesn't move around too well. I guess you could say he moves like a 73 year old man. But here's the main thing, he looked good (dressed in white pants with a white jacket over a black tee shirt) and he sounded GREAT!. I personally thought he sounded almost as good as the Chuck Negron on Three Dog Night records of 40 to 45 years ago. The band was excellent also.  

The next song was Shambala (a personal favorite of mine) and even though Cory Wells was the original vocalist on record, Chuck made it his own as he did with the third song, Liar, which is one of the few Danny Hutton songs. Then an outstanding job was done on Out In The Country (another personal favorite) which his band really helped out on the vocals. Beautiful!  

Then for a slight change of pace the keyboardist, whom I only know by the name of Carlos, started to play the opening notes of the TDN album classic (also done originally by The Band) Chest Fever. After about 30 seconds Carlos segued into the Deep Purple favorite Lazy from Machine Head and the band soon joined in as they recreated that tune. Then, after a couple minutes of Lazy, it was back to Chest Fever with Chuck on the vocals. Very impressive. 

Then it was on to more Three Dog Night hits ... Old Fashioned Love Song (another highlight), Eli's Coming, Never Been To Spain (didn't quite work as it's originally a Cory vocal), Celebrate, One Man Band, Mama Told Me Not To Come (nice job on this one even though it's a Cory song) and then his outstanding performance on One, Three Dog Night's first big hit. And then one final song, of course Joy To The World. 

Let me mention this ... Chuck did not do a whole lot of chit-chat between songs (unlike at the Strawberry Festival, where he talked and joked quite a bit).  However, before Joy To The World, he did make mention of the passing of Cory Wells and Jimmy Greenspoon and said how much he misses those guys and the music they made back in the day. And even more impressively he went on to mention every member of the Dog's from the past by name and said he hoped he didn't miss anybody. I think he missed Mike Allsup's name but I'm not sure at this point. I did mention the $3.00 beers earlier so things might have gotten just a little fuzzy!

Anyway Chuck thanked the band, said that he misses them, and dedicated Joy To The World to Cory and Jimmy. Very touching especially when you consider that when I saw Three Dog Night just three weeks ago, Danny Hutton never mentioned Cory Wells at all, let alone Jimmy Greenspoon.

After about an hour and 20 minutes it was over. Chuck walked off the stage just before the song was done (gingerly) and was helped by two security guards back to his white van. I guess you might be able to call it a small limo, but it looked like a large stretch van. They helped him get in and it drove off and I figured that's all I would see of Chuck Negron this night. But no, more later. The band finished up, I went over and shook hands with the guitarist and bass player and complimented them on a job well done. Let me throw this out there. There were maybe 200 to 300 people watching the show and it was FREE. I'm sure this looked like a pretty disappointing turn-out for the band and Chuck Negron.  

Me and my two buddies packed up our chairs and headed back to the parking lot with a few others. We were about two blocks away and what pulled up from a side street to the street we walking on, but, yes Chuck Negron's white van! We could see him in the van (by himself with a driver) and motioned with our phones if we could get a picture. Unbelievably he waved us over. We ran around to the other side of the van and the driver hopped out and opened the door. Chuck was just sitting there and said, hey go ahead and get a picture. My buddy, Andy, who is just a little bolder than me, asked if he would get in the picture with him and Chuck said sure. Andy climbed into the van and sat next to Chuck and I got the shot. Then Andy climbed out and I gave him my camera and climbed in.  

As I tried to sit down next to Chuck (more standing than sitting) I mentioned to him that I had seen Three Dog Night just three weeks ago here in town. His reply, "Was Cory with them then or was it after he had passed?" I replied that no, it was just a few weeks after Cory had died and David Morgan had taken his place. Chuck very diplomatically said, "Yes, I know David. I think he's a great singer." My friend Andy got a couple of shots and as I got up to leave I thanked Chuck for his time and then said. "Chuck one final question. Why are you and Three Dog Night not together to this day?" He stuttered for a couple seconds (I'm guessing searching for the right words) then replied, "Man, it's just all a bunch of bullshit. That's the best way to put it. It's just a bunch of bullshit." I thanked him again, and we waved goodbye.  The driver slammed the door shut and the van took off. 

Great night of music, great Pat Benatar tribute band, great singing performance by Chuck Negron, and I got to meet him after the show.  The show was free and the beer was cheap. What more could you want on a Saturday night here in Clearwater, Florida???  

-- Rich Turner 
   Safety Harbor, Florida  

P.S.  I'm sending a few photos including the one of him and me in the van ... hope they come out okay to use.  


Thanks, Rich, great review.  We saw Three Dog Night and Chuck Negron back-to-back a couple of years ago ... isn't it funny that BOTH groups kick off their shows with "Family Of Man"???  

It is SUCH a shame that these guys couldn't mend their fences and pool their resources ... they probably could have headlined around the world on a major reunion tour and sold out every venue ... and I'll bet sales on their catalog would have gone thru the roof, too.  Such a shame. 

The Danny and Cory / Two Dog Night show is no more ... with Cory's recent passing, I don't know how much longer the fans will be willing to listen to a substitute once the novelty wears off.  Chuck Negron's back on the The Happy Together Tour again this year ... and is also coming to The Arcada Theatre along with Mark Farner, the former genius behind Grand Funk Railroad, and they are performing as "The Voices Of Rock" ... and I, for one, can't wait to see them.  (I was supposed to interview Mark Farner a couple of years ago when HE was on The Happy Together Tour but we could never get our schedules to coincide.  I did, however, have the chance to talk with Chuck after one of those shows ... and you'll find MY picture down below, too!  All I can tell you is that he was in GREAT shape ... and in fine voice and spirits the night we saw him ... seemed very happy doing what he's doing. 

Thanks again for sending ... I've been listening to Three Dog Night - "The Complete Hit Singles" all week long in the car ... so this is the perfect capper to the week for me!  (kk)

Three Dog Night scored 21 straight Top 40 Hits between 1969 and 1975 ... and seven of those went all the way to #1.  For a while there, they were the most popular group on the planet!  I was fortunate enough to see them a couple of times back in their hey-day ... and have caught The Two Dog / Danny and Cory Show and Chuck Negron solo show several times since as well.  Suffice to say I was a MAJOR fan at the time ... and still haven't gotten tired of their music.    

Here's the Three Dog Night Hit List ... EVERY one a Top 40 Hit Record!  

1969 - Try A Little Tenderness  (#22)
           One  (#1)
           Easy To Be Hard (#1)
           Eli's Coming  (#7)
1970 - Celebrate  (#11)
          Mama Told Me Not To Come (#1)
          Out In The Country  (39)
          One Man Band  (#11)
1971 - Joy To The World  (#1)
          Liar  (#6)
          An Old Fashioned Love Song  (#4)
          Never Been To Spain  (#3)
1972 - The Family Of Man  (#8)
          Black And White  (#1)
          Pieces Of April  (#18)
1973 - Shambala  (#1)
          Let Me Serenade You  (#12)
1974 - The Show Must Go On  (#1)
          Sure As I'm Sittin' Here  (#16)
          Play Something Sweet  (Brickyard Blues)  #24
1975 - Till The World Ends  (#22)

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

re:  Cornerstones Of Rock:
That's the big news this week ... WTTW will finally air this awesome reunion concert TWICE on Thursday Night ... and then again on Saturday.  Apparently only being shown locally in the WTTW broadcast area now, be sure to tell your friends all about it.  We'd love to see this show get worldwide coverage and help set the stage for many more broadcasts of this nature.
Check your local listings by originally scheduled to be broadcast Thursday Night (December 10th) at 7:30 pm with an encore performance immediately behind it.  LOTS of great goodies being used as incentives to draw new subscribers to the station, too ... so you'll definitely want to check this out.  (kk)
For those of you, like me, who don't live in the WTTW viewing area, you will not see the Cornerstones Of Rock program. WTTW is not making it available for viewing anywhere else any time soon. I was told that since it is a local production, they are keeping it in house for the foreseeable future. It will not be streamed either. They want you to buy the DVD. They're supposed to get back to me, when they know how much they'll charge for it. It should be a fun two hour program, minus the pledge breaks. Please note the actual concert was about three hours, and there really wasn't too much excess babbling. I would venture to say that there could be as much as an hour of music that WTTW isn't gonna show.  They may show some selected clips later on, but who knows when that will be. If the nice lady gets back to me before Thursday, I'll give you all a heads up. Looks like I'll have take the money I was gonna spend on Kent's Xmas gift, and buy the DVD. Sorry dude.
Jack Levin
Now see if you were REALLY a friend you'd just order us BOTH a copy!!!  (lol)  I've heard that there's LOTS of additional footage including interviews, rehearsals and full length performances not shown as part of the television broadcast ... plus a live cd of the proceedings as well as a "greatest hits" CD of the original commercially released versions of these tunes.  (Guessing THAT bundle's gonna cost around $250!!!)  Stay tuned to watch and see.  (I'm using my DVR ... that way I at least have a back-up copy until the real dvd shows up! Bad luck with PBS pledge product in the past ... we ordered the autographed copy of the Brian Wilson and Friends concert broadcast live from Las Vegas and never received it ... and my three follow-up inquiries went completely ignored.  I've since heard that they completely sold out as they had a very limited supply of product.  The good news is they never charged my credit card.  The bad new is I've yet to be able to find a copy other than on eBay where the guy wanted something like $150 for it!!!  (kk)
Speaking of great PBS Specials, did any of you happen to catch The Carpenters documentary that ran over the weekend.   I nearly bought that one, too ... until I realized I already OWN it ... and probably paid about $30 for it vs. the $180 they wanted for pledge night.  Very heavily edited for broadcast ... but still worth a viewing or two.  Such a sad ending to such a beautiful, fairytale story.  (kk)
re:  The New Colony Six:
Founding Member Ray Graffia, Jr., reunited with Ronnie Rice, a familiar voice on The Colony's records during the hit years, along with current member Bruce Mattey to film their segment of The Cornerstones Of Rock Program for PBS.  It's my understanding that the trio (backed by The Ides Of March) performed FOUR songs that night:  "I Confess", "Love You So Much", "I Will Always Think About You" and "Things I'd Like To Say".  Not sure how many will make the final edit but hopefully ALL of these performances will be on the deluxe version of the DVD and soundtrack CD.  (Ray told me they also filmed and recorded some interview material with each of the participants so I'm thinking that'll probably be part of the bonus material as well.)
Meanwhile, it looks like 2016 is shaping up to be a pretty big year for The New Colony Six.  Promoter Robert Stolzman, who organized last year's Benefit Concert for The Rhythmic Arts Foundation, is promising numerous appearances by the band next year as they lend their support to other fund-raisers.
For right now we're only at liberty to tell you about the first one ... but Robert promises there's a lot more to come.  
Read on ...
Hi Kent -
Just thought I would let you know that I have several upcoming shows to benefit Misericordia with everyone’s favorite band, The New Colony Six.  
We have shows scheduled across Chicagoland all through 2016 but can only release the info to one of them at this time. 
This one will take place at the Woodstock Opera House on April 30th.  
The NC6 will be the only act.  
I have some pretty big name guests to appear at our Meet and Greet but won't announce this information until Valentine’s Day! ha-ha!  (I can tell you that long-time friend of The New Colony Six, Chet Coppock will be there, along with Dana Buffone for a special book signing.)
I am also doing a Rockabilly Fest on April 29th to kick off our Lovefest Weekend featuring the Cadillac Casanovas and Slick 50, another popular rockabilly band from the area.  I will also have some of my old *Rick Nelson friends in town for this show.  Again this show is a benefit for Misericordia.
I will announce the other shows in January and will give Forgotten Hits the inside track on these as they become available.  
Attached is an ad you can use, along with some pictures.
Regards -
Robert M. Stolzman

re:  Tom, Elvis ... and Two Dicks ... :
Vintage Vinyl News is reporting on a strange Elvis Presley / Tom Jones encounter ... apparently something Jones shared with host Conan O'Brien on his late night program recently ...
Tom Jones had the most awkward encounter with his hero Elvis Presley when The King opted to relieve himself while pitching the Brit a new song.
The two rockers became friends in the mid-1960s after a meeting in Los Angeles, and when Presley heard a song he thought was perfect for the Welshman, he insisted on visiting him in his hotel suite, while Jones was taking a shower.
The "It's Not Unusual" singer could hear Elvis singing in the bathroom as he cleaned u and it was only when he stepped out did he realize The King had been crooning on the toilet.
"He was standing there cleaning up, looking in the mirror and so I'm naked and he's half-naked; his pants are down by his ankles," Jones tells U.S. chat show host Conan O'Brien. "He's singing this song to me. 
"I'm trying to towel down and Elvis is singing ... and then of course I said, 'Elvis, you know your pants...' and he went, 'Red!', because he used to have a bodyguard called Red... so Red busts through the door, thinking there's something wrong... and he says, 'My pants, man...'"
The minder, Red West, then proceeded to help Elvis squeeze back into his skintight leather trousers.
Tom has previously opened up about his friendship with Elvis, noting they had all types of interesting conversations. 
"He would say to me, 'Tom, you're a lucky man, because you married your childhood sweetheart'," Tom recalled to USA Today. "Elvis said, 'How do you sing like that?' That's what he said, to me. I said, 'Well, you're partly to blame.' He said, 'Yeah, but I grew up in the South, listening to black gospel. How did you learn it?' I said, 'By listening to you, and people like you. By listening to Mahalia Jackson.' I was getting it on the radio, but we were both white boys listening to black singers."
re:  Bobby Darin:
I guess you found out last week that I'm not the only one who wants to hear more about Bobby Darin.
Frank B.
I've been promising to rerun this series for about eight years now ... I guess it's probably time for me to actually do it!!!  (kk)
The most effective use of "Mack the Knife" I've ever seen is in director Robert Redford's wonderful 1994 film "Quiz Show," which looks at America's "loss of innocence" over the scandal of the rigged TV quiz shows of the late '50s. Redford contrasts Bobby Darin's relatively "innocent," cleaned-up version to open the film with Lyle Lovett's explicit version of "Moritat" to end the show.
Don Effenberger 
I'd never heard this Lyle Lovett version before ... and, while listening to this, I noticed that a Lotte Lenya version of "Mack The Knife" is ALSO available.  (Now I think that in all fairness she should have inserted Bobby Darin's name in her version!!!)  kk
Talking about "turn about is fair play" ...
Hello Kent,
I have come to realize that my previous email concerning the ironic relationship between Bobby Darin and Tim Hardin contained an error. It was 'If I Were A Carpenter' not 'Reason To Believe' that was shared between the two and sometimes got mixed up as to who wrote which.
Regardless Bobby Darin was a superb entertainer and artist who left us all too soon. Reading his Bio on Wikipedia I realized the importance of taking Penicillin each and every time I went to the dentist, since I, like him, had Rheumatic Fever as a kid.
Thank you for your marvelous blog, one never knows the impact some little bit of trivia or the sharing of a story impacts others, I must say I have had a lot of fun reading your blog so thank you.
Keep up the good 'labor of love' and have a very Merry Christmas,
Actually the Bobby Darin / Tim Hardin connection goes deeper than that.  Hardin couldn't get a hit with "If I Were A Carpenter" until Bobby Darin recorded it.  It went on to become a '60's standard and The Four Tops also charted with a hit version of this record shortly thereafter ... and it was this song that put Hardin on the songwriting map.
In a true case of turn-around is fair play, Hardin then recorded the Bobby Darin composed tune "Simple Song Of Freedom".  It would be his only chart hit, reaching #47 in 1969.
This, too, is discussed in much greater detail in our Bobby Darin Series ... I may just have to take the month of January off from regular postings and finally get this sucker posted to the website ... it really is a good series (yeah, I know ... SO modest ... but it IS!!!) ... and I worked very hard on it ... and it played to rave reviews at the time, running once as an encore presentation to a whole new mailing list and then again through the official Bobby Darin websites.  What made it fun and unique for me was the fact that I knew VERY little about Bobby Darin's career prior to writing it.  It was truly a research and writing experience and, in the process, I became a HUGE fan of his music.  (Plus with our FH Buddy Dennis Tufano still doing his tribute to Bobby Darin in concert, I think HE might enjoy seeing it again, too!)  Let's see if time will permit me to do so.  (kk)
re:  This And That:
Joel Whitburn's latest book, spotlighting all of the weekly Cash Box Magazine Charts of the '60's, has already started shipping.  (Can't wait to see my copy!!!)  These will make the perfect companion pieces to his similar Billboard Chart Books, some of which are already out of print!
Better get your hands on these early before they're all gone!
Complete ordering information can be found on The Record Research Website ...

Meanwhile, Joel has extended his $10 off offer ... so you aren't going to find a better time to order this than right now!  (The Cash Box Charts of the '70's are ALSO available through Record Research!)
Kent ...
Interview Date:  July 26, 1987 - Hank Ballard
He said that in 1960 he had three songs on the charts:  "The Twist", "Finger-Poppin' Time" and "Let's Go, Let's Go, Let's Go.", kind of comparing himself to the Beatles.
He also stated that Dick Clark pushed Chubby Checker's version of "The Twist" because Dick was
involved in Chubby's management.
Hank wasn't bothered by this because he wrote the song and was still making money off Chubby's sales.
Off the top of my head -- I thought Hank's version of "The Twist" was first on the charts in 1959. I'm not going to call him a liar until I check it out.
Turns out I was right and wrong.
How can that be you say?
I say my Billboard book has it listed this way:
March, 1959 - "Teardrops On Your Letter" is a hit for Hank Ballard. That's the A-side.  The B-Side is "The Twist." I guess we were both right.
Here's another interesting fact.
In July, 1960, Music Vendor has Hank Ballard's version of "The Twist" listed as a #1 hit. Not Billboard, only Music Vendor.
If we take Chubby Checker's version of "The Twist," it was a #1 hit twice (1960 and 1961) and add
it to Hank Ballard's (Music Vendor) version of "The Twist" that means that it was a #1 hit a total of THREE times, not two as we previously thought it was.
Frank B.
Technically, "The Twist" SHARED the #1 position in Music Vendor with the Chubby Checker version.  Back then, Cash Box and Music Vendor tended to list multiple recordings of the same song at the same position, designating the official "hit" version, followed by competing cover versions that were available at the same time ... but you're right ... in SOME fashion, both Ballard and Checker hit the top spot with Hank Ballard's revolutionary composition.  (kk)
Hi Kent,
Let us not forget that they saved the best one in the series for last ... "Crusin' With Porky Chedwick"
Ed Salamon
Please tell CharlieOFD that it was great seeing all the covers of the Cruisin' Series in FH. I am fortunate enough to have all of them but to be honest with you, I really can't remember where or how I got them. Probably my local record store, but can't remember. In addition to the LP for the year 1957 featuring WIBG's Joe Niagara, I always did like the LP for 1962 featuring Russ "Weird Beard" Knight, the Savior of Dallas radio for station KLIF. Incidentally, as I am typing this email to you, would you believe I have not heard one Christmas song on the radio yet? Of course the radio in my car does not work and I have refused to get it fixed because of the same old same old you hear every day including songs and sports talk. I may get out tonight and play online the Ronettes's 1963 rendition of SLEIGH RIDE. That's got to be my all time favorite Christmas tune through the years. Happy Holidays, Kent.
I, on the other hand, have completely overdosed on Christmas Music this year ... and can't turn it off fast enough.  Seems that every station in town has upped their ante and are playing more Christmas music more often than ever ... and some pretty horrendous renditions, too, I might add.
In fact Me-TV-FM has now dropped down to my #6 button on the car radio ... I don't know where they're digging up some of the Christmas music they're playing but I can positively assure you that it is neither "timeless" or "memorable".  It's as if the station has completely lost their focus on what they first set out to be.  And now they're playing up the television connection more than ever, featuring TV themes interspersed by what seems to be every half hour or so.  (The theme song from "Mad Men"???  Timeless and memorable???  Really???  I also heard about a 3 1/2 minute version of "The Andy Griffith Show" theme the other day ... it's one of those that EVERYBODY knows ... and will bring a smile to your face ... for about thirty seconds ... 3 1/2 minutes is just overkill.)
I've about given up on them ... it's gone from "often annoying" to "false advertising" to "damn near unlistenable" over the last few months.  SUCH great potential ... but they can't seem to decide what they want to be when they grow up.  (kk)
Hello, Kent ~~~
Regarding The Huffy Radio Bike Story I sent recently ~~~
Thanks to John LaPuzza for the link to "Steve's Antique Technology!"   
This link John provided displays, and has information for, over a half dozen interesting Bike Radio Models that were around when we were kids! Somehow I was oblivious to all the Bike Radio Add-Ons that were available then!
By the way, I still have my radio and its carrying case that I, too, "strapped on" my Bike. It's a 6 inch by 3 inch by 1½ Westinghouse Seven Transistor "Personal Radio" complete with gold-colored triangular designators behind the clear dial with a matching red triangle on the dial to line up for fast and easy tuning to both Emergency Conelrad Civil Defense Stations frequencies, if ever needed!

 Chuck Buell