Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Sunday Comments ( 01 - 24 - 16 )

re:  The American Breed:  
>>>The American Breed had just performed together for the first time in over four decades as part of the WTTW "Cornerstones Of Rock" program celebrating the hit bands of Chicago from the '60's and '70's  (kk)
As seen in further comments on your original post, the original four members regrouped in 1986 for an album. That lp included a re-recorded version of Bend Me Shape Me, which I had on a various artists lp my mom bought me when I was a kid. However I don't know if they toured or performed anywhere to promote that album or not.

Tom Diehl  
The big hype for the "Cornerstones" show was the reuniting of The American Breed ... first time ON STAGE TOGETHER in over 40 years ... so I'm guessing that was the angle.  I wasn't aware of a 1986 album ... but, now that you mention it, I DO remember hearing a not-so-great re-recording of their biggest hit circulating on some of those buyer-beware compilation albums.  (kk)  

Hi Kent -  
I had the opportunity to see the American Breed live at a couple of rock concerts and when they appeared on national TV after "Bend Me, Shape Me" became number one! Gary will be missed as a singer, producer and engineer. I have one of his albums hanging in my basement with all the other Chicago Groups.  
So glad, his final performance is preserved on the Cornerstone of Rock Program.
Thank You Gary, and  just remember "Bend Me Shape Me" made "Number One".    
What a Great, Rare Honor!!!    

Very sorry to hear this.  The American Breed were an important part of Chicago's super pop scene in the late 60s.  RIP, Gary, and thank you so much for being part of such an exciting time in Chicago rock and roll.  

Here's a clip of Gary playing with Styx in Tinley Park last year ... 
Ken Voss  

More from Gary on what it was like working with the band Styx over the past 30-something years ...

In memory, here's a clip from the WLS History of Chicago Rock & Roll, which ran in the mid-70's with Gary's comments.
Clark Besch

That was a GREAT radio special ... now I want to hear the whole thing again!!!  (kk)

Hi Kent - 
I was wondering if you or any of the Forgotten Hits readers have seen the commercial for the Sleep Number Bed on TV recently. 
It features Gary Loizzo and the American Breed's song "Bend Me Shape Me"!!   Hope the family members are getting residuals IF they wrote the song?   
When in doubt ask the master ...  
It's so weird ... I can't count how many times I've seen or heard the Sleep Number Beds / adjustable mattress commercial that features "Bend Me, Shape Me" as part of their ad since Gary passed away ... I'll bet I had heard it only twice before ... and now it seems to be playing all the time.  (Unfortunately, no, there are no songwriting credits to be shared ... "Bend Me, Shape Me" was actually a remake recorded by The American Breed.  The first recorded version was done by Sonny Geraci and The Outsiders in 1966 ... a group called The Models also covered it that year but without success.  It was Chicago's own American Breed that turned it into a hit record ... and a #1 record at that.  Later in 1968 a group called Amen Corner had a Top Five hit on The British Charts with their version of the song.  (kk)

I think upon review we'd all have to agree that NOBODY did this song better than The American Breed ... a #1 hit here in Chicago on both WLS and WCFL and also a #1 record on the Record World Chart.  (It peaked at #5 in Billboard and #3 in Cash Box.)  

I suggested to Scott Shannon that the "Bend Me, Shape Me" history might make for an interesting feature on either his "Rock And Roll Remakes" or "Who Did It First" segments and he agreed.  (Even more so when you consider that the guy who WROTE "Bend Me, Shape Me" ... a guy by the name of Scott English ... also wrote and recorded a VERY minor hit called "Brandy" in 1972.  That song was virtually forgotten ... until Barry Manilow made it his first hit record three years later.  Barry changed the title to "Mandy" ... so as not to have any confusion between the #1 Looking Glass hit "Brandy" ... and launched his own very successful recording career.  (kk)

Thanks so much Kent. You always have the answers!! 


And here's Scott English's version of "Bend Me, Shape Me" ... sounding nothing at ALL like the hit it ultimately became for Chicago's American Breed.  (kk)

Kent ...
Check it out ... Dick Clark interviews the American Breed.
Frank B.

Hi Kent.
Like so many others, I felt so bad hearing about Gary's passing.
He had mentioned that he had cancer when I interviewed him for the DNAinfo article on The Cornerstones of Rock but, like everyone who knew, I was hoping for the best. One didn't have to know Gary long to realize what a nice guy he was and a real pro.
Here are a few rehearsal shots from The Cornerstones show.
Take care.
Jack Mongan

Thanks, Jack ... as always, nice work.  (Love the shot of Gary sharing the mic with Jim Peterik!)  
I only met him one time and that was back in the late '70's ... and at that point he was totally absorbed in his studio work at Pumpkin.  It was such a thrill to hear that The American Breed were getting back together again to film this special Cornerstones WTTW concert ... thankfully, his work is now preserved for all to see and enjoy ... and he was in FINE voice that night.  (kk)

I sent the photo of Gary and Jim to Jim Peterik, thinking that this was probably something he'd like to have in his personal collection ... and got this back ...   

Great photo indeed, Kent ... will post on my site as well. The wake was very moving and a testimony to the love he engendered.  
Keep Rocking!

re:  Glenn Frey:
I still can't believe Glenn Frey is gone.  I see that Showtime has started running the History of the Eagles special again - gonna make time to watch that this weekend.  What a great tribute.
I love it, too ... EXTREMELY well done.  I told Frannie that I may watch it again this weekend, too ... which would be about the fifth or sixth time I've seen it.  When I told that to somebody at work they said "You've watched a three hour special five times?  You need to get a life!" ... but this isn't something you need to sit down and be glued to your TV set for ... it's a GREAT documentary and filled with so much great music that you can easily multi-task and get other things done while it's playing in the background ... but this time I think I AM going to just sit there and take the whole thing in one more time.  If you haven't seen it, you need to.  (And, if it's not showing On Demand, I'll just whip out the DVD ... 'cause we've got that, too!)  kk 

Hi  Kent, 
The Eagles were a great group and Glenn Frey was the heart!
When they won the Best Album Grammy for "Hotel California", the assistant producer of the record was a close friend to a friend of mine.
When he was busy on the road traveling and producing records, he asked my friend to keep his gold album of Hotel California for him for awhile.  Whenever I went to visit her in her Cicero home, it was hanging on her wall. What a thrill for me to see!!
They had so many hit songs, my favorites being "Witchy Woman", "Lyin' Eyes" and "The One That You Love".  Glenn Frey was a talented singer, song writer and musician.
Thank you Glen for all the wonderful music. You will be missed.

Linda Ronstadt remembers Glenn Frey ...
-- Submitted by Tom Cuddy

If anyone is a stickler for trivia details, I read in Billboard’s Glenn Frey tribute that his first recorded performance was with Bob Seger on “Ramblin' Gamblin' Man”. I believe this is false as he had a 45 released by The Mushrooms on the Hideout Label from Michigan in ’67.   
I've always heard it was on the Seger record ... but that could be because of the instant name recognition to such a venture.  That same Billboard article you're referring to states that he had asked Seger to write a song for his band, The Mushrooms, to which Seger complied.  Maybe it was THAT connection that caused Seger to invite him to the studio to sing background vocals on his latest record.  Would be curious to hear that Mushrooms record (and know if Bob Seger received the writing credit for it.)  I used to have the Longbranch Pennywhistle album (along with Don Henley's early Shiloh album recorded for the same label.)  Quite honestly, there isn't even the slightest hint of the greatness to come on either record to my ears.  It was the pairing of these two that made all the difference ... with no slight nod to J.D. Souther and Jackson Browne, I might add.  (kk)   

Well done, Kent.
Hotel California, California has been razed.
Peaceful Easy Feeling has been displaced.
Here is my question: If the Eagles had settled their fractional strife back in 1979 - 80 do they continue to turn out grade A material resulting in commercial success ... or was the group tapped out after too many days in the studios and too many night on the road? Who knows?
Glenn Frey and Don Henley were master song writers - not Mick and Keith, John and Paul or Brian Wilson - but damn close. Frey / Henley didn't turn out "Gimme Shelter", "God Only Knows", or "Hey Jude" but they didn't miss by much.
Simply put, this is the end of an era.
Chet Coppock 

The music of The Eagles will outlive all of us (although I DO plan on checking out radio circa 2525 to see if The Eagles ... and Zager and Evans ... are still getting the airplay they deserve!)  
There have been a lot of great bands to come into our lives over the past 50 years ... but The Eagles were in a league of their own.  (kk) 

It was no secret that Glenn Frey and former Eagles guitarist Don Felder had their share of run-ins over the years ... but this is the message that Don posted on his official Facebook Page after hearing of Glenn's passing ...   

I am in a state of shock and disbelief at Glenn’s passing. It was so unexpected and has left me with a very heavy heart filled with sorrow. He was so young and still full of amazing genius. He was an extremely talented songwriter, arranger, leader, singer, guitarist, you name it and Glenn could do it and create “MAGIC” on the spot. His visions and insights into songs and lyrics have become legendary and will echo throughout time on this earth for decades to come.  
Glenn was funny, strong, generous and kind. It was a gift of a lifetime to have spent so many years working side by side with him. At times it felt like we were brothers and at other times, like brothers, we disagreed. Despite our difficult moments together we managed to create some magical songs, magical memories, great recordings and live shows together.   
The planet has lost a great man and musician today.  None will ever be able to take his place.  
Rest in peace, Glenn, and my God bless you and your family.
-- Don Felder

Conspicuously silent has been Joe Walsh, who toured with Frey during The Eagles "long weekend" apart.  He told Bob Lefsetz last week:

Hi Bob -  
Thought I'd check in -  
First, thanks to everyone who has posted on your Glenn thread. Very comforting in a very awkward and sad time.
I haven't done any media - period. 

It's not that I can't find the words, it's that there are no words. I've tried and all I have is a blank page. That's how I feel. That's how we all feel, Maybe later, I'll have something, but not right now.
So, Thank You for your kind and intelligent overview, and thanks to everybody who also checked in.
I keep coming back to one of Glenn's favorite ways to sum things up:  

"Ladies and Gentlemen ... 
Elvis has left the building"  
Joe Walsh     

re:  This Past Week We Also Lost ... :  
David Bowie / Mott the Hoople / British Lions drummer Dale Griffin also passed this week at 67

We also lost Mic Gillette, the great lead trumpeter from TOWER OF POWER..... YOU'RE STILL A YOUNG MAN (Baby) 
Quent Lang

re:  Graham Nash: 
Here's video I shot at The Ridgefield Playhouse of Graham Nash unexpectedly performing The Hollies song "King Midas In Reverse" among his set of otherwise classic CSN and solo songs.  I'm sending you the link just in case you want something a bit more unusual for your current Graham Nash salute.

Photo by Brad Joblin

Brad Joblin

Great stuff, Brad ... and a not-often-heard Hollies song for sure.  When this one didn't perform as well on the British charts, the other Hollies started to tune Graham out as far as the direction he was trying to lead the band ... they were much more focused on continuing in a pop, hit-making vein while Nash wanted to branch out a bit and experiment with some new sounds.  It was these types of disagreements that ultimately caused him to leave the band a short time later.  (Ultimately, he left one hit-making machine to join another ... where he was allowed to indulge in his artistic freedom and push the envelope a bit.  As he became more socially and politically aware, his whole sound continued to change and evolve ... and Crosby, Still, Nash (and sometimes Young) was the perfect format for that expression.  (kk)

Thanks for the coverage of the Hollies. The Hollies were my favorite British group and I’ve always regretted not seeing them live.  
The information on Graham Nash is interesting but I will always look upon him with negative feelings due to the way he left the Hollies. While still with The Hollies, Nash became involved with the Laurel Canyon drug / rock crowd, including Joni Mitchell, Cass Elliot, Barry McGuire and  John Phillips, leading him to quit the group (turning his back on his best friend Allan Clarke) and dump his wife. I’ve always thought it great that The Hollies had arguably more success after he left.  
I also found the contrast between Clark’s acceptance speech at the R&R HOF ceremony and Nash’s interesting. Clarke appeared modestly grateful while Nash seemed self-promoting as he recited the ever-boring list of his “people”. Nash has always received much credit for the success of The Hollies but Clarke was clearly the star of the group.  
One more thing. Tony Hicks, lead guitarist and back-up vocalist, has never received the credit he deserves. It was Hicks who provided 1/3 of the group’s three-part harmony and some great string work, including the unforgettable banjo playing on Stop, Stop, Stop.  
Bob Verbos  
New Berlin, WI.  
No question that Graham Nash was seduced by the California scene ... or that these other players had some influence on all of that ... at one point he just decided to leave England behind, pack it in and join his new group of California Hippie friends.  He covers all of this in great detail in his book, which I think you'll still find to be a fascinating read.  
I couldn't agree more about Tony Hicks being the underrated member of the band.  Not only was he an incredible musician and vocalist (as you said he provided the critical third part to their patented three-part harmony) but he also had an incredible ear for music ... and found a number of songs for the band to record that went on to become hits.
As such, let me ALSO recommend one of the greatest music documentaries ever made in the off-chance that you haven't already seen it ...  
"Look Through Any Window" is on sale right now at for under ten bucks ... it's an absolute MUST HAVE for your video and music collection.  (We've already watched it several times.)  
Order link below ...
And you can check out our original review here ...

Does he tell the story of L. Ransford in his book? 
He does.  For those not familiar with this, The Hollies used the pseudonym "L. Ransford" for any group songwriting collaborations that involved all members ... this way they could all share in the songwriting royalties for these compositions.  The REAL L. Ransford was Graham Nash's Grandfather!  
Graham says:
Songs written by Tony, Allan and me were done under the pseudonym L. Ransford, which we used on all our collaborations.  Clarke - Hicks - Nash ws too much of a mouthful, so we used my grandfather's name. 

I have to read the Graham Nash book. 
Scott Shannon
You do!!!  It's a VERY interesting read.  (kk)
Side Note to Carl Wiser of ...
If YOU haven't read this book yet, you need to pick up a copy.  Graham tells the stories and inspirations associated with most of his biggest songwriting hits. 
All interested parties can pick up a copy of the book here:

Kent ...
Here's a crazy story from Ron Smith's Oldies.
Frank B.

I found this on my face book page this AM. 
SAN DIEGO, California - 
Earlier this month, an 80-year-old, homeless, white-bearded man was found deceased under an overpass in San Diego, California. Nobody knew the man’s name, but friends referred to him as Jessie, so investigators decided to try DNA testing with hopes that something would pop up in the nationwide DNA database. What popped up on the computer screen in the high-tech lab stunned everyone. The DNA results of ‘Jessie Doe’ were an exact match to the one and only, Elvis Aaron Presley. 
Lab technician Robert Brensdale said he and his lab assistant, Madeline Hedgespeth, laughed when the name popped up. “We thought somebody, somewhere, somehow in the system pulled the greatest and most elaborate prank on us ever ... we both laughed with hysteria for about an hour,” Bresndale told Jerry Hardin of the Hollywood Word, a new entertainment publication based out of Los Angeles. 
Brensdale and Hedgespeth then went to their superior with laughter, as if he were the one behind this “prank”. They were told to simmer down and stay quiet, that this was no laughing matter. From there, the results went up the ladder to the FBI and CIA. 

Now, weeks later, FBI spokesperson Philip Hunter has revealed that the deceased man’s body was actually the body of Elvis Presley, who had been in the witness protection program since 1977. 
“Mr. Presley was placed in the program under a voluntary basis. He was not a witness to any crime or anything like that. Once he had met President Nixon, the two became great friends, and Mr. Presley wanted out of his life, he wanted to be an unknown, so President Nixon made this possible. Yes, it is official – Elvis Presley was really alive all that time, and only a handful of people knew it, most of which are no longer with us.

-- Biker Bob 
Probably best to just stick with the new Elvis and Nixon movie ... or is this just some not-so-subtle way to hype the film???  Have you seen the previews for this one?  Kevin Spacey plays Tricky Dickie ... and Michael Shannon plays the King ... check out the trailer below.  (kk) 

Here's our take on the Soundtrack to the Movie "Joy", starring Jennifer Lawrence ... 
Let's get this part out of the way right now because it needs to be said ... 
Jennifer Lawrence: 
People want to see you naked ... 
They want to see you trip during an awards ceremony program ... 
They do NOT want to hear you sing ...   
And your warbling on this soundtrack to the likes of a painfully long, drawn-out remake of "Somethin' Stupid" (with costar Edgar Ramarez) isn't going to do anything to change that. 
MILLIONS and MILLIONS of people loved you in the "Hunger Games" series ... 
And you've turned heads in nearly every movie you've made (including THIS one, apparently, having just won a Golden Globe for your appearance.) 
Stick to what you do best ... 
You're a beautiful and talented and charismatic actress ... Leave the singing to the professionals. 
OK, now that we've gotten THAT out of the way ... and trust me, it needed to be done ... how's the rest of the soundtrack? 
It's an eclectic mix of music you'll find on this disk ... Everything from The Bee Gees ("To Love Somebody") and Cream ("I Feel Free") ... both 1967 releases (as was the original Nancy and Frank Sinatra version of "Somethin' Stupid") alongside "I Want To Be Happy" by Ella Fitzgerald, "Stray Cat Blues" by The Rolling Stones,"Sleigh Ride" by The Ronettes and several short classical pieces used as snippets and filler throughout. 
There's a great four minute jazz piece by Lee Morgan called "The Sidewinder" ... problem is it runs for over ten minutes.  (The first four minutes are FANTASTIC! ... the next six and a half had me staring at the counter wondering how much longer this could possibly go on ... the answer is WAY longer than you want it to ... or it needed to!) 
Edgar Ramarez proves for a second time on this cd that he, too, shouldn't quit his day job as he completely massacres Randy Newman's / Three Dog Night classic "Mama Told Me Not To Come" ... but then he completely redeems himself with a foreign language version of a song WE know as "Rivers Of March" by Art Garfunkel ... titled here as "Aguas de Marzo".  (He plays a "wannabe singer" in the motion picture .. and evidently in real life, too.) 
Again, the whole soundtrack makes for an interesting mix of music ... probably better experienced as background fodder while watching the film than trying to absorb as a collection of music in one single sitting.  Some of it works, some of it doesn't ... and what is best left as "incidental" background music in the film doesn't play as well in full form production against some of the other (much stronger) music used on the soundtrack. 
Bottom line ... just not feelin' the joy.  (kk)