Friday, April 26, 2019

Classic Rock Update #5

Thanks a lot for creating this countdown... I can’t wait for the results!
- Colin

Have been following your "Top 5000" thing, and thought I'd toss in my two cents.
I have been a listener to "Top 40" radio in Chicago since the very late 50s.  I'm pretty easy to please, and enjoy almost anything I've heard in the time frame of 1950s to early 1980s pop music.
I pretty much agree with almost everyone out there in music-land when it comes to what's "good" and what isn't.  I love the Beatles and much of the British Invasion stuff, and most 60s rock. I like 50s Roots Rock.  I couldn't choose a favorite band if
my life depended on it.
I will, however, make two comments: 
I think the best rock / pop vocalist of our era is Burton Cummings, who is the smoothest I've ever heard. Puts them all to shame, IMO. I've been to many Guess Who concerts, starting with the one at the SIU Arena on October 9th, 1970, and have never been disappointed.
Second, I would like to put in my two cents about a guy who did a lot for 60s and 70s music: Jack Nitzsche ... a brilliant guy who wrote, directed, and produced, and did tons of work with Phil Spector.  I want to give my vote to his tune "The Lonely Surfer," which still gives me gooseflesh when I hear it.  Should rank way up near the top of the greatest rock tunes.  Just my opinion.
Thanx for listening ...
Mike Wolstein
I’m happy to report that the race is really tightening up here at the top of the list.  
While “Hotel California” has had the most votes since Day Two (“Layla” topped the list during our very first day of voting), “Bohemian Rhapsody” has been clawing its way past The Eagles’ landmark hit and turned this into quite a slugfest!  (For the record, “Layla” still ranks at #3.)
We also received a nice batch of new first-time nominees this past week, bringing us closer to our ultimate goal of 5000 tracks to choose from before we narrow it down to the final Top 3333.
Keep those votes coming, folks!  This is getting very interesting!  (kk)

Billboard Magazine ran a piece this week on THEIR choices for The 50 Best Chicago Songs as selected by their staff of critics.  I will admit to finding this list somewhat surprising.  (The inspiration came from the fact that Chicago’s first album, released as “Chicago Transit Authority,” will be celebrating its 50th Anniversary this Sunday, April 28th.)

Keep in mind that this list is completely subjective and NOT based on any type of ranking regarding how these songs performed on their own Hot 100 Pop Singles Chart.  In fact, several of these tracks weren’t released as singles at all … they’re album tracks … and, as such, a #1 Hit like “Look Away” can be found way down at the bottom of the list at #46, a rather surprising showing.  (Chicago’s other two #1 Hits fare a little better with “If You Leave Me Now” coming in at #9 and “Hard To Say I’m Sorry” ranking all the way up at #2.)

Now I consider myself to be pretty knowledgeable when it comes to the music of Chicago … and Frannie is even more so … but we both found titles on this list that we were not immediately familiar with … to the point that even if I listened to some of these, I wasn’t sure that this would put me any closer to recognizing these tunes as “essential.”  (The low ranking of others that I consider classics is also disappointing … “Will You Still Love Me” came in at #36, “Take Me Back To Chicago” at #33, “Happy Man” at #31 and “Wishing You Were Here” at #30 … while one of our mutual all-time favorites, “Wake Up Sunshine,” didn’t make the list at all.)

As we’ve stated many times before, lists like these are designed to breed controversy … and I’m sure as you peruse their final rankings you will find a few that leave you scratching your head as well.

This is a key reason why OUR list of The Most Essential Classic Rock Songs will have a little more substance … because it won’t be based on what I think … or a dozen of our readers think … but rather on a general consensus of hundreds of thousands of votes gathered nationwide along with actual airplay statistics.

So after reading Billboard's rankings, I was curious to see what OUR Top 5 Chicago songs are so far, this early into the tabulation.  (For the record, 42 tracks by Chicago have been nominated as of right now.)

Well, you’ll find them to be the most obvious selections, four of which are ranked equally as high on Billboard’s compilation.

#1 thus far is “25 or 6 to 4,” which is the #1 song on BOTH charts
#2 thus far is “Saturday In The Park”  (#3 on Billboard’s list)
#3 is “Beginnings”  (#5 on Billboard’s list)
#4 is “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is”  (also #4 on Billboard’s list) 
#5 is “Make Me Smile” (#15 on Billboard’s list, a little disappointing in that this is the track that broke the band.) 

You can check out the complete list here:

Thanks for sending the Chicago list, Kent !  My only surprise is the songs they left off.  This list could have easily been a Top 100. Although these two writers did a respectable job on the Billboard analysis of the tunes, I think you, because of the depth of your knowledge and your natural gift for writing, could have delivered an even more compelling essay.
Tom Cuddy

Thanks, Tom … but my comments above are all I have time for right now!  (lol)  This Classic Rock Essentials list is kicking my butt as it is!!!

Truth be told, it has almost become unmanageable … and I have yet to reach out to the leading Classic Rock Radio Stations across the country to help expand the research data base because I can barely keep up with the number of votes that are already coming in just thru our own efforts.

For example … as I type this, we already have 38 songs with over 1000 points so far … and another 13 others that are poised to hit that level, perhaps as early as this weekend!

We’ve got just over 3700 titles to choose from when it comes time to compile the final ballot (and this tally, too, is expected to increase as votes and nominations continue to come in.)

So why not just evaluate the data we’ve got so far and come up with a general consensus?  (Let’s face it … The Top 500 to 1000 songs are ALL going to be the tracks you would expect to see on such a list … in fact, if you really put your mind to it … and sat down and took the time to do it … you could probably come up with a list of the most obvious Top 500 all on your own.)

So why continue to devote this much time to a project that has such a predictable end?

Because we want to push Classic Rock Radio to expand their horizon and look BEYOND those obvious hits … dig a little deeper and feature some surprises and “Wow!” tracks now and again.  (Jeez, haven’t I already given this exact same speech 300 times in regards to oldies music?!?!)

I didn’t think it would be as necessary on the Classic Rock level but I am continuously being proven wrong.  In some cases, it’s actually worse!!!
I monitored 95.9 The River the other day and found that in a continuous 18-hour time period they played SIXTEEN of the same songs twice … and ONE song (“Don’t’ Stop Believin’” by Journey) THREE TIMES!!!

Now why would ANY radio station have to play that many repeats in such a short time frame when we have proven … with virtually NO effort at all … that there are literally THOUSANDS of great Classic Rock tracks to choose from that would greatly enhance the listening experience.

And I know … the argument’s the same … people don’t listen to the radio for eighteen straight hours … we have to play what they want to hear.
Well, I've got news for you ... I didn’t listen for eighteen straight hours either ... but I DID listen for ten straight hours … and gathered the rest of the information from their play list logs ... and our research proves that there are a WHOLE lot more than the same 200 songs that people want to hear out there ... THOUSANDS more!

As for your defense "People don't listen to the radio for more than an hour or two at a time," I will repeat the exact same answer I have given for the past twenty years ... “Maybe if you give them a reason to, people WILL listen longer.”

The River (and believe me, they’re not the only ones … I have found the same instances of unnecessary daily repeating on virtually every classic rock station I’ve encountered while spot checking online in preparation for this list) NEEDS a list like this to have ANY hope of ever witnessing reality.
And that’s what keeps egging me on …

Classic Rock Radio NEEDS this list!!!

They need to see what listeners REALLY want to hear … and then expand their programming accordingly.

We’re here to help … but you’ve got to pay attention … because the end result is a better listening experience for EVERYBODY!!!

So get your votes and nominations in NOW!!!

Go ahead … continue to bury me … we are currently on track to top half a million votes before this thing is over … so don’t stop now!!!

Watch for another major announcement in this regard next week … 

Meanwhile, continue to send your votes to

We’re standing by reading to take your order!  (kk)

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Thursday This And That

Anybody watch that new ABC limited run television series 1969 the other night? 
It’s a look back (in a documentary sort of way) at some of the biggest events of fifty years ago, much like we’re doing throughout 2019 in Forgotten Hits.
The opening episode spotlighted the moon landing, playing up much of the behind-the-scenes players and events … think “Hidden Figures” in an updated sort of way.
The six-episode series airs Tuesday nights at 10 pm Eastern / 9 pm Central … and upcoming topics will include Chappaquiddick, Woodstock, The Manson Family, John Lennon’s Bed-Ins for peace, Nixon’s first year in the White House and more.  It should provide an interesting look back at “That Was The Year That Was” / 1969.  (kk)  

And, speaking of recent tv, I watched the Motown 60 Grammy special, too, celebrating Motown’s 60 year anniversary.  More tribute performances than actual Motown stars this time around … not quite like the phenomenal Motown 25 television special of several years ago.  Too many of these great stars have left us.
Things kicked off to a rousing start with Stevie Wonder (looking somewhat unrecognizable) doing “Sir Duke” and Berry Gordy and Smokey Robinson telling the story about Motown’s first #1million-selling hit, “Shop Around,” which Smokey then performed with Pentatonix.  Meghan Trainor also did a note-for-note, letter perfect reading of The Supremes’ “You Can’t Hurry Love” which was segued into the original where you literally couldn’t tell the difference from where one version stopped and the other one began.  That whole controversial J-Lo sequence that aired several months ago was repeated as was a beautiful tribute to Marvin Gaye performed by John Legend.  (I will admit to never having been much of a John Legend fan in the past … but his last several televised performances … including “Jesus Christ, Superstar” … have completely blown me away.  This is one VERY talented dude!)
Two emotional highlights for me were Stevie Wonder performing “Never Dreamed You’d Leave In Summer” as a tribute to his late, first wife Syreeta, and Diana Ross performing a “Lady Sings The Blues” medley face to face with Berry Gordy himself … VERY moving.
Catch it On Demand if you can … or watch for the inevitable DVD release.  Although about half the show dragged, it is still well worth checking out.  (kk)  

And finally, Me-TV has just announced the return of one of MY all-time favorites, “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” which will begin airing on Sunday Nights at 11 pm Eastern / 10 pm Central on May 5th with back-to-back episodes.
To kick off the launch of one of television’s greatest series ever, Carl Reiner himself has selected his personal ten favorite episodes, which will run over the course of the first five weeks.  (Cleverly promo’d as “Pick Van Dyke,” this should be an interesting mix!)  kk

Sting is the latest rock start to announce a Las Vegas residency … he’ll be appearing at Caesar’s Palace for a 16 night run beginning in May of 2020.  Aerosmith, Journey, John Fogerty, James Taylor and even a two-night set by The Eagles have all recently made Las Vegas “home base” to help cut down on the rigors of touring.
And it sounds like a pretty lucrative gig … Rolling Stone Magazine is reporting that tickets for the Journey show (also at Caesars) run from $109 per ticket for one of the “cheap seats” on up to $1080 for second row!  (kk)  

One of WLS’ original rock jocks, Jim Dunbar, has passed away at the age of 89.  (How appropriate is that???)
Dunbar was the morning host the day that WLS switched to Top 40 / Rock and Roll on May 2nd, 1960.  (That 59 year anniversary is right around the corner, too!)
After three years with WLS, Jim moved on to KGO in San Francisco, where he stayed as a talk show host until he announced his retirement in 2000.
Robert Feder is reporting that Dunbar twice made national headlines during his years on San Francisco television and radio. In 1969, while hosting “A.M. San Francisco,” Dunbar received a call on the air from a man who claimed to be the Zodiac Killer ... and in 1973, he survived an assassination attempt when a gunman who shot at him was thwarted by his studio’s bullet-proof glass.  (That’s quite the career!!!)  

All kinds of Micky Dolenz news this past week ...
Last week we ran the shot of Micky with Alice Cooper, working together as part of Cooper’s Solid Rock Foundation … and now, as he prepares to head down under to Australia and New Zealand in June for the next leg of The Mike And Micky Tour, he has done an absolutely BRILLIANT interview with Wonderlust’s Liza Lentini that makes for some absolutely fun reading.  

And here’s the latest on rock star author Mark Bego, also mentioned in that MacWire post …  

Mark Bego, New York Times best-selling author, has a record number of books due to hit the stores in 2019, including a book with Mary Wilson of The Supremes, and an expanded biography of Elton John.  Bego, who is known for his million selling books on Michael Jackson, Madonna and Whitney Houston, turns his focus towards two of the top acts in show business, and more. 
With longtime best friend Mary Wilson of The Supremes, Mark is the co-author of the deluxe coffee table book Supreme Glamour.  According to him, “In this concise retelling of the legendary Supremes’ story, Mary recounts what it was like to be one-third of the most famous female singing group in recorded history.  Supreme Glamour captures all of the fashions, excitement, ambition, heartbreak, and triumph of The Supremes with insightful frankness.”  Supreme Glamour (Thames & Hudson / UK:  September 5, 2019 / US:  September 17, 2019)  Pre-publication sales have already placed the book on three of the Amazon best-seller lists. 
Bego’s telling of the Elton John story will be published in Germany first, and then here in the US.  He explains, “With the forthcoming release of the Elton John movie, Rocket Man, the public’s desire for the complete story on this superstar is at an all-time height.  I am so happy to be the author who delivers the ultimate telling of this fascinating story.” Elton John:  Die Story (Hannibal Books / May 16, 2019)  Rocket Man:  The Story of Elton John (Pegasus Books / 2019) 
Mark is also the co-author of the forthcoming book Living the Luxe Life, with millionaire Beverly Hills hotel owner Efrem Harkham.  It is a story of the rise, success, and advice from Harkham, told in an inspirational way.  (Living the Luxe Life (Skyhorse Publishing / 2019) 
Mark Bego’s recent best-sellers have been Aretha Franklin: The Queen of Soul (Skyhorse Publishing / 2018) which hit Number One in Amazon.  And his critically acclaimed celebrity cookbook, Eat Like a Rock Star hit the Top Ten in Amazon, and has become the most perennially successful book of his career. 
With so many books in the works, what is next for Mark Bego?  According to him, “I have already been collecting recipes for Eat Like a Rock Star Volume II, and several of my celebrity chefs now want to do books with me.  I still have several new tricks up my sleeve!  I have written 66 published books, and I have just begun!”

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

The Dick Biondi Documentary Fundraiser

We've been talking about the Dick Biondi Documentary for months now ... 

And have partnered up with Pam Pulice, the woman behind the making of this great and necessary film, to help raise the funds needed, in any way possible, to finally push this project over the finish line ... 

So we are quite excited about the brand new fund-raising event being held this Sunday at 115 Bouron Street in Merrionette Park, featuring performances by The New Colony Six, The Cavedwellers, The Meteors, Bagshot, The Southside Exiles, The Hundred Dollar Quartet (featuring Scott May of The Ides Of March) and special guest appearances by Jay Reincke (of Jay and the Americans), Carl Giammarese of The Buckinghams, Dennis Tufano (former lead singer of The Buckinghams) and Jim Peterik of The Ides Of March, who has officially dubbed this event The BED, BATH AND BIONDI Thingy!!!

Your hosts for the afternoon event include Scott MacKay of 95.9 The River, Actor (and Fundraiser) Joe Ferina, the incomparable Ron Onesti, Sock Hop DJ Pete Weldon, Film Maker Pamela Pulice (and who knows, maybe even a word or two from me!)  

Tickets in advance are just $37 (or $42 at the door) and include a buffet dinner, beer, wine and soda, a silent auction, a 50/50 raffle and a screening of the official Dick Biondi Movie Trailer.  (Once the film has been completed, it'll air on PBS television stations across the country.)

More information here:

From Joe Farina ...

Hi Kent,
Breaking news!!! Please let your readers know ASAP!!! Thank you!!!
It's official!
Dennis Tufano, the Original Lead Singer of The Buckinghams, WILL PERFORM at The Good Times Rock and Roll Fundraiser on Sunday, April 28th.
Dennis will sing with Carl Giammarese … and the two will join Jim Peterik, who is also performing –
THREE LEGENDS ON STAGE to show their love and support for the man who helped make their careers, Top 40's legendary DJ, Dick Biondi. 
Get your Tix NOW at
Best Wishes,
Joe Farina
Director of Communications and Marketing
Dick Biondi Film

Oh WOW!!!  This is some VERY excellent news … and with The New Colony Six headlining the event, this is going make for one very exciting afternoon of fun and entertainment!

Again, tickets are just $37 each in advance (or $42 at the door) and the whole event takes place this Sunday, April 28th at 115 Bourbon Street in Merrionette Park, IL, from 2 - 6 PM!

The other day we told you about (and ran photos of) the three autographed guitars that will be part of the Silent Auction …

A guitar signed by all of The Buckinghams …

A guitar signed by all of the artists who take part in the Cornerstones Shows … The Shadows Of Knight, The Cryan’ Shames, The New Colony Six, The Ides Of The March and The Buckinghams …

And a guitar signed by the members of the rock group Chicago!!!

There will be live music all afternoon, featuring The New Colony Six, The Cavedwellers, The Meteors, Bagshot Row, The Southside Exiles and The Hundred Dollar Quartet, featuring Scott May of The Ides Of March.

Plus special guest appearances by Jim Peterik, Carl Giammarese, Dennis Tufano and Jay Reincke! 

Buffet Dinner – Beer, Wine and Soda – A Screening of the Official Dick Biondi Trailer – a Silent Auction and a 50/50 Raffle.

Hosted and MC’d by Pamela Pulice, Joe Farina, DeeJay Scott MacKay of The River Radio and the incomparable Ron Onesti of The Arcada Theatre.

Joe tells us more below …

Join us for an afternoon of family fun at the Good Times Rock and Roll
Fundraiser April 28, 2019! Special performances by JIM PETERIK of the
Enjoy food, drink, and LIVE MUSIC from the 1960s band NEW COLONY SIX, M.C. SCOTT MACKAY of 95.9 The River, HUNDRED DOLLAR QUARTET with SCOTT MAY from the IDES OF MARCH on Keyboards, THE CAVEDWELLERS, THE METEORS, BAGSHOT ROW, SOUTHSIDE EXILES, PETE WELDON — Dick Biondi's exclusive sock hop DJ, Actor JOE FARINA, Chicago DJs, Guest Performers and Live and Silent Auctions!
Tickets On Sale here:
Thank you to our wonderful sponsors: Paul Shaffer, Onesti Entertaiment, VC Plumbers, The Village of Bolingbrook and Mayor Roger C. Claar, Hagerty Insurance and the Italian American Executives of Transportation.
Media Support: MeTV-FM, 95.9 The River, 94.7 WLS-FM and the In A Nutshell TV Show
Acknowledgements: Newcity Magazine, Randolph Street Market, and We The Italians.

Don’t miss this once in a lifetime opportunity to join in the celebration of America’s Dee Jay, Dick Biondi!  (And yes, we’ll be there, too!)

Kent – 
Check out this article from We The Italians about the Dick Biondi Film and Fundraiser.!  Umberto did a great job!  The interview was done awhile back and unfortunately doesn’t include all our awesome special guests — Jim Peterik, Carl Giammarese, Jay Reincke, and Dennis Tufano.

Jim Peterik is referring to Sunday’s festivities as the Bed, Bath and Biondi Event!  (lol)  Hope to see ALL of you out there to show your support.  Let’s get this movie made!!!  (kk)