Friday, May 24, 2019

The Friday Flash

Tommy James has a brand new CD coming out on June 7th … and Forgotten Hits has an EXCLUSIVE first peak at one of the tracks.  (Thanks so much to Tommy and his team for letting us once again be the very first to premier some of his brand new music to the world at large!)  

There are fifteen tracks in all, including updated remakes of Tommy’s hits “Draggin’ The Line” (with a rap?!?!) and “I Think We’re Alone Now” (the ballad version we’ve been telling you about that will be used during the end credits of Tommy’s movie “Me, The Mob And The Music,” and will also be the first single released from the new album) as well as a new rendering of The Rolling Stones’ hit “The Last Time.”  (You’ll find more on “The Last Time” below in a revolutionary royalties allowance.)  

I am telling you, Tommy is in fine voice throughout (this guy still sounds exactly the same!!!) and he has lots of show dates coming up between now and the end of the year … catch him if you can (but you’d better act quick ‘cause virtually all of these shows sell out.)  kk 


June 9th – Hudson Gardens Outdoor Summer Concert Series – Littleton, CO

June 14th – PNC Bank Arts Center – Holmdel, NJ

June 22nd – Sandy Amphitheater – Sandy, UT

June 29th – Southern Ground Amphitheater – Fayetteville, GA

July 6th – Prairie Knights Casino – Fort Yates, ND

July 20th – Penn’s Peak – Jim Thorpe, PA

July 27th – Golden Nugget Casino – Atlantic City, NJ

August 2nd – Arnold’s Park Amusement Park – Arnold’s Park, IA

August 6th – Ventura County Fair – Ventura, CA

August 26th – Minnesota State Fair – St. Paul, MN

September 21st – Arcada Theatre – St. Charles, IL

October 9th – Topsfield Fair – Topsfield, MA

October 18th – Golden Nugget Casino – Las Vegas, NV

Dear Kent,
Hope you're well!
Sending you info about some new music from Tommy James.
On the 50 year anniversary of his hit single 'Crimson & Clover,' Tommy has released his new album, 'Alive'.
This is his first release in over 10 years!
He's been working on this album for a long time and is so excited to share his music with the world again. Digital copies will be available on June 7th.
Hope you have a great Memorial Day Weekend!
Best Wishes,
Tess Greenham
Magician Media

(You can hear Tommy’s new version of “Draggin’ The Line” and get all the latest news on his website):  

I don’t know if you were a fan of the just-cancelled television series “Whiskey Cavalier,” but the final episode showed great use of Tommy’s song “Crystal Blue Persuasion.”
I probably haven’t written in to protest the cancellation of one of my favorite shows more than five or six times in my entire life, but I definitely took ABC to task for this decision … and so, apparently, did thousands and thousands and thousands of other fans of the series.  Word this morning is that this just might be one of those really rare exceptions where the UN-cancel the cancellation!
We hope so … yes, it’s lightweight … almost comic book-ish … but that’s all part of its charm.  An extremely likeable cast who just continued to gel together the more the series developed.  Lots of goofy humor and spy situations (where the good guys ALMOST always win), this was good escapist fun every Wednesday night.
Here’s hoping ABC has a change of heart and gives the show a reprieve.  (Lord knows they’ve got FAR worse shows than this one running on their network every single night!!!)  kk

Can you believe The White Sox are celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Disco Demolition next month?!?!  With a brand new Disco Demolition Night?!?!?
No, they won’t be blowing up any records on the field … and hopefully the game won’t have to be cancelled or forfeited … but the first 10,000 fans thru the turnstiles will get a Disco Demolition T-Shirt … and Steve Dahl will even throw out the ceremonial first pitch.  (Dahl has been a Sox fan for as long as he’s lived in Chicago … which is obviously over 40 years now!!!)
It all happens on Thursday, June 13th.
In a way I’m a little surprised … you’d think on the one hand that the White Sox Organization would want to distance itself from one of Baseball’s Most Embarrassing Moments Of All-Time … but then again they’ve got to find SOME way to draw fans out to the park again.  (Although I would be the first to admit that WINNING might be a greater incentive!)
Anyway, this should prove to be a pretty interesting night … and I have to admit that I’m looking forward to it!  (kk)

We have covered Disco Demolition several times before in Forgotten Hits … including these profiles that the FH Search Engine just turned up …

A couple of summers ago we also attended the exhibit put on by The Elmhurst History Museum, who preserved audio clips, photographs, collectible memorabilia and television news coverage of this event that made national headlines.

We have also covered the story before about The Verve’s excellent 1998 hit “Bittersweet Symphony.”

Rolling Stones Manager / Producer Andrew Loog Oldham (a sometime FH contributor) did an album of orchestral arrangements of Jagger – Richards tunes, one of which provided the basis for the entire musical track of The Verve’s hit.  (The deal was, Oldham agreed to a “sampling” from his piece … a classical arrangement of The Stones’ hit “The Last Time” … honestly, it’s barely recognizable in this form … but The Verve “overused and abused” this consent and crafted an entire piece around it instead.

Apparently the notorious Allen B. Klein got involved and stopped the royalties for his effort from landing in the pockets of Verve songwriter Richard Ashcroft, diverting them instead into the mega accounts of Mr’s Jagger and Richards (and, I’m quite sure, keeping a nice piece for himself as well.)

Well, earlier this week The Stones turned over the royalties to Ashcroft voluntarily, finally acknowledging (as most would agree) he truly did create a completely unique and different piece.  (The Stones have been pretty good sports about this sort of thing in the past … suffice to say that they did some “borrowing” of their own early on, incorporating blues licks into their earlier work … and, when they released their single “Anybody Seen My Baby” in 1997, they tacked on a songwriting credit for k.d. lang because they realized that their melody bore more than a slight resemblance to k.d.’s hit “Constant Craving” … so, rather than deal with a long, strung out court battle, they just added her name to the song and gave her the money from the start!

Of course the bulk of “Bittersweet Symphony” have already been earned … but it’s a nice gesture just the same.  (kk)

While Brian May made a comment a week ago that he had yet to earn a penny from the billion dollar grossing motion picture “Bohemian Rhapsody,” there is no denying the impact the movie has had on Queen’s music catalog.

Billboard is reporting that downloads in the six months since the movie opened have increased from $588 million to $1.9 BILLION dollars … likewise physical sales of CDs, albums, etc., have risen from $18 million to $44 million … and the band members certainly do earn royalties on this money.  (Let’s just say they won’t be holding a Queen fundraiser anytime soon.)  kk 

Here’s news about a brand new Bobby Darin release coming in July.

And some newspaper clippingss about Bobby Darin.
Some very cool discoveries here.  It always amazes me how some of this stuff has survived for DECADES now in somebody’s scrapbook.  God, I wish I’d had a way to hang on to all the different things I’ve collected over the years. 

Actually, I’ve been reading a lot about Bobby Darin again lately and, as such, want to recommend a few books. 

First off, I can’t even imagine the amount of intensely detailed research that went into putting together this one … “Bobby Darin: Directions – A Listener’s Guide, 2nd Edition” by Shane Brown.  (He’s the same guy that posted those vintage newspaper articles at the link Frank sent us.  An aside to Sam … isn’t it AMAZING how much press coverage pre-fame Bobby got in the Detroit area???  Really makes you think!)
Not only does it document EVERY known release and recording that Bobby ever did, but it goes into extensive and intensive detail for every session, many of his live concert appearances and Las Vegas dates, television appearances, movies, outtakes and material either still in the can or lost to the ages.  And Shane also took the time to track down reviews originally published in the trades at the time … Billboard, Cash Box, Variety, etc., again providing tremendous insight into how this music was received at the time.
Absolutely fascinating information here … truthfully, probably more for the “die hard” fan than the casual listener … but, if nothing else, it shows you what an impeccably, detailed amount of research can yield.  (This is now my “go to” book for Darin recording information.)  HIGHLY recommended.  

Secondly, I have FINALLY started reading the Connie Francis biography “Among My Souvenirs” … and what a fascinating read THIS is!
I absolutely LOVE Connie’s style of telling a story … she puts you right there in the moment, looking at the world through both the eyes of an eight year old or teenage girl … and a grown woman … while still reflecting back with 20/20 hindsight to provide what often seems to be self-analysis.  It is all done in a very fascinating (and extremely entertaining) way.
Francis kept diaries and journals throughout her career and there is some AMAZING information and reflections contained between these pages.  (But buyer beware … this is an EXTREMELY large book to lug around!!!  But SO worth it!!!)
And, from what we’ve been told, at just over 600 pages this is only Part 1 of her story!!!
Connie has seen some massive ups and downs in her lifetime yet maintains an engaging sense of humor throughout.  Perspective on her relationship with Bobby Darin and the dominating control executed by her father are covered in great detail as are Mafia ties and connections, her rape and her meteoric rise to stardom in the early days of rock and roll to become the #1 Female Recording Artist on the planet.  (She even shares some of the long-lost love letters exchanged between her and Bobby, many of which were returned by a fan who bought them at an auction a few years back.)
Again, HIGHLY recommended … this is a GREAT (and VERY fun) read!  

And finally, I once again have to mention Sam Tallerico’s book “Who Did You Say Your Father Was” tells a very interesting tale of Sam’s investigation into his own parentage … only to discover that in all likelihood his father is none other than the incredible Bobby Darin.
We’ve talked about this book and Sam’s story several times before in Forgotten Hits … in fact, when Sam read about himself in our pages, he contacted me and we have struck up both a steady stream of correspondence and a friendship offering great support to one another in our endeavors.  (Turns out he’s been a Forgotten Hits Reader for YEARS!!!  Who knew!!!  So if nothing else, I can certainly say that he’s got good taste!  Lol)
Sam’s book isn’t an attempt to “cash in” on his likely father … he acknowledges that he’s entitled to nothing and expects nothing … but it tracks his incredible journey and investigation through the adoption system to come pretty definitively to this conclusion.
His greatest regret is not being able to connect with his likely “brother,” Bobby’s son Dodd Darin, who seems to have gone out of his way NOT to cooperate (encouraging anybody else within earshot to do the same.)  That’s too bad … Sam isn’t looking for anything other than final DNA confirmation.
The truth is, there could be dozens more out there just like him … (and private conversations with Sam indicate that he may already be aware of a few!)  Even in Connie Francis’ book, she states that Bobby had already slept with hundreds of women before he had his first hit record.  (The link that Frank provided above details one of his most famous rendezvous with belly dance Nelja Ates, a woman who drove Bobby down the fast path to manhood.)
This is a good book and I wish the Darin organization would be a little more accommodating in this whole thing … think about it … what have they really got to lose?
If they think Sam’s full of shit, do the DNA test to prove him wrong, discredit his research and be done with this.  And if the DNA proves him to be correct, then embrace this estranged family member and welcome him into your extended family. He’s already missed 60 years … there must be some catching up you can do!!!
One thing’s for certain … Bobby never knew of Sam’s existence … but it’s Bobby’s name that’s on the birth certificate listed as “father.”  He was still a relatively unknown club singer at the time … so certainly his “baby mama” could have come forward once Bobby hit the big time and demanded big bucks for their dalliance.  But she didn’t … Sam was given up for adoption and raised by a loving family who are, in every way, shape and form, his parents.  I believe he’s just looking for closure on this and nothing more.  Definitely worth the read!  (kk)  

Hey, Kent –
Chuck Buell checking in with …
So sad to hear of Doris Day making her transition last week.  She certainly was terrific in so many ways. In Film, very few looked as good as she did in Buckskin as she did in her movie “Calamity Jane!” Even then, it was hard for a Guy to take his eyes off her fabulous, cute, wholesome girl next door image.

Musically, even as a Young Boy, I personally loved, and still do, many of her classic romantic songs particularly, “When I Fall in Love,” “Secret Love,” and “The Very Thought of You.”  < sigh > 
But, put a few of her other hit song titles together and, oh my!  Shocking! 
“Move Over Darling,” “I’m Ready, Willing and Able,” so “Enjoy Yourself!”
CJB ( which stands for “Calamity Jane’s Boy!” ) 
That’s a rare shot of me that you found … kind of a cross between Cowboy / Stagecoach Kent and Serial Killer Kent, with just a touch of Jim Peterik thrown into the mix, thanks to what appears to be purple hair!!!
Doris doesn’t fit the usual MO of what we cover here in Forgotten Hits, but her work, be it music, movies, television or humanitarian, touched each and every one of us in some fashion.  (kk)

Here’s some interesting coverage of the big WPLJ send-off party that reunited several of the key stars who made the station as great as it was.  (We told you recently that, after a remarkable career, they were recently by K-LOVE and are now a Christian Rock radio station.)  Tom Cuddy and Scott Shannon have been Forgotten Hits Readers for decades now … and I know they both still have a lot of love for the station that provided huge stepping stones throughout their careers. 

Broadway Goes Rock, continued …

This certainly seems to be the trend lately …
Just a month or two ago we told you about a new musical being launched featuring the music of Foreigner as their soundtrack (“Jukebox Hero”) …
And now comes word that a brand new ZZ Top musical (called “Sharp-Dressed Man”) is also in the works.
I dunno … I think Foreigner’s music may have a little bit more of a commercial appeal to the masses …
But something featuring the Texas Boogie Swamp of ZZ Top just might turn the musical world on its ear.

FH Reader Bob Merlis tells us more … 

Caesars Entertainment’s team, led by Michael Gruber and Jason Gastwirth, along with lead producers Carl Stubner and Prem Akkaraju, are developing Sharp Dressed Man, a rock musical featuring ZZ Top hits. The show is expected to open in 2020 in Las Vegas and will include ZZ Top members, Billy Gibbons, Dusty Hill and Frank Beard, as executive producers. 

Sharp Dressed Man is an outrageous, bawdy musical romp about a Lone Star auto mechanic who becomes a modern-day Robin Hood, stealing hearts — and car parts — with the help of his merry band of beer drinkers and hell raisers.  Featuring ZZ Top’s most beloved songs including “Legs,” “La Grange,” “Gimme All Your Lovin’” and “Cheap Sunglasses,” Sharp Dressed Man is a rock musical with a wicked sense of humor and a heart as big as Texas. 

Producing the show with Caesars Entertainment are Carl Stubner, ZZ Top’s longtime manager and executive producer of the documentary “ZZ TOP: That Little Ol’ Band from Texas” and Prem Akkaraju, executive producer of “Tomorrowland: Ten Years of Unity, Love, Madness and Magic” on MTV and “The White Tiger”, feature film adaptation of the Man Booker award-winning novel of the same name.

The show’s book is written by Robert Cary and Jonathan Tolins. The duo wrote the teleplays for Fox TV’s Emmy-winning “Grease Live!” as well as “A Christmas Story Live!” Tolins is known for the long-running off-Broadway hit “Buyer & Cellar” for which he won a Lucille Lortel Award. He also wrote the films “The Twilight of the Golds” and “Martian Child” (written with Seth E. Bass). He is currently a Co-Executive Producer of “The Good Fight” on CBS All Access. Cary is co-author of Broadway’s “Summer: The Donna Summer Musical,” “Flashdance The Musical,” and directed the films “Ira and Abby” and “Anything But Love.” 

“We’re excited about this fantastic project and look forward to hearing our music in a new innovative context,” said ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons. “Fans have often told us that we’ve provided the soundtrack to their lives, and this is very much in line with that kind of enthusiastic thinking.”

Prem Akkaraju commented, "Pairing ZZ Top's iconic music with a Texas-version of the Robin Hood story delivers countless laugh-out-loud moments for audiences of of all ages.  It’s an absolute blast.”

“I know firsthand that ZZ Top is an enduring phenomenon; they’re now about to celebrate 50 years of rocking audiences around he world,” said Stubner. “The show that Prem, Michael, Jason and I envision will utilize the band’s music and tremendous energy for audiences in a new immersive realm. This, just like ZZ Top, is all about having a good time at a great party and telling fun stories through their music.”

Jason Gastwirth, president of entertainment at Caesars Entertainment said, “ZZ Top holds a special place in American music history. Their songs incorporate rich imagery that lends itself to the narrative form. The addition of Sharp Dressed Man to our already diverse entertainment lineup is exactly the component we are excited to welcome to the family for our guests.” 

“We are at a time where Las Vegas is recognized to have some of the most amazing artists in the world from all eras, and we are excited to have the opportunity to bring to the stage a musical that has some of the best songs of a generation, with some great actors of today, enabling us to have an incredibly creative and successful show in the future,” added Michael Gruber, chief new business officer for Caesars Entertainment.

ZZ Top, whose lineup has remained constant since 1970, continues to be one of the world’s top touring attractions.  This past weekend they embarked on a run of three sold-out concert dates on their home turf -- Dallas, Houston, Austin – and have set an extensive tour schedule to follow throughout Europe and back in the United State this spring, summer and fall in connection with the ongoing celebration of their 50th anniversary. 

Here's Lou Christie’s latest “It Should Have Been A Hit”
Here’s a Fab Four follow-up from Shelley Sweet-Tufano … 

I received answers to my ‘educator’s questions’ from two of The Fab Four. There are similarities as well as differences in their answers. Just like any group.

The difference between my questions to them and questions I would have for another group lies in the fact that all Fab Four questions have their roots in The Beatles, whereas with other groups I would be asking more about their personal group and individual growth, which may or may not have something to do with The Beatles.

Confusing, yes? Well anyway, I wish to share the answers I received from Gavin Pring (George) and Neil Candelora (Paul).

1.    How do they find these performers? Do the performers find them?
Gavin:  The company "The Fab Four" was established, and was performing since 1997, so back then, I personally didn't even know you could be a Beatle for a job. When I got into the business this particular company had a great reputation for recreating the look, sound and gestures of the original Fab Four that I hoped one day I would get to join them... That day came in the mid 2000's and I've been working with these guys ever since.

Neil:  We met through mutual friends. I was a kid who loved the Beatles and knew all the songs. I started getting to know the guys and then did an audition, and I’ve been playing gigs with them ever since. 

2.    Are their roles perfected before they join the touring group or is their training after they “sign up”?
Gavin: It's a little of both, I had formed a George Harrison solo show years before I even met the lads so I was always interested in trying to look like George and move like him but after I joined the company they helped me to get closer to Harrison with their wisdom and advice, I'm sure I also helped them with regards to talking like a scouser (person from Liverpool).

Neil:  It’s a bit of both, there’s a lot of work you have to put in on your own. You have to be at least decent enough get up on stage in front of an audience that purchased tickets to see a quality show. From that point on, there’s a lot of feedback from the group. Everyone is always looking out for little details someone else might be missing, it makes for a higher quality show. 

3.    Is each one truly playing their favorite Beatle, or are they cast primarily by looks?
Gavin: I always had two favourite Beatles … George, obviously, but I also love and miss John.  By performing as George, I get to see John and sing with him (in the form of Adam) nightly so, it's a win / win for me.

Neil:   I’m not sure if “Paul” is my hands down favorite anymore, but he was when I was a kid. Hard to pick a favorite now and I tend to lean more towards John. Anything post Beatles, though, Paul is my favorite!

4.     Does anyone have to learn a new instrument when they come onboard?
Gavin:  Yes!!!  Since I started playing with the Fab Four, I've had to learn to play Keyboards (Penny Lane / Imagine / Got To Get You Into My Life), Ukulele (All Together Now) and Sitar (Within You, Without You) ... no one gets away with not learning something new for the show. lol

Neil:   Some people do.  Usually, if anyone has to learn an instrument, it’s piano. You have to recognize, The Beatles were very talented musicians, so most likely people will come in already knowing how to play the instruments they need to play, and play them well. I already knew my way around Bass, Guitar and Piano, so that was the easy part for me!

5.    Who writes the script and decides the songs?
Gavin:  Mostly Ron, but to be honest, the script and setlist may change in a moment’s notice and is dependent on varying factors, time constraints, age of the audience, etc.  For example, "Helter Skelter" wouldn't work with an audience of people mostly over 70 in a small theatre … alternatively "Till There Was You" probably wouldn't work in a club setting with early 20's jumping around.  Always know your audience and script accordingly is what we say.

(Gavin is referring to Ron McNeil, founder, and one of the John players, of The Fab Four)

6.    And is there anyone who is a natural left-handed bass player? I know that Ardy Sarraf (another Paul) was an accomplished right handed bass player who had to reteach himself.

Gavin:  One of our cast members, Neil Candelora, is a right handed guy but when he was young decided to play left handed imitating McCartney even back then, and is now a very accomplished "Lefty".

Neil:   A lot of people think I’m naturally left handed - but I’m not. When I was a little kid, I was such a Paul fan I wanted to play guitar “just like him”. So I learned left handed as a child. I’m totally right handed, but I can only play guitar / bass left handed. So, even tho I’m not “naturally” left handed, it feels natural to me to play lefty. 

I had such fun reading their answers. I am passing them on to my students and I hope you enjoy them too.
Shelley J Sweet-Tufano

I’m sure you know this but I didn’t see it in your blog.
Charles Barksdale, an original member of the Dells, passed away this past week in Chicago at the age of 84. He had been ill for some time. 
Barksdale sang bass for the Dells, who were elected to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2004.
Here is a link: They are considered to be one of the great groups of the Doo Wop era.

Interesting article about “The Next Generation of Toto.”
However, Mike Porcaro’s description as the “original bassist of Toto” is false.
David Hungate was the original. Mike Porcaro replaced Hungate when he left the band after Toto IV.
And folks, she KNOWS!!!  Frannie has been a MAJOR Toto fan since that very first release (and worn thru more than her fair share of albums over the years, playing their stuff over and over again!)  kk 

Kent Kotal - Forgotten Hits,
Just thought I would offer an update, so-to-speak, while waiting for The NTSB response to my Petition For Reconsideration and Modification that I submitted January 6, 2017 - 
'The Mason City Iowa Accident February 3, 1959' (The 'Tragic Airplane Crash', that will forever be remembered as 'The Day The Music Died') 
(Buddy Holly - Ritchie Valens - JP Richardson 'The Big Bopper' - The Pilot, Roger Peterson)
I am sure you have read about having premonitions or picking up on thoughts that have to do with some unusual circumstances.
I was picking up on / channeling (so-to-speak) 'Buddy Holly', and the following self-composed, late 50's song / sound came to life!!!  (Think “Winter Dance Pary” / “Surf Ballroom”)
I sent a copy to Buddy Holly’s niece, Sherry Holley at TCS Productions in Lubbock, TX, and I just received an e-mail back from her, offering that she will listen to the lyrics / song, and will provide er detailed thoughts, comments, feedback.  (As a child, Sherry Holley was at many family gatherings that Buddy Holly also attended.)
Your thoughts / feedback on the following would be absolutely appreciated.
LJ Coon 

This weekend The Drive is running their Memorial Day Top 500 Countdown of their version of The Best Classic Rock Hits of All-Time.  You can tune in to listen here: … 
and keep track of the list as it unfolds, beginning at 2 pm today.

It’ll be interesting to see where some of these titles fall in relationship to our own, on-going research on this topic.  (Again, this list selected, I’m sure, by either a program director, an internal deejay poll or, perhaps, listener requests … it really isn’t clear just how they came up with it … while OUR list is based on a consensus of votes cast by our readers as well as actual airplay and downloads of tracks … to the tune of just over 700,000 received so far!!!  (We promised you the most definitive list possible, didn’t we???)

You can still both nominate titles and vote for your favorites (and/or most deserving tracks) at

We’re currently formulating a game plan of how to handle the final ballot.  (Right now we currently have about 4100 songs nominated … and will eventually pare this down to The Top 3333 Greatest Classic Rock Tracks Of All Time.)  Watch for more updates next week.

And, finally, a question for the ages … 

I was outside trimming the hedges, singing along with Johnny Maestro on my I-Pod with ear plugs.
All of a sudden, the dogs in the next yard start howling.
They're usually quiet.
Could it be they don't like Johnny Maestro?
No ...
Everybody loves Johnny Maestro.
Next time I'll try The Platters.
Kent –
You don't have to answer ...
You always tell the truth and will probably hurt my feelings.
Frank B. 
Sorry, Frank ... 
My parents always taught me that if you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all.  (kk)