Saturday, June 22, 2019

June 22nd, 1969 - One Of The Greatest Concerts I Never Saw!

OK, so the GREATEST concert I never saw was The Beatles at Comiskey Park in 1965.

I've told this story numerous times over the years but a quick recap is this ...

My cousins had tickets to see The Beatles at Comiskey Park in August of '65 ... and had an extra ticket available for me to go.

They told us about it the day before the show as we just happened to be visiting them at their home in Deerfield, IL.

I could spend the night and then go with them to the concert the following night ... and my Dad could come pick me up the following day to bring me back to Brookfield, IL ... a distance of about a 32 miles each way ... and roughly a 45 minute drive.  It was summer vacation, after all, so me being available to see the greatest band the world has ever known was a no brainer.

But my Dad said no ... he didn't want to have to drive "all the way back" there to come and get me ... and so my one and ONLY chance to ever see The Beatles perform live was squashed.  (There are not enough words to describe how squashed I felt at missing this opportunity ... and that feeling has only grown larger and larger in each passing year since.)

But the concert held at Milwaukee County Stadium on June 22nd, 1969, sounds like one hell of a good time, too.

Check this out ...

It was promoted by radio station WOKY and quickly became known as M'Woky Fest ... and it was designed as a fund-raiser for The Children's Outing Association, which provides camping for handicapped and under-privileged kids and senior citizens.

The line-up consisted of (are you ready for this?!?!?) Freddie and the Freeloaders, The Classics IV, Eddie Floyd and The Bar-Kays, The Bob Seger System, Gary Lewis and the Playboys, The Cryan' Shames, Tommy James and the Shondells, The New Colony Six, Andy Kim, The Buckinghams, The Royal Guardsmen, The Guess Who and The Monkees!!!  And tickets were only $1.50 - $3.50.

Oh yeah ... and it also rained all day!!!

Still, the event raised $68,198 and, believe it or not, the crowd of 29,041 was the largest audience The Monkees ever played to up to that time.  (Their TV show was cancelled the year before and at this point, the band was down to just a trio, Peter Tork having left after their 33 1/3 Revolutions per Monkee television special the previous year.)

SO many great names on this bill ... and most at the peak of their respective careers.  What a show this must have been!!! 

Incredibly, I asked a number of the artists who were on the bill that day what it was like to play with such an elite group of contemporaries ... and, believe it or not, other than a couple of responses, I got nothing back that we could use!

I was told time and time again that there was nothing especially memorable about this show that made it stand out from any others.  (Now granted, there were a LOT of "package shows" at the time ... but a line-up like this ... with over a dozen top name acts, all performing on the same bill ... and the fact that it rained all day ... you would think SOMETHING would have stood out!)

We even looked for local Milwaukee fans who might have attended ... and reached out to some of the Wisconsin disc jockeys that are on our list for assistance ... and still came up relatively empty.   

[For the record, in addition to members of The New Colony Six and The Royal Guardsmen (who responded), we also asked members of The Buckinghams, Jay and the Americans, Andy Kim, The Monkees, Tommy James, Gary Lewis, Burton Cummings and Randy Bachman of The Guess Who, members of The Cryan' Shames and Bob Seger.  Maybe once this piece runs and the word starts to get out, we'll hear from a few more of you who were there ... either on the stage or out in the audience!  We'll gladly run a follow-up piece if this proves to be the case.]

So, with this scenario in mind, I am EXTREMELY proud to present to you these memories from those who did respond ...

Hi Kent - 

Bill Balogh, original bass player for The Royal Guardsmen here.
    By the time of our appearance at the Milwaukee Pop Festival on June 22, 1969, Billy Taylor (organ) and Barry Winslow (rhythm guitar and vocals) had already left the band.  (They left in May of 1969 and did not play at the M'WOKY Pop Festival on June 22, 1969.)    
    The Guardsmen lineup for the M’Woky Pop Festival in 1969 included original members Chris Nunley on drums and vocals, Bill Balogh on bass and vocals, and Tom Richards on lead guitar and vocals.  New members as of June 1969 were John Mosley on organ and Dave Shannon on lead vocals. 
    The Guardsmen had played Madison Square Garden for the second time in early June, 1969, and had met the Guess Who at that gig. 
          Several of the acts on the bill stayed at the Pfister Hotel downtown and were transported to the stadium the day of the festival. 
          It rained most of the day, but did ease up later in the afternoon. 
          When the Guardsmen were taken by limo to the stadium the day of the festival, the limo was mobbed by girls as the limo entered the outfield.  They didn’t know who was in the limo, but it still felt pretty cool like something out of a Beatles film clip!  
    The Green Room was in one of the baseball players dressing rooms.
         In the stadium, the stage was setup on second base and faced home plate.  The actual stage was a large circular disc with a curtain wall as a backdrop that divided the circular stage in to two halves.  While a band was performing on the lighted side of the stage facing the audience, the next act up was setting up on the back or ‘dark’ side of the stage.  When it was time for the next act to play, the entire circular disc was rotated and was ‘lighted’, facing the audience. 
          I remember walking out of the Green Room and watching some of the other acts such as the Bob Seger System, The Monkees and Gary Lewis and the Playboys.  
    That night after the festival I remember we partied with The Guess Who in the Hotel lounge while Micky Dolenz played the piano … Davy Jones was there for a while, too.
-       The M’Woky Pop Festival was the second largest audience the Royal Guardsmen had played for at 29,000.  On December 10, 1967, the Guardsmen played at the US Marine Corp Toys for Tots concert in Louisville, Kentucky, to a crowd of 44,000.
-- Bill Balogh 

It could be a wrong recall on my part relative to the popularity of Things I'd Like To Say north of the Cheese Curtain back then, but I believe we may have been chart-topping or nearly so at the time of this concert.  We had a great deal of admiration for / jealousy of The Monkees and let our appreciation take precedent the day of the show, reaching out to them prior to our set.

This must have been the event where The Monkees were quite aloof until after we played Things I'd Like To Say, which was at or near the top of the charts in Milwaukee at the time so following our set, they became a bit more open to talking with us.  (Aloof non-responsive would have been a vast understatement, Kent.)  
Hence, because the stage was out around 2nd base and rotated so that the next act could set up in the outfield while attendees were essentially crammed into the space between 1st & 3rd bases, we changed our set list to open with Things ...  
The crowd went crazy as we began while the stage was still moving into place and following the completion of our set, there was a new and far more open attitude from Peter, David, Micky and Michael, as they probably hadn't a clue regarding our popularity and successes here in the Midwest.  
Not surprising, I guess, but the initial snub surely provided a story that I have shared numerous times over the many decades since and made me feel pretty good in so doing yet again this morning!  
This may also have been the show where I was wearing my lime green leisure suit and took a whipped cream pie in the face for comedic effect near/at the end of our set but cannot state that with as much certainty as the prior story ... but pretty sure it was that concert, too.  
I remember that it was raining pretty hard that day so we left after our set, rather than hang around to watch some of the other acts on the bill. 
Goose bumps still pop up from thinking about and/or repeating in writing the simply incredible crowd reaction at that performance every time I share it, like today.  
Not the only event that makes me giddy ... we had a few more of those huge attendance figure gigs over the initial success time of the Colony and, of course, felt similarly every time we appeared on television or were part of major autograph signings, etc.  
While numbers may never again match what we had at County Stadium and some of the other outdoor concerts where tens of thousands were supposedly present "in the day," even 300 at a small venue today, or repeatedly enjoying ~ 950 & SRO at the Arcada or selling out other venues as part of Cornerstones or NC6 solo, there is still always a breathtaking level of excitement and an extraordinary feeling of having done a good job when applauded for our efforts today --- 55 years this summer after forming New Colony Six!  
Whether as a part of Cornerstones or Colony or, in my case, when recently given the chance to represent the band at Caravan of Stars 36 down in Jackson, TN, and perform for Kool103.1 FM's concert at the Carl Perkins Civic Center, along with other voices sans their band mates, it still makes me teary-eyed over the appreciation received for what we did in the distant past and still are privileged to be able to share today.  
Shoot, to be perfectly candid, I have shed a tear or six simply reading a nice note on Facebook or a sweet comment accompanying a video on YouTube.  What a blessing it was and still is to be thought of fondly for accomplishments over a half century ago.  
Enough already, right?  
Signing off for now, Kent, but if you need more or want to hear about my initial departure from the band 50 years ago this coming August, let me know ... but I shall close in perfect candor sharing that I need a wipe of my right eye over this sentimental journey back into the days of my youth right now.
Thanks for asking --- 
Peace & blessings,      
P.S.  I sure do know you extend your support beyond belief through Forgotten Hits and trust you also know my own will always be coming back atcha, kk ...
Ray Graffia, Jr. 

Thanks, Guys!  I really appreciate you sharing your memories of this very special event with our readers!  (kk)

Friday, June 21, 2019

The Summer of '69

Ahh, yes ... The Summer of '69 ... I remember it well.  (Well, sort of ... as the summer drew to a close, I would turn 16, but looking back over some of your memories has inspired a few of my own.)

We all know what Canadian Rocker Bryan Adams was doing that summer ... that was the year he got his first real six-string ... he bought it at the five-and-time ... and, as I recall, he played it till his fingers bled ... yes, it was the Summer of '69.

That means Bryan would turn TEN later that year ... so he got a much earlier start on playing music than I did!!! (Personally, I got MY first six-string in 1967 ... inspired by seeing how much fun The Monkees were having every week, I knew that this was something that I wanted to do, too. Notice that I didn't say my first "real" six-string ... the one I bought in '67 was one of those cheap, Japanese jobbers where the strings sat about six feet off the fret board ... lol ... couldn't play it worth a damn which, in hindsight, I realize was only PARTLY my fault ... but I didn't care ... I was makin' music!!! lol)

By February of '68 I'd taken a few guitar lessons ... (let me tell you, I played a MEAN "Rockin' In The Rye"!!!) ... and, later that year, I bought MY first real six-string ... a Gibson ES-335 ... Cherry Red ... a BEAUTIFUL guitar. By then I'd already started writing my own songs and was well on my way to complete obscurity!!!

We heard from a few other folks on the list who had some personal musical memories circa 1969 ... and we encourage you to share them with us as we make our way through this Fifty Year Flashback Tribute.  (A couple from our 40 year salute are posted below … along with The Biggest Hits Of Summer, 1969.  You can find the Biggest Hits of EVERY Summer on the other Forgotten Hits website …

Hi Kent,
Probably nothing of interest to anyone else, but in looking over my gig history (of which I've compiled a huge amount), '69 was:
1. the first year that I did a Nevada show-group gig (Elko)
2. my first visit back to FL (where I went to high school) since '64
3. when I left the Portraits, after having been with them since 1/64 (before they were called the Portraits)
4. worked a day job (for about three months) for the first time since 1961
5. did several gigs with Donnie Brooks (whom I had known since '65), one of which included alternating sets with Nelson Riddle's orchestra
6. did some gigs with Chuck Higgnins ("Pachucko Hop")
7. also played in Kentucky and ran into an old Milwaukee musician friend
8. was on one show mc'ed by Wolfman Jack
Gary E. Myers / MusicGem

Late in the Summer of '69 I sang in a rock band in front of a live audience for the very first time in my life. It was also our first PAYING gig so it was quite the memorable, pressure-filled night. I had put together a band in our basement that consisted of my brother Mark (who played a maroon solid-body Gibson SG) and a drummer by the name of Jimmy Gilsdorf. We had never played outside our own basement before ... entertained at a couple of birthday and / or graduation parties ... but that was pretty much the extent of it. We only did instrumentals ... things like "Walk Don't Run" and "Wipe Out" and instrumental versions of other hits and classics ... like "Sleep Walk" and "My Bonnie" and "Rockin' In The Rye", of course ... and that was about it. Were we any good? Let's just say that NO ONE will EVER accuse me of being a lead guitarist!!! (lol)
But in the Summer of '69, one of my best friends in High School said that his older brother was in charge of hiring the entertainment for an upcoming hay ride and wanted to know if we would play. Geez ... a REAL job?!?!? In front of people?!?!? I wasn't sure if we were ready for THAT!!! (We weren't ... it was flat-out awful!!!)
Anyway, I figured we'd better learn a couple of hit songs that were on the charts right now ... so we quickly added "Bad Moon Rising" and "Honky Tonk Women" to our repertoire, featuring ME on lead vocals on both. (Two of the biggest songs of the Summer of '69, by the way, and the first two songs I ever sang live in public! In fact, I think I sang each of them three or four times that night ... we probably had about twenty minutes of material TOTAL as a band ... and had to play three forty-minute sets ... so we repeated stuff ... a LOT!!! Lol  I remember that we also did “Back In The U.S.S.R.”) 
We couldn't honor ANY of their requests ... couldn't play anything more challenging than that which I've just described ... and it was, without question, the WORST live performance by ANY band EVER!!! Incredibly, they still paid us ... but by the time we all got home that night, we just wanted to quit, figuring we had absolutely NO business whatsoever in the rock arena. (Truthfully, we stunk SO bad that I wasn't even sure they'd let us sit in the audience watching somebody ELSE perform!!!) It was, POSITIVELY, the worst performance EVER ... and that includes playing at a bar several years later when the owner came up to us on the stage and offered to pay us $200 if we'd "stop playing right now"!!! (lol) kk

The Top 50 Songs of The Summer of '69
Just like we did a couple of years ago when we saluted "The Summer Of Love," we've put together a list of The 50 Biggest Songs Of The Summer of '69. (By the way, you can find that Summer Of Love Countdown posted on The Forgotten Hits Website here: Click here: Forgotten Hits - The Summer Of Love Countdown).

And, just like we did a couple of years ago when we assembled THAT feature, we went to our "Go To" Chart Guys, Randy Price and Jack Levin, whom we asked to compile this information for our Forgotten Hits Readers.

And both of these guys did exactly what we asked them to ... come up with a chart based on the statistics of June, July and August ONLY of 1969 that shows the National and the Local rankings of The 50 Most Popular Songs of that Summer.

As expected, there are lots of similarities ... in fact, 39 of The Top 50 Titles are common to BOTH charts, leaving only a discrepancy of eleven songs on either chart that might be considered "surprises". Randy's National Chart is based on the information he collected from all three major national trades at the time: Billboard Magazine, Cash Box Magazine and Record World Magazine ... the definitive Super Charts that we have been talking about these past several years. Jack's Chicagoland Chart comes from information compiled from the two big Top 40 AM Giants here in Chicago at the time, WLS and WCFL ... no small feat, I might add, because in 1969 WCFL was no longer publishing and distributing their charts in the record stores like they had in '66 and '67 ... instead, much like WLS would do a few years later, they would send a poster to be mounted in the record department of the major stores where you would go to buy your singles. After years and years and years of diligent research, our team of Collectible Chart Maniacs have put together charts reflecting the information that many of these guys wrote down in their private journals for this era and, thanks to that diligence, we are able to share this chart information with you today.

So, without further adieu, here are your OFFICIAL Top 50 Lists!!!

(compiled by Randy Price)

1. IN THE YEAR 2525 (Exordium & Terminus) - Zager & Evans (RCA Victor 74-0174)
2. CRYSTAL BLUE PERSUASION - Tommy James & The Shondells (Roulette 7050)
3. SPINNING WHEEL - Blood, Sweat & Tears (Columbia 44871)
4. ONE - Three Dog Night (Dunhill 4191)
5. LOVE THEME FROM ROMEO & JULIET - Henry Mancini & His Orchestra (RCA Victor 74-0131)
6. GOOD MORNING STARSHINE - Oliver (Jubilee 5659)
7. WHAT DOES IT TAKE (To Win Your Love) - Jr. Walker & The All Stars (Soul 35062)
8. MY CHERIE AMOUR - Stevie Wonder (Tamla 54180)
9. BAD MOON RISING - Creedence Clearwater Revival (Fantasy 622)
10. BABY, I LOVE YOU - Andy Kim (Steed 716)
11. SWEET CAROLINE (Good Times Never Seemed So Good) - Neil Diamond (Uni 55136)
12. IN THE GHETTO - Elvis Presley (RCA Victor 47-9741)
13. MOTHER POPCORN (You Got To Have A Mother For Me) (pt. 1) - James Brown (King 6245)
14. GET BACK - The Beatles (Apple 2490)
15. HONKY TONK WOMEN - The Rolling Stones (London 910)
16. COLOR HIM FATHER - The Winstons (Metromedia 117)
17. RUBY, DON'T TAKE YOUR LOVE TO TOWN - Kenny Rogers & The First Edition (Reprise 0829)
18. LOVE ME TONIGHT - Tom Jones (Parrot 40038)
19. TOO BUSY THINKING ABOUT MY BABY - Marvin Gaye (Tamla 54181)
20. QUENTIN'S THEME - The Charles Randolph Grean Sounde (Ranwood 840)
21. PUT A LITTLE LOVE IN YOUR HEART - Jackie DeShannon (Imperial 66385)
22. BLACK PEARL - Sonny Charles & The Checkmates, Ltd. (A&M 1053)
23. A BOY NAMED SUE - Johnny Cash (Columbia 44944)
24. THE BALLAD OF JOHN AND YOKO - The Beatles (Apple 2531)
25. GRAZING IN THE GRASS - The Friends Of Distinction (RCA Victor 74-0107)
26. ISRAELITES - Desmond Dekker & The Aces (Uni 55129)
27. POLK SALAD ANNIE - Tony Joe White (Monument 1104)
28. MY PLEDGE OF LOVE - The Joe Jeffrey Group (Wand 11200)
29. LAUGHING - The Guess Who (RCA Victor 74-0195)
30. LOVE (Can Make You Happy) - Mercy (Sundi 6811)
31. I'D WAIT A MILLION YEARS - The Grass Roots (Dunhill 4198)
32. LET ME - Paul Revere & The Raiders (Columbia 44854)
33. THESE EYES - The Guess Who (RCA Victor 74-0102)
34. GET TOGETHER - The Youngbloods (RCA Victor 47-9752)
35. GOOD OLD ROCK 'N ROLL - Cat Mother & The All Night News Boys (Polydor 14002)
36. YESTERDAY, WHEN I WAS YOUNG - Roy Clark (Dot 17246)
37. I TURNED YOU ON - The Isley Brothers (T-Neck 902)
38. OH HAPPY DAY - The Edwin Hawkins Singers (Pavilion 20001)
39. MORE TODAY THAN YESTERDAY - The Spiral Starecase (Columbia 44741)
40. SEE - The Rascals (Atlantic 2634)
41. LAY LADY LAY - Bob Dylan (Columbia 44926)
42. SOUL DEEP - The Box Tops (Mala 12040)
43. GIVE PEACE A CHANCE - The Plastic Ono Band (Apple 1809)
44. I CAN SING A RAINBOW / LOVE IS BLUE - The Dells (Cadet 5641)
45. SUGAR, SUGAR - The Archies (Calendar 1008)
46. EVERYDAY WITH YOU GIRL - The Classics IV (Imperial 66378)
47. GREEN RIVER - Creedence Clearwater Revival (Fantasy 625)
48. RECONSIDER ME - Johnny Adams (SSS Int'l 770)
49. DON'T LET THE JONESES GET YOU DOWN - The Temptations (Gordy 7086)
50. HURT SO BAD - The Lettermen (Capitol 2482)

The Chicagoland Charts:
(compiled by Jack Levin)

1. In The Year 2525 - Zager & Evans
2. Honky Tonk Women - The Rolling Stones
3. Crystal Blue Persuasion - Tommy James & the Shondells
4. Love Theme From Romeo & Juliet - Henry Mancini
5. One - Three Dog Night
6. Good Morning Starshine - Oliver
7. Baby I Love You - Andy Kim
8. Hurt So Bad - The Lettermen
9. Put A Little Love In Your Heart - Jackie DeShannon
10. What Does It Take - Jr. Walker & the All Stars
11. Birthday - Underground Sunshine
12. Bad Moon Rising - Creedence Clearwater Revival
13. Sweet Caroline - Neil Diamond
14. The Israelites - Desmond Dekker & the Aces
15. Soul Deep - The Box Tops
16. Too Busy Thinking About My Baby - Marvin Gaye
17. Polk Salad Annie - Tony Joe White
18. Quentin's Theme - Charles Randolph Greene Sound
19. Spinning Wheel - Blood, Sweat & Tears
20. Let Me - Paul Revere & the Raiders
21. Ruby Don't Take Your Love To Town - Kenny Rogers & the First Edition
22. A Boy Named Sue - Johnny Cash
23. Medicine Man - Buchanan Brothers
24. Color Him Father - The Winstons
25. Get Back - The Beatles
26. My Cherie Amour - Stevie Wonder
27. Lay Lady Lay - Bob Dylan
28. Laughing - The Guess Who
29. Green River - Creedence Clearwater Revival
30. In The Ghetto - Elvis Presley
31. I'll Never Fall In Love Again - Tom Jones
32. My Pledge Of Love - The Joe Jeffery Group
33. Grazing In The Grass - The Friends Of Distinction
34. Special Delivery - The 1910 Fruitgum Company
35. Black Pearl - Sonny Charles & the Checkmates
36. Working On A Groovy Thing - The Fifth Dimension
37. Mother Popcorn - James Brown
38. Morning Girl - Neon Philharmonic
39. Easy To Be Hard - Three Dog Night
40. Sugar Sugar - The Archies
41. Get Together - The Youngbloods
42. The Ballad Of John & Yoko - The Beatles
43. Marakeesh Express - Crosby, Stills & Nash
44. See - The Rascals
45. Give Peace A Chance - The Plastic Ono Band
46. Did You See Her Eyes - The Illusion
47. Everyday With You Girl - The Classics IV
48. I Could Never Lie To You - The New Colony Six
49. Good Old Rock And Roll - Cat Mother & The All Night Newsboys
50. Day Is Done - Peter Paul & Mary
The Ballad Of John & Yoko would have scored higher, but it failed to chart on WLS. Songs included on this list represent their various chart positions between June 1st and September 1st, 1969.

You'll notice that not only are 39 titles common to both charts, but in The Top 20 there is only a one title discrepancy between the two rankings ... here in Chicago "Birthday" by Underground Sunshine did much better than it did on The National Charts, peaking at #2 (vs. a #19 showing in Cash Box and a #26 peak in Billboard.) We recently featured this song in one of our Forgotten Hits spotlights. (You can read all about it here:

Tom Jones had the only Top 20 National Chart entry not accounted for on our local charts ... his hit "Love Me Tonight" came in at #18 on Randy's compilation chart yet didn't chart well enough here in Chicago to make Jack's Top 50. (Ironically, a DIFFERENT Tom Jones song made our local chart ... you'll find his Summer of '69 Hit "I'll Never Fall In Love Again" at #31!)

The biggest song of the year, "Sugar, Sugar" by The Archies came in at #40 on The Chicagoland Chart Compilation and at #45 on The National Ranking. That's because it didn't debut on the charts until the end of July / beginning of August and wouldn't accumulate enough points during the eligibility period of June, July and August ONLY to rank any higher.

I was a little surprised to see "In The Years 2525" by Zager and Evans top BOTH charts ... I mean, I knew it was BIG ... but I didn't think it was THAT big. Off the top of my head, my first three guesses for the biggest Summer of '69 Hits would have been "Honky Tonk Women" by The Rolling Stones, "Crystal Blue Persuasion" by Tommy James and the Shondells" and "Get Back" by The Beatles, all of which scored well on the final charts ... but none of which earned enough accumulative points to unseat Zager and Evans' One Hit Wonder.

Thanks again to Randy Price and Jack Levin for their diligent efforts in compiling these charts for ALL of our readers to enjoy.