Friday, October 4, 2019


Tuesday night (October 1st) we got to see one of this year's most highly anticipated concerts as the White Album's 50th Anniversary Tour rolled into St. Charles, IL, for a sold out show at The Arcada Theatre.

Featuring five headliners, the show pays tribute to The Beatles' double album released in November of 1968.  Todd Rundgren, Christopher Cross, Micky Dolenz, Jason Scheff (of Chicago) and Joey Molland (of Badfinger), backed by an incredibly talented four piece band, took turns recreating some of the most important music of the '60's in often picture perfect live renditions.  (In hindsight, this really IS a mammoth undertaking ... and a constant reminder that ALL of this incredible music came from the same album release ... not a CAREER retrospective but rather a specialized look at 23 of the 30 tracks that made up The Beatles' first album released on their own Apple Records.)  Definitely falling under the category of "And now for something completely different" for these five seasoned performers,  I can almost picture the guys smiling uncontrollably from ear to ear, beaming with pride during the initial rehearsals, every time they hit on something that really got it right, watching the whole thing "come together." 

Officially titled "The Beatles," (you all remember the numbered and embossed front cover, don't you?) the TRUE 50th Anniversary would have been last November ... and for as long as the album has been around, there have mixed feelings about whether a stronger single album might have been a better move ... but I'll tell you what ... there wasn't ANY filler at Tuesday Night's show ... EVERY song was presented in all its glory.

[Read OUR version of the perfect single disc ... as determined by Forgotten Hits Readers last year on the album's official 50th anniversary ... right here ...]   

And, as if this all of this wasn't already enough, the concert experience was accentuated even further as each of the solo artists performed a couple of hits from their respective solo careers.  So while Micky had fun singing Beatles classics like "Why Don't We Do It In The Road" and "Rocky Raccoon," he ALSO sang two of The Monkees' biggest hits, "I'm A Believer" and "Pleasant Valley Sunday."  (Dolenz also performed "Happiness Is A Warm Gun" and "I'm So Tired" during the long, 2 1/2 set.)

Todd Rundgren gave less than stellar performances of his two biggest hits, "I Saw The Light" and "Hello, It's Me" ... which was rather disappointing for us as we'd never seen him before ... but then COMPLETELY redeemed himself by wowing the crowd when he took the leads on "Sexy Sadie" (one of the night's highlights ... it was downright theatrical ... and entertaining as hell!), "The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill," (a bit of comic relief with Todd dressed in full jungle hunter gear, accompanied by a power squirt rifle as well as a spot-on vocal),  "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" and an absolutely knock-out version of "Helter Skelter."  (He also got things rolling early in the show with his version of "Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey" ... or, in this case, "Monkee," as Dolenz kept popping in and out during his performance of this tune!)  And, I must say, compared to the other performers, I think he rivaled Cher in costume changes throughout the evening! 

Jason Scheff started with a beautiful, bare-bones reading of "Hard To Say I'm Sorry" but then brought down the house with his performance of "25 Or 6 To 4," which earned special props for guitarist Wayne Avers, who played a lead guitar solo SO incredibly amazing that I'm certain caused both Terry Kath and Prince jump up from their graves and take notice.  (We found out later that Wayne is Micky Dolenz's musical director and lead guitarist ... and man, this guy can play!)

Actually the whole back-up band was made up of top-notch musicians ... Musical Director Joey Curatolo on keyboards and guitar, as he also was for the popular "Rain: A Tribute To The Beatles" show, Drummer Darin Murphy, who played John Lennon in the Broadway Musical "Lennon" and Keyboardist Gil Assayas, who is Todd Rundgren's right-hand man when he's out touring.

Scheff did very credible versions of "Dear Prudence," "Glass Onion" and "Piggies" ... and an absolutely OUTSTANDING version of "Julia" (with a little help from Christopher Cross.)  It is my professional opinion that Cross and Scheff should team up for another tour together, as they compliment each other's style perfectly ... and the blend of their voices is a sheer delight.  (Plus look at the list of hit material they'd have to perform between them!)

Joey Molland seemed to be struggling a little bit with some of his vocals (including his two Badfinger hits "Baby Blue" and "No Matter What"), but he just seems to be such a likeable guy.  (Joey has a new album coming out.)  Molland wasn't the lead singer of that band and his Beatles contributions were spread out a bit more than the others.  He also tackled George Harrison's "Savoy Truffle" ... but for me, his best performance of the night was on "Revolution 1" (although even there he got lost on the words.)  Still there was something about seeing Joey and Micky singing side by side together that brought back memories of Davy Jones.

By far the best and most consistent performer of the night was Christopher Cross ... his voice was in top form throughout (although he could have added just a LITTLE more grit to "Ride Like The Wind.")  "Sailing" was, for me the evening's highlight as he turned in a letter-perfect rendition.  Surprisingly, the often "detached" Cross also provided some of the evening's most humorous lines ... and he truly seemed to be enjoying himself up there ... (which is not something we've not grown accustomed to seeing at many of his solo shows.)  Perhaps part of the reason for this was the opportunity to present some musical selections outside the box of a typical Christopher Cross concert.  In any event, it was a great opportunity to showcase his beautiful voice (and expert guitar playing) as Cross also turned in perfect performances of "Martha, My Dear," "Blackbird," "I Will," "Mother Nature's Son" and "Honey Pie."

The show kicked off with a great ensemble performance of "Back In The USSR" (just as the album does), which, like the album, segued into "Dear Prudence."  Incredibly, those were the ONLY two songs performed in album sequence all night, which helped to mix things up a bit.  A mid-set rocker, "Birthday" (led by Dolenz) got them all up and singing together again as did the finale, another group ensemble reading of "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da," which capped off a brilliant night of music to massive applause.

The tour was originally scheduled to come to a close at the end of this month, but more dates are now being added (including a return engagement at The Arcada Theatre on December 2nd.)

This is a fun one to see ... a GREAT night of musical variety by some of the top performers of our generation. Check it out if you get the chance!

[VERY special thanks to Ron Onesti, Luciano Bilotti, David Salidor, Billy James and Geoff Perren for their part in making this such a memorable experience.  This was a show we NEEDED to see ... and these guys made sure it happened.  All photographs provided by Arcada Theatre House Photographer Luciano Bilotti for use EXCLUSIVELY in Forgotten Hits.]

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

A Wednesday Morning Quickie (a nice way to break up the week, don'tcha think???)

Huey Lewis and the News releases new song after ten years
1980's = OUT OF MY ERA
Yep -
We ran this story last week -
They sound great don’t they?
(And they’ve done some nice doo wop stuff over the years - you should check them out - I think you’ll like it!)  kk 

So Huey Lewis and the News are back ... but, unfortunately, it's not all GOOD news.

FH Reader Tom Cuddy tells us ... 

I enjoyed the positive comments about Huey Lewis and the News’ new release.  I know you were optimistic to think that Huey was able to sing on this studio album since his recent hearing problems that impacted his singing, but unfortunately Huey’s condition hasn’t improved much.
Huey said in an interview this past week that all of his lead vocals of this album are well over a year-old, which is before health issues forced him to cancel any scheduled concerts.  
Let’s pray for Huey that his hearing issue improves in the near future, but as of right now, he is still not able to sing.  His hearing problem doesn’t allow him to hear all of the notes, so he can’t stay in tune.
I have been blessed in my radio career to work with hundreds of artists over the past 40-plus years, and Huey has always been on of the nicest guys in the business.
Tom Cuddy
New York, NY
That's a shame ... I was hopeful that we might get one more chance to see him.
Still, this lead off track sounds just like vintage Huey Lewis and the News ... yet every bit as fresh.  (It's a shame music that sounds this good isn't "hip enough" to get on the radio these days.  Then again, Huey always was hip to be square ... so who knows ... maybe it'll catch on!) 
We've got a lot of love for Huey and his music.  Hopefully (much like the recent Linda Ronstadt documentary) this will rekindle an interest and appreciation for all that he has shared with us over the years. 
Thanks, Tom!  (kk)

On the Forgotten Hits edition dated September 29th, you mentioned that Johnny Cash & June Carter performed the Nancy Sinatra / Lee Hazelwood song, Jackson -- uh, actually the Cash / Carter version rode the Country charts in 1967 before the Sinatra / Hazelwood team up reached the pop charts later that same year.
Jackson is one of my favorite songs from 1967 and I just thought we should set the record straight.
Keep up the great work keeping the blog about the Oldies coming.
Joe Cantello 
Roswell, Ga
My bad ... what you are saying is correct as it relates to 1967 ... the Johnny Cash / June Carter version was released in February of that year.  (It went on to win the Grammy for
for Best Country and Western Performance Duet, Trio or Group the following year.)
Nancy and Lee's version was released in July of '67 ... some five months later ... but in verifying this research, I found that the song itself actually dates back to 1963.
It was written by Billy Edd Wheeler (with a little help from noted songwriter Jerry Leiber.)  Wheeler tells this story of the song's origin:
"'Jackson' came to me when I read the script for Edward Albee's 'Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf'.  (I was too broke to see the play on Broadway.)  When I played it for Jerry [Leiber], he said 'Your first verses suck,' or words to that effect. 'Throw them away and start the song with your last verse, "We got married in a fever, hotter than a pepper sprout."' When I protested to Jerry that I couldn't start the song with the climax, he said, 'Oh, yes you can.' So I rewrote the song and, thanks to Jerry's editing and help, it worked."
Wheeler was the first to record the song, which he cut as a duet with a friend from Kentucky, Joan Sommer (not popular singing star Joanie Sommers as has also been reported) singing the female part on his very first album for Kapp Records.  Johnny Cash learned the song from that album, A New Bag of Songs.
The Kingston Trio also recorded the song in 1963 and included it on their "Sunny Side!" album that year.  (Some maintain that THEY cut it first, but I think that's unlikely.)  Their version sounds a lot like virtually everything else they ever recorded!  lol  Incredibly, the song then sat dormant for the next four years, only to become a hit TWICE in 1967 by two different duos on both the pop and country charts.  (kk)

For some more insight on the history of the tune, check out this interesting interview with Billy Edd Wheeler from 2012:    

Btw, that great guitar player performing on the White Album Tribute Show is WAYNE AVERS, Micky's musical director and guitarist.
He was phenomenal ... absolutely SMOKED it on "25 or 6 to 4," one of the highlights of the show.  (Sadly, that massive amount of talent can't be properly displayed in a Micky Dolenz show ... but he sure won us over when we saw the White Album show Tuesday night.)
Actually, the entire back-up band was quite impressive and, for a four-piece band, they really filled in all of the necessary gaps to accurately recreate the sound of The White Album sessions.
We'll have a full review later this week (I'm waiting for the photos to come in first!) but it was quite an incredible night of music.  Other highlights (and there were many) included Christopher Cross' letter-perfect reading of "Sailing" and Todd Rundgren's takes on "Sexy Sadie," "The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill" and "Helter Skelter," all of which he performed better than his own two biggest hits, "I Saw The Light" and "Hello It's Me."
They varied the set list a little bit from opening night ... and I kind of got the sense that they were still trying to iron things out as to the best running order and distribution of vocals ... but I'd say it was pretty evenly distributed, save a little bit on the short end for Joey Molland (who seemed to be struggling with some of his lead vocals the night we saw them.)
Again, more in a day or two ... but a GREAT show to see if it's playing anywhere near your area.  It returns to The Arcada Theatre on December 2nd.  (kk)

In 1967, French actress/singer Brigitte Bardot asked Serge Gainsbourg to write a beautiful love song that they could record as a duet. The lyrics he penned were so sexually explicit that her husband would forbid the release of the finished recording. 
In 1969, Gainsbourg traveled to London with his much
younger bride, Jane Birkin, to re-record the song at Fontana Records' Marble Arch studios. Upon the release of "Je T'aime ... Moi Non Plus" (translation "I Love You, Me Neither"), it was immediately banned in most of Europe and by the BBC in the UK. Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On" might be the most suggestive hit single ever released ... but Jane and Serge made it sound like they WERE getting it on! 
I was living in London at the time, but, fifty years later, I can't recall if even the very progressive and tolerant Radio Luxembourg played it. Despite the BBC ban, gossip about the scandalous record led to strong sales. Brits not understanding the sensual sounding French utterances was irrelevant. Rumors flew that the couple was actually making love during the recording session. They weren't. She was
faking it. 
Even the Vatican was appalled. And when Queen Juliana of the Netherlands, a major shareholder in Philips (of which Fontana was a subsidiary), demanded its withdrawal, the record was suddenly yanked from distribution. The displeasure of the Fontana chairman's wife also had something to do with it. 
The deleted single was then picked up by a small Irish owned label, Major Minor. The week of October 4, 1969, might be the only time ever that the very same recording on different labels held down two top twenty positions on a national chart. And an instrumental version (that the BBC
played instead) was also in the top twenty. That was titled "Love At First Sight" by Sounds Nice (actually Tim Mycroft).  Gainsbourg admitted that the Hammond organ background melody was inspired by Procol Harum's "A Whiter Shade Of Pale". On October 11, 1969, the Major Minor single topped the UK charts and Fontana's duplicate sat at number 33. It was both the first banned record and the first in a foreign language to reach number one in the UK. It's been called the most erotic record ever made.
Mike G
Here in The States, the single charted to mixed reviews, peaking at #58 in Billboard, #69 in Record World (no comments please!) and only reaching #92 during its two weeks charting in Cash Box.  It's more of a novelty these days ... and you will hear it from time to time on Internet Oldies Radio.  (kk)

Now THAT'S a Wednesday Morning Quickie!!!
(was it good for you?)

Monday, September 30, 2019

White Album Anniversary Concert Review (Clearwater, Florida)

I haven't written a concert review for Forgotten Hits in several years, but I had to mention the show I saw here in Clearwater, Florida, this past Tuesday night at the beautiful Ruth Eckerd Hall.

It was the "It Was 50 Years Ago Today" tour, featuring five legends ... Todd Rundgren, Micky Dolenz, Christopher Cross, Joey Molland (from Badfinger) and Jason Scheff (who played in Chicago in the Peter Cetera role). I believe it was only the second stop of the tour but because of the rock veterans these guys are, the show went down beautifully.  

The show was a tribute to the Beatles' 1968 release, "The White Album."  In all, 23 songs from that classic LP were played along with two songs each by the five rock icons from their own careers. The show lasted almost two and a half hours with a 20 minute intermission. There was no opening act.

A four piece backing band (drums, keyboards and a terrific lead guitar) helped flesh out the sound. It started out with all five headliners singing "Back In The USSR" and from there each guy was featured on a song, starting with Scheff on "Dear Prudence."  The songs were not played in the order they are on the record which, in my mind , made it even more interesting, not knowing what was coming next.  

During the middle of the first set, each member did a couple of his own personal hits such as Micky singing "I'm A Believer " (how many tines has he played that song) and "Pleasant Valley Sunday." 

The star of the show, in my opinion, was easily Todd Rundgren. He did a great guitar solo on "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" and then, during "Bungalow Bill," he came out dressed in a jungle outfit with a super-soaker gun, squirting the audience while singing. He sang "Sexy Sadie" dressed as the Maharishi.

Micky came out and a gave a short heart-felt speech about how much the Beatles songs have meant to him and that they are classics that will be remembered through the sands of time and then immediately went into "Why Don't We Do It In The Road."

However, the biggest surprise of the night to me was Christopher Cross. Watching paint dry was more exciting than seeing his dour and anti-charismatic personality, but let me tell you, the man could sing and finger-pick the guitar. He did the acoustic "Blackbird," "I Will" and "Mother Nature's Son" exquisitely, with a beautiful tenor voice, and helped out Jason Scheff on "Julia."

Joey Molland of Badfinger fame played the rocking "Baby Blue" and "No Matter What," and cruised through a great version of "Savoy Truffle." Scheff was on stage for the entire show, playing bass with the band and sang "Glass Onion," "Piggies" and a couple of others. The four members of the backing band also provided backing vocals and were outstanding on their instruments.

The finale was "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da."  I have to admit that this is not one of my favorites, but the guys were all on stage for this song, each one taking the lead on a verse, and to these ears, it sounded great in sort of a ska style.

I have to say that this was an outstanding and very entertaining show. All five headliners were enthusiastic and at the same time reverent and respectful of the classic songs they were performing. I understand this show will be in your area next week and all I can say is it's a don't miss concert.
Rich Turner
Palm Harbor, Florida

We are seeing this show tomorrow night at The Arcada Theatre in St. Charles.  The show is a complete sell-out ... but Ron Onesti was able to get them to agree to come back and do a SECOND show in December, thus extending the original tour plans.  (We're going to THAT one, too!!!)

I've seen Micky Dolenz countless times ... Christopher Cross three or four times, Jason Scheff with Chicago close to a dozen times and Joey Molland with the ORIGINAL Badfinger back in the '70's ...

But I have NEVER seen Todd Rundgren before (not even as part of Ringo's All-Starr Band), so I am REALLY looking forward to this!  (Based on a couple of reviews I've read, Todd steals the show on more than one occasion!)

Watch for OUR review in the days to come.

Meanwhile, here's a review of a similar show Todd did last year in honor of The Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" anniversary tour ...  

Regarding the White Album show coming up, I haven't seen it, but I did see a similar show with the acts doing the Beatles' Sgt Peppers album. If the White Album show is anything like it, you are going to LOVE it.

Sgt Peppers had Todd Rundgren, Denny Laine, Bo Bice, Lou Gramm and Christopher Cross. The first half of the show, each artist did their own songs and then, after the intermission, they all came out in full Sgt Peppers regalia and did a fabulous job on performing the album.

We had amazing seats, but even better than that, we were two of ten who had tickets to the meet and greet. Lou didn't show up, but I was able to meet the other four, who couldn't have been nicer. (Well, on second thought, Christopher Cross was actually super weird.) 

The highlight was meeting Todd, as I've always been a huge fan of his, and, additionally, we actually have a mutual friend, who I wanted to mention to him. He walked in, and for the first time in my life, I became totally star struck. When the moment came to meet him, I completely lost my mind. I stammered about seeing him on July 4th years ago in Central Park, realized I was losing  it, made a joke (thank goodness he laughed), but I never mentioned our mutual friend and lost all my street cred in the music world.  <sigh> 

Hope all is well in your world ... and enjoy the show!
Here's a picture of me (the one with the deer-in-the-headlights look) and Todd ... with Denny Laine photo-bombing us.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

September 29th

The brand new WLS line-up is revealed on this week's survey ... 

Bill Bailey is now handling mornings from 6 - 10 am, followed by Art Roberts, who has become quite adept at talking to all the housewives at home.

Art is followed by Larry Lujack, already racking up killer ratings in afternoon drive.

Then, beginning at 6 pm, we've got the Dynamic Duo of Youth, Chuck Buell and Kris Erik Stevens, filling the airwaves ... before turning things over at 2 am to the new overnight guy, Jerry Kaye.

As for the actual chart itself, Bobby Sherman makes his expected leap to #1 with "Little Woman," while eight of last week's Top Ten Hits remain in The Top Ten this week (albeit in a slightly different order.)

The Rugbys reach #8 with "You, I," a record that will top out at #24 in Billboard ... and "Hot Fun In The Summertime" continues its steady climb up the chart, this week moving from #21 to #13.

"Tracy" leaps nine places (from #27 to #18) for The Cuff Links ... while one of my favorites, "Jesus Is A Soul Man," makes a move of twelve spots this week as it climbs from #32 to #20.

Elvis' new hit, "Suspicious Minds," is right behind it, climbing from #33 to #21 ... while Smith jump ten spots (from #40 to #30) with their hard-edge version of "Baby, It's You," a song previously done by The Shirelles and The Beatles!

THIS WEEK IN 1969:  
September 23rd – “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” opens in theaters

Also on this date, ABC announces that the summer replacement series “The Johnny Cash Show” will be back as a winter replacement series, too.

September 24th – The Chicago Eight Trial begins in Chicago 

September 25th - Catherine Zeta-Jones is born 

September 26th – “Abbey Road” is released. Once again, The Beatles have come up with an iconic album cover, featuring the zebra crossway to EMI’s Abbey Road Studios. 

Although “Let It Be” will be released eight months later, “Abbey Road” was the last album The Beatles recorded together … and should have been their swan song.  Forget what you’ve heard about “Sgt. Pepper” … “Abbey Road” is The Beatles’ masterpiece and, depending on which source you choose to believe, has sold upwards of 40 million copies over the past fifty years.

Also on September 26th – the very first episode of “The Brady Bunch’ airs on ABC TV – it has never been off the air since.
September 27th – On tonight’s episode of The Johnny Cash Show, Johnny and his wife, June Carter Cash, perform their country hit “Jackson,” a revival of the Nancy Sinatra / Lee Hazelwood tune from a couple of years ago.  Also appearing this evening are Roy Orbison and Creedence Clearwater Revival.

Also on this date, Tony Joe White sings one of my favorites, “Polk Salad Annie” on The Andy Williams Show. 

September 28th – Talk about your “Really Big Shews” … 

Tonight on The Ed Sullivan Show you’ll find something for just about everybody … 

The Temptations perform "I Can't Get Next to You," "September in the Rain" and "Autumn Leaves"  … Barbra Streisand (on tape from Las Vegas) sings a "Hello, Dolly" medley: "Before the Parade Passes By," "So Long, Dearie" and "Hello Dolly" and Tony Bennett performs "What the World Needs Now Is Love," "People" and "I Gotta Be Me."  And if that’s not enough, classic comedian Red Skelton is ALSO on hand!   

Two days after the new Beatles release “Abbey Road,” John Lennon is in the studio recording “Cold Turkey” with his Plastic Ono Band.  (Now that's just WRONG!!!)