Saturday, January 4, 2020

January 4th, 1970

1970:  January 4th – Amidst the strangest of circumstances, Keith Moon of The Who accidently ran over and killed his chauffer, Neil Boland.

It seems that a gang of teens attacked Moon’s Bentley limo.  When chauffer Boland got out to try and protect the car, he inadvertently left it in gear … and as it started moving forward, Moon (who didn’t have a driver’s license) jumped behind the wheel and accidently gunned the engine instead of hitting the brake.  Unbeknownst to him, Boland had been beaten and had fallen under the car.  He was run over and killed.

Keith was eventually absolved of any blame and didn’t face any type of involuntary or accidental murder charges … but the incident haunted him for the rest of his life.  It didn’t help that Neil’s family never forgave him for the accident.

Friday, January 3, 2020

Marty Grebb

 MARTY GREBB ... photo by Jack Mongan Photography

Marty Grebb left us on New Year's Day ...

I guess you could say he did so on his own terms ... 

That's not to condone what he did ...

We may all have our theories on why he chose to leave us ...

But only Marty knew the whole story.

My Thursday Morning began early with a very unexpected email from FH Reader Mike DeMartino:  

Thanks for all you do! Happy and Healthy New Year to you and Frannie. 
I am Facebook friends with Marty Grebb and there was a post that he was going to  commit suicide. Many replies to him about how much he is loved and needed. The post is gone now.  Can you tell me if you heard anything? So tragic If he is gone. I went to his benefit concert at the Arcada and always enjoy his music with the Buckinghams and solo work. 
Mike DeMartino 

I've not heard anything on this -
And kind of an awkward question to investigate -
You don't happen to have a copy, do you?
The only thing I can think of (if it's even true) is a Tommy Boyce scenario ...
Maybe he got some devastating health news and decided he'd rather end it all on his own terms rather than be a burden to anybody ... and that's just pure speculation on my part ... again, if it happens to be true.
I'm inclined to stay away from this one until we hear more information from some reliable sources.  (kk)

I understand. There have been a few postings that he has passed away on Facebook ... also on Wikipedia. If this is what happened, this is so sad! 
Maybe someone will also mention this to you like Dennis or Carl.

We have since learned that after Marty's Facebook post, effectively thanking all he had crossed paths with over the years (and essentially saying goodbye), there was an outpouring of concern by email, voicemail and more from friends, family and fans, encouraging Marty to hang in there … give me a call … let’s talk … tell me what you need … I’m here for you … but apparently by this point it was already too late and Marty was gone … a VERY sad ending to an incredible career.

As it turns out, Carl Giammarese DID email me later in the day … he has posted a BEAUTIFUL tribute and remembrance to Marty on The Buckinghams’ website … truly touching … please take a moment to read it via the link provided below …

You probably already know about the passing of Marty Grebb. Nick, Dennis and I are devastated.  
I have put together a post for Facebook, and was hoping you could post it on Forgotten Hits.
Thank you.  
We are all devastated … he was a great one ... flooded with so many memories.
Much appreciated, thank you,

Thanks Carl -

Yes I heard the news early this morning - how very sad.

Your piece is excellent and, as it should, accentuates all the positive of Marty’s long and varied career.

I am happy to run the link in Forgotten Hits – so glad I had the chance to meet him and experience his genius on stage (kk)

Here are a few more comments we received upon hearing the news: 

Marty Grebb was truly an unsung hero in the music industry, especially that which came out of Chicago.  He was a true genius who did not give himself the credit that he deserved. We were honored at the Arcada to host a very special evening that Dennis Tufano put together. I know it was one of the best nights of his life.  So many people who came to the Arcada, whether a customer or an entertainer, knew Marty, respected him and loved him. And I don't think he knew how much.
I know I join literally countless people who will remain brokenhearted for a long time to come.
- Ron Onesti

I am in total disbelief this morning at 2:00 am finding out just minutes ago that my friend, Marty Grebb, the very talented and one of the most unique guys I have ever met, as well as being The Buckinghams’ Keyboardist on many of their biggest hits and went on to play with so very many for me to even mention now has ended his life. He had been depressed for a while after his divorce as well as not having a band to help support him. It was just too much for him to handle as he left a note on his Facebook page. I only wish there was something I could have done to help. I feel so terrible. He was a good friend and would call me occasionally to talk. 
My time on stage with Marty for his Benefit Show in 2015 at the Arcada Theatre was one of the highlights of my career. Marty called me as the show was being put together and asked me if I’d like to play guitar for his portion of the show. I was surrounded by Rock & Roll Royalty, all awesome musicians. It was a very Surreal moment.
From that time on forward Marty and I had become good friends and would  talk quite often on the phone. He would share music with me and tell me about certain performers that he had played with. He was full of information.
Marty had such a big heart. You could feel it the moment you met him. I sure will miss this talented guy and his great personality and our talks. He will be so missed by so many. Prayers to his family and loved ones.
I will miss you so very much, Marty. You are now united with some of your friends and so many others in Rock & Roll Heaven.   
– Dave Zane (Buckinghams Guitarist)

Marty Grebb (Grebe) has passed on. 
All of Chicago 60's fans and musicians likely know his name and his talent.  I have to rate "Back in Love Again" as my fave song by him.  I only believe it was not a top 10 record due to the sudden changing times by early 68 and NOT the song.  It was fabulous. 
Marty did great with the Exceptions, Fabulous Rhinestones, Lovecraft.  He just did some great songs and that's all I know other than he was a multi-instrument talent as well. 
We will miss you, but always think of you when we play your tunes. 
- Clark Besch
One of the things that I believe limited The Buckinghams’ time in the spotlight in the mid-to-late ‘60’s was the fact that they didn’t really write their own material.  Their biggest hits were provided by songwriter Jim Holvay … and at some point they simply ran out of them.  (Keep in mind that ALL of those tunes … “Kind Of A Drag,” “Don’t You Care,” “Hey, Baby, They’re Playing Our Song” and “Susan” were provided on the SAME TAPE initially for consideration!!!  That’s some pretty impressive material!  Even Lennon and McCartney didn’t have that caliber of material ready at the get-go!)
Marty joining the band offered the opportunity for them to continue on within themselves … and I rank “Back In Love Again” right up there as one of their finest.  It should have been a MUCH bigger hit than it was. (#45 nationally, #21 here in Chicago)
It TOTALLY captured the sound and feel of The Buckinghams … and should have paved the way for more success in a new direction.  I believe its failure may have been a contributing factor in Marty leaving as soon as he did instead of sticking around a while longer to see where this path may have taken them.
He blew us away on sax and keyboards at the benefit show ... (first time I had ever seen him) … and worked his magic in the studio with Eric Clapton, Bonnie Raitt and Leon Russell as well (among others).  His talent … and his passion for the music … will be missed.  (kk)


Several folks have written in about Marty's work with The Buckinghams.  To set the record straight, he was NOT their original keyboardist.  (That distinction belongs to Dennis Miccollis, who is also a long time Forgotten Hits Reader.) Marty joined the band in time for their second album ... and even traded off the lead vocals with Dennis Tufano on their Top Five Hit "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy."  His impact was felt immediately as the band was signed to Columbia Records and taken under the wing of Producer James Guercio.  Marty appears on their string of hits that included "Don't You Care," "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy," "Hey Baby, They're Playing Our Song," "Susan" and his self-penned "Back In Love Again."  It's Marty that you'll see in the videos of their most prominent television appearances, such as The Smothers Brothers Show, among others.  Over the last several years, Marty would make occasional appearances with Dennis, performing The Hits Of The Buckinghams, while Carl Giammarese and Nick Fortuna carried on with the official version of the band, performing all over the world and, quite frequently, as part of The Happy Together Tour. 

It was four and a half years ago that Dennis Tufano organized a benefit concert to help cover some of Marty's medical expenses.  We were on hand to help promote the event, one of the most amazing and heartfelt concerts I've ever seen.

As a result, I got to meet Marty ... I can't even begin to pretend that I got to know him ... a word here and there during rehearsals and backstage ... and an occasional email before and after the event ... but I CAN say the Grebb was a formidable presence throughout this event ... never once looking like he needed anybody's help ... he was just there to play his music (and an exceptional musician he was.)

As one can imagine, organizing an event such as this took quite a bit of juggling, hand-holding and lip-biting ... keep in mind this benefit concert predated the Cornerstones shows that are so popular today, featuring the very best of Chicago Rock from the '60's and early '70's, some of whom were not necessarily on the best of terms all these years later.

I'll also be so bold as to say that this thing nearly fell off the rails a couple of times along the way, one of the most difficult stumbling blocks being getting everybody to agree as to how this incredible reunion (Don't Call It A Reunion!!!) of the most famous line-up of The Buckinghams (minus Jon Jon Poulos, of course, who passed away in 1980) for this one-time only mega show.  I had to do a bit of refereeing along the way to keep everybody focused on exactly WHY we were putting this show on in the first place.

Most of the emails exchanged in our efforts to make things run smoothly were addressed to a group of us ... probably 30-40 in all, copying everybody involved in on these exchanges to ensure that we were all on the same page ... but one that I received ... one that was sent ONLY to me by Marty ... simply said "Oooh ... Drama!"  It warmed my heart and provided one of the few smiles I enjoyed prior to the actual show!!!

During a break at the concert he approached me ... again the ONLY private conversation I ever had with the man ... and said "Thank you for standing your ground and holding this thing together."  If your entire life is going to consist of two sentences with Marty Grebb, I can't think of two that would have meant any more than these did.  There is no doubt in my mind as to what this concert meant to all four of the remaining Buckinghams that night ... a return, as Carl so eloquently put it, to that "band of brothers" who got it done in the '60's.

Marty was an INCREDIBLE musician, switching off from keyboards to sax, and handling some of the most memorable vocals of the night.  I am glad I was there to share even the smallest part of it.

Today we are all saddened by this turn of events ... and we will be sad for awhile.

But the music of The Buckinghams brings you back to a happier time when thoughts like this would never cross your mind.  Their music was designed to make us feel good ... and it succeeded in every regard.

There was supposed to be a DVD release of the concert ... another way to help raise funds.  Sadly, it never happened ... but I have to believe this footage exists out there somewhere.  Maybe now would finally be the time to let the rest of the world experience the magic we who were there felt that night.


On this date in 1970:

1970:  January 3rd – Davy Jones quits The Monkees, leaving only Micky Dolenz tied to the group.  
(The running joke at the time was "Will he continue to perform as "The Monkee"???)  
Truth be told, on more than one occasion, Micky has been known to sing "Here I come ... walkin' down your street ... I get the funniest looks from ... everyone I meet!!!  Hey, hey I'm a Monkee!!!"
Some fifty years later, he's STILL out on the road packing them in, treating fans to feel good rock and roll music, reminding us all of the great times of our youth.

Ironically, on this same date, The Beatles would hold what would ultimately become their last recording session together as a band to put the finishing touches on George Harrison’s song “I Me Mine”