Monday, January 20, 2020

Just Another Manic Monday

As for this year's Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Inductees, I don't know too much about these groups.
T-REX:  Did they have a lot of hits?  The only one I remember is "Bang A Gong."
Any local tributes being planned for Ron Smith?
Frank B.
I’m not aware of anything planned for Ron Smith … I went to the wake Friday evening … and honestly, there was very little there celebrating his life on radio or behind the scenes … I thought maybe they’d have a little display of his work … but it was more of a slide show, with only a few photos having anything at all to do with his radio career.  (I will say this … Ron sure was a VERY colorful dresser!!!  Some of his custom-made outfits were to die for!  I overheard a couple of girls talking and one of them said “Boy, I’d sure like to see the inside of his closet … it must just be a complete blast of color!”)
As for T. Rex, “Bang-A-Gong,” of course was the big one … a National Top Ten Hit in 1972.  They had five other chart hits, but all fell short of The Top 50.  (Here in Chicago, we first heard them when “Hot Love” went to #15 the year before on the WCFL Chart.  Meanwhile, “Bang A Gong” reached #4 on WLS.)
They were part of the original Glam Rock movement of the early ‘70’s … and absolutely HUGE in Great Britain where leader Marc Bolan was a major idol.  They had 21 Top 40 Hits at  home,  including four #1’s and four #2’s.  I can absolutely make a case for their inclusion in The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame … and it may eventually pave the way for others of this ilk to finally be acknowledged, too.  (At least THEIR selection holds true to the original credo of The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame when they started … recognizing rock and roll as an art form … and honoring those who took the genre in new directions by developing new “branches” on the rock and roll tree.)
As such, it's the others that have really got me baffled ... which has definitely been the case for the majority of the past twenty years now. 
Whitney Houston ... Rock and Roll???
A great singer, yes … one of the best … but Rock And Roll??? 
And over Pat Benatar, who has one of the greatest female rock voices ever and an entire library of hits to back up the genre?  To me, that was the biggest snub of all … even over fan vote front-runner Dave Matthews, as I personally believe there was a bit of “ballot box stuffing” on his behalf.  (Fans would follow him from concert to concert at the peak of his career.  I just never really got it.)  kk

As to Larry Neal's great WKY chart, between WLS and WKY, note that "Jam Up & Jelly Tight" was Top 5 on both stations.  I'm not sure I understand why this was not a bigger hit nationally in Billboard's Hot 100. It was a GREAT bubblegum song that was also big on my (Chicago biased) charts as well.  It deserved better!
Clark Besch
“Jam Up And Jelly Tight” made The Top Ten in all three major trade publications ... and Top Five in two of them, reaching #4 in Record World, #5 in Cash Box and #8 in Billboard.  I’d say that was a pretty good chart run for Tommy, considering the fact that “Heather Honey” and “Jack And Jill” charted in between his #1 smash “Dizzy” and “Jam Up And Jelly Tight.”  He retained his “King Of Bubble Gum” status in my mind with this hit.  (kk)

Speaking of Larry Neal, (he’s the one who always makes mention of obscure songs being used in television commercials), how about that new one for Amazon Prime featuring Chuck Berry’s “It Wasn’t Me?”  I’ve been a Chuck Berry fan for decades and wasn’t even familiar with this tune!  Great to hear it ‘tho!!!  (kk)   

Little blurbs of Classic Rock Songs seem to be all over TV lately ... both as background music in television series as well as a wave of television commericals.  But lately, we’ve seen a couple of real surprises. 
For example, over the last couple of weeks, instead of the usual song snippets we get during an hour long drama, “Ray Donovan” featured the full-length versions of Rare Earth’s “(I Know) I’m Losing You” and then, this weekend on the season finale, the Linda Ronstadt version of “Desperado.”  (In fact, the story line also discussed Linda being diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and how it has taken her precious vocal gift from her.)

Most surprising of all, however, was the scene right near the beginning of the movie “Just Mercy” … where we heard a brand new, revamped version of “Ode To Billie Joe” playing on Jamie Foxx’s truck radio.  This was especially shocking in that the song’s writer (and original hit maker) Bobbie Gentry has been a complete recluse for the past four decades.  One has to wonder how they got permission to cut a new version.  (Honestly, it’s not very good … but it’s the very concept that they were able to make this happen that completely blew me away.)  SOMEBODY had to contact Gentry (even if it was thru her publisher) in order to obtain permission to both cut a new version and include in on the soundtrack.
Does this mean that she might FINALLY be willing to talk about her 1967 monster hit again?  (Long time readers of Forgotten Hits already know that it has been a lifetime dream of mine to be the first to interview Bobbie Gentry after all these years!)  While I hold little hope of that ever happening, the experience of hearing it used in the film gave me a glimmer of excitement … especially in light of the otherwise extremely depressing nature of the rest of the film.)  kk 

Thanks for the plug, Kent.
Yes, groovy guys and groovy girls, it looks like an end of an era for yours truly.
In theory I'd love to continue being a one of the major survey dealers, but I can't. For almost two years, I've been unable to find any decent survey collections and, as a result, I'm not making any money. However, as you know, it doesn't stop the bills from coming in.
So, a couple months ago, I had to make a hard decision since the surveys are pretty much my only tangible asset.
My first survey was WLS 7/29/66, and whatever the corresponding WCFL week was. Since then, I have amassed the complete set of WCFL surveys available to the public, plus a few from the summer of 1968 that weren't. I think I'm missing four from WLS.
Some of the sheets are autographed by the corresponding jock. One even has Larry Lujack's autograph, but I can't confirm if it's his.
The value is in the completeness of the collection. Some charts are worth some major money, most aren't worth more than $5.00 each. If I allow it to be picked thru, then it becomes worthless and I'm still in the same situation.
Now keep in mind I have about 8,000 WCFL Surveys, and that much and more WLS surveys. Yes, Virginia, that means I could have 100 copies of the same week ... but it also means that I have complete years for sale, beyond my own collection.
So, if you want to make a mega buy, you can get my extras for a lot cheaper than the charts from my original collection.
I also have surveys from other locals, mainly other metro areas. I'm almost completely out of anything from small markets. 
Now two things could happen that would change things.
First is me finding a stash of surveys, from non-metro areas, and/or improving my cash flow to a point where I don't have to watch every penny. If that happens, I'll let you know.
There are a few FH readers out there, who are my customers and you know what to expect. For right now, it's a chance to get a great deal on this stuff, before I pull it off the market.
Since Kent is featuring 1970 this year, remember that a 15 year old kid then is now 65. How many still have this stuff hanging around in a shoebox in a closet?
After all you finished high school, went to college/military, got married, divorced, married, maybe more than twice. You've had kids, grandkids. Hell, maybe your mom or spouse, tossed them during a round of cleaning one day.
The point is, how many 65 year olds still have the original surveys around?
I only know a few collectors who are close to having all of them.
Sure, they'd like to complete their collection, but it's not worth it to them to pay major money for a dozen holy grails. We won't get into how many teens in 1964 still have them. Now you know my problem.
Go look at what the stuff sells for on eBay. You'll see some of my items there, too. While I have more than my share of beat up surveys, I don't sell them at premium prices, nor do I pretend they are anything but beat up. So drop me a line, gimme a call, come on by, if you want to make a road trip. Tell 50 of your closest friends. 
I’ve known Jack for about forty years and he has always been one of the premier survey dealers around.  Check out his eBay listing and you’ll also see that he’s got 100% positive feedback, which is pretty rare in this day and age.
I agree that this would make for a unique collection … I just don’t know about the investment aspect … will these appreciate in value or simply crash and burn as more and more of the people who made picking up these charts part of their weekly ritual pass along?
Still, I wish I could spring for it myself.  (Hmm … I may have to give some thought to this “buy a whole year” concept and see how many times I can afford to do that over the course of the next couple of years.  At least then I can zero in on the charts that would mean the most to me.)
I discovered the WLS Silver Dollar Survey for the very first time when I heard Dex Card counting it down in May of 1964.  I remember this because the #1 Record here in Chicago that week was “Little Children” / “Bad To Me” by Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas.
I started picking them up at my local record store the following year … and, after switching schools, also discovered the Top Tunes Of Greater Chicagoland Chart, right before WCFL started printing their own weekly surveys, too.
I can’t even describe the excitement of a 12-year-old boy bringing these home and analyzing them in order to come up with the best COMBINATION Chart between the two or three listings.  I typed my own surveys for years after that.
THAT’S the kind of guy this collection is going to appeal to … somebody who lived that same kind of dream but didn’t hang on to their own collection and now wants to recapture an important moment of their youth.  (I’ve been looking for the Beatles Dell Comic Book I bought in 1964 for 12 or 15-cents … and have found several copies on eBay for upwards of $200.  Whereas I’d love to have it, just to look thru it again, I cannot justify $200 in my own mind to experience that privilege, as I know that once I do, it’ll just go back to sitting on a shelf somewhere again!)
But that’s just Practical Me talking.  I already have a copy of EVERY WLS and WCFL Chart ever printed.  True, most are xeroxes … but I collected these charts for the information contained therein … and this collection gives me what I need.  Still, I would LOVE to have a complete collection “in living color,” so to speak … but if I had an extra $4000 lying around I’d be more inclined to use it for a nice vacation or to pay off my car!!!  (Again … Practical Me!!!  Man, I hate that guy!!!)
But if there’s anybody out there who wants to recapture that magical time of when you stopped to pick up the latest survey every Friday on your way home from school, THIS is your chance to do so … and get the whole shootin’ match in the process!  Good Luck!  (kk)

Check this out …

Billboard Magazine is reporting that since Neal Peart’s death was announced on January 10th, Rush downloads and streaming are up 2000%!!!!  (I personally know someone who downloaded their covers album, “Feedback,” after reading Robert Campbell’s assessment in Friday’s Comments Page.)  Watch for any number of their releases to show back up on the charts next week.
In fact, during the first four days of on-demand streaming (between the 10th and 13th), Rush streams increased to 24.5 million, up from 2.8 million over the previous four day period of that same week.
As might be expected, “Tom Sawyer” was their most their most-streamed song during this period, with 2.8 million listens (compared to 698,000 the week before.)
Billboard says that, at the very least, Rush’s Greatest Hits album “The Spirit Of Radio: Greatest Hits, 1974 – 1987) will make next week’s Top 200 Albums chart … but watch for more titles to pop up, too.
(For example, Rush songs filled 23 of the top 25 positions on the LyricFind Global Chart ... whatever that is! ... and 18 of the top 25 on the LyricFind U.S. chart.  Track leaders in The Top Ten included “Tom Sawyer” at #1, followed by “Limelight,” “The Trees,” “The Temples of Syrinx,” “Losing It” and “The Garden,” coming in at #’s 2-6 respectively. “Afterimage” was at #8 and “Closer to the Heart” at #10 … from that point forward, EVERY song through to No. 25 was also by Rush.  AMAZING!!!  (kk)

We should also mention the recent passings of Steve Martin (Caro), lead singer of The Left Banke, Tobin Matthews, a local boy who topped both the Top Tunes Of Greater Chicagoland chart and the brand new WLS Silver Dollar Survey in 1960 with “Ruby Duby Du,” Chris Darrow of Kaleidoscope and Bobby Comstock (in addition to the previously featured Marty Grebb, one time keyboardist of The Buckinghams.)
Jeez, we’re only three weeks into 2020 … not quite the kind of news we enjoy reporting.  (kk)  

Regarding the passing of Willy Henson, aka Tobin Matthews, it's hard for me to come up with what to say that would accurately express how I've been feeling since I learned of his passing. He was a longtime friend.  I'd known him for over 10 years, and his sudden passing has kind of thrown me off a bit, considering I had last heard from him just over a week ago. The world, to me, just doesn't seem right without him here in it.  
Chicago natives might remember the name Tobin Matthews for the hit Ruby Duby Du, which was actually a recording Willy Henson was not on. If I'm remembering what Tobin (as I always called him) once told me, the label owner, Paul Glass, had issued the recording by studio musicians under an artist name that was the first and middle names of his firstborn son. When it became a surprise hit, he needed an act to tour on the record. He remembered an artist who kept sending him recordings of his band, Willy and the Jeepers, hoping to get them signed to a deal. He wanted the lead singer alone, to record and tour, but only if he agreed to do so under the Tobin Matthews name. He did, and the name stuck for the rest of his recording career. After three singles at USA Records, he signed with Columbia and had two singles released. Then he switched to Warner Brothers and, with his debut release for the label, was about to go on television to perform Can't Stop Talking About You when the show was cancelled after the assassination of President Kennedy. His career kind of derailed after that but until the end of his life, he always continued performing music, and he loved chatting with his friends, fans, and even strangers about music, be it his own or anyone else's. I will miss him deeply.
He had pictures and stories of his life on his blog, which I admit I hadn't been to in years ... 
Tom Diehl

Wow! That's the first time I’ve ever heard that Tobin Matthews wasn’t on the Chicago #1 Hit by Tobin Matthews!!!  (lol)
While hardly a local legend here (Matthews charted a total of twice more … “Susan” bubbled under in Cash Box at #104 … and “Steel Guitar Rag” reached #30 on the WLS Chart), he still was one of our earliest local chart heroes.  Thanks for the much more in-depth profile, Tom!  (kk)
UPDATE:  I found this in the archives … wish I still had a copy of the original piece we did back in the old newsletter days!  (kk) 

Here's a brand new interview with Tommy James in Goldmine Magazine:
Clark Besch

And this from Tom Cuddy …

Norman Greenbaum on ‘Spirit in the Sky’ at 50: ‘The Interest in It Just Doesn’t Wane’
As we’re compiling our research for our on-going salute to 1970, I was surprised to see that “Spirit In The Sky” was the #1 Song Of The Year according to Cash Box Magazine.  I would not have expected that, as typically you’ll see “Bridge Over Troubled Water” at the top of most of these year-end lists.  Other popular titles that always seem to do well are “Close To You” by The Carpenters and “American Woman” and “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” … but while “Spirit In The Sky” always MAKES this list, it’s unusual to find it at #1.
You’ll find OUR Top 70 of 1970 Compilation Chart at the end of December when our Fifty Year Flashback concludes.  (kk)  

Outside the snow has started coming down in silent sheets of small flakes and ‘Revolution’ is playing on Sirius/XM (yes, we finally agreed on a price and I had it reinstated).  Appropriate song as I am writing about a book by Michael A. Hill titled “John Lennon: The Boy Who Became A Legend.”  Incredibly, I won this book! Nope … I am not a lucky person generally. In this case, I knew the answer to the question and this was my prize. Thank you, DJ Ken Michaels and Fabfour and More, Inc.,  Jacksonville, FL. As I was waiting for the book, I wondered if it would be signed … IT IS! 
Mike Hill gives us a boy’s eye view of John Lennon and the times in which they both lived. You see, Mike went to school with John and was the one who had the rock and roll record collection that sent the fever through John’s being that this was the calling he had been waiting to find. Up until then, he was an intelligent, lazy, often in trouble boy who had endured emotional upheaval from birth. Mike is candid and honest about all of his “gang” of friends and that ALWAYS John was the undisputed leader. The fact that John’s passion also enabled him to have the time he wanted to achieve his goal of “not going to work” (in the traditional sense) is not lost on me. I am totally convinced that John Lennon would have been a “bust” in life had he not found out he could express himself through music and be very good at it.
This book is full of meaning on “people in the right places at the right time.”  It is modest, honest and claims no credit other than the facts as they happened. I loved reading about Lennon as a boy, the thoughts and feelings others had about him and how he, McCartney, and Harrison crossed paths in and out of postwar England, finally connecting in a permanent relationship that changed them and the music world. And then Michael’s reconnection back to John years after John’s death through an innocent photograph reiterates to me that there are so many threads of connection between people of which we are totally unaware until the thread snaps taught, and a puzzle piece is added to the scene.
Easy to read, fun family photos and John revealed as a child. Enjoyed every word.
Shelley J Sweet-Tufano
And, speaking of The Beatles ...

Hey Kent,
Thanks for posting the story about Ringo's fill-in, Jimmy Nicol. Did you happen to see the photo of the poor guy sitting at the airport, all by himself, waiting to return to England, after Ringo rejoined the group? A day earlier, he was mobbed by thousands of fans, who just wanted to touch his clothes, while he was running from them. Talk about "getting no respect"! I wonder if the boys ever stayed in touch with him.
John LaPuzza
Talk about your ultimate mood swing moment!!!  How does one even begin to cope with that?!?!
I don’t know that any of The Beatles really stayed in contact with Nicols (or Pete Best for that matter) over the ensuing 58 years … hard to believe it’s even possible that it’s been that long.  (Check out the cartoon FH Reader Mike Wolstein sent in below!)

I spotted Southwest F.O.B.'s cover of "Feelin' Groovy" on the WKY chart but have never heard their version. Some of their stuff is on YouTube, but I can't find this one. Anyone have a link where we can hear it?
David Lewis
England Dan and John Ford Coley were both members of this band prior to branching off on their own as a very successful duo in the late ‘70’s.  Their version of “Feelin’ Groovy” (the Paul Simon tune “The 59th Street Bridge Song” that had been a big hit for Harpers Bizarre in 1967) bubbled under at #115 in Billboard in early 1970.  (“Smell Of Incense,” their first chart hit, actually went to #56.)
Special thanks to the ever-reliable Tom Diehl for tracking this one down for us.  (Interestingly, the opening sounds like it could have been a song by Chase ... until it just completely slows down to a crawl once the vocals start.  Honestly, it's a pretty awful rendition ... I wonder if Larry Neal will remember hearing it on the radio back then once he hears it again.  Of course, knowing Larry, he probably already owns a copy of this record!)  kk


1970:  January 20th – Former Cub (and future voice of The Cubs) Lou Boudreau is elected to Baseball’s Hall Of Fame