As always great stuff, Kent ...
Love the Chicago Radio memories!
Kris Erik Stevens
It's only Thursday, and I can't recall an entire week of FH delivering a wider variety of entertaining and informative detailed tidbits about the music and artists that still make us happy. I don't know how you compile all of this stuff, Kent! Does George Martin slow your day down so you have 48 hours, then you play it back at normal speed?
One of my listeners sent this gift to me today. They just wanted to say thanks and they knew that I am a fan of Uncle Lar.
I hope you get a few votes for '71 faves. That could be a great countdown.
Nothing so far - but we’ll come up with something. (Fans who want to vote for their 1971 favorites can just email me your list … please keep it to a Top Ten and rank them in order from 1-10 with your VERY favorite shown as #1.)
Have you ever checked out Mixcloud?
You’ll find several Lujack shows there … usually uncut with the original commercials, news broadcasts, etc. They typically run in one hour segments. (Lots of other ‘60’s and ‘70’s shows there, too.) Now that Reel Radio is gone, there just aren’t a lot of great sites around to listen to this stuff anymore. (Unless, of course, readers know of a few others … which we would be VERY happy to pass along the links to!) kk
Final reminder …
Me-TV-FM’s Class of ’71 Reunion kicks off this evening during the 7:00 hour and runs through Midnight on Sunday. (And since I actually AM part of The Class of ’71 … our 50th High School Reunion is just a few month away … you can bet that I’ll be listening to relive some of the great music and cultural highlights from this year.)
A while back, we told you that our FH Buddy JR Russ, who runs the excellent WCFLChicago.com website playing a wide selectin of oldies, has launched a new radio podcast saluting the movies. Movie Ticket Radio …
You can listen to movie music all day long at https://movieticketradio.com/
And you can enjoy the podcasts (also featuring John Records Landecker) here:
@LandeckerJohn and @JRRussRadio just published the 10th episode of The Movie Ticket Radio Podcast on @buzzsprout! Please LIKE and SUBSCRIBE https://www.buzzsprout.com/1764759/achievements/1015184?milestone=10
Our FH Buddy Carl Wiser, founder of Songfacts, made an appearance on Chicago’s very own WGN News this week to talk about the stories behind some our best loved songs …
Hey Kent -
WGN-TV has been having me on their morning news to tell song stories. This week we covered "25 or 6 to 4," "American Woman," "Over The Rainbow" and "Rosanna."
VERY cool! Keep us posted regarding any other upcoming appearances! (kk)
And, speaking of TV appearances, I got this from long-time FH Reader Don Effenberger …
CNN's Don Lemon is doing a special Sunday night on Whatever Happened to TV Theme Songs …
I tweeted him earlier to let him know …
With your Sunday special, you might be interested in this exhaustive Forgotten Hits List of Readers' TOP 100 ALL-TIME FAVORITE TV THEMES (based on heir 2020 Poll). Kent Kotal is a great interview, too!
It's a long shot, but who knows …
Maybe you’ll hear from the folks there if he doing any kind of promo interviews!
Stranger things have happened … I think.
Wow! Thanks, Don!
(I don’t think it’s going to happen … usually shows like this are put together weeks, if not months in advance.) But it WOULD be cool if he directed folks watching it over to the website to see how some of their favorites ranked!!!
Thanks again! (kk)
You can also check out the results of our 2013 poll …
Have you seen the new Paul McCartney (featuring Beck) de-aging video for “Find My Way,” a track off the new III Reimagined album?
Through a computer technology known as Hyperreal Digital, which specializes in the creation of hyper-realistic digital avatars.
According to Hyperreal’s CEO Remington Scott, “The technology to de-age talent and have them perform in creative environments like this is now fully-realized, even with one of the most recognized faces in the world.”
Honestly, I’m not so sure …
To me, the video looks more like a Paul McCartney look-alike (and, quite honestly, not even all that realistic looking one) than the real thing, especially the way it’s lit, keeping much of the images in the shadows.
Still, I’ve gotta give Macca credit for ALWAYS finding new ways to present his music. (McCartney III was only out a few months when the reimagined version was released.) kk
Speaking of McCartney, this week Billboard Magazine spotlights the fourteen times an artist has replaced themselves at the #1 position on their Hot 100 Pop Singles Chart. (Once again, you’ll see only ONE act to do so during the era of music that we typically cover here in Forgotten Hits, 1955 - 1989 … and that distinction belongs to The Beatles … who actually did it TWICE!!!) As you can see, they’re not the only act to do so. (The reason for the salute is because the 14th occurrence happened this week.)
The complete list is as follows:
BTS: "Permission to Dance" replaced "Butter," July 24, 2021
Drake: "Nice for What" replaced "God's Plan," April 21, 2018 and "In My Feelings" replaced "Nice for What," July 21, 2018
Justin Bieber: "Love Yourself" replaced "Sorry," Feb. 13, 2016 and "Despacito" (by Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee feat. Bieber) replaced "I'm the One" (by DJ Khaled feat. Bieber, Quavo, Chance The Rapper & Lil Wayne), May 27, 2017
The Weeknd: "The Hills" replaced "Can't Feel My Face," Oct. 3, 2015
Taylor Swift: "Blank Space" replaced "Shake It Off," Nov. 29, 2014
The Black Eyed Peas: "I Gotta Feeling" replaced "Boom Boom Pow," July 11, 2009 T.I.: "Live Your Life" (feat. Rihanna) replaced "Whatever You Like," Oct. 18, 2008
Usher: "Burn" replaced "Yeah!" (feat. Lil Jon & Ludacris), May 22, 2004 and "Confessions Part II" replaced "Burn," July 24, 2004
OutKast: "The Way You Move" (feat. Sleepy Brown) replaced "Hey Ya!," Feb. 14, 2004
Nelly: "Dilemma" (feat. Kelly Rowland) replaced "Hot in Herre," Aug. 17, 2002
Ja Rule: "Ain't It Funny" (by Jennifer Lopez feat. Ja Rule) replaced "Always on Time," March 9, 2002
Puff Daddy: "Mo Money Mo Problems" (by The Notorious B.I.G. feat. Puff Daddy & Mase) replaced "I'll Be Missing You" (by Puff Daddy & Faith Evans feat. 112)
Boyz II Men: "On Bended Knee" replaced "I'll Make Love to You," Dec. 3, 1994
The Beatles: "She Loves You" replaced "I Want to Hold Your Hand," March 21, 1964 and "Can't Buy Me Love" replaced "She Loves You," April 4, 1964, giving them THREE consecutive #1 Records in a row during the height of Beatlemania. (Between those three titles, The Beatles occupied the #1 position for14 consecutive weeks. Three weeks later, they were back at #1 with “Love Me Do” … and before the end of the year, they’d top the chart twice more with “A Hard Day’s Night” and “I Feel Fine.”)
The Rolling Stones pick up their “No Filter” tour this September, even adding a few new dates along the way. (Unfortunately, a couple of previously scheduled cities also had to be dropped due to new scheduling conflicts. The other days are rescheduled due to Covid-interuptus, dating back to May of this year …
26th – The Dome – ST. LOUIS, MO
September 30th – Bank of America Stadium – CHARLOTTE, NC
4th – Heinz Field –
October 9th – Nissan Stadium – NASHVILLE, TN
October 13th – The New Orleans Jazz Fest – NEW ORLEANS, LA [NEWLY ADDED]
October 17th – SoFi Stadium – LOS ANGELES, CA – [NEWLY ADDED]
October 24th – U.S. Bank Stadium – MINNEAPOLIS, MN
October 29th – Raymond James Stadium – TAMPA, FL
2nd – Cotton Bowl – DALLAS, TX
November 6th – Allegiant Stadium – LAS VEGAS, NV – [NEWLY ADDED]
November 11th – Mercedes-Benz Stadium ATLANTA, GA
November 15th – Ford Field DETROIT, MI
November 20th – Circuit of the Americas AUSTIN, TX
Could more shows be added to the list? Never say never. Word is The Stones have been going crazy being off the road and out of the studio for so long … so don’t be surprised if you find them rolling out your way before the year is through. (kk)
It’s only been since his death that I learned Robby Steinhardt of Kansas was a Chicago native. He’ll always be associated with the state of (and the group) Kansas, but he entered the world here, then moving the Sunflower State with his adoptive parents.
I did NOT know that.
What I found out is that there really isn’t a decent Kansas compilation CD out on the market that encompasses all of their hits … and that’s a real shame.
They hit Billboard’s Hot 100 Pop Singles Chart 14 times between 1976 and 1987 and HALF of those became Top Forty Hits. (Others, like “Portrait (He Knew)” and “Got To Rock On” deserved to be but fell short.)
When I went to listen to their Greatest Hits CD on Monday, I was disappointed to see that only FIVE actual hits appear on that collection. (kk)
From Tom Cuddy …
WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO THE SINGER CHARLENE?
THE MOTOWN ARTIST WITH THE FORGOTTEN SONG DISCOVERED BY SCOTT SHANNON
Charlene: ‘That one song was such an incredible feat. I loved it’
The singer of the 1980s hit I’ve Never Been to Me has just released a new album
By Lauren Murphy from The Irish Times
Charlene: seven years after its original release, in 1975, I’ve Never Been to Me began to climb back up the charts.
It’s one of those songs; you recognize it instantly, but you’re hazy on the details . If you’ve seen Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, you’ll know it from that iconic opening scene. It has featured in countless other TV and film scenes and even karaoke video games over the years. It’s the ultimate pub quiz question: who sang the 1980s hit I’ve Never Been to Me?
Charlene Oliver – aka the mononymous Charlene – reckons she has performed the song, with its memorable refrain “I’ve been to paradise, but I’ve never been to me”, thousands of times over the years. “But I’ve always loved it as a song,” she maintains. “It’s not like that Judy Garland story of how she hated to sing Somewhere Over the Rainbow; I never felt that. That one song was such an incredible feat.We did it, I loved it, it was wonderful... and then...” Her voice trails off. “Well, Motown just kinda said, ‘okay, we won’t do anything with this.’”
The now 70-year-old, who lives in Fort Worth, Texas and works a day job as a music tutor, is bubbly, chatty and charmingly eccentric as she recounts her stint in the spotlight. Or more accurately, her two stints in the spotlight. She may be best known for I’ve Never Been to Me, but the Hollywood-born singer’s life story is worthy of a Hollywood biopic. Even the story of the song itself – which flopped when it was first released in 1975 – is intriguing. When it was randomly picked up by a radio DJ in Florida (Scott Shannon) seven years later, it quickly gained traction and became a global hit. The only problem? By that point, Charlene had given up on music and had moved to London with her English fiance.
“I was working in a sweet shop in England, and I was just ready to get married – and basically, my music career was gone,” she recalls. “I’d been with Motown, I knew Stevie Wonder, I knew Michael Jackson, I knew all the people. I’d done everything that I could do at a record company; I recorded so many songs. So when it didn’t happen, I got discouraged. I was done. I met Jeff [Oliver] in California and we moved back to London and we got married and I was happy. I thought, okay, this is gonna be my new journey, and I was fine with it. And then bam – all of a sudden, I get a phone call saying: ‘You’re on the charts.’”
Showjumping to Motown
Growing up in California, Charlene – born Charlene D’Angelo – initially aspired to be an actress. Later, she kept horses and participated in showjumping events. When her first husband, musician Larry Duncan realised that she could sing, he encouraged her to lend her voice to a demo that had been written by a friend of his. In turn, that led to her being invited to sing a song by renowned songwriter Jack Keller called Sweet Sad Clown. Even so, her brief flirtation as a singer seemed destined to remain just that, before fate took another twist when she was overheard singing at a party in Laurel Canyon.
“Larry pulls out his guitar and starts playing and I’m singing, and this lady walks up and goes, ‘Hi, I’m Nancy Leiviska. I work with Sammy Davis Jr – I’m his publicist – and I’m also dating Berry Gordy. Who are you? I love your voice. You know Motown?’ I went ‘Ummm... no?’ And she said, ‘You know Diana Ross?’ and I said, ‘Oh my god I love Diana Ross! ’ and I freaked out,” she recalls, laughing. “She asked for a tape of something she could listen to, and Larry gave her Sweet Sad Clown. I wasn’t thinking anything about music; I was too much into my horses, too much into just living my life.”
A month or so later, she was offered an audition with Motown boss Gordy. “Nancy called and said, ‘He’s working on Lady Sings the Blues in Warner Brothers – can you come down?’”, says Charlene.
“I said ‘Will Diana Ross be there?’”
She turned up to the meeting, she says, in her “overalls and boots, a country girl who rides horses” but impressed Gordy sufficiently to be offered a deal with Motown, becoming only the second white female artist to sign to the iconic label. While there, she rubbed shoulders with big names, from Smokey Robinson to The Jackson 5 and Stevie Wonder, even recording the first demo of Michael Jackson’s One Day in Your Life. A turning point for her at Motown came when she crossed paths with songwriter Ron Miller, who had written multiple songs for Stevie Wonder by that point, including For Once in My Life and Heaven Help Us All, as well as some for Diana Ross.
Charlene: “It’s not like that Judy Garland story of how she hated to sing Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”
“Ron had said to me, ‘I’ve heard the songs that you’re doing, and I really don’t think they’ve pulled the best out of your voice’,” she explains. “The first song I ever did was a ballad, and that was my true voice. But Motown were putting me into songs where I sounded just like Michael Jackson. Ron said, ‘I want to play you a song’. At that time, I was going through a really bad time with my first husband; I was very depressed. So he put the song on in his office, and [opening line] ‘Hey lady, you lady...’ played, and I just lost it. I started crying, and I said, ‘This song is amazing. It’s my life!’ He said ‘You know what? I think you can nail this. I’m gonna call Berry Gordy and see if we can get into the studio and cut a demo.’”
Gordy immediately liked the demo and the pair returned to the studio with its co-writer Kenny Hirsch, this time adding a lush string arrangement courtesy of Don Costa, who had worked extensively with Frank Sinatra. (Charlene’s stories, in case you hadn’t already guessed, are peppered with names from the golden era of songwriting). “I sang it, we thought, ‘It’s gonna be a hit’ and we released it, and...” Her voice falters. “It was goodbye.”
A duet with Stevie Wonder
The song failed to perform and a deflated Charlene subsequently dabbled in bits and pieces – including a stint as Petula Clark’s backing vocalist during a residency at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas – but eventually decided that she was not cut out for the music business. Soon after, she emigrated to England and was getting on with life until seven years after its original release, I’ve Never Been to Me began to climb back up the charts. Charlene recalls stories like being flown from London to New York on Concorde to appear on Good Morning America, but things went sour – again – when her follow-up single proved controversial. Used to Be, a duet with Stevie Wonder also written by Ron Miller, was shunned by and even banned from some radio stations for its contentious lyrics. They included the lines “Have another Chivas Regal / You’re 12 years old and sex is legal.”
“Little did I know that Ron Miller hated the world and he wanted to use me as his voice to say so,” she recalls with a bittersweet laugh. “The song was great, but I did not put the dots together. I should have had something fun and easy. Instead, I was given a song that had to knock the world on its head, that said: ‘Listen to how bad everything is!’ And so... that was kind of the end. The clincher was when I opened up a magazine and it had me and Ron Miller sitting at the piano, and the caption was ‘Charlene: The Magnificent Failure’. My heart sank.”
While Wonder’s career continued to flourish, Charlene’s bit the dust for a second time. She agrees that she was something of a sacrificial lamb in that situation. “I released a rock‘n’roll album after that, but Motown weren’t interested,” she says. “They said, ‘Nope, goodbye – you’re nothing to us, and you owe us nine billion dollars’. So it was awful. I literally had a nervous breakdown.”
It seems that many of Charlene’s career-related issues have stemmed from bad management, bad decisions or bad advice. She reportedly originally only made $13,000 from I’ve Never Been to Me and later become embroiled in financial stresses thanks to a dodgy contract hastily signed when the song was re-released in 1982. “The first time I made anything was like, 2013, I think,” she sighs. “I’m getting royalties now, but a lot of them are very small. But y’know, I can’t worry about that stuff; that’s what brought me to almost having a nervous breakdown. I’m having fun with it now. I’m not beating myself up about it anymore.”
In the intervening years, she has turned her hand to writing both fiction and non-fiction; her autobiography was published in 2009 and acts both as a fascinating insight into the music industry and as a cautionary tale. Most importantly, she has continued to make music over the years. The song’s appearance in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert made her an inadvertent LGBT icon and she spent a period touring gay clubs, while her more recent fare has taken a clubby, dance music slant, including “comeback” single Destiny, which was released in May. “I needed to break away from the dark songs,” she notes with a chuckle. “It’s a fun song and I thought it’s time that I kind of lift things up a little bit. I’ve got a whole album of material – I’ve just gotta put it all together. And they’re all kind of different.”
The million dollar question, however, is why Charlene’s audience would still be willing participant after all these years? She sighs again before answering with a wholehearted enthusiasm; the eternal optimist despite the many disappointments throughout her career. “I’m hoping people will want to hear me and not go, ‘Oh god, it’s that woman who sang that horrible song, I’ve Never Been to Me’,” she chuckles. “I still have a lot to say. I’ve got an ocean of things inside my soul and I hope that the new songs that I write can still do.
You know, I’ve never forgiven Scott Shannon for discovering this song!!! Or let him live down this “discovery!” (kk)
And you shouldn’t!!!!