Saturday, June 4, 2022

PHIL NEE - Celebrating Some June 8th Birthdays!

Today we highlight some famous friends that were born in early June. 
Nancy Sinatra was born on June 8th of 1940.   She logged four Billboard Top 10 hits and several others that should have been.  She joined me on the air in 1996 and we talked about one of my favorite Elvis movies (Speedway) and her association with him.
There was a LOT I liked about Nancy Sinatra ...
And her singing and hit records was only one of them!
Two of those Top Ten Hits you mentioned went all the way to #1.
"These Boots Are Made For Walkin'" reached the top of the charts in 1966.
Many think that this was Nancy's first recording ... but she had actually been recording for four years prior by this point without success ...
So contrary to popular opinion, any success she eventually achieved was NOT as a direct result of a "little help from Daddy!"  (Even 'tho Daddy DID own the record company she recorded for!)
However, her OTHER #1 Record WAS a duet that she recorded with her father in 1967 called "Somethin' Stupid" ... which always came across as a tad creepy when you actually listened to the lyrics ... this isn't a song that a father and daughter would typically sing together ... but boy, it was a smash!
Other Top Ten Hits include "How Does That Grab You, Darlin'?," her follow-up to "Boots" ... and my personal favorite, "Sugar Town," which went to #4 in early 1967.  (I also loved the B-Side of that record, "Summer Wine," recorded as a duet with her Producer Lee Hazlewood.  [If you want to give credit to the REAL reason for Nancy's chart success, THIS is the guy you should be acknowledging.  Lee turned her into a recording star.]  When we did our FAVORITE, FORGOTTEN B-SIDES Poll a few years ago, this track came in at #3 ... so it would seem to be a favorite of many others as well.)  kk
By the way, Me-TV-FM is featuring their semi-annual A-Sides / B-Sides Weekend this weekend ... tune in to hear LOTS of great B-Sides not always played on the radio anymore ... but always near and dear to our hearts.  (kk)
My favorite group in the early '70's was Three Dog Night.  It was a thrill to be able to have each of the three lead singers on the air with me at one time or another.  
Today we pay tribute to Chuck Negron who was born June 8th of  1942.  We talked about the many songwriters that contributed songs that helped toward Three Dog Nights success.
Three Dog Night was definitely one of MY favorite bands in the '70's as well.
I was fortunate enough to have seen them perform (with the original trio of lead singers) several times in the early '70's ... including a show where a then unknown Elton John was their opening act!

As Chuck mentions, Three Dog Night recorded a few of Elton's tunes before anyone here in America even knew who he was.  And this was one of their band's greatest strengths ... pulling out GREAT material from mostly unknown songwriters at the time and converting them to gold.  Some of their earliest hits were written by the likes of Nilsson, Laura Nyro, Randy Newman, Paul Williams, Bonner and Gordon, who had written the #1 Hit "Happy Together" for The Turtles, Dave Loggins and Hoyt Axton, who wrote both "Joy To The World" and "Never Been To Spain" ... both Top Five Hits in the early '70's.  (Hoyt's Mother Mae wrote Elvis Presley's big breakthrough hit, "Heartbreak Hotel," some fifteen years earlier!)
"Joy To The World" was by far the group's biggest hit ... and Chuck had to push hard to get them to record it.  (The others couldn't believe he wanted to sing a song about a bullfrog!) In the end, he was proven right ... the song went all the way to #1 and then stayed there for six weeks, in the process becoming the Biggest Hit Single of 1971.
Despite belting that one out, Chuck also had the sweetest voice in the group.  He had hit ballads with "Easy To Be Free" and "Pieces Of April," but my all-time favorite Chuck Negron performance has always been Three Dog Night's version of "Sunlight," a song originally recorded by The Youngbloods, of which this song's writer Jesse Colin Young was a member.  (kk)
My third audio contribution comes from a man that had nothing to do with music.  
He was born on June 8th in 1867 in Richland Center, Wisconsin. 
He is easily our most famous former resident!   
Frank Lloyd Wright was interviewed by WRCO at his home in Spring Green (which is about 20 miles from Richland Center.)  
Today we feature a clip of the famous architect recorded in 1957.    
He never had a hit record ... but perhaps we can play Simon and Garfunkel's So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright!
Happy to oblige!!!
"Frank Lloyd Wright" is one of my VERY favorite Simon and Garfunkel songs.
It was included on their "Bridge Over Troubled Water" album ...
And man, what a GRAND way to go out in style!
We've got a few FLW creations near us here in the Chicagoland suburbs and they have recently opened these up and started doing tours of these homes.  (We keep saying we're going to go ... but then never do!  Maybe this will spark the conversation again.)  kk  


Be sure to listen to Phil Nee's THOSE WERE THE DAYS radio program tonight on WRCO ...

WRCO AM FM Radio Richland Center Wisconsin

Just click on the 100.9 headphones and start streaming!

Friday, June 3, 2022

It Was The Third Of June ...

I was given this piece to post by long-time Forgotten Hits Reader Jack Levin with the strict instruction that it should ONLY be posted on a "Sleepy, Dusty Delta Day" ... so today seemed somewhat appropriate!!!


Since I've been out of commission for almost two years now, due to six major surgeries during that period, I've had a lot of spare time. 

As a result I dispatched  my Rock And Roll Never Forgets investigative reporting team to find out the REAL reason behind Billie Joe McAllister's passing on the third of June. 

Originally, Bobbie Gentry's opus was seven minutes long. What was cut out? Did The Powers That Be threaten Bobbie if she told the complete truth? Something isn't right. 

So my team has spent their time analyzing the facts. 

They went to the Tallahatchie Bridge, the scene of the crime. 

They took pictures of the approach, the getaway, not to mention the aerial photography. They even took 27  8 x 10 color glossy photographs, with circles and arrows, explaining what each one was. 

They went to Tupelo to meet Bobbie's brother and his wife, Becky Thompson. Their store specializes in Elvis memorabilia these days. If you've ever been to Tupelo, every business is about Elvis. 

However, he was not a fountain of information in regards to Billie Joe ... although it seemed that he knows more than he let on. 

Of course, lotsa luck in getting Bobbie to talk about anything. It just seems that given the shallow depth of the river, and the distance between the bridge and the river, it just doesn't jive with him jumping off and drowning.  Maybe if he dove head first and landed head first in the mud, but it's not likely. 

That nice young preacher, Brother Taylor, was interviewed. It looked like he was trying to protect Bobbie. Was Billie Joe pushed, or was he murdered somewhere else, and the whole jumping off the bridge story is just a cover up? 

Could Bobbie's dad have done it? Maybe he was pissed off because Billie Joe knocked up his daughter. We'll never know as he caught a virus (Covid?) and died the following spring. (Forensics in 1967 were not what they are today, so there is nothing to be learned there.)

They just assumed that Billie was just some stupid kid who decided to end it all. 

In short, almost everyone involved is dead now ... and unless Bobbie wants to write a tell all book, we'll probably never know. 

My team thinks he was murdered. 

(At least they brought back some Elvis trinkets, from Bobbie's brother's Elvis store.)

This exclusive is copyrighted © 2022, by Sleazy Productions. All rights reserved

Here are some trinkets from the Elvis store in Tupelo ...
A genuine Elvis ceiling fan ... a must for a sleepy dusty delta day ... 
A 45 RPM carrying case to put all your Elvis 45's in ... 
An Elvis camera and more.
(I think I got ripped off.)

Thursday, June 2, 2022

AIN'T TOO PROUD: The Life and Times of THE TEMPTATIONS - Musical Review

On Sunday (May 29th), we ventured downtown to The Cadillac Palace Theater to see the hot new musical "AIN'T TOO PROUD: The Life and Times of THE TEMPTATIONS," running thru next Sunday, June 5th.  (Limited seating is still available.)

Now Frannie and I are HUGE Temptations fans.  (This wasn't always the case with me.  When I was growing up at the time, I never really connected with their music, despite a career that provided FORTY Top 40 Pop Hits between 1964 and 1975 ... one hell of a run for the Kings of Motown! The band also enjoyed fifteen #1 Records on Billboard's R&B Chart ... see our TEMPTATIONS HIT LIST below.)

It wasn't until years later when I bought a special three album set of greatest hits that I started to better appreciate their sound and contribution to the landscape of '60's and early '70's rock and roll.  (One thing you've got to say about Motown Records ... they were ALWAYS extremely generous when it came to these greatest hits compilations ... ALL of the hits were there, with little or no filler.  It was a great way to "catch up" with your record collection at the time ... and similar sets were offered for The Supremes, The Four Tops, Stevie Wonder and a few others of their biggest acts.  I virtually built my entire Motown collection around these two and three LP sets as they provided EVERY hit you could conceivably want by each artist ... and let's face it ... Motown had an INCREDIBLE stable of artists!)

Moving forward, we fell in love with the Made-For-TV mini-series / movie on The Temptations ... so much so, that this is another film we've probably watched at least a dozen times all the way through ... plus one that we leave on whenever we happen to stumble upon it while channel surfing.

The downside of this is that these "Fake Temptations" have become rooted in our minds now as the definitive visual image of the group!!!  The actors did such an incredible job of embodying the real-life characters, that they have all blended into one ... and that's about the highest praise one can bestow on an actor ... or, in this case, SEVERAL actors, who worked so well together as a team to recreate the magic of one of Pop and R&B's true superstar groups.

[For all the purists out there, you CAN find DVD live performances of The REAL Temptations on The Ed Sullivan Show on a couple of EXCELLENT discs released by Andrew Solt a few years ago ... "The Best Of The Temptations on The Ed Sullivan Show" and "The Temptations Get Ready:  Definitive Performances, 1965 - 1972, featuring sixteen full-length performances of the group in action.  Just visit for more information.] 

And now we were about to go downtown to see ANOTHER group of actors and singers take on these roles.  (Would that make them the Fake, Fake Temptations???  I have to admit ... I'm getting a little confused!)

I can only tell you that they did an excellent job of reenacting the magic of The Temptations performing on stage.

Marcus Paul James (Otis Williams), James T. Lane (Paul Williams), Harrell Holmes, Jr. (Melvin Franklin), Jalen Harris (Eddie Kendricks), Elijah Ahmad Lewis (David Ruffin) and later, Harris Matthew (Dennis Edwards), did a commendable job of not only vocalizing together but also managing the very taxing dance steps that was so much a part of the group's stage act.

Once again, the story is told from the perspective of Otis Williams, the founding member and today, "the last man standing."  Williams wrote his book about the band several years ago and it has become the basis for all tellings of their story ever since.

The Temptations went through a number of line-up changes over the years including the firing (and rehiring) of David Ruffin (self-appointed leader of the Temps ... he felt the group should have been renamed David Ruffin and The Temptations, much like Motown did with Diana Ross and the Supremes and Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, both of whom are also featured in the stage presentation.)  Enter Dennis Edwards, a former member of The Contours who scored a huge Motown Hit with "Do You Love Me," who would come in to take Ruffin's place.  Shortly after, Eddie Kendricks, the impeccable falsetto voice of the band, would leave to pursue a solo career.  (It clicked almost immediately ... Kendricks enjoyed back-to-back #1 Hits with "Keep On Truckin'" and "Boogie Down" in 1973.)  Kendricks remained loyal to Ruffin, whose career took a major tailspin once drugs got the better of him ... he believed The Temptations were built on the foundation of A Band of Brothers, who stuck together no matter what may come their way.  He never really forgave Otis for firing David from the group.

Soon, Ruffin and Kenricks teamed up to form their OWN competing version of The Temptations ... a logical progression since theirs were the voices the fans grew up listening to and falling in love with.  They even collaborated for a series of shows (and a live album, recorded at the legendary Apollo Theater) with Daryl Hall and John Oates before rejoining The Temptations briefly ... until David started showing up late and missing shows again.  (Through it all, Ruffin insisted that it was HIS voice the fans were coming to hear ... and then he wouldn't show up for the gig, denying fans the opportunity to do so!)  Soon, both Kendricks and Ruffin were gone again.  (After that ... and for the next couple of decades ... it got a bit ridiculous trying to keep track of the number of groups that were out performing as The Temptations, led by so many ex one-time members, no matter how short-lived that tenure may have been.)  Thankfully, "Ain't Too Proud" focuses on the core members of the group, which is certainly the way we'd most like to remember them.

The stage musical is a barrage of hit music, from cover-to-cover as they say, featuring nearly every major hit The Temptations ever had.  (Noticeably missing was "Psychedelic Shack," a #4 hit for the group in 1970.)  Not always presented in chronological order, the music is used more as a backdrop to advance the story in some cases ... but it is handled so brilliantly that it doesn't really distract in any way from the story at hand.  (One of the highlights is the group coming to acceptance of their #1 Hit "Papa Was A Rollin' Stone" in 1972 ... and the grand finale is to die for!)

Harris and Holmes, Jr. are both American Idol alums ... and James and Lewis both performed in the Broadway production of "Ain't Too Proud" ... so it's a pretty stellar cast, to say the least.

Much like "Jersey Boys," (which it clearly aspires to be), the play focuses more on the back story of the group ... in this case, much more inner turmoil than outside influence ... although drugs DID play a major part in tearing the band apart.  (Still, they never lost their true focus ... and soldiered on, no matter what obstacles were thrown in their way.)  Keep in mind that this was the heavily prejudiced 1960's ... and, as mentioned during the play, in some instances the same white fans who were buying their records and listening to them on the radio and dancing to them in the clubs were also shooting at them and throwing bricks as their "bus full of Niggers" pulled into town to perform a show.  In many cases, they were hard-pressed to find a place to eat, a place to sleep or even a place to use the bathroom.  There were a few story lines that were quickly glossed over (such as the extent of David Ruffin's REAL treatment of Tammi Terrell), but overall it makes for an interesting and entertaining presentation of some of the best-known music on the planet.

As the Otis Williams character states at the end of the play, he's the only one left ... the last man standing.  He then goes on to state that eventually everybody ... and everything dies ... 

And then pauses for a moment and says "Except the music ... The music will never die."  

True that ... and it's still drawing us in to see and hear it.  ("Ain't Too Proud" played to a full house Sunday matinee, with cheers throughout, the afternoon we were there.)  This very idea forms the whole foundation of what Forgotten Hits is all about ... Keeping The Music Alive so that new generations can continue to discover it, enjoy it and fall in love with it, just like we did.


1962 - Dream Come True (POP - xx / R&B - 22)

1964 - The Way You Do The Things You Do (POP - 10 / R&B - #1)

1964 - I'll Be In Trouble (POP - 32 / R&B - 22)

1964 - The Girl's Alright With Me (POP - xx / R&B - 39)

1964 - Girl, Why You Wanna Make Me Blue (POP - 25 / R&B - #11)

1965 - My Girl (POP - #1 / R&B - #1)

1965 - It's Growing (POP - 14 / R&B - 3)

1965 - Since I Lost My Baby (POP - 17 / R&B - 4)

1965 - You've Got To Earn It (POP - 107 / R&B - 22)

1965 - My Baby (POP - 13 / R&B - 4)

1965 - Don't Look Back (POP - 78 / R&B - 15)

1966 - Get Ready (POP - 23 / R&B - #1)

1966 - Ain't Too Proud To Beg (POP - 8 / R&B - #1)

1966 - Beauty Is Only Skin Deep (POP - 3 / R&B - #1)

1966 - I Know I'm Losing You (POP - 8 / R&B - #1)

1967 - All I Need (POP - 8 / R&B - 2)

1967- You're My Everything (POP - 6 / R&B - 3)

1967 - It's You That I Need (POP - 8 / R&B - 3)

1968 - I Wish It Would Rain (POP - 2 / R&B - #1)

1968 - I Truly, Truly Believe (POP - 93 / R&B - 41)

1968 - I Could Never Love Another (POP - 10 / R&B - #1)

1968 - Please Return Your Love To Me (POP - 21 / R&B -4)

1968 - Cloud Nine (POP - 4 / R&B - 2)

1969 - I'm Gonna Make You Love Me (recorded with Diana Ross and the Supremes)  POP - #1 / R&B - 2)

1969 - Run Away Child, Running Wild (POP - 6 / R&B - #1)

1969 - I'll Try Something New (recorded with Diana Ross and the Supremes)  POP - 18 / R&B - 8)

1969 - Don't Let The Joneses Get You Down (POP - 17 / R&B - 2)

1969 - I Can't Get Next To You  (POP - #1 / R&B - #1)

1969 - The Weight (recorded with Diana Ross and the Supremes)  POP - 34 / R&B - 33)

1970 - Psychedelic Shack (POP - 4 / R&B - 2)

1970 - Ball Of Confusion (POP - #1 / R&B - 2)

1970 - Ungena Za Ulimwengu (POP - 28 / R&B - 8)

1970 - Hum Along And Dance (POP - 26 / R&B - 8B)

1971 - Just My Imagination (POP - #1 / R&B - #1)

1971 - It's Summer (POP - 28 / R&B - 29)

1971 - Superstar (POP - 12 / R&B - 8)

1972 - Take A Look Around (POP  25 / R&B - 10)

1972 - Funky Music Sho Nuff Turns Me On (POP - 65 / R&B - 27)

1972 - Papa Was A Rollin' Stone (POP - #1 / R&B - 5)

1973 - Masterpiece (POP - 7 / R&B - #1)

1973 - The Plastic Man (POP - 28 / R&B - 8)

1973 - Hey Girl, I Like Your Style (POP - 27 / R&B - 2)

1974 - Let Your Hair Down (POP - 25 / R&B - #1)

1974 - Heavenly (POP - 43 / R&B - 8)

1974 - You've Got My Soul On Fire (POP - 56 / R&B - 8)

1975 - Happy People (POP - 40 / R&B - #1)

1975 -Shakey Ground (POP - 26 / R&B - #1)

1975 -Glasshouse (POP - 37 / R&B - 9)

1976 - Keep Holding On (POP - 53 / R&B - 3)

1976 - Up The Creek Without A Paddle (POP - 81 / R&B - 21)

1976 - Who Are You (POP - 103/ R&B - 22)

1978 - In A Lifetime (POP - 109 / R&B - 21)

1978 - Bare Back (POP - xx / R&B - 42)

1979 - Ever Ready Love (POP - 126 / R&B - 31)

1980 - Power (POP - 43 / R&B - 11)

1981 - Aiming At Your Heart (POP - 67 / R&B - 36)

1982 - Standing On The Top (recorded with Rick James) POP - 66 / R&B - 6

1983 - Love On My Mind Tonight (POP - 88 / R&B - 17)

1984 - Sail Away (POP - 54 / R&B - 13)

1985 - Treat Her Like A Lady (POP - 48 / R&B - 2)

1985 - My Love Is True (POP - xx / R&B - 14)

1986 - Do You Really Love Your Baby (POP - xx / R&B - 14)

1986 - Lady Soul (POP - 47 / R&B - 4)

1987 - To Be Continued (POP - xx / R&B - 25)

1987 - Someone (POP - xx / R&B - 45)

1987 - I Wonder Who She's Seeing Now (POP - xx / R&B - 3)

1988 - Look What You Started (POP - xx / R&B - 8)

1989 - All I Want From You (POP - xx / R&B - 16)

1990 - Special (POP - xx / R&B - 10)

1990 - Soul To Soul (POP - xx / R&B - 12)

1991 - The Motown Song (recorded with Rod Stewart) POP - 10 / R&B - xx)

1992 - The Jones' (POP - xx / R&B - 41)

1996 - Silent Night (POP - xx / R&B - 16)

1998 - Stay  (POP - 120 / R&B - 28)

2000 - I'm Here (POP - xx / R&B - 40)

Notable Solo Releases:

1969 - David Ruffin - My Whole World Ended (POP - 9 / R&B - 2)

1969 - David Ruffin - I've Lost Everything I've Ever Loved (POP - 53 / R&B - 11)

1970 - David Ruffin - I'm So Glad I Fell For You (POP - 53 / R&B - 18)

1970 - Stand By Me (David Ruffin with Jimmy Ruffin) POP - 57 / R&B - 24

1972 - Eddie Kendricks - If You Let Me (POP - 50 / R&B - 17)

1973 - Eddie Kendricks - Girl, You Need  Change Of Mind (POP - 87 / R&B - 13)

1973 - Eddie Kendricks - Keep On Truckin' (POP - #1 / R&B - #1)

1973 - Eddie Kendricks - Boogie Down (POP - #1 / R&B - #1)

1974 - Eddie Kendricks _ Son Of Sagittarius (POP - 20 / R&B - 5)

1974 - Eddie Kendricks - Tell Her Love Has Felt The Need (POP - 38 / R&B - 8)

1975 - Eddie Kendricks - One Tear (POP - 55 / R&B - 8)

1975 - Eddie Kendricks - Shoeshine Boy (POP - 18 / R&B - #1)

1975 - Eddie Kendricks - Get The Cream Off The Top  (POP - 50 / R&B - 7)

1975 - Eddie Kendricks - Happy (POP - 59 / R&B - 8)

1976 - Eddie Kendricks - He's A Friend (POP - 36 / R&B - 2)

1976 - Eddie Kendricks - Get It While It's Hot (POP - 111 / R&B - 24)

1976 - David Ruffin - Walk Away From Love (POP - 8 / R&B - #1)

1976 - David Ruffin - Heavy Love (POP - 47 / R&B - 8)

1976 - David Ruffin - Everything's Coming Up Love (POP - 49 / R&B - 8)

1977 - David Ruffin - Just Let Me Hold You For A Night (POP - 94 / R&B - 18)

1978- - Eddie Kendricks - Intimate Friends (POP - 132 / R&B - 24)

1978 - Eddie Kendricks - Ain't No Smoke Without Fire (POP - 103 / R&B - 13)

1979 - David Ruffin - Break My Heart (POP - 93 / R&B - 9)

1985 - A Nite At The Apollo Live! - Daryl Hall and John Oates with David Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks -  The Way You Do The Things You Do / My Girl - (POP - 20 . R&B - 49)

1987 - Eddie Kendricks - I Couldn't Believe It (POP - xx / R&B - 14)

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

AL JARDINE Family and Friends Concert Review (THE DES PLAINES THEATRE, Friday, May 27th, 2022)

We went to see Al Jardine’s Family And Friends show at the brand new Des Plaines Theatre Friday Night.


First of all, let me say that this place is BEAUTIFUL!!!  Absolutely stunning … and with bar/restaurants bordering it on each side, a most convenient one-stop shop for a thrilling night of entertainment.  (Owned by Ron Onesti, who’s been making magic at The Arcada Theatre for decades now, a brand new 1920’s Speakeasy will be opening upstairs here in Des Plaines, too, over the next few weeks.) It is the ultimate in theater-going experience … HIGHLY recommended.


We had SO been looking forward to seeing this show …


It was a last-minute add to the schedule as Al was able to slip in a few more appearances before taking off for the summer as part of the Brian Wilson tour.  (Brian is touring with Chicago this summer … and, thanks to our FH Buddy Tom Cuddy, we’ll be going to that show as well.)


Onboard were his son Matt, who flawlessly handles all of the falsettos, and Wendy and Carnie Wilson, Brian’s daughters, who made up two-thirds of the hit making trio Wilson Phillips, who scored three #1 hits of their own in the early ‘90’s.  A four piece band (which includes Carnie’s husband Rob Bonfiglio and long-time Beach Boys Touring Band Members Bobby Figueroa and Ed Carter, along with keyboardist Debbie Shair) supply the backing for what can only be described as a lesson in harmony-driven music.


Prior to the show, Ron commented that he can’t imagine a single person anywhere in the world today that doesn’t like Beach Boys music.  It’s universal and has touched us all in some way … perhaps the ULTIMATE in “Feel Good Music” that we keep talking about here in Forgotten Hits.


And yet, despite all of the elements in place to provide the perfect concert experience, I cannot lie … a good percentage of this show was often painful to watch.  (And I hate to have to be the one to say it … because I love ALL of these people and all of the music they have so enriched our lives with over the years.)


As such, this was an extremely difficult review to write … and I have actually held off running it for a few days now, trying to word things exactly right so as not to, in any way, insult the integrity of this music … and the efforts to present it.


But even with all of that having been said, unfortunately, we have to kick off this review as:


Review in a Word:  Heartbreaking


And for several reasons


First of all, the far less than capacity crowd was a huge disappointment … this could only have been considered to be a VERY hot ticket … Al, family and friends only did a handful of shows … and the fact that it made to Chicago at all is really quite amazing.  There should have been a full house turn-out for this show … and (as described above) what a GREAT place to experience a show of this stature.  It is absolutely heartbreaking that more fans didn’t show up for this concert event.  You missed the opportunity to see pure magic on stage, provided by music legends.


Secondly, Carnie inspired many a tear in the audience when she dedicated “God Only Knows” to the families of all the grade schoolers who were gunned down this past week in yet another senseless school shooting tragedy.  (We didn’t think she would make it thru the song without shedding a few of her own … but she did a great job.)  How sad that our world has degenerated to the state it’s in right now … what has our nation become?  Heartbreaking.


But the saddest part of all was Al’s lack of ability to stay focused and on task throughout the evening.  



I saw Al (with his son Matt) at Chicago’s City Winery about four or five years ago and he put on an excellent performance, narrating his way through Beach Boys History and playing loads of examples along the way.  There were a couple of times where he drifted off script and Matt had to reel him back in to focus on the plan at hand … but Friday Night it felt like he was gone more than he was with us … and that’s a real shame … because when he WAS with us, he was brilliant … funny, witty, and providing great vocals where and when he could remember the words.  (Everyone on stage had the lyrics in front of them, set up on music stands for reference … but even that didn’t seem to help.)  On far too many occasions, he would just stop singing all-together and look to his son Matt for help, nodding for him to step in and take over the lead vocals.  One might even go so far as to say that Matt Jardine carried the show for most of the night.


Al even tripped up his signature Beach Boys tune, “Help Me Rhonda” by starting to sing it before the familiar guitar intro opened the song, causing Carnie to comment, “Well, now that you’ve given them a sneak preview of what we’re going to do next, why don’t we do it with the intro this time.”  (Let’s face it, Al didn’t sing a lot of leads with the band … this was really his biggest solo shot … but over the passing of time, I just have to say (and I’ve said it before many times and I will say it again), that of the remaining Beach Boys out there still singing these hits, Al’s voice is by FAR the strongest and most on point of any of them.  Unfortunately, his ability to prove this point came and went throughout the night and he spent most of the evening simply looking lost.  When asked to introduce the band, he said, “You introduce the band … I can’t remember any of their names … I’m 80 years old!” … a humorous moment for sure … but, unfortunately, also a very true one.


We hate to see our heroes grow old and lose the magic that so enriched our lives … 



I love the fact that Al still wants to perform these songs after so many years.  (I mean, let’s face it … he’s a guy who could legitimately reflect back and say, “Damn … I coulda been a dentist!!!”)  So it is painful to watch … and it was evident that this has been happening … and likely worsening for a while … and Friday’s show was perhaps one of the worst examples of just how far it has come.  It is a real shame that this had to play out in front of a live audience.


Carnie seemed to be the most aggravated by the way it was slowing the pace of the show and made a few comments to this effect along the way, egging Al to continue on,  “maybe without the introduction this time … less words … let’s skip the talking.”  They also had a few sound issues along the way, which didn’t help relieve any of the stress the artists were feeling on stage.


And yet, ALL of the members on stage (their drummer and bassist have been part of The Beach Boys Touring Band for 40-50 years!) just showed how much love and respect they have for the man and the legacy he helped to create.  (One has to wonder what this summer’s tour will be like when he reteams with Brian Wilson … who himself seems completely disengaged during his live performances.  It is sad to think, from a fan’s perspective … especially one who genuinely loves these guys the way that I do … that they now appear to be being wheeled out and propped up in front of a live audience just to keep the brand name alive when they obviously are no longer of the right state of mind to do so.  Couple this with all the rigors of traveling all over the world and one has to wonder “Can this really be any fun fun fun for them?  Do they get ANY enjoyment out of this anymore?  And how healthy can it be?”    I mean, I get it … “The smell of the greasepaint and the roar of the crowd” have been a motivation for artists since the beginning of time … but these guys honestly don’t look like they’re having ANY fun up there!


I go back to what I’ve said so many times before … and reiterate that Kenny Rogers may have said it best … “You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em … know when to walk away.”)  Let the legacy stand … don’t damage the memories.


All of that being said, the show was by no means a wash-out …


In fact, the Wilson Phillips material sounded great … we were fortunate enough to see them a few years ago at The Genesee Theatre (with Chynna onboard) and it was an outstanding show.  Wendy, who didn’t command the lead vocals very often within the trio, stepped front and center stage to sing a few tunes Friday night, including their debut #1 single, “Hold On.”  The harmony that Wendy and Carnie Wilson provided throughout the night made for pure bliss while showcasing the incredible volume of music written by their father, of which they are clearly very proud.  They offer great service to this material, performing it with love and affection … as well as perfection.



There were a few stand-out performances scattered throughout the evening … the previously mentioned “God Only Knows,” a beautiful reading of “In My Room” and the early kick-off tracks of “Do It Again” and “Darlin’” were all top notch.  (And, as Ron said earlier, who DOESN’T love Beach Boys Music?!?!) 


While I can certainly give them an “A” for effort, can you really give them a “C” for execution when there was absolutely no way to possibly control the outcome?  It just doesn’t seem fair. 

Sadly, this is a struggle they’ll have to deal with for as long as they try to keep this show on the road.  Prepare yourselves for some rough waves ahead.  (kk)

[Very special thanks to Luciano Bilotti for providing the photos seen in today's piece - he has been the photographer at Ron Onesti's theaters for years now ... and his brilliant work ... and Ron's kind support ... is always appreciated. - kk]