Saturday, December 24, 2022

Phil Nee Shares Another Series of Great Interviews With Us on Christmas Eve!

Happy Holidays to all from Richland Center, Wisconsin.  
Today I have three gifts from the treasure trove off tapes.  
We begin featuring a cut from a 1996 interview with Brenda Lee.  
She began singing professionally at the age of 6 and started her recording career a few years later. 
Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree was recorded in 1958 and it is still playing every holiday.  Brenda Lee is a member of the Rock and Roll,Country, and Rockabilly halls of fame.
Our second gift today is a track from Greg Lake.  
He was a member of King Crimson and Emerson, Lake, & Palmer.  
Greg joined me on the air in the late '90's and we talked about one of his songs that first hit the charts during the holiday season in 1975. Classic Rock Radio has kept I Believe In Father Christmas on its December airwaves ever since.
As a young boy, I always dreamed of the spectacular toys that might be under the tree on Christmas morning.  I still love it when I get a new gadget instead of socks and aftershave.  
Today I offer you Toys for Christmas with a choice track from 2001. 
Barbara Harris joined me on Those Were the Days.  We spoke about the trio's Top 5 1965 hit "A Lover's Concerto," a tune that was adapted from a Bach melody. 

Friday, December 23, 2022

The Friday Flash

Here’s a great way to kick off Christmas Eve Eve …


FH Geoff Lambert (who publishes his own weekly oldies news sheet on the weekends) ran this story about the origins of Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer … written right here in Chicago! … that we’d like to share with OUR readers as well …


As the holiday season of 1938 came to Chicago, Bob May wasn’t feeling much comfort or joy. A thirty-four-year-old ad writer for Montgomery Ward, Bob was exhausted and nearly broke. His wife, Evelyn, was bedridden, on the losing end of a two-year battle with cancer. This left Bob to look after their four-year old-daughter, Barbara. One night, Barbara asked her father, “Why isn’t my mommy like everybody else’s mommy?” As he struggled to answer his daughter’s question, Bob remembered the pain of his own childhood. A small, sickly boy, he was constantly picked on and called names ... but he wanted to give his daughter hope, and show her that being different was nothing to be ashamed of. More than that, he wanted her to know that he loved her and would always take care of her. So, he began to spin a tale about a reindeer with a bright red nose who found a special place on Santa’s team. Barbara loved the story so much that she made her father tell it every night before bedtime. As he did, it grew more elaborate. Because he couldn’t afford to buy his daughter a gift for Christmas, Bob decided to turn the story into a homemade picture book. In early December, Bob’s wife died. Though he was heartbroken, he kept working on the book for his daughter. A few days before Christmas, he reluctantly attended a company party at Montgomery Ward. His co-workers encouraged him to share the story he’d written. After he read it, there was a standing ovation. Everyone wanted copies of their own. Montgomery Ward bought the rights to the book from their debt-ridden employee. Over the next six years, at Christmas, they gave away six million copies of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer to shoppers. Every major publishing house in the country was making offers to obtain the book. In an incredible display of goodwill, the head of the department store returned all rights to Bob May. Four years later, Rudolph had made him into a millionaire. Now remarried with a growing family, he felt blessed by his good fortune.

But there was more to come.

His brother-in-law, a successful songwriter named Johnny Marks, set the uplifting story to music. The song was pitched to artists from Bing Crosby on down. They all passed. Finally, Marks approached Gene Autry. The cowboy star had scored a holiday hit with Here Comes Santa Claus a few years before. Like the others, Autry wasn’t impressed with the song about the misfit reindeer. Marks begged him to give it a second listen. Autry played it for his wife, Ina. She was so touched by the line “They wouldn’t let poor Rudolph play in any reindeer games” that she insisted her husband record the tune. Within a few years, it had become the second best-selling Christmas song ever, right behind White Christmas. Since then, Rudolph has come to life in TV specials, cartoons, movies, toys, games, coloring books, greeting cards and even a Ringling Bros. Circus Act. The little red-nosed reindeer dreamed up by Bob May and immortalized in song by Johnny Marks has come to symbolize Christmas as much as Santa Claus, evergreen trees and presents. As the last line of the song says, “He’ll go down in history.”

Strangely, for a man who didn’t celebrate Christmas as he was Jewish, Johnny Marks also wrote Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree by Brenda Lee, A Holly Jolly Christmas by Burl Ives, I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day by Bing Crosby and Run Rudolph Run by Chuck Berry.

An interesting sidenote …


I have ALWAYS been under the impression that Chuck Berry wrote “Run Rudolph Run” … and it SURE does sound like a Chuck Berry song.

Berry himself claimed that we wrote the song alone … but was then sued by Johnny Marks, who owned the trademark to the name Rudolph.  From that point forward, Marks was given songwriting credit although, according to Berry, he "had nothing to do with the song."

If you look the song up in Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles Book, it shows the songwriter as being Marvin Lee Brodie.  According to Chuck, “M. Brodie” does not exist, but was a pseudonym created as "a scheme to make more money for Marks and his publisher."

Berry’s original 1958 single gives song writing credits to "C. Berry Music – M. Brodie" ... but all subsequent cover versions of the song are credited to Marks and Brodie, as published by Marks's St. Nicholas Music (ASCAP).

Chuck’s version only got to #69 in Billboard in December of 1958.  When it was reissued in 2019, it made it to #45 in its one and only week on the chart.  (kk)


If you’d like to sign up for Geoff’s weekly sheet, just drop him a line at ... and tell him you heard about it in Forgotten Hits.  (kk)


Here's the back story behind another classic Christmas hit ...

Elmo and Patsy's "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer!!!"


And Tommy James and Carol Ross wish all our Forgotten Hits Readers a Very Merry Christmas ...



Here's just another friendly reminder that Rewound Radio will be playing back the entire Big 89 of 1969 Year-End Countdown from WLS Radio EXACTLY as it was first broadcast on New Year’s Day, 1970 …

With Larry Lujack and Chuck Buell counting down The Top 89 Records according to The WLS Silver Dollar Survey (although by then I think it was called The WLS Hit Parade since John Rook was now in charge of things over there … and that was his catch phrase.)

While the obvious big hits of the year will be on full display, Chicago Radio also showed a few surprises:  The Underground Sunshine version of The Beatles’ “Birthday” for example … “Things I’d Like To Say” by The New Colony Six (who were also voted “Best Local Group” in their Annual Listener Poll.

We agreed not to run the complete chart until Christmas Evening (so as not to act as the “spoiler” of the main event) … but CAN tell you that the 1969 Award Winners were Neil Diamond for Best Male Vocalist, Jackie DeShannon for Best Female Vocalist, The Beatles for Best Group, Booker T. and the MG’s for Best Instrumental Group, Simon and Garfunkel for Best Duo, Oliver for Best New Male Vocalist, Evie Sands for Best New Female Vocalist, Three Dog Night for Best New Group and, as mentioned above, The New Colony Six for Best Local Group.

Each of these artists (with the exception of Evie Sands) are represented within The Big 89 Countdown.  (Evie was a surprise pick … her only WLS Chart Hit that year was her version of “Any Way That You Want Me,” which peaked at #23 during its five week chart run.  Meanwhile, The Beatles are represented twice (three times if you count their two-sided hit “Come Together” / “Something” at #82), Neil Diamond twice (Elvis also had two big comeback hits), Oliver has two titles on the list, and Three Dog Night leads the pack with three titles.  (Creedence Clearwater Revival ALSO have three titles on the countdown.)

The fun kicks off at Noon Eastern on Christmas Day … and we’ll post the complete list of The Big 89 at 6 pm Central Time.  (kk)


If you dug Top 40 radio and the WLS DJs that year, you'll LOVE this.  I heard it originally on ReelRadio years ago and it was great!

Here's your chance to hear the whole Big 89 countdown as heard on the Big 89 that last week of 69!

This Sunday (Christmas Day), Chuck Buell will host a replay of the WLS Big 89 of 1969.

Chuck originally hosted that show with Larry Lujack on WLS/Chicago. 

Hear it in its entirety Christmas Day starting at 12 Noon (ET)!


AND it is cold and windy in the Windy City but not as cold as the LINCOLN, NE windy city (yet!)

Clark Besch


No idea what your Friday Morning is looking like wherever you happen to be reading this right now … but I woke up to a REAL temp of -17 degrees at 4:30 am with a windchill of -35 … our HIGH today will only be somewhere between -10 degrees and 0!!!  So yeah, it’s cold … and wind gusts are coming up between 40 and 55 mph, too … so we are DEFINITELY living up to our name as The Windy City this Christmas Eve Eve!!!  (kk)


Of course my FAVORITE sub-zero temperature has to be "minus four degrees" ... 

Because it looks like some guy sitting on the pot!  (lol)  kk


The day after Christmas, Rewound Radio counts down your Top 77 Favorites, based on this year’s votes, followed by a week that will feature EVERY song nominated … THOUSANDS of songs, spread out over the course of the upcoming week.

This program kicks off at Noon Eastern, Monday, December 26th … and they’ll be playing your all-time favorites all week long, with LIVE SHOWS every day, letting you know just where your favorites fell in the countdown.

It’s an Annual Rewound Radio Tradition … and a pretty darn good one at that … so be sure to tune in and enjoy!  (kk)

Also on the radio … TONIGHT …


My Fellow Americans: 

Weather permitting, I will be on Dewey's Show on WMSE 91.7 FM at approximately 6 PM on Friday, December 23rd. We will be doing Part 2 of the 1970 show which leans way more to the Rockin' Songs this time around. Hopefully we can get to the station and do the show. As always, we play 45 Records!

Have a Merry Xmas!

Ken Freck


Billy Joel has had to postpone his final appearance at Madison Square Garden due to a viral infection. 

“I’m disappointed to share that I’m under doctor’s orders for vocal rest due to a viral infection so unfortunately, I must postpone my Monday, December 19th concert at Madison Square Garden to June. I’m so sorry to let you know so close to show day, but I was hoping to be closer to a full recovery by now. Sadly, that hasn’t happened.  I look forward to seeing you in the New Year.”

Reps for The Garden say the rescheduled June 2nd date is not etched in stone.

“All tickets purchased for the December 19, 2022 concert will be honored on Friday, June 2, 2023 and will not need to be exchanged. Please note, the June 2nd performance is subject to change if it conflicts with a playoff game.”  (kk)



Enjoyed the obit and tribute you did to Charlie Gracie. I am fortunate to have a few records of his that he made through the years, including the Cameo hits, about three or four on Coral and one or two on Roulette.

I noticed in the photo of him and Andy Williams that each one was holding a copy of the other's BUTTERFLY.


That’s one of my absolute favorite photos of him … for that very reason!  (kk)


A year after her husband’s passing, Shirley Watts, wife of Rolling Stones Drummer Charlie Watts, passed away last Friday, December 16th, after a brief illness.  The couple had been married for 57 years in what has been described, by all accounts, a very loving and caring relationship.  (About as normal as can be expected, I guess, if you’re married to a member of The Rolling Stones!)

Since The Stones just celebrated their 60th Anniversary, she was there for the entire whirlwind of events that catapulted them into The Greatest Rock And Roll Band In The World.  (They were married in 1964.)

Unlike his bandmates, Watts opted for the more “quiet life” … unusual for a rock star of his caliper.  He remained faithful to his wife, avoiding the trappings of all of the groupies so readily available to The Stones’ non-stop party machine.

A great quote attributed to her once The Stones started Rolling:  “Charlie came home at the weekend, full of conceit about being a member of the Rolling Stones. So I made him clean the oven.”

And, of course, who can forget the punch-out between Watts and Mick Jagger when Mick referred to Charlie as “my drummer”!!!  Watts reportedly punched him in the face and retorted, “You’re my singer.”

Reunited, the loving couple can now spend the holidays together.  (kk)


Speaking of The Rolling Stones, they just released another video from their upcoming “Grrr! Live” project …



The list of musicians and music people we lost in 2022 is staggering … and sadly, with a week of the year still to go, it’s almost to be expected that we may see a few more before the end of the year.


Here are some of the saddest departures so far …


Gary Brooker, Irene Cara, Dino Danelli, Lamont Dozier, Mickey Gilley, Charlie Gracie, Susan Jacks, Naomi Judd, Jerry Lee Lewis, Ramsey Lewis, Christine McVie, Meatloaf, Sandy Nelson, Olivia Newton-John, Bob Rafelson, Bobby Rydell, Jim Seals, Jimy Sohns, Ronnie Spector, Joel Whitburn … ALL of these artists had a HUGE impact on the soundtrack of MY life … and will be missed.  Thankfully, we still have their music to share for the rest of our time here.  (kk)


And before I could even post this, we got word that Producer Extraordinaire Thom Bell has passed away …


My GOD the incredible amount of music he was part of!!!  (kk)

Got this from Chuck Buell after he finished reading our MASSIVE Sunday Comments Page this past weekend …



A very scintillating edition of Forgotten Hits today, Kent!

( Plus it gave me a rare opportunity to us the word "scintillating!" )



Speaking of Forgotten Hits ... and songs that made The Big 89 of 1969, here’s a short piece we ran several years ago about the group Underground Sunshine who, when they found out that The Beatles had absolutely NO intention of releasing this song as a single of their own, seized the opportunity to take one of the most popular tracks on The Beatles’ White Album, “Birthday,” and running it all the way up to #2 here in Chicago!  (kk)


'If These Walls Could Sing' honors Abbey Road, where The Beatles made magic, as a place 'full of love'

We watched it last night on TV and I had mixed feelings.  It was well done, but I really think there could have been at least one 15 minute segment presenting stills or at least a LIST of what LPs / Singles were recorded there by other legendary artists or even one hit wonders as well. 

The show focused well on the artists it showed, but a long segment on Pink Floyd really didn't give much info about HOW they recorded stuff at Abbey Road, while the segment on the Hollies was relegated to Elton John who, let's face it, was a nobody when he did that. 

Same with Jimmy Page – let’s hear what he had to SAY about the big artists he did not care for and no mention of the bands he was in that made him famous.  Even tho I did not know artists that were from different genres, those were fine.  I just felt that focusing on ten or so artists over 1 1/2 hours was a bit odd. 

Going back to the Beatles in chronological segments worked well and kept interest up, but when they mentioned the Get Back LP recording as Let It Be, that was kinda wrong, I felt.  There WERE some clips I’m not sure I had seen of the Beatles, which was cool.  Most of it we HAVE seen or heard for stories on the fabs.  The Shirley Bassey segment was great!

Overall, worth watching, but not sure it really delved into the actual recording/studio time as much as I would like.

Clark Besch

Here’s the review from Best Classic Bands …


A couple of great articles from David Hinckley …


Did you watch the Grammy Salute to Paul Simon the other night?

I thought it was an interesting mix of artists paying tribute to Paul's incredible catalog of music ... but rather disappointing that even for an event as monumental as this, Art Garfunkel couldn't at least make an appearance.  I don't know if it's a case that he didn't want to ... or he wasn't ask ... but his non-presence speaks volumes as to the deterioration of their relationship.  What a shame.  (C'mon, Guys ... you're in your 80's now!!!  Get over it!!!)  Bookends, indeed.  (kk)