Thursday, April 27, 2023

Another Anniversary

This photo from Timmy C ...

The three surviving Beatles (The Threetles???) reunited for the wedding of Ringo Starr and Barbara Bach, who are celebrating their 42nd wedding anniversary today!

The two met on the set of the God-Awful film "Caveman" ... and have been together ever since.

Yep ... Paul McCartney may have composed the title track to the James Bond Film "Live And Let Die" ...

 But it was Ringo Starr who landed himself A Bond Girl!!!  (kk)

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Harry Belafonte

Is there any one of us from our generation whose parents DIDN'T own at least one Harry Belafonte album?

But then that statement would be true of just about ANYBODY growing up in the mid-to-late '50's.

Harry absolutely DOMINATED the album charts during the early rock era ... 

While the kids were buying the latest singles by all of their favorite rock and roll acts, Harry racked up eleven Top 20 albums on Billboard's Top LP Chart between 1956 and 1962.

And we're talking HUGE LP's here ...

His first two ... "Belafonte" and "Calypso" ... both went to #1 ... and "Calypso" stayed there for 31 weeks ... better than half a year!  His third chart LP, "An Evening With Belafonte," peaked at #2 and his fourth, "Belafonte Sings Of The Caribbean," went to #3.

Collectively, these LPs spent a total of 196 weeks on the chart ... a reign of four years ... often overlapping each other, giving Harry multiple albums charting at the same time.  Incredibly, his 1959 LP "Belafonte At Carnegie Hall" would ride the charts for another 168 weeks all on its own!  Suffice to say, Harry Belafonte RULED the charts at that time. 

Incredibly, despite his revolutionary calypso sound, Harry Belafonte was NOT born in Jamaica (although he sang of it often) but rather in Harlem, New York!  (He was, however, of Jamaican descent, both of his parents having been born there.)  He pioneered a new sound in folk music that garnered him worldwide success.  In 1956 and 1957 alone, Harry also scored seven Top 40 pop hits, including "Jamaica Farewell" (#14, 1956), "Mary's Boy Child" (#12, 1956), "Banana Boat (Day-O)", #2, 1957 and "Mama Look At Bubu" (#6, 1957).

But his success wasn't limited to the pop charts and nightclub career ...

He was also an actor, starring in both good and bad films throughout his career ... and an activist / humanitarian.  He was a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, marched alongside Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was named Cultural Advisor to the The Peace Corps by President John F. Kennedy, and was even prominently on display during the filming and recording of the USA For Africa mega-hit, fund-raising single, "We Are The World."

Sadly, we lost Harry Belafonte yesterday at the age of 96 due to congestive heart failure.  The impact he made on the world was felt on so many levels.  He will be missed.

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

For Your Consideration

Over the course of the past week, we have presented compelling cases as to why artists like Pat Boone and Ross Bagdasarian should be considered as worthy candidates for Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction.

Today we move on to perhaps one of the most obvious choices of all ...

Ed Sullivan

How it is even remotely possible that Old Stone Face has never even been so much as nominated is beyond comprehension to me.

Every Sunday Night ... for 23 years ... Ed brought rock and roll acts into our living rooms on a daily basis.  For many, it was the first chance to see and really experience the likes of Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Doors, Jefferson Airplane and many, many more.

And, under the guise of his weekly variety show, he was able to satisfy the kids ... and make these acts somewhat palatable to their parents and any other adults in the room ... as long as they were intermixed with the usual appearances of jugglers, comedians, Broadway acts, Ethel Merman, Jimmy Durante, Robert Goulet and Topo Gigio.

An appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show almost guaranteed an upward boost of 20 points or more on the following week's pop charts.

Sure, Ed had his favorites ... The Dave Clark Five, The Supremes, The Mamas and The Papas, The Fifth Dimension and a few others immediately come to mind ... but he wasn't opposed to putting on whichever new up and coming acts were creating a buzz in the music business ... and providing them with an additional boost of "credibility" along the way.  This means that along with these "safe" acts mentioned above, so we also got Janis Joplin and Creedence Clearwater Revival alongside Tommy James and the Shondells, The Turtles and Gerry and the Pacemakers. 

Ed was also a huge fan of black music ... and did his best to promote the Motown acts on a regular basis ... as well as artists like Sam Cooke, Jackie Wilson, Dionne Warwick (another favorite of his), Leslie Uggams (ditto) and Aretha Franklin.

Allan Freed is in The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame for his contribution to the genre thru radio ... Dick Clark has been acknowledged for American Bandstand and his Caravan of Stars Tours ... 

But NOBODY did more to make rock and roll acceptable to ALL generations watching his show than Ed Sullivan.

Fortunately, you can now view a number of these full-length performances on the Ed Sullivan YouTube Channel ...

You can read OUR salute to The Ed Sullivan Show (presented from BOTH sides of the screen) here ...

Isn't it time that The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame makes things right???  (kk)

Monday, April 24, 2023

A Monday Morning Quickie

Wow!  That was a post and a half!  ;-)  Very nice!



Witch Doctor, by The Chipmunks, was my first introduction to the song. It quickly became a favorite dance routine song as it tells a story using an upbeat rocking scene. My first introduction to The Chipmunks was not Witch Doctor, but The Christmas Song - which I received at age 7 on a 45rpm. The "B" side was Almost Good ... no really, that was the title of the song. Except for the words 'That's Almost Good," it was an instrumental. Again, with a hip beat that was a good dance routine number. It rather shows Seville's musicianship. I still have the 45 ... not a surprise if you know me.


The Chipmunks performing “Witch Doctor” was a natural (once they were established TV Stars!  Lol)

I used to listen to “Almost Good” all the time on my green-label Liberty 45 … I ALWAYS played the B-Sides of my records!!!  It shows a little more of Seville’s jazz side. (I eventually bought the 45 again ... with a black label this time ... when it was reissued with "Alvin's Harmonica" on the other side ... a #3 hit in its own right.)

Seville’s genius … and marketing skills … and belief in his creation (and its immediate universal appeal) are all to Ross Bagdasarian’s credit.  When he died of a heart attack in 1972 (at the relatively young age of 52, just 11 days shy of his 53rd birthday), his son Ross, Jr., took the reigns and built the empire even bigger – issuing new musical releases, cartoons and even movies.  (Both generations did their best to keep The Chipmunks contemporary … after Dad Ross recorded his Beatles tribute, Son Ross kept the vibe going into the ‘80’s by recording Chipmunk versions of hits by Queen and Billy Joel … right on up thru the “Urban Chipmunk” album … “Mama, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Chipmunks” was even released as a single!)

The Chipmunks have been with us for 65 years now … and EVERY kid between now and then has grown up loving them and singing their songs.  (kk)

From CB (aka Chipmunk Boy) ...

Man, I WISH I had the time to go searching for it ... because it would serve as the absolutely PERFECT response to this ... but right now I don't even know where to begin to look ... plus I'd ultimately have to convert it to an MP3 from a very old cassette ... so all I can do right now is tell the story ...

Many, many years ago (I'm going to say early 1984 based on a time stamp reference mentioned below) Steve Dahl and Garry Meier were running a radio promotion that would allow a select number of listeners to travel with them for a week in Hawaii. The concept was "Sing Your Way To Hawaii" ... and I was all in!

Knowing that Dahl was also a huge Chipmunks fan, I recorded my own original song (simply called "Hawaii") where I sang along with The Chipmunks (or my recreation of them anyway) ... it really came out quite nicely (despite a rather macabre lyric stating "C'mon, we can all look for Dennis Wilson together" ... which I also added because I knew Dahl was a huge Beach Boys fan ... and Wilson had just drowned the previous December ... yeah, I know ... sick and clever, all at the same time!!!)

Anyway, it was good enough for Steve and Garry to play it on the air ... but not good enough to win the trip (and as such, I've still never been ... although youngest daughter Paige just got back from HER trip to the islands a few weeks ago!)

If it ever warms up to spring-like temperatures again (we had flurries and freeze warnings these past few days!) ... and I feel inspired ... I may scour the garage to see if I can find my copy of the cassette ... and then see if I can rig something up to burn it to a CD, transfer it to the computer and send it along.  It would have been SO timely to run MY response in response to YOUR timely response above.  (kk)

Voting for this year’s Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame candidates wraps up this Friday (April 28th)

Still leading the pack is George Michael … and by a fairly substantial margin.  (He should easily pass one million votes when the polls close on Friday)

The only others with half a million votes or more are Cyndi Lauper (850,000) and Warren Zevon (just under 600,000).  Iron Maiden is close (412,000) in fourth place … but early front-runners Willie Nelson and Sheryl Crow have fallen further down in the pack.  (The only other artist that I care enough to vote for would be The Spinners, who are currently in 10th place with right around 285,000 votes.)

You can still cast your vote here:

The guitar that Eddie Van Halen played in Van Halen’s music video “Hot For Teacher” just sold for $3.9 million at Sotheby’s Auction.  (A little too rich for my blood …  I dropped out at $3.6 million)  kk

The Rolling Stones have released their long-lost video for “Child Of The Moon,” the B-Side to their 1968 hit single “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.”

Directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg, the video for “Child Of The Moon” was shot on a farm near Enfield, outside north London.

Michael Lindsay-Hogg remembers conceptualizing the music video:


“I said to Mick Jagger, ‘I think we really need a white horse in the field. Think Fellini,’ because Fellini was the go-to guy in the ‘50s and the ‘60s for the odd ingredient in the shot, whether it was a clown in white face or a white horse. We all arrived at various times in this field looking onto a sort of clump of trees aiming up a little hill. Brian was late, which is sort of the reason Brian isn’t around for a while in the shot. Mick said, ‘Do you want me to mime?’ I said, ‘No. I think we want to try something even more different here. More radical. We intercut you with things that are happening up in the trees and make a little story.’ He was very savvy and very versed in film. He was willing to try this, and I don’t know if it had been done before, where you have a small scenario where you cut in the principals with something happening and stitch it together. I thought it would be interesting basically to have three ages of women coming out of the trees and Mick looking at them. Then the audience would become a participant in the video and start to make the story themselves. What’s interesting is we have a little girl, we have an older woman, and the middle woman was an actress friend of my girlfriend, Eileen Atkins and she now is Dame Eileen Atkins, one of the foremost actresses in the British theatre. The little girl runs off to the side, the older woman walks through the slightly wet ground and we see her go off and we see the white horse. Eileen Atkins is the one who retreats up back the way she came down, and she looks back at Mick with a look which you might describe as longing or anxious. Something in her look relates to Mick in a way we let the audience figure it out.”


Lindsay-Hogg recruited cinematographer Anthony B. Richmond for the shoot, who recalls:


“Michael said, ‘What are you doing Saturday? I’m going to do something with the Stones. Will you shoot it for me?’ And that was ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash.’ That was the Saturday, and the Sunday they went up to a farm near where I used to live in North London, and we did ‘Child of the Moon.’ We put Keith Richards in a tree, which I thought was amazing. At the end of the shoot, Brian Jones came with me and had a few beers at a pub. The waitress recognized him. She said, ‘I’d like an autograph for my daughter.’ He said, ‘Well I’m not a very good person. Are you sure?’”


“Child of the Moon” is part of The Rolling Stones and ABKCO’s ongoing effort to restore and officially release original music videos by the group. Last July, both versions of the aforementioned “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” were rolled out, followed by “We Love You” in August, both versions of “Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing in the Shadow?” in September, and “2000 Light Years From Home” in November. More Stones music videos restored in 4K are expected to be released later this year. 

(You can find all of the above clips on YouTube … and the COLOR version of the “Child Of The Moon” video is right below!)  kk


This Friday (April 28th) marks the 13th anniversary of the loss of a great musician and friend to many of us here in FH-Land.

From the mid-70s into the 90s I hung around with Deon Jackson, who I met when

he was the piano bar entertainer at Myron & Phil's restaurant in Lincolnwood. Around 1980, Deon moved up to Myron & Phil's other restaurant in the northern suburbs for a while, and then to Billy and Company (Billy was a nephew of Myron and Phil) in Wheeling. 

One night, around 1982, a young guy sat down at the piano bar, and when Deon got up to take a break, he asked Deon if it'd be OK to play the piano during the break. Deon said "Sure," and this young musician bowled us over with his talent. He came

back again the next week, and brought a guitar with him. He also sang.  He was an all-around great talent. His name was Mark Eskin.

There was a bar near Lincolnwood called Earthquake McGoon's, where Deon and I

would go for a drink after his shift at M & P's. After he finished playing at M & P's or Billy's, we'd meet at Earthquake's, and Mark would meet us there. Deon had a portable keyboard, and he and Mark would entertain the crowd.

After a while, Deon and Mark got together and recorded a simple tune that Deon had written while sitting at the recording studio. Deon and Mark were very popular at Earthquake's. On warm evenings, we'd take our drinks out on the sidewalk. There was a building next door to the bar, and we'd see groups of people come out and they'd be singing; they were GREAT!  We didn't realize, until after many weeks of hanging out there, that the building was Curtom Studios. We'd join in with the singers, and it was like a mini-soul concert.

I miss those days.

To add to the sadness, we also lost Deon, back on April 18th of 2014.

Mike Wolstein

Mark was a great guy who just LOVED music … and loved to entertain.  His death was an unexpected loss.  (I will never forget his wake service … it was a true celebration of life … with so many of Mark’s musician friends showing up to pay tribute and say goodbye.  It was literally non-stop entertainment of some great local celebs joining in the singing and playing festivities.


We wrote a short tribute to Mark shortly thereafter …


Sunday, April 23, 2023

Ooo - Eeee - Ooo - Ah - Ah

Witch Doctor came out 65 years ago this month. 

Makes me feel ancient.

Mike Wolstein

"Witch Doctor" premiered on Billboard's pre-Hot 100 Chart (it was simply called The Top 100 then!) at #36 in the issue dated April 14th, 1958.  Two weeks later, it was the #1 Record in the Country ... where it stayed for the next three weeks.

I have LONG campaigned for Ross Bagdasarian, better known to most of the world as David Seville, to be inducted into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame ... if not as an artist (although I find him completely deserving in this category as well), then as an innovator and early influence for creating the art of the sped up recording technique that ultimately led to the creation of The Chipmunks, Alvin, Simon and Theodore, after first pioneering this sound on his own #1 Hit, "Witch Doctor" in 1958.  (Later that same year The Chipmunks would ALSO hit #1 with the Christmas Classic "The Chipmunk Song," a record that has proven to be as enduring as The Chipmunks themselves.)

Bagdasarian, a sometimes songwriter, actor, arranger, jazz pianist and record producer (he wrote Rosemary Clooney's 1951 #1 Hit "Come On-A My House" and starred in the films "Rear Window" ... where he played the piano player ... and "Stalag 17" among others) voiced all three Chipmunk characters (named after Liberty Records Executives Alvin Bennett, Simon Waronker and Theodore Keep) on record by recording his own voice and all of the musical accompaniment in "real time" but slowing down the tape speed by half when singing the Chipmunk vocals.  It was Ross' sense of humor that breathed life into the three "rodents" (originally drawn that way) making them charismatic enough to inspire life for the next 65+ years as cartoon characters on television, movies, sound recordings and countless merchandising memorabilia that continues on to this day (not to mention successful "spin-offs" such as The Chipettes, who ALSO enjoyed their run on both the small and big screen.)  It is estimated that Chipmunks-related merchandise has generated in excess of over $250 Million over the past several decades, all filtering back to Chipmunk Enterprises, which Bagdasarian founded way back when.  Ross also created and produced the popular CBS Television Series "The Alvin Show," which is probably how most of my generation remembers Alvin, Simon and Theodore.  To say this man had a vision ... and capitalized on it ... just may be the understatement of the year.  (As far back as 1959, Life Magazine noted that Bagdasarian was the first case in the "annals of popular music that one man has served as writer, composer, publisher, conductor and multiple vocalist of a hit record, thereby directing all possible revenues from the song back into his pocket.") 

By the very definition of The Rock Hall's mission statement, Ross took music in a new, innovative direction, previously unexplored ... and achieved a success level enjoyed by very, very few.  (I remember playing the heck out of my "The Chipmunks Sing The Beatles Hits" album when I was a kid.  Although it was their version of "All My Lovin'" that charted in October of 1964, MY main track was "From Me To You" ... because it was the ONLY Beatles hit record I didn't own at the time ... so I had to substitute it with The Chipmunks' version whenever I sat down to play all of my favorite Beatles hits!)

His pioneering recording effort has proven timeless and enduring, entertaining EVERY generation of listener ever since.  "The Chipmunk Song" alone has charted half a dozen times over the past 65 holiday seasons ... and the images and personalities of Alvin, Simon and Theodore are recognized today by everyone from the age of 2 to 100.  (Their version of "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer" has also proven to remain quite popular.)  How is it even REMOTELY possible that David Seville / Ross Bagdasarian has never been so much as considered as a worthy candidate for The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame???

The Rock Hall really needs to take the blinders off and broaden their vision in order to include and consider ALL worthy aspects of the recording industry and remain true to their original purpose. (Perhaps this expanded vision might help to allow them to maintain at least SOME sense of relevance in the process.)  kk


The original Chipmunks Christmas Picture Sleeve ...

The Chipmunks that I grew up with, thanks to "The Alvin Show"

Movie Stars!!!