Saturday, July 22, 2023


Forgotten hits

We lost an American Institution yesterday when singer Tony Bennett passed away.

(Kevork Djansezian / Associated Press)

He was 96 years old yet still able to carry a tune in the classiest way, as he proved on his final collaboration with (of all people) Lady Gaga a few years ago.  (Somehow, these two just jelled … and watching and listening to them was pure magic.  I have said from the beginning that Gaga didn’t need a gimmick to get her talent across … but who knows if it would have been recognized as quickly and to the degree that it was had she not grabbed the world’s attention in some other way.)

Bennett was the singer’s singer.  As early as the 1950’s when Tony first started having hits, Frank Sinatra touted him as his favorite singer.  (Over the years, Bennett remade dozens of songs (including an entire album) first popularized by Ol’ Blue Eyes.)  Yet his success on the pop charts during the era that we typically cover here in Forgotten Hits (1955 – 1989) was somewhat limited, despite 66 national chart entries during that time period.  Even his signature tune, “I Left My Heart In San Francisco,” a song he will forever be associated with, only peaked at #19 when it was released in 1962.  (“I Left My Heart In San Francisco” was inducted into The Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1994.)

But between 1951 and 1954, before the Rock and Roll / Forgotten Hits Era began, Bennett had three #1 Billboard hits:  “Because Of You” (his first chart hit out of the box in 1951, #1 for eight weeks … and on the charts for an incredible 32!), “Cold, Cold Heart” (his MOR take on the Hank Williams classic, #1 for six weeks later that same year) and “Rags To Riches,” #1 for six weeks in 1953.

The best, most concise death notice I read was the very first one that I received from TV Line …

It really says it all:  Twenty Grammy Awards, Fifty Million Albums sold, a career that spanned more than 70 years, during which time it was revitalized and introduced to a whole new, hip generation.  During that time, he released an incredible 61 studio albums and 11 live albums.  Four of these:  I Left My Heart in San Francisco” (1962), “MTV Unplugged: Tony Bennett” (1994), “Duets: An American Classic” (2006) andDuets II” (2011) were certified platinum.  His last release, “Love For Sale,” a collaboration with Lady Gaga, was released in 2021.  Bennett received the Recording Academy’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001.

[Read the whole article here:]

Billboard Magazine ran a list of Tony Bennett’s fifteen biggest chart hits in rank order based on overall performance in their trade publication:

(I love the line about how, when Tony Bennett was born, Calvin Coolidge was President!  Lol)

My own personal favorite Tony Bennett song was the B-Side “I Am,” which somehow charted at #35 in Cash Box … but only made it to #93 in Billboard.  It was the flipside of Tony’s 1957 Top Ten Hit “In The Middle Of An Island,” another one of my favorites.  (This record was another one of those “hand me downs” that I got from my neighbor Sharon Kolar.  She was several years older than me … but when she saw that I had already developed a deep love of listening to music at an early age, she would give me her old records that she no longer listened to.  I played the heck out of both sides of this one, songs I probably never would have been exposed to were it not for her old 45, as I don’t think I’ve ever heard EITHER of these tunes played on the radio!)  kk


Since I started working in the NYC radio market in 1988, I couldn't tell you how many times I ran into Tony Bennett.  Since he lived in Manhattan, I would see him at benefits, industry events, radio station visits, in-stores and a children's hospital. 


But no matter the event, it was always Tony Bennett, the soft spoken, polite and charismatic singer.


When I was VP of Programming at NY's WPLJ-FM, we hosted an in-store across the street from Radio City Music Hall. Tony couldn't autograph everyone's CDs in the allocated time.  More fans than anticipated showed up.  He instructed his publicist to re-arrange his afternoon. He didn't want to leave before greeting every fan in line.


Each time he visited the WPLJ studios, he would bring his sketch pad and a

pencil.  He would draw while waiting to do an interview and during

commercial breaks, often drawing the DJ who was interviewing him.


Every Christmas the last morning show of the year (Scott Shannon and Todd Pettengill) we would do live broadcast from Blythedale Children's Hospital in Westchester County.  We would ask artists to help us every Christmas and perform for the kids who wouldn't be home for Christmas and help us raise money for the hospital.  We were fortunate to have everyone from Dave Matthews and John Mayer to Jon Bon Jovi and Rob Thomas.  But one of the most special moments was having Tony and his piano player perform at 8 am in the morning, thanks to the help of Columbia's sensational promo guy, Pete Cosenza.  And on top of his incredible performance, Tony donated one of his drawings for the hospital auction.


-Tom Cuddy


Also from Tom ...

Congratulations to Me-TV-FM … who have now been granted “permanent residency” at 87.7 FM here in Chicago.  (The fact that they’re also now streaming means that connoisseurs of great oldies music programming can now enjoy their sounds all over the world!)  kk 

Listen Live here:

Tune in this weekend to hear them play Eye Tunes … another feature first developed by Forgotten Hits that has proven to be a very popular special weekend treat!  (kk)

The New York Times has just run an obituary for Dick Biondi ...

Here's hoping that Pam Pulice's documentary will be shown sooner rather than later to pay tribute to the legendary dee jay!  (kk)

Barack Obama has published his latest Summer Playlist …

Talk about some eclectic taste!

Barack Obama’s Summer 2023 Playlist:

J Hus and Drake: “Who Told You”
SZA: “Snooze”
Pretenders: “I’ll Stand By You”
Rosalía & Rauw Alejandro: “Vampiros”
Luke Combs: “Fast Car”
Tupac, Roger, & Dr. Dre: “California Love”
Leonard Cohen: “Dance Me to the End of Love (Live)”
Martha Reeves & the Vandellas: “Nowhere to Run”
Nobigdyl.: “Parabolic!”
Jorja Smith: “Try Me”
Burna Boy, 21 Savage: “Sittin’ on Top of the World”
Janet Jackson: “Got ’Til It’s Gone”
La Doña: “Penas con Pan”
The Bangles: “Walk Like an Egyptian”
The Beths: “Watching the Credits”
The War and Treaty: “That’s How Love Is Made”
The Rolling Stones: “Soul Survivor”
Aretha Franklin: “Dr. Feelgood (Love Is a Serious Business)”
John Coltrane: “Blue Train”
Ice Spice, Nicki Minaj: “Princess Diana”
Toots and the Maytals: “Funky Kingston”
The Righteous Brothers: “Unchained Melody”
Stevie Wonder:  “Golden Lady”
Jackson Browne: “Doctor My Eyes”
Ayra Starr: “Sability”
Boygenius: “Not Strong Enough”
Otis Redding: “(Sittin’ On) the Dock of the Bay”
Bob Dylan: “Everything Is Broken”
Ella Fitzgerald: “Cry Me a River”
Yng Lvcas & Peso Pluma: “LA Bebe (Remix”
Money Man & Babyface Ray: “Drums”
Nas: “The World Is Yours”
Four Tops: “Reach Out I’ll Be There”
Pearl Jam: “Just Breathe”
J’calm: “Tempted”
Kelela: “Contact”
Marvin Gaye: “Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)”
Ike & Tina Turner: “River Deep/Moutain High”
Janelle Monáe: “Only Have Eyes 42”
Ashley McBride: “The Devil I Know”
Michael Kiwanuka: “Love & Hate”

Model / Actresss Jane Birkin died last Sunday (July 16th)

Birkin scored a #1 British hit in early 1970 when she recorded the song “Je T’Aime … Moi Non Plus” with her then-lover Serge Gainsbourg.  The recording simulated her having sex and ultimately achieving and orgasm.  (Here in The States it peaked at #58 in Billboard … and only #92 in Cash Box, where it charted for just two weeks, as opposed to TEN in Billboard.  Yet another great chart anomaly.)  “Je T’Aime” was originally written to be recorded with Serge’s PREVIOUS lover, Brigette Bardot, in 1967, but the record was never released as Bardot was married to someone else at the time.

Birkin most famously starred in the film “Blow Up” … and ironically later starred in a film with Bardot, “Don Juan, or If Don Juan Were a Woman.”

“Je T’Aime”’s British chart run was one of wonder …

The song, originally released on the Fontana label, reached #2 at which point it was banned!  The demand for the record was still so great that it was quickly reissued by Major Minor, and ultimately hit #1, selling over three million copies.  This despite no further airplay!

Birkin lent her name to one of the most famous fashion bags in history.

Marianne Faithfull, another British ‘60’s “IT” Girls, made this statement when hearing of Jane’s death …

Dearest Jane has gone. I admired her as an artist so much and I’m very glad we got to work together. I hope people remember that she made some of her best albums in recent years. She was so proud of continuing Serge’s musical legacy on all those wonderful records and now that’s part of her legacy too; how fitting.

We first met several lifetimes ago – and from that day I always thought she possessed such beauty and style- effortlessly, too, which we all know is the hardest thing to pull off. How I wanted to look like her and be like her! Her style will endure, of course, but she was a dear friend and I will always love her.  I miss her already so very, very much.

Farewell my Jane, fly on.

Love Marianne 


Shelley Sweet-Tufano sent us this update on the newly created Beatles tune …

Speaking of The Beatles …

>>>Gee ... I wonder if Paul Jones ever got tired of being right all the time??? (kk)

Columnist Paul Jones (d. 1974) was based at the Philadelphia Bulletin, which I used to deliver on Sunday for many years. (My local paper was years away from a Sunday edition, and no one locally wanted to read the nearby Allentown paper!) Those papers were LOADED with advertising inserts and other stuff, and you have NO clues how much they weighed! By the early 80s, I needed hernia surgery!!

--Bob Frable

I guess Paul McCartney can’t cram enough into his day.

Besides pretty much non-stop promoting his new photo book “Eye Of The Storm,” come September, he’ll start a new Podcast, with each episode devoted to one of his songs, tying in nicely with the publication of the paperback edition of his Lyrics book (which, by the way, will have additional songs not profiled in the original hard cover edition that we all shelled out big bucks for!)

The new series hasn’t even started yet and they’ve already announced a second season kicking off in February.

The first twelve episodes (which begin airing September 20th … although serious fans will be able to subscribe and binge all twelve episodes once the series launches) will include looks back at the McCartney tunes “Eleanor Rigby,” “Back in the USSR,” “Let It Be,” “When Winter Comes,” “Penny Lane,” “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey,” “Here Today,” “Live and Let Die,” “Magical Mystery Tour,” “Jenny Wren,” “Too Many People,” and “Helter Skelter.” Season 2 will air an additional twelve episodes beginning in February of 2024.   (kk)

Binge link:  Pushkin+ subscription

And in Beatles-related news, Tom Cuddy sent us this one …

Peter Frampton, Joe Perry and Alice Cooper look back at bonkers 'Sgt. Pepper' movie, 45 years later: 'It was consistently horrible to the point where it was great'

I’ve STILL never made it all the way thru this film in one sitting … I just can’t take it!  (lol) 

No, seriously … that’s no joke … I haven’t!  (But I WILL admit to liking a few of the remakes the soundtrack contains … but quite honestly, I probably haven’t listened to THAT in a couple of decades either!  (kk)

>>>I’m gonna add #26 to that list of items about ABBA from Shelley’s concert review posted on 7/20 (Mike Wolstein)




And how many of you out there knew this about the World’s Oldest Record Store???

photo by Ashil Todd

The story just may surprise you!


Melanie “The Magic Bus” Previously Unreleased Live Radio Broadcast Limited Edition CD Now Available

Y&T Music is very proud to announce the upcoming release of a rare and previously unreleased live radio show from April, 1972, by legendary singer-songwriter, Melanie. This 52 year old recording has never been heard before and features Melanie being interviewed by the late Curtis Schwartz at WBUS in Miami, Florida. Melanie performs 10 songs during her visit to the station and the tape has been restored and mastered by Beau Jarred Shekeryk to achieve the best possible quality. This album is limited to 1,000 copies.

I have gotten over being in competition with my past. I now immerse myself into every precious moment of the here and now. But every so often, I can sit back and listen to the young Melanie and enjoy it. I hope you will as well.  This is my gift to all of you who have supported me all these years – ‘The Magic Bus’ recordings.” - Melanie

Y&T Music has previously released by several artists, including The Mavericks, Mary Karlzen, For Squirrels, Eric Andersen, Arlan Feiles, Amanda Green, Sweet Lizzy Project, Mandy Marylane, Charlie Pickett along with tribute albums by Pete Ham and folk troubadours Fred Neil and Jim Wurster.

The Songs
Six String
Center Of The Circle
Some Say I Got Devil
Hearing the News
Any Guy
My Deep Down Is Low
Ring The Living Bell
What Wondrous Love

To purchase:

Taylor Swift just continues to set and break Billboard chart records …

We thought we’d end today with a Kinky Emma Peel video, which we just happened to catch on the Best Classic Bands website …