If I were to conservatively estimate the number of times I’ve seen the movie “Moonstruck” with Cher, it would have to be somewhere between fifteen and twenty times, which means that I’ve heard the song “It Must Be Him” at least a hundred times. Actually, I heard it a lot more than that back in 1967 when it was nominated for three Grammy Awards. The song was made famous by Florencia Bisenta de Casillas-Martinez Cardona although we know her as Vikki Carr, our Episode Twenty-Six guest. She was a frequent musical guest on major network variety shows including Dean Martin, Ed Sullivan, Perry Como, and Carol Burnett. As a humanitarian, Vikki’s list of accomplishments is equally as impressive. Her commitment to education and leadership development for Latino youth extends throughout her career. She established the Vikki Carr Scholarship Foundation which is based in Texas and offers scholarships to Latino students who want to pursue their dreams of a college education. So far, more than 300 scholarships have been awarded to students attending the Nation’s leading universities. Visit Vikki Carr at www.vikkicarr.com.
Peter Welker, (Episode One guest) was on one of our first shows and a fabulous horn player from the Bay Area. Peter has played with, and done arrangements for many of the recording artists from the 60's like Santana, Huey Lewis, Van Morrison, and Jerry Garcia. His jazz album, Paradise is Awfully Nice is a knockout - get it on Amazon. Photo courtesy of Tina Abbaszadeh.
As a teen-ager, Burt Ward, our Episode Thirteen guest, had all the makings of a true boy wonder; all-around athlete, martial arts, wrestling, track, tennis and golf, combined with a sharp intellect – he was the key player on his chess team for Beverly Hills High School. After that, he signed with a Hollywood agent who got him a screen test with Adam West. Burt happened to be a brown belt in karate at the time and he did some falls and tumbles for the producer. Six weeks later, he won the role of Robin, the Boy Wonder in the new Batman TV series for ABC. Believe it or not, in 1966, the Batman series only lasted three years. You’d never know that now with all the continuing interest in Batman. But there was another career awaiting Burt, who along with his wife Tracy started Gentle Giants Rescue 22 years ago. In that time, they’ve saved the lives of 16,000 dogs. Visit their website at www.gentlegiantsrescue.com.
Santa Cruz, CA - Beach Street and the Cocoanut Grove. Cruising the drag. Photo courtesy of Covello and Covello Historical Collection.
Picture yourself in Studio One at Western Recorders on Sunset in Hollywood. The room is gradually filling up with some of the finest musicians in the world, often referred to only as the Wrecking Crew. There’s the drummer Hal Blaine, and on guitar, Glen Campbell, and the only female bass player to ever work in that studio, Carol Kaye. Perry Botkin’s on the podium, his hands go up, his baton kicks off the beat, and forty musicians launch into Perry’s arrangement of the song Anything Goes for Harpers Bizarre which ultimately hits Number One on the Billboard Easy Listening chart. How many times Perry’s baton launched hit records is hard to track, but we’re going to get the inside scoop from the man himself, Perry Botkin, Jr., our Episode Nineteen guest.
Who remembers the song “I Met Him on a Sunday? Well, we’re going to meet her today. “Her” is Beverly Lee who’s been with the Shirelles from the very beginning. Beverly and the Shirelles have performed on five continents and appeared before many heads of state and U.S. Presidents, but first up, we tend to think of Dawn Wells in the role of Mary Ann on Gilligan’s Island, although she also appeared in various TV episodes from the early ‘60s like Hawaiian Eye, 77 Sunset Strip, Maverick, and Bonanza. Today, she runs a business called Wishing Wells Collections, making clothing for people with limited mobility, and she’s the founder of the Idaho Film and Television Institute. Visit our Episode Twenty-Eight guest Dawn Wells at www.dawnwells.com and Beverly Lee at www.theshirellesofficial.com.
Interesting footnote about Ben Fong-Torres. When his father emigrated to the United States from China, his surname was Fong, but he changed it to Torres and posed as a Filipino in order to avoid prosecution under the Chinese Exclusion Act which restricted Chinese immigration. Ben’s sister, Shirley who passed away in 2011 founded the well-known Bay Area company Wok Wiz Chinatown Tours which continues today run by Shirley’s daughter, Tina. Ben seems to have a pedigree totally of his own making. He graduated from San Francisco State in the mid-sixties and went on to become the senior editor for Rolling Stone magazine. He’s authored a number of books – the one I just read is called The Hits Just Keep On Coming, a history of Top 40 radio. We talk about some of the classic interviews he’s conducted for Rolling Stone and the awards he’s won for magazine writing. You can visit our Episode Thirty-Eight guest at www.rollingstone.com/contributor/ben-fong-torres.
You might wonder how many backup singers actually make it on their own. Well, there were two girls that sang backup on a song that became a major hit in 1970. The song, Band of Gold. The lead singer, Freda Payne. In addition to the two backup singers on that record, Freda’s sister, Sherrie, sang backup too. Sherrie went on to become one of the Supremes, and those other two backup singers? They formed a group called Tony Orlando and Dawn. Freda is our first guest on Episode Twenty-Three and then, next up, imagine you’ve spent fifty years in show biz. You’re in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame, and the Grammy Hall of Fame. Who would you be? None other than Felix Cavaliere of the Rascals. They had 5 Top Ten Hits in the Sixties including “Groovin’,” “Good Lovin’,” “It’s a Beautiful Morning,” “How Can I Be Sure,” and “People Got To Be Free.” We talk with Freda and Felix on Episode Twenty-Three. Visit Freda at www.fredapayne.com and Felix at www.felixcavalieremusic.com.
Edward Torchy Smith, (Episode One guest) is the host of Baby Boomers Talk Radio. Check out his show online at www.babyboomerstalkradio.com and listen to the many interviews he's done with TV stars from the 60's like Paul Petersen, Johnny Crawford and many of the Mouseketeers. Photo courtesy of Edward Torchy Smith.
Sandy Deane, our Episode Eleven guest (that's him on the right above) has been with Jay and the Americans since their inception back in the early Sixties and the hits never stopped coming – Only in America, Come a Little Bit Closer, Cara Mia, and This Magic Moment. Would you believe they were one of the bands that was on the bill when the Beatles played their first concert in the U.S. at the Washington Coliseum in 1964? I’ve got a ton of questions for Sandy and he has a raft load of ‘60s rock stories for us on today’s show. Visit Jay and the Americans at www.jayandtheamericans.net.
BMI, which is Broadcast Music, Inc., one of the companies that tracks airplay for recording artists so they can calculate royalties recently presented Tommy James with an award for his music being played more than 21 million times on the air. Tommy’s book, “Me, the Mob, and the Music” is on Rolling Stone’s Top 25 Best Music Memoirs List and is now in development for a film. Lots of great stuff happening for Tommy James and the Shondells – I listened to his “Live” CD which was recorded at the Bitter End, New York City’s oldest rock club in Greenwich Village and the hits just kept on coming. I think most of the songs on the CD became Top 40 hits. We’re going to talk about that music and his association with Morris Levy who started Roulette Records, the label that their first Number One hit, Hanky Panky was on. And we’re going to hear a bit more about Morris Levy, also known as the Godfather of the music business. Visit our Episode Twenty-Seven guest Tommy James at www.tommyjames.com.
On this week’s Episode Eighteen, we meet three different stars. The festivities begin with Florence La Rue of the 5th Dimension, pictured top left, one of their original members who is still performing today. Then we’re shifting the tone to San Francisco and the Sixties music scene recalling, among others, dj Big Daddy Tom Donahue. We’re talking with Tom’s wife, Raechel Donahue, bottom, who remembers not only those exciting times, but she became an entertainment reporter for CNN and is today the host of her own internet radio show. Finally, who can forget Hang On Sloopy? Our last segment is with Rick Derringer, top right, of the McCoys who’s appeared on numerous albums with Steely Dan, Air Supply, and Cindy Lauper.
Dr. Joel Wallach, our Episode Twenty-Five guest is a biomedical research pioneer that has spent decades in the field of Veterinary Medicine observing and researching the effects of individual nutrients on animal health. He became a Naturopathic Physician in 1982 and today, Doc Wallach is renowned for his groundbreaking research on the health benefits of selenium and other minerals. He now dedicates part of his time to lecturing throughout the world on the therapeutic benefits of vitamins and minerals and on advising the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on behalf of the dietary supplement industry. Some twenty years ago, he founded a company called American Longevity, which today is known as Youngevity, a company that provides products that benefit health conscious consumers. On this show, we focus on the Baby Boomer generation because most of my listeners are in that age group and we want to look at how people in their 50’s and up deal with their health issues.
From his first days as lead guitarist for a group called The Centuries, Carl Giammarese (bottom left) has been at home on stage in Chicago teen clubs where he contributed his lead guitar and Beatles look to their sound. In 1965, WGN-TV sponsored a contest looking for a band to perform on an upcoming show. By that time, the Centuries had changed their name to The Pulsations and they won the spot but were quickly renamed again The Buckinghams, as a response to the wave of the British Invasion sweeping the country. The journey of a lifetime began when Giammarese watched their single, "Kind of a Drag," soar to #1 on the national charts in a matter of weeks. That one achievement would change his life forever, launching a 4-decade career in the music industry. Carl is our Episode Twenty-Four guest. Visit the Buckinghams at www.thebuckinghams.com.
The Standells are considered by many to be the godfathers of punk rock. The group was formed in 1962 by guitarist Tony Valentino and keyboardist and lead vocalist, our Episode Fifteen guest, Larry Tamblyn (inset above). Their first hit single on Tower Records "Dirty Water" reached #11 on the Billboard charts. Before they had that hit, they made several recordings for Vee Jay Records, one of which was produced by Sonny Bono with Cher singing the backup vocals. Show biz runs in the family because Larry’s brother, Russ Tamblyn first became known for his role in 1954’s Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Visit their website at www.standells-official.com.
Papa Doo Run Run back in the early days. Do you suppose there was some Beach Boys influence here? Photo courtesy of Don Zirilli.
Bob Ray, (Episode Four guest) can be heard on bossbossradio.com weekdays from 9 to noon. Bob is not only a professional photographer who hosts guided tours to Italy (www.pictureperfectitaly.com) but also an absolute authority on 1960's music and was a nominee for rock and roll DJ in the Bay Area Radio Hall of Fame. Photo courtesy of Bob Ray
Dick Scoppettone of Harpers Bizarre returns to the scene fifty years later. The archivist at the Cocoanut Grove brought out this original concert poster dating to the mid-sixties. The Tikis eventually changed their name to Harpers Bizarre. Admission $2.00 - those were the good old days. Photo courtesy of Ted Whiting.
Kevin Conway (Episode Five guest) is the purveyor of Conway's Vintage Treasures which specializes in vintage movie posters, historical and sports memorabilia and rare celebrity autographs. Check out his site, www.cvtreasures.com to see all the great items he's got for sale. The photo above is Kevin when he was on the Pawn Stars show selling his "Hiding Houdini" book to Rick Harrison. Photo courtesy of Pawn Stars.
Peter Boam, (Episode Three guest) Bay Area disc jockey at KLIV in San Jose back in 1969. The color inset is Peter B - Mister Smooth today. Listen to Peter B weeknights from 6 to 10 on www.bossbossradio.com. Photo courtesy of Peter Boam. (Postscript: Sadly, Peter B died in May of 2019.)
What do you think of when you hear somebody say, “Gimme a ticket for an aeroplane, ain’t got time to take a fast train."? Well, if you remember the Sixties like I do, you think of The Boxtops. The Letter was an international hit in September of 1967, reaching Billboard’s Number 1 slot and staying there for four straight weeks. The Boxtops’ bass player, Bill Cunningham, above (Episode Ten guest) was already from a musical family in Memphis, though he was yet to find out how many career changes he would go through over the years. But we’ll find out on today’s show. Visit the Boxtops at www.boxtops.com.
It’s pretty hard to get past “Spooky”, “Stormy”, and ”Traces”, without knowing that you’re listening to the Classics IV. During the ‘60s, when they were touring as Dennis Yost and the Classics IV, each one of those three songs sold over a million records. Dennis died in 1968 at the age of 65 and his long-time friend Tom Garrett (Episode Nine guest) found himself center stage taking over the vocals. And in the photo above, he's quite literally center stage (with Dennis Yost on his left and Tony Butala of the Lettermen on his right). Photo courtesy of Tom Garrett. Visit the Classics IV at www.theclassicsiv.com.
John Claude Gummoe (Episode Seven guest) is the man who wrote and sang the monster hit, Rhythm of the Rain with his group, the Cascades. He's still active today, playing concerts as far away as the Philippines. Rhythm of the Rain is one of the "Top 100 Songs of the Century" coming in at #9. His website is www.rhythmoftherain.com and he's on Facebook too. Photo courtesy of John Claude Gummoe.
Deana Martin’s latest album is called Swing Street and it’s a collection of songs which capture the essence of someone who is equally at ease performing Hoagy Carmichael’s “Georgia On My Mind,” or singing Billy Joel’s “New York State of Mind.” It’s a knockout of an album which she recorded in one of Hollywood’s most famous rooms, Capitol Records Studio A, the legendary home of Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Barbara Streisand, and of course, Deana’s father, Dean Martin. This week we get a chance to talk about her best-selling book, Memories are Made of This: Dean Martin Through His Daughters Eyes which may soon hit the big screen directed by Joe Mantegna. She has been determined to step out from her famous father’s shadow and launch her own career which thus far has encompassed a wealth of stage experience including roles in Romeo & Juliet and The Taming of the Shrew. She’s working in clubs and concert venues all over the country and we’ll find out where she’s going to be performing next. Her book title, Memories Are Made Of This is also the song title of her father’s very first #1 hit - and she was in the studio when he recorded it. Lots of memories and famous names happening here so you're going to enjoy this one. You can visit our Episode Thirty-Three guest at www.deanamartin.com.
Remember this lyric: “You might wake up some morning to the sound of something moving past your window in the wind.” That song, “Elusive Butterfly” spent three weeks at Number Two in 1966 and made its writer and singer, Bob Lind, who had come out of the declining Denver folk music scene, one of the hottest properties around. Bob and I have something in common: he first auditioned that tune for a young record producer named Lenny Waronker who would shortly become the producer of my group, Harpers Bizarre and Feelin’ Groovy. We talk with Bob, Episode Sixteen guest, some fifty years later about that “elusive” butterfly of love and about his current resurgence as a writer and singer. Visit his website at www.boblind.com.
In the Sixties, we used to call them “promo guys”, record promotion men that would take your record to radio stations and get them to play it. Jeff Trager was a promo guy who got the stations to play a lot of records by artists like Steppenwolf, Ray Charles, Tom Jones, the Mamas and the Papas, the Isley Brothers, and Ike and Tina Turner. Jeff once said, “I realized I was making a difference in peoples’ lives when Tina Turner called me into her dressing room and thanked me for getting their record on the air.” That success was almost immediately followed by Jeff pushing a song by an unknown group called the Moody Blues. The song was “Nights in White Satin”. To learn more about Jeff, our Episode Twenty-Two guest, visit www.jefftragerpresents.net.
With a last name like Scoppettone, you can probably guess that I come from Italian heritage. Well, I want you to meet someone else with an Italian name, although you probably wouldn’t recognize it - Concetta Rosa Maria Franconero – she started out as an accordion player. When I first saw her perform, I was fifteen and she lit up the ballroom at the Cocoanut Grove in Santa Cruz, CA, but not with an accordion. Back then, like today, she was also known as Connie Francis. Throughout the Sixties, Connie remained a top box office draw and, despite several “interruptions” in her career, she’s still active today. And she's our Episode 20 guest. Visit Connie Francis at www.conniefrancis.com.
The Lettermen name first appeared in February 1958 on the marquee of the Desert Inn Hotel in Las Vegas where our guest today, Tony Butala, Episode Seventeen guest (center above) and his group starred in a revue of the 1920’s and 30’s. By the early ‘60s, the Lettermen were starting to crank out the big hits on their own. First there was “The Way You Look Tonight”, and from there it just got better. “When I Fall in Love”, “Theme from a Summer Place”, “Goin’ Out of My Head/Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You”, and then in 1969, “Hurt So Bad”. They made some 200 appearances on television shows like Dick Clark’s American Bandstand, Shindig, and Hullabaloo. They’ve never stopped recording and performing although Tony is the only original member left. They’re booked right straight through the summer and into the fall. Visit his website at www.thelettermen.com.
Jim Foster (Episode Eight guest) is the Facebook '60s music fan who spends his weekends traveling the country to see his favorite artists perform their hit songs from the Swingin' Sixties. Here's a shot of Jim (left) with Sonny Turner of the Platters. Check out his site on Facebook at http://facebook.com/jwfosterkc to find out more about all of the Oldies shows he attends. Photo courtesy of James W. Foster.
Every summer when I was in high school, we used to make our annual trip from Santa Cruz down to southern California and hit all of the surf spots along the way. We’d stop at the Rendezvous Ballroom in Newport Beach to hear Dick Dale and the Deltones and then on to Laguna Beach High School to hear Bruce Brown in person narrating his surf movies. There was always those close-up shots of toes hanging ten backed up by probably the most famous surf song ever recorded: Wipeout. The band was the Surfaris, and the guitar man was Bob Berryhill, Episode Fourteen guest who's pictured above with his wife and sons. They're still out there doing concerts. Visit their website at www.thesurfaris.com.
Santa Cruz, CA - Miss California Pageant from the 1950's. The pageant was held in Santa Cruz every year from 1924 to 1985. Photo courtesy of Covello and Covello Historical Collection.
Alan Haber (Episode Six guest) is the host of Alan Haber's Pure Pop Radio which is the 24-hour Internet radio station playing the greatest melodic pop music from the '60s to today. Listen to Alan's show at www.purepopradio.com. Photo courtesy of Mrs. Haber.
The Tikis (c. 1965) playing at the Cocoanut Grove in Santa Cruz, CA. Band members (L to R) Dick Yount, bass; Eddie James, lead guitar; Ted Templeman, drums; and Dick Scoppettone, rhythm guitar. The band later changed its name to Harpers Bizarre. Unknown photo credit.
In 1970, Motown started an affiliated record label that included certain bands with white members only, and Rare Earth happened to be the first big hit-making act signed for Motown’s new imprint label. The record company didn’t actually have a name for the new label yet and one of the band members jokingly suggested that they call the label Rare Earth. To the band’s surprise, Motown decided to do just that and what followed was Rare Earth on Rare Earth. And what followed THAT was “Get Ready” and “I Just Want to Celebrate”. Peter Rivera, Episode Twelve guest, their drummer for those exciting years, can be visited at www.peterrivera.com.
Papa Doo Run Run with Dick Clark. Papa Doo was formed in the late 60's and is still performing concerts nearly fifty years later. They are the hottest Beach Boy cover band in the country, regularly playing to sellout crowds. Don Zirilli (Episode Two guest) is on the far right. Their website is www.papadoo.com. Photo courtesy of Margie Dorr.
Jay Boone opened the doors of Emerald City Guitars in the summer of 1996, and has never looked back. After spending years in the Seattle music scene, Jay got into music retail managing and co-owning several shops in the area. He said, “When I opened my doors over 20 years ago, a lot of people told me the vintage market was dead, but I was pretty sure it wasn’t.” Jay has managed to make Emerald City Guitars one of the most highly acclaimed vintage guitar shops in the country, counting many bona-fide super stars as his personal clients . He goes on to say, “We always try to keep it down home and friendly at the shop, while maintaining a high level of professionalism and service.” He’s been in countless bands over the years and still manages to fit gigs into his busy lifestyle as a husband, father, business owner, and friend to all who know him. Visit our Episode Twenty-Nine guest at www.emeraldcityguitars.com.
In 1960, the Starliters were noticed by an agent in a New Jersey night club who proceeded to book them on 45th Street in New York City at the Peppermint Lounge. It was supposed to be just for a one-time weekend, but as it turned out, the actress Merle Oberon spent much of the night dancing with a prince, and the next morning, the newspapers were abuzz with that relationship. The next night it took barricades and mounted police to keep the crowds in line and all of a sudden the Peppermint Lounge with Joey Dee and the Starliters became the celebrity hotspot. Joey wrote the Peppermint Twist as a tribute to the lounge and it scored Number One on the U.S. charts in 1962. Joey, Episode Sixteen guest, is still performing today and his group includes several of his family members. Visit him at www.joeydee.com.
Corny and the Corvettes (c. 1965.) Band members (L to R) Dick Yount, guitar; special guest Lionel Hampton; Cornelius Bumpus, saxophone. The other two are unknown. In later years, Corny was the sax player for the Doobie Brothers. Dick Yount went on to become part of Harpers Bizarre. Photo courtesy Covello and Covello Historical Collection.
The Syndicate of Sound was an American garage rock band formed in San Jose, CA from 1964 to 1970. They played summer nights in the 60's at the Cocoanut Grove in Santa Cruz. Their hit single Little Girl was released in 1966. Their website is www.syndicateofsoundband.com. Photo attribution unknown.
It may have been one of the most well-known rock interviews of the ‘80s when Dave Sholin and his crew arrived at the Dakota apartments in New York City for an interview with John and Yoko. After the interview, Dave caught a flight back to the Bay Area and Lennon stopped in the courtyard to autograph a record for a stranger in an overcoat. Later that evening, Dec. 8, 1980, John Lennon was pronounced dead at Roosevelt Hospital.
Dave Sholin, aka "The Duke", our Episode Twenty-One guest has said, “John Lennon got into music because he loved rock ‘n roll. That whole rebellious side of shaking things up. ‘All You Need Is Love,’ ‘Give Peace A Chance,’ ‘Power To The People,’ you think of these songs and you hear that he was not afraid to step on toes to say what he had to say.” And Sholin continued, “That afternoon that we met, he just couldn’t wait for the next challenge and he was ready to take it on.”