Connie-O by The Four Seasons

#491: Connie-O by The Four Seasons

Peak Month: January 1963
9 weeks on Vancouver’s CFUN chart
Peak Position #3
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart
YouTube.com: “Connie-O
“Connie-O” lyrics

Pianist Bob Gaudio was born in The Bronx in 1942. At 14 years of age he co-founded The Royals. Gaudio had been playing piano since he turned eight in 1950. Gaudio was born in November 1942 in Bergenfield, New Jersey. The Royals opened for a local New Jersey doo-wop group named The Three Friends who had a hit in New York and Baltimore in the winter of 1956-57 titled “Blanche”. After the Fort Lee concert, The Three Friends invited The Royals to come to New York to be the session musicians for their upcoming recording date in the Brill Building at 1650 Broadway. It was there The Royals met The Three Friends manager, Leo Rogers. On the strength of their musical skills, Rogers invited The Royals to be session musicians for numerous recording artists in the building. They were also given a chance to record a song.

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Pepe by Duane Eddy

#492: Pepe by Duane Eddy

Peak Month: January 1961
10 weeks on Vancouver’s CFUN chart
Peak Position #3
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #18
YouTube.com: “Pepe
Pepe” song from Pepe, as sang by Shirley Jones

Duane Eddy was born in Corning, New York, in 1938. When he turned five years old he started to play guitar. His family moved to Coolidge, Arizona, in 1954. At the age of 16 Eddy got a Chet Atkins Gretch guitar. In 1954, at Coolidge High School Duane met Jimmy Delbridge who shared his love of music. Both boys played guitar and sang. In short order they were appearing on local radio in Coolidge, KCKY, as Jimmy and Duane. Jimmy sang best and Duane was a superior guitar player. Duane persuaded Jimmy leave the guitar behind and play piano. During 1955 local Phoenix disc jockey Lee Hazlewood was informally managing the duo. In June ’55 Hazlewood drove Eddy and Jimmy Dell (as he was now known) to Ramsey Recording Studio in Phoenix. In the studio the duo recorded the first of Hazelwood’s songs, “Soda Fountain Girl” and “I Want Some Lovin’ Baby”. These were old hillbilly tunes  backed by Buddy Long & the Western Melody Boys.

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Wild Eyes by The Stampeders

#493: Wild Eyes by The Stampeders

Peak Month: August 1972
10 weeks on Vancouver’s CKVN chart
Peak Position #6
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart
YouTube.com: “Wild Eyes
“Wild Eyes” lyrics

The Stampeders are a rock trio from Calgary named after that city’s football team, The Calgary Stampeders. Although, it could be argued that the yearly Calgary Stampede was also an inspiration for their name. During the band’s most successful chart run from 1968 to 1976, it was made up of guitarist Rich Dodson, bass player Ronnie King (born Cornelius Van Sprang) and drummer Kim Berly (born Kim Meyer). All three provided vocals. Originally, the band was a group of five formed in 1964 called The Rebounds. The Rebounds had five members: Rich Dodson, Len Roemer, Brendan Lyttle, Kim Berly, and Race Holiday. They renamed themselves The Stampeders in 1965 and Len Roemer was replaced with Ronnie King and Van Louis, making them a band of six for a few years. But after a temporary move to Toronto in 1966 the band was down to three members, Dodson, King and Berly by 1968. Between 1967 and 1976 The Stampeders charted 15 singles into the Canadian RPM Top 40.

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Touch And Go by The Cars

#494: Touch And Go by The Cars

Peak Month: November 1980
8 weeks on Vancouver’s CFUN chart
Peak Position #6
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #37
YouTube.com:”Touch And Go
“Touch And Go” lyrics

According to AllMusic.com music critic, Jason Ankeny, The Grasshoppers were a rock ‘n roll band from Cleveland who formed in 1962. There were several lineup changes and Benjamin Orzechowski joined the band in 1964 and became the lead singer. Ben Orr, who was born in 1947, went on to be a lead singer in the New Wave band, The Cars. Jeff Niesel, of Rolling Stone Magazine writes that members of the Grasshoppers Fan Club included Diane Akins, the president of the club. She remembers meeting Ben Orr when the Grasshoppers were an opening act when the Beach Boys performed in Cleveland in November, 1964.

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#495: I Am The Preacher by Tony Kingston

Peak Month: February 1972
8 weeks on Vancouver’s CKVN chart
Peak Position #2
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart
YouTube.com: “I Am The Preacher
“I Am The Preacher” lyrics

In 1967 Tony Kingston had a record deal with Pye and released “Master Hand” in the fall of the year. The British singer Tony Kingston had a brief deal with Decca Records in England in the late 1960’s with a single called “Mama Come On Home” released in April that year. The record is now considered a Northern Soul classic. Tony Kingston sang two songs from the 1970 British film I Start Counting, namely “They Want Love” and “Children”. After relocating to Canada in the early ’70s Kingston was signed to Yorkville Records in Toronto where he recorded “I Am The Preacher”.

I Am The Preacher by Tony Kingston

“I Am The Preacher” was a song co-written by UK songwriters and singers Roger John Reginald Greenaway (born in 1938) and Roger Frederick Cooke (born in 1940). Both were born in a suburb of Bristol, England. Roger Greenaway was one of the founding members of a close harmony group called The Kestrels, who formed in 1955. The group provided backing vocals for recording artists Billy Fury, Eden Kane, Lonnie Donegan and singer/comedian Benny Hill. Roger Cook joined The Kestrels in 1964. It was when Greenaway and Cook got to know each other as members of The Kestrels they glimpsed a creative fusion they wanted to pursue. In 1965 the pair co-wrote “You’ve Got Your Troubles”, which became a Top Ten intentional hit for The Fortunes. Between 1965 and 1967 the pair billed themselves as David and Jonathan, after two characters in the Hebrew scriptures who had name recognition in the wider culture. As David and Jonathan they recorded a cover version of The Beatles song, “Michelle”, followed by a song they wrote titled “Lovers of the World Unite.” Sometimes in collaboration with other songwriters, Cook and Greenaway co-wrote numbers of other pop hits. These include “Green Grass” by Gary Lewis & The Playboys, “I Was Kaiser Bill’s Batman” by Whistling Jack Smith and “Long Cool Woman (In A Black Dress)” by The Hollies. The novelty song, “I Was Kaiser Bill’s Batman,” had a guy named Billy Moeller appear in TV shows who whistle-synched the song. But the actual whistling on the record was by a guy named John O’Neill who never appeared to whistle-synch the song.

In 1970, the songwriting duo of Cook–Greenaway collaborated to write a song called “True Love and Apple Pie”, recorded by Susan Shirley. The song was then rewritten by Cook and Greenaway, along with Bill Backer and Billy Davis, two ad men for Coca-Cola. The result was a catchy tune revised as a Coca-Cola commercial which aired through 1970-71. The line, “I’d like to buy the world a Coke and keep it company,” became an ear worm for many TV viewers and radio listeners that year. The popularity of the commercial led to it being reworked and titled “I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing.” It was recorded by The New Seekers and became a #1 hit in the UK and Vancouver (and #7 in the USA) in 1972. The song decades later was played during the end of episodes of the TV show, Mad Men.

In 1970 Greenaway teamed up with Tony Burrows to record under the name of The Pipkins with a novelty tune that reached the Top Ten in Vancouver called Gimmie Dat Ding”. That same year, Greenaway was temporarily a member of the Brotherhood of Man. That group charted a Top 20 hit internationally titled “United We Stand.” And in 1970 Cook and Greenaway co-wrote a song that would go on to be in the Top 100 for the year in both the UK, the USA and in Canada titled “My Baby Loves Lovin’” by The White Plains. That song went to #1 in Vancouver, though it only peaked at #13 on the Billboard Hot 100. Cook and Greenaway later wrote “Jeans On” recorded by David Dundas. It was a #1 hit in Vancouver in February of that year. Though the song only peaked at #17 in the USA, it stayed on the Billboard Hot 100 long enough to become the #73 song of 1977.

“I Am The Preacher” is a pop song with heavy religious overtones. It begins with Hallelujahs. The song is narrated from the vantage point of a preacher who is bringing a message to the people of the world who have yet to find peace. The preacher has a message about a better way of living rooted in love. The lyrics tell about obstacles that get in the way such as war, misguiding others. The preacher also speaks of the pervasiveness of lament (wailing) among the people. He says “I am the pupil who sells his life for freedom,” indicating the preacher is making a sacrifice of himself for the greater good of humanity.

In the late 60s and early 70s there was an emerging Jesus Movement. There were numerous pop songs with religious overtones. These include “Spirit In The Sky” by Norman Greenbaum, “Put Your Hand In the Hand” by Ocean, “One Tin Soldier” by the Original Caste, “Crystal Blue Persuasion” and “Sweet Cherry Wine” by Tommy James & The Shondells, “Oh Happy Day” by the Edwin Hawkins Singers, “The Wedding Song (There Is Love)” by Paul Stookey, and “Amazing Grace” by Judy Collins. “I Am The Preacher” was part of this genre breaking into pop music.

In early 1972 “I Am The Preacher” managed to reach #65 on the RPM Top Singles chart in February. that year but having a significantly better showing on the CHUM chart in Toronto where it peaked at #15. The song fared even better in Vancouver where it climbed to #2. The song also made the Top 30 in Hamilton (ON) and Rochester (NY).

Tony Kingston played the circuit of live clubs in the 70s in the Toronto area including the Stonehouse and Friars Tavern. He released a single in 1974 titled “Too Heavy To Carry” which got little notice. And in 1978 he released “Sweet Music” that also got little airplay in Canada. Tony Kingston had a namesake who moved from Jamaica and died in a car accident in 1970, according to Discogs.com. But it is clear that the Tony Kingston who sang “I Am The Preacher” and performed around the Toronto area through the 70s was very much alive after 1970. But what happened to him after the late 70s has not yet been uncovered.

November 6, 2019
Ray McGinnis

References:
Songwriter Roger Cook Turns 70, KLUV, Dallas, TX, August 19, 2010.
Roger Cook: Britain’s most prolific songwriting team with Roger Greenaway, Songwriters Hall of Fame.org.
Sarah Begley, Buy The World A Coke Songwriter ‘Amazed’ to Hear it Ended Mad Men, Time, May 18, 2015.
The Pipkins- bio, BBC, London, UK.
Various YouTube.com comments below several Tony Kingston recordings.

For more song reviews visit the Countdown.

Hushaby Little Guitar by Paul Evans

#496: Hushaby Little Guitar by Paul Evans

Peak Month: October 1960
8 weeks on CFUN’s Vancouver Charts
Peak Position ~ #4
1 week Hit Bound
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart
YouTube.com: “Hushaby Little Guitar

Paul Evans was born in Queens, New York, in 1938. Although he got some fame with his modest success as a teen idol, Evans is more well known for his songwriting for other performing artists. He recorded his first single in 1957 titled “What Do You Know?”, backed with “Dorothy”. His first hit song was written in 1958 titled “When”. It became a Top 20 hit for the Kalin Twins. Evans told staff with the Songfacts website about the backstory. Evans said ” I was young… 19 or 20. I would write with two or three writers a day. It was our job to write songs… just sitting around, fooling around playing songs. We wrote a song for the Everly Brothers, but they were almost impossible to get. So we brought the song up to Decca Records. The demo was just my guitar, me singing, and my co-writer singing a harmony line. We got the Kalin Twins to do it because when [Decca] heard a duet on a demo, they thought of a duet, that’s just the way it was in the business at the time. We did not write it as a personal experience. We tried. We wrote it because we wanted to write a song that we could get a record recorded on.”

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Open Up Your Door by Richard & The Young Lions

#497: Open Up Your Door by Richard & The Young Lions

Peak Month: November 1966
9 weeks on CKLG’s Vancouver Charts
Peak Position ~ #2
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #99
YouTube.com: “Open Up Your Door
“Open Up Your Door” lyrics

When Richard Tepp began to hear the Beatles, Dave Clark Five, Rolling Stones and the Gerry and the Pacemakers in 1964, these British Invasion acts inspired him to become a rock ‘n roll singer. Sitting in his home in Newark, New Jersey, he saw the way the opposite sex reacted to the Beatles. Tepp imagined a wonderful life that would include him performing and girls screaming. He attended a gig at a club on Chancellor Avenue in Newark where The Emeralds were on stage. He asked if he could join there band and, after showing them his vocal skills, they hired him on the spot. The Emeralds soon changed their name to The Original Kounts and became a cover band playing British Invasion songs. They grew their hair long and stood out.

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Medicine Man by Buchanan Brothers

#498: Medicine Man by Buchanan Brothers

Peak Month: June 1969
8 weeks on CKLG’s Vancouver Charts
Peak Position ~ #4
1 week Hit Bound
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #22
YouTube.com: “Medicine Man
“Medicine Man” lyrics

Thomas Picardo Jr. was born in Jersey City, New Jersey, in 1942. In 1958 he co-founded a doo-wop group called The Criterions with Tim Hauser. The pair attended St. Rose High School in Belmar, NJ. The Criterions had a minor hit on the Alan Freed show in New York City and on WMGM in Wildwood, New Jersey in 1959 titled “I Remain Truly Yours”. West and Hauser went to Villanova University in Pennsylvania and in 1960. West became the conductor of the Villanova Singers, the university glee club. From the glee club, West formed another group of singers named The Villanova Spires. This was a 12-man folk group who sang with guitars. Tim Hauser also  joined the Villanova Spires. In 1961, West another student named Jim Croce joined The Villanova Spires and they became friends.

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Private Eye by Bob Luman

#499: Private Eye by Bob Luman

Peak Month: August 1961
8 weeks on CFUN’s Vancouver Charts
Peak Position ~ #3
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #115
YouTube.com: “Private Eye

Bob Luman was born in Blackjack, Texas, in 1937. Before 1955 the only hits Bob Luman had were on the baseball field. He was an outstanding baseball player for his school team in Kilgore, Texas. He also fronted a band that performed the country hits. But after seeing Elvis Presley perform in Kilgore in May 1955, Luman was resolved that his hits going forward would be “Rockabilly hits.”

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Hungry Eyes by Platinum Blonde

#500: Hungry Eyes by Platinum Blonde

Peak Month: May 1986
9 weeks on CKLG’s Vancouver Charts
Peak Position ~ #5
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart
YouTube.com: “Hungry Eyes
“Hungry Eyes” lyrics

Mark Holmes was born in the UK and lived in Manchester until the family moved to Toronto. He met several other musicians and formed a punk band that played covers to The Police and other new wave bands. After a lineup change, Holmes was playing guitar and the lead vocalist, Chris Steffler was the drummer and Sergio Galli was a second guitarist. The trio became Platinum Blonde. They got a record deal with CBS in 1983. Their debut album, Standing In The Dark, earned them two Video Of The Year nominations at the 1984 Juno Awards. But it was their second album, Alien Shores, which included “Crying Over You”, a #1 single on the Canadian RPM charts in 1985, and in Vancouver.

Another Top Ten hit in Canada from Alien Shores was “Situation Critical”. A third single, “Hungry Eyes”, also made the Top Ten in Vancouver, peaking at #5.

Hungry Eyes by Platinum Blonde

“Hungry Eyes” was co-written by Platinum Blonde lead singer Mark Holmes and bandmate Sergio Galli. The song concerns that “danger zone” of shared mutual attraction resulting in ‘hungry eyes’ for each other. The pull is so strong it is as if each person falls inside the other. The lyrics contemplate a world where there are no taboos, no right or wrong, when we encounter hungry eyes in another person. It seems that many people second guess the look of another person’s hungry eyes. They rely not on first hand experience, but what television teaches. The lyrics advise that once we follow the lure of the hungry eyes, the falling inside the other will last “forever.” There are others in society who will judge paying attention to what our hungry eyes indicate to us as something that is “wrong.” Platinum Blonde assures us that people with those viewpoints will “never steal our song.”

“Hungry Eyes” also climbed into the Top Ten in Edmonton, to #13 in Saskatoon (SK), the Top 20 in Medicine Hat (AB), and the Top 30 in Hamilton (ON).

With the release of Alien Shores, Platinum Blonde featured a fourth band member named Kenny McLean. He played the keyboards and bass guitar. Chris Steffler left the band and was replaced by Alexander Tukatsch, who went by the name Sascha. A third album was released in 1987 titled Contact. The title track was a Top Ten hit in Vancouver, as was “Fire”. Another single from Contact, “If You Go This Time”, made the Top 20 in Vancouver.

Platinum Blonde released another album in 1990, but soon parted ways. They reunited in 2012 and released an album titled Now And Never. With the release, they mounted a reunion tour.

After the election of Donald Trump to the presidency of the United States of America, Mark Holmes told a reporter for the Calgary Herald: “People need to become hippies again.” Eric Volmers of the Calgary Herald finds the statement ironic, given Platinum Blonde were “the epitome of Canada’s fledgling video age of the 1980s, where successful acts understood that a carefully constructed, video-friendly image was key to burrowing into Canada’s pop-culture consciousness.” So, not exactly hippies.

In 2017, Platinum Blonde did a show in White Rock, BC, another at Ambleside Park in West Vancouver that summer, and at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver in November. In 2018, the band appeared in only a handful of concert venues. This included a concert on September 8, 2018, in Vernon, BC, with Loverboy. They currently have no upcoming tour dates scheduled.

October 25, 2019
Ray McGinnis

References:
Eric Volmers, It Does Really Matter: Platinum Blonde’s Mark Holmes Says World Ready For a Musical Revolution, Calgary Herald, Calgary, AB, January 27, 2017.
History, Platinum Blonde.com
Simon Rideout, Interview with Platinum Blond Frontman Mark Holmes, Things Nanaimo.com, July 7, 2015

For more song reviews visit the Countdown.

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