Saturday, December 3, 2016

It's Another One Of Those Great Forgotten Hits Soapbox Moments

We haven't had one of these in a while ..

But the timing of these two emails was just too good to pass up.

So indulge me for a few minutes again this week as we let our passion for the music take over this weekend's column.

Kent ...
Scott Shannon isn't talking to me anymore ... so I have to send my WCBS-FM complaints to you.
In the month of December,  from 7 PM to Midnight, WCBS-FM is playing Christmas music.
One month a year, it's okay to go back to 1940's for Bing's "White Christmas."
One month of the year, it's okay to go back to 1957 for Elvis' Christmas album.
One month of the year it's okay to go back to 1954 for the Drifters "White Christmas."
But from January to November, we can only play 1970's and 1980's music.
I guess they think that people like me only listen to the radio one month a year.
Elvis Yesterday:  I have cassette tapes of WCBS-FM playing Elvis' top 25 Hits.
Elvis Today:  The only song they play is original version of "Burning Love" from 1972.
They won't even mention the fact that in the last two years Elvis' digital albums with The Royal Philharmonic were million sellers thanks to remakes like "If I Can Dream" and "The Wonder Of You."
We both know there will be more of these albums to come. I guess WCBS-FM will continue to ignore the new Elvis albums and keep playing "Burning Love" ... except for the month of December.
Frank B.
It's frustrating, I know ... and it isn't just WCBSM-FM ... this seems to be the mentality from coast to coast these days.  Even Billboard Magazine now seems to ignore all of its chart information before the first "official" Hot 100 Chart in August of 1958 ... that means that Elvis' 24 Billboard Chart Hits (ELEVEN of which went to #1!) don't even make the cut anymore.   GREAT tracks like "Hound Dog", "Don't Be Cruel" "Blue Suede Shoes", "Heartbreak Hotel", "Love Me Tender", "All Shook Up" "Teddy Bear" and "Jailhouse Rock" have virtually been wiped from existence.
And, with a totally straight face, radio programmers, consultant and owners of many of the reissue lables will tell you that they only market to people who "are still alive"!!!  Meaning that some of the greatest music ever created will soon disappear forever, without the chance for future generations to discover it and fall in love with it all over again, just like we did.
The thing they don't understand is that there had been no precedent for rock and roll.  I promise you that despite their hardest efforts, this music will NOT disappear ... new people WILL continue to discover and embrace it.  I see it every single day as kids now seven decades removed from the original onslaught of rock and roll and still diggin' these sounds.  The shame is that all these so-called "know it all"'s have got it wrong ... and can't even see the big picture here ... yet they're the ones in control!!!
Think about this ...
When Elvis hit in 1956 and revolutionized the sights and sounds of music, was the rest of the world listening to music from 1890?  When The Beatles hit in 1964, did they stand out because everyone else on the planet was listening to music from the early 1900's?  When disco erupted in 1978, were the rest of the population doing the dances of 1918?  Michael Jackson's big comeback in the 1980's .. was that no big deal because everyone on earth was still drooling over Valetino?
The world has never had to deal with a force the likes of rock and roll music ... because think about what I've just said ... people today still have a DEEP love and affection for the music of the '50's, '60's, '70's and '80s, even tho it's some 60 Something Years Later!!!  It still MEANS something to us ... we can still FEEL It ... we still embrace it ... and so do our children and even THEIR children.
This "fad" that was supposed to disappear in fifteen minutes in 1956 is still with us ... and it's just as strong as ever.
Throw out ALL the old rule books ... because they don't apply here.  You won't find millions of Americans standing in line for next week's jitterbug contest ... you won't find them lined up at special screenings of Rudolph Valentinos' Greatest Hits either ... because they'll be at the theater watching the new Ron Howard film "Eight Days A Week" about The Beatles' touring years from 50+ years ago.  You'll also still find the likes of The Beatles and Elvis and The Beach Boys and Paul Simon and Dion and any huge number of others cracking the top of the charts with their latest releases.
THROW THE PLAYBOOK AWAY ... it doesn't apply here.  And pull your heads out of your collective asses and face the fact that Rock And Roll Music Is Here To Stay!  Take a trip down memory lane with the Oldies But Goodies ... grab your best girl At The Hop ... do The Twist, The Limbo, disco your ass off if you want to ... this music ISN'T going away ... so you might as well embrace it.  (kk)
The email we received today from noted deejay Big Jay Sorensen makes many of these same points ... but Jay's ready to throw in the towel and give in to these bastards.  I say NO WAY!!!  
A guy like Scott Shanon can play by the corporate rules and rule the ratings with his WCBS-FM top-ranked morning show ... but he combats that by spearheading The True Oldies Channel 24/7 playing the music he REALLY loves for the listeners who really want to hear it.  (I think it's how he holds on to his sanity!!!)
Me-TV-FM is doing their best to keep "timeless and memorable music" alive through their programming list, playing songs that have been absent from the airwaves for DECADES!!!
Internet oldies shows take the time to do the research and play both the hits and the near-hits ... because they know and understand that we fans remember them ALL!!!
Here is what triggered this response ... (for the record, Geoff is a long-time disc jockey in the UK ... or a "radio presenter" as I guess they like to call themselves!!! ... and he misses seeing other sheets like ours dedicated to preserving the memory of the great music.)  To an extent, having just celebrated our 17th Year Anniversary, we very well may be one of the last ones. (Of course I've always thought we were one of the BEST ones, too!  Lol)
Anyway, here's Geoff's original query ... along with Big Jay's response and rant.  (Today truly is another Forgotten Hits Classic Soap Box Moment!!!)
>>>Kent - I have been very interested in music since way before Bill Haley told us we are gonna rock around the clock. Over the years I have had e mail dealings with good knowledgeable folk like your good self.  One who seems to be missing in action the last few months is a guy called Big Jay Sorensen. His link says things like “has been assaulting the airwaves for four decades, in some really extraordinary places, as Disc Jockey, Talk Show Host, News Anchor, Beat Reporter, Commercial Production Director ... and occasionally even as Program Director and Operations Manager”.  I just wondered if you might know him or as to why he stopped the lists.  Take care.  (Geoff)
>>>Big Jay Sorensen is a Forgotten Hits Regular ... he's been on our list for YEARS ... and you'll still find his emails coming through on a somewhat regular basis.  I know he's bounced around a bit over the past couple of years ... but I'm sure he'll see this and want get in touch with you.  (kk)
Which, of course, is exactly what happened!
Kent ...
I saw that your listener "Geoff" (didn't mention where he was from) was saying I fell off the radar, or something like that.
Please inform Geoff that while I did stop writing my weekly exhaustive blog about Big Jay's Big Week in Pop Music History, I am alive and well. 
I just didn't see the reason to continue in the music direction after I was told I wasn't "tight and bright" enough anymore after about eight years at WCBS-FM in NYC. 
Like many of your FORGOTTEN HITS readers who still yearn for "Youngblood," by the Coasters and "Build Me Up Buttercup" 30 times a day, the station simply isn't what it used to be for Oldies Record Pigs. It can't be. Nor should it be.
I have said it before and I'll say it again, today's 40-year-olds graduated High School in 1994. That is the center of what TODAY'S classic hits stations want to reach. Read that sentence over again. 
And given that for most people the age of 15 is the center of what your favorite nostalgia music is ... you realize that five years either way of that number (of let's say a 40-year-old today) then that median year is 1991. So, if that theory holds, then the years 1986 through 1995 are the years’ today's 40-year-olds enjoy when they are looking for nostalgia. 
And if that theory holds, then if you are 65 today, YOUR median years (if you graduated at age 18 in 1969), your years are from 1964 through '74. 
How many stations (a select few AM's) are still playing that music? 
The reason they aren't, largely is purely based on what advertisers want ... and it ain't us.
Sure, if you want to tout the latest arthritis medicine or chair lift to the second story of your home, or to get an AARP card, then an "OLDIES" station might work. 
But Madison Avenue and the ad buyers (who have always been about 24 years-old) wouldn't know Steppenwolf from Steppin Fetchett ... because they've never heard of either one. 
Perhaps in some markets advertisers might WANT that 65-year-old. But frankly their research tells them that you can't change the buying habits of "old" people. That's what they say.  
If I ruled the radio world, I'd make WABC MusicRadio 77 again. Right now. And currently I'm ON that station as the sidekick / announcer for my old friend Joey Reynolds.
He does a Sunday Night Live show called The LATE Joey Reynolds Show 9 pm et and on KABC AM in LA at 6pm pacific. Soon to be available on VIDEO ... and listenable on iHeartRadio's app each week. You can hear podcasts of the shows at
And I'd do the same with WLS-AM ... And KFI-AM ... and WFIL-AM ... etc. ... You get my drift.   Nostalgia is subjective. I want to hear songs I know ... with a melody ... with lyrics ... sometimes fun, sometimes angry ... sometimes bubblegum, sometimes hard rock or pure soul as WE REMEMBER when we were kids. 
Sadly, I am living in a pipe-dream. It would only happen if the conglomerates blew up and died. That COULD happen as some of us know. 
It may seem as though I'm speaking from both sides of my mouth about this whole DEMOGRAPHIC thing. I guess I am. I think a 50 year-old would listen to the top 40 music of the ‘50s, '70s, and '70s ... IF it is presented properly. Maybe a 40 year-old would as well. Well, maybe not the '50s ... but if it's fun and, (and here is the key) ... IF they would allow REAL PERSONALITIES back on the radio, it just might work.
Sadly, many of the people who did it so well from the 50s through the 70s are either dead, retired or not in good health. Sure there are some left ... or perhaps the second generation jocks like ME who can aptly recreate at least the tempo and sound of the era could make it work. I have friends who would LEAP at the chance to prove it.
Listen to my tapes when 66 WNNNBC did "THE TIME MACHINE" in '87 and '88, complete with reverb, Pams jingles and the forward moving tempo that was top 40 radio in its hey-day. Subscribe to You can also hear the ORIGINAL dudes who made it so much fun to listen to back then. 
Would Madison Ave. react kindly to this pipe-dream? Dunno. As long as the 24 year-old buyers are conducting the business — likely not. But if “programmatic buying” really took hold with all that ad inventory, and instead of Erectile Dysfunction and Snake Oil medicine-men and money-handlers buying time by the hour on even the biggest AM stations in America on weekends and stopped playing UFO shows all night on almost every spot on the dial across the land on weeknights, it might stand a chance. Or maybe there is so much noise on AM today that didn't exist back in the day … it would be a wasted thought because of LED lights, computers, smart phones ... etc. ... meaning almost nobody can listen to AM unless they are three blocks from the transmitter. (I’m sorta joking.  Sorta.)
I know I'm rambling ... but when Geoff asked where I was (and he sounded like an older gentleman) it got me thinking. I love the music from the eras I mentioned above, just like KENT and all the thousands who read his column daily. He puts his LIFE into this thing. Imagine having a regular job and then working another 40 hours per week on a BLOG?!?!?!?! That's what I believe he does. His passion is unmatched. He is a bit too Chicago-centric for MY musical tastes, but we all LEARN a lot if you didn't grow up listening to WLS, WCFL, etc. 
Geoff, I stopped trying to do a weekly column that took sometimes three days a week to put together, because I didn't see the return ... neither via email, social media ... (the same 30 people LIKED it ... but likely never READ it) ... NOR was I able to monetize it. I did it initially because I was only working part-time and HAD the time to put into it. You can look at my former work at ... it's all still there. But it took its toll. 
So now I'm STILL in the radio field, part of a revolutionary idea of doing a VARIETY show on RADIO. OMG. Are they crazy??  
We've had many of our heroes on the show ... ranging from Frankie Valli, to Gene Cornish of The Rascals, to Lou Christie to songwriter Chip Taylor ("Angel Of The Morning" and "Wild Thing") on the show, along with people like Tommy Chong, Andrea McArdle (Annie) and comedians like Pat Cooper, Vic DiBitetto, Dave Konig and so many more. It is a little this and a little that. On a SUNDAY night no less. So ... we think if there is anyone left listening to radio on a Sunday night, we might as well entertain them with some big stars, some small stars and just plain interesting people. 
SO that's where I am Geoff. I am HONORED that you asked Kent about me in his blog. 
And if anyone wants to write to me, do it at BigJaySorensen@gmail.comI will reply.
Big Jay Sorensen

Friday, December 2, 2016

The Friday Flash

The Grammy Hall Of Fame:  
The Grammy Hall Of Fame has just announced this year's new inductees ...  

Here's a report from Vintage Vinyl News ...  

Music From Elvis, Prince, the Jackson 5, Bowie, Deep Purple Added to the Grammy Hall of Fame  
Arlo Guthrie, The Beach Boys, Bonnie Raitt, David Bowie, Deep Purple, Dion, Elvis Presley, The Everly Brothers, The Jackson Five, Lesley Gore, Merle Haggard, N.W.A., Nirvana, Prince, R.E.M., Rod Stewart 
by VVN Music  
The Recording Academy has announced the twenty-five new recordings to be enshrined in The Grammy Hall of Fame. Now in its 44th year, this will bring the number of recordings honored with a place in the Hall to 1,038.  
Neil Portnow, President and CEO of the Recording Academy, said "The GRAMMY Hall Of Fame represents all genres of music, acknowledging the diversity of musical expression for which The Academy has become renowned,. Memorable and inspiring, these recordings are proudly added to our growing catalog and are an integral part of our musical, social, and cultural history." 
Breaking from a tradition that often found albums and singles being enshrined in a relatively even number, this year's crop includes just four albums and 21 singles.  
The four albums include jazz (Billie Holiday), country (Merle Haggard), soul/funk (Prince) and rap/hip-hop (N.W.A.) but, surprisingly, no rock, but the singles make up for that no less than fifteen coming for the rock idiom.  
There also seemed to be an effort to include a representation from early blues (Mississippi John Hurt, Blind Willie McTell) and jazz (Cab Calloway, Louis Armstrong) to offset the high number of rock recordings. Country, though, was nearly absent with only the album from Merle Haggard among the inductees. 

This year's honorees: 

Lady Sings the Blues - Billie Holiday (1956) 
Okie From Muskogee - Merle Haggard (1969) 
Sign of the Times - Prince (1987) 
Straight Outta Compton - N.W.A. (1988) 

Stack O'Lee Blues - Mississippi John Hurt (1928) 
Statesboro Blues - Blind Willie McTell (1928) 
(Hep-Hep!) The Jumpin' Jive Cab Calloway and His Orchestra (1939) 
When the Saints Go Marching In - Louis Armstrong and His Orchestra (1939) 
You Always Hurt the One You Love - Mills Brothers (1944) 
Jailhouse Rock - Elvis Presley (1957) 
Wake Up Little Susie - Everly Brothers (1957) 
The Wanderer - Dion (1961) 
You Don't Own Me - Leslie Gore (1963) 
I Get Around - Beach Boys (1964) 
I Got You Babe - Sonny & Cher (1965) 
Mission: Impossible - Lalo Schifrin (1967) 
Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) - Sly & the Family Stone (1969) 
ABC - Jackson 5 (1970) 
Maggie Mae - Rod Stewart (1971) 
Changes - David Bowie (1972) 
The City of New Orleans - Arlo Guthrie (1972) 
Smoke on the Water - Deep Purple (1973) 
I Can't Make You Love Me - Bonnie Raitt (1991) 
Losing My Religion - R.E.M. (1991) 
Smells Like Teen Spirit - Nirvana (1991)  

Congratulations to our long-time Forgotten Hits Buddy John Madara on his deserving award for "You Don't Own Me", a song that is STILL going strong some 50+ years later!  (And to all the other winners, too!)  kk  


"I’m very proud to have my song “The Wanderer” included in this year’s Grammy Hall Of Fame’s honored songs. The song has taken a very memorable journey of its own through the years. It started as a B-side to a song called “The Majestic”, but as Fate and Rock’n’Roll will sometimes have it, one day someone flipped the record over to discover The Wanderer  - and that was how its journey began. It instantly became a calling card and its ascent up the charts was unstoppable. Today, I am known as much for "The Wanderer" as I am for any other record i have ever recorded during my nearly sixty years in the music business. The song has continued to tell its own story and sometimes, seemingly by magic, even updating itself with the passing decades. A combination of good fortune, hard work, and strong playing from some of the jazz and blues greats of the Apollo Theatre, like Sticks Evans on that unusual and contagious drum pattern to Buddy Lucas’ iconic and unforgettable sax solo made it a standout. To this day, the song never fails me. When it starts I can still feel that same magnetic pull into the song’s own universe. I am grateful and indebted to those who have recognized our efforts." 

Great response to the announcement of our new series for 2017 ...   

The Papa Bear, George Halas, coaches his 40th and final season with the Bears.  
Jim Dooley takes over the sidelines in 1968.
Wrestling shows at the International Amphitheater draw enormous crowds ... 
Dick the Bruiser and The Crusher are frequent headliners, but the vast majority of fans come out to boo "Pretty Boy" Bobby Heenan.
Chet Coppock is the 19 year old road manager for the New Colony Six.
The Regal is running fabulous shows: The Temptations, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, James Brown. Over at 5523 S. State, WVON "Blues Man" Pervis Spann  is running the Club Boogaloo, formerly the Burning Spear.
Kent, much more to follow!
Counting on you to keep the memories flowing!  We've covered the headlines ... now you can give us the behind-the-scenes / inside scoop!  (kk) 

Hi Kent, 
I am really anticipating the '67 project ... for me, it was a seminal time in my life and the music was changing and expanding in wondrous ways. 
It may not be important to the majority of your subscribers, but '67 was the year the Celtics finally missed the Finals (8 Championships in a row 59-66), as Philadelphia beat us.  
It was also the "Impossible Dream" year for the Red Sox, we were beaten in the World Series by the esteemable St Louis Cardinals but a fantastic season with a bunch of over achievers under a devil may care Manager Dick Williams who earned the pennant of the last day of the season. It was must listen radio, and the only reason to change from my local rock station, which eventually became an "Oldies" station. 
Good Luck, 
The '67 Baseball Season was a standout ... our Chicago White Sox were right in the thick of it, too, that year as things went down to the wire.  (Heck, even The Cubs had a winning season in 1967!!!) And we'll relive ALL of it. Counting on all of you out there to keep the memories flowing and make this our biggest and best series ever!  (kk)  

Hey Kent, 
They're Playing Our Songs. 
I am from the Class Of 67 and would like to be included on the brand new 67 List. 
This is not only my favorite music year but also my last year in my Age Of Innocence before all hell broke loose in 1968! 
Just Me Carol, 

Put me on the '67 list enthusiastically. It truly was a magnificent year. 
One could argue about '66 being THE year and perhaps '69 ... with such a diverse list of genres and artists at the beginning of the AOR era ... but the hits were from all genres in '67. I can't wait to see what you'll do with this. Your columns never cease to amaze. Be BIG. 
Big Jay Sorensen
Sidekick / Announcer on The Late Joey Reynolds Show
Sunday nights 9 pm Eastern on 77 WABC AM Radio,  NYC
790 KABC AM Radio,  L.A. and via the iHeartRadio app

Hey Kent --  
Please put me on your 67 list and thanks for all of the hard work you put into the site! Always a necessary read for me on a daily basis.   
Having grown up in Chicago (but now live in SW Florida), your slant on the local stuff brings back wonderful memories of the greatest time in music.  
Looking forward to a great 2017 with Forgotten Hits!  
V.J. Paskus  

Hi Kent,  
 I want to make sure I am on the 67 list on my personal and work email. First thing every morning I check to see if there is a new posting and if so, read it.  
1967 is a special year in music for me because a group I was in called The Monteras recorded a song I wrote called "You're a Tease". We had several hundred 45's pressed and sold them at our gigs. Some copies of the 45 have sold on eBay to collectors for significant amounts and the song has been put on a CD compilation, Quagmire Volume 1. Recently a writer named Stu Shea wrote a blog about us ( and we have been rehearsing together again. My band mates are all also fans of forgotten hits. I know you have heard it many times but thanks for all the hard work you do to keep that great music alive! 
Joe Malin 
That's OK ... I never get tired of hearing it!  (lol)  It's funny because when we do a "resubscribe" thing like this we hear from ALL the readers who tell us how much they love Forgotten Hits and it is such an important part of their lives ... yet the rest of the year we only seem to get emails from a select few "regulars".  We've got thousands and thousands of readers all over the world so I'm hoping a series like this will inspire more of you to participate on a more regular basis.
The calendar's prewritten ... it's the special comments and memories emails that are going to make the big difference next year ... so let your voice be heard!  (By the way Stu Shea has been a Forgotten Hits Reader for YEARS ... cool to see the connection!)  kk  

Hi Kent. 

Please put me on the 1967 list. I think anyone who doesn't want to be on the list should be reported to the authorities. They must be out of their minds!!!
Steve Sarley

Jimy Sohns and The Shadows Of Knight:  
Jimy Sohns of The Shadows Of Knight wanted me to let all of the locals on our list know about his show this Saturday Night (December 3rd) at Bar 145 (formerly Blues Bar) in Mt Prospect, IL ... 

Here are all the details ...  

Hey Kent, 
Please let your readers know about The Shadows of Knight show this weekend (on Saturday, December 3rd). 
Tickets are only $5 at the door. 
The show starts at 9 pm and the lineup will be me, Mike and Cindy Gotshall, Greg Brucker (Cryan Shames), Rick Barr (New Colony Six) ... plus Special Guests Michael Weber (Guitar Phenom from Ohio), Jeff Millar-Sax (percussionist from SoCal) and Bobby Messano (Grammy Nominated Blues Artist). The opening act is locals Kevin Lee and the Kings.
Bar 145 (formerly Blues Bar) 
34 S Main St 
Mt Prospect, IL 60056  
Jimy Sohns 
Visit us at for current events, announcements and a look at the past ... 
♫Rock On!!♫  
Hope to see some of you there!  (kk)  

Michael and the Messengers: 
>>>I found you on the web when I went looking for forgotten songs of the 60's, and in the section titled, The Greatest Garage Bands ... I see that at #48 ... Michael and the Messengers ... had a hit with Romeo And Juliet.  I had never heard that version of the song before. I had thought that the one hit wonder group, the Reflections, had the mega-hit, Romeo And Juliet.  Anyway, your site is amazing; will keep me occupied for hours. Thanks!  (L.C.) 
>>>The Reflections had the big national hit (#6 in 1964) with "Romeo And Juliet" ... so that's the one that everybody knows.  But here in Chicago, our neighbors to the north (Wisconsin) provided a Summer of '67 Hit for Michael and the Messengers with their remake of this track.  It rose to #12 on the WLS Silver Dollar Survey ... and will be featured in our upcoming salute to 1967 which kicks off on December 30th.  (kk)   

Hi Kent -
The group that had the "Just Like Romeo And Juliet" remake was the replacement for the Messengers. It's a long and complex story (covered in my first book), but the Milwaukee band was NEVER known as Michael and the Messengers. They were simply the Messengers. 
When they refused to tour with their USA 45 hit of Midnight Hourr (because they were courting Motown), USA added the "Michael and the" on the later pressings and brought in a band from Leominster, MA, to take that name and do the tour. That's the band that cut "Just Like ...". (And my books are still avail for those who'd like the whole story, which I think is kind of fascinating). 
Gary E. Myers / MusicGem 

Hi Kent: 
A little history for you on Michael and the Messengers. 
The group that did “Romeo and Juliet” is not the same group who had a big hit in Milwaukee and in Chicago with “Midnight Hour”. That is the Milwaukee Group. 
Once “Midnight Hour” broke regionally, they left USA Records and signed as the first Rock Band for the Motown Label. They released their first record on Motown’s “Soul” label at the end of the Summer in 1967. It was “Window Shopping / California Soul” which charted Top 20 in Milwaukee. Incidentally their version of “California Soul” is the first recording of the song which would go on to be a hit for the 5th Dimension. 
Meanwhile, USA Records, fearing the loss of a possible Hit Group after “Midnight Hour” had success, imported a group from Boston which became Michael and the Messengers. 
That is the “Romeo & Juliet” Group. Plus all later USA releases are this group. 
Ken Freck 

So there you have it ... a little more history on the origins of the midwest hit.  
(Have you heard that saying "I've forgotten more about music than you'll ever know"???  I kinda feel like that on this one because I absolutely KNEW that story and had completely forgotten about it!  In fact, WE covered it right here in Forgotten Hits AGES ago!  See below!) But now you have the WHOLE story on this regional hit.  (kk)  

Here's an article we ran dated January 1st, 2007!!!  Incredibly Gary Myers (whose comment you see above) had just joined the Forgotten Hits List at this time!!!  (How wild is this?!?!?)  It actually references an even earlier piece we did on the group back in 2004!!!  (Man, we're getting old!!!)

More info on The Messengers (with and without Michael ... actually there never really WAS a Michael!!!) ... which makes this an even more interesting tale!  Read on!

I had a reason to restore this piece from the archives  (GARY MYERS, author of the book DO YOU HEAR THAT BEAT:  WISCONSIN POP/ROCK IN THE '50's/'60's has just joined the FORGOTTEN HITS Mailing List!) so I thought you guys might enjoy this piece.  I don't think ANY of you were on the list yet when this piece first ran back in 2004.

Now how wild is THIS?!?!?  I just found our SECOND piece on MICHAEL AND THE MESSENGERS (probably dates back two or three years ago) ... and, lo and behold, look whose book we're referencing in our follow-up article!!!  (LOL)  I had a funny feeling this was the case ... and thought you might enjoy reading what we sent as part of one of our LOCAL HITS Series.


We have learned a whole lot more about MICHAEL AND THE MESSENGERS since we last featured them in FORGOTTEN HITS.
If you recall, at the time there was some confusion as to whether they were a Chicago band or a Milwaukee band and ... by all appearances (although it was never clearly straightened out at the time) ... there were actually TWO different versions of this band performing throughout the Midwest.
According to the GARY MYERS book DO YOU HEAR THAT BEAT:  WISCONSIN POP/ROCK IN THE '50's/'60's (as well as articles appearing in RHINO's excellentNUGGETS BOX and an online MSN ENTERTAINMENT article (both, apparently, HEAVILY influenced by MYERS' report) there WERE, in fact, two completely separate, distinct groups involved.
The original band was called simply THE MESSENGERS and they did, in fact, hail from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  In 1967, their popped-up version of the soul classic IN THE MIDNIGHT HOUR was released on USA RECORDS, home of THE BUCKINGHAMS, thus leading many to believe that they, too, were a Chicagoland band.  Their record did VERY well here in Chicago, rocketing all the way up to #5 while never denting either of the national charts.  (It did "bubble-under" on Billboard, peaking at #116.)  Reportedly, this is where the confusion sets in.
It was Milwaukee DJ PAUL CHRISTY who persuaded the group to cut the single in the first place and he was instrumental in getting it released on Chicago-based USA RECORDS.  When the record became a huge hit in Chicago, he wanted them to go out and promote the record with appearances throughout the Midwest.  THE MESSENGERS, however, had only cut the record as a favor to CHRISTY and had no interest whatsoever in promoting it.  In fact, they were about to sign a deal with MOTOWN RECORDS instead!  So, CHRISTY and USA RECORDS had to put together a group of musicians to tour and promote the single in the Chicagoland area.  (And THIS is how they became known as a Chicago-based band!)
As IN THE MIDNIGHT HOUR continued to sell well in Chicago, a second pressing was released, now showing the band as MICHAEL AND THE MESSENGERS (despite the fact that NO ONE in the group was actually named MICHAEL!)  In the meantime, a group out of Leominster, Massachusetts called THE DEL MARS were recruited (and renamed) MICHAEL AND THE MESSENGERS and it was THIS group of musicians who recorded the follow-up single JUST LIKE ROMEO AND JULIET, which became ANOTHER huge Chicagoland hit, peaking at #12.  (It stopped at #129 in Billboard.  Hey, doesn't that mean that there were really THREE versions of the same band?!?!?)  THE DEL MARSsimply followed the organ-based, sped-up technique used on IN THE MIDNIGHT HOUR to recreate the "MICHAEL AND THE MESSENGERS sound" that made both records Midwest successes.
A variety of musicians came through the MICHAEL AND THE MESSENGERS revolving door over the next couple of years before they disappeared completely from the music scene.  As for the REAL original MESSENGERS, they DID sign with MOTOWN RECORDS and became one of the very first white acts to do so.  (According to their members, they were the VERY first white act signed, but that's been a long standing matter of debate.)  Like RARE EARTH, R. DEAN TAYLOR and our recently featured KIKI DEE, they were assigned to RARE EARTH records, but never had a chart hit, making the "fake" MESSENGERS more successful than the real deal!
BTW:  Despite ALL of the musicians who at one time can claim to have been a member of MICHAEL AND THE MESSENGERS, not one single member was ever really named MICHAEL!!!  In fact, it sounds like ALL of the members shared an inside joke, taking turns at "being MICHAEL" when asked by the media "So which one's Michael?"  (LOL)
DIDJAKNOW?:  The original MESSENGERS landed their MOTOWN recording contract after a MOTOWN label scout saw them open for THE DAVE CLARK FIVE back in 1966!
WHO'S WHO:  It would be impossible to list ALL of the musicians who, at one time or another, were members of some version of MICHAEL AND THE MESSENGERS ... check out the info supplied by FORGOTTEN HITS List Member JEAN THEEL below for even more details.   But here's what we've been able to come up with so far:
The group was founded in 1962 in Winona, MN, by GREG JERESEK (aka GREG JENNINGS) and also featured guitarists GREG BAMBENEK and ROY BERGER, keyboardist CHIP ANDREWS, bassist TOMMY CICHANOWSKI (aka TOMMY CHICK) and drummer JIM MURRAY ... this version of THE MESSENGERS released a single in 1965 called MY BABY on the Soma label.  BAMBENEK left the group first to go to college and was replaced by JOHN CADER.  When leader GREG JERESEK moved to Milwaukee to pursue HIS college degree, he formed a NEW band consisting of lead singer JEFF TAYLOR, guitarist PETER BARANS, keyboardist JESSE ROE and drummer AUGIE JURISHICA.  This is the group of musicians who recorded IN THE MIDNIGHT HOUR and eventually signed with MOTOWN.  (Keyboardist JESSE ROE dropped out of the group at this time as his parents wouldn't let him sign the MOTOWN contract.  By the way, at various times, THIS version of the group was billed as "THE MILWAUKEE MESSENGERS to avoid ... or add to ... further confusion!)  The line-up for THE DEL MARS that became MICHAEL AND THE MESSENGERS consisted of lead vocalist WAYNE BECKNER, guitarist TOM FINI, bassist RON GAGNON, keyboardist JACK DeCAROLIS and drummer PAUL COSENZA.  These are the guys who recorded the follow-up hit JUST LIKE ROMEO AND JULIET.  (I found one website that said that once THE DEL MARS became THE MESSENGERS, they re-recorded IN THE MIDNIGHT HOUR and THAT is why the single was re-released as MICHAEL AND THE MESSENGERS ... however, I don't have any reason to believe that this is true ... it appears that USA RECORDS simply reissued the original recording with a new name on the label.)  Other names that have come up during the research for this article include MIKE MORGAN (hey, if NONE of the band members were ever named "MICHAEL" then who's this guy?!?!?  LOL), RICK CIER, GARY ROZENMEIER and BOB CAVALLO.
You'll find more information in the piece submitted by JEAN THEEL below along with some hands-on life experiences and photos!  Thanks, Jean!
The Messengers were one of Milwaukee's favorite local groups back in the late 60's.  They lived in a huge old mansion on Newberry Blvd on Milwaukee's trendy Upper East Side just a few blocks away from UW Milwaukee and the recording equipment that is pictured in one of the articles I am sending was in the living room.  The guys had a girl living with them (Fat Pat) who made all of their clothes. I am enclosing photos of them in their cute red and black suits with white ruffled shirts. She left the band and opened her own boutique in the Haight Ashbury area and I visited the place when I was out there. These guys went through so many musicians that it was hard to keep track of them.  Jeff Taylor was their lead singer for a while and I remember following his group, The Henchmen, around the Waukesha Area when I was in high school.  I remember Greg Jeresek playing bass, Peter Barans on guitar and Augie Jurishica on drums but the other guys in these photos must have been in the group before I knew them.  Greg Jeresek was the electronics expert who put together and designed all of their equipment.  A few other front men for the group were Rick Cier and Gary Rozenmeier.  In fact, I went out with Mike Morgan, organ player for the group, a few times.  I'll never forget another keyboard player in the group that was going to Marquette.  His name was Jesse Roe and my girlfriend Sheri and I were at his apartment one night when he was doing a killer version of "Taxman" on the piano. When the song was over we just sat there with our mouths hanging open.  I'll never forget his rendition of that Beatles song.  It was just awesome.  In their early days, The Messengers played at high school and CYO dances.  There was a club in Milwaukee called Gallaghers and the Messengers were pretty much the house band.  A really weird place because the club was divided into two sides.  On the left side was the bar, where we weren't allowed and on the right side is where the under 21 crowd would sit but could not be served alcohol.  This place, just like The Scene where Hendrix played was also owned by Frank Balistrieri.  The Messengers went out to California just before Gallaghers closed down to try and "make it" there. This was in '68 or '69.  They had decided that they would call it quits if nothing came of that.  I heard that they had some offers out there but nothing that really interested them except for a cartoon series that was going to feature the band.  This didn't work out and the guys did their last gig at Gallaghers, performing all of their own material.  Before that, they were known around town for their version of "In The Midnight Hour."  I must say that their original material was so good that I still remember some of the songs today.  "Friends Again" was one that still sticks with me.  I am enclosing pictures of the guys playing at Gallaghers in their red suits.  What a sight.  LOL  I am also sending the links for some of their sites.  

MSN Entertainment - Music: Messengers 
Here is a site that addresses Michael and The Messengers and more specifically Milwaukee's Messengers.  It also mentions the keyboardist I told you about, Jesse Roe. Two different groups but a strange story anyway.
Rare Earth Album Discography
Here is another site Kent.  I have no idea who this black group is but it is certainly NOT The Messengers.  There are a few paragraphs about the group at the end of the page.
The Messengers - Motown's First White Group
Ironically, there was also a BLACK version of THE MESSENGERS floating around for a while!!!

This And That:

I have been very interested in music since way before Bill Haley told us we are gonna rock around the clock. Over the years I have had e mail dealings with good knowledgeable folk like your good self. Three others that come to mind are Gary King from Southington, CT., but I lost touch with him several years ago and he no longer responding to his e mails or a snail mail I once sent as well. Secondly, more recently a gent called Robert Fontenot who, like you and Gary, did a nostalgia musical sheet. Lastly,missing in the last few months is a guy called Big Jay Sorensen. His link says things like “has been assaulting the airwaves for four decades, in some really extraordinary places, as Disc Jockey, Talk Show Host, News Anchor, Beat Reporter, Commercial Production Director ... and occasionally even as Program Director and Operations Manager”
I just wondered if you might know of any of them and as to why they stopped the lists I appreciate the easy answer maybe they all popped their clogs but I just wonder.
Take care,
Wow, I haven't heard Gary King's name in ages.  He was a regular dealer in Goldmine Magazine around the same time I had a mail order record business ... very helpful and knowledgeable guy.  Maybe somebody else on the list knows if he's still with us.
I've heard the name Robert Fontenot before but we've never crossed paths.  As for Big Jay Sorensen, he's a Forgotten Hits Regular ... in fact, you'll find one of his emails from earlier this week above.  I'm sure he'll see this and get in touch with you.  (kk)

Thought you might be interested in some of the below news stories.

Ken Voss

Wednesday, November 30, 2016


SiriusXM will pay as much as $99 million to musical artists to settle a long-running California class action over so-called pre-1972 recordings, according to a proposal filed Monday.
A Nevada federal jury decided Monday that the creators of the hit Broadway musical “Jersey Boys,” which tells the story of 1960s pop group the Four Seasons, infringed the copyright on an unpublished autobiography of one of the band members.
The Beatles’ Apple Corps Ltd. on Monday fired its latest salvo at a copyright lawsuit over footage of the band’s iconic 1965 concert at Shea Stadium, telling a New York federal judge the suit is an opportunistic bid at “cashing in” on a recently released Beatles documentary that warrants sanctions.
Wow ... now THAT'S a cool little website!  Will have to check this from time to time!  (kk)

Was reading through the notes regarding Bobby Rydell and it reminded me of a story about the late Bobby Vee. Don’t recall the where or when’s, but apparently after a show many years ago he was talking to some fans and asked one if she had enjoyed the show.  Seems the reply wasn’t what he expected ... it rather surprised him and from the couple of shows I have seen since then, it seems to me that he did take notice.

The girl, when asked, said "It was alright ... but you didn’t sing them like you did on the records" and then went on to say "You have to be aware you are singing our memories and I don’t like them being messed around with.  In other words you are spoiling our memories."

As I said, I think he took note because he seemed to me to be as near as possible to the original sounds ever since.

Don’t forget, Kent, this coming Sunday, the fourth, is Freddy "Boom Boom"’s birthday

Happy birthday, Freddy, from you chauffeur in the UK.

Take care,

Rockin’ Lord Geoff (in England)

Happy Birthday, Freddy!
We've been pushing to get Freddy Cannon to do a concert at The Arcada Theatre for about eight years now!  And Freddy wants to do it ... especially now since he's so hot in Chi-Town right now because of his recent Svenghoolie appearances.  In fact, I'm sure ol' Sven will join Freddy on stage if and when it happens.
So one more appeal to Ron Onesti to book this show ... I know you guys have been talking!  Let's bring a little "Boom Boom" to The Arcada real soon!  (kk)