Where Have All the Pop Stars Gone? Jeff March and Marti Smiley Childs
Listening to some of the great videos on UTUBE before reviewing this book I wanted to hear the music of The Buckinghams, Bobby Goldsboro, The Moody Blues, Sam and Dave, Ray Stevens, The Grass Roots and Donnie Brooks. Jeff March and Marti Smiley Childs have definitely hit the top 100 charts with this collection of biographies of the each artist or groups rise to fame and where they are now. All too often we wonder what happened to some of the artists, movie stars or TV personalities that we watched late at night or on Saturdays at the afternoon matinees.
Beginning with The Buckinghams and then Bobby Goldsboro the author’s highlight how they picked the right songs, their early days and where it all began. For over two decades or more this outstanding group featuring Carl Giammarese, Nick Fortuna, Marty Grebb, and John Poulos, the original group members graced stages and concert halls with their music, humor, wild performances and well known sound. Fans went wild went they performed and all too often it was difficult to hear the music and their voices as the crowds cheers rang out. With the Beatles on the rise and taking England and America by storm, the Buckinghams had to create song that would put them on the charts. Carl recalls the authors related the band’s intro to “Kind of A Drag, the song that would give them national exposure and put them as No 1 on the charts. Produced by Bonafede and Belloc who arranged their first tracks and record deal. Hiring Guercio as their manager they created four more top 20 hits but not everything went smoothly and things did change after a while. But, imagine being on The Ed Sullivan Show or even The Joey Bishop show could not have been anything other than exciting and heart stopping. But, although Guercio propelled them to stardom he also took actions that would alert them to the reverse. One song that the authors relate is Susan, which I did listen to on UTUBE and is really quite interesting. Although they loved the song they realized that their manager no longer had their best interest at heart. Perception is often quite powerful and Tufano realized that the money was flowing in but not in their wallets so changes had to be made and they were. Portraits were their last chance to rise to the top. With hits top forty Billboard hits and audiences that filled chairs for more than two decades during the 60’s and 70’s you can hear the rising cheers, listen to their sound and realize that they were just a group of kids that loved music and formed something special. Listening to Don’t You Care I just wanted to get up and dance and Mercy Mercy Mercy really gets you moving. Mercy Mercy Mercy is definitely my favorite and they should bring it back today. Kids would definitely move and dance to that one. Sometimes those oldies but goodies are really the best. The authors completed the short bio with where their concert tours in the present, their comeback, and their musical festival tours and then where they are now. Their concerts began in 2001 riding high on their Solid Gold 60’s summer tour. Performing all over the world, the United States, concert halls and tons of other sites the Buckinghams are definitely here to stay in the present. Like a good mystery if you want to learn more about them, their U.S. Hit singles and where they are now you have to read the first section of Where Have All the Pop Stars Gone? Volume 2 to find out. The authors include brief bios of Carl Giammarese and Nick Fortuna and where they are now and what they are doing. Dennis Tufano is the third bio followed by Marty Grebb and the late John Poulos. Called the Epilogue included after the bios of each group or individual artist, the authors created a special tribute to each band member highlighting their successes and career. I will leave that to the reader and turn my attention to the next outstanding performer and listen to some of his music: Bobby Goldsboro.
Bobby Goldsboro was unique and different in his own right. He did not count on others to write his songs and compose his material. His career rocked and the talented performer of the 60’s began as a guitar player with everyone’s favorite singer Roy Orbison. Only allowed to take one musician with him on tour, Bobby was chosen to go along with this icon. Imagine touring with him and being on the same stage as the Beatles. His first recording was made in Alabama and the song was called Molly, which I listened to on UTUBE followed by another song that I wanted to hear titled Honey. This song is beautiful and seeing him on UTUBE perform it really brings it alive. The words are just perfect. He had 15 top forty hits and imagine being booked to open for the Rolling Stones that must have been an unbelievable thrill. Honey became his best selling hit and the formation of the House of Gold Music, which published Wind Beneath My Wings. As a songwriter he earned 27 BMI awards and worked with Bette Midler, Paul Anka and even Dolly Parton. Scoring major hits and moving to television he syndicated Bobby Goldsboro Show, which believe it or not ran for three seasons, and became one of the highest rated variety shows.
Bobby’s major goal was to write songs and as great as creating records was writing songs was what kept him alive and vital. Devoting more time to writing and producing children’s entertainment in the 80’s, audio books and much more you can learn more about all of his singles page 55. Where is he now? Read about his life, past, present and hopes for the future on pages 56- 65. Can You Feel It: Great song that I just listened to but my favorite: And I Love You So: 1971. When they play this at weddings I will remember that I heard it on UTUBE today. The words are amazing and so meaningful.
Next, the authors introduce a group that I know little about but I did listen to their music while writing this review: The Moody Blues. This group started as an R&B group. They began in Birmingham, England and were founded by Mike Pinder and Ray Thomas. Ray played harmonica and did the vocals and Mike also did vocals and the keyboards. Pinder did not remain with the band even though they were successful. The Moody Blues were unique in their sound and Mike and Ray united with another band the authors tell us called the Krew Kats
Going overseas to Germany where rock bands rules and returning in 1963 to England the musical scene greatly changes and jobs and opportunities were limited. New management, new promoters new members: Denny Laine, Graame Edge and Tony Secunda a new manager, their tours were booked and the band would play at the Marquee Club. As a result Decca Records picked them up. Their first record or single was “Steal Your Heart Away, in 1964.. I did listen to it and I think my favorite song that they recorded is: Twilight Time followed by The Voice and the video is really amazing and quite graphic. The scenes, the colorful scenery and the faces are compelling. The ocean, the solar system and the sky is earth’s views are great. In 1974 five of the members of the group recorded and released solo albums. Their album Days of Future Passed became more than just their trademark release. It made history for them. Creating songs that infused both rock and classical sounds would be new to listeners and to the record company too. I listened to two of the songs so that I would understand why the authors included this amazing group: Nights in White Satin and Tuesday Afternoon. Isn’t Life Strange is interesting and the music sounds churchlike. A Question of Balance was the deciding factor that they would record albums that they could use in concerts. I could go on forever and give you a list of all of their music but then I don’t want to ruin it for the reader and give away too much about any of these great artists. But, before you read the book you really need to listen to the music to understand the time periods and the music they created. The rest and where they are now: You need to find out for yourself.
The lasts four artists are Donnie Brooks, Steve and Dave, Ray Stevens and The Grass Roots. Donnie Brooks had two major hits one being Mission Bell. He achieved fame in 1971. Mission Bell was a huge success for him. His career spanned over four decades. Born in 1936 he passed about in 2007. He was a great American Pop Singer. Adopted when he was a teen by his stepfather he took his name John Faircloth. Bertha Lou was recorded in 1959 and he made his first recording using the name Donny Brooks that same year. Mission Bell was recorded by Era Records and made it to number seven on the charts.
Sam Moore and Dave Prater Jr. are next and are noted for being among the world’s “most popular recording and performing artists, and with their frenzied stage appearances established themselves as the most electrifying duo in the history of rhythm and blues.” With a sound that was unique to them and with hints of Sam Cooke, The Impressions and Ben E. King they soared. Next the authors included Ray Stevens whose Everything is Beautiful is still one of my favorite songs. Ray Stevens recorded romantic ballads. He was a recording session producer, music publisher, a session musician, disc jockey and even the owner of a musical theater. He not only recorded ballads but the author’s share with readers that he also recorded pop music. Beginning with Monument in 1968 and hitting the Top 30 with Mr. Businessman and even turned down the chance to record with Burt Bacharach. Signing with Andy Williams’ label, Barnaby after appearing on his show he hit the charts with Everything is Beautiful, which was a huge hit, and a Grammy Award Winner. Just heard the Mississippi Squirrel Revival, which is really great. Imagine sneaking a squirrel into church and wait until you watch the video to see the end result. Ahab the Arab is hilarious and so is the video. Next, last but not least The Grass Roots. They had tons of major hits like Midnight Confessions, Temptation Eyes and Where Were You When I Needed You? They hit the top 40 charts and had seven gold singles and even one platinum one. The history behind this group and the biography is not that easy to relate because three groups created the Grass Roots. The first was writer/producer P.F. Sloan, next Steve Barri as a pen name or pseudonym under which they released some folk rock. They also needed to recruit a band that would become the Grass Roots. The Bedouins were the band that they were interested in and the authors relate their story and how they became part of the Grass Roots within the first part of their section. Rob Grill, Rick Coonce, Warren Entner and Creed Bratton comprised this group and are pictured on page 184. In 1971 Coonce left the group and was replaced by Joe Pollard. Then, Joel Larson from the first generation of the group returned and Dennis Provisor left and resigned with Dunhill. New faces, new sounds and on the charts for over 307 weeks. SO, what songs did I listen it: Where Were You When I Needed You and I’d Wait A Million Years. Let’s Live For Today introduced by Jimmy Durante. The music is amazing, the history brings these groups right where they belong into the present and kept me singing and dancing all afternoon while reading this outstanding FIVE PLATINUM RECORDS Where Have All The Pop Stars Gone? They are right here within this outstanding book with their bios, where they are now and what some still hope for their futures. So, listen real hard and you just might hear your favorite song. The pictures added are timeless and priceless
Fran Lewis: Reviewer