Saturday

BITS AND PIECES - NEWS ABOUT YOUR FAVORITE ARTISTS By Michael McDowell



WONDERFUL CHRISTMASTIME: Wednesday Week co-founders Kristi (pictured at left) and Kelly Callan and their mother Kay (shown here with Blitz Magazine Editor/Publisher Michael McDowell) were among the celebrants on Christmas night at the annual gathering held at the suburban Los Angeles home of former Rhino Records exec Gary Stewart. This year's festivities included the filming of a video tribute to Giovanna Aron, the wife of Balancing Act and Thee Holy Brothers co-founder Willie Aron, who lost her protracted battle against cancer in November. Story below (Photo by Don Williams). (Click on above image to enlarge).

WEST COAST CHILD OF SUNSHINE:
REMEMBERING BLUE CHEER
DRUMMER PAUL WHALEY

It was once said of them that their unique sound was so all permeating that they could have performed from a boat that was several miles out to sea and still be heard on shore.

Such was the capsule career summary that was often associated with the San Francisco-based trio, Blue Cheer. But while volume certainly played a part in their mission statement, theirs was an approach that in turn brought a unique and diverse perspective to their every work.

To wit, witness their innovative early 1968 take on Eddie Cochran's often covered Summertime Blues. Release on Philips in the United States, Summertime Blues was acclaimed for not only its intense delivery, but for its replacement of Cochran's "Kingfish" responses with guitar feedback and such duly offhand dismissals as, "Dig this, boy". It was an approach that served them well throughout their subsequent Vincebus Eruptum, Outsideinside and New! Improved! albums for the label.

Sadly, Blue Cheer drummer Paul Bobby Whaley (the song of country music veteran Paul Whaley Senior) passed away on the morning of 28 January 2019. He was 73.

A WONDERFUL TIME UP THERE:
SHIRLEY BOONE (WIFE OF PAT
BOONE, DAUGHTER OF RED FOLEY)
SUCCUMBS TO LINGERING ILLNESS

Sorry to report the passing of Shirley Boone, wife of veteran musician, actor, evangelist and long time friend of Blitz Magazine, Pat Boone and the daughter of country music visionary Clyde Julian "Red" Foley.


Having eloped in November 1953 while Pat was a student at Columbia University, the couple became parents to daughters Cherry, Lindy, Debby and Laurie by decade's end. Meanwhile, they established impressive careers both individually and collectively.

Pat of course went on to star in such acclaimed motion pictures as Bernardine, April Love, Journey To The Center Of The Earth and a 1962 remake of State Fair. He also turned out a series of acclaimed singles and albums for Dot, Tetragrammaton and other labels, including Love Letters In The Sand, Bernardine, Don't Forbid Me, Johnny Will, Speedy Gonzales, Beach Girl, Wish You Were Here Buddy and July You're A Woman

In turn, Shirley established a most impressive track record as an author, evangelist and television hostess, as well as through her work with the charitable foundation, Mercy Corps. The long established organization focuses on worldwide hunger relief.

Pat and Shirley Boone occasionally collaborated in the recording studio. The highlight of their collective efforts came in 1958 with the release of their monster classic Gospel rocking single for Dot, A Wonderful Time Up There.

Sadly, Shirley Boone contracted vasculitis in 2017, which led to her passing from congestive heart failure at her Beverly Hills, California home on the morning of 11 January. Shirley Boone was surrounded at her bedside by her husband and four daughters, all of whom sang hymns during her final moments. Shirley Boone was 84.


I'M ON MY WAY:
FAREWELL TO MARMALADE'S
DEAN FORD AND
THE CAPTAIN AND TENNILLE'S
DARYL DRAGON

Sadly, 2019 seems to be getting off to a discouraging start, musically speaking.

First came the New Years Day passing of Thomas McAleese, better known as Dean Ford. As co-founder and front man of Dean Ford and the Gaylords, he helped guide the band from strength to strength, finally changing their name to Marmalade.



As Marmalade, Ford and the band cut a number of impressive singles. Kicking off with It's All Leading Up To Saturday Night for CBS in 1966, Marmalade followed that promising debut with such world class gems as Baby Make It Soon, I See The Rain, Otherwise It's Been A Perfect Day, Man In A Shop, Rainbow, and their 1972 monster classic, Radancer, which was released on London Records in the United States. Ford was 72. Survivors include a daughter and grandson.

Meanwhile, virtuoso keyboardsman Daryl Frank Dragon rose to prominence alongside future Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band co-founder and front man, Charles Wright in 1962 as a member of Charles Wright And The Wright Sounds. Dragon and his brother, Dennis (who later went on to form the Surf Punks) cut an acclaimed single, Calamity on the Bet label in 1968. Daryl Dragon then persevered as a session musician, touring for a season in the early 1970s with the Beach Boys. He also contributed to the band's 1971 Surf's Up album, which is widely regarded as one of their definitive masterpieces.

But it was his numerous collaborations with wife Cathryn Antoinette "Toni" Tennille as the Captain and Tennille that forever cemented Dragon's legacy. They made their debut on the Butterscotch Castle label with the ambitious and endearing The Way I Want To Touch You, which was picked up by Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss' Hollywood-based A&M label in 1974.

However, it was their relentlessly optimistic 1975 cover of a Neil Sedaka composition that ultimately defined them to many. Love Will Keep Us Together was a massive success on all counts, finishing among Blitz Magazine's picks for Best Singles of the 1970s, and inspiring an album for A&M of the same name, which was released in both the English and Spanish languages. Their Love Will Keep Us Together album also included one of the earliest versions of the Beach Boys' Bruce Johnston's composition, I Write The Songs, which was concurrently recorded with considerable acclaim by both the late David Cassidy and Barry Manilow. 

In addition to hosting their own television series, the Captain And Tennille turned out one classic release after another into the early years of the 1980s, including Broddy Bounce, Lonely Night (Angel Face), Can't Stop Dancin', You Never Done It Like That, Do It To Me One More Time and Keepin' Our Love Warm, making the transition from A&M to the late Neil Bogart's Casablanca label in 1980.

Considerable accolades and acclaim notwithstanding, it was one 1978 A&M single that caught the attention of Blitz Magazine and ultimately finished among the top five in the Blitz Awards For The 1970s. Composed by the prolific Mark Safian and previously recorded by the late Andrew Gold, I'm On My Way was a sublime slice of relentless optimism that combined the euphoria of Dragon's work with the Beach Boys and some of the best vocal harmonies ever committed to record. 

Blitz Magazine's 1978 review of I'm On My Way began with the words, "The Captain And Tennille? You'd better believe it!" Indeed, with that one track alone, they had guaranteed their place in the upper echelons of all of music. Sadly, Dragon had suffered from renal problems in recent years, exacerbated by his divorce from Tennille in 2014. Nonetheless, she did relocate to Arizona to assist in his caregiving, which came to a tragic end with his passing from renal failure on 02 January. Dragon was 76.


WHAT TIME IS IT?:
VETERAN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
ARTISTS SHOW LOVE
TO COLLEAGUE WITH
VIDEO PROJECT

What Time Is It?

The late, great Eugene Pitt and his group, the Jive Five posed that question in 1962 with their classic single of the same name on the Beltone label. And on Christmas night 2018, a closely knit group of Southern California musicians and industry veterans provided the answer, in tandem with the spirit of Christmas.

At the annual Christmas night gathering at the suburban Los Angeles home of former Rhino Records exec Gary Stewart, the faithful lined up by the dozens to record from the heart tributes to Giovanna Aron, who lost her protracted battle against cancer in November of this year. Giovanna was the wife of Balancing Act and Thee Holy Brothers co-founder and renowned and beloved session musician, Willie Aron. 

The video project, which was underwritten by Stewart, was the highlight of an evening that also included fun, fellowship and the prerequisite industry banter among the more than one hundred guests in attendance. Many of those on hand have sustained productive working relationships for nearly a half century (and for some, even more). 

"It's just like a family should be", said Aron at evening's end.

And despite the solemnity of certain aspects of the occasion, it was nonetheless a gathering in which the real meaning of Christmas availed itself in a most encouraging way.


RAISE YOUR VOICE:
VOCAL LEGEND MEL CARTER
DEBUTS NEW SINGLE
ON A TIMELY TOPIC

With all of the ongoing dialogue in the public sector about the topic of firearms, it was inevitable that the most astute of musicians would weigh in on the subject. Among the first to do so was the legendary Debbie Gibson, via her contributions to I Am Peaceman, a 2017 collaboration with Sir Ivan. 

Most recently, the veteran vocal virtuoso Mel Carter has offered a tangible musical look at the issue with his new single, Raise The World - Sing Louder Than The Gun. A marked departure in terms of lyrical content from his most familiar and cherished sides for Arwin, Mercury, Derby, Bell, Liberty, Amos, Imperial and other labels, Raise The World - Sing Louder Than The Gun nonetheless finds Carter sublimely stating his case in a manner that is both uplifting and edifying to social commentator, lyricist and musicologist alike. 

"It is in full release mode", said Carter.

"I am sending out the MP3s now. I'm in the process of promoting it and adding the title to my account at CD Baby".

Those who opt to acquire the single will be blessed with a remarkable bonus track in the form of Carter's unique and inspiring acapella take on America's national anthem, The Star Spangled Banner. And while Raise The World - Sing Louder Than The Gun may not yet have generated the immediate recognition of that 1814 Francis Scott Key composition, Carter remains optimistic for its long term impact.

"I hope this anthem catches on and makes a difference", he said. 

As the voice of reason with regards to an often polarizing issue, there is much to suggest that Carter may well realize his vision.