Thursday

WELCOME TO BLITZ MAGAZINE'S WEB SITE!


ANSWERED PRAYER: From the onset, the legendary suburban Detroit radio station WKNR Keener 13 has been readily and consistently upheld as the single most impacting inspiration behind the creation, growth, development and mission statement of Blitz Magazine - The Rock And Roll Magazine For Thinking People. And on Saturday the fourteenth of September in Novi, Michigan, hundreds of industry colleagues and supporters gathered for the so-called Last Radio Reunion to honor the WKNR Keener Key Men Of Music, as well as alumni from WXYZ, WKMH, CKLW, WJBK, KRTH-FM, WLS and other such like minded pioneering radio outlets. Editor/Publisher Michael McDowell recalls the highlights of that most extraordinary event in The Great Radio Reunion story. Pictured above at that landmark gathering (left to right) are beloved Keener Key Men Of Music Paul Cannon and Bob Green, with Blitz Magazine's Michael McDowell.  (Click on The Great Radio Reunion link under the Previous Posts heading at right for the full story). (Click on the above image to enlarge).

WELCOME TO THE INTERET HOME
FOR BLITZ MAGAZINE
SINCE 1975 -
THE ROCK AND ROLL MAGAZINE
FOR THINKING PEOPLE

Welcome to the official web site for Blitz, The Rock And Roll Magazine For Thinking People. Since 1975, Blitz has been the leading voice for the discerning music enthusiast. Blitz Magazine was also one of the first magazines of its kind to embrace the internet, having also been online since January 1996.

Here you will find news and updates about all of the key artists essential to the growth and development of rock and roll music and related genres, including rhythm and blues, country and western, jazz and easy listening. For highlights from recent past editions of the Bits And Pieces and Shape Of Things To Come columns, click on the archival postings on the right hand side of this page. Be sure and check back frequently for regular updates.

If you have any questions, please e-mail us at BlitzMcD@aol.com.


Michael McDowell
Editor/Publisher
Blitz Magazine
Since 1975 - The Rock And Roll Magazine For Thinking People

E-Mail us at BlitzMcD@aol.com for a list of available back issues.


Be sure to follow Blitz on Twitter:
@BlitzMagazine
and
on Facebook at:
Blitz Magazine - The Rock And Roll Magazine For Thinking People

AUDREY'S MUSICAL JOURNEY:

Follow the fascinating and unfolding tale (through her favorite music) of the life and times of Blitz Magazine's late and beloved Photo Editor, Audrey McDowell, as told by her husband, Blitz Editor/Publisher Michael McDowell. A Facebook exclusive! "Like" us on Facebook at Blitz Magazine - The Rock And Roll Magazine For Thinking People, and watch for further installments.

IN THE BITS AND PIECES COLUMN:

We remember long time VENTURES guitarist GERRY McGEE, who succumbed to a heart attack suffered during a live performance in Japan on 12 October.

In a free standing interview (under the Previous Posts column at right), veteran composer and vocalist EVIE SANDS recalls her time in the studio, preparing for her forthcoming new album, Scandal Du Jour.

In an extraordinary moment of inspiration, beloved vocalist, composer, producer, arranger and multi-instrumentalist DEBBIE GIBSON entered her home studio, sat at the piano and on the spot recorded an original instrumental masterwork, French Carousel.

Prayers in progress for comedy pioneer and long time Jubilee Records recording artist RUSTY WARREN, who is recovering from two major surgeries on 08 August. 

IN THE REISSUES / ANTHOLOGIES SECTION OF
THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME COLUMN:

Verve Records has raised the bar exponentially with the release of the previously unavailable Live At The Village Gate 1961 2CD set by the Stan Getz Quartet.

The Portage, Michigan-based JAM Records has reissued the classic 1978 Emerald Vision album, one of the early excursions into the Gospel / psych hybrid that has since become the ad hoc trademark of the recorded legacy of the prolific and inspirational Jeremy Morris.

Ash Wells' Rare Rockin' Records and Teensville family of labels decisively maintains its front runner status with the release of The Night Has A Thousand Soundalikes, a thirty-five track salute to rock and roll pioneer Bobby Vee, featuring duly inspired originals by Jimmy Clanton, Kenny Karen, Tobin Matthews, the Crickets, Cliff Richard, Michael Landon, Brian Hyland, Kenny Lynch, Jimmy Griffin, Jerry Naylor and others.

Capitol Records has celebrated the one hundredth birthday of label mainstay Nat King Cole with the release of two landmark collections that represent both the artist's most familiar works and his numerous forays into international linguistics. 

Editor/Publisher Michael McDowell takes an in depth look at the eight volume WJBK Hits Various Artists anthology series, which chronicles a wealth of essential and obscure singles from the weekly charts published by that legendary Detroit radio station from 1956 to 1964. 

IN THE NEW RELEASES SECTION OF
THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME COLUMN:

Veteran London-born vocalist and composer Ola Onabule takes the roundabout approach to drive his considerable point home in his latest Rugged Ram release, Point Less.

Stung by the charges of pedestrianism often leveled at the genre overall, harmonica whiz and keeper of the blues flame Bob Corritore enlisted the services of a number of like minded colleagues to set the record straight with their latest Vizztone release, Do The Hip-Shake Baby!

Beloved folk music pioneers The Brothers Four are commemorating their phenomenal 60+ year run with the release of their all new Renewal album for the Seattle Works label.

The multi-faceted Doughboys lead guitarist Gar Francis once again showcases his harder-edged leanings in French Kisses, the all new Bongo Boy Records release by the New Bardots.

The Victoria-based first generation garage rock greats the Tol-Puddle Martyrs return with Another Earth, their latest for the Secret Deals label.

Colin Linden and Luther Dickinson join forces for Amour, a fresh take on romance (Stony Plain Records) via their unique interpretations of monster classics by Clyde McPhatter, Leadbelly, Ray Price, Charlie Feathers, Chuck Willis and others.

The prolific veteran composer, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Dana Countryman asserts his consistently evolving musical mission statement with wry understatement in Cabaret Of Love, his latest release for Sterling Swan Records.


Tuesday

THE GREAT RADIO REUNION


BOBBIN' WITH THE ROBIN: Beloved former WKMH and WKNR Keener 13 air personality, Swingin' Time host, author and event guest of honor Robin Seymour was visibly moved during his lengthy discourse on radio when the hundreds in attendance sang Happy Birthday to him in honor of his 93rd birthday. The so-called Last Radio Reunion on the 14th of September in Novi, Michigan was masterminded by WXYZ veteran Lee Alan, and brought together giants of the industry from WKMH, WKNR, WXYZ, CKLW, WAAM, WWJ, WLS, KRTH-FM and other stations, as well as such renowned musicians as Gino Washington, the Reflections, Jack Scott, the Rationals' Scott Morgan and Frijif Pink drummer Rick Stevers. Editor/Publisher Michael McDowell recalls the highlights of this extraordinary gathering below. Photo by Michael McDowell (Click on above image to enlarge).


WOW! WE HAVE A WINNER!!:
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE
(HOPEFULLY NOT) LAST
RADIO REUNION
By Michael McDowell

There has long been ongoing dialogue within Christian circles with regards to the presence of miracles in the modern era. To be certain, a solid case could be made in the affirmative for their continuation in light of the miraculous gathering of some of the radio industry's most influential pioneers on the afternoon of the fourteenth of September. 

The concept had been in the planning stages for months. The idea originated with long time WXYZ air personality and author Lee Alan, who billed the gathering as The Last Radio Reunion. But if the overwhelming consensus of the various participants factors into the equation, this landmark gathering will be anything but a finale. 

Signs that the event was destined to be a landmark of epic proportions were in evidence before the proceedings had even begun. Among the first to arrive at the Suburban Showplace Center in Novi, Michigan prior to the 1:00PM start time was Frijid Pink drummer and co-founder, Rick Stevers. The veteran rocker was on hand to lend his support to the various participants, as well as to generate enthusiasm for the band's forthcoming new album (which he did with at the onset Michigan Music History CEO Mike Jackson and Blitz Magazine Editor/Publisher Michael McDowell).

Thankfully, he did not have to wait long for any such additional opportunities.

Moments after Stevers' arrival, guest of honor Robin Seymour walked through the main entrance. A veteran of both the iconic WKNR Keener 13 and its predecessor, WKMH, Seymour (who in 1970 re-created a half hour segment of his WKMH show for the 1956 installment of the Cruisin' series of albums on the Increase label) was of course the long time host of the immeasurably influential Swingin' Time television series, which aired for several seasons on CKLW Channel 9 in neighboring Windsor, Ontario.

Stevers immediately walked over to Seymour and asked, "Do you remember me?"

"Frijid Pink!", Seymour responded matter of factly, as the two embraced like long lost brothers.

Moments later, the event doors were opened, as participant after participant checked in at the door and greeted one another in like manner.

Among the early arrivals were Seymour's CKLW colleagues, including Charlie O'Brien (who went on to a fruitful career at Windsor, Ontario's CKWW 580 AM and today oversees the Big8radio.com website), long time traffic reporter Jojo Shutty-MacGregor, and Big 8 air personality Johnny Williams (who as Tom D'Angelo produced the iconic Palmer Records vocal group, Tim Tam And The Turn-Ons). 

While O'Brien, Shutty-MacGregor and Williams have all been regular participants in a CKLW reunion held in the Detroit suburb of Saint Clair Shores each summer, this particular event also brought together a number of their one time colleagues who had not participated in such gatherings for quite some time. They included CKLW air veterans Jim Edwards and Max Kinkel, as well as station Program Director Bill Hennes. 

Sadly, unable to attend due to prior commitments were long time CKLW morning drive hero (and producer of the Rockin' Rebels and the Buena Vistas), Tom Shannon, and early 1970s overnight man, Ric Allen, who had been in the area earlier in the week for a high school reunion.

"Sorry, I had to get back early", said Allen, who currently resides in North Carolina.

As the CKLW veterans made their way throughout the crowd (which filled the convention center to capacity), those who brought various artifacts, merchandise and memorabilia with them quickly assembled their respective exhibits. They then directed their collective attention towards greeting a seemingly endless stream of colleagues and admirers. 

Among them were Mount Pleasant, New York native Art Cervi. Long a behind the scenes fixture at the much missed Impact Records (recording home of vocal group greats the Shades Of Blue, renowned vocalist and composer Sixto Rodriguez, Sincerely Yours, Mickey Denton and first generation garage rock legends the Human Beings), Cervi was in turn an ardent classic car enthusiast, who at one time was part of a related group that also included long time Blitz Magazine contributor Jerry Schollenberger. Cervi was on hand to showcase his autobiography, which also includes many fascinating behind the scenes accounts of his long time portrayal of television personality Bozo The Clown.

Also on hand representing the unique juxtapositions of the worlds of sports, music and broadcasting was legendary Detroit Tigers pitcher Dennis Dale "Denny" McLain. Best known in the latter capacity for his unparalleled 31-6 regular season record in 1968 (the year in which the Tigers would go on to a come from behind upset victory in Game Seven over the Saint Louis Cardinals), McLain is also an accomplished organist, with two albums in that capacity for Capitol Records in 1968 - 1969 to his credit. McLain, who went on to a career in broadcasting, fielded a number of inquiries that afternoon about the possibility of his return to the recording studio.

"Not a chance!", he quipped. 

"It's been too long".

Thankfully, the same could not be said for the event's musical representatives, the Reflections. Led by their most capable co-founder and genial front man, Tony Micale, the Reflections were still rebounding from the recent retirement of fellow group founder and bass vocalist John Dean, due to health concerns. 

The Reflections' original line up (which, in addition to Micale and Dean also included Ray Steinberg, Phil Castrodale and the late Dan Bennie) recorded the landmark (Just Like) Romeo And Juliet album for Ed Wingate's Golden World label in 1964. Alongside such masterworks as the Demensions' 1963 My Foolish Heart album for Coral and the Belmonts' ambitious 1962 Carnival Of Hits LP for their own Sabina label, the Reflections' Golden World album is widely regarded as one of the era's definitive masterworks of vocal group harmony. 

The Reflections went on to record a wealth of great singles for Golden World in the ensuing months, including Like Columbus Did, Shabby Little Hut, June Bride, Deborah Ann and the utterly stupendous and anthemic March 1965 monster classic, Poor Man's Son. The Reflections influenced a number of fellow artists, with the Rockin' Berries covering Poor Man's Son for Reprise and the Vacels turning their You're My Baby (And Don't You Forget It) into a hallmark of first generation garage rock for Kama Sutra. Michael and the Messengers followed suit in 1967 (as did Ultimate Spinach in 1969) with their faithful interpretations of the title track from the Reflections' Golden World album.

But it was the current line up of the Reflections that provided a most inspiring musical interlude about halfway into the proceedings. Although Dean's distinctive bass is sorely missed, long time Reflections member Gary Banovetz (himself a veteran of the Larados, who recorded the classic Bad Bad Guitar Man single for George Braxton's Detroit-based Fox label in 1957) rallied to the cause sublimely, as evidenced in their spirited rendition of the Capris' Morse Code Of Love. Current Reflections Joey Finazzo and Sal Prado in turn more than reiterated their considerable capabilities via inspired readings of the Drifters' Save The Last Dance For Me and Jackie Wilson's To Be Loved, closing their set with a fresh as ever run through of their 1964 signature single.

"We really need to do a new album!", Tony Micale observed later that evening. The Reflections have roughly a dozen albums to their credit to date.

Musical interlude notwithstanding, the primary focus of the event was on the many iconic broadcasters in attendance, as well as those who sadly had passed on throughout the years. Following opening remarks by Lee Alan, the evening's Master of Ceremonies (and Alan's one-time WXYZ colleague) Joey Reynolds (whose WXYZ theme song was recorded by the Four Seasons and issued as a 45) called upon the audience for a moment of silence to honor their fallen friends. Many of their names recurred in the proceedings throughout the evening, from such early pioneers as Mickey Shorr and Toby David, to the legendary air staff of the much missed WJBK (whose ranks at various points in time included Clark Reid, Casey Kasem, Bob Edgington and future first generation garage rock visionary Terence "Terry Knight" Knapp), as well as WXYZ's Marc Avery, WKNR's Jim Jeffries, Ted Clark, Frank "Swingin' " Sweeney and Jim Tate, and CKLW's charismatic Bill Gable. 

However, throughout the five hour presentation, the mood was for the most part anything but somber. Ever the relentlessly upbeat tour de force he was while on the air, Reynolds peppered his remarks with good natured puns aimed at his one time competitors, and even engaged in an ad hoc moment of stand up comedy with CKLW's Jojo Shutty-MacGregor during the CKLW segment. 

Interestingly enough, it was during guest of honor Robin Seymour's turn at center stage that one of the afternoon's more amusing exchanges occurred. In attendance (although not performing) was the beloved and still very much active pioneering rocker, Jack Scott, whose utterly stupendous 1957 Two Timin' Woman single for ABC Paramount was hailed by Blitz Magazine as one of the Best Singles of the 20th Century.

During his lengthy and captivating discourse, Seymour made reference to Scott, invoking his classic 1958 Carlton label ballad single, My True Love. On the flip side of that single was an original rockabilly raver, Leroy, which was a re-recording of an earlier track entitled Greaseball.

Pointing out that WKMH was initially not amenable to airing that decidedly rocking B-side, Seymour sought clarification from onlookers by asking, "What was the name of that B-side?"

"Leroy", responded Blitz Magazine's Michael McDowell. Scott's extensive catalog for the ABC Paramount, Carlton, Top Rank and Capitol labels have been long time staples of Blitz's recorded archives. 

"Leroy? No, I don't think that was it", said Seymour.

"Let's get Jack Scott up here. He'll know".

With that, Seymour summoned Scott to center stage from his vantage point at the back of the room. Scott quickly bounded up the aisle and joined Seymour in a matter of seconds. 

"What was the flip side of My True Love?", Seymour asked the artist.

"Leroy", Scott deadpanned, as the two went on to a lighthearted exchange that met with a considerable roar of approval from the audience. 

Seymour was concurrently joined for a time by Scott Morgan, co-founder and lead vocalist of the iconic first generation garage rock quartet, the Rationals, who were frequent Swingin' Time guests. The Rationals are widely regarded as having recorded the definitive cover of the late Otis Redding's Respect (which they did for both the A-Square and Cameo labels in 1966), and in fact received Redding's blessing as being his favorite among the many renditions recorded in the wake of his 1965 original. Throughout the evening, Seymour also autographed copies of his just released autobiography (written in tandem with Carolyn Rosenthal), The DJ That Launched 1000 Hits.

With Alan and Reynolds each navigating the transitions as needed, much of the afternoon's festivities were given to individual presentations that honored both the presenter and their respective subject matter. To that effect, WKNR, CKLW and WOMC veteran Dick Purtan (who succeeded the late Frank Sweeney in the 5:00 to 9:00 morning drive slot on WKNR in 1965) was honored for his extensive work on behalf of family issues. In turn, WKNR's beloved Jerry Goodwin (who, along with Sweeney, came on board in early 1964 upon the departures of James "Jim Sanders" Beasley and the mercurial and endlessly entertaining Mort Crowley, and remained in the 12:00 - 3:00PM slot at the station until 1968) was saluted for his tireless efforts at the time on behalf of the ALSAC charity and its research in the ongoing battle against Muscular Dystrophy. 

And while a representative from Motown Records also feted Robin Seymour for his extraordinary work on Swingin' Time (along with a brief salute to such groundbreaking stations as WCHB and WJLB), one of the most pleasant surprises of the evening was an ad hoc performance by broadcasting pioneer Chuck Daugherty, who enthralled the crowd with a reprisal of his storied work as a part of the cast of WXYZ's legendary radio drama, The Lone Ranger.

Lee Alan himself also provided one of the event's most memorable moments with tales of WXYZ's ongoing concert presentations at the Walled Lake Casino. His account of driving pioneering rocker Chuck Berry to one such show in his 1963 Corvette was brought full circle with the presentation of a Universal Music box set featuring Berry's most revered sides for Chess Records and a disc devoted to a full length 1963 concert by Berry at the Walled Lake facility to a surviving member of the casino owners' family. 

Most encouragingly, two of radio's most charismatic and respected personalities braved ongoing health concerns to join in the festivities. They included Kevin Sanderson (who for a brief season in the 1970s worked with Blitz Magazine Editor / Publisher Michael McDowell at WAAM AM 1600 in nearby Ann Arbor, Michigan), as well as CKLW alumnus Max Kinkel, a decorated Vietnam veteran who made an impassioned plea on behalf of his fellow service men and women to the crowd. The frequent responses from observers of "Thank you for your service" were of course intended for far more than just his time behind the microphone at Windsor, Ontario's Big 8.

But without a doubt, the absolute highlight of the gala was the gathering of the beloved alumni of the immeasurably influential WKNR Keener 13. From its debut on 31 October 1963 on the 1310 AM frequency (occupied up to that point by WKMH) until its own tragic demise in April 1972, WKNR Keener 13 implemented, developed, nurtured and cemented a legacy without parallel in all of radio. 

Based on the "intelligent flexibility" concept masterminded by Keener 13's principal visionary, Bob Green (a WKMH veteran who was with WKNR from its 1963 inception through 1968, and again for a brief season in the early 1970s), WKNR merged the (occasionally) seemingly incongruous attributes of entertainment and matters of a cerebral nature into a fast paced, challenging and unwaveringly enthralling format which steadfastly maintained that air personalities, advertisements, public service announcements and news segments were to be as captivating as the groundbreaking and richly diverse music that the station premiered weeks (and sometimes months) before it caught on with a national audience. 

To that effect, on a trip to Italy in 1966, Green acquired a sizeable cross section of current 45s which had not seen release in the United States. True to form, he aired them on WKNR upon his return, thereby providing the only known radio exposure on the North American continent to such bonafide first generation garage rock classics as the Motowns' Prendi La Chitarra E Vai (issued on RCA Italiana) and I Giganti's utterly stupendous and anthemic Rifi label single, La Bomba Atomica

"I still have them", said Green, whose archives of all things WKNR absolutely staggers the imagination.

Aside from their prerequisite backgrounds in an executive capacity in radio prior to their respective affiliations with WKNR, the Keener Key Men Of Music (as they were then known) each contributed specific areas of expertise to the collective mission statement, just as members of a band combine their various talents and personality traits to the recording studio and stage experience. And while it is most assuredly within reason to assert that, within that context, Bob Green has been to radio what Brian Wilson is to music, in turn, fellow WKNR great Paul Cannon was ideally suited for his own respective role at the station.

While initially on the air primarily in a weekend and occasional evening capacity, Cannon's primarily responsibility at the onset was the production of the weekly and immeasurably influential WKNR Music Guide. Having succeeded Frank "Swingin' " Sweeney in that capacity upon the latter's departure from the station in early 1965, Cannon had the daunting task (which was heavily monitored among the station's countless followers) of sorting through the astounding 300 to 600 new single releases that arrived at the station each week during that most productive of musical eras, generating consensus among his colleagues as to which few of the lot would be suitable for debut on the next week's edition of the WKNR Music Guide (which listed a top 31 singles, as well as a Key Song Of The Week) and then determining each release's position on that chart via a combination of record sales, listener feedback and input from of key area retailers and rack jobbers. 

Whether or not his formidable skills in that respect were developed during his earlier career in police work is not certain. Nonetheless, Cannon's every move in terms of record placement on those weekly WKNR charts (which were readily available at such area record outlets as Dearborn Music, Fox Hole Records and Ross Music, as well as such record friendly department store outlets as Arlans, E.J. Korvette's, Shoppers Fair, Crowley's, Topps and J.L. Hudson's) was the subject of no small amount of dialogue and contention among observers. 

Contention in that, while statistics reflecting performance are one issue, music appreciation is almost invariably subjective and as such frequently at odds with those stats. Hardly a week went by at WKNR when Cannon did not have to field either telephone or written inquiries from listeners with regards to the current week's WKNR Music Guide and the performance therein of their record of choice. To his considerable credit, Cannon responded to each inquiry with supreme diplomacy, augmented by an often beyond the call of duty explanation of circumstances.

It is a testimony to his formidable acumen in that respect that, early in the afternoon's festivities in Novi that Cannon fielded one such test scenario from Blitz Magazine. Not surprisingly, his reaction to the query was one that suggested he had addressed this specific inquiry on more than one occasion. 

At each year's end, Keener 13 published a special edition of the WKNR Music Guide that reflected the most successful records of that particular year. In due course, those year end listings were supplemented by a brief statement which asserted that a given record's position within that listing was based upon its various chart positions and the length of its run throughout the calendar year.

But with respect to the 1965 edition, a pair of glaring omissions called the entire process into question. 

At the top of that list was the Four Tops' I Can't Help Myself, which spent two weeks in the number one position at WKNR in the Spring of that year. The Four Tops' single was followed by Red Roses For A Blue Lady (both the instrumental version by Bert Kaempfert and the vocal rendition by Vic Dana), the Rolling Stones' anthemic (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction, the Vogues' harmony rich interpretation of Petula Clark's You're The One and Sounds Orchestral's definitive instrumental rendition of Vince Guaraldi's Cast Your Fate To The Wind.

Interestingly enough, each of those singles enjoyed a greater run at number one throughout the year than did the Four Tops' single, although I Can't Help Myself outlasted each by a week in overall chart duration. All well and good.

However, one single (which spent an impressive three weeks atop the WKNR charts in the Spring of 1965) outpaced them all, yet was nowhere to be found on that year end chronicle. That single was Herman's Hermits' MGM label masterpiece, Can't You Hear My Heartbeat. Ironically, the band's lone appearance on that year end listing was their Mrs. Brown You've Got A Lovely Daughter single, which lasted a mere six weeks during its run and only topped WKNR's listings for one week.

Also missing from that year end commemorative listing was the Chiffons' psych rock masterpiece, Nobody Knows What's Goin' On (In My Mind But Me), which had the unique distinction of derailing (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction off of the number one spot in July of that year. Yet the bottom rungs of that year end Top 31 featured such not as well performing (but no less iconic) offerings by the Moody Blues, Len Barry, the Supremes and Billy Joe Royal, none of which had spent any time in the top slot throughout the year. 

While seemingly a matter for only the most devout of statisticians, all of that is brought up here only to underscore the both the tremendous acumen and sense of modesty that Cannon maintains to the present day with respect to his accomplishments at WKNR. He was at once readily familiar with the scenario at hand, and resolved the seeming impasse most matter of factly.

"It wasn't intentional", he said.

"There was no slight whatsoever intended to the artists. It was an oversight. It happened occasionally. After all, we were only human!"

Only human, perhaps. But the response that WKNR's beloved alumni received upon taking center stage that afternoon was the kind reserved for only the most treasured of recipients. Obviously moved by the enormity of the ovation, Bob Green, Paul Cannon, Jerry Goodwin, one time WKNR Contact News anchor Erik Smith and latter day WKNR great Pat St. John quickly regrouped to deliver what could only be described as a doctorate level crash course in radio. 

Among the highlights were Paul Cannon's tongue in cheek recollection of the highlights of one of WKNR's few missteps, the Vote For Your Favorite Principal contest of 1967. The idea was to have students of the area schools submit index cards listing the name of their school and its respective principal, with the winners receiving prizes that would benefit both administration and student. 

Not surprisingly, given the enormous influence that the station wielded over the community (best typified by Bob Green's casual reference to pizza on air in 1964, which in short order caused a traffic jam in both directions on Michigan Avenue, as literally hundreds of pizzas made their way to the station minutes later), the area schools responded in short order. 

However, due to the sheer enormity of submissions, it readily became apparent that the results could not be determined by physical tally. As such, the results were ultimately calculated by weighing the boxes in which the index cards were brought to the station.

It was eventually determined by that methodology that the winner of the contest was Divine Child High School in Dearborn, Michigan. However, that determination did not sit well with the student body of Crestwood High School in neighboring Dearborn Heights. Upon further investigation, it was learned that some of the submissions were weighted down with telephone directories at the bottom of the box, thereby calling the entire process into question. 

From the station's perspective, the winner had already been announced, and the matter was considered closed. Nonetheless, the student bodies of the two high schools found themselves at odds with one another as a result. Thankfully, timely and astute intervention from each school's respective faculty averted what appeared to be a rapidly escalating situation. 

Nonetheless, as a fitting testimony to WKNR's ongoing pervasive impact on the industry as a whole, also on hand were several who in their respective ways are celebrating that legacy. They include Motor City Radio Flashback's Jim Feliciano (whose web site includes copious amounts of airchecks from WKNR, WXYZ, CKLW, WJBK and other stations), as well as radio historian Art Vuolo, documentary film maker Kevin Willett, and keener13.com website curator Scott Westerman, whose highly anticipated new book on the station will include all eight and a half years' worth of the weekly WKNR Music Guides, as well as commentary from station vets.

Aforementioned infallibilities aside, observers at large found such frank admissions by the Keener Key Men Of Music all the more endearing. As such, the afternoon's ceremonies concluded on a most high note, preceeded by a benediction from WLS / Chicago vet John "Records" Landecker, as well as a cameo appearance in the audience by pioneering Northern Soul giant Gino Washington (whose numerous outings for the Ric-Tic, Son Bert, Wand and Atac labels represent the upper echelons of the genre), along with words of encouragement from Alan and Reynolds to those involved in the burgeoning satellite radio industry. 

Later that evening, a number of the key participants participated in an afterglow party at a lakeside restaurant in neighboring Walled Lake. The festivities there continued unabated, highlighted by an animated discourse on radio by Shotgun Tom Kelly (who had succeeded the much missed Real Don Steele on Los Angeles' KRTH-FM upon the latter's passing in August 1997), plus an impassioned dialogue from Keener's Jerry Goodwin on the importance of thinking outside of the box (and to that effect, Goodwin in recent years has taught Shakespearean drama on a college level, and most recently has co-starred in a number of acclaimed theatre and film productions). 

"This is an event that is going to remain front and center in the conversations of a lot of people for some time to come", said Michigan Music History's Mike Jackson at evening's end. 

To be certain, if anyone had been seeking an example of answered prayer, the Radio Reunion fit the bill as succinctly as could be hoped. And if there is indeed any ongoing prayer in its wake, it is that this extraordinary event is not the last one. 


EVIE SANDS INTERVIEW


ANOTHER FULL DOSE OF LOVE: Beloved veteran vocalist, composer and multi-instrumentalist Evie Sands and her band have spent most of the summer months of 2019 in the studio in preparation for the release of Scandal Du Jour, her highliy anticipated follow up to 2017's acclaimed Shine For Me on her own R-Spot label  Sands (pictured above with bassist Teresa Cowles, drummer Eric Vesper and guitarist Jason Berk prior to a live performance in February 2019) discussed the creative process with Blitz Magazine Editor/Publisher Michael McDowell, as well as her undertaking the extraordinary step of underwriting the project via a Crowd Funding Campaign. Long time colleague and keyboardsman Adam Marsland also weighed in from Southeast Asia, where he took some time from working on the second season of his video blog, Adam Walks Around and post-production work for recent live dates by the Association to particpate in the Scandal Du Jour sessions. (Click on the above image to enlarge).

SCANDAL DU JOUR:
EVIE SANDS
PREPS NEW ALBUM
By Michael McDowell

Creative autonomy is a tremendous asset for the recording artist. But it comes with considerable responsibilities.

It was the Monkees who initially paved the way for creative autonomy among artists who were signed to a major label, which they did via their so-called Palace Revolt in early 1967. While there had been artists since the dawn of the recording industry in the late 1880s who had contributed to the outcome in various extracurricular capacities, the most frequently invoked methodology up until that point had been the so-called Team Approach. 

The Team Approach basically involved drawing from the most adept sources in every capacity (vocalists, musicians, composers, producers and engineers) to produce the best possible results. But while that template served a purpose for many an artist whose gifts were not multi-faceted, it often produced a sense of discontentment among the more visionary among them, who were predisposed to seeing their efforts through to completion themselves. 

Since the Monkees as a band were blessed in each of those attributes from within, it was inevitable that the continued invoking of the Team Approach on their behalf was not the most viable option for their ongoing aesthetic fulfillment. To be certain, every band and solo artist signed to a major label in their wake owes them a debt of tremendous gratitude for the quantum leap they took in that respect.

Over the course of the next decade, creative autonomy took another giant step. With the advent of the so-called Punk / New Wave movement in the mid-1970s, artists determined to chart their own course began to do so by taking over the business end of the process, as well. Independent labels sprang up in great numbers, with artists often doing their own management, publicity and booking. Not surprisingly, the results varied widely.

Before long, a number of veteran artists followed suit. Disenchanted with long term major label affiliations for a variety of reasons, artists who had been in the spotlight for years and even decades at that point began to assume creative autonomy over every facet of their career. 

Among the earliest to make the transition and flourish in the process were country music legend Bill Anderson and Byrds co-founder Roger McGuinn. Both were blessed with a rare savvy on all fronts, and both continue to oversee their entire operations to the present day.

On the other hand, a number of veteran artists have learned the hard way that being signed to a major label may not have been such a bad option after all.

During their seasons of their respective affiliations with major labels, the artists entered the studio, laid down their tracks, and then performed a series of live dates in support of their efforts. Upon occasion, their touring schedule was augmented by interviews with the press, radio and television. But in general, that was the extent of their contribution to the process.

Cinecyde co-founder and front man Gary Reichel was a key figure in the creative autonomy boom during the late 1970s. It was he who astutely observed at the time that having made the greatest recording in the world was ultimately an exercise in futility if others were unable to hear it.

And while it may not have been readily apparent to other artists as of yet, that was where their major label affiliation was often a blessing. 

It is not uncommon, even in the present day, for a long dormant artist to opt to return to recording and performing, only to discover the hard way that the creative process is not what it used to be. Armed with great ideas and a renewed sense of purpose, they rebound into the studio and pour their hearts into their comeback projects.

But then comes the inevitable question. Now what?

The former major label artist is then confronted with the reality that was readily apparent to the ambitious independents of the mid to late 1970s, who had no such mainstream experience from which to draw. And that is where Gary Reichel's aforementioned observation comes into play.

Beloved musical visionary Ron Dante was among the first to come to this realization, during his affiliation with Roulette Records in 1964 - 1965 as a member of the Detergents. Weary of seemingly endless live dates in support of the group's November 1964 Leader Of The Laundromat single, Dante approached label head Morris Levy to inquire as to when the gifted trio might realize tangible compensation for their efforts.

While generally not remembered for his altruistic tendencies, Levy nonetheless gave Dante a bit of sage advice that succintly put the matter in perspective: "Your money is in touring. You let me worry about the records".

In other words, in that era of the Team Approach, Dante and his Detergents colleagues had done their part by recording and composing a significant percentage of their material, as borne out in their classic The Many Faces Of The Detergents album. It was at that point that their work for Roulette was done. 

But for Roulette (and any other major label, for that matter), the work had just begun. Mixing the master tapes. Post-production. Album cover design. Promotions. Advertising. Mailing out an endless stream of promo copies and press kits. Follow up. 

It was a gargantuan process; one that remains beyond the reach of many artists now, let alone a half century ago. Yet Dante ultimately learned his lessons well, having been a leading light on a variety of musical fronts in the ensuing decades. 

In turn, it was also to Bill Anderson and Roger McGuinn's credit that each succeeded in that respect at such a relatively early stage. As a former newspaper reporter, Anderson had the blessing of the so-called "nose for news" that enabled him to pay closer attention to such details than did many of his colleagues. 

In turn, McGuinn's career had run the gamut of experience, from session work for such artists as Bobby Darin and the Chad Mitchell Trio to pre-Byrds major label projects with the City Surfers and the Beefeaters. Their respective experiences and keen attention to detail both served them well in the long run.

Thankfully, other veteran artists with that "nose for news" and a wealth of experience borne of such misadventures as those which initially befell Ron Dante have taken the proverbial bull by the horns and have seen their careers blessed exponentially as a result.

Enter the beloved veteran five-tool player, Evie Sands.

With a wealth of major label affiliations to her credit (including ABC Paramount, A&M, Capitol / Haven and RCA Victor, as well as brief but most memorable associations with the storied Blue Cat and Cameo labels), Sands over the past few decades has navigated a healthy transition from the majors to the indies (fellow vet Chip Taylor's Train Wreck Records), and most recently overall creative autonomy via her own R-Spot Records. In the process (aided an abetted in no small part by an unwaveringly devoted long term fan base), Sands has continued to excel on all fronts. 

To that effect, Sands and her colleagues have spent much of the summer of 2019 in the studio, working on her forthcoming and highly anticipated new album, Scandal Du Jour. In doing so, she is taking the ambitious step of underwriting the project via a Crowd Funding Campaign.

"Crowd funding campaigns depend upon lots of sharing and spreading the word to work out successfully", said Sands.

"The campaign goes live (on the eleventh of September). It's all massively helpful!"

While an untested concept to date in terms of her own career, the Crowd Funding Campaign, if proven successful (as it doubtlessly will be) will underwrite for the time being both the creative process and the resultant business follow up. To her considerable credit, Sands had already more than proven her mettle on all fronts in 2017 with her highly acclaimed Shine For Me for R-Spot. By all accounts, the forthcoming Scandal Du Jour should follow suit accordingly.

"Scandal Du Jour is a full length album", Sands said, in comparison to the six-track Shine For Me.

"Twice as many songs and ideas to explore. The album will have a mix of high energy, somewhat of an edge, soulful stuff, moody textures and melodic earworms."

Quite a diverse mixture from an artist whose methodology to date has been to produce successive recordings that can at once both augment and stand in contrast to her previous efforts. And it is in that respect that the Team Approach continues to serve her mission statement well.

"The band is Teresa Cowles - bass and vocals, Jason Berk - guitars and vocals, Eric Vesper - drums and vocals, and me on guitar, keyboards and vocals", Sands said.

"Kurt Medlin will be adding percussion."

Sands and her band have previously worked together extensively in various capacities. In the spirit of the Team Approach, each is remarkably gifted in their respective roles. To wit, bassist Cowles is both a veteran of long time favorites Dragster Barbie, and also portrayed renowned session bassist Carole Kaye in the acclaimed Brian Wilson biopic, Love And Mercy.

"I love my band", Sands said.

"We all love making music together and we're all the best of friends. I think it affects the music in a special way."

To that effect, the physical presence of one esteemed colleague is missed at the Scandal Du Jour sessions. Long time band member, Cockeyed Ghost co-founder and Karma Frog Records CEO Adam Marsland presently divides the majority of his time between various locales in Southeast Asia, where he is presently filming Season Two of his acclaimed Adam Walks Around video series.

Nonetheless, through the miracle of technology, Marsland has been a welcome participant in the Scandal Du Jour proceedings.

"Adam is contributing at least one keyboard track for a song, remote recorded in Asia", said Sands.

"Others may be enlisted as the album takes shape."

For Marsland, his ability to participate is a relatively easy byproduct of his current video ventures.

"I have a little portable studio that I carry around with me", said Marsland.

"I borrowed a keyboard at a home studio owned by a friend of mine, Jaye Muller in Cebu (Philippines). 

"Basically, I just set everything up and banged out the part while Jaye and his wife were waiting for me to come down for dinner!"

Marsland readily echoes Sands' enthusiasm for their ongoing collaboration. Both had worked together regularly in Marsland's ambitious Adam Marsland's Chaos Band, in which Sands served as guitarist.

"I may do another thing for her, as well", Marsland concurred.

"These are both songs that we did in the early days of Adam Marsland's Chaos Band, which I did some arrangement on. I think Evie wanted me to play on those tunes because of that, which I appreciate!"

To underscore the success of the best of both worlds mission statements of both Marsland and Sands, Marsland has also devoted much of his on the road studio time in recent weeks to working on a project for yet another beloved veteran band.

"I did recently get asked to do some work on live tapes by the current line up of the Association", he said.

"It's a whole concert. But basically, I just did one song to see if the approach I would take to mixing it would be valid. 

"The last I heard, one of the guys in the band liked it and was going to the other guys. I don't know if it will go beyond that or not. Hope so!"

Meanwhile, Sands and her colleagues are persevering in the studio with considerable enthusiasm.

"At the moment, (I am) developing the next few songs to record, and will begin adding on to the first six", she said.

"So far, we've recorded six basic tracks, six lead vocals, and some backing vocals. The band recorded the tracks together live."

In the process, there should be much in Scandal Du Jour to both placate the long term devotees and please the more recent converts to her cause.

"There's a special synergy that happens in the room when a band records live", Sands noted.

"Listening to each other, in the moment with each other, and playing off of each other. Different nuanced ideas arise, evolve and are captured."

Even so, Sands is not averse to opting for alternative methodologies if the circumstances warrant it.

"It's fine to do it piecemeal, too, with each element recorded one at a time", she said.

"Both ways are good. It's still about songs, feelings, passion, emotion and telling the story. That said, recording tracks live as a band is a blast!"

To ensure optimum results, Sands has remained loyal to proven working relationships in the technological settings, as well.

"Steve Refling is again at the board", she said.

"I love working with that guy!"

Concurrently, Sands is dividing her time in the studio with her unwavering, ardent support of Major League Baseball's premier franchise, the Los Angeles Dodgers. Sands is part of an ad hoc entertainment industry quartet that professes and promotes camaraderie between the industry and the team. The foursome also includes Balancing Act and Thee Holy Brothers co-founder and renowned session musician Willie Aron, fellow journalist and author Domenic Priore, and Blitz Magazine Editor / Publisher Michael McDowell.

"Would be nice to have a downtown parade this year", Sands said.

"Lots of baseball and, I'm sure, frustration to endure. Some opponents will be formidable. Let's hope they can get over it and find a second wind to blaze into October!"

In the meantime, Sands and her colleagues are persevering through the studio process with a healthy mix of creative autonomy and the Team Approach, which in her case is almost certain to guarantee the usual optimum results.

"Very happy and excited about this one", she said.

And if previous triumphs are any indication, Scandal Du Jour is certain to be far, far more than just a (in the words of one of her earlier triumphs for the A&M label), Close Your Eyes, Cross Your Fingers moment.


Saturday

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



MISS ME A LITTLE BIT EACH DAY: Long time Ventures guitarist and renowned session musician Gerry McGee (pictured above earlier this year) tragically collapsed on stage during a live performance in Japan on 12 October and succumbed to a heart attack that same day. Blitz Magazine Editor/Publisher Michael McDowell remembers his extraordinary career below. (Click on above image to enlarge).


MISS ME A LITTLE BIT EACH DAY:
LONG TIME VENTURES
GUITARIST GERRY McGEE
DIES FOLLOWING LIVE PERFORMANCE


Some months ago, in one of our frequent exchanges, Blitz Magazine was discussing with long time Ventures guitarist Gerald James "Gerry" McGee the career of his father, the renowned fiddler Dennis McGee. Blitz Magazine was researching a project on virtuoso fiddler Y.Z. Hamilton, the long time Alabama state fiddle champion who tragically died in June 1936 when struck by a bus when attempting to cross an intersection. The question had arisen as to whether or not the two visionaries had ever shared a stage together. 

"I think they did, I'm not sure", said the younger McGee of his father.

"He played with so many greats over the years that it's hard to keep track".

Indeed, the same could be said of Gerry McGee, whose list of session credits staggers the imagination. In addition to a trio of impressive singles for Reprise as Gerry McGee And The Cajuns (including the 1962 classic, Walkin') and subsequent solo projects for Pacemaker and A&M, McGee also worked alongside such fellow giants and visionaries as Tommy Boyce And Bobby Hart, Nancy Sinatra, the Hollywood Argyles, Delaney And Bonnie, the Monkees, John Mayall, the Everly Brothers, Marc Benno, Free Movement and the Everly Brothers, among others. 

But it is with the Ventures that McGee made his most enduring impression; an accomplishment that met with mixed reactions from him.

"Ahh, the Ventures", he noted to Blitz Magazine in February 2017 from his home base in Lafayette, Louisiana.

"My body of work is so much bigger".

It wasn't that McGee was discounting his enormous accomplishments with what arguably remains rock and roll's premier instrumental band. It was just that his affiliation with the group, significant though it is, ultimately comprised a small percentage of his recorded legacy.

Interestingly enough, the Ventures were already well established as a band by the time that McGee joined forces with them in 1968. Formed a decade earlier as the Versatones by bassist Bob Bogle and rhythm guitarist Don Wilson, the group ultimately settled on the definitive line up of Bogle, Wilson, lead guitarist Nole "Nokie" Edwards and drummer Mel Taylor (who succeeded Howie Johnson in that capacity). Through their prolific affiliation with Dolton Records and its parent company, Liberty, the Ventures amassed an astounding track record that includes such landmark singles as Walk Don't Run, Perfidia, Secret Agent Man, The 2000 Pound Bee, Damaged Goods and Diamond Head

The Ventures were even more prolific in terms of albums. Beginning with their Walk Don't Run LP for Dolton in 1960, the Ventures followed that instant success with such triumphs as Surfing, Let's Go, Mashed Potatoes And Gravy and their 1963 summit meeting with Bobby Vee for Liberty. In addition, the band's 1967 Guitar Freakout album for Dolton is widely regarded as a touchstone of first generation garage rock. The band augmented these successes with a series of instructional LPs, Play Guitar With The Ventures, in which the band would guide a prospective student through the process of not just learning the basics of, but mastering the instrument.

All of which made for an interesting set of challenges for McGee when Nole Edwards opted out of the band in 1968. McGee was already quite familiar with drummer Mel Taylor who, in addition to recording Young Man Old Man for Warner Brothers in 1966 as Mel Taylor And The Magics (the single that ultimately became the theme song to the great Robin Seymour's Windsor, Ontario-based Swingin' Time television series) had amassed an impressive session track record in his own right. Taylor's brother, Canned Heat co-founder Larry Taylor was also a prolific session musician who had worked some dates with McGee. And while McGee was at first reluctant to step into such an iconic role, ironically, his timing could not have been better.

In 1968, CBS premiered a crime drama series that became an instant and enduring hallmark of the genre, Hawaii Five-O. Although the show went on hiatus in 1980, it returned with a vengeance in 2010 (with Alex O'Loughlin, Scott Caan and Chi McBride as the masterful mainstays among the formidable cast's revolving line up) and is presently in its tenth season. True to form, the Ventures (with Gerry McGee, along with Five Americans co-founder John Durill on keyboards) tried their hand at the Hawaii Five-O theme for Liberty in 1969 and instantly created what is arguably not only their signature single, but arguably one of the greatest instrumentals of all time. Not surprisingly, the current version of the series continues to employ the Ventures' version as its theme song.

Aside from that extraordinary success, being a part of the Ventures for McGee meant involving himself in the rigorous live performance schedule that defined the band from the onset. The Ventures have long been an enormous concert draw in Japan, outpacing even such formidable home grown greats as Perfume and Haruomi Hosono in that respect. 

The band's influence on successive generations of aspirants was indeed enormous. In 1980, the Ventures headlined at the Starwood Club in Hollywood, California. Cheering them on with no small amount of enthusiasm from his vantage point directly in front of the stage was Germs front man Jan Paul "Darby Crash" Beahm, who mentioned to Blitz Magazine that evening that he was an avid devotee of the Ventures' work. Weeks later, the Ventures would again enjoy yet another hit single, Surfing And Spying, which was also recorded by ardent Ventures fans, the Go-Gos. 

While their appeal as a live act (especially in Japan) continued unabated well into the twenty-first century, their longevity came with an inevitable price. Sadly, Bob Bogle, Mel Taylor and Nole Edwards are all deceased. In turn, Don Wilson was forced into retirement in 2015 due to ill health. And while Mel Taylor's son Leon has kept the group active since his father's passing in 1996 (with Bob Spalding, Ian Spalding and Luke Griffin rounding out the present line up), McGee opted to return for the most part to session work and solo performance.

A trooper until the end, in October 2019 McGee embarked upon yet another tour of Japan, playing to appreciative crowds. Tragically, during a performance on Saturday the twelfth of October in Fukuoka, McGee collapsed on stage from a heart attack. 

"Same scenario as Jackie Wilson", noted CKLW alumnus and current Michigan Music History News Director, Ric Allen, in reference to the iconic singer's collapse on stage in September 1975.

As was the case with Jackie Wilson, McGee soon lapsed into a coma and was pronounced dead in a Fukuoka hospital. He was 81.

FRENCH CAROUSEL:
DEBBIE GIBSON
PREMIERS EXTRAORDINARY
NEW INSTRUMENTAL ORIGINAL


Sometimes genius is borne as much of inspiration as it is perspiration.

Fresh off of five months' worth of nonstop activity that included the acclaimed multi-artist Mixtape Tour and a role as judge in Season One of the forthcoming Nickelodeon series, America's Most Musical Family, beloved vocalist, composer, arranger, producer and multi-instrumentalist Deborah Ann "Debbie" Gibson has been enjoying a well deserved break.

But as any creative visionary is fully aware, inspiration knows no such boundaries.

To that effect, on the morning of 16 September, Gibson entered her home studio, sat at her piano (which was once owned by the late bandleader, composer and keyboard virtuoso, Wladziu "Lee" Liberace) and pretty much on the spot created an original instrumental masterwork.

"This piece came to me in the moment", said Gibson, who has titled her latest composition French Carousel.

Rendered in a lilting 6/8, with a slight crescendo at the seventeenth measure that brings to the fertile imagination a most subtle undercurrent of strings, French Carousel then divests itself of any such potential distractions and crescendos in moderate to high drama manner; leveling off not at fever pitch, but in an otherworldly, dreamscape fashion that lends itself to multiple (and invariably euphoric) interpretations.

"My dream would be to hear it in a music box or carousel someday", said Gibson, thereby bringing to mind Frank Mills' duly inspired 1979 Polydor label single, Music Box Dancer.

Irrespective of what direction it may take, French Carousel in and of itself stands as an extraordinary testimony to the creative capabilities of a supremely gifted musical visionary who consistently thinks outside of any such box.

And here is that remarkable moment of inspiration. Recorded in her home studio on the 15th of September, the keyboard and compositional genius of Debbie Gibson with French Carousel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eaS3tEyvzRA



COMEDY PIONEER RUSTY WARREN
RECOVERING AFTER MAJOR SURGIERIES



Prayers are in progress for comedy pioneer Rusty Warren, who is recovering in intensive care in an Arizona hospital following two major surgeries on the eighth of August.

The eighty-nine year old Warren was a key component of the vaunted Jubilee label roster for more than a decade. While Jubilee's initial successes came via such groundbreaking vocal group artists as the Five Sharps, the Orioles and the Dreamers, as well as such top drawer solo artists as Harry Belafonte, Jimmy Boyd, Edna McGriff, Don Rondo and Della Reese, Warren's candid approach to comedy made her an immediate front runner in the genre and a top draw for the label. She continued to record for Jubilee well into the 1970s. 

"(Warren is) expected to fully recover", said a family spokesperson in a statement.

"Her finances are being depleted by legal and medical costs. Any amount (donated) to help Rusty will go towards her care and recovery".

To that effect, Warren's family has established a Go Fund Me page on her behalf, accessible via social media. Warren has also expressed gratitude for prayers and words of encouragement. The latter can be sent to her attention at 10497 East Superstition Range Road, Gold Canyon, Arizona 85118.