Thursday

WELCOME TO BLITZ MAGAZINE'S WEB SITE!


BELIEVE WHAT YOU SAY: The legendary vocal quartet, the FOUR PREPS is the subject of an all new, revelatory and essential biography, Icons, Idols And Idiots Of Hollywood  by group co-founder BRUCE BELLAND.   Editor/Publisher Michael McDowell celebrates the Four Preps (pictured above in concert with rock and roll pioneer Rick Nelson in the late 1950s) in a free standing article  under the Previous Posts heading at right. (Click on 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:

In a free standing article under the Previous Posts heading at right, Editor/Publisher Michael McDowell celebrates Icons, Idols And Idiots Of Hollywood, the all new autobiography by FOUR PREPS co-founder BRUCE BELLAND.

His band (in which he remained the lone constant) played a pivotal role in the resurgence of garage rock that was crucial to the Los Angeles independent musical movement in the late 1970s and early 1980s. We remember UNCLAIMED front man PETER SHELDON "SHELLEY" GANZ, who was found dead in his Los Angeles home on 23 January.

Prayers continue for Beach Boys co-founder BRIAN WILSON in the wake of the passing of his wife, MELINDA WILSON

His most impressive legacy as a recording artist for MGM, Cadence, ABC Paramount and Kapp was perhaps superseded only by his portrayal of Doug Williams on NBC's Days Of Our Lives for more than a half century. We salute the legendary BILL HAYES, who passed away suddenly on 12 January at age 98.

Beloved pioneering rocker and comedy/drama visionary ADRIANO CELENTANO celebrated his eighty-sixth birthday on 06 January 2024. Editor/Publisher Michael McDowell takes a closer look at his extraordinary legacy.

In a free standing article under the Previous Posts heading at right, cofounder and front man PETER RECHTER discusses Houdini In Reverse, the all new album by the beloved veteran first generation garage band, the TOL-PUDDLE MARTYRS.

In a free standing article under the Previous Posts heading at right, we salute the groundbreaking legacy of Detroit's legendary WKNR KEENER 13, sixty years after it forever raised the standard of excellence in radio, with exclusive commentary from station veteran James "Jim Sanders" Beasley on how, just days into the station's existence, he and newcaster Bill Bonds broke a story from Dallas, Texas during a tragic afternoon in November 1963.

In a free standing interview under the Previous Posts heading at right, KALEIDOSCOPE front man and co-founder PETER DALTREY shares his considerable enthusiasm over Running Through Chelsea, his all new collaboration with the KNOW ESCAPE for the Texas-based Think Like A Key label. 

Capitol, Kapp and RCA Victor Records alumnus JACK JONES has had reasons to be cheerful in 2023, in light of his recent victorious battle against cancer.

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

Time spent fishing with Monkees bsssist Peter Tork on several occsions gave the vaunted guitarist Jimi Hendrix the motivation he needed to take things to the next level. The proof is in Hollywood Bowl August 18, 1967, the heretofore unreleated live performaance by the JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE on the Experience Hendrix label. 

Band co-founder and keyboard man JAMES J. DONNA has told the extraordinary tale of his band of first generation garage rock legends, the CASTAWAYS in his autiobiography/ band biography, Liar, Liar.

Roger Maglio's Gear Fab label has once again struck gold with their re-release of Kings, Queens And Jokers, the third (and first deluxe) incarnation of the 1971 debut album by the New Jersey-based VICTORIA.

Beloved veteran sibling band, the COWSILLS has led the charge for the 2023 Christmas season with the release of their ambitious digital EP, A Christmas Offering From The Cowsills for the Omnivore label. 

Cherry Red's affiliate Cherry Pop label has added to their already impressive catalog of BUCKS FIZZ releases with The Land Of Make Believe, a most impressive five CD career overview.

Once available via the prolific UK-based Cherry Red Records, the 1975 Harvest label third album, Too Many Crooks by veteran country rock band UNICORN is now also available in a deluxe CD reissue on the Texas - based Think Like A Key label.

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

Veteran blues guitarist SUE FOLEY reaches across the aisle without compromise in her latest album, Live In Austin, Volume One.

In their latest VizzTone release, 11X11, the ELEVEN GUYS QUARTET once again prove themselves to be surpemely adempt at the blues/rock instrumental hybrid.

The staggeringly prolific Portage, Michigan-based composer, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist JEREMY MORRIS brings his guitar jangle front and center in his latest JAM label release, High Fidelity. 

With his latest Original Cast release, I Grew Up Here, veteran composer and vocalist BRIAN GARI takes a pragmatic and universal look at life's loves, tragedies and unresolved business.

ROMANTICS co-founder WALLY PALMAR has joined forces with Tornoto, Ontario - based composer, vocalist and guitarist JACK DE KEYZER for No War, an all new 45 on the recently revived Spider label (with cover design by former Blitz Magazine Art Director, Dennis Loren). 

Bassist PENN JILLETTE has returned to the studio with his long time Penn And Teller musical director and pianist, MIKE JONES. The two of them then recruited veteran drummer JEFF HAMILTON for an all new and ambitious project for Capri Records, Are You Sure You Three Guys Know What You're Doing?

First generation garage rock great and STANDELLS co-founder TONY VALENTINO celebrates his legacy with new versions of his band's classic sides for Tower Records and a couple of new originals in Dirty Water Revisited.

With his latest Linus Entertainment release, Waiting For The Sun To Rise, Toronto, Ontario composer and vocaliat MARC JORDAN has produced a most fascinating look at a familiar theme.

Veteran composer and vocalist ALICIA WITT brings Neil Sedaka's 1972 lament, I'm A Song (Sing Me) full circle with her latest single for Alicia Witt Music, Someone To Write Me A Song.


Tuesday

FOUR PREPS / BRUCE BELLAND AUTOBIOGRAPHY


WAIT 'TIL YOU HEAR IT FROM ME: Theirs was one of the most all encompassing adventures through all phases of the entertainment industry. Editor / Publisher Michael McDowell celebrates Icons, Idols And Idiots Of Hollywood, the all new autobiography by BRUCE BELLAND of the FOUR PREPS (Click on above image to enlarge).

ICONS< IDOLS AND
IDIOTS OF HOLLYWOOD -
Bruce Belland (Bear Manor Media)
By Michael McDowell

"What a group!"

So said the late Ed Cobb in a landmark, three-part interview that was published in Blitz Magazine - The Rock And Roll Magazine For Thinking People in the 1980s. As co-founder of the iconic and groundbreaking vocal quartet, the Four Preps, it had taken Cobb years to come to terms with that phase of his extraordinary legacy. 

Cobb had subsequently gone on to work in various capacities (including composer, arranger and producer) with such legendary artists as Ketty Lester, Brenda Holloway, the Standells, the E-Types, Stark Naked And The Car Thieves and the Chocolate Watchband, to name but a few. In view of the extraordinary accomplishments of those artists, Cobb (who, at the time of that summit meeting with Blitz Magazine headed the Hollywood-based AVI label with Seymour Heller) had gone through a phase of self reassessment in terms of his own capabilities in the spotlight, which had led him to downplay his own role in that capacity for a season.

Ultimately, Cobb need not have worried. The Four Preps' unique mission statement of combining their impeccable vocal harmonies with material that often leaned towards humor, satire and socio-political commentary permanently established their formidable legacy. In turn, the Four Preps' remarkable vision was a direct inspiration for such like minded groups as the Cowsills, Harpers Bizarre and APO Hiking Society. 

Sadly, Cobb (who served as the group's bass vocalist) passed away in September 1999. Cobb's death came just six months after the passing of Four Preps tenor Marvin "Marv Ingram" Inabnett. Baritone Glen Larson followed in November 2014 at age 77.

All of which has left lead vocalist and Chicago, Illinois native Bruce Gerald Belland to tell the tale. Indeed, he does so quite candidly (with occasional irreverence) in Icons, Idols And Idiots Of Hollywood.

From a geographical standpoint, the Four Preps were at a decisive advantage. Belland, Cobb, Inabnett and Larson were students at Hollywood High School on Sunset Boulevard, which is located at about an equal distance from the Sunset Strip to the west, and their future record label to the east. An executive from that label (Capitol Records) spotted them at a talent show at the school in 1956, and signed the ambitious quartet to the label that same year.

One classic Four Preps single after another followed at Capitol. They included Dreamy Eyes, Twenty-Six Miles, Big Man (which was covered by Herman's Hermits in the late 1960s), Where Wuz You, Again And Again And Again, Cinderella, Lazy Summer Night, Down By The Station, Big Surprise, I Ain't Never, Got A Girl, a vocal rendition of Lawrence Welk's monster classic instrumental Calcutta, the comedic More Money For You And Me, The Seine, The Big Draft, Let's Call It A Day Girl (also recorded by the Razor's Edge for the Pow label) and Draftdodger Rag, among others. 

In turn, their studio albums for Capitol were rife with vocal harmony laden material.  They were augmented by acclaimed live albums that primarily showcased their aforementioned penchant for topical material.

While riding high with Capitol, the Four Preps were soon also working with rock and roll pioneer Rick Nelson. In addition to backing Nelson vocally during live appearances, the Four Preps also found themselves in recurring roles on Nelson's family's acclaimed ABC television series, The Adventures Of Ozzie And Harriet

To be certain, theirs was and is a tale with an abundance of aesthetic riches. Thankfully, Belland has chronicled it all in candid terms in this remarkable autobiography.

Being a part of the Capitol roster in that most productive period meant having a wealth of top drawer talent as labelmates. They included the Kingston Trio, Nat King Cole, Dean Martin, the Beach Boys, Frank Sinatra, Ron Goodwin, Gene Vincent, Peggy Lee, the Journeymen and Dwayne Hickman. And while the Four Preps crossed paths with most of them in various capacities, they in turn carved out their own equally formidable niche.

In the process, the Four Preps also found themselves in a variety of circumstances with such diverse figures as Ed Sullivan, Dick Clark, President John F. Kennedy and humorist Lenny Bruce. And given the various accounts of those encounters outlined by Belland herein, it is in some ways remarkable that the members of the Four Preps lived to tell those tales. 

Thankfully, Belland has done just that in this extraordinary account. In some respects, he has emerged from his own period of self reassessment with a candor that had apparently heretofore eluded him. In the process, apologetics (a most disconcerting byproduct of survival for veteran artists who had successfully endured the protracted aesthetic slump of the immediate post-Woodstock ers) have given way to an ad hoc "vengeance is mine" approach. 

Nonetheless, that approach is tempered with the forgiveness maxim found in Matthew 18:21-22, which in part is in keeping with Belland's legacy as the son of Stanley Belland, the one time Senior Pastor of West Hollywood Community Church. All of which serves to make Belland's book an essential read. 

"It took me eight years to write", said Belland.

"What a kick it is to grab a pen and contribute to the fun".

Or, in the words of the aforementioned classic track from the Four Preps' 1958 debut album, Icons, Idols And Idiots Of Hollywood is a first class first person account that is worth revisiting Again And Again And Again.

KALEIDOSCOPE / PETER DALTREY INTERVIEW


TIME AND TIDE: After a series of delays brought about by logistics and the production process, the vinyl edition of the much ballyhooed Running Through Chelsea album is at last available on the Think Like A Key label. Running Through Chelsea is the brainchild of Kaleidoscope founder and front man Peter Daltrey (above left), working in tandem with Mark Mortimer (right) and his vast cadre of musicians who persevere as the Know Escape. Daltrey recalls their fascinating journey below with Blitz Magazine Editor/Publisher Michael McDowell. (Click on above image to enlarge). 
    
RUNNING THROUGH CHELSEA:
KALEIDOSCOPE'S PETER DALTREY
COMES DOWN FROM THE MOUNTAIN
AND INTO THE STUDIO
WITH THE KNOW ESCAPE
By Michael McDowell

For veteran composer, keyboard man and vocalist Peter Daltrey, some crucial elements of the recording industry have not changed over the past half century.

As co-founder (along with guitarist Eddy Pumer, bassist Steve Clark and drummer Danny Bridgman) of the pioneering London psych band, Kaleidoscope, Daltrey and his colleagues learned first hand of the ways and means of the recording industry. Having first performed live in 1963 as the Sidekicks, the band then persevered after November 1965 as the Key before signing with Fontana in January 1967 and changing their name to Kaleidoscope. 

Their ambitious Flight From Ashiya single followed on Fontana in September of that year, along with their debut album, Tangerine Dream two months later. Kaleidoscope ultimately released two albums and six singles for Fontana, before reinventing themselves as Fairfielfd Parlour in 1970. But with all of that came a reality check along the way.

"When our album came out, or our singles, the record company never gave us a copy", said Daltrey. 

"We had to go out and buy our own!"

Throughout the ensuing years, Daltrey released over a number of solo albums with various collaborators. A version of Kaleidoscope also persevered into the twenty-first century. Sadly, bassist Steve Clark passed away in May 1999. In turn, lead guitarist Eddy Pumer succumbed to a brief illness in September 2020.

Despite those setbacks, Daltrey has persevered with a vengeance. He most recently signed with Roger Houdaille's Texas-based Think Like A Key label, which to date has released highly acclaimed projects by Unicorn (a deluxe reissue of the band's David Gilmour-produced Too Many Crooks album), Orange And Blue (a collection of heretofore unavailable 1996 sessions by psych pioneers Nirvana, featuring Patrick Campbell-Lyons and Alex Spyropoulos) and the much anticipated Kitchen Rock by Pretty Things veteran Wally Waller. 

Yet along the way, both Daltrey and Houdaille learned that history often repeats itself. In this case, due largely to circumstances beyond their control.

"The CD has gone out already", Daltrey said.

"But we've had a delay on the vinyl, because the majors have suddenly realized that there's a market out there for vinyl. They were slow to catch up. But now they have. They've swamped the manufacturers with their massive orders. So smaller, independent companies get pushed out, because the majors want their orders first".

According to Houdaille, those delays have availed themselves in terms of logistics, as well.

"Faster to send ourselves", he said.

Thankfully, the vinyl edition of Running Through Chelsea finally saw release in September. Most assuredly, it was worth the wait.

"Here we are fifty-six years later", Daltrey said.

"The thrill of getting your new record out hasn't diminished at all, because of the amount of work that goes into it. When the LP actually comes out, and you get a copy of it in your hands, there's nothing like that feeling in the world".

Indeed, Running Through Chelsea is an extraordinary celebration of sorts of that which put Daltrey on center stage in the first place. Tracks such as Come Down From The Mountain, No Girls On Mars, Time And Tide, Hotel Juliet and Bukowski's Tambourine (the single) reveal a man with a strong mission statement that builds upon the sub-genre he helped pioneer without succumbing to caricature.

"Most of it is down to Mark Mortimer and his army of musicians", said Daltrey.

"I've done my little bit with the lyrics, the melodies and little odds and ends."

While Daltrey's "little bit" most assuredly defines the vision of the album, he is quick to point out the crucial role which Mortimer played in bringing it to fruition.

"I can't tell the difference between CD audio and vinyl audio, because I haven't got a right ear anymore", Daltrey said.

"It's gone years ago. I'm totally deaf in there".

Even so, Daltrey remains keenly aware that the sheer volume of choices are as overwhelming as they were when Kaleidoscope signed with Fontana. 

"There's so much music coming out these days", he said.

"It's difficult to stand out from the crowd. But you guys have stood by us for years".

Buoyed by the initial response, Daltrey remains motivated to persevere. The Leopard  And The Lamb is slated for mid-December release.

"Mark and I are already a couple of tracks into the next album", he said. 

"We did record some tracks down in Glastonbury. It's slower going this time. When we did Running Through Chelsea, it was during lockdown."

Meanwhile, there is plenty in which the faithful can immerse themselves in Running Through Chelsea. Easily one of the best new releases of the year to date.

"All I know is that the album sounds good to me", said Daltrey.

"I'm very proud of this album. I hope you love it!"

Saturday

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


No Apology: He was at times like a lone voice in the wilderness, crying out for the betterment of his art of choice: garage rock. We remember UNCLAIMED co-founder and front man, PETER SHELDON "SHELLEY" GANZ (pictired second from right in the above recent band publicity shot), who was found dead in his Los Angeles home on 23 January (Click on above image to enlarge).

A LITTLE LESS TALK
AND A LOT MORE ACTION:
REMEMBERING
TOBY KEITH
(1961 - 2024)

The list of leading lights from music's last collective gasp of consequence once again got painfully smaller.

Since the closing years of the twentieth century, signs of greatness have surfaced upon occasion within the world of music. But not on such a grand scale as that witnessed in such game changing developments as the advent of rock and roll, the so-called British Invasion and the punk/new wave movement.

The last such large scale development came about in the late 1980s in the form of country music's New Traditionalist movement. Artists such as Highway 101, the Desert Rose Band, Randy Travis, Clint Black, Dwight Yoakam, the Forester Sisters and Ricky Van Shelton each brought a renewed sense of purpose into the genre. In turn, the artists from whom they drew their inspiration (including Hank Williams Junior, Alabama, Conway Twitty, Janie Fricke, George Jones, Buck Owens, Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings) all enjoyed their own career resurgences.

But by the early 1990s, the momentum had begun to subside, as the genre at large embarked upon a protracted aesthetic slump from which it has yet to completely rebound. Nonetheless, a handful of ambitious visionaries rose to the occasion to encourage the faithful.

Chief among them was composer and vocalist Toby Keith. Born Toby Keith Covel in Clinton, Oklahoma, Keith acquired his first guitar at the age of eight. A graduate of Moore High School in suburban Oklahoma City, Keith was a defensive end on the school's football team. However, his ambitious early career aspirations found him balancing an executive position in the oil industry (for which he studied at Villanova University) while performing upon occasion with his group, the Easy Money Band. 

Keith concurrently attempted to further his aspirations in pro football during a brief stint with the Oklahoma City Drillers. But his interest in music eventually won out. 

Just as the New Traditionalist movement was beginning to run its course, Keith signed with Mercury Records. The Chicago-based label released his debut album in 1993. Hard hitting originals including Should've Been A Cowboy, A Little Less Talk And A Lot More Action, He Ain't Worth Missing and Double Wide Paradise followed in short order, and Keith found himself being hailed as one of the genre's great hopes.

During the twenty-first century, Keith began to diversify his portfolio. He founded the Show Dog Nashville label in 2005, and starred in the motion picture Broken Bridges that same year. He also opened a chain of successful restaurants bearing his name, including an enormously popular franchise at the Great Lakes Crossing Mall in the Detroit, Michigan northern suburb of Auburn Hills. He concurrently performed on a regular basis for United States military troops serving overseas.

Sadly, Keith was diagnosed with stomach cancer in late 2021. He underwent a series of treatments for the disease, but ultimately succumbed to its effects in his sleep at home during the evening of 05 February 2024. 

With his passing, Keith joins other giants of the New Traditionalist movement that have gone before him, including Holly Dunn, Joe Diffie and the legendary Earl Thomas Conley. Keith is survived by his wife of nearly forty years, Tricia and their three children. He was 62.

LOVE AND MERCY:
BRIAN WILSON'S
WIFE AND MANAGER
MELINDA WILSON DIES

The Love And Mercy that he has bestowed upon the multitudes for decades is being reciprocated exponentially.

Sorry to report the sudden passing of Melinda Kay Ledbetter Wilson during the morning of 30 January. She was the wife and manager of Beach Boys co-founder and principal visionary, Brian Wilson.

"My heart is broken", Brian Wilson said in a statement that afternoon.

"Our five children and I are in tears. We are lost. Melinda was more than my wife. She was my savior. She gave me the emotional security I needed to have a career. She encouraged me to make the music that was closest to my heart. She was my anchor. She was everything for us". 

Brian and Melinda Wilson married in 1995. Around that the time, Brian Wilson was enjoying considerable acclaim for Orange Crate Art, the groundbreaking album he recorded with composer and vocalist Van Dyke Parks. Orange Crate Art was Blitz Magazine - The Rock And Roll Magazine For Thinking People's pick for Best New Album Of 1995.

"Please say a prayer for her", said Wilson. 

In addition to her husband, Melinda Wilson is survived by their five children. She was 77. Memorial services are pending.

THE SORROW:
REMEMBERING
THE UNCLAIMED'S
SHELLEY GANZ
(1958 - 2024)

"Real cave, man".

For a season, that unique observation came to represent the ultimate expression of high praise of a given musical work. The observer was composer, vocalist and guitarist Peter Sheldon "Shelley" Ganz, founder and front man of the veteran second generation, Southern California-based garage band, the Unclaimed.

During the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Southern California independent musical movement boasted a rich diversity that had not been seen since the heyday of the pioneers that inspired them. From the Blasters, Black Flag, Heaters, Minutemen, Balancing Act and Bus Boys to the Dream Syndicate, Three O'Clock, the Rain Parade, the Plimsouls and the Last, Southern California was the focal point for all things musically innovative. Blitz Magazine - The Rock And Roll Magazine For Thinking People was there in the thick of it, chronicling every development of consequence with each successive issue.

Within that movement was a small but determined cadre of bands that drew their inspiration almost exclusively from first generation garage rock. Chief among them were the Pandoras and the Unclaimed. The latter band was led by Ganz, and released their debut EP on the late "Ducky" Dave Gibson's Moxie label in 1980. 

A hardcore record collector, Ganz went to considerable lengths to realize his vision as authentically as possible. To that effect, he once reached out to members of first generation garage rock greats, the Syndicate Of Sound, who responded with a demo tape of an unreleased track by the band. That track, Get Out Of My Life found its way into the Unclaimed's live set in short order.

When an interview in Blitz Magazine served to raise their profile exponentially beyond hardcore circles, Ganz began to reach out frequently to share band news and developments, as well as to inquire about artists whose deep tracks struck his fancy. The latter category included everyone from the Bell Notes and Frankie Avalon to Wilson Pickett and the Pozo Seco Singers.

The Unclaimed also boasted their share of noteworthy alumni. From their original line up, guitarist Albert Sidney "Sid" Griffin broke away to start his own band, the hugely successful Long Ryders. In turn, interim member Rich Coffee made his own mark with Thee Fourgiven, whose Who Said Sinners Only Pay In Hell from their debut album featured a guest alto saxophone solo from Blitz Magazine Editor/Publisher Michael McDowell.

The current edition of the Unclaimed recently completed work on their forthcoming Creature Of The Maui Loon album for the Teen Sound label. The band had been gigging regularly in recent weeks. Plans were in the works for live dates in support of the new album, which is scheduled for 15 March release. 

Sadly, those plans were abruptly derailed on the morning of 23 January, when Ganz was found dead in the kitchen of his Los Angeles home. Memorial services are pending.

THERE'S MUSIC IN YOU:
REMEMBERING
BILL HAYES
(1925 - 2024)

When Archie Bleyer began assembling his formidable artist roster at Cadence Records, he drew from the best: the Chordettes, the Four Tophatters and Julius LaRosa, to name but a few (and evenutally the Everly Brothers, Johnny Tillotson, Lenny Welch and comedian Vaughn Meader).

Early on, another established artist caught Bleyer's attention: one who had worked alongside Hank Williams, Joni James and Billy Bowen at MGM. He had a flair for the dramatic, which Bleyer put to great use on such early Cadence singles as The Ballad Of Davy Crockett and Message From James Dean.

That artist was of course Bill Hayes. Born William Foster Hayes III in Harvey, Illinois, Hayes went on to record for ABC Paramount and Kapp. He also held multiple degrees from various universities, including a doctorate in education from West Virginia University. 

However, Hayes' most enduring career highlight came in the form of his role as Doug Williams, father to Kristian Alfonso's Hope Brady character. It was a role that Hayes played for more than a half century on NBC's Days Of Our Lives. Hayes worked on the series in tandem with his wife, Susan Seaforth, who portrayed the unwaveringly resolute Julie.

Hayes and Seaforth were also active as worship leaders in their San Fernando Valley church for decades; a ministry in which Hayes persevered well into the 2020s. Sadly, those various roles all came to an end with Hayes' sudden passing on 12 January. He was 98.

MAN SMART:
PIONEERING ROCKER
ADRIANO CELENTANO
CELEBRATES 86TH BIRTHDAY

The prevention of procrastination has come full circle.

Recent articles in Blitz Magazine - The Rock And Roll Magazine For Thinking People have addressed in detail the subect of procrastination, and how tendencies towards perfectionism can exacerbate it. In the new year, the reduction and/or elimination of this counter-productive trait remains front and center in our mission statement.

To that effect, a pioneering musical giant celebrated his eighty-sixth birthday on the sixth of January. For years, Blitz Magazine has hoped to add him to the long list of visionaries whose work has been championed in our pages. 

However, various concerns have come into play that have prevented such a summit meeting to date. They range from the obvious distance factor to the fact that he continues to maintain one of the most demanding schedules in the entertainment industry at large. 

As such, in light of the occasion of his birthday, it seemed prudent to at least take the necessary steps forward to allow for a celebration of his extraordinary legacy. And with Blitz Magazine's focus in recent months on the work of some of his fellow European visionaries, the time was definitely right to give this beloved pioneer of the movement his due.

Born 06 January 1938 in Milan, Lombardy to Leontino and Giuditta Celentano, Adriano Celentano spent his formative years as an apprentice watchmaker. Although musically gifted, his occasional forays into performance were primarily for his own edification while plying his trade.

But in 1959, that all changed.

At that stage, the good news of rock and roll was still traveling by word of mouth throughout much of the European continent. That year, Bill Haley And The Comets' 1954 signature single, Rock Around The Clock found its way to Celentano, and there was no turning back. 

The aspiring watchmaker at once immersed himself in this new found art form, drawing inspiration from everyone from Elvis Presley to the humor of Jerry Lewis. By year's end, he had a single available, covering both the Diamonds' The Stroll and Paul Anka's sublime Tell Me That You Love Me for the Music label with considerable high drama. 

As his nation's first and most visible champion of rock and roll, Celentano's momentum contunued unabated in the ensuing months. He starred in two acclaimed motion pictures, 1959's Ragazzi Del Juke Box and Federico Fellini's 1960 international smash, La Dolce Vita. On record, Celentano joined forces with fellow musicians Giorgio Gaber and Enzo Jannacci. They were recruited by Jolly Records' A&R head, Ezio Leoni, who went on to co-author with Celentano some of the latter's earliest hits, including the magnificent 24,000 Baci

By 1962, Celentano had founded his own record label, Clan Celentano. Among his initial signings were first generation garage rock greats, Ola And The Janglers (whose classic What A Way To Die was released in the United States on the GNP Crescendo label) and actress Claudia Mori, whom Celentano married in 1964. 

Celentano's profile continued to grow exponentially. His trademark athleticism and unique sense of humor endeared him to many and earned him countless appearances in motion pictures and television throughout the 1960s. 

But in 1966, his biggest breakout moment to date put him in the upper echelons of it all.

Long motivated by environmental concerns in his native Lombardy, Celentano in 1966 was inspired to compose a ballad that would bring those concerns into the forefront. But the resultant Il Ragazzo Della Via Gluck more than exceeded expectations. 

A black and white video clip of Il Ragazzo Della Via Gluck found its way to Dick Clark, whose American Bandstand and Where The Action Is were among television's hottest outlets for new music. Meanwhile, other artists also took notice. The beloved composer and vocalist, Francoise Hardy (whose records were released on the 4 Corners label in the United States) turned in an inspired cover of Il Ragazzo Della Via Gluck as La Maison Ou J'ai Grandi. And at Capitiol Records in Hollywood, a bit of astute transliteration enabled the great Verdelle Smith to release a masterpiece of her own with her interpretation of Il Ragazzo Della Via Gluck as Tar And Cement.

With that, Celentano could well have found himself at an impasse not unlike that which impacted the Beach Boys in the coming months. With the game changing Smile/Smiley Smile project under wraps by mid-1967, the only way to go was back to basics, which they did with their R&B-inspired Wild Honey album before year's end.

For Celentano, a change was also coming. But for many, it was a change that still generates inspired discussions more than a half century after the fact.

While demand for live concert appearances, film and television guest shots and the like continued unabated, by the early 1970s, Celentano was still compelled to take it to the next level. And in what by North American standards was arguably the worst of times aesthetically to date, Celentano instead rose to the occasion and delivered his masterpiece.

Although the European continent overall had more than proved its mettle as a primary go to source of the best in musical creativity, in 1972, there was still an undercurrent of "us versus them" that inspired visionaries such as Celentano on to even greater heights. Amused and motivated by what he perceived was a sound pattern that was unique to the English language, Celentano composed a three minute single in which he (in spoken word fashion) waxed eloquently on the subject with random syllables which only paralleled the English language upon occasion. Filmed in a classroom setting (with Claudia Mori as his harmonica playing student) Celentano as a language professor created an anthem for the ages with his larger than life Prisencolinensinainciusol single. Since its 1972 release, Prisencolinensineinciusol has been hailed as a forerunner of punk, rap and several other genres.

For much of the remainder of the twentieth century and well into the twenty-first century, Celentano has maintained a rigorous schedule of film and television appearances. After a sabbatical of several years, he returned to live concert performances in 2012 to a hero's welcome. Most notably, his 2016 high drama remake of Prisencolinensinainciusol as MinaCelentano with Roberto Bolle was saluted by Blitz Magazine - The Rock And Roll Magazine For Thinking People as one of the premiere singles of the decade of the 2010s.

For his eighty-sixth birthday, Celentano has opted to take in the occasion with loved ones. In the process, he has also fielded literally thousands of well wishes from the faithful, who have kept his social media platforms saturated with benedictions. He remains a hero for the ages. Buon Compleanno, good sir.

THE RACE IS ON:
JACK JONES TAKES
A VICTORY LAP
OVER CANCER

Jack Jones has never been one to back away from a challenge.

For more than six decades, the legendary composer and vocalist George Jones (no relation) was regarded by many as the greatest living voice on the planet. In September 1964, George Jones recorded the rocking The Race Is On single for United Artists. That single was a career defining moment, eventually earning cover versions by Dave Edmunds, the Grateful Dead, the Georgia Satellites, Waylon Jennings, Jody Miller and others. 

But first out of the gate with his own rendition for Kapp Records in March 1965 was Jack Jones. With its rocking arrangement and sublime overdubbed vocal harmonies, Jack Jones' version of The Race Is On is considered by many to be the definitive one. 

However, in recent months, Jack Jones has been involved in a race of a much more serious kind. Yet despite grim odds, it seems that he has nonetheless crossed the finish line unto victory.

"Not long after we finished the album Art Work (around Thanksgiving 2022), my wife Eleonora tested positive for Covid", Jones said. 

"I then hunkered down and waitied for it to get me. It did".

At first, it seemed as though the disease would run its course, and that was that.

"As the days went on, we both got over our Covid symptoms", Jones said.

"However, I started having feelings of extreme tiredness and weakness. After a blood test, my primary care doctor told me to go right to emergency at Eisenhower in Palm Desert."

After running a series of tests, Jones was discharged. But then things took a turn for the worse. 

"I then went to see my oncologist, who was not connected with Eisenhower", Jones said.

"He discovered cancer in my bone marrow. Acute leukemia. He told me there was nothing he could do, and that I was going to die. Hello!"

However, Jones then heard from long time friend, Dick Oliphant. 

"He told me about a doctor at Eisenhower. He was able to accept me as a patient. I followed his advice from then on. Since that time, after some hard work and brilliant guidance, I am cancer free and in remission."

One other critical element in Jones' recovery was the outpouring of love, prayer and support from family, friends and fans alike. 

"I am flabbergasted and grateful for your expressions of love", Jones said.

"I wanted to thank each and every one of you individually. Your messages were understood".

Jones summed it up by noting that in the process, he has lived out another one of his landmark recordings for Kapp.

"Thank you for sharing", he said.

"Winning our battle is not always an Impossible Dream".

THANK YOU AND GOODNIGHT:
REMEMBERING
PAUL AND PAULA'S RAY HILDEBRAND
THE STRANGELOVES' BOB FELDMAN
AND IMPACT RECORDS' JOHN RHYS

In the most recent cycle of transitions that for reasons unknown seems to come in threes, a common thread has availed itself. In this case, that thread is songwriting.

The world of music has in late August lost three great multi-talented artists whom, while all were gifted in a variety of disciplines, each also made decisive marks in songwriting. They include Paul And Paula's Ray Hildebrand, the Strangeloves' Bob Feldman and Impact Records veteran John Rhys. 

RAY HILDEBRAND
(1940 - 2023)

For a label that maintained a seemingly modest profile, Major Bill Smith's Fort Worth, Texas - based Le Cam Records certainly made a significant impact.

Among the many artists of consequence who were a part of the Le Cam roster were such greats as Amos Milburn, Bruce Channel, Rick And The Keens, Orville Couch and Mac Curtis. All enjoyed affililiations with larger labels at various points in their careers. But as a testimony to Smith's vision, some returned home to Le Cam once those outside relationships had run their course.

In 1962, Le Cam released an engaging ballad single by an ambitious duo, Jill and Ray. Ray Hildebrand and Jill Jackson were students at Howard Payne College in Brownwood, Texas at the time. Hildebrand rented a room off campus from Jackson's uncle, who introduced them to one another. 

Upon discovering a mutual interest in music, they soon found themselves in the recording studio, cutting Hildebrand's composition, Hey Paula. Released on Le Cam as by Jill And Ray, Hey Paula soon came to the attention of Philips Records. That Mercury affiliate reissued the Le Cam 45 with the artist credits changed to Paul And Paula to accommodate the lyrics.

While at Philips, Hildebrand and Jackson wasted little time in establishing themselves as front runners. In 1963, the label released three albums by them as Paul And Paula, Sing For Young Lovers, We Go Together and Holiday For Teens. Although their albums did contain the occasional cover (including Little Anthony And The Imperials' Two People In The World, the Moonglows' We Go Together and Johnny Ace's Pledging My Love), much of the material was composed by Jackson and Hildebrand themselves. Particularly memorable are their lyrically engaging Oh What Love, Love Comes Once and Average Boy Average Girl. They continued to record occasionally until decade's end, highlighted by their All These Things 45 for Uni in 1968.

During their hiatus, Hildebrand became involved in Gospel music. He formed a duo with Paul Land, alternating between music and stand up comedy. Hildebrand concurrently recorded as a solo artist for such labels as Soft, Metromedia and Word.

In the early 1990s, Hildebrand and Jackson made a triumphant appearance at Los Angeles' storied Greek Theatre as part of a magnificent multi-artist bill. Their half hour segment boasted a few highlights from their Philips releases, augmented by their fascinating tales of the touchstones of their legacy.

Sadly, the Joshua, Texas native passed away on 18 August at the age of 82. He was preceded in death by his wife, Judy Hendricks. Hildebrand is survived by their children, son Mike and daughter Heidi.

BOB FELDMAN
(1940 - 2023)

There are certain trio credits that availed themselves to a significant degree on the labels of 45s and LPs during rock and roll's most productive years. Among the more obvious ones were Motown's Brian Holland, Eddie Holland and Lamont Dozier, as well as brothers Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb from the Bee Gees. 

Joining them on center stage in a variety of disciplines in addition to songwriting were Bob Feldman, Jerry Goldstein and Richard Gottehrer. The trio composed and/or produced a wealth of classic 45s and album tracks for the Angels, the Beach Nuts, the Merseys, the McCoys, the Belmonts, guitar hero Link Wray and others. 

But it was arguably in their incarnation as the first generation garage rock greats, the Strangeloves that Feldman, Goldstein and Gottehrer made their most enduring impact. The Strangeloves made their debut for the vaunted Swan label in 1964, with I'm On Fire, coupled with a spirited reworking of the Silva-Tones' 1957 monster classic, That's All I Want From You.

By 1965, the Strangeloves had signed with the legendary Bert Berns' Bang label. A trio of first generation garage rock standards followed (I Want Candy, Night Time and Cara Lin), as well as a classic album for the label. In late 1968, the Strangeloves scored one of the earliest hits on the up and coming Sire label, Honey Do.

Interestingly enough, it was during their brief tenure with Berns' Boom label as the Sheep that the Strangeloves made one of the most significant contributions to first generation garage rock of all time. In early 1966, Boom released their spirited take on Bunker Hill's Hide And Seek under the Sheep alter ego. Had the group ceased recording as the Sheep at that point, their legacy within the genre would nonetheless be assured.

However, in what remains one of the most curious turn of events in the first generation garage rock saga, a second Sheep 45 was recorded that did not make it past the demo stage at that time. That single, the utterly stupendous Thinkin' About It surfaced only on a handful of acetates and was promptly forgotten.

Roughly a decade later, in one of the most curious turn of events imaginable, the late and renowned musicologist, avid record collector and Moxie Records founder and CEO, "Ducky" Dave Gibson discovered one of the acetates of Thinkin' About It in the archives of a renowned industry figure, who had inexplicably planned to dispose of the recording. Long story short, Gibson rescued the acetate and released Thinkin' About It on a volume of his label's acclaimed Various Artists album series, Boulders

With its ferocious arrangement and intense delivery (once described by an astute observer as a summit meeting between the Dave Clark Five and the Yardbirds), Thinkin' About It went on to be widely acclaimed by first generation garage rock aficianados as one of the genre's definitive mastepieces. It remains in print to the present day as part of the massive, multi-volume Lost Treasures CD series. 

The Strangeloves had been part of a painfully small number of veteran bands who were blessed to have their original line ups intact in the third decade of the twenty-first century. Tragically, that remarkable run came to an end on 23 August with Feldman's passing at age 83. Feldman is survived by his two daughters, Kyle and Mahri, as well as his son, actor Corey Feldman.

JOHN RHYS
(1941 - 2023)

During the peak productive period in which the Northern Soul and First Generation Garage Rock genres flourished, the greater Detroit, Michigan area was blessed with a wealth of independent labels to chronicle those developments. They included Palmer, Hideout, Ric-Tic, Golden World, Revilot, Detroit Sound, Drew, SVR, A-Square, Panik, Tera Shirma, Red Rooster, D-Town, Sidra and Impact, to name but a few. 

One remarably gifted composer, vocalist, producer and instrumentalist who made his mark across the board in that respect was John Rhys-Eddins. A native of Saxmundham, Suffolk County in the Eastern UK, Rhys (as he was professionally known) relocated to Georgia at an early age. He eventually found his way to Michigan, where Ric-Tic and Golden World founder Ed Wingate brought him on board as a composer and producer. While with Wingate's corporation, Rhys worked with label greats the Dramatics and Edwin Starr. He concurrently lent his services in that respect to the prolific Volumes.

By 1966, Rhys had been recruited by Harry Balk (who had worked extensively with beloved the rock and roll visionary, Charles "Del Shannon" Westover) to become a part of the creative team (alongside long time television personality Art Cervi) at Impact Records. The label amassed a most impressive artist roster in short order, with classic releases by the Shades Of Blue, Mickey Denton, Sincerely Yours, the Human Beings and the recently departed Sixto Rodriguez to its credit. 

Rhys also worked in a production capacity with the groundbreaking quintet, the Scot Richard Case. He was a key figure in their transition from Jeep Holland's A-Square label to Capitol, where they released three albums from 1968 to 1970 as SRC. 

In 1968, Rhys co-authored what is widely regarded as one of Northern Soul's finest moments, the Time Will Pass You By single. With vocals by Tobi Lark under the pseudonym Tobi Legend, Time Will Pass You By was released in February of that year on the great Larry Uttal's Mala label.

Rhys had recently been in a protracted battle against lung cancer, which he sadly lost on 27 August. He was 82.

"John was a life long mentor to me and other Black Sheep", said SRC / Scot Richard Case co-founder and front man, Scott Richardson.

"It's a huge loss for all of us".

NOTHING TAKES THE PLACE OF YOU:
REMEMBERING TOUSSAINT McCALL,
SIXTO RODRIGUEZ AND
THE BAND'S ROBBIE ROBERTSON

Once again, they came in threes.

There has long been a pattern in music in which the passing of artists often comes in groups of three. To date, there has been no rhyme nor reason to it, other than to triple the grief of the faithful.

That pattern repeated itself this week with the 07 August passing of R&B giant and Delhi, Louisiana native Toussaint McCall, followed by composer and vocalist Sixto Rodriguez on 08 August and long time Band guitarist Robbie Robertson on 09 August. Although the three did not collaborate with one another, they concurrently made substantial and like minded inroads within similar musical circles.

TOUSSAINT McCALL

The year 1967 witnessed one of the most inspirational proclamations of musical diversity in history. 

Despite the tragic passings of such visionary giants as John Coltrane, Otis Redding and Bert Berns (among others), 1967 also saw the explosive growth of rock by way of such landmark recordings as the Doors' Light My Fire, the Jimi Hendrix Experience's Purple Haze, Jefferson Airplane's Somebody To Love, Bob Seger And The Last Heard's Heavy Music, the Rolling Stones' Dandelion and the Beach Boys' Heroes And Villains.

Conversely, the early months of the year saw the remarkable success of three landmark 45s that drew their inspiration primarily from the foundations of rock and roll, yet which stood in solidarity with their aforementioned contemporary counterparts. First among them was the Casinos' often covered Fraternity label ballad, Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye. It was followed in May of that year by the number one rockabilly monster classic, My Girl Josephine by the great Jerry Jaye on Hi Records. 

Completing that remarkable trilogy in the Spring of that year was a Ronn label ballad by composer, vocalist, multi-instrumentalist and Monroe, Louisiana native, Toussaint McCall. One of twelve children of a Baptist minister and an alumnus of Baton Rouge's Southern University, McCall created a classic for the ages with his debut 45 for the Shreveport - based Ronn label, Nothing Takes The Place Of You

Several accalimed released for Ronn followed, including I'll Do It For You and Step By Step. McCall also was blessed with both an extraordinary sense of humor and flair for strong instrumental work at the time, as evidenced by such other noteworthy Ronn - era cuts as The Toussaint Shuffle, The Title Escapes Me and I'm Gonna Make Me A Woman.

By 1970, McCall had signed with the Los Angeles - based Dore label. His momentum continued there with the (mostly) instrumental Sweet Tea and Mary. Art Laboe, Dick Hugg and Dave Hull at Pasadena's KRLA - AM were all avid supporters of McCall's work, and afforded him much airplay on the iconic station well into the 1980s. He also costarrted as himself in the 1988 John Waters motion picture, Hairspray.

It was in Los Angeles where McCall made his home in his later years. He was 89 at the time of his passing. 

SIXTO RODRIGUEZ

It seems somewhat counterproductive to search for someone who is not lost. But such an anomaly is what finally put the acclaimed composer, vocalist and composer Sixto Diaz Rodriguez on the map in an unlikely way.

A native of Detroit, Michigan, Rodriguez was also an alumnus of the city's Wayne State University, from which he had earned a doctorate degree. His recording debut came as part of the roster of the vaunted Impact label, which was also the recording home of the Shades Of Blue, Mickey Denton, Sincerely Yours, the Detroit Wheels, Jock Mitchell, the Sixpence and first generation garage rock giants the Human Beings of Because I Love Her fame. He made his debut there in September 1967 with the I'll Slip Away / You'd Like To Admit It single under the name Rod Riguez. 

In 1970, Rodriguez became one of the first signings to the Hollywood - based Sussex label. Within the first few years of the 1970s, Sussex became a leading light in the relative darkness with a most impressive roster than also included Wadsworth Mansion, the Gallery, Dennis Coffey, the Presidents and Bill Withers. 

In turn, Rodriguez's Cold Fact and Coming From Reality albums for Sussex were straight out of the gate successes in 1970 and 1971 at home. However, he also enjoyed considerable acclaim in New Zealand, Australia and South Africa and toured all three nations prolifically. 

Although Rodriguez had turned his focus primarily to family and academia in the early twenty-first century, his ongoing success in South Africa prompted his legion of devotees there (many of whom had erroneously presumed he was deceased) to seek him out. The resultant 2012 documentary motion picture, Searching For Sugar Man propelled him onto center stage as a superstar, both abroad and at home.

Rodriguez succmbed to a brief illness at age 81. He is survived by his wife, Konny and his three children, Regan, Sandra and Eva.

ROBBIE ROBERTSON

The mentoring process was good to Robbie Robertson.

A native of Toronto, Ontario, Jaime Royal "Robbie" Robertson received early hands on musical experience in 1956 as a member of Little Caesar And The Consuls (whose magnificent and post-Robertson My Girl Sloopy 45 for Mala remains one of the definitive masterpieces of 1965). 

By 1959, Robertson found himself working with rock and roll pioneer Ronald Cornett "Ronnie" Hawkins. Robertson contributed a pair of original compositions, Hey Baba Lou and Someone Like You for Hawkins' Mister Dynamo album. That album was released in 1959 by the great Morris Levy on his Roulette label.

By 1961, Hawkins' definitive line up of his backing band, the Hawks was in place with Robertson, drummer Mark Lavon "Levon" Helm, bassist Richard Clare "Rick" Danko, pianist Richard George Manuel and the group's principal visionary and multi-instrumentalist, Eric "Garth" Hudson. The group continued to work with Hawkins until 1964. 

Upon parting ways with Hawkins, Levon And The Hawks enjoyed a brief stay at Atlantic Records. In 1965, they began a prolifc affiliation with Bob Dylan that found them working as his backing band.

And it was as the Band that the vaunted quintet went on to become one of the most impacting quintets of the twentieth century. Their game changing albums, Music From Big Pink, The Band and Stage Fright stood almost as a genre unto themselves, with their sublime mix of country rock and nineteenth century North American imagery. 

The Stage Fright album was also a substantial influence on Herman's Hermits during the recording of their groundbreaking Whale Of A Tale album for RCA Victor. Herman's Hermits also featured an ambitious cover of the Band's The Shape I'm In during their live performances throughout the 1970s.

Robertson was also heavily involved in production and film in his later years. Around the turn of the century, he joined the creative team at Dream Works Productions at the behest of founder David Geffen. 

At the time of his passing, Robertson was working on music for the forthcoming motion picture, Killers Of The Flower Moon. He had celebrated his eightieth birthday on 05 July, and was surrounded in his Los Angeles home at the time of his passing by his wife Janet, his ex-wife Dominique, and his children Alexandra, Sebastian and Delphine, among others. Roberrtson is also survived by five grandchildren. His passing leaves Garth Hudson as the sole surviving member of the Band.

THE GOOD LIFE:
REMEMBERING
TONY BENNETT
(1926 - 2023)

It could be said that Tony Bennett spent seventy-three productive and fruitful years in the construction business. But more accurately, he spent those seventy-three years in the re-construction business.

With the release of his Columbia single, Boulevard Of Broken Dreams in 1950, the vocalist, author, arranger and artist born Anthony Dominick Benedetto in Queens, New York in August 1926 immediately established himself as a master interpreter of high drama. His extraordinary capabilities in that respect resonated with those who envisioned themselves as having walked that very Boulevard with little or no hope;  instead inspiring them to re-construct their circumstances en route to The Good Life that he sublimely commemorated in song more than a decade later.

That initial development sat particularly well with Columbia's Music Director, Mitch Miller, who at that point was in the early stages of a six year long battle with Columbia's other flagship artist, the legendary Guy Mitchell. An outspoken advocate of rock and roll from the onset, Mitchell's insistence upon recording within the genre did not sit particularly well with Miller. It wasn't a matter of personal preference (although Miller was arguably most in his element as a session musician, as evidenced by his contributions on the oboe to Frank Sinatra's groundbreaking Frank Sinatra Conducts The Music Of Alec Wilder instrumental album for the label several years earlier). It was that Miller came up through the ranks in a system which said that the team approach to recording meant that each participant contributed in their respective roles, and did not offer their expertise (however well intended) into shaping or directing the contributions of the others in the process. Thankfully for Mitchell, Miller at last acquiesced in late 1955, and Mitchell went on to record a number of rock and roll's definitive masterpieces, including Crazy With Love, Rock-A-Billy and the utterly stupendous 1957 monster classic, Knee Deep In The Blues.

But in 1950, the addition of Tony Bennett to the Columbla roster gave Miller the incentive he needed to pursue the team approach to recording at the optimum level to which he was accustomed. To that effect, Miller sought out music's reigning poet laureate of the era, the legendary Hank Williams. Bennett and Williams hit it off immediately, with Bennett covering Williams' Cold Cold Heart masterfully.

The recipient of a doctorate degree from the Berklee College Of Music, Bennett was an exceptional interpreter whose extraordinary skills in the art of high drama were paralleled most notably by the great George Jones and a few others, Bennett continued to record prolifically for Columbia for more than a half century. Just a parial list of his numerous triumphs for the label represents some of the industry's finest moments: Rags To Riches, Because Of You, Firefly, In The Middle Of An Island, The Good Life, Once Upon A Time, I Left My Heart In San Francisco, For Once In My Life and Life Is Beautiful, to name but a few.

While the bulk of his catalog was issued by Columbia, there were occasional forays into other ventures that proved fortuitous on all counts. The great Morris Levy at Roulette Records paired Bennett for a season with Roulette veteran Count Basie, while some years later the Improv label issued Bennett's magnificent interpretation of As Time Goes By from the 1942 motion picture Casablanca.

As was also the case with George Jones, a wide variety of vocalists availed themselves for the opportunity to duet in the recording studio with Bennett. Among them were Aretha Franklin, Amy Winehouse, Stevie Wonder, Elvis Costello, Elton John, George Michael, Diana Krall, Billy Joel, Lady Gaga and James Taylor. Many of those collaborations were commemorated on his acclaimed Duets album for Columbia in 2006.

Although he continued to record and perform live prolifically well into the twenty-first century, Bennett in recent years had been involved in a well publicized battle against Alzheimer's Disease. Tragically, that disease claimed his life on the morning of 21 July, less than a month prior to what would have been his ninety-seventh birthday. Tony Bennett is survived by his wife, Susan and his four children. 

TIME, TIME:
REMEMBERING
THE AMES BROTHERS'
ED AMES
(1927 - 2023)

The term "sensational" was one that was regularly applied to many of the giants who rose to prominence in the first half of the twenty first century. And with good reason.

There was throughout that era a group of individuals who earned that distinction by excelling in multiple disciplines (music, stage, screen, comedy and the like). They would include Billy Murray, Bert Williams, Al Jolson, Sophie Tucker, Jimmy Durante, Pearl Bailey, Eddie Cantor, Buddy Clark, Russ Columbo, Hattie McDaniel and Jack Benny, to name but a few. 

In turn, a number of groups parlayed their aesthetic triumphs in music to success in film, radio, theatre and (in some cases) television, when the medium eventually availed itself. Among their vaunted numbers were the Heidelberg Quintet, the Mills Brothers, the Boswell Sisters, the Ink Spots, the Buffalo Bills, the Andrews Sisters and the short lived but exponentially influential duo, Gus Van and Joseph Schenck.

Most assuredly among the leading lights in the latter category was a quartet of Malden, Massachusetts - based siblings, the Ames Brothers. Inspired by the extraordinary capabilites of virtually all of the aforementioned pioneers and strongly encouraged by their artistically inclined parents, Vic, Gene, Joe and Ed Ames ultimately raised the bar for vocal group harmony by showcasing its potential in a variety of genres.

In the months following the conclusion of World War II, the brothers began to make personal appearances as the Amory Brothers in area nightspots and military bases. The group initially consisted of Vic, Joe, Gene and their cousin Lennie, with Ed succeeding Lennie in due course. With the "sensational" tag increasingly applied by various observers to their live performances, they were spotted by Decca Records exec Milt Gabler, who signed them to the label in 1947. In the process, they became known as the Ames Brothers.

Over the next several years, the Ames Brothers recorded a series of groundbreaking and truly sensational singles for Decca and its affiliate Coral label. Accompanied by Russ Morgan, Les Brown and others, those sides would include You You You, Rag Mop, Sentimental Me, Oh Babe!, Hoop De Doo (also recorded by Perry Como for RCA Victor), Who Built The Ark, a cover of the American Quartet's Moonlight Bay and the utterly stupendous 1951 monster classic, Undecided.

Offers for guest television appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show and others followed in short order in the early 1950s. At mid decade, the Ames Brothers took the next logical step and hosted their own syndicated TV program. By that time, they had signed with RCA Victor, where their hit streak continued unabated with The Naughty Lady Of Shady Lane, Wrong Again, It Only Hurts For A Little While, Melodie D'Amour, Rockin' Shoes and the irrestitible novelty romp, I Saw Esau.

With their creative prowess still intact, the Ames Brothers signed with Epic in 1963. While there, they turned in such ambitious fare as Knees Up Mother Brown and a dramatic vocal version of the Village Stompers' Washington Square before calling it a career.

Meanwhile, Ed Ames (who was born Edmund Dantes Urick to Sarah and David Urick on 09 July 1927) opted to persevere as a solo artist. With the "sensational" distinction still in full force (albeit largely referenced by that point in such terms as "multi-talented"), Ames balanced with considerable finesse successful pursuits in television (as Mingo on NBC's Daniel Boone), stage (an off-Broadway production of The Fantasticks) and music as a solo artist with RCA Victor.

In the latter category, Ames' dramatic baritone earned him considerable acclaim with such magnificent fare as Try To Remember (also a career highlight for the Brothers Four), Time Time, When The Snow Is On The Roses and the utterly stupendous My Cup Runneth Over and Who Will Answer.

In 1975, Ames earned a degree in theatre from UCLA. Though less prolific in the recording studio in the latter years of the twentieth century, he continued to make regular stage appearances well into the 1980s in productions of such classics as Shenandoah, Fiddler On The Roof and Camelot.

In recent months, Blitz Magazine - The Rock And Roll Magazine For Thinking People had reached out to Ames (who was the last surviving member of the Ames Brothers) in the hopes of documenting his sensational career. Sadly, by that time, he had begun a battle against Alzheimer's Disease, which claimed his life on 21 May in his Los Angeles home.

Ed Ames is survived by his wife, Jeanne and several children. He was 95.