“Imagine me and you (I do)”….and 10,000 other senior citizens, who can remember word-for-word the lyrics of songs they heard fifty years ago but won’t be able to remember where their car keys are after the show…….enjoying a line up of 60s pop “superstars” for a pleasant several hours under the summer sun.
That’s the premise of the “Happy Together” tour, the brainchild of Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman, former front men of the California pop group “The Turtles” who cranked out a string of pop and novelty hits in the mid 1960s.
They have conceived and produced a touring show that presents the music of their group, and other peers, that will play over sixty dates this summer, at medium sized halls and state fair grandstands.
The tour has been making the rounds for several years, with alternating talents, this year’s line up includes Mark Lindsay, former lead singer of Paul Revere and the Raiders, Chuck Negron, former lead singer of Three Dog Night, Gary Puckett, of Union Gap fame, and Gary Lewis, formerly of the Playboys, and son of the iconic and legendary comedian Jerry Lewis (not Jerry Lee Lewis, as one youngster opined).
Collectively, these groups had dozens and dozens of number one hits in the mid to late 1960s, and regularly took turns at knocking the Beatles out of the number one position on Billboard’s charts.
Considering that each of the performers are septuagenarians, they put on fine performances. The show features a single, polished backup band behind each of these front men, so the evening is fast paced, without the interruption of switching out instruments and musicians.
Starting off with a taped introduction by the ubiquitous 60s radio personalty Shadoe Stevens, and if you’re from the Upper Midwest, you might remember him as the “country’s youngest DJ” according to Life Magazine, when a 10 year old (nee) Terry Ingstad took to the airwaves at his hometown radio station in Jamestown, ND. Stevens went on to other stints at Midwest stations, including the legendary KQWB in Fargo, then owned by great radio people and my personal friends, Jim and Larry Lakoduk, before hitting the national scene as one of the “Boss Jocks” of Los Angeles’ KHJ radio, and now starring in sitcoms and doing voiceover and announting work. Stevens’ recorded banter throughout the show adds to the pace and the light-hearted atmosphere of the evening.
For guys that have been singing the same songs night after night for fifty years, they are in pretty fine voice, but that depends on one’s personal opinion. I thought they all did a rockin’ good job, but I did hear some complaints around me about the quality of the windpipes.
Born in Hibbing, Minnesota a year later than Bob Dylan, Gary Pucket crooned out the hits from his days in front of a group called “The Union Gap”, and he was blessed with one of the purest voices in 60s pop. Their song “Over You” is one of my top 5 favorites from that era. Gary Lewis and the Playboys had a huge career, # 1 after # 1, until his Uncle Sam came calling and required Lewis for a stint during the Vietnam era playing soldier. Upon his return, he was never able to regain the momentum and fame, but has been enjoying a revival on the nostalgia circuit. Lewis’ tribute to his father, “Everybody Loves a Clown” was a crowd favorite.
Most people wouldn’t know Chuck Negron’s name, his group “Three Dog Nite” didn’t emphasize individuals, but as a group, cranked out 21 top 4o hits by 1975. To me, Negron’s performance was the most uneven of the night, though he was clearly having a good time.
Mark Lindsay was every girl’s heartthrob in the mid 60s, and had success both with Paul Revere and the Raiders and as a solo act. Still agile enough to perform the song (and motions) of “Kicks”, he cranked out both Raiders and his solo material, including “Reservation” , the Columbia label’s biggest success until Michael Jackson came along. Lindsay served as head of A&R for United Artists Records, and opened a rock and roll cafe in Portland, Oregon in 2007. It only lasted 6 months after he lost a lawsuit regarding the recipe and name of a hambuger they served. (See, I do stay on topic!).
Flo and Eddie (the Turtles) are always a joy; their humor and music have delighted people during each of the past five decades. They did mention to the audience that they might want to take pictures, as they are “really old”, and who knows if there will be another tour?
I’m amused by the ‘riders‘ that go along with this tour, the portions of the contracts that dictate the back-up services and supplies for the artists. These guys “demand” hot tea, and whole wheat bread in their dressing rooms. Compare this with the contracts for the ‘supergroups’ and divas, who require tens of thousands of dollars of food, booze, and special treatment (limosines with only white leather interior; an assortment of arcade size video games backstage; daycare for 20 children, and the like)…pretty funny to me.
Music has been an important part of my life since my teen years in the 60s; whether I was eagerly awaiting new releases from groups like these, or playing covers of their material in my teenage band years. My passion for the industry continued throughout my decades of the radio business. It’s something I’ve been able to enjoy with Mrs Burgerdogboy, tho she is decades younger, this was the music of her parent’s household, so she knows it well.
Somewhere the music got away from me. But enjoyment of music has reentered my life recently, and I’m glad.
In a lot of ways, the music of “my generation” changed the world. Unlike the crap being put out today. Screw you Kanye and Snoop whatever your name is this week. The music of my generation is memorable, sweet, happy, and romantic…..and never once calls a woman a ‘bitch or a ho’ or talks about killing cops.
If you’re over the age of 50, try and catch one of the remaining tour dates. They’re even playing Bemidji!