ABOVE FROM GENE’S WEBSITE, http://genepitney.com/ . We suggest you check it out. Lots there and like Gene says, he’s ‘giving it away’…lots of free music samples. So, we’ll offer a few of the rarer ones in our birthday tribute feature today as we once again share bittersweet memories of the wonderful artist Gene Pitney. We know it’s trite to say about many of the early artists who never got their due, but in Gene’s case it’s especially true. Gene didn’t fit nicely into one ‘bag,’be it rock and roll, country or even rhythm and blues – he fit all three! It’s a wonder he even made it into the Rock Hall of Fame – finally – a year or two before he passed. As we wrote in our Beatles tribute last week, rock and roll didn’t attain respectability until after the Beatles and Gene fell victim to that during the biggest part of his career.
A true rarity we’d never seen before, from 1961.It has a haunting quality to it, capturing the feeling of the song and the movie, from which it never made the cut.
What can you say about this beauty. We certainly don’t want to put something up that was offered by the fan club, but since it’s on You Tube we figure it won’t hurt. However, we suggest going to the website or Amazon and purchase items.
While we’re in this vein of religious ballads, here’s another unreleased beauty , Ava Maria,in Italian, no less, again , with chilling organ accompanyment. We know nothing about this but you might write to the website if interested.
We begin with a nice tribute they put together for me, above, – Jack Benny here – after I died December 26, 1974 at age 39. Ha! (Yes I beat the medical industrial complex /Obamacare and I’m still here – but we’ll go into that later…)
A note to my ‘Super Savers’ last year… Just call me Jack of all trades – comedy, music, coupons/savings…
Folks , I’m going to have to wind this party down. I guess I’m NOT as young as I used to be BUT I am still touring and I’ll be in beautiful downtown Fresno this month so come by and see me and my pals in ‘Heavenly Laughter’ . So-long for now! It’s been fun – JB
We celebrate if not the greatest, then the most popular rock and roll group in history on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the Beatles crossing the Atlantic to perform for US fans on the Ed Sullivan show this week in 1964. But , at that time, one wasn’t so sure that the Beatles would fully catch on -or that rock and roll would survive. Afterall, rock and roll had softened it’s tune; Elvis was making movies, Buddy Holly had passed in the air crash along with budding star Richie Valens, Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis had some women problems and the other stars of the day like Roy Orbison, Bobby Darin, Neil Sedaka, Gene Pitney and Del Shannon were considered more pop than hard driving rock and roll – and even they were still playing to small venues,; it took caravan-style tours with other artists, fronted by empresarios like Alan Freed and Dick Clark to achieve larger crowds (of largely teenagers). Even with older guys like Clark and Freed leading the way, there wasn’t a lot of rock & roll respect to be had then.
The Beatles, Times Gave Rock & Roll Respectability 50 Years Ago
When the Beatles came along rock and roll still was considered, perhaps, a passing fad. Still in it’s infancy – having begun around 1955 – top artists of the day were performing in high school gymnasiums or small theaters, NOT stadiums and arenas as they do today. Just as societal values and mores began changing following the assassination of President Kennedy and the social upheaval that followed, so did rock and roll take on respectability in its now appealing rebelling nature – and the Beatles led the way, feasting off , yes, their own talents, but thecorrect timesthat would come to approve of their long hair and experimentalism (remember Maharishi?)
But, in the early days of the Beatles, circa 1964 , it was still the ‘dark ages’ of rock and roll some might say. Looking at the reviews of that first show, February 9, 1964 , we have this from the mainstream magazines NEWSWEEK:
‘”Visually, they are a nightmare; tight, dandified, Edwardian/Beatnik suits and great pudding bowls of hair. Their lyrics (punctuated by nutty shouts of ‘yeah, yeah, yeah!) are a catastrophe, a preposterous farrago of Valentine-card romantic sentiments.”
But for thirteen year-olds and their increasing ‘power’ derived in part via new, Dr. Spockian parenting and the growingly lax social times, there was absolutely nothing wrong with the Beatles. So much so, that the Beatles would soon sell out large stadiums like Candlestick Park in San Francisco -on the few tours they made during their short four year career in the States.
Finally, parents couldn’t help but hear the music – and they realized those ‘yeah, yeah, yeahs’ weren’t all that bad. Even some of the tunes like ‘Yesterday’ were even listenable. And the Beatles now were appealing to multi-genereations, despite some of their later, drug-influenced lyrics and ‘psychedlic sounds. By the time 1967 and ‘flower power’ arrived their was no turning back. And, the Beatles had spawned a lot of wannabes beginning with the ‘tougher’ Rolling Stones. By now, the old MOR (middle of the road) artists like Sinatra , Bennett, Dean Martin and the like had been knocked out of the charts. ‘Rock,’ as it was now called, even got its own mainstream magazine backing – and eventually that which spawned the Rock Hall of Fame – and rock and roll became a big money business and has never stopped.
But the Beatles had the music world to themselves – if they wanted in , but, suddenly, they called it quits in 1968 with a final concert in San Francisco’s Candlestick Park before 50,000 fans. And the rest is history – and rock and roll (in its latest incarnation , whatever that might be) lives on to this day.
Looking back as one who lived throughout the history of rock and roll, it seems somewhat unfair that artists and groups prior to the Beatles and rock’s new found respectability, never got the attention – or money – they probably deserved. It seems that most artists in the 50s and early 60s were exploited by their record companies; to be fair, rock and roll was still not ‘mainstream’ and many of the artists would not have made it without the ‘Phil Spectors’ of the day (in contrast to today, where artists can achieve success on their own, recording in their own home digital studios, and then marketing via social sites and blogs. Recent grammy winner , Lourdes, is an example of this. But, in the early days, artists needed all the help they could get. To add insult to injury, when the Beatles came along with their ‘gimmick’ hair and new , ‘rebel’ sounds, most of the pre-Beatles acts saw a significant downturn to their careers; with rare exception , they would never see the large crowds and big money that become the standard of top groups from the mid-60s and on.
The Beatles, Times Gave Rock & Roll Respectability 50 Years Ago
(above) One of many classic Carson episodes with the great comedian Don Rickles surprising Sinatra during the middle of an interview (1976). Compare this to the guests and stuff we see today on late night talk shows…
As Jay Leno leaves the Tonight Show (for the second and probably final time) we can’t help think back to Leno’s predecessor, Johnny Carson, who made ‘TV late night talk shows’ what they are today. Leno was certainly the best out their today – reflected in his top ratings – yet as one talk show coast said today ‘he or none of them can hold a candle to Johnny.’
Of all the guests on Carson, we liked Rodney ‘ No Respect ‘ Dangerfield probably best, for not only his monologue but for the time after when Carson and Rodney would kibitz and Carson just set it up for Dangerfield to go on and on with more great stuff. They both had it down. Miss them much.
Speaking about dress, there aren’t guests like LIBERACE any more – not only for his flamboyant-yet-tasteful style and great music! Sad for the young folks who missed out on people like Liberace, Buddy Hacket, Rodney Dangerfield – and Johnny Carson… but there’s always video like these…This was Liberace’s last appearance on Johnny Carson.
Johnny had an ongoing bit on the show of teasing band leader Don Severinson for his wild outfits (which called for teasing).
The Great Buddy Hackett with Johnny… Hackett ‘slips’ on a word that’s bleeped.
Like/Share this if you think Johnny Carson was the best late night talk host
Jay Leno Was Good, Johnny Carson GREAT -with Rickles, Dangerfield, Liberace, Sinatra
Say whay you will about Carson’s private life – of which you have to consider his less than stellar upbringing – Carson was the ‘perfect’ host of a TV show known to ‘make’ stars off a single visit. ( Just yesterday in our facebook page we noted David Brenner, one of many whose career took off after a single appearance on the Tonight Show.) Carson got the most out of his guests since they seemed to genuinely like each other. Plus, Carson wasn’t a bad interviewer either. Unlike some of his predecessors on the talk show circuit, Carson was a gentleman – on air, anyway – without the ‘in your face’ bits. Simple quality jokes got laughs, whether it was Rodney Dangerfield, Bob Hope, George Burns – or Carson himself, a comedian in his own right (magician, too). The Carson show was well diversified with actors, newsmakers and singers: it was Bette Midler who gave Johnny his final goodbye back in the mid-90s when he retired at age 69.
Here are just a few favorite guests and show bits from the show . For an in depth look at the man, there’s a new book out by his lawyer of 18 years, Henry Bushkin. (Take it with a grain of salt, since Bushkin and Carson split acrimoniously but from reviews it appears to put across much of the real Real Johnny Carson) Johnny Carson book **** 4 stars 121 of 135 people found the following review helpful Bad Johnny or very funny good Johnny? By wogan TOP 100 REVIEWER on August 22, 2013 Format: Hardcover Amazon Vine Review ( What’s this? ) Henry Bushkin was a new lawyer, just starting out when he fell into the job of being Johnny Carson’s lawyer.
He became his friend, his confidant, professional advisor and more. He has a high regard for Johnny despite a multitude of incidents and actions that would have made many leave. He does admit he was attracted to the money and the power and the nearness to fame. He consistently describes Johnny as the most talented and powerful man in show business and gives him credit for formulating the late night show style with desk and announcing guests – despite the fact that Jack Parr did it years before.
Buskin’s stories and life with Johnny are both fun and awful. Carson was, if nothing else volatile and admitted he could not love, which he blamed on his mother. For all of Buskin’s help and strategizing and solving many of Johnny’s problems, much of the book is about Bushkin too – he was intertwined with Carson for so many years. He finds much of what Carson does funny and even acceptable…peeing in a wine bucket at a Friar’s roast and his serial womanizing. There are blunt observations on Johnny’s drinking and his love life. We are also informed of the power and importance of Johnny Carson the star, with all his amazing influence and prestige and huge ego. Carson’s cursing; bad sportsmanship on the tennis courts, his arrogance and nastiness is all described. Yet amazingly Bushkin still appreciates him, even with the tantrums and the inexplicable firings in this book.
We learn much about Johnny Carson and much about Henry Bushkin. Despite the fact much of Carson’s behavior and actions leave a bad taste one can still see his talent and why so many still adore and admire the man in this easy to read and compelling book.
***** 5 stars 165 of 187 people found the following review helpful I hate lawyers, but I love this book!!! By Richardson TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 17, 2013 Format: Hardcover Amazon Vine Review ( What’s this? ) And I loved Johnny Carson. Perhaps like any aging baby boomer, or anyone from most any generation , we think what we had was the best. When it comes to late night TV hacks, er hosts, I think they all fall far below Johnny Carson. The documentary that came out a bit back Johnny Carson: King of Late Night [HD] was terrific and only increased my appetite for more. Sadly there aren’t any really good books about the King of Late night that I could find. One author , Bill Zehme , that they interview on the documentary has allegedly written a book that has been delayed for years and I hear could be the basis for a movie, but it is odd that the “biographer” on the excellent documentary has yet to publish same? I do find it interesting that for a guy as huge as Johnny was the dearth of literary material about his life and years at the top of the entertainment industry is remarkable and only ads to the enigma that continues to be Johnny Carson.
Well.. when I was offered the early read of this book I jumped at the opportunity, not because it was a book about Carson but I recognized the author’s name , Henry Bushkin. You can’t have watched the Tonight Show and not remembered Johnny talking about his lawyer “Bombastic Bushkin”…. so I was thinking just maybe a real book by a real insider. I should also add at this point that I’m not looking for “dirt” on Johnny, just something, anything , beyond the stage of the Tonight Show.
This was easily the quickest 300 pages I’ve ever turned, one sitting, and I’m sad it wasn’t longer. Bushkin does dish some serious dirt at times but he doesn’t do it in a mean spirited way. I like the fact that it is obvious Buskin is a writer to the extent he has a serious inside story to tell but he’s not in love with his own prose. By that I mean he covers a substantial amount of ground and quite a bit of salacious material in a sort of matter of fact way instead of ratcheting up the drama as one would expect by a “writer first” author. There isn’t much speculation in this book either, Bushkin keeps on point and delivers the material he has first hand knowledge of and for the most part was a participant in!
I hope potential purchasers of the book will not mind I didn’t give away any of the inside scoop or scandalous revelations (even though they are never presented in such a way I’m sure many will be fodder for tabloid news). I don’t want to spoil the read for anyone curious enough to purchase this excellent book. Bushkin was around for 18 years , and was his wingman and one of his closest confidants during the height of his power and popularity. You will be taken behind the curtain for scenes from divorce, the pitting of NBC against ABC , dealing with Caesers Palace in Las Vegas, as well as his own failed production company and many scenes from many Hollywood dinners. This is a terrific book without a page of filler, it reads like a greatest hits recording from highlight to highlight. I literally defy a reader to open the book to any page and not find something fascinating. Provocative it is, but it is just one persons version of the truthful history so I kept that in mind while reading and particularly when reading about the acrimonious ending to this longtime relationship. To that extent I believe it is the best available book on this subject and even were Johnny to have written his own story I can’t see him going below the surface …in many ways I think Carson would be the happiest to know that no books about him were written and that his “on air” life be the only one any of us know.
Has reading this book allowed me to form a new portrait of Johnny Carson? It certainly didn’t surprise me with what I’d previously read and after viewing that excellent documentary. When he perceived a failure of loyalty Johnny seems to exhibit what Desi Arnaz called “the Cuban way” …I don’t hate you , you just cease to exist. Being on the fringes of the entertainment industry here in Southern California I also suspect I’m a bit more jaded to much of this. The star machinations ,the ego stroking that is needed/required , the paranoia of those at the top. I would not have expected to read anything on Johnny Carson that pretended that he was a Jed Clampett type of displaced country boy being isolated in the big city. As Joan Rivers said “Johnny was a killer” , he was also from a young age skilled at sleight of hand , and like any true magician he wasn’t one to give away his secrets. Bushkin has at least let us into the tent for part of the show.
Jay Leno Was Good, Johnny Carson GREAT -with Rickles, Dangerfield, Liberace, Sinatra