Sunday, December 19, 2010

Clay Cole, 1938-2010

It is with sadness that I report the passing of another one of the greats of the rock and roll era.  Clay Cole, born Albert Rucker, Jr. on January 1, 1938, has passed away at the age of 72.  Clay apparently succumbed to a heart attack at his North Carolina home on December 18, 2010, just a couple of weeks prior to his 73rd birthday.

Clay was a television host, disc jockey, emcee, writer, producer, movie star, and author.  He was best known for his eponymous TV show, which aired in the New York City area from 1959 to 1968.  Clay's youthful enthusiasm helped to make the rock and roll dance show a success.  When the winds of musical change began blowing in the late 1960's, Clay resigned from the show and started focusing more on behind-the-scenes work such as writing and producing.  In 2009, his memoir Sh-Boom!: The Explosion of Rock 'n' Roll (1953-1968) was released, and Clay spent much of late 2009 and early 2010 promoting the book via TV, radio and personal appearances and book signings.  In October, Clay was a recipient of the Friends of Old Time Radio Award at the 2009 Friends of Old Time Radio Convention in Newark, NJ.  During the past year, Clay was the master of ceremonies at several oldies concerts, and he was one of some 100 stars who participated in the National Rock & Roll Fan Fest (Rock Con) at the Sheraton Meadowlands in East Rutherford, NJ from July 30 to August 1, 2010.  More information on Clay's stellar career can be found on his official website as well as on the Clay Cole Wikipedia page.

Watch for a special tribute on the Jersey Girls Sing website, run by Clay's dear friends Denise Ferri, Bernadette Carroll, and Ronnie Allen.  Also, please be sure to sign the petition to get Clay inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, an honor he truly deserves for all of his efforts over the years in promoting the great music of rock's golden era.

Rest in peace, Clay, and thanks for the years of music and memories and great times.  Yes, you really were something.

Monday, June 07, 2010

New CD release by Ron Dante of The Archies

The newest CD by Ron Dante, lead singer of The Archies ("Sugar, Sugar") and The Cuff Links ("Tracy") as well as producer extraordinaire (Barry Manilow, Cher, Pat Benatar), is actually an enhanced version of some old Favorites - but what an enhancement it's turning out to be!  Fans of the handsome, talented and eternally youthful singer are going to be delighted with this latest offering, scheduled for release on June 15, 2010.  Favorites will feature twenty (count 'em!) tracks, combining most of those originally released on the CD's previous incarnation with a hefty helping of bonus cuts including some never-before-released gems, like remakes of the Elvis hit "That's Alright, Mama" and Bo Donaldson & The Heywoods' "Billy, Don't Be a Hero."

Ron Dante is a gifted singer who manages to make every song he records his own while still remaining faithful to the original - a tricky feat that not every vocalist can pull off.  But, then, we must keep in mind that Ron's early days in the music biz were spent at the legendary Brill Building in New York City, working with such heavyweights as Don Kirshner and Jeff Barry, and rubbing elbows with the likes of Carole King, Jerry Lieber, Mike Stoller, Ellie Greenwich, and Neil Sedaka.  We must also keep in mind that Ron managed to have two Top-Ten hits at the same time ("Sugar, Sugar" and "Tracy," in 1969) while few people outside the hallowed hallways of the Broadway music palaces knew that it was Ron doing the singing on those records!  Ron's anonymity continued even as "Sugar" went on to sell six million units, becoming the RIAA Record of the Year and earning a gold disc; fortunately, once Ron stepped out from behind the scenes, releasing his first solo album, Let Me Bring You Up, in 1970, he was never to disappear into the shadows again.  (To read more about Ron's incredible career, check out his official website,, as well as Laura's Ron Dante Fan Pages.)

Ron's had quite a few solo album releases over the years, including a fair number within the past decade.  His voice still sounds as strong and youthful as ever.  The original version of Favorites was released in early 2000 and is now out of print, and rare enough to sell for around the $75.00 mark when and if a copy can be found.  Happily, now we can all enjoy Ron Dante's Favorites for a fraction of that amount!  Click on the graphic above to reserve your copy on

The official front and back covers appear below.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Andy Kim: Happen Again (CD Review)

Hunky singer-songwriter Andy Kim, who rose to fame during the late 60's and early 70's with hits such as "How'd We Ever Get This Way," "So Good Together," "Baby, I Love You," "Be My Baby" and "Rock Me Gently" (as well as The Archies' "Sugar, Sugar," which he co-wrote with Jeff Barry), has just released his first new album in more than two decades. Happen Again is proof that great artists, like fine wines, only improve with time. The Canadian-born tunesmith, whose movie-star good looks are still very much in evidence, is in the process of rehearsing for a concert tour of his native country. During the past few weeks, Kim has been doing a fair number of radio, periodical, and web interviews and making personal appearances to promote both the CD and the tour.

On March 30th, the day Happen Again was officially released, Andy Kim and his band put on a great 45-minute performance in the lobby of the AM740 (Zoomer Radio) studios in Toronto, Ontario. The video was streamed live via the Internet and is now available for viewing on the radio station's website. Just head on over to Zoomer Radio's On-Demand page, where you will see a video screen and, to its immediate right, a vertical column of circular graphics. Click on the one that reads The New AM 740 (second one from the top); this brings up a list of available videos, in alphabetical order. Andy Kim's is the first one listed. Click on it, and the video will begin playing on the screen. Relax, enjoy, sing along if you know the words, and hear the magic for yourself. Live and unedited, this concert and interview illustrate beyond a doubt that the man, whom many of his admirers refer to as The Voice, has lost neither his chops nor his talent.

Below is my review of the Happen Again CD, which appears both on Oldies Connection and my Andy Kim Fan Page, in its entirety. A track-by-track review I wrote prior to the CD's wide release can be found on the product page on Amazon Canada, under the heading "Andy Kim Makes it Happen Again."

From Oldies Connection:

Released in March of 2010, singer-songwriter Andy Kim's first new album in more than twenty years makes fans all over the world happy again

Imagine, just for a moment, that you are Andy Kim.

Make believe that you are a singer/songwriter who left your native Montreal as a teenager in the mid-60s, traveling to New York City where you met your musical idol, Jeff Barry; teamed up with him to record several Top 40 hits ("How'd We Ever Get This Way," "Baby, I Love You," "Be My Baby") for his record label and to write a song that would sell in the millions, and become Record of the Year for 1969 ("Sugar, Sugar"); and composed, produced, recorded and released what would become your signature song and an international hit in 1974 ("Rock Me Gently"). Pretend that your songs and recordings endure to this day, continually being discovered by new generations of fans. And imagine that there's probably not an hour that goes by when at least one of your songs isn't playing somewhere in the world.

Now - if you were Andy Kim, what would you do to top all that?

Here's a little secret ...

The first thing you would do to top all that is to NOT try to top all that. If you were Andy Kim, you would continue to write songs in the same way you always have - from your heart and soul and mind and imagination and life and wisdom. You would continue to write songs for the same reason you always have - because songwriting, the sharing of your music and your spirit with the world, is a part of you. It's in your blood. It's in your DNA. You would do it whether or not you made a dime from it, whether or not you became famous through it. You're not setting out to record a million seller or to compose the perfect tune. Probably you're aware that, if you love the end result, there are others who will too. But this is neither your motivation for nor the source of your compulsion.

Then you'd sit down and write:

Do you feel connected
To sentimental times
Before the wall was erected,
And dreams were in their prime?

And, before you're even aware of it, forty years after your teenage self began creating hit records in New York City, you've made it happen again.

It's almost impossible not to love a song with lyrics like those, and the sentiment within those lyrics - from the title track of Andy Kim's first new album in over twenty years - is prophetic. Happen Again is proof that Andy Kim still has the same magic touch that he's always had, and that all he ever needs to do is all he's ever done - just write his songs one heartbeat at a time and let his innate talent take care of the rest. Happen Again is a work of art. It is, quite simply, magnificent.

Andy Kim's Happen Again is available from Amazon Canada. Visit Andy's official website,, for details. Go to Andy's official MySpace page to listen to the tracks and discover for yourself the genius residing in the music and mind of this kid from Montreal. And, if you only buy one CD all year, make it this one. Yes - it's that good.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Andy Kim - Making it Happen Again

Singer-songwriter Andy Kim, who's best known for hits like "Sugar, Sugar" (songwriter), "Baby, I Love You" (singer), and "Rock Me Gently" (both), has a brand-new CD, Happen Again, coming out tomorrow, March 30th. It is Andy's first new album in over twenty years.

Toronto’s AM740 (Zoomer Radio) is presenting Andy Kim live in concert at 2:00 p.m. Tuesday. If you live in or near Toronto, you can be one of the lucky people to see the show in person in the Concert Lobby at the radio station (on a first-come, first-served basis). They'll even let you bring your camera.  Otherwise, you can listen to the whole thing on AM740 or watch the live webcast on the site.

Happen Again is available on Amazon Canada. You can visit Andy’s official website at And check out Andy’s MySpace page to listen to the entire album on his music player!  Watch for my review of this fantastic collection shortly.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Farewell, Maestro

Johnny Maestro, 07 May 1939 - 24 March 2010

Johnny Maestro was born John Mastrangelo on May 7, 1939, in Brooklyn, NY. He first rose to prominence as lead singer of The Crests, one of the first interracial recording groups (consisting of 2 black males, 1 black female, and 1 Puerto Rican in addition to Maestro). After several hits, including their biggest, "16 Candles," Maestro left the group to go solo, eventually joining The Del-Satins. The following year, 1968, The Del-Satins joined forces with a group called The Rhythm Method and became The Brooklyn Bridge (the inside joke being that their act would be "harder to sell than the Brooklyn Bridge"); their first release, "The Worst That Could Happen," became Maestro's signature tune.

Johnny Maestro passed away from cancer on March 24, 2010, in Florida. He was 70 years old.

Johnny Maestro was a singer's singer. He had one of the best set of pipes out there; he was one of the greats. By all accounts, in addition to being a very talented individual, he was a very nice person. I think it's safe to say that there will never be another like him. His passing is a tragic loss for the music world as well as for his family, friends, and many fans. Johnny, you will always be The Maestro to us.  Rest in peace.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Clay Cole RRHOF Petition

Hi, oldies fans,

Those of you who lived in the New York metro area during the 1960s might remember Clay Cole and his eponymous TV variety show, The Clay Cole Show, which aired from 1959 to 1968.  Clay presented many of the rock and roll stars of the era on not just his television program but also on stage (i.e., the Brooklyn Paramount) and screen (Twist Around the Clock).  Clay also hosted The Clay Cole Summer Show, broadcast from Palisades Amusement Park.  Scores of rock and roll singers and groups appeared on Clay's shows.  In 1969, at the height of the hippie movement and psychedelia, Clay walked away from the TV show and virtually disappeared for forty years (although, in reality, he was keeping busy as a writer and producer).  Now, Clay has reemerged to promote his new book, Sh-Boom!: The Explosion of Rock 'n' Roll (1953-1968) and to once again host concerts (now oldies shows) in cities such as Belleville, New Jersey and St. Petersburg, Florida.

Thanks to oldies deejay Ronnie Allen and Jersey Girls Denise Ferri and Bernadette Carroll, there is now a petition to get Clay Cole inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Please visit this page on the Jersey Girls website to read all about Clay Cole's remarkable career and to sign your name to the petition.  Clay not only presented the best acts in the business, he was (and remains) quite a class act himself.  Please take a few moments to show your support for Clay and for the great music of the 1960s he helped bring to the world.  Thank you!

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

46 Years Ago Today

It was 46 years ago today - February 9, 1964 - when The Beatles made their historic first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. The Fab Four sang five songs on the Sullivan show - "All My Loving," "Til There Was You," "She Loves You," "I Saw Her Standing There," and "I Want to Hold Your Hand." There were fewer than 800 people in the studio audience - demand for tickets far exceeded the supply - and the show was watched by an estimated 73 million people. Were you one of them?