Saturday, February 18, 2017

What Celebrating 50 Years Since Reaching #1 on Billboard Means in the World of The Buckinghams

Everyone who is a fan of the band The Buckinghams can easily name all the songs that were Top 10 hits, Top 20 hits, and Billboard Top 100 chartmakers. You have several songs that have personal, special meaning for you. But the song that took the native Chicagoans out of the basements of the band members' homes was the one USA Records released last, almost as an afterthought. "Kind of a Drag" has the distinction of being the song that took this band to the national level. Many wonderful bands are part of Chicago history, and they are as beloved today as they were in their time. But this one song, "Kind of a Drag" took flight and went to #1 on Billboard 50 years ago today, February 18, 1967.

Imagine what it was like for five young men to hold a copy of "Billboard" in their hands. For a few years, Carl and Jon-Jon had gone to the newsstand each week, buying a single copy of "Billboard" and reading it cover to cover. These days you hear about visualization techniques and dreaming about what you want in life. They didn't know exactly what it was they were doing, but they knew two things, they wanted to be a national band and they wanted a number one record. It was Jon-Jon who would ultimately start focusing on the financial aspects to what that number one status meant. He loved the business side of things almost from the start.

Carl Bonafede was one of the hardest working promoters in Chicago....he'd do his best to make sure everyone in Chicago knew who this band was. Bonafede had vision for making The Buckinghams the biggest band in Chicago. He did that. Dan Belloc's horn section made the arrangement unique and forever memorable.

James Holvay wrote the iconic song that propelled five young men into the spotlight and it gave him his first number one songwriting hit. The native of Lyons Township was multitalented as a writer, performer, and musician. He composed on piano and guitar and he was wiser than many young men his age, something that traveling the road with the Dick Clark tour gave him, along with street smarts you pick up along the way.

Although the iconic song spent two weeks at the top of the Billboard charts at the #1 spot and more weeks before and after that up an down the Top 100, even more impressive is that it has soared across the airwaves daily somewhere in this world every single day for the past 50 years, 18,250 days, 438,000 hours, 26,280,000 minutes.

Think about that--a two-minute song on the air waves and on wings of love. Thanks to SiriusXM radio, especially the 60s on 6 channel and Music Director Phlash Phelps and Program Director Lou Simon, The Buckinghams' music is alive and thriving. Music services keep this and other Buckinghams' songs alive, as you hear their music on airplane flights, in Hyatt Hotel properties, in Chicago's O'Hare airport, and yes, even in elevators and grocery stores. Even when terrestrial radio stations, once the primary sponsors of concerts around the country, played the music faithfully in the 1980s and 1990s, fell victim to program consultants, it was the unexpected places that the music remained alive for 50 years on the airwaves.

There are two key factors responsible for the songs making into our mainstream sonic consciousness for 50 years. It is first thanks to the fans of The Buckinghams--you above other factors set a demand for the music. From Dolores Chapman and her high school friends calling the radio stations requesting their songs be played on the air in the 1960s, to all of you who follow their concerts and go back year after year to wherever the band is playing around the country, you're the ones.

Next, Carl Giammarese and Nick Fortuna deserve special distinction as the ones among the founding members of the band who have kept the music of The Buckinghams alive, particularly on a daily basis since 1982. We all remember the five Buckinghams on the record: Dennis Tufano, the late John Poulos, original keyboardist Dennis Miccolis, Carl Giammarese and Nick Fortuna. Those are the five on "Kind of a Drag."

And yet, since 1982, every time the curtain has gone up, Carl and Nick are the ones who have been the keepers of the flame, and they've had a wonderful collective of musicians with them, many for a very long time, and each one has an important place in the history of the band. But were it not for their willingness to be at airports at 5 in the morning and spend 8 hours in the airport sometimes when flights get rearranged due to weather, for spending hundreds of hours on the road each year that they perform, and for the love they have for all of their fans, there would be no Buckinghams' concerts to look forward to.

Those of you who have attended concerts from the 1960s and from the 1980s forward know best of all the names of the others who have contributed their talents to The Buckinghams' performances, several of whom spent over four times as many years as the original recording group was together in the 1960s.

Bruce Soboroff joined Carl and Nick in 1986 and Dave Zane and Bruce "Rocky" Penn have been with the band since 2010, and, naturally, the musicians frequently known as The Buckinghorns, including Carlo Isabelli, Charles Morgan, Rich Moore have been with them for ages. Carl and Nick have carried the responsibility for assuring they bring the high standard of excellence to the music that is required for a performance that assures you leave having heard the music sung and played authentically, in the same key it was recorded, because you know how every note of every song goes.

Of course no list would be complete without Susan Rakis, who has attended more concerts than any other fan in the world, because she does both merchandising and she's the concert coordinator working behind the scenes to assure that when they walk on to the stage, everything is to their exact specifications. Each concert takes hours and days to advance, again unseen.

Those of us on the other side of the concert stage in the audience don't really get to see what it is like behind the scenes. We just know that we love being able to go to arenas, festivals, on cruises, or to showrooms in Las Vegas, and state fairs to see the musicians we regard doing what they do best, playing our songs.

It's profound to think, though, back in 1967, about how many 45s we bought, possibly 50 or more that year, each of which was important enough to spend the week's allowance, or a portion of it, on. Now, think about how many bands from that stack of our favorite records can we go see today? Very few, right? Fifty years of music later, James Holvay's song lives on, and thanks to Carl and Nick and all those who join them in concert and on the road, it will live on in our hearts and minds for many more years to come.

Undoubtedly, each of these variables has combined to make a truly memorable living legacy.

Congratulations to The Buckinghams for this very special milestone,

Dawn Lee Wakefield

Publicist for The Buckinghams

Friday, February 17, 2017

Ron Onesti hosts Cornerstones of Rock Concert for 3rd Time at the Arcada Theatre

This story is one for the archives! On Valentine's Day 2017, the ultimate entertainment producer and grand host, our very good friend, Ron Onesti, welcomed Chicago natives back into his "home stage" in St. Charles, the one and only Arcada Theatre.

Thanks to Pamela Pulice of the Dick Biondi Film Project for sharing a photo of the marquee.

The music of Jimy Sohns, Jim Peterik, Ronnie Rice, New Colony Six, the Cryan Shames, The Ides of March, Colin Peterik, Ted Aliota, and The Buckinghams was heard to another sold-out crowd and even the Dick Biondi Film Project team was on hand, doing live broadcasts from the Arcada for people to enjoy on Facebook. Snapshots of each group performing were shared so people who couldn't get there would be included in the fun.

Ron writes as well as he produces concerts, so we'll share the first three paragraphs and then give you the link so you can read the original article for its own beautiful self. Ron, as always thanks so much for being the consummate host and for helping everyone relive our teenage years one more time!

"Another edition of "Cornerstones of Rock: American Garage" at The Arcada Theatre is over, and boy, what a night it was! This was the fifth production of this historic presentation, and fans still could not get enough.

This show featured those amazing garage rock pioneers from Chicago who kicked off a national sensation that helped 1950s-era rock 'n' roll make the transition to the harder edged rock of the Sixties.

Being from the neighborhoods of inner city Chicago myself, I know exactly where these bands came from, and how they evolved. Summer nights, garage doors open in the alleys with 55-gallon metal garbage cans surrounding a splintered-wood telephone pole. This was in 1964, 1965, 1966. The British invasion was in full swing and local bands like the Buckinghams and the New Colony Six were planning their American music counterattacks."

Your words ring true and are poignant:

"Within our packed houses of 900+ music lovers are individuals with major family issues -- maybe the loss of a loved one, problems at work or financial woes. But for a couple of hours, they are able to forget it all, dance and sing to the music of their younger years. How cool is that?"

To read Ron's full story, visit:

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Have Pictures to Share? There's a Great New Group on Facebook "Picture The Buckinghams"

Just when you think you knew where to find "all things Buckinghams" you might be surprised and pleased to see one more.

One of The Buckinghams' most dynamic music supporters and history preservationists is a very wonderful lady, Lesley Clack.

On her initiative, and with permission from the band, she started a new Facebook Group, "Picture the Buckinghams" and the page link is:

Anyone can view the page, but in order to share your photos on the page, all you have to do is request to join the group, and that's it! One request button.

For a long time, Lesley has been taking photographs from very good perspectives at concerts, as she's often very close to the stage because she gets her tickets the first day they go on sale.

In fact, here's a photo of Lesley in action taking pictures in Las Vegas as longtime fan and friend Terri D'Talia snapped this one:

Lesley is based on the West Coast and she'd been kind enough to share pictures on The Buckinghams' Facebook pages at times, but she noticed that, the way Facebook works, if you want to see photos from a concert from a month ago, good luck in scrolling back all through the thousands of posts that happen in a month's time with over 34,000 people who 'like' The Buckinghams' official Facebook page,

So, if you want to see the page, bookmark it on your browser and check back often to see what's new there. And, if you've got photos to contribute from recent Buckinghams' concerts, just send a request to join the group and when she approves, start posting. It's one great online scrapbook, Facebook-style.

All of The Buckinghams extended family appreciate Lesley and all of her assistant photographers for their gifts of time and pictures. You rock!

Friday, February 26, 2016

Carl Giammarese's New Album Released - "Living in the Moment" is Original, Unique

"Living in the Moment" is the latest solo CD from Carl Giammarese, and it represents a year of composing songs that reflect a present-day look back at the past and focus on the future. For those not on Facebook, here's "What People Are Saying--Reviews of 'Living in the Moment'" shared here:

Have you had a chance to hear Carl’s new CD yet? Did you have preconceived notions about what you might hear? Were you right? One thing you can say for certain is that Carl’s talent in songwriting has never been clearer than in this new CD. The diversity of the musical offerings, the styles in which he can sing (reggae, country, soft rock, Christian rock, and of course, classic rock) go far beyond what you hear at a beloved Buckinghams’ concert. Carl is a modest man, and when he released the music, he didn’t know what to expect in terms of feedback. Recently he shared that he’s receiving so many e-mails with your reactions to his work, after people have ordered and listened to his CD, he’s so appreciative and humbled.

So, on behalf of Carl, I wanted to share some really special things that were written about his new CD, “Living in the Moment” that you might not have seen already. I also invite those of you who have purchased the CD already to please share your thoughts, whatever they are, so that others can have your honest, independent perspective. Two examples I’ll start with are from a great colleague and music historian, Chicago’s Kent Kotal (, and a personal and Facebook friend to many of The Buckinghams, Jim Reynolds, who agreed to let me share his remarks.

First up is Kent Kotal, whose Forgotten Hits blog keeps him busy 24/7; hence, he’s not on Facebook. On December 13, Kent posted part 1 of his interview with Carl at

And, on December 14, Kent posted part 2 of his interview. Here, he and Carl discuss the many challenges of an established artist who’s part of an established band in creating an entirely new concept album, writing all the songs, producing and releasing that album in present times where new CD releases are becoming more rare. It’s an introspective interview and it’s found here: Next, Jim Reynolds (so many Buckinghams’ fans have great memories of Northbrook Days!) has shared his review:

“Carl Giammarese is truly "living in the moment". His passion has long been writing and performing his own music ... and his legacy with the The Buckinghams gives him an opportunity and mini-platform to pursue that dream with a vengeance. He wrote, produced, arranged, played and sang on all 10 of these gems.

Something for everyone... depending on the track I hear influences and whisps of Christian, blues, reggae, Clapton, County with great country fiddle, love songs, precious memories, inspiration and more!

To any of my FB friends who have ever been entertained by The Buckinghams, or know some of the support gang or current lineup... I urge you to buy this CD. Carl will be glad to sign it ... you won't be disappointed!”

The CD is, of course, available on Carl’s personal Web site ( plus Amazon, iTunes, and and on virtually every download site, thanks to TuneCore, but you have to know about it to want to look for it. Autographed copies are available ONLY at Carl’s Web site and you write your autograph request details in the “Instructions to Seller” info block when you’re on PayPal. Also note, it’s not required to have a PayPal account to get the album that way--credit cards are accepted.

Please feel free to add your own reviews here, and to help share the word with friends you know who appreciate Carl and The Buckinghams. It’s anything you want to say, short or long, about the music. Perhaps there’s a favorite track, or you like the cover art, and the liner notes that Carl personally wrote--whatever resonates with you for whatever reason. Please feel free to let him know at

Many thanks for reading, and sharing your thoughts, Dawn Lee Wakefield, Publicist for The Buckinghams and Carl Giammarese

Monday, December 14, 2015

The Buckinghams Dazzle at Dosey Doe

Guest post by Rhonda Brinkmann (originally posted on
Concert by The Buckinghams, December 13, 2015

Rating:5-stars The Buckinghams gave a dazzling performance at Dosey Doe Coffee Shop on Sunday evening. The band—known by many folks for its powerful and unforgettable hits—delivered on familiar melodies, seamless medleys, original numbers, and holiday classics. The group’s music continues to offer the energizing beat and heartfelt impact that it has been imparting for over four decades.

Despite the large crowd, band members created a strong personal rapport with the audience through humor and glimpses into their touring adventures. Faces across the room reflected the impact of the memorable tunes as most people sang along or swayed with the music. From the opening strains of “Don’t You Care” to the closing chord of “Kind of a Drag,” which brought the house down, The Buckinghams kept the crowd enthralled. Carl Giammarese on vocals and guitar, and Nick Fortuna on bass and vocals are founding members of The Buckinghams. Dave Zane on guitar and vocals, Bruce Soboroff on keyboard and vocals, and Rocky Penn on drums and vocals rounded out the compelling sounds of the night.

A recent Public Broadcast System special titled Cornerstones of Rock featured The Buckinghams along with other Chicago-area rock groups that helped define the music of the 1960s and 1970s. Earlier this year, The Buckinghams were part of the Happy Together Tour featuring featuring music of and by The Turtles, The Buckinghams, The Association, The Cowsills, The Grass Roots, and Mark Lindsay.

The Big Barn at Dosey Doe Coffee Shop in The Woodlands, Texas, was a wonderful venue to host the concert. Dosey Doe has been offering great music in its Big Barn for years, and the venue has become known as one of the best listening rooms in the country. Originally built as a tobacco barn in Kentucky, the 168-year-old structure is rustically beautiful and makes for great acoustics. Music performances at both the Big Barn and the Music Café feature artists from contemporary to country, jazz to bluegrass, solo performances to bands.

For the rest of this month and in January, you can catch up with the Buckinghams at their shows in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Indiana. For more information, check out the band’s Facebook page. Thanks again to Rhonda Brinkmann for permission to share her story. To contact Rhonda, visit her web site.

Photo credits: Wordsmiths4u

Friday, October 16, 2015

Giving Our Friends and Fans a Sneak Preview of the Happy Together Tour for 2016 (The Turtles, Chuck Negron, The Cowsills, Gary Puckett, The Spencer Davis Group, & Mark Lindsay) Will Rock Your Summer 2016

Many of you have e-mailed and posted on The Buckinghams' Facebook page, asking why The Buckinghams are not on the Happy Together Tour next summer. We just wanted to take a minute and share that The Buckinghams were honored to be invited to participate in next year's tour, but Carl and Nick decided that they would like to take a break for a year and concentrate on touring with their band for another summer to remember. Fact is that every year The Turtles vary the lineup, and select from all the great classic rock artists to keep things fresh and new for the faithful fans who come out, year after year, to hear everyone. Carl Giammarese said, "We've been extremely privileged to be on this tour 5 of the past 7 years of the Happy Together Tour's Anniversary Run, just as we were back in the 1985-1986 tour in the second year in that historic concert series." The Buckinghams band will be performing around the country this summer, so be sure and check out the website and the Facebook page ( for concert dates.
This past summer Nick and Carl enjoyed the 47 concerts that were part of the 2015 Happy Together Tour, greeting many fans who came back again this year, and meeting new friends who saw the tour for the very first time. Check out the Happy Together Tour lineup for 2016 and watch the artists' websites for information on when and where to get tickets. Summer 2016 is only 8 months away. Get ready!

Friday, October 9, 2015

The Buckinghams Visit Niagara Falls to Perform at the Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino

The Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino really welcomed The Buckinghams so very nicely. Appreciate the VIP treatment, always. Enjoy these photos taken by Lora Evans, at the Bears Den Showroom, and of course the Falls! It was an amazing night and we really enjoyed being with you all that night. The Falls were such a magnificent sight to see as well.