Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Remembering John Poulos’ Birthday and A New Video from Carl

This picture is from Carl Giammarese’s personal photo album and it’s of a celebration of John Poulos’ birthday back in the late 60s/early 70s. The cake looks pretty good. Today John would have been 73 years old and without a doubt, he would be one of the most positive voices you looked to for affirmation that, no matter what was going on at the time, things were all going to work out just fine.

It’s the basic nature of an optimistic person to want to make things better, to cheer people up when they’re sad, and to take a leadership role in turning a bad situation into a good one. To hear Carl tell stories of their early days together, John was someone whose personality really meshed with his. They had many interests in common and they didn’t fear what was coming tomorrow. Rather than being overly serious about long-term worries, instead John was able to enjoy the moment and capture the joy of being there, something many of us forget to do.

Three rare, early photos of The Buckinghams were found but please do not copy and share/paste them by themselves anywhere as they are part of UM’s special collection and not meant for public distribution without permission. Photographer on both pictures was Jeffrey Drucker, who was a “student and photographer at the University of Massachusetts Amherst from 1966–1969, where he majored in production management and was the WMUA station engineer.”

The concert location was the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and The Buckinghams performed at their Winter Carnival in their Student Union building. The concert was February 21, 1968. As you can see there was a huge crowd gathered to hear the (then) newest national music stars.

Drucker, Jeffrey. Winter Carnival: The Buckinghams on stage at the Student Union, UMass Amherst, ca. February 21, 1968. Jeffrey Drucker Photograph Collection (RG 50/6 D78). Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries

The next photo is of Carl and John, with all five Buckinghams present in the room during the intermission in the show. Bob Sawyer (not pictured) recorded an interview for the student radio station, WMUA, and they look pretty relaxed just halfway in the show. They were likely pretty happy to get their heavy Edwardian jacket coats off for a little while, too.

Drucker, Jeffrey. Winter Carnival: The Buckinghams performing at the Student Union, UMass Amherst: Carl Giammarese and John Poulos at intermission, ca. February 21, 1968. Jeffrey Drucker Photograph Collection (RG 50/6 D78). Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries

Next is a relaxed photo of four of the guys; Marty didn’t get in this picture.

Drucker, Jeffrey. Winter Carnival: The Buckinghams performing at the Student Union, UMass Amherst: L. to r.: Carl Giammarese, John Poulos, Nick Fortuna, and Dennis Tufano backstage at intermission, ca. February 21, 1968. Jeffrey Drucker Photograph Collection (RG 50/6 D78). Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries

Making every day count is what it’s all about. When you look back at your own photo albums, just one picture can set your memories working for hours. You recall the people you were with, where you were, what was going on at the time, how you felt and, for music fans, what was on the radio at the time. People save concert ticket stubs (before iPhones were invented), as that was the only way you could capture a moment in time. Many of you, over 50 years later, still have saved ticket stubs from The Buckinghams’ concerts. Some could even have John Poulos’ autograph on them.

Capture each moment in time today in photos and in your journals, because in another 20 or 30 years, those images and memories will mean the world to you and those who love you.

Tonight Carl Giammarese recorded a special video for Buckinghams' fans, an acoustic version of one of his favorite Beatles' songs: "Blackbird."

If you enjoyed it, "Like" the video, leave a comment, and maybe subscribe to the channel for notification of new videos when they post.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Remembering John Poulos, 40 Years Later

It’s hard to fathom that it’s been 40 years since The Buckinghams’ leader, drummer John Poulos, passed away at the too-young age of 32. Travel back in time for a few minutes as we remember John through the eyes and memories of his bandmate and friend, Carl Giammarese.

First, Carl's video message, especially for friends and fans of The Buckinghams, who’d journeyed with them from their earliest days. John’s legacy of love lives on, and his many gifts and talents are remembered by those who loved him dearly, especially his widow, Dale Fahey, and their daughter, Polly, a talented creative in her own right.

And now, flashback to the very beginning. From the band photo (above) the year was 1965 and The Pulsations won a battle of the bands in Chicago, chosen to perform on Chicago’s WGN-TV for 13 weeks on the show, “All Time Hits.” Band members on the show by the 4th week were: [L to R]: Nick Fortuna, Dennis Miccolis, John Poulos (seated), Dennis Tufano, and Carl Giammarese (seated)]. As most of you know, before the first episode of the program was broadcast, producers didn’t like their name—The Pulsations.

You know the story of the name change, but the bottom line was American audiences were introduced to the group ultimately as The Buckinghams…now that sounded just right. After those 13 weeks, John and all his band members (with Nick Fortuna coming in when bassist Curtis Bachman left to join Saturday’s Children in the fourth week and George LeGros was drafted into the U.S Army) became household names. The lineup who originally won the band for the TV show is pictured below, including Curtis Bachman and George LeGros, sitting behind John (photo courtesy of Carl Bonafede).

So many new opportunities were waiting for them. WGN-TV was based in Chicago, but the signal was strong and could be seen beyond the immediate city.

Carl Giammarese remembers that John at that time had such a focus on the entertainment business, a fascination beyond a passing interest. John was the de facto “leader of the band” for two reasons: first, he loved it and second, everyone else was happy to have him step up and take charge. John was the one signing all the contracts for the band, from the beginning.

One of the favorite parts of the week for John and Carl was when they’d go to the news stand to purchase the latest copy of “Billboard Magazine.” This was before they were ever in it. You know what they say about focusing on your dreams and never giving up. It’s the path of visualizing that helps dreams to come true.

As future record co-producers Carl Bonafede and bandleader Dan Belloc saw, there was such popularity of the band based on the buzz from the TV appearances. They acted quickly to get the band into the recording studio and they financed their first recordings. Three singles released were regional hits and the rest is….Buckinghams’ history.

From Chicago to New York City in less than 700 days. Let’s go back to 1967 and visit another of the best times in John’s life.

The powerful presence on Chicago radio and TV was The Buckinghams’ ability to ultimately launch James Holvay’s song, “Kind of a Drag” to number 1 on the Billboard charts. Imagine the look on John’s face the week of February 18, 1967, when he opened his copy at the news stand and saw it in print. Certainly that was another turning point in his life.

John was a drummer, not a singer or part of the background vocals, the way all the other band members were. Carl spoke of John’s singing debut—and his finale—on record in the song, “The Married Life,” from their first Columbia Records album, “Time and Charges.”

At any rate, here’s John holding up fairly well, despite his four bandmates and their tour manager at the time, Peter Shelton, giving him a good-natured but tough-to-concentrate ribbing, while he was attempting to record the song. He made it through the song, despite his friends. From that same album, the opening drum fills of “Don’t You Care” reflect the creativity that John (or Jon-Jon as he was best known to the fans) had, as does the smile that was always on his face in any situation. Here’s John featured on “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour” or as it was sometimes known, “The Smothers (Comedy) Brothers Hour.”

The 1980 reunion of The Buckinghams at Navy Pier was “poignant,” Carl Giammarese said, “because of all of us, John was the one that wanted so much to have the band back together. He missed it so much and he would have been the first one in to say ‘yes.’” But, he’d passed away a few months prior to the reunion even being considered. Life went on and Carl reached out to the other members, and you know how that all flowed from that point on.

Time stopped again, in 2010. Throwing back to a Thursday ten years ago, Carl shared his memories at the 30th anniversary of John’s passing in the story (link follows):

http://thebuckinghamsconcertblog.blogspot.com/2010/03/in-memory-of-john-poulos-march-31-1947.html

Recent stop on the journey back—four years ago, when Carl released his third solo album, “Living in the Moment.” He shared that John Poulos was the inspiration for writing his song, “I’ll Remember You.” At the time, Carl posted on Facebook: “John Poulos was like a brother to me. He was the original drummer and a founding member and leader of The Buckinghams. When he passed away in 1980 it hit me hard. These lyrics reflect my feelings and how I remember him:"

‘I’ll remember you, will you remember me

I guess it’s just the way it had to be

When the days turned to years, you should never fear

That you’ll become a distant memory

I can’t believe you’ll never have tomorrow

You’ll always be a part of yesterday

And when I get this feeling of sorrow

I wonder what you would have been today.’”

This brings us to today, March 26, 2020.

A good way to remember John is not with our tears, but with our smiles. Let that be his continuing legacy, to lift your spirits by his smile, his sense of humor, his devotion to the band and their music, and his love of this life we all are still privileged to enjoy.

~~Dawn Lee Wakefield

Monday, March 23, 2020

A Message and Some Music from Carl Giammarese

The Buckinghams' Carl Giammarese shared information about tentative new concert dates as he has them. And, he wanted to sing a few songs for you, from his home studio. Enjoy his video!

New Concert Dates (We Will Keep Updating The Schedule as We Have It)

To All Our Fans:

On behalf of The Buckinghams, we have all of you in our prayers for your safety and financial security and well-being during these days that can be very stressful. We know that going to concerts and the routine of what used to be everyday life can definitely be the least of your concerns right now. We understand and look forward to a day when that "curve flattens" and the spread of COVID-19 is halted, and an antidote or cure can be found, manufactured and distributed. We will stay positive at all times that we as a country, our states and our local governments are working together for the best solutions for us all.

We're all doing everything we can to follow the CDC health guidelines and maintain proper social distancing while we await good news and our return to live concert performances. Meantime, The Buckinghams' booking agency, Paradise Artists, is in constant communication with our event venues to project new concert dates for our performances scheduled to perform in March and April and get the word out to ticket holders and prospective concert attendees.

Here's what we know as of now:

The March 14 concert with Tommy James at the NYCB Theatre in Westbury NY is rescheduled for July 10.

The April 11 concert of The Buckinghams at Ron Onesti's Club 210 is now set for Sept. 27.

The May 2 Cornerstones of Rock concert at Ron Onesti's Arcada Theatre is now set for June 21.

The May 3 concert with Peter Noone at the American Music Theatre is rescheduled for July 16.

For specific questions on any concert, always check with the venue's web site or contact their box office for the latest information.

NOTE: Presently, our concert at the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas has not officially been cancelled, so as the date draws closer, we'll keep you posted on any changes.

As always, stay in touch with The Buckinghams on Facebook www.facebook.com/thebuckinghams and stay as positive and upbeat as possible until you can join us at a future show. The music will go on, and we'll keep posting here until we see you in person. Thank you for hanging in there with us! We are #InThisTogether and #TogetherAtHome. Take care and God Bless You, Carl

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

American Pop! Concert Review Sings Praises of The Buckinghams, The Box Tops, & Grass Roots in New Jersey

New Jersey music fans know and love the concert pairing in the American Pop! lineup but this year's lineup was found to be exceptional by reviewers Marc and Carol, better known as Love Imagery. Concert lineup for Saturday, February 29th (Leap Day) at the Bergen Performing Arts Center in Englewood, New Jersey, began with The Box Tops, then The Buckinghams, followed by the Grass Roots. The concert, offered by Paradise Artists, has performed in several venues around the country over the past year.

In the full concert review by Spotlight Central found at New Jersey Stage, Love Imagery shared images the most exciting sights and a tremendous review of the sounds of the entire evening, in grand and glorious detail.

READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE Click to read the review: https://www.newjerseystage.com/articles/2020/03/10/the-best-music-in-the-world-the-grass-roots-the-buckinghams-and-the-box-tops-live-at-bergenpac/

READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE

Take a look at the song list on the poster--any fan of 60s and 70s rock will know all the words to all the songs these three superbands have performed through the years. These are the tunes that SiriusXM radio channels 60s on 6 and 70s on 7 keep alive 24/7. We're fortunate, too, for internet radio stations and DJs who program the music of The Buckinghams on their shows, and they still do interviews and keep fans informed of where you can hear great live music.

In response to the interview that posted online yesterday, The Buckinghams' Carl Giammarese said, "It is always a pleasure to see Marc and Carol of Love Imagery when we come to New Jersey. Not only do they take dynamic photos of us in concert, they interview all the members of the bands. They've really done their homework because they know so much about us. They are sincerely fans of 60s and 70s music and it's great to see them doing what they love in capturing memories from the shows."

The Love Imagery Team was nice enough to send extra photos especially to share with The Buckinghams fans and they follow here. Our thanks to Marc and Carol for their consideration and great pictures!

The crowd got up on their feet from just the time the first note sounded!

Carl getting into a song for the crowd.

L to R: Dave Zane, Carl Giammarese, Rocky Penn, and Nick Fortuna.

Carl Giammarese and Dave Zane.
Dave Zane and one of his many, many guitars.
The Buckinghams sing "Don't You Care."
Nick Fortuna sings "Domino."
The entire Buckinghams band with horns entertaining the crowd.
The Grass Roots entertain with "Temptation Eyes."
Dusty Hanvey on guitar, Joe Dougherty on drums, Mark Dawson on lead vocals and bass, and Larry Nelson on keyboards.
The crowd stayed on its feet for virtually the entire show. That's how much they love 60s and 70s music.
The Box Tops are the group who made "Neon Rainbow," "The Letter," "Cry Like a Baby" and so many more hits so popular in the 60s.

Between the three groups--The Buckinghams, The Box Tops, and The Grass Roots, there's 28 Top 40 hits, otherwise known as the perfect way to spend an evening.

Stay tuned to the EVENTS tabs on your favorite bands' Facebook pages to see when American Pop will be appearing in your home towns soon.

The Box Tops on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Box-Tops-141531413031/

The Buckinghams on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheBuckinghams

The Grass Roots on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/The-Grass-Roots-118248911586305/

Special thanks to Marc and Carol of Love Imagery for the magnificent photographs and Spotlight Central for the superb review of "The Best Music in the World!"

Thursday, January 2, 2020

In Memoriam — Martin Joseph Grebb

On the first day of a new year and a new decade, friends and family of Marty Grebb read a post on his Facebook page that sparked instant concern. The composition he shared had required much thought, and in it, Marty shared his love, regard, concern, and caring for virtually every person he’d worked with professionally, loved in his lifetime, and showed how deep his feelings ran for an earlier day and time when his body and mind were not wracked in pain by the five types of cancer he said he’d battled over time.

The outpouring of love and support, expressions of concern, reminders of so many who had friended him on Facebook and felt as though they’d really known him, were nothing short of amazing. Offers of “please call me” or “we are worried about you” or “hang on, brother, we are here” filled the comments section. If there were a point in time when he was wavering in his attitude about what his plan was, everyone did whatever they could yesterday, New Year’s Day, to show their support for Marty and express their best wishes. His voice mail was reportedly full with messages from people who expressed their concern and undoubtedly asking him to return their calls and let them know “how he was.”

Marty said clearly how he was in his post. He was in pain. His own words are the important ones to contemplate, not anyone else’s as commentary about how they thought he felt. He said it specifically. And, it wasn’t 12 hours before someone posted they learned he was gone, although it will be Thursday before any official notice appears online.

His talents in music were innumerable, but he sang, played keyboards, especially the Hammond B-3, saxophone, and guitar; he composed, he was an arranger, and he performed as an integral part of many bands during his career. Hailing from Blue Island, on the South Side of Chicago, Marty’s parents were both musicians. His father Harry played professionally and his mother Armella (“Mel”) taught piano and co-owned a music store. Marty even studied at the American Conservatory of Music.

Although not a complete list of all Marty’s musical involvements, I wanted to list a few. Before he was ever a Buckingham, Marty was one of The Exceptions. He was two years older than most of us (which meant light years ahead in music practice, skill, and refined talent), and it showed in his performance. Paired with Kal David (David Raskin), Peter Cetera, and Denny Ebert, Marty was in Kal David and The Exceptions. Their PR photos showed four handsome young men in nice matching suits. They were always playing at the more adult clubs in Chicago neighborhoods, compared to the teenage audiences and venues we’d play in Old Town, Rush Street, and various ballrooms.

But, when our song “Kind of a Drag” became number one on the Billboard Charts, we found ourselves in need of a keyboard player, as our original one, Dennis Miccolis, had decided to enter college studies. Marty was better than we were at our instruments, but still he never made us feel inferior about it. He was an easy guy to be around, although early on he was very different from the rest of us in his attitude about what people thought of “pop music” and musicians with Beatle haircuts.

When we traveled, he loved the nightlife and seemingly required no sleep. I say that as our former tour manager, Peter Shelton, used to see him come in from an evening about 4 am and since we’d all have to leave at 6 am the “next” day, Marty would shower, get fully dressed for travel (back in the days when we all dressed up to travel on airplanes) and then he’d lie down on top of his bed and sleep for 2 hours. When Peter would knock on his door, Marty simply stood up, grabbed his hat, and he was ready to go. He loved the nights more than the days, to be sure.

Our greatest musical successes centered on songs written by James Holvay ("Kind of a Drag"), and during Marty's time three songs by James Holvay and Gary Beisbier ("Don't You Care," "Hey Baby, They're Playing Our Song," and "Susan"), and we all got lucky with our version of "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy," as there were seven artists who released that same song that year.

Our first album for Columbia, “Time and Charges” was a new experience for us, recording in New York (Marty was not on the USA Records “Kind of a Drag” album or any of those tracks recorded at Chess Studios), but when it came time for our sophomore album for Columbia Records, “Portraits,” Marty took charge willingly of the content—the concept, theme, substance of the songs, having written several that were on there, and occasionally “gifting” some of us with co-writing credits because that’s just the kind of guy he was.

We “studied” or prepared to bring this idea to life, first by sitting in the middle of a living room floor in the Hollywood Hills, in a home James Guercio had rented for us, and we played The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper” album so many times that we all felt fully inspired.

Of course there were some other things around the room that provided a little extra inspiration, but the point was that all five of us were together, united, acting in concert with each other with no acrimony at all. That time was probably the time when we were the closest to a “band of brothers” that people seem to think all bands were like at that time. His contributions to our success were great for the 22 months he was with us.

Eventually, though, Marty outgrew The Buckinghams. Once we’d left Guercio and were with new management, Marty was on his way to his next musical association with Lovecraft, and later on worked with The Fabulous Rhinestones. He did return, though, when Dennis and I formed The Tufano & Giammarese Band, to record the second album we did for Lou Adler’s Ode Records, and we also had our mutual friend, the late Darryl Warren, come in and play congas and percussion, so we had four Chicago natives at least in that band, too.

Marty would become an in-demand sax and keyboard player, mostly, for music powerhouses including Eric Clapton, a longtime player in Bonnie Raitt’s bands, and his list of associations and affiliations with other musicians took him in and out of the studio and found him back out on the road often, which he seemed to love.

Through the years, I’d see Marty and Dennis occasionally when we played California and they’d come see us and yet we were not in close touch. Dennis was working with Bernie Taupin, and one of the products was “He Who Rides the Tiger” (1980) and Marty was part of that album also.

In the past decade, though, we spoke by phone often. Handling all the business of Buckinghams Music, I kept up with Marty’s location—and I remember telling him when we recorded “C’mon Home” for a project many years ago, that his song was a real precursor to the sound of Chicago’s “Beginnings” track. In fact, in concert years ago, we used to play one right after the other as part of that genuine horn sound.

The one thing that initiated phone calls around for all of us was when one of us lost a parent. No matter where we were, that was one thing we would all do, is all find each other, wherever we were, and pay our respects in person or by phone, the way that families do at those times. Shared history is a permanent thing to be cherished and remembered.

It’s hard to imagine but about 5 years ago now, I got a call from Dennis Tufano, telling me that Marty was battling cancer, things didn’t look good, and that medicine/treatment was outrageously expensive. He proposed a one-time reunion in Chicago, and I agreed—five minutes later, Ron Onesti was all-in for The Arcada Theatre to host what was one of the most amazing concert experiences of any of our lives. Dolores Weissman posted some video on her Facebook page; here's one excerpt from that evening: https://www.facebook.com/delores.weissman/videos/10203088998300931/

Time warped, all barriers disappeared, and for a magical evening thanks to the generosity of our longtime fans and friends in Chicagoland, substantial funds were raised for Marty’s medical expenses in ticket sales and silent and live auction items. Videos of those performances are still on YouTube. About four weeks later in his L.A. home base, Dennis Tufano organized another fund-raiser at the Canyon Club in Los Angeles, in conjunction with the charitable organization Sweet Relief, where Bonnie Raitt and Leon Russell were part of the music lineup in Marty’s behalf.

The best part of the outcome of both fundraisers helped Marty and the medical treatments seemed to give him a new lease on life for a long time. In fact, Marty joined up with friends in the band The Weight, the band that formed to carry on the music of “The Band.” The Weight was so well received that a few years ago they started a national tour and Marty was able to be with them for a large part of that time. In his final band affiliation, then, Marty attained his greatest success and national visibility, which he had long deserved.

Others know more about his personal life and family times. I knew that he was devoted to his daughters, Nika and Anna, and he really loved having the opportunity to perform with Anna in several music gigs—that brought him a lot of joy. He released solo CDs “High Steppin’” and “Smooth Sailin’,” and was involved in recent years in music for various films with national releases, writing songs that were included.

His passing leaves a hole in our hearts, anyone who knew him personally, as his presence is already missed. The goal in writing these memories is to share some of the best times of my life with Marty but not to focus attention away from him. Perhaps it’s best not to think of him as an Exception, a Buckingham, a Lovecraft, a Rhinestone, or anything that would presume to group him into a unit that marched to a single tune.

Marty Grebb was the countermelody in many of the songs of our lives. He was close and yet he was always on a path of his own charting, following his own muse, and gifting us with his talent and time, most graciously, and to those who knew him better, longer, or more closely, look to them for the insight and details missed here.

Recently on Facebook he posted a link to his seasonal composition, "It's Christmas Tonight," https://clyp.it/iuhepzag?fbclid=IwAR2e3-DAouwaz4GkY4EVNjzqehGXaAhiWlu4cVilzpcoQKEN6GD4Bm81tYI and when you hear it, it offers a sense of comfort and peace as we remember him.

On behalf of Nick Fortuna, Dennis Tufano, and the entire Buckinghams family, we offer our prayers for comfort and condolences to Marty’s family and hope that the outpouring of love they receive in the days and weeks ahead will help them realize how truly loved and respected he was in his lifetime. God bless you, Marty Grebb, and we will always remember you as our friend and bandmate. Carl Giammarese

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Preview of Upcoming Concerts

And as the summer rolls on, The Happy Together Tour continues to generate excitement and press buzz for the shows ahead. Just today we see the Happy Together Tour "In the News" in New London, Connecticut!

In today's publication, "The Day," Rick Koster's story carries this headline:

"Happy Together’ package tour brings stars to the Garde Friday"

As one description of what you'll see, "these events feature short, hit-clustered performances by the acts — with other '60s familiars Gary Puckett, the Buckinghams, the Classics IV and the Cowsills also showing up..." For tickets: "Happy Together Tour," 8 p.m. Friday, Garde Arts Center, 325 State St., New London; $49-$69; (860) 444-7373, gardearts.org.

And The Westerly Sun has the concert in its Picks of the Week Shows: Happy Together Tour 2019

8 p.m.; Garde Arts Center, 325 State St., New London.

"Garde Arts Center will host the Happy Together Tour 2019, featuring The Turtles, Chuck Negron of Three Dog Night, Gary Puckett & The Union Gap, The Buckinghams, The Classics IV and The Cowsills. For tickets or more information, visit gardearts.org."

Nice to see the word getting out so well around the country. That's why the packed capacity crowds are showing up for this tour!

The Buckinghams Deliver Hits at Cape Cod Melody Tent

Entertainment & Life Classic rockers, fans happy ... together

On Tuesday, June 25, the Happy Together Tour performed at the Cape Cod Melody Tent in Hyannis, Massachusetts, and journalist Cynthia McCormick had this to say about the evening in the Cape Cod Times:

"The lineup included The Buckinghams, the Classics IV, Gary Puckett & the Union Gap, Chuck Negron (formerly of Three Dog Night) and the Cowsills – all singing and playing to a packed house..."

"Nick Fortuna and Carl Giammarese of the Buckinghams delivered lively renditions of “Don’t You Care” and “Kind of a Drag” and reminded the audience they were Italians from the west side of Chicago – not Brits."

To read the entire review visit this link (click here)