Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Buckinghams and Freddy Cannon--Memories of Minnesota, 1986

Minnesota is a favorite state for Buckinghams' concerts, and a particularly great concert was the Faribault County Fair, held July 26, 1986. Featuring The Buckinghams and Freddy "Boom Boom" Cannon, the concert was considered 'retro' as "Back to the 50s and 60s". Today 'retro' is 'classic'. Sponsored by radio station KBEW-AM, whatever the event was part of the festival/fair heydey of the mid-80s. No matter how high the hair piled atop their heads, Carl, Nick, Bob, Bruce, and Tom, are ever much the same today as back in 1986.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

43 Years Later, a #1 Hit Still Going Strong, Thanks to The Buckinghams' Fans, Keeping Great Music Alive

According to the Billboard Magazine music charts, today marks the 43rd anniversary of the day when "Kind of a Drag" reached the number one spot. The Top Five Songs for the Week of Feb. 18, 1967 include:

1 Kind of a Drag, The Buckinghams
2 I'm a Believer, The Monkees
3 Ruby Tuesday, The Rolling Stones
4 Georgy Girl, The Seekers
5 (We Ain't Got) Nothin' Yet, The Blues Magoos

Released originally on the USA Records label, the song was coproduced by Carl Bonafede and Dan Belloc, recorded at Chess Studios at 2120 S. Michigan Ave. in Chicago. The office and studio was designated as a Chicago Landmark in May, 1990 and is home to timeless rock, blues, and jazz classics that, like the music of The Buckinghams, remain a commodity, even 43 years after their original release date.

Columbia Records bought the masters for The Buckinghams' music after the band signed as Columbia recording artists, so you'll find Kind of a Drag as hits on both labels.

Most recently, Carl Giammarese produced a new DVD/CD "Up Close", recorded live at The Star Plaza Theatre. The video features founding members Carl Giammarese and Nick Fortuna as well as Bob Abrams, Tom Scheckel, and Bruce Soboroff in concert performing all of the favorite Buckinghams' songs as well as other favorite 60s hits. Also on the video are the Buckinghams' horns, Chuck Morgan (trombone), Carlo Isabelli (trumpet) and Rich Moore (sax), bringing back that same Chess Studios sound created by a talented team of: (1) musician, writer, and band leader Dan Belloc, who owned the Holiday Ballroom, (2) arranger Frank Tesinky and (3) founding manager, Carl Bonafede, created as a 'signature sound' for The Buckinghams, as identifiable as the band's hits, written by Jim Holvay and Gary Beisbier. The founding Buckinghams members (Carl Giammarese, Nick Fortuna, John Poulos, Dennis Tufano, and Dennis Miccolis, later replaced by Marty Grebb) created a great sound whose music performed continuously since 1986 by Giammarese, Fortuna, Scheckel, Abrams and Soboroff) continues to interest fans of a new generation, proving that time only makes great musical memories even greater.

The Buckinghams' new DVD, "Up Close" is available for order at

43 Years Later, the hits come alive, bigger and better than ever.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

History Repeats Itself--The Villagers Perform Hits By The Buckinghams on TV Show "The Village Square" from WAGA-TV, Atlanta (1965-1968)

One popular nationally syndicated show, "The Village Square" was broadcast each week between 1965-1968. The program was 30 mins of variety entertainment featuring the house band, The Villagers, Jeannie Le Bois, and the Village Dancers. The current hits on the charts were performed by The Villagers, and it's like deja vu all over again for The Buckinghams, who for 13 weeks were on the show All-Time Hits, doing this exact routine, performing the popular hits of the day.

Kind of a Drag, performed by The Villagers

It wasn't long before The Buckinghams were the hitmakers being emulated by groups of talented musicians across the country. And, All-Time Hits, on Chicago's own WGN-TV was the first local Chicago program broadcast in color. The Village Dancers are also an important part of the formula The Buckinghams had accompanying them on their TV performances.

An even more subtle feature is the silver drum kit in the background looks very much like the kit Jon-Jon used on All-Time Hits. Nothing succeeds like success, and it was a great delight to hear these renditions of 'Buckinghams' hits of the day'. The lead singer appears at home with the hits of the day, as though he'd recorded them himself.

Thanks to YouTube user WNWEST, here we can watch two Buckinghams hits, as performed by talented young men known to TV audiences as The Villagers.

This clip is their performance of "Hey Baby, They're Playing Our Song." Listen at the very beginning of the clip for the true-to-form record performance including the laughing and quickly spoken words, just like you'll hear on The Bucks' record. The Village Dancers keep up quite nicely.

New Buckinghams' Concert Videos Posted on YouTube from Highland Park, IL, August, 2009

Festivals and fan cams are a great way to give those couldn't attend a chance to be there for part of the fun. These videos are new from YouTube user, Hal109. Taken with his Canon digital camera at the Highland Park, IL festival in August, 2009.

In the first video, Carl Giammarese sings "Happy Together" by The Turtles from a great part of the concert. Carl, Nick, and Tom Scheckel were part of the Happy Together Tour in 1985, one of the Top 10 Grossing Tours of 1985-1986.

and here's Bob Abrams on lead vocals in an excerpt of Tommy James' "Crystal Blue Persuasion" in The Buckinghams' Solid Gold 60s Medley, a crowd favorite.

In a tribute to Chicago, Carl Giammarese sings "Does Anyone Really Know What Time It is?" In this compilation of still picturea and video, catch the festival fever and enjoy the show. Look for Steve Frost on trumpet solo in this standout performance.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Part Deux--Stories and Pictures from Musicman Buck Munger and Sunn Amps

Inquiring minds want to know: when did Pete Townshend decide to destroy perfectly incredible guitars? Who, who came up with this attention-getting ploy? Was it in a band 'group meeting' or did he just strike out on his own one day, and Keith Moon followed suit by kicking his drums, and Roger, not to be left out, mauled the microphone...

People who watch any version of the CSI shows, whether CSI New York, CSI Miami, CSI Las Vegas, etc., are treated to a carefully controlled wildboy version of Pete Townshend's remakes of songs at the opening and closing of the episodes. Because audiences hear them each week, it's easy to expect that a second and third generation of young rockers think the tunes, made famous by The Who, are now enjoying new life as considerably more 'contemporary' music. Little do they suspect that some 45 years ago, the lads were new in town, new in the USA and new to the simple courtesies of not destroying the equipment for the next guys on stage. Buck Munger, storyteller and guitar anthologist continues on in last month's posting re The Who, The Buckinghamsm, Sunn Amplifiers, and the Eve of Destruction...but not the kind in the song.

From Buck's blog:
"I watched Pete get especially active with the solid body Gibson SG, chipping chunks out of the beautiful floor. Moon’s cymbals were digging nice scratches too. The school officials were going ballistic waving their arms trying to stop the performance but attracting no attention. Pete whirled and kicked over the PA-head, …which bounced off the floor and immediately started to hum loudly. The teachers may have been freaking out but the kids loved it. After a few more minutes of mayhem Pete threw his mangled guitar down and stomped off. The other band members followed. The Buckinghams’ roadies swarmed the PA, swearing. Bobby Pridden sprang into action rallying his volunteers to pack the stage and load the truck. The school officials were looking for an official representative of the band to complain to, and I seemed to be the only one not involved in the load-out. They asked me to follow them to a school office where they closed the door and informed me there had been extensive damage and the fire marshal had been called about the smoke machine. I assured them the band was fully insured and any damage would be covered. I then let them chew on me long enough for Bobby and the kids to get the truck loaded, handed them my Sunn card and excused myself. As I walked through the gym I could still hear the PA humming loudly. Back at the motel I was greeted like a hero when Bobby told the story."

Check out the link for the full story:

Peter Shelton, former Buckinghams' road manager and bass player for several bands, including The Outsiders and The Robin Hoods, is calmly testing out Sunn Amps at the showroom...little did he know what awaited his group's musical fate a bit later in the week. Shelton dealt with every kind of situation as road manager, but this one was, by far, one of the most challenging.

From The Buckinghams' online vintage archives, here are some calmer pictures of the concert, post-technical repair in Kansas City. The roadies really earned their salaries that night. Courtesy of

Monday, February 1, 2010

Buck Munger's Sunn Amplifiers and Memories from Kansas City, 1968

The Who's Pete Townshend with Sunn Amplifier's Buck Munger

Unparalleled raconteur Buck Munger recently provided powerful words and great memories in photos from his blog on and the only way to do his words justice is to direct you specifically to his site. He spins a fascinating tale as a roving representative of Sunn Amplifiers, which was carving out quite a reputation as a musician-owned business in the midst of fierce competition to blast the sounds from a burgeoning revolution in amplifiers.

In a recent radio interview, Carl Giammarese told a story about how The Who was once an opening act for The Buckinghams. The Bucks were ill prepared for the onstage antics of their then warm-up act. An excerpt from Buck's blog "The WHO and Sunn Amps Part 3", by Buck Munger:

"In Kansas City, the Who were opening for the Buckinghams (“Kind of a Drag”) who were on their fifth hit single on Columbia from producer Jim Guercio. The sound check was short and friendly and the Buckinghams agreed to let the Who use their PA to keep the set change to a minimum. The mostly teenaged audience filed into the hall looking white, upper middle class and bored. When the Who walked out on the stage in their Carnaby clothes the first few rows of standing students pressed forward to get a better look. The venue for the Who/Buckingham confrontation was a new high school gym. The bands performed on a stage made from beautiful inlaid wood. The Who launched into their set and got a good reaction to “Boris The Spider”, which I had learned that afternoon, Entwistle wrote. The rest of their set was received politely, but attentively. For the finale, Pete announced a song that would be released in the US within weeks “I Can See For Miles”. A few chords in, the audience came alive, and I found my new favorite Who song. As the finale built Bobby switched on the tiny smoke machine and the shit hit the fan. Pete started swinging his guitar like a pickaxe, Moonie kicking over his drums, Roger swinging the microphone in large arcs and bouncing it off the floor. I noticed several school officials spring into action. Nobody had warned them about this madness."

Read the full post at:

To be continued...