Tuesday, June 29, 2021

The Buckinghams Missed the Boat for 2022 Flower Power Cruise—Want to See Them in 2023?

Well, it’s just one of those things that happens in the world of classic rock concerts. The Buckinghams were originally scheduled to be on the 2020 Flower Power Cruise, but sadly, they’re not on the recently rescheduled 2022 Flower Power Cruise.

We’d all gotten excited in early 2020; the wonderful folks at Star Vista Cruises had their terrific promo set up and they’d even done an interview with Carl about what fun everyone would have again. Tragically COVID-19 hit our country and devastated many lives, which we still are lamenting today from our sincere losses of precious loved ones.

Without a doubt, whether COVID impacted your home personally or you immediately quarantined voluntarily or otherwise, we can agree that our worlds as we once knew them, all froze for about 18 months while we waited for a cure via vaccines.

Like just about every other business, the entertainment industry screeched to a halt, impacting everyone from the concertgoers to performers to agents to talent buyers and bookers to venue owners and food vendors.

It’s been a difficult time for all of us, but we are welcoming a careful return to enjoying live music. With all concerts on “hold” for at least 18 months, as we’ve all seen, rescheduled concert dates are “subject to change” even now, so we’re not anywhere near back to normal.

And yet, in the case of the 2022 Flower Power Cruise, the team who presents these annual cruises had already filled out their proposed 2021 Flower Power Cruise, which had an essentially different group of entertainers. That's how far in advance they plan for this now 5th annual concert year for this Star Vista cruise series.

Even the Concerts at Sea from Harmon Travel were landlocked and drydocked, but they're all filled out for 2022 with some of your other favorite bands.

So, in the Flower Power Universe, the 2020 cruise was halted, then the 2021 cruise was delayed, both due to COVID, so you have two full lineups as the total pool of bands from which to make up the band list for the 2022…meaning some of the bands previously booked aren’t going to make the cut. A few bands were booked for both 2020 and 2021.

Whom to choose? Whom to leave on the dock? Trying to see it, not from a music fan side, but from a corporate perspective, one looks at the profitability of the cruise. Because of tremendous bookings over the past years, and customer satisfaction with programming the acts, these cruises all sell out, everyone’s happy, and everyone goes sailing down the seas, right? Maybe, or perhaps not. What about the bands someone for the 2020 cruise wanted to see? Some didn’t make the cut, and that’s unfortunate.

Sadly, many people had purchased their tickets because they wanted to see The Buckinghams, in particular, in addition to other beloved classic rock bands and even some tribute acts who you'd swear were the real deal.

Active in promoting the (then) upcoming 2020 cruise that was first postponed until 2021, you’ll see Carl Giammarese interviewed by Cruise Host Jason Venner in the “All Access Pass Interview with Carl Giammarese, April 2020” video. The StarVista channel has close to 4,000 YouTube subscribers. Here is the nice memory of that video:

Here’s the inaugural 2016 Flower Power Cruise with The Buckinghams (18,000 views):

From their 2018 appearance in the 3rd anniversary Flower Power Cruise, here’s Nick Fortuna with "Time Won't Let Me": Click here to watch.

That was, of course, a song made famous originally by the more recently re-formed band, “The Outsiders” (with both Tom King and Sonny Geraci, who also sang for Climax and the Grass Roots in his career, having entered Rock ‘n Roll Heaven in 2011, and 2017, respectively), original drummer Rick Biagola (Baker) and three popular musicians from Cleveland, who are now keeping their music alive. The Outsiders were booked for the cruise for 2020 and 2021, and will make it onto the 2022 tour.

Here’s another fun video that features a “British invasion party” with The Buckinghams at the 2:29 mark:

Click [here] to watch; Go to 2:29 in this 2:53 video.

As it stands, the 5th Anniversary 2022 Flower Power Cruise, sailing March 28–April 4, 2022, from Miami, FL, to Puerto Plata, San Juan, and Labadee, includes the following acts (the official website notes “artist lineup subject to change, pending availability”):

Cruise Host Peter Asher

The Hollies

The Zombies

John Lodge of the Moody Blues

Felix Cavaliere’s Rascals

Procol Harum

The Guess Who

The Yardbirds

The Grass Roots

The Association

The Family Stone

Canned Heat

The Cowsills

The Box Tops

Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels

The Outsiders

The Music of Cream

Kiss the Sky The Re-Experience: World’s Greatest Tribute to Jimi Hendrix

Magic Bus Band

Lisa Polizzi’s Janis Joplin Experience

Hal Bruce

The Newbees

The LSB Experience

The Hall of Fame Band

Tribute Artists Tim Stamper and George Trullinger

Beatle Brunch Radio Host Joe Johnson…and more!

Looking on the bright side, if you’d like to sail with The Buckinghams when they are booked on any/all rock and roll sailing cruises, why not leave a note here on Facebook? You never know when openings are going to happen on several different rock and roll ocean cruises. Sometimes all it takes is a concert buyer seeing how much the fans really want a certain band on board for it to become a reality!

A recent posting on a Facebook page for Flower Power Cruise chat noted a substantial number of comments encouraging The Buckinghams as a band to include, particularly for their willingness to mix and mingle and truly visit and hang out with the patrons who bought the tickets to do meet and greets. The cruise experience is so much more enhanced when people you've listened to for years on your radio dial are suddenly across the table from you with time to chat and willingness to sign autographs and pose for photos. The Buckinghams are among the most personable, fans said all across the board.

Let your voice be heard if you want to see The Buckinghams on a future celebrity concert cruise. Add a note to this Facebook post if you do! Maybe they'll be sailing with you sooner than later. As with all concerts, the opinions and voices of fans really do make the difference. If you're not on the 2022 Flower Power cruise and if you're near Shippensburg, PA, you can hear The Buckinghams in concert at the Luhrs Center on March 26, 2022. Sail on over to Shippensburg and get your rock and roll party started!

Sunday, June 27, 2021

The Buckinghams to be Inducted in Illinois Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

On August 31, Illinois music fans can be part of an exciting first in classic music history. At 7pm the Rialto Square Theatre in Joliet will be the site of the inaugural Annual Hall of Fame Awards Ceremony sponsored by the Illinois Rock & Roll Museum on Route 66.

Twelve inaugural inductees include bands The Buckinghams, the band Chicago, Cheap Trick, The Ides of March, and REO Speedwagon, plus bluesmen Buddy Guy and Muddy Waters. Also to be honored are radio station WLS-AM, popular deejay Larry Lujack and the iconic Dick Biondi (Lifetime Achievement Award) legendary Chess Records, and venue The Thirsty Whale. This is the group originally identified as the Class of 2020, but COVID delayed the opening of the museum and Hall of Fame inauguration.

A concert on August 31 will feature live performances by REO Speedwagon, Ides of March, Jimy Sohns (Shadows of Knight), Muddy Waters’ son, Mud Morganfield, New Colony 6, and the Millenials. The band Chicago and The Buckinghams are slated to make video guest appearances due to touring conflicts with the event.

The entire main floor section is already sold out, but many floor seats and balcony seats remain with great stage views. Tickets are available here, starting at $33.50. If you have your tickets from last year, organizers have saved the first 13 rows at the Rialto for you as VIP attendees to make up for COVID delay. All tickets purchased in 2020 are being honored.

Organizers stated: “We sent an email to ticket holders of the originally schedule Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony regarding this announcement. We are making every attempt to notify all ticket holders that had purchased tickets to the March 2020 event of the rescheduled date & time.”

For several years, Ron Romero, Chairman of the Board of the Illinois Rock & Roll Museum on Route 66, has been relentlessly gathering support and working on creating a nonprofit organization to recognize the very best in rock, jazz, blues, and soul music talents whose beginnings to a longtime career began in Illinois.

What was once a good idea is today about to be the beginning of fan-driven input from music-lovers, musicians themselves, club owners, deejays, and others to shape the future of the organization. Romero told Patch reporter John Ferak last year that “museum membership includes music fans from Washington state, California, Florida, Texas, Kentucky, Ohio and Colorado.”

Undoubtedly some of that fan base is due to 50,000 Watts of broadcast reach from 60s rock stations WLS and WCFL, whose reach brought Chicago music to the backyards of teenagers across at least seven states and on up into Canada.

Romero’s efforts in fund-raising successfully since 2017. He pursued and enlisted the support of notables in the Chicago music scene and researched locations until locating the museum at 9 West Cass Avenue in Joliet, Illinois.

The goal is “to support local musicians, performers and others in the music industry and performing arts in the form of scholarships, donations…provide Joliet with the opportunity to benefit from revenue generation.”

According to Romero, the three-story building will ultimately house historic exhibits, a gift shop, and an online streaming radio station. Exhibits on the first floor of the museum will be open to the public. You can become a charter member starting from $35 per year; for more information click here.

Get in on the charter membership this summer, so you can say you were there from the (almost) very beginning of what will surely be something truly amazing and historic in Illinois rock and roll music. Museum members will vote on Hall of Fame inductees, so your voice will surely be heard, which is a refreshing change from ‘some’ halls of fame.

Monday, June 21, 2021

The Buckinghams Included in the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library State of Sound Exhibit

In 1966, what are the chances that Carl Giammarese, Nick Fortuna, Dennis Tufano, Marty Grebb, and John Poulos would have ever thought that their names, faces, mementos, and music would be part of an historic exhibit housed in the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield, Illinois?

Known as “The State of Sound: A World of Music From Illinois,” it’s most prestigious for The Buckinghams to be included in this collective.

It’s fair to say that no one saw this coming. Sadly, two of the five band members are no longer with us, but both John and Marty have daughters who can see and feel the adulation of their fathers’ respective musical legacies.

From 1966–1967, in the course of a year’s time, several young men from Chicago’s north side and one from the south side came together to form two bands; ultimately three members of The Centuries would come and go into The Pulsations, whose first membership also experienced comings and goings in their band.

Ultimately, the band chose the name The Buckinghams. That’s the part of the story that all Buckinghams’ fans know by heart.

What’s new is that once the band changed personnel for the final time, let’s call it by March 1967, they had the five men considered The Buckinghams for purposes of Billboard charting above the Top 100 mark.

Earlier versions of the band did release tracks on the USA label that did make the “Bubbling Under” category of the charts, based on their Midwest regional success alone. One must always remember the magnificent power of WLS-AM and WCFL-AM radios, both 50,000 Watt Chicago radio stations, with reach across multiple states.

Who else is in this exhibit besides The Buckinghams? The entire emphasis is music of all kinds with Chicago roots, so you’ll find The Buckinghams, The American Breed, the band known as Chicago (originally Chicago Transit Authority after the name change from The Big Thing), country legends The Sundowners, country star Suzy Bogguss, dynamic entertainer Tina Turner, rock legends Styx, and polka stars the Versatones, Grammy-winners recorded in Eddie Blazonczyk’s Chicago studio. Don’t forget the gifts and talents of Earth Wind and Fire, blues master and Chess Recording Studios’ legend Muddy Waters, Cheap Trick, and this generation’s favorite Chance the Rapper.

There is a souvenir booklet that is definitely worth purchasing and it’s a good recommendation to spend more than an afternoon in the 3,000 square-foot gallery in the Lincoln Presidential Library. Brilliantly written by Chicago’s favorite rock journalist, Dave Hoekstra, you can count on thorough research and interesting new facts you didn’t know about the bands you grew up hearing.

The library is open from 9am – 5pm daily, and adult tickets sell for $15, student and senior tickets are $12; with $6 for children 5 and older; younger children are free. Get tickets here.

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum is located at 212 North Sixth Street, Springfield, IL 62701, and the library’s primary website for more information can be found here. The exhibit opened in April but will remain in place until January 23, 2022. If you love classic rock or any other music with Chicago roots, you are definitely going to want to put this on your summer travel list or fall vacation sites.

And, for all teenagers with guitars, amps, drums, keyboards, horns, and dreams in your hearts to be known as “another successful band from Chicago” and entertain professionally for all of your adult career, remember, dreams really can come true, even if that’s the farthest thing from your mind right now. Perhaps one day, you’ll be in the Illinois Presidential Library Museum. Just ask these guys.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Pictures Worth a Second Look—Can You Spot the Differences?


Answers to Questions at the end of the article. Scroll down to see!

Many of you who collect nostalgia and save souvenirs through the years from days when you went to hear your favorite groups in concert often have a file, a box, or a folder with old concert ticket stubs, a few photographs and autographs, and maybe even some sheet music from songs you used to play in bands while you were a teen.

Going through some files today, two distinct copies of sheet music jumped out for “Kind of a Drag,” which went to No. 1 on the Billboard charts. They are different in at least three different ways. How quickly can you spot them?

Photo #1

Photo #2

Take your time and study both pictures. If you think you have all the answers as to how they’re different, feel free to post them on Facebook. Waiting to see how fast they jump out at you. Answers will be posted tonight here at facebook.com/TheBuckinghams. Good luck!

ANSWERS TO THE QUESTIONS FOLLOW HERE: Find three differences between the two sheet music folios: 1) In each picture there are four of the same band members but in the case of the 5th, they're two different people. See the one on the original sheet music is different (there's a guy in the beret...who's that?) and the one after it, has a different band member wearing the same type of jacket as the oter guys but he's not the same guy as the guy in the beret in the other photo. Who is that?

2) The first sheet music is for USA Records; the second sheet music is for the international publication and pressing of the song in Europe/the UK on the Stateside label. USA Records made a deal to sell the record over there on this label. So you have even more sales of the record to keep track of.

3) On the first copy of the sheet music, it credits "Jimmy Harris" with writing the song, and on the second copy, it has "Jim Holvay." That's because when James Holvay first wrote the song, he'd written so many different songs that he came up with multiple stage names that he would use from time to time, and it just so happened that he chose Jimmy Harris as his stage name for this one, on a lark. But when the song started taking off, he got his music attorney to get his real name affixed with the song so people would know it was really him, the guy from Lyons Township High School, who wrote that No. 1 Billboard chart topper!

Guessing that many of you knew the answers to those questions!

Final question: Who are the two band members that are different from the other four pictured? What are their names?

Good luck!

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Know Your Buckinghams Trivia? See if You Know The Answers!

There are many truly knowledgeable Buckinghams fans to be sure, and many are from Chicago, so it seems right to ask a few questions to check your trivia knowledge while we wait for more music and concert dates.

Three questions to start:

1) How many week(s) was “Kind of a Drag” at the #1 Spot on Billboard?

2) Which exact one or more week(s) was it at the #1 spot in 1967?

3) What song was previously in the #1 spot that “Kind of a Drag” replaced?

If you’re a longtime Buckinghams fan, you likely know the answers but just in case, scroll down and check your answers.

Question 1, it was at the #1 spot for 2 weeks.

Question 2, they were at the top the week of Feb. 18 and the week of Feb. 25, 1967, according to the Billboard Top 100 charts.

Now, for Question 3…if you’ve been to a Buckinghams’ concert in person, you just might have heard lead singer Carl Giammarese tell how The Buckinghams knocked The Monkees out of the top spot. And he does it with great flourish and satisfaction.

Their song, written by Neil Diamond, was none other than “I’m a Believer.” During some years when Carl and Nick were part of the Happy Together Tour the same year that Micky Dolenz was, when Carl would bring up that fact, it was always good for provoking a wicked grin on Micky’s face, but it was all in good fun.


Without looking it up, asking anyone in the room, or checking on your phone…

What song replaced “Kind of a Drag” on the #1 spot after two weeks? That day and time as a real blur for Carl ad Nick as things were moving quickly. Remember that the song was the last of 12 songs the band had been contracted to do for Quill Records. All those tracks were recorded in Chess Studios, and then printed on the USA Records label and distributed by All State Distributing Company.

In those days of Chicago’s burgeoning record business, at one point considered the “third coast” of music, if you were a promising band, then you were lucky if you got a record deal. But having a record was only the first part of the equation.

Getting that record played on radio stations in Chicago was step one—fortunately for The Buckinghams, longtime favorite DJ Dick Biondi gave it a lot of airplay and sincere endorsement and promotion, as he did with so many other contemporary bands.

There’s a lot of history in the middle between then-manager Carl Bonafede selling their music out of the trunk of his station wagon at gigs to becoming the number one song atop the Billboard charts. Thanks to a DJ in Little Rock, Arkansas, who discovered the popularity of the tune when his phones lit up and everyone was requesting it. All it takes is for one station to report their popular songs of the week and then the journey to the top begins as the song caught fire across the country.

More trivia—The Buckinghams never performed “Kind of a Drag” on national television during the weeks before and after hitting the No. 1 slot. Reason was because they’d concluded their relationship with Carl Bonafede as their manager. Although they were interviewing several others to take that spot and there was no one in place to advocate or arrange personal appearances until after they had signed on with Columbia Records. That’s another story for another time.


What song knocked The Buckinghams out of the #1 spot on the week of March 4?

First a little background. Since at least the week ending February 5, 1967, “I’m a Believer” had propelled up to #1 and yet “Snoopy vs. the Red Baron” by the Royal Guardsmen was hanging out at #4, for the 9th week in a row. Contrasted to The Rolling Stones’ “Ruby Tuesday” (on the charts for 71 weeks), the song styles could not be more different.

This same week, the top 10 spots were occupied by songs including “Stand By Me” by Spyder Turner, “98.6” by Keith, and The Blues Magoos with “We Ain’t Got Nothin’ Yet.” “Kind of a Drag” fell to number 3 that week.

The #11 spot was a song that would become even more popular as a commercial tune in advertising, “Music to Watch Girls By,” performed by the Bob Crewe Generation.

At the #12 spot that same week was “Green, Green Grass of Home” by Tom Jones. Sonny & Cher held the number 14 spot after 61 weeks on the chart with “The Beat Goes On.” Remember that later on that year, The Buckinghams would tour the country later that same year with Sonny & Cher and Tom Jones.

Further on down the chart at #15 was a clunker by Peter & Gordon called “Knight in Rusty Armour” and a 50’s feel-good “Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye” by The Casinos weighed in at #17. Several of these songs battled each other, some going up and down the chart positions week after week. You really couldn't predict back then what would prevail--that was the beauty and the power of groups of teenagers like Dolores Sobieleski Chapman's Buckinghams Fan Club. Nothing is more powerful than the phone lines lighting up at night.

Now to the question--which song took “Kind of a Drag’s” place at No. 1 within that month was not any of the ones just mentioned. Do you know what it was?

There’s more than one answer, actually. On Billboard’s Hot 100 chart, the #1 song for the week of March 4th was “Ruby Tuesday” with the #2 slot held by The Supremes with ”Love is Here and Now You’re Gone,” and “Kind of a Drag” coming in at #3.

Then, #4, 5, and 6 were occupied by “Baby I Need Your Lovin’”(Johnny Rivers), “Georgy Girl” (The Seekers) and “The Beat Goes On” (Sonny & Cher). So that’s the Billboard chart standing. That's the basis by which the future Casey Kasem "American Top 40" countdowns would be held each week, based on the Top 40 songs on the Billboard charts.

But if you were a teenager watching TV in 1967, you were likely tuned in to Dick Clark's "American Bandstand" weekly program, and one of the best parts of the show was when Dick would do the big reveal to the week's current No. 1 song, based on their ratings. So, when it came to the "American Bandstand" version of the song that knocked "Kind of a Drag" off the #1 spot, Here are some snapshots leading up to the big reveal!

Don’t put your guesses on Facebook…you can always add them directly to the blog post. Betting that most of you get it right!

Are you ready?

Think you already know it?

That's right! "Georgy Girl" by The Seekers! Great, catchy tune, perfectly performed by this Australian group, and definitely a great addition to the national pop charts.

And so it was that The Buckinghams' first chapter in history was written, with national acclaim on the Billboard charts, the way Carl Giammarese and Jon Poulos would walk to the newsstand each week, buying a copy of the magazine that would once bear their names as #1, sitting with the entire band and being beyond words at the accomplishment they'd made, that they'd only dreamed about before. Dreams do come true.

If it's been a while since you've heard that great song, enjoy it now:

Hope you enjoy this trip back down memory lane. More trivia coming soon.