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.

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