Monday, November 22, 2021

The Buckinghams Remember the Life of Billy Hinsche

It came as a genuine shock to learn from Rolling Stone the news that musician Billy Hinsche, 70, died yesterday, Nov. 21, from an only recently discovered cancerous lung condition. The Buckinghams and Billy have had mutual respect and friendship for over 50 years. Hinsche, was part of the popular rock group, “Dino, Desi, and Billy” (DDB) just as The Buckinghams were just starting to become nationally known.[Photo from Best FM Fans site.]

As is the case with many young bands out of Los Angeles, the DDB guys went to school together. Bass guitarist Dino was Dean Paul Martin, Jr., son of Dean and Jeanne Martin and he was just 13 years old; Guitarist Billy Hinsche, whose family had relocated from the Philippines to Beverly Hills, was the oldest at 14 years. The son of bandleader and TV pioneer Desi Arnaz and entertainment legend wife, Lucille Ball, Arnaz Desiderio Alberto Arnaz y de Acha, IV otherwise known as Desi, Jr., was just 11 years old when he first played drums with the band. All three boys sang.

Here they are on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1965:

The Buckinghams were a little older than Dino, Desi, and Billy but during the 1960s music tours, no one was looking at driver’s licenses or bus passes among the crowds of teens who loved their sounds.

In 1971, Dino, Desi, and Billy appeared on The Dean Martin Show looking more mature. Dino was already married to Olivia Hussey by the time this song was released. On this song, “Lady Love,” Billy and Dino traded leads:

In total, the band released approximately 17 singles and six albums for Reprise records.

After the band went their separate ways, Billy remained as a music professional. Desi Jr. joined his sister in their Mother’s television shows and became involved in a different aspect of the business. Dean Paul Martin sadly lost his life at age 26, when his California Air National Guard plane crashed. He had also been married to Olympic champion skater Dorothy Hamill a few years prior following an early marriage to Olivia Hussey.

Just like The Buckinghams had toured and once served as an opening act for The Beach Boys, so also did Dino, Desi, and Billy.

In 1967, when The Buckinghams were on their way up on the Canadian music charts in Edmonton and Alberta, Canada, with The Buckinghams’ “Hey Baby” at the #18 spot, Dino, Desi, & Billy were at #3 with their song “Kitty Doyle,” which had spent 9 weeks in the Top 30 already.

In Chicago, for the week of June 30, 1967, Dino, Desi, & Billy had “Two in the Afternoon” at the #29 spot on the chart and The Buckinghams were at #13 with “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy.”

Billy cowrote “Lady Love” with Beach Boy talent Brian Wilson. After Dino, Desi, and Billy broke up, Billy went back to school. He completed his BFA from UCLA in Theatre, Film and TV in 1974, having joined The Beach Boys on tour as well as in the recording studio from 1971–1977, and then once again from 1982–1996.

Another special family connection came about when the Beach Boys’ Carl Wilson first married Billy’s sister, Annie. They were married from 1966–1982 and if the show business circle isn’t small enough for you, Carl later married Gina Martin, daughter of Dean Martin, in 1987 and was still married to her when he passed away 11 years later in 1998. Billy Hinsche performed with Carl and with Brian beyond the Beach Boys for several years.

Billy has been friends with Carl Giammarese and Nick Fortuna (Nick lives in Las Vegas) all through the years. In the late 1980s and 1990s during tours that would pair The Buckinghams and The Beach Boys, Carl Wilson and Carl Giammarese also became good friends as well. In those days, there was not always a lot of time for socializing between bands (mostly they'd run into one another at the airport), but The Beach Boys were always gracious about visiting with The Buckinghams.

In the past 10 years, when The Buckinghams have performed at the Golden Nugget, the Suncoast Casino in Las Vegas and Green Valley Ranch Casino in Henderson, Billy Hinsche has frequently come to see their concerts and supporting their music.

Just as Carl and Nick reformed The Buckinghams fulltime in 1986, Desi and Billy reformed their ban, adding Dean Paul’s younger brother, Ricci, to the lineup, forming the band Ricci, Desi, and Billy. They performed together and even released new music from 1998–2010, per Extra. The story noted that Ricci Martin died in 2016 at age 62, and just three weeks later, his mother Jeanne died. The Hinsche-Wilson and Hinsche-Martin family connections drew even stronger.

Particularly during the season of COVID, for the past year and a half, Billy had been broadcasting a 90-minute weekly program, “Live from Billy’s Place” and posting it on YouTube. The entertainment included Billy playing keyboards and guitar as well as conducting phone interviews with longtime friends and music executives.

Poignantly, Billy shared how much he loved the music of The Buckinghams in Show #64, “Chicago Style,” right after he performed “Vehicle” by The Ides of March, Billy sang “Kind of a Drag” and “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” among selections from other Chicago bands he admired.

Billy also had a great phone interview that same broadcast with Ron Alexenburg, one of Columbia Records’ youngest vice presidents, who had a major role in propelling the career of The Buckinghams forward during their time with that label. So many coincidences it would seem and intersections in the lives of Billy Hinsche, The Beach Boys, and The Buckinghams.

One final coincidence, this one of special poignance, is that on the very same day that Billy died, November 20, his mother, Celia, also passed away at the age of 96 [Photo from Billy Hinsche fan page].

There’s no doubt that somewhere in Heaven, there’s a grand reunion of the Hinsche and Wilson and Martin families going on. What began 57 years ago as a musical act among three high school friends endures still today, another beautiful aspect of the connecting power of great music.

RIP Billy Hinsche, June 29, 1951 – November 20, 2021

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Nick Fortuna Rocks The Belfry Theatre

Hard to believe that Nick Fortuna was once quiet and shy, but that’s not been the case in a very long time. Our friends at The Belfry Theatre in Delavan, Wisconsin, livestreamed our shows for audiences who couldn’t get a ticket to this in-demand show recently. They were kind enough to share some special video of The Buckinghams' concert, which we now share with you.

We are considering officially changing his name to Nick (Mr. Entertainment) Fortuna…not that he knows we are considering this but it just seems appropriate—the man can dance! Plus, he does some “really big” impressions that are spot on.

Watch the video and see. It’s the next best thing to a live concert!

Video courtesy of The Belfry Theatre.

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Buckinghams' Hit Songwriter James Holvay Releases Debut Music Video

“Sweet Soul Song,” is the title track from Holvay’s 2020 debut EP on his own MOB Town Records and his Official Video debuted today on YouTube.

Just a few fast decades ago, James Holvay, a preteen from Brookfield, Illinois, would get his first guitar. He assembled his first band, Jimmy and the Jesters, as a teenager. Swept up in his love of the early groove of R&B music, he would ultimately become a fulltime musician, songwriter, and band co-founder for the next 20 years of his life. What was at first a high school flirtation with music, saw Holvay through college and propelled him head-first into a burgeoning new Wild West known as the recording industry, and eventually, the music business.

But, if you’d have predicted in 1965, when he wrote “Kind of a Drag,” and made a rough demo recording of that song for Carl Bonafede to take back to his band, The Buckinghams, for consideration that James Holvay would be releasing his first solo music video in his career in 2021, after a lifetime of making music with a successful business career sandwiched in the middle, well, you should have picked some lotto numbers too, because indeed he has done just that.

Inside tips to check out in this brilliant video: authenticity is key in that the black and white TV retrocast of Holvay performing features the time-appropriate Continental tie you’d find on talented troubadours back in the day. Next, that gorgeous guitar is actually the one Holvay used to write his new music on—his Epiphone Joe Pass model.

Recall, in April this year, Holvay released five original songs he wrote recently, inspired by the “sweet soul sounds” of Gene Chandler, Curtis Mayfield, and Major Lance because he has loved their music so much through the years.

[Left: James Holvay with vintage concert poster.]

His EP included: “Still the Fool,” “Love Has Found a Way,” “Working on It,” “Talking About,” and of course, “Sweet Soul Song.” Fans of The Buckinghams, fans of iconic soul music, and fans of 60s Chicagoland bands alike embraced Holvay’s newest creations as being a refreshing visit to the best days of rock and soul. Since April, listeners and fans have embraced the new music on his YouTube channel and on Spotify.

Most Chicago and Midwest music fans from South Dakota to Indiana with California and Las Vegas in the mix know of Holvay’s most popular musical collective—the band, The MOB, a group of professional musicians whose live performances were their primary claim to fame more so than their recordings. This was primarily because, without video, recording the energy and stage presence (and antics) of The MOB is much like trying to capture lightning in a bottle.

Back in the days when Holvay was performing and playing a key role in The MOB, he gave three more songs he and fellow MOBster Gary Beisbier had written to The Buckinghams to launch their band's sound, which cemented their identity as they were arranged for a strong horn section, cementing their sound as a Chicago pop rock horn band. Therefore, Holvay has always had multiple pathways to success as a songwriter, both with The Buckinghams and several other Chicago acts. He and Beisbier wrote most of the hits for The MOB as well. It’s all a matter of being solid in music theory combined with a keen ear for what audiences love to hear and to dance to.

As evidence just check out the 2012 performance of most of the band as they traveled to Sioux Falls, South Dakota to be inducted in their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011:

Holvay’s sense of authenticity is as keen as his songwriting, so when it came time to take a photo for his 2021 EP cover, a light bulb went off over his head as he said, “I have an idea.” Standard Holvay stuff—pick a cover he liked of a favorite artist and recreate it as an homage to the work. Case in point, take a look at Gene Chandler’s “Just Be True” album cover and then Holvay’s “Sweet Soul Music.” Inside note—they still make those chairs! Excellent homage to the original soul man from the man known for decades as “Jimmy Soul,” his nickname in The MOB.

Sometimes bands take a break for 5, 10 or even 20 years before attempting a reunion. The early days of a band involve grueling road travel and lots of business decisions it's easy to overlook or ignore, but when you're young and naive, every day is a party. After all, like so many professional musicians, when you’re footloose and fancy free, you can live on tuna fish and Cheetos with a diet soda for balance and do what you love every day, and it's a big win because you're doing what you love.

Paydays, you order the steak. But when you have a family and responsibilities, music often takes a back seat to the priorities of a day job and career you enter as your primary occupation for the next several decades. Most people who leave never return; they just smile and reminisce over the grand ol’ days. Still the question lingers heavy in the air: can you ever go back? Holvay’s response: “Yes, you can.”

Holvay successfully mastered two “day job” careers over a 2.5-decade time span before retiring and re-entry into the music world he loved so much. Of all the accolades and positive outcomes resulting from the successful debut of new music after a hiatus of any length, Holvay continues to receive a very warm "Welcome Back."

One should remember, though, that before the release of his EP, "Sweet Soul Music," there was new music and lyrics by Holvay that helped make the performance of the sold-out show, "Eastside Heartbeats" possible--the 2016 production about the rise of the "East L.A. Music" sound. This production included the talents of author and director, S.E. Feinberg; book writer and cowriter of some of the songs' lyrics, Tom Waldman; and an amazing cast of talented musicians and actors.

In the period of time since, Holvay has continued with several creative projects but remained consistent writing and working on new material, following his muse and his heart, so devoted to the true sounds of the soul music he grew up on.

The result is now the debut of his very first official solo video, even though his music has been preserved in numerous group videos through the years. Rumor has it that there could be more Holvay originals in the works readied for a new recording session now. Stay tuned to find out what the writer of “Kind of a Drag” has coming next. Who knows? It could be a new song for The Buckinghams. Never say never!

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

SiriusXM ‘60s on 6’ Fans Prepare for Channel Change to Renamed ‘60s Gold’ on Channel 73

is now known as:

Ready for a channel change? Whether you are or not, a major channel lineup change is coming to SiriusXM radio on Wednesday, Nov. 3. One of the greatest mediums for keeping the music of The Buckinghams alive and thriving is undoubtedly the “60s on 6” channel, formerly found on the SiriusXM dial at the channel “6” spot. Only the channel number is changing—nothing else will change. Why mess with perfection? Never mind, the new channel for "60s Gold" is channel 73!

For 21 years now, you could say "60s on 6" anytime someone wanted to know where you listen to The Buckinghams on the radio. It's easy to remember when it started, August 21, 2000 ever since Phlash Phelps was part of the debut channel and XM radio programming that ushered in an entirely new way to enjoy the 1960s decade of classic rock favorites. That also just happens to be Carl Giammarese's birthday, so it's easy to remember. The (then) brand new radio medium was all new—outside of what’s best known now as “terrestrial radio” for the land-based stations in your hometowns across the country. Remember the days when “local” radio stations would sponsor concerts headlined by your favorite artists and performers? Oh well.

“Don’t You Care?” Last week, morning drive deejay and listener favorite Phlash Phelps, who’s served in many roles on the station through the years he has built up a supremely loyal following, noted that the station was moving to a new position on their dial—channel 73. He actually made it sound like a good idea although there is still the temptation to say, "Wait, what? Why?"

With the station number change, this of course means having to chunk all the catchy PAMS jingles that bring you the comfort of familiarity while listening, an integral part of music programming on this dynamic medium. You don't even think about them until they aren't there between songs on the commercial-free station on the subscription satellite network.

Sometimes we just take things for granted, that they will always be this way. Before Sirius and XM merged, we knew we could find the “decades” music by their first number. For example, it was the 40s on channel 4; 50s on channel 5, 60s on 6, 70s on 7, 80s on 8, and 90s on 9. Pretty simple, right?

“Kind of a Drag” Ah, well the changes started happening years ago, beginning with channel 4. The programming chiefs decided that 40s music was not as permanent an interest genre as others could be. One will recall that, in 2014, channel 4 went to “All Billy Joel” music, much to the chagrin of at least one song stylist, Bette Midler. Others quickly agreed with her. One can love “The Stranger,” but why change something that isn’t broken?

At the time programming chief Lou Simon and others were testing listener interest and whether or not a 24/7 channel devoted to the music of one artist who was not Elvis or Frank Sinatra (the two reigning kings of genre music) was worth testing.

“Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” Test results showed the changeup was effective, and 40s on 4 was no more on channel 4. Over the years, many special artists have held forth there with their nonstop music stations. Listeners could enjoy deep tracks by their favorites, as well as old radio interviews, as well as new timely interviews that allowed you to catch up on new music they were working on.

“Hey Baby, They’re Playing Our Song” The way to remember the new station location for what’s now known as “60s Gold” is that it’s on channel 73, which is ham radio shorthand for “best regards.” The code “73” originated as part of the Phillips Code, a shortcut for having to use longer times to get your message across.

In early journalism days, you might see -30- at the end of an article or story because it means “the end.” The number “22” meant “love and kisses,” but that number has now transitioned to “88” for “love and kisses,” just like “60s on 6” is now “60s Gold.” You have to keep up with the times. “73” means “best regards,” a nice message for the diverse music of the 1960s.

The best news is that the programming lineup remains the same for “60s Gold” beginning in the mornings with Phlash Phelps:

followed by Dave Hoeffel,

then afternoons with Pat St. John,

and then evenings with Mike Kelly.

Best news for listeners is that if you already have the 60s channel on your presets, tomorrow when you turn your radio on, the station will be right where you left it, with a new number on the setting.

As they say on TV, “Don’t adjust your dial,” because it’s already done for you. Should that not be the case when you start your car, simply call SiriusXM and get them to refresh your signal. You’ll be good to go on down the road.

“Susan” or What’s in a Name? Just so you’ll know, the multiple station lineup includes:

The Pulse (old channel 15, now channel 5)

The Coffee House (old channel 14, now channel 6)

Siriusly Sinatra (old channel 71, now channel 70)

40s Junction (old channel 73, now channel 71)

50s Gold (old channel 5, now channel 72)

60s Gold (old channel 6, now channel 73)

On Broadway (old channel 72, now channel 77)

Kidz Bop (old channel 77, now channel 79)

SiriusXM Love (streaming only now)

But wait! There's more. Not every channel will be changing:

Source The Radio and Broadcast Television Report notes:

"The “70s on 7” remains on Channel 7; corresponding decade-specific channels remain on Channels 8-11. You know, the 80s on 8, the 90s on 9, the 2000s on 10, and 2010s on 11?

60s Gold….where you will be able to hear The Buckinghams and all your other favorite 60s classic rock artists, beginning Wednesday morning, Nov. 3.

As Bob Dylan wrote and sang, “The Times They Are A-Changin’"