Archive for October, 2008


Favorite Females Of The 60’s Pt. 5

October 28, 2008
The Ikettes back Tina & Ike.

The Ikettes back Tina & Ike.

The Ikettes were originally the backing vocal group of female singers of the Ike & Tina Turner Revue but were so talented that they eventually began releasing their own records in addition to recording and touring with Ike & Tina. Their first single as a separate entity away from Ike & Tina was I’m Blue (The Gong Gong Song) released in 1962 with Tina appearing with some background vocals.


Throughout the 1960’s and into the very early 1970’s the line-up frequently changed but they were always a highlight whenever the Ike & Tina Turner Revue appeared on various television shows like Ed Sullivan, Smothers Brothers, Shindig, Where The Action Is, American Palace, Merv Griffin and many others. I always tried to catch the act on those shows for the music and certainly for Tina (her voice, and other things, were h-o-t) but I can clearly recall being captivated by the Ikettes, beautiful women who could sing and, damn, son, they could dance!


Another quality that caught my fancy were those amazing white miniskirts! (But we won’t go there.) Needless to say, the Ikettes were sexy, talented and full of explosive energy, just damn entertaining.


Among early members were Robbie Montgomery, Venetta Fields and Jessie Smith. Soon after P.P. Arnold would join the Ikettes as would Shelley Clarke who would go on to the Honeycombs. Other members throughout the run of the band would include such beautiful talents as Bonnie Bramlett, Jean Brown, Mary Brown, Brenda Holloway, Janice Singleton, Delores Johnson, Gloria Scott, Diane Rutherford, Jackie Stanton, Linda Sims, Marcy Thomas, Adrienne Williams, Debbie Wilson, Flora Williams and several others.


Among some of the singles the Ikettes released throughout the years included Troubles On My Mind, Heavenly Love, Prisoner of Love, (He’s Gonna Be) Fine, Fine, Fine, I’m So Thankful, Peaches & Cream, Da Doo Ron Ron, The Biggest Players and many others on such labels as Teena, Innis, Atco and others.



The Ikettes kickin' it!

The Ikettes kickin’ it!




Favorite Books Of My Youth #7

October 28, 2008

The Illuminatus Trilogy came out in 1975 during my senior year of high school and I purchased them at Dick Zarles’ Drug Store in Orrville, OH. I recall reading about them in Crawdaddy Magazine and, as an impressionable teenager in the post-hippie era and post-Nixon era I was all for conspiracy theories and the like. Other publications began hyping it and there were some writers who boldly proclaimed it was true!


Supposedly written in 1969 by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson, it’s basically a science fiction spawned story of magic, sex, drugs and conspiracy interwoven with factual and fictional conspiracies. It was a tough read as I often surmised the authors were likely tripping (old school version) as they knocked out the pages of their version of the Illuminati.


The three books were titled The Eye In The Pyramid, The Golden Apple and Leviathan. For a minute or two I actually thought it may all be true but soon afterwards I apparently came to my senses. Until ‘W’ was elected that is.


I’d explain more about the books but fear of assassination and the potential for my family to disappear prevents that (anyone who read the books know where I’m coming from – OK, OK, tongue is in cheek!). Check out more of the Illuminati on this website.



If They Only Knew!

October 28, 2008
I was still in grade school in 1966, but how many people at the time would have traveled cross-country if they had known this was to be the last Beatles concert?

I was still in grade school in 1966, but how many people at the time would have traveled cross-country if they had known this was to be the last Beatles concert?


Gene Simmons: 60’s Fanzine Publisher

October 25, 2008
At work!

Gene today: At work!

Back in the 1960’s before KISS Gene Simmons was (and still is) a comic book and science fiction fan. In fact, he was so into the comic book and SF fandoms that as a young teenager he worked to earn money to purchase his own used mimeograph machine in order to begin producing his own fanzines. Not only did Simmons, who went by the name of Gene Klein after he and his mother emigrated to the USA in June 1958 at age eight (he was born Chaim Witz), produce his own amateur publications he also contributed to many others published by other enthusiasts.


Born in 1949, Simmons got into comic books and monster and science fiction magazines upon arriving in the USA as it helped him learn the language. Among some of the fanzines Klein (Simmons) edited and published during the 1960’s were Sirruish, Id, Sci-Fi Showcase, Cosmos, Tinderbox, Adventure, Mantis, Faun and others. His most successful was Cosmos. Cosmos eventually merged with Stilletto fanzine becoming Cosmos-Stilletto with issue #7 and then with issue #13 he changed the title to Faun.


In addition to writing and drawing for his own fanzines, Klein (Simmons) also contributed articles and artwork for a variety of other fanzines including such titles as Bombshell (he had a regular column called ‘Hokum’), Comic Comments, Gore Creature, Dynatron, Ecco, Comic Feature, Splash Page, Men of Mystery, Spectre, Fantasy News, Exile, Iscariot, Ragnarok (I used to order that one!), Ray Gun, RBCC (another favorite of mine), Sanctum, Pulp Era, Web Spinner, One Step Beyond and a number of others.


Klein (Simmons) was most prolific with fanzines, his and others, primarily from 1966-1969.


Simmons commented a couple of times about his days of fanzine publishing on his website:


“Yes, these are fanzines (fan-magazines) I published and edited when I was around 14 years old out of my mom’s house. The content was sci-fi/comics — reviews, articles and so on. I published/edited a number of titles: COSMOS, COSMOSTILETTO (a merger with Stiletto fanzine), FAUN, TINDERBOX, ADVENTURE, MANTIS and a few others.”


“I also edited a fanzine called MANTIS. Only about 100 were printed. I also had a column in a New Jersey fanzine called RAY GUN. There are more, but offhand, I can’t recall all of them (Note: See the list compiled above). I do have a box full of my old fanzines.”


“Nothing’s changed much. Back in my school days (around 7th grade through the 12th), I played in a rock band (Long Island Sounds, Lynx, and others). I was in the school choir. I acted in school plays. I published my own fanzines. And still had time for the girls.”


So I guess ‘The Demon’ and I had something in common, we both published fanzines in junior high school (and I owned some that he published and contributed to) and we both played bass guitar (although I gave that up a year or two after starting high school – the only thing I can play now with any ability is a jukebox). I guess that’s where the similarities end although I did dress up like him for Halloween 1976 with interesting results but that’s another story for another time (if the statue of limitations has expired!).



Gene during his high school & fanzine days.

Gene during his high school & fanzine days.



Cosmos - an early Gene fanzine.

Cosmos – an early Gene fanzine.


Power To The People, Baby!

October 22, 2008
We were front page news!

We were front page news!

Seeing that Free John Sinclair Rally poster (below) made me think back to a time in high school when many of us, as the hippie activism days began to wane, would get all worked up over perceived injustices. 36 years ago this month (October 1972) a large group of students at Orrville (Ohio) High School (myself included) got fed up with the strict dress code that was enforced at that time. Girls had to wear dresses or skirts, no pants and certainly no jeans. Boys could not have their hair over their collars. You get the picture.


After several of the girls made polite inquires about allowing girls to at least wear pantsuits was denied, one girl, Debbie L., showed up one day in a pair of jeans only to be confronted by the assistant principal. That resulted in Debbie being told by the assistant principal to go home. Word spread quickly throughout the school to all of us ‘hippie-types’ and emotions became heated. At the same time the black kids at the high school wanted a black girl chosen for the homecoming court (believe me, there were plenty of beautiful black girls at OHS then!). Things all came to a head that October day and a walk out (referred to as a ‘riot’ by administrators… it wasn’t) occurred.


Between the two issues that bubbled up that day, and with ‘unofficial coordination’ and inspiration by several young ladies at school (like Cindy M., Debbie L., Kay S., Vicky C., and Gail W., primarily) approximately 60 of us walked out of school and staged a protest in the city park next to the high school. Word quickly made it to the Wayne County Joint Vocational School and many of the Orrville students there left school and came back to town and joined us. Even the local media showed up.

We’ll let my pal, Cindy M., (Cid-Mor) explain, as she was one of the ‘ringleaders’ who had the guts to help initiate things:


“Debbie L., had worn a pair of blue jeans to school and the assistant principal had pulled Deb’s long hair and told her to go change. Well, the rebels that we were, it pissed us off and staged a ‘riot’. Many of us left the school building and went to the pavilion at the park. I guess the ‘joint’ (Wayne County Joint Vocational School) got wind of it and they left school, too. Pretty soon we had a lot of kids there.”


“Well, at that time there was also something else happening at the high school. It was football season and homecoming time. The black kids wanted a black girl on the homecoming court. Well, why not? Seemed it was just a popularity contest as the ‘smart’ rich kids were always on it. Well, they (the black kids) walked out too. In the end we got to wear jeans but they stopped having homecoming after that.”


The next day school administrators met and suspended most of us that participated for four days. Eventually the student council and administrators met, read our ‘demands’ and alterations were made to the dress code. Girls could wear jeans and the guys could grow their hair a bit longer. So, thanks to the initial efforts of Cindy M., Debbie L., Kay S., Vicky C., and Gail W., students at OHS got to dress and look like kids everywhere else.


The bad part of it was homecoming being cancelled from that point on because school officials feared a ‘race riot’ which was ludicrous because at that time in particular almost all of the black and white kids got along great. Hell, they all grew up together and any issues were usually personality driven, not race driven. Remember, there was still the buzz of peace, love & understanding in the air at that time and we were all ‘brothers and sisters’.


As for consequences at home, my parents weren’t too happy but I was never ‘punished’. Caught some hell for a few minutes but that was about it. Cindy M.’s parents never found out at the time. As she explains:


“I got up and acted like I went to school along with some buds and one of my friends stayed home and of course in the mail came the suspension notices for our parents. My friend got in my mailbox and got mine before my parents could see it. What a great friend (Kay S.)! My parents never knew until about 10 years ago (laughing)!”


By the time I got out of high school four years later I believe I may have had the longest hair in the high school and everyone pretty much wore what we wanted.

In the words of my pal Cindy M: “What a long strange trip it’s been….”



October 21, 2008
Wooster, Ohio's Me & The Guys perform at the Lazy J Ranch circa 1966. Photo courtesy George Gell.

Wooster, Ohio’s Me & The Guys perform at the Lazy J Ranch near Wooster, OH circa 1966. Photo courtesy George Gell.

Earlier last month we posted a story on the Wooster, OH based rock band Me & The Guys, one of the top bands in the mid 60’s in the Wayne County-Ashland County areas of Ohio. Formed in 1965 with members Joel Culp, Bill Ross, Steve Young and Tom Taylor, the band quickly became one of the region’s top bands and issued one single, I Can’t Take It b/w Why Can’t You Be True on the PLA ME Records label.


Throughout the two-year history of the band they played all over the region at schools, clubs and outdoor facilities (like the Lazy J Ranch north of Wooster, OH) and opening for such bands as The Music Explosion.


Recently writer/Ohio rock band historian George Gell, who wrote an in-depth article on the band for Rebel Teen Magazine back in 1989, did some slight editing and posted the story on the Buckeye Beat website. For anyone who grew up in north central Ohio or the Wayne County, OH area be sure and check it out. Good stuff and highly informative.


Mick Ronson Remembered

October 20, 2008
Mick Ronson - One of the greats!

Mick Ronson – One of the greats!

A recent conversation with a friend about Mick Ronson brought to my pal the startling realization that Mick Ronson has been gone for 15 years now which is hard to believe. Ronson was a gifted guitarist, arranger, songwriter and producer who made his mark in rock ‘n roll and to this day has a strong following. Ronson lost his battle with liver cancer on April 30, 1993 at age 47 but his accomplishments won’t soon be forgotten.

I first became aware of Ronson during his stint with David Bowie in the early 70’s as Ronson led the Spiders From Mars and helped Bowie construct more than a handful of now classic songs and albums, particularly The Rise & Fall of Ziggy Stardust & The Spiders From Mars. The first time I saw Ronson perform live was with Bowie and the Spiders on September 22, 1972 at the Music Hall in Cleveland, OH.

After Ariel Bender had left Mott The Hoople in 1974 Ronson joined the band in September of that year. I was ecstatic! One of my favorite guitar players was joining one of my all time favorite bands. I couldn’t wait for Mott The Hoople to tour the USA so I could catch Ronson with the band but alas, they never made a USA tour as Ian Hunter fell ill and soon after left the band with Ronson in tow.

When Ian Hunter started his solo career Ronson was on board and eventually the Hunter-Ronson Band started gigging throughout the USA and I was fortunate to catch several of their shows, the first on April 26, 1975 at the Music Hall in Cleveland, OH with the band Bonaroo as support.

A really cool gig I was fortunate to see up close was on June 18, 1979 at the Cleveland Agora with the Iron City Houserockers opening. Another reason I remember this gig is two days later my daughter was born two months early (and she spent consider time in an incubator at Akron Children’s Hospital)! Hunter and Ronson and company were just totally on fire that night and an appearance with the band by Ellen Foley capped a great night.

The Hunter-Ronson Band came back to the Cleveland area three months later headlining the Richfield Coliseum with the David Johansen Group. Hunter’s You’re Never Alone with a Schizophrenic was red hot in northeast Ohio and the band, once again, was on fire. Great show.

The last time I saw the Hunter-Ronson Band in its original incarnation was the following year when they returned to the Richfield Coliseum on June 7, 1980. The show was advertised with Hunter-Ronson headlining but when we showed up for the concert the promoters put Heart as the headliner. Mistake. While Heart did a great job, it was a bit of a let down and anti-climatic after Hunter-Ronson and associates had the huge crowd rocking the rafters. Intense performance by the band and Heart had to be dismayed following Hunter-Ronson that night.

I bought everything on vinyl that featured Ronson back in the day, including his solo LPs Slaughter On 10th Avenue and Play Don’t Worry. He continued working with a number of bands and performers but to me, his best collaborations were with Ian Hunter on his studio LPs and his, to me, classic live LP, Welcome To The Club.

For those unfamiliar with Ronson spend some time on the Mick Ronson website and find out how much of an impact he had on rock ‘n roll. His resume is one of the most varied and impressive of any rock ‘n roll guitarist. And be sure and check out Ronson’s daughter Lisa’ s band, The Secret Society (Lisa Likes Rock ‘N Roll, ya know!).

Yes, he was THAT good!


Ian Hunter & Mick Ronson - They had some great shows.

Ian Hunter & Mick Ronson – They had some great shows.



The Beatles Get Animated

October 20, 2008

In the mid-1960’s Beatlemania was huge. Not even Batmania could come close in terms of longevity and worldwide impact. As businesspeople far and wide came up with every possible concept to merchandise and make money off the Fab Four, it seemed only natural to have the four moptops star in their own TV show. And while a ‘live action’ show never materialized in 1965 a new Saturday morning cartoon appeared with amazing ratings starring The Beatles.


The ABC network came up with the idea, King Features produced the show and toy manufacturer A.C. Gilmer put the money up in hopes of reaping a vast reward through merchandising.


The Beatles virtually had nothing to do with the show in any capacity except for the songs that were used. Even the voices were those of hired actors affecting a Liverpool accent (Lance Percival, who voiced the parts of Paul and Ringo and the legendary Paul Frees who voiced John and George).


Be that as it may, I tuned in for the first and all subsequent episodes.


The Beatles premiered on Saturday morning September 25, 1965 and aired at 10:30 AM each week. From the first episode the show was a monster hit in terms of ratings with the first show snagging an impressive 52 share that was record setting. Each cartoon ran about 10 minutes and featured two cartoons per episode in addition to two ‘sing-a-longs’ that consisted of Beatles songs with a cartoon to go along with it.


The show aired on ABC for four years with the last two being restricted to reruns. Strangely enough, people in The Beatles’ England never had a chance to see the show until 1980 when it finally aired on British TV.
I haven’t seen the show since the 1960’s but would love to see it again, at least for nostalgia’s sake.


Favorite Fanzines Of My Youth #2

October 20, 2008

Comixscene was a tabloid publication produced by superstar artist Jim Steranko’s Supergraphics Publishing Company in the early 70’s that eventually morphed into Mediascene (with issue #8 I believe) before once again evolving into Prevue Magazine with national newsstand distribution. I bought the first 20 or so issues as I recall. In it’s initial incarnation as Comixscene it was printed as a folded tabloid that primarily reported on the graphics and comics field although other media was featured. The publication, in all three incarnations, was published from 1972 – 1994.


Addendum: My Wife’s Hobby

October 19, 2008

Addendum to previous post: Actually my wife has three hobbies. As mentioned previously my wife of 31 years’ main hobbies are her four (soon to be five) grandsons and collecting popular culture lunch boxes. Her third hobby is tormenting the hell out of me!


My Wife’s Hobby

October 19, 2008


My wife actually has two hobbies with the first and most important being spending as much time as possible with her four (soon to be five!) grandsons. Her other hobby is collecting lunchboxes, both vintage and newer ones.  Her requirements are they must be metal lunch boxes and they must feature something from the world of popular culture. How many women do you know that has a couple dozen lunchboxes featuring Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Hornet, Spiderman and other superheroes?


Among her collection (which now numbers just under 120) are lunch boxes devoted to I Dream Of Jeannie, The Archies, Bewitched, Beatles, Man From UNCLE, Lone Ranger, Barbie, Mickey Mouse, Petticoat Junction, I Love Lucy, Elvis, Bettie Boop, Star Trek, Brady Bunch, Partridge Family, KISS, the list goes on and on and on!


I never had a lunchbox as a kid. My Dad always laid out lunch money for the school cafeteria (two dimes for each of us as I recall) but I vividly recall going into stores as a kid with Mom & Dad to do school shopping and seeing rows and rows of the newly released lunchboxes just in time for the new school year. Seeing all those rows of colorful lunchboxes with superheroes and whatever was popular on TV was a sight to behold. I recall the local Mr. Wiggs department store in Wooster, OH having what seemed like thousands of the darn things back then.


About ten years ago my wife picked up a lunchbox (I forget which was her first, she isn’t here right now to ask) and it was on! She is still buying them on occasion. Someday they will all go to our grandkids (you don’t think we’ll leave anything to our kids, do you?)


‘Big Chuck’ Gets Literary

October 17, 2008
The Cleveland legend tells his story.

The Cleveland legend tells his story.

Here is the perfect Christmas gift for anyone who grew up in northeast Ohio during the last 48 years. A new book, BIG CHUCK – My Favorite Stories from 47 Years on Cleveland TV, is set to hit the stores next week. BIG CHUCK – My Favorite Stories from 47 Years on Cleveland TV is basically the autobiography of ‘Big Chuck’ Schodowski, a certifiable living legend in Cleveland television who started out working at WJW-TV with the likes of Tim Conway and Ernie ‘Ghoulardi’ Anderson. Most also know him from his decades as the co-host of the Hoolihan & Big Chuck Show with Bob Wells and later the Big Chuck & Lil’ John Show with Lil’ John Rinaldi.

The book, co-written with Tom Feran, is being published by Gray & Company Publishers and comes in hardcover, 288 pages with 93 photos included for only $19.95. The book will be available at most bookstores throughout northeast Ohio next week or, if you attend Ghoulardifest this weekend (October 17-19) you can pick up an advanced copy an I presume have it autographed by Big Chuck himself.

From the Gray & Company Publishers press release:
”Tune in as Cleveland TV legend “Big Chuck” Schodowski tells hundreds of funny and surprising stories from a lifetime in television—in his familiar,good-natured, Cleveland-to-the-bone style.

“Since 1960, Chuck has been on camera, behind the camera, and in the director’s chair. He collaborated with Ernie Anderson on the groundbreaking “Ghoulardi” show, and continued to host a late-night show across four decades—the longest such run in TV history. He wrote and directed two thousand hilarious sketches that were watched religiously by adoring fans.

“Revisit favorite characters including the Kielbasy Kid, Certain Ethnic Guy, Ben Crazy, and many more. Chuck’s stories will entertain fans—and anyone who enjoys behind-the-scenes tales of television and celebrities.”

Visit the publishers website for a sample chapter, but you already know it will be a fun, entertaining and interesting read.
And for those of you unfamiliar with Big Chuck and his cohorts, visit the Big Chuck & Lil’ John website for more info and details.
I can guarantee that this book will be a huge best seller in northeast Ohio and beyond.

For more info on this weekend’s Ghoulardifest see previous entries on this website or visit the Ghoulardifest website.


Patti Smith Goes To School

October 17, 2008

I continue my retrospective of rock ‘n roll concert venues I attended from ‘back in the day’ with a last minute concert at Oberlin College, home of the famed Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Oberlin, Ohio. It was the only time I attended a concert at the college’s Finney Chapel, a small theatre with great acoustics and sightlines and it was, as stated, a last minute decision to go.

One late afternoon on a weekday in the latter part of summer or early fall of 1977 (I can’t recall the month) I stopped to get gas in my hometown of Orrville, OH when two acquaintances, Steve and Russ, spotted me and stopped by with a plan. They were headed to Oberlin College to see the Patti Smith Group and did I want to hitch a ride with them? I didn’t even know they were playing that night but what the hell, I’m in.

I had heard Patti’s first LP and an early single and was well familiar with her and especially her guitarist, Lenny Kaye, from all of his work in the various music magazines of the day. In addition to writing for Creem and Rolling Stone magazines, Lenny also served as editor of Rock Scene and Hit Parader magazines. Thanks to Lenny, and lots of other New York based media, Patti Smith was turning up in all of the rock ‘n roll magazines and fanzines.

We checked out a map at the station, I parked the car and off we went to Oberlin College. When we got there we tracked down the location of Finney Chapel, scoped out the nearby scenery and then made our way to the boxoffice to buy tickets and find our seats. I was a month or two from turning 20 but I felt o-l-d. The students who attended the concert and who we mingled with at the concession areas seemed young for some reason. A different vibe, but not negative.

When Patti Smith and her band took the stage I was expecting a garage band performance and I got that and a whole lot more. The band put on a hell of a show, the music was rockin’ and Patti was captivating. She put a lot into that show and the music was new, exciting and…. different. Patti Smith made me take a good hard look and listen as ‘punk’ arrived and that performance, and subsequent albums, broadened my musical tastes considerably.

But looking at that concert on performance alone, they hit a grand slam and I’m glad I went. Factoid: Some time after, Liz Phair attended Oberlin where she studied art.

Finney Chapel at Oberlin College in Oberlin, OH.

Finney Chapel at Oberlin College in Oberlin, OH.


Favorite Fanzines Of My Youth #1

October 17, 2008

A favorite fanzine from back in the day was Gary Groth’s Fantastic Fanzine, published in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s and always chock full of quality. This is one of my favorite issues (big Steranko fan here). Fantastic Fanzine #11 was published in 1970. The 52-page zine featured a huge Jim Steranko interview with art as well as art and features on Dave Cockrum and Barry Windsor Smith, among others. Groth went on to form Fantagraphics Publishing that still exists.


Here’s Another One I Missed

October 17, 2008
Columbus, Ohio Circa 1967

Columbus, Ohio – 1967

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