Archive for June, 2012

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Talk Radio King Was A Rocker

June 19, 2012

 Long time northeast Ohio radio icon Howie Chizek passed away Saturday June 16 in Florida from an apparent heart attack. Chizek, 65, was the long time WNIR radio superstar who had the country’s longest running talk show. He worked at WNIR for 38 years and for 17 years he served as the public announcer for the Cleveland Cavaliers at the Richfield Coliseum and served in that capacity for three years for the Cleveland Force soccer team. Chizek was in Florida taking 10 underprivileged youths along with several chaperones to Walt Disney World as part of his annual charity program.
 
Opinionated, bombastic, Howie Chizek broadcast on WNIR for five hours weekdays and three hours Saturdays covering the greater Akron area & region. Chizek’s show aired from 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM.
 
Saturday night I was listening to Bob Earley’s show on WNIR when the news came in and Earley, perhaps to his dismay, had to break the news to the listeners. Since announcing Chizek’s passing the station has been flooded with calls from listeners who are clearly mourning Chizek’s passing. Earley, later joined by the station’s afternoon host Bob Golic, stayed on the air until nearly 2:00 AM. It was an emotional outpouring that still is commencing with all the station’s hosts and they have all handled it professionally and with dignity.


 I always listened to rock & roll on the radio, always. I had heard Chizek off and on over the years since the 70’s, but I didn’t become a regular listener until the Desert Storm War when I went searching for more information when that broke out and found Chizek’s show. Damned if it didn’t take a week or two to hook me. Been a listener ever since.
 
You can do a search on Howie Chizek and find out more biographical information and information on his long radio career (and many humanitarian efforts and causes he funded behind the scenes) or pick up any newspaper in northeast Ohio or tune into any television station.
 
But what I want to highlight is a little known fact of Chizek’s musical career. Over the years he mentioned his ability to play guitar but that’s as far as it went. But in the mid-1960’s, 1964 to be precise, Chizek, living in Cleveland Heights, started a band called The Runaways. They played the Cleveland and northeast Ohio area and in 1965 recorded a single.
 
Chizek played guitar and sang lead vocals and the band released I’m A Runaway/It Can’t Be Long (Cle Town C 101). The single was produced by Eric Stevens who got a grooving, mod-tinged, guitar oriented tune out of the band that became a hit in northeast Ohio. Chizek wrote both sides of the single.


 

I couldn’t find either side on the internet but hopefully WNIR will play it soon (Bob Earley mentioned morning host Stan Piatt may have it and play it. Hopefully someone will post it on You Tube. Or the WNIR website.
 
Over the years Chizek, a real ‘button-pusher’, would sometimes slam rock & roll, but those who were long time listeners knew Chizek was an entertainer first and foremost and was a master at getting an audience charged up. You never really knew where he stood on anything because you sometimes never knew if he was pulling your leg or not.
 
The band called it quits when Chizek enrolled in Communications College at Ohio University, in Athens, Ohio. He graduated in 1970 and after graduation Chizek spent a short time at WBBW in Youngstown, Ohio before starting at WNIR on June 3, 1974.
 
Going to miss that daily dose of Howie and his ‘regulars’, like Mr. Stow & the ‘Boosch Ma’ and so many others but in particular ‘Couch Burner’, a regular caller that I looked forward to hearing chat with Howie every day. They had some real ‘battle of the wits’ over the years and those two produced some memorable radio entertainment. Sadly, it’s over. (Be nice if WNIR would offer Couch Burner an on-air gig.)

Howard Alan ‘Howie’ Chizek was born June 9, 1947 and until June 16, 2012 was one of northeast Ohio’s most generous philanthropists and the main man in talk radio, not just in Akron, but across the country.
 
He was one hell of a man.
 
For more on Howie Chizek or to tune into WNIR visit: www.wnir.com

(c)2012 Doc Lehman/Bangagong!

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A Homegrown Record Label: BW Records

June 12, 2012

During the 1960’s and 1970’s the Wayne County, Ohio area, in addition to the surrounding counties like Ashland, Richland and Stark, had many rock bands that performed at a wide variety of venues throughout the region, and beyond, and several bands also produced records. One source of producing and distributing records from local bands and performers was BW Records, a local record label founded by Quentin ‘Reed’ Welty of Wooster, OH.

Actually, BW Records was two labels. Welty, a long time producer, promoter, manager and agent for rock, gospel & country bands, was also a long time advertising salesman for WWST radio in Wooster, OH. Welty started BW Records in 1961. The named comes from the combination of Welty and (Dana) Burns, who was a former partner of Welty’s but had no financial interest in the label. The subsidiary label connected to BW Records and owned by Welty was the Wel Burn label that primarily produced country music but the output was minimal.

The original BW Records existed from 1961 through 1970. A few years later it was revised with new logo, catalog numbering and image. Welty primarily was involved in the publishing and the production and distribution was handled by people associated with radio station WWVS, at the time a powerhouse West Virginia country music station.

But during it’s run, BW Records released a number of rock, country and gospel records, including other genres. One ‘esoteric’ release was a record titled ‘The Sounds of Dragway 42’, recorded at the drag strip facility in West Salem, Ohio that is still in operation today. Dragway 42 hired many local and regional bands to perform in the 1960’s and early 1970’s.

One popular seller for the label were gospel recordings by the Slabach Sisters Quartet from Dalton, Ohio.


With rock music overtaking the country due to the Beatles and British Invasion, bands started cropping up by the hundreds all over the country, including Ohio and the Wayne County area and outlaying region.

Some of the bands Welty worked with and recorded remain fondly remembered even today.

                                                               THE STREYS

The Streys were a Wooster, Ohio based rock band of Wooster High School students that formed in 1966 and became a popular attraction. The band consisted of Randy Carlisle, Danny Miller, Jim Horst, Dave Albright & Jerry Albright. They recorded a couple of songs at Cleveland Recording in June 1967 that was issued on the B-W label. “She Cools My Mind” is excellent soul-influenced garage.


The Es-Shades were one of the more well-known and traveled bands that were based in Ashland, OH, consisted of Black River, Cloverleaf and Ashland high schools students and existed from 1965 – 1969. The band consisted of, over the years, the amazing Cathy ‘Cat’ Fissell, Sonny Swinehart, Mark Lance, Rick Peters, Tom Clifford, Pete Todd, Rick Stuart, Richard Carmichael & Norman Blaha.


The Es-Shades first recording was a 45 record on the B W Records label. The band recorded ‘Never Met A Girl Like You’ with ‘Good Lovin” on the B Side and was released on August 3, 1966. The record was recorded at WWST radio station studios and production duties were spearheaded by WWST DJ Don Vandemark. The record was played on WWST, WHLO, WKYC and mega-stations CKLW & WLS.


The band played its last gig at Medina High School in Medina, Ohio on March 7, 1969. Former Es-Shades drummer Richard Carmichael, who was joined by another former Es-Shade, Mark Lance (bass and vocals), went on to form Canyon in the 70’s.)

In addition to releasing records by such other regional bands and performers like Bobby & The Bengals, The Treytones, The London Tymes and others, Welty also, on occasion, entered into partnerships with various bands, performers and producers in other recordings issued under different label names.

One example was 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.

The band, made up of Wooster High School students, started out in 1964 as the Cobras before changing their name to the Ascots. They finally settled on Me & The Guys and played high school dances and the like. They also had a regular gig at the Lazy J Ranch that was a popular destination for Wayne County teenagers back then. (In ’77 the campground changed ownership and was renamed Beck’s Family Campground. It is now known as the Lazy B Ranch.)


By the time the fall of 1967 rolled around three of the band members went off to college and the band disbanded. There are reports they regrouped for a one-shot reunion gig in 1977. Joel Culp went on to gain some notoriety as a member of the famed Buckeye Biscuit country-rock band in the 70’s.

Welty and Me & The Guys came together through the bands’ Thursday night gigs at the Lazy J Ranch. Welty put together a broadcasting deal that aired the band’s performances each Thursday night.  Welty and Young’s manager (and father) then forged a partnership with producer Gary Rhamy to get the band recorded. Welty, accompanied the band to Audio recording in Cleveland for a recording session on July 14, 1966 that resulted in the 45 single, ‘I Can’t Take It’.

Me & The Guys

By September ‘I Can’t Take It’ was number one on the WWST hit line.


The only other release on that label that I was able to find was The Oceans, an Ohio band, who released ‘She’s Gone’ on the PLA ME label. Produced by Gary Rhamy, the B Side was ‘Abilene’. The band consisted of Ed Lonas, Mike Cunningham, Dick Brown and James Dean.


In addition to PLA ME Records, Welty also had a financial interest in various other record labels in the area. There is no way, at this time, to track them all done, but a couple additional labels that Welty had an interest in were Indian Head Records that featured records by Lum Hatcher and Chet Good, Hojo Records that released Hugh Williams w/ the Dale Roman Quartet (based in Millersburg, OH) and Pal Records that featured Howard Plant & The Stickbuddys.

Quentin Welty, besides a long and successful career at WWST Radio, was known throughout the Midwest and beyond in rock, pop and country circles for his record labels, publishing ventures, management skills and a host of other talents. He was a hard-working, honest and enthusiastic and knowledgeable man.

Quentin Welty passed away on November 21, 2006 at the age of 81 at his home in Wooster, OH. He was a graduate of Apple Creek High School, received his bachelor of arts from Baldwin-Wallace College and his master of arts from Northwestern University.


He had done special work at the NBC Radio Institute and Western Union School in New York City. He had also done additional graduate work beyond his master of arts at Northwestern University.

He worked 50 years in local radio, advertising and did motivational speaking.
Quentin was a lifetime member of the Country Music Association and a life member of the Nashville Chapter of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

Many of his recordings have appeared in recent years on various compilation recordings issued by companies from all over the world.


No doubt though, at least for a few bands in the 1960’s in a small rural community, Quentin Welty offered the chance to get recorded and broadcast. And his impact extended far, far beyond the confines of Wayne County, Ohio.


BW RECORDS – DISCOGRAPHY:

601—-Bobby and the Bengals—————No Parking! / Double Rock
602—-Not Used
603/4—Treytones—————————–Blind Date / Cool Beat
605/6–Les and His Western Playboys——-I Don’t Care Anymore / Why Pretend
607/8–Chet Good and the Slabach Sisters–His Smile / If You Ever
609/10-Jack and the DriftersSweet———–Talk and Lies / Old Hawaii
611/2–Kathy Dee————————-Trail Of Tears / The Ways of a Heart
613/4–The Southland Gospel Trio——–Behold He Cometh / Pathways Of Life
615/6–Kenny BiggsSwingin’————– Swanee River / There’s No Excuse
617/8–Phil Stumpo—————-Heartbreaker / You Mean Everything to Me
619—-­­Kathy Dee————–If I Never Get to Heaven / Teardrops In My Heart
620—-Andy Sommers & Stringshifters———-Since We First Met / Loving You
621—-Judy Kaye——————-You Can’t Hurt Me Anymore / Take Everything
622—–Fonda St. Paul————–Wishing Well / Baby Blue (P/S)
623—–Sounds of Dragway 42——Part 1 / Part 2 (P/S)auto racing sounds
624—–Phil BeasleyItchin’ ———–To Love You / These Blues are Realc
625—–Kenny Biggs————-There’s No Excuse; I’ll Keep Foolin’ Around; It Wasn’t Easy / Corina; Once Again Baby; Swinging Swanee Rock subtitled “the Bigg Sound”
626—–Red Wilson—————–God Has A Full Time Job Watching You / unknown
627—–Jeanne Hart—————-Don’t Hang Around / Fools Will Fall In Love1965
628—–Es-Shades——————-Never Met A Girl Like You Before / Good Lovin’
629—–Brant Martin——————-Always Yours / The Less I Think I Do
630—–Don Collins——————-Give Me Back My Heart / Ramblin’ Man
631—–Gene Jenkins—————–Big Big City / Give Me Back My Heart
632—–Gene Jenkins——-Street of Heartbreak / Lay Your Head On My Shoulder
633—–Chuck “Fingers” Hess———-Go Go Guitar / A Blue Blue Sailor
634—–Chuck HessTijuana Stomp / Mother’s Day In Heaven1968 (RCA W4KM-3437/8)
635—–Streys————————-I’m Feeling Lovey / She Cools My Mind
636—–Cliff Coldiron & Countrymen—–Silver Bells / She Don’t Live Here Anymore
637—–Bob Lynn & Country Squires——-Open Up the Honky Tonks / Wondering
638—–London Tymes————-Rock N Roll Music / Evening Dreamer—-1969
639—–Bobby MacAuctioneer——Through the Water / Bad Girl; Folsom Prison Blues—-1969
640——Jim “C” Stevens——————-You Can’t Win ‘Em All / unknown
641——Keith Alan Crabtree—————He Touched Me / I’ve Been to Calvary
642——Bill Harrington—————The Arrangement of Things / Dawn—-1970
No #—–Linda Lee———Danger / At The Sight Of You1970 (RCA 804B-2925)
2010—–Bill Terry—-Mountain Boys Are Going Home / Greenbrier ValleyNov 1971
0934—–Gary McCullough—-I’ve Tried It Every Way / Every Day1972 (SJW 20313)
2017—–Midge Long—-Whatever Turns You On / Chasing Dreams Again1970 (SJW 17023)
2039—–Kenny Biggs————-It’s A Woman / Country Music Star——1972
2049—–Bill Terry –You Wait A Little Longer / Either She’s Married Or I Am–1972
2109—–Rod Carmer——Country Comfort / Looking Out The Window—1973


WEL BURN RECORDS – DISCOGRAPHY:

103——-Les and his Western Playboys—It’s Rough! / Things That Might Have Been
105/6—–Ken Speck——-Which Way to the Door / A Broken Heart, A Broken Vow
107——-Southland Gospel Trio—The Fields Have Turned Brown / Will You Be Ready

Check out these Bangagong! pages:

OHIO 1960’s BANDS

OHIO 1970’s BANDS

©2012 Doc Lehman/Bangagong!

All images (c) respective holders.

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New Gene Simmons/Holocaust Book Takes Off

June 6, 2012

Author Ross Berg alongside his subject matter.

Months ago we alerted readers of this website about the new book by Ross Berg, Gene Simmons: A Rock ‘N Roll Journey In The Shadow Of The Holocaust that was released in January. Since that time Berg’s book has been selling well and gaining substantial attention. The book takes a unique approach and details the KISS member’s childhood, his interest in comic books and horror films and rock & roll growing up and his devoted affection for his mother, Flora Klein.


 Simmons, born Chaim Weitz was born at the Rambam Hospital in Haifa, Israel on August 25, 1949. He and his mother emigrated to Jackson Heights, Queens in New York City when he was eight years old. He is the only child of his mother, a German Nazi Concentration Camp survivor.

It too Berg approximately six years to research and write the book and the details he unearthed are plentiful and interesting and written in a narrative non-fiction style that is intriguing and adds charm to the material.
 
But what really reaches out and grabs the reader is Flora Klein’s amazing story of surviving the Nazi concentration camps as a teenage girl and her will to survive and take care of her son after both were abandoned by her husband and Simmons’ father.

A mother & son!

Needless to say, Berg has hit a bullseye on subject matter and an incredible amount of details that has equated to sales and awareness.
 
“The reaction to the book has been amazing,” Berg told Bangagong. “Viewing the ‘Reader Reviews’ on Amazon.com is quite inspiring and the book has sold hundreds of copies, which is very satisfying personally.”
 
“The project was definitely worth the time and effort I put into it; especially when people send me comments about how they hadn’t previously known much about the Holocaust or how I have inspired them to want to write their own books.”

Gene & Flora

The Holocaust is a subject in the book that grabs the reader by the collar and drags him in. Berg has written a simply fascinating story of survival, determination and faith. “Well, when you’re talking about the Holocaust where 9 million people were murdered, with 6 million of those being Jews, it is often hard to wrap one’s head around those kinds of numbers,” said Berg. “The Holocaust is something that has affected me all my life — especially being raised by a survivor of a survivor.”
 
Berg is more than happy with the public reaction to the book.
 
“The only reaction from Gene/Flora/Family are the initial ones I received on Gene’s TV show, webpage message board, and Twitter messages thanking THE FLORA ARMY for our efforts. Beyond that, I have heard nothing directly from Gene, but I really didn’t expect to, either.”
 
Berg is the founder of the now famed ‘Flora’s Army’ Facebook page that is devoted to Flora Klein.
 
The horrifying Holocaust is a subject that has captured Berg’s interest. “I am currently enrolled in a Master’s Degree program in Holocaust Studies so this is something that I am obviously devoting my life to and hope to ultimately teach Jewish Studies or Holocaust Studies in a university setting,” Berg commented.
 
So with Gene Simmons: A Rock ‘N Roll Journey In The Shadow Of The Holocaust now being distributed and selling well, will Berg rest on his laurels or is there another book in him?

 “Yes, I am currently working on a follow-up book called Jewish Star:The Continuing Adventures of Gene Simmons,” revealed Berg. “I hope it doesn’t take another six years, but if it does – then that’s what it’s gonna be. This is all a labor of love.”
 
You can purchase a copy of Gene Simmons: A Rock ‘N Roll Journey In The Shadow Of The Holocaust through Amazon or any fine bookseller. Recommended!
 
Check out this detailed article on Gene Simmons, Flora Kelin & Ross Berg that previously appeared on Bangagong:  The Holocaust, The Mother & ‘The Demon’

(c)2012 Doc Lehman/Bangagong!

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‘Upbeat Dancer – The Musical’ In Pre-Production

June 4, 2012

A new musical stage production called UPBEAT DANCER – THE MUSICAL is set to enter into pre-production. Based on the famed UPBEAT TV SHOW hosted by Don Webster that ran from 1964 – 1971 on WEWS Channel 5 in Cleveland, OH, the dancers that were featured were a big part of the show’s appeal and success.


Wouldn’t it be great if a mega-dollar producer came along and helped the proppnents take this to the big screen or even a television. I could see a quality, a la Mad Men, production on AMC.


Regardless, below is the press release that was just issued announcing more details on UPBEAT DANCER – THE MUSICAL.

“UPBEAT DANCER” – THE MUSICAL
ANNOUNCES PRE-PRODUCTION START DATE

(Cleveland, Ohio) June 1, 2012 – – Today, Dakota P. Productions announced, they have begun pre-production on the musical “Upbeat Dancer”. The production is in preparation for its 2013 debut on the big stage and screen. The musical is based on the industry’s first integrated rock and roll musical variety television show. The Upbeat Show debut in Cleveland, Ohio in 1964 and ran until 1971 giving the city the distinction of being an entertainment hub for musical talent and a gateway to super stardom.

The nationally broadcast Upbeat Show was shot at WEWS Television Studios, WEWS studio is now designated a rock ‘n’ roll historic landmark because of this innovative show called “Upbeat.” Exposure on the show was crucial for up-and-coming artists. It also affected the music that was played over the airwaves. Once the artist appeared on “Upbeat,” the DJs that played that kind of music all over the country had to play their records. The show influenced artists and fans all over the nation.

The Temptations, James Brown, Otis Redding, Mitch Ryder, The Bar-Kay, The Bar-Kay, Dennis Yost and the Classics IV, Three Dog Night , The Cowsills , Oliver, Edwin Starr, Loretta Lynn, Steppenwolf, Joe Tex, American Breed, The Grass Roots, Archie Bell and the Drells, 1910 Fruitgum Company, Marvin Gaye & Tammy Terrel, Jerry Butler, Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, The O’Jays, Eric Burton & the Animals, are but a few of the legends that performed on the Upbeat Show.

“Upbeat Dancer” is a production that will have the audience swept up in the excitement, movement and feel of the era. The actors sing, dance and perform their way through the Rock an Roll era of the 60’s and 70’s, the musical brings the music, sounds and style of the 60’s and 70’s current.

For further information on the musical, “Upbeat Dancer” contact, Jamie Johnstone at 216-249-5564 or by email at jamie@dakotapproductions.com

NOTE: Also see our related UPBEAT TV SHOW and UPBEAT DANCERS articles at:

UPBEAT: TV THAT ROCKED

Upbeat Dancers Remember #1: DIANNE RINI

An ‘Upbeat’ Success Story!

 

(c)2012 Doc Lehman/BANGAGONG!

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