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IT WON’T BE LONG NOW – GOOD-BYE TO DOO WOP (June 13th)
I don’t mean to carry this on -- there is an ongoing saga of Little Anthony & The Imperials and our ending an era, you know, the whole “Doo Wop concert thing”. I said it before - the last date for “Doo Wop Revival shows” will be at the Izod Center in Jersey, well the Meadowlands, on Saturday, June 13th.
By-the-way, isn’t that the old Brendan Byrne Arena? It’s interesting to see how in only “20 Doo Wop years”, an ex-Governor can lose his name to a clothing logo.
The promoter called me and she wants to do some sort of a tribute. With all that said, I could not think of a better place to say good-bye to “Doo Wop reunions”, than a Jersey audience, the Izod Center. Tickets went on sale earlier this month.
“Doo Wop concerts” started out as a novelty and a real reunion show but it is now getting old. It’s time to change concerted ways. Little Anthony & The Imperials are enjoying a great 50th anniversary year now about to be capped with industry honors. Doing shows like “Doo Wop” sounds like the group is over and done. Little Anthony & The Imperials are very much alive. The rumor of Little Anthony & The Imperials being “dead” has been grossly exaggerated – thank you Mark Twain.
I had a phone call a week or so back from the same “Doo Wop” promoter, who said she was calling about the songs we do in the show, especially the opening. She said it wasn’t in the show’s theme and too high brow. I really gotta beg to differ here. These “Doo Wop” shows are passé and we had our biggest hits in the mid-60s. Radio was experiencing the British invasion then, and Little Anthony & The Imperials were knocking out Teddy Randazzo’s best. If our set is too high brow, how come we get standing ovations?
Here is some advice and it’s called good old fashioned “show business advice”. How about teaming Little Anthony & The Imperials with Herman’s Hermits, Frankie Valli/The Four Seasons, Gladys Knight & The Pips, Earth Wind & Fire, Dionne Warwick, The Rascals, Chuck Berry, etc? How about calling the concerts “Rock & Soul” – it’s a better show, better theme.
Little Anthony & The Imperials are saying good-bye to the “Doo Wop shows” and I wish all those artists well. But for us, “we’re done here”. We’re onstage for only 30 minutes and as performers, you really need time to do a good performance. 30 minutes is way too short. We have an obligation to our audiences and love doing our full show, not a shorten set.
These “Doo Wop” multi-act shows only limit our performance (in every way). Something has to give. I think June 13th is a fitting Saturday night for Little Anthony & The Imperials to say good-bye to the “Doo Wop (type) shows”. We’ve been doing these shows for a long time but now, it is time to say goodbye -- to the shows but not our song legacy. ‘Nuff said!
MAKING A HARPO BREAKTHROUGH
I wanted to let you know that my pursuit of Oprah has not fallen off. I am going to campaign to get Little Anthony & The Imperials on her show until we get a “yea or a nay”. I just received a phone call from a writer friend of ours. This is a good example of proving that persistence can pay off. You see Oprah doesn’t accept solicitations or concepts for her show and I applaud the fact she can do that. Well, we got through to Oprah’s staff at her Harpo Productions office and that’s all I can say for now. I’ll keep you posted.
THE UK IS SO NEAR, YET SO FAR
Some weeks my phone rings like crazy and this was one of them. It always happens when I come off some touring dates. Anyway, one of these phone calls was about the upcoming date we had in the UK. The promoters in England did not come up with the required advance funds making it financially impossible for us to perform there in April.
The promoters didn’t know what to expect when they booked this show. They asked if we could perform certain songs including a hit that we haven’t performed in a long time. No big deal. Rehearsals and then work out a new updated arrangement, you’re done.
I am so disappointed about this cancellation or postponed date. I was looking forward to seeing The White Cliffs Of Dover. You see, Little Anthony & The Imperials have not performed in England ever. We just didn’t get there and now, they would love to have us, but the UK money is stretched. We would love to get a definitive offer to do some Brit shows.
It turns out the promoters were more fans than business-people. They thought they could do this, but it has failed. I notified so many people we would do our first Little Anthony & The Imperials UK concert and now I have to let them down, too. I have a grand-daughter who lives in jolly old England and I had to break the bad news to her, too. She is 23 years old and I haven’t seen her since she was 8. We’re still working to see if we can tour England but, not yet.
CLEVELAND’S ROCK HOF AND TOURISM
There goes my phone again, it’s Terry Stewart, the President of the Rock Hall Of Fame and we started talking about how the upcoming live induction show had to be good television. I also had talks with Paul Shaffer about the same thing. This isn’t The Waldorf this year and if it were, it would not be right this year. Cleveland and all of Ohio need help and the tourism a TV event can generate is one of the keys.
In a down-year, everyone is hunkering down and local vacations, regionally throughout the US, have the greatest chance to bolster the economy. Why not Cleveland – it’s the home of contemporary rock music –see where it started – the museum and more.
HOF LIVE ON FUSE TV – APRIL 4TH
I think the HOF’s Fuse live telecast will be memorable music event and above all, a great live television at its musical best. The guys and I understand the value of television and performance better than most. Doing a TV concert event takes not only great musicians and performances but, it has to hold its audience’s attention. We are taking the advice of the late Sammy Davis Jr., “Start big and end big. The middle will take care of itself”.
We’re still kicking out musical ideas and having Paul Shaffer onboard is ideal. Paul understands the genres of music and knows television. That is a huge plus for artists and audiences alike. The inductees are diverse musically, pretty much. How do you blend their respective talents into one cohesive show? You need talent, great talent, direction and a hands-on TV production crew. The Fuse live telecast on April 4th has it all.
I mentioned how we are going to close out the HOF show with “It’s Alright”. What I didn’t say in that column was we will be joined by our long-time friend, Smokey Robinson. In case you haven’t seen our original ‘60s performance of “It’s Alright”, watch the video from my last column. Man, to watch those splits now, hurts me still. At our age, those splits had to go or we’d be in physical therapy -- maybe a “House” episode. Ha!
Anyway, “I'm Alright” will be a rousing closing HOF production number and we will have everyone dancing in the aisles (and at home). I’ll be thinking of my buddy and co-writer of “It’s Alright”, the late Sam Cooke. I’ll betcha he’ll be there at the HOF in our hearts and our song. When we wrote “It’s Alright” we never dreamt it would be thriving still over 40 some odd years later. Our HOF performance will be a killer, man.
The night before, we are throwing ourselves a concert party at The Agora Ballroom, April 3rd, Friday night. The Rock HOF Awards concert follows on the 4th and then, we sing the National Anthem at the Cavs game (carried on ESPN) on Sunday, April 5th. I just have to say, “for LA&TIs -- Cleveland, it doesn’t get better than that”.
SO LONG ALTOVISE
I noticed that our long-time friend from the Ft. Greene projects “Joannie” died. We called her “Joannie” but her real name was “Joannie Gore” -- you knew her as “Mrs. Sammy Davis Jr.”. Altovise was her stage name. Our tears of loss are real here. She was only 65 years old and a dear, dear friend of ours. She died of complications from a stroke. I’m so saddened and so are the rest of the guys.
My mom and her mom were friends back in Brooklyn and she introduced us to Sammy during the “Golden Boy” Broadway days. Oh man, I didn’t hear about her unexpected death right away and I want to reach out to her family. “Joannie”, you will be missed and I wish to extend my condolences. It gets tough when friends like that pass on. So long Altovise/”Joannie” – you’ll always be an apart of Little Anthony & The Imperials.