No age barriers in rockin’ revival

- Joaquin M. Henson () - January 30, 2005 - 12:00am
Nostalgia circuit promoter Steve O’Neal is convinced the ‘60s rockin’ revival fever has brought baby boomers and today’s youth together because good time music makes no age distinction.

O’Neal should know what he’s talking about. He’s a veteran DZRJ disc jockey, a serious record collector and has been a rock music enthusiast for decades. Last year, O’Neal brought in Pat Upton of Spiral Starecase, The Searchers, Friends of Distinction, and Chad and Jeremy – all ‘60s acts – to Manila and their shows were huge sellers.

"It was fantastic to see parents and their children enjoying the same kind of music," says O’Neal. "For baby boomers, it was like reliving the past, their fondest memories of high school. For the youth, it was appreciating the roots of today’s hitmakers. And for those in between generations, it was just enjoying the foot-tapping music of the ‘60s."

From last year’s string of successes, O’Neal built a reputation of credibility among nostalgia foreign performers. News of the warm reception and the big crowds got around and now, O’Neal is deluged by offers from agents eager to join the rockin’‚ revival bandwagon.

To start the year with a bang, O’Neal is embarking on something new – a three-in-one treat featuring Gordon Waller, the voice of the famed British duo Peter and Gordon, Dennis (Sunny) Yost of Classics IV and Chris (The More I See You) Montez in a rare concert at the Aliw Theater on Feb. 12.

O’Neal is calling the three stars "The Golden Legends." They’ve never appeared on the same stage before and music enthusiasts consider it a coup that Gordon, Yost and Montez agreed to perform in Manila.

"It’s the best of three worlds," continues O’Neal. "Gordon is British. Dennis is American and Chris is Hispanic. Their music is distinct but we all loved it back in the ‘60s. Gordon was in Manila with Peter for concerts at the Araneta Coliseum but hasn’t been back in nearly 40 years. Dennis and Chris are coming for the first time."

Aside from the Aliw concert, O’Neal says the "Golden Legends" will also perform at the Hard Rock Café in Makati on Feb. 13 and 14. The Hard Rock Café shows will include dinner and wine. Gordon and Yost will team up on Feb. 13 then Gordon and Montez will headline the Valentine’s Day show on Feb. 14.

Gordon is the standout of the group. He sang lead vocals for Peter and Gordon, the popular British tandem of the ‘60s, and his velvety voice is resplendent in such hits as A World Without Love, Woman, True Love Ways, Nobody I Know, I Go To Pieces and I Don’t Want To See You Again.

Gordon, 59, was born in Scotland and grew up in England. A doctor’s son, he attended the prestigious Westminster Boys School where he met Peter Asher. The classmates formed a duo called Gordon and Peter but later switched names because "it sounded better." In 1964, they were discovered by record producer Norman Newall while playing a two-week gig at the Pickwick Club in London.

Peter and Gordon were known as the UK Everly Brothers but they had a sound of their own. Gordon idolized Elvis Presley and liked to do a lot of bop songs like Lucille and Memphis. But their biggest hits were soft ballad tunes that made hearts flutter.

Paul McCartney, who was then courting Peter’s sister Jane, wrote several of Peter and Gordon’s hits, including A World Without Love (a million seller that went to No. 1 on both sides of the Atlantic), Nobody I Know (another million seller that reached No. 10 in the UK and No. 12 in the US), I Don’t Want To See You Again (US No. 16) and Woman (UK No. 28, US No. 14).

Bill Harry, writing in the Ultimate Beatle Encyclopaedia, said the opening line of A World Without Love is unforgettable. "Rumor has it that when McCartney told the other members of the Beatles that he’d just written a song which began ‘please lock me away,’ they laughed," wrote Harry. "Probably untrue but the song launched the career of Peter and Gordon."

A World Without Love
topped the charts two weeks after its release. It sold 550,000 copies in the UK and over a million around the world. It went to No. 1 in the US and nine other countries.

McCartney wasn’t the only composer who brought fame and fortune to the pair. Del Shannon wrote I Go To Pieces which reached No. 9 in the US and Buddy Holly’s True Love Ways zoomed to No. 2 in the UK.

"There is a strong possibility that excluding Batman and Robin, the best known male twosome in the mid-1960s was Peter and Gordon," wrote Dave McAleer in Beatboom. "Asher and Waller, the first British duo to make a sustained impression on both sides of the Atlantic, amassed eight US and five UK top 20 singles in 1965-66. The duo who insisted that their Beatle haircuts predated the Mop Tops did not claim to be the most exciting live band in the Beatboom. Nevertheless, in the 1960s, the twosome played to packed houses, even when other British acts were performing to less than capacity US crowds on both continents and built a formidable fan following."

When the pair split up in 1969, Gordon recorded solo singles and a solo album, appeared on TV’s The Fantastist, managed a gift store and a dinghy repair shop, worked as a Rank Xerox salesman, invested in a company making radio commercials and played the Pharoah in Tim Rice’s musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in Edinburgh, London and Sydney.

Gordon also formed a music publishing company called Steele Wallet International Ltd. and wrote the soundtrack for the film James Dean – Race with Destiny. He now lives in California and often performs in solo concerts, singing Peter and Gordon tunes.

Peter retired to become a record producer for such stars as James Taylor, Linda Ronstadt and Randy Newman and is now a vice president of Sony Music.

Yost sang the Classics IV hits Sunny, Spooky, Stormy, Traces of Love, and Everyday with You, Girl. He began his musical career playing drums with high school friends in Jacksonville, Florida. His first group was called the Echoes, later the Classics, then the Four Classics, and finally Classics IV.

Entrepreneur Bill Lowry discovered the Classics IV in 1967. In their prime, the hits kept on coming for the band. Spooky sold over a million copies. Stormy and Traces of Love were other huge hits.

Because he carried the Classics IV sound, Yost stood out and was billed independently like Diana Ross and the Supremes, Gladys Knight and the Pips and Gary Puckett and the Union Gap.

For five years starting in 1966, Yost enjoyed 13 consecutive chart singles. In 1993, he was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame.

Yost moved to Nashville in 1993 and added writing and record production to his list of accomplishments. He now has 27 published works and produced Barbara Lewis‚ song called Donor to help the cause of organ donation awareness.

In the nostalgia circuit, Yost has performed with stars such as Gary Lewis and the Playboys, Chuck Berry, the Drifters, the Coasters, the Turtles, Paul Revere and the Raiders and Eric Clapton. He recently acquired the rights to the trademark Classics IV for performing and recording. Yost survived throat surgery and in what is widely considered a miracle, has regained his voice level to allow him to sing his hits in their original keys.

Montez’s kilometric hit list includes Call Me, The More I See You and There Will Never Be Another You. O’Neal took a trip to Hollywood last month to sign up Montez.

"I couldn’t believe he still looks like he’s in his 30s," said O’Neal. "Chris is alive and well, performing the whole year round and is as dashing and fabulous as the day he hit the limelight. I found out he actively pursues guitar playing with a passion. Soft-spoken and mild-mannered, he became a father recently and enjoys the bliss of family life when not on the road."

A little-known fact is in 1962, Montez co-headlined a UK tour with American singer Tommy Roe and the Beatles were the front act. Not too many artists can boast topping the Beatles in a bill.

Montez, 62, was discovered by impresario Jim Lee. It was Lee who wrote Montez’s US No. 1 hit Let’s Dance which sold over a million copies and reached No. 2 in the UK in 1962.

Borrowing the Hispanic "latino rock" style of Ritchie Valenz, Montez took Some Kinda Fun to the UK top 10 in 1963 and The More I See You to No. 3 in 1966. Other hits included There Will Never Be Another You and Time After Time.

In 1972, Let’s Dance was re-released and broke into the UK top 10 once more, proving its timeless appeal. It charted again after a third reissue in 1979.

Montez’s hit There Will Never Be Another You has been recorded locally with Tagalog lyrics by Tito Mina and Ella del Rosario of Hotdog.

In his Manila show, Montez will not only sing his biggest hits but also his own versions of all-time favorites like Our Day Will Come, I Will Wait For You, Going Out of My Head, and La Bamba.

Born in Los Angeles, Montez was influenced by Herb Alpert in creating a soft ballad sound.

Tickets for the Aliw concert are available at Ticket World outlets, Tower Record stores, National Bookstore, the Ayala malls and Robinson’s at P800, P1,500, P2,500 and P3,200. For ticket details, call 891-9999.

Area One, featuring John Lesaca, will accompany Gordon while Ramon Jacinto will jam with Montez at the Aliw concert.

The Hard Rock Café shows will include dinner and wine. Seats are limited so call in your reservations early at 893-4661 to 64.

"This is a can’t miss proposition," said O’Neal. "Gordon is a born balladeer and he’ll make you swoon with WomanTrue Love WaysI Go to PiecesTo Know You is to Love You500 Miles‚ and Let it Be Me," said O’Neal. "Dennis is the voice of Classics IV whose hits include Stormy‚ and Traces of Love. Finally, Chris will make you want to dance with Call Me‚ and The More I See You."

Gordon and Montez are flying in from Los Angeles via Philippine Airlines while Yost is coming from Ohio via Continental Airlines, on Feb. 9. Mantrade is the official land transportation sponsor of the "Golden Legends" who will be billeted at the Nikko Dusit Hotel. DZRJ 100 FM is also a tour sponsor.

From the looks of O’Neal’s coming "Golden Legends" concert, there’s no stopping the ‘60s rockin’ revival.

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