Archive for December, 2007

The infamous WMMS World Series of Rock 1979 – Game #1

Posted in Buzzard on December 26, 2007 by John Gorman

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This was the hardest- rocking and most notorious of all World Series of Rock concerts.

AC/DC was the opening act. It was their final Cleveland appearance with Bon Scott as the band’s lead vocalist. The band released their Highway to Hell album the following week though we had managed to score an exclusive advance release prior to the concert (the local label rep didn’t even have a copy yet).

Journey’s second album with Steve Perry, Evolution, was released a month earlier. I believe this show was Journey’s last as a supporting act.

This was Ted Nugent’s first tour with new band members. Vocalist and guitarist Derek St. Holmes was replaced by Charlie Huhn and bassist Rob Grange by David Kiswiney. Few took notice of the personnel change.

Cleveland had been quite forgiving of Aerosmith considering that throughout most of the seventies they habitually cancelled their Cleveland concerts at the last minute – including a low-priced mea culpa concert at Music Hall. That one was set up a year earlier by the band with WMMS to express regret for their prior cancellations.

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WMMS Christmas Carol (1975)

Posted in Buzzard Audio, Buzzard Photos on December 18, 2007 by Chris

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In December, 1975, we did one the first special programming features to show the true versatility of the emergent WMMS staff. We produced our own contemporary version of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, starring the WMMS airstaff, our receptionist Verdelle Warren and special guests, Michael Stanley and Alex Bevan. Denny Sanders and Dan Garfinkel scripted the adaptation, which was directed and produced by Jeff Kinzbach and Steve Lushbaugh.

My job was to green light the project with corporate – not an easy task considering we planned to record A Christmas Carol during the busiest production time of the year. A deal was struck. We could do it but its recording and production would have to work around the commercial production schedule, which, during the Christmas season, was limited to late Saturday and Sunday afternoons and evenings. Another give-back. Since we hadn’t budgeted in advance for the project, no one could claim overtime for participating. It was a true labor of love.

The entire production was done with antiquated equipment and recording tape at our decrepit studios at 50th and Euclid, and took hundreds of hand-made tape splices to complete.

We called it a production of the Buzzard Theater of the Air, a satirical take-off on Orson Wells’ 1930s radio series, the Mercury Theater of the Air.

CAST:

Iggy Scrooge………………Murray Saul

David Marley……………..David Spero

Little Leo……………….Kid Leo

Matt the Cratchit…………..Matt the Cat

Mrs. Cratchit……………..Shelley Stile

Daughter Martha…………..Betty Korvan

The Spirit of Christmas Past……..Len Goldberg

The Spirit of Christmas Present……Charlie Kendall

The Spirit of Christmas Future……Steve Lushbaugh

Scrooge’s Fiancee…………..Verdelle Warren

Men about town……………Denny Sanders, Jeff Kinzbach,

Ed “Flash” Ferenc, Michael Stanley, Alex Bevan

A Christmas Carol became an annual WMMS Christmas eve feature and was repeated annually from 1976 through 1985 and it still stands the test of time today.

The full story on the making of A Christmas Carol can be found in Chapter 11 of The Buzzard.

As Boom would say, “en-joy!” And Merry Christmas.

Boom’s Solid Gold Sunday Morning

Posted in Buzzard Audio on December 13, 2007 by Chris

After doing a few Solid Gold Sundays where we turned back the clock and played the rock and roll and rhythm and blues hits from the ‘50s, ‘60s, and early 70s, we decided to initiate an abbreviated version of it as a regular weekly feature – and Boom’s Solid Gold Sunday Morning was born. Here is a recently found aircheck of Boom hosting the show. Boom’s son, K.C. and daughter, Becky were “Boom’s Brats” – the young voices you’ll hear on the aircheck. To promote the show, we began referring to the occasional oldie we’d play in regular programming as a “Solid Goldberger.” The Solid Gold Sunday Morning was a regular Sunday morning, 9 AM – 12 noon feature until the decision was made to switch WHK to a full-time oldies format using the moniker, 14-K.

The complete story on Boom’s Solid Gold Sunday Morning can be found in Chapter 19 of The Buzzard.

PRESS RELEASE: 92 ROCK: the ROCK of the 80s

Posted in Buzzard Photos on December 13, 2007 by Chris

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When WRQC changed format from album rock to modern rock (and altered their ID to 92 RQCK) they issued this press release. You can read more on this story in Chapter 23 of The Buzzard.

WMMS “Stairway to Heaven” controversies

Posted in Buzzard on December 11, 2007 by John Gorman

“Stairway to Gilligan’s Island” – Little Roger & the Goosebumps

“Stairway to Heaven” – The Far Corporation

The hoopla surrounding last night’s Led Zeppelin’s reunion concert in the U.K. brought to mind two incidents that occurred at WMMS when we played other artists covering versions of “Stairway to Heaven.” The first one occurred in 1978 when we played a novelty song by a San Francisco duo, Little Roger and the Goosebumps, called “Stairway to Gilligan’s Island.” The song featured the lyrics of the Gilligan’s Island TV show theme done to the music of “Stairway to Heaven.” Half of our listeners loved it; the other half considered it blasphemy.

A few listeners threatened to never to listen to WMMS again if we continued to air it. A few weeks later Led Zeppelin’s management and publishing company sent us a terse “cease and desist,” forcing it off-the-air due to copyright violations (though Jeff and Flash did manage to sneak it on a couple of times after that though I didn’t hear nothin’!).

The second incident, in 1985, was the Far Corporation’s cover of “Stairway to Heaven.” It was a band was assembled by German producer Frank Farian. The original group included three members of Toto: vocalist Bobby Kimball, keyboardist David Paich and guitarist Steve Lukathur and was rounded out by German and U.K. session musicians. Their version of “Stairway to Heaven” was a top ten hit in the U.K. and other parts of Europe. We landed an import copy and decided to play it. One problem. This version of “Stairway to Heaven” had a slight dance beat – and to hard-core Led Zep fans – our airplay was pure sacrilege.

It made its WMMS debut on a Friday night when Dia was covering the 6 to 10 PM shift for Denny Sanders. Immediately after its first spin, she received a call from a listener threatening to blow up WMMS (“…and I’m not kidding!”) if we played it again. Like “Stairway to Gilligan’s Island,” response was mixed. We continued to play it (and no one blew us up) for a couple of months until its novelty wore off.

If the name Frank Farian sounds vaguely familiar it’s because three years later he put together and recorded the pre-fab act Milli Vanilli, which featured Charles Shaw, a former U.S. Army vet stationed in Germany and session singers John Davis, Brad Howell, and Jodie and Linda Rocco on record, and used European male models Fab Morvan and Rob Pilatus, to perform as the group on stage by lip synching the original tracks. WGCL was long gone by then. Otherwise, Milli Vanilli would’ve been the perfect lip synching act for them to do a Party in the Park with.

Murray Saul’s World Series of Rock TV spot

Posted in Buzzard on December 7, 2007 by John Gorman

It’s the weekend and the right time to pull out this solid gold rock and roll WMMS TV spot from 1975. This was our first WMMS TV commercial that actually made it on the air. A prior one featuring Suzi Quatro, which we produced for free and had Suzi donate her time to do it, was taped but never aired since we didn’t have the budget to buy television. Come to think of it – we didn’t have the budget to buy anything in those days!

This spot was filmed at a World Series of Rock concert at Cleveland Municipal Stadium in 1975 in front of a small crowd of 88,000. That’s Shelly Stile introducing Murray on stage.

The original version of the spot was rejected by the local TV stations until we edited the word “Dammit.” Those were different times – and we were already catching flack for Murray’s Friday night “Get Downs” from those who didn’t appreciate a man in his mid 40’s – and around the same age as some of our listeners’ parents – preaching the gospel of sex and drugs and rock and roll.

The closing voice on the spot is Charlie Kendall, who was doing morning drive on WMMS at that time.

So far, I have not been able to find the paperwork and identity of its producer. The company shot at least twenty minutes of footage, including the complete live Get Down. The whereabouts of the raw, unedited footage from that commercial remain unknown.

Free plug: Murray Saul’s The Get Downs, Vol. 1 (TaurusGold) is available from Amazon.com and select retail outlets. Distributed by Traditions Alive, Lakewood, OH 216.226.6200

The Heart of Cleveland Rock

Posted in Buzzard on December 4, 2007 by John Gorman

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Plain Dealer entertainment impact editor Michael Norman did a new multimedia piece on the Buzzard book and WMMS for Cleveland.com, the Plain Dealer’s on-line service.  You can see, hear, and read it here: http://blog.cleveland.com/pdextra/2007/11/post_2.html