By Joshua Clark - Branson Tri-Lakes News
Up Close Concerts owner and promoter Bob Cannella has added another show to his 2017 slate of performances, this one featuring a trio of stars from the 1960s billed as a “Original Stars of the 60s.” The show, set for Oct. 18 at Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theater, will feature Gary Lewis and the Playboys, original lead singer of the Buckinghams Dennis Tufano, and original lead singer of the Crystals, La La Brooks.
“We always tell folks to be very careful before they purchase tickets to any concert and make sure they are seeing the actual performers they think they are seeing,” Cannella said. “Just because a group is touring under the name of a famous group, and may have the legal right to do so, doesn’t mean the person who sang the hits is still in the group.
“That is why we always present the real deal. Fans want to hear the person who sang the hits perform the songs, not just somebody who obtained the legal rights to use the name of the group.”
Headlining the show will be Gary Lewis and the Playboys, best known for the 1965 No. 1 hit “This Diamond Ring.” The group is still fronted by original lead singer Lewis, who happens to be the son of comedian Jerry Lewis.
After catching the eye of record producer Snuff Garrett while performing at Disneyland, the guys found their way to a studio where they recorded their first hit, “This Diamond Ring.”
In January of 1965, the group performed on “The Ed Sullivan Show” and became instant stars. “This Diamond Ring” went to No. 1, selling more than a million copies in three months. That was only the beginning of a run of seven straight Top 10 singles, with “Count Me In,” “Save Your Heart For Me,” “Everybody Loves a Clown,” “She’s Just My Style,” “Sure Gonna Miss Her” and “Green Grass” all skyrocketing to the top of the charts.
In all, the group snagged eight gold singles, 12 Top 40 hit singles and four gold albums in the late 1960s.
Lewis was eventually named “Male Vocalist of the Year” by Cash Box Magazine, besting Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra.
In 1967, Lewis was drafted by the U.S. Army, and had one more Top 20 hit with a cover of the Brian Hyland tune “Sealed With A Kiss,” after serving his country.
Lewis and the group continues to tour, selling out venues the world over.
The Crystals were one of the most popular and successful “girl groups” of the 1960s, and Brooks, who recently returned to the spotlight after several decades away, was the voice of their biggest hits. Brooks joined the group in 1963 at the age of 13, just as they were beginning to work with legendary producer Phil Spector, pioneer of the “Wall of Sound.”
With Spector behind the board and Brooks in front of the mic, the classic singles “Da Doo Ron Ron (When He Walked Me Home),” a top 10 hit in both the US and the UK, “Then He Kissed Me,” were both recorded and released. While the “business” kept Spector and the Crystals at odds and limited much future success.
Brooks eventually left the group to focus on her family and later moved to Europe. She returned in the year 2000 and recently started performing again. In 2010, she appeared on the PBS television special “My Music: Rock Pop, and Doo Wop,” and both “Then He Kissed Me” and “Da Doo Ron Ron (When He Walked Me Home)” were both named to the Rolling Stone Top 500 Songs of All Time, and continue to be featured in both movies and TV shows.
“I’m absolutely thrilled to be performing in Branson for the very first time and especially at the American Bandstand Theater,” Brooks said. “I had the pleasure of not only performing on the ‘Bandstand’ TV show, but touring with Dick Clark back in the 60s. It’ll be like coming home.”
Joining Lewis and the Playboys and Brooks is Dennis Tufano, the original voice of the Buckinghams. A Chicago-based group, the Buckinghams tallied a string of five Top 10 hits in the late-sixties including, the No. 1 hit “Kind of A Drag,” as well as “Don’t You Care,” “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy,” “Hey Baby, They’re Playing Our Song,” “Susan,” and “Back In Love Again.”
Following his success in the Buckinghams, Tufano was part of the song-writing duo Tufano and Giammarese, and recorded three albums with Lou Adler’s custom label, Ode Records. He also wrote the music and performed with Bernie Taupin, Elton John’s lyricist, on Taupin’s album, “He Who Rides The Tiger.” Subsequently he teamed again with Taupin to co-write, co-produce and perform the Farm Dogs album “Last Stand In Open Country.”
Back on the road, Tufano joined Olivia Newton-John on her hugely successful tour and was featured, with her on the HBO Special in two dramatically inspired duets. He has also worked as an actor, producer, director, radio personality and more.
He produced, directed and shot a documentary in Chicago, “Major Hall: Therapy Tuesday” and is currently preparing it for its release. He will also be included in the PBS DVD series “PBS Music Series the ‘60s.”
In addition to this show, Cannella and Up Close Concerts have several other shows booked at both Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theater, as well as the Welk Resort Theatre.
The Welk will host Kris Kristofferson April 7, Moe Bandy and “Whisperin’” Bill Anderson June 23, Trace Adkins June 30, Sister Sledge July 7, Terry Fator Aug. 11 and 12, Ronnie Milsap Sept. 22, Charley Pride Sept. 28, Peter Noon and B.J. Thomas Oct 6 and 7, the “Roots and Boots Tour” starring Pam Tillis, Collin Raye and Sammy Kershaw Oct. 13, and finally William Shatner in “Shatner’s World: We Just Live In It” on Oct. 27.
Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theater will host “Ricky Nelson Remembered” starring Matthew and Gunnar Nelson April 12, “Vicki Lawrence and Mama: A Two Woman Show” at Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theater May 14, the Bellamy Brothers May 31, John Conlee June 7, Moe Bandy and Bill Anderson June 23, T.G. Sheppard and Kelly Lang subbing for Earl Thomas Conley July 5, Lonestar’s Richie McDonald Aug. 13, Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers Nov. 1 and 15, and the “Country Unplugged Tour” featuring Joe Diffie, Mark Chestnutt and Lorrie Morgan Nov. 8.
Cannella said there are still more announcements for 2017 yet to come.
For show tickets at Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theater, visit the box office or call 417-339-3003.
For shows at the Welk Resort Theatre, visit the box office or call 417-337-7469.
For additional information, tickets and more, visit upcloseconcerts.com.