Acts and Performers
Gary Lewis & The Playboys
Gary Lewis was about as close to being an “overnight success” in the recording field as anyone can get. And – just because it happens so seldom – it is always a special thrill when show business lightning strikes twice in the same family. The comedy antics of Jerry Lewis skyrocketed him to fame when he was just barely out of his teens. No. 1 son Gary had achieved comparable success in the music field… also at a young and carefree age.
The son of a famous father – in any field – is often faced with serious problems in finding and maintaining his own identity. But when Gary Lewis and The Playboys® auditioned for their first job at Disneyland, no one there knew Gary was anybody but a thin drummer. The entertainment director of the park merely liked what he saw and heard, and hired Gary and the boys on the spot – much to their surprise. The boys were enthusiastically accepted by the audiences from the very first night, and as the word spread it was not long before they were playing to a packed house every night.
It was the summer of 1964 when Gary Lewis and The Playboys® were discovered by producer Snuff Garret. Before long, with the producer/arranger team of Garrett and Leon Russell behind them, they took their first single, This Diamond Ring straight to number one. After their second hit titled Count Me In went to number two, Gary and the band proved that they would be a continued success. They followed with more Top 10 songs such as Save Your Heart For Me, Everybody Loves A Clown, She’s Just My Style, Sure Gonna Miss Her, and many more.
In 1965 Gary himself was Cash Box magazine’s “Male Vocalist of the Year”, winning the honor over other nominees Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra. He was the first and only artist during the 1960s to have his first seven releases reach Billboard magazine’s Top 10 on the Hot 100 chart. Along with his appearances on various popular television shows including American Bandstand, Hullabaloo, and The Tonight Show. Gary accumulated an impressive five appearances within two years on the Ed Sullivan Show.
With the reoccurring interest in oldies music, Gary Lewis & The Playboys® are one of the hottest acts around. Gary Lewis, along with the Playboys, continues to tour and entertain fans across the country and abroad.
High octane, turbo, high performance, super charged MITCH RYDER & The Detroit Wheels didn’t need to hail from the Motor City for those adjectives to be tossed their way, but it was certainly appropriate that they called Motown home. It was Mitch and The Wheels who served as the musical bridge between the Motown soul factory and the high energy, take no prisoners rock ‘n’ roll that would roar out of Detroit via Iggy & The Stooges, MC5, Ted Nugent, and Bob Seger. With Ryder, it wasn’t attitude or public outrage or politics that generated the charge you could simply hear it in the music.
Ryder hit during the mid-’60s when AM radio was going through a golden era courtesy of Motown, Stax, the British Invasion, Aretha, JB, and any number of garage band one-hit wonders. But no one on the radio then could match Mitch and company for pure visceral excitement, no one else could make the hair stand up on the back of your neck and a wild-eyed gleam creep into your eyes because you just know that SOMETHING WAS GOING TO HAPPEN. The explosive quality was there from the very start. Listen to the way the chords introducing “Jenny Take A Ride” are chomping at the bit to swoop down into the double-time mid-section, or how John Badanjek’s thundering bass drum trigger’s the ecstatic roll that kicks off “Devil With A Blue Dress On”. And the Wheels must have known what they had witnessed the confidence-even cockiness of telegraphing their punch forever on “Little Latin Lupe Lu”, building expectations to fever pitch before hammering down the riff with Jim McCarty’s lead lick trailing behind. And nailing it big time. One punch, KO, Mike Tyson-style. The records worked because they perfectly captured the kinetic frenzy of the live performances that had been the group’s stock in trade since they first joined forces in Detroit early in 1964. Born William Levise, Jr., Ryder was performing as Billy Lee in a high school band called Tempest before turning heads in a black Detroit soul club called the Village. At 17, he was skilled enough to record an R&B single (“That’s The Way It’s Going To Be/Fool For You”) for the Detroit gospel label Carrie in 1962 and to start making gigs fronting The Peps, a black vocal trio. Levise was appearing with The Peps at the Village early in 1964 when he ran across a group that included McCarty, bassist Earl Elliot, and Badanjek. Together with rhythm guitarist Joe Kubert, they joined forces as Billy Lee & The Rivieras and by mid-summer had attracted a fanatical local following that caught the ear of Motor City DJ Bob Prince. Prince began booking Lee & The Rivieras as an opening act at a club/casino north of Detroit, but their live performances were so potent that the unrecorded group was soon headlining over major Motown artists. Prince then arranged for The Rivieras to record a tape in Badanjek’s basement, and that demo brought 4 Seasons producer Bob Crewe to a Detroit performance where The Rivieras opened for The Dave Clark Five. They torched the hometown audience for 90 minutes, Crewe was hooked, and in February 1965, the five Detroit teenagers relocated to New York City and bided their time for a few months playing Greenwich Village clubs for survival money. The name was the first to go (a conflict with The Rivieras who recorded “California Sun”), hence the legendary story of Lee/Levise flipping through the Manhattan phone directory and coming across the name Mitch Ryder. The Rivieras became The Detroit Wheels and album cover photos of the band on top of oil cans or surrounded by discarded tires punched the automotive image home. What followed was a wild two-year ride through the star-making machinery of the record industry that brought them fame but no fortune and tore the group apart in the process. Not that the first Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels single, “I Need Help”, exactly set the charts afire. That waited until late 1965 when “Jenny Take A Ride!” climbed to #10 as The Wheels welded Chuck Willis’ “C.C. Rider” to Little Richard’s “Jenny, Jenny”, and cannily tossed in an advertisement for their live show along the way (check how the backing vocals change to “See Mitch Ryder” during the second verse). “Little Latin Lupe Lu” cemented their commercial appeal when it reached #17 and set the general outline of the band’s most popular sound- an R&B standard or two revved up, Wheels-style, with Mitch’s peerless soul shouting ripping away over the top. That approach bordered on becoming a formula, particularly after “Break Out”, the first attempt at a bigger, brassier sound, only made it to #62 and the ballad “Takin’ All I Can Get” barely cracked the Top 100. Late in 1966, the “Devil With A Blue Dress On” & “Good Golly Miss Molly” medleys exploded over the airwaves and indelibly stamped the high energy Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels sound on anyone within an earshot as they hit #4 on the charts. This was a shame, really, because the albums kept showing other dimensions of Ryder’s skills as an interpretive singer. Certainly, tracks like “Shakin With Linda”, “Shake A Tail Feather”, “Just A Little Bit”, and “Sticks And Stones”, fits The Wheels mold to a tee. But, “I Like It Like That” spotlighted Ryder’s ability to tone down for the kind of slow-drag, New Orleans R&B that emphasized his smooth delivery and immaculate phrasing. And he showed real signs as a midnight rambler songwriter on “I Had It Made” (musically, a thinly veiled rewrite of James Brown’s “Out Of Sight”) and the intriguing “Baby Jane”, which sounds like a bizarre but happening cross of Sir Douglas Quintet and Velvet Underground. Early in 1967, prototypical, riff-rockin “Sock It To Me-Baby!” became Ryder’s final Top 10 single, despite being banned on several stations for being too sexually suggestive. The brassy “Too Many Fishes In The Sea” & “Three Little Fishes” reverted to the medley formula, but it was the final chart entry (at #24) for Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels because of Crewe’s long-running Svengali notions of (ahem) putting The Wheels in motion back to Detroit and working with Ryder as a solo artist were finally bearing fruit. After a final single (the first credited to Mitch alone), pairing the syncopated “Joy” with the hard-riffing “I’d Rather Go To Jail”, Crewe packed Ryder off to Las Vegas with a big band in tow. Crewe had big plans- wretchedly excessive plans since the What Now My Love album released in mid-1967 may be the most god-awful piece of overblown dreck ever associated with a major artist. Divorced from the power drive of The Wheels, swamped by saccharine strings and pompous pretense (poetry by Rod McKuen and music by Jaques Brel on a Mitch Ryder album, for Chrissakes), the fact that Ryder somehow got the title track up to #30 might rank as the most amazing feat of his singing career. It was the final straw- Ryder bailed out of his contract with Crewe, who promptly milked the last bit of mileage he could by slapping horn tracks over the R&B tunes The Wheels had covered and put out the Mitch Ryder Sings The Hits album. Instead of immediately returning to Detroit, Ryder took a down-home detour to Memphis to record The Detroit-Memphis Experiment album with Stax luminaries Booker T. & The MGs and The Memphis Horns for Dot.Liner notes containing phrases like “After being raped by the music machine that represents that heaven-on-earth, New York b/w Los Angeles” and “Mitch Ryder is the sole creation of William Levise, Jr.”, left little doubt about his feelings over the Crewe experience. It was the only time Ryder recorded with a bonafide soul band, “Liberty” shows it was a two way exchange- Ryder’s Detroit bred rock ‘n’ roll energy goosed the musicians just as their innate funkiness moved Ryder’s singing in new directions. But fine, fine music didn’t spell commercial success, and Ryder returned home to a reunion with The Wheels drummer John Badanjek in the short-lived super-group Detroit, which lasted just long enough to record one monster of a heavy-duty rock ‘n’ roll album in 1971. “Long Neck Goose” updated the classic Wheels sound as Ryder digs into the tune with a ferocious glee (listen to the screams he hurls off as the song fades) but the climatic moment was “Rock N’ Roll” (here in its rarely heard 45 mix), kicked off by a mountainous guitar riff while Badanjek bounced a cow-bell off your skull at regular intervals. It was so powerful a performance that Lou Reed was quoted as saying that was how the song was supposed to sound and proved it by recruiting guitarist Steve Hunter for his Rock N Roll Animal phase after Detroit disintegrated. An embittered Ryder left the active performing scene then, heading to Denver and working a day job for 5 years and honing his songwriting skills at night. After returning to Detroit, he formed a band and released the confessional, autobiographical How I Spent My Vacation and then Naked But Not Dead on his own Seeds and Stems label. That helped trigger a resurgence of European interest in Ryder and he released several additional albums- Live Talkies, Got Change For A Million, and Smart Ass -in the early ’80s on the German Line label. He came back to a major American label for the John Cougar Mellencamp- produced Never Kick A Sleeping Dog in 1983, highlighted by a world-weary, gritty version of Prince’s “When You Were Mine” that cut the original and all others to shreds. Singletracks- “Bow Wow Wow Wow” for Was Not Was and a satirical take on Oliver North called “Good Golly Ask Ollie” – are his only other domestic releases since then. It would be a mistake to consign Mitch Ryder solely to the past- he’s shown too much resilience to be counted out. He is currently enjoying another surge in European popularity and continues to revisit for live performances. There’s certainly nothing nostalgic about the charged music here- no one, but no one, ever kicked out the rockin’ R&B jams better than Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels. The tragedy is that mismanagement and show biz machinations sidetracked a great band and- the financial inequity aside- quite possibly prevented Mitch Ryder from tapping his full potential as a singer. But all these problems can’t erase the indelible rush of The Detroit Wheels shifting into over-drive with that imitable, fiery voice flying over the top.
Chart Topper of the 60’s
Dennis, a native of Chicago, is the original “voice” of “The Buckinghams”. The Chicago-based group scored with a string of five Top Ten hits in the late-sixties including, the No#1 “Kind of A Drag”, “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, Dennis was part of the song-writing duo “Tufano and Giammarese” and recorded three albums with Lou Adler’s custom label, Ode Records. Appearing as a guest vocalist he went on to co-write with renowned composer and musician Tom Scott. With Scott as a composer, Dennis performed the “original title/theme song” for the long-running “Family Ties” television show. (First 13episodes)
Dennis 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, Dennis joined Olivia Newton-John on her hugely successful tour and was featured, with her on the HBO Special in two dramatically inspired duets.
As an actor, Dennis has appeared in theater productions in
Los Angeles and has worked in film, television, radio, and commercials.
He was also one of the founding members of an improvisational voice-ensemble called the “LA.MadDogs”. This group of actors performs on hundreds of movies and numerous television shows and have produced and performed seven “live” radio dramas, three of which Dennis directed, for KMPC RADIO THEATER in Los Angeles.
Dennis produced, directed and shot a documentary in Chicago, “Major Hall: Therapy Tuesday” and is currently preparing it for release. He has been praised for his performance on the, “PBS Music Series the ‘60s”, and will be included in the award-winning PBS-DVD series.
The Classic IV
One of the most popular and influential pop groups of the 60s and 70s, originated in Jacksonville, Florida. They achieved phenomenal success with hits “Spooky,” “Stormy,” “Traces,” and”Everyday With You Girl”, all of which sold well over a million copies and were awarded gold and platinum discs by the Recording Industry of America. All four hits appeared in the 1977 film “The Chicken Chronicles” in addition to various other movie soundtracks including the hit HBO Series “Six Feet Under”. By the 1970s The Classics IV accumulated a total of 16 Billboard chart hits, solidifying them as a hit-making pop group and crediting The Classics IV with the development of “Southern Soft Rock.” To date The Classics IV have recorded 17 albums including “Spooky,” “Lil Bit of Gold” “Traces”and “Golden Greats.”
In 1993 The Classics IV were inducted into The
Georgia Music Hall of Fame.
The Classics IV popularity is stronger than ever performing in a variety
of venues to rave revues and receiving back to back invitations to join
hugely popular Happy Together Tour. The group continues captivating
audiences with their professionalism, good humor, and ingratiating
personalities. In 2011 The Classics IV returned to the studio with the
release their album, “A New Horizon,” blending the old with the new. 2015
saw the first-ever “Live Album” with the release of “One Stormy Night –
The Classics IV Live At The Ritz” and in 2020 the group received great
revues and airplay with the first-ever Christmas release “All I Want For
Christmas Is You”.
Don Dannemann and Mike Losekamp, two original members of the Legendary 60’s band The Cyrkle, best known for the hit songs “Red Rubber Ball” and “Turn Down Day,” have decided to reunite, add a couple of new members, and reinvent themselves around the 50th anniversary of the band’s success. Coupling extraordinary musical talent and legendary music, The Cyrkle promises to electrify fans today just as they did when they were the opening act for The Beatles (Yes, THOSE Beatles) in 14 cities and 22 concerts in 1966.
They were the Beatles opening act on all 22 shows including August 23, 1966, at Shea Stadium, as well as August 29, 1966, for the Beatles’ famous final concert at Candlestick Park. If you were moving and grooving to the Beatles and the English Invasion in the mid-1960s, then you are no doubt familiar with the music of the few bands to open for the greatest group of all time.
Earle Pickens and Tom Dawes formed the band as the Rhondells at Lafayette College in 1961. They soon added Don Dannemann and drummer Jim Maiella. In 1963, Maiella was replaced by Martin “Marty” Fried, and it wasn’t long before they became one of the most popular bands on the East Coast. This led to them being noticed by a couple of very influential men in the world of rock music.
While playing at a club in Atlantic City on Labor Day 1965, they were heard by New York attorney Nathan Weiss, who happened to be the business partner of none other than Brian Epstein, the famous manager of the Beatles. Weiss urged Epstein to see the band and offer to become their manager. The rest, as they say, is history. With one small exception, that is.
John Lennon himself, after hearing the band’s name, suggested a new one, with a unique spelling, and the Rhondells were re-christened THE CYRKLE.
In 1966 the band recorded their first album, Red Rubber Ball, which produced the Billboard hit song, “Red Rubber Ball” selling over one million copies and certified Gold. The single “Turn Down Day” was a solid hit as well, becoming their second Top 20 song of the year.
Later in 1966, Earle Pickens decided to pursue his dream of going to medical school and was replaced by keyboardist Mike Losekamp. The band then recorded their critically acclaimed second album, titled Neon.
1967 found them on the soundtrack album of a motion picture called The Minx. After releasing several more singles in ‘67, the band decided to go their separate ways and disbanded that same year.
Dawes and Dannemann then became professional jingle writers, with Dawes penning such classics as the world-famous Alka-Seltzer jingle, “Plop Plop, Fizz Fizz” and the original 7 Up “Uncola Song”. Dannemann wrote classics for Swanson Foods and Continental Airlines.
Additionally, Dawes wrote a number of other songs, such as “Wild Cherry”, which was recorded by Foghat. He also produced two of their albums, Rock & Roll in 1973, and Energized in 1974.
After reforming in 2016, The Cyrkle will be seeking out venues that offer music of the 60s and later, targeting lovers of older music and anyone that appreciates what is truly the Golden Era of Rock Music. They will be playing such diverse venues as Festivals and Fairs, Theaters, Packaged Classic Band tours, and Classic Rock n’ Roll Cruises.
The Cyrkle will be playing their own mega hits, plus favorite tunes from the Classic 60s, but will also add a few new songs they have written especially for this new incarnation. Their show is rich with wonderful stories of their days touring with The Beatles, and working with such legendary artists as Simon and Garfunkel.
The two original members of Cyrkle, Don Dannemann and Mike Losekamp, will be joined by long time revival members,
- Pat McLoughlin on lead vocals and rhythm guitar;
- Don White on lead guitar and vocals; and
- Scott Langley on drums and vocals.
The newest member of the band has his own great history. Dean Kastran is a founding member of the great band called, The Ohio Express. They had 8 Billboard charted songs including the mega hits. “Yummy, Yummy, Yummy” and “Chewy, Chewy” both of which were certified gold records. All of the new revival band members are all veterans onstage, and each brings a unique and individual style to the show that is sure to delight the most diehard music fan.
Much to the happiness of classic Rock ‘n’ Roll fans, The Cyrkle is poised to emerge on the scene of classic music venues in the coming months and will bring all their talent to the stage in shows that are sure to breathe new life into old music and renewed interest in songs that have never lost their popularity.
Show and Venue Details
Saturday, August 20, 2022
at 7:00 PM
California Theater of The Performing Arts
562 W. 4th St.
San Bernardino CA, 92401
To place an order by phone Please call
Available Mon-Fri 6:00am-2:30pm (PST).