Rest in peace, Charles Barksdale: The Dells, “There Is” (1968)

Word circulates this morning that Charles Barksdale, the bass voice for R&B group The Dells, passed away at the age of 84. The Dells hailed from Harvey, Illinois, in the south suburbs of Chicago. (If the town of Harvey sounds familiar to you, it's because it was, for many years, the home of the Dixie … Continue reading Rest in peace, Charles Barksdale: The Dells, “There Is” (1968)

Soul sounds: WGES-AM/Chicago Top 30 Tunes, February 1, 1962

(Above: The back of the WGES survey, complete with on-air lineup.) One of the great tragedies of history occurs any time we lose something we can't get back. Along the way to doing the research for my dissertation, I learned quickly that the efforts made to preserve popular culture aren't equal, and there's no better … Continue reading Soul sounds: WGES-AM/Chicago Top 30 Tunes, February 1, 1962

Christmastime at the Voice of Labor: WCFL’s All Hit Music Chart, December 23, 1972

It occurred to me that we've never looked at a WCFL chart on this site, and it's high time we fix that. Let's travel back 46 years to the day before Christmas, 1972. What's big in the Windy City? 40. Joni Mitchell - "You Turn Me On, I'm a Radio." Back in 1991 when WYTZ/Chicago … Continue reading Christmastime at the Voice of Labor: WCFL’s All Hit Music Chart, December 23, 1972

Rest in peace, Don Sandburg: The Banana Splits, “Tra-La-La Song” (1969)

(Above: The original Bozo's Circus cast: Ringmaster Ned Locke, bandleader Bob Trendler, Bozo [Bob Bell], Oliver O. Oliver [Ray Rayner], Sandy [Don Sandburg].) Don Sandburg, the last surviving original cast member of the Chicago edition of Bozo's Circus, passed away over the weekend in Oregon as a result of complications from Alzheimer's disease. He was … Continue reading Rest in peace, Don Sandburg: The Banana Splits, “Tra-La-La Song” (1969)

Rest in peace, Art Hellyer: Ray Charles, “America the Beautiful” (1972)

(Above: Art having fun at WCFL, circa 1951.) Sad news from the world of Chicagoland radio: Art Hellyer, longtime radio and television host, passed away last night. He was 95. Art held the distinction of being my oldest Facebook friend.  Before becoming ill earlier this year, he was in the habit of sharing Facebook live … Continue reading Rest in peace, Art Hellyer: Ray Charles, “America the Beautiful” (1972)

Congratulations to Johnny B! Johnny and the Leisure Suits, “Just Havin’ Fun” (1981)

(Above: In the early 90s, in Chicago, you had this CD. It was the law.) The Hyper Rooster is in the Hall. For the second year in a row a local Chicago radio legend has gotten the call for the Radio Hall of Fame.  Jonathon Brandmeier, who held down mornings at WLUP in Chicago through … Continue reading Congratulations to Johnny B! Johnny and the Leisure Suits, “Just Havin’ Fun” (1981)

So long, WLUP: Songs I learned from “The Loop”

Word spread rapidly this morning that Merlin Media, who had been trying to sell Chicago's WLUP, finally found a buyer: the Educational Media Foundation. EMF serves the contemporary Christian format over satellite to its affiliates.  The format, called "K-Love," has been on the air on a signal out of suburban Elgin for some time, but … Continue reading So long, WLUP: Songs I learned from “The Loop”

“L’amour est bleu” and other mellow sounds: The Billboard Hot 100, February 17, 1968

(Above: The song at Number One, as I remember it looking....) Fifty years ago this week Paul Mauriat's "Love Is Blue" was the number one song in the country.  About three years after that it became my earliest memory of a phonograph. I've shared a picture before of my mother holding me next to our … Continue reading “L’amour est bleu” and other mellow sounds: The Billboard Hot 100, February 17, 1968

We can make it hap: Chicago, “Dialogue” (1972)

(Above: Terry Kath represents the hometown team.) Chicago guitarist Terry Kath died forty years ago today - January 23, 1978 - in one of rock and roll's stranger stories. Kath, who had fancied himself somewhat of a gun enthusiast, shot and killed himself at his home in California. Reportedly, his last words were "See, it's … Continue reading We can make it hap: Chicago, “Dialogue” (1972)

Happy 75th, Harry Chapin: “W*O*L*D” (1973)

(Above: There's a lot going on on this album cover.) Harry Chapin would have been 75 today. The singer-songwriter is probably best known to classic rock audiences (and classic rock DJs in need of bathroom breaks) for his epic "Taxi," which tells of a cabdriver's chance meeting with an ex-lover one evening. To pop audiences, … Continue reading Happy 75th, Harry Chapin: “W*O*L*D” (1973)