Keener Q & A
Keener13.com receives email every week with questions from our visitors. You are a learned and eclectic bunch with queries on everything from obscure music to the ever popular "where are they now" issues. We don't promise to have an answer for every question, but we'll give each our best shot.
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Recent Keener Queries:
Where can I find Rosanna by the Capreez?
Q: I've been trying to track down a song from the late summer of 1966 called "Rosanna". It was by a group called "The Capreez". Were they a local group? To the best of your knowledge, is that song available on any compilations? Bob Apczynski Southfield, MI
A: The Capreez were, in fact, a Detroit area soul band who released singles on both Tower and Sound records in the 60s. Rosanna (S1-126-A) with a B side called Over You, had a six week run on the WKNR Music Guide, peaking at number 7 the week of September 5th, 1966. Almost one year later, to the day, they returned with a follow-up, Soulsation, that had a brief two week appearance in the lower reaches of the Keener charts. Alan the Librarian tells us that Rosanna is in fact on a CD compilation. "It was on an album called 'Michigan Memories'," he says, "produced in 1994 by an outfit called 'Michigan Memories.' I got a copy from Memories and Melodies on Gratiot near 9 Mile. This one was Vol. 1, they should do Vol. 2! Rosanna was the 13th track." Two other Capreez tunes, Over You and How to Make a Sad Man Glad can be found on a 1988 UK collection entitled Motor City Magic. Rosanna, the single shows up occasionally on EBay.
Respect: The Rationals vs Aretha
Q: I read something in the Free Press about Aretha's Respect being number one on the Billboard charts the week of June 2, 1967. How popular was it in Detroit and didn't some other band also have a hit with Respect?
A: Detroit was always ahead of Billboard in recognizing R&B talent and Aretha Franklin is a classic example. By 1967, CKLW was ascending in popularity in Motown. Comparing music guides in June of '67 you sense that the Bit 8's music mix was a tad more soulful than what was playing on Keener. Aretha hit number one on CK the week of May 9th, 1967, nearly a month before she peaked on the national charts, and held the top spot for 3 weeks. The song entered the WKNR Music Guide that same week. It had a 5 week run, with one of the biggest jumps in Keener history, a move from number 26 to number 5, during the week of May 15th. Otis Redding had the first national success with Respect, climbing as high as number 35 on Billboard in 1965. But 9 months before Aretha's version exploded on the scene, an Ann Arbor band, spent 6 weeks on the Keener charts with the same tune, topping out at number 6 the week of September 26th, 1966. The Rationals (shown in the photo at left with Robin Seymour on Swingin' Time) recorded for Cameo Parkway records. The label that launched Bob Seger's career was also home to Dee Dee Sharp, Eddie Holman and Chubby Checker. It was a perfect vehicle for Scott Morgan's bluesy wail, and in the day, the Rationals sound was favorably compared to early Beatles and Rolling Stones recordings. The band charted again in 1968 with I Need You but never enjoyed Aretha's success. She was featured 22 times on WKNR, hitting number one with Don't Play That Song and Spanish Harlem.
What is Keener's Sgt. Pepper Connection?
Q: During the flurry of press about the 40th anniversary of the release of the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper album, I got an email with an mp3 of a commercial about the record and the voice sounded a lot like Scott Regen. I know he knew a lot of the Motown groups, but what was his connection with the Beatles?
A: In an interview with DetNews.com's Susan Whitall, Scott says, "Tom said he wanted to come by the station. 'There's a new Beatles record "Sgt Pepper," and you're doing the national radio commercial for it. I said 'How did I get picked to do this?' He said, 'Well they call you the Beatle DJ don't they?'" Regen says he only had time to listen to the album once and had to write and cut the commercial in an hour. "You could tell immediately that it was a completely different sound," he said. "They still maintained the essence of rock and roll, which is simplicity and rhythm but you could hear that they had just invented something. Every song was like a painting." WKNR's connection with the Beatles, and Sgt. Pepper in particular, is an interesting part of the Keener lore. Here's more.
Whatever happened to The Tidal Waves?
Q: When I listened to Keener during the Woodward Dream Cruise, I was blown away to hear Farmer John by the Tidal Waves. Whatever Happened to them and is any of their stuff on CD?
A: Of all the great Michigan bands that made their musical mark during the Keener era, perhaps one of the most underrated were the Tidal Waves. Along with The Unrelated Segments, The Underdogs and The Rationals, the Waves could be heard rattling the roof at places like Ann Arbor’s Fifth Dimension, but like so many garage acts, they were done too soon and are only now getting their due. The Waves came together in 1965 when most were still in Junior High. Tom Wearing, drums and vocals; Jon Wearing, lead vocals; Vic Wittkowski, guitar and vocals; Mark Karpinski, guitar and vocals; and Bob Slapp, bass were able singers and could bang out pre-punk rock and roll with the best of them. It was January of 1966 when they recorded their one Keener hit and Farmer John peaked at number 6 the week of May 30th. The group released five singles in all before going their separate ways in 1967. Waves records were rarities until 1998 when the Collectables label released a superb CD with a half dozen of their cuts in tandem with tunes from the Unrelated Segments. There is no comparison between the Wave’s Farmer John and the vastly inferior Premiers’ version that is more often found on oldies compilations and one can only wonder what might have happened if the Tidal Waves had been able to get the national exposure that they and so many other Michigan bands so richly deserved.
Keener One Hit Wonders: Silverhawk
Q: When was the Michigan band Silverhawk on the Keener Charts?
A: Dearborn Heights Crestwood High School's own Silverhawk entered the WKNR Music Guide as a Hit Preview the week of April 12, 1971 and had a six week run, peaking at number 18. Awaiting On You All was written by George Harrison, and was recorded at the Wheel's Four recording studio. As often happened with Beatles tunes, Awaiting On You All shared the charts with Ringo Starr's It Don't Come Easy. Three Dog Night's version of the Hoyt Axton tune Joy To The World was number one for three of those weeks, until Murray Head's recording of Superstar knocked it out of the top spot. The marquee song from the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar held on for two weeks, before being bumped by the Honey Cone's Want Ads. In 1971 WKNR's definition of Rock and Roll was pretty broad. During Silverhawk's chart run, it had company from the likes of the Rolling Stones, Donny Osmond, Joe Cocker, The Partridge Family, Isaac Hayes and the Guess Who. If you're looking for a CD that Includes Awaiting On You All, you can find the original Silverhawk version on History Of Michigan Garage Bands In The 60's Volume 1, on Cicadelic Records. George Harrison recorded his own rendition a couple of times. There's a live version on the Concert for Bangladesh album and a studio rendition on the All Things Must Pass CD. Keener fan Mike McDowell paints a colorfully accurate picture of life in Motown from 1969 to 1971 on Sally Milo's excellent Crestwood Class of 71 Website. He told keener13.com that Silverhawk, "..evolved from an outfit called Muscle Toe. Lead singer Mark Scott (class of '72), guitarist Mark DerVartanian (class of '70) and drummer Bob Rose (class of '71) were all from Crestwood. The bass player was Brian Dombrowski from Dearborn High (Class of '66), which of course explains the Silverhawk single's appearance on that CD compilation on the Collectibles label. Rose was later replaced on drums by Ron Clemens (also Crestwood Class of '71). The band did a number of live gigs in the area when the single was on the WKNR charts. One of the more memorable moments was a spirited rendition of the Rolling Stones' 'Live With Me'."
What did WKNR do the day Kennedy was shot?
Q: Keener had just switched to the R&R format when President Kennedy was Killed. How did they cover the story?
A: November 22, 1963. It was less than a month since WKMH had made the transition to WKNR. More and more Detroiters were tuning in to Keener's exciting new sound. Jim Sanders and Bill Bonds were the only people in the building when the teletype machines began to ring with news of a shooting in Dallas. And when it became clear that John F. Kennedy had been killed, the two made a split second decision. "I was on the air," Sanders says, "Bill Bonds was doing news and we were the only people in the building. The only record I could find from the playlist that wasn't totally insensitive was The Singing Nun. We played it several times after the first bulletins before the death was confirmed. Then Bonds, who was hired for his first broadcast job by me at WALM in Albion in 1959, and I decided to go all talk. I was usually on noon to 3 but stayed on with Bill till about 5 PM that day when the management found some funeral type music to put on after our news/talk marathon. That kind of all talk format adjustment is standard today, especially after bulletins. In 1963 it was considered daring!"
Did Keener ever stop traffic?
Q: I remember a night when Bob Green said something on the air about wanting a pizza and clogging Michigan Avenue. Did one of the pizzas come from Henry Ford II?
A: In the early days, the Key Men were encouraged to test the limits of the "intelligent flexibility" concept that was the foundation of the new WKNR format. Bob Green says - "One night in early summer of 1964, after mentioning on the air that I was getting hungry and the usual array of food brought to our lobby by listeners was all gone. I took an old 77D mic and 100 feet of mike cable along with a card table and planted myself on the lawn in front of the station. Vaughn Trafalian, our phone op., manned the console, and I blabbed on about looking for the best pizza and how the best one would win some inconsequential LP. The cars started coming. In fact within 20 minutes, we blocked Michigan Ave, between Shafer & Greenfield. I was told that someone got out of Henry Ford's car & brought one of the over 300 pizzas delivered that night, all of which I had to sample by the way. So I can't really verify a Henry Story here. The one Henry story that everyone remembers is when Frank Maruca & Phil Nye were leaving the building for lunch one day, and Henry drove by, opened the window and shouted..'Yea Keener'!".
Q: I read a thread on www.soulfuldetroit.com about Keener customs, special recordings of hit records that mentioned WKNR. How were these made and is the practice still done today?
A: The custom concept has had a number of iterations over the years. You may have even heard the Beatles German version of I Want To Hold Your Hand that got some occasional airplay on WKNR in early 1964. Some of the Keener customs include: Sooner or Later - Grass Roots, Rock and Roll - Mitch Ryder, We Gotta Go (Scott Regen Show) - Shy Guys, Uptight - Stevie Wonder, Scotts On Swingers - Edwin Starr. The British seem to have an affinity for Scotts on Swingers. It's available on a couple of British CD collections. The girl singers who customized the header on Sooner or Later were session people who came in and cut several dozen versions with station call letters included. This was done under the auspices of ABC Dunhill, the Grass Roots' record label. Most of the other customs were recorded by the actual artists. There was even a time when jingle companies created station IDs that flowed into the intros of specific songs. The practice lives today. Clear Channel uses it's muscle to encourage artists to do custom intros. Rick Dees has a bunch running on KIIS in LA.
What are they really saying in Louie Louie?
Q: What exactly are the questionable lyrics to Louie Louie? In the Keener Almanac, you note that the FBI actually did an investigation to determine what the lyrics really were. What's the real story?
A: When the first WKNR Music Guide was released, Louie Louie was at the top of the list. This classic garage rocker as recorded by the Kingsmen is a staple for every oldies band and has been covered by everyone from the Beach Boys to Paul Revere and the Raiders. In 1965 FBI agents did in fact visit Wand Records to try and determine what lead singer Jack Ely was saying. According to legend, they spent 30 months deconstructing the recording only to end up with inconclusive results. But theories abound as to what might have been said. Here's a resource that presents several explicit iterations along with the "official" lyrics
Keener edits In-a-gadda-da-vida
Q: I remember hearing Iron Butterfly's In-a-gadda-da-vida on Keener in a short version that somebody at the station supposedly created. Is this true, or is it another WKNR urban legend?
A: For may years, Paul Cannon was the gate keeper for the music that made it's way to the WKNR airwaves. When the 17 minute version of the Iron Butterfly tune was making it's way through the marijuana haze on WKNR-FM, requests for the song started coming in to the AM hit lines, too. Paul got out his razor blade and created a version that clocked in at 3:30. Atco Records liked the edit so much that they released it as a single. It had some national chart success and reached number 15 on the WKNR Music Guide in the Summer of 1968. Paul Cannon talks about how he picked the hits in our wide ranging keener13.com interview.
Keener One Hit Wonders: The Sidekicks
Q: Is the song Suspicions by the Sidekicks is available on any oldie CD collection album? It peaked at #5 on the Keener charts on August 22, 1966.
A: The Sidekicks were one of three one-hit-wonders to grace the WKNR Music Guide during the week of August 22, 1966. Chart mates included 96 Tears by ? & The Mysterians, You're Gonna Miss Me by the 13th Floor Elevators, and Open Up Your Door by Richard and the Young Lions. Suspicions can be found on Sunshine Days Vol. 5 - Pop Classics Of The 60's on VareseSarabande VSD-5933. The Sidekicks have one of those interesting stories that footnote the history of rock and roll. According to Alex Rawls, writing for the superb e-book Fuzz, Acid and Flowers, they were formed in 1964 as The Redcoats, a popular Wildwood, NJ, garage band. Initially, they were rejected as sounding too much like the Beatles. By the time record companies started looking for British sound-alikes, the Redcoats were signed to a restrictive 10 year contract to a mysterious Madam X. She controlled every aspect of their career, including song selection and production, effectively killing the Redcoat sound that had appealed to their legions of New Jersey fans. In desperation they recorded 4 singles as the Sidekicks sounding more like the Monkees than Beatles.
1 Suspicions/Up On The Roof (RCA Victor 47-8864) 1966
2 Fifi The Flea/Not Now (RCA Victor 47-8969) 1966
3 He's My Friend/Miss Charlotte (RCA Victor 47-9079) 1967
4 Sight And Sound/You Gave Me Somebody To Love (RCA Victor 47-9174) 1967
Only Suspicions had any significant chart success, peaking at number 5 at Keener with a number 55 showing on the Billboard charts. The Sidekicks/Redcoats were: RANDY BOCELLE bass, lead vocals, ZACK BOCELLE guitar, lead vocals, MIKE BURKE lead guitar, JOHN SPIRIT drums. MEET THE REDCOATS - FINALLY! was issued in 2001 by Dionysus/Bacchus Archives BA 1157
Whatever happened to The Chartbusters
Q: I recall at least two hits by a group called the Chartbusters that received airplay on WKNR in the mid 1960s. I've talked to friends who know a great deal about 1960s music, and they never heard of the Chartbusters. Were they a Detroit-area group (like the "Shy Guys") and what were the titles of their hit songs? Thanks! Joe Fishbein St. Paul, MN (formerly of Detroit)
A: When That Thing You Do was burning up the box office, Tom Hanks told People Magazine that his mythical band, the Wonders, was inspired in part by the sound of the Chartbusters. This Washington DC unit had two hits in the Summer and Fall of 1964. Unlike the Wonders, they continued to record and perform for the rest of the decade. She's The One spent 5 weeks on the WKNR Music Guide, peaking at number 6 the week of June 11. In October, the band was back again with Why (Doncha Be My Girl) which had a 6 week run, peaking at number 4 the week of October 29th. The were: MITCH CORDAY drums, JOHN DUBAS bass, VINCE GIDEON guitar and VERNON SANDUSKY guitar, vocals. Rock historian Max Waller, writes that the band was originally known as Bobby Poe & The Poe Kats. When they migrated from Kansas to DC at the start of the sixties, Bobby dropped out of performing to become the group's manager. The remaining members carried on under the same name, backing Big Al Downing. In 1964, they did a side project in response to the British Invasion, recording She's The One with the above line-up as The Chartbusters. They did bust the charts with two top 50 singles, and they were on their way. Some Chartbusters trivia: Vernon Sandusky later became lead guitarist for Roy Clark's band, spending 20 years with the country music superstar.
Here's a list of their releases, record labels, years and highest Billboard chart position.
1 She's The One/Slippin' Thru Your Fingers (Mutual 5O2) 1964 33
2 Why (Doncha Be My Girl)/Stop The Music (Mutual 508) 1964 92
3 You're Breakin' My Heart/Can't You Hear Me Calling (Mutual 511) 1965
4 New Orleans/Lonely Surfer Boy (Crusader 118) 1965 134
5 Kick Wheeler/Selfish Girl (Crusader 124) 1965
6 One Bird In The Hand/Maybe (Crusader 129) 1966
7 Leavin' You/One Bird In The Hand Is Worth Two In The Bush (Bell 652) 1966
8 Grass Houses/Dance Dance (Bell 683) 1967
Whatever happened to Raco Records
Q: Any idea about a small record label called "Raco" presumably in Dearborn around the Michigan-Schaefer area in the early 1960's? There is apparently a connection to Bill Hennes, as his name appears on the label. I have only one Raco record, Annabel Lee by Steve Monahan, who lived on the west side of Detroit very near Dearborn. I wonder how many other releases were made on that label? Where were their offices and studio? Or did they possibly use the studio that was upstairs over the theater in Dearborn where Johnny and the Hurricanes were supposed to have recorded their hits? - Bonita Lee Geniac
A :It's probably serendipity that the night before I received your note, I was sitting across the diner table form Bill Hennes. You may remember that Bill was the programming mind behind CKLW in the early 70s and helped make WMAQ the nation's top rated country station. Today he's still consulting and created allaboutcountry.com, the on-line bible of country radio. Raco Records was a company he started. It's "corporate headquarters" were located in his dad's law offices at 14224 Michigan Avenue in Dearborn, only a couple of blocks from the WKNR studios. Before Bill became famous as a radio programming guru, he shared the same show business dreams that fired the imaginations of many a young Detroiter. He used to spin records at dances for Mickey Shorr and worked record hops at the Dearborn Youth Center with Bo Henn, who would go on to become the chief technical engineer at the Motown complex. In 1959, Bill tried his hand a record production, guiding a session for the hot East Side band known as the Thunder Rocks. With Henn as co-producer, Bill recorded two sides, Restless and Warpath which were sold to Saber records. With guidance from his attorney father, Bill incorporated Raco Records and turned his attention to Steve Monahan. The two traveled to Detroit's Specialty Recordings, where they tracked Bill's composition, Annabel Lee (based on the Edgar Alan Poe poem) and Hugs and Kisses. Bill tells me that they pressed 500 of singles, "and I ended up with most of them in my garage." The only other group to release a single on Raco was a group called The Tremolos. Unlike the British band of the same name, this Detroit area band, originally known as Horvath, recorded only one single: The Weird One b/w Kackle. Bill sold the record to Morty Craft at Warwick records and that ended his recording career... until recently. Bill tells me that he has just revived Raco and has a couple of artists in process. Here's another little known Keener connection. One of Bill's first announcing gigs happened when his father's insurance agency bought a spot schedule on WKMH in 1959. "I read the ad myself," Bill says. "The sales manager called my dad and said, 'don't you want one of our announcers to read this?' I shudder when I think about that one."
LINK: The Bill Hennes Collection
LINK: Annabel Lee by Steve Monahan
LINK: Hugs N Kisses by Steve Monahan
LINK: Warpath by the Thunderrocks
LINK: Restless by the Thunderrocks
LINK: Kackle by the Tremolos
LINK: The Weird One by the Tremolos
Keener's Official British Dictionary
Q: Around the time that HELP was in theaters I remember Keener put out a dictionary of British teen terms. Are any of these still in existence?
A: In the Summer of 1965 the British Invasion was at it's height. The Beatles second film, Help, was packing Motown movie houses, and the Fab Four were joined on the Keener charts by the likes of the Dave Clark Five, Herman's Hermits, The Kinks, Freddie and the Dreamers and the Rolling Stones. Everything British was cool and Keener found a unique way to capitalize on the craze, by issuing the WKNR Official British Dictionary of teen terminology. The document had over 50 British expressions and their American English definitions. "Chase me up a rhubarb tree" meant "get lost!" "Having a butcher's eye" was to "have a look." Being a "proper Charlie" was to be a fool. The Beatles American label, Capitol Records funded the print run and promoted the latest albums from the Beatles, The Seekers, Peter & Gordon and Cilla Black. Listeners were "chuffed" with the project and thought it was "Switched on, simply smashing, stuck in and gear." Translated: the WKNR Official British Dictionary was up to date, with it, and great. The station printed thousands of these unique fliers, but only a few remain in existence. Take a look at our scan of the front and back of this Keener rarity.
Link: More on the British Invasion Wikipedia
When did Keener jump on the British Invasion bandwagon?
Q: What a fantastic job you have done with the Keener 13 Music Guides. I have just discovered this wonderful web site. I am a little puzzled about the Dave Clark 5 hits, "Glad all Over" and "Bits and Pieces." According to your research, "Bits" preceded "Glad" - I don't remember it that way. I grew up in Detroit and listened to all of the rock stations at that time. "Glad All Over" was definitely released first. Could it be that you got it switched unintentionally?
A: Keener didn't jump on the British bandwagon until the Beatles rocketed into the charts with I Want to Hold Your Hand, the week of January 9th 1964. Although Glad All Over was happening right around the same time, the station apparently didn't recognize the magnitude of the British Invasion until a bit later. As a result, Glad All Over charted for only one week as a single on Keener, the week after Bits and Pieces made it's chart debut. The album Glad All Over as one of the top 3 Keener LPs, the week of June 7, 1964. It was sandwiched between the Beatles 2nd Album and the Four Seasons Dawn LP. Keener woke up the the DC5's international popularity quickly. Bits and Pieces debuted on the WKNR Music guide on April 2 at number 25, peaking at number 2 on April 16. Glad's only chart appearance was the week of April 9, at number 23. The DC5 charted on Keener with 11 other records: Catch Us If You Can, Over and Over, Reelin & Rockin, You Got What It Takes, I Like It Like That, Everybody Knows, Try Too Hard, Please Tell Me Why/Look Before You Leap, Satisfied With You, and Any Way You Want It.
What do the words to American Pie mean?
Q: In 1972 I remember hearing the Keener Jocks discussing the secret meaning of American Pie. I know it had to do with the death of Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and The Big Bopper, but what were some of the other things the song talked about?
A: Once in a blue moon, a songwriter pens a definitive work, something that becomes larger than life and is etched in the memories of those who came of age during it's prime. Such was the case for Don McClean's composition American Pie. An Analyses of the song appeared in Life Magazine and almost every DJ who played it had an opinion on what it meant. American Pie had a bitter-sweet significance for the jocks who were trying to keep WKNR alive during her final days. The song was number one on the WKNR Music Guide for four weeks surrounding New Year's Day, 1972, and everyone involved knew that "The day the music died" was soon to be a statement that would apply to the WKNR dynasty. Meanwhile, on the other side of Lake Michigan, former WKNR announcer Bob Dearborn was at the pinnacle of his popularity at WCFL in Chicago. Bob who was on the air in Detroit as Mark Allen, was McClean's age mate, and felt a particular identification with the record. One weekend, he sat at his typewriter and penned his own analysis of the song. He casually mentioned on the air that he would be glad to mail it to anyone who wanted it. The following week he received over 30,000 requests for the document and, as a result, he decided to read it on the air. The response was overwhelming and Bob was encouraged to produce a special program that other stations around the country could run to share his words, and Don McClean's music with a broader audience. The special aired on February 28, 1972. Like the song itself, Bob's analysis of American Pie has become the definitive discussion of McClean's masterpiece. Thanks to the Internet, surfers can both read and listen to Bob's classic piece. Here's the link.
Whatever happened to Dave "Sangoo" Prince?
Q: I grew up in Dearborn, and can remember a DJ that called himself "Sangoo". Do you know who this may have been? Mark Adams
A: That's Dave "Sangoo" Prince. He worked for Keener's predecessor, WKMH prior to moving to WXYZ. Hear some classic Sangoo in the air check archive area of keener13.com. When Nellie Knorr decided to turn WKMH into a rocker, Dave was asked to take the evening shift. He demurred, making it possible for Bob Green to return to Detroit, starting his long and distinguished Keener run. In his definitive book on the history of Detroit Radio, "Rockin Down the Dial", author David Carson credits Prince with discovering Billy Lee and the Rivieras at one of his gigs at the Walled Lake Casino. Legend has it that he introduced the band to Bob Crewe, who renamed them Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels. One of his more eclectic distinctions stems from the day he hosted Frank Zappa on WXYZ-TV's answer to American Bandstand, Club 12-7-0. The Mothers appeared there on July 23, 1966. Here's a link to a picture of the WKMH 1962 line-up. You'll see several Detroit radio favorites including Robin Seymour, Lee Allen and Keener's Paul Cannon.
Whatever happened to The Television Seal of Good Practice?
Q: Growing up in Detroit, I have a vivid memory of the television "Seal of Good Practice", with it's olive branch frame surrounding a big TV screen. Did broadcasters really have to do anything special to be able to display this logo?
A: The Seal represented a set of ethical guidelines for television programs that started to appear on TV screens in 1952. The guidelines instituted by the National Association of Broadcasters covered everything from decency and decorum to advertising medical products. It disappeared from the scene in the early 70s. MORE
Did Dean Torrence of Jan and Dean design the Chicago Logo?
Q: I heard that Dean of Jan & Dean is the guy who designed the Chicago logo. Is this true?
A: Although he's best remembered as half of Jan and Dean (and the falsetto who sings the high part in the Beach Boys Barbara-Ann), from 1966 through 1979, Dean Torrence created some of the most enduring album art of the rock era. Way back when vinyl came in large packages, album covers were an art form. Clients of his Kittyhawk Graphics company included The Beach Boys, The Turtles, Linda Ronstadt, Harry Nilsson and Steve Martin. It's an urban legend that Dean designed the Chocago logo, patterned after Coca Cola's moniker. Although he conceived of the concept, the actual design was done by John Berg at the Columbia Records art department. Here's a link to a portfolio of Dean's graphic design work.
Whatever happened to: Tim Tam and the Turn-Ons
Q: My mom told me that ..I was named after a song called Cheryl Ann... my father said the name of the band was Tim Tam and The Turn-Ons. . What's the story behind the record and is it available on CD?
A: In 1964, every kid wanted to sing in a rock and roll band. And it wasn't unusual to hear four chord progressions emanating from garages and basements around Metro Detroit. Between 1965 and 1967 Tim Tam and the Turn-Ons released four 45s on the Palmer label, two of which saw airplay on Keener. But that's just the beginning of the story. MORE
How did Keener get so many Beatle exclusives?
Q: I remember when the Beatles came to Detroit in '64 that Keener seemed to have an exclusive. Bob Green had the first interview and the Keener DJs were the only ones at the airport to greet the Beatles plane. How did this happen?
A: Keener's connection with the Beatles was a combination of serendipity and hustle. A friend of Bob Green's worked for Capitol Records in Miami and heard that WXYZ's Lee Alan was on his way to interview the Beatles. He called Bob to alert him to the impending scoop. Bob remembers that the guy had some generic Beatles interview material which he fed to Bob over the phone. Keener's production ace edited in his own questions and broadcast the interview before Lee even landed. DJ Larry Kane provided exclusive reports to Keener listeners from the Beatles plane and due to some miscommunication, WKNR was the only station to greet the Beatles when they landed at the executive terminal at Detroit Metro Airport. The rest of the Detroit radio crowd was waiting at the main terminal. When the Beatles took the stage for the first of two shows at Olympia on in 1964, the Keener DJs introduced them. Harvey Hall remembers that it was CKLW's Terry Knight who introduced the band at the late show. The fab four came back to Olympia August 13, 1966 for two more shows. Another piece of Beatles/Keener trivia. Dick Purtan was an early Beatles supporter, producing and promoting a Beatles concert during his tenure at WSAI in Cincinnati.
Whatever happened to: Plain Brown Wrapper
Q: In the 60's there was a group called the Plain Brown Wrapper. A few people recall the group but nobody knows the song . I contacted our "classic" DJ, & he said the group sounded familiar to him and he needed to research it, He came up empty handed. Can you help? Kim
A: What a memory.. Plain Brown Wrapper had some success with "And Now You Dream", written by Van Decker. WKNR-FM played the record during it's underground radio incarnation. Maybe that's the one you remember. Their other original release was "Junior Saw It Happen". They were the house band for a time on the WJIM-TV show Swing Lively and did some hot covers of Chicago tunes. PBW was a perennial opening act for many of the touring greats of the late 60s including Ted Nugent, Bob Seger, The Four Tops, Chuck Berry, Grand Funk Railroad, Big Brother & the Holding Co, The Rotary Connection, Sugarloaf, The MC5 and Alice Cooper. Their farewell concert was played with the Lansing Symphony Orchestra, ala the style of the Moody Blues.
Here are some links to pages that reference the band..
In search of People
Q: I'm looking for I Love You by People which charted on Keener in 1968. What's the story on this song and why isn't can't I find it? Robert Willingham
A: I Love You was originally a Zombies B-side before the California garage band People peaked at number 8 on the Keener Music Guide on July 4, 1968. People's psychedelic sound didn't last and Capitol dropped their option after two albums. Their one hit can be found on occasional 60s compilation and floats around the download sites from time to time. I have the original 45 and an interesting album version that clocks in at 4:31.
Keener Station IDs
Q: Which DJs did the voice-overs for the station IDs... such as "WKNR Dearborn Is Together, or the Clyde "Now, WKNR Dearborn presents another hour of motor City Music" or the later "WKNR Dearborn...Detroit's ONLY Rock n Roll station." Frank Hartge - Columbus
A: Keener's Bob Green writes, "Ted Clark voiced the original IDs between 1963 and 1966. Paul Cannon did some in late '67. The 'together' ID was Lee Sherwood. The 'another hour of Motor City Music' was Joel Sebastian. I flew to Chicago & got Joel to do a bunch of reads, flew back & put it on the air immediately. I can't recall why it couldn't have been a phone patch & Fed Ex'd." Pat St. John remembers that "WKNR, Dearborn Is Together" was voiced by Lee Sherwood, while the "Detroit's Only Rock and Roll station" ID was a Lee Alan production. Click here for a Keener ID montage.
In search of Laurie
Q: Help me with the name of this song.. Boy meeting a girl walking her home he gave her his sweater went back to get it and her dad told him the girl was dead. Susan Cooper
A: That's Laurie, subtitled Strange Things Happen, by Dickey Lee. It peaked at 16 on Keener the week of June 23, 1965. Lee also hit with Patches (not to be confused with Clarence Carter's version) and I Saw Linda Yesterday. Lee turned country after 65 and continued to chart there through the 1980s.
Whatever happened to Richard and the Young Lions?
Q: Whatever happened to Richard and the Young Lions? Art Tisdale - Livonia
A: The group was a Keener one-hit-wonder, peaking at number 3 with Open Up Your Door the week of September 19, 1966. They helped usher in the psychedelic era as the first band to use a fuzz bass in a recording. After the ups and downs that typify the history of a rock band, RATYL reunited in 2001. Visit their website: www.richardandtheyounglions.com for an in depth look at their history, past, present and future.
Who built Keener's reverb unit?
Q: Who manufactured Keener's unique sounding reverb unit? Dave Tanzler - Fort Wayne
A: One of the trademarks of 60s top 40 radio was the rich reverb behind the DJ's voices. Like the 5 second beep sound that accompanied all on-air phone calls, reverb was a staple of the Keener sound through much of her prime. Every now and then, we get emails asking about Keener's unique reverb unit. Who made it and what happened to it? For much of WKMH/WKNR's existence Jerry Martin was chief engineer. He was the guy who had to tweak Keener's strange tower array to produce the strange coverage pattern the FCC required to protect nearby stations during day and nighttime. So when the reverb craze caught on, it was up to Jerry to implement the stations particular iteration. The unit was a custom designed device utilizing the same spring technology Laurens Hammond plugged into his famous Hammond Organs. In fact, Hammond copped the concept from AT&T, who used a spring to simulate the delay then inherent in long-distance telephone calls. Years after Keener's demise, Steve Schram, keener13.com's co-founder found himself working in the WKNR studios during the time when the Keener brand made a brief come-back as WWKR. He asked Jerry Martin whatever happened to the Keener reverb. Jerry showed Steve a box of random components. "This is it," he said. The unit had been cannibalized over the years and all that remained were a few random parts. Some radio stations turned to off-the-shelf products to simulate the echo chamber feeling. Chief among these was the Fisher K-10 Spacexpander, a tube reverb unit that was sold as a plug-in for Fisher stereo systems in the 60s. Those with more meager budgets waited for a local rock band to break up and bought a Fender Twin Reverb amp, stealing the Accutronics Type 4 spring reverb tank that was screwed to the bottom of the amplifier case. The Type 4 used Hammonds design and was the key to the rockin reverb heard on just about every surf guitar instrumental ever recorded. A company called Sound Enhancements, still makes and sells a variety of Accutronics reverb units. Of course the digital audio work stations we use to create music these days come with a plethora of reverb plug-ins, some claiming to accurately re-create the spring loaded excitement of the Keener days, but our bet is that nothing can quite pass side-by-side muster to Jerry Martin's artistry.. part of what continues to propel WKNR to the front of our collective memory.
Mike Nesmith's Post Monkees Career
Q: Mike Nesmith had a solo hit after his association with the Monkees. I've forgotten name... William Sinclair - Toledo
A: Nesmith and his First National Band spent three weeks in the lower reaches of the Keener charts with Joanne, peaking at number 20 the week of September 21, 1970. He also wrote Different Drum which hit for Linda Ronstadt and the Stone Poneys in 1968. An early believer in multi-media, Mike has one of the more interesting websites, videoranch.com.
Did Russ Gibb break the Paul is Dead story?
Q: I remember hearing Uncle Russ Gibb talk about the Paul McCartney is Dead thing on WKNR-FM. Was Keener the first to uncover the story? Tom Amundsen - Lansing
A: There are conflicting accounts of who was actually the first to air this famous rumor, but Russ Gibb's broadcast on October 29, 1969 was a major catalyst to taking the story national. WKNR's coverage of the Paul Is Dead story is one of the more fascinating chapters in Keener's history. MORE
Two Tom Ryans?
Q: You credited Tom Ryan in your Dream Cruise show. Is this the same Tom Ryan I hear on WOMC? Pam Denton - Southfield
A: There are two Tom Ryans who have contributed to Keener's history. the Tom Ryan you hear on WOMC got his start answering phones for Dick Purtan during his earliest days at Keener. The Tom Ryan that assisted us with the Dream Cruise broadcast is an outstanding recording engineer who ran the controls at CKLW during it's zenith as a rock radio station. He is also an avid collector of radio memorabilia and has one of the largest oldies collections around. He supplied some of the hard to find tunes we featured during Keener's brief rebirth in August.
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