Thursday, February 5, 2009
OK we are pumped! Not only do we have our first musician on "Wait, I Know This!" but he's the drummer from The Guess Who" for God's sake!! Garry Peterson has been there from the start. A start which goes back to the late 50's and early 60's in Winnipeg, Canada. They began as "The Silvertones" playing in any venue that would have them but soon lead singer Allan Kowbell voted for a change. Playing off their love for british music and the group called The Shadows" they came up with the name "The Reflections". Allan also said he needed a new name as well and took "Chad" from one of his favorite groups called "The Chad Mitchell Trio". Using THAT and his first name he came up with "Chad Allan and The Reflections".
The group was off and running landing gigs all over the Winnipeg area and eventually getting signed to a modest label and becoming the region's go-to band for local events. Finally in December of 1964 , the band was running low on money and went to the studios of CJAY-TV and recorded "Shaking All Over"....oh, by the way time for yet another name...Chad Allan and The Expressions.
COOL TRIVIA ALERT!: When Quality Records producer George Struth heard the song he thought it was a hit but didn't want DJ's and programming directors to think it was just another British Invasion wanna-be group so he came up with a plan that was pure genius. He sent out copies of the single with a plain white label and just the words "guess who" written on them. That way, he thought, the program directors might think it was the product of someone already famous.
The plan worked and soon the "mystery record" soared up the Canadian charts and by June of 1964 they cracked the USA market selling a quarter of a million copies and reaching #22 on the Billboard Charts!! The band was on its way to fame and fortune. Although there were a few speedbumps here and there they did quite well with hits like "Laughing", "Undun" and "No Time" but it wouldn't be until 1970 that they would get a number one hit in the US with the incredible "American Woman".
They are truly one of the best rock bands of the 60's and early 70's. I mean seriously, when you have someone who leaves your group and continues to rock America (Randy Bachman who would form Bachman-Turner Overdrive) you have a great group!!
Make sure you listen to Garry Peterson and his backstage tales on this week's "Wait, I Know This!" this Sunday Feb. 8th at 7pm EST! Check out their super groovy website at http://www.theguesswhocafe.com/
We will rock you. End of transmission.
Sunday, February 1, 2009
Well, I have done it. After a lifetime of small accomplishments I have finally done something to write home about. I had the opportunity to chat with one of the sweetest celebrities you will ever meet. Billie Mae Richards was the original voice of Rudolph in the Rankin Bass production from 1964 and she was one of our special guests in the "all things Rankin Bass" show this week. See...I AM somebody!
Now for those of you who are true trivia buffs you may be saying, "wait, I watched this show a million times and in the credits it says the voice of Rudolph was voiced by Billy Richards. Billy with a "Y". But that is a mistake that has yet to be corrected even 44 years later. But Billie just smiles. Her work speaks for itself. The voice actress said she was always cast as little boys but truly loved her work. I always thought Rudolph sounded like he had a cold but I realize now it was Billie's characterization...plus, you have to remember that Rudolph had that little black cap on his nose to cover the glow and that made him sound funny. I can just imagine Billie in the studio holding her nose with one hand and gesturing with the other.
When you listen to our show (just use the "player" to hear it. I know...a shameless plug. I have no pride) you can still hear Rudolph pushing through Billie's voice. Billie's in her 80's now and has suffered a stroke but was still willing and happy to be a part of our show. Her spirit is one that could teach us all a lesson. Her daughter Cindy tagged along in our interview and gave us a really cool perspective on what it was like to have Rudolph as your Mom! Ha Ha.
Billie provided the voice of many a character for Rankin Bass and others. She handled the Rudolph duties for three Rankin Bass specials! She is amazing and why not she was taking dance lessons at the age of two
and was already performing on stages all across Toronto. During World War II Billie became a petty officer in the Navy and took that discipline into her acting profession.
She enrolled in the Lorne Green Academy of Radio Broadcasting and that began a huge phase of her career. She was noted as having a great voice for the roles of boys! Billie says it shouldn't have come as much of a surprise since she was named Billie and her dad wanted a little boy.
She starred in many radio shows back in those days but the biggest hit was W. O. Mitchell series "Jake and the Kid". That series has lasted for decades through radio, television and even books. She would even play the older brother of an actual kid on a radio show and then as he aged they would switch roles and she would begin playing the younger brother!
She is a wonderful actress but even more endearing is her personality. Please take the time to check out our show with Billie, you won't regret it. ALSO, Rick Goldschmidt gives us UNBELIEVABLE backstage trivia about the Rudolph special. In fact, I will leave you with this... Yukon Cornelius was known for his licking the ice pick and saying "NOTHING!"....most of us thought he was looking for gold. He wasn't....find out how that came about and why we didn't know the truth about it until 1998! Now that's what we call in the business, a "tease".