Last week, I attended one of those 60’s nostalgia concerts, this one called “The Happy Together Tour”. Headlining the bill was The Turtles (well actually A Turtle, but we’ll get to that later), Chuck Negron of Three Dog Night, Gary Puckett (minus The Union Gap), the founding fathers of The Buckinghams, The Classics IV (well, two of them anyways… The Classics II?), and the surviving members of The Cowsills.
For those of you unaware, The Cowsills were a family band from Newport, RI consisting of brothers Bill, Bob, Barry, John, and Paul; sister Susan, and Mom Barbara, who had a string of bubblegum pop hits in the late 60’s beginning with “The Rain, The Park, & Other Things”:
Bill, Paul, and Susan entertained the crowd with that, plus “We Can Fly”, “Indian Lake”, “Hair”and another number they introduced to the world, “The Theme from LOVE, AMERICAN STYLE”, which brings me to that 1969-74 comedy anthology series. The two-time Emmy-winner featured three-four different segments each week, focusing on some aspect of romance and relationships, with all titles beginning with “Love and…” followed by whatever hot topic: The Pill, The Dating Computer, The Singles Apartment, The Conjugal Visit, The Motel Mix-Up, The Generation Gap… you get the picture!
Guest stars included those on their way up and on their way down. A complete list of them would be as exhausting to write as it would be to read, so I’ll just share a small sample of some of the more interesting Familiar Faces: Joan Bennett, James Brolin, Sid Caesar & Imogene Coca, Yvonne Craig, Broderick Crawford, Richard Dawson, Bob Denver, Davy Jones, Patsy Kelly, Jack Klugman, The Lennon Sisters, Tina Louise, Paul Lynde, Roddy McDowell, Darren McGavin, Burgess Meredith, Mantan Moreland, Ozzie & Harriet Nelson, Julie Newmar, Regis Philbin, Stefanie Powers, Vincent Price (“Love and the Haunted House”), Aldo Ray, Burt Reynolds (“Love and the Banned Book”), Cesar Romero, Kurt Russell, Sonny & Cher, Larry Storch, Tiny Tim (“Love and the Vampire”), Nancy Walker, Deborah Walley, and Adam West.
One particular 1972 segment titled “Love and the Television Set” featured a hormonal 1950’s teenager named Richie Cunningham (played by Ron Howard ) and his equally horny pal Potsie (Anson Williams) trying to score with babes after Richie’s family gets the first TV set on the block. This backdoor pilot served as the basis for the hit series HAPPY DAYS, which ran from 1974-84 and introduced the world to Henry Winkler as the ever-cool Fonzie (for better or worse – you make the call!).
As for The Cowsills (Remember The Cowsills? We were just talking about them!), their rock’n’roll family life served as the basis for another hit TV series, THE PARTRIDGE FAMILY, which ran from 1970-74, and starred Shirley Jones and her soon-to-be-teen-idol stepson David Cassidy, spawning hit records like “I Think I Love You” and “I Woke Up in Love This Morning”:
Earlier, I said The Turtles were really A Turtle on that “Happy Together Tour” I attended (which got this whole rambling post started!). Mark Volman’s musical partner of over fifty years, Howard Kaylan, has been ill, and in his stead singer Ron Dante has been filling his shoes. You may not know the name Ron Dante, but you certainly know his voice: Dante sang commercial jingles for such products as Coppertone Tanning Lotion, Budweiser Beer, Campbell’s Soup, McDonald’s, and both Coke and Pepsi! In addition to producing Barry Manilow records in the 70’s, Ron sang lead for the Saturday Morning Cartoon rock band The Archies, and fifty years ago had the Number One hit on the planet, “Sugar Sugar”:
And that’s more than enough rambling on from me! Have a good night, and drive safely!