The Pointe

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#tbt - "The Original Boy Band": Gary and the Hornets

On today’s “ThrowBack Thursday” blog we conclude our look-back at some of the area’s most talented  bands with fond memories of Franklin, Ohio’s sibling sensations, Gary and the Hornets.

We found them in the book, “The Cincinnati Sound,” author Randy McNutt’s homage to local musicians from the 1940s to the 1970s. Check it out at MidPointe Library and enjoy the musical memories on each page as much as we did!

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They bantered with the King of Late Night TV, Johnny Carson, on “The Tonight Show.” *

They entertained fun-loving crowds on TV’s “Where The Action Is.” *

They were guests of Mike Douglas, another legendary TV talk show host. *

“They” were none other than Franklin, Ohio’s own “Gary and the Hornets,” three brothers upon whom the gods of music bestowed an abundance of talent...and then smiled approvingly.

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If you were a kid in the ‘60s, you probably remember the Calvert Brothers’ big hits -- “Hi, Hi Hazel” and “A Kind of  Hush” (often referred to as “There’s a Kind of Hush”), among others.

In the “The Cincinnati Sound,” author Randy McNutt bestowed the coveted title of “the original boy band” upon Gary “the leader, singer and guitarist” (age 12)...bassist Greg (age 14) and Steve, the seven-year-old drummer.” He recalled that the boys “often performed in Cincinnati” and that the popular Cincinnati radio station WSAI “played their local rock hits…” **

With news of the siblings’ talent spreading around the country at that time, it was no surprise that the Associated Press dispatched a reporter to interview them.

The result was an AP story, complete with photos, that appeared in the April 2, 1967, Middletown Journal. The headline read : “Gary and the Hornets: ‘Fab,’ ‘Cool,’ ‘Neat.’”

The reporter described the trio as “just three little guys who are making a big name for themselves as Gary and the Hornets, a rock ‘n’ roll band ...They’ve got the entire town swinging to their music. Lately their success has spread from college appearances to nationwide television and hit records…”

The boys’ classmates “call them ‘fab,’ ‘cool,’ ‘neat,’ ‘gear,’ ‘tuff’ and ‘mod,’” the reporter continued, “but the boys themselves are taking their success in stride.”

He added : “They wowed the PTA and other school groups. One night while playing in nearby Dayton, where their father is a newspaper printer, a man from Detroit heard them and asked to be their manager...”

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“Since then -- a string of successes and more to come.”

The article then listed a few of those successes :

The brothers’ hit song, “Hi Hi Hazel” that “swept the country a few weeks ago, landing high up on the popularity polls…”

Their latest records, ‘A Kind of Hush’ and ‘That’s All for Now, Sugar Baby,’ [that] made Spotlight Review in Billboard, with the predictions that they would soon be in the Top 60 of the “Hot 100 Rock ‘n’ Roll Songs…”

Their TV appearances : once on the “Mike Douglas Show” in Philadelphia, Pa., and twice on the ‘Where The Action Is’ show in Hollywood, Calif.

The brothers had played with some of the biggest names in entertainment, the AP article continued. A few of the luminaries included “the Four Seasons, Jan and Dean, Roy Orbison and Lew Christy…”

It also reported that the boys “have been favorites at dances at Ohio State University, Ohio University, the University of Cincinnati, Miami University and the University of Dayton…”

“Requests for their appearances have been coming in steadily from every major show and from every state in the country but their mother and father have reluctantly turned down anything that would interfere with their schooling…”, the AP article continued.

It was clear that despite the boys’ national fame, their parents still stressed the importance of attending school.

“In the whole past year of excitement and national appearances, they have only missed one day of school, and that was due to an airplane cancellation,” their mother told the AP. “We’ll let them do only what we feel is in their best interest.”

Fast forward ...

The June 25, 1972, Middletown Journal published another story about the multi-talented Calvert Brothers. Only this time the brothers were moving on.

Alluding to one of their hits, the headline announced : “There’s A Kind of Hush.” It was accompanied by the subtitle : “Franklin Trio Now Defunct.”

“As the boys grew older, their interests changed. So did their audience,” wrote Journal State Editor Thom Hall.

Hall reported that Gary, 18, had just graduated from Franklin High School and planned to major in microbiology at Miami University. Greg, 19, had just completed a year at the University of Cincinnati… Steve, then 13, had a penchant for golf and “earns money as a caddy only to spend it on green fees…”

“But their main problem was the fact that the boys were getting older,” Hall continued. “Sure they could play Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton, but it just didn’t fit their image.’” At the time, he wrote, “most of their playing is devoted to jazz and blues.”

For Gary and the Hornets, it was time to say “Bye Bye” to Hazel…

...and “Hello” to fond musical memories and new opportunities.

Today, thanks to books like “The Cincinnati Sound,” local talent like the Calvert Brothers will never be forgotten. Randy McNutt’s enjoyable read is available for checkout at MidPointe Library.

You can also relive the good old days of Gary and the Hornets and their music online at:

Gary and the Hornets on the “Tonight Show”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kWfp_RFmfyg

and on “Where The Action Is”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZvR6Fw-ET0


Sources:

* IMDb.com (entertainment website) “Gary and the Hornets”

https://www.imdb.com/name/nm8401938/?ref_=tt_cl_t6

** “The Cincinnati Sound” by Randy McNutt. Published in 2007 by Arcadia Publishers. Available for checkout at MidPointe Library.

The Middletown Journal, April 2, 1967. By the Associated Press. “Gary and the Hornets : ‘Fab,’ ‘Cool,’ ‘Neat.”

The Middletown Journal, June 25, 1972.  “There’s a Kind of Hush -- Franklin Trio Now Defunct” by Thom Hall.

The Middletown Journal articles referenced above are available on microfilm at MidPointe Library Middletown.

They’re also available online via :

www.midpointelibrary.org > eLibrary > Research Databases > Magazines and Newspapers > Newspaper Archive > Middletown Journal > (Date)

If you’re interested in music of all kinds, check out MidPointe Library’s catalog at:

www.midpointelibrary.org > Catalog Search

You’ll find even more music, movies, and TV shows via:

www.midpointelibrary.org > eLibrary. There you’ll find “Hoopla” with literally “hundreds of thousands of free movies, TV shows, full music albums, audiobooks, eBooks, comics and more.”

Some online searches require a MidPointe Library card. No library card? No problem! Sign up for your free card at any MidPointe location :

Middletown, West Chester, Trenton, Monroe, Liberty Township (2nd floor, Liberty Center) and onboard the “Library On Wheels,” formerly known as the Bookmobile.