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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.

#tbt - Something to sing about: Middletown's rich music history, a local who was always "Wright" and the inimitable Dick Clark

Early rock’n’roll showman and famous TV  host, the late Dick Clark, was no stranger to the Middletown, Ohio, area.

With the instincts of a detective, the star of the decades-long hit series “American Bandstand” could spot real talent a mile away.

He found it here.

Clark’s musical relationship with Southwest Ohio is recalled in the engaging book, “The Cincinnati Sound,” by Randy McNutt. (*)  It’s a veritable music time capsule.

McNutt’s paean to local music features vintage photos of homegrown artists  performing at the gone-but-not-forgotten LeSourdsville Lake Amusement Park in Middletown as well as other venues.

According to McNutt, one of the locals with whom Dick Clark had a working relationship was Middletown native Dale Wright. Wright “recorded in Cincinnati and performed there regularly” and “participated in many of Clark’s traveling rock-and-roll shows” during the 1960s…..” (*)

Dick Clark wasn’t the only big name to introduce hometown performers like Dale Wright and the “Wright Guys” to local teen audiences. Popular Cincinnati Disc Jockey Dusty Rhodes of radio station WSAI is also pictured in McNutt’s book presenting the Wright band to a LeSourdsville audience in the park’s “Stardust Gardens” sometime around 1965. (*)

Wright, whose real name was Harlan Riffe, was the subject of a September 1973  interview published in the Middletown Journal in which he looked back on his musical career. (**)

He had returned to Middletown to visit his mother, Mrs. Martha Riffe of Manchester Road, and was interviewed by Journal Staff Writer Dorothy Damele. At the time, she reported, Wright was “emcee of a radio talk show on WNVL-Radio near Lexington, Ky.” (**)

The article recalled some of Wright’s career highlights to date:

  • Writing the song titled “She’s Neat” “which sold three-quarters of a million discs when he was only 18…” (**) (***)

  • “...working for Dick Clark as backstage road manager on ‘American Bandstand’...and “emceeing the road shows when [Clark] was absent…” (**)

  • Regularly appearing on Cincinnati TV entertainment programs (**)

  • Working in promotions and as ‘special talent’ at Cincinnati TV station WKRC (**)

  • Wright’s “personal seven-year management contract” with Chuck Conners, then-star of the TV western series, “The Rifleman,” which called for using Wright’s talents “in the show.” Not long after the signing the show was canceled “although Wright did appear in the next-to-last episode...”  (**)

Dale Wright passed away in Lexington, Kentucky, on April 15, 2007.****  To his contemporaries and local music historians he’ll be remembered as one of the many who brightened daily life with the sound of music.

With Southwest Ohio home to many  entertainers, and Cincinnati’s role in TV and radio history, it’s no wonder books like “The Cincinnati Sound” are a favorite of local music and media lovers!

That’s why for the remainder of April we’ll continue to salute local performers of the past, using “The Cincinnati Sound” as our guide.

In the meantime, may your days be filled with the sounds of music, old and new!


Sources:

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

**”Wright’s still talking, this time on own show” by Dorothy Damele, Staff Writer for the Middletown Journal. Published September 8, 1973.  Available for viewing on microfilm at MidPointe Library’s Middletown location or online at:

www.midpointelibrary.org > eLibrary > Research Databases > Magazines and newspapers > Newspaper archive > Middletown Journal.

Readers can find an image of the record, “She’s Neat” by Dale Wright with the Rock-Its on tps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pFG1l2hs2Ck

An image of the record, “Dale Wright -- She’s Neat : The Fraternity Sides” can be viewed at:

https://www.amazon.com/Shes-Neat-Fraternity-Dale-Wright/dp/B0000009H8

**** Dale Wright’s obituary can be accessed at: https://www.revolvy.com/page/Dale-Wright

About the Photos:

Four photos accompanying this article can be found in The Cincinnati Sound :

Cover: Dale Wright and the Wright Guys performing in a Cincinnati-area school auditorium

Dale Wright, actress Donna Loren and Dick Clark sharing a “Dr. Pepper”

Dick Clark introducing the Wright Guys at LeSourdsville Lake

WSAI Disc Jockey Dusty Rhodes introducing Dale Wright and the Wright Guys (in striped shirts) at LeSourdsville Lake’s Stardust Gardens.

The photo of Dale Wright sitting amidst a pile of records (on the Fraternity label) is from the December 1, 1957, Middletown Journal, available on microfilm or online. (Check Sources above for instructions)

In the mood for music? Make MidPointe Library your source for music and music history! Visit: www.midpointelibrary.org > Catalog Search

Or check out our vast eLibrary : www.midpointelibrary.org > eLibrary >

Music > (or) Movies and TV shows.

All you need to borrow items and/or access online material is a free MidPointe Library card!

Sign up for yours at any MidPointe location: Middletown, West Chester, Trenton, Monroe and Liberty Township (2nd floor, Liberty Center).

#triviatuesday

OK, Baby Boomers and local-TV historians, here’s a TriviaTuesday question just for you:

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What Cincinnati TV personality, often seen in maritime attire, was scheduled to appear with Dick Clark, host of the hit TV show “American Bandstand,” during a musical program in 1962 at (the now long-gone) LeSourdsville Lake Amusement Park in Middletown?

If you answered “Skipper Ryle,” aka Glenn Ryle, give yourselves a pat on the back!

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After perusing “The Cincinnati Sound,” (*) a highly entertaining book on the history of local entertainment, we were inspired to search our database of old local newspapers (**) for photos of superstars who appeared at LeSourdsville Lake.

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Lo and behold, we found a Friday, May 11, 1962, article in the Hamilton Daily News Journal titled “Dick Clark at Lake June 17 ; Glenn Ryle will also appear.”

For those too young to know, Clark was the  decades-long host of ABC-TV’s legendary “American Bandstand” show where the country’s most popular musical entertainers performed and audience members danced to the hits of the day.

If you grew up watching Cincinnati TV, you probably have fond memories of Glenn Ryle. Not only was Ryle the host of   “Saturday Morning Dance Party,” he was also the beloved star of WKRC-TV’s long-running children’s program, “The Skipper Ryle Show.” There he assumed the character of a “Skipper” in naval-themed attire.

Interestingly, many of the articles and advertisements published on that 1962 newspaper page were devoted to the start of LeSourdsville Lake’s 41st anniversary season.

Many locals will recall the park’s musical venue, Stardust Gardens, where  entertainment royalty like Glenn Miller, Stan Kenton and Middletown’s own McGuire Sisters performed.

In later years LeSourdsville Lake Amusement Park became Americana Amusement Park. It closed in 2002. ***

Sources:

* “The Cincinnati Sound” by Randy McNutt with foreword by Jim LaBarbara, published in 2007 by Arcadia Publishing. The accompanying photo of Dick Clark promoting an early 1960s visit to LeSourdsville Lake can be found on page 97. Available for checkout at MidPointe Library.

** Past copies of local newspapers including the 1962 Hamilton article referenced above can be found at www.midpointelibrary.org > eLibrary > Research databases > Newspaper Archives.

***From Wikipedia. “LeSourdsville Lake Amusement Park.”

The 1950 photo of Stardust Gardens at LeSourdsville Lake Amusement Park and  the 1958 park entrance can be found on MidPointe Library’s Digital Archives:

www.midpointelibrary.org > eLibrary > Digital Archives > LeSourdsville Lake

Use your free MidPointe Library card to check out many music-related items, both on-shelf and online!

MidPointe’s also your gateway to copies of previous local newspaper articles:

www.midpointelibrary.org > eLibrary > Research Databases > Newspapers and Magazines.

In addition, decades of past copies of the Middletown Journal are available on microfilm at MidPointe’s Middletown location.

No MidPointe library card? No problem! Sign up for your free card at any location: Middletown, West Chester, Trenton, Monroe and Liberty Township (2nd floor, Liberty Center).




#tbt - The Baby the World Awaited

Today -- somewhere in the world -- someone is watching reruns of the classic 1950s American TV comedy, “I Love Lucy.”

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In vintage black and white, the zany adventures of housewife Lucy Ricardo, her Cuban entertainer-husband Ricky Ricardo (portrayed by real-life spouse Desi Arnaz), and their neighbors, the Mertzes, entertained viewers as a weekly sitcom for six seasons.*

For the show’s stars and their audience, “I Love Lucy” became a genuine case of art imitating life.

In the 1953 episode titled “Lucy Goes To The Hospital,” ** Lucy-the-TV-character gives birth to “Little Ricky,” who would later be portrayed by a child actor. The pregnancy was written into the show due to the real-life pregnancy of its star, Lucille Ball.

The show and the dual pregnancies so captivated the country that newspapers including the Middletown Journal kept readers apprised of Lucille Ball’s condition. ***

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On January 19, 1953, the actress-comedienne  gave birth to her second child, Desiderio Alberto Arnaz IV. The baby the world awaited, Desi Arnaz Jr.’s sweet color portrait graced the cover of the very first issue of “TV Guide” dated April 3-9, 1953.

Desi Jr. eventually became an entertainer and is perhaps best known as a member of the ‘60s rock group, “Dino, Desi and Billy.” Interestingly, the trio included Dean “Dino” Martin Jr., the son of famous singer-actor Dean Martin.

A testament to its appeal, “I Love Lucy” the sitcom, “has run in syndication for over sixty years, creating one of TV’s most celebrated legacies.” *

“...Over its dominant run, ‘I Love Lucy’ won five Emmy Awards, including two for Best Situation Comedy and one for Lucille Ball as Best Actress in a Continuing Performance…” **

You just can’t argue with the facts:

We still love Lucy.

* “1001 TV Shows You Must Watch Before You Die.” Published in 2015 by Universe Publishing. Available for checkout at MidPointe Library.

** “The Platinum Age of Television - From I Love Lucy to The Walking Dead - How TV Became Terrific” by David Bianculli. Published in 2016 by DoubleDay. Available for checkout at MidPointe Library.

*** Local news articles researched for this blog were :

“Lucy’s Baby Due Today” from January 19, 1953, Middletown Journal.

“Lucy’s Real Story Just like Script -- New Baby is Son” from January 20, 1953, Middletown Journal.

Copies of past issues of the Middletown Journal are available online at

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

They can also be accessed on microfilm at MidPointe’s Middletown location.

If you’re a fan of Lucille Ball, check out MidPointe Library’s collection of all-things-Lucy, including the two books referenced above!

Go to :

www.midpointelibrary.org > Lucille Ball.

And don’t forget to peruse our eLibrary, which contains Hoopla with its literally “hundreds of thousands of free movies, TV shows, full music albums, audiobooks, eBooks, comics and more.”

Go to: www.midpointelibrary.com > eLibrary > Movies and TV Shows

Check out any item with your free MidPointe Library Card, available at any of our five locations : Middletown, West Chester, Trenton, Monroe and Liberty Township (second floor, Liberty Center).

The image of the TV Guide cover, dated April 3-9, 1953, is from Google.




MidPointe mascot headed for new gig in Washington, D.C.!

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Today we roar a big farewell to MidPointe Library’s furry, friendly mascot, Shakespurr, recently named “mane spokesman for the Library of Congress”! Join us as we bid congratulations and good luck to our longtime lion luminary as he looks forward to a new lair in Washington, D.C.! Follow the link for de-tails….

...Of which there are none because today is April Fools Day!

Happy April Fool’s Day to you!

And, no, our big guy isn’t going anywhere!

Did you know that historians believe the observance of April Fools Day started in France in the 1560s? * No joke.

If you or someone you love is a harmless prankster, have we got the goods for you!

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Check out MidPointe Library’s collection of jokes, pranks (no doubt superior to  today’s blog) and fiction related to April Fool’s Day!

Go to: www.midpointelibrary.org > April Fool’s Day

Or peruse our vast online databases! They’re accessible at:

www.midpointelibrary.org > eLibrary

All it takes to check out an item or access our online offerings is a FREE MidPointe Library card!

No library card? No problem! Sign up for your FREE card today at any of our five locations: Middletown, West Chester, Trenton, Monroe and Liberty Township (2nd floor of Liberty Center).

Did we mention it’s FREE?

Because that is not a joke.

*From Chase’s Calendar of Events, available at MidPointe Library.