Well THAT Went By Quick!!

After being used to doing 5 and 6 hour shows, WOW, 2 hours goes by fast!!

We had a terrific time hosting our second night in the new WGN Radio studio.  We got to talk with our old friend Tom Skilling and were treated to a wonderful live performance from two more very talented friends, Lisa McClowry and Lavant (Van) Coppock.

Lisa McClowry & Lavant Coppock performing in the new WGN radio studio.

We also explored the connection between snakes and guitars (REALLY!!) and a whole lot more.  Then, before we knew it, it was time to go.

In case you missed it, the podcast has now been posted and you can hear it just by clicking on this link.

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This Just In ….

Well, after we hosted the inaugural broadcast Wednesday of “WGN Nightside” coinciding with the debut week of WGN radio‘s new evening/overnight schedule, following the new time slot for Patti Vasquez & Andrea Darlas and preceding Nick Digilio‘s expanded show, it looks like we’re going back again.

In case you missed it, here’s a link to Wednesday night’s podcast.

Since Thursday night’s White Sox game has been cancelled due to rain, that will be us sliding back inside your radio speakers for the second night in a row from 11PM-1AM.

Johnnie & Steve

WGN called and it seemed like a fun way to celebrate the first day of Summer to us.

And, we’re really digging the view from WGN radio’s new digs.

And, we’ve just confirmed that the incredible, Lisa McClowry will join us for an in-studio performance along with her guitarist/co-composer, Lavant (Van) Coppock.

Y’know, this is one of those times when returning to our “Life After Dark” lifestyle for one more night seemed like an idea that really doesn’t suck.  So, we hope you’ll join us.

Remember, even if you’re not in the Chicago area, you can listen and watch just by clicking on this link. http://wgnradio.com/on-air/live-streaming/

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R.I.P. D.J. Fontana

We’ve lost the man who defined the backbeat of Rock & Roll.  More importantly, we’ve lost a gentle, humble man with an easy, shy smile who we were privileged to know, Dominic Joseph Fontana, better known throughout the world as D.J. Fontana.

When Elvis Presley added a drummer to the original “Blue Moon Boys,” Scotty Moore and Bill Black, it was D.J.Fontana.  With the dawn of Rock & Roll and Elvis’s popularity on shows like the “Louisiana Hayride,” D.J. was finally able to move his drum set from behind the curtain (Country audiences of the time were not as accepting of drums) to the main stage where he stayed and innovated for the rest of his career.

All it takes is one listen to Elvis records such as “My Baby Left Me,” “Hound Dog,” “Trouble,” and, of course, “Jailhouse Rock” to hear how D.J. laid down a beat “like a ton of coal” to drive the Presley express in the recording studio.

If you tuned in to any of Elvis Presley’s ground breaking TV appearances, from the early days on Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey’s “Stage Show,” Elvis’s controversial, hip-shaking, performance of “Hound Dog” on the Milton Berle show, the tuxedoed Elvis on the Steve Allen show, the, again controversial, “from the waist up” Ed Sullivan Show, the Frank Sinatra “Welcome Home Elvis” special and the legendary 1968 “Singer Presents Elvis” comeback special, you saw D.J. Fontana providing the beat for “The King of Rock & Roll.”

Our personal introduction to D.J. didn’t happen until after the King had already left the building and, along with Scotty Moore, D.J. was performing at, and helping to promote, various tribute shows that he appeared in.  Unlike some performers with his degree of notoriety, we always found D.J. to be very accessible and easy to talk to.  We interviewed him several times and, while we always felt comfortable with him, were pleasantly surprised when we found out that he was comfortable enough with us to share his home phone number with us.

Speaking of home phone calls, one time while we were on vacation, Johnnie’s mom was in our house feeding our cat when the phone rang and voice mail kicked on.  It was D.J. leaving us a message.  Being a huge Elvis fan and a Tennessee girl, she was beyond excited and had to quickly call us and give us the news that the one and only D.J. Fontana had left a message on our answering machine.  She was so excited, she couldn’t even remember what the message was.  Thankfully, she didn’t erase it.

During one of our on-air interviews, Johnnie told D.J. that she thought he had the best seat in Rock & Roll.  He said, “What do you mean?”  She replied, “Well, I would have paid to be sitting where you were sitting because you got to look at Elvis’s backside all those years!”  He laughed and said “Well, I guess, as his drummer, you’re right.  I just never thought of it that way.”

D.J. was a frequent visitor to the Chicago area, playing many of the “Elvis Tribute Birthday Spectacular” concerts and we would also run into him on other occasions such as the NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) Show, in Nashville.

D.J. Fontana, Johnnie & Steve

On May 1 of 2001, we were honored to be invited to co-host a Rockabilly Hall of Fame special concert, “Rockin at the Ryman,” at the legendary Nashville auditorium with music greats such as Brenda Lee, Crystal Gayle, Boots Randolph, Billy Burnett, the Jordanaires (Elvis’s vocal back up group) and many more.  During a special tribute to Gene Vincent & his Blue Caps, Steve got to perform as an “honorary Blue Cap” playing guitar and singing Gene’s “Dance To The Bop” with Bill Mack of Gene Vincent’s Blue Caps on bass and D.J. on drums.  It was a “moment” we will never forget.

D.J.’s post-Elvis career wasn’t limited to just tribute shows.  He could regularly be found in studios or on stages with Paul McCartney, Jerry Lee Lewis, Ringo Starr, Roy Orbison, Dolly Parton, Charley Pride, Waylon Jennings and more.  Our friend, Ronnie Rice tells the story of recording in Nashville and being pleasantly surprised that D.J. was holding down the beat.

Probably because of his notoriety, D.J. was just one of many celebrities who were subject to fake Internet death reports.  2012 and 2016 were just two of the years these rumors surfaced.  So, when we heard the news in the early hours of Thursday, June 14, we wanted to make sure this sad story was true before we passed it on.  We checked with a number of sources, but it was one of our friends in Nashville, Keith Bilbrey, who confirmed that it was true when he shared this note from D.J.’s wife, Karen,  “It is with a heavy heart that I regret to inform you that DJ passed away peacefully in his sleep tonight.”

As the lyrics go in the song “Rock and Roll Heaven”

If you believe in forever,
Then life is just a one-night stand.
If there’s a rock and roll heaven,
Well you know they’ve got a hell of a band

And now, they’ve got one HELL of a drummer!

R.I.P. D. J.

 

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Let’s Play Catch Up!

As many of you know, we’ve been a little busy lately.  We say “many” because we know that not everyone who reads this blog follows us on our various social media sites.  So, we thought we’d take a second or 90 and use this space to play catch up with some links and other minutia that you may have missed elsewhere on the interweb or that we just never got around to posting.

First, for those of you who have been nice enough to ask, Steve’s battle with Autoimmune Hepatitis is improving but, as it will probably be for the foreseeable future, ongoing.  Regular test results keep getting better and the doctor’s feedback is staying positive.  As are we.

As improving health issues have allowed, we’re continuing with some of our pet projects.  At the moment we have a couple of books in various stages of production, we’re slowly adding new appearances to our Events schedule, we’re still involved with broadcast consulting, Steve’s upcoming album will probably not “drop” when we thought it would, but that’s OK because we like how it sounds, so far, and, since we’re on our own schedule, he doesn’t want to rush it.  Speaking of not rushing, are there days when we just take the time to smell a rose or two?  Heck yeah!

Also, not surprisingly, when the mood strikes and there is an open microphone, we’ve been enjoying occasionally sliding back inside your radio speakers.  The past few weeks we’ve found ourselves back inside your speakers from various locations in a couple of states.  Again, for those of you who don’t follow our social media sites, here are some links to our recent radio adventures.

On May 29, while we were on the Gulf Coast, we spent some time with our friends at WKGC-FM (90.7-FM), in Panama City, FL

Tom Hoots, Tori Shay, Johnnie, Steve & Scott Kirkman at WKGC

Here’s a link to the WKGC podcast.

When we got back to Chicago, we spent Sunday morning, June 3rd, saying hello to an old friend when we checked out the view from the WCGO (1590-AM) studios on the Mike Nowak show with Mike Nowak and Peggy Malecki.

Mike Nowak, Steve, Johnnie & Peggy Malecki at WCGO.

Here’s a link to the Mike Nowak show podcast.

The following Tuesday night, June 5th, we headed back to the Tribune Tower to hang out on WGN Radio and spend some time staying up “Pretty Late with Patti Vasquez.”  We also got to meet John Teti and play TV trivia with him and Esmeralda Leon.

Steve, Johnnie, Patti, Esmeralda & John

To hear our podcast with Patti just click this link.

Speaking of the Tribune Tower, as most of you know, WGN Radio is leaving the Tribune Tower. Monday morning, June 11, we had fun on the Steve Cochran show sharing some memories of the 32 years we’ve been privileged to spend at this legendary location.

Steve, Steve Cochran & Johnnie in the WGN radio Showcase Studio.

Here’s a link to the Steve Cochran show podcast.

Yeah, that’s a lot of radio in a short period of time and, NO, we’re not auditioning for anything!  We’re just having fun.

Are we all caught up now?

Good!

Now we’re going to back away from this computer and go smell a rose or two.

 

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We’re on WGN Monday Morning w/Steve Cochran!

Just a heads up that, Monday morning at 9:10, we’ll walk in to the legendary Michigan Ave. Showcase Studio for one last time to join the Steve Cochran show with some reflections on the 32 years we’ve been a part of WGN Radio‘s Tribune Tower adventures.

Steve, Johnnie, Andrea Darlas & Steve Cochran

Don’t forget, even if you’re not in the Chicago area, you can listen and watch just by clicking on this link. http://wgnradio.com/on-air/live-streaming/

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We’re Celebrating Les Paul’s 103rd Birthday!

This Saturday, June 9, would have been Les Paul’s 103rd birthday and we’ve got a party planned!

We hope you can join us at the Woodstock Public Library (414 W. Judd, Woodstock, IL, 60098).  This event is being hosted by Free Guitars for Future Stars.

We’ll be sharing behind the scenes stories about the legendary Les Paul, who we were very privileged to know as a dear friend.  And, yes, you’ll be able to get autographed copies of our book, “A Little More Les.”

To order “A Little More Les” go to http://www.alittlemoreles.com

Here’s a look at the game plan.

1:00-2:00 we’ll discuss our book “A Little More Les” followed by a book signing.
2:30-4:00 there will be a screening of the Les Paul movie, “Chasing Sound
– Cake will be served
– Kids can design and color their own guitar.
Bowman Guitars will showcase some of their custom guitars.
This is going to be a PARTY!

We hope to see you there but, even if you can’t make it, remember, you can still order “A Little More Les” by clicking on this link.

Happy Birthday, Les!

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Our Podcast With Patti is Posted

We had an absolute blast, Tuesday night, at WGN Radio hanging out “Pretty Late with Patti Vasquez“, John Teti and Esmeralda Leon.

Steve, Johnnie, Patti, Esmeralda & John

If you didn’t get to join in the fun,or if you did and want to do it again, just click this link.

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