R.I.P. Bob Young

We may have told you before that some posts are harder than others to write.  Well … this is one of those.

As we started typing this into our desktop it was a half hour until Midnight.  We were still sorting out some very sad news we just got and would be sharing with Nick Digilio on WGN Radio, at 4 AM, as we joined him to remember, and pay tribute to, a dear friend who just happened to be one of the most talented singer/songwriter/musicians we’ve ever known … Bob Young.

An early promotional photo of Bob Young.

An early promotional photo of Bob Young.

We just got word late Tuesday night that Bob passed away.

For any of you who might not know, along with writing, singing and performing on any of a number of incredible musical creations that sound as good as, or better than, much of what you hear coming through your radio today, Bob also wrote “The WGN Song” and our “Steve and Johnnie – Johnnie and Steve” theme.

We first encountered Bob at one of WGN Radio’s Taste of Chicago broadcasts.  We knew right away he was a REAL talent, but didn’t really get to know how much of a talent or how dedicated a performer he was until he joined us onstage at the WGN Tornado Aid concert at Joliet’s Rialto Square Theatre.  That concert was organized to raise money for the tornado that devastated much of Plainfield in 1990.  Bob and his band had another gig booked that night, but insisted on playing BOTH gigs because he wanted to help.  He backed us on the infamous version of “Johnnie B Goode” that not only saw Steve singing and playing but, in a “we’ll never forget this” moment, saw Johnnie burn her accordion ala Jimi Hendrix.

After playing his own set and backing us, when the curtain closed, Bob and his band quickly ran off the stage to the other gig where they had stashed additional instruments.  It was not long after that Bob wrote “The WGN Song” which is currently being used in radio and television commercials.  The original, sung by Bob, debuted on Bob Collins’ show one morning during the days Johnnie was still doing traffic on the show.  Bob Collins said to Johnnie “Johnnie Gail, Bob Young has sent us a song called “The WGN Song” let’s give it a listen.”  It was the first time anyone had heard the song and before it was over both Collins and Putman and, we suspect many listeners, were drying their eyes.  It was an instant favorite and opened the door to Bob Young regularly opening the door and saying “Hey kids, I just wrote something new.  Wanna hear it?”  The answer was always “Yes.”  Bob Young was the rare performer we would pop a tape or CD in and play on the air without auditioning because we totally trusted him and knew it would be something really good. He never let us down.

Bob Young with the "Star Guitar" he'd just signed.

Bob Young with the “Star Guitar” he’d just signed.

As we got to know Bob, a real friendship developed.  For years Bob and his wife, Mary, spent holidays and birthdays with us at our house or on our show at WGN.  One morning we got the terrible news that a fire had left Bob and Mary homeless and without a life’s worth of possessions.  In a very short order, almost overnight, Bob Collins joined the two of us and Phil Vaughn, the head of Nation Records in organizing the “Friends Again” concert.  The Ides of March, The Buckinghams, The Cryan’ Shames, Ronnie Rice, Stormy Weather, Pete Special and a ton of WGN listeners came together on a rainy Sunday afternoon in an airplane hanger to participate in the “Friends Again” benefit to help out Bob and Mary.  We auctioned off everything from guitars to Johnnie’s homemade cakes.  It was a HUGE success and gave Bob and Mary the means to get back on their feet.  By the way, “Friends Again” was named after one of Bob’s songs.

Bob Collins and Bob Young at the "Friends Again" concert.

Bob Collins and Bob Young at the “Friends Again” concert.

One of the many nights we’ll never forget is having Bob in the studio and getting a call from Bob’s brother, Steve.  They hadn’t talked to each other in years.  During the news they talked off the air and reconnected.  This reconnection resulted in Steve Young helping produce Bob Young’s first album “Who’s Bob Young.”  Both brothers were in the studio with us for a CD release party that saw the album sell out.  The guys literally had operators standing by and before our show ended they told Bob and Steve that all the copies they had pressed were sold out.  Talk about a reunion!

Bob’s follow up album, “American Stories,” contained many listener favorites like “Hey Baby,” “Friends Again,” and “Her Mother’s Daughter.”  “Her Mother’s  Daughter” was written for Bob’s wife Mary and her daughter and, as we know from many listeners, was played at many a wedding.  If you’d like to hear some of “American Stories” the album and downloadable  tracks are available by clicking right here.

Bob Young's "American Stories" CD

Bob Young’s “American Stories” CD

If you’d like to hear our theme, “The WGN Song,” and “The Yacht Lyle Dean” and see a video of Bob performing, just click here for WGN Radio’s tribute to Bob Young.

Unfortunately, recent years found Bob grieving the loss of his beloved Mary and spending more time surrounded by doctors and nurses than he would have liked.  Through it all he remained amazingly upbeat and would always want to talk about his next project or song.

There is so much more to say about Bob and we shared some of our thoughts with Nick Digilio this morning.  Click here if you’d like to hear the conversation we had with Nick remembering Bob.

Suffice it to say, we loved Bob not only for his talent but for his humor and his big heart. His passing leaves a hole in ours.

He lived to play music and we’d like to believe he’s sitting on that front porch he always told us about and strumming his guitar for Mary.

Another Bob Young black and white

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Our “First Look” Preview of the 2016 Nissan Maxima

This past Thursday, along with other members of the Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA), we went to a special preview of the all-new 2016 Nissan Maxima.

2016 Nissan Maxima

2016 Nissan Maxima

Our long-time friends Tom Appel and Frank Peiler, from Consumer Guide Automotive joined us to make a few comments. This was just a preview, not a complete video road test, but we thought you might like to see our “first look” video.

So, just click here and join us on our “first look” walkaround preview.

And don’t forget, if you want to check some of our previous road tests and some of the other goodies we’ve been pouring into Consumer Guide Automotive’s Daily Drive tank, just point your browser right here.

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A Gluten-Free Anytime Treat!

It’s been a while since we’ve teased you with any of the contents from “Her” upcoming cookbook.  Hey, we’ve been a little preoccupied with our, soon to be available, book about Les Paul, “A Little More Les.”

However, since it has been a while ….

Anyone for Sour Cream Banana cake with Brown Butter glaze? It’s gluten free, wish it was calorie free!!

Johnnie's Gluten-Free Sour Cream Banana cake with Brown Butter glaze

Johnnie’s Gluten-Free Sour Cream Banana cake with Brown Butter glaze

OK, since you’ve been and very patient about waiting for the cookbook, we’ll let you take a peek at the recipe.  Just remember, this is just one sample of what you’ll find when we move that book from the burner into your hands.

Use your favorite gf flour blend. I use Pamela’s and Namaste.

Sour Cream Banana Cake

Soften 1 stick of butter
Add 2 eggs–1 at a time and mix well after each egg with butter.
Stir in 2 tsp vanilla

Add 1 cup of sugar to butter/egg mixture and blend well.

Combine 2 cups of gluten-free flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
Add flour mix to the butter/sugar mixture and blend well

Next, alternate adding 3 med. ripe bananas smashed and
1 cup sour cream
Mix well and pour into a well greased bundt pan or 9×13″ pan.
Bake at 350 for 35-45 min for 9×13″ pan and 45-50 min. for bundt

Now…Browned Butter Frosting

Melt 1 stick of butter in skillet stirring often til it begins to smell nutty and brown specks develop.
Gradually add 4 cups of powdered sugar. Mix after each addition. I use a rubber spatula and stir and press out lumps while stirring. Have 3-5 Tb of milk ready. As you add the sugar add a splash of milk so this lumpy mess will come together. Add 1 1/2 tsps. vanilla.
Again, keep mixing and if you need heat to melt the combination sit the skillet on a low flame to warm. It’s a bit labor intensive but, makes the cake!

When the cake is cooled, pour frosting over bundt cake or spread over sheet cake. If the frosting hardens add a splash of milk and a few seconds in the microwave and it’s good to pour or spread.

Enjoy!

Johnnie

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A Little More About “A Little More Les”

Back in May we teased you and told you we couldn’t say a whole lot more about it.

Well, now we can.

Our book about Les Paul, “A Little More Les,” is now in the hands of our publisher.  We had no idea of the amount of real work that goes into writing a book, particularly when it’s a book about something/someone you really care about and want to get right.

Hopefully, we did.

We wanted to do this book “old school,” so it will be published as a hard cover, four color edition.  Here is a look at the cover.

"A Little More Les" cover

“A Little More Les” cover

As you can see, Duane Eddy was nice enough to do the forward.  Charlie Daniels, Tommy Emmanuel, Doyle Dykes, Muriel Anderson and Frank Vignola added some of their memories of Les, too.

As it says on the cover, this book is a collection of conversations, photos and memories from our treasured friendship with Les.  We went through years and years of material from our archives and selected what we think is some pretty cool stuff to share with you.  Then, we stirred in a lot of previously never told stories and rare photos.  Hopefully, Les would have liked it.  Hopefully, you will too.

While the book won’t be out for a few weeks, for Les’s 100th birthday (June 9th) we announced a special pre-order offer.  You can pre-order an autographed copy, just by clicking on the link from the website alittlemoreles.com.

For those of you who are a little shy or distrustful of buying something on the web, our publisher, Bantry Bay Books, has set up a pre-order phone number, too.  Again, just click on the website link above and everything shall be revealed.

“A Little More Les” has been in the works for quite some time.  We’re very proud of it and can’t wait till copies are in our/your hands.

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2015 Lexus NX 200t F Sport Video Road Test

Our brand new Video Road Test, the 2015 Lexus NX 200t F Sport, has just driven on to Consumer Guide Automotive’s Daily Drive website.  Just click on the link, take it for a spin and see what you think.

2015 Lexus NX 200t F Sport

2015 Lexus NX 200t F Sport

And don’t forget, if you want to check some of our previous road tests and some of the other goodies we’ve been pouring into the Daily Drive tank, just point your browser right here.

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Book It!!

At the moment we can’t say a whole lot more.

So, for now, we’ll just say…

“A Little More Les”

Coming Soon!

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2015 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport 2.0T Video Road Test

Our latest Video Road Test, the 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport 2.0T, has just been posted on Consumer Guide Automotive’s Daily Drive website.  Just click on the link to take a look and see what you think.

And don’t forget, if you want to check some of our previous road tests and some of the other goodies we’ve been pouring into the Daily Drive tank, just point your browser right here.

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