By Phill Marder
This is the 15th set of 10 selections in The Goldmine Hall of Fame.
Great Blogs Of Fire will be announcing 10 inductees approximately every two weeks until all 700-plus inductees are announced. Bios of all selections and criteria for induction can be found on our website by clicking the Goldmine Hall of Fame tab. A running list of all announced inductees will be listed, also. These also can be found under “Great Blogs Of Fire” at the bottom of the page.
141. REO SPEEDWAGON – This Illinois group could have been called REO Slowwagon considering how long it took them to become a bonafide success. Formed in 1967, the band didn’t release its first album until 1971, didn’t even reach the Billboard Top 200 album chart until 1973 with its third long-player, and didn’t realize a true smash until 1980.
But after “Keep On Loving You” hit the top in the U.S. and the top 10 in Britain, pushing the album “Hi Infidelity” into the #1 position on the U.S. chart and top 10 in the U.K. and the Netherlands, REO Speedwagon became a regular visitor to the top of the charts and became accustomed to sell-out concerts worldwide. In 1982, the album “Good Trouble” reached #7 in the States and two years later “Wheels Are Turnin’” did likewise.
On the singles’ side, “Take It On The Run” followed “Keep On Loving You” into the top 10, peaking at #5, “Keep The Fire Burning” reached #7 and “Can’t Fight This Feeling” became the group’s second #1. During this stretch, nine other REO singles reached the top 40 and those, plus several strong album cuts, have made the group staples of Classic Rock radio.
The band remained fairly stable over the years, except for the lead vocalist position which was assumed by Kevin Cronin for the second album. Cronin then left and Mike Murphy took over for three albums that started REO’s chart presence until Cronin returned for good in album five.
The inductees are: Gary Richrath (guitar), Gregg Philbin & Bruce Hall (bass), Neal Doughty (keyboards), Alan Gratzer (drums) & Kevin Cronin & Mike Murphy (vocals).
142. KISS – Outlandish, bombastic, original, intelligent and … gasp … even talented, Kiss is one of the most successful and recognizable music acts of the Rock & Roll Era, or any Era for that matter.
Their 1974 first album, from the opening riff of “Strutter” to the last pounding chord of a fading “Black Diamond,” remains a classic though it reached just #87 on the U.S. charts and #82 in Canada. And while subsequent releases – and there have been many – failed to sustain that creative peak, each contained individual gems that helped KISS keep increasing its audience, which grew to massive proportions. By 1977’s “Love Gun,” they were breaking top 10’s worldwide, rolling to #4 in the States. During that stretch, they also released “Alive,” which reached #9 and set the stage – no pun intended – for two more live albums, 1977’s “Alive II” and 1993’s “Alive III,” each of which also reached the top 10.
Following “Love Gun’s” breakthrough, KISS also placed five more studio albums into the U.S. Top 10. They haven’t hit #1 yet, but came close in 2009 with “Sonic Boom,” which stalled at #2 in the U.S., Canada and Norway and 2012’s “Monster,” which peaked at #2 in Norway and #3 in the U.S. and Canada. However, 1980’s “Unmasked” did top the Norway charts and 1998’s “Psycho Circus” hit the top in Australia and Sweden.
Though never much of a factor on the singles’ charts, Kiss did manage three major hits, all rather strange considering the source. “Beth“ was the violin-soaked ballad sung by Criss, which reached No. 7 on the Hot 100 in 1976. It was the antithesis of their sound and image. Naturally, it became their biggest hit. Their only other Top 10 effort was “Forever,“ No. 8 in 1990. This was co-written by Paul Stanley and …Michael Bolton? Their signature song, “Rock & Roll All Night,” bombed early in 1975, but a live version released later the same year connected, hitting #12.
Obviously, KISS has proven itself much more than just a costumed gimmick. Their success over a 40-year period demonstrates a remarkable staying power which requires not only a spectacular stage show, but a writing and performing talent befitting superstar status.
The inductees are founders and permanent members Gene Simmons (bass) and Paul Stanley (guitar), along with Peter Criss, Eric Carr & Eric Singer (drums), Ace Frehley, Bruce Kulick & Tommy Thayer (guitar). All contributed vocals.
143. BLACK SABBATH – While the 1970s is known as the decade of the singer-songwriter, many great bands also evolved during that decade. One whose breakthrough occurred simultaneously with the dawning of the ‘70s was Black Sabbath, an English foursome that became, along with Led Zeppelin, the standard for heavy metal bands of the future.
Bizarre lead singer Ozzy Osbourne was the group’s focal point in the headlines, but the magic of riff master Tony Iommi’s guitar gave Black Sabbath a series of hooks its fans could grab onto, and grab onto them they did. With bass guitarist Terry “Geezer” Butler and drummer Bill Ward providing the foundation, Black Sabbath’s 1970 debut LP shot into the U.K. top 10 in spite of the failure of the centerpiece single, a cover of Crow’s “Evil Woman,” to register at all. Later the same year, “Paranoid” gave the group its first hit single and the LP of the same name ran to #1 in England and #12 in the U.S.
But Black Sabbath never was a hit single group, and never had another hit single though “Paranoid’s” follow-up, “Iron Man,” became one of the band’s most famous and best-loved recordings. The album charts were the home of Black Sabbath, and the third long player, “Master Of Reality,” reached top 10 status on both sides of the Atlantic. While that disc proved Black Sabbath’s only entry into the U.S. top 10, the band placed five additional entries into the British top 10.
As the decade concluded, Osbourne was fired due to all sorts of personal issues, only to become a bigger star as a solo act. Meanwhile, Sabbath soldiered on with a series of lead vocalists, including the late Ronnie James Dio, Ian Gillan and Glenn Hughes, and several other musicians floating in and out of the group’s lineup, Osbourne returning in 1997 for the inevitable reunion. Then, in 2013, the group, minus Ward, pulled off the ultimate comeback when their new album, “13,” topped the U.K. chart 43 years after “Paranoid” hit #1. The time between #1 LPs set a new record for the British chart. The original four are the Goldmine inductees.
144. GLADYS KNIGHT & THE PIPS – This family affair – Gladys, her brother Merald and cousins Edward Patten and William Guest – had a major hit record when Knight still was in her teenage years, taking “Every Beat Of My Heart,” written by Johnny Otis of “Willie & The Hand Jive” fame, to #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #1 on the R&B chart in 1961.
Two more top 40 successes followed, prompting Berry Gordy Jr. to sign the group to Motown in 1966, and the following year The Pips had their biggest hit to that point, “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” climbing to #2 and #1 R&B. That smash also started a run of hit singles in Canada. In 1969, the Georgia quartet just missed topping the R&B chart again, “The Nitty Gritty” and “Friendship Train” each stalling at #2.
But the following year, “If I Were Your Woman” made it all the way, also climbing into the national top 10. In 1972, “Neither One Of Us (Wants To Be The First To Say Goodbye)” equaled the success of “Grapevine,” and, by this time, the group had established a following in England as well. But, after “Daddy Could Swear, I Declare” went #2 R&B in 1972, the Pips decided to jump ship, moving to Buddah Records.
The move was a huge success, the Pips putting 11 singles into the R&B top 10 between 1973 and 1978, but, more importantly, also scoring four top five hits on the Hot 100, including their first #1, “Midnight Train To Georgia.” Over the years, Gladys Knight & The Pips have continued to score regular single and album chart success, even topping the R&B chart in 1983 with “Save The Overtime (For Me)” and again in 1987 with “Love Overboard” and, while the Pips retired in 1988, Knight has remained a popular concert attraction to this day.
145. CONNIE FRANCIS – This New Jersey teenager was the first female superstar of Rock & Roll, her success laying the groundwork for every following young lady who wanted to become a Rock & Roll recording star. That she has maintained her icon status and remains, even today, a successful force in the industry is a tribute to her enduring talent.
Francis began as a TV child star, but almost gave up on her recording career when her first 10 singles flopped, only the 10th, a duet with Marvin Rainwater of “Gonna Find Me A Bluebird” fame, even scratching the Hot 100. Her label, MGM, reportedly was about to give up on her when, at the insistence of her father, she finished her last scheduled session of 1957 with the standard, “Who’s Sorry Now.” As fate would have it, the ballad became a smash, rising to #4, and Francis, still a teen, was on her way. In England, the release was even bigger, hitting #1, and Francis had little trouble following it, reaching #11 with “I’m Sorry I Made You Cry.” However, that single failed to connect in the States, leaving Francis scrambling for something to return her to the top.
She found it in a Neil Sedaka/Howard Greenfield composition entitled “Stupid Cupid,” which climbed to U.S. #14 and held the top spot in England for six weeks. Between 1958 and 1962, Francis hit the U.S. top 10 with 13 singles, two – 1960’s “My Heart Has A Mind Of Its Own” and 1962’s “Don’t Break The Heart That Loves You” – topping the charts, while 1958’s “My Happiness” just missed, being held at #2. The story was similar in the U.K., eight of her singles climbing into the top 10, and she also notched #1 records in Germany, France, Italy and Japan.
Like most ‘50’s stars, Francis’ success was built on the 45, but she did score some major successes on the album chart as well, “Connie Francis Sings Italian Favorites” and “More Italian Favorites” both reaching the U.S. top 10. In 1977, her “20 Greatest Hits” topped the U.K. album chart and today it would be virtually impossible to visit any country without finding a Connie Francis album in someone’s collection.
146. CROSBY, STILLS & NASH – Seldom has a group accomplished so much with so little. But David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Graham Nash became household names and music superstars after releasing just two albums, the first in 1969, the follow-up the next year. Those, plus their legendary appearance at Woodstock and a 1971 live album cemented CS&N’s legacy for all-time.
One of music’s most heralded supergroups, Crosby coming from the Byrds, Stills from the Buffalo Springfield and Nash from the Hollies, CS&N actually lived up to the advanced hype, issuing one of the Rock Era’s most praised debut albums. The acoustic-based eponymous release began with “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” and proceeded to roll from classic to classic, the first cut and “Marrakesh Express” each reaching the top 30. Neil Young joined for “Déjà Vu,” which climbed to #1, the singles “Woodstock” and “Teach Your Children” leading the way, and also played a major role in “4 Way Street,” a live double album that hit the top of the U.S. chart and went top 10 worldwide.
Young’s “Ohio” was pulled from the live set, becoming the group’s next hit single, and “Our House,” from “Déjà Vu” also made inroads on the singles’ chart, but by 1974 Atlantic Records already was releasing a greatest hits package, usually a sign of career summation, CSN&Y’s entitled “So Far.”
But in 1977, the group, back to a trio without Young, unleashed its biggest single, “Just A Song Before I Go,” from the “CSN” LP that peaked at #2 in the U.S. Through the ‘90s, Crosby, Stills and Nash continued regular releases of long players, usually one every five or six years, continued a steady personal appearance schedule still in play and became a staple of Classic Rock radio.
147. THE FOUR SEASONS – Two major forces contributed to the Four Seasons becoming perhaps the greatest vocal group of the last 60 years. One was the twin lead singers, each possessing one of music’s best voices. The second was the writing combination of Bob Crewe and Bob Gaudio, second to none when it came to penning great hits that became memorable classics.
The two lead singers actually were wrapped up in one body, that of the incomparable Frankie Valli. In one voice, he unleashed perhaps the greatest falsetto ever recorded. That falsetto became Valli’s and the group’s trademark, soaring above everything else on the airwaves. He could use it gently or introduce a rough rasp to it, depending on the need of the particular song. And, on almost every Four Seasons’ recording, often on the fade, Valli would take it to a note only he could reach seemingly to remind listeners “Hey, there’s no one else out there who can do this.” That unearthly weapon overshadowed his normal voice, which was terrific in its own rite. There was nothing Valli couldn’t sing better than almost anyone else, and it gave Gaudio and Crewe a blank canvas on which to paint their compositions and the group an open door when it came to choosing previous recordings to cover.
From 1962 to 1964, the Seasons topped the U.S. singles chart four times with “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Walk Like A Man” and “Rag Doll.” “Dawn (Go Away),” “Candy Girl,” “Ronnie” and “Save It For Me” also hit the top 10. The band’s success spread worldwide and translated into best-selling albums as well as hit singles, five LPs – only one a hits package – hitting the top 10 between 1962 and 1965. As time progressed, the group released hits under the moniker The Wonder Who and Valli, as a solo, connected with the standard-to-be “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” which hit #2 and “My Eyes Adored You” and “Grease,” both of which reached #1.
In fact, in 1965 at the same The Wonder Who was challenging the top 10 with an unlikely cover of Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice,” the Seasons were challenging the #1 spot with “Let’s Hang On,” which finished at #3. “Working My Way Back To You,” “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” “Tell It To The Rain,” and “C’mon Marianne” all reached top 10 status as the Jersey Boys proved impervious to even The British Invasion. Disco? No problem, either. “Who Loves You” reached #3 in 1975 and “December, 1963 (Oh What A Night)” topped the charts, being joined in the U.K. top 10 by “Silver Star,” which peaked at #6.
Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons left a legacy of recordings so incredible even a hit Broadway musical, aptly titled “Jersey Boys,” couldn’t do it justice. The inductees, along with Valli and Gaudio (keyboards), are Tommy DeVito (guitar), and Nick Massi and Joe Long (bass).
148. THE EURYTHMICS – The combination of Dave Stewart’s production, songwriting and occasional vocal support with the sound and look of Annie Lennox made The Eurythmics one of the top selling acts of the 1980s.
After their initial LP, 1981’s “In The Garden,” stiffed, the duo clicked with the haunting “Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This),” the title song of their 1983 LP and a #1 single in the United States and Canada. The smash also reached #2 in the Britain and Ireland and went top 10 around the globe, carrying the LP up the charts as well. While “Sweet Dreams” was to become the pair’s signature song, it was just the beginning of a string of hits that made Lennox, with her short cut orange hair, an instantly recognizable figure.
“Love Is A Stranger,” the first single from the album, hadn’t done much until “Sweet Dreams” clicked, then reached the U.K. top 10 and became a hit in the States as well. From that point, the Eurythmics became a constant fixture in the Brit top 10, adding seven more entries before the decade’s end. That string included “There Must Be Angel (Playing With My Heart),” which, in 1985, became the pair’s lone British #1. The group did land seven LPs into the Brit top 10, including 1983’s “Touch” and 1989’s “We Two Are One,” both of which topped the charts. A 1991 “Greatest Hits” package also hit #1 in the U.K.
Both Lennox and Stewart have gone on to successful careers on their own, every now and then reuniting for a Eurythmics pairing, their 1999 offering, “Peace,” hitting the top 10 in most countries, while a 2005 single, “I’ve Got A Life,” climbed into the U.K. top 20.
149. GLORIA ESTEFAN – Miami Sound Machine, with an ever-changing group of players, released seven albums between 1977 and 1982 without ever scoring even a low chart position. But the group was building a following as was its lead singer Gloria Estefan.
In 1984, the group released its first English language LP, “Eyes Of Innocence,” bringing the Cuban-born Estefan to the brink of stardom. She crossed over when 1985’s “Conga” became a smash, carrying the album “Primitive Love” up the charts.
The follow-up, 1987’s “Let It Loose,” became the first LP to list Estefan’s name along with the group and it carried to #1 in the U.K. and The Netherlands. Though the band, with constantly fluctuating members, remained Estefan’s backing group, from that point on releases carried just her name, and she has scored with a steady stream of best sellers through to present day in spite of a near fatal tour bus accident in 1990 that sidelined her for over a year.
Acknowledged as the most successful Latin crossover, Estefan has garnered three Grammy Awards and four Latin Grammys and ranks among the top 100 best-selling artists of all time.
150. PAT BOONE – Possessor of one of the most beautiful voices in recorded music, Pat Boone became one of the best-selling superstars of the 1950s and ‘60s. And his popularity was worldwide. But, like many artists popular during the ‘50s, Boone’s sales largely were relegated to 45s, since the LP had not become the dominating force it would develop into later.
Still, Boone placed 16 LPs on the U.S. charts between 1956 and 1962, three reaching the top 10. During that same time period, he managed just three charting albums in the U.K., two being religious offerings. But around the globe, Boone became a monster record seller, whose popularity rivaled that of Elvis. The majority of his hits were cover versions of Rock hits. He took “Ain’t That A Shame” by Fats Domino to #1 in the U.S. and #7 in the U.K., The El Dorados “At My Front Door” to #7 U.S., a two-side effort featuring the Flamingos “I’ll Be Home” and Little Richard’s “Tutti Frutti” to #4 U.S. and #1 U.K., Little Richard’s “Long Tall Sally” to #8 U.S. and Ivory Joe Hunter’s “I Almost Lost My Mind” to #1 U.S.
Kids were purchasing the originals for the most part, but someone was buying Boone’s covers, and that someone, most likely, was parents. So while a lack of support by self-anointed critics knocks down Boone’s ranking somewhat, he should be given credit for playing a major role in making Rock & Roll acceptable to the older generations. But by the time 1956 rolled around, it didn’t matter much as Boone began recording numbers purchased by young listeners, too.
Between 1956 and 1962, he hit the top 10 in the U.S. or other parts of the world with “Friendly Persuasion,” “Don’t Forbid Me,” “Why Baby Why,” “Love Letters In The Sand,” “Bernadine,” “Remember You’re Mine,” “April Love,” “A Wonderful Time Up There,” “It’s Too Soon To Know,” “Sugar Moon,” “If Dreams Came True,” “Moody River” and “Speedy Gonzales.”
He spent over four straight years with at least one entry on the Top 100, a Billboard record, and appeared in many popular films as well.