FAKE NEWS: In a recent PSA (Public Service Announcement), an up and coming Windsor/Detroit area AM radio station attempted to present its history as a pioneering outlet for musical diversity, at the expense of the well documented legacies of several legendary area broadcast giants who actually did make such inroads, including WKNR Keener 13, CKLW The Big 8 and WXYZ 1270. Blitz Magazine Editor/Publisher Michael McDowell takes that aspiring station to task in the Editorial, Fake News Rebuttal, with commentary by veterans of WKNR and CKLW (Click on the link entitled Editorial - Fake News Rebuttal under the Previous Posts column at right for the full story)  (Click on above image to enlarge).

SINCE 1975 -

Welcome to the official web site for Blitz, The Rock And Roll Magazine For Thinking People. Since 1975, Blitz has been the leading voice for the discerning music enthusiast. Blitz Magazine was also one of the first magazines of its kind to embrace the internet, having also been online since January 1996.

Here you will find news and updates about all of the key artists essential to the growth and development of rock and roll music and related genres, including rhythm and blues, country and western, jazz and easy listening. For highlights from recent past editions of the Bits And Pieces and Shape Of Things To Come columns, click on the archival postings on the right hand side of this page. Be sure and check back frequently for regular updates.

If you have any questions, please e-mail us at

Michael McDowell
Blitz Magazine
Since 1975 - The Rock And Roll Magazine For Thinking People

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Blitz Magazine - The Rock And Roll Magazine For Thinking People


Follow the fascinating and unfolding tale (through her favorite music) of the life and times of Blitz Magazine's late and beloved Photo Editor, Audrey McDowell, as told by her husband, Blitz Editor/Publisher Michael McDowell. A Facebook exclusive! "Like" us on Facebook at Blitz Magazine - The Rock And Roll Magazine For Thinking People, and watch for further installments.


Gospel music pioneer and visionary Edwin Hawkins lost his protracted battle with pancreatic cancer on Martin Luther King day.

The Pixies Three discuss their plans to persevere as a group in the wake of the December 2017 retirement of original lead vocalist and group co-founder, Midge Neel (a Blitz Magazine exclusive).

Blitz Magazine Editor/Publisher Michael McDowell joined more than a hundred other veterans of the Southern California music industry for the annual Christmas celebration at the suburban Los Angeles home of one time Rhino Records executive Gary Stewart.

Keely Smith is remembered as an extraordinarily gifted vocalist and comedic foil to first husband Louis Prima in their numerous collaborations with Sam Butera and the Witnesses for Capitol.

Veteran musicologists, record collectors, journalists, musicians and radio personalities gathered on 02 December in Livonia, Michigan for the quarterly Motor City Music Convention to pay tribute to the show's late founder, Bryan Caillouette

We pay tribute to beleaguered Partridge Family front man and acclaimed solo artist David Cassidy, who succumbed to complications from dementia and multiple organ failure on 21 November.

Blitz Magazine's Michael McDowell takes a closer look at ABKCO's 50th anniversary box set celebrating the release of the Rolling Stones' Their Satanic Majesties Request album. Click on the link The Rolling Stones Majesties Box Set under the Previous Posts heading at right. 

Veteran vocalist, composer, producer and actress Debbie Gibson celebrates the release of the thirteen disc Edsel Records CD and DVD box set, We Could Be Together, which takes a comprehensive look at the beloved artist's thirty year recording career.

Herefordshire-based (and New York native) composer and vocalist Roxanne Fontana will be returning to the studio in London in November to record her interpretation of an as yet unnamed Rolling Stones classic. Inmates co-founder and guitarist Tony Oliver will produce.

We salute the extraordinary musical vision of producer and composer Jerry Ross (whose numerous accomplishments include the founding of the Heritage and Colossus labels), who lost his battle against prostate cancer on 04 October at age 84.

Blitz Magazine recalls our lone encounter in the 1980s with Tom Petty in our memorial tribute to the veteran vocalist and composer, who succumbed to cardiac arrest on 02 October at age 66.

Although primarily known for his enterprises in the world of publishing, journalist and entrepreneur Hugh Hefner made great strides in the world of music with the richly diverse artist roster found on his Playboy label, as well as his work with Collectors Choice Music. We celebrate the musical side of  the legacy of Hefner, who died on 27 September at age 91. 

Several veteran musicians weigh in on surviving Hurricane Irma, including rock and roll Pioneer Arch Hall Junior, Danny and the Juniors' Bob Maffei, the Blues Magoos' Peppy Castro and Dawn Breakers co-founder and country music veteran Jack Blanchard of Jack Blanchard and Misty Morgan.

We pay tribute to The Music Man's first Marian Paroo, the legendary Barbara Cook (who succumbed to respiratory failure at age 89), as well as  beloved vocalist, composer, one time Beach Boys bassist and virtuoso guitarist, Glen Campbell, who lost his protracted battle with Alzheimer's Disease on 08 August.

Prayers go up on behalf of the legendary Bob Shane, sole surviving founder of the Kingston Trio. Shane is recovering from a series of mini-strokes suffered in July.

Farewell to pioneering New Zealand rocker Lyn Barnett, who was found dead in her home in July of unknown causes.

Veterans of the long defunct Windsor, Ontario AM radio powerhouse, CKLW The Big 8 were reunited for a charity event on 15 July, with Blitz Magazine as special guests. Full account in a separate article (see Previous Posts at right).

Blitz  mourns the passing of hero, radio pioneer and dear friend, Frank "Swingin'" Sweeney, a veteran of the groundbreaking WKNR Keener 13 air staff and most recently a cherished member of Blitz Magazine's advisory board.

The brick and mortar music and Christian music industries are getting a much needed boost, as the Ontario-based Sunrise Records chain assumes the operation of seventy vacated HMV outlets across Canada, while the long-standing Nashville-based LifeWay chain rises to the occasion to fill the gap caused by the collapse of the Family Christian Bookstore outlets across the United States in mid-May.


The highly prolific vocalist and composer Jeremy Morris has reached into his vast archives for a collection of twenty-three previously unreleased tracks recorded between 1975 and 1979, Invitation.

Ash Wells' Teensville label has once again maintained its front runner status with the release of the compilation CD, Marshmallow Skies, which features twenty-eight thinking outside of the box moments by such veteran greats as Rick Nelson, Bo Diddley, Johnny Tillotson, the Four Seasons, Freddy Cannon, Tommy Roe, Lesley Gore, Little Anthony And The Imperials, the Tokens, Jan And Dean, Gary Lewis, Brian Hyland, Roy Orbison, Jay and the Americans, Tommy Sands, the Everly Brothers, Gene Vincent, Chubby Checker and others.

Roger Maglio's Gear Fab label has upgraded their 1997 anthology CD by the Long Island-based Majic Ship with newly discovered photos, additional bonus tracks and an expanded essay.

Editor/Publisher Michael McDowell takes an in depth look at the eight volume WJBK Hits Various Artists anthology series, which chronicles a wealth of essential and obscure singles from the weekly charts published by that legendary Detroit radio station from 1956 to 1964. 


As Karma Frog Records president Adam Marsland continues his sabbatical overseas, the label's remaining artist roster perseveres with a vengeance, highlighted by Today My Mind------Tomorrow The World, the new collection of ten originals by vocalist and composer Rob Martinez.

First generation garage rock greats, the Tol-Puddle Martyrs (still led by group founder and principal visionary Peter Rechter) have returned with another all new album, Polyphony for the Secret Deals label.

The pioneering Greg Kihn Band has turned in one of their finest and most cohesive releases to date with their all new Rekihndled album for Riot Media.

The Hot Texas Swing Band more than lives up to their name with the release of their fourth album, Off The Beaten Trail for Indie Records.



IT'S THIS I AM: In December 2016, Blitz Magazine Editor/Publisher Michael McDowell joined forces with (above, left to right) journalist/author Domenic Priore, Balancing Act/Thee Holy Brothers co-founder Willie Aron and legendary composer, vocalist and musical visionary Evie Sands at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles for a profession of solidarity with Major League Baseball's premier franchise. In April of 2017, Sands released the acclaimed Shine For Me album on the R-Spot label, arguably one of the highlights of her extraordinary and extensive legacy. In the following exchange, Sands discussed this latest project with Blitz Magazine, as well as her plans for a promising and productive future (Click on above image to enlarge) (Photo by Michael McDowell).

By Michael McDowell

In the creative process, for an artist to grow, it is almost invariably incumbent upon that artist to think outside of the box.

For composer, vocalist, visionary and Brooklyn, New York native Evie Sands, that approach has been an integral component of her mission statement from the onset. As such, a bit of background is in order.

Although her interest in music began at an early age, it came with a caveat of sorts. Having been reluctant to showcase her musical aspirations in a public setting during her formative years, Sands ultimately undertook the recording process with a modicum of reservation via the release of the Teddy Vann-penned and produced The Roll single for ABC Paramount in 1963.

All things considered, she nonetheless demonstrated her flair for genre diversity as well as impassioned delivery within that ambitious single. For while the A-side served as a clarion call for celebration by name checking various locations across the North American continent, the flip side, the country, R&B and Gospel-flavored hybrid, My Dog spoke of baring one's soul with a candor rarely seen in even those most ingenuous of genres.

Sands' flair for the dramatic increased exponentially in 1964 with a move to the Gold label. That year, her unique Northern Soul-flavored take on Ernestine Schumann-Heink's Danny Boy was coupled with the percussive-heavy, lavishly orchestrated, high drama masterpiece, I Was Moved. Both tracks sublimely showcased her vocal versatility, raising her profile to the point that other labels took notice.

Red Bird's affiliate Blue Cat label eventually won the bid for her services. Co-owned by veteran songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller and Rama, Gee, Roulette, End and Gone labels co-founder George Goldner, Red Bird and Blue Cat were on a major roll in 1965, with successes by the Shangri-Las, the Ad Libs, Jimmy Justice, the Jelly Beans, Bessie Banks, the Dixie Cups, Alvin Robinson, Sam Hawkins, the Fenways and the Goodies to their credit. Impressed with her mastery of a wide variety of genres, Blue Cat paired Sands with the prolific and influential composer and vocalist Trade Martin In September 1965 for her first release with the label, Take Me For A Little While.

Sadly, it was with that release that Sands got her first taste of some of the downside of the record business. As legend would have it, an early pressing of her rendition of Take Me For A Little While found its was to Chicago's Chess label, where Jackie Ross cut a nearly identical version, unaware of the duplicity. Litigation ensued, but Sands' momentum was momentarily derailed.

"Nice lady, distinctive vocalist", Martin said recently.

"(But) shabby record promotion. As you must know, promotion is more than a decent recording".

Indeed it is. To that effect, producers Chip Taylor and Al Gorgoni provided for Sands a world class excursion in attitude-laden first generation garage rock with the flip side, Run Home To Your Mama. Once again, Sands rose to the occasion magnificently. Ultimately, while Sands was responsible for the premier and definitive rendition of Take Me For A Little While, numerous other artists from Vanilla Fudge and Cher to Patti Labelle and Dave Edmunds subsequently tried their hand at it.

Blue Cat attempted to recoup the momentum in November1965 with another Gorgoni and Taylor production and composition, the mid-tempo high drama masterpiece, I Can't Let Go.

"Mine was the original master, not a demo, that I performed the lead on for one of our G-M-T album cuts when the song was first written", said Martin.

"I recorded it first. But my version was never released as a single. My Motown influence caused them to write in that style. Around that time, I produced a cut by Timi Yuro with Chip that he and I wrote together, titled Spoil Me".

Gorgoni, Martin and Taylor set a great precedent with their rendition of I Can't Let Go, highlighted by some inventive keyboard work and Martin's spot on vocals. True to form, Sands gave the piece her all, and was featured performing the song on various television programs (including an appearance on Hollywood A Go-Go in January 1966). Once again, the single was paired with an exceptionally strong B-side, Gorgoni and Taylor's decidedly R&B flavored You've Got Me Uptight (which she showcased on Gene Weed's Shivaree program upon its release).

However, unbeknownst to many of its artists, the Red Bird and Blue Cat labels were facing increasing financial problems. Leiber and Stoller sold their interest in the company to Goldner in 1966, who in turn sold off the catalog to pay off his mounting debts. As a result, the label's world class roster was scattered to the winds, with Sam Hawkins signing with Epic, the Shangri-Las enjoying a brief stay at Mercury, the Dixie Cups cutting an album for ABC Paramount and recent signing Andy Kim eventually making a major impact at Dot's affiliate Steed label.

As for Evie Sands, it seemed at first that the transition would be supremely beneficial for her. By mid-1966, she had become a most welcome addition to the vaunted roster of the legendary Philadelphia-based Cameo-Parkway family of labels. The label was benefitting from a major resurgence that year, with such astute behind the scenes movers and shakers as Neil Bogart on board as head of A&R.

In the process, Cameo-Parkway had in short order established an artist roster that was second to none, with the signings of the Rationals (from Jeep Holland's A-Square label), Bob Seger and the Last Heard (from Punch Andrews' ambitious Hideout Records), Terry Knight and the Pack (led by former WJBK disc jockey Knight, who were already the flagship act of the established Lucky Eleven roster), Question Mark and the Mysterians (whose debut single for Lily Gonzales' Pa Go Go label, 96 Tears was reissued by Cameo to major success in mid-1966), the New Colony Six (via a distribution arrangement with the band's Sentar label), Jamie Coe and the Gigolos (whose releases continued to appear on their parent Enterprise Records) and rock and roll pioneers Billie and Lillie.

Gorgoni, Martin and Taylor accompanied Sands in the transition to Cameo, where they hit the ground running with the ambitious mid-tempo Picture Me Gone. With Trade Martin as arranger, Sands sustained her momentum with the Burt Bacharach and Hal David-penned The Love Of A Boy. Dionne Warwick had cut the track for the flip side of Anyone Who Had A Heart in 1963. Even so, Martin's sympathetic arrangement and Sands' commanding vamp at the fade gave her rendition the decisive edge.

And in 1967, it seemed as though the breakthrough that had to date eluded Sands was at last at hand. Produced by Gorgoni and Taylor and composed by Taylor, the haunting ballad, Angel Of The Morning had all of the makings of a monster classic: high drama, sympathetic charts and Sands' world class delivery. The initial reaction suggested as much. First pressings sold out in short order, and the demand was high.

But to paraphrase Buddy Starcher, history repeated itself. Despite strong showings made by new releases from the New Colony Six, the Hardly Worthit Players, Bob Seger and the Last Heard, the Fabulous Pack (who had parted ways with Knight earlier that year), the Rationals, the Bossmen, the Ohio Express, Chris Bartley, the Olympics, Bunny Sigler and Question Mark and the Mysterians, Cameo-Parkway found itself in dire financial straits by late 1967. A proposed merger with MGM never came to pass. By early 1968, the label was in the hands of Allan Klein, who changed the name to ABKCO in the process. As such, Evie Sands had the dubious distinction of cutting Cameo's farewell single, the utterly stupendous Billy Sunshine (for which at least a superb video promo clip has thankfully survived).

But once again, a world class artist roster was scattered to the winds. The Rationals, Bob Seger and the Last Heard (who then became the Bob Seger System), Question Mark and the Mysterians, the Pack and Terry Knight (each of whom continued to record independently of one another) rebounded at Capitol. The Ohio Express and Chubby Checker went on to great acclaim at Bogart's new Buddah label. The New Colony Six reinvented themselves extraordinarily at Mercury, and Jamie Coe (who by 1967 had reverted to his earlier affiliation with Enterprise Records) tried his hand at a self-makeover with releases for Dunhill under the name Citizen Kane.

Meanwhile, Sands had joined forces with Herb Alpert's flourishing Hollywood-based A&M Records. Already a commanding force among labels for not only Alpert's numerous releases with the Tijuana Brass, but via various acclaimed offerings from the Baja Marimba Band, Chris Montez, Lucille Starr (on the affiliate Almo label), Claudine Longet, Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, the Wanted, the Parade, Wes Montgomery, the Merry-Go-Round and Waylon Jennings, A&M could provide both the stability and the support that had eluded Sands in her previous label affiliations.

In 1968, she again rose to the occasion with an impassioned rendition of Until It's Time For You To Go. Monkees lead guitarist Michael Nesmith had recorded the Buffy Sainte Marie composition as Michael Blessing for Colpix Records, and Nancy Sinatra also tried her hand at it as the flip side of Lightning's Girl for Reprise in 1967. But since neither rendition had caught on in the way that all concerned had envisioned, Sands made a valiant and successful attempt at it. She quickly followed suit with I'll Hold Out My Hand, which the Clique had also cut for White Whale in 1969.

Before year's end, she had finally found her niche with A&M via Any Way That You Want Me, which the American Breed (for Acta) and the Troggs (on Fontana) had both attempted in recent months. Her upward momentum was sustained at year's end with her interpretation of the Quincy Jones-penned Maybe Tomorrow, which was included in the soundtrack of the Peter Yates-directed film, John And Mary.

Despite the overall aesthetic slump in which mainstream music increasingly found itself in the early months of the 1970s, Sands' independent and visionary thinking continued to serve her well. An album followed in 1970 for A&M, as did a competent interpretation of But You Know I Love You, which had likewise been done justice via interpretations by the First Edition and Bill Anderson.

That year, Sands also guested on the Everly Brothers' television show. The episode ended with a summit meeting, as Sands, Don and Phil Everly, the Statler Brothers and Neil Diamond joined forces for a stirring rendition of the Selah Jubilee Singers' 1941 Gospel raver, I'll Fly Away.

In 1971, Neil Bogart, who had been with Cameo-Parkway during Sands' tenure with the label, expressed interest in having Sands come on board at Buddah. However, a proposed Val Garay-produced album for the label that year never came to pass.

Sands then embarked upon a sabbatical from recording, finally re-emerging in 1974 with the ambitious You Brought The Woman Out In Me and I Love Makin' Love To You singles for Capitol's affiliate Haven label, followed by the acclaimed Estate Of Mind album in 1975. She followed suit with a cover of the Temptations' The Way You Do The Things You Do, which coincidentally the Newbeats cut for Buddah around that same time. She rounded out the 1970s with a brief yet memorable affiliation with RCA Victor.

The ensuing years were a transitional time for Sands. She co-produced the Speed Of Light album for vocalist and composer Holly Near in 1982, yet overall was not as active in the recording process as she had been for the previous two decades.

Thankfully, all of that changed in 1996 during a live club performance by one time colleague Chip Taylor. He invited Sands on stage to sing with him, and their professional partnership was reborn. Al Gorgoni was soon back in the picture, and Sands, Taylor and Gorgoni became a songwriting team. Sands' Women In Prison album followed on Taylor's Train Wreck label in 1999, which included a duet with the beloved roots rocker, Lucinda Williams, Cool Blues Story.

Sands continued to think well outside of the box into the twenty-first century, joining forces as lead guitarist with Karma Frog label president and current Mod Hippie front man, Adam Marsland in his Adam Marsland's Chaos Band. Among other things, the group released a tribute album to the Beach Boys' Dennis and Carl Wilson, with Sands taking the lead vocal on several of the tracks.

As time progressed, her collaborations with Marsland became even more interesting.

"Evie is very game", said Marsland.

"She thrives on a challenge and is ready for anything you might throw at her.

"My favorite story about Evie is when we were first playing together, and I did not know her very well. One of the first things we were putting together was a tribute to John Cale.

"I didn't want to offend her or put her off. So I deliberately avoided most of his edgier stuff when I made a mix tape of songs to select.

But even as one who does not follow the beaten path, Marsland nonetheless underestimated his vaunted colleague.

"At the very end, I risked adding a song called Gun, which was this long, semi-psychotic rant", said Marsland.

"At the next rehearsal, Evie walked in and announced firmly, 'I want to do THIS song', and played back Gun. She even worked out the form and the main guitar parts, and proceeded to completely shred the room. I was standing there with my jaw on the floor!"

In a "jaw on the floor" position is how many colleagues and observers alike continue to find themselves while watching Sands in action. It is a reaction shared by Balancing Act guitarist, composer, multi-instrumentalist, Donna Loren orchestra leader/arranger and Thee Holy Brothers co-founder (with one time Lone Justice bassist Marvin Etzioni), Willie Aron. In April 2017, Thee Holy Brothers and Sands shared a bill at McCabe's Guitar Shop in Santa Monica that has been hailed by many as the live performance of the year.

"Evie Sands is one of my favorite artists and people in the world", said Aron.

"Like the lady herself, her music radiates warmth and soul. She is a consummate singer, songwriter and musician.

"Evie is a timeless talent who inspires everyone she works with. She and I played together briefly with Fleetwood Mac guitarist Jeremy Spencer for an aborted tour, and our musical alchemy was apparent from the start.

"And as you well know, Evie and I share a deep passion for the Los Angeles Dodgers. We text each other throughout each baseball season, exulting and despairing over the team's successes and failures. There simply aren't enough superlatives for Evie".

Aron's reference to Major League Baseball's premier franchise is in part a reference to an informal yet impassioned project that brings the story full circle. In recent months, Sands, Aron, renowned music historian and journalist Domenic Priore and Blitz Magazine Editor/Publisher Michael McDowell have formed an ad hoc quartet of music industry Dodgers enthusiasts, who strive to bring an uplifting musical interlude and profession of solidarity with the team. To that effect, Sands, Aron, Priore and McDowell spent an afternoon in late December 2016 at Dodger Stadium in Chavez Ravine to profess their ongoing support for the now first place team.

In turn, 2017 seems to be on track as being the best year to date of Sands' storied career. In addition to the aforementioned McCabe's showcase with Thee Holy Brothers, Sands on Record Store Day in April released the highly anticipated and much acclaimed all new album, Shine For Me on the R-Spot label. With percussion support from her husband, Eric Vesper, Sands has produced what is arguably her finest album to date. Diverse and introspective originals such as Full Dose Of Love, the ambitious Like A Rock, and the utterly stupendous and thoroughly engaging Rodeo combine to make Shine For Me a solid contender for album of the year.

Interestingly enough, the photo montage on the inside cover of Shine For Me features as its centerpiece an edited shot from last December's Dodger Stadium print. For the hardcore enthusiast, the complete photo (including Domenic Priore and Willie Aron) accompanies this article.

As live performances, radio interviews and general follow up have been occupying much of her post-release itinerary, focusing on the new project at hand has been the general priority. With that in mind, Evie Sands shared her thoughts on Shine For Me and the road ahead in the following exchange with Blitz Magazine's Michael McDowell:

BLITZ: After being affiliated with a wide variety of labels throughout your career, including ABC Paramount, Blue Cat, Cameo, A&M, Haven and RCA Victor, with the release of Shine For Me, you opted for the independent route with R-Spot Records. To what degree has that transition impacted either your artistic mission statement or your involvement in the hands on process of seeing a new release through to fruition?

SANDS:  Having my own label is creatively rewarding as well as challenging. It’s great being in a position to have the final decision about my work.

The flip side is, being hands-on and fully involved in every aspect of running the label takes up time. I’ve been learning how to juggle being an artist and running a label at the same time. That said, sleep has mostly been a luxury the last few months, LOL. 

BLITZ: In recent years, you have collaborated to varying degrees with Thee Holy Brothers' Willie Aron and Mod Hippie's Adam Marsland. Each of your individual works seem to nonetheless have common ground in some respects, and all seem to draw inspiration from one another. This is borne out to an extent in Shine For Me. Of course you have your own well defined and impeccably executed mission statement. But did their work and/or feedback provide any moments of inspiration for the current project?

SANDS: I enjoy collaborating. Some people just click and have a natural creative chemistry. I love learning, growing, and being inspired by people I work with, as well as from afar. I greatly admire and am inspired by both Willie and Adam’s many talents and skills.

Shine For Me though, is very much my own project - writing, arranging, playing, engineering, producing - and it was something I needed to do. There are beautiful contributions from Teresa Cowles (bass), Eric Vesper (drums), Kurt Medlin (drums), Steve Refling (last phase of recording, percussion, and mixing), Steve Stanley (art direction and design).

Just prior to mixing, I asked Adam to work on some backing vocals with me. Adam is a brilliant vocal arranger and I love what he did. It was perfect! The three of us -- Adam, Teresa, and me -- have done a ton of singing together, and along with Eric, had a great time getting it done. After Shine For Me was mastered, it was lovely to get very positive feedback from Willie and from Adam.  
BLITZ: The album's opener, Rodeo is an instant classic. In your work, there has been a recurring theme of vulnerability, which can be found as early as your You've Got Me Uptight single on Blue Cat and Billy Sunshine on Cameo. But while those earlier efforts find the protagonist at a seeming impasse, Rodeo seems to bring the concept full circle. As was the case with Barry Manilow in I Made It Through The Rain, in Rodeo, you provide a clarion call to those who may have been impacted by adversity, and encourage them to follow their dreams and strive for excellence. Is there an element of the autobiographical in there?

SANDS: I can’t really speak about themes of the earlier songs you mentioned from a writer’s point-of-view, since they were written by others. I never really knew what all the Billy Sunshine lyrics meant until quite a bit later on, LOL.

When I wrote Rodeo, I wasn’t really thinking. It was just a feeling that came through me as I played the music. I suppose in retrospect, it does have an autobiographical element to it. I’m encouraging myself just as much as encouraging others.  

BLITZ: The Rodeo video is in part a brilliant outreach to the musicologists and record collectors who continue to comprise a significant percentage of your audience. As you travel through the record pressing plant while singing, the joy you express therein grows exponentially. Was this in part directed towards that often disenfranchised demographic as a means of encouragement? And was that Eric on drums with you in the video?

SANDS:  It was Sam Epstein’s idea and concept to do the video in the plant while my EP was being pressed and it turned out to be a fun shoot. He and Mike Schnee did the editing. Yes, that’s Eric playing drums in the video.

The whole process of manufacturing vinyl is complex and fascinating. I love the vinyl resurgence that’s happened these last few years. It has a great sound that’s a little different from digital. By the way, my favorite part of the vinyl process is the squish - when the gooey hockey puck gets flattened!  

BLITZ: But It Did has a curious, almost dreamscape atmosphere to it, a la Tony Perkins' Moon-Light Swim filtered through the otherworldliness of Tranquility's euphoric, high drama masterpiece, Silver. And lyrically, it draws from the joy of discovery articulated in the Monkees' I'm A Believer. In other words, it combines the best of several worlds in its seeming attempt to convey a blissful state of mind. Your thoughts?

SANDS: The main idea of But It Did is a song I wanted to write for a long time, and finally it happened. It’s about how a seemingly perfect love relationship goes wrong, doesn’t work out and ends with a broken heart and sadness. However, the broken-hearted person doesn’t see they were meant to be with someone else and in fact, wind up with a happy ending. So they thought it didn’t work out, but it did!

Sometimes life leads us on a path that seems wrong or unhappy, or not what we think we want. But we can’t see the whole picture in that moment. We don’t see something else that’s good or better awaits and is where we should be. It may take a while to happen, but it will.

BLITZ: The title track of Shine For Me has a regal, almost Gospel feel to it, highlighted impeccably by its magnificent keyboard chart. While of course there is a prevalent theme of calling upon another individual to rise to the professed challenges expressed therein, the references to the likes of the Promised Land and sanctity (as well as the gradual crescendo) suggest a higher calling. To what degree did that perspective impact the outcome?

SANDS: Shine For Me is really a song I channeled. I sat down at the piano intending to write a completely different idea and next thing I knew this whole other song started to come through. I was driven to finish it. Not sure where it came from, but there it was. So I didn’t have the kind of perspective you suggest as the song was being written. 

Stepping back, it’s about not achieving one’s own full potential, falling for false ideals, our fears and alibis, seeking but having our way clouded, the loneliness it can bring, and wondering if someone will break through and truly shine.

BLITZ: Conversely, Like A Rock is classic mid-tempo blues. You are of course no stranger to the genre. But in previous attempts, you have generally not opted for the straight ahead 4/4 swagger that characterizes this particular arrangement. To that effect, in previous like minded endeavors, such as You Brought The Woman Out Of Me, there was less of an emphasis in execution on the two and the four, which can impact the outcome significantly. Was that intentional? 

SANDS: No. I don’t write or produce that way. My goal is always to serve the song and try to make a record that sounds like what I'm hearing in my head.

Like A Rock sounded rowdy and raucous to me and even the guitar solo has two guitars playing against each other. I like that it has a few different elements that are not exactly what might be expected. 

BLITZ: The album's closer, Without You, almost seems to bring the proceedings to a happy and relatively more subtle conclusion, with a slight caveat. To wit, you articulate ideal circumstances, while concurrently contemplating a hypothetical situation where such bliss is brought to an abrupt end through tragedy. Indeed, those who have experienced the latter can readily attest to the conclusion therein that, "Without You, life just wouldn't be worthwhile". Did that perspective factor into the creative process for this track?

SANDS: Though I understand how it can be taken that way, it wasn't the perspective intended. It’s meant as a 'life together is so wonderful’ scenario, that life without that person would absolutely pale and seem like not much of anything in comparison. Again, also true if tragedy brought about the end, but creatively, that wasn’t my meaning.  

BLITZ: You have made a concerted effort to tie in the release of Shine For Me with the annual Record Store Day celebration, which fell on the twenty-second of April this year. To what degree does the musicologist and record collector perspective fuel your own mission statement?

SANDS:  My decision to coincide the release of Shine For Me with this year's Record Store Day was based on a couple of things. As mentioned before, I love the renewed interest in vinyl and hope it continues. It sounds great and the whole tactile experience of the physical record and jacket and turntable is special.

Indie stores need our support. There’s nothing like browsing through a bunch of records, reading info on the jackets, seeing the artwork in a larger form-factor, and discovering music as we browse.

Also, with the current state of the music biz and especially for DIY-ers, Record Store Day provides a focused opportunity to highlight a release across the U.S. and in many countries worldwide. So it’s a perfect combination for music, medium, and marketing.  

BLITZ: The show at McCabe's in Santa Monica with Thee Holy Brothers represented for many an ideal pairing of musical kindred spirits. As such, would you be amenable to working with Thee Holy Brothers' Marvin Etzioni and Willie Aron in either similar live collaborations or perhaps a studio project in the near future?

SANDS:  Yes, absolutely. About three years ago, Willie and I got to do some work together briefly, prepping and rehearsing with Fleetwood Mac original member and guitar great, Jeremy Spencer for a tour. We also worked/rehearsed a few songs of mine (I was going to open some of the dates). The tour was canceled at the last minute. We also did some work on a session together and had a blast.

We’re definitely kindred spirits. I think Willie and Marvin are great. We’ve already talked about doing more live dates together and about some collaborations, including studio work. Would be an absolute pleasure! Plus, Willie is a very dear friend, and my L.A. Dodgers brother!


MAGANDANG UMANGA: Cockeyed Ghost and Mod Hippie co-founder Adam Marsland has taken thinking outside of the box to a whole new level by embarking on a protracted sabbatical in Southeastern Asia in the wake of the release of his most ambitious Bule album for his own Karma Frog label. Blitz Magazine Editor/Publisher Michael McDowell spoke at length with Adam Marsland (pictured above at Los Angeles International Airport) in September 2017 about these and other highlights of his remarkable legacy.

By Michael McDowell

What Makes A Man Wander?

That classic track, recorded by Sonny James on his 1965 Behind The Tear album for Capitol and reprised the following year in the landmark motion picture, Las Vegas Hillbillys by James and his world class quartet of vocal virtuosos, the Southern Gentlemen (featuring the great Gary Robble) tells the tale of a man who has been blessed with an idyllic home and family life, yet who harbors a longing to forsake it all in favor of riding the rails and seeing the country.

Earlier this year, Cockeyed Ghost and Mod Hippie co-founder Adam Marsland took James' tale of unrequited adventure to the next level. A long time resident of Southern California whose extraordinary list of accomplishments includes overseeing the operations of the Karma Frog label (recording home for not only Mod Hippie, but for Summer Children, Rob Martinez and others), Marsland also worked at length in various capacities with such legendary visionaries as the Standells and Evie Sands. One of Los Angeles' most charismatic musical spokespeople, Marsland found himself in constant demand for his services by other artists.

Despite those blessings, that latent desire to follow in the footsteps of Sonny James' example remained a constant in Marsland's mission statement. So much so that his travels throughout key parts of Southeast Asia over the past several years ultimately prompted him in September of this year to embark upon a protracted sabbatical from Los Angeles in favor of enriching his perspective in a variety of ways in such locales as the Philippines, Laos and Cambodia.

From a musical perspective, Marsland's timing was impeccable. Karma Frog had just released his ambitious Bulė album, inspired primarily by his previous travels to Southeast Asia. And while Bulė is to Marsland's repertoire what Sunflower is to that of the Beach Boys' legacy, the inspiration he acquired from his journeys took the concept to an even higher level.

Still, as many musicians are aware, there are those who follow their musical adventures, yet who often are reluctant to allow that artist to grow aesthetically when the opportunity to do so presents itself. And while in Marsland's case such sentiments are almost invariably tempered with the sadness of the absence of his physical presence, he nonetheless sees this journey as a growth adventure that will address and ultimately benefit each of those concerns exponentially.

In this interview with Blitz Magazine Editor/Publisher Michael McDowell (conducted shortly after Marsland's arrival in Metro Manila), Marsland shares both that vision and a candid look at the circumstances that ultimately answer Sonny James' question.

BLITZ: Musicians often find their creative muses circumvented by their own audience, which is often not amenable to any sort of thinking outside of the box and/or following the respective musician's vision, should it expand beyond the audience's expectations. However, you have literally been all over the musical map, from your work with Cockeyed Ghost to Mod Hippie to your various projects with the Standells and Evie Sands.

While much of your audience has continued to champion your vision in that respect, with Bulė, you have ventured into territory which meshes well with your own curriculum vitae, and in fact is a logical extension of it. However, there are some who, for whatever reason, may not share that vision. Nonetheless, in the sleeve notes to Bulė, you cite "a sense of belonging and wonder" as being among the deciding factors in your decision. As such, what would you say to the sympathetic yet hesitant observer in order to help them bridge the gap in that respect? And has making that move revised your perception of the allure in any way?

MARSLAND: Well, I haven't gotten back to Bali yet, and it may blow up before I get there!  There's a volcano there that by the time anyone reads this will have erupted, and it may prevent me from getting to the island, or I may be there to witness it. Or as I fear, it will blow while I'm in the air, in which case I'll be stranded in Malaysia or something like that. So whatever my experience this time is will be very different, that's for sure.

I've been fortunate to have never been particularly successful, but there's a small core of people that just have bought in for the ride. In a sense when I released 2009's Go West, I felt like my trajectory towards any kind of larger success as a songwriter was over. I gave that album everything I had. Though it sold reasonably well, it just didn't break through and get acknowledged in the wider world of music attention. I knew pretty much that the fix was in, and there was no point in trying to continue down that road.

Everything that I've done since then has been a lot less planned and more in the moment and tangential. I recorded Hello Cleveland in one day with a really great band, and a great deal of The Owl In The Full Moon was recorded in one day, too. It was interesting to see that the quality of the work didn't decline that much because I gave it less thought and attention, and in some ways people found it more accessible. I kind of enjoyed it because the outcome was a surprise to me as it was to anyone else. You just bang it out and go, "Whoa!  That's what happened, eh?" That's not bad!

I don't think Owl or Cleveland were as good as Go West. But Owl has Contamination, No One's Ever Gonna Hear This Song, Song 11 and the title track, which I think are among my best songs. So the process worked out.

With Bulė, I don't think it was that hard of a sell. I think the minute people heard the concept of the album they were like, "Whoa! I want to hear that". Because the idea of someone like me going to Asia and incorporating those sounds into what I do. Obviously it's been done before with albums like Graceland. But no one in the "power pop" world has ever done it. It's such a very white, western, traditional music form. It's kind of the last type of music that's ever going to go ethnic, which is sort of what I loved about trying it.

I myself, had no basis in it and had no idea if it was going to work out at all.  But I wanted to give it a shot because I really felt like I'd done everything.

I actually did track some stuff for a new album in 2016 and I listened to bits of it for possible inclusion with Bulė. I didn't use any of it, because compared to the new stuff it was just boring.  It wasn't bad, but it was more of the same thing, whereas the Bulė material was just a whole 'nother world.

I needed to do something fresh and new. I don't think it hurt my audience any. I think people were curious. I think the main reason Bulė probably will have limited appeal isn't because it's an offbeat recording but because I released it, did one show, and immediately fled the country!  I haven't done much to promote it at all, though I do plan to do some videos while I am over here. And that's how I want it.

BLITZ: While taking that exponential leap musically has produced extraordinary aesthetic dividends and pretty much immediate acclaim, there are some within your sphere of influence who were either surprised by and/or have taken umbrage with your decision to leave Southern California for an unspecified period to live in Southeastern Asia and the Pacific Islands.

Sonny James' 1965 What Makes A Man Wander? track - in which a man who apparently has been blessed with a great life decides to walk away from it all to ride the rails and see the country - seems to set the precedent for what has been expressed by those observers. The concern that tends to recur within those circles is why someone would forsake the idyllic life offered in Southern California for any other destination.

Indeed, it could almost be said that the unique track, This Is Madness on Bulė addresses those concerns to a degree. For those specifically who see Southern California as one of the world's premier destinations, how would you address those who would see such a transition in the light of the scenario outlined in that Sonny James classic?

MARSLAND: Is someone bummed that I've left? I mean, I've certainly said some things about the state of affairs in America that I can imagine a lot of people might take offense at, and I don't really blame them.

I also don't care honestly, but I'm not in any way mad about it. You speak your mind, then you take your lumps for it, and that's how it should be. You can't expect to go off on people and expect them not to get kind of (annoyed) about it. That's fine, and it's fair. That's the responsibility everyone should accept when they choose to open their mouth.

Let me rephrase that. I know a lot of people are bummed that I've left because I left behind a lot of friends and they'll miss me, as I will them. But it's hard for me to fathom anyone would be angry about it. I mean, who cares? It's my life. I get to do what I like with it.

I still love California. I think about the Mojave Desert and the Sierras every single day. But my life in California for a long time has been half a life. Certain parts of it were awesome and other parts were nearly non-existent. I've tried a lot of different ways to solve this problem and I finally came to the conclusion that it just wasn't possible to have the life I wanted right now in the place I was at and at the age I'm at.

I do want to come back. I plan to come back. But I would like to come back and live a whole life.

There's also the matter of staying challenged. I really reached the point where I had explored every road, and I'd like to give something other than music a chance to take root. If I do continue to explore music, then I really need to take a step back and acquire some new skills.

I have a little Traveler guitar with me and I love that thing. I play a little every day and it's so rare I get to just sit down and play and develop as opposed to having to cut a track as quickly as possible. I've gotten really good at churning out tracks, getting a record done extremely fast. But it doesn't allow you a lot of time to develop other parts of your playing by honing your chops or experimenting. I really look forward to more of that.

BLITZ: Your first stop upon leaving Los Angeles was in Metro Manila. Will that city serve as a home base for the time being, or are you planning to be somewhat transitory in that respect?

MARSLAND: No. This is usually my first stop because I'm comfortable in Manila, though frankly this current visit has been a bit of a cluster "f", as sometimes is the case in this part of the world. I have friends here and round trip tickets are cheap, so it's just a good place to gather my wits. But it's not the nicest or calmest place in the world. I like it for a week or two. Then I want to go on to somewhere a little more serene.

BLITZ: The Philippines in general has produced a wealth of original music since the first half of the twentieth century. The most obvious example is the much loved trio of vocal harmony-rich social commentators, Apo Hiking Society. There have also been others who made their mark in unique ways, from acapella virtuoso Ryan Cayabyab, to pop/rock icon Pops Fernandez, to folk rockers Smokey Mountain, the gifted traditionalist Jose Mari Chan, composer and vocalist Yoyoy Villame, the adventurous band Asin and Gospel rocker Gary Valenciano. To what degree did they or others spark your interest in this adventure as a whole?

MARSLAND: None, really. The only one of those musicians I'm aware of is Apo Hiking Society. I more get into the people and the atmosphere here. I like that this place is really rough around the edges and you can't just coast. It is very tourist unfriendly and for certain kinds of people, and I'm one of them, that's very attractive.

Now that culminates in days like yesterday, where you get locked out of your condo for five hours because nobody can get it together to fix the door. It's not so much fun on days like that.

But I'm lying on the hot floor in the hall of the condo and just reminding myself there is absolutely no point in getting mad. Stay calm and be patient. That's how people live here because at least half the time whatever you planned to do that day has gone down the drain because something broke down somewhere. It's a valuable skill to acquire and not one that's natural to me. So that attitude, more than anything, is what inspired the work.

BLITZ: Your enthusiasm carries over exponentially in Legaspi Groove (Magandang Umaga!), which of course refers to a good morning. Therein, you endeavor to name check both food (adobo) and transportation (a jeepney), underscored by a profession of solidarity with the nation's mission statement. In the process, you seem to have made considerable progress in mastering the Tagalog language. Given that Tagalog does not share a more structured template as typified by the verb conjugations indigenous to (for example) the Spanish language, how did your communication skills in that respect progress so rapidly?

MARSLAND: It didn't, really. I started learning Tagalog at the end of 2015 because I had a relationship here that looked like it might become serious. I wanted to be respectful to the woman's family - her father in particular - and be able to communicate with them. And also because I was starting to spend a lot of time here and it would save me from getting taken advantage of by the locals, which it has.

It is a ridiculously difficult language. I call it the Calvinball of languages because the rules seem so arbitrary. I've made progress on succeeding trips, but it's very much a work in progress. My comprehension is very poor. I also started learning Indonesian last year and that's a way easier language.

BLITZ: You took the experience a step closer to the purist perspective in Wind Song, which has that "tin roof" production common to many of the area's recordings during the era of the 78RPM single. In turn, you seemingly brought a bit of your own influence into the proceedings with the surf instrumental Seminyak, which also features Evie Sands on glockenspiel. Throughout the album as a whole, there is an undercurrent of Smile through Surf's Up period Beach Boys, which has long factored into your own musical mission statement. Was the intention to underscore the musical solidarity between the various genres involved?

MARSLAND: Well, Wind Song came about as you know because I heard a song playing on the radio in Laos and was captivated by the person's voice. Rather shockingly, the singer turned out to be someone I knew who had long since left Laos without really telling anybody where she went, and went on to have another life. Rather like I'm doing now, come to think of it!

So when I was able to convince her to record, I was really hoping she'd agree to let me make it sound like these old recordings I was hearing all through that part of the world, but especially in Cambodia, that just sound like they are from another world. There's a mystery to those old 45s, something about the mid-rangey sound of vinyl and how records were recorded back then, that really captivates me. Then you add to that the cadences of Asian music and man, that's a sweet spot, right there.

When I went to Asia, that was one of the big things I wanted to explore. She was delighted with how it came out. I was relieved, because one of the other tunes she suggested was kind of a disco song and I'm thinking. "Noooo, let's not do that!"  Plus obviously I had to capture her vocals very quickly. I think the session took about an hour, so I couldn't do anything too elaborate.

I had a feeling that when I went to Asia the whole thing would sound like, "Eden Ahbez does Smiley Smile". But I wasn't trying to aim for that. Given the tools at hand, I just had a feeling that's how it would come out.

I was delighted with this album because I just let it go where it wanted to, and it wound up I think exactly how you would hope it would be, this discrete sonic world. It's kind of like you pour water down the hill, and you dam up certain areas and it has to flow another way. So recording things on the guitalele with a field recorder right off the bat made everything take on a certain mood.

You couldn't overdub much onto these recordings or they'd just fall apart. It was all very delicate. So it wound up again, being a bit like Smiley Smile where you can't put a drum set on it. You have to create your effects with percussion or vocals.

The Beach Boys influence is very pervasive in what I do, even when I no longer think about it or hear it, which I really don't. But I guess it's just there. Though the band I was way into and listening to all the time on the trip was the Association, who I had never gotten into before. You hear that influence on a song like Breezy.

The bass guitar on Bulė was absolutely crucial, because there's hardly any drums. I'm not thought of as a bassist. But I do actually play a lot of bass in the studio, and a lot of these songs, the bass had to do something VERY specific. It's not something I could have asked Teresa Cowles or somebody else to do. It would have driven them mad!

For a number of songs there was really only one way it would work, because there are no drums and the bass has to tie everything together rhythmically and providing the only countermelody, too. I was really happy with how the bass came out. At the end of Something Beautiful at a certain point there is no time. There's not even a rhythm. The bass has to imply a beat by dancing around and landing in certain places without there actually being a time signature, while staying out of the way of all the vocal things happening and not breaking the spell. That was super tricky. I was really proud of threading that needle from a playing standpoint.

I also think the album was special because I had so much collaborative help, both from native Asian musicians and other friends like Marisol Ricacho on vocals, but especially the Chaos Band. Kurt Medlin's percussion was inspirational. The first time he came over, I basically finished writing the album as soon as he left. I knew exactly where to go once I heard what he was going to do.

And of course Teresa's and Evie's vocals. The three of us had sung together so long that we were able to bounce so many ideas off each other, and get really out there, just piling up vocal tracks on some songs. Everyone came up with ideas. I did a lot of the vocal arranging, but it wasn't just me. The ending of Home particularly. I think Teresa came up with that part. It's such a brilliant vocal counterpoint. It actually brought me to tears when I heard it.

BLITZ: You closed out the proceedings with a blank track, followed by an uncredited variation on Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs' 1965 Wooly Bully single. Common ground with your collaborators, perhaps?

MARSLAND: When you're in Indonesia, Indonesians are very inquisitive. When you meet an Indonesian, you can kind of guess what the first four questions are going to be. So what would happen is that after about the third or four hundredth person asked me question number one, which is always "Dari mana?" - Where are you from? - I started to write this song in my head that would just disrupt the whole process which I'd gotten kind of bored with and make the whole thing more entertaining for everybody and also sort of make fun of myself which I think the locals find charming because of course some of the white tourists are like, "Carry my bags".

The song just answers the question, elaborates, and then complains that all the women in Bali are married, which if they are over twenty, they basically are. It literally got to the point where people would ask me on the street where I was from and I would just stop everything and start singing the song as if I was in a musical, and all these Indonesians would gather around wondering what this crazy white guy was doing.

I probably did this about ten or twelve times. The version on the record was at an actual show.  I had found this amazing singer named Nona Singadji. She does an acoustic duo act with her husband, who plays guitar. She was just incredible. It takes a lot to blow me away and I was like, I have to record you somehow. So I showed up at one of her shows and taped a few songs. At the end, they made me sing something. So I taped Saya Bulé. It's so cool, because you hear the audience singing and shaking percussion very like the original Sam the Sham record. It's this great spontaneous moment.

It's not on the main record both because I couldn't figure out how to license it and also because the lyrics are only funny if you're Indonesian. Seemed a little obnoxious to put a song on your album that's a joke that nobody listening to it is going to get.

BLITZ: What is the status of the Karma Frog label during your sabbatical? Will it remain active?

MARSLAND: I think it may actually be more active, because I won't be distracted by the studio and will have time to put into promotion and certain other things that I've had to let slide. There will be at least two more albums coming out on the label I finished. Barring a few incidental things, they are going to track without me: Mod Hippie's third album before I left. I also tracked about seventy percent of Rob Martinez' third album, which I am going to complete over here.

I'm really excited about Rob's record, because I'm using a different mode of recording than his first two that I think will send it into a slightly different direction. I was under the gun. So instead of organizing the arrangements, I just tracked dozens of ideas to sort out later.

I've really been inspired lately by Lindsey Buckingham. I want to delve a bit more into some of the ideas and approaches he's used and see if there's some tools there I can use to grow what I do and maybe find a path forward as a producer. But if I don't, that's fine too!


THE LONG ROAD  BACK: Throughout the late 1970s, Herman's Hermits were the subject of no small amount of accolades in Blitz Magazine. Arguably one of the greatest live bands in the world, Herman's Hermits' 1978 Heart Get Ready For Love single for Roulette Records was honored by Blitz as the Best Single of the 1970s. Yet despite the accolades, band front man, bassist and resident visionary Karl Green walked away from it all in March 1980, in a move that stunned family and friends alike. In the most candid interview of his career, Green discusses with Blitz Magazine Editor/Publisher Michael McDowell the arduous journey that his life has taken since making that monumental decision, as well his triumphant comeback with his most recent Global Recording Artists album, The Long Road Back (Click on above image to enlarge).

By Michael McDowell

What Makes A Man Wander?

The late, great country rock pioneer James Hugh "Sonny James" Loden and his quartet of vocal virtuosos, the Southern Gentlemen asked that question in their 1965 Behind The Tear album for Capitol, and again in a most dramatic fashion in the 1966 motion picture, Las Vegas Hillbillys. Therein, James and his group alluded to the perennial lure of action and adventure (using the railroad as a metaphor) as a temptation to stray from the stability of family life.

But in the case of composer, bassist, vocalist and Salford, Manchester native Karl Anthony Green, the scenario articulated in James' aforementioned masterpiece played itself out in reverse. As co-founder of the legendary British Invasion quartet Herman's Hermits, Green enjoyed a level of acclaim and support with few parallels. Yet despite the accolades, he eventually walked away from it all for the sake of his family.

Such an unlikely move was not a hasty decision, either. Green had originally served as the band's lead guitarist upon its inception in 1963. Then known as the Heartbeats, the group eventually joined forces with key members of another area band that also took its name from an established American group, the Wailers. With the Wailers' extraordinarily gifted lead guitarist (and one time civil engineering student) Derek "Lek" Leckenby moving into the lead guitarist position, Green then assumed the role of bassist, replacing outgoing Heartbeats bassist Alan Wrigley.

By the time Herman's Hermits released their debut MGM label single in 1964 (a sublime and masterful cover of Cookies alumnus Earl-Jean McCrea's Colpix label monster classic, I'm Into Something Good), the formidable instrumental skills of Green, Leckenby, Hopwood and drummer Jan Barry Whitwam (also a veteran of the Wailers, who succeeded Heartbeats drummer Steve Titterington in that role) were becoming increasingly apparent. The band likewise proved themselves to be most capable as composers, with such landmark tracks as Don't Try To Hurt Me, Tell Me Baby, I Know Why, For LoveBusy Line, Moonshine Man, I Call Out Her Name and the no nonsense rocker My Reservation's Been Confirmed providing career highlights throughout their tenure with MGM.

In turn, their richly diverse capabilities in a variety of disciplines were further highlighted via starring roles in such acclaimed motion pictures as When The Boys Meet The Girls, Hold On and Mrs. Brown You've Got A Lovely Daughter. Band members concurrently added to their individual and collective curriculum vitae handsomely via session work for such esteemed colleagues as folk rock visionary Donovan Leitch (who returned the favor by composing their 1967 Museum single) and renowned vocalist Marie McDonald McLaughlin "Lulu" Lawrie, with Green providing backing vocals on Lulu's I'm A Tiger single. They also tried their hand most admirably at choreography in a Broadway production number during a Command Performance for the Queen Mother in 1970.

Such persistence ultimately began to bear fruit exponentially by the mid-1970s, when bassist Green at last moved into the inevitable role of front man/lead vocalist for the band. Herman's Hermits had undergone a series of key personnel changes in the early part of that decade, with original rhythm guitarist Keith Hopwood leaving in 1972 to pursue a highly successful career in studio work. Lead vocalist Peter Cowap had also succeeded Peter Blair Denis Bernard Noone in that capacity when Noone departed for a solo career in 1971. Cowap was an integral part of the band's groundbreaking country rock album, Whale Of A Tale, and contributed significantly to its creation. However, Cowap also left the band in 1972, with future Gospel rocker John Gaughan filling the front man role until 1975. The John Gaughan version of Herman's Hermits managed to cut one single, You Gotta Love Me Baby / Motorway City, released on CBS in September 1973.

But by 1975, the line up of Herman's Hermits had at last stabilized to the point where their considerable acumen as musicians was about to reach fruition. In addition to Green's monumental contributions in the front man role, guitarist Leckenby and drummer Whitwam likewise proved themselves to be second to none in their respective capacities. And with Gaughan out of the picture, Herman's Hermits solidified their formidable line up by bringing on board the great Frank Renshaw as rhythm guitarist and most capable co-lead vocalist.

As co-founder of the much admired and influential Toggery Five (whose larger than life 1965 Andrew Loog Oldham and Keith Richards-penned I'd Much Rather Be With The Boys single for Parlophone remains one of the most perfect 45s ever made), Renshaw was an ideal fit for the role vacated by Hopwood. For a season, he had also served as a member of the great Glyn Geoffrey "Wayne Fontana" Ellis' Mindbenders, who toured alongside Herman's Hermits, the Searchers and Gerry and the Pacemakers in 1973.

Not surprisingly, the ongoing acclaim for both their earliest MGM recordings and their early 1970s work for RCA Victor was enough to sustain the momentum for the Green, Leckenby, Renshaw and Whitwam version of Herman's Hermits. The band signed with the late Larry Uttal's Private Stock label in 1975, and released the highly promising Ginny Go Softly single for the label that year.

The band showcased Ginny Go Softly via television appearances, and seemed poised for a great run with the label. Private Stock at the time also provided a recording home for such veteran giants as Brian Hyland, Tom Paxton, Frankie Valli, Brownsville Station, Cheryl "Samantha Sang" Gray and Rupert Holmes, as well as such up and coming notables as Blondie, Starbuck, Earle "The Mighty Pope" Heedram and Cyndi Greco.

However, Private Stock's momentum proved to be short lived. The label ceased operations in 1978 when Uttal (who had previously headed the Amy, Mala and Bell family of labels) relocated to Europe.

The more astute artists on the Private Stock roster saw the proverbial writing on the wall, and sought refuge elsewhere, including Herman's Hermits. By 1976, the band had signed with Buddah Records, and that year released one of the finest outings of their career with the utterly stupendous (I'm In A) Lonely Situation / Blonde Haired Blue Eyed Boy single. With masterful lead vocals on both hard rocking sides from Green, that single eventually earned a spot in the top ten among Blitz Magazine's pick for Best Singles Of The 1970s. The group more than returned to form for the label in 1977 with a sublime cover of Leo Sayer's Train, coupled with a spirited remake of the original Ride On The Water (previously a part of their Whale Of A Tale album). During that peak creative period, Green, Leckenby, Renshaw and Whitwam also managed to re-record twenty of the band's best loved MGM era tracks with Green as lead vocalist, including Something's Happening, Can't You Hear My Heartbeat, No Milk Today and Don't Go Out Into The Rain.

Around that same time, Blitz Magazine was immeasurably blessed to have established a relationship with Herman's Hermits that has continued unabated to the present day. Blitz first witnessed the Green, Leckenby, Renshaw and Whitwam version of the band in concert in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1976, playing to a capacity crowd and captivating those in attendance with their considerable technical acumen and highly charismatic stage presence. By early 1978, Blitz published in issue number twenty-five the first of many interviews with the band, and featured them regularly in almost every succeeding issue.

The timing for such a joining of forces between musician and sympathetic journalist could not have been more perfect. For much of the late 1970s, Herman's Hermits had been working with a New York-based manager, the late Raymond Vincent "Ray" Reneri. In 1978, they signed a one-off singles deal with the late Morris Levy's legendary Roulette Records. Fully aware of the tremendous impact that Herman's Hermits had on the visionaries of the burgeoning, so-called punk and new wave movement, the band pulled out all of the stops and poured their collective heart and soul into their lone Roulette release, which arguably became the pinnacle of their recorded legacy: Heart Get Ready For Love.

With a sublime lead vocal from Green and a masterful, soaring lead guitar solo from Leckenby, Heart Get Ready For Love was a love at first listen track for virtually all who had the pleasure and privilege to hear it. To that effect, that Roulette 45 became Blitz Magazine's pick for Best Single of 1978. And in 1980, Heart Get Ready For Love was once again lauded by Blitz Magazine as the Best Single of the 1970s. The flip side also featured the hard rocking group composition, Truck Stop Momma, with superb vocal gymnastics from Renshaw in that most engaging autobiographical account of the band's life on the road.

As the 1970s drew to a close, Herman's Hermits continued to tour to ever increasing accolades and unwavering support from Blitz Magazine. However, although his considerable charisma, quick wit, inventive bass work and world class lead vocals made him a solid contender for the best front man in rock and roll (with the group most assuredly following suit as the best live band on the planet), Green found himself increasingly distracted by personal concerns that began to take their toll. Sadly, it all came to a head in March 1980, as Green stunned friends and followers alike when he announced his retirement from the band.

Despite the enormity of the loss within their ranks, Herman's Hermits soldiered on bravely. Recruiting Dave Barrow as bassist, and with Frank Renshaw taking over the front man role, the group continued to pursue their relentless touring schedule. In 1981, they returned to the studio to cut a cover of the Cascades' signature single, Rhythm Of The Rain, and worked diligently on the promising, percussion-driven Friday Night's For Dancing.

That year, they also headlined at Knott's Berry Farm in Orange County, California, sharing the bill with beloved and legendary pioneering rocker Rick Nelson. Blitz Magazine was blessed to have spent that entire weekend with the band, and joined Derek Leckenby in taking in one of Nelson's live sets inbetween Herman's Hermits' own performances. Blitz Magazine also oversaw the recording of Herman's Hermits' live performances that weekend, which yielded the band's highly acclaimed (and definitive) rendition of Merle Haggard's Honky Tonk Night Time Man.

Despite the band's ongoing forward momentum, the personnel changes continued. Even though he had made a considerable mark on Herman's Hermits' legacy, Renshaw nonetheless also left the band in 1982. Leckenby and Whitwam persevered with a frequently changing lineup throughout the remainder of the 1980s, and toured extensively with the Monkees toward decade's end.

However, tragedy struck on 04 June 1994, when lead guitarist Leckenby lost his long battle with non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Despite his illness, Leckenby had bravely continued on with the band's relentless touring schedule, playing his final show seated in a chair (and assisted as needed by long time colleague and dear friend Wayne Fontana, among others), just days before his passing.

With his death at age fifty-one, the world of music lost one of its greatest and most beloved heroes. A virtuoso guitarist with few peers, Leckenby was also a pillar of integrity in an industry where such virtues are often in short supply. The consummate rock and roll journeyman and a world class gentleman, Leckenby was ultimately saluted as Person Of The Century by Blitz Magazine in the Blitz Awards for the 20th Century, which was published in 2001. In turn, Leckenby's daughter Kara subsequently made her mark in the 1990s as co-founder of the ambitious and acclaimed band, Red Vinyl Fur. A dear friend to all who knew him, Leckenby is greatly, greatly missed. Drummer Whitwam continues to tour regularly as Herman's Hermits with an all new line up.

Meanwhile, Green used his new found retirement to address some of his ongoing family concerns. He also started his own home improvement business, and eventually began to try his hand at music again as a member of the promising band, Dave's Not Here, as well as serving as an engineer for various live and studio projects.

But as the following exchange with Blitz Magazine underscores, Green's protracted sabbatical from the spotlight was not one without its share of challenges. While some of his more pressing concerns were addressed and resolved, other concerns began to manifest that took their toll in a most dramatic way. In the early stages of Green's retirement, Blitz Magazine made plans to meet with him in the UK to discuss any possible future musical projects. However, three days prior to the scheduled journey, Laker Airways declared bankruptcy, which resulted in the immediate cancellation of all of their flights in the process.

Despite a one-off reunion of the surviving members of the MGM era line up in the 1990s, it was beginning to look like the ongoing role of Karl Green would be a behind the scenes one. To that effect, he persevered as a much in demand sound engineer into the early years of the twenty-first century.

However, after more than three decades, the prayers of the faithful were answered at last.

In 2013, the Illinois-based promoter, Conor Mahoney (who also works with first generation garage rock legends, the Shadows Of Knight) contacted Green via Facebook to inquire of the possibility of another reunion of Herman's Hermits surviving MGM-era line up. Although that project regrettably has not yet come to pass, Mahoney nonetheless endeavored to sustain the momentum by inviting Green to return to the United States in July 2014 for a series of acclaimed solo live performances. He introduced Green to guitarist Mike Bruccoleri (who ironically had previously worked with Peter Noone), as well as drummer Gina Knight.

In due course, Green, Bruccoleri and Knight formed the Karl Green Band, who are somewhat wryly also referred to as KGB. Karl Anderson's California-based Global Recording Artists label (which owns the catalog of the legendary Accent label and in recent years has released brand new albums by such immensely respected veterans as the Strawberry Alarm Clock, Buffy Ford Stewart, the Standells, We Five, Bill Mumy and many others) expressed an interest, and in 2016 Green returned triumphantly to the spotlight with the release of the Karl Green Band's The Long Road Back.

With lead vocals shared by Green, Bruccoleri and Knight, The Long Road Back features a wealth of new and richly diverse original material, highlighted by It's Not Love, the tongue-in-cheek Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is and the straight ahead rocker, Gimme Some Love.

In the process of preparing for the recording of The Long Road Back, a minor miracle occurred. While searching through his personal archives, Green found a cassette tape of an informal recording made in a hotel room in 1976 of a new Herman's Hermits original. With Green on lead vocals, rhythm guitar and bass, as well as Derek Leckenby on lead guitar and both of them improvising percussion on the hotel room's furniture, the ambitious duo recorded a tribute to their bandmate, Frank Renshaw. Honoring him for his unique on stage choreography, Green and Leckenby titled the tribute, The Renshaw Shuffle.

"I don't remember Lek or Karl recording this", Renshaw said recently.

"I didn't know about it until Karl's CD came out. Unlike other members of the band, I did tend to sway a little. Also, I did wear moccasins a lot (as suggested in the lyrics). Maybe that's the Shuffle! Quite flattering for them to do it, though".

Indeed, The Long Road Back brings full circle the long dormant genius of one of rock and roll's most iconic visionaries. In the following interview with Blitz Magazine (conducted in early March 2017), Karl Green discusses the challenging circumstances that led to his unique variation on Sonny James' What Makes A Man Wander theme, as well as his triumphant and most welcome return to form.

BLITZ: The Karl Green, Derek Leckenby, Frank Renshaw and Barry Whitwam version of Herman's Hermits was arguably the finest live band on the planet, bar none. The band was covered regularly in Blitz Magazine, which also named the 1978 Heart Get Ready For Love single on Roulette as Best Single Of The 1970s. (I'm In A) Lonely Situation on Buddah Records also finished in the Top Ten in Blitz's decade-long awards, as well. Given all of the accolades, the impact of having begun a sabbatical from it all in the Spring of 1980 must have taken its toll emotionally, if not physically. Your thoughts?

GREEN: Leaving the band in 1980 was a momentous decision that took me a long time to come to. I had been wanting to start a family for a long time, seeing the other guys become fathers, and enjoying watching their children grow up was an enormous pleasure for me.

I had been married since 1974, and my wife had had six miscarriages in as many years. So I made the decision to leave the band, and stay at home to help her through the emotional times ahead. It had been found that the reason for the miscarriages had been due to the fact that our white blood cell count was identical, and made her body think the embryos were a foreign body, and rejected them.

The treatment for this was that she would have regular white cell infusions to enable her to get pregnant and go full term. I thought that being at home and able to help would make a difference, and it did. On the first of September 1984, my first daughter Clair was born.

As you can imagine, with all this going on, I had little time to miss being on the road. I had also set up a tiling and plumbing business to pay the bills. So I was incredibly busy 24/7. I did miss the boys, and went to see them whenever they would play within striking distance of my home in England.

BLITZ: The tragic passing of Derek Leckenby in 1994 was an immeasurable loss to those of us who knew him and/or worked with him. How well were you able to keep in touch with him during those later years?

GREEN: Lek's passing was a terrible loss. I had kept in constant touch with him, and he with me, on a regular basis since my exit from the band. He would keep me updated on anything the band were doing, and kept me aware of any deals he'd done on the band's behalf that involved me. Unlike Barry, who I never hear from at all. 

I knew about his illness, but he always played down the gravity of his condition. I went to see him when I first gave up the booze in 1990, to complete one of the twelve steps, and confront anyone who I considered I had hurt during my addiction.

It was then that I was made aware of how serious his illness was. Lek had been the brunt of a lot of my anger when I'd drink too much, and go on one of my rampages. The truth was that we were really good friends, but totally different kinds of people. He, the serious head for finances, and me the front man with the patter and eye for detail in the performance side of things. As long as we stayed out of each others domain, things worked.

I loved him dearly, but didn't realise how much until I realised I was going to lose him. The last meeting we had, as I completed one of my twelve steps, was very emotional and tearful. But I am so pleased that I made the trip up to see him that last time.

BLITZ: You also did some work in those intervening years with Dave's Not Here, as well as a bit of engineering and production for other artists. Did you feel that either venture was able to sustain your ongoing goals of creative autonomy?

GREEN: With all the commitments to work and children -- my other two daughters, Luci and Daisy were born in 1986 and 1988 respectfully -- I wasn't left with much time for anything. But I had a lot of sound equipment from the band days.

When I tried to sell it all, I was persuaded to update it and do sound rental and sound engineering for various rock bands here in London. I also got a regular gig mixing sound for most of the world music acts who played The Royal Festival Hall and Queen Elizabeth Hall, on the South Bank in London. I found this very satisfying work, as I had always been the "techie" in the band, tinkering with equipment, and overseeing sound checks to get the sound as good as possible.

I'm a firm believer that it don't matter how good a band is musically, they fail if the sound is not right. I like to build from the bottom up, get the kick drum and bass guitar sounding right and punching through, then everything else sits just right, as the sweeteners on the top. There is no rock without kick and bass, period.

Playing with Dave's Not Here was also very satisfying, and gave vent to my creative juices. But not as satisfying as the work I'm now doing; writing and producing my new album, which will hopefully be available later this year.

BLITZ: Most recently, you established a working partnership with promoter Conor Mahoney, and relocated for a season to the Midwestern United States. Do you still regard the States as a more ideal setting for your artistic vision?

GREEN: I visited the States in the summer of 2014, to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of our first record,  I'm Into Something Good being released in the UK and the USA. I had been invited by Conor Mahoney to come over and play with Mike Brucolleri. A very gifted vocalist and musician, who had previously been a member of Peter Noone's Herman's Hermits. I agreed to the visit, as I wanted to say thank you to as many fans as I could for the past fifty years of an incredible life, due mostly to their buying of our records and generally supporting the band.

I was amazed to see that the band, Herman's Hermits was still so popular, and even more amazed that a lot of our records were being played on the radio regularly. I was also taken aback by the response when I guested with Mike in his band. I sang some of the old hits. Everyone knew the words and sang along with us.

I had always loved the States as a Country. I loved working there in the sixties and seventies. Now that my three daughters are grown and flown the nest, it is my intention to spend a lot more time in the States if I can. I would dearly love to make the USA my home in the future, if at all possible.

BLITZ: In 2016, you released an all new album on the Global Recording Artists label (GRA), The Long Road Back. The label has a long track record of presenting inspiring new releases by highly respected veteran artists, such as Buffy Ford Stewart, the Strawberry Alarm Clock, the Standells, We Five and Bill Mumy.

The Long Road Back is no exception. Interestingly enough, you refer to the Karl Green Band -- Karl, Gina, Brock -- as the KGB at times. Acronyms notwithstanding, could KGB also be a slight tongue in cheek reference to assuring your resolve to maintain creative autonomy in a recorded setting?

GREEN: With the Karl Green Band, I wanted to do things my way, and live or die by the results. I wrote or co-wrote all the tracks, I arranged the songs, produced and mixed the album. But the KGB part has no underlying meanings, other than it is also the name of the Russian military intelligence. A pun, nothing else.

BLITZ: Interestingly enough, the results therein almost contradict such a notion, in that you allow each member of the band the spotlight at various times throughout the project. Such altruism is particularly effective on It's Not Love. Does the democratic process in a band setting work best for you at the moment?

GREEN: Throughout my entire career, I have always performed with a band or guested in a band. I always find comfort in being in a band, with my friends all around me. Yes, when in a band, one has to be democratic to a greater degree. But, and there's always a but, someone has to take the helm and make certain decisions when the others cannot. 

I'm a firm believer in the best person for the job getting it. Even though Gina had not sung a great deal, I was convinced that the song would sound better with her singing it. She proved me right with a wonderfully sultry performance.

The tracks that Mike sang on were perfect for him, also. He was the right man for the job. 

Having said all that, I am now working on a one man show in which I play a number of Herman's Hermits songs, mixed up with songs by people I've had the pleasure of touring with, and recounting amusing and interesting stories about or antics on the road, or in the studio. Performing live on my own, with backing tracks made by me specifically for the show, is however a daunting prospect, which I am looking forward to with relish.

BLITZ: Gimme Some Love hints at the paradox of the joys of life on the road being countered by a possibly latent longing for a more stable setting. Do you still believe those two seemingly incongruous settings are feasible at this stage?

GREEN: I don't think that I could go on the road like we used to back in the day. I think it would take its toll on my health and personal life.

But I think that if I get to settle in the States and keep writing and producing albums, I could go out and promote those albums in small intimate venues now and again, and enjoy the experience. As long as I could have a happy home life with family and friends, I would be very happy.

I see so many of my old friends touring, and get the impression that they feel like they're on a treadmill, and that their home life is not what it should be. I want to work and enjoy the experience. I've always felt that way. I think music should be a passion, not a means to a financial end.

BLITZ: Despite the unlikely setting of being recorded in a hotel room, Renshaw Shuffle is a brilliant example of the sheer joy and exuberance that characterized Herman's Hermits' work in the late 1970s, as well as a nice salute to your one time colleague. Are there any other such heretofore unreleased examples of improvisation in your archives?

GREEN: Unfortunately, I don't have any more gems like The Renshaw Shuffle. It was difficult enough to retrieve that track from the damaged tape it was stored on. I think Keith may have some material. He took over as custodian and curator of the Herman's Hermits archives when Lek passed.

I stay in touch with Keith. He's a wonderful man and a great musician. In fact, The Long Road Back was mixed at his studio. His son, Daniel mastered the album there.

My next album is written and almost finished, recorded by myself and my co-writer and friend of nearly forty-five years, Tony Kemp. It will be available later this year. I hope to be back stateside in April - May for a few weeks!