CVIndependent

Tue11122019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Many of the crooners and pop singers who started their careers in the 1950s were taken by surprise when rock ’n’ roll took the world by storm—and therefore put a damper on their careers.

However, a handful of singers managed to stay successful—and one of the most successful has been Bobby Vinton, now 78. The “Blue Velvet” crooner is performing at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa on Saturday, Sept. 7.

Bobby Vinton was born into a musical family in Canonsburg, Penn; his father, Stanley Vinton Sr., was a popular local bandleader. While Vinton was growing up, he was surrounded by music, and his parents encouraged his interest in music from an early age—although music was not his only interest.

“As a kid growing up, big-band music was all I knew,” Vinton said during a recent phone interview. “My mother, of course, was a big influence on me. In fact, when I was about 10 or 11 years old, she wanted me to practice the clarinet. Like most young boys at that age, you want to play ball and play sports. She said, ‘Fine, you can do all that, but if you want an allowance, you have to practice your clarinet. Otherwise, you don’t get an allowance.’

“So I was bribed into show business,” he said, laughing.

Vinton started his first band at the age of 16 and enjoyed some local success. In fact, music earnings allowed him to pay his way through Duquesne University, where he earned a degree in musical composition. He then served two years in the U.S. Army.

In 1960, he signed with Epic Records; however, he struggled to find success, and was nearly dropped from the label. However, he was saved, in part, thanks to a creative idea he had when it came time to promote his 1962 single, “Roses Are Red (My Love)”: Vinton bought 1,000 copies of his own single and had the idea to deliver a dozen roses—with a copy of the song, of course—to local DJs in Pittsburgh.

“No one wanted to play ‘Roses Are Red,’ and we were having a tough time promoting it,” Vinton said. “… The first radio station I pulled up to, I stood outside the eyeglass window where the DJ was, and I’m standing there with my flowers in my hand, telling the DJ I wanted to give him roses. I think he thought I was in love with him. I thought I better try another approach, and I saw a girl walking up the street with the greatest legs, and I asked her, ‘Hey, would you do me a favor? Walk in and hand these roses to that DJ.’ So she did, and she had no trouble getting in, and he played it. It seemed to work, and we did it all over in Pittsburgh. Next thing I knew, it was a hit record across the country.”

After the success of “Roses Are Red (My Love),” Vinton had a few more lesser hits before he released “Blue on Blue” in 1963, followed by a cover of “Blue Velvet”—the hit that would define his career.

“What started ‘Blue Velvet’ was my hit song ‘Blue on Blue,’” he explained. “I was going to make an album called Blue on Blue, with all blues songs,” Vinton said. “I decided to really make it different. I went to Nashville, and I used all country musicians. … They don’t read the music, and they don’t have to—because they play with a feel. I had five minutes left on the album, and I decided I would do ‘Blue Velvet.’”

Meanwhile, rock ’n’ roll was starting to become even more popular, thanks to Beatlemania and the Rolling Stones. When the Beatles arrived in America for the first time in 1964, Vinton took notice of rock’s growing popularity—and knew what it meant for his career.

“My manager at the time was Allen Klein, and when the Beatles and the Rolling Stones came here, they wanted to use him, because he was very smart, and had the right moves in the business,” Vinton said. “I remember one time, Mick Jagger asked me, ‘How do you feel about us guys coming here and taking all the play away from you?’ And I said, ‘Well, in a way, you have eliminated my competition—because songs like ‘Blue Velvet’ sold to the adults as well to the teenagers. So if I sold 2 million records, I sold 1 million to the teenagers, and 1 million to the adults.’ The Beatles came along, and I lost the teenagers, but I still had the adults. I was still able to sell 1 million to the adults.’

“The times were changing, and I had no idea at the time that the Rolling Stones would become as big as they are today.”

Despite the popularity of rock ’n’ roll, Vinton still enjoyed success, in part because he decided to separate himself from the rock acts by focusing on live shows.

“What I did over the years was just develop myself as a live entertainer,” Vinton said. “I have a show that is very versatile, and I figured the record business isn’t what it once was for me, so I focused on being a live entertainer that can put on this show that can compete with anybody onstage. That’s where I put all my efforts and energies.”

Eventually, Vinton stopped recording new material. His last album, As Time Goes By, a collaboration with the late George Burns, was released in 1992; he said has no plans to enter a recording studio again.

“I don’t want to record again, because the music scene is so different,” Vinton said. “I don’t want to frustrate myself. There was a time when I was No. 1 on the charts. You don’t want to start changing what is. I don’t think if I had the greatest song in the world that a pop station playing Lady Gaga would play me or any artist from my generation. You have to accept the time for what it is.”

While Vinton has retired from recording, he still has passion for live performances.

“It’s just something I feel I do very well,” he said. “I’ve played casinos all across the country, and this past weekend, a girl came up to me after the show who was with her mother, and she said, ‘I really didn’t want to come see you. I really enjoyed the show, and … you brought out the teenager in my mother.’ So these things happen—and believe me, there’s nothing else I can do or want to do in my life.”

Bobby Vinton will perform at 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 7, at The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive in Rancho Mirage. Tickets are $40 to $60. For tickets or more information, call 888-999-1995, or visit www.hotwatercasino.com.

Published in Previews

It’s unfortunate that Ted Nugent is now known more for his political opinions and outrageous statements than his music.

After all, he’s an icon of rock ’n’ roll whose onstage presence is just as powerful as his political presence—and he’s bringing his music to the Aqua Caliente Casino Resort Spa on Friday, Aug. 30.

Nugent wasn’t made available for a phone interview, but he was willing to answer some questions for the Coachella Valley Independent via e-mail.

He’s known as the Motor City Madman, an appropriate moniker given his history as a recording artist and stage performer. His career began in earnest in 1964 as a member of the Amboy Dukes. In 1968, the band—which was undeniably ahead of its time—released Journey to the Center of the Mind, a hard-rock classic which stood out in the era of psychedelic rock.

Nugent is known for his opposition to drugs and alcohol, and he has acknowledged in previous interviews that he didn’t realize the title track of that album was a reference to the psychedelic drug experience. However, he did acknowledge the album’s place in rock history.

“I was certainly very fortunate to be surrounded by dedicated virtuosos far ahead of their time and much better musicians than myself,” Nugent wrote about the Amboy Dukes. “The superior rhythm section of Dave Palmer on drums and Greg Arama on bass guitar was a very powerful musical force to reckon with. Though I came up with some pretty inventive guitar maneuvers and songwriting, the full credit should go to my fellow bandmates for thinking way outside the box at the time.”

The Amboy Dukes came to an end in 1975, and Nugent headed out on his own. He quickly earned a reputation as a high-energy guitar virtuoso who broke out with the songs “Stranglehold” and “Hey Baby.” His songs were beloved within Los Angeles skateboarding and surfing circles, and Nugent became renowned for his seemingly ceaseless energy in his shows.

Nugent credited the venison he was eating (thanks to hunting, one of his big hobbies) as well as other factors for his energy.

“My unbridled love of the music, combined with my athletic, clean and sober mind, body, spirit and soul, gave me Herculean energy and spirit and indefatigable drive to pursue all musical roads less traveled,” Nugent wrote.

Nugent’s success carried on through the late 1970s and most of the ‘80s. In 1989, he surfaced as a member of the supergroup Damn Yankees, with Jack Blades (Night Ranger), Tommy Shaw (Styx) and Michael Cartellone. In 1990, the group released a self-titled debut with the smash-hit “High Enough,” which landed them in the Top 10; the album went double-platinum album. The Damn Yankees also released Don’t Tread, in 1992, which went gold. The group reunited for performances in 1999 and the 2010 NAMM Show in Anaheim; Blades and Shaw also contributed to Nugent’s most recent studio album, Love Grenade, which was released in 2007.

Nugent, who recently announced he'd be releasing a new live album in October, said the Damn Yankees hope another release is in their near future.

“Logistics, timing and scheduling coordinated availabilities is a Herculean task, but with any luck, we should hit the studio in early 2014 for a summer release of a killer CD,” said Nugent. “I know I speak for Jack Blades, Tommy Shaw and Michael Cartellone when I praise the killer music we made as Damn Yankees, and how all four of us would absolutely love to make music again and hit the road together. We all hope it happens someday. One never knows.”

Nugent’s love of hunting and firearms has earned him the scorn of animal-rights activists; in fact, Nugent said he’s received death threats. Still, Nugent lives for hunting, and said that being in nature is his preferred method of relaxation.

“Of all the incredible blessings in my life, the fact that I figured out the physics of spirituality balance and healing powers of nature long ago are the most powerful determination factors for my quality of life,” said Nugent. “I literally get giddy and hyperventilate in anticipation of every tour, every concert, every song, every night, and every hunt and every day. The soul- and ear-cleansing silence of my annual eight-month hunting season prepares me better than anything available to mankind to throttle my style of skull-dusting dance music. God loves me more than he loves others, obviously, and I thank him hourly.”

As for his controversial political statements, don’t expect the right-wing conservative to apologize anytime soon—no matter how outlandish those statements become.

Just a few lowlights: During a radio interview in 1992, he said, “Who needs to club a seal when you can club Heidi?" in reference to the Fund for Animals’ Heidi Prescott. In 2007, during a live performance, he said “(Barack) Obama’s a piece of shit, and I told him to suck on my machine gun.” Nugent earned a visit from the Secret Service after saying at the 2012 NRA Convention: "If Barack Obama becomes the president in November again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year.” And most recently, he addressed racial profiling and the George Zimmerman acquittal by saying: “I think when you use the word ‘profile,’ if a Dalmatian has been biting the children in the neighborhood, I think we’re going to look for a black and white dog. At some point, you’ve got to be afraid of black and white dogs if the Dalmatian’s doing the biting.” This came days before he joked about hunting Democrats on Mike Huckabee's radio show.

He acknowledged that his remarks have hurt his record sales, but he has no plans to go silent on political matters.

“There is no question that my record sales took a serious hit for my being so outspoken on such volatile … issues. So be it. I am incapable of backing down, and have no regrets for standing up for what I believe in,” Nugent wrote. “I've always been right, and my haters have always been wrong. I so dearly cherish this glorious experiment in self-government that I will be damned if I will ever be silenced or compromise my spiritual obligation to do my part for all things America. I turn up the heat constantly. My incredible career is far beyond any dream I could have ever imagined.”

As for his current tour, Nugent is still as energetic as ever, and he promised fans a great show.

“The intensity and pure animal energy of my band and music is always a shock to unsuspecting civilians, even after all these years,” he wrote. “We just keep getting tighter and having more fun all the time. I shock (myself) nightly, and nothing shocks me. They will revel in the best all American rhythm and blues and rock ’n’ roll the world has ever known.

“If you're not having fun with me, you're weird and need some serious help.”

Ted Nugent performs at 9 p.m., Friday, Aug. 30, at The Show at the Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive in Rancho Mirage. Tickets are $25 to $45. For tickets or more information, call 888-999-1995, or visit www.hotwatercasino.com.

Published in Previews

It’s almost August, and that means that the Coachella Valley cultural scene is entering its deadest time of the year.

Nonetheless, there are still a lot of things going on: Movies and music can be found in surprising abundance throughout the month.

But when it comes to theater—forget it. The local companies pretty much ignore the month of August. Perhaps they’re prepping for the 2013-2014 season; perhaps they’re taking a much-needed break. Whatever the reason, August is, by far, the slowest theater month in the Coachella Valley.

Still, a few local companies are at least throwing us Coachella Valley theater-lovers a bone or two this month. Here are some shows worth your attention.

Friday and Saturday, Aug. 2 and 3

The brand-new Desert Theatreworks has big plans for 2013-2014: The company has four full shows slated for the season, ranging from an Agatha Christie whodunit to a musical set in a trailer park.

But the fine folks at Desert Theatreworks are offering the valley a nice appetizer before the main course: This summer, they’ve mounted a couple of one-weekend shows. This coming weekend, they’re following up July’s Up (The Man in the Flying Chair) with A.R. Gurney’s comedy Sylvia, a play about a man, a woman and the dog (played by a human running around on all fours!) that comes between them.

Catch Sylvia at 7 p.m., Friday; and 2 and 7 p.m., Saturday, at the Arthur Newman Theatre in the Joslyn Center, 73750 Catalina Way in Palm Desert. Tickets are $23 to $25. Call 760-980-1455, or visit www.dtworks.org.

Saturday, Aug. 10

We admit we’re biased on this one: VJ Hume—you may know her as Valerie Jean, and those of us at Independent World Headquarters know and love her as our theater reviewer—wrote, directs and stars in LUSH!, her play about Marty Mann, the first woman who participated in Alcoholics Anonymous.

Catch a readers’-theater performance of LUSH!, at 7 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 10, at the Palm Springs Womans’ Club, 314 Cahuilla Road in Palm Springs. Tickets are $10, and the proceeds benefit Michael’s House, a Palm Springs recovery center. Call Zigi at (760) 464-2138 for reservations.

Saturday, Aug. 10

OK, we admit a little biased on this one, too: Shann Carr is a dear friend of the Independent. Plus she’s funny as hell—and you can see this for yourself when she performs her standup comedy (the news release calls it “debaucherous comedy and intimate storytelling; that sounds about right) at the Desert Rose Playhouse, 69620 Highway 111 in Rancho Mirage, also at 7 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 10. Tickets are $20; call 760-202-3000, or visit www.desertroseplayhouse.org for those tickets or more info.

Saturday, Aug. 17

Take two magicians—Mark Kalin and Jinger Leigh (“their skills in levitation are sure to haunt and mystify the kid in all of us,” the press release promises), and add in a comedy/magician, Jeff Hobson (“a combination of Liberace and Don Rickles,” the aforementioned release alarmingly claims). And what do you have?

You have the Carnival of Wonders!

We’re not exactly sure what all of this means, but the show has had successful runs in Reno, Las Vegas and Atlantic City, so it may be a nice of entertainment at 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 17, at The Show, at the Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive in Rancho Mirage. Tickets are $30 to $60. Get tickets or more info at www.hotwatercasino.com or 888-999-1995.

Pictured below: Local legend Shann Carr.

Shann Carr

Published in Theater and Dance

Page 9 of 9