Friday, January 27, 2017

The Winner & New Champion


The Toughest Opponent In Boxing

Early Boxing History

As early as 1700 BCE in Greece and on the island of Crete, boxing matches were popular. In Ethiopia and Ancient Egypt, pugilistic contests began even earlier. In Sumeria, the earliest known civilization which started in 4500-4000 BCE, there are carvings depicting boxing matches. These carvings appear to be from the third century BCE. Bare-knuckle fighting was the norm then, but the combatants did wear leather straps around their wrists and knuckles for support and protection. 

     Minoan Painting, Akrotiri Fresco, Circa 1500 BCE

Boxing disappeared for many years, then reemerged in the 1600s in England, still as a bare-knuckle sport without gloves. By 1714, Champion Jack Broughton established boxing's first rules to eliminate any further fatalities in the ring. From that point on, a downed opponent could remain on the ground, unimpaired, for 30 seconds. If the fighter could not continue after the count of 30, the contest was over. 

These new rules gave a significant benefit to a hurt opponent for he may take a knee whenever in trouble. The fighter taking a knee was not penalized and came to be looked upon as unmanly. In time, the seconds for the fighters would negotiate that rule out of the fight until eventually it was gone. 

Boxing became a consistent attraction at the Royal Theatre in London in the late 1600s and early 1700s.  There were no weight divisions and only one Champion reigned so lighter weight fighters were at a disadvantage often being defeated. For the most part, brute strength and size determined the outcome of earlier boxing matches since few techniques and skills were on display in the early years of the fight game. 

As the sport matured, strategies, better skills, and conditioning came into play. The fights had no limit on the number of rounds and the combatants fought until one or both men could not continue. The ring might consist of spectators in a circle or loosely hanging ropes.

Boxing Rules and Gloves

In 1867, the 12 Marquess of Queensberry Rules were formulated by John Chambers and named after John Douglas, the 9th Marquess of Queensberry. The ring would be 24 feet. Duration of each round would be 3 minutes, with a minute rest in between. If a fighter is struck and goes down, he must get up before the count of ten. In all, there are 12 Marquess of Queensberry rules that, for the most part, are followed in today's boxing contests although the original boxing gloves were much bigger.

The advent of gloves changed offensive and defensive strategies significantly. Combatants could now throw blows to the head with less concern of breaking their knuckles and fingers. They could also protect their head with newly developing defensive glove skills.

The first Heavyweight Champion under The Marquess of Queensberry Rules was "Gentleman Jim" Corbett in 1892 when he defeated former bare-knuckle champion John L. Sullivan in New Orleans. His notoriety and good name greatly helped boxing's popularity because through the end of the 19th century boxing became illegal in England and much of the United States due to the unseemly crowds it attracted.      

Bare-Knuckle Fighting 

Why Boxing?

So what is the fascination with two men in a ring pummeling one another? I would think to some degree it is a similar instinct that causes people to stop and observe an accident or to stand up and turn away from a world championship fight to see a fist fight in the stands.

A boxing match can be many things from choreographed chaos, to improvised brutality, as well as a pugilistic Lindy while playing hide and seek. It is my belief that most fans truly want to see the manly art of self-defense, but they also demand to see a fight.

One of the most anticipated fights of the past few decades was Mayweather vs. Pacquaio. Sadly,the match materialized at least five years too late leaving boxing enthusiasts frustrated and inevitably taken advantage of.

You would think to be touted as the best ever, never losing a fight, would assist in making a strong argument on your behalf, such as  Rocky Marciano (49 & 0 with 43 knockouts!) and  Floyd Mayweather (49 & 0 with 26 knock outs,) but that is not always a given!

Muhammad Ali had 56 wins and 5 losses, yet he is arguably higher on any pound for pound list then the aforementioned fighters

Muhammad Ali could have been a cutie winning on quickness, defense, and a jab, but instead he chose to beat his opponent, not just win.

Things get convoluted for me if in your 20, 30, 40, or more matches, you have rarely fought a great opponent in his prime. To wish, perchance to dream, for just one historic contest displaying the fighting heart and soul exhibited by so many champions of the ilk of an Arturo Gatti, Chico Diego Corrales, Matthew Saad Muhammad, and, more recently, Roman Gonzalez. 

The new heir apparent for the pound for pound title could be Andre Ward who displays the defense of a world class fighter as well as an offense complete with fast hands, great feet, and adequate power! He recently stated after the Brand fight that his fighting agenda moving forward will be to not get hit and leave the sport intact. This is a novel concept more in line with being an accountant!

He rarely takes any risks as it is so is he planning to wear full body Kevlar? 

Without question, avoiding having your body and brain compromised by unnecessary damage is the goal of all professional athletes in contact sports. So what does Andre Ward mean stating the obvious?  Did The Super Six World Boxing Classic make him revaluate the toll mixing it up can take on you?  Andre beat Carl Froch, Arthur Abraham, Sakio Bika, Allen Green, and Mikkel Kesslerfighters who are strong and tough and roughed Andre up whenever they could; however, Andre dispensed of them, but at what cost? Andre Ward got the nod against Sergey Kovalev in an excellent fight. I cannot wait for the rematch!

There is a decided difference between winning and beating your opponent and I am under the assumption fight fans would prefer the latter!

Boxing has changed and I guess I have not. I loved watching James Toney's defensive skills--for they were among the best! Showcased with his back against the ropes, slipping punches with head and shoulder rolls, and then he would make his opponent pay, because he wanted to. He had 76 wins, 46 knockouts, and 10 losses.

It is my contention that to be considered the best, you must have endeared yourself to the serious fight fans beyond your win/loss record. Fight fans judge you not only on winning or losing, but how you win or lose. I believe that if you have the ability to utterly outclass your opponents making them miss over and over again, but you do not have the power nor offensive ability to make them pay or take them out, in my mind you are not a complete fighter. I have had the opportunity to watch defensive geniuses embarrass all comers with their pugilistic expertise practicing the "hit and not get hit" philosophy, but on steroids!  

With all respect and kudos to these exceptional fighters, inevitably I am still wanting, desiring more, once the fight is over. Where one person might see an unsophisticated brawl, another might visualize abilities including speed, power, and great technique. Where one observer might fall asleep on his couch, another might testify to seeing the most technically skilled fighters they had ever seen where it appeared virtually no punches were landed--something like two drunks in an alley. 

The boxing game requires courage, a refusal to quit, professionalism both in and out of the ring, controlled aggression, quickness, good footwork, uncanny timing, and an extraordinary understanding of distance to maximize the impact of offensive blows while being out of reach defensively. Even when all of these are put together on any given night, the outcome might still be in question if the opponent has a better fight plan and is better prepared both mentally and physically.

Weighing In on Boxing

The rules that govern boxing are there for the pugilist's protection in hopes of assuring that each match involves two comparably skilled adversaries approximately the same weight designated by the division they fight in.

The subject of making weight and the physical toll it can take on the fighter is the topic of debate and concern in the boxing game. The number of pugilists who cut more weight than is healthy or safe is growing. Often the reality is the fighter has outgrown the division, but does not feel he has the size, speed, or punch to move up in weight.  These bigger men cutting weight to fight at lower weights have an advantage especially when they rehydrate one or two divisions above the contracted weight.
 Adrien Broner  vs.  Ashley Theophane

The Winner & New Champion

There is a new adversary in town capturing one championship belt after another--vacating titles in all divisions without throwing a punch--THE SCALE!  Over the years, there have been champions who have lost their belts on the scales.

    Eddie Mustafa Muhammad loses WBA Championship Belt for not Making Weight

Same day weigh-in abruptly ended in 1983 when Eddy Mustafa Muhammad could not make weight to defend his WBA title against Leon Spinks. He was indefinitely suspended by the DC Boxing & Wrestling Commission. Many other commissions followed suit when he refused to attempt losing the 2 1/2 Lbs. he was over. Quite a sum of money was lost by the fighters on the card, plus HBO was embarrassed for not being able to telecast the fight card as previously advertised to their subscribers.

By adding another day, the belief was if the fighter not making weight knew they had another day to rehydrate and recover from the unsafe weight cut in front of them, then they would be more inclined to move forward attempting to cut the extra pounds. Ultimately, less matches would be cancelled, but it could also increase the number of heavier fighters moving down in weight to capitalize on a size advantage exacerbating the problem.

"Bam Bam" Rios and Weight Loss

I followed Brandon Rios and observed how weight cutting eventually altered his career as well as his outstanding abilities. It is not as simple as Rios being a bigger man who let himself put on too much weight.

He was stripped of his WBA Lightweight title for not making weight. Now, fighting for the WBA Welterweight championship against Timothy Bradley, he failed to make weight on his first attempt. After an hour away from the scales, a gaunt and shaky Rios made weight on his second effort.

I would not miss a Rios fight for he is one of a small list of fighters who come to fight every fight. He is not a cutie unwilling to engage or be maneuvered into a fight.

He is a boxer who makes the fight! 

Watching him fight is a gift to the viewer for it's obvious he loves the competition and the challenge of breaking down his opponent--unlike the cuties who will bore you into submission. I wish him the best with his ongoing pugilistic career at whatever weight he decides will not hurt his body.
    Brandon Rios Fighting for WBA Title Making 147 Lbs. the Day Before the Fight

At 147 Lbs., Timothy Bradley (WBA Welterweight Champion) Fought Brandon Rios Weighing in at 170 Lbs. the Night of the Fight 

Sadly, drastic weight cutting can lead to a multitude of health problems and even death. A boxer's livelihood depends on stamina, speed, strength, and the capacity to think clearly and quickly. All of the aforementioned are drastically compromised by imprudent weight cuts! 

Intensive research at The Cleveland Clinic on drastic weight cutting has discovered serious factors related to the affects of unwise weight cutting. It reduces your bodies' ability to deliver oxygenated blood through your body because of the lack of plasma, which drastically hinders both cardio and aerobic endurance.

Eating and drinking barely anything to cut weight is harmful to the brain causing hormonal imbalances that perpetuate mood swings, depression, and eating disorders. We expect a lot from the fighters, but do we want them injuring themselves or dying while engaging in dangerous weight cutting?

Boxing's Weight Divisions

In 1909, a ratification of a vote cast around 1891, by 21 Sporting Clubs in London, amended the Marquess of Queensberry rules to implement eight divisions, or weight classes.  Since then, these divisions have been split so that now 17 weight divisions encompass the sport of boxing.  The current weight classes are:

Strawweight or Minimum Weight < 105 Lbs.
Junior Flyweight or Light Flyweight  105-108 Lbs.
Flyweight  108-112 pounds 
Super Flyweight or Junior Bantamweight  112-115 Lbs.
Bantamweight  115-118 Lbs.
Super Bantamweight or Junior Featherweight  118-122 Lbs.
Featherweight  122-126 Lbs.
Super Featherweight  126-130 Lbs.
Lightweight  130-135 Lbs.
Junior Welterweight or Super Lightweight  135-140 Lbs.
Welterweight  140-147 Lbs.
Junior Middleweight or Super Welterweight  147-154 Lbs.
Middleweight  154-160 Lbs.
Super Middleweight  160-168 Lbs.
Light Heavyweight  168-175 Lbs.
Cruiserweight  175-200 Lbs.
Heavyweight  > 200 Lbs.

"The Gentlemen of Boxing"

I became a fight fan in the 1950s when I was ten years old--listening to fights on the radio. Floyd Patterson, a 160 pound Middleweight who earned the Gold Medal as he knocked out five opponents at the 1952  Summer Olympics in Helsinki, Finland, was a favorite of mine.

Floyd Patterson, 1952 Olympic Gold medalist                       

    Rocky Marciano, Undefeated Heavyweight Champion                                             

The Heavyweight title holder, Rocky Marciano, a 185 pound, hard-hitting, undefeated champion was also a favorite of mine. "The Brockton Bomber" was one of the toughest, most aggressive, well-trained heavyweights in the sports history! As a young boy, I felt Rocky Marciano represented much of what I loved about boxing as did Floyd Patterson, but for different reasons. 

It was important to an impressionable, young boy that they were both perceived as good people. They were both respectful of their opponents and fought a clean fight. 

Marciano was invisible and Patterson was vulnerable. Floyd Patterson became the youngest Heavyweight champion ever at age 21.  Each fighter brought their own brand of drama into the match. In a Marciano fight, there was the undefeated record on the line as well as his one-punch knockout ability possibly ending a fight in a heartbeat. 

In a Patterson fight, there was also heightened anticipation for his one-punch knockout power, plus additional drama came into play for Patterson was not always able to take a Heavyweight punch. Taking into consideration he was a blown-up Middleweight (160 Lbs.) fighting as a Light Heavyweight, then moving up to Heavyweight to take on the hardest punchers in boxing, Floyd did go down, but he kept getting up. He got off the canvas seven times in his loss to Sonny Liston

When Marciano retired, Patterson fought the great Archie Moore for the vacant division championship. Archie Moore was born in Benoit, Mississippi in 1913 or 1916 (according to documentation in respected publications) so no one really knew his age. That night in 1956, when Archie Moore fought Floyd Patterson for the vacant Heavyweight Championship, Moore was almost 20 years older then his opponent Floyd Patterson who knocked out Archie Moore in the fifth round.    

Archie Moore knocked out 141 fighters in his 200 plus fights. He still is one of the greatest power punches and Light Heavyweight Champions of all time!                   

    Archie Moore, Longest Reigning Light Heavyweight Champion Ever!
     Muhammad Ali, "The Greatest"          

Cassius Clay's "Punch"

In the 1960s, I was captivated by Cassius Clay's persona and charisma. Furthermore, he was the quickest of foot and hands I had ever witnessed in his division. He was also the most athletic, accurate punching heavyweight I had ever seen.

When Clay embraced the religion of Islam and became a Muslim, his name became Muhammad Ali. His voice and actions outside of the ring addressed the inequality people of color endured to the forefront of the American psyche, which helped initiate a constructive narrative acknowledging the bigotry Black people had suffered for far too long! He was certainly a man of religious conviction who lost everything for his beliefs.

Muhammad Ali fought and talked his way into a championship fight against Sonny Liston. Very few boxing enthusiasts believed Cassius Clay could beat the vicious, hard-hitting Sonny Liston, so that fight probably would not have happened when it did if it weren't for Clay relentlessly confronting and antagonizing Liston.

Listening to the Fight!

In February, 1964, The Allan Hancock College Bulldogs were in their locker room having ankles taped, putting on their uniforms, and closely watching the clock. Gilbert Gains, a 6'2" Forward, assertively said, "It's time." and walked towards the door to close it. Nick Allen, a  6'5" Center quietly called out, "Turn it on!"  Charlie Brown, a 6'0" guard replied, "Be cool or the coach will hear you!" Brown turned on the radio in hopes we could hear some of the fight between Liston and Clay. Three rounds into the fight we were all blown away that Liston was being beaten.

Our coach, Sam Vokes, pushed the door open and couldn't grasp that we were listening to the radio. In disbelief, he insisted we get our butts on the court!

I do not remember if we won or lost that game, but I will never forget that one of the biggest upsets in boxing history unfolded February 25, 1964, when Cassius Marcellus Clay made the supposedly unbeatable Sonny Liston quit on his stool.

    One of The Biggest Upsets in Boxing❗️
After college, I attended every Ali fight in theaters; however, it was not until Muhammad Ali was reinstated after a three-year suspension in boxing that I was able to see him in live competition.

In November, 1966, I was working late at The May Co. Department Stote in downtown LA. A few of us decided to take our break at the same time for the Muhammad Ali vs. Cleveland Williams fight was simulcasting at the theater up the block. That fight is one of my favorite Ali fights for he took apart a good fighter in Cleveland Williams who had won 78 of his 92 fights with 58 knock outs and 1 draw. Ali might have been the best I had ever seen him that night. He devastated "Big Cat" Williams with speed, accuracy, and power.  He knocked Williams down three times in the second round with a final knockout in the third.

Muhammad Ali vs. Cleveland Williams

The Fight of the Century

My life had changed. I traded in my job as the assistant manager of the cosmetic department for The May Co. for my new role as lead singer for Three Dog Night. On March 8th, 1971, I drove my new 1971 280SE convertible Mercedes to the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium to see the simulcast fight featuring Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier accurately dubbed The Fight Of The Century

It was an excellent matchup of two great fighters in their prime--although Ali was at a disadvantage due to his three years out of the ring caused by his suspension as well as a lack of rounds leading up to this fight. It was a fight ripe with tension and drama, but in the end, Joe Frazier won a unanimous decision. Everyone could not wait to see a rematch and we all would get our wish two more times.

Jerry Quarry was managed by the same management company that represented me so I was fortunate to obtain excellent seats. Ring Magazine voted Jerry Quarry "The Most Popular Fighter in America" from 1969-1971. Jerry Quarry would be the first combatant Muhammad Ali would face after his suspension was lifted. Jerry was a good man and I enjoyed spending time with him. After Jerry retired from boxing with a record of 53-9-4, 32 of which were knockouts, he worked as an advance man for Three Dog Night. 

An Elaborate Hoax?

The night Mike Quarry, Jerry's brother, fought the great Bob Foster for the Light Heavyweight Championship and Jerry Quarry fought Muhammad Ali in Las Vegas, I was there with a special friend. Nick Allen and I were good friends in college and we still are today!  We were on the basketball team at AHC in Santa Maria, California, and one thing you could always count on from the ball players were outrageous pranks--some of which were brutal.

Years later, when I was in Three Dog Night, Nick and Margo Allen flew from New York to California to visit family and friends stopping by my home for several days to visit. During dinner one night, I told Nick I had ringside seats to the Ali vs. Quarry fight and asked if he would like to go. Immediately, I could see on his face that Nick was thinking I was trying to pull a prank on him. The more I elaborated on Quarry being a friend and managed by my managers, the more certain he became I was hustling him.

The day of the fight, I told Nick a limousine would be picking us up in two hours and would take us to a private airport where our jet was. He began repeating to his wife Margo what I was saying to him,"The limousine will be picking me and Chuck up and taking us to a very private airport so we can fly to Las Vegas in Chuck's jet to see Muhammad Ali, and Chuck's good friend, Jerry Quarry, fight." He still wasn't sure if I was telling the truth.

A few hours later, the limo picked us up and now Nick was even more certain that I was pulling an elaborate hoax on him, typical of what we would have done in college. When we arrived at the airport, Floyd Sneed and Michael Allsup, fellow Three Dog Night members, were waiting for our jet to land. Nick was wondering if everyone was in on this prank or could it possibly be true?  Like a perfectly timed entrance of a spotlight on a dark stage, the jet descended out of the California mist making its approach to the runway.

When the plane was close enough to read the Three Dog Night logo on the side of the plane I gestured to Nick and said, "There it is." Nick looked up and watched the jet landing without saying a word. He was very cool, not acting impressed or surprised, but I know he loved it!

Ali vs. Quarry--Round 2

In the first fight that evening, Mike Quarry, Jerry's brother, was fighting a powerful punching Light Heavyweight Champion Bob Foster. Foster knocked out Mike Quarry in the fourth round with a knockout some say, including Bob Foster, was the scariest they had ever seen. Bob Foster thought he had killed Mike as did many in the ring attending to him. He was unconscious for ten minutes.

Ali was visibly shaken and later commented he had difficulty pulling himself together for his fight with Mike's brother Jerry Quarry. Needless to say, Jerry and his family were devastated and deeply concerned about Mike's condition since he was still unconscious. Jerry was spending his warm-up time with his brother, waiting for him to come around. Finally, Mike's eyes opened and everyone breathed a sigh of relief; however, that was one horrific blow he received. Furthermore, who knows what long-term affects a punch like that can cause?

Jerry had to pull himself together and head to the ring to face Ali for the second time in his career. He first met Ali in Atlanta (10/26/70) which was the return of Muhammad Ali after a three-year suspension by the World Boxing Association for a draft evasion conviction. The Supreme Court overturned the verdict and Ali was acquitted and permitted to fight in Atlanta. Ali was determined to make a point and send a message that he was back and still "The Greatest." Unfortunately, Quarry had to fight a driven, and possibly angry, Muhammad Ali that night!

Ali said of this fight, "If Quarry didn't get cut, it would have gone ten rounds." Quarry was badly cut in the third and the fight had to be stopped. Jerry Quarry was consumed with fear for the well-being of his brother as he walked to the ring in Las Vegas to face Ali a second time.

Ali won the first round utilizing mostly his jab and staying on his toes. In the second round, Ali was flat-footed and setting down on his punches which gave Quarry an opportunity to find Ali to the body. Quarry won the second round, but that will be last the round he wins for Ali decided Quarry was too dangerous for him to remain flat-footed so he went back to moving and jabbing. Ali hurt Quarry in the sixth and pummeled him into submission in the seventh round.

After the fight, Jerry invited us back to his suite, but I was concerned that after the beating he and his brother had taken that it might be inappropriate for us to attend since his family would be there and concerned for his health. We decided to see Jerry and let him know how much we respected him.

As the evening unfolded Jerry, Nick, and I ended up sitting on the hallway floor, resting against the wall, talking about the night. 

Jerry's face was badly swollen and he was dejected. Jerry was a gracious host in spite of an extremely difficult and traumatic evening. During our conversation, Jerry, half-kidding, asked me if when he was done with fighting could he work with TDN,  and I replied, "Yes!"

Jerry Quarry

Later In Vegas

Three Dog Night was doing a concert in Las Vegas. While in the lobby of the hotel, I heard "Chuck Negro to the front desk. Mr Negro, message for Mr. Chuck Negro." I started making my way to retrieve my message when I saw Jerry Quarry laughing hysterically. Jerry always thought it was so funny to address me in that fashion. He gave me a big hug and asked how Nick was doing and we caught up for awhile.

Jerry inquired if there was still a job with TDN for him and explained he talked to our manager, Burt Jacobs, concerning the matter. Burt told him to ask me. Jerry started as an advance man! We were touring and performing at mostly stadiums across America. Jerry's job was to go to each city about ten days before the performance and appear on all the morning shows, midday programs, evening news, and any local late night TV. He would also do print interviews and wine and dine VIP's. Jerry was a natural and did a great job for us. Jerry then traveled with the band in an assistant road manager/security role position in which he was both professional and effective.

Meeting Joe Frazier

It was January 28, 1974, at Madison Square Garden. Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali met for a second time. I flew in from LA with my new manager. Most who attended felt it was a great Heavyweight fight. It was not a championship fight, but it was 12 rounds. When the cards were tallied, Muhammad Ali won 7-4-1, 7-5, 6-5-1. It was obvious they had to fight again and so they did!

My manager not only knew Frazier, but he also managed the band performing at the huge after party event so we attended. They gave Frazier a new Corvette and one-by-one, family and friends shared stories of Joe and how much they loved him. A subtle shift occurred in the content of the messages being shared when a few female family members began suggesting Joe should retire. It was inappropriate, to say the least, to share such feelings in public without regard for how demeaning it must have been for Joe who was swollen and bruised. Mr. Joe Frazier was a class act and it was a privilege to talk with him. He loved music and entertainment and asked several questions about TDN and touring. 

It has been a lifetime since I first listened to my first boxing matches on the radio at age ten. My father and I shared the love of the sport and he took me to fights. My brother Rene and I talk and text boxing whenever a good fight is happening and we attend whenever possible.
I believe boxing is a metaphor for life!
I respect the fighters of yesterday and today. I am so grateful to all of them for what they have given me and taught me about life, hard work, and having a dream! 

The learned, and/or innate, ability to sustain physical damage, yet continue and, more often than not, turn the tide of the fight into their favor has always astounded me. The character and mental fortitude is another quality I find so very admirable in these men! To me, these warriors are all champions and will forever remain so in my mind!

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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Happy Together Tour



"The Happy Together" Touring Artists are Linked To The Past & The Present...For They Are Keeping Alive What Rock & Roll Was And Still Can Be!

A Musical Genre History Tour

In the 1960s, Rock & Roll matured into many genres including the melding of traditional acoustic folk music with electronic rock creating Folk RockBob Dylan, The Byrdsand The Lovin' Spoonful greatly contributed to the success of this new musical style. The Turtles expanded the genre when they took Bob Dylan's "It Ain't Me Babeout of the Folk and Folk Rock medium exploring a Pop/Rock approach which proved to be very successful!

The Flying Burrito Brothers

The Flying Burrito Brothers were significant in blending country music with rock creating a new avenue for bands like The Eagles and Pocowho forged a path and created a consistent demand for Country Rock Music

In 1968, Three Dog Night and The Flying Burrito Brothers toured across the country performing together. It was an unlikely coupling, but fitting in the eclectic 60's. Both bands were early in their careers and happy for the opportunity to perform from Los Angeles to New York City.

     Three Dog Night

THE BAND brought a sophisticated funk to the Country Rock genre significantly influencing Bob Dylan who pursued this style of music often over his illustrious career!  THE BAND wrote and played an exquisite brand of soulfully, honest songs that shed light on what country and rock could be as one! I would venture to say there is a significant percentage of Country Music today that is closer to Rock & Pop than the Country genre has ever been before.

Traditional Rhythm & Blues (R&B) spread its' wings in the 1950s and 1960s when James Brown introduced his brand of Funk and Soul which expanded the boundaries of R&B to include Funk in the form of Parliament and The Funkadelics. 

Other traditional Blues artists experimented with Psychedelic Soul including Johnny "Guitar" Watson, The Isley Brothers, and The Chambers Brothers--ever broadening the borders of Rhythm & Blues. 

Motown had an historic roster of R&B artists turning out hit after hit, many of which broadened the Soul genre to include a pop consciousness, in hopes of enticing the young, white audience that had adopted Rock & Roll as their own! The following are but a few of the artists on this historic label:

   Mary Wells
   Smokey Robinson & The Miracles
   Stevie Wonder
   Marvin Gaye
   The Four Tops
   The Temptations
   Gladys Knight & The Pips
   David Ruffin
   The Supremes
   The Jackson 5
   The Commodores

Along with many other outstanding artists, the amazing Motown label brought R&B to mainstream America.

The Influence of Doo-Wop

    The Ink Spots

In the 1930s and 1940s, The Ink Spots harmony simulated the sounds of strings, stand-up bass, and rhymes so well, they needed very little musical accompaniment on their early records.  

Bill Kenny, the lead singer of The Ink Spotshas been referred to as "The Father Of Doo-Wop."

The Ink Spots amazingly scored 12 Top Five records, 14 Top Ten hits, 29 Top Forty hits, and an outstanding 3 Number One records from 1939 thru 1951!

The number of artists in the 1950s, 1960s & 1970s who were influenced by, or were Doo-Wop groups, is quite significant!  They include:

   The Temptations
   The Four Tops
   The Four Seasons
   Laura Nyro
   The Beach Boys
   The Jackson 5
   The O'Jays
   Sly & The Family Stone
   Frank Zappa
   Three Dog Night

As the decade moved forward, several powerful and exciting bands have emerged from our Big Cities featuring eclectic music, excellent songs, and soulful vocals. This new urban sound, emanating from the inner cities across America, would introduce bands that have become iconic. 

From East to West a few of these bands include: 

  • The Rascals, Steely Dan and Blood, Sweat & Tears from New York.
  • From Philadelphia, we got The O'Jays, The Delfonics and Stylistics. 
  • The Windy City of Chicago put forth Chicago, The Electric Flag, and the Chi-Lites. 
  • From Detroit rode Rare Earth, Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels, and Grand Funk Railroad. 
  • Hollywood hailed The Beach Boys, The Buffalo Springfield, Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young, and Three Dog Night. 
  • Sly & the Family Stone, Santana, and Jefferson Airplane flew out of San Francisco.

The Birth of Rock And Roll

Little Richard & Bill Haley                        

For many American youth, it all began in 1955 when Bill Haley & His Comets hit song, "Rock Around The Clock," jumped to #1 on The Billboard Hot 100 charts. That same year, Little Richard’s music lit up the world with his raw, soulful voice and rocking piano. His impassioned originality embodied what Rock & Roll could be, and would be! In 1956, The King, Elvis Presley, exploded on the scene with three hits including the #1 Hit "Heartbreak Hotelwritten by Mae Axton.  

Mae was the mother of a friend of the band who was a great artist and writer, Hoyt Axton, who was the author of Three Dog Night's #1 Hit "Joy To The World!"

This singularly, American music was conceived by merging Rhythm & BluesCountryBig City Doo Wop, and Gospel, as well as subtle influences from the music of our ancestors.

Some of the artists who contributed to Rock & Roll by bringing their Country influences to this new musical expression included Buddy Holly, The Everly Brothers, and Jerry Lee Lewis, creating a highbred and new musical experience and way of life we now call ROCK & ROLL!

Who created the phrase--Rock & Roll?

    Alan Freed

The term Rock had been around as well as Roll, exemplified in Trixie Smith's "My Daddy Rocks Me (With One Steady Roll)" from 1932 and "Rock & Roll" by The Boswell Sisters in 1934
These songs, however, were making subtle and/or blatant sexual references. In the case of "Rock & Roll" by The Boswell Sisters, the lyrics describe a trip on the ocean, not a new form of musical expression as Alan Freed was referring to when he coined the phrase Rock & Roll.

It makes no sense to take the position that Alan Freed was not responsible for coining the phrase "Rock & Roll" because the word rock had been used in lyrics, as had roll, in spite of the fact they had no correlation to Mr. Freed's use of the words as a describing a genre of music.

Actually one journalist, Robert Fontenot, wrote what I feel is a disingenuous and provocative opening sentence to his article "Did Alan Freed Invent the Term Rock & Roll?"  In his opening line he states, "The term Rock & Roll was not invented by legendary Cleveland DJ Alan Freed," but then goes on to say he did come up with the term offering a feeble qualification attempting to minimize and dilute the facts.

Rhythm & Blues and Gospel Artists Had A Powerful Influence On Rock & Roll!


    Jackie Wilson

Some of Rock's greatest artist in the 1950s came from Rhythm & Blues, exposing white teens to an authentic American music they had not heard before. Rhythm & Blues influences are inherent from such Rock & Roll artists as Little RichardFats Domino, Ray Charles, Chuck Berry, and Jackie Wilson--adding to the already eclectic landscape of this passionate new musical genre.

    The Soul Stirrers/Sam Cook

The Soul Stirrers Gospel Quartet, proudly representing Gospel music for 80 years, helped shape R&B. This inspirational quartet gave us the beautifully, soulful voice of Sam Cookwho brought an abundance of talent including writing many of his hits, producing, and a keen business mind which gave more credence to this new venue setting the music world on its heels!
    Etta James

   Etta James was known as a gospel prodigy by age and at 17 scored a #14 R&B hits on Billboard’s Top 100 hits of 1955. 
   The Staple Singers 1956 Gospel hit "Unclouded Daywas an introduction to what was to come for the R&B charts, and inevitably to the Rock & Pop Charts with their hits--"Respect Yourself, ""I'll Take You There," and "Let's Do It Againputting more meat on the bone of this ever growing musical expression!

     The Five Satins       

In the 1950s, Doo-Wop dominated the charts with great songs and classic vocals.

   The Five Satins, "In The Still Of The Night"
   The Platters, "My Prayer"                
   Dion & The Belmonts, "I Wonder Why"
   The Drifters, "There Goes My Baby"
   The Moonglows, "Sincerely"
   The Cadillacs, "Gloria"
   The Flamingos, "I Only Have Eyes For You"
   The Heartbeats, "A Thousand Miles Away"
   The Clovers, "Devil Or Angel"
   The Dubs "Could This Be Magic"
   Frankie Lyman & The Teenagers, "Why Do Fools Fall in Love"
Many of Doo-Wop's successful groups began their careers on street corners and subway stations, transforming old standards into fresh a capella arrangements. Many of these groups were plucked from the corner stoop to the recording studio for the new record companies as they could not get enough of Doo-Wop music! The Turbans gave us the first song using the words Doo-Wop as a background harmony part. These groups and more were played on every radio station in the country and most likely were a part of many teens first slow dance at parties from New York to Los Angeles!

When Country, Rhythm & Blues, Gospel, and Doo-Wop merged, an infectious, magical, youthful, and spiritual Fact was born. This fact, or truth, is real and alive in that these once independent musical forms are now one in synergy and more unique as a whole than they were by themselves. 

Rock & Roll came of age in the mid-1960s selling more records and concert tickets than the music business had ever seen before!  Huge numbers of young consumers that made places like the Copacabana in New York City, home for the industries biggest acts such as Frank Sinatra, obsolete for they were simply too small to accommodate the unprecedented demand for the rock artists of the 1960s. 

As a testament to the latter, many of the top bands and artists from the 1960s and 1970s are still playing to sold out venues across America and the world!

The Happy Together Tour--Today!

The Happy Together Tour 2016 features acts from a magical era in Rock & Roll!  The show takes you on a trip to the wonderfully exhilarating world of the 1960s & 1970s. You just might see as much Tie Dye in the audience as you did in 1967 during the Summer Of Love. 

Grounded in an unprecedented volume of Billboard & Cashbox Top 40 hit records, The Happy Together Tour is putting a smile on the faces of audiences all over America--taking them on a musical journey with number one hits such as:

  • "Joy To The World," performed by Chuck Negron, who was the voice belting out "Jeremiah was a bullfrog" while singing lead vocals for Three Dog Night. 
  • The Cowsills with their number one hit, "Hair." 
  • Mark Lindsay performed the number one hit, "Indian Reservation."  
  • Gary Puckett added to the overwhelming amount of number one hits with "Young Girl."
  • Spencer Davis brought his number one hits from across the pond with a distinctively British edge with "Gimme Some Lovin'" which was listed as #244 in Rolling Stone's Top 500 best records ever recorded! 
  • Our hosts, The Turtlesbrought it all to a dynamic crescendo with their number one hit, "Happy Together."

     Spencer Davis 

In 1966 and 1967, Spencer Davis scored with Top Ten hits "Gimme Some Lovin’and "I'm A Man." Spencer has been a successful touring musician for 50 years making him the senior rocker, and fan favorite, on The Happy Together Tour 2016. Spencer Davis is a world renowned iconic artist whose music has become an important staple on rock radio.

Many musicians will work together over the years developing a friendly and respectful relationship which applies to Spencer and me. We toured together in the late 1980s as part of The 30th Anniversary of Rock & Roll Tour. Over thirty years later, we are once again touring together!
     Me & Spencer Davis 

 The Cowsills 

The Cowsills landed 4 Top 40 hits, 2 of which topped The Cashbox Charts. When it comes to vocal harmonies, you would be hard pressed to find a better vocal blend than that of siblings Sue, Bob, and Paul Cowsill!

I found The Cowsills portion of the show refreshing, passionate, and authentic. We traveled on the same tour bus and I truly enjoyed our time together and look at them as friends!

The Cowsills exhibit an endearing energy that seems to originate from the joy they experience while singing! Folk music was an important influence for the family as was the ever changing Pop/Rock musical and social culture.

     Gary Puckett

Gary Puckett & TheUnion Gap had top ten songs including a #1 on the Billboard charts with "Young Girl." Gary is one of the great pop singers of his day and he continues to showcase his special talent on tour with The Happy Together Tour 2016. 

Gary's segment of the show is a powerful statement of his musical influence and great vocal style that led to his success in the 1960s, 1970s, and today.

    Mark Lindsay (Paul Revere & The Raiders)

Mark Lindsay's compelling vocal on "Indian Reservation" topped the charts for Paul Revere & The Raiders. The band's dynamic, live performances made them one of the top concert attractions in Rock!

Mark had 13 Top 40 hits with Paul Revere & The Raiders and 2 as a solo artist. Mark is touring with, and is an important part, of The Happy Together Tour 2016 and has toured as a successful solo artist for decades. 

His voice is extremely versatile taking on the edgy "Kicks" as well as the mid-tempo "Indian Reservation" where he displays a smoother, beautiful side of his voice!
  Howard Kaylan & Mark Volman
  Also known as Flo & Eddie

"Happy Together" topped The Billboard Charts for three weeks in 1967! The Turtles had 5 Top Ten hits and 9 Top 40 hits from 1965 to 1969. 

For over a decade Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan have hosted The Happy Together Tour, showcasing many of the great artists of the 1960s and 1970s.

I have history with Mark & Howard and The Turtles going back to the 1960s & 1970s when we toured together. Mark Volman was a neighbor of mine for years on Coldwater Canyon in Los Angeles, CA.  In the early 1980s, while recording a solo record, Mark & Howard did all the harmonies--which were unique and greatly appreciated by yours truly! 

Mark and Howard are two of the great front men in Rock & Roll. Their stage persona is not only funny, but also musically compelling with great harmonies and songs. 

Mark Volman has an impressive range which is the "star on the top of Christmas tree" rounding out The Turtles unique sound. Howard Kaylan is one of the great American voices in Rock & Pop I have watched and listened to a few hundred shows and I cannot recall him missing one single note! I find his voice to be a magnificent gift.

I enjoy being a fan on the side of the stage watching and supporting my peers as they perform their portions of the show on this fun-loving, artistically-outstanding tour and I appreciate the opportunity to perform the great hits I sang with Three Dog Night

Many of the artists became friends so I will give you a look as we go about our lives as touring artists!

    The Happy Together Tour Live--somewhere in America

     Me, Sue Cowsill, and Gary Puckett

   Me & Mark Volman

    Barry Williams, AKA Greg Brady, stopped by backstage. 
    Me, Bob Cowsill, Paul Cowsill, Sue Cowsill, Ami Albea

      Manny Facarazzo, Keyboard/Vocals, and Sue Cowsill, Vocals/Guitar

      Spencer Davis & Mark Dawson, Bass

     Gary Puckett

 Ami Albea & Charles Peer (A lifelong friend)
     Sue Cowsill, Vocals/Guitar

     Paul Cowsill, Vocals

     Bob Cowsill, Vocals/Guitar

     Mark Lindsay, formerly of Paul Revere & The Raiders

     Spencer Davis

      Mark Volman & Howard Kaylan (AKA Flo & Eddie)

 Ami Albea, Me, Gary Puckett, & Mark Lindsay

     Me, before show mirror selfie

      Gary Puckett & Me

 Chuck & Ami exhausted
     Manny Facarazzo, Keyboards/Vocals

    Mark Dawson, Bass/Vocals

     Steve Murphy, Drums/Vocals

    Godfrey Townsend, Lead Guitar/Band Leader

    Taking it all in--Gary Puckett & Sue Cowsill               


The following seven people are the stars that shine the brightest in these performer's eyes.  Not only did we respect and trust them, but we also put our lives and careers in these unique people's hands every day as we traveled, shared intimate spaces, learned about each other, and accepted most imperfections. They endured the fatigue and tedium of life on the road which was hopefully balanced by the glorious rewards of an exuberant audience and a great show!

I would think most individuals would find it strange that we embrace and/or accept whatever comes our way in the never ending process of making a concert materialize. Everything we do is directed towards the few hours the performers are on stage for that is our life!

     Ron Housefeld, Tour/Production Manager
     (Father, Mother, & Friend!)

    JC Girardier, Front Of House Sound

    Jason Craig, Stage Manager

     Alejandro Marin, Stage Monitors

    Tessa Baker, Merchandise Princess

     Mike Lyles, Bus Driver

     Terry Mc Gee, Bus Driver

The previous seven pictures consist of the pulse of the machine that kept everything functioning and without them the concerts could not, and would not, have happened!

I thank you all for your commitment to excellence and professionalism on this journey that often defines us!

    Ami and Me, we made it and we're Heading Home☮✌️
    THANK YOU All!
 For The Forum We Are Accorded❤️