By Mickey Foellger
Tower Park in Fort Thomas once again opens the city’s Summer Concert Series by hosting the Northern Kentucky Music Legends’ 2018 Hall of Fame Concert and Induction Ceremonies on Thursday, June 7, at 6:00pm.
The Legends’ Hall of Fame is an interesting group of veteran musicians and vocalists (some no longer with us) and even some “music industry” types. At the top of the cream of our crop is Maysville’s incomparable Rosemary Clooney, inducted in the initial class in 2013, along with two of five members of Pure Prairie League who were from Northern Kentucky, Mike Reilly from Ft. Thomas, and Latonia’s Mike Connor, and virtuoso guitarist Adrian Belew, who fronted the rock group King Crimson in the ‘70’s and accompanied David Bowie all over the world. That initial class also included Ludlow’s Bob Braun of WLW-TV fame, Kenny Price of Florence from the Midwestern Hayride regional TV show and nationally televised “Hee Haw”, and Haven Gillespie of Covington, who wrote “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade in New York in 1934.
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The initial class was pretty large and included from Ft. Thomas, Steve Mendell, who produced and played bass with guitar slinger Stevie Ray Vaughn in Texas, and the area’s very best trumpet player, Gary Winters, who still tours all over Europe. The class included a local band that had been performing together for over 50 years, The Strange Brew, featuring rock vocalist Jerry Gifford.
According to Gary Burbank, the Class of 2014 was the “drummers’ class”, as I had the honor of being inducted that year along with PPL drummer Billy Hinds (both of us from Fort Thomas) and Adrian Belew’s drummer, Mike Hodges. Alexandria’s Gary Burbank was inducted as a radio personality, a Blues guitarist and harmonica player, but claims that he started out as a drummer. Panny Sarakatsannis (of Dixie Chili and Final Four fame) was inducted as a bass player, and likely taught and certainly influenced prior inductee Steve Mendell. The local band that year was The New Lime (my high school/college band) that had signed with Columbia Records in 1967 and had several singles played on the radio in the late ‘60s.
A couple of “industry types” were inducted that year too with Dennis Hensley, who operated Jordan Recording Studio in Taylor Mill and Dave Otto, who printed backstage passes in Dayton for concerts all over the world.
In 2015, the local band inducted was the Denims, the Erlanger group in which Adrian Belew began his career as a drummer in the ‘60s, and Adrian and the band performed that June in the amphitheater. The great jazz vocalist, Mary Ellen Tanner (who sang for years on WLW’s 50-50 Club, performed regularly at the Celestial in Mt. Adams, and who passed away earlier that year) was also inducted, with Larry and Tim Goshorn, who were part of Pure Prairie League and had their own band, the Goshorn Brothers. That year’s class included Gale Watson, Landon Williams and Rick Fox, who fronted many great local bands, including Highwind, and went on to a songwriting career that included soundtracks for Hollywood movies, TV and commercials.
2016 saw Jack Reno, Taylor Farley, Chuck Rich, Red Jenkins, and Ebby Howard inducted along with Bill Reder, the fabulous saxophonist who started with the Corvairs and the Stith brothers at HHS in 1961 and ended up as the #1 sax player in Las Vegas, spending over 20 years as Wayne Newton’s‘s music director, and is currently the top player in Branson, Missouri. The Fabulous Shantels were the band that year, and 2017 saw four groups inducted: the Wanted, the Bad Seeds, the Dingos and the Brotherhood Singers.
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The concert in June will open (around 6:45) with guitarist/vocalist Junior Spivey, who started his guitar career as a teenager backing up Brenda Lee, playing all her hits in the 60’s, and spent most of that career playing with Kenny Price, on stage and on TV and radio, and even at the Grand Ole Opry. They opened for Conway Twitty, Marty Stuart, Lester Flatt. Barbara Mandrell and Little Jimmy Dickens, and Junior was part of Nick Clooney’s TV show band and played on many recording sessions with Rusty York at Jewel Studios and Harry Carlson at Fraternity Records, including with legendary Lonnie Mack, and with Hank Ballard and the Midnighters.
Next, Danny Morgan will play a set which will segue into East Orange Express, a band Morgan started in the summer of 1967 with Mike Connor on keyboards, Billy Hinds on drums, and Jeff “Hawkeye” Winkler on bass. By 1968, Mike Reilly was playing bass, with Dan Schearer on guitar, and Jack Pascal on Hammond organ, and the college band was becoming a popular psychedelic presence on campus. Reilly will be in town to play that EOE set on June 7, and hopefully will bring other former members like David Pomeranz from New York and Larry Butler from Nashville
Paul Bromwell started playing guitar in 1964 cutting his teeth on Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck. He started a band called Punk in 1972, playing regularly at Reflections in Cincinnati, then moved to Chicago in 1974 to join Spector, a band negotiating a record deal, and in ’76 was voted top rock guitarist in Chicago by a local publication. Bromwell moved back to Greater Cincinnati in 1977 to form The Young Invaders, the very best hard rock band in town, with a music video on MTV! By 1985, Paul was out of the rock music biz for the next 25 years, working in computers, but continued to write and play. Paul recorded and released his first solo CD in 2013, aptly called Resurrection Man, a disc with polished and practical rock compositions, and has since formed the Bromwell-Diehl Band and has become the leader of the “guitar army” for the performance/ production, Suits That Rock, at the Carnegie Theater in Covington (June 16 & 23, 2018).
Paul Bromwell will play a set from 8:30 until 9:00, and the evening will end with The Lusters, a solid classic-rock cover band that I was part of (as drummer) in the mid-80’s, with Jerry Gifford of Dayton on powerful lead vocals, Scott Sprague of Bellevue on strong guitar, and Mike Grosser of Bellevue and Ft. Thomas on bass guitar. We played around town for five years, and opened for Bachman-Turner Overdrive and Little Feat at Bogart’s, jammed with the Georgia Satellites and played at Riverfest in 1986, ’87, and in 1988 with the Bellamy Brothers at Sawyer Point before a crowd of over 50,000 revelers.
Should be a fun night.