June 22, 2012

The Buckinghams - I Got a Feelin' (1968)

Billboard magazine called them “The Most Listened Band in America” in 1967. That year, they were one of the top-selling acts, releasing hit songs such as “Don’t You Care,” “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy,” “Hey Baby (They’re Playing Our Song),” and “Susan” to follow-up on their previous chart-topping hit “Kind of a Drag.” Although the end of the ‘60s coincided with the end of the band, they would reform throughout the ‘80s and can be currently found touring the United States on the wildly popular Happy Together Tour, which also features artists such as The Turtles, Mickey Dolenz of The Monkees, The Grass Roots, and Gary Puckett & the Union Gap.

Previously unreleased, this song was a track which had been worked on during the 1968 recording sessions that led to the album In One Ear and Gone Tomorrow. Though not chosen for the album, it was later included on the 1999 CD re-release. It’s easily one of my favorite songs by the group, and definitely my favorite song that wasn’t considered a big hit.

After you've read the story, read the interview, and heard the song below, see our previous post on The Buckinghams and hear "Hey Baby (They're Playing Our Song)" here!

A Special Edition post with Carl Giammarese of The Buckinghams!

Today's post is not only our eighth special edition, but also our very first interview! After some email correspondence with a very busy Carl Giammarese, who's currently on the Happy Together tour, Carl generously offered to give a story and interview to A Bit Like You And Me. Enjoy!
At 1:30pm on Thursday, June 14th, 2012, I received a phone call from an unknown name and unknown number.

“Hey, how ya doin’? This is Carl Giammarese from The Buckinghams.”

Wow! Talk about receiving a good phone call. After some cordial salutations from Carl and some nervous sputtering by me, Carl informed me that he would not only be happy to answer questions, but that he had thought of a story to share with A Bit Like You And Me.

Well, I’ll tell you a funny one that Nick and I experienced. You know, just one of the accounts where we were just starting to mature, actually- were just starting to take these bills and build a reputation in the Midwest, playing. And those were the days when, um [laughter], you know, you would drive- you would take your car with a trailer hitched up to it. And you would put all your equipment in the trailer and we would drive around the Midwest playing, you know?

And we came back one night, we had just done a show- I think somewhere in Wisconsin- I can’t remember exactly where it was, but they were dropping me off at my parents’ house. I was still living at home- and this is early in 1965. And, Nick Fortuna, his car was parked at my house. So Dennis Tufano and John Poulos were in the car [that dropped us off]. Dennis was driving with the trailer behind it and he let us off in front of my house and we got out.

Nick had opened up his car’s door- and you have to remember: he had a ’59 Chevy. And as they pulled away, the trailer caught the door and ripped the door right off its hinges! They dragged it all the way down the street! And we’re yelling behind them, but they had the radio so loud that they couldn’t hear us going after them! They dragged that door all the way down to Lawrence Avenue- this is about half a block, you know? They never stopped. They never saw it.

And Nick and I just looked at each other, shrugged, and picked up the door. We carried it back to the house, I got some rope from the house, and we tied the door up in place. They didn’t even find out what they did until the next day!

That was just a funny situation. I mean, there were a lot of little things like that that happened through the years, but that was a funny one, you know? It’s just- I feel sorry for that ’59 Chevy!

I used to have a ’54 Pontiac that the brakes never worked. And I used to come home from gigs and I’d use the back of Nick’s car to stop. This was in the city, you know, this was not any long drive. I remember one night I just wanted to get the car home and I’d just go slowly and every time he’d stop: BANG! I think the car wound up about four inches shorter by the time we got home. That was a funny thing that happened.

At this point- I don’t know what I was thinking- I decided I’d try to be funny and made some remark about how he could have cut the floor out of the bottom and attempt to stop the car like they did on The Flintstones. We gracefully moved past that fumble and headed into the Q&A portion of the phone call.

A Bit Like You And Me: I know that you were born in Chicago. Were you raised in Chicago, too?

Carl Giammarese: Yeah. I was born on the north side. You know, Nick's a north-sider, also. I grew up in the city. I was born in a neighborhood called Uptown, which is on a lake-front. I actually lived in the city until I got married and then I just moved a little bit north of the city in a suburb called Evanston, Illinois. But, yeah, I always make my home in Chicago.

ABLYAM: So does that make you a Cubs or a White Sox fan?

Carl: Cubs!

(Here, Carl starts to tell me how he's on the way to Jacksonville, Florida after having just played at the Hard Rock Live in Hollywood, Florida the night before. I geek out a bit and blurt out how I live in the area nearby and just saw him at that venue two years ago in 2010. He talks about the big crowd they had and how well the show went.)

Carl: Nick [Fortuna] here is a White Sox fan. So we'll go at it sometimes.

ABLYAM: Yeah, he's had a little bit more luck than you.

Carl: We may be the worst team in baseball.

ABLYAM: In baseball history! (laughter)

Carl: Especially this year, you know. We're doing badly. But one thing about being a Cubs fan: you're always hopeful.

ABLYAM: Yeah. Oh, trust me. I know how it feels. I'm a Red Sox fan, so, you know, I was going through the same thing for quite a while, too.

Carl: You got to see a couple of championships, though. You broke the curse!

ABLYAM: Yeah, exactly, yeah… There was another thing I was curious about. After the success of "Kind of a Drag," I was wondering how that changed your life. Was it harder to go out in public? Were people able to match your face with the person they heard singing the song?

Carl: Ah, well, it did change our lives dramatically. I think that all of a sudden we went from a local band playing around Chicago, and doing a few Midwest things here and there, and all of a sudden you're on the national stage: you're in a band, you're being asked to do TV shows, and you're playing national tours and getting the recognition. Even though we did The Buckinghams, like with any band, we could have individual identities, you know, that people loved. But back in that time (and it's more so now and through the years)- but back in '67 when it was all happening and when that was the number one song- well of course we were doing all the teen-magazine stuff and TV shows, so, people recognized you. So, yeah, we did get recognized around Chicago and at home and on the road. You know, we went through the whole Beatles' A Hard Day's Night thing- all that craziness. You couldn't hear yourself on stage, the fans would storm the stage sometimes and- I remember one time looking to my left and seeing Nick being dragged off the stage. A bunch of fans had got him. And [Nick's with me now], he just said it was one of his favorite suits! [laughter] You know, so there was a lot of not being able to hear yourself play. And then they would gather- we were still living at home with our parents. And the fans would gather at our house. To some degree it was harder for us than the superstars like The Beatles, or even more recently, Michael Jackson, where you had a lot of security around you. We didn't really have that. We were living at home, but the fans would treat us like we were the biggest thing ever. It got a little tough sometimes. But it was great.

ABLYAM: That sounds like a great time. It sounds like an absolute blast.

Carl: It was, especially '67. Ya know, '66, '67, and '68: we had a great time in those days making records and '67 was a great year. We toured almost 300 shows that year. We were constantly on the road and, between living in the studio and doing another single or an album, we were on the road. But, you know, those were the days. You don't need a lot of sleep when you're twenty years old. (laughter)

ABLYAM: Yeah. Is there a plan for recording any new music?

Carl: Well, we have. The last ten years have been interesting. We did an album called Live and Well. It was a live recording that was pretty interesting years back. A label picked it up and changed the name to Standing Room Only. So that's out there on iTunes. But we also did a Christmas album several years ago. We did the Up Close CD/DVD, which was a live performance at the Star Plaza Theater in Merrilville, Indiana. And we did an album I'm really proud of called Reaching Back. What I did was I re-recording all the hits, because I couldn't really do anything with them because Sony owns all the recordings. We just tried to do something that sounded like the record and we put it on an album with eight new songs. What we did was reached back to the sound we had in the '60s which, if not quality recordings, but, I mean, they were songs which were very similar to what we were doing in the '60s. The fans seemed to be interested. And it was fun to do that, to re-visit those chord progressions and melodies of the '60s.
So, we did Reaching Back, and of course it's all available, not only at our shows, but on iTunes and various download-sites. And we actually make money. And it's nice to have things out. You know, radio's not like it used to be.

ABLYAM: (My urge not to interrupt fails) Oh, you've got that right.

Carl: And I've been working on an autobiography for the past four years now. Getting closer to getting that out. So, you know, there's always projects. And we always talk about doing more stuff. More recordings and- I'm not sure if we will or won't.

ABLYAM: That's wonderful. It's always great to hear what new ideas you guys are coming up with.

Carl: Yeah, it's just so different now. We're not going to sell the kind of numbers we did in the '60s. But you have to keep being creative. You have to keep doing things. You do it more for yourself than anything else. You need to create music, so that's what we do. And of course we keep trying to improve on our live performances and do different things. We still play a lot of dates and with this Happy Together tour, we have about fifty dates.

(Sparking my memory when he mentioned the Happy Together tour, I start to tell Carl about the time I called Flo (from The Turtles' Flo & Eddie) a few weeks prior on his personal cell phone, hoping, but failing, to get a story from him for A Bit Like You And Me. The nice guy that he is, Carl tells me that he'll send over some contact information for the public relations guy in charge of PR for the Happy Together tour. Maybe, he says, I can get some stories from the other guys on the tour. I praise him with thanks and the conversation wraps up.)

ABLYAM: Well, I appreciate this very much. It was very, very nice of you to talk to us.

Carl: No problem. You take care and I'll send you [PR guy's] email address.

ABLYAM: Okay, I appreciate it! Thank you very much.

Carl: Alrighty! Take care.


Carl: Bye.
That was definitely an exciting phone call. I can't thank Carl enough for his generosity and willingness to take time out of his day to call me, share a story, and answer questions. It was incredibly nice of him and made for one heck of a post!

To visit Carl's site, click here.
To follow Carl on Facebook, click here.
To visit The Buckinghams' site, click here.
To purchase both Carl's and The Buckinghams' latest music, click here and here, respectively.
To support our site, you can buy The Buckinghams' music on Amazon through our affiliate site here.
To see if the Happy Together Tour is coming to a city near you, click here.

And now that you've enjoyed this exclusive story, why not check out what other exclusive stories we've received?

album art

The Buckinghams - I Got a Feelin' (1968)

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Somethin' in the way you look
Reads just like an open book
Somethin' in that book I read
Tells me it's not me you need

Somethin' in the things you say
Tells me we're goin' different ways
Somethin' in the things you do
Tells me that I'm losin' you

I got a feelin' that we're headin' for bad times
I got a feelin' that there's somethin' on your mind
I got a feelin' that we're headin' for bad times
I got a feelin' that you're leavin' me behind

Somethin' in your touch has changed
Don't know what, but somethin's strange
Somethin's funny that I feel
Tells my wounds I'm gonna heal

I got a feelin' that we're headin' for bad times
I got a feelin' that there's somethin' on your mind
I got a feelin' that we're headin' for bad times
I got a feelin' that you're leavin' me behind

We used to laugh like children
And live a life of love
We used to walk in sunshine
And never have enough
Of the times we had together
But the things are getting’ tough

I got a feelin' that we're headin' for bad times
I got a feelin' that there's somethin' on your mind
I got a feelin' that we're headin' for bad times
I got a feelin' that you're leavin' me behind

I got a feelin' that we're headin' for bad times
I got a feelin' that there's somethin' on your mind
I got a feelin' that we’re…

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