rom Chicago's Holiday Ballroom to America's living room on The Ed
Sullivan Show, across the USA and in the White House, The Buckinghams
have stayed true to their Chicago roots. Audiences and critics have affirmed
the demand for the music of The Buckinghams, proving that success is
sweeter the second time around. Original founding members Carl
Giammarese and Nick Fortuna continue to deliver a powerful replay of their
hits and solid gold memories.
The trademark opening horn notes on their #1 hit, "Kind of a Drag" became
a signature of the Chicago horn sound as identifiable as The Buckinghams
themselves. Their first manager/co-producer, Carl Bonafede, signed them to
Chicago's USA Records. With big band musician Dan Belloc as co-
producer, and arranger Frank Tesinsky creating their horn sound, The
Buckinghams recorded 12 singles. Performing on WGN-TV's "All Time
Hits," for 13 weeks increased their Midwest reputation. When USA Records
released "Kind of a Drag," no one anticipated the demand, as the single
rocketed to #1 across the country. In 1967 Cash Box Magazine named them
"The Most Promising Vocal Group in America," and they delivered.
Columbia Records offered national label distribution, and the band chose
James William Guercio, who'd written Chad and Jeremy's #1 hit, "Distant
Shores," as their new manager. The Guercio-produced "Time and Charges"
and "Portraits" albums created 4 more Top 10 singles for Columbia.
Dominating the AM radio airwaves, The Buckinghams set off a chain-
reaction of demand nationwide in record stores, with hits including "Don't
You Care," "Hey Baby, They're Playing Our Song," "Mercy, Mercy,
Mercy," and "Susan."
While the single "Kind of a Drag" was still at the top of the charts, USA
Records quickly released 12 earlier-recorded tracks, also called "Kind of a
Drag." Overnight, it became a major-selling album. Then USA also released
"Lawdy Miss Clawdy," which climbed the charts alongside Columbia's first
release, "Don't You Care." In 1967, The Buckinghams recorded in
Columbia's New York and Los Angeles studios, in between more than 300
tour dates. With 3 chart hits at one time on 2 labels, in 1967, Billboard
Magazine named them "The Most Listened to Band in America."
While the airwaves were brimming with The Buckinghams' latest tunes, TV
audiences saw them on "The Ed Sullivan Show," "The Smothers Brothers'
Comedy Show," "The Jerry Lewis Show," "The Joey Bishop Show," and
The Buckinghams played to capacity crowds in arenas and festivals, sharing
the bill with Gene Pitney, The Beach Boys, Sonny and Cher, Neil Diamond,
America, Tom Jones, The Hollies, The Kinks, The Yardbirds, and The Who.
Thousands of teenage girls waited at concerts to rush the stage and rip
clothing for souvenirs. Overnight, The Buckinghams became part of
American teenage culture. Their faces were splashed onto national
magazines, posters and album covers with a look and style that helped define
60s pop rock. Their horn sound turned Chicago's "Royalty of Rock and Roll"
into "One of America's Answers to the British Invasion."
Their third album marked The Buckinghams taking charge of their careers.
With a new manager and a new producer, Jimmy "The Wiz" Wisner, in
1968, Columbia released "In One Ear and Gone Tomorrow," from which
"Back in Love Again" made the charts. Soon afterward, America's youth
turned attention to war, Woodstock, and Monterrey Pop. Later, Jim Wisner
selected producer John Hill to produce The Buckinghams final tracks that
produced their final chart singles, "It's a Beautiful Day" and "I've Got a
Feeling". When they mutually decided to disband in 1970, they would all
remain involved in entertainment.
Carl Giammarese, who'd focused primarily on lead guitar and backing
vocals, and former lead singer Dennis Tufano formed a rock duo with an
acoustic style. They played Chicago clubs and small venues, anonymous
from their Buckingham identities, simply as "Dennis and Carl." With
guidance from The Buckinghams' drummer, John Poulos, as their new
manager, Carl and Dennis were signed to Ode Records by legendary
producer Lou Adler. Adler renamed them "Tufano and Giammarese" and
gave them exceptional freedom to create their own music and a generous
share of the publishing rights.
Three albums and several years of touring, sharing the bill with Carole King,
Bread, and Cheech and Chong, were rewarding. Both decided to focus on
their individual interests in the late 1970s. Giammarese found his solo voice
and launched a productive career as a studio singer for national TV and radio
advertising producers. Tufano followed his heart to California, and found
home base in film/TV work.
Nick Fortuna immersed himself in rhythm and blues, exchanging his
signature Hofner bass for a funkier Fender Precision bass. He played gigs
across Chicago, with groups including Music Power '69, Jimmy V and the
Ambassadors, and Baby Huey and the Babysitters. Fortuna later started his
band, Crystal, with Billy Corgan, Sr., and other talented musicians, playing
solid R&B and creating their own sound that can still be heard in Fortuna's
signature blues-style bass chops today.
Marty Grebb and his powerful songwriting/guitar/saxophone/keyboard skills
landed him on tour with Bonnie Raitt, Leon Russell, Chicago, Eric Clapton,
and Dave Mason. Until his passing in 1980, John Poulos continued to be
involved in managing and producing musical acts, including The Boyzz
from Illinoizz and other groups, whose music would benefit from his
dynamic personality and knowledge of the record industry.
The Buckinghams' impact on the music scene didn't end when the band
broke up. The musical trend they started in the 1960s was a prelude to
shaping other legendary hits. In 1968, Guercio took his experience from The
Buckinghams to become a staff producer for Columbia, crafting Blood
Sweat and Tears' #1 album. At the encouragement of The Buckinghams,
Guercio signed the group "The Big Thing," or as they were renamed,
"Chicago," and produced their first 11 albums. The Buckinghams' creativity
and talent inspired an award-winning musical legacy that includes three
groups and spans four decades.
In 1980, the word again went out to find The Buckinghams. A call from
radio programming executive John Gehron to Carl Giammarese brought an
invitation to reunite on the WLS stage for Mayor Jane Byrne's ChicagoFest.
The event drew enthusiastic crowds to hear Giammarese, Fortuna, and
Tufano sing the hits once again. The Buckinghams found repeat success and
acclaim as they played selected events the next two summers.
Giammarese and Fortuna committed to performing full-time, and Tufano
returned to film work in California. Giammarese added lead vocal duties to
lead guitar, and Fortuna, on bass, also found his solo voice, out front on a
few songs. Together, these two founding members recruited new sidemen to
The Buckinghams to remain true to their original sound.
Legendary agents David Fishof and Howie Silverman signed the back-in-
demand group to the "Happy Together Tour," performing with The Turtles,
The Grass Roots, and Gary Lewis and the Playboys. It was one of the 10
top-grossing concert tours in 1985, as they performed in more than 150 cities
to rave reviews.
Invitations to headline corporate events followed, and the demand for
performance venues increased to include casinos, arenas, festivals, and
theatres. During the past 3 decades, many fine musicians have joined
Giammarese and Fortuna, to help stay true to The Buckinghams' sound
through the years. These include: Curtis Bachman, John Turner, Tom
Radtke, Tom Osfar, John Cammelot, Laurie Beebe Lewis, Barb Unger-Wertico,
Larry Nestor, Tom Scheckel, and Bob Abrams. Keyboardist/vocalist Bruce
Soboroff has backed Carl and Nick since 1986.
In the 1990s, The Buckinghams' tracks found renewed national interest when
Sony/Legacy released the "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" compilation CD. In 1998
The Buckinghams signed with Nation Records and released "Terra Firma,"
which featured songs by Giammarese and Soboroff. Fans stood in line for
hours to meet Giammarese and Fortuna, who were the first to initiate "meet
and greet" opportunities after concerts.
In 2001, renewed national interest brought an invitation to join the "Solid
Gold 60s Tour." The Buckinghams continued touring the country, sharing
the bill with Tommy James and the Shondells, The Grass Roots, The Turtles,
Paul Revere and the Raiders, and Gary Puckett. Today, The Buckinghams
continue to perform across the nation as headliners, or together with
Herman's Hermits, The Grass Roots, Blood, Sweat and Tears, Three Dog
Night, and others.
In 2004 PBS invited The Buckinghams to join in "The Sixties Pop Rock
Reunion," a national program that chronicled the best music of the times. In
2005, The Buckinghams were invited to play the "Twilight on the Prairie"
inaugural ball at the White House.
In 2007, Fuel Records, respected for R&B and classic rock reissues, signed
The Buckinghams. Carl Giammarese had written 8 original songs at the
request of fans, who'd been asking for "more of that signature Buckinghams
sound." Fuel released those songs on the Giammarese-produced "Reaching
Back" in 2008. "Standing Room Only," a re-issue of the "Live and Well" CD
was also released, featuring Giammarese on lead vocals for all their 60s hits,
with Fortuna taking the lead on "Expressway" and "Domino."
In 2009, The Buckinghams had the honor of being invited to once again
headline the entertainment for the Bipartisan Illinois Agricultural Ball for
the inauguration of President Barack Obama for the Presidential
Inauguration festivities. Later that year, The Buckinghams were honored to
be selected as new inductees into the 2009 class of the Hit Parade Hall of
Fame. Sony/Legacy also reissued three of The Buckinghams 1960s albums
as digital downloads as part of their Legacy Music Series.
As The Buckinghams are frequently asked to perform Christmas shows for
corporate and public events, in 2009 "The Joy of Christmas" took flight as a
new favorite holiday CD that features a rock version of favorite Christmas
songs, plus new holiday songs written by Carl Giammarese.
Their newest DVD release on Renaissance Records/itsaboutmusic.com, "Up
Close," is a live concert recording from a recent performance at the Star
Plaza Theatre in Merrillville, Indiana, a favorite venue. The DVD/CD box
set includes all their million-selling hits and two popular medleys of solid
gold classics and a fan-favorite Chicago song set.
In the 1960s the band was at the forefront of a musical style that has come
full circle, as The Buckinghams in concert today blend their hits with others
made popular by Blood Sweat and Tears, Chicago, the Spencer Davis
Group, James Brown, Three Dog Night, Billy Joe Royal, and Motown's
Carl Giammarese and Nick Fortuna continue to be a proud part of the soundtrack of American life in the 1960s.
In June, 2012 they'll embark on the Happy Together Tour where The Buckinghams join The Turtles, Micky Dolenz, Grass Roots, and Gary Puckett
on the 27th Anniversary of this national tour. From million selling chart-topping hits to creative new music, you are always at home, with the music of The Buckinghams .
óCarl Giammarese and Dawn Lee Wakefield
KIND OF A DRAG
DON'T YOU CARE
MARCH 11, 1967
LAWDY MISS CLAUDY
MAY 05, 1967
MERCY, MERCY, MERCY
HEY BABY,THEY'RE PLAYING
SEPTEMBER 09, 1967
DECEMBER 09, 1967
BACK IN LOVE AGAIN
JULY 10, 1968