I’m typing this from poolside at the Animal Kingdom Lodge in Orlando, FL, relaxing before our second day of shows at Epcot. Since my last blog, we’ve traveled through 15 states…some of them multiple times. We’ve been to Utah, Nevada, New York, Maryland, Delaware, Arizona, California, Washington, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Michigan, Nebraska, Iowa, North Dakota & Florida.
What little time I’ve been home I’ve slowly begun the process of going through the things of my parents 66 years together, cleaning out and packing things away…a labor of love filled with both smiles & sadness. But the tour schedule has kept me busy which has helped me in the grieving process.
All the shows have been great…a lot of fun and a whole lotta laughs along the way. Plus, I’ve gotten to visit with a lot of old & new friends. Ron Dante (“Sugar, Sugar” “Tracy”), who I worked with a lot from 2000 to 2005, was on the bill with us at our Staten Island show last month…it was great catching up with him. He will be one of the artists performing on the Happy Together Tour this summer. If the tour comes to your town this summer make sure you check it out…you’ll love it!!
Paul Shaffer (David Letterman Show) came out to see our Staten Island show and came backstage to say hello afterwards. I first met him about 16 years ago when I was still with Gary Lewis. He came to see our Bottom Line show in NYC. Along with Gary, I also played keys for Mark Lindsay, Andy Kim & Ron Dante that night. After the show, I was introduced to Paul and he said he loved the show and proceeded to ask me questions about the organ patches I put together for Mark Lindsay’s show…he really liked them. Well, like I said, that was 16 years ago, so needless to say, I was humbled when I said hello to Paul in Staten Island and he immediately said he remembered me from the Bottom Line show years ago. Once again, we talked keyboards…a wonderful memory!!
Last week in Minot, ND I performed with some old friends I hadn’t seen in a long time. Brian Hyland (“Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini” “Sealed With A Kiss”), whom I played keys for many times through the years was there. So was Joey Dee, of “Peppermint Twist” fame…we performed on many shows together in the late 80’s & early 90’s. Also, Gerry Seader, whose band, Rocky & The Rollers were there performing and also backing up Brian & Joey…a fun evening of music & memories.
Before I go I want to take a moment to remember a few friends who have also gone to Heaven this year:
Gail Angel, who I first knew as a 15yr old fan back in 1980 to my old band “Love Affair” but became a good friend as she grew up, passed away at far too young an age unexpectedly in February. She was a friend who would do anything for anyone in need.
Mr. Hufsey, the father of my dear friend Billy Hufsey, passed away last month. He, like my mom, was very active in the community and was Brook Park’s recreation director for many years. Because of how much he meant to the community, one of our little league parks is named after him.
Sonny Geraci, the voice of the hit records “Time Won’t Let Me” & Precious & Few”, passed away in early February. We were musical compadres who worked together for many years. I wrote songs for him, produced records for him, performed live with him, help put together one of his shows…he was family. And one of Cleveland’s musical treasures.
Russ Picone, my good friend from high school, passed away suddenly from liver cancer in March. Not only were we great friends but we shared the same views in life & politics and we loved our Cleveland sport teams…we were together watching when the Cavs won the Championship last year & had planned on doing the same this year. He was a good man, devoted husband, father and grandfather.