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Davisites’ book offers insights into hit-makers of the ’60s

Marti Smiley Childs and Jeff March take readers back to the juke box of their youth with their second volume of "Where Have All the Pop Stars Gone?" The Davis residents and authors, who co-own of EditPros LLC of Davis, will sign copies of their book on Saturday, Dec. 8, at The Avid Reader in downtown Davis. Courtesy photo

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From page A1 | November 30, 2012 |

It’s kind of a drag that we lose touch with our musical idols. But fans of hit-making singers of the 1960s will have a honey of a time with Marti Smiley Childs and Jeff March’s new book, “Where Have All the Pop Stars Gone? Volume 2.”

Artists featured in this second publication include The Buckinghams (“Kind of a Drag”), Bobby Goldsboro (“Honey”), The Moody Blues, Donnie Brooks, Sam and Dave, Ray Stevens and The Grass Roots.

The authors will present their book — which includes authorized memoirs of 21 singers and musicians who hit the big time as soloists or band members in the 1960s — at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, at The Avid Reader, 617 Second St. in downtown Davis. Childs and March are co-owners of EditPros LLC of Davis.

Their book describes the childhood experiences and adult lives of these performers, many of whom stepped away from the stage and recording studio to raise their families and pursue other careers and interests. Each chapter begins with an introductory essay recounting the hit-making achievements of each soloist or band with an accompanying discography, then is subdivided into “epilogues” about the lives of each of the performers.

Featured are:

* The Buckinghams, a Chicago-bred quintet whose songs include the chart-topping hit “Kind of a Drag” and the top-10 songs “Don’t You Care” and “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy.” The hybrid “pop-rock horn sound” that the band innovated would be embraced later by other bands, including Blood, Sweat and Tears, Chase and Chicago.

The chapter profiles the lives of lead singer Dennis Tufano, singer and guitarist Carl Giammarese, saxophonist and piano player Marty Grebb, bass guitarist Nick Fortuna and drummer and band leader John Poulos.

* Bobby Goldsboro, a country-pop singer-composer who is best known for his gold record “Honey,” and whose hits also included “Little Things,” “It’s Too Late” and “Summer (the First Time).” After launching his career as a member of Roy Orbison’s band, Goldsboro became not only a successful solo recording artist but also host of the highest-rated TV variety show in syndication in the 1970s, creator of children’s TV programs and the owner of a successful music publishing house.

* The Moody Blues, the band that brought rock music to an unprecedented level of sophistication with the groundbreaking concept album “Days of Future Passed,” and whose 20 chart hits included the top-10 singles “Go Now,” “Your Wildest Dreams” and the gold record “Nights in White Satin.”

The chapter focuses on the lives of the co-founders of the Moody Blues — Mellotron player Mike Pinder and flute player Ray Thomas — and about why they chose to leave the band as it continued touring and performing in sold-out concerts decades after its formation.

* Donnie Brooks, whose three chart singles included the top-10 hit “Mission Bell,” and whose later work as a promoter into the early 2000s kept an innumerable number of ’60s performers working on stage. Brooks, who endured a bleak childhood, carved out a varied career that encompassed screen acting, musical theater and nightclub entertaining. He was the co-creator of the “30th Anniversary of Rock ‘n’ Roll” tour that staged performances nationwide.

* Sam and Dave, whose frenzied live performances established them as one of the most electrifying duos in the history of R&B music and earned them the appreciative nickname “the Sultans of Sweat.” Their top-selling hits included “I Thank You” and gold records “Hold On, I’m Comin’ ” and “Soul Man.” Their string of hits during the 1960s celebrated the gospel roots of Southern soul music.

The chapter profiles the lives of Sam Moore and the late Dave Prater Jr., both of whom were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1992.

* Ray Stevens, a prolific composer as well as singer and producer whose repertoire encompasses comedic novelty tunes, ballads and “message” songs, including the top-10 hit “Ahab the Arab” and gold-certified “Gitarzan,” “Everything Is Beautiful” and “The Streak.” He’s been a recording session producer, a music publisher, a session musician, a disc jockey, a musical theater owner and a television program host as well as a recording artist whose songs have topped both the pop and country music charts.

* The Grass Roots, who emerged as progenitors of folk-rock before evolving into blues-influenced pop, and whose 21 chart singles included the top-10 hits “Let’s Live For Today,” “Sooner or Later” and the gold record “Midnight Confessions.” The band that began in 1965 as an outlet for the Dylanesque compositions of co-producers Steve Barri and P.F. Sloan continued recording hits well into the ’70s.

The chapter profiles the lives of first-generation Grass Roots lead singer and guitarist Bill Fulton, rhythm guitarist Denny Ellis, bass player Dave Stensen and drummer Joel Larson; and second-generation Grass Roots lead singer and bassist Rob Grill, lead guitarist Creed Bratton, rhythm guitarist-keyboard player Warren Entner, drummer Rick Coonce and keyboard player Dennis Provisor.

Compiled through conversations spanning more than a decade, “Where Have All the Pop Stars Gone? Volume 2″ contains penetrating personal recollections, including some that had not been revealed publicly before. The performers entrusted Childs and March to describe poignant, sometimes painful aspects of their lives, the authors said.

“Their accounts also are laced with wit and laugh-provoking humor,” the authors said in a news release. “All of the chapters offer insight into the minds and lives of creative people who attained and coped with fame in their own ways.”

These performers collectively recorded amassed a total of 118 singles that reached the Billboard Hot 100 chart, including 19 that made the top 10, four that hit No. 1 and eight that earned gold-record certification from the Recording Industry Association of America.

Their recordings encompassed 17 singles on the R&B chart, including eight that reached the top 10 and two that hit No. 1; and 58 singles on the country chart, including five that peaked in the top 10, and one that hit No. 1.

The authors selected artists who are representative of the widely divergent musical styles that distinguished the 1960s from all the other decades of the 20th century — musical diversity encompassing and influenced by rockabilly, rhythm and blues, surf music, jazz, folk standards, calypso, pop ballads, the British invasion, novelty tunes, folk-rock, art rock, psychedelia and country music.

“Where Have All the Pop Stars Gone? Volume 2″ contains 56 photos, 32 of which are rare or never previously published.

This is the third biographical book that Childs and March have written about the lives of musical artists who first rose to fame with recordings that became hits during the mid-20th century golden age of “top 40” radio. Their previously published books are “Where Have All the Pop Stars Gone? Volume 1″ and “Echoes of the Sixties.”

They own and operate EditPros LLC, a company they established in 1993 to perform writing, editing and publication services.

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