I’ve just returned from seeing this year’s Happy Together Tour featuring The Cowsills, The Classics 1V, The Buckinghams, Gary Puckett, Chuck Negron of Three Dog Night, and Mark Volman of The Turtles and their regular Happy Together back-up band. Normally Howard Kaylan of the Turtles is with his partner Mark Volman but for the last two years now Howard has been ill with back surgery and heart surgery so his doctors advised him not to tour so Ron Dante of the Archies filled in for him. All these acts are well into their ’60s and ’70s and look and sound great just like they used to. Everyone is familiar with their songs and the audience joined in singing with them. As they perform, videos of them in their heyday appear in back of them.
Opening the show was The Cowsills. I’ve seen them many times with The Happy Together tour and they never fail to entertain. They are so lively and energetic. There are only three of them now, Susan and her two brothers Rob and Paul. Three other brothers have since passed away as did their mother and another brother now tours with The Beach Boys. Susan said the question they most get asked is “How was it touring with your mother?” and she replies that “Mom always gave them advice and sometimes she got in the way. They went through their hits of “The Rain, The Park and Other Things” “Indian Lake,” “Love American Style” and their big hit “Hair.”
The Classics IV
Following the Cowsills was The Classics IV consisting of two guys now, one playing alternating clarinet and saxophone and the other the lead singer. They performed their hit songs “Stormy,” ‘Traces” and “spooky.” You can see them performing “Stormy” here in their prime in the ’60s.
Following The Classics IV was Gary Pucket of the Union Gap. Gary appeared wearing his civil war jacket while singing his hit songs and getting the audience to sing along acapella to “Young Girl” “Woman, Woman” (Have You Got Cheating On Your Mind),” “Over You” “This Girl Is A Woman Now” and “Lady Willpower.”
Gary explained that when they first started out he was looking for civil war costumes for his band. They found one costume shop, but they were too expensive so they decided to go to Tijuana, Mexico to find something cheaper. They found a guy who ran a clothing store who was a civil war buff. He showed them some civil war pictures and Gary saw a jacket and wanted one like that and the guy ordered them for him at a cheap price too. Gary is also a big supporter of our military and has a website that offers benefits for veterans if they qualify. Gary is 75 now and looks and sounds great. See him singing “Young Girl,” in his prime here.
Following Gary, The Buckinghams came out. Only two of the original five appeared as they sang their hits “Don’t You Care,” “Susan” and their big hit “Kind of a Drag.” They explained that they first appeared in 1967 on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. Everyone thought they were a British band since they had Beatle haircuts, dressed in Edwardian suits, and sang in front of a union jack flag and had the name Buckinghams. When suppertime came around the producers said they were going to take them out for fish and chips. They replied, “Fish and Chips? We’re from South Chicago. Where is the sausage and peppers and pizza?”
Following The Buckinghams, Chuck Negron came out. We always like seeing Chuck as he is hilarious and really belts out his hit songs from Three Dog Night and always makes fun of his age. He purposely mispronounced the names of the groups saying he always likes touring with the Cowbells meaning The Cowsills and Jerry Tucker meaning Gary Puckett. When the audience laughed he replied, “I’m 77 years old so what do you expect?”. If he ever gives up singing he could always do stand up. Chuck then went into his hits “Eli’s Coming,” “One,” “Celebrate,” Mama Told Me Not to Come: and “Joy to the World” (Jerimiah was a bullfrog.)” See Chuck performing “Eli’s Coming” at the Happy Together Tour.
The Turtles, Mark Volman with Ron Dante of the Archies
Chuck Mark Volman and Ron Dante performed the Turtles’ hits “She’d Rather Be With Me,” “Elenore,” and ended with “ Happy Together’ to which the audience sang along. Then, Ron Dante of The Archies performed his hit song ‘Sugar, Sugar.” Mark’s voice was quivering and sometimes he sounded out of breath. Several years ago he said he had cancer of the tongue but is now cancer free. I’m sure he misses touring with his longtime partner of almost 50 years, Howard Kaylan, and that has something to do with his lackluster performance. I’ve seen him livelier in the past, but as his performance continued he seemed to improve.
At the end of the concert, all the acts come out and do a little bit of each of their songs. You can see the exciting finale of last year’ s Happy Together Tour here which also featured Mark Lindsey and The Association.