The Buckinghams

 In 1965, Dan Bellocs Holiday Ballroom in Chicagoregularly featured two popular groups with strong followings: The Pulsations and The Centuries. The Pulsations had two lead singers, George LeGros and Dennis Tufano, with John Poulos on drums and Dennis Miccolis on keyboard. Sharing the bill with The Pulsations often were The Centuries, whose lead singer was drummer Gerald Elarde, and lead guitarist, Carl Giammarese, rhythm guitarist Nick Fortuna, and bass guitarist, Curt Bachman. When personnel changes in The Pulsations found them searching for new guitarists, they naturally turned to The Centuries first, because of their unique sound and style.Soon, the The Pulsations new lineup included drummer Poulos, vocalists LeGros and Tufano, lead guitarist Giammarese, bass guitarist Fortuna, and keyboardist Miccolis. Dan Belloc and his DJ, Carl Bonafede, noticed that the teenagers stopped dancing to watch this new version of The Pulsations perform, a sign that the group really had something special. Bonafede was so impressed that he became their manager and worked hard, booking them across the Midwest to bring them to the attention of a regional audience. Those who grew up in the 1960s will remember families gathered around the TV set every Sunday night, for The Ed Sullivan Show, broadcast live from New York. American teens tuned in to see the latest music groups on CBS really big show each week, as well as The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour broadcast from Hollywood, California. The opportunity for the group to 'go national' began on WGN-TV.In 1965 Chicagos most popular TV stationsponsored a competition for a contemporary pop group to be their in-house band for a new show, All-Time Hits. A WGN producer called Carl Bonafede to see if he had any musical group in mind whod like to audition for the show. Bonafede replied instantly that he did. Almost immediately, The Pulsations won a 13-week spot on All-Time Hits as the house band, playing contemporary hits. WGN station producers suggested the group change their name to keep up with the popular British Invasion. A station security guard, John Opager, suggested several names, and the group chose The Buckinghams, which is how they were introduced to viewers by the shows fourth week. George LeGros had been called to serve in Vietnam, so Dennis Tufano moved from singing harmony to the lead singer spot overnight, as LeGros boarded the train for active duty. Bonafede and Belloc coproduced The Pulsations first tracks and arranged their first record deal with USA Records, wherethey recorded 12 tracks at Chicago's famous Chess Studios. Belloc and arranger Frank Tezinsky were the ones to create that signature horn sound heard in all the early Buckinghams' music. In 1965 Chicagos biggest stations, including WLS and WCFL radio, gave strong airplay to Ill Go Crazy, I Call Your Name, and Ive Been Wrong, and their audiences grew. Just as their contract with USA Records for 12 sides was about to expire, the last release, Kind of a Drag, took off unexpectedly in Little Rock, Arkansas. Overnight, it started going to the top of every playlist across the country and within weeks, The Buckinghams had a national hit, their first #1 record. When Dennis Miccolis left the band, the band recruited Marty Grebb, former Exceptions band member, who brought vocal skills, along with keyboard and saxophone talents.When USA Records couldnt keep up with the demand for Kind of a Drag, and with their contract concluded, The Buckinghams were courted by several record labels and management/promotion firms. Ultimately The Buckinghams made the decision to leave Chicago for New York, with a new manager, James William Guercio, and a new label, Columbia Records, whom they trusted to guide their careers on a national level. In 1967 Cashbox Magazine named them The Most Promising Vocal Group in America.For a while, the formula was unbeatable, and the success was overwhelming. The group never missed a beat and turned out hit singles,...

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