Thursday, August 28, 2014


The annual Emmy Awards were televised recently.  Congrats to “Breaking Bad” for winning the ‘Drama Series’ Emmy.  “Breaking Bad” stars Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul and Anna Gunn won in their respective categories of ‘Actor, Drama Series’, ‘Supporting Actor, Drama Series’ and ‘Supporting Actress, Drama Series’.  Jim Parsons won ‘Actor, Comedy Series’ for a fourth time in his role as Sheldon Cooper on “Big Bang Theory”.  
The four major awards that many performers aspire to are collectively known as ETOG which stands for Emmy (television), Tony (Broadway), Oscar (film) and Grammy (music).  Very few performers win all four...many have won three.  So that’s what our quiz is about this time.  Singers, actors and songwriters who’ve won either three of four of these prestigious awards.  You just have to figure out who they are.  And the ETOG award goes to.....

1.  This songwriter has his ETOG scorecard filled.  He’s won all four major show business awards.  He tasted success initially with a Top 20 hit he wrote that Lesley “It’s My Party” Gore recorded in 1965.  He later became an in demand composer for movies (“The Sting”) and for the Broadway stage.  He’s actually won multiple Emmy and Academy Awards.  He’s closely associated with Barbra Streisand and wrote several hit songs for her.  Can you name him?
2.  This British singer/songwriter is only missing an Emmy award.  He has the other three.  His musical success started in the late 1960’s and has continued into every decade since.  He’s sold more than 250 albums worldwide and racked up ten #1 hits.  He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994.  He’s the ‘Rocket Man’ and ‘Honky Cat’ who won’t ever go breaking your heart.  Who is he?               
3.  She started her career as a back-up singer for producer Phil Spector, then teamed up with her future husband for hit records, a successful weekly TV show and a couple of not-so-hot movies.  After they divorced, her acting career really took off, plus she had a slew of hit solo records (including four # 1’s).  She still tours, despite a ‘Farewell Tour’ several years ago.  She has three of the four ETOG awards.  Who is this one-name performer?             

4.  This songwriter has dozens of # 1 songs to his credit.  His early work includes a half dozen hits with Dionne Warwick.  Other artists who’ve had Top 10 hits with his songs include Dusty Springfield, Gene Pitney, Carpenters, B.J. Thomas, Neil Diamond, Christopher Cross, Bobby Vinton, Tom Jones, Jackie DeShannon Herb Alpert and The Shirelles.  The Beatles even recorded one of his songs on their debut album.  He branched out into film work and composing for Broadway.  He won 2 Tony Awards and a Grammy for one of those plays that he scored as well as three Academy Award, but no Emmy.  He’s made cameo appearances in all three “Austin Powers” movies.  Can you name this composer?                        
5.  This award winning composer/singer loves LA.  And well he should.  His family has been in the film composing business for generations.  In 1978, he had a hit single that caused a ‘short’ (HINT ALERT) bit of controversy.  His film scoring includes “Toy Story I, II & III”, “Ragtime”, “A Bug’s Life”, “Seabiscuit”, “Monsters Inc.” and “Monsters University” among many others.  He’s been nominated for Academy Awards twenty times and has two ‘Best Song’ Oscar statues (2002 and 2011).  He also has three Emmy’s and six Grammy’s.  So who is this guy?                                                                


1.  The late Marvin Hamlish won four Emmy awards, a Tony, three Oscars and four Grammy awards– the quadruple crown of show biz awards.  The Tony was for his score to “A Chorus Line” (for which he also won a Pulitzer Prize for Drama).  Marvin composed the scores to 40 films that included his three Oscar wins (all in 1973) for “The Way We Were” (‘Best Original Dramatic Score plus ‘Best Original Song’) and “The Sting” (‘Best Original Song Score and/or Adaptation’).  He won his first Grammy Award in 1973 for ‘Album of Best Original Score Written For A Motion Picture Or A Television Special’ for “The Way We Were”.  In ’74, he won three times – ‘Best New Artist’ along with ‘Best Pop Instrumental Performance’ for “The Entertainer” from “The Sting” and ‘Song Of The Year’ for “The Way We Were”.  Marvin Hamlish passed away on August 6, 2012.  Oh yeah, that Lesley Gore hit he wrote was 1965’s “Sunshine, Lollipops And Rainbows”.                   

2.  Elton John has won 3 of the 4 biggest awards – an Oscar, a Tony and a six pack of Grammy Awards (plus many others).  The only one to elude him, thus far, is an Emmy.  His first # 1 hit single was 1973’s “Crocodile Rock” and his latest was “Candle In The Wind 1997”, a tribute to Princess Diana that Elton sang at her funeral in Westminster Abbey in London.  He’s charted over 80 hits on Billboards’ Hot 100 and has 5 Grammy Awards plus a 2001 Grammy Legend Award.  His ‘Best Original Song’ Oscar (1995) came courtesy of “Can You Feel The Love Tonight” from the Disney motion picture, “The Lion King”, a collaboration with lyricist Tim Rice.  The Tony Award in 2000 for ‘Best Original Musical Score’, also a collaboration with Tim Rice, was for the Broadway play “Aida”.                
3.  Cher also has three out of 4 ETOG awards on her fireplace mantle (since I’ve never been to Cher’s house, I don’t actually know if she even has a fireplace, let alone a mantle).  Her only missing award is a Tony.  Of course, she already had a Sonny, but that’s a whole different story.  Her 1988 ‘Best Actress In A Leading Role’ Academy Award was for her role in “Moonstruck”.  Cher’s Emmy in 2003 was for ‘Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Special’ for “Cher: The Farewell Tour”.  In 2004, Cher won a ‘Best Dance Recording’ Grammy award for the song “Believe”.  She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame that she shares with former husband and singing partner Sonny Bono.  Cher’s D2K (“Dressed To Kill”) tour starts in September with her only Canadian date (so far) in Toronto on October 4th.

4.  If we celebrated Burt Bacharach for his amazing musical talents, then we’d all be humming melodies.  We can never forget the role that lyricist Hal David played in the Burt Bacharach success story.  Burt won two Academy Awards in 1969 for Hal David and his work on “Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid”.  “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head” won ‘Best Song’ and Burt also won for ‘Best Original Score For A Motion Picture’.  Burt’s third Oscar was in 1981 for ‘Best Song’ for “Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do)”.  He has eight Grammy Awards, including ‘The Trustees Award’ (with Hal David) and a ‘Lifetime Achievement’.  His two Tony awards (and one Grammy) were for a collaboration with playwright/author/screenwriter Neil Simon on the Broadway hit “Promises, Promises”.  Burt was married to actress Angie Dickinson from 1966 until 1980 then in 1982, he wed fellow songwriter Carol Bayer Sager.

5.  Randy Newman first arrived on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in late 1977 with his controversial hit, “Short People”, which climbed to # 2 in ’78 and featured two of The Eagles (Glenn Frey and Timothy B. Schmit) on backing vocals.  While his chart success has been spotty, his career as a film/television composer has been spectacular.  His three Emmy Awards are for ‘Achievement In Music and Lyrics’ for the short lived series “Cop Rock” (1991), ‘Main Title Theme Music” and ‘Original Music and Lyrics’ for the long running TV series “Monk” (2004/2010).  Randy’s six Grammy Awards include ‘Best Score Soundtrack Album’ for “Toy Story 3” in 2011.  His two ‘Best Original Song’ Oscar wins are for 2002’s “If I Didn’t Have You” from “Monsters, Inc” and 2011’s “We Belong Together” from “Toy Story 3”.  Randy was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013.  He has three uncles who were all successful film composers, Lionel Newman, Emil Newman and Alfred Newman.  Several of his cousins also compose music for film.    

Monday, August 18, 2014


“Glee” is probably the most successful of the current television programs where the actors sing and have hits on the charts.  Miley Cyrus, when she was in “Hannah Montana” on the Disney channel before she was naked on a wrecking ball, made the charts on a regular basis and continues too.  The Monkees did it in the mid 1960’s.  They were a combination of musicians (Mike Nesmith/Peter Tork) and singing actors (Mickey Dolenz/ Davy Jones).

In the late 1950’s and ‘60’s, it was commonplace for TV stars to also make records.  For example, Edd Byrnes appeared as Kookie on the ‘60’s TV series “77 Sunset Strip” as a hip, swingin’ parking lot attendant who was constantly combing his hair (over a decade before The Fonz).  Edd wasn’t much of a singer, but Warner Brothers Records got him to reprise his character of Kookie and teamed him with a young ingĂ©nue named Connie Stevens and in 1959, the duo took “Kookie, Kookie, Lend Me Your Comb” to # 4.  Shelley Fabares had her 4 charted hits, which included 1962’s “Johnny Angel”, her only # 1 while appearing as Mary Stone on “The Donna Reed Show” (1958-1966).  David Soul, aka Hutch on “Starsky & Hutch” had his only # 1 hit, “Don’t Give Up On Us” in 1977, during the height of Starsky & Hutchmania (although to be fair, Soul began his show biz career as a folk singer before becoming an actor).  In the 1980’s John Schneider was Bo Duke on “The Dukes of Hazzard” from 1979 until 1985.  While he was much more successful on the country charts, Schneider did chart four hits on Billboards’ Hot 100.  The biggest one, “It’s Now Or Never” made it to # 14 in 1981.  Of course, William Shatner aka Captain James T. Kirk on the original “Star Trek” series (1966-1969) famously recorded his own ‘unique’ version of The Beatles “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds”, which has to be heard to be believed.  So, our quiz this time is to see how many TV stars also had hit records during their TV stardom years.  Ready, set...go!   


1.  This former Canadian Broadcasting Corporation radio newsreader followed his dream to become a successful actor.  His first hit TV series in which he played the patriarch with three sons in the old west for nearly 15 years.  He later starred in movies such as “Earthquake” plus an additional TV series, where he played the commander of a band of rag-tag space nomads searching for earth, aired for one season (1978-1980).  His # 1 hit on Billboards’ Hot 100 happened in 1964, right in the heart of the British Invasion with The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.  In fact, one of The Beatles’ names (nickname actually) is the same as this TV stars # 1 hit.  Who is this guy?                                
2.  He was the most successful of TV’s Sweathogs.  He played a leather jacketed ‘bad boy’ in “Grease”, a long haired killer in “Pulp Fiction” and later wore a dress in “Hairspray”.  His first hit came in 1976 at the height of his TV fame.  I’ve practically given this one away, so who is he already?              
3.  This young female actor/singer has co-starred in two TV series in the past 5 years -   “Victorious” and more recently, “Sam and Cat” for Nickelodeon.  Both series were geared to pre-teens and teens.  She has more than 17 MILLION Twitter followers and she’s scheduled to open the 2014 MTV Video awards.  She considers herself more a singer than actress.  This past weekend, three of her songs were in the iTunes Top Ten.  Her brother Frankie is currently one of the houseguests on the 16th annual reality summer series “Big Brother”.  She’s a ‘grand’ performer with a very bright future.  Who is she?                   

4.  This comedic duo co-starred in an ensemble sketch comedy program produced in Canada.  Over the course of this series, it grew from 30 minutes to 60 minutes, then when NBC picked it up in the U.S., it became 90 minutes long.  For one of the sketches, these two writer/performers played a pair of stereotypical Canadians, wearing touques, drinking beer and cooking back bacon (aka Canadian bacon).  These sketches were improvised to add a distinctive ‘Canadian flavour’ to the program.  The duo became so popular that an album was recorded, which went to # 1 in Canada and # 8 in the U.S. in 1982.  A hit single, “Take Off” came from the album and that climbed to # 16 on Billboards’ Hot 100 chart (it did much better in Canada).  Do you know the names of these two ‘hosers’, eh?                    
5.  This actor/singer grew up on television basically playing himself in a TV sitcom for over a decade.  His first chart hit came in 1959 and his last in 1973.  He was one of the first music ‘teen idols’ after Elvis.  He shortened his name by one letter to change his image with a new musical style which was slightly country.  Do you know who this ‘Travelin’ Man” is?                                                      


1.  That would be Lorne Greene aka Pa Cartwright from “Bonanza” and Commander Adama in “Battlestar Galactica”.  During WWII, Lorne was a CBC radio newsreader whose nickname was ‘The Voice of Doom’.  Lorne left Canada for New York, then Los Angeles where he was eventually cast as Ben Cartwight on “Bonanza”.  That series ran from 1959 until 1973.  Lorne’s second TV series was “Griff” (he played Wade Griffin) from 1973 to 1975.  He also co-starred in “Code Red” (1981-82).  “Lorne Greene’s New Wilderness” was a long running nature series Lorne hosted that aired all over the world.  Lorne Greene died at the age of 72 on September 11, 1987.  Lorne recorded several albums, but his only # 1 single, “Ringo” hit the top of the charts for the week of December 5, 1964.           

2.  John Travolta was starring in the hit TV series “Welcome Back, Kotter” (1975-1979) when he first hit the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart with “Let Her In” in ‘76.  That song made it to # 10.  Two years later, when John co-starred with Olivia Newton-John in “Grease”, the duo had a # 1 smash with “You’re The One That I Want”.  “Summer Nights”, another hit from “Grease”, climbed to # 5 the same year.  “Welcome Back, Kotter” co-star Gabe Kaplan had a very minor hit (# 91) in 1977 with the novelty record “Up Your Nose”.      
3.  Ariana Grande is the correct answer.  Arianna co-starred in the Disney Channel’s “Victorious” from 2010 to 2014, then most recently on “Sam and Cat” for the 2013-2014 season.  That series ended its run earlier this year.  Her first album, “Yours Truly” debuted at # 1 on Billboard Magazine’s album chart and the single, “The Way” was certified double platinum.  On Monday August 25th, the day after the MTV awards, Ariana’s second album, “My Everything” will be released.           
4.  Comedians Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas aka Bob and Doug McKenzie saw their debut album “Great White North” go platinum.  Their SCTV popularity also spawned a movie called “Strange Brew”.  Dave Thomas went on to star in other TV series and movies as did Rick Moranis, who’s biggest successes were “Ghostbusters 1 & 2” and “Honey, I Shrunk The Kids” series.  Moranis and Thomas most recently reprised their Bob and Doug McKenzie characters for a 2009 animated series for Global television. 

5.  TV star turned rock star Ricky Nelson first charted in 1959 with the double sided hit “A Teenager’s Romance” and “I’m Walking” while appearing as himself on his family’s hit TV series “The Adventures of Ozzie And Harriet” that aired from 1952 until 1966.  In fact Ricky (he dropped the ‘y’ a few years later to become Rick Nelson) grew up on that TV show.  In total Ricky/Rick Nelson charted over 50 songs on Billboards’ Hot 100 chart which included 18 Top Tens and two # 1’s – “Poor Little Fool” in 1958 and “Travelin’ Man” in 1961.  The flip side of “Travelin’ Man” is probably Ricky Nelson’s best known song, “Hello Mary Lou”.  As Rick Nelson, his most successful single was “Garden Party”, a # 6 hit in 1972.  Rick Nelson died in a plane crash in 1985 and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame two years later.      

Sunday, July 27, 2014


It’s summertime...and the living is easy.  So is this quiz actually.  All you have to do is know whose birthday it is.  Why, that’s as easy as apple pie with a dollop of butter pecan ice cream on it along with caramel sauce.  All of the birthday performers in question had hits in the Top 10 during either the 1960’s ‘70’s, ‘80’s or ‘90’s and nearly all of them had multiple # 1’s.  So make a wish that you’ll be able to figure them all out...then blow out the candles.  By the way, if you’re celebrating a birthday this week, like I am, then mazel tov.   

1.  This megastar singer (born July 26, 1943) could have gone on to a distinguished career in finance if music hadn’t lured him away.  His band had the ‘satisfaction’ of having their first # 1 in 1965.  They’ve had seven chart toppers since then and continue to tour, having just passed their 50th anniversary.  Does the name of this birthday bad boy come easily to your lips?  Is so, who is he?                              
2.  Singer, songwriter, drummer are three words to describe our next birthday celebrity (born July 22, 1947).  He was once in Linda Ronstadt’s touring back-up band, then left to form his own group that later became superstars.  His band has sold over 120 million albums, won six Grammy Awards, had five # 1 singles and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998.  After his band first broke up in 1980, he embarked on a successful solo career, racking up a half dozen Top Ten songs, including his most successful single, “Dirty Laundry” in 1983. Can you name this Texas troubadour?            
3.  This singer (born August 10, 1943) was a passenger on the same plane as The Beatles when they flew from England to America for the first time on February 7th, 1964.  By that time, her group had already charted several Top Forty hits, although their most successful single only climbed to # 9.  Later, The Beatles would sign her to a solo deal for their Apple label.  From 1968 until 1974, she was married to a world famous record producer, who also worked with The Beatles on the original “Let It Be” album in 1970.  That ex-husband is currently in a U.S. federal prison serving a life sentence for murder.  This singer also performed with Eddie Money on his 1986 Top Five hit, “Take Me Home Tonight”.  Who is this distinctive voiced singer?                   

4.  This musician (born August 1, 1942) became famous as a co-founding member of a counter culture band from San Francisco during the late 1960’s, along with Jefferson Airplane and Quicksilver Messenger Service.  The band became very popular as a live act.  He was the bearded guitar player who Rolling Stone readers voted # 13 in their “100 Greatest guitarists Of All Time” list.  He struggled with drug addiction for many years along with diabetes and died at the age of 53.  Who is this “Truckin’” musician?                 
5.  This “Lonely Boy” Canadian singer/songwriter (born July 30, 1941) has had an incredible career.  He had # 1 hits in the 1950’s, ‘60’s and ‘70’s and wrote many hits for other artists, including Frank Sinatra, Tom Jones and Elvis Presley.  He co-wrote two songs with the late Michael Jackson, including “This Is It” and “Love Never Felt So Good”, the latter included on Michael’s 2014 posthumous release “Xscape”.  Can you name this songpainter?                                                    


1.  That would be Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones, who attended the London School of Economics before embarking on a rock career.  “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” was The Stones first # 1 hit single in July 1965.  The Stones stood at the top of Billboards’ Hot 100 chart again in November of ’65 with “Get Off Of My Cloud”.  The other 6 Stones # 1’s are:  “Paint It, Black” (1966), “Ruby Tuesday” (1967), “Honky Tonk Women” (1969), “Brown Sugar” (1971), “Angie” (1973) and “Miss You” (1978).      

2.  Don Henley of The Eagles is 67 this year.  Born in Gilroy, Texas, Henley hightailed it to California where he became part of Linda Ronstadt’s backing band (along with Glenn Frey).  The Eagles formed in the early ‘70’s and hit the record charts almost immediately.  The Eagles five # 1 hits are: “Best Of My Love” (1975), “One Of These Nights” (1975), “New Kid In Town” (1977), “Hotel California” (1977) and “Heartache Tonight” (1979/80).  Of these, Henley sang lead on “Best Of My Love”, “One Of These Nights” and “Hotel California” along with other Top Ten hits such as “Witchy Woman”, “Desperado”, “Life In The Fast Lane” and “The Long Run”.  Besides “Dirty Laundry”, Henley’s solo hits include: “The Boys Of Summer”, “All She Want To Do Is Dance” and “The End Of The Innocence”.                                     
3.  Ronnie Spector is the correct answer.  As lead singer for The Ronettes, Ronnie Bennett shared the stage and the spotlight with her sister Estelle and their cousin Nedra Talley.  The group came to the attention of producer Phil Spector, who signed them to his Philles label and produced their biggest hits, including the 1963 # 2 song “Be My Baby” and 1964’s “Baby, I Love You”.  Ronnie was married to Phil Spector from 1968 until 1972.  Her solo career was not very successful, despite being signed to The Beatles Apple label, her only single from that era, “Try Some, Buy Some” only climbed to # 77 on Billboards’ Hot 100 chart.  Ronnie Spector also sang on “Say Goodbye To Hollywood”, along with the E Street Band and Eddie Money’s 1986 # 4 hit “Take Me Home Tonight”.  The Ronettes won a Grammy Award in 1965 for “Walking In The Rain”.  “Be My Baby” was the song that saw them inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999.  Other honours for The Ronettes include the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2004 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.      
4.  The Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia never saw his band hit # 1 on the singles chart, the highest the Dead ever got was # 9 with Touch of Grey” in 1987.    Their fans, aka ‘Deadheads’ were legion, many of them followed the band from gig to gig, city to city.  The Grateful Dead were inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994.  His parent named him after legendary songwriter/composer Jerome Kern and although his full name was Jerome John Garcia, he became much better known as simply Jerry.  Garcia died on August 9, 1995 of a heart attack.                              

5.  Ottawa born Paul Anka has been a major force in the music business since “Diana”, first hit # 1 hit in 1957.  Paul continued having hits into the ‘60’s, ‘70’s and ‘80’s and racked up two additional # 1’s and over 50 charted hits.  Paul’s songs have been recorded successfully by many other performers, including Annette Funicello, Tom Jones, Frank Sinatra, Johnny Mathis, Donnie Osmond and Elvis Presley.