Talking With Tommy James – July 30, 2015

FotoFlexer_Photo Tommy James

This week, Ira spoke with Tommy James. To listen to the interview click below.

Tommy James, performing with the Shondells at the Golden Nugget July 31, started his road to stardom when a nightclub DJ in Pittsburgh discovered a two-year-old record by “The Shondells” and played it at his weekend dances. The crowd response was so overwhelmingly positive that radio deejays started spinning it and an enterprising record distributor bootlegged it, selling 80,000 copies in ten days. By May of 1966 “Hanky Panky” was the number one record in Pittsburgh and James was a sensation.

A Pittsburgh promoter tracked James down at his home in Niles, told him of the success tale of “Hanky Panky,” and urged him to “come on down!” Unable to put the original group back together, Tommy hired a hot P-burgh R&B bar band to become the Shondells. Two weeks later he and this new group signed a record deal with Roulette Records in New York. The label, in turn, put their promotion team to work on “Hanky Panky” and made it the summer smash of ’66. Thus, began one of the longest strings of nonstop hits in recording industry history.

Tommy James and the Shondells’ number one singles included “Hanky Panky” and “Crimson and Clover.” They also charted twelve other Top 40 hits, including “I Think Were Alone Now,” “Mirage,” “Mony Mony,” “Sweet Cherry Wine” and “Crystal Blue Persuasion.”


Talking With Louie Anderson – July 23, 2015

FotoFlexer_Photo Louie Anderson 7-23-15

This week, Ira spoke with Louie Anderson. To listen to the interview click below.

Louie Anderson, who will be performing at the South Point Casino July 24-26, is one of the most versatile and successful comedians working today.

Sharing the ups and downs of his childhood experiences as one of 11 children in Minnesota, Anderson crafted comedy routines that rang true for his early club audiences, routines that led him from his career as a counselor to troubled children to the first-place trophy at the 1981 Midwest Comedy Competition. Henny Youngman, who hosted the competition, recognized the diamond-in-the-rough genius of the young comic and hired him as a writer, providing invaluable experience that soon put Anderson in his own spotlight on comedy stages all over the country.

Johnny Carson, the comedy icon for generations of rising stars, invited Anderson to make his national television debut on the “The Tonight Show” in 1984, and the rest is history. Leno, Letterman, “Comic Relief” and Showtime and HBO specials followed, making Anderson a household name and opening doors for him as an actor. He has guest-starred in sitcoms like “Grace Under Fire” and dramas like “Touched by an Angel” and “Chicago Hope,” and he has had memorable featured roles in film comedies like “Coming to America,” opposite Eddie Murphy, and the classic “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

In 1995, Anderson put his creative energies to work on the Saturday morning animated series “Life with Louie.” The long-running series based on his own childhood and his life with his father won three Humanitas Prizes for writing on a children’s’ animated series, making him the only three-time recipient of this award. It also earned a Genesis Award for its depiction of the proper treatment of animals and, most significantly, two Emmy Awards.

His best-selling books include “Dear Dad – Letters From An Adult Child,” a collection of alternately touching and outrageous letters from Louie to his late father, and “Good-bye Jumbo…Hello Cruel World,” self-help for those who struggle with self-esteem issues.


Talking With Brenda Lee – July 16, 2015

FotoFlexer_Photo Brenda Lee

This week, Ira spoke with Brenda Lee. To listen to the interview click below.

Brenda Lee, who will be performing at the Golden Nugget Las Vegas July 17,has been a star since childhood—releasing her first single hits as a pre-teen, having her first million seller (“I’m Sorry”) at age 16. At 11, she was guesting onstage with Elvis Presley at Nashville’s venerated ‘Grand Ole Opry’ and at 20, she was watching The Beatles open her concerts on a tour across Europe.

Now recognized as a living legend in music, Lee has sold more than 100 million units of her music globally. A generation grew up to her signature hits—“I’m Sorry,” “Break It To Me Gently,” “That’s All You Gotta Do,” “Fool Number One,” “Comin’ On Strong,” and “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” –to mention only a few. The latter song—now a Christmas perennial was the #4 Christmas song of the 2014 holiday season according to Billboard—and has each year succeeded in introducing Lee to a new generation of listeners.

A member of both the Rock & Roll and Country Music Halls of Fame, Lee has received four Grammy recognitions and has received both their prestigious “Governors Award” from NARAS as well as the coveted “Lifetime Achievement Grammy.”

Recognized as the top charting female rocker of the 60’s, Lee’s countless awards in the industry include both US and international honors. To date, she has performed in 52 foreign countries and recorded hits in six languages –English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Japanese.

Lee today makes her home in Nashville, serving as an active part of the music community and on the Boards of NARAS and the Country Music Association.


Talking With Don McLean – July 9, 2015

FotoFlexer_Photo Don McLean 7-9-15

This week, Ira spoke with Don McLean. To listen to the interview click below.

Singer-songwriter Don McLean will be performing at the Orleans Showroom on Saturday and Sunday, July 18-19. Joining McLean will be Judy Collins.

McLean is one of America’s most enduring singer-songwriters and is forever associated with his classic hits “American Pie,” “Vincent (Starry Starry Night),” “Castles in the Air,” “And I Love You So” and “Crying.”

In 1969, McLean recorded his first album “Tapestry” in Berkeley, Calif. Student riots were going on outside the studio as Don was singing “And I Love You So” inside. The album was first released by Mediarts and achieved commercial success.

His transition to international stardom began with the release of “American Pie” in 1971. A month later, McLean’s song first played on New York’s WNEW-FM and WPLJ-FM to mark the closing of The Fillmore East, the famous New York concert hall. Thirty years later, the song was voted # 5 in a poll of the “365 Songs of the Century” compiled by the Recording Industry Association of America and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Since first hitting the charts in 1971, McLean has amassed more than 40 gold and platinum records world-wide and, in 2004, was inducted into the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame. His songs have been recorded by artists from every musical genre, most notably Madonna’s No. 1 recording of “American Pie” in 2000 and George Michael’s version of “The Grave” in 2003, sung in protest at the Iraq War.

In 2007, McLean shared his life story in Alan Howard’s biography, “The Don McLean Story: Killing Us Softly With His Songs.” In June 2011 Don performed for an audience of 100,000 at the Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts.


Talking With Rich Little – July 2, 2015

FotoFlexer_Photo Rich Little 6-29-15

This week, Ira spoke with Rich Little. To listen to the interview click below.

Rich Little returns to the Las Vegas Strip in his new autobiographical one-man show “Rich Little Live” at the Laugh Factory inside The New Tropicana Las Vegas, debuting July 14 and running through August 23.

A master mimic of more than 200 voices, Little is also a classic movie buff. He’s particularly fond of doing Jimmy Stewart, Jack Lemmon, John Wayne and Humphrey Bogart, but Little has also latched on to Paul Lynde, Kermit the Frog, Andy Rooney and Dr. Phil, among others. Some of his favorite impressions are of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Jack Nicholson, and Clint Eastwood.

Little also had his own variety show in the 70s and was the star of the TV show “KopyKats.” He was a guest host early on for The Tonight Show, hosting 12 times. He quickly became a household name sitting in one of the “Hollywood Squares” and went on to do “The Muppet Show.”

Named “Comedy Star of the Year” by the American Guild of Variety Artists, Little was the creator of nine comedy albums and three HBO comedy specials, as well as the Emmy-award winning specials, “Rich Little’s Christmas Carol” with “W.C. Fields” as Scrooge, “Humphrey Bogart” as one of the ghosts and “Paul Lynde” as Bob Cratchit.