If you go
What: The Buckinghams
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday
Auditorium, 1000 Fifth Ave., Youngstown
Tickets: $35 and $40; call 330-743-2717
1000 Fifth Ave., Youngstown
By John Benson
Somewhat out of breath but apparently in great shape is how The Buckinghams’ Carl Giammarese sounded when a recent phone call found him at a Chicago-area gym putting some time in on the step-machine.
“You know us old rockers — we have to stay in shape,” Giammarese said, laughing.
Invariably, the guitarist is getting ready for another walk down memory lane with fans when the group comes to Youngstown on Friday for a show at Stambaugh Auditorium. Known for its definitive Windy City horn sound, the outfit was right in the mix of the popular late-’60s music world with its No. 1 track “Kind of a Drag” and follow-up charting tunes “Don’t You Care,” “Hey Baby, They’re Playing Our Song,” “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy,” “Susan” and “Lawdy Miss Clawdy.”
Looking back at its heyday, The Buckinghams experienced all of the hallmarks of success from the era. Naturally, there’s one particular event that still gives Giammarese chills when he thinks back.
“The epitome of success was when we were asked to perform on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show,’” Giammarese said. “That was the biggest show on TV in those days. So when we did that in 1968, it made you realize you are really there. This is the guy who introduced The Beatles and Elvis. I remember looking out into the theater, and after years of watching Ed Sullivan, being amazed at how small the theater was. It really wasn’t that big. That was a great experience.”
Named Billboard magazine’s “Most Listened to Band in America” in 1967, The Buckinghams toured incessantly from 1965 to 1970, appearing on “The Smothers Brothers’ Comedy Show,” “The Jerry Lewis Show,” “The Joey Bishop Show” and “American Bandstand.” The group also shared the stage with the likes of The Beach Boys, Sonny and Cher, Neil Diamond, America, Tom Jones, The Hollies, The Kinks, The Yardbirds and The Who.
The funny thing about The Buckinghams is the act obviously tried to capitalize on the British Invasion by naming itself after not only the Queen of England’s home but also a small British city. Giammarese said at times this move backfired on the Chicago-based act.
“It’s funny — the first time we went out to Los Angeles to do a television show, we went on ‘The Smothers’ Brothers Comedy Show,’ and we walked out on the set and it was decorated with British flags and the Union Jack,” Giammarese said. “They thought we were a British group. They had fish and chips in the dressing room, and we wanted pizza. We’re from Chicago. They just left it because it was too late to change the set. That’s kind of funny.”
The band remains popular on the touring circuit. Set-wise, Giammarese said the act plays hits, album cuts, a new song and even a couple medleys by The Beatles and The Turtles-The Grass Roots-Tommy James-Gary Puckett.
“It’s about bringing back a lot of great memories for people,” Giammarese said. “It’s always a lot of fun at the end of the show at a meet-and-greet where people say when this song was out they had just met somebody or their girlfriend broke up with them. It’s just a good feeling to know you were part of their lives at the time.”