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Barry Levine

Stories by Barry

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BARRY LEVINE: Running afowl of band name choices

THE OLD ROCKER: Bird names plentiful in music history

The most successful of the bird groups was the Eagles, who formed in 1971 in Los Angeles.

BARRY LEVINE: Listing the instrumental songs to hit No. 1 on the charts

THE OLD ROCKER: Acker Bilk had the nation's top hit in May 1962

“Stranger in the Night” was one of a plethora of instrumental songs to reach No. 1 from the start of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Era from the summer of 1955 through 1962.

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BARRY LEVINE: Hall of Fame of strange band names

THE OLD ROCKER: Nine bands with weird names still did well on the charts

Check nine band names we uncovered that are appreciably stranger then Foo Fighters. They all have one thing in common – they all had at least one Top 40 hit.

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BARRY LEVINE: Four Tops remained intact for 44 years

THE OLD ROCKER: Group members unchanged from 1953 until 1997

The four original members were Levi Stubbs, Lawrence Payton, Duke Fakir and Renaldo Benson.

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BARRY LEVINE: 'Monster Mash' surfaces at Halloween

THE OLD ROCKER: Bobby Boris Pickett co-wrote the song in two hours

The song was a spoof on several of the era’s dance crazes including “The Twist” by Chubby Checker and “Mashed Potato Time” by Dee Dee Sharp. “Monster Mash” featured several of Pickett’s impersonations of renowned Hollywood horror stars including Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff, who he also had used in his nightclub act.

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BARRY LEVINE: The times definitely were a-changing

THE OLD ROCKER: The changing morals of the nation reflected in changes to its music

Two of Bob Dylan’s early songs — “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “The Times They Are a-Changin’” — became anthems for the American civil rights and anti-Vietnam War movements.Dylan’s “The Times They Are a-Changin’” further expounded on this nation’s changing morals, especially as it pertained to early rock ‘n’ roll.

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BARRY LEVINE: Mills Brothers one of numerous brother acts to find success in the music business

THE OLD ROCKER: The Mills Brothers made more than 2,000 recordings

It started more than seven decades ago when the Mills Brothers, four siblings born near Dayton, Ohio, began to make their mark on the music world.

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BARYY LEVINE: Strange ways some musical groups got their names

THE OLD ROCKER: Beach Boys named without any input in selection process

The Platters tooks their name after the nickname used at that juncture for vinyl 45 records.

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BARRY LEVINE: Tragedy a constant companion for Jackie Wilson

THE OLD ROCKER: Singer suffered financially because of manager's misdeeds

After a funeral attended by more than 1,000 in his native Detroit, Jackie Wilson was buried in an unmarked grave in the Motor City. He was an estimated $300,000 in debt.

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BARRY LEVINE: Music tastes vary for Albanians

THE OLD ROCKER: Top picks range from the Stones to Tony Orlando

There’s one thing for certain about those of us who love rock ‘n’ roll. Our tastes vary as much in music as they do in food, clothes and TV programs. Preferences vary from Doo-Wop to Rockabilly to British Invasion to Motown.

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BARRY LEVINE: Some musical stars got their start on the screen

THE OLD ROCKER: Ricky Nelson had biggest advantage of any teen TV actor turned singer

Nelson, 16, introduced his first record, a cover of the Fats Domino hit “I’m Walkin’,“ on the TV show on April 10, 1957. The song quickly climbed to No. 4 on the charts. The flip side, “A Teenager’s Romance,” reached No. 2.

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BARRY LEVINE: British Invasion dominated music in the '60s

THE OLD ROCKER: Elite British musicians had staying power

When The Beatles came to America 50 years ago in 1964, there were 22 No. 1 hits during that year, nine of which were done by British Invaders. Six were by The Beatles and one each by Peter & Gordon, The Animals and Manfred Mann. They controlled the No. 1 slot for 25 weeks.

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BARRY LEVINE: Paul Anka's biggest hit motivated by early days on the road

THE OLD ROCKER: Paul Anka is still performing at age 73

Paul Anka penned such well-known music as the theme for “The Tonight Show” starring Johnny Carson, one of Tom Jones’ biggest hits, “She’s a Lady” and the English lyrics for Frank Sinatra’s signature song, “My Way.”

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BARRY LEVINE: Anniversary of Beatles' first film passed without fanfare

THE OLD ROCKER: The Beatles made its 'A Hard Day's Night' film 50 years ago

Called by Time magazine one of the best 100 films of the past 80 years, “A Hard Day’s Night” was nominated for two Academy Awards — Best Screenplay (Alun Owen) and Best Score Adaptation (George Martin).

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BARRY LEVINE: Video jukebox site the best for music from the 40s to the 90s

THE OLD ROCKER: Retired federal employee generates site with more than 3,500 songs

Christmas came five months early this year for the Old Rocker, thanks to an email from Don Picciotto, of Lee County, a lunch-buddy who forwarded absolutely the best site for music that I have ever used.

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Music died a second time with Elvis

Elvis Presley unofficially sold more than a billion records

“The King” impacted the American music scene until his untimely death at age 42.

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BARRY LEVINE: Boseman brilliant in portrayal of the Godfather of Soul

MOVIE REVIEW: Film jumps between significant incidents in James Brown's life

Dan Aykroyd gave a strong performance portraying Brown’s manager/adviser Ben Bart. Aykroyd and the real-life Brown appeared in two films together.

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BARRY LEVINE: Rockers play ‘The Name Game’

OLD ROCKER: Shirley Ellis has a hit with name game song

Rock stars played games with their names long before “The Name Game” reached the charts. It was not uncommon for performers to change their names for a variety of reasons.

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BARRY LEVINE: Sam Cooke a success even after death

THE OLD ROCKER: Sam Cooke among the greatest of all time

Of all the great rock ‘n’ rollers whose career began during the 1950s, one who has slipped under the radar is Sam Cooke.

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BARRY LEVINE: A rock quiz before schools reopen

OPINION: How well do you know your rock ‘n’ roll?

If you get all 10 of these multiple-choice questions correct, ask your guidance counsellor to place you in a rock ‘n’ roll honors class.

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Top TV police dramas of all time

Here’s a list of our favorite 12 police dramas in the order in which they first appeared.

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BARRY LEVINE: Elvis invades the Milton Berle Show

OLD ROCKER: What songs do you remember from rock and roll days?

Methinks you’re getting older if you can remember Elvis Presley singing “Heartbreak Hotel.”

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BARRY LEVINE: Music changes introduce era of variety shows

THE OLD ROCKER: Musical tastes affect not just radio waves, but television as well.

One of the effects of nation’s change in musical tastes from the Big Band Era to rock ‘n’ roll and folk music were short-lived TV variety shows.

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BARRY LEVINE: ‘Jersey Boys’ film is all about the music

Oscar-winning actor Clint Eastwood makes a hit with “Jersey Boys.”

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BARRY LEVINE: Summertime songs herald the season

OLD ROCKER: Chubby Checker takes a shot at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Now that summer officially has arrived — if you don’t believe the calendar, then check the humidity index — it marks the time when so many songs had the word “summer” or a derivative in the title.

States where music stars were born

States where music stars were born

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Top 40 hits: Which states have the most?

Harry James and Ray Charles, both natives of Albany, help Georgia make the top states' list

Pennsylvania leads the pack for having the most Top 40 hits in the nation.

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BARRY LEVINE: Georgia rockers deserve recognition for achievements

Harry James is not the only musician or singer from Southwest Georgia who has not received his just due.

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BARRY LEVINE: Why we recall the lyrics and melodies

OLD ROCKER: Oldies but goodies always stay with you

You might not have heard a song for 30 or 40 years or more, but when you do, you immediately remember the lyrics and melody, the performer or performers who made the record and the approximate year it hit the charts.

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BARRY LEVINE: Rockers change for baby boomers

OLD ROCKER: What would lyrics of rock songs be like today?

Some of the renowned rock ‘n’ roll performers are “revising” their smash hits with new lyrics or titles in appreciation for us aging baby boomers.

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BARRY LEVINE: Remembering the Big Band icon Harry James

OLD ROCKER: Harry James was born in Albany in 1916.

Long before the start of the rock ‘n’ roll era in 1955 and long before rhythm and blues and country and western music rose in popularity, Americans were listening to Big Band and Swing Era.

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BARRY LEVINE: Rock & Wrestling returns to WWE

THE OLD ROCKER: Pro wrestling renews its association with rock 'n' roll

Who would have thought 56 years ago that the nation’s No. 1 hit would be remembered in association with World Wrestling Entertainment?

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BARRY LEVINE: Rockers remembered for bad choices

What do Peter Yarrow of folk group Peter, Paul & Mary fame and renowned rockers Chuck Berry, Jackie Wilson Jerry Lee Lewis, Ray Charles and the Platters have in common?

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BARRY LEVINE: Mixed gender groups record huge hits

THE OLD ROCKER: Just the right combination was chart-busting gold

The most unusual combination of early rock ‘n’ roll groups was mix-genders of three or more members.

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Television dogs man's best friends

While most of the memorable television characters have been male and female actors, dogs have had important roles for the past six decades.

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BARRY LEVINE: Beatles smash records in 1964

No other group or solo act either before or since has had all five songs at the same time in the Top 5.

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BARRY LEVINE: The end of Beatlemania

If Feb. 3, 1959, is the most memorable date in rock history, then challenging for the runner-up spot is April 10, 1970, when Paul McCartney of the Beatles announced that he was leaving the most successful group in rock ‘n’ roll history.

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BARRY LEVINE: Rock stars play switch-a-roo

Besides being a highly successful singer, songwriter and record producer, Bob Gaudio and his pal Frankie Valli formed the Four Seasons Partnership, which gave them ownership of all of the group’s materials. The partnership helped Gaudio amass a net worth of a reported $15 million.

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BARRY LEVINE: Rockers play musical chairs

Here are some of the rockers who played musical chairs primarily during the 1950s.

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BARRY LEVINE: Rock songs used in advertising promos

Remember when we were growing up and our parents emphatically said to us, “Why are you listening to THAT music?

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BARRY LEVINE: The Price is right for iconic rock singer

Funny thing about the early, early days of rock ‘n’ roll. Some of the biggest hits had highly unusual histories.

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Songs hit right notes for Oscar win

The Old Rocker takes a look back at Oscar-winning songs.

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BARRY LEVINE: Sinatra a classic for all time

Who was the greatest entertainer of the past 100 years?

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BARRY LEVINE: Beatles introspective doesn’t disappoint

“The Beatles: The Night That Changed America,” celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Fab Four’s first live appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show.”

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BARRY LEVINE: Love songs put romance in the air

With Valentine’s Day a scant two days away, here’s the alphabetical list of our favorite vocal love songs since 1965.

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BARRY LEVINE: Songs send loving words to valentines

THE OLD ROCKER: Songs send loving words to valentines

Valentine’s Day is a time when love songs leap to the forefront.

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Rock stars’ legacy never forgotten

This week marks 55 years since Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and The Big Bopper were killed in a tragic plane crash.

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BARRY LEVINE: Pete Seeger: An American icon dies

The music industry — and the human race, as well — lost a genuine treasure when 94-year-old Pete Seeger died.

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BARRY LEVINE: For Eddy, the “twang’s the thang”

One name virtually always missing from lists of musical stars is Duane Eddy.

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BARRY LEVINE: Neil Diamond continues to shine

THE OLD ROCKER: Neil Diamond a classy example for others to follow

Neil Diamond, one of the most versatile and dynamic entertainers of the past 50 years, will celebrate his 73rd birthday on Friday. The classy crooner has sold more than 125 million records and he is the third most successful adult contemporary singer, trailing only Barbra Streisand and Sir Elton John.

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