The Happy Together Tour is back after three years and stopped at the Pacific Amphitheater at the OC Fair last night. The tour, hosted by the Turtles, features six iconic groups from the 60’s that all had major hits. With this many acts the sets were kept to 20 minutes of four-five songs with the Turtles playing seven songs and an encore. Also there was a house band backing each group consisting of guitarist/musical director Godfrey Townshend, keyboardist Manny Faocarazzo, and drummer Chris Camilleri. This was also a comedy show not just music.
The first act was family vocal group the Cowsills. Once made up of six siblings the Cowsills are now a trio of Bob, Susan, and Paul Cowsill. John Cowsill has been the drummer for the Beach Boys since 2007. Barry Cowsill passed in 2005 and Bill Cowsill passed in 2006. It was Cowsills that inspired the hit TV show the Partridge family. The Cowsills were originally together just seven years then reunited again between 1978-1980 then again in 1990 and have been active since. The Cowsills had over 10 charting singles. They appeared on the Ed Sullivan show twice, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, American Bandstand, and the Johnny Cash Show. Their set included hits like “The Rain, the Park, and Other Things,” and “Hair.” There were also a few jokes between songs.
Next up were The Vogues in matching blue shirts and jeans. The Vogues were once a quartet and now a trio. Co-founders Bill Burkette and Don Miller passed in 2018 and 2021. The group is now Troy Elich, Royce Taylor, and Bo Wagner, Filling in for Wagner is actor/singer Shawn Stevens (Days of Our Lives). Although it’s been 50 years since a Vogues album was released, the music stands the test of time. Their TV performances included The Ed Sullivan show, Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, and American Bandstand. The Vogues were inducted into the Vocal Hall of Fame back in 2001.
The third act were the Buckinghams, once a five-member group is now a duo of co-founders vocalist/bassist Nick Fortuna and vocalist Carl Giammarase. The Buckinghams were split up for a decade between 1970 and 1980 which came just four years after the group formed. They had 16 singles in those four years including the number one “Kind of a Drag” which they performed, number six “Don’t You Care, number five “Mercy, Mercy Mercy,” number 12 “Hey Baby (They’re Playing Our Song).” and number 11 “Susan,” which were all performed. The Vogues appeared on both Ed Sullivan and The Smothers Brothers. Fortuna did a hilarious impression of Sullivan.
Next up was the group that opened the historic Monterey Pop Festival, The Association. The Association is Del Ramos (Bass/Vocals) and original members Jules Alexander and Jim Yester, however Yester wasn’t present on this show and guitarist/vocalist Paul Holland, a member since 1986 covered his parts. They all had matching white sport coats and black pants. They had three platinum hits all performed “Windy,” “Cherish” and “Never My Love.” Another massive hit “Along Came Mary” was the closer.
The second to last act was Gary Puckett known for his group the Union Gap, however Puckett is performing solo with the house band. The group was around just five years but produced a number of major hits like “Woman Woman,” “Young Girl,” and “Lady Willpower” all part of his set. Puckett has been a solo artist since 1971.
Lastly it was the Turtles which is usually co-founders Flo & Eddie, but in their place was Ron Dante singer of fictional band The Archies and Godfrey Townshend whose been the Musical Director/Guitarist for every Happy Together tour. The Turtles set was seven songs including the Turtles cover of Bob Dylan’s “It Ain’t Me Babe” and the Byrds “You Showed Me.” Also performed was the Archies “Sugar Sugar,” and of course “Happy Together.” The finale re-introduced all the previous acts one by one to perform a snippet of one song each performed earlier making up a medley that ended on everyone singing “Happy Together.”
1. The Rain the Park and Other Things
2. Indian Lake
3. We Can Fly
4. Love American Style
5. Hair- Galt MacDermot
1. Five O Clock World
2. My Special Angel
3. Turn Around Look at Me
4. You’re the One
1. Don’t You Care
2. Hey Baby (They’re Playing Our Song)
3. Mercy Mercy
5. Kind of a Drag
2. Never My Love Dedicated to Del Ramos 102 year old mother
4. Along Comes Mary
1. Lady Willpower
2. Over You
3. This Girl is a Woman Now
4. Woman Woman- Jim Glaser
5. Young Girl
1. She’d Rather Be With Me
2. You Baby
3. It Ain’t Me Babe- Bob Dylan
4. You Showed Me- The Byrds
5. Sugar Sugar- The Archies
7. Happy Together
8. The Rain, the Park & Other Things, Five O’Clock World, Kind of a Drag, Windy, Young Girl, Happy Together.
Alex Kluft Photography
When the Happy Together Tour rolls into town, a beautiful kind of magic trick occurs. For just a little while, the cares of the current world seem somehow to melt away as the sound of a free, colorful era long gone rises up in the air once more. It gives us all a glimpse of what it was like to live in that golden moment of the 1960s, when the glorious vocal harmonies of The Turtles and their contemporaries came bursting out of just about every radio and jukebox in America.
When these ’60s pop/rock compatriots on the bill step up to the microphone, the years melt away as the hits of the Aquarian Age come back around. It’s enough to make even the most jaded listener believe in the possibilities of flower power again – for at least as long as the concert lasts.
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