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This Just In ...

Kevin Fischer is a veteran broadcaster, the recipient of over 150 major journalism awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, the Wisconsin Associated Press, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, the Wisconsin Bar Association, and others. He has been seen and heard on Milwaukee TV and radio stations for over three decades. A longtime aide to state Senate Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature, Kevin can be seen offering his views on the news on the public affairs program, "InterCHANGE," on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10, and heard filling in on Newstalk 1130 WISN. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their lovely young daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.

Goodnight everyone, and have a productive weekend!


"Back in 1968, when I won my first Grammy for a song called 'La La Means I Love You,' they didn’t allow any black acts on stage. Most people don’t know that. What they would do is advertise the Grammys, but they would have the 'chocolate version' somewhere in a corner and have the white version on television. They never told you that until you got there and you’re looking to be in the audience. They would tell you later on, 'I’m awfully sorry, but your version will not be on TV, but thank you for coming anyway.' They didn’t want to give me tickets for the show. And I said, 'But I thought I was nominated for a Grammy.' I finally did get one ticket, because at that time–I don’t know if the companies still do it–but the companies sponsored the tables and things. I wormed my way in. They made one special seat by the door in the back. When they announced the Grammy for Song of the Year, which was 'La La Means I Love You,' somebody else went up and got it. It was the president of the company who went and got it.

He had nothing in the world to do with it. I decided never to go to another Grammy show as long as I lived. And I haven’t. Here’s another bit of history for you: Until 1973 or 75, they didn’t even have a producer’s award. It wasn’t until I had gotten so many hit records. I was the first one they created the award for."
Music producer Thom Bell


It's Friday night. Time to unwind with our regular Friday night feature on This Just In.

The weekend has finally arrived.

The sun has set.

The evening sky has erupted. 

Let's put controversy and provocative blogs aside for the rest of this work week and smooth our way into Saturday and Sunday.

You may not have heard of Thom Bell but you probably have heard his work.

IMDb.com writes:

"Composer-arranger-record producer Thom Bell is known as one of the chief architects of The Sound Of Philadelphia. In the mid-60s, Bell was the house pianist at The Uptown Theatre in Philadelphia and later became musical director for Chubby Checker. In 1966, he partnered up with entrepreneur Stan Watson to produce a local group called The Delfonics. In early 1968, they had their first smash with 'La-La Means I Love You' and for the next two years wrote, produced and arranged hits for The Delfonics such as 'I'm Sorry', 'Break Your Promise', 'Ready Or Not, Here I Come' and 'Didn't I (Blow Your Mind This Time'). In late 1970, Bell broke off with the group to work with another Philadelphia group called The Stylistics, whom he wrote and produced for three years. He simultaneously produced The Stylistics and former Motown second-raters The Spinners."

Contemporary smooth jazz artist Bob Baldwin has just released an album paying tribute to Thom Bell. We begin with his version of the first hit for the Spinners.







In 1970, Bell (pictured above) produced a huge hit for the Delfonics.

This is Bob Baldwin's rendition of "Didn't I Blow Your Mind This Time."




 
The Delfonics Didn't I Blow Your Mind This Time Album Cover


On the same album, Baldwin does his take on the Spinners’ hit, “Rubberband Man.

And he does a nice job.

However, this tune needs to be seen and not just heard. So we go back to the 70’s, NBC’s Midnight Special, and a performance by the originals.







 




That’s it for this week.

Goodnight.

Sleep well.

Have a great weekend.

In the late 70’s, one of my many jobs working my way through UWM was ushering at the then Performing Arts Center. I’ll never forget the night she performed.




 


Music.kngine.com reports:

“Donna Summer's title as the ‘Queen of Disco’ wasn't mere hype -- she was one of the very few disco performers to enjoy a measure of career longevity, and her consistent chart success was rivaled in the disco world only by the Bee Gees. Summer was certainly a talented vocalist, trained as a powerful gospel belter, but then again, so were many of her contemporaries. Of major importance in setting Summer apart were her songwriting abilities and her choice of talented collaborators in producers/songwriters Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte, which resulted in a steady supply of high-quality (and, often, high-concept) material. But what was more, few vocalists could match the sultry, unfettered eroticism Summer brought to many of her best recordings, which seemed to embody the spirit of the disco era perfectly. The total package made Summer the ultimate disco diva, one of the few whose star power was even bigger than the music.”

I'll 
never forget the night I worked the Donna Summer show because she and I had a very up close and personal moment.

For that show I was helping seat folks in the front rows of the Orchestra section. Naturally, the PAC was packed. When the program began, there wasn’t an empty seat in my section.

Not too long after Summer began singing, a couple came rushing down the hallway towards me, tickets in hand. The very first row of seats back then was marked AA as I recall. AA and BB would sometimes be taken out to accommodate an orchestra pit.

When I checked the couple’s tickets I immediately thought, “Oh no.” They had the two seats on the aisle in the front row. Problem. I knew there were already butts planted in those seats.
 
I whipped out my flashlight, told the couple, “Follow me,” and guided them to row AA. So as not to block anyone’s view, I knelt down next to the gent in the aisle seat. Now I know I didn’t put him there but being an ushering veteran, I know exactly what happened.

“Sir, could I see your tickets, please?”

“My tickets?”

“Yes, your tickets."

As my investigation was transpiring, Summer was dancing and singing at the other end of the Uihlein Hall stage. Or so I thought.

The sheepish, nervous man pulled out his tickets. Where were he and his date supposed to be? In the balcony. That would be the 5th and not the main floor.

Before I could perform the obligatory musical chairs, while still kneeling I gazed up. Keep in mind the front row in Uihlein Hall is practically onstage.

I sensed the spotlight.

There, smack dab in front of me was her left high heel.

My eyes moved slowly upward.

Then a leg. A very bare leg, exposed because her glittery gown had a slit that ended somewhere near Canada.







She was holding her mic, singing away, looking down directly at me with a huge smile.

I think I gulped.

For a split second, I imagined her stopping the show and chewing me out for causing a disruption.

It lasted but a fleeting moment or two, but long enough to show this woman was more gorgeous than any album cover could convey.

Being the calm, cool professional, Summer simply turned and walked to the middle of the stage.

When my ticker resumed functioning, I told the guy to come with me out in the hall. The proper ticketholders were then seated. Once outside the hall, I directed the displaced couple to take the elevator up to the 5th floor where they belonged. I couldn’t resist.

“And please, don’t ever try that again.”

Thank you, Donna Summer, for not embarrassing a poor college kid...and for the memories.
 





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