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160822 August 22, 2016

The Beach Boys at the Mid-South Fair in 1999 - taken by me.

A Stopping Place
for The Beach Boys
by Tommy Towery
LHS '65
        Well, since no one has sent me any news or stories, and no one has asked to be dropped from the mailing list because of recent stories, I will finish up my Beach Boys saga.

        I retired from the Air Force and moved from Omaha back to Memphis in the fall of 1988. It was around the time the Beach Boys were about to make a comeback. For several years they had strayed from the original sounds of surf, sun, and fun and gone into more modern themes and in the process had lost a lot of their loyal followers. To me, 1988 was a major turning point regaining their popularity. The key to this was a song and a return to the sounds they had first made them famous.

        "Kokomo" was written by John Phillips, Scott McKenzie, Mike Love, and Terry Melcher. Its lyrics describe two lovers taking a trip to a relaxing place on an island off the Florida Keys called Kokomo. Many tourists were later upset because they could not book a vacation trip to the island of Kokomo, because it was never a real place. It had been made up for the movie and song. Kokomo was released as a single on July 18, 1988 by Elektra Records and became a No.1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 Hits on November 5, 1988, in the United States, Japan, and Australia (where it topped for about two months). The single was released to coincide with the release of Roger Donaldson's film Cocktail, and its subsequent soundtrack. 


        It was The Beach Boys' first #1 hit in the United States since Good Vibrations in 1966, making it the longest time span between two number one hits in America for a band (22 years). It is also their only #1 hit not written or produced by Brian Wilson.

        On the hot, humid night of August 12, 1989, they had a concert in the amphitheater on Mud Island on the banks of the Mississippi at Memphis. This was a smaller venue that previous concerts I had attended in Memphis, but it was a great outdoor concert. John Stamos was sitting in on the drums for this concert. My wife and I had tickets on the floor, on about the 25th or so row from the stage and had a good view of the stage. I don’t know if it was the heat or the lack of interest, but late in the concert people started leaving. As one row in front of us would clear, we would move up. Eventually, we ended up on the very front row and enjoyed the ending set of songs from that vantage point. It was the first (and only) time I had ever sat on the front row of any concert, and it was great.

        With the popularity of Kokomo and the tours which followed, it appeared the Beach Boys finally realized what their fans wanted. They didn’t want to hear the new stuff, they wanted the vintage cars, beach, and sun songs, and every concert I have attended since the 1989 one has historically been a “greatest hits” type concert.

        I was divorced in 1994 and later started dating Sue. At the time she was not as big of a Beach Boy fan as my ex-wife had been, but she enjoyed them. I took her to her first Beach Boy concert on September 13, 1999, at an outdoor event sponsored by the Germantown Charity Horse Show in Germantown. It was a sold out event, but we were able to buy some tickets from someone outside the gate who had extras. Two years later we were sitting in the audience at the Mid-South Fair enjoying Mike Love and the Beach Boys performing on stage. This was the time when many of the vintage groups found a following in smaller events like casinos and state fairs.

        A couple of years later we saw them again at Horseshoe Casino in Tunica, and again it was sold out but we went anyway. We were lucky enough to have someone who had been compted tickets and would rather gamble than watch a concert give us some free tickets in a very nice area.

        And so, with the “Pet Sounds” tour which started this rant, in the same Horseshoe Casino, I come to a stopping place for this reflection. Even though the concerts I have attended since 1989 have had substitutions for members of the original group, today the music is still true to the original styles. Two members of the original group have died. Dennis Wilson drown on December 28, 1983 and Carl Wilson died of lung cancer February 6, 1998.

        Still, their music lives on.

        Memphis, TN - Please indulge me for the continued saga of my Beach Boy reflections, but once I got started I could not quit. I hope some of you who have attended similar concerts appreciate these memories.

        We are about two weeks away from football season and I am sure many of you are excited. I hope all of you enjoy the games and have a safe trip to and from them.

My brother Don (back), my mother, and me and our TV on East Clinton Street.

The Vintage Television
Tommy Towery
LHS '64

The Roy Rogers Show

The Roy Rogers Show

        The Roy Rogers Show is an American Western television series that broadcast 100 episodes on NBC for six seasons between December 30, 1951 and June 9, 1957. The show starred Roy Rogers as a ranch owner, Dale Evans as the proprietress of the Eureka Cafe in fictional Mineral City, and Pat Brady as Roy’s sidekick and Dale's cook. Brady's jeep Nellybelle had a mind of her own and often sped away driverless with Brady in frantic pursuit on foot. The Jeep was first called LuLubelle in the 1952 series. Animal stars were Roy's Palomino horse, Trigger, and his German Shepherd wonder dog, Bullet.

        (Editor's Note: Personally the thing I remember most about watching this show was not the plots or the acting. I do remember "Whooa Nellybelle!" but the thing I will never forget is the song sung during the ending credits - shown below.)

YouTube Video


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Subject:    John Drummond's Article

Chip Smoak

LHS '66

    An addendum to John Drummond's article that may be of interest to some.  I remember when the news hit about Tommy Morrison being HIV positive.  I also remember that it was disclosed that he was a relative of John Wayne, who was Marion Michael Morrison until Hollywood changed his name.

Subject:    John's Article

Polly Gurley Redd
LHS '66

        An excellent and fascinating article by John Drummond on the preparations for the Olympics in Atlanta. I understand the detail as I currently have a son who helps to run the AIDS research lab at Johns Hopkins and several of their ongoing African projects in Uganda and South Africa. It is certainly amazing what strides have been made with this disease in all these years. Thank you for sharing this information. 

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