The music of the 60’s and 70’s is some of the most iconic music of all time: Jimi Hendrix, Three Dog Night, Union Gap and Motown are just a few of the names that make up part of the great American song book. Many of these names are now headed to the Long Center. Some of the very men that created the classic songs “This Diamond Ring”, “Young Girl”, “Joy to the World” and “Mama Told Me (Not to Come)” are part of the Happy Together Tour 2013 that will be here live June 13. The Turtles, featuring Flo & Eddie; Chuck Negron, formerly of Three Dog Night; Gary Puckett & The Union Gap; Mark Lindsay, former lead singer of Paul Revere & The Raiders; and Gary Lewis & The Playboys are all part of the tour.
You might have been sold as soon as you saw The Turtles on the fabulous flower power poster; if so, we can’t wait to see you here. But for those of you who still need a little education about this music and the chance to see it performed live, read on. The Long Center recently had the opportunity to talk with a couple of the stars of the tour, Chuck Negron formerly of Three Dog Night and Gary Puckett of the Union Gap. We will admit we were a little star struck; these guys have some serious musical clout. But it was amazing to hear the perspective of some or Rock & Roll’s most influential living artists.
The Long Center: The Happy Together Tour has been heralded as one of the most successful tours happening right now, why do you think it’s such a hit?
Gary Puckett: Well there are a few things going on here, some of them just practical facts. First of all, the music of our generation is really pretty terrific. Also, the baby boom generation is still the largest segment of the populace, and they just love the music of their youth, as any person would. They’re coming out to see this show and their kids, grandkids and friends are getting in on the act. Bottom line, its extremely entertaining.
Chuck Negron: The Happy Together Tour is full of music that has touched a very large demographic of the United States. I think it’s more than just music lovers from the 60’s and 70’s. Because of classic rock and oldies radio, this music is being embraced by younger people, by people of all ages, and there a lot of good acts on the show.
LC: How is the experience of touring and performing live an interactive experience between you and audience?
GP: For me, it’s about inspiration. I know I’m entertaining the crowd, but I am truly inspired by them, especially the young people. Whenever I see a young person I always ask how old they are. I’m thinking particularly of one young man who came through the line the other night in Las Vegas. He was 15! He was just excited, and you know I could definitely be his grandfather, but he just loves the music! That kind of stuff is just heartwarming to me.
CN: I continue to be blown away by the joy the families experience at our shows. The look in their eyes. You can see that they are going back, reflecting on a certain moment and the song transports them to another time. It’s a family event; you got whole families dressed like hippies. It’s a wonderful touching thing to know that what you are doing, what we’re doing is impacting someone in such a positive way. It is in fact a songbook of their lives, and we are the musicians playing for them.
LC: How has the performance experience changed for you over the years?
CN: The beginning was just beautiful young people and today it’s these beautiful young people grown up. In that sense it’s a very natural progression of life. Physically the audience is different although their kids and grand kids are there as well, some of them all dressed up in ‘hippy’ attire. I’m grateful also that we are reaching a broader audience, a newer audience, and that it has been embraced. That brings such a smile to my face.
GP: I used to feel I had to go out there and prove something to people. But the records have become part of the fabric of American pop culture, so I just feel comfortable going out there and experiencing the music with the people. I don’t even look at it as me performing for people anymore. It’s just me being fortunate enough to go out and sing those songs with the people. To share, and I just feel fortunate to be a part of that, to be a part of the fabric of American pop music. To be mentioned along with people like Jimi Hendrix and Engelbert Humperdinck. It’s an honor to me, and I feel very very fortunate.
LC: What’s your take on newer music, the stuff being made today? Is there anyone out there doing anything particularly innovative?
GP: Well I don’t know about innovative! You know, I’ve become my dad… I don’t say that in a bad way. I think there is great music made, I think there always will be, and I also think there will always be crummy music made. Music is like a bottle of wine, you might love that bottle and I might think its garbage, and that’s what makes the world go ’round.
CN: There is still good music being made. I don’t think there is as much or as eclectic of music today. Back then you had Led Zeppelin, Three Dog Night, James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Sly & The Family Stone, all of Motown, I mean you got quite a bit of variety of music and each in their own right was a very high level of achievement.
LC: What do you think of Austin? Are you looking forward to performing here?
GP: I love Austin. I’ve worked in Austin several times. I love towns that are art friendly and make their way. I love the food, I love the feel. I think that were there’s art and school you’ve got a good area.
CN: The last time we preformed there I believe was with the Austin Symphony and it was a wonderful experience with them… This show is 2 ½ hours of hit records so if you like the music you will have a good time.
LC: We are the self-proclaimed ‘Live Music Capitol of the World’ after all. Any advice for all those aspiring musicians?
GP: Believe in yourself, work hard as we all have done. The idea is to make a product that everyone wants, to work hard and continue working hard because you can do whatever you want to do if you stick with it!
The Happy Together Tour 2013 is June 13 at the Long Center. Tickets start at just $39…not bad for 2 and a half hours of legendary Rock & Roll!