While there was a cultural revolution taking place, there was also a musical revolution underway, the effects of which continue to resonate today. Gary Puckett and the Union Gap emerged from this fruitful era of music, bolstered by soft-rock hits including the million-selling ‘Woman Woman’ and ‘Young Girl.’ Gary Puckett and the Union Gap are slated to perform at the Moncton Wesleyan Church Celebration Centre on Saturday evening. Showtime is 7:30 p.m.
Comparing his life as it was nearly 50 years ago to today, Puckett expresses a sense of gratitude to have lived through such an exciting time in the world.
‘A lot has changed in the day since we were young and bulletproof, when the important thing was getting on the road and chasing our so-called dreams,’ Puckett laughed from his Florida home.
Puckett’s interest in music dates back to the time he was six years old. Both his parents were musicians, with each saying they would have continued to pursue music had it been a viable career option for them. He said their desire to build a stable life led them into a more conventional career.
‘My father ended up going into merchandising as a career but he kept his ties to music and sang in a barbershop quartet. There was always music in our house when we were growing up, in no small part due to the fact that us kids were required to take music lessons,’ Puckett laughed.
Though the piano held little interest for Puckett, the likes of Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley and Little Richard were a completely different story. With the discovery of a guitar in his grandmother’s attic when he was 15 years old, Puckett said he feels his life course was set, with hesitant support from his parents.
‘My parents wanted me to go to college. They were really intent on me succeeding beyond what they had done. Music had too strong of a pull for me, though. I ended up throwing the books away to make a go of it.’ After relocating to Los Angeles, the group found a supporter in a staff member at Columbia Records. In June 1967, the group signed its first recording contract, releasing their debut single ‘Woman Woman’ a short two months later. The track became an instant hit, eventually selling close to 16 million copies.
There has always been a strong interest in the music that emerged from the ’60s, whether that interest stems from a 14-year-old child discovering The Beatles for the first time, or from a 50-year-old revisiting the music that brings them to simpler times. What is perhaps the most remarkable trait of this era is that it continues to resonate with people of all ages today.
‘For those from the baby boomer generation, there were only the two bands of radio – AM and FM,’ Puckett said. ‘We didn’t have a fractionalized music scene like we have today. Everything was on the AM band. You’d get in your car, turn the radio on and would hear Petula Clark played after Jimi Hendrix and Alice Cooper. We lost that a long time ago. These days, you don’t just have country music and classical music, for instance. There are all these sub-genres that fall under those respective umbrellas.’ Although there is an occasional negative connotation associated with being an ‘oldies’ act, it is a designation Puckett has somewhat embraced. Since 1984, he has routinely been a guest artist on the Happy Together Tour, a travelling show that takes its name from the Turtles 1967 album and single of the same name.
Puckett feels because the Happy Together Tour was one of the first ‘oldies’ tours to take to the road, its success was that much sweeter. The tour wound its way through the U.S. for seven months that year, routinely playing to between 2,000 and 7,000 people some evenings.
‘I think the Baby Boomers were looking to hear their music again. I think it is as simple as that. It helped start a resurgence of oldies music; radio stations started to proliferate all across American, playing music from the ’60s. It was thanks to them that we became popular again 20 years later,’ Puckett said.
Along with Chuck Negron (Three Dog Night), Gary Lewis & The Playboys, Mark Lindsay (Paul Revere & The Raiders) and, of course, The Turtles, Puckett shares that the 2012 edition of the Happy Together Tour performed a run of 42 shows between the start of June and August. With so many artists trimming back their tour schedule due to the continued poor economy in the United States, the Happy Together Tour continues to sell-out shows from coast to coast.
Puckett credits the ongoing success of the tour to its reasonable ticket price and value for the dollar. ‘In today’s environment, people are very cautious about how they are spending their money. This kind of tour offers attendees great value for the dollar. Entertainment is something that everyone needs and that everyone wants. By offering a reasonable ticket price on the Happy Together Tour, it is an extremely fan friendly tour. Plus, we don’t have any change-over time between the acts; we all share one backing band and it results in an evening of continuous music.’
Article published in the October 17, 2012 edition of the Times & Transcript