The Buckinghams [Interview, Side B]

  • [Interview Transcript from the book "Psychedelic Psounds". First part of interview is available at]
  • AV: Original member, Jon Poulos, died several years ago. Could you discuss the circumstances of his death?CG: He died in March, 1980 in Chicago. Jon lived a very fast, hard life. He was a great person. He died of heart failure. I'd rather not get into details. He was the original drummer and was responsible for a lot that went on in the group in the early days. He was a force. He was also the manager of Tufano/ Giammerse for most of the business.
  • AV: How did his death affect you?CG: Jon and I were very close. I would say that Jon and I were the closest friends in the band in the old days. It affected me tremendously because he was one of my best friends. I never really believed that he was going to die. Looking back now maybe I should have realized it. It's one of those things--- hey, your thirty years old and you think you are going to live forever. You never believe it could happen. When it did happen, it did have a tremendous effect on my life. Seeing this happen was kind of like seeing yourself. You realize how vulnerable you are. Also, I was grieving over the loss of a great friend---someone who was close to me and meant a lot to me in my life. It changed my life when he died because he was so much a part of my life.
  • AV: I noticed when we first met that you seemed in good physical shape. Is that something you were working on previously or did Jon's death have something to do with that?CG: I was always the most conservative guy in the band as far as getting enough sleep, eating properly, and not being abusive in any way. That has a lot to do with the shape I'm in now. Plus, I work hard at it. I work out several times a week. I do Nautilus and free weights. I love to play tennis. That's one of my outlets. Also, I think it's partly genetic. I look young for my age. It's probably my Italian background!
  • AV: The Buckinghams appeared at the Record Collector Convention in Chicago in 1984-85 with members of Ides of March, New Colony Six, the Mauds, and other Chicago area bands. What was your assessment of the convention and what did you think of the other bands? Did you ever play with them on the same bill?CG: The convention was great. I didn't realize what it was all about. When I got there, I discovered thousands of people there buying, selling, and trading records. There was all this enthusiasm over 6Os music. I was overwhelmed. It was a great feeling to have all that response. At that point, we weren't even touring and I didn't realize how popular our music was again. And here were all these people from all over the country coming to the convention. It made me realize we had a strong following. As far as other groups, the Ides of March, of whom Jim Peterik is now with Survivor ("Eye of the Tiger" #l in l982), had a lot of success there as did the Cryin' Shames. A lot of Chicago bands that I hadn't seen in a long time---American Breed and the Shadows of Knight---were also there. We had all been friends in the old days and hung out together. It was great to see them again. I hadn't seen a lot of those people for over twenty years. The lead singer in the New Colony Six was a friend of mine named Rodney Rice. He now plays and sings on his own and has quite a following here in Chicago. He's probably making a hell of a lot more money now than he did with New Colony Six. That guy can fill an auditorium here. He's a great entertainer. He lives near me here in Evanston.
  • AV: The group did the `85 single for the Red Label Records called "Veronica." Please elaborate on this and the LP A Matter of Time which came out in 1985.CG: I thought that myself as a song writer, and Nick Fortuna to a certain degree, had developed quite a bit over the years. I had a ton of material that I was just dying to record. But here we were, playing as the Buckinghams again and going on the "Happy Together" tour. I thought it would be great if we could do some new material on that tour. We were approached by Red Label Records from Chicago. They were a new label and really weren't established. But we didn't have time to go shopping for a real record company. We thought, "Hey, let's give it a shot and see what happens." It turned out to be something of a mistake. The album wasn't produced that well. I felt there was some strong material in it. I look at the album today as being a really good demo. It's a nice collection of songs to get a record deal. But as far as being an album as a finished product --- no. We did the basic tracks and vocals and left the rest of it up to them. That was my own fault. I shouldn't have done that. Nevertheless, there were some good songs on it. We really didn't make the connection between the old Buckinghams and this new product. We didn't feel it was necessary because there were twenty years in between. It really didn't sound anything like the old Buckinghams. Maybe that was a mistake. I had been writing songs and was mostly looking for a chance to get my songs out---more than thinking about whether this was a Buckinghams record or not. As it turned out, Red Label didn't do a very good job of promoting and distributing the record. I also realized that trying to get new product out during the "Happy Together" tour wasn't that good of an idea anyway. We were playing in a vacuum. We had an audience that wanted to hear 6Os music and they didn't want to hear anything new. Trying to promote something new probably was not possible. That whole episode is responsible for my thinking today that I don't want to record again as the Buckinghams. But I definitely want to record again, even if it is called Giammerese Records. I will probably use the Buckinghams' name only to establish myself as a guy that used to play with the Buckinghams.
  • AV: Are any of the former Buckinghams planning to come back with you?CG: None of the other original members is planning to come back. Dennis Tufano is definitely not interested. The only other person is Marty Grebb. He was the original keyboard player.He lives in L.A. and performs on a regular basis with Bonnie Raitt. He's her sax player in that band and he also does a lot of studio work with other groups. He probably wouldn't come back to the Buckinghams. It's really fine the way it is. As long as there is a demand for the music, we'll go out and play.By the way, just for your own information, Red Label did have one hit record called "The Bears Super Bowl Shuffle."AV: So Red Label's highest chart rating was with the Chicago Bears and not the Buckinghams?CG: That's right.
  • AV: Do you have a family and any kids?CG: No kids.AV: Did you ever wish that you had kids so that you could teach them what you know or that they could continue musically after you?CG: I never regretted not having any kids. I love kids but my career doesn't go along with raising a family. It just never happened. I don't miss it. I guess you don't miss what you never had.
  • AV: Do you have any final comments about yourself or the Buckinghams?CG: I think that the Buckinghams today are musically a lot stronger than in the past. We're all seasoned players. A lot of the bands from the past out there are just milking it for what it's worth. We, musically, are getting out there and we're really very concerned with how good we sound. I wish everybody felt and did it that way because that's going to be the difference ---whether this music will stick around or disappear.