May 2, 2017
THE HIT MEN BRING PAST AND PRESENT TOGETHER, CREATING TWO NEW
AND ORIGINAL KILLER TRACKS FOR “TIME TRAVEL” CD, WHICH ALSO
FEATURES RENDITIONS OF FOUR NUMBER ONE HITS BY SUCH ARTISTS AS
THE YOUNG RASCALS, THREE DOG NIGHT, GRAND FUNK RAILROAD AND CAT STEVENS
THE HIT MEN – A GROUP OF AMAZING PERFORMERS, SUPERB MUSICIANS,
SUPERIOR VOCALISTS, GREAT ARRANGERS AND CREATIVE COMPOSERS –
PAY HOMAGE TO THE WELL-KNOWN THEY’VE PERFORMED AND/OR RECORDED
WITH OVER THE YEARS BY RELEASING NEW CD, “TIME TRAVEL,” ON TUESDAY, MAY 16
IN MEMORY OF ORIGINAL AND LONGTIME “HIT MAN” LARRY GATES
If you’ve ever had the opportunity to see The Hit Men live in concert, then you know it’s one well-known hit after another and a good time had by all.
So is their new CD, aptly titled Time Travel, that features two new and original killer tracks, “She’s Got You Runnin'” and “Rosalie,” by The Hit Men’s Jimmy Ryan along with a vast selection of well-known hits made famous by the tremendous artists they’ve performed and/or recorded with over the years.
Since their inception in 2010, one of the fan favorites in concert has been The Hit Men’s on-stage performance of the song, “The Loco-Motion,” a song that was a #1 hit for both Grand Funk Railroad in 1974 and Little Eva a dozen years earlier.
Since Grand Funk Railroad’s cover of the song hit #1 on the Billboard charts 43 years ago this week, The Hit Men thought it would be an ideal and pertinent time to announce the release of their new Time Travel CD.
The new twelve-song CD, which the band has been working on in the studio in-between their busy tour schedule, features their rendition of four #1 hits including “The Loco-Motion,” Three Dog Night’s “Joy to the World,” Cat Stevens’ “Peace Train” and the lead-off track, The Young Rascals’ “Good Lovin’,” featuring special guest guitarist and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Gene Cornish of The Young Rascals and The Rascals.
In addition to these selections, the CD also features two hit songs by Carly Simon, “Let the River Run” and “Anticipation,” along with Elton John’s “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting” and a three-song medley of hits made famous by The Four Seasons (the Sandy Linzer-Denny Randell penned songs, “Opus 17 (Don’t You Worry ’bout Me)” and “Working My Way Back to You” along with the Bob Crewe-Bob Gaudio penned “Ronnie”).
If you grew up in the 60’s and 70’s, it’s likely that you remember these songs well…
“Good Lovin'” topped the U.S. charts for a week in April of 1966 and would be the first real hit for The Young Rascals, selling over a million copies.
“Joy to the World” topped the U.S. charts for six weeks beginning in April of 1971. Featuring Chuck Negron on lead vocals, it would be the biggest selling single of the year (selling over two million copies) and become one of the best-selling singles of all-time (over 5 million copies).
“Let the River Run” would gather all kinds of accolades in 1989 including an Academy Award (for its appearance in the movie, Working Girl) and a Golden Globe for Best Original Song. The Hit Men’s Jimmy Ryan played rhythm and solo guitars on the original hit song in addition to performing in the official video for the song with Carly Simon, Melanie Griffith and Joan Cusack.
“The Loco-Motion” was released by Grand Funk Railroad in May of 1974 and remained at #1 on the U.S. charts for eight weeks. It would be the first #1 song for the band with the second being “We’re An American Band.” It remains one of only nine songs in music history to reach the top of the charts for two different artists.
“Peace Train” would be Cat Stevens’ first top ten hit in the United States, spending three weeks at #1 on the adult contemporary charts in 1971. It remains an anthem of hope to this day…
“Opus 17 (Don’t You Worry ’bout Me),” “Working My Way Back to You” and “Ronnie” would all be Top 20 hits for The Four Seasons in 1966.
“Anticipation” was the title track of Carly Simon’s 1971 album and one of her most popular songs. She wrote the song while waiting for Cat Stevens to pick her up for a date. The Hit Men’s Jimmy Ryan performed electric bass on the original hit song in addition to arranging, and singing on, the back-up vocals.
“Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting” — written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin – was recorded in 1973 and would be the first single released from Elton’s epic album, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.
All of these hits have tremendous relevance for the five veteran musicians known as The Hit Men, as keyboardist/founder Lee Shapiro, at the young age of 19, joined Frankie Valli as one of the legendary Four Seasons; Lead guitarist/vocalist/founding member Jimmy Ryan recorded with Carly Simon, Cat Stevens and Elton John; Vocalist/keyboardist/percussionist Russ Velazquez performed with Carole King (who co-wrote the song, “The Loco-Motion,” with songwriting partner, Gerry Goffin); Drummer/vocalist Steve Murphy performed with Felix Cavaliere, Chuck Negron and Mark Farner; Bassist/vocalist Jeff Ganz has also toured with Mark Farner in addition to performing with such music icons as Chuck Berry, Johnny Winter and Cheap Trick among other notables.
Jimmy Ryan co-wrote “She’s Got You Runnin'” with Andy Goldmark while a staff writer at Atlantic Records’ publishing division, Walden Music. It would eventually be recorded by singer Mickey Thomas (Jefferson Starship/Starship/Elvin Bishop Band) for his first solo album, Alive Alone (1981). “Andy and I would usually draw from our friends, family and TV for inspiration on our subject matter,” states Ryan regarding the song. “This one was about a friend of ours who was being totally jerked around by his ‘girlfriend’ who, yes, was a girl but not much of a friend. We weren’t really trying to give him advice in the song. We did enough of that in real life. We were mostly grateful to them for giving us the inspiration to write about something that was real, happening in the present and that many people experience in the often anxiety ridden realm of romance.”
“‘Rosalie’ had a similar drift but this time from a first person perspective rather than the observer in “She’s Got You Runnin’.” This lyric was written by Mike Ragogna, and my contribution was the music and some lyric edits. In my experience in writing with him, Mike was a master in coming up with subject matter out of the blue. I’m pretty sure this song is not about anybody in particular. Mike just has the gift of observing the world around him, and precipitating a vast amount of observation into fascinating short stories. ‘Rosalie’ was one of ten songs we wrote in 1986 for my solo album project that to both of our disappointment, was never released. I’m thrilled that one of those songs has been brought back to life via The Hit Men!”
“We’ve traveled all over the world, either performing or recording with all of these legendary artists who’s songs we’ve recorded for this Time Travel CD,” comments founder Lee Shapiro. “It represents our collective history with these great artists and their songs. We hope you enjoy it.”
Last December, Larry Gates — an original and longtime member of The Hit Men (2010 – 2016) — lost his battle with Multiple Myeloma at the age of 63 and in his honor and memory, Time Travel is being released on what would’ve been his 64th birthday, Tuesday, May 16.
Time Travel was recorded and mixed by Larry Gates and Jimmy Ryan.
Time Travel will be available for purchase on the band’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/TheHitMenLive/) and CD Baby ( http://cdbaby.com/cd/thehitmen17) in addition to their live shows.
If you’d like additional information, an interview with one of the band members or a review copy of the CD, please contact Jeff Albright / The Albright Entertainment Group at email@example.com.
Please note that select reviews of the CD may be displayed on the big screen behind their stage or merchandise booth at forthcoming shows.
TIME TRAVEL – TRACK LISTING
Good Lovin’ (The Young Rascals and previously, The Olympics) – Featuring special guest guitarist Gene Cornish of The Young Rascals and The Rascals
Joy to the World (Three Dog Night)
Let the River Run (Carly Simon)
The Loco-Motion (Grand Funk Railroad and, previously Little Eva)
Peace Train (Cat Stevens)
She’s Got You Runnin’ (New Original by The Hit Men’s Jimmy Ryan)
Rosalie (New Original by The Hit Men’s Jimmy Ryan)
The Four Seasons Medley 3 – Opus 17 (Don’t You Worry ’bout Me)/Working My Way Back to You/Ronnie (The Four Seasons)
Anticipation (Carly Simon)
Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting (Elton John)
*Recorded and Mixed by Larry Gates and Jimmy Ryan
THE HIT MEN can be found at:
Official Website: www.thehitmenlive.com
2017 Promo Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IQbHLHBXmzE&feature=youtu.be
A new fan recently posted the following commentary, titled “Oh What A Night,” regarding a show by The Hit Men in Texas in April 2017:
“So what if you won free tickets to see The Who, Journey, Elton John, Three Dog Night, Foreigner, Jim Croce, Tommy James and the Shondells, Cat Stevens, Carole King, Carly Simon, The Turtles, The Young Rascals and The Four Seasons all in one event in one night… WOW! Well, that’s kind of what happened to me last Friday night! My friend and I had the time of our lives with The Hit Men at the Brauntex Theatre. These are five brilliant and phenomenally talented musicians who toured and recorded with all these tremendously famous, iconic, artists and bands! YES! These five amazing guys are the actual artists that helped all these and many, many more bands rocket to stardom.” And I got to be a guest at their show and meet them! It was one of the most unforgettable experiences of my life. Thank you Lee Shapiro, Jimmy Ryan, Jeff Ganz, Russ Velazquez and Steve Murphy and Brauntex Theatre.”
THE HIT MEN TOUR DATES 2017 (CONFIRMED)
May 6, 2017 Niswonger PAC Van Wert, OH Ticket Info
May 7, 2017 Arcada Theater St. Charles, IL
May 12, 2017 Three Rivers Casino Florence, OR Ticket Info
May 13, 2017 Three Rivers Casino Florence, OR Ticket Info
June 17, 2017 Martin Lipscomb PAC Highlands, NC
July 20, 2017 The Axelrod PAC Deal, NJ Ticket Info
October 14, 2017 The Mohegan Sun Uncasville, CT
October 20, 2017 The Shea, Wm. Patterson Univ. Wayne, NJ
October 21, 2017 The Strand Lakewood, NJ
November 5, 2017 The Maryland Theatre Hagerstown, MD
ABOUT THE HIT MEN
A group of amazing performers, superb musicians, superior vocalists, great arrangers and creative composers, The Hit Men are:
LEE SHAPIRO (keyboardist/founder) – In 1973, at the age of 19, Lee Shapiro joined Frankie Valli as one of the legendary Four Seasons. As keyboardist/musical director, Lee toured the world performing classic hits like “Can’t Take My Eye Off You,” “Sherry” and “Big Girls Don’t Cry.” Lee was the arranger on the multi-million sellers, “December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)” and “Who Loves You.” Over the years, Lee has collaborated with stars ranging from Barry Manilow and Tommy James to the London Symphony Orchestra. Fun fact: In 1999, Lee diversified his talents and created the “must have” toys of 2000 and 2001, “Rock ‘N Roll Elmo” and “Rock ‘N Roll Ernie” for Mattel/Fisher-Price.
JIMMY RYAN (lead guitarist/vocalist/founding member) – Jimmy started playing guitar at the age of ten and began performing for audiences by fifteen. By seventeen, he had his first recording contact and, by eighteen, scored his first hit record as lead guitarist, vocalist and co-songwriter with The Critters. When the band split up, Jimmy continued his career as lead guitarist, back-up vocalist, often arranger, and occasional co-writer with Carly Simon, recording such hits as “Anticipation,” “You’re So Vain,” the Academy Award-winning song, “Let the River Run” and many more. His working relationship with Carly spanned twenty-one years and they remain close friends to this day. Jimmy has also recorded albums with many other artists, most notably Cat Stevens and Jim Croce (receiving ha gold record for each), as well as recording with Rod Stewart, Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger, John Entwistle, Jimmy Webb, Elton John and Kiki Dee, The Doors and many more. Fun fact: The George Washington Museum in Mount Vernon is featuring five films with Jimmy’s music and Independence Hall in Philadelphia is currently featuring Jimmy’s music in their introductory presentation of “The Liberty Bell.”
RUSS VELAZQUEZ (vocalist/keyboardist/percussionist) – Born and raised in the Bronx, Russ is an award-winning and Emmy-nominated composer, singer, arranger and producer for TV, radio and film. A “first call” session singer and guitarist for over thirty years, he has performed with some of music’s best including Sting, Carole King, Luther Vandross, Patti Austin, Lisa Fischer, the Ramones and others. Fun fact: He writes music for Sesame St. and has written the theme songs and scored music for various cartoons and TV shows including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2nd and 3rd theme songs), Pokemon, GI Joe Sigma 6, Sonic X, One Piece and Yu-Gi-Oh!
STEVE MURPHY (drummer/vocalist) – Steve is a drummer/singer/producer/engineer and has been heavily involved in the New York music scene since the late ’80s. He became passionate about music and performing at an early age. The artists he has performed and recorded with are some of the most famous and recognizable names in music over the last sixty years. His first big break came in 1998 when he was asked to work as a vocalist in the studio with legendary producer Phil Ramone on a project for Elton John. He was a member of The Alan Parsons Project touring over 40 countries from 2003 – 2010. He has also toured with Jack Bruce, Eric Burdon and the Animals, Chuck Negron, Felix Cavaliere, Dave Mason, Todd Rundgren, Christopher Cross, Mark Farner, The Turtles, Micky Dolenz, Gary Puckett, Mitch Ryder and over a dozen more major artists from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. Fun fact: His voice was featured on dozens of national commercials including the Army’s “Be All You Can Be” campaign.
JEFF GANZ (bassist/vocalist) – Born in Washington, DC, Jeff became a New Yorker at the age of 13. A year later, he began performing professionally as a guitarist/vocalist in the Hendrix/Clapton tradition. At the age of 20, Jeff made the decision to master the bass, as it represented the ideal hybrid between harmony and rhythm, guitar and drums. Jeff has toured and recorded with such legends as Johnny Winter, John Lee Hooker, Lou Reed, Tito Puente, Chuck Berry, Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, Dr. John, Eddie Money, Cheap Trick, Vanilla Fudge and Blood, Sweat & Tears. Jeff’s resume reads like a who’s who of popular American music. His freelance credits include movie soundtracks, Broadway musicals and national television commercials. He appeared on Grammy-nominated recordings with Johnny Winter and John Lee Hooker, as well as the Tony Award-winning original cast album of Roger Miller’s Big River.
Individually, they’ve appeared on over 85 albums and have been awarded numerous gold and platinum albums for their recording and touring efforts.
“STORIES FROM THE ROAD” Video Series
Jimmy Ryan’s story about two insanely memorable days at George Martin’s AIR Studios in London while recording with Carly Simon for her 1972 No Secrets album – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u_nILamoiTY
Russ Velazquez’s story about meeting David Bowie at the St. James Theatre in NYC – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nYockhNcXqs&feature=youtu.be
Lee Shapiro’s humorous tale of a show with Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons at Radio City Music Hall -https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6d3wtYSXCMw&feature=youtu.be
Jimmy Ryan’s tribute to Jim Croce on what would’ve been Croce’s 74th birthday –
STAY TUNED FOR A NEW “STORIES FROM THE ROAD” FROM THE HIT MEN’S JEFF GANZ!
With so many great stories to tell and songs to sing, it’s easy to see why The Hit Men are a favorite among audiences across America.