Wednesday, August 21, 2013

August 21: Carl Giammarese, lead guitarist and vocalist for The Buckinghams - "Kind of a Drag," "Don't You Care" "Susan" - is 66-years-old today.

Carl Giammarese was born in northwest Chicago, Illinois on August 21, 1947. His study of guitar began in 1960. His first musical influences were The Ventures’ Don Williams and Bob Bogle, and the Chantays, who started the craze of surfer rock.  His next musical influence was James Burton, who played guitar for Ricky Nelson’s band every week on The Ozzie and Harriet Show.

Carl's first band was called The Centuries. To set them apart from other local groups, they created a distinct "look," inspired by The Beatles by wearing suits from clothing stores on Chicago's Maxwell Street.

Giammarese was recruited to join another local group, “The Pulsations,” who won a 13-week spot on WGN-TV’s All Time Hits program. By week 2, The Pulsations were known as The Buckinghams. By week 4 Giammarese had recruited Nick Fortuna to be their new bass player.

The Pulsations were originally identified as “Rock and Roll Royalty” because of their look, sound, and style. The Buckinghams would later earn the new identity as “Chicago’s response to the British Invasion.”

In 1967, when the USA single "Kind of a Drag" went to #1 on the national charts, most of The Buckinghams were still under 21. The group chose a new manager, James William Guercio, and a new label, Columbia Records, for their future recording projects. On the strength of their first #1 single on USA Records, in early 1967, The Buckinghams were named “The Most Promising Vocal Group” by Cashbox Magazine.

In approximately 18 months' time, The Buckinghams had Top 5, Top 10 and Top 20 records with the release of singles every three months, including “Don’t You Care,” “Hey Baby, They’re Playing Our Song,” “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy,” “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” (USA Records), "Susan" and “Back in Love Again.”

Columbia quickly released two albums, Time and Charges and Portraits produced by Guercio. USA Records released an album composed of all the sides recorded at Chess Studios in 1965 that was simply titled Kind of a Drag on the strength of their #1 national hit. The Buckinghams were named by Billboard Magazine as “The Most Listened to Band in America” in 1967.

The Buckinghams decided to split up in 1970. In the late 1970s Giammarese returned to the music business as a freelance session singer for advertising agencies.

The Buckinhams reunited in the early 1980s. In 1985, they released A Matter of Time on Red Label Records, from which the power ballad single “Veronica,” became an audience favorite. In 2002, Giammarese released his first solo album, Trying Not to Fade.

In 2007, the Buckinghams signed with national label Fuel Records to release their studio CD Reaching Back, which included eight new original songs written by Carl Giammarese and new recordings of five of their top hits. A second CD, Standing Room Only was also released on the Fuel Label.

In 2011, Carl Giammarese completed his solo CD, Journey, the companion to his biography, Reinventing The Buckinghams: My Journey.

As of November 2011 Giammarese and Fortuna are touring as the Buckinghams perform regularly to festival audiences, and have played sold-out shows such as the Westbury Music Fair, Ram's Head, the Star Plaza, and others.

For more about The Buckinghams, visit their Website at


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