Saturday, December 20, 2008

RIP Dennis Yost

While better late than never, I must pay tribute to one of the under looked guys in pop music.
Dennis Yost was responsible for some of the best MOR sounds of the mid- late sixties. "Stormy" "Spooky" "Traces of Love" and my favorite "Pollyanna" were all over pop radio and now oldies radio. Looking back after all these years, I wonder what kind of an effect these songs had on couples split apart by the war. His stuff was on the radio from 1967-1969 and I can only imagine what kind of memories they must produce with wives STILL waiting for their men to come home. While not the most gifted of musicians, he surrounded himself with great players. Robert Nix, Dean Daughtry and James Cobb went on to form the Atlanta Rhythm Section (see earlier post) and his producer Buddy Buie did the same for ARS. He performed with various members as Dennis Yost and the Classics IV for the almost forty years. Following an outdoor concert on September 24, 2005 at Chenay Bay Resort, St. Croix, Virgin Islands at "Kat-Fest", Brian Correll and Don Martin headed for home, while the rest of the group stayed on the island for about a week. Martin had some business affairs to attend to and Correll returned to the recording studio to work on some songs that the group had been putting together for a new album to promote a 2006 tour, which would have marked the 40th anniversary of the group. However, plans for 2006 were soon abandoned after Yost became seriously ill. On July 11, 2006, while recovering at home in a suburb of Cincinnati, Yost fell down a flight of stairs and suffered serious brain trauma. Although Yost subsequently underwent a significant amount of rehabilitation, he was never again able to perform. Since Yost's unique voice was integral to the Classics IV sound, his injury effectively placed the group on hiatus. To assist Yost and his wife with their medical bills, a benefit concert was held on March 25, 2007, at Rhino's Live in Cincinnati, Ohio, the benefit was originally thought up by Yost's close friend Jon "Bowser" Bauman. Many musical entertainers and some surprise guests from the 1950s through the 1970s performed some of their biggest chart-topping hits in tribute to Yost, backed by local favorites, BlueStone Ivory and Classics IV guitarist Brian Correll. An interesting note to the benefit concert is that it did not benefit Yost or his wife financially. Without question the benefit was a huge boost for Yost allowing him to see and visit with so many old friends, but the expenses far exceeded the money raised leaving the whole event in the red.
Yost died of respiratory failure, on December 7, 2008, at the age of 65.

Here is a video tribute, starting with MY favorite "Pollyanna" where they sound more like the Four Seasons than the Classics IV. I was eleven when "Pollyanna" came out, and yes there was this girl... The "Traces" video was on a local Cleveland TV show. The guy looks and sounds an awful lot like Dick Clark.

Enjoy the recesses of your mind where a lot of good songs are still stored in our own personal Ipods.

Here is the Atlanta Rhythm Section version with Ronnie Hammond

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