NEW BREMEN — True to the name of their latest album, “Don’t Stop,” the Hit Men, classic rock’s unique supergroup of legendary side men, are back on the road this year to launch their 2019 U.S. tour aimed at delivering even more of the hits they first played with the original superstars, with additional classics emerging in their shows as the tour marches on.
The Hit Men will perform a Lock One Community Arts concert, April 7, at 3 p.m. in the James F. Dicke auditorium of New Bremen High School, 901 E. Monroe St., New Bremen. Tickets cost $30 for adults, $10 for students, and are available at 567-356-2048.
After decades performing or recording with classic rock superstars Paul McCartney, Elton John, Rod Stewart, Mick Jagger, Carly Simon, Cat Stevens, David Bowie, Lou Reed and members of The Who, Cheap Trick, Foreigner, Toto, Journey, The Ramones and dozens more, the Hit Men have become a supergroup unlike any other. What the Wrecking Crew meant to the pop music revolution of the ‘60s, the Hit Men have meant to some of the most indelible hits of the ‘70s, ‘80s and beyond. It’s only now that the evolution of the Hit Men’s story – fueled, in part, by their countless first-hand experiences as eyewitnesses to rock history – has become a revelation.
With an eye on the Hit Men’s 10th anniversary fast approaching, the band decided to start revealing more of the seemingly countless classic tracks connected with the five guys who comprise this unique group of musicians.
“We’re adding more of the songs of the people we’ve collaborated with than ever before, because with the recent additions of Jeff Ganz (bass/vocals) and Steve Murphy (drums/ lead vocals), we now have relationships with more classic rock bands than ever,” said founding member Lee Shapiro (keyboards/vocals, and Frankie Valli’s former musical director). “Combined, we have such a rich history of collaborations, and we’re super proud of that. We want to display the hits of these artists as broadly as we can. That makes it real fun for us to draw from those experiences and be able to play the hits that we do.”
As the Associated Press noted, “Nostalgia Fades but the ‘Hit Men’ Play On.”
The newest piece in the Hit Men’s recorded arsenal is “Lee Shapiro Plays the Greatest Hits of Frankie Valli (Mink Mitten),” a solo piano tribute to the iconic Jersey boy, interpreted for the very first time as instrumental easy listening music. Shapiro, the Hit Men’s co-founder, was Valli’s musical director/arranger and Four Seasons member through the 1970s, and originally arranged two of Valli’s biggest Four Seasons mid-‘70s hits: the No. 1 smash “December, 1963 (Oh What a Night)” and “Who Loves You.”
From transistor radios, vinyl, eight-track tapes and cassettes to the Sony Walkman, CDs, digital downloads and the Apple iPod, the Hit Men — also Jimmy Ryan (lead guitar/vocals and Carly Simon’s longtime musical director) and Russ Velazquez (vocalist/keyboardist/percussionist) — have seen and heard it all. And they have the stories to go with it!
The Hit Men continue to recreate their classics while proving again and again that you absolutely can teach old dogs new “tracks.”