Johnny Rivers

Secret oldies man

Things to think about next time you toe-tap to "Seventh Son": Johnny Rivers, whose last hit was "Swayin' to the Music (Slow Dancin')" in 1977, still continues packing fans into large halls, while his contemporaries slog away in pathetic oldies revues. A savvy businessman early on, he worked an integrity clause into his record contract that prevented "Memphis" and "Poor Side of Town" from appearing routinely on oldies compilations. The Baton Rouge rocker's prominence on oldies stations continues, as does the R&R Hall of Fame's snubbing of his considerable contributions. He discovered songwriter Jimmy Webb and the 5th Dimension, was the first rock star to start a successful record label for other artists, put the Whiskey A Go-Go on the map (which opened the door for the Doors and countless L.A. bands), helped finance and organize the Monterey Pop Festival (which brought Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and the Who to prominence) and he practically invented the "sweetened" live LP, beating KISS by a good decade. And without "Secret Agent Man," the rockingest '60s TV theme would've been The Patty Duke Show.

 
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