Saturday, March 24, 2007

Pre-'Idol' idols

Saw this article online a few minutes ago. Kathy gives an interview promoting the Lennon Sisters upcoming (tomorrow) concert performance in CA.

Pre-'Idol' idols
By Luanne J. Hunt, Special to the Press-Telegram
Article Launched: 03/23/2007 12:00:00 AM PDT


Who: With Peter Marshall, the Ink Spots, John Wing, Cassie Miller and the Harry James Orchestra

When: 3 p.m. Sunday

Where: Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts, 12700 Center Court Drive, Cerritos

Tickets: $32.50, $46 and $57.50

Information: (800) 300-4345 or (562) 916-8500

THANKS TO the golden age of television, vocalist Kathy Lennon said she and her singing siblings, known as the Lennon Sisters, have been going strong for more than 50 years. The girls got their start in 1955 on "The Lawrence Welk Show," became regular guests on the program and quickly became household names.

Although the Lennon Sisters eventually moved on to other projects, Kathy believes the exposure on "The Lawrence Welk Show" is what gave them their staying power. She said not only can her group still pack a house, but its name often shows up in places that surprises even them.

"I think we are the only singing act to become famous through television and not a hit record," said Lennon, who performs with the Lennon Sisters on Sunday at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.

"We were on 'The Lawrence Welk
Show' week after week, and we got imbedded in people. We're even on a Trivial Pursuit card, and it still shocks us at how popular we've become."

The Lennon Sisters' original lineup consisted of Kathy, Dianne, Peggy and Janet. (Dianne and Peggy have retired and have been replaced by the youngest Lennon sister, Mimi.) They made their debut on "The Lawrence Welk Show" on Christmas Eve in 1955, after being introduced to Welk by his son Larry.

Larry Welk, who went to school with the girls, convinced his father to let them audition for him. Kathy said Welk booked the Lennon Sisters immediately, and their stint on the show lasted 13 years.

During their time on the program, the Lennon Sisters also toured throughout the United States. They shared their wholesome pop music and soaring harmonies at nightclubs, fairs, conventions, charity benefits and churches. The group's success sparked a massive merchandising campaign, which produced everything from paper dolls to TV trays to coloring books.

The Lennon Sisters' popularity continued to grow. In addition to making guest appearances on almost every variety show on television, they sang for seven U.S. presidents Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.

In 1969, the girls hosted their own television show, "Jimmy Durante Presents The Lennon Sisters Hour." Guests on the show included Sammy Davis Jr., Bob Hope, Perry Como, George Burns and Bing Crosby.

"I think people might be surprised to know that we were just normal kids from Venice, California, who happened to sing," said Kathy Lennon, 63. "We did our chores and went to a regular school. Our career did not define us as far as who we were as people. That was a real tribute to our mom and dad."

Although the Lennon Sisters were not caught up in fame, Kathy said they knew it was their calling to be in the public eye. Even when the quartet's momentum slowed, the sisters continued to perform and record.

In 1986, they wrote their memoir "Same Song, Same Voices," which provided insight into their personal lives.

Along with appearing on television talk shows to promote the book, the Lennon Sisters became regular guests on the game show "Hollywood Squares."

In 1994, they were invited to be featured performers at the Welk Champagne Theatre in Branson, Mo. Next month, the group will open its 13th season at the theater.

The Lennon Sisters' appearance at Cerritos Center will mark the first time they have performed outside of Branson since 1994. Kathy said they agreed to tour California in celebration of their five decades in show business.

Their live show will include a variety of songs, including "Somewhere" from West Side Story, "Londonderry Air (Danny Boy)" and "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy." Kathy said there also will be a video presentation of the Lennon Sisters' performances throughout the years.

Following the concerts, the girls will be on hand to greet their fans and sign autographs.

"We still have such a loyal fan base that follows us everywhere," said Kathy. "But I think because people grew up with us, when they see us now, it brings back so many memories.

"It takes them to a simpler time when TV was very new and families all sat around together and watched their favorite programs. The stories we hear are wonderful."

Luanne J. Hunt is a Hesperia freelance writer.


dolls like us said...

Loved the Lennon sister loved Lawrence Welk and especially Kathy Lennon we are about the same age . wish we could get Lawrence Welk but I am sure he is playing for a greater audience in Heaven then he did on Earth .

Anonymous said...

They have some really great Branson shows worth seeing while there.

evision said...