Frampton Comes Unwound! Plus the Nicest Pop Star I Ever Met.


Larry Lujack’s most infamous guest during my tenure was Peter Frampton. He was coming in to promote a ‘comeback’ album titled “Premonition.” We had the new single ready to play and opened the visit with his classic hit “Show Me the Way”. Larry never got too deep into serious music talk with artists. He’d keep it light with the stars, “Hey I like this song and what got you to write that?” was what you we’re going to get, along with stuff like “What have you done while in town? How’re the kids?” So Larry is just a couple of minutes into the interview and Peter in a sickeningly sarcastic tone says, “Anyway, it’s been nice talking to you and I must be going, you’ve been wonderful, bye bye.”

And with that, the guy left. Just bolted from the studio with his record people! We were trying to figure out what happened while Frampton and his entourage were bee-lining out of the station and into the lobby elevators. Larry was dumbstruck, which didn’t happen often and was about to cue his engineer to play the new single. I was standing next to the engineer and pulled the cartridge tape out of its player, held it up while shaking my head “No.” Larry agreed and on the air he said, “Yeah, we’re not promoting this guy’s stuff!” With that we went to another song and laughed off the whole fiasco.

The funny part of the “Frampton Comes Unwound” episode was this was the first time I ever recorded our guest’s promo for the show BEFORE they went on the air for the interview. We learned then and there, ‘GET THE PROMOS FIRST JUST IN CASE THE STAR GETS OFFENDED AND BLOWS OUT ON US.’ The Peter Frampton visit became great fodder from then on too. Any time Larry could, he’d mock Frampton and we’d talk about what a has-been he was. Later on, the record company folks told us their star bolted because he didn’t think Larry was taking the interview seriously enough and he had high expectations to talk music. Wrong place, wrong guy, Peter.

The very nicest rock or pop star I ever met was Huey Lewis. I had a couple of encounters with him, the first being when I took listeners backstage for a meet and greet at the Rosemont Horizon (now the Allstate Arena) in 1987. Huey sold out several shows there and was twenty minutes away from playing in front of 16,000 fans. He came out to see us fresh from a backstage game of basketball in his gym shorts, T-shirt and Nikes. Huey spotted my WLS AM 890 baseball cap and beat a direct path for me. He thanked me profusely for all the airplay we’d given him over the past five years. I had a pretty good bullshit detector and this wasn’t some bum rush, shuck and jive, the guy was sincere. Huey did the photos and autographs for the group I brought back which included Dawn, the daughter of a friend of my mentor Lee Swanson. Huey signed her autograph “Dawn, go away, I’m no good for you” and sang a little of that Four Seasons song to her.

Years later I brought some more listeners backstage to meet Huey at a show where he only sold about 8,000 tickets at the New World Music Theatre in south suburban Tinley Park. That venue had a capacity for three times that. This low ticket sale was weird because he was still playing sold out shows while on tour. Despite the low turn-out, Huey Lewis was in great spirits and treated our guests very well. There was no pissy attitude or moaning about the slow ticket sales at the gate.

My buddy Dave Ross went on to do music promotion for Chrysalis, Huey’s record label in the late 80’s. One night they were playing a 10,000 seat arena in a smallish town in the south and Dave asked Huey why they were bothering to do a show for a lower tier market. Not missing a beat he said, “Because thousands of fans are willing to pay to see us and one day we might not draw those kinds of crowds.” Dave also shared a story of how Huey talked of his early singing days when he was traveling through parts of Europe with barely a thousand dollars to his name. Huey told Dave, he was as happy back then as he was now with all his success. Huey Lewis was and I’m guessing still is, a pretty well grounded good guy.

 (Always a good sport with me, Huey Lewis)











Quite a Show From Emo


 We had plenty of guests on the Larry Lujack Show at WLS. One of the more memorable being oddball comedian Emo Phillips.

Emo Phillips was a trip because most comedian guests would come in for a fifteen to twenty minute visit. The routine was usually a couple of segments of jokes, plug their show or project that needs publicity, thank-you and goodbye. Emo came in around four in the afternoon and stayed until the end of the show at seven! The guy had nowhere else to go before his concerts that night at the Park West club so Larry kept him on. He was hilarious and not just with his routine and mapped out jokes but the ad-libs. At one point in the conversation, Larry mentioned how romance author Barbara Cartland liked to have daily cold water enemas. Emo in his shaky voice quickly replied “I like cold water enemas too but straddling over drinking fountains makes it tough to finish.”

So the show ended and Emo, who arrived to the station alone, did his promo for us and left. Larry & I wrapped up our post show meeting a few minutes later. It was a Friday and we wanted to get out for the weekend. I was going to Emo’s early show at the Park West with my friend Dave Ross and headed downstairs to get picked up. So who did I find in the building lobby looking lost? Emo Phillips. He said he didn’t know what bus to take to get to his concert venue. Apparently the guy never noticed those yellow cars driving all over town that can give you a pre-Uber era ride, cabs for God’s sake! So I told Emo we were going to his show and we’d give him a lift. The quirky comic looked relieved that his transportation needs were being covered.

(The Park West)

Dave pulled up in his Chevy Suburban and was happy to be the car service for the comedian we were about to see. Emo Phillips was as normal and congenial as any non-famous person. He told us about a movie screenplay he was writing so Dave asked, “And what will that entail?” Emo answered “Probably major losses for the studio.”

After a ten minute ride north, we pulled up to the Park West as fans were lined up to get in to see the star we dropped off. Emo thanked us and hustled into the club. We parked, then checked in to the Will Call window for our tickets and enjoyed the night of comedy. I assumed someone from Emo’s management team would drive him home at the end of the night.

Emo’s movie project ended up being the first version of “Meet the Parents.” This was a low budget production that came out around 1992. Come the late 90’s, Emo Phillips’ screenplay was re-done with Robert De Niro and Ben Stiller starring in it. This second version of “Meet the Parents” became a huge comedy hit that would spawn two sequels. I’m sure Emo got money and credit for the first one but I think that’s where his connection to that franchise ended. I booked Emo Phillips on other shows I worked for but my first encounter with him was the most interesting.

(The first “Meet the Parents” movie was born from Emo Phillips)