Entertainment

Hooking up with Dennis Locorriere

By Brian Bonitto Entertainment & Auto Editor

Monday, June 02, 2014    

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WITH almost two decades of hit music, it was no surprise scores of Dr Hook fans turned out on Mother's Day to see founding member Ray Sawyer and his band at the To Mom With Love concert at LIME Golf Academy in Kingston.

It was the American band's first appearance in Jamaica.

However, the ode to mothers quickly went downhill as the group failed to deliver as an out-of-sorts Sawyer had patrons leaving the venue by the second song.

“I would hate to think the headlines I read and reports I heard about Mr Sawyer's recent less-than-pleasing performance would prevent me or any of my musical projects using the good name of Dr Hook from coming down to play in Jamaica in the future,” former lead singer/guitarist Dennis Locorriere told the Jamaica Observer last week.

The singer — who tours as Dennis Locorriere — the Voice of Dr Hook, was wrapping up a six-week Australian jaunt.

“The show I'm doing here is titled Dr Hook And Beyond. The response I've received has been terrific and lets me know that the name and music of Dr Hook is respected and still has immense commercial appeal,” he said.

Fans have been ‘hooked’ on the band’s repertoire for nearly 50 years. Their hits include Sylvia's Mother and The Cover of Rolling Stone. Later, they scored with the ballads Years From Now, Loveline, Sharing The Night Together, I'll Put Angels Around You, and When You're In Love With A Beautiful Woman.

However, after a 16-year run, the band dissolved in 1985.

“The original Dr Hook was a highly professional and extremely entertaining musical group who spread joy and goodwill everywhere we went in the world, and to see Mr Sawyer's recent performance blemish our otherwise brilliant reputation was terrible and very upsetting to me,” he said.

The former frontman said his company — Dr Hook Of Tennessee, Inc — owns the name Dr Hook and licensed it to Sawyer as Dr Hook Featuring Ray Sawyer.

He shared how his path crossed with the band which was formed in 1969.

“Ray Sawyer and George Cummings, who had been in a couple of bands together down in Mississippi and Alabama, came up north and got a job playing in The Bandbox, a small nightclub in my hometown of Union City, New Jersey. I sat in with them one night and we got along really well, so we formed a band in which I sang and played bass guitar, as well as some guitar and harmonica. I was about 18, maybe 19 years old at the time, while the others were already in their early 30s,” he recounted.

Of the many Dr Hook hits, he said he had a “soft spot” for Sylvia's Mother, written by Shel Silverstein.

“It's a lovely song and, as a vocalist, it gave me a story to tell as well as a great melody to sing. It was a true story about a girl Shel knew when he was a young man and the phone call in the lyrics happened nearly as they say it did. Many years later, through a series of coincidences, I had the opportunity to meet and have lunch with the real Sylvia in London. It was exciting and equally as startling to sit across from this legendary person that I had been singing about for over 30 years,” said Locorriere, who has been living in Britain for the past 12 years.

With three solo projects and a recent compilation album, he tours Europe this summer.

Locorriere said he has Jamaica on his bucket list.

“Jamaica has always been a place I've been intrigued by, and hope to visit one day. I had no idea that we had any, let alone many fans in Jamaica, but it's certainly good news and extremely flattering because Jamaica has such a rich musical scene with so many great artistes of its own.”

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