larry chance 2017

Douglas Forde Simms

Just this morning I had the distinct blessing of listening to you perform on a recent (2007?) PBS-TV special.  Truthfully, it was the third time I watched the program this week. I taped it.

     Sir, I thank our Lord that He, in his mercy and wisdom, gave you a gift that has brought joy to so many, especially me. From the instant I heard you way back when; I knew your voice was anointed. The blessing continues today.

     I’ve been asked many times why I think the music of that time (romance, vocal arrangements) is still so popular. I answer because the music that served as the backdrop of my coming of age was joyful, innocent, loving, warm, sincere, and spiritual for the most part. Moreover, for me, there were specific voices, arrangements, notes, and chords that in combination made me weep. It was/is electric, breathtaking, and sometimes, it felt like I was touching God’s face. Billy Ward and the Dominos, the Flamingos, Larry Chance and the Earls all have those qualities. I believe that is because of the joy inherent in your music.

     I gave thought, too, to the music of the late 60’s and early 70’s, and while there are some artists and songs that I liked, I rarely felt a spiritual connection.  Most of the voices in harmony, the vocal groups, had been replaced by electric guitar players with voices, rather than vocal artists with a backup band, and exhibited little respect for the bond of trust and intimacy between the audience and the artist. I digress.

     Last year, I was diagnosed with a rare cancer. Because of God’s mercy, they found it before it did real damage. They only had to remove my right kidney, ureter, and some intestine. I finished chemo in April and continue quarterly checkups. I go again Friday. To date, I’ve been clean and healthy.

     My prayer is that the Lord continues to bless you, and watch over you, and heal you completely. You, and your gifted voice, provide a ministry of sorts. When you sing, “I Believe,” I know you really do. I am transported back to a choir loft.  You have been a blessing to me.

     Perhaps, as a kid who grew up in Irvington, New Jersey, now living in Tampa, I might see you perform some day. Either back in Jersey or down here. Until then, I am content to watch the video. 

     Finally, my new book, The Life and Times of Tucker Pitts: 1957-1963 will be released by Thanksgiving. It follows the antics of a young boy coming of age in New Jersey in the late 50's and early 60's. Each chapter concludes with an interview did with some of the pioneers of Rock and Roll and Motown. I would love to send you a copy.

Blessings,

Douglas Forde Simms