Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2009 | 2:10 p.m.
The Buckinghams had that Fab Five look and a name that could skirt them alongside other great bands of the British invasion. Songs like "Kind of a Drag" earned the Chicago-born band top stages and national attention.
Forty years after they first toe-tapped on Ed Sullivan's stage, two original members of the 1960s-era rock band are keeping the sound alive.
"I'm playing until God says, 'No more,'" said Nick Fortuna, singer and bass player. He is joined by another original member, Carl Giammarese.
The eight-member band, which includes a three-piece horn section, performs at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 27 to March 1 at the Suncoast.
The Buckinghams released more than 15 singles and three albums for Columbia and USA Records in the 1960s. They performed across the country and on TV from 1965 to 1970. Billboard Magazine called The Buckinghams the most listened to band in America in 1967.
"When you're 20 years old, you're just awestruck because you're used to looking at Ed Sullivan on the TV, but now you're standing on the stage and the Smothers Brothers are right there," Fortuna said. "You go from being a watcher to a participant, and that's a cool feeling."
After splitting for about 10 years, Fortuna and Giammarese, along with lead vocalist Dennis Tufano, reformed for a reunion concert at Mayor Jane Byrne's ChicagoFest event. In 1982, Fortuna and Giammarese committed themselves full time to The Buckinghams. The group has kept the same members for about 20 years.
"These guys are part of my family," Fortuna said. "It's more than just a business thing."
The Buckinghams released "Reaching Back," which includes re-recorded hits and new songs, and "Standing Room Only," a live recording, both on Fuel Records last year.
The group also headlined a presidential inaugural gala, the Bipartisan Agricultural Ball, at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Washington D.C. Fortuna said he felt proud to be a part of history.
The Buckinghams will play their hits and a medley containing samples of songs from 1960s contemporaries, like The Grass Roots, Tommy James and The Turtles.
For ticket information, contact the Suncoast box office at 636-7075. Tickets start at $22.
Becky Bosshart can be reached at 990-7748 or [email protected].