Music lovers can forget winter and revisit the 1960s as the Ritz Theatre presents "An Evening with Gary Puckett and the Union Gap" at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. The coming-of-age songs Puckett made popular were somewhat controversial in their day, but that didn't keep fans away - he had six gold records and top 10 billboard hits in 1968.
Biographical information shows the band was named for the town in Washington where Puckett grew up. Although the band broke up in 1971, Puckett has continued to perform and record. He now resides in Clearwater, Fla., with his wife, Lorrie. They have two adult daughters.
"I did a private show for the patrons of Park West galleries. Scott Jacobs is one of their top artists and a very good friend of ours. We are also doing some relaxing," Puckett said in an interview.
The most familiar Gary Puckett and the UG hits include "Young Girl," "Woman, Woman," "Over You," "This Girl is a Woman Now," "Lady Willpower" and "Don't Give in to Him." Although several were penned by other writers, Puckett did include many original compositions for the Union Gap albums. He expressed appreciation to his fans for buying the music and attending his concerts.
"It's no secret that the baby boomers still love the music of our era," he said. "Fortunately for me they love my records a lot and I had enough hits that a sustainable career was a possibility. My terrific fans are loyal and are still with me after all these years. Also, I always play the hits for them - which is what they want to hear. And I try to stay in as good a voice as I'm able. As long as the good Lord will allow, I will sing."
Puckett's website (www.garypuckettmusic.com) lists the members of his current Union Gap band as Jamie Hilboldt, keyboard/vocals; Woody Lingle, bass/vocals; and Mike Candito, drums/vocals. Mariano Longo, Puckett's arranger and multi-instrumentalist, is listed as an honorary band member.
Reflecting on the past, Puckett said music was always a part of his upbringing. His mother played piano, his dad played sax and they had performed together in the big band era. Puckett said they also were "very good singers."
"I inherited the qualities of their voices," he added. "Dad was in Barbershop, mom in Sweet Adelines. I honestly didn't know that I had a voice any more special than anyone else. I was in high school bands and always ended up as the singer. Actually, I just wanted to be the guitarist but I could sing better than play guitar."
The Puckett siblings included two brothers and two sisters who also shared their parents' musical talents. David and Brian were members of Union Gap for a time, and they collaborated with Gary for song writing. Now, Puckett's daughters also are musically inclined.
"Our daughters do have musicality but Syd is in the corporate world, though she does come and sing with the band now and then and Michaela is in med school," Puckett said.
More recent projects for Puckett include "At Christmas," a holiday CD, and "Gary Puckett Live." In 2002, he wrote "Home," a song dedicated to members of the U.S. military serving overseas. For his concerts, Puckett likes to cover some artists he admires, including Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Dion, Ray Orbison and the Beatles. For the show at the Ritz, he said fans can expect a variety of music.
"The show revolves around the UG hits, album cuts and a few old rock and roll tunes, because that's what I grew up with," Puckett said.
Distinctive Building Elements is the sponsor for "An Evening with Gary Puckett & The Union Gap." Tickets range from $10-$40. For tickets and information, stop at the Ritz Theatre box office, 30 S. Washington St., Tiffin, OH 44883, visit www.ritztheatre.org.