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Oct-01-2008 11:35printcomments

Pete Bennett Presents: An Evening of Classic British Rock and Roll with Denny Laine

Founding guitarist of The Moody Blues and Paul McCartney’s Wings and an all-star rockin' line up are coming to Salem and Portland this weekend.

Denny Laine in concert, 2007.
Denny Laine in concert, 2007.

(SALEM, Ore.) - There are some serious rock stars coming to town this weekend, a moment in time that we hope will stand still and last as long as possible.

“I’m very excited to announce this one-of-a-kind, historic concert featuring Denny Laine and an all-star backup group. Like all our special events, the show will be filmed in HD for my new TV show. I’ll be hosting and sharing stories with you about rock’s greatest stars between sets. Be there!” Pete Bennett insists.

And Pete’s the kind of guy people listen to. People in the music industry, most specifically.

From Elvis Presley to the Rolling Stones, Pete Bennett has shaped the course of music history. He discovered now famous models and actors and made billions for his clients. This does not come as a surprise to any one “in the business”. They’ve all heard of Pete.

“He made unknowns into stars and stars into superstars,” says Billboard Magazine.

Some of us choose our paths, and some are carved by life itself, befitting our talents. Such was the case with Pete Bennett. He entered the record promotion business through the back door, and helped Rock and Roll take the world by storm. The concert this weekend is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see Denny Laine on stage with an all-star group, here in the Pacific Northwest.

Denny Laine is successful as a songwriter and multi-instrumentalist on iconic levels. His ten-year tour with Paul McCartney and WINGS thrilled millions of fans in packed stadiums worldwide, with Denny providing lead and backing vocals, lead and rhythm guitar, keyboards, & bass.

Denny helped Paul and Linda McCartney produce 6 platinum albums - the trio was considered the nucleus of WINGS. Denny Laine joined WINGS in 1971 for the album Wild Life and stayed until 1980, when WINGS broke up.

Before WINGS, Denny was the lead vocalist and guitarist for The Moody Blues, a group he co-founded with Mike Pinder that is revered around the globe to this day.

Paul McCartney & Wings, 1974
Denny Laine standing on right

Glen Burtnik, Joe Nocco, Jess & John Banner will open the show with a Beatles selections set. Superstar Denny Laine and Jeff Levine will then join Glen and the boys for the featured two set WINGS concert.

Glen Burtnik was with STYX as vocalist and star of “Beatlemania” (as Paul McCartney), he is a multi-instrumentalist and a chart-topping song writer. Keyboardist Jeff Levine toured extensively with Joe Cocker, Bob Diddley and Hall & Oates. Jeff has played for many Broadway shows, including “Hot Feet”, “Dream a Little Dream” and “Movin’Out”.

Also appearing (all of Beatlemania Tribute fame) will be Joe Nocco (Drummer/played Ringo Starr), Jess Banner (Lead Guitar /played George Harrison) and John Banner (Rhythm Guitar /played John Lennon).

This British Rock Concert is even more unique because the famed promotional manager Pete Bennett whom the entertainment industry voted "The World’s Number One Promotion Man,” stated in Billboard Magazine, will also be there to deliver incredible first-hand stories about the stars that make up Rock and Roll around the world.

Pete Bennett

Pete got his start as a drummer, and soon found himself on stage behind Frank Sinatra, when he was still just a kid.

“I bought a drum set for $22 at a pawnshop. I wanted to be a famous drummer, and won a Gene Krupa drum contest. So at 17, I worked with Tommy Dorsey on a reunion tour with Sinatra. Well, I had shined Sinatra’s shoes one time, and he remembered me. Later when we were on stage, he would say, ‘Hey kiddo,’ and introduce me as his former shoeshine boy. He embarrassed me, I hated it,” he told me.

This did not sit so well with Pete, and he found a way to shed the "shoe shine" reputation. In the early '60s his own band, Pete Bennett and The Embers, had a modicum of success with their recording of Fever, which led to an appearance on American Bandstand.

When a friend offered him a 50-percent partnership to distribute records for a new record label to radio stations, he reluctantly took the job, figuring there was nothing to lose. The record label was Motown.

The rest is history. In just a few short years, he became the promoter every one was talking about.

“I launched Elvis’ big record, "Suspicious Minds", in 1969. He had been doing movies and was kind of nervous in front of a crowd. We talked about the idea of filling stadiums. He asked if I thought he'd sell out, like the Beatles had. Elvis wasn't sure enough people would come. I told him, 'There is no question in my mind.' We all know how that worked out,” he laughed.

I asked Pete about his memorable night with Eric Clapton. Well, there were probably several to choose from, but on this particular occasion, the story was all about finding Clapton. There were only 90 minutes left before the British guitarist had to be on stage at the Concert For Bangladesh, and no one knew where he was.

Phil Spectar, Yoko Ono, Geraldo Rivera and John
Lennon check out the diamond pinkie ring
Elvis gave to Pete Bennett

Pete headed to the hotel. After he and Bob Dylan had patiently knocked on Clapton’s door to no avail, Pete got a hotel employee to open the door and found that both Clapton and his girlfriend had taken an overdose of pills or something.

"They were just sprawled out. He was on the bed, she was on the floor," he said. Quick-thinking Pete called a doctor that he’d comp’d concert tickets to, and the doctor was able to revive them.

“He was spaced out, like a zombie, but luckily we got him into the car and to Madison Square Garden where he was on cloud nine through the whole concert. No one knew that he could barely walk." Success.

Promotion men have to think on their feet.

Pete has so many stories, the audience will not know what to expect. Perhaps he’ll tell about Bob Dylan afraid to go on stage. Or, how in 1969,

Denny Laine and Pete Bennett

he altered the lyrics for the Rolling Stones’ ‘Honkey Tonk Women’ on the lead sheet (where it said "laid a divorcee" he whited it out and typed in "played a divorcee"), so the BBC would allow them to play it in the UK, and it went on to be a #1 Single.

Or, what it was like to produce the 20th Century Fox film, Concert for Bangladesh in 1971 with George Harrison, and the challenges and hilarities brought with it.

Pete Bennett's stories are intriguing, entertaining and seemingly never ending. He didn’t just witness these things, he lived them.

To make this weekend’s concert an even more historical event, internationally renowned sculptor Gabriel Ponzanelli will be coming to Oregon for the presentation of his bronze sculpture of Pete Bennett, and it will be presented at the Denny Laine WINGS Concert both in Salem and Portland.

Ponzanelli’s striking bronze bust of Mr. Bennett was created for the future Pete Bennett Museum of Rock. Mr. Ponzanelli has created hundreds of monumental works in over 30 cities world wide. These include Hubert Humphrey (Washington DC), artists Frida Kahlo & David Alfaro Siqueiros (Mexico City), actor Anthony Quinn (Los Angeles) and Senator Wayne Morse (Eugene, Oregon).

Tickets for the concert at both the Elsinore Theatre (Oct. 4th) and the Aladdin Theatre (Oct.5th) are $35.00 plus online transaction fees. All seats at the Elsinore are reserved.

Both theaters were chosen for their comfort, beauty and sonic quality. Because of their smaller size, everyone gets a great view of the stars.

For more information and YouTube links, go to

Bonnie King is one of the few media professionals who has extensive time in four relevant areas; radio, television, newspaper and Internet. She has been with since August '04. Bonnie served in a number of positions in the broadcast industry; TV Production Manager at KVWB (Las Vegas WB) and Producer/Director for the TV series "Hot Wheels in Las Vegas" (2 seasons), and her path also led to posts as TV Promotion Director for KYMA (NBC), and KFBT (Ind.), Asst. Marketing Director (SUPERSHOPPER MAGAZINE), Director/Co-Host (Coast Entertainment Show), radio Promotion Director (KBCH/KCRF), and Newspapers In Education/Circulation Sales Manager (STATESMAN JOURNAL NEWSPAPER). Bonnie has a depth of understanding that reaches further than just behind the scenes, and that thoroughness of her nature is demonstrated in the perseverance to correctly present each story with the wit and wisdom necessary to compel and captivate viewers.

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