It was exactly 50 years ago this August that music producer Jerry Fuller was in a bowling alley in San Diego when he heard a then-unknown Gary Puckett for the first time. From there, Fuller helped make a star of Puckett and his band the Union Gap, resulting in six consecutive gold records and a number of classic hits, including “Young Girl,” “Woman, Woman,” and “Lady Willpower.”
Now, Puckett is getting ready to head back to San Diego for a good cause, headlining a show to raise funds for the Vision of Children Foundation, a local charity whose mission is to cure genetic vision disorders and childhood blindness.
“I just like everything the charity stands for,” says Puckett from his Florida home. “Co-founders Sam and Vivian Hardage have a child who has a genetic disorder and they’re very serious about what they’re doing. So many of the charities out there look good on paper, but then you find out most of the money goes to the bureaucracy of it. Vision of Children does a great job at bringing in money that goes directly to research and development.”
The Sept. 8 event at Rancho Santa Fe’s Fairbanks Ranch Country Club is a homecoming of sorts for Puckett, who grew up in Idaho and moved to Claremont after graduating high school. It was in San Diego where he planted the seeds for his later musical stardom.
“August 17th is the 50th anniversary of recording our first hit, ‘Woman, Woman,’” says Puckett of what’s now a ’60s gold standard, with its memorable chorus, ‘Have you got cheating on your mind?’ “That recording session is emblazoned in my memory banks because it was my very first real one. We had a 30-piece orchestra set up in a circle in Studio A at Columbia Records.”
From there the band had a successful run in the late ’60s and early ’70s, laying a foundation for musical success that’s sturdy to this day. “The songs just get under your skin and that’s what still keeps me active,” said Puckett, who, in later years, moved with his wife to Florida’s Tampa Bay area. “The fact is, the people of my era still love their music and they still want to hear it. We just played what I thought was going to be a small show in Connecticut and 10,000 people showed up just to hear me and the music the Union Gap made.”
Puckett has performed on more than 30 network television shows and prime time specials during his career. He continues to tour internationally and recently released a new album, "GARY PUCKETT – LIVE.”
Puckett credits the lasting power of his hits, some exactly a half-century old, to the fact that they were a special culmination of quality songwriting, lyrics, melody and production. “I think it’s also because we were totally analog in those days,” Puckett muses about their lasting power. “The music had a warmer sound, instead of now recording digital. People are starting to remember that now, with records becoming popular again.”
Now, Puckett is ready to strut his stuff in San Diego once again, all these years after that chance discovery in a noisy bowling alley, and raise much-needed funds for children in need. “The night is really about giving children back their vision in some way, and that’s what Vision of Children is all about,” Puckett says. “That to me is what’s impressive.”
Tickets to Concert With A Vision start at $250 per person, with sponsorships beginning at $5,000. Tickets and sponsorships may be purchased online at www.visionofchildren.org. For more information, please call 858-314-7916 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. (See sidebar below for more information on the event.) For more on Gary Puckett, visit www.garypuckettmusic.com.
Concert with a Vision
The Vision of Children Foundation, a local 501(c)(3) charity with a global vision to cure genetic vision disorders and childhood blindness will be hosting Concert With A Vision – To Cure Childhood Blindness on Sept. 8 from 5-10 p.m. at Fairbanks Ranch Country Club in Rancho Santa Fe. After 26 years of groundbreaking research, scientists sponsored by The Vision of Children Foundation are blazing new trails to find a cure for genetically caused blindness. This event seeks to raise crucial funds for the remaining two years of this life-changing research to find a cure for these forms of vision disorders.
This entertaining evening sponsored by The Bay Club, will feature a VIP Champagne Reception, hosted dinner, live and silent auctions, and surprise entertainment – culminating in a concert performance by Gary Puckett.