FLORIDA, September 28, 2013 — The legendary Gary Puckett of Gary Puckett and the Union Gap burst on the scene in the 1960s with one of the most mellifluous, smooth and powerful voices in the history of rock and roll. He and the band grabbed and held the limelight in the U.S. and the U.K. with songs like Woman, Woman, Young Girl, Lady Willpower, Over You, Don’t Give in to Him and This Girl is a Woman Now. One hit, Young Girl, has garnered stand alone sales close to 20 million, and was re-issued to become number six in the U.K.
Today, even at age 71, Gary Puckett shows no signs of slowing down on touring. In addition, he has penned a song of remembrance, sentiment and appreciation in honor of his mother and father, both of whom Puckett credits with his famously distinctive voice. His parents were musically inclined and were singers in their own right.
Puckett’s father was a recon soldier in WWII. He was captured and placed in a German prison camp for about two years, and during that time was listed missing in action. His mother endured great hardship as a result. His heartfelt song, These Beautiful Eyes, is an ode to both his parents. His father has passed, but his mother is still among us.
Not surprisingly, Puckett has great sense of respect and humility toward his father and toward all soldiers who have served this country and serve it today. He demonstrated this in his 2002 release of “Live,” described on his website as “a collection of hits recorded live and featuring the song Home, dedicated to the men and women defending our country with their lives.”
A self-styled physical fitness activist, Puckett is buff and obviously has the strength to handle a difficult tour schedule that takes him all over the country. He tours along with the Turtles founders Flo and Eddie, The Association, The Lettermen, The Monkeys, Gary Lewis and the Playboys, and Mark Lindsey. Lindsey was the front man, creative writer and primary reason for the popularity of the 60s band Paul Revere and the Raiders, and also achieved success as an individual performer.
During our interview, Puckett mentioned he had just phoned Bill Medley of the Righteous Brothers, to wish him a happy birthday.
The band’s name, “Union Gap,” comes from a small town near Puckett’s birthplace, Yakima, Washington, whose musicians included some members of the group Outcast who outfitted themselves with Union Army style period accurate uniforms and changed their name, a 1960s protocol.
Puckett’s great tenor voice impressed songwriter Jimmy Fuller, who got them a recording contract with Columbia records. The rest, as they say, is history.
Puckett sees many older faces in the crowd during his tours nowadays, but recognizes young ones as well. When he asks them why they are attending a concert of music written and recorded long before they were born, they attribute their appreciation of the music to their parents and to their search for the kind of quality music they feel is lacking today.
Puckett is married and has children he is very proud of, including has one daughter who is not only in medical school but in the top 10 percent of her class. He has also become a grandfather.
You’d think that Gary Puckett would be slowing down a bit at this point in his life. But you’d be wrong. Given his continuing love of touring, keep your eye peeled: Young Girl, additional Union Gap hits and Puckett’s own songs will certainly be coming to a town near you.
Paul Mountjoy is a Virginia based writer and psychotherapist.
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