DEAR JERRY: I recall a song played in the early '70s on the Top 40 radio stations in the upper Midwest, especially in the Chicago and Milwaukee areas.
I do not know the singer's name but the title is probably “Lake Shore Drive.” I do, however, remember some drug references in the lyrics.
My checking of the national charts has turned up nothing, so it likely was just a regional hit.
Is “Lake Shore Drive” available on any CD or LP?
Michael Engel, Mayville, Wisc.
DEAR MICHAEL: Discussing Aliotta - Haynes - Jeremiah's “Lake Shore Drive (L.S.D.)” is a real pleasure, because we never have and because it is a fascinating story one more often reported with factual errors than not.
Though billed only with last names, this band included Mitch Aliotta; Ted Aliotta; Skip Haynes; and John Jeremiah.
In the late '60s, both Mitch and John were members of the Rotary Connection, another Chicago group. For about one year before Aliotta - Haynes - Jeremiah, Mitch and Skip recorded as Aliotta - Haynes.
Though “Lake Shore Drive (L.S.D.)” is a very good recording, it is often described as a huge Chicago hit which, by being about Chicago's famous lakeside highway, went unnoticed most everywhere else.
When first recorded in 1973 (Snow Queen 1000), and not 1971 as is commonly stated, neither of the Chicago Top 40 stations at the time (WLS, WCFL) even mentioned “Lake Shore Drive (L.S.D.)” on their surveys.
I asked John Govi, a long-time Chicago record conventioneer for his take on “Lake Shore Drive,” written by Skip Haynes:
“During those years, I worked at one of Chicago's primary record distributors, and knowing all of the local and national hits was our business, so it was a surprise when customers began asking for “Lake Shore Drive.”
“I turned at once to our copies of the WLS and WCFL play lists, but neither listed such a title. Later I learned WBBM-FM had been playing it, and, not being a Top 40 format, they didn't publish a weekly top hits survey.
“We sold quite a few copies locally, what with exposure on WBBM-FM and word of mouth, but not enough to get it ranked in anyone's Top 30. This was a shame since not many of the bigger hits at the time are better records than “Lake Shore Drive (L.S.D.).”
The “drug references in the lyrics” boil down to a very unfortunate misunderstanding by those unfamiliar with the long-standing habit of Chicagolanders to refer to Lake Shore Drive simply as LSD.
That this initialism is also commonly used to indicate a hallucinogen, Lysergic acid diethyl amide, is a fortuneless fluke of fate.
In response to the misinterpretation, the 1978 album and reissue single bear only the title “Lake Shore Drive,” dropping the “LSD.” Same goes for a 1992 compact disc version of the vinyl LP, which by the way is still easily available.
IZ ZAT SO? The 1971 hit, “Joy to the World,” by Three Dog Night, begins: “Jeremiah was a bullfrog, was a good friend of mine. Never understood a single word he said, but I helped him drink his wine.”
In this verse, the late Hoyt Axton, composer of “Joy to the World,” is said to be writing humorously about his friend, John Jeremiah, of Aliotta - Haynes - Jeremiah.
Since Hoyt's mother, Mae Axton, co-wrote “Heartbreak Hotel,” when “Joy to the World” topped the charts it marked the first time a mother and son separately composed No. 1 hits.