The Cascades live in Tagum

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Friday, May 2, 2014

ONCE upon a time, there was a woman nicknamed Johnsy, who had pneumonia, and dying. Outside the window of her room, the leaves fall from a vine.

Johnsy believed that when the last leaf drops, she too will die. Her best friend Sue, who stayed with her, tried to tell her to stop thinking so pessimistically.

In the night, a very bad storm came and wind was howling and rain was splattering against the window. Sue closed the curtains and told Johnsy to go to sleep, even though there was still one leaf left on the vine.


Johnsy protested against having the curtains closed, but Sue insisted on doing so because she didn't want Johnsy to see the last leaf fall.

In the morning, Johnsy wanted to see the vine to be sure that all the leaves were gone, but to their surprise, there was still one leaf left.

The short story was written by O. Henry, one of America's most beloved authors. Yes, you're right! Those lines were from the song, "The Last Leaf" by the American vocal group called The Cascades. The song was actually the follow-up of their biggest hit single, "Rhythm of the Rain" (it was considered as the ninth most performed song of the twentieth century).

In an interview with Gary James in 2001, lead vocalist and composer John Gummoe said: "It was a song called 'The Last Leaf' backed by 'Shy Girl' and it made the Billboard charts. They were both nice songs but the record got 'split' play, some stations played one song, some played the other. Consequently, neither really became a big hit and it sort of died."

In the same interview, Gummoe said that he wrote the lyrics of "Rhythm of the Rain" first.

"I pretty much had the chords figured out in my head," he recalled. "I was in the Navy at the time, on board ship to Japan. It wasn't until I actually got back to San Diego that I was able to sit down and work on the musical part of it."

On the kind of mood he was when he was writing the song, he gave this information: "I was standing midwatch up on the bridge of the ship. It was raining and storming outside. I was pretty much up there by myself and I was probably feeling lonely. I had my pad and paper and I was just fooling about with different ideas. I had the title in my mind for quite a long time. I just liked the sound of it. And that title is not sung anywhere in the song..."

The song was a hit and in 1963, it was the third largest selling record in the world.

Their friend, John Gummoe, also aboard the Jason, was their biggest fan. He soon started acting as their manager. Gummoe had the band playing five nights a week before long and had also been working up some duets with Dave Wilson. Eventually, the group eventually had Wilson and Gummoe do on stage as part of their performance. This was the beginning of a group which would soon go on to be The Cascades.

The original members of the Cascades were Eddie Snyder, David Szabo, Dave Wilson, Dave Stevens, and John Gummoe.

Actually, the first single that the group released was "There's a Reason," also penned by Gummoe. That was in the summer of 1962 and it became a regional hit. By November of the same year, the internationally-acclaimed "Rhythm of the Rain" was released.

Some left, some came. Tony Grasso met the group in 1963, and joined as bassist in 1964. Ron Lynch was added on keyboard and saxophone. After an illness that hospitalized him for a time, and suffering from the fatigue of touring an average 10 months of the year, Gummoe left the group. Ron Lynch left at the same time. To fill the void left by Gummoe and Lynch in lead vocals and keyboards, the Cascades enlisted Gabe Lapano in September 1966, to fill both chairs.

In 1969, Gummoe once again came. He co-produced and added backing vocals to the album "Maybe the Rain Will Fall." After a little over three years with the group, Lapano left in February 1970. Grasso departed in November 1974. Thereafter the Cascades continued until 1979, with a revolving lineup anchored by Snyder and Wilson.

On May 16 this year, the Cascades will again entertain their fans when they perform live at Big 8 Hotel in Tagum City. And yes, the original member, Gummoe will be there.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on May 03, 2014.


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