45 Friday: (CLINT HOLMES &) THE CLASSMEN – I’m Warning You

45-Friday_4

 

By ‘Bob The Record Guy’ Paxon

 

Clint Holmes was born in England in 1946. His father was an African-American jazz musician and his mother a classically-trained English opera singer. As he says, “my mom taught me how to sing correctly, and my dad taught me how to enjoy it”.  I suspect his father was in the service and probably originally from Western New York, and brought his new family home with him when the war ended.

In any case, Clint was raised in Farnham, New York – right down the Lake Erie shore from Buffalo. I believe he attended Lake Shore High School in Angola.

By the mid-1960s Clint had become a student at Fredonia State College, studying vocal music. At some point he became part of a group called the Classmen and they got the chance to put out a record. “I’m Warning You”/ “I Won’t Cry” came out on the one-off CM label. From the sound I’d place it at 1963. Unfortunately I don’t know who the other Classmen were but I’d guess they were also college students. Clearly Clint is the star of the show, taking the vocal leads and getting the sole writing credit for both sides.

 

 

“I’m Warning You” is a decent uptempo side. The flip, “I Won’t Cry”, is a ballad, as is typical. Both are enjoyable though hardly earth-shaking. I’m guessing the CM label was not actually a label, but a case of the guys taking a tape they’d made – maybe at school – and getting it pressed up in a small run of 500 copies to give to friends and family and sell at shows. Or maybe just for distribution at one particular event. You could call it a private pressing or a vanity pressing. The seem not to have put much thought into a label name – my assumption is that CM stands for Class Men.

Clint left school during the Vietnam War and joined the Army. From 1967–1969 he sang with the elite U.S. Army Chorus. When his enlistment was over he stayed on in the Washington area. Using D.C. as a base, he performed in nightclubs all around the East Coast.

His big break came in the early 1970s. ‘Playground of My Mind’ was released in July 1972 but, oddly, didn’t oddly reach the Hot 100 until March 1973! It then stayed in the top 100 for an amazing 23 weeks, easily obtaining Gold Record status. One factor in its success was the typical story of being pushed by local radio. In this case, the local station was WWDC from Clint’s new home base of Washington and Georgetown.

After the 45 and its accompanying album dropped off the charts Clint had trouble finding followup pop radio success.

Starting in the late 1970s he found work in Las Vegas. He also became Joan Rivers’ sidekick and announcer on “The Late Show”, later a talking head on “Entertainment Tonight” and even had his own short-lived (but Emmy award-winning) talk/variety show.

Ultimately he became a featured Vegas entertainer, attaining the highest levels of success possible there. Harrah’s Las Vegas Casino renamed its main showroom for him, and his live performances at the Clint Holmes Theater have been broadcast as well as released on DVD. Since moving to Las Vegas, Clint has quickly become a favorite in the Las Vegas community as well as star entertainer. He was selected as “Best Singer” by Las Vegas Life Magazine two years in a row) “Best All-Around Las Vegas Performer” by the Las Vegas Review-Journal. In a 2006 PBS special of three top acts, Clint appeared alongside Barry Manilow and Andrea Boccelli.

Clint has continued writing songs, performed in plays and musicals (including Jesus Christ Superstar) and cabaret shows, and writing and performed several of his own musicals.
Many locals will remember him from his appearances co-hosting the annual Variety Kids telethon on WKBW-TV, for which he annually returned to Buffalo. Clint was inducted into the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame in 2000.

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