Reunion comes to Kingman for festival's kicks

Reunion – From left are Ric de Azevedo, Jim Pike and Gary Pike, who compose the singing group called Reunion. The Pike brothers are members of the original Lettermen, a popular group from the 1960s and 1970s. Reunion will be performing at the International Route 66 Festival in August.

Reunion – From left are Ric de Azevedo, Jim Pike and Gary Pike, who compose the singing group called Reunion. The Pike brothers are members of the original Lettermen, a popular group from the 1960s and 1970s. Reunion will be performing at the International Route 66 Festival in August.

KINGMAN - For Doug Adams, seeing Reunion in concert in Utah about seven years ago was like a blast from the past.

Two of the singing group's members - Jim and Gary Pike - were original participants in The Lettermen, a well-known singing group from the 1960s and 1970s that was started by Jim Pike. The third member of Reunion is Ric de Azevedo, who gained fame as a member of the singing King Family, four sisters who had their own television show during that time. De Azevedo joined Reunion in 1983.

When the Kingman Area Chamber of Commerce began seeking a group to sponsor for the upcoming International Route 66 Festival in August, Adams, who is a member of the chamber's board of directors, immediately thought of Reunion. And he could hardly believe it when they agreed to bring a variety directors, immediately thought of Reunion. And he could hardly believe it when they agreed to bring a variety of songs - including those made popular by The Lettermen - to Kingman.

During its heyday, which began in 1961 with the hit "The Way You Look Tonight," The Lettermen racked up 46 consecutive hit albums on Billboard Magazine's national charts, 20 hit singles, nine gold albums and five Grammy nominations.

They have sold more than $100 million worth of records, tapes and CDs worldwide, and one of Jim Pike's solo hits was left behind in a time capsule to depict American popular music when astronauts landed on the moon.

But Jim Pike lost his voice in the mid-'70s, and he sold the rights to The Lettermen trademark and retired from the music industry for what he thought would be forever. When his voice unexpectedly came back 10 years later, the Pike brothers and de Azevedo decided to re-form the group and sing the old songs made famous by The Lettermen.

Those songs include "When I Fall in Love," "I Only Have Eyes for You," a medley of "Going Out of My Head/Can't Take My Eyes Off of You," "Put Your Head on My Shoulder," and "Shangri-La."

The three men are looking forward to performing at the festival, which will feature many activities Aug. 14-17 all over the Kingman area.

The city was chosen as the site for the Route 66 Alliance's annual festival during last year's event in Joplin, Mo. The theme for this year is "Kingman - Crossroads of the Past & Future."

De Azevedo, 67, who lives in Utah and will be heading to Kingman from there, said he used to ride the Santa Fe Super Chief train, which runs along Route 66, from New York to Los Angeles, when he was a boy to see his mother perform as part of the King Family. He also has driven parts of the Mother Road during his career.

"We all have good memories of Route 66 and we all have traveled it," said de Azevedo, who intends to bring his three grandsons to the festival for their first trip on Route 66 and visit to Kingman. "I love the desert and the Southwest and I'm very excited about being a part of this event."

Jim Pike, 77, and Gary Pike, 69, both of whom live in Southern California, plan to leave from Los Angeles and drive to Kingman for the performance. Jim Pike said The Lettermen probably performed in all the bigger towns mentioned in the popular "(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66" song, including Amarillo, Texas; Gallup, N.M.; Flagstaff and Barstow, Calif.

"Before the interstate was there, we would drive certain areas of the West as performers and would hit all the towns in the 'Route 66' song," said Gary Pike. "We even had our favorite restaurants along the highway and we knew Route 66 very well. We are looking forward to this and it's going to be very nostalgic for us."