Hi everyone! I hope the New Year is going well for all of you! I wanted to start the NY bands page with some of my favorites this week. Next week we will get a little more in depth with some of friends of mine who played in bands in the 60′s and who have gone on to a variety of occupations.
Growing up in NY in the 60′s also presented a wide panoply of places to go and listen to music. From clubs to concert halls, to Central Park, NY had it all.
Stay tuned and enjoy this tribute to NY
The Velvet Underground first gained a degree of fame and notoriety inNew York City in 1966 when they were selected as the house band for Andy Warhol’s Factory and hisExploding Plastic Inevitable events. The band’s lyrics challenged conventional societal standards of the time, and broke ground for other musicians to do the same. The band favored experimentation, and also introduced a nihilistic outlook through some of their music.Their outsider attitude and experimentation has since been cited as pivotal to the rise of punk rock and, later, alternative rock. Their 1967 debut album, titled The Velvet Underground & Nico(which featured German singer Nico, with whom the band collaborated) was named the 13th Greatest Album of All Time, and the “most prophetic rock album ever made” by Rolling Stone in 2003.
The Vagrants were a Long Island-based rock and blue-eyed soulgroup from the 1960s. By 1965, the group had developed a professional press kit and had gained the interest of the semi-professional Southern Sound record label and soon released a single: Oh Those Eyes b/w You’re Too Young. Though the single wasn’t very popular, it did gain the attention of directors Vince Scarza and Douglas Hickox, who were directing a Beach Party film called “Disk-O-Tek Holiday” which featured various music artists performing songs throughout the film. The clip that featured The Vagrants performing “Oh Those Eyes” is now considered a classic piece of mid-sixties history. However, The Vagrants weren’t that thrilled with just one single and an unpopular sequence in a Beach Party film, and were soon signed to the “folkie” label Vanguard. It was then when the group released their first minor hit: I Can’t Make a Friend, which is frequently found on garage band compilations and is one of their most recognizable early efforts. Still unhappy, though, was Felix Pappalardi, a record producer that would later work with Cream, The Youngbloods, andJoan Baez. Pappalardi worked hard to sign the group to Atco Records, a sublabel of the famous Atlantic Recording Corporation. In the Eastern United States, a cover of Otis Redding’s “Respect” became a smash hit. However, a few months later, Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” was more of a success, therefore hurting the sales of The Vagrants’ version. It wasn’t long after the group released “Respect,” however that guitarist Leslie West decided to reach further heights by forming his own group, Mountain with Felix Pappalardi. The formation of Mountain was extremely beneficial to West, though; he had many hits with the group. Though The Vagrants existed for such a short time, their impact on Long Island rockers is amazingly vibrant. A compilation of all of the group’s singles (excepting both sides of the “Oh Those Eyes” 45) was released on a full-length record titled The Great Lost Album in 1986, upon which both Leslie and Larry West are credited by their birth names, Leslie and Larry Weinstein.
Jesse Colin Young (born Perry Miller) was a moderately successful folk singer with twoLPs under his belt - Soul of a City Boy (1964) and Youngblood(1965) – when he met fellow folk singer and former bluegrass musician from Cambridge named Jerry Corbitt . When in town, Young would drop in on Corbitt, and the two played together exchanging harmonies. In January 1965, the two began performing in Canada as a duo, eventually adopting the name ‘The Youngbloods’. Young played bass, and Corbitt played piano,harmonica and lead guitar. Corbitt introduced Young to a bluegrass musician, Lowell Levinger known as “Banana,” who could play the piano, banjo, mandolin, mandola, guitar and bass; He knew of a fellow tenant who could flesh out the band. Joe Bauer , who was an aspiring jazz drummer with experience playing in society dance bands. Their first show was at Gerde’s Folk City in Greenwich Village; months later, they were the house band at the Cafe Au Go Go and had signed arecording contract with RCA Records. In 1967 they recorded Get Together , a paean to universal brotherhood first appeared, it did not sell very well, reaching only #62 on the chart. But two years later — after Dan Ingram had recorded a brotherhood promotion for WABC-AM in which the song was used as a bed for the promotion, and after the National Council of Christians and Jews subsequently used the song as their theme song on television and radio commercials — the track was re-released and cracked the Top 5. This disc sold over one million copies, and received a gold record, awarded by theR.I.A.A. on 7 October 1969. Dick Cavett once reportedly refused to allow the band to perform on The Dick Cavett Show, saying they were overly demanding during the pre-show soundcheck.
One of my favorite bands was the Lovin Spoonful. Formed by John Sebastian, who grew up in contact with music and musicians, was the son of a much-recorded and highly technically accomplished classical harmonica player. Sebastian was joined in the Spoonful by guitarist Zal Yanovsky from a bohemian folk group called The Mugwumps, playing local coffee houses and small clubs (two other members, Cass Elliot and Denny Doherty, would later form half of the Mamas & the Papas.) Drummer-vocalist Joe Butler and bassist Steve Boone rounded out the group. Working with producer Erik Jacobsen, the band released their first single, the Sebastian-penned Do You Believe in Magic. Unlike many pop groups of the day (the early Beatles being a notable and influential exception), The Lovin’ Spoonful played all the instruments on their records, with the exceptions of the orchestral instruments heard on their soundtrack album You’re A Big Boy Now and some later singles. Soon-to-be-members of the Grateful Dead were part of the West Coast acoustic folk music scene when The Lovin’ Spoonful came to town while on tour. They credited The Lovin’ Spoonful concert as a fateful experience, after which they decided to leave the folk scene and “go electric.” They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000. Another interesting note, drummer Joe Butler’s daughter from his first marriage is actress Yancy Butler.
Eddie Brigati (vocals), Felix Cavaliere (keyboard, vocals), Gene Cornish (guitar) and Dino Danelli (drums) started The Young Rascals in Brigati and Danelli’s native state New Jersey. Three-quarters of the group – Brigati, Cavaliere and Cornish – had previously been members of Joey Dee and the Starliters. Eddie’s brother, David Brigati, an original Starliter, helped arrange the vocal harmonies and sang backgrounds on many of the group’s recordings (informally earning the designation as the Fifth Rascal). When Atlantic Records signed them, they discovered that another group, Borrah Minnevitch’s and Johnny Puleo’s Harmonica Rascals, objected to their release of records under the name Rascals. To avoid conflict, manager Sid Bernstein decided to rename the group the Young Rascals. Their first television performance was on the program Hullabaloo on February 27, 1965, where they performed their debut single, “I Ain’t Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore” During their heyday, the band’s influence on aspiring R & B-flavored white acts was without equal, especially in the northeastern U.S. Notable bands that incorporated (sometimes to the point of parody) the Rascals’ full-on stage demeanor and energy as well as the intense, hyper-dramatic vocalizing, drumstick-spinning gyrations and heavy bottom-end rhythm also achieved some prominence: the Vagrants (featuring Leslie West, later of Mountain), the Rich Kids, and the epitome of over-the-top funky psychedelia, the Vanilla Fudge, all owed their styles to the Rascals’ synthesis of show-biz and soul.
In 1989, I was honored to be a part of the first New Rascals. Not only was it fun to play the music, it was also a thrill to play with the twirling stick master and great all around drummer Dino Danelli! I had known Gene Cornish for some time and he asked me to audition. I was thrilled, went home and learned all the material, came in and aced the audition. I remember Gene telling me how impressed they were with my preparedness. I, still believe in being over prepared! It is the best way to go into anything, The next time I see Gene, I want to remind him to give me a copy of a promotional video we did. Can’t find it on You Tube as yet!
Speaking of The Vanilla Fudge, one of my favorite bands from NY, featured guitarist Vince Martell, organist Mark Stein and one of the best rhythm sections of all time bassist TIm Bogert and drummer Carmine Appice. Stein and Bogert played in a local band called Rick Martin & The Snowmen and were so impressed by the sound of The Rascals (swinging and floods of organ) that they decided to form their own band with Martell and Rick Martin’s drummer, Joey Brennan. Originally calling themselves The Pigeons, they changed the name to Vanilla Fudge in 1967, after the replacement of Brennan by Appice. The group was then “discovered” and managed by reputed Luchese crime-family member, Phillip Basile, who operated several famous L.I. clubs — the Action House, Speaks, Channel 80, Industry — three of which were the same club (on Austin Boulevard, in Island Park, NY) with different names. On March 14, 1970, Vanilla Fudge played a farewell concert at the Phil Basille’s Action House. After that, Bogert & Appice departed to form another group, Cactus (In 1972, they left Cactus and formed Beck, Bogert & Appice with guitarist Jeff Beck). Stein, left on his own, tried to keep the group going with two new players, Sal D’Nofrio (bass) and Jimmy Galuzzi (drums) (both of whom had been members of aPoughkeepsie, New York group known as “Dino & The Cavemen”). But when nothing came from this, Stein ended up forming a new group, Boomerang, instead with Galuzzi.