1967 TO PRESENT
1967 TO 1969 FRENCHIE & THE OUI-OUIS
1969 TO 1974 PURE FUNK
1974 TO 1976 ROADMASTER
1976 TO 1977 CHAMPION BAND
1982 TO 1988 SMASH BAND D.C.
1995 TO 1996 LEGENDARY FIREBIRDS
1997 TO NOW SMASH BAND ST. LOUIS
This is the first band, the first gig in October of 1967 in the cafeteria at Indianapolis Shortridge High School for our Junior Class Dance. I was Jr. Class President and in charge of the event. The school and faculty sponsors wouldn't give me any money to hire the band I wanted to hire ("The DelVados"). I gathered with these friends and fellow classmates. We put together "The Oui-Ouis" and a ten song set and saved the dance. From there a career/lifestyle was born. L2R = Pat Nolan (Drums), Me (Young Smash), Steve Isenberg (Bass), Mike Read (Piano) and Fred Rice (sax). Our friend Randy Bernstein (from North Central High School) joined later adding an extra keyboard with the Farfisa Organ. I remember the Summer of '68 we were in the Indiana State Fair Battle Of The Bands. We got to the Top 2...the Finals! I think we performed "Hey Baby, They're Playing Our Song" by The Buckinghams and "Land Of 1000 Dances" by Cannibal and The Head Hunters. I don't remember what our competitor band played but, they didn't have a keyboard, I remember that. I don't even remember the band name. I do remember that they had a blind accordionist. The judges gave them the Battle Of The Bands win. We had two keyboards with great musicians playing them...and we got beat by a band with a blind accordion player. I was stunned, mad yet humbled. A great life's lesson learned, though. The initially percieved "handicap" was the accordion player's "blindness" but, instead, my assumptive take it for granted attitude was the real "handicap" here. Again, a great life's lesson learned and carried on into adulthood. The 60's...a great era to be in a great band like "Frenchie."
THE FIRST BIZ CARD AND THE FIRST BAND!
THAT WAS HIGH SCHOOL ...HERE COMES COLLEGE!
PURE FUNK INDIANA UNIVERSITY BLOOMINGTON 1969 to 1974
This was our "college band," an extension of "Frenchie & The Oui-Ouis," our high school band. Along with the Rock & Roll, we were White guys playing the R&B, Funk and Soul music of the era. We put it together just after our Freshman year at I.U. Keyboardist Mike Read (classmate and fellow "Frenchie & The Oui-Ouis" band mate) was the maestro with the music. Drummer Roger Holloway (a friend and classmate from Shortridge H.S.) and I handled the promotion, marketing, booking and business of the band. Roger and I went and knocked on every sorority and frat house door...to every "student union" on every college campus in Indiana and most of the Midwest. We worked it...and IT worked! The music was right, with Mike and fellow Shortridge High Schooler Bill Fatout (Oat Willis) on Bass and fellow I.U. student Steve Pritchard (Dr. Titts) on guitar. We built the combination into the premier college party band in the realm through musicianship, music choice
entertainment value and business savvy/hustle/application, In our, years we had a number of different players. Below are some views...
Rob Swaynie (Guitar) & Me
Smash/Mike Read/Bill Fatout/Kent Halladay (Guitar)/Roger Holloway & the first band bus
ORIGINAL PURE FUNK 1969
ROADMASTER BLOOMINGTON/INDIANAPOLIS 1974 TO 1976
As was "Pure Funk" the ultimate party band of it's day,
"Roadmaster" was the extention thereof. Still partying, but now, we were into writing, producing and performing our own "original" music. And we were still getting over big with the crowds. In the formation of our "sound," Todd Rundgren was one who we looked up to. We did immensely appreciate his music, his creativity...him.
We're playing at a big and magnificent Rock & Roll nightclub called "Reflections" in Cincinnati (1975?). Rundgren was playing in whatever Cincy arena that night. After his concert, who walks into our gig? Yup! At the time we were doing a Todd song in our repertoire titled "Slut." In my debaucherous nature of the time, I had rewritten the song lyrics to depict a more "sensual" take on the tune. Rundgren loved it. He dug our originals too. He invited us onto his tour bus at the end of the night. In the back of the bus, I talked with him about the album we wanted to put out. Asked him what it would take for him to produce it. He offered to do three songs, one of which is our first "45" release above (which played on Dick Clark's "American Bandstand"). We took him up on his offer (at no charge!). We all drove from Indianapolis to his home studio in Bearsville, New York in our Ford station wagon band car. An amazing time/experience for us Indiana Hoosiers.
CHAMPION BAND INDIANAPOLIS 1976 TO 1977
Following my firing/departure from the "Roadmaster" band, I was a man without a country (band). In thebooking agency that I co-owned, we had a great "blue collar" Rock & Roll that we represented called "Jason Beckett." These guys were a cross between Seger and Skynyrd. A straight up strong rocking group of talented musicians, they didn't need me. I thought I'd take a chance and make them a business proposal on me joining their band. They bought the proposition. We changed the name to "Champion" in that we were going to champion the music to "the masses." I was honored (still am) that they would
take me in and provide me with a new musical home. I booked us everywhere that I used to play with Roadmaster and the crowds loved the "grit" of the band. I stayed about a year and a half and then was offered and I took the opportunity to get my first radio job at WNAP. Like I said at the start, these guys didn't need me. They went on to a great local and regional success on their own.
SMASH BAND D.C. WASHINGTON, D.C. 1982 TO 1988
I started Smash Band in the nation's capital, first because I enjoyed "the band life," the music. Along with that, this group was/is a prime promotional vehicle for the radio station as an entity and me as a public figure/community ambassador for that entity (DC-101). Smash Band got to be big in D.C. because of the support of our employers, the station, my fellow "big boss jocks" and the D.C. music fans/followers. And that came because those supporters saw smart music choices, strong performance capabilities, an on-site party to the max and an entertainment value provided like no other band of it's time could deliver in that D.C./Virginia/Maryland area.
Drummer, Thor Smith helped me start up the band. Innovative keyboardist Chris Biondo joined up shortly thereafter. Ward McClung brought in the bass thumpularity. The spectacular Abaad Behram was/is as good as there do be. The "Singing Swinging Smashettes" were born with the vocalistics and beauty brought by Martha Currie and Andrea McClung (Ward's wife). On saxaphone, three greats covered that position in those years...Patti Knuckles, Bill Massey and
the extraordinary Tom Crawford. The great thing about these musicians (like all I've been blessed to be with) is that beyond the personal mastery of their instruments, we all had a sense of humor that was easily integrated into giggin' on the fun side and the actual work side of it all. We played all the great (and some of the seediest) bars, the most formal of wedding receptions, the coolest of concerts, we played rowdy Redskins football rallies.