Long Island R & RBands & The Clubs They Worked In
1950's - 1970's
UPDATED JUNE 2015
RHYTHM KINGS PHOTO on page two
THE ABSTRACTS - SOUTHBOUND TRAFFIC
FANTASY TRAIN & FREEDOM BROTHERS - AESOPS FABLES
New Photos & Music Too
New Pages Added
ALL AROUND THE MAP
A Small Sample Of The Groups & The Musicians That Kept Several Million Long Islanders
Dancing, Drinking and Duking It Out For 30 Some Wild Years From Brooklyn - Montauk
PART ONE 1959 - 1965
I remember a lot of it like it was yesterday,and yet for me it started back when I was 10 years old. It was Christmas of 1956 and I got my first guitar,well it wasn't actually a guitar, although I had been bugging and dropping HINTS to my Mom for one since that summer. She got me a uke instead for the simple reasons that One: She knew how to play one and felt she could get me started on the right path, Two: She could afford a halfway decent uke, but a decent guitar was beyond the Christmas budget of getting some nice things for all three of us __ my sister, brother and me and Three: She wasn't sure if I was serious ! .... IF she only knew how serious I was back then, there would of been a Gibson Les Paul Goldtop, Fender Stratocaster in Sunburst, or Gretsch Country Club in Cadillac Green or perhaps all three under the tree.
By the following Christmas, she knew and I progressed from 4 strings to 6, but it would be several more years and instruments, before I had a guitar of a professional quality, even though I had started playing in bands and actually getting paid to plunk by April of 1961.
Already on my third guitar. This one was my first electric and the one I used in my first band "The Islanders". It's a Kay that I got in June of 1960 for 8th grade graduation. Guitarists take note of the Hamilton Capo, made from recycled '47 Desoto Bumpers. It's on the 5th fret, the same place Buddy Holly put his on his Strat to play That'll Be The Day!
Paul Schulte's Tavern
Schulte's which was established in 1933, with the repeal of prohibition, had live bands playing there for over six decades,that it remained in the Schulte family. In the mid 1950's, Paul's daughter Frieda and her daughters Greta and Linda Speiss, started booking Country & Western acts and renamed the tavern Schulte's Stable, giving it a country motif. with hay bales, a horse and wagon inside and all the trimmings.
On Friday and Saturday nights around 1959, Doug Percoco, my friend, neighbor & first guitar playing buddy and I would listen and look in the rear window of the joint, which was near the stage. We were too young to get in the place, but talked about getting to play in there with our own band one day. In the summertime, Mastic Beach's population would explode with hundreds of people coming out for the summers from Brooklyn, Queens,The Bronx etc. It was probably around 1960 - 61, that Greta kind of took over running things at Schulte's and started to book straight Rock & Roll bands. She packed the place and her nearest competition,The Beachcomber, which was just across the street, also started booking rock acts. The Beachcomber upped the ante, when they occasionally brought out "name" rock acts, like The Ronettes, and The Drifters and our tiny town just overflowed with people coming from all over Long Island to listen, dance, and fight.
Some of the bar fights were as legendary as the groups.
THE DRIFTERS LINEUP THAT APPEARED AT THE BEACHCOMBER
It would be 1962, when Doug along with Frankie O'Shea on drums, Bill Clausing on Sax, and Adolph Almasy on Accordian, the only portable keyboard available then,and yours truly, took the stage at Schulte's. It was major excitement for this 15 year old, but by the last set around 2 AM, I couldn't wait to go home. What was a 15 year old doing in a bar you ask? Working! It seems the age law was not readily enforced back then, at least for musicians in Suffolk County and as long as you had an adult over 21 with you, both club owners and the cops, seemed to look the other way. In our case we had a "manager" named Joe Fats who booked us and drove us to the gigs. We never knew how much of the total take he cut himself in for, but whatever it was it was worth it to us. Average bar band pay per man back then was around $15 - $20 per night.
Some of the R & R bands, that I recall playing in the early '60's at Schulte's were The Sonics, Goldie & The Gingerbreads, (an all girl band and the first ones to record "Can't You Hear My Heartbeat" ) Rhythm Jester's or the Rhythm Kings. The two groups I played with there were, The Islanders (1962) & The Continentals (1964) ___ In the later years of the 1970's, after I left Long Island, I heard Sly & The Family Stone played there a time or two.
The last live music in Schulte's, was probably played in the 1990's. Greta sold the place and several others tried to make a go of it, but things and the town of Mastic Beach had radically changed. It turned into a furniture store around 2007 and now sits empty. The Beachcomber threw in the towel much earlier and became a grocery store in the late 1960's.
THE BEACHCOMBER 1950s & '60s
A WHOLE LOT OF MUSICIANS PASSED THROUGH THE CRESTMEN FROM 1962 - 1967
Augie Reyes of Bellport was the leader for the duration. This early line up is rear: Frank Krepela Guitar, Augie Lead Vocalist Gtr front : Mike Mone, Drums & Rick Chainey Bass . Other Crestmen Through The Years Were : Drummers Tom Ioucci, Larry Angrasani (sp?) Tommy Castagnaro. Nicky Marchiano, Guitar , Bill Clausing & John Cherico Sax , Steve Bordone Organ ____Lou LoFredo was a longtime booking agent for a whole lot of groups.
FRANKIE, MIKE, AUGIE & RICK circa 1964
photo courtesy Rick Chainey
AND SPEAKING OF LOU .....
There was basicaly just two guys booking 95% R & R bands on the Island in the early '60's Neal Hollander & Lou LoFredo , I worked with both of them on and off over the years, but never signed anything with either. Neal stayed with club work, but Lou got into recording. He even moved to Nashville for awhile. And speaking of Nashville & the late great Bo Diddley, and THE BIZ.... A GREAT GROUP of Nashville writers and session players wrote, produced and put out a record under their name THE SNAKES called " Pay Bo Diddley" in the late 1980' or early 90's here, Bo himself actually came to town to record it with them It is chock full of great lyrics that is sure to put an Oh Yeah on any music veterans lips, anywhere in the world There are several vids of it on You Tube including one of it being performed live in the clubs here.
and Gary Nicholson, one of the songs writers had a birthday bash not too long ago here and you will get to hear what Nashville Cats
do when they are not in the studios making hits
Here's a Rare One ..
photo courtesy of Maddy Reyes
Based in the Mastic & Bellport area The Del - Quins were a singing group rather than a band. They were comprised of Morris Hopkins, Vinny Moraldo, Gerard Moraldo, Frank Amodeo & Lou Reyes ( Lou is brother to Augie Reyes ) Their manager was none other than Joe Riela aka "Joe Fats" who managed my first group The Islanders.
Lou now is with a singing group in Florida called the Del Prados along with Mike Mone & Wally Bone See The "TODAY" Page
THE CONTINENTALS AT THE PALM TERRACE RIVERHEAD 1964
Doug Percoco, Frankie Aelio, Johnny Potts, Richie Robbins & Me
I'm playing my cherry red 1961 Les Paul standard (SG shape) with sideways vibrola through a '63 Fender Bandmaster. This was the first full fledged Rock band I was in, Other bands prior to this were music for all occassions. The Palm Terrace, a major watering hole that catered to both Locals & the Airmen stationed at Westhampton Air Base , had The Continentals every weekend for about 8 months straight, It would of been longer had we not split up.
The Amps Were Out Front As A Line Of Protection From The Fights !
Trust me, no country music was played through it.
THIS IS SONNY & HIS KINGSMEN IN EARLY 1966
Jimmy Leuschner,Warren Nichols, Rick Chainey, Bobby Columbe, Sonny Bottari
Bobby Columbe along with Warren & Jimmy would form
Sonny "Styles" Bottari was one incredible soul singer. He led many versions of his Kingsmen, based out of the Bellport - Patchogue area for over half of the 1960's. In 1961 the first unamed group was formed when Sonny was stationed at the Suffolk Airforce Base, and got together with his fellow airmen, bassist Clay Sonnet'e (sp?) and Joe Butler drums along with local Westhampton High School grads, guitarist Seth "Skip" Boone brother of bassist Steve Boone ( a few years later Butler & Boone became part of the Lovin' Spoonful) to play weekends at the Skyway club in Westhampton. Guitarist Nat Marchiano, of Bellport sat in one night and lobbied for Wally Bone, also of Bellport to play drums in a new group Sonny was forming and The Kingsmen soon emerged, playing just up the road from the air base at the Palm Terrace. I first heard about them around 1962, and saw them play at a Hot Rod & Custom show at Madison Square Garden in NYC. Around that time the song Louie, Louie hit the radio and many kids back at high school all thought __WOW a local band has hit the big time. I told them, Sonny Styles on his death bed, could never sound that bad.
He reportably was the first "white kid" ever offered a recording contract by Motown. Of this I have no doubts. In late '64 my old guitar and bass buddy, Doug Percoco, quit our rapidly dying group The Continentals and became the Kingsmen's bass player. Not long after Doug joined Wally Bone on drums, Nicky Marchiano, who had replaced his older brother Nat on guitar, Lou Graves, Sax and Sonny, they cut a record in 1965 for the Joy label called "Give A Little Bit" It was written and produced by Tommy Kaye, whom I would get to work with a few years later. The production was very Phil Spectorish on a pretty strong song. With limited promotion, Give A Little Bit, did chart in various places including Detroit, which maybe what brought Sonny to Motowns attention ?
After the last incarnation of The Kingsmen disbanded, Sonny kind of freelanced for a year or so around Long Island. I recall one night in 1965 he sat in with my band The Strangers, at The Apple Tree in Mattituck, and just floored the place with a rendition of Ben E King's , I Who Have Nothing. Another time he knocked me out, he was sitting in my living room in Patchogue and I played guitar while he sang Sam Cooke's A Change Is Gonna Come. The guy HAD MAJOR LEAGUE PIPES!
BUT DON'T TAKE MY WORD FOR IT CLICK :
Around 1966 -67, Sonny formed a new group called Aesop's Fables and they seemed to be playing everywhere at once for several years, and put out a record or or two. But a lot of the material they did, just wasn't Sonny. Last I heard he is living in California. It would be nice to hear from him again.
THE KINGSMEN AT SHORE CLUB, SAYVILLE 1965
Doug Percoco, Wally Bone, Sonny "Styles" Bottari, Lou Graves, Nicky Marchiano
THE STRANGERS 1965 - 1967
Just before the Continentals split up. in the late fall of 1964, I bought a spinet size Hammond Chord organ. Took it with me to the Palm Terrace a couple of times, thinking it would help revive a dying group, where it seemed members were peeling away almost every other week, but I soon realised it was not the instrument for the job. It didn't have the right sound or enough volume . Playing it through my Fender Bandmaster did not help the cause either as it wasn't wired right for that and although it got louder it was WAY TOO distorted. Fuzz tone on an organ wasn't wanted and this was at least 6 months before fuzz on anything was wanted ___ Satisfaction had not yet hit the airwaves.
By Christmas of '64, the last two members left standing in the Continentals were recent member Gary DeSantis , who really was mainly a singer, who played a little bit of guitar and one founder. We tried reviving it after the holidays, with a couple of miscellanous floaters and Larry Angrasani, a great drummer, who had a bad habit. He would often send his students to the gig fill in for him, without telling Gary or me. So mostly as a trio, we only played a couple of gigs. Two places I recall we played at were Schulte's and Tavern On The Lake in Ronkonkoma.
By springtime I was looking for a new band to join. I put up my card on Irv's bulletin board (Patchogue Music Center). Ken Joseph Guitar & Organ. 4 years prof. experience, ___ which was only true if I had left off the organ. I got two calls, almost simultaenously. One for guitar and one for organ. I didn't know anyone from The Strangers, You could say they were TOTAL STRANGERS to me ___ RIM SHOT ! They were your basic Top 40 group and needed a guitar player. They were comprised then of two guys from Adelphi (now Dowling) College. Joe Ciampa on Bass , Steve Murphy on Guitar, and a kid from Patchogue named Richie Searles on drums. They had a steady gig at a place in Sayville called The Shore Club and a pretty good following of kids from their college. I went to their rehearsal at the club. They were easy to get along with and after we played one song, The Beatle's," You Can't Do That", I was offered the gig. When I got home there was a message that Eddie leader of Eddie & The Tempo's had called. That really got my attention, as they were probably one of the top bands around at that time. They had 9 pieces with horns and worked a lot of top clubs, mainly in Nassau County and NY City. Eddie wanted an organ player and even though I told him, I only played a little bit of organ, he didn't seem to care. He wanted to see me ASAP. We met at his house the next night, no audition, no nothing, just a quick chat and I was handed a list of songs to learn, many which I never heard before. I let the Strangers know and two nights later, I showed up Friday night at Danny Mazur's, Cat & Fiddle in Plainview, which was this warehouse sized building turned into a night club. It actually had once been a Vic Tanny's Gym.
The Cat & Fiddle. used two bands on one huge stage so the music never stopped. We were there with King Curtis and his group. The place was packed and the bass player who stood about 6 ' 8" was leaning over next to me yelling the changes in my ear. I couldn't hear him over the horns, I couldn't even hear myself for that matter with my Bandmaster amp right behind me. Danny Mazur, stood right in front of the stage scrutinizing me and wasn't too impressed. I doubt Eddie was either. At the end of the night I was told to pack it up. And so I called up The Strangers again and for the rest of the decade had some great times, Like returning triumphantly to the stage of The Cat & Fiddle and not so great times (Like getting shot at and hit with brass knuckles in the eye ). In short, it was the typical life that any steady working bar musician lives.
Not long after I joined The Strangers, Richie Searles joined the Navy. His replacement was Billy Valerie from Queens. Billy was in the group The Exciters, who had one hit "Tell Him" and definitly was a street wise seasoned drummer. He helped focus the repertoire, which prior to that, was very non descript. James Brown tunes started replacing Tommy James ones.
JUST SOME COOL CATS IN FLAMING BROCADE
Steve Murphy, Billy Valerie, Joe Ciampa, Me ___September 1965
SUMMER OF 1965
When These Guys Showed Up On Long Island .....
Everything Changed For Every Band
Photo by Claire F, Santos-Daigle of PhotosMadePerfect.com
Photo by Claire F, Santos-Daigle of PhotosMadePerfect.com
In 1965 B. F. (Before Felix) there was probably only one guy, Warren Nichols, LUGGING a full sized Hammond Organ to the gigs. (Hammonds are Lugged ....never Schlepped) __ Warren had a 1940's Army Surplus Military Model, with built in wood handles on the side__ I think it was even painted Army Drab Green__ somewhere in my archives, I have a factory pic of one.
AT THE BARGE ON DUNE ROAD IN THE HAMPTONS 1965
Photo by Claire F, Santos-Daigle of PhotosMadePerfect.com
Upon hearing Felix, I went from Guitarist to. Guitarist - Farfisa organist, to full time Hammond Organist within a year. He probably helped sell more Hammond organs than anyone in history. It seems every band on LI had one and every band tried copying their sound. Hammonds & Leslie Tone Cabinets sprang up like weeds on every stage,
THERE WAS TONS OF INCENTIVE TO COPY THE RASCALS, AS THEY NOT ONLY TOOK LI BANDS & AUDIENCES BY STORM WITH THEIR SOUND, SHOW & THEIR PROMOTIONAL IDEAS, BUT BY THE END OF THE SUMMER THEY HAD A RECORD DEAL WITH ATLANTIC
THEY WERE KNOWN THAT SUMMER AS JUST
That's all it said on Dino's drum, their buttons & bumper stickers.
YOUNG Was Inserted Into Their Name By Record Label Lawyers, Much To The Groups Dismay
It Seems the old (very old) group, Harmonica Rascals, Owned The Copyright To The Rascals Name-----------------------------------------------------------------
PERHAPS THE FIRST GROUP TO COPY THE RASCALS, WERE THE VAGRANTS,
THEY PLAYED THAT SUMMER, AT THE TIANA BEACH CLUB, JUST DOWN DUNE ROAD FROM THE BARGE
Peter Sabatino, Front Man For The Vagrants
Notice Leslie Behind Him & I Don't Mean
HE WAS THE OVER DRIVE BEHIND THE VAGRANTS.
Leslie Could Get Any Guitar Players
Click It & Get Some For Yourself
in a big hurry ...and his pipes had power too
LINDA EASTMAN TOOK THIS GROUP SHOT
Vagrant photos courtesy of Larry West &
NOTE : THESE PAGES ARE WORKS IN PROGRESS
Special Thanks To Early Contributors
Rick Chainey, Doug Percoco, Nat Marchiano, Joe Ciampa, Steve & Craig Murphy, Peggy Murphy, Sue Silvestri
If you were in a Long Island band or knew one or more well and have any memoribilia,__ Then By All Means ___ I would like to hear from you. Don't Be Shy Or Keep Me Hangin' Around This Place, Lest They Take Me For "Brill Building Larry" __ a very disturbed musician who used to hang out by these doors & insult & harass passerbys, yet somehow inspired Joni Michell to write ...
He Played Real Good For Free
Ken Spooner's Brief Music Bio :
Born Ken Joseph, In Brooklyn In 1947_ Musician and songwriter since 1956 . Turned pro in 1961.
1961- 62 "The Islanders", played music for all occassions followed by several other bands that specialized , C & W , Italian Lounge Acts etc.
1964 - The Continentals all R& R Bar Band
1965 - 66 The Strangers Top 40 Bar Band
"MISS - MANAGED" by Mazur Enterprises ( Danny & Irwin) As Mrs Murphy's Basement, we Recorded For United Artists In 1968 with Tommy Kaye producing, along with The Hassles at Studio 3 (Three doors down from Carnegie Hall ) in NYC. We Also "Toured The Island"with the Hassles. And so I ask the musical question __ WHO NEEDS A MANAGER WHO TAKES 20%, OF WHAT HE TELLS YOU THEY WERE PAYING YOU ___ TO TOUR LONG ISLAND ??? ___ BillyJoel used my Hammond A-100 to record the Hassles, Hour Of The Wolf Album. On The Hassles history web pages, they too talk about the absurdity of being "Managed by Mazur"
My other NY credits include working with, Albert Grossman & Bennett Glotzer 1968-69 (managers of Bob Dylan, Band, Joplin, Peter Paul & Mary, Blood Sweat & Tears and many many more ) With Glotzer we started preparing to record for Columbia Records only to have our producer Andy Kulberg (Blues Project) bail out of NY and move to San Francisco. Then Glotzer brought in Robbie Robertson to produce and that went no where fast, other than one quick visit to the Bearsville Studio at Woodstock. Robbie was kinda busy with The Band In '68.
And Then ... With Main Man Mgmt (David Bowie's Co) in 1976. We cut three things for RCA. I still recall mixing in a studio in NYC while Felix Cavaliere was working in the other room across the hall. That was my swan song as far as being in the NY Music Biz...
......... Moved To Florida 1978, Changed My Last Name To Spooner (My Mother's Maiden Name) & Worked the acoustic and folk circuit with acts like Leo Kottke, Doc Watson, Seldom Scene, Arlo Guthrie , John Hartford and more
Moved to Nashville in 1987. My original demos played a part in Joe Diffie getting signed to Sony Epic label. Co wrote Diffie's # 1 hit song "If The Devil Danced In Empty Pockets...He'd Have A Ball In Mine" Other cuts by Walter Hyatt, Lyle Lovett, Carol Elliot, Ericson Holt, Sharon Moore. Ron Williams, Kacey Jones, Sheila Deck.....
As a journalist I have written for Country Music, Stock Car Racing, Road King magazines. Author of 3 books with two more to be published soon
Proud Member of ASCAP's # 1 Club
1965 - 1970's
A BAND ON EVERY BLOCK
I WROTE THIS IN NASHVILLE WITH AUSTIN CHURCH A LONG TIME AGO WHEN WE BOTH TURNED 45 !
Pages 3 & 6 & 8 Updated May 15
|Page 2 : 1965-1970||Page 3: Wanna Make A Record?||Page 4 All Girl Bands|
|Page 5: Take A Card||Page 6: More Old Band Photos||Page 7: LI Records In The 50's|
|Page 8 : Today||Page 9: Crossing The Bar||Page 10: Blues For Johnny Maestro|
|Page 11 : Dotty Rutledge||Page 12 : Jimmi Accardi's Pics:||Page 13: More Stuff|
|Page 14: Steven Tyler's Book||Page 15 : New Years Eve Gigs||Page 16: Allentown|
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