The Mother Of Long Island Bar Band Disasters
Any working musician who spent any time in "the trenches" (bars) has stories of a disasterous night or two where they wished they just stayed home and practiced. I certainly have my share, like a full scale riot in the summer of '66 at The Boog A Loo in Copaigue, Long Island, where I had to jump out of a window by the stage with my Gibson es 345 guitar and Farfisa organ to avoid getting destroyed by the mob that was killing each other on the dance floor. Then while outside in the parking lot, having to dive under my '60 Chevy Impala with guitar and organ still in hand, laying face down, because the first Suffolk County Police officer .who arrived on the scene, drew his gun and started firing in the air to break up the fight, that was going on between my '60 Chevy and our drummer Johnny Adamec's '55 Chevy.
One goon was swinging a stop sign he pulled out of the ground at another miscreant and I could hear the stop sign post hitting my showroom condition six year old Impala with less than 20K miles on it and Johnny's mint Old 55 too. Then there was the barking of the German shepherds, the cops unleashed to calm things down after the gunfire stopped. When things finally quieted down, order was restored and the paddy wagon took away the worst of the fighters, I looked at my car and it was in need of an auto body shop, To add insult to injury, the bar manager took off during the riot and we never got paid......
My Chevy At The Levy
With Only 20 Thousand Miles On The Odometer,
It Was Absolutely In Showroom Condition When I Bought It In June Of 1966
Then there was that early Saturday morning call on April 19, 1969 from our booking agent, to tell me of the "small fire" at the club in Setauket where we played the night before. Small was the word of his choice, because when we arrived in the pouring rain to salvage what was left of our equipment, we found the stairway burnt out and too dangerous to climb, We played upstairs in a very old building called the Country Corners. ( Harry Chapin played there too btw) We wound up losing the entire drum set that fell through the back wall, our PA system,a Hofner Beatle Bass, My white Gibson SG was found in between the floors and it now looked like a toasted marsh mallow. My Hohner electric piano keys were blistered and scorched as well the Fender amps and my Hammond A-100 Organ. It weighed 413 pounds and we had to take it down the fire escape that was pulling itself away from the wall with every step we took. In short the small fire hit us really big in the wallet.
But those were really minor deals compared to this one... It made the front page of all the Long Island papers in September of 1969....
THE HAMMOND B-3
THE ORGAN OF CHOICE FOR EVERY BAND IN THE 1960s
Weighing 400 Lbs It was Built Like A Bloody Tank & Virtualy Indestructable
My drummer, the late Lou Stevens, with the remains of "Blythe Spirit's" B-3
Here's the whole story of how it got that way
"The whole wall blew off , I remember flying up in the air and then I was out in the parking lot ..
I couldn't believe I'd be alive when I hit the ground " Ginger Bianco ... drummer for "Blythe Spirit
If the name Ginger Bianco rings a bell, you will want to read, see & hear more about her days with the historic rock group
"Goldie & The Gingerbreads"
When I read the story in several other papers, I also recall there was a quote from the surviving organist too . Having gone through The Country Corners disaster just a few months earlier, I just had to drive over to Hungtington to see what the place looked like in person. As I walked around the pile of rubble, I spotted the remains of the Hammond B-3 with it legs blown off. How in the world anyone that was inside the club survived this ordeal was a miracle. Ironically the band was playing "Call Me" when the joint blew up. I told my roadie, Mickey Milton about it and he and his brother went and retrieved the B-3 from the rubble pile a few days later plopping it down in Lou Stevens garage as a project for me to fix, because they saw me take my own Hammond completely apart and get it going after the fire. I ordered news keys for the blasted B-3 Hammond at a buck a piece and when we sorted it out and put the juice to it, don't you know the tone genrator ( The heart of all Hammonds ) cranked over and ran. Plans were made to make it into a portable organ sans the pedal section, but we wound up selling it as is before we could complete it.
As I look at the photos after 43 years later, I still can not imagine what it must of been like to be sitting at my Hammond and a second later being blown out of the club and living to play again ! I don't know if the organist was Margo Crocitto or not. She was the organist and an original Gingerbread and I think she also played with Ginger in her next band called Isis. That said Bergere's Cocktail Lounge on a Monday night had to be the gig to remember and life changing moment.
UPDATE .. Two days after I posted this, I made contact with Ginger Bianco and yes it was Margo Crocitto Lewis at the Hammond B-3 that night. She was blown into the basement still sitting on her bench !!!!!! FREAKING AMAZING .... I mean I have sat in the rear of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris and when the organist hit the bass pedals, I could feel it in my spinchter right through the bench... I cannot imagine what those girls felt when that joint blew up. Ginger sent me Margo's e mail and I have sent her a link to these pages. I'm hoping to hear from her too.
It's amazing they survived to play again (check out ISIS) just like their B -3 did ,,,,, STAY TUNED
This is what I saw when I found the remains of "Blythe Spirit's" Hammond organ.
The organ btw had a dealer plate on it from England. Aftermath was also the title of a Stones album
The Gingerbreads toured with The Stones, Hollies, Yarbirds, etc in the UK in the early 60's.