Saturday, May 31, 2008



Pittsburgh was one of the last towns to succumb to the British invasion of the early 1960s, thanks to an R&B soul and a garage-rock scene that provided the region with a hard hat alternative to what the Brits were throwing down.

One of those bands was Clairton's Arondies. Guitarist Jim Pavlack and drummer Bill Scully starting playing and singing together in the early '60s. Gary Pittman joined up as a singer and bass player.

By the end of 1962, they had a solid rock & roll trio heavily into R&B. They formed the Arondies and began to book gigs, doing shows by late 1963. They worked the local Mon Valley circuit, from the Juliot Hotel to the Sigma Nu frat house to the Clairton VFW. As Scully recalls, with a grin, "We were big celebrities - in Clairton."

By late 1964, they'd begun recording demos and early in 1965, they released their debut single on the Astra label, "69" b/w "All My Love," both written by the band.

After cutting "69," the Arondies started working with local WMCK jock, promoter, and all-around Svengali, Terry Lee. While TL and Porky were blissfully spinning the record, the other stations shied away from playing a song titled "69."

"My uncle Al McDowell was at KDKA at the time," Scully told the Post Gazette, "so my aunt and uncle took the record to Clark Race and asked if he would play it. So Clark is listenin', and it's got this nice sound, and we say '69,' and he says, 'I can't play this.' My aunt didn't know." We remember a push by the label to rename the song "The Class of '69", but that ploy didn't really fool anyone.

Still, the Arondies sold 10,000 copies of "69," regarded as a garage rock instrumental classic and to this day Pittsburgh's signature rock anthem among its boomer generation.

A month after making a splash with "69," they split with Lee in a fight over the Benjamins. He was getting them lots of bookings, often two or three shows per night, but not very healthy paychecks. The royalty checks looked a little on the slim side, too. All work and no pay...

Scully quit the band. Pittman and Pavlack formed the Soul Congress, picking up Uniontown soulman Billy Sha-Rae and kit player Jack O'Neill of The Grant Street Exit. They moved on to the Motor City, where they backed artists like the O'Jays. In '71, they scored a minor R&B hit with "Do It."

Meanwhile, Scully hooked up with Herb Marshall in a jazz-rock quartet, but by the '70s, all of the members were out of the music business. The facts of life are that garage bands have the shelf span of a May fly.

"69" is still a local cult hit, and was resurrected in the '80s by the Cynics, whose Gregg Kostelich in 1999 released the first Arondies CD on the Get Hip label, "Introducing the Arondies." The 13 tracks were laid in live sessions dating from November 1964 to a radio appearance on WMCK from 1965.

And you know what - it still holds up pretty well today. Garage rock is really the roots of rock.

Arondies - "69"

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Sugar Man

Stanley Turrentine from All About Jazz

Pittsburgh's Stanley William Turrentine, better known as "Mr. T" or "The Sugar Man", was a sax man supreme.

A legend of the tenor saxophone, Turrentine's calling card was his thick, rippling tone, earthy blues, and his ability to work a soul groove. He recorded in a wide variety of jazz genres, but was best-known for his Blue Note soul jazz jams of the '60s and some popular crossover material in the early '70s.

“Mr. T” found his Muse in the blues and turned it into a huge career with a #1 hit and four Grammy nominations, first in R&B and later in jazz.

Critic Steve Futterman of the Washington Post wrote he was "A throwback to the brawny tenor stylists of the swing era - Ben Webster, Illinois Jacquet, Don Byas - as well as the funky R & B players of the late '40s and '50s. Turrentine took no prisoners, no matter the tempo."

He was born on April 5, 1934 in the Hill District into a musical family.

His father, Thomas Turrentine Sr., was a saxophonist with Al Cooper's Savoy Sultans, his mother played stride piano, his renowned older brother Tommy played trumpet, and Marvin, another brother, played drums. Ahmad Jamal lived nearby, and often visited to practice on the Turrentines' upright piano.

His dad drilled him in the sax - oddly, he started out playing the cello, but was drawn to his dad's horn - and sometimes made him sit in a corner and play one note all day. First bored, Turrentine came to realize that he could make that note jump out of his sax in a hundred different ways, a lesson he never forgot.

He was influenced early on in his career by Illinois Jacquet who once encouraged the 12-year old Turrentine to sit in with him.

He and Tommy played at the Perry Bar, their first professional gig, while they were still in high school, along with performing at proms and other neighborhood events. He began his prolific professional career with blues and R&B bands

At 17, Turrentine went on the road with bluesman Lowell Fulson. "I guess my sound started back then," he told Hard Bop, "I couldn't avoid the blues. That band had a blind piano player in it, name of Ray Charles."

Charles was already writing songs, which Turrentine would put on paper after they finished work in the gin joints where the band played.

Turrentine said of his time with Charles that “Ray was a great influence on me. He took me under his wing, taught me lots and lots of things that I’m still using today. That man truly amazed me because even though he was blind, he was absolutely and totally independent.”

After leaving Fulson, Turrentine returned home to Pittsburgh, where he played with local musicians. He then moved to Cleveland, where he gigged with Tadd Dameron. In 1953, he was hired by R&B saxman and bandleader Earl Bostic to replace John Coltrane.

Following two years in the army, where he received his only formal musical training, he joined Max Roach's band along with brother Tommy. Turrentine cut his first solo album, "Stan the Man Turrentine," for Bainbridge Records in 1959, with Roach behind the kit.

That's also where he met organist Shirley Scott, whom he married in 1960. For several years in the 1960s, he co-led a combo with his wife, and they toured the chitlin' circuit, payin' their dues. And he didn't mind.

“I don’t like that concept of paying dues, because it implies great suffering. To me, paying your dues is that period of time when you’re learning your craft and becoming a professional." he explained. "Sure, I’ve had a lot of bad times, but then who hasn’t? A musician probably doesn’t suffer any more than a guy on the line in Detroit!”

"We played in little towns you'd never think of," he said. "We played in barns, yes, barns." Being on the road in the 1950's wasn't a bed of roses.

Those were the years of segregation and long night drives to bypass the hotels that wouldn't take in the bandsmen. At places Turrentine's groups played, "they used to rope off the dance floor, blacks on one side, whites on the other side, but they were all dancing to the same music."

But Turrentine came off the road an accomplished and polished sax man.

Alfred Lion signed him in 1960 to a contract with Blue Note Records that lasted until 1969. During this period, Turrentine recorded regularly as a sideman for the label on albums by Horace Parlan, Art Taylor, Jimmy Smith, Duke Jordan, Horace Silver, Duke Pearson, and Kenny Burrell.

The organ-centered soul jazz that Jimmy Smith and Shirley Scott played provided Turrentine with the perfect bridge to cross over into pop/R&B. His first foray into mainstream music began in 1969 when he signed with Creed Taylor's CTI label.

Turrentine's first album for CTI, "Sugar," was released in 1970 and yielded the hit tune of the same name. He continued with a string of crossover albums for CTI including the 1971 hit "Don't Mess with Mr.T." Hard core jazz fans thought him a sell-out, but Turrentine always played what he liked and wasn't one to be cornered into a genre.

In the mid-to-later 1970s, after his professional and marital split from Scott, Turrentine returned to jazz fusion on the Fantasy and Elektra labels, where he worked with Milt Jackson, Bob James, Richard Tee, Idris Muhammad, Ron Carter, and Eric Gale, among others.

He retired briefly before returning to the relaunched Blue Note label with "Straight Ahead" in 1984, featuring guests like George Benson, Jimmy Smith and Les McCann. Turrentine made two more albums for the label, "Wonderland" in 1986, a collection of tunes by Stevie Wonder, and 1989's "La Place", a homage to his Hill District birthplace on La Place Street.

He recorded several albums of acoustic, straight-ahead jazz for the Music Masters label in the 1990s, and continued to tour and perform around the world.

Turrentine lived in Ft. Washington, Maryland from the early 1990's on, and was a well known figure on the Washington musical scene. He played gigs at Blues Alley, worked with students at the Duke Ellington High School of the Arts and performed at annual benefit gospel concerts for his Shiloh Baptist Church.

He died of a stroke in New York City on September 12, 2000, while he was about to close out an engagement at the Blue Note club with singer Marlena Shaw. Turrentine left behind a discography of over three dozen albums.

His final services were held at Macedonia Baptist Church on Bedford Avenue, and he was laid to rest in Lawrenceville's Allegheny Cemetery.

Stanley Turrentine - "Sugar" (1970)

Friday, May 23, 2008

Mellows 4 Dots 4 Troys...

four dots
The Four Dots from Marv Goldberg's R&B Notebook

The 4 Dots can be traced back to the Hill and Homewood where the Mellows formed around 1950. The original group members, all of whom were 15 and 16, were Fletcher Williams (lead tenor), Edgar Lee (first tenor), Melvin Peters (second tenor), and Kenny Miller (baritone).

Later that year, they heard 13-year-old bass Marvin Brown singing at the Musicians' Club in East Liberty, and they enlisted him as the newest Mellow.

The group changed its name to the 5 Mellows, and started practicing at William's house. They sang both standards and the R&B/doo wop songs that were popular back in the day.

Soon they were performing at record hops, in clubs like McKeesport's White Elephant, the Diamond Skating Rink on Market Street, the Blue Ridge, the Cobe Hotel and at their manager Cutty Albert's place, the Bonange Club on Route 51.

You needed a scorecard to keep up with the personnel changes around then. Edgar Lee left and was replaced by Edward Johnson. Then Johnson went, and his place was taken by Chuck Jackson for about 6 months. (Jackson would go on to sing with the Del Vikings, and then have a sweet solo career.)

When Jackson's get up and go got up and left in 1955, they gave in to the inevitable and decided to just go with four singers. They changed the name back to the Mellows.

They found a booking agent named Don DeCarlo. He suggested that they change their name to the 4 Dots. His theory was that appearing at the hops didn't bring home the bacon. The real money was in playing supper clubs and night spots.

Their playlist was tilted towards standards, the staples of the club circuit, so he chose a name that sounded like the 800 pound gorilla of the day, the Ink Spots. That way, he could get them better bookings and a bigger payday. So the 4 Dots were born.

Porky Chedwick, who helped many local careers along, called Woody Hinderling, who owned Bullseye Records in New York, and talked him into setting up a session with the 4 Dots in February, 1956. The guys drove from Pittsburgh to Manhattan for their demo taping. They found Manhattan, but not Hinderling. They spent their Saturday night sleeping in their car.

The next day, they located Hinderling, and he gave them four songs he wanted them to do. They spent the night practicing - in a hotel, not their jalopy - and then went off to the studio to sing. (They didn't bring any original material along to tape because all they did at the time were covers.)

The first record they cut was "Rita/He Man Looking For A She Girl," (#B-103) and it was released in March, 1956. Back in Pittsburgh, the platter aired on Homestead's WHOD, played by Porky and Bill Powell, and on Wilkinsburg's WCAE, where it was spun by Jay Michael. It was a local hit, but went nowhere nationally.

But life was good. They had a record and still played hops and clubs. They even did a brief southern tour with Stanley and Tommy Turentine.

Bullseye released the 4 Dots' second disk ("Peace Of Mind/Kiss Me Sugar Plum", #B-104) in June, 1956. Once again the record sold well locally, but had no love outside of the region. And that was the end of their association with Bullseye Records.

The group went through some changes in 1957. Miller left, replaced by Manning Rosemond. The newly married Williams also hit the road. He tried to start a solo career, releasing "Mary Lou/Stop, Look And Love Me" on Bullseye in September. It didn't chart, either. William's place was taken by Kenny Jackson. And then the 4 Dot story gets kinda weird.

In September, 1958, Liberty Records formed a subsidiary label, Freedom. One of the first performers that Freedom signed was the 4 Dots. However, it wasn't Pittsburgh's 4 Dots, but a California group led by Jewel Akens.

Here's where it gets weird. The Steel City's 4 Dots were also signed by Freedom. So the 4 Dots became the 4 Troys, as the label couldn't push two acts with the same name. They only released one 45 for Freedom, but it's enough to make for a quite confusing discography to the casual fan.

As the 4 Troys, they recorded at least three songs for Freedom. They were “In The Moonlight/Suddenly You Want To Dance,” and “Weeping Willow,” (which never got to see the light of day). "Moonlight" was released in April, 1959, and flopped. The group fell apart.

The 4 Dots eventually re-formed, with former members Williams and Brown, first tenor Aubry Kirkland and baritone Nate Benson.

A final bit of weirdness - they often sang “Pleading For Your Love,” one of their more popular requests. Except the song was done by the Jewel Aken 4 Dots, not them. They've learned to roll with it. Hey, whatever brings 'em in.

(Fletcher Williams passed away in 2005, and we haven't found anything that makes us think the Four Dots are still performing. If you know, give us a yell. And thanks greatly to Marv Goldberg's R&B Notebook for keeping their tale alive.)

Four Dots - "Peace of Mind" (1956)

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Rusted Root

Rusted Root

Rusted Root is a Pittsburgh band known for their fusion of Grateful Dead-style bluegrass rock with a driving percussion section that features reggae, African, Latino, Native American, and Mid Eastern influences. They're often called a jam band, though they disagree with that label. Still, it's fair to say their sound is Woodstock mashing with world music.

Michael Glabicki founded Rusted Root in 1990. He called Liz Berlin, an old friend with whom he'd collaborated previously, and asked her to sing with him. Through her came drummer Jim Donovan, with whom she’d taken an African drumming class.

Donovan recruited Patrick Norman to play guitar (he’d later switch to bass, helping shape Rusted Root's rhythm-centric sound). A year later, multi-instrumentalist, visual artist, and bicycle messenger John Buynak and singer Jenn Wertz, originally hired to photograph the group, signed on. Buynak’s distinctive artwork would give Rusted Root a strong visual image.

In 1990, they self-released a CD, "Cruel Sun." The disc attracted Mercury Records, which signed the band and released "When I Woke" in 1994. The album hit the top 40 in early 1995, peaking at #33. Sales were driven by the single "Send Me On My Way", which hit #72 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1995.

Two more records ("Remember" in 1996 and "Rusted Root" in 1998), three EPs ("Evil Ways", "Live", and "Airplane"), and varied film and TV soundtrack credits (Twister, Mathilda, Home For the Holidays, Party of Five, Homicide, Pie In the Sky, Are We There Yet, World Adventure, and Ice Age), followed.

"Remember" reached the Top 40 in the US, its' sale pumped by the band's cover of The Rolling Stones' "You Can't Always Get What You Want" that played on an episode of Ally McBeal. "Welcome To My Party" was released in 2002, a "Live" double disk CD/DVD was pressed in 2004, and a "Greatest Hits" compilation was issued in 2005.

They hit a bump in the road when "Welcome to My Party" was rapped by some of their hard core fans, the Rootheads.

Many of them felt the band's departure from purely tribal grooves to a more mainstream sound was a sell out. Such is the conundrum facing all bands. The critics thought the CD was the lovechild of a hippie karma circle and the fan base thought it was pop music. Ya can't win.

They've earned a reputation as a hard-working live band, and they've toured with Santana, Joan Osbourne, Sting, Sheryl Crow, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Grateful Dead, Dave Matthews Band, Allman Brothers Band, and the Jimmy Page/Robert Plant reunion show. They also played as part of the HORDE Festival.

Although the group continues to tour, their hard-traveling days appear to be over (although the new band seems to be revving it up to support the upcoming CD) as they devoted more time to pursue individual projects.

Glabicki has released a CD, "Uprooted" as have Berlin with "AudioBioGraphical", Norman with "Digital World", and Wertz with her band Isabella's (she also plays with Lovechild) "Shotgun Sessions". Former percussionist Jim DiSpirito released "Big Silence" in 2003. Berlin also co-owns Mr. Small's Funhouse, so she's been occupied with the industry side of music, too.

Drummer Donovan has released 5 well received solo CDs as well as 4 instructional drumming CDs. His newest releases include "Drum the Ecstatic International", "The Yoga of Drum and Chant" and a hand drumming instructional series called "Rhythmic Foundation Volumes 1 and 2".

Donovan has recently became a full time instructor of music at Saint Francis University in Loretto and directs the school's World Drumming Ensemble. He's also a featured monthly columnist in Drum! Magazine. Donovan runs a series of drumming workshops that he teaches across the US and Europe.

The band is recording again, for the first time in five years, and is planning for a late spring release of a new CD. Berlin doesn't expect Rusted Root to sign a label deal for the new album.

“We don't feel a need or an intention to go shop this around,” she told Billboard. “I think the industry has changed so much that it's not really a necessary thing. Now you can pretty much do everything yourself."

Of course, she's quick to add, if the right deal comes along...

Berlin says the gap since 2002's "Welcome to My Party" has been marked by a "kind of restructuring emotionally and personnel-wise" which has left only herself, Glabicki and Norman from Rusted Root's original lineup, although it's not unusual to see current and past members playing together in one configuration or another.

The new roster includes Jason Miller, who filled in during the group's 2006 tour for Donovan (drums, percussion), Colter Harper (guitar), Preach Freedom (percussion), and Dirk Miller (guitar). Anyway, we think this is it. We've seen the band listed with anywhere from 4-7 members, so...

Jason Miller is the percussion director for Upper St. Clair High and plays a standard drum kit. Harper received a bachelors in jazz performance from Duquesne and is completing a masters degree in ethnomusicology at Pitt. Freedom, originally Ron Williams, played for One World Tribe. Dirk Miller was a member of the fusion group Yves Jean Band.

"It's been pretty challenging," notes Berlin. "I think the creative energy's been a little stifled over the last few years, and we're just coming out of it right now."

Not that they've disappeared quietly into the solo project scene. Rusted Root went on national tour in 2010 and also played at the Benedum and Hartwood Acres.

On its' website, the band compares itself to a biological organism, morphing, splitting, and reinventing itself all the time. It's an apt description.

If you want to keep up on Rusted Root's many tendrils, just type a band member's name, past or present, into Google. The odds are he or she has a web or social site just waiting for you.

Rusted Root - "Send Me On My Way" (1995)

Saturday, May 10, 2008


The Affordable Floors

Formed in 1984, by the late 1980s no band was more popular in the local clubs than the Affordable Floors.

The band members were Harvey Coblin (lead vocals), Eric Riebling (bass), Kirk Botula, aka KZB (keyboards - Rich Rust sat in for him in 1994-95), Jeff Babcock (lead guitar, replacing early axeman Eric Hertzog, who replaced original member Steve Morrison) and Ken Zenkevich (drums).

And why The Affordable Floors? "The truth of the matter is this guy who owned a store called Affordable Floors sponsored us, kinda like a little league team," Botula told Laura Pace of Penn State's Daily Collegian.

The band wore the store's t-shirts and everyone thought it was their name, so they finally gave in to the obvious.

The band had won the Graffiti Rock Challenge and played the club regularly. But their career was really jumpstarted when the short-lived but influential punk rock station WXXP started to play tracks from the band's first album "The Sounding," released in 1986, and their rep took off from there.

Botula was shortly thereafter voted Pittsburgh's best songwriter, Riebling its best bass player and the Floors its best band.

"The Sounding" was followed by "Drumming on the Walls" in 1989 (on Anthem, an indie label), and the Floors were signed to major label MCA in 1990, a Pyhrric victory as it ended up.

The band was unceremoniously dumped during a corporate restructuring after sitting around and gathering dust for two long, radio-silent years.

In the spring of 1992, the band returned to Anthem Records, describing their major label experience as "a long dark tunnel with a light at the end and our dead relatives beckoning to us," according to their website.

The Floors bounced back with the release of "All the Things I Meant to Be."

The Floors played new wave, keyboard-based synth/pop music. At the time, that's the kind of sound Botula, the band's main songwriter, cranked out. Then in 1994, a repetitive stress injury took away the use of his hands.

Doctors told him he might never write or play music again and that revelation changed the way that the notes flowed through his brain.

Months later, Botula's hands began to improve but he had no way of knowing if it would last. "Each time I sat down," he told Steve Segal in Perceptions, "I'd think, 'This might be the last time I ever get to play.'"

He started to experiment with techno musical structures. Babcock was into it, but it soon became apparent that the others weren't on the same page musically.

"We kept holding on because the Floors were successful," Babcock said. "Finally, we were at a Taco Bell after a show in Erie and Ken said, 'Why don't we just quit?' I felt this intense feeling of relief. Everyone else (did), too. It was the friendliest break-up I've ever seen or heard of."

They performed their last show in the summer of 1995 at Nick's Fat City.

Botula (who has a day job as a software engineer) and Babcock went on to form Cloud, a sort of ethereal avant garde group, while Riebling joined up with Bill Deasy and The Gathering Field, local heartland rockers.

Where are they now? Well, except for appearances in a couple of tribute shows put together by old XX alum, Google is quiet on the fate of the Floors. If you know, give us a yell.

Friday, May 2, 2008

I Don't Have Plans And Schemes...


In 1958, Jimmy Beaumont (formerly of the Montereys), Wally Lester and Jack Taylor, who were singing with promoter Joe Rock's Allentown group, The Crescents, combined with Joe Versharen and Janet Vogel from South Hill's based El Rios. The resulting mash would become the Skyliners.

The way they got together was a little odd. Rock had talked a promotion man from Specialty Records into coming to Pittsburgh to hear the original Crescents, but half of them decided to go joy riding rather than sing for him. The three who kept the appointment were Beaumont, Lester, and Taylor.

Vogel and Versharen were recruited as replacements for the AWOL Crescent cruisers who were booted out of the band by Rock. The rest, as they say, is history.

The song that would lead to their success was inspired by a secretary that broke up with Rock. Driving away from the encounter, Rock's head filled with the lyrics for a jilted lover song. Beaumont provided the music the next night. (Which, btw, was a formula they stuck to - Rock doing the lyrics and Beaumont the scoring and arrangements.)

The song, of course, was "Since I Don't Have You," a timeless 1958 ballad of love gone astray. But not everyone saw its' potential.

Rock sent the demo tape to 13 big time labels, including Chess, ABC, Imperial, and RCA. All 13 rejected the song. One said it was too negative and should have been “Since I Have You.” Another wrote, “A song with 13 ‘yous’ at the end will never sell!” Not exactly Nostrademus, that guy.

Rock and the Crescents finally had it recorded by Pittsburgh's Calico label, which was owned by Lou Caposi and Bill Lawrence.

Legend has it that Vogel ad libbed the song's memorable ending in high C as a joke during rehearsals. The guys liked it so much they kept it as part of the song's studio arrangement.

Whether that's so or not, she added it after the third and final take during the NY taping, and the song wouldn't be the same without that last note. Vogel was ensured a spot in rock history with that one final, seemingly never ending "you."

“Since I Don’t Have You” was recorded on December 3, 1958, at Capitol Studios in New York. 18 musicians were used, a huge number for a teen vocal group at the time and the first time a full orchestra had been used with a pop group.

Phil Spector was there with the Teddy Bears and he later cited “Since I Don’t Have You” as an influence on his "wall of sound" style of the 1960s.

When the test pressing came back there was no group name on the label, which prompted Rock and the Crescents to think about a new nom d' plume. They came up with the title of an old 1945 Charlie Barnett hit, “Skyliner.”

Vogel's wail, Beaumont's blue-eyed soul delivery, the Skyliner harmony and the string background combined to make "Since I Don't Have You" a runaway hit.

Credit for breaking "Since I Don't Have You" was given to Art Pallan of KDKA - Radio. Dick Clark was also an early fan of the group and featured them on American Bandstand on Friday, February 13, 1959, a lucky Friday the 13th for the Skyliners if ever there was one.

Within three days of the Dick Clark performance, “Since I Don't Have You” charted on Billboard’s Top 100 and had sold 100,000 records. The Skyliner's debut single did better on the R&B (#3) than Pop (#12) charts, and the group began to perform on the chitlin' circuit.

In the early days stunned silence usually greeted them in the black halls until they began singing and gradually converted the audiences into Skyliner fans. They became the first white group ever to top the R&B charts of Cashbox.

"Since I Don't Have You" has since been covered by Chuck Jackson, Don McLean, Guns N' Roses, The Brian Setzer Orchestra, Ronnie Milsap, and Buckaroo Banzai.

Alan Freed invited the Skyliners to New York to appear on his 1959 Easter show with Jackie Wilson, Fats Domino, and Bobby Darin. They also made eight appearances at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem.

Dick Clark took them on his "Caravan of Stars" tour, which stopped at the Syria Mosque in the fall with the Drifters, Paul Anka, Lloyd Price and Duane Eddy, and featured them on Bandstand and his Saturday night television show numerous times.

In 1960, Calico released its first album, "The Skyliners", with twelve tracks, including both sides of the group's first two singles, "Since I Don't Have You", B/W "One Night, One Night", and "This I Swear," B/W "Tomorrow". What a pair of singles to start a career with!

“This I Swear” also did better on the black charts than pop (#20 R&B to #26 Pop.) The LP charted in the top fifty.

After the album, the singles "Lonely Way" B/W "It Happened Today" and "How Much" B/W "Lorraine From Spain" were released by Calico. Their sixth and final Calico single was "Believe Me" B/W "Happy Time".

In 1961, The Skyliners moved to the larger Colpix label. They did three records for them, most notably "The End Of A Story."

The Skyliners then recorded "Comes Love," written by Johnny Jack and released it on the local Viscount Label. It was backed by "Tell Me." Many consider "Comes Love" to be the equal of "Since I Don't Have You" and "This I Swear." Though it didn't do much on the charts, today it's still a hot 45.

By 1963 the group had signed with Atco Records, which released "Since I Fell For You." Lenny Welch had the national hit with his version that same year. It was a case of a good song with bad timing for the local band.

The B side, "I'd Die", was rediscovered in the mid-70's by 13-Q DJ Don Bombard and remains a popular request among oldie stations to this day.

But the fun was running out, and by the mid-1960s they had gone their separate ways. Touring and near miss songs were taking their toll on the group.

In 1965, Jack Taylor, with Rock's permission, fronted a faux Skyliner group which recorded "The Loser" on Jubilee Records. This ballad, written by Taylor and Rock, became a popular slow drag at area hops and charted Top 40 nationally, both on pop and R&B lists, and was covered by Sonny DiNunzio's Racket Squad.

But collectors beware - the Jubilee sessions are not Beaumont, Vogel, and the guys, but the Taylor group.

The original Skyliners finally got back together, but they didn't satisfy themselves by just riding along the oldies circuit. They added some new material, too. Their Capitol recording of "Where Have They Gone" became a Number 1 hit in the Pittsburgh market in 1974.

But the Skyliner era had run its' course. On New Years Day, 1976, Lester and Verscharen retired permanently from the group.

Taylor became an Army captain during Vietnam and then went into computers. Lester is a VP for the Clairol Corporation and Verscharen bought a motel in North Carolina and went to rock 'n' roll heaven last year.

Janet Vogel-Rapp, wife, mother, and soprano songbird, passed away on February 21, 1980, at the age of 37. She died of carbon monoxide poisoning in her car, a victim of suicide. Her boy, Gavin, graduated from Central Catholic HS and Pitt, and went from computer whiz to indy film maker.

Rock continues to manage the band with Beaumont's pipes still soundin' sweet at its' lead.

Beaumont, along with Nick Pociask, Dick Muse, Mark Groom, and Donna Groom carry the Skyliner banner. They tour pretty regularly, especially in the East and Midwest, hitting the odd cruise, and pop up on PBS with the other great acts of old.

The Skyliners were inducted into The Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2002.

Skyliners - "Since I Don't Have You" (1959)