Friday 12/5/2008 ~ The Outsiders
love the Pittsburgh Guitars Email Special! And the internet!
A few months ago I mentioned
an album by a Cleveland band called The Outsiders. Here's a link to that email. I rambled through
approximately forty-seven topics that day... and one of them
concerned odd album covers, including the Outsiders final album,
"Happening Live!" (Which wasn't.) (Well, it was happening,
it just wasn't really live.) (Just like many concerts you go
to these days...) (Which reminds me of something else. I'll have
to remember to get to that later.) (OK, now where was I?) (Oh,
yeah... The Outsiders.)
Anyhow, I mentioned The Outsiders.
Then, two weeks ago, I got an email from Bill Bruno, the lead
guitarist in the band! I know!!! I was thrilled!!!! Especially
since he liked the Email Special, and wasn't mad that I was amused
by the album cover, which pictures TWO guys holding basses. (Here's
It turns out that Bill quit the
band shortly before the album was made. And the guy on the left,
with his back to the camera is Frank, the band's road manager...
just filling in as an extra body in the photo. (And apparently
there was an extra bass laying around...)
Here's the cover
of the band's first album.
Bill is on the bottom right. Personnel changes were an issue
with the band, especially with drummers, and the smudgy wall
next to Bill is where a previous drummer was airbrushed out of
the picture, and off the album cover. The smudged out drummer
was replaced by a guy you may have heard of: Jimmy Fox. Jimmy
then quit a few months later to form his own band, The James
Here are some youtube videos:
The Outsiders with Jimmy Fox on drums
(March 21, 1966)
The Outsiders with Jimmy's replacement
(drummer #4) on Dick Clark's "Where The Action Is" (May 18, 1966)
Jimmy Fox with The
James Gang, a few years later.
(Joe Walsh on guitar.)
Here's a photo from
Bill's personal collection.
It's The Outsiders from early 1966, when they were on tour opening
for Paul Revere & The Raiders. You can see The Raiders drum
set in the center. (And
their Vox AC-100 amp!) On that song the bass player is doing
a harmonica solo, so Bill is covering on bass. You can see Bill's
Gretsch Country Gentleman behind him, leaning against his amp.
That's the guitar he's using in the "Hullabaloo" video
clip above. You can tell that this is an early photo because
Tom King, bandleader, rhythm guitarist and the guy who wrote
"Time Won't Let Me," still has his Conway Twitty haircut.
Once the band started climbing the charts, he switched to a more
contemporary look. Note the difference in this picture a few
In the on-stage photo, and in
the new-haircut photo, Tom is playing his Fender Jaguar, the
same guitar he's using on "Hullabaloo." (On the "Where
The Action Is" clip above, Bill is using Tom's Jaguar and
Tom appears to be playing a broom.)
Other interesting photo tidbits:
It's hard to see, but it appears that the bass player (Mert Madsen,
by the way) was using an Ampeg B-15. It's right behind Tom's
legs. And both Tom and Bill are using Fender Bandmaster amps.
The Bandmaster Cabinet has two twelve inch speakers and was designed
to be set up horizontally. But most bands, like The Outsiders
in this photo, turned the cabinets sideways, so the top speaker
would be higher and be easier to hear. That's why the head sticks
out over the edge of the cabinet... it wasn't meant to be set
up that way.
of course, the most interesting thing is that, despite those
cool, loud amps, everyone is singing through a Shure Vocalmaster
PA system! That's a Vocalmaster column on the far left. A band
today would be happy to use those same guitars and amps, but
that Vocalmaster PA wouldn't even work as a monitor system. (Oh
yeah, notice that in 1966 there weren't any monitors.)
1966 was the big year for The
Outsiders. They skyrocketed to the the top, and then eventually
back down. Their big hit single, "Time Won't Let Me,"
(recorded in late 1965) was released in early 1966, and made
it to #5 in the charts. Their
first album, also called "Time Won't Let Me," was released
in May 1966. They had a second charting single, up to #15, with
a cover of an Isley Brothers' tune, "Respectable" in
the summer of 1966. Their second album was released in September
1966; their third in January 1967. And by then... it was pretty
Bill joined in early 1966 and
was there for all three albums and non-stop touring. He, the
original bass player, and drummer #12 all quit before the fake
"live" album in 1967. He's a very nice guy and has
fond memories of the Outsiders' one year in the spotlight. He
says, "Music has sure come a long way. It was very innocent
It's been fun emailing with him,
and I'm happy that he's willing to share his old photos with
See you soon,
PS: The lead singer of The Outsiders,
Sonny Geraci, moved to California after the band broke up. A
few years later he had hit with his new band, Climax, called
"Precious and Few." Here's a youtube video.
PPS: Speaking of "live"
music, I was very impressed with an MTV show this week. I know
what you're thinking, "What does MTV have to do with music?"
Especially live music? Well, you're kinda right. I remember I
actually wasted an hour of my life a few months ago watching
the Music Video Awards Show, which featured lots of lip-syncing
this weekend I had a chance to see last month's MTV Europe Music
Awards, filmed in Liverpool, England. And what a refreshing change
it was. Yes, there were still backing tracks in use, but the
acts all sang live. And in some instances, like Kid Rock and
Duffy, the entire band was live! It was nice to see. (Although
certain performers who are not very good singers were at a disadvantage...)
(I don't want to name names...) (Kayne West)
I hope this trend--more rock,
more real singing--works its way to our country.
My reason for tuning in was to
see our favorite ex-guitar teacher, Korel. His band, The Goo
Goo Dolls, were off for the weekend, and he flew to England to
back up Katy "I Kissed A Girl" Perry and play
in the show's house band. See? If you hang around at Pittsburgh
Guitars, like Korel did, that kind of thing could happen to you!
And who did Korel meet backstage?
Paul McCartney! Yep, two left-handed, bass-playing, guitar-playing,
keyboard-playing, singing, guys standing right next to each other!
Except... wait a minute, Korel ALSO plays sax! So... who's the
more talented guy now? OK, maybe it's still Paul. But we're proud
of Korel anyway!
PPPS: With regard to the Pittsburgh
Guitars Theme Song Contest, I know I said it would be over by
now, but we received four more entries just in the last week.
Ah... musicians... they take it slow. (Feel free to use that
for a bumpersticker.) I figure I should wait until the CDs stop
coming before ending the contest...
PPPPS: This email is already
a bit long, but I just realized how The Outsiders affected my
life! (Besides me playing "Time Won't Let Me" a hundred
times in different bands...)
When I was in college I was asked
to join a 1950s parody band called "Zit Blemish & The
Hot Rods." (Me on drums.) (Yeah, I didn't care much for
the band name... but it was successful.) When we moved to New
York I became good friends with the band's guitarist, Mitch Weissman.
A year or so later Mitch got a job playing Paul McCartney in
a Broadway show called "Beatlemania!" And I started
buying Beatle-ish instruments for the show. As I traveled around
buying and selling guitars for "Beatlemania!" I realized
how much I liked guitars... and I decided to open my own store,
Pittsburgh Guitars. So, me joining that band ultimately led to
30 years of Pittsburgh Guitars.
And how did I get in the band?
They had a gig booked at Carnegie-Mellon University and their
original drummer told them that he couldn't do the gig because
he was a tremendous Jimmy Fox fan and The James Gang were playing
in town that night. They hired me for the gig, liked me better,
and I got the job. So Pittsburgh Guitars eventually came to be
because of the drummer from The Outsiders! It's funny how life
PPPPPS: Customer of the week: