The Medallions and the Faded Blue

The Medallions cut this one 45 on the excellently-named Warped Records, then split up, as far as I know.

“Leave Me Alone” is a tough number, heavy on the tambourine and group vocals. It was written by Ralph Mullin. The flip is “She’ll Break Your Heart”, a Buddy Holly-type ballad written by Byron Penn. Virian J. Wadford produced the 45.

It turns out this group was from Oak Park, Illinois, not Wisconsin as I originally thought, though there was another Medallions from Wisconsin. Members were:

Bill Pappas – lead guitar
Lennie Pigoni – rhythm guitar
Byron Penn – keyboards
Ralph Mullin – bass
Tom Lloyd – drums

I did receive an email from someone who did not give her/his name:

My brother Tom Lloyd was the drummer in the group. The other members were Byron Penn, Ralph Mullens, Len Pagoni, and Bill Pappas. They did only make that one record that you mentioned. It was unfortunately, the draft that broke up the band. Tommy and Len were drafted into the army on the same day. When they returned from the service the guys had gone their separate ways. Byron had moved to Florida for a while, Len got married and Ralph and Bill just lost touch. Sadly, Tommy, Byron and Lenny are all deceased. They sure made some great music in their day, and kept a lot of Oak Park kids dancing!

Ralph Mullin is apparently the same person who appeared in two of Herschell Gordon Lewis’ late ’60s films. In Blast-Off Girls, from ’67, he’s part of a band called the Big Blast. The band was a real group whose name was actually the Faded Blue, a much cooler moniker if you ask me. The Faded Blue’s members were Tom Tyrell, Ron Liace, Dennis Hickey, Ralph Mullin and Chris Wolski.

Blast-Off Girls actually features two interesting bands, first ‘Charlie’ who are shown in the opening credits and scenes doing a song that might be titled “A Bad Day”. ‘Charlie’ consisted of Steve White, Tom Eppolito, Bob Compton, Ray Barry and Tony Sorci.

In the film’s plot, sleazy promoter Boojie Baker rips them off, so the band quits. Boojie finds the Big Blast to replace them at a club called the Mother Blues, and they’re featured through the rest of the film. Stylistically the Big Blast / Faded Blue are a little more sophisticated than Charlie, showing some folk and psychedelic influences while Charlie are a straight rock n’ roll garage band. The Big Blast release a record in the movie, but so far no one’s found a 45 by the Faded Blue.

In another Lewis movie, 1968’s Just for the Hell of It Ralph Mullin has the role of Lummox, one of the gang who tears up the club in one scene.

The band in the foreground of the credits is not the Big Blast (the Faded Blue), but ‘Charlie’, the more primitive garage group that quits the gig and is replaced by the Big Blast.

This turns out to be one of the more awkward cameos in movie history

Charlie mocking Boojie Baker

The Mother Blues Club, where Boojie discovers the Big Blast – was this a real club?

Ralph Mullin of the Big Blast / Faded Blue

Guitarist for the Big Blast / Faded Blue

Bassist for the Big Blast / Faded Blue

Keyboard player for the Big Blast / Faded Blue

The Big Blast in the studio

The Big Blast’s 45, Marvelous Noise!

The Big Blast blowing off their big career opportunity!

23 thoughts on “The Medallions and the Faded Blue”

  1. They’re pretty good actors too! Love their drunk scene – not so easy to pull off (bet they really got soused on-set!) Blast-off Girls is still a relevant expose of shady promoters ;>

    Sanders also has a cameo in a terrible Al Adamson biker flick, Hell’s Bloody Devils.

  2. Chris, my research several years ago indicated that these Medallions were from Chicago. I found nothing to indicate WI. There was a Medallions in Milwaukee, but it was not this band. IIRC, I found a bit more info on the Chicago Medallions (and that info did include Bill Bishop), but I’ve since turned over my Chicago info to researcher Guy Arnston.

    Gary E. Myers / MusicGem

  3. The Medallions group that included Ralph Mullin & recorded the single on the Warped label in October ’65 were based in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park.

  4. Byron Penn was on Keyboards and Tommy Lloyd on Drums. Both are Deceased and from Oak Park, Ill.They played the Oak Park YMCA alot.
    Lyrics. “I ask you a very simple thing, I want you to give me back my ring. I don’t want you, I don’t need you , I don’t care. Now, leave me alone”.

  5. Saw the Medallions and knew them. However, I don’t remember Ralph Mullin. What I do remember is Byron Penn, keyboard, Bill Pappas, lead guitar,Lennie Pigoni, Rythym guitar, and the great Tommy Lloyd on the drums. So sorry to hear about the passings of Byron and Tommy. RIP.


    1. Tommy Lloyd was my neighbor in Oak Park, and I remember them playing in Lloyd’s basement for their practice. I also raced Len P. at Stevenson Rec Center in Oak Park in the winter ice skating races held each year… I have home movies of this, and I beat him in the 100 yd. dash, and he beat me in the longer race, I don’t remember the distance… he wore racer skates and could really fly.

    2. I played with the Medallions and would like to say first of all I am alive but would love to know what happened to Tommy Lenny and Bill. Back then most called me Bopper. Jim Stigailo, Big Tuna Ferris, Chere and Barb McAvoy were all part of the gang.

    3. One of the Clubs this was shot at, was in Cleveland, across from Case Western Reserve on Cornel. It was shot at the first Agora (Alpha) which would turn into the largest chain of Rock Clubs in America. I know , I was there running the club. I helped set all of it up. They used a couple of other places as well. Does anybody have access to the full unedited takes? I would really like to locate them.

    4. Went to school and knew your dad. Last spoke when he was married to Libby from Florida. Stationed at Great Lakes during Vietnam war. Speed skater when we were kids in Oak Park. Been awhile, condolences.
      Phil Cortese

  6. After Tommy Lloyd my father, Jim Pyle, became the Faded Blue’s drummer. He was best friends with the bassist, Ron Liace, who I still talk to once or twice a year. They were set to sign a deal and tour and then my dad was incarcerated and things blew up. That’s the end from what I knew. Ron gave my brother his bass and stopped playing for many years. After being released from prison my dad never got things straight being caught for drug related crimes again and serving a longer sentence. On Feb 25, 1985 my dad was murdered.

  7. Tom Eppolito is the guitarist in Charlie at opening of Blast Off Girls. I was born in 1969 and he died of a heart attack in 1972 at 22 years old. His heart was damaged from his heroin addiction.

    I believe the real name of Charlie was the “Dirty Shames” monikered after the Cryan Shames.

    Unfortunately I didn’t know Tommy much. We have no pictures or possessions as his father died a few years ago and was literally penniless with no momentos. I’m told Tom was a great musician and I have followed in his footsteps. Music runs strong in our family.

    Does anyone have info on the other members of Charlie or the dirty shames???

  8. Steve White, the singer for “Charlie” was also the vocalist for Chicago psych outfit Food who put out the monumental ‘Forever Is A Dream’ LP on Capitol.

  9. Some “Blast off Girls” scenes were shot at an Old Italian Wedding reception hall in Little Italy, Cleveland Ohio. I recall 1965, but it could be 66. There is a newspaper article about it. The funny or interesting thing about that date, was it took place at “Nino’s Pizza”, which later was to become the Agora. Agora became the largest chain of Concert Clubs in America. I know, I was there and did the show that was filmed. Would like email on anybody from the band .

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