Caeser & His Romans

Caesar & His Romans: Dan Cook, Bill Burt, Chuck Vicario (seated), David Burt and unidentified
Caesar & His Romans, from left: Dan Cook, Bill Burt, Chuck Vicario (seated), David Burt and unidentified.
Any help with names would be appreciated

Caeser & His Romans GJM 45 Green Grass Makes It BetterCaeser & His Romans were from Buffalo, recording two 45s on the GJM label in late ’67 and 1968 before signing to Scepter for two more singles. I hadn’t been able to find much about the group but some emails and comments have helped.

Vocalist Chuck Vicario stayed with the group throughout its career. Bassist John Sia co-founded the band with Chuck in 1964, and left for college in ’67. Joe Hesse replaced John and then Vinny Parker replaced Hesse. Joe DeSantis was the original drummer with the group. Other members of the group included Joe Hesse’s brother Jim Hesse on keyboards, Bill Burt and David Burt, and Dan Cook on lead guitar.

Both songs on their first 45 were written by Charles Vicario and J. Hesse, recording supervised by Jerry Meyers and Rich Sargent.

Rich Sargent wrote to me about his work with the band:

Jerry owned GJM Records, I worked for him, we used a few different studios. I produced “Leavin’ My Past Behind” at Audio Recording in Cleveland, the same studio wher Jerry produced the Joe Jeffries gold single “My Pledge Of Love” … great studio in downtown Cleveland. I am a long time friend of Chuck (Caesar/Big Wheelie) and his late manager Fred Caserta. We met in ’64 … my band and Chucks finished 1 & 2 in a number of “battle of the bands” back then.

I haven’t heard “When Will I Get Over You” in about 15 years… my favorite may have been “Leavin’ My Past Behind” (sure wish I could remix it) and “Baby Let’s Wait”. That one came close to breaking, but the Royal Guardsmen put out a version and we were done.

There was a core of players that was consistant but also a number who left, came back, left again. Dan Cook was the guitar player through all of the incarnations of Caesar and Big Wheelie. The keyboard player on “Green Grass…” was Jimmy Hesse who left to join The Road and was part of that band when they had a mid chart dingle on Kama Sutra with a cover of the Zombies “She’s Not There” which was produced by Joey Reynolds (now doing late night talk radio on WOR 710 NYC and also carried on over 200 stations).

Caesar & His Romans became Caesar & THE Romans, [then] evolved into Friendship Train which was a successful club & lounge act. During one set each night as part of the act they became Big Wheelie & The Hubcaps. This became so successful that Friendship Train was dropped in favor of a full night of Big Wheelie. Their final album was released on Amherst Records in 1976. Chuck stlll performs as Big Wheelie about 10-12 times per year. He was brilliantly managed by the late Fred Caserta who went on to found Kingdom Bound which is one of the largest concert events in the Christian Music field.

“Green Grass Makes It Better” is one of their catchiest numbers, and sure seems like a drug reference to me: the world is “going psycho” but “good green grass makes it better.” “Why Make a Fool of Me” on the flip is denser but excellent as well.

Caeser & His Romans GJM 45 Black LanternTheir second record is one I haven’t yet heard, “Baby, Let’s Wait”, backed by the great “Black Lantern”, a bass-driven lament written by Vicario and Hesse. The A-side has the credit “Arr. by Beaver”, while the flip says “Arr. by Breezy” and “(from the movie ‘The Atomic Grandmother’)” – a real production or another joke?

Instead of publishing through GJM Music like the first single, Darshen Music published “Black Lantern”.

Caeser & the Romans Scepter 45 When Will I Get Over YouMoving towards a much more commercial direction, they signed to Scepter Records as Caesar and the Romans, releasing two 45s in 1969, both minor hits in the Buffalo area. “Baby Love” uses some fuzz guitar and heavy beats on the Supremes song, but I prefer the upbeat flip, “When Will I Get Over You”, written by C. Vicario, Jr.

The A-side of their next Scepter 45, “Leavin’ My Past Behind” / “Jailhouse Rock” continues their pop sound. Mike Dugo sent me photos of two more Scepter recordings by the band, “Come Little Girl” and “Come Live With Me” that were never released to my knowledge. Both are funky soul numbers.

Thank you to Diane Burt for the photo of the group at top and additional info, to Mike Dugo for the Scepter acetate photos, the promotional flyers and ads, and to Ryan Lalande for the scan of “Black Lantern”.

Caesar and His Romans Oak Orchard Lanes Albion NY promo

Caesar & the Romans Scepter demo acetate Come Little Girl

Little Caesar and the Romans promo photo

Caesar & the Romans Scepter demo acetate Come Live With Me

Caesar & the Romans promo poster

72 thoughts on “Caeser & His Romans”

  1. I remember Caesar and The Romans from my youth, and especially the song Leaving my Past Behind. I can’t find a download of the tune anywhere though. Hope some one can forward it to me.
    I was also a fan of Big Wheelie in the early 70’s as well. Chuck has a great set of people in his bands.

  2. Thanks for sending me the song! It was hard to find but I am glad someone came thru. I’m thinking you might be from WNY since not many people heard of the band?
    Thanks again, Arnie

  3. I have been friends Dave Constantino for 30 years and have asked him for a copy of this a million times…but he never digs it out of his archives 4 me… I only had a mp3 that I converted from a cassete of very poor quality from when Talas were on doing an interview @ either WBFO or WUWU back in 1980 or 1981… Dave for whatever reason, never plays it anymore… Guess it is truly a thing of the past 4 him.

    Thanks for posting this.

    Dave Golden

  4. Wow, Big Wheelie and the Hubcaps really takes me back..they used to play regularly at a bar I worked at in the Westfield area (Lou’s Inn) back in the 70’s. Still have my red “Elvis” scarf her threw to me..Great to see they are still playing

  5. Mary,
    If you remember, they also used to play at a bar on Transit Dr. almost into Lockport almost every Saturday night in the winter of the early 1970’s. We would always go to watch them open up with their Friendship Train set, and then come back as Big Wheelie and the Hubcaps.
    The name of the bar escapes me. Hope you or someone else remembers it! Arn

    1. My brother in law was friends with Dan Cook. The Hahn brothers used to listen to the band when they played in Marty Stemler’s basement on St. Lawrence Ave, Buffalo in the 60’s. We’re trying to figure out the name of the bar on Transit. Will get back to you. Cheers!

  6. They used to play at a bar in Brockport NY called Aunties Attic. I used to go see them all the time, had a huge crush on Dan Cook. Those were the good old days!

  7. It’s been a pleasure knowing Chuck all these years. What a talented individual who really should have made that “next step” but never had the opportunity. Remembering all of the fun times we have had over the years together-from Caesar to Friendship Train to Big Wheelie and the Hubcaps.

  8. Wow talk about some absolutely incredible memories, does anyone know how to get in contact with Chuck, or Nancy or Ace? They are old friends that hold some of the best memories of the 70’s please if anyone knows I would love to be able to follow what they are doing now and or get in contact. Thanks

  9. I remeber them also from the Buffalo area. The bar you refer to near Locakport was called the After Dark. My sister dated the guitar player a couple of times.

  10. My name is John Sia,live in Medina, and it’s great to see there are those who remember my old band. Chuck Vicario and i-co-founder of Caesar-, we both attended Kenmore west,lived in Kenmore,had some good times. I left the group after i left to attend college in Boston, Mass. Ran into Chuck a few times since he became Big Wheelie and the Hubcaps-he even performed here in Medina, ny
    Good memories.Joe Hesse and i are both on Facebook-i in fact taught him how to play bass.

    1. Hi! Just a corection on one of my reply’s-
      Jim Hesse did not go on to play with The Road-just Joe.
      Caught up with Joe Hesse last year when he reunited with the original band-The Road-to do a concert with original “Talas” in Niagara Falls, NY. Was it ever great! Thousands showed up to see it! The Road(original members) are thinking doing it -reuniting again-maybe this year!
      Hey Dan!!! Great to hear from you, man! Wow-talk about a “Reelin’ in the Years” talking about Caesar and Big Wheelie years ago!
      I’m emailing you-sorry it took so long to re-connect back after your post here!
      We posted a lot of photos of the bands on Facebook-under wny bands and garage hangover!

  11. I have a photo of the band I will email to you next week. I also have an unreleased acetate but it’s listed as by Caesar & The Romans. It’s definitely the same group, however.

  12. I am also a huge fan of the group. I spent countless nights dancing and singing along with this wonderful group. My college friends and I would travel all over the state to see them. (Can you say groupie?) We even had some after parties with the gang. I have all of their albums and my husband has converted them to CDs. I would love to find out when and where they will be playing in the future. I grew up around Lockport, NY, but now live outside of Houston, Texas. I do get back to the WNY area about once a year and would love to hear and see them play again!!

  13. My late husband, Bill Burt played in Caesar & his Romans. I have an 8×10 of the group. There was Big Wheelie, my late husband Bill, his brother David Burt & 2 other guys. I live in Hamburg, NY. Please contact me. Diane

    1. Hi, Diane–
      This is John Sia-who was with Caesar(i co-founded the band with Chuck) until i went to college and they went on to become Big Wheelie.
      As you know-Dan Cook recently passed away in Las Vegas, nevada from cancer…Oct. 29th.
      Coroner’s office called me and a f ew other friends-one-Andy de Santis from Buffalo-asking if we knew of any family, and had any info on his Mom Peggy(who was known as Texas Peggy-she was a country western guitarist/singer. Does anyone recall his Mom-or reading an obit on her? Coroner has had a difficult time finding family members. Dan lived in Florida in 70’s/80’s and then Tennesee in ’80’s. He was married/divorced from a Kimberly Cook.
      If you-anyone remembers any other family members-would appreciate an email. Dan and his Mom lived at 1212 Kenmore Ave., and i believe went to Bennet High School in Buffalo.Thanks! I can pass it to the Vegas, nevada coroner’s office!

    2. Hi, my brother in law Bee Hahn says he was friends with Dan Cook. Him and his brothers remember the band rehearsing on St. Lawrence Ave in Buffalo in a basement of a friend. Caesar and His Romans!

  14. If anyone talk to chuck tell him the redhead with the short skirt on needs to get in contact sith him. Extremely important!

    I have his daughter.

  15. does anyone know how i might be able to get in touch w/ Chuck Vicario? other than by his address. maybe an email or something like that. please let me know asap, it’s really important.

    1. Hi … Is there any chance this might be (Linda) Cool Justine of the Hubcaps?

      You may remember me from Canada …Cut Da Shirt from Sugars in St Catharines.

      I am currently working with Chuck on a comeback show in early 2014.

      I would love to chat with you

        1. Hey John,

          Thanks for the reply and interest. Although this is an entirely “New” act, we hope to have a young flair to it …. A revisited 1970’s version of Big Wheelie and the Hubcaps.
          Not to say the idea of Caesar and the Romans reunion is not in the cards at some time.

          For now the challenge is to find new 25 + year old hubcaps that can rock n roll and get the show ready. Any help or potential hubcaps is greatly appreciated.

          Da Shirt

          1. Sounds like a great idea Da Shirt!
            I know of a few places the band once formed could play at-know the owners/managers-perfect places for this type of band.
            Keep me in mind if/when it gets to that point.!

    2. Is this Cool Justine? Search for you all the time. Would love to just say hello. Hope you are well! I am Barry. Followed you and the band in the early 70’s. You all played for us at LeDalfa’s Casino in Leister NY. You actual came to a wedding there the week before as a date with Gary.

      1. This is Linda, Cool Justine. Just discovered this site after hearing of Big Ace’s (Dan Cook) death. Feeling so sad. Haven’t seen anyone from Big Wheelie in years. I remember going to the wedding with Gary. I even have a picture of us.

  16. I think the bar was the. Keystone 90’s. Dan Cook lived across the street from me,do you know were he Is,trying to find him for years

    1. Dan Cook-died 2 days ago of cancer-was living in Las Vegas, Nevada. Does anyone know of his family-his Mom Peggy? Danw as an only child-and we are trying to find any relatives to let them know he has passed. They are going to bury him in a potter’s field in vegas if we don’t find where his Mom is buried.! Anyone know? She was known as Texas Peggy.
      John Sia Medina, NY

  17. Hi, Chris-yes-i played on the first one-that has Caesar and HIS Romans on the label-and the next two after that.
    I actually was still with band when Joe Hesse came aboard-he replaced me-but we went back and forth on our techniques with the bass. His brother Jim Hesse and i were friends-Jim played with original Caesar.
    I just came across old photos-of us-the original band- when we first got in our hands our first 45! Came across some photos of us in Togas-playing at a local Buffalo gig. Can share some with you if you like. I’m on(under my wife’s name-Shane Kurz Sia), Joe Hesse’s Facebook page-and WNY Garage Bands of 70’s FB page. I posted a lot of our photos of Caesar and His Romans on our FB page. You are welcome to join on as a friend and view them if you like. A real walk back in time.!
    Still trying to locate Dan Cooke-original member. Had a recent reunion with Joe DeSantis-original drummer of Caesar and His Romans. Have ran into Chuck Vicario over the years.I can scan some of the photos of have of our group-we were contracted by what was THE record label back then-Willard Alexander, INC. who had some big groups back then. Then they dropped us over a contract disagreement with our manager Freddie Concerta. Truth be known, Willard wanted full control of us-which Freddie balked at-because he then had little say over what we did. He gave them real lip-and they dropped us.! I was so mad-i left the group-actually in late 67-to go to college in Boston.
    Last i knew Dan Cook moved south, became a leather craftsman.
    Best Regards,
    John Sia

    1. Hi John (and other original members),

      I’m intrigued by the reference to the movie “The Atomic Grandmother” on the Baby Let’s Wait/Black Lantern 45. Was this an inside joke, or did the film really exist?


      Ryan L.

    2. Hi John

      I’m dying to know what the reference to “The Atomic Grandmother” movie means on the Black Lantern single. Was this a real movie that someone made, or just a joke?

      All the Best,


      1. There’s a 1958 Mexican film “Una abuelita atómica” which translates into English as “The Atomic Grandma”.

        Curiously, “Una abuelita atómica” seems to have been played in the USA in 1966/1967 at least in Tucson, Arizona area (google tucson and “una abuelita atómica”).

        Just a theory not fact:
        Perhaps someone had the idea to modernize the 1958 Mexican film with new music.

  18. a correction on what i said: Willard Alexander agency did not drop us due to Concerta’s was Columbia records. Willard still had Caesar when i left.
    I have a photo of Fred Concerta and our group in 1967. Ran into Fred about 7 years ago-he was a really good guy. Time made him grow and become a great manager.

  19. Hello,
    This is John Sia, original bass player for the original group of Caesar and the Romans.
    Some trivia:
    The group actually first begun as the “Rockin’ Roamers” later-The “Roamers”..right around 64. We playedquite often at the Tedra Club which,if memory serves me correctly, was on River Rd., just north of North Tonawanda.
    The group then became “Caesar and the Romans” and was changed to “Caesar and His Romans” around the time we signed with the Willard Alexander Agency, a booking agency with offices in NYC, Chicago, and Los Angeles.

  20. “Come Little Girl” and “Come Live With Me” were recorded at the Scepter Records studio on West 54th Street in NYC. Michael Wright produced and engineered the session, Jerry Meyers and I were there as supervisors along with Fred Caserta, the bands manager. Michael is known for producing “Timothy” by the Buoys, which was recorded in the same studio. If these songs had been released they would have come out between “Baby Love” and “Leavin’ My Past Behind”.
    Also recorded at that session was a version of “Jailhouse Rock” which became the beginning of what was to become Big Wheelie & The Hubcaps”. Thanks for having this page available… Rich Sargent

  21. I saw the Tweeds in 1966 when they played at Kenmore Presbyterian Chuch on Hazeltine and Delaware in Kenmore. The song “Thing of the Past” is one of the best love songs that I have ever heard! It should have been a number one hit!
    As time passed, Paul Varga and his dad (family) were customers of my dad’s service station; Perry’s Country, which was a Petro/America/Amico/BP gas station located next door to Kenmore Mercy Hospital on Elmwood in Kenmore.
    I bumped into Paul again at the Sportsman Inn on Amherst St in Buffalo. Dwane Hall, a friend of mine for 35 years to me, owns this bar. He leads the band “Stone Country”.
    I am trying to tract down Dan Cook. Last I knew he was working at Universal Studios in Florida. This was many years ago. If you have information on Dan, I would appreciate a reply.

  22. Hi John,
    I came to know the group after you left. I went to school with Andy Disantis and probably bumped into you at their house. (I lived on the same street; Shepard). Chuck lived a few doors away.
    Regarding Dan Cook…
    For a few years in the 80s he kept his Harley in my sister’s garage on Westgate Rd, in Kenmore. Then he moved to Florida and was working at Universal Studios. Presently, I am also trying to reconnect with him. I miss him for he was a dear friend to my sister and myself.
    If you gather anything else on him, please feel free to contact me at liagm at that popular AOL dot com.
    Gail M

  23. Hi, Am also trying to locate Dan Cook. If anyone even KNOWS someone who may know where he is-would like an e-mail.
    Due to the great success of the recent “The Road” and “Talas” in Niagara Falls-i talked to Joe Hesse(Joe and i played bass together with Caesar and the Romans” i co-founded with Chuck Vicario),we were discussing even getting together a reunion with Big Wheelie and Caesar and the Romans-all that played in both bands!
    Thanks for any info anyone can pass on.!
    John Sia
    Medina, NY

  24. WELL WELL JOHN A very long time has past I have put down my g mail address on reply form so give me a blast and give me your e mail I`m just starting to learn the computer ROCK ON Dan

    acegrandy [at]

  25. Hi gail it`s dan I have a lot to tell you so I am going to wate till you respond and then Iwill give you my phone no. Ijust got a e mail addrest and I am learning the computer so be pachont with me I am ending now so be safe and CALL me DAN PS SAy hello to chuck and give him my Gmail please BY Chickie!

  26. Hey Dan,

    Remember Curt the shirt from Sugars in St Catharines. Last I heard you were still in Florida ? warm and away from the snowy Buffalo.

    I too have lost contact with Chuck. My understanding is that Chuck hung up the Big Wheelie belt in the Buffalo music hall of fame and that he doesn’t perform any longer.

    Like many of us out here, we all had hoped that a Big Wheelie reunion show could be staged. I would love to produce it if there was interest among the many band members.

    Do you ever communicate at all with any of the old band or Chuck ?

    Curt Harley

  27. Dear Gail,
    My wife has done a lot of research into finding Dan-he IS a hard man to find! We heard he was teaching music at a High School in Florida-but got no details where! Not on Facebook either or Myspace.
    So far my wife’s searches haven’t yileded anything. Hard to believe Dan gave up entirely on his music playing-he was top notch! Respected Dan’s musical abilities a lot.
    Hopefully, he will catch on he has a lot of people-old friends looking for him! Including Joe Hesse-who played briefly with Caesar-as did his brother Jim Hesse-who stayed with Caesar-and the Big Wheelie for awhile. Then went on to The Road band-with his brother Joe.
    Will definitely let you know if i find Dan-and please do likewise!
    John Sia
    Medina, NY

  28. Gale it`s Dan My gmail is give me a blast.I didn`t know chuck stoped doing his thing? I still Play and sing i`m looking for A job right know.So get ahold of me at my gmail. Idon`t Have a computer yet so please wate iwill get back to you ROCK ON DAN

        1. Hey, Dan and Chuck!
          Dan: you gotta leave Vegas/Nevada-and come back home to NY-your kind of talent doesn’t come often-let us enjoy it here.
          Seems the big thing now is reunion get together’s of the old groups from 60’s and 70’s. Even the young kids like our music we played and come to gig reunions.!
          Chuck: I emailed you-with no response.!
          Believe it or not-i still have that bass i played with Caesar. Still sounds great.!

  29. Attention all Cool Chicks and Daddy O’s

    Very Seriously, who is up to see a major comeback of a new improved “Big Wheelie and the Hubcaps”

    Any fans that want to help put the comeback show together, be part of the planning see a modern version of the band perform old and new …. Please pass along the word, contact me.

    This is a straight up genuine notice that Big Wheelie and the Hubcaps is preparing now for a 2014 comeback show that will blow you away.

    Da Shirt

    1. If i’m not considered “too old” for this-as part of the original band of Caesar-i’d be interested! Need a bass player-who still has his bass from the first Caesar days? I’m in!

  30. I sure do miss those days when ” The Hubcaps” where in Bradenton Florida at the “Midnight Sun” rocking that town into the night and giving it life.Now its deadsville USA.Its been that way for decades,ever since they broke up and left.In fact that place is a sewer now and I moved down to Venice.

  31. hey duz any old Wheelie fans have any old band photo’s of Da Wheel performing live at any show or any newspaper articles ?

    Anyone remember the “Garby” Da Wheel fan club president ? Was you a member ? Gots any old fan stuff ?

    Wanna joint the new Wheelie family ?

    I would luv ta hears frum ya …. Da Wheel is coming back !

  32. Check us out we have a new Facebook page started as we begin to prepare for a comeback in 2014. Just go to Facebook and type in Big Wheelie and the Hubcaps, leave us a message or send us some interesting story from the past.

    2014 Big Wheelie and the “NEW” Hubcaps ………
    You can always reach Da Wheel at email

  33. IF this is the original Big Wheelie-then this is Chuck Vicario/ My old bandmate?
    Got a call from a kid who has a psychedlic band in Texas-
    He wanted permission to play/record the song we did “Big Lantern’. He loved it.
    He thought i did the lyrics-i told him “No, i did the arranging-but i thought Chuck wrote the lyrics-have to check with him and get permission.
    Anyway-if you email me i can give you his phone number/email.!


  35. John,
    I just checked a database that I use to try and locate people.

    In Las Vegas, I found info for a Dan Cook.
    64 yearsa old. Places lived:
    Buffalo, NY
    Parvin Street, Las Vegas, Nevada

    Associated with a Regina Anderson Cook who also lives in Vegas and lived in Buffalo, 61 years of age. Ex-wife, perhaps?
    there are several other people listed but they do not seem to be directly related to family.

    1. hey-Mike-thanks for the info!this helps a lot. Dan was married in the 90’s-in Tennesee to a Kimberly Cook-they divorced in 1999-in Tenn.
      -it appears she’s still living there. Dan had a leathercraftman shop there-And, after the divorce-it looks like he moved to Vegas.!
      Anyone ever know what happened to his Mom-Peggy Cook??-she and Dan lived on 1212 Kenmore ave., Buffalo., in the 60’s, then Dan moved to Niagara Falls. We are trying to find where she’s buried-there may be a plot there-where Dan could be buried!

  36. For those who are following the discussion about Big Ace – Dan Cook: my name is Jeff Burke, and I am his only known son. I have taken custody of the body, and am arranging cremation for him. I have already been in contact with his close friends, and will be working with them to hold a Memorial for Danny during the Summer-17. More information will be posted as it becomes available.

  37. My heart is very saddened on hearing on the passing of Dan Cook. We where married in the 80’s for 10 years or so while he lived in Bradenton Florida. He was a very kind person and was a super stepdad to my very young daughter I am so relieved to read he has a son that will see to him May he Rest In Peace and sing with the angels He was a
    Christian and we went to church together many times You will be missed dearly. Nina

  38. This has been a most interesting post to read. So sorry to discover that Dan Cook is no longer among us. I had the privilege of meeting Dan and the entire group and getting to know them when they used to play at Maxwell’s Silver Hammer in Rochester/Henrietta New York every Sunday evening back in the 70’s!

    They were the BEST band I have ever heard, and so animated!…….changing costumes to act out the songs as they sang! I have all of their albums and really enjoy them to this day! I noticed that the albums are on YouTube and I just posted them and some other memorabilia to my FB page : [ ]. Chuck and I kept in touch for a while and I even got to see them in FL when I went to college in Jax and moved to Lauderdale. Traveled around FL a bit and saw them in concert. Those were the days! 🙂

    I pray that Chuck and his family are doing well, as he has been through quite a bit, remembering his letters and reading the info on this and other sites. I used to live in Ra-Cah-Cha [Rochester, NY] and went to Buffalo several times a month, since most of our relatives lived there. Chuck may remember Paul Olewnik and his brothers Larry and Wally [a few of my cousins]. I believe Paul knows Chuck and many of the members of the band, as I believe he grew up with them.

    Another one of my cousins is Lou Grammatico [Lou Gramm], original lead singer in Foreigner, and Chuck may know Lou.

    Well, I just wanted to make a post here to say hello to everyone, express my condolences and say that I have truly enjoyed catching up on everything.

    Take care and may God bless everyone here…

    dangramm [at] verizon [dot] net

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