A walk through my Montreal garage bands: the It Group, the Virgins, and Steve & the New Beats, 1964 -1967 by Gus Appignanesi
My name is Gus but went by the name George in garage band era. I started as a drummer playing in a number of garage bands in the east end of Montreal. Unfortunately, the people I met and played with was all with first names. We never thought that we would need last names or photos to find each other years later. We truly lived in the moment.
As a drummer I played in at least two bands; The Ancient and The Morticians. Please don’t laugh; bands had a variety of names. I played with a bass player called Perry and a guitarist singer by the name of Yehor. Downtown the street from us was a great garage band called Little Michael and the Archangels. Their drummer was Called Leddy and his younger brother was Michael. The last band, with the same line up, was called The It Group (managed my girlfriend at the time – Donna). At the same time bands that became more popular were sprouting all around us. There was; The Monks (later called the Exit 4), Bartholomew +3, The Haunted, The Rabble, J.B. and the Playboys and a number of great French bands (The Sinners, Les Classels, Les 409 to mention just a few).
In 1966, I bought and electric Fender Rhodes piano and started to play in bands that were actually getting real paying jobs. The Virgins was a really great rock and R&B band in which we had two drummers (Steve and Peter), guitarist (Dario), two lead singers (???) and me (aka George) playing piano with bass boost (similar to The Doors with no bass player). I then played with another dance R&B band that had changed their image from a rock band called Les Horribles to Steve and the New Beats. Steve was lead singer, Mario on bass, me (aka George) on piano, Serge on lead guitar and a drummer (???). We played every city and town throughout Quebec from 1966-1967.
Expo 1967 actually killed a lot of the local bands, since everyone was coming to Expo to hear a variety of international bands. I believe so called garage bands were coming to an end. Musicians and the equipment changed drastically over the years. People actually rented studios to practice in and recordings became more popular. Bands moved out of their local garages and moved into the larger arena of music. I miss those guys. Hopefully one of them may read this and contact me. Regardless, I hope this short history will be beneficial to anyone out there from that great era. Rock on!
Gus (aka George) Appignanesi