Category Archives: Pittsburgh

The Stairway to the Stars on Brite-Star

Stairway To The Stars Brite-Star 45 Dry Run

The Stairway to the Stars came from the Pittsburgh area, but cut this 45 for the Brite-Star label out of Newberry, Ohio, near Cleveland. Newberry is only a couple hours from Pittsburgh, but the labels indicate a Nashville base.

One side has a moody, echoing vocal, “Cry”, written by Tom Sellosi and Dave Benard. The intensity grows for the short recitation at the end.

On the flip is “Dry Run” a great instrumental featuring a lot of tremolo on the guitar, a strong three note riff that sounds like a keyboard more than guitar, and a long and dissonant middle section for the lead break. Phil Dirt pointed out the similarity of the opening melody to the Vistas “No Return” on Tuff, but the Stairway to the Stars really expand on that theme in the rest of the song.

John Barbero produced the 45. The Rite account number is 728 and the release numbers are 17909 (“Dry Run”) / 17910 (“Cry”), released in September or October 1966.

The Library of Congress has a registration for “Cry” from September 12, 1966, to David Benard and Thomas Sollosi. The “Dry Run” label lists T.R. Sollosi, but this song wasn’t registered.

Teen Beat Mayhem indicates this came with a picture sleeve, which I’ve never seen. Anyone have a scan of it?!

On 45 cat, DeadWax suggest the band could have been from Monongahela, outside of Pittsburgh.

Info on Brite-Star came from the 45rpm Records site.

Stairway To The Stars Brite-Star 45 Cry

The Apollos on Bobby Records

The Apollos Pittsburgh Photo
The Apollos, c. 1965, from left: lead singer Paul Speck, Lanny Orner, Eddie Zebert, George McCormick, lead guitar Al Naugle.

The Apollos came from Pleasant Hills, a suburb south of Pittsburgh. The top side of their only 45 is “I Know Your Mind” a doo-wop influenced ballad. The flip is an instrumental, “Room 4”, marred by the guitarist being out of tune.

Top side was written by Speck-Snyder, flip by Snyder-Naogle. Produced by Jim Hudson for Bobby Records and Dominator Music.

Phil Haines sent in the photos of the band seen here and added these comments:

The Apollos graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School, Jefferson Hills, PA in 1964, except Eddie Zebert, 1963.

The Apollos had four singers: lead singer Paul Speck, Lanny Orner, Eddie Zebert and George McCormick. The singers didn’t play any instruments.

Instrumentalists in the original group: lead guitar Al Naugle, rhythm guitar Dave Ferguson, and drums Dave Bruggeman. This was the makeup of the group 1964 – 1966.

George asked me, at home in Pleasant Hills, to borrow my bass amp for the record. They piled into a car and went into town (Pittsburgh) for the recording. When George brought the amp back, he said something about it didn’t work with the studio equipment, so they plugged directly into the board. My guess is that the rhythm guitarist Dave Ferguson (?), who played low notes on a 6-string, sounded better in the board than through a bass amp, if indeed this was the personnel on the record.

There was a line “I Know Your Mind” in the Bobby Marchan song, “There Is Something On Your Mind.” Don’t know if they borrowed it consciously from the record or not. I always took the record as being ahead of its time, the first of introspective songs to come later in the sixties. They were a great band. The first to come out of “the drugstore,” local hangout “Sun Drug.”

They also put on a heck of a show. They acted out “Big Boy Pete,” by the Olympics. They also performed Eugene Fox’s “Sinner’s Dream.” They may have also, in this earlier period, acted “Along Came Jones,” by the Coasters. When I played bass for them in 1967, we sang the song, but no acting. They had a huge following in Pittsburgh.

The Apollos Pittsburgh Photo
The Apollos, c. 1965, from left: Paul Speck, Lanny Orner, Al Naugle, Eddie Zebert and George McCormick.

John Harrison & the Hustlers, Ideal Records discography

John Harrison & the Hustlers Ideal 45 Don't Ask Why“Don’t Ask Why” is a solid garage number from John Harrison & the Hustlers, with a nice scream before the guitar break. “You Don’t Want That” is a lighter number for fans of that sound. Both sides were written by Johnny Harrison and Jim McMillen (or Jim McMillan) and produced by George Goodman.

I didn’t know anything about the group until Lloyd Stamy left his comment below, which I’ll repeat here in the main article for its useful information:

An outstanding and very popular mid-Sixties band from Fox Chapel, a suburb of Pittsburgh, that could “cover” any Beatles tune better than the Fab Four itself, The Hustlers comprised four guys who attended Shady Side Academy: John Harrison (lead singer and bass guitar), Jim “Bugsy” McMillen (lead guitar), Doug Harrison (drums and John’s younger brother), and Bill Bickerstaff (rhythm guitar).

Incomplete Ideal discography:

Vibra-Sonics – Thunder Storm / ? (from 1964)
Four Challengers – Love Me When You Can / Rayburn Street (Ideal 11111 – from 1965)
7 Dwarfs – Stop Girl / One By One (the Blues Magoos tune) (Ideal 1168)
John Harrison & the Hustlers – Don’t Ask Why / You Don’t Want That (Ideal IR 10)
Al’s Dynamics – Breakdown / Disappointed in You (Ideal IR 20)

Thanks to Lloyd for the helpful info and to Robin for contributing to the Ideal discography.

The Time Stoppers

“I Need Love” was a song written by Tom Curley, vocalist with the Maryland group the Mad Hatters. The Mad Hatters cut the original version in late ’65. The Time Stoppers version wasn’t released until 1967. I’ve heard it called ordinary, but I’ve always liked it very much.

The band were probably from Pittsburgh, but I don’t know who was in the group. Jules Kruspir, publisher and co-producer of this disc, owned St. Clair records, which released great records by the Swamp Rats and Pat Wallace. The flip is a forgettable instrumental, “Fickle Frog”.

This also appears to be about the last record ever released on the eclectic HBR (Hanna-Barbera Records) label.

The Hides

From Pennsylvania, the Hides released just one 45 in 1966 before disappearing. The only member I know of is John Marsiglio. The description on his website:

At age 15 he started “The Hides” from the ashes of The Runaways and The Ban-Lons. They cut some tracks at Gateway Studio’s in Pittsburgh. Shortly after his 17th birthday “The Hides” released a single “When I See The One I Love”, but the “B” side “Don’t Be Difficult” received more attention. John promptly quit the band because he didn’t sing “Don’t Be Difficult”.

Supposedly two other tracks were recorded but never released. “Don’t Be Difficult” was written by Sam & Marsiglio, “When I See The One I Love” by Cheplick & Marsiglio.

The Lost Ones

The Lost Ones were from Sarver, Pennsylvania, a small town about 30 miles outside of Pittsburgh. They were originally called the Kruisers and afterwards became Lite Rain. “I Can’t Believe You” is a wild, overdriven raver, too crude for some people.

“I Can’t Believe You” was written by James T. Robeson and produced by Marian Dietrich. The flip, “I Wanna Know”, which moves along at a snail’s pace, was written by James Robeson, Don Dietrich and Bill Farrington. This 45 was released in January of 1967 on the Mersey label.

Anyone have a photo of the group?

Pat Wallace

Pat Wallace and the Shadows – prior to the St. Clair 45
Based in the Pittsburgh area, Pat Wallace released many 45s, this one being more garage in style than most.

“Fill the Hole in Your Soul” is a straightforward come-on, but danceable and catchy for all that. The musicians must not have had any other song in mind for this session, as “C’mon and Work” is just the band vamping with Wallace chanting the title repeatedly. Not bad, though.

Pat tells me the band was Prince Valiant and the Knights, who had their own 45 on St. Clair, “Back Yard”/”Front Yard”, though Rick Sharp recalls playing on the session with his group the Sharades (see below). Songwriting credits are Pat Wallace and Jules Kruspir on “Fill the Hole”, and Rick Sharp – Jules Kruspir on the flip, production by J.J. Jules.

The St. Clair label is famous for releasing the Swamp Rats’ most beserk 45s.

Thank you to Pat Wallace for the photos seen here of his early group, the Shadows. Please do not reproduce these images without permission.

The Shadows with Pat Wallace, plus Chubby, Bill, Jim, Ed and Denny
Rick Sharp of the Sharades provides his recollection of how he came to record with Pat Wallace on this single:

Jules Kruspir managed my first Pittsburgh, PA band, The Vel Mars. We knew Jules for a lot of years, from 1963 to the late seventies (he managed the Marcels). Not quite sure how we met him though. He used to invite us over to his house to rehearse every month or so and seemed to have a genuine interest in our band, The Vel-Mars.

We were a guitar band, a la The Ventures, and were playing local school dances. Jules said he knew all the right industry people and we could go places. Actually nothing happened until he signed Bob Stupec to do a Christmas song, “Jake The Flake”. This was a huge production number, full orchestra (Jim Drake conducting & arranging), backing vocals by the Ray Charles Singers (“Love Me With All Your Heart” fame) and recorded at Bell Sound Studios in NYC. The tracks were absolutely beautiful!

But, Bobby (Bobby Star) couldn’t sing. It took 157 takes to complete the lead vocal track. I remember, Phil Ramone was the engineer. Well, we were to record the back side “Jingle Bells”. Studio time was running out, we cut our song in 1 1/2 takes. We broke a guitar string, but they spliced the tape & our record turned out great. The record was released a few weeks later, became the National Record Mart “Pick of the Week” and was played in NRM commercials for a few weeks. Picked up a review in Billboard (Jules had a full page ad), but the record never took off. Too bad. Bobby Star quit recording and went to Vegas and opened a casino.

In 1965, our Vel-Mars band broke up and I auditioned for a club band in Beaver Falls, PA. The leader was Gary Glenn. The group was Gary Glenn and the Jeweltones. The Jeweltones had departed and left Gary without a band, for which I was auditioning & was ultimately hired for. They had a local record out, “Goodnight My Love”, on the Cove label. Great record. I wrote a couple of songs for Gary that were recorded at Jerree Records in Beaver Falls, PA. “Always So True” b/w “What Do You Want”, released early 1966, but went nowhere. The original Jeweltones were later to become the Jaggerz of “The Rapper” fame.

I left Gary Glenn in mid 1966 & formed the Sharades. We were a cover band [but] with a lot of original songs. Jules expressed an interest in us again and asked if we would do a demo session at Glen Campbell Studios in Pittsburgh, PA. We did the session but nothing came out of it. A few of the songs were good though. Jules later asked us to back up Pat Wallace for a couple of songs at the same studio. We did and that’s where “Gonna Fill The Hole” & “Come On & Work” came from. And yes, “Come On & Work” was nothing more than a “B” vamp.

In 1966,Jules opened a record store in the Southland shopping center (Pat Wallace worked there) and I took a job with Kleins One Stop (Itzy Records) heading up their oldies department. Jules bumped into The Fantastic DeeJays (who had some local Music For Young Lovers songs for Terry Lee). He changed their name to the Swamp Rats and recorded “Louie Louie” & released it on his St. Clair label. (Jules lived in a community named Upper St. Clair).

Also in 1966, Jules picked up a group named the Dynatones. They had recorded a record “And I Always Will” b/w “The Fife Piper”. The local DJs flipped it over & the record went to Number 1. HBR Records, who just recently started a pop records division, picked up national distribution. The record went all the way up the national charts. Then … HBR called for a album followup to the single. Jules took the Dynatones down to Glen Campbells studio & cut 10 or 12 absolutely terrible tracks. Truth is, Jules couldn’t produce & Glens’ studio (3 track Ampex) was nothing more than a reverb box. HBR Records rejected the cuts for the “Fife Piper” LP. They produced all the tracks in LA with studio musicians.

I continued on working at Kleins and with my band, the Sharades. We were working steady at local clubs when we decided to go into the studio on our own. Late 1966 we recorded “Only A Tear” b/w “It’s A Groovy Day” at Gateway Studios in Pgh, PA (Some of the Lou Christie hits were recorded there). Our session was quick…maybe 1 1/2 hours. We only recorded the two songs. The record was released on Fasicination Records which was my label. Kleins One Stop (my day job) became our distributor. I started college in January 1967 and played weekends with the band. By springtime Terry Lee had picked up the record & began playing it every night at 11:00 as the opening song for his “Music For Young Lovers” show segment. “Only A Tear” was the only record released by the Sharades. We continued on as a band until the mid-seventies. I recorded “Surfin’ USA – Pittsburgh, PA” b/w “Pipeline” in the mid-eighties with a new group – The Allegheny Surfers.

Rick Sharp