The Pentagons

The Pentagons, from left: John Coggeshall, Dave Lemieux, Steve Morse and Gary Lamperelli.

The Pentagons cut one 45 at Audio Dynamics Studio, with the great rocker “About the Girl I Love” on the b-side. There’s a fine sense of urgency throughout the song starting from the opening bass line that immediately grabs the listener. I was surprised to learn it was played not on a bass but a Doric organ. Mistakenly listed as a Massachusetts band in the database, the band was actually from Connecticut, as organist and song writer John Coggeshall informed me:

I was the founder and lead singer of The Pentagons; a four-man group (yes, I know, a pentagon has five sides) based in Montville, Connecticut between 1964 and 1969 (our high school years at Montville High School). We featured Steve Morse on Kent guitar, Gary Lamperelli on C-melody sax (until I, uh, accidently kicked it down the stairs so he had to go buy a tenor sax like the Dave Clark Five had), Dave Lemieux on drums and me on Doric portable organ (it had the most bass notes of all the portables and there were no bass guitar players at Montville High).

We originally recorded on acetate at Thomas Clancy Recording Studio in New Haven studio before Audio Dynamics; “Summer’s Over” and “The Walk”, a pretty good vocal rock tune with a good hook. It predates our Audio Dynamics effort by about a year.

The Pentagons – The Walk

(© 1974 by John Coggeshall, used with permission)

We cajoled my grandfather into springing for some studio time in Stafford Springs, CT. Audio Dynamics was the only close and easily accessible studio we could find (Stafford Springs up a country road or two from Uncasville, if I remember correctly. There were no recording studios in the Norwich/New London area at the time, ya know, there was next to nothing in the way of any professional music business in that area at the time).

We recorded two songs I wrote on the Audio Dynamics label: “About The Girl I Love” and “Summer’s Over.” “Summer’s Over” the “A” side of our record is pretty depressing and forgotten. “About the Girl I Love” is the tune that has legs. Who would have thought that song, a “B” side, done in a few hours one afternoon, would be remembered and currently on two limited release compilation CDs [Gravel vol. 3 and Quagmire vol. 5].

The Pentagons – About the Girl I Love
The Pentagons – Summer’s Over

Audio Dynamics seemed somewhat fly-by-night to me (set up in an old theatre with obviously moved-in equipment, difficult to reach by telephone, vague publishing promises, very rough-cut 45 rpm records, etc.). I think the huge theatre is what gave us that reverb sound. Also, can’t complain about the heavy density bottom, since we never had a bass player except my left hand and, that early on, I didn’t have the best concept of how to imitate a real bass guitar player, (on “Summer’s Over”, which was supposed to be the “A” side, I was playing three-note chords for the bass part on some of the song—real dumb), but the studio made my left hand sound pretty bass guitar-ish on “About The Girl I Love”.

We got the local Norwich record store, Gaffney’s, to carry it for awhile by sending our girlfriends to the store every day to breathlessly request copies. We sold it at gigs, too. I recall we weren’t happy with the very rough pressing of the record, which gave turntable needles difficulty at times. Maybe we sold most copies.

I also had ties to The Breakers out of New London, CT, who took a song I wrote, “She Left Me” through various Battle of the Band competitions, eventually landing an MGM Records contract, releasing a bubblegum tune, “Jack B. Nimble” that went nowhere and is barely mentioned on the Internet and un-findable. I have “She Left Me” and “An Always Time” written by me and performed by The Breakers on acetate, before they became The New York Thruway.

The Breakers – She Left Me

(© 1968 by John Coggeshall, used with permission)

Then there’s New London based Davy Jones and the Dolphins, who actually did a soundtrack to a “B” Hollywood movie, “Hellcats”, that barely survives mention, and who actually had Columbia Records release their song, “Shannon” a pretty good number, and that’s NOWHERE on the Internet. And yet, beyond all those major league labels, better recordings and “A” sides, “About the Girl I Love” is the one that survives for posterity.

We play New London’s meaner nights,
The “backdoor” clubs, the dance floor fights,
Rowdy Norwich Rooftop fans,
Who punch Steve out whilst in the can.
That high school gym was so fantastic,
Tossing chairs and making baskets,
Trashcans on the roof by Dave,
Who claimed we were “The Purple Sage”,
And after we had done all that,
How come they never asked us back?

(from My Garage Rock Band ‘65 – ‘73, © by John Coggeshall)

It was a backstreet New London club on the first floor of an old house, and people would walk by and throw lit firecrackers through open windows onto the dance floor while we played and people danced. Talk about a showstopper. My dad came to pick us up at the end of a gig one night, and a fight broke out on the hood of our family station wagon.

The Pentagons – Mercy Mercy (live)
The Pentagons – She’s Not There (live)

In regard to “Burnt Toast,” that’s The Pentagons minus our original drummer, Dave Lemieux, and with our original sax player, Gary Lamperelli, taking over on drums and us playing as a threesome. After we all graduated from high school in 1969, the group split up and three of us went to colleges in different states, and one went to air conditioning school (I think). After the end of our freshman years, we, for the first time in our teenage lives, had to get REAL summer jobs (during high school, our weekend Pentagon gigs made us enough money to keep our parents quiet regarding that “Get A Job!” syndrome). But now, it was GENUINE WORK time: me at the Thermos Factory on swing shift, Steve at McDonald’s, I think, and Gary sweeping up at his dad’s famous nightclub, “Lamperelli’s 7 Bros.” on Bank St. in New London.

About halfway through those backbreaking months, I met up with Gary and his dad and we hatched a brilliant scheme: for the following three years, his dad (and the other 6 brothers) would hire us for the summer, every night, at less than what the club was paying other bands, and for advertising purposes we would re-name the band every week and say we were from a different big city (“Burnt Toast from Miami”, “Direct from Las Vegas, ‘Fistful of Worms’, etc. etc.). We cut our personnel to three to make more money apiece, and the club always let us pick the band name and didn’t much care what it was, thus, “Running Sores” from Boston, “Prep H” from Detroit—I remember making posters: cardboard stock with a real slice of burnt toast nailed to it, to place outside the club. Actually, the scheme worked great for three summers, and none of us had to get anymore real jobs through college. I loved that New London club (pretty well-known, it turns out), and Gary’s dad and uncles.

At the end of our run (around 1973), I wrote a three-page epic poem about the beginning, middle and end of The Pentagons. It covers every highlight and lowlight we experienced. I have had a lengthy time in the entertainment field, the legal profession and even politics (the meeting place of law and entertainment) since then.

John “Cog” Coggeshall.


A special thank you to John for his help with this article, including all photos and the transfer of the acetate of “The Walk”.

This photo is so old: it’s before Gary joined as sax player (notice one of our neighbors/friends playing maracas) and before me (left, playing the wheezing, air-run organ), Steve and Dave became The Pentagons.

Receipt for John’s Doric organ

Early Pentagons from left: Steve Morse, a neighbor/friend guitarist, Gary Lamperelli, Dave Lemieux, John Coggeshall

Steve Morse (yellow shirt and pitchfork), Gary Lamperelli (yellow shirt), Dave Lemieux (gray shirt, kneeling) and John Coggeshall (blue shirt and jug)

Update, September 2010

John has a new CD, John Cog: Bay Blues available on CD Baby with previews of the songs. Proceeds go towards restoring Chesapeake Bay.

Update, January 2014

John announces the upcoming release of the second and third volumes of his Bay Blues trilogy, Bay Blues Fools and Bay Blues 3 Times The Legal Limit.

The Pentagons from left: Steve Morse, Gary Lamperelli, Dave Lemieux, some neighbor/friend, and John Coggeshall.

Fan letter to the Pentagons

from left: Gary Lamperelli, Dave Lemieux, Steve Morse and John Coggeshall

Where The Pentagons rehearsed until the boyfriend of a female fan burned it down.

Steve Morse – Guitarist for “Burnt Toast” aka “Fistful of Worms” aka “The Running Sores”

Gary Lamperelli – Drummer for “Burnt Toast” aka “Fistful of Worms” aka “The Running Sores”

John Coggeshall – Lead singer/keyboardist for “Burnt Toast” aka “Fistful of Worms” aka “The Running Sores”

0 thoughts on “The Pentagons”

  1. Got copies of GRAVEL VOLUME 3 a few weeks ago. “About the Girl I Love” is #10 on that CD compilation. It is a faithful copy of the original 45 rpm record; it almost sounds like mastertape: no scratches/skips etc. The other 29 songs on GRAVEL VOLUME 3 are no better, no worse than “About The Girl I Love”, it easily carries its own weight amongst them. Today I received two copies of QUAGMIRE, VOLUME 5, the other CD compilation containing “About”, and MUCH harder to find/purchase than GRAVEL. Interesting contrast: there are actually some GREAT tunes on QUAGMIRE, MUCH better stuff than the GRAVEL roster. Forget about “carrying its own weight”, “About” (#8 on QUAGMIRE) is LUCKY to be included with these other 26 performances. Many are really, really good! Also, someone creatively slowed “About” down on QUAGMIRE (thus the name, I guess); it’s one-half step lower than the original recording. A little bit funkier that way, maybe, and interesting to me, as I wrote and sang it a century ago. Thanks for the mem’ries, garage band crazies.

  2. Hi, I was wondering if anyone has any old pictures of the Lamperelli Brothers that used to play in New London in 1948-49. My 81 yr old mother and my 2 aunts have told me how much fun they had as young girls in that club. I know they would love to see pics of the place and people.

  3. Nancy: I think I can accommodate you. My friend and former high school bandmate, Gary Lamperelli, probably has access. I’ll try and connect with him, and have him respond on this website. -John Coggeshall.

  4. Gary Lamperelli is my fathers cousin and I never knew he was in this band. It is so amazing to see how much my family was involved with music. I know a lot about the night club, I hear stories from my father all the time. I wish there were more photos around so someday I could show my daughter. I will have to ask Gary if he has any

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.