The Statesiders

There’s an interesting story behind this record by the Statesiders. The band, better known as first the Redcoats and then the Sidekicks, almost hit the big time until managerial difficulties crashed their plans.

John Sprit was the creative force behind the group. He had been in the Randells, charting with “The Martian Hop” in 1963, a record produced by John’s cousin Steven Rappaport. John Sprit decided to form a band in imitation of the Beatles, based around his songwriting. With Steven as manager and producer, John on drums and his friend Mike Burke on lead guitar, they spotted Zach and Randy Bocelle of Absecon, NJ at an audition, and brought them in to fill the ‘roles’ of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, respectively, on rhythm guitar, bass and lead vocals.

After intensive rehearsals in John Sprit’s family home in Wildwood, NJ, the Redcoats signed with Laurie for a 45 in the style of Herman’s Hermits, “The Dum Dum Song” / “Love Unreturned”, which did fairly well on a local level. It was released in October, 1965.

Prior to “The Dum Dum Song”, the Laurie subsidiary, Providence released a single by the Statesiders “She Belonged to Another” / “Patterned the Same” in the first half of 1965. The Statesiders name is an oblique reference to their being the US counterpart of the Beatles / Redcoats. The single was produced by Steve Rappaport and both songs were written by Carnaby & Shakespeare: pseudonyms for John Spirt and Michael Burke according to the BMI database. The songs have enough originality to overcome the Beatles influence, and are more than competently performed by the group.

Zach Bocelle doesn’t mention the Statesiders or either song title in his long history of the group. It’s possible the songs were recorded prior to Zach and Randy joining the band. The songs are also not included on the collection of the Redcoats’ recordings for Laurie Meet The Redcoats…Finally released by Dionysus in 2001. But I think it likely that most of the band played on this record, making it a forgotten part of pre-Redcoats history.

Things were looking up for the band when Steve Rappaport left for Europe during the summer of ’66. Looking to record more original songs on their own terms, they found a manager and investor in a wealthy woman from Philadelphia who financed their next demos.

An original of John’s, “Suspicions” caught the ear of RCA, who renamed the band the Sidekicks and re-recorded the song with a full orchestra. Released in the spring of 1966, “Suspicions” was a fair-sized national hit, and the band soon followed up with an LP of mostly very pop-oriented material.

Within a year, though, their new manager’s shameless exploitation alienated both the group and RCA, and the bitterness of the experience led John Sprit to quit the business altogether.

Thanks to Euphonic for his comment below with the approximate release date and Laurie ownership of Providence – I’ve revised this post to reflect that new info. Thanks also to Mike Markesich for the release date of the Laurie 45.

4 thoughts on “The Statesiders”

  1. The “small Providence label” was a subsidiary of Laurie, for whom they’d recorded earlier, as you note. So there’s your explanation. In fact, the matrix number beginning with “S5KM” would seem to place this in early 1965, so this was probably released when they were still with Laurie in the pre-turmoil days.

    I have always loved this record since I heard both sides on a Mindrocker comp LP ages ago. But somehow I had always thought that “Shakespeare” was British songwriter John Carter (“Little Bit o’ Soul”, “My World Fell Down” etc.), whose real name is John Shakespeare. Somehow I didn’t realize what a blatant faux-Brit reference the whole “Carnaby – Shakespeare” credit was!

  2. I’m fairly sure that Steven Rappaport was the one who got The Redcoats material to Dionysus. He and I had some chats about it back when the record came out. (Lee Joseph had given me his info.) Somewhere, I still have the tape of that call. Steven also got me in touch w/Zach, who gave me the same story that ended up elsewhere, although I probably have a bit more as I asked a few extra questions. I never did publish the story, as – although I didn’t know it at the time – I’d already published my last issue. (Too bad, as this was a great story…And with Steven’s info, I’d definitely have had some great extra stuff.)

    Steven actually didn’t know about The Statesiders’ material having ever come out, nor did he have any tapes of it. He only found out because I did some research on John’s name on the publishing company website and came up with some songs I didn’t recognize. That led me to ask Mike Markesich, who clued me in. I told Steven, who promptly went onto eBay and bought it. He was super thankful, as he didn’t think he’d ever hear those songs again.

  3. Hi… I’m Zack Bocelle. Randy and I were with the band from the beginning. These songs were among the first recorded. “She Belonged to Another”, was done in the very beginning. “Patterned The Same,” was done without the English accent at the request of John and Mike. The Statesiders name was conjured up by Bill Spirt, John’s Dad, in an attempt to get a record released without our personal manager finding out. She had already destroyed the Sidekicks and very effectively robbed us of our potential.

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.