The Vandals (San Francisco)

 The Vandals, San Francisco, January 1966
The Vandals, San Francisco, January 1966

My friend Derek Taylor sent me this batch of photos of a band that he found last year in San Francisco. Written on the back of the two larger photos is “Vandals – Jan 1966” in neat handwriting, plus the band’s name is shown behind the bassist in one shot.

A photo of the bass guitarist similar to the one below was reproduced in a newsletter or yearbook for the St. Ignatius High School (now St. Ignatius College Prepatory) at 37th Ave and Quintara in the Outer Sunset district of San Francisco.

On the back of this clipping is a list of names sporting and events that took place during the four years of that class of ’66 or ’67 with some names (though not of the band) – Vince Spohn, Jim Nevin, Rich Wilpitz, and Den Carter.

Mike Dugo pointed out this was the same group that recorded for Joe Brattesani’s Golden Gate Records – “I Really Want to Want You” b/w “A Reason” and “It’s Like Now Baby” b/w “Wet & Wild” & “Mustang Georgie”

Cosmo Violante – vocals
Joe Tarantino – guitar and vocals
Nick Paolini – bass and vocals
Ned Bawden – keyboards
Curt Mellegni – drums

Nick Paolini passed away in 1970.

Found with the photos of the Vandals were some snapshots of another group. Since a couple people have commented that they do not seem to be connected to the Vandals, I posted them to a separate page.

Bassist Nick Paolini of the Vandals
Bassist Nick Paolini
Clipping featuring Nick Paolini from similar photo to the one above

22 thoughts on “The Vandals (San Francisco)”

  1. I just relayed a story in the Western Neighborhoods Project ( a San Francisco history site) about a ’66 dance turned donnybrook at which the Vandals played . I recall Paolini dropping an on stage attacker with his bass guitar. In teen club dances around San Francisco back then the Vandals were the Beatles, the Hedds were the Stones (John Cippolini of QuickSilver Messenger Service played lead guitar).

  2. Nick Paolini was my uncle, I never got to meet him since he died 17 years before I was born. Love the pictures and music. Such a treat. Great website.

    1. Nick was my best friend we lived next door to each other most of our lives, I was the lead singer in the band the Vandals. I loved Nick and miss him so very much.

      1. Best band in SF in the. 60’s hands down they could have been huge
        Just needed more financial backing had many great songs left unrecorded
        Unfortunate they never got to reach their full potential
        They were Beatle like in talent

      2. There are great memories and many stories from the 60’s in SF. As a friend of The Vandals, Nick, Cosmo and all and member of The Hedds these were specials times before the commercial/business moguls took over the music scene in SF. Innocent times and a lot of good music most of which went unnoticed/unrecorded. Nick was a stellar individual.

  3. Our arch-rivals ( I was in the Hedds). The first two pictures are of Nicky, those other pictures are some other guys (not sure they were even a band). The Vandals were a really good group and certainly one of the best bands talent wise in San Francisco, every one of them were good musicians. We went head to head on several battle of the bands and I was scared to death that they would beat us (they did and we beat them too). I went to grammar school with Curt and Nick. Those were fun days and I enjoy seeing pictures of them back in the day, I hope they all have had good lives, hey guys, my best to you! Reese put together a Hedds web page and you guys are mentioned several times, Hedds/facebook.
    My best to the Vandals.
    B. Lewis

    1. Greetings my brother was also in the hedds I can still see him with his long hair wig and guitar. Grandma blanch yelling quiet!! I don’t have the music just memories. Dennis passed away at age 67. Do you any recordings? Sincerely Laura lauradickey326@gmail.com Dennis’s 5 adult daughters would enjoy listening to dad

  4. I lived a couple houses down and across the street from the Tarantinos, and heard the Vandals practicing all the time. My dad rented a part of the Tarantino’s garage for a few years… Fred Bustos (an early member of the group, on guitar) lived downstairs from us, the building was owned by Fred’s stepfather’s mother Mrs. Damato. I pursued a career in music too, but being ten years younger than most of the Vandals, never played with them. I wish I had… I did play at Bimbo’s 365 once, and eventually became a professional musician. I would love to know what happened to Fred – I only saw him a couple times after he moved out of 566 Chestnut St.

    1. Simon, thanks for posting on the Vandals
      Joe Tarantino and Fred were very good friends the Vandals have played at a number of reunions the last one was November of 2014 at Salesians old gym it was to raise money for the new building the club was adding on. I believe Fred passed away , but I will double check with Joe and make sure of the facts. Thanks for keeping the Vandals name alive
      Cosmo, lead singer of the Vandals

      1. Hi Cosmo! Just realized that you had replied to me here. I’ve been in touch with Joe, he sent me the Vandals compilation CD. Great stuff! And some of those songs bring back memories… we heard you guys practicing in the Tarantinos’ garage all the time. I would love to sit in with you guys if you ever do another reunion! I could play Nick’s accordion part on “Falling Hard for You” on violin or mandolin, for example. Joe also told me about Freddie. What a crying shame…. nice guy, with a real passion for music. Too bad about the age difference – the last time I saw Freddie, we talked about getting together to play music some time – I wish I had followed up at the time. I still come back to SF to perform about once a year – will be there this August.

        1. Hello Simon, I received the post from Cosmo to you concerning the Vandals (San Francisco). I am not sure why I received it. I can also share the my brother Dennis M. O’Brien (has passed away age 67) was the bass quitar in the 1960’s band called “The Hedds”I miss his page boy wig and his quitar. The group did well for a brief time. Dennis lived and worked in the San Francisco area. I also was born in San Francisco in 1955 but came down to Los Angeles with my Dad. Our Mom passed away early.

          1. Thank you Laura! I’ve been enjoying reading about the Hedds, who I may have been aware of at the time – though I was more familiar with the Vandals due to our family/neighbor connection with Freddie Bustos and the Tarantinos. I’m a little younger too – born in SF in 1956. Multi-instrumentalist (violin as a kid), including bass. By coincidence, I was playing in LA last weekend! (Actually Riverside and San Pedro) I’ll be back in California in August – have four gigs in SF Bay Area, and may play in LA too. After living many places, I settled in NC. So sorry about your brother, and your mom.

  5. I was friends with Nick and Joe. They had a great sound. I also knew the Hedds. I remember when Rory joined The Womb with Gregg Young and Boots.
    Yes the late 60’s made a lot of good memories.

  6. Nick Paolini was my dad’s younger cousin and my godfather’s younger brother. He was amazingly talented. I remember watching The Vandals on the Ed Sullivan Show once. We were so proud, and excited!

  7. If anybody is interested, I have a near mint condition of the Vandals It’s Like Now also with Wet and Wild and Mustang Georgie on a 45 RPM EP signed by the members in the band on the sleeve. Great band with strong personnel who just needed more financial backing. Could have and should have been huge. Leave e-mail or phone # to discuss.

  8. Hi,
    I would love to talk with relatives of Fred Paolini, Nick older brother, and my best friend from our days in the army ’58-59. When I graduated college Fred invited me to come to The City and I lived for a while with his cousin George. I know he died while on business in Hong Kong. Meanwhile I married an Italian girl and now I would like to know where in Italy the Paolini family came from? Also, I am returning to SF on vacation this Fall and would like to visit Fred’s grave – can you help answer these questions and any other point of interest relating to Paolini’s. PS Pete Barry the former basketball coach at USF and a friend of Nicks is one of my best friends in CT and we talk all the time about SF and the Paolinis
    Thank you,
    Phil Boeding
    Madison, CT
    203-245-7009

  9. I grew up in North Beach and knew all the guys and was especially friends with Nick. Needless to say, I was devastated when he passed. A life Wasted to young. Cos and Joe and Boots all look great. I truly believe that The Heads and The Vandels would have gone to the top of the charts had given the chance. They were both soooo good. Their talent was beyond words. It was so awesome seeing seeing some of the guys again at the Salesian reunion. Bless those days. Tina Canepa🎸

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