Five Firsts: Broadway Blotto of Blotto

Broadway Blotto
(photo by Martin Benjamin)
NAME: Broadway Blotto
BAND AFFILIATION: Blotto (Lifetime Member. Unless they kick me out. Again.) also the Sea-Monkeys
INSTRUMENT: Guitar, Ukulele, Accordion, Plunger, Keyboard

1. THE FIRST ALBUM I EVER BOUGHT WAS … “Songs, Pictures and Stories of the Fabulous Beatles.” VeeJay Records had an early lock on the moptops in the US but couldn’t get anything happening when they released singles here in the summer of 1963. Then came Capitol Records with a many dollar promotion campaign, Ed Sullivan, Cassius Clay & the rest is hysteria.

So VeeJay, basically a little R&B label, jumped on the groupwagon & released what is essentially the lads 1st Parlaphone LP “Please Please Me” (Capitol released it in the U.S. about a year later as “The Early Beatles). It had a spooty fold-out album jacket with fotos & fun facts of the fab four. There was even a place where you could paste your picture under your favorite. But, I’ve said too much. See for yourself.

2. THE FIRST CONCERT THAT I EVER SAW WAS … The WMCA Good Guys Easter Parade of Stars in 1964. WOW! I was 13, living in the Bronx with a transistor radio surgically implanted in my ear. Every town in America had a radio station with “Good Guys” & NYC was no different. If you wanted to be a with-it teen, you had to have a WMCA Good Guys sweatshirt which you could win by sending in a postcard, listening for your name & phoning in within 10 minutes. The night I won my shirt, they threw in a pair of tickets to their Easter show at the old Paramount Theater in Times Square. WOW! The night of the show, my older brother drove me to Parkchester to pick up my 1st girlfriend, Jeannie Sweetland (you really can’t make this stuff up). The 3 of us took the subway downtown.

Big brother left us at the Paramount & spent the next 3 hours or so cooling his heels while we were at the show. My 1st concert AND my 1st date! The lineup featured King Curtis & his Band as the backup band for such notables as the 4 Seasons, Lesley Gore, Ruby & the Romantics, Rufus Thomas, Terry Staffford, James Brown &, wait for it, Sam Cooke! WOWOWOWOW!!! What a show. Each act was introduced by the Good Guys resplendent in their Good Guy sweatshirts doing snappy patter & driving the fans wild. Check out the program (I still have mine). And the sweatshirt.

3. THE FIRST MUSICAL INSTRUMENT I EVER OWNED OR PLAYED WAS … A used set of drums I got when I turned 14. It was old & funky, not flashy. It had a mixture of Gretsch & Slingerland pieces; 26″ bass, snare, 1 tom-tom, hi-hat & a 12″ cymbal. Real bare bones. I can only imagine the original owner playing in a combo at the local Elks Club sometime in the 50’s. Ham that I am, I realized I wanted to be out front, not way in the back behind the drums, so I got a guitar, an acoustic Kay “Parlor Guitar.” The strings were so high & painful, I wince just thinking about it. Mine is gone, but here’s what it looked like.

4. THE FIRST SONG THAT I EVER PERFORMED IN PUBLIC WAS … Anybody’s guess. In a 1st grade play, I sang a solo line in a song called “I Am Helping Mother.” My big line was “Sweeping dust away.” I was so terrified being on stage, I went home, got sick & didn’t do the 2nd night. In my first band (see #5), some of the hits we played were “We Gotta Get Outta This Place,” “Hang On Sloopy,” “Wipe-Out,” “You Really Turn Me On” (by a guy named Ian Whitcomb. If you can find his book, read it. It’s funny), “Over & Over,” “Satisfaction,” “Just Like Me” & that ilk. I’ll have to check in with Greg Fuchs, our bass player or Doug Cuffe, guitar & give you an update. Hopefully their memory is better than mine.

5. THE FIRST BAND I WAS EVER IN WAS … The Nomads. Wasn’t everybody at one time or another in a band called the Nomads? Our debut was in January 1966 at Smithtown Dodge on Long Island. Greg’s father was a salesman there. He brought us in for a party to introduce the new Dodge Charger. Since “Nomad” was the name of a Chevy model, he wanted us to change our name……to the Chargers. Charger is a great name for a car. But for a band? We held firm. We eventually replaced the “s” in Nomads with a “z” – Nomadz. The last act of a desperate band. The car lot is still there but has changed names & brands several times. It’s about to have yet another grand re-opening as a Mitsubishi dealership.

Broadway and the rest of the members of Blotto will reunite for a benefit concert for WEXT-FM on Saturday at the Exit Dome (aka, the WMHT-TV studios) in North Greenbush. The concert also marks the 30th anniversary of Blotto’s debut recording, “Hello! My Name Is Blotto. What’s Yours?” Also performing on Saturday will be Alta Mira, the Ashley Pond Band, Matt Durfee and John Scarpulla.

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