Saturday, March 22, 2008

Photo Memories from Mike Bernardo

This is a photo of us appearing on the Lohman & Barkey TV Show at the NBC Burbank Studios. Also appearing on the show was Doodles Weaver and Mickey Rooney. Unfortunately, footage of our appearance was taped over and this is the only photographic record we have.

This is a photo of our Big White House in Topanga Canyon, CA, looking up the driveway.

4 Guys and a Ball: l-r: Mike B., George, Marc and Eddie under the basketball hoop in our driveway.

Mike B. and Marc in our living room in the Big White House in Topanga Canyon, CA. Notice the day-glo posters?

Mike B. and Marc jamming (or is that hamming?) in the living room of our Big white House in Topanga Canyon.

Leah in a bikini, sunning herself on the driveway of the Big White House in Topanga Canyon.

At an all night recording session in New York City: George on trumpet and Joy on flute (behind the harpsichord). Can anyone remember what song we were recording that night?

Mike B, The Man

Vintage Bentley motorcar owned by Dunyea West, one of the managers for the Iron Butterfly, in front of his house in Topanga Canyon, CA. Dunyea worked with us when we returned to California from Las Vegas.

Paul Leka, previously mentioned in A Dark Night in Salt Lake. Na Na, Hey, Hey......Goodbye Paul!

A picture of the front of the Flamingo Hotel (1970) in Las Vegas, as seen from Ceasar's Palace, across the street. We played in the Skyroom on the second floor. Can you see the lights on the ceiling?

Mike B, his girlfriend, Janelle and two friends relaxing in Mike's house in Bethpage, NY. How about those 70's sideburns?

Janelle, Mike B. and his sister, Janet preparing to serve up some of Mike's legendary culinary fare in his house in Bethpage, NY.

Please click on each picture to view a larger image.

Headlines from Mike Bernardo

After we left Las Vegas, we changed the name of the band to Fresh Air. We found an attorney and proceeded to sue our manager, Don Dwyer, for stealing our money and our equipment. This is the story that appeared in the trade paper, Variety. Please click on the picture to view a larger image.

This is the story that appeared in another trade paper, The Hollywood Reporter, on the same day. Please click on the picture to view a larger image.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Flamingo Hotel 1970

The top picture is the front cover of the Vegas Visitor from February 13, 1970. The second picture is the back cover of the same edition of the paper. Ella Fitzgerald was appearing in the main showroom of the Flamingo Hotel with Hines, Hines and Dad; Fats Domino and Billy Joe Royal were appearing in the Casino Lounge and we were appearing upstairs in the Skyroom. The third picture is of the Flamingo marquee showing all the performers. Our name was in between Hines, Hines & Dad and Fats Domino, but the resolution on the picture is poor and unfortunately you can't see our name. Wish I had some of that high-tech equipment from CSI.

Please click on each picture to see a larger image.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A New Link to Our Old Bass Player

Our bass guitar player, Marc Levine, has had a truly wonderful and varied career, which started with the Stony Brook People when he was only 16 years old. You can check out his bio on the link to his present group, The Fundamentals, in the Link Section of this blog. Now, with Marc’s permission, we are including a new link for one of Marc’s accomplishments: his role as the bass guitar player in Ralph Bakshi’s 1981 animated movie, “American Pop”. When the clip starts, a guy is walking down a street, playing the harmonica. He stops in front of a building, where a girl is standing on a balcony. A tall fellow, with a floppy hat joins her on the balcony. That tall fellow is our Marc, and his own voice is dubbed in for the character. The clip is about 10 minutes long and it contains a lot of 60’s music that we have all come to love. So, please check out A New Link to Our Old Bass Player in the Link section of this blog. Rock On Marc!

Monday, March 17, 2008

A Dark Night in Salt Lake

Marc Levine mentioned Paul Leka in one of his recent posts and that brought back the memory of a concert we played in Salt Lake City. Paul Leka is a musician/writer/producer who is best known for “Na Na, Hey, Hey (Kiss Him Goodbye). He recorded it in a studio with some of his friends as a throw away B-side for a record. The song was credited to a non-existent group, “Steam”. When the song hit it big, Paul had to get a group together to tour and promote the song. This is where we come in. One day, in Los Angeles, our manager told us that we had a gig in Salt Lake City as an opening act for “Spirit”, with Randy California and Ed Cassidy As you can well imagine, we were thrilled at the prospect of playing a gig like that. The concert was going to be in the “Salt Palace” in Salt Lake City, Utah and we were to fly into Salt Lake City the day of the concert. We got to the airport in Los Angeles, that day, with all our equipment and our roadies and manager. Just before we were to board our flight, our manager told us that he wouldn’t be coming along. This seemed a little weird, but he told us not to worry because the promoter, Mike Tell, who was later married to Patty Duke for about a month in 1970 would be accompanying us on the flight. OK, we thought, no big deal. So we boarded the flight and took off for Salt Lake City. When we were at cruising altitude, Mike Tell, with a drink in each hand, told us that we had to perform as ourselves AND as “Steam”, because Paul Leka couldn’t get his musicians to leave Connecticut to do the gig and perform “Na Na, Hey Hey”. Now it was apparent why our manager didn’t accompany us on the flight. He knew we would have killed him on the plane! So, we arrived in Salt Lake, transferred our equipment to a rental truck and made our way to the “Salt Palace”. Our equipment was set up and we got ready to perform. We did our set and it was thrilling to play before a sold-out crowd of about 20,000 people and get a lot of applause. Then we left the stage and took a short break. “Steam” was then announced and we had to go back onstage and play “Na Na, Hey Hey”. As we were climbing up the stairs to the stage I vividly recall Leah looking at me and saying that this was the worst thing she ever had to do in her whole life. I must tell you, at this point, that there were posters outside the Salt Palace with pictures of “Steam” and those posters did not show any women in the group. Yet, we went back onstage and did their song anyway. I have no idea what the people in the audience must have thought, but at the end of the song, they applauded anyway. The icing on the cake, as if performing as “Steam” wasn’t bad enough, was after the show, when Mike Tell couldn’t get us the check for our performance from the people at the Salt Palace! Eventually, after several phone calls and threats of violence, we got our check and went back to LA. All in all, it was a dark night in Salt Lake.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Las Vegas Tidbits

Any of you guys remember"Suzie Creamcheese"? Just a little trip down the strip and there was this "head shop". Now do you remember? Thats where we got all our cool blacklight posters that we had in our living room. We used to go back to the apartment on Harmon Ave. and hang out between sets. I remember playing the Simon and Garfunkel Bridge Over Troubled Water LP. Other times we would go downstairs to the casino and play $1 blackjack. One time Billy Joe Royal {Down In The Boondocks} sat and played right next to me. Man that was cool. I guess you can say I am dating myself. We could hear Fats Domino in the room right behind the tables clear as a bell. When they would open the curtain you could see him push the piano with his belly as he struted off the stage during his final song of the evening. By the way, I am still waiting for someone to tell me the name of the band we played with up in the Skyroom. I'm pretty sure it was a one word name but I just can't come up with it. A little help someone. I do have a pic of the Flamingo Hotel circa 1970 taken from the parking lot of Caesars Palace. It looks more like a motel especially compared to now. How about that built-in pool we had outside our apartment. That was awesome....always wanted a built-in pool. Those hours for work were a little tuff to get used to , what was it 10:30 til 5am. Then we slept til like 1pm. Off on Mondays right? It was really wild when the waiters, waitresses, bar staff etc. were going on strike and at 12 midnight at the end of their contract all the marquee lights went out on the strip. I remember looking out of the Skyroom windows and seeing everything go black. Now who can say they saw the 24hr town go dark. Can anyone add a little something to my memories of Vegas? I know someone can. Well thats another story in Stony Brook People history..................and I just love it......I should write for the Daily News huh? Hahaha.........Peace out.....TheLastEditionMike.....Bernardo

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The fire in Malibu/Topanga

Hi everyone! I've never done this type of thing before but here it goes. I'm Leah Santos, lead singer for the Stonybrook People. I didn't really like that name and my recall on how we got that name is vague.
The band was living in Woodland Hills when the fires happened starting in Malibu and I remember looking outside of my bedroom window because I had the bedroom that faced the front of the house, and watching the fire coming down the hills towards our house!
It was scary and that is all I really recall!!
It is nice to be back in touch with almost everyone from the band and I'm sure we'll all find each other sooner than later.
I speak with George Reich very often and he is looking great as well as being a great person and talented musician and engineer. Joy, bravo to you for all this effort you have made in making all this blog stuff happen. I'm still learning my way around computers!
I'm getting ready to finish up a Blues based musical CD with my producer/guitarist, Britt Phillips who will be moving to Austin, TX in the next few months. My CD should be done by the fall of this year because Britt is getting situated in Austin first doing other projects.
Back to the Stonybrook People. I loved that whole period of my musical life as our music was strong, we had 6 singers in a 6 piece band and that in itself was not common. We had a great leader in George Reich. God, we even dragged Marc Levine, the bass player out of high school to do this project. Eddie Rodriquez was even today, one of the best drummers I ever worked with. And Michael Gregory and Michael Bernardo were both different but great guitarists in their own right. Marc Levine was and still is a fabulous bass player. Joy Lesem played real sweet piano and I loved her flute approach. And of course, there was the great George Reich, talented and really just knew how to bring out the best in all of us in that band. Even today, I'm sure George engineers and brings out the best in the talent he gets to work with today as an engineer and musician in his own recording studio.
It was a very unique band with fond memories of playing at the beach clubs in the South Bay area of Los Angeles County.
I will come back when I have more to think about and share., Leah Santos

Stony Brook People appearing on "Something Else" (1970)

Our appearance on Something Else, hosted by John Byner, was in 1970. It was filmed in Old Town, the original location of the city that is now San Diego, CA, which was being restored as a tourist attraction. There is an old Spanish Mission on the hill above the town, which was used in one of the scenes on the show. Our shoot was in the courtyard of a Spanish-style hacienda, which is now a restaurant. They had set up tracks for the cameras and positioned us throughout the courtyard. We knew that we would be lip-syncing to a pre-recorded track, so we only brought a few instruments with us. Our guitarist, Mike, played his guitar and Joy played her flute. Our drummer, Eddie played a drum kit that we borrowed from someone on the show. Our bass player, Mark, played the cowbell and our organist and leader, George, played Mark’s bass guitar.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Memorable Factory Experiences

My first thought is when I saw a TV show hosted by Paul Newman on the club called the Factory. Showing the audience its pool tables and tiffany lamps hanging over them. That was like a warm-up for me. Then after joining the band, the famous club became a reality and it was just exhilerating. Playing there week after week always seemed to have a surprise here and there. Now I stand to be corrected but I thought it was Carol Burnetts birthday party we played at whenPaul Lynde came dancing over to the stage during our rendition of Season Of The Witch and proceeded to ask me "When is this song going to end" in his ever so famous Paul Lynde style. Well I just cracked up cause he was sweating so much due mostly to the suede vest with the 2ft. fringe hanging down. That same night I also remember some chick in a big floppy hat dancing and starting to take her top off revealing herself in all her glory. Eddie tried so hard to see through the cymbals. Boy was that funny! Then there was those free dinners which usually consisted of those 1lb burgers.......remember that. There was that night that the Donna and her husband , whose name I have forgotten, treated us to a chateau briand dinner. Wow was that great. Then there were all those celebrities just coming in and out of the club. Meeting Tommy for the first time was unbelievable [Smothers] that is. Remember the Street, a store right outside the entrance of the Factory where you walked down a simulated cobblestone street and shopped inside specialty shops one being owned and run by Davy Jones of the Monkees. I brought my sister Janet and her friend Michelle there and introduce them to Mr. Jones. Boy did I feel cool. I guess that was part of being in a great rock band. By the way me and Michelle got to know each other pretty good after that one. I know certain songs are associated with certain times and places and the one that pops right away into my head is "Raindrops Keep Fallen On My Head" by BJ Thomas and What the World Needs Now, Jackie DeShannon. Well all I can say now is great club, great atmosphere, great songs and great band. Just another story in Stony Brook People history. Peace out all my fellow band members and friends..........Mike

The First Time

OK, I am on a roll here, but this may be my last post for a little while as I am about to get a little busy.

Does anyone remember the very first time the original 6 got together? It was in Joy's basement if I remember correctly. I had been playing in a band with Mike Gregory, and Eddie had been working a day job with George. One day at work, George threw a cardboard box at Eddie and that is how they met. After getting to know one another, they decided to get a band together. George knew Leah and Joy, and Eddie knew Mike and Mike knew me.

The first practice was fun, running through tunes we already knew. The basic songs everyone knew on Long Island were  Midnight Hour, Knock On Wood, Hold On I'm Coming, and Respect. We did those pretty quickly and got into some other stuff. Hey Jude by the Beatles  was awesome because we each sang a verse. 6 members, 6 singers! We also did some other Motown tunes and knocked out a 4 set dance club selection pretty quickly. Then came our first audition in Farmingdale at The College Barn. And who showed up to go with us and give Leah a ride? One of the Chambers Brothers in a limo! And we all went to White Castle for gut busters afterward.

We got the gig, 3 nights a week, but there was a slight problem. I was 16 and had no phony ID. Someone came up with a bogus draft card for me and I was in. The drinking age then was 18. One night the cops raided the place, and Mike Gregory, when asked by one of Long Island's finest, pointed out the band members by name and used my real name, not the one on the phony ID. Luckily the cop didn't hear him very well and believed my age after checking me out. No one had to bail me out of jail.

We played a variety of dance clubs until George and Leah were offered a gig with the original Penny Candy. Traitors! But who could blame them, it was a shot at the big leagues. They staged a coup, threw out everyone in the band, and got The Love Garden back together as SBP. Mom, Dad, I am going to California, see ya!

We rehearsed at The Starwood, and then at SIR where we saw Paul Revere and the Raiders in the next room. We were Where The Action Is!

And the rest isn't history! See ya real soon.

Love and Music,

The 2nd Time Around

I wonder what everyone thinks about us reconnecting and writing old memories here. This blog seems to have gotten a lot of hits. If only we could have sold this many records!

Thinking about old acquaintances has made me remember how I ran across people from back in the day. Donna Burton in Las Vegas spotted me swimming in the pool at Caesar's Palace and recognized me....that's how she came to be sitting at the sound board at a Manilow show. Dee Dee Dardarian and I saw each other at a party in North Hollywood. She was working wardrobe for Vanna White on Wheel of Fortune. I saw Paul Leka in Connecticut at a club I went to after a performance at some arena in Hartford. He was scouting the band that was playing the club, wondering whether to take them into his studio and produce a demo for them. Na Na Na Na, Hey Hey, Good-bye Paul. I saw Gayle Philips in West Hollywood when she was on vacation and we talked about old times. I ran into Reid King at a NAMM Show in Anaheim, and we were both trying out guitars in the Ovation booth. We looked up at each other and said "I know you!" If you remember Gabe Gomez from Massapequa, he was an organ player and we used to jam at his house....his sister was named Nina, and I saw her in London when she was staying at the same hotel as me and we were all hanging in the bar late one night. She had become quite the sophisticated New Yorker!

My wife Elaine and I went to see Leah sing in a club in LA around 1991 and she still sounded great. She and her boyfriend at the time came to my house in the San Fernando Valley a few times to hang, and she updated my astrology chart. Mike Gregory and I connected here in the SF Bay area and had a nice dinner together with our wives at a restaurant in Berkeley.  I went back to my old high school for an all-class reunion and saw Mike Bernardo and his sister Janet. I used to see Eddie when I traveled to Vegas for gigs, he would come hang at whatever hotel I was working at and I went to see his 3 kids. I remember taking him to the backstage area one day and showing him the drummer's kit and sampling gear. I tried to talk him into coming to that high school reunion but he passed on it. I have a vague memory of seeing George at some point in Hollywood at a liquor store but it is a very hazy memory. I remember going to Joy's house a few times when I first moved back to LA after being home on LI for a couple of years.

The band used to rehearse in my parents' house in the back porch room. My Mom used to keep the refrigerator stocked with ice cream sandwiches. Now my 12 year old son plays drums. Downstairs I have a room with a set of drums, 3 amps, an electric guitar, some basses, and a piano. Guess what?  The bands my son plays with rehearse here. Payback!! And then we have to feed them all. He has actually done some paid gigs, and the girl singer/bassist he was in a band with has had meetings with record companies.  Her name is Gabbi Wilson and there are videos of her on youtube. She is 10 years old and has already been on a few TV shows. But as far as my son is concerned, I am not the stage manager Dad....he goes his own way and makes his own decisions about how deep he wants to go. We do jam together quite often, and that is an absolute blast.

But back to SBP....we were first The Love Garden, then SBP, then Fresh Air. We all had nicknames, I was Eel. Mike Gregory was The Atomic Peanut. Eddie was Yaddie. I don't remember any others. There is a lot I remember but probably more I don't. But keep the memories coming and I look forward to reading more all the time.

And thanks Joy for making all this possible.


Thursday, March 13, 2008

Lassie's Mom and The Stony Brook People

While we were playing at the Factory in Beverly Hills, CA we met June Lockhart (known to most of our contemporaries as Lassie’s Mom). She often came to the Factory for dinner with her daughter, Anne (best known for her role as Lt. Sheba on Battlelstar Galactica). One evening, June approached us and told us how much she enjoyed our music. She asked if we would like to come to her house for her birthday party. Of course, we accepted happily. Her “house” was actually a penthouse in a huge high-rise building on the Pacific Palisades, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. When we all arrived in Eddie’s red Chevy van, the guard at the gate was not inclined to let us in. After a phone call to June’s penthouse we were grudgingly admitted. People just didn’t like hippies in those days, I guess. We went up to June’s penthouse and as we entered we realized that it was one of those “Hollywood” parties full of people who were “in the business”. We really didn’t know any of those people and they couldn’t care less about us, so we retreated outside to the rather large balcony and enjoyed the view of the ocean. A little while later, Anne (who was in her teens at that time) came out and invited us to come and hang out in her room. A few of us went with her and did hang out for a while. Before long, the party was breaking up and we thought it best to leave, even though we hadn’t been able to talk with June very much. As we got to the door, June ran over and told us not to leave and please wait while she changed her clothes. She was wearing a very lovely evening dress at the time. All the other guests had left the party and we just sat around in the living room, waiting for June to reappear. And what an entrance she made!!! There was Lassie’s Mom in an oversized t-shirt that reached almost to her ankles and on that t-shirt was a painting of a naked woman from the neck down (you can imagine how that looked with June’s head sticking out on top)!!! To say we were surprised would be a total understatement. She thanked us for waiting and sat down with us on the floor. She showed us a book she liked that, as I remember, was about diseases or something weird like that. We hung out and talked for quite a while and she was totally gracious and down-to-earth. Eventually, we had to leave and she went down to our truck to see us off. In the parking lot she showed us how to whistle by pulling out her lower lip and sucking air inwards. And a piercing whistle it was too! All in all it was a magical evening with one of my favorite TV stars and certainly something most people don’t have the opportunity to experience.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


More Stony Brook info

Lode Line Music said...
Err. I hate to make corrections, but I played at The Factory and did some sessions at Columbia Records before the East Coast tour to Vermont and Oneonta College in New York. That was before Mike B replaced me, Mike is a great guitarist as I recall.Those were exciting times. We met Mama Cass, who loved Joy's versions of her songs, Patty Duke, Tom Jones, Peter Lawford and partied with Tommy Smothers at his pad. We even saw Jimmy Durante one night. Wow!Opening for The New York Rock'n'Roll Ensamble" at The Troubadore was a hoot.I am actually glad things worked out as they did. It gave me alot more strength and the needed experience to do what I have done over the years and the things I am able to do now. It gave me the confidence to develope my own playing style and the confidence to be a successful band leader.Also I thought I would mention the "other" first band from Long Island "The Love Garden". I am not sure but I think all of us were in that band too? I know Eddie, George and Leah were for sure and I think Marc and Joy?. We had our "trip" rituals every month as I recall. Far out! So many drugs so few brain cells...I knew "Penny Candy" before they went to CA. I worked at Sam Goodies with John Shycun (not sure on that spelling) the keyboard player. I believe George replaced him?Eddie and I played in bands together all through High School. "The Kodells" was the first band. Named after some kind of fabric. It seemed appropriate at the time. :)I think I may have found Eddie on a site called it's $36.00 for a 3 month membership. Right now I don't have that. Perhaps I will try the online phone directory again. It appears he may still be in Vegas.

Hello Old Friends

I have some great memories of being in this band. We did some cool college gigs, opened for some name acts, did some fun recording, lived together in a house in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, had a few Spinal Tap experiences (girlfriend manages the band, etc. etc. )....we did make some bad decisions but all in all it was a great learning experience for a first time run at the money. We also had a lot of hair. Oh, and by the way, that girlfriend who managed the band for a while...Donna something was it?....I ran into her in Las Vegas and snuck her into a Barry Manilow show when I was playing bass for him. She sat at the house mixing desk and told everyone within earshot that she used to manage me!

Some people who have left us all too soon: Bob Rosenfeld, Beverlee Vance, and Jerry Napolitano.

I did have the good fortune to run into Tommy Smothers twice. Once I worked in the piano trio backing up Tommy and Dicky at a corporate show at the Disneyland Hotel. And once I took my parents backstage at a Broadway theatre when the Brothers were starring in a show. Of course my Mom gave Tommy grief for introducing me on the Joey Bishop Show as a high school drop out....and honors student. "You know, Tommy, our family did not appreciate that!" and other words to that effect. Lots of laughter followed.

It was my first time in an airplane, my first time away from home, and the first time I had a valuable Fender Bass stolen. To this day I am convinced that Davy Crockett (his real name if you can believe that) had us set up and arranged for Eddie's van to be broken into. And if anyone can find Eddie, that would be great. If Eddie could find Eddie, that would be even better.

So, raise your hand when I call your name:  Bob Kolowitz, Gayle Phillips, Jesse James, John Parker, Matchstick, Debbie Doyle, Reid King, Diana Valentine, Larry Messenger, Beth Winchester, Don Dwyer, Frank Zappa, Herb Cohen, Jim Dandy, and everyone from the cast of Hair in Las Vegas. And everyone else who came in contact with the band; I would love to hear more names from the past.

That is it for today. I can't wait to see the video that Joy has sent out and wish you all health and wealth.

Yours in lower frequencies,

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Billy Jack Memories by The Last Edition Mike


Monday, March 10, 2008

I would be remiss........

I would be remiss if I didn't include a picture of the band with our first guitarist, Michael Gregory (bottom right), who now has his own band, MAD DASH, in northern California. His link can be found with the other links on this blog, so please check it out. Mike made it possible for me to contact the other people in the group and I owe him a great deal of thanks!! ROCK ON MIKE!!!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Stony Brook People - Lost and Found

Three years ago, I began a little “google search” to try and find copies of records the Stony Brook People had made. I was able to find and obtain a couple of copies, some in better shape than others.

One day a man in England contacted me. He had seen a few of my requests for our records on various websites, where I had requested information and links to aid me in my search. He was writing a book about 60’s Rock ‘N Roll bands. We corresponded over the next few months. I sent him copies of photos that I had, and gave him some history of the group. I had mentioned that we were on various television shows, but I didn’t have any copies and suspected that many of the videotapes had either been destroyed or taped over.

Imagine my surprise when he wrote to tell me he had located a copy of “Something Else”, starring John Byner (1969)– and we were one of the acts. The video quality was poor, but even so, it brought back memories.

My search at this point came to a standstill. I occasionally “googled” but there were no new leads. About two weeks ago I came across a link I hadn’t seen before, I clicked on it. It led me to Mike Gregory, a former member of the band.

Mike is now the leader of MAD DASH a Cover Rock Band From Grass Valley, CA. I contacted him, we exchange e-mails and phone calls. Through Mike I was able to find the rest of the band.

We hope to arrange a “reunion” of sorts, share and exchange photos, reel-to-reel tapes of the sessions we made, and of course our many memories.

A Brief History of The Stony Brook People

Originally, the group was formed on Long Island, NY and consisted of eight members: three women singers and five male musicians. The group was mentored by Neil Diamond and called the Penny Candy. The Penny Candy was sent to San Francisco, California to do a TV show and by chance Tommy Smothers was also on that show. Tommy really liked the group, but thought there were too many members. He said that his production company, SMO BRO Talent would like to represent the group, contingent on the reduction of the size of the group. It was at this point that a major personnel change took place. Basically, the whole group was replaced with other musicians from Long Island.

A new lead vocalist, Leah Santos was put into place. Then a new guitarist, Mike Gregory was added, along with Marc Levine on bass, Eddie Rodriguez on drums and George Reich (the new leader of the group) on keyboards and trumpet. I replaced one of the original women singers and the original male keyboard player. I also played flute. Now the group was pared down to a more manageable six-piece band and Tommy was basically happy. However, he didn’t like the name, Penny Candy and had it changed to The Stony Brook People.

At this point the new group was sent back to Los Angeles, California, where a record contract was negotiated with Columbia Records. Things were not going as well as we would have liked, musically and the decision was made to change the guitarist. We went back to Long Island and brought a new guitarist, Mike Bernardo into the fold. Now, the band was set and recording started at Columbia Records in Hollywood. We appeared on the Joey Bishop Show with Tommy Smothers. After a brief stint in Las Vegas, Nevada at the Flamingo Hotel, we became the house band at a private club called The Factory in Beverly Hills, California. The Factory was owned by Tommy Smothers, Sammy Davis, Jr., Peter Lawford, Pierre Salinger and Ron Buck. At this venue we were able to meet a huge number of celebrities and some of them helped us in various ways.

While we were performing in Las Vegas, our manager (who will remain nameless) stole most of our musical equipment, as well as our salaries and we were forced to return to Los Angeles. Tommy introduced us to Kenny Rogers, who lent us most of the equipment we needed to play at The Factory. We also met Carol Burnett, who had us perform at her gala Christmas cast party at The Factory.

At one point, our recording of “Easy To Be Hard” from the Broadway show, “Hair” was doing very well on the radio. We did a big promotional tour and all that. However, three months later, Three Dog Night released their version of “Easy To Be Hard” and for all intents and purposes, our run at fame was snuffed out, as their version rose on the charts. Clive Davis, the head of Columbia Records, at that time, decided that we were a good tax write-off and we were released from our recording contract.

After that, we settled in Los Angeles and played in various clubs. This was not very fulfilling to us and the band soon drifted apart. Some of the members stayed on the West Coast and some went back to Long Island. A few of us found work in house bands in Las Vegas and in back-up bands for more famous people. A few of us went out and found “straight” gigs and went on with our lives. And so ends the story of the Stony Brook People.

In addition to “Easy To Be Hard”, we also recorded “Just a Little Lovin”, “He’s Back Again”, and There’s Tomorrow”. Although our time together as a band was short, we do have many stories to tell. We hope to be able to share some of these stories with you.