Gary James' Interview With James Rosica Of
The Brooklyn Bridge Band
They were formed in March of 1968 and had their first hit record with a Jimmy Webb song, "The Worst That Could Happen". They've performed in every major concert venue including Madison Square Garden, Carnegie Hall, The Beacon Theatre and Radio City Music Hall to name just a few. They've appeared on such television shows as The Ed Sullivan Show, The Mike Douglas Show and The Della Reese Show. They've shared the stage with a host of music's finest, including Billy Joel, Tony Bennett, Dion, The Righteous Brothers, The Beach Boys and Steppenwolf. We spoke to original bass player James Rosica about The Brooklyn Bridge Band and their colorful history.
Q - Of course the public knows the group as formerly Johnny Maestro And The Brooklyn Bridge. Johnny Meastro is no longer with us. Is it a scramble to have someone else take over his part? Who decides who will sing lead?
A - Well, Johnny died and Freddie Ferrara died a year after that and we were all original members. Right now the band is essentially the same band except we brought back Joe Ruvio who was an original member. Joe came basically to help with Freddie when Freddie was one of the vocalists and then when Freddie died, Joe stayed in the band and Les Cauchi, also an original member, is still singing with us. So we have three original members and the band as it is, is the same band that we've had for probably the last forty years. It's not been a band that's been constantly changing personnel. As regards to singing the lead, we took a singer out of, well, he was originally from Brooklyn but out of Las Vegas now. His name is Joe Esposito, Joe "Bean" Esposito. Joe was the lead singer for the group Brooklyn Dreams. They had a million seller with Donna Summer called "Heaven Knows". Joe was also the singer on "You're The Best" from The Karate Kid, the anthem at the end of the first Karate Kid movie. Joe also sang songs in Stayin' Alive, the sequel to Saturday Night Fever. He sang songs in the movie Flashdance, which that album I think was up for a Grammy Award except Michael Jackson's "Thriller" came out at the same time. (laughs) Joe is an accomplished singer / songwriter. We deliberately did not try to find a Johnny Maestro sound-a-like because Johnny Maestro is a piece of Rock history in terms of our genre of music. Johnny was iconic. So, Joe is more of a Rhythm And Blues singer. He sings our songs just fine. He hits the notes. We have a very good chemistry in The Brooklyn Bridge as it is now. Tomorrow I'm leaving for upstate New York, Vernon, New York. We're headlining in The Turning Stone Casino. There is no vying for who sings lead. Structurally we're basically the same format as when Johnny was alive. You have a lead singer. You have three or four piece harmony, depending upon the song and you have a strong band, a very strong lead guitarist. I've been playing the bass since Day One. I've recorded on all of our albums. Vocally we're still strong.
Q - How often does the group perform?
A - I would say right now maybe once or twice a month, but we are transitioning. Losing Johnny Maestro would be like The Rolling Stones losing Mick Jagger. I doesn't matter who sings lead. Our audience needs to acclimate. We've done very well no matter where we've played since Johnny passed away. Since we've had Joe we usually get two or three standing ovations at every performance. Needless to say, if you have not heard us without Johnny, there's just naturally going to be those people who are not sure. Like I said, it's like going to see The Rolling Stones and Mick Jagger not being there. So that's kind of what we're experiencing these last couple of years. Each year it's getting a little bit better. The audiences who see us will come back.
Q - Since you've been a part of The Brooklyn Bridge since Day One, you got to experience what every group wants to achieve. What keeps you coming back for more?
A - Well, first of all I love it. When we're on stage there's a real connection with the audience and there's a real connection within the band itself. When you and the bass player lock in, there's a certain synergy, a certain feeling. There's an electricity when you're singing with a group of guys and you harmonize and it's in tune and it's blending. Again there's a synergy. There's a certain organic aspect to it, something comes alive. When the whole thing gels, it is electric and it's forceful. The audience reacts to that. Then with the audience reacting, we feed off them. So, it's an interesting series of interactions between individuals and between a band and an audience.
Q - So that one hour you spend on stage or thereabouts is worth the twenty-three hours it takes to get on that stage?
A - Yes. There were times in our career when it was physically stressful, if you're working sixty-two days in a row. Something like that. Particularly at our age. Some of us don't have the same energy that we had. There are guys in the band that are over seventy years old now. I'm going to be sixty-nine in just two months. I can't believe it.
Q - Mick Jagger is over seventy.
A - Yeah. If Johnny were alive he'd be seventy-seven this year. Freddie would have been 75. I mean, they all look good and they all sound great, but they're still a little slower. So, us performing less frequently in some respects gives us a little more energy when we are on stage. The high, the general excitement, that aspect of what we do is still very strong. It feeds you.
Q - You were in a group called Rhythym Method with Joe Ruvio. Was that a garage band?
A - Well, (laughs) let me tell you the story of the Rhythm Method. In, I'm gonna say late, late 1967, early 1968, me, Joe, my friend Tommy Sullivan, there were seven of us that kind of came together, Richie Macioce our lead guitarist at that time. Richie and I met at St. John's in 1965. But, bottom line is, we were kind of learning some songs in my basement, but half the guys in the band couldn't play. Joe Ruvio blew the saxophone cold turkey. He didn't play in high school or anything like that. He just went out and bought a saxophone. He and I used to hang out at a nightclub called The Cloud Nine A Go Go in Long Island. Anyhow, we're learning a couple of songs in my basement and we were in the most beginning stages possible. As I said, Joe was playing about two weeks. Our trumpet player was really a keyboard player. So trumpet wasn't his main instrument. What happened was, my friend's father owned The Cloud Nine A Go Go. One night he said to me that they were going to have a battle of the bands on March 15th and why don't I come on down? His name was Al Brownstein. I said, "Mr. Brownstein, we have never even been out of my basement." He said, "What do you have to lose?" So, we threw together a set. We did The Beatles' "Day Tripper". We did a Beach Boys' tune, "Keep An Eye On Summer". We did James Brown's "Cold Sweat". We did a Sam And Dave tune, "When Something Is Wrong With My Baby". In any event, we did our set. We had no name. When we showed up at The Cloud Nine, the musician's union was outside the door checking everybody. You had to have a name to get in. So, Richie Macioce, our guitarist at the time, the fella who I met at St. John's, Richie was a literature major and to this day he's a very bright guy. He's just a real Renaissance man. Richie said, "Well, how about The Rhythm Method?" We were all Catholic, Italian boys, one Irish person in the band. Back in that time birth control in the Catholic religion, you used what was called the rhythm method. So it was a clever turn on a phrase. So that night we named ourselves The Rhythm Method. It was all like done in five minutes. We had to get into the club. We had to have a name. After we did our set, I came off the stage and I'm approached by a small woman who says, "Who represents The Rhythm Method?" Who represents us? Like we had a manager. We could barely play our instruments. So I said, "Well, I guess I do and my friend Tommy." She said, "Well, I represent Betty Sperber Management and Betty manages Johnny Maestro. Would you be interested in coming into Manhattan tomorrow and speaking with Mrs. Sperber and Johnny Maestro?" Now, at the time I really didn't know what Johnny had accomplished. I knew that this guy had a nice voice. Periodically he would play at The Cloud Nine, but it never dawned on me, "Sixteen Candles" and all that stuff. I was oblivious to it. I was maybe only 11 years old when "Sixteen Candles" was a hit record. Anyhow, the next day I go into Manhattan with Tommy and we met Betty Sperber and we met Johnny Maestro and basically the idea was Johnny wanted to merge our band, because we had three horn players, two saxophones and a trumpet. Little did he know that two of those three could barely play! But this was at a time when Chicago was just forming, Sly And The Family Stone had just come out with "Dance To The Music" on the charts. Blood, Sweat And Tears had come out the year before. So, bigger bands were starting to make their appearance. Johnny was singing with a vocal group called The Del-Satins at that time and The Del-Satins were more of a lounge band, and when I say a lounge band, I don't say that in a disrespectful way. They were four vocalists. They could all sing, but they didn't carry a band with them. They would pick up whoever was at their venues, so Johnny wanted to merge our seven piece garage band, The Rhythm Method with him and The Del-Satins. There were four of them, so I thought this was the coolest thing ever. The night before I was a little kid from Hicksville, Long Island. So we shake hands and decide that we will merge, right then and there. That's how four plus seven, there's eleven of us. Betty Sperber gets on the phone. She calls Dave Zahn, who's the President of Banner Talent and says something to the effect of, "Dave, Betty Sperber here. Johnny Maestro is putting together a new eleven piece group. Dave Zahn's like, "Eleven pieces! Jesus Christ Betty. Tryin' to sell that will be like trying to sell The Brooklyn Bridge." She goes, "I love it," and hangs up the phone. "You're going to be called The Brooklyn Bridge. Case closed." It wasn't Johnny Maestro And The Brooklyn Bridge at that time. It was just Brooklyn Bridge. It wasn't even The Brooklyn Bridge. Just Brooklyn Bridge. We didn't put Johnny's name forward until sometime maybe in the late 1970s because around that time Richard Nader started coming out with those Rock 'n Roll Revivals with guys like Chuck Berry and Little Richard headlining shows. So they wanted Johnny's history with The Crests. All of a sudden we started doing songs Johnny recorded, "Sixteen Candles", "Step By Step", "The Angels Listened In", "Trouble In Paradise", hits like The Crests had. It just got complicated saying The Brooklyn Bridge, The Crests with the voice of Johnny Maestro. The moniker was like ten lines long, so we just condensed it to Johnny Maestro And The Brooklyn Bridge. From that time 'til his death that's what we were called.
Q - Some story!
A - Well, everybody has their stories, so to speak.
Q - Being in the right place at the right time with the right stuff, seen by the right person.
A - Well, considering I didn't get a guitar until I was in the 9th or 10th grade, I never played anything. Only two people were a little bit more experienced. Tommy Sullivan played music in high school. He was one of the best in Hicksville High School and Richie Macioce, the guy I met at St. John's, he had been playing the guitar since he was a kid. He was a very fluid guitarist. Both Richie and I when The Brooklyn Bridge formed, I got a guitar around my 16th birthday, something like that, and I also got The Venture's "Walk, Don't Run" album. So I started picking apart Ventures songs and that's how I started teaching myself guitar. But I never played in high school. My first band we formed in the 12th grade. It just so happened that right behind my home a nightclub opened a little place for kids my age. For high school kids there as no liquor licence, but 'live' bands would come in. That was a great experience. Now we're on stage. But when everybody graduated and went away to college it evaporated and I used to go to The Cloud Nine A Go Go on Friday and Saturday and that's how me and Joe Ruvio met. Even though Joe was also from Hicksville and I knew him virtually all the way back from grammar school probably, but we didn't hang out until the Cloud Nine days. We would run into each other each Friday and Saturday. And it went forward from there.
Q - At that particular time, the Vietnam War was raging. How did you get out of the draft?
A - Well, funny you should ask that. When we first formed as The Brooklyn Bridge, the day I met Johnny I was incredibly excited. Tommy and I were excited. We couldn't wait to get home and tell our parents and tell the other guys in the band that we're a new band now. We're called The Brooklyn Bridge. Just as we're leaving, getting ready to leave Betty Sperber's office, Johnny says to me, "There's just one more thing." I said, "Oh, what's that John?" And he said, "Are you happy with your bass player?" I said, "I am the bass player." So he said, "Never mind." (laughs) And the reason he asked that question is because two of the guys in the Del-Satins were in Vietnam, Les Cauchi. It was kind of understood, I didn't know it, but amongst Johnny and The Del-Satins, when they got out of Vietnam, Les came right into the band. Now in my case, all of a sudden I got my draft notice around I guess '68. I had in 1965, in my Senior year of high school, I had gotten what's called a spontaneous pneumothorax. It's a collapsed lung. I was sitting like I'm talking to you and all of a sudden I felt a little twinge in my back and I couldn't quite breathe. I could breathe, but I couldn't take a full breath. There was a pressure inside my chest. I went into the hospital and I had a surgical procedure and that got me a deferral. When I went to my physical for the first time in Fort Hamilton near the Verrazano Bridge in Brooklyn, they gave me a deferral. "Come back in six months." Six moths they sent out a notice to me again and I'm not a hundred percent sure why, but I went through the complete process. I went though every doctor and it was the very last doctor who all of a sudden gave me a 4F. So, I had my 4F.
Q - You had as your producer Wes Farrell, right?
A - That' correct, for the first two albums.
Q - He is a big name in the music business. Didn't he write some songs for The Partridge Family?
A - Well, Wes didn't write them. Tony Romeo wrote them. Tony Romeo was like Wes' right hand man. Wes Farrell had success with The McCoys' "Hang On Sloopy". Wes was a name. I think Buddah Records appointed him to us. Wes did our first two albums, but Johnny and myself were very much involved in the production. Wes was a good guy, but he's no longer with us. He passed away.
Q - At one point you opened for Steppenwolf? How did you go over with their audience?
A - We went over fine because first of all that concert was on Long Island at the Westbury Music Fair. So that's our home turf for one. Only a month or two before that, our very first prestige gig was at the Westbury Music Fair. We met on March 15th. That's when I met Johnny and we formed The Brookly Bridge. On March the 24th of 1968 we performed our very first concert in a club. I think it was called the Starlight Lounge by Fort Dix, New Jersey. Well, by May of the that year Betty had us opening for The Rascals, The Young Rascals at that time they were called. I'm not a hundred percent sure if it was the very first time we were working with the Rascals or the second time, but The Rascals cancelled at the last minute and they substituted The Yardbirds with Jimmy Page and Linda Ronstadt And The Stone Ponys. They were the three acts that went on. Jimmy Page had to finish up his commitments with The Yardbirds. I suspect Led Zeppelin was already in the works because by January of 1969 they made their appearance. We were down in Florida, opening up for Danny Thomas. I remember going across the street on a Saturday morning to take a look at a boutique and get some clothes. I heard some kids talking about this group they heard last night and how the lead singer didn't even need a microphone and they were talking about Led Zeppelin. But back to Steppenwolf, the third time we played at the Westbury Music Fair, a group called The Vagrants and Leslie West, who went on to form Mountain, and us and then Steppenwolf closed the show. So it wasn't that we were playing exclusively to a Steppenwolf audience. We had already played there twice. We got better reviews than The Rascals did. Newsday on Long Island gave us a very good review. It was a mix. I wanted to hang around to see Steppenwolf. I just bought the "Monster" album and I loved it. But yeah, that was a different type of group than we were. We were with Steppenwolf many years later, probably, I want to say around 2000. But we had a lot of fun. Then after Westbury Music Fair, I would say the next big concert was opening up for The Beach Boys in Atlantic City and again Brooklyn Bridge at that time, we were an eleven piece band. We had horns and great vocals. We had a great lead singer. The Beach Boys were like my all-time favorite group. Brian Wilson was not performing with them then. We also got much better reviews than they did.
Q - Where did you perform in Atlantic City?
A - I think it was the Convention Center. I've seen some pictures of us, Carl Wilson, Bruce Johnston. We crossed paths with The Beach Boys a number of times over the years. I was present at the last concert Carl Wilson ever did. I was invited backstage. I remember saying before the show, "Hey man, I know who you are." Like I'm some kind of Rock star! (laughs) I was certainly never the stature of The Beach Boys, but we had worked together over the years, maybe three or four times. I remember him saying, "I wish you had come a little earlier. We could've talked." That would've been a great thrill for me. He said to me, and this is at Resorts International in Atlantic City and normally when you worked resorts you worked six nights in a row and this was opening night and Carl said to me, "The guys don't know it, but I have to fly home. My doctor wants to see me. My blood is high." And that was it. He flew home and that was the last concert he performed. A couple of months later he was gone. After The Beach Boys we went back to the Convention Center with The Four Tops. I would have to say The Four Tops were the first band we came up against that we did not steal the show. I mean, we were fine, (laughs) but so were they. They had their Motown band with them. They were terrific. Worked with the original Temptations at Palisades Park. I'm talking David Ruffin, Eddie Kendricks, the whole group. We worked with Frankie Valli a million times. We worked with The Righteous Brothers. Then as the "oldies" thing came in, we worked with Dion, Lesley Gore and The Grassroots. Just tons of different groups. By 1990, if you were a '60s band, you were an "oldies" band. If you were a '70s band, you were practically an "oldies" band. So, the mix was different. It wasn't like we were doing all Doo Wop groups.
Q - By 1990 the music scene had radically changed.
A - Well, we formed in 1968. We recorded our first album in early 1969. "The Worst That Could Happen" had already been recorded and we performed it on The Ed Sullivan Show in December of 1968. That propelled that record into I think the number two spot in the country. I think in Billboard we were number two and Cashbox we were number three, or the reverse. I remember "Crimson And Clover" kept us out of the number one spot as did Judy Collins' "Both Sides Now". Those are the two songs that were ahead of us. But that being said, in early 1969 one of our engineers was Eddie Kramer and you know his credentials. Back in that time it was just my first experience in the studio first of all. In those days most bands didn't get to play on their own records. I'm sure by now you've seen the documentaries on The Wrecking Crew, on The Funk Brothers, the Motown band, plus the Westcoast band. They were the band behind most of The Beach Boys' stuff and The Association and The Mamas And The Papas and The Fifth Dimension and all that stuff. These are not bands. The Monkees' Mike Nesmith went crazy when they didn't let The Monkees play. But that's just the way it was, whereas with us, when they told us that, The Rhythm Method, we went nuts. We told our managers, "No way!" We're not talking about a bunch of amateurs. When Johnny would get into the studio and sing his part, one take, two takes. When we recorded certain songs it might be Take 43. But the bottom line is, that's us on our records, whereas so many groups can't make that statement. I feel if anything looking back, I'm very proud that I had the opportunity to actually play on the records because I have grandchildren now and that's my little legacy. That's my bass part. That's my guitar part. That's my "oooh" or that's my "aaah" and the vocal tapestry we created on a lot of our songs.
Q - You talked about Ed Sullivan. How big of a deal was it to be on The Ed Sullivan Show? That had to be a milestone.
A - For all of us, Johnny on down, it was like, "Wow!" The Beatles did The Ed Sullivan Show. We were on with Stevie Wonder. Stevie Wonder was on the same day were on 'cause I remember walking by him and thinking he's not so little. (laughs) He looks like he's about six foot two. He was a big guy. I know Little Stevie Wonder with "Fingertips pt. 2" I believe that's what it was called. I started to say in early 1969, when we were recording our first album, every once in awhile John Bonham, Robert Plant, stuck their head in to one of our sessions. On one of our sessions we borrowed a little Fender Princeton amp that Jimmy Page was using. Later on in the year Johnny and I were mixing down a song called "Your Husband And My Wife", which was on our second album. I had to go to the bathroom. So I left let's say Studio A and as I'm passing Studio B, Eddie Kramer sees me and says, "Jimmy, I want you to come in here and hear something." I came in and I said, "What do you got?" He goes, "This is going to be the opening track on the new Led Zeppelin album." Now, this is around October, 1969. The first Led Zeppelin album left such an impact on us, not that we were a heavy band, but when I heard "Good Times, Bad Times", just the whole album was great. I loved it. That came out in early 1969 so there was only one Led Zeppelin album. So he goes through the opening track on the new Led Zeppelin album. I had no idea what I was going to hear. He cues up that Ampex 8 track and he let's it rip and I hear this nice riff. Then the minute John Bonham came in I said, "Wow! I can't wait to tell our drummer about this." He goes, "That album had a drier sound, less reverb on it than Led Zeppelin 1." So it had a different kind of presence. That's not saying it's better or worse. It was really in your face, especially sitting in a control booth. It's a great story for me to tell. I was there and yet when I went home to tell our drummer about it, I couldn't show him. The album didn't come out for like another couple of months. Also, sometime in 1969, we were down in Charlotte, in the Carolinas and it was still Winter up north. But down south it was more Spring like. So, I remember we were checking into the Holiday Inn. My room was on the second floor. I threw my clothes and guitar on the bed and I walked out onto the balcony and I'm taking in the Spring weather. And I'm going say about ten rooms down there was a guy waving to me, signaling my to come down. I'm looking at the guy and I look over my shoulder going the other way. This is Mickey Dolenz and I don't know Mickey Dolenz from a hole in the wall. But yet, there was nobody behind me. So yeah, he's signaling to me. So I go on down there and he introduces himself and I introduce myself and he says, "C'mon in." In his room Mike Nesmith and Davy Jones were there. The Leo Cauchi from The Brooklyn Bridge happens to walk by, so I signal Les to come on in. Now me and Mike Nesmith engaged each other in a conversation. I remember telling him that I'm from Long Island and I always wanted to grow up in California ever since I saw Dick Dale And The Del-Tones play on the beach in the first Frankie Avalon Beach Party. California was where I wanted to be, especially because that's where The Ventures lived. Then when I heard The Beach Boys the first time I didn't know who it was. I was walking in a strip mall and this one particular store, Thrift City, had speakers outside so when they were playing music inside you could hear it outside. I'm not a hundred percent sure, but it might have been a song like "Surfer Girl". I was so attracted to the intro, the sound of the voices, that I went in the store and I asked, "Who is singing right now?" The guy said, "Let me see." He goes over and says, "This is The Beach Boys." I bought the "Surfin' USA" album before that. "Surfin' Safari" and "Surfer Girl". Now I'm not a hundred percent sure it was "Surfer Girl". I might have been "Surfin' USA", but even that I loved the ooohs. If everybody had an oooh... That immediately caught my ear, just the sound of it, the presence and the blend. I didn't know anything about the history.
Q - Great harmonies.
A - Yeah. Well, they were brothers. When you hear The Everly Brothers there's just something special. Certain groups had a sound. There's a million groups that sing good harmony and in tune, but certain groups had a very identifiable sound and The Beach Boys were right up there at the top. I was talking to Michael Nesmith, telling him I really got into the vocal music when I heard the sound of The Beach Boys. He said to me, "If you like harmony do you know who Stephen Stills is?" I said, "Yeah, he sings with Buffalo Springfield." At that time, me and Joe Ruvio and my brother Joe were listening to the album that had "Rock And Roll Woman" and it had "For What It's Worth" on it. We really liked Buffalo Springfield. They were really good. My brother at that time was listening to The Hollies and it just so happened Mike Nesmith asked me if I knew who Graham Nash is. I said, "Well, yeah. My brother plays The Hollies all the time." And David Crosby. I wasn't a hundred percent sure; it's not like I had this encyclopedic knowledge of who's who in Rock 'n' Roll. But anyhow, he goes, "These three guys have been getting together at Mama Cass' house and you've got to hear them. They really have a nice sound." Okay, that's great. But that's the last I heard of that. We played our concert that night and a couple of months later we are flown out to California to do, it was either The Della Reese Show or The Jonathan Winters Show. When we got picked up at the airport our road manager takes us back to his home and he says, "I want you guys to hear something," and he plays us this song and it immediately catches our ear. It starts out with the acoustic guitar. Bottom line, he goes, "This is a new group called Crosby, Stills And Nash." We're just absorbed in "Suite Judy Blue Eyes" and I'm starting to think Stephen Stills... this is the group that Mike Nesmith was telling me about. So, it's like I was privy to the coming of Crosby, Stills And Nash.
Q - It's almost like you had an inside track of what was coming along before the public knew about them.
A - Well, certain things. But that was exciting to me and Crosby, Stills and Nash made a big impact on us. We did "Suite Judy Blue Eyes" in our show. Doubled up all of the parts so there was six of us singing three part harmony, two guys on each part. Richie Macioce, our guitarist, was comfortable with open tuning so he was really able to nail Stephen Still' intro. In any event, that was a very fertile period in Rock 'n' Roll music. Many years later The Brooklyn Bridge took on what you may consider the "oldies" or Doo Wop characterization. You can call us whatever you want, but we weren't only a Doo Wop group. As a matter of fact, half of our repertoire has nothing to do with the Doo Wop sound because it came out in 1968, 1969, 1970 and then we recorded things much later. One of the cool things that had some impact on me is when we recorded "The Worst That Could Happen" and it climbed the charts. We took that song from the Fifth Dimension album. It just so happened that Johnny, me and Mike Gregorio, even though we were just meeting when The Brooklyn Bridge formed, three of us had the same album called "Magic Garden". It was just one of those coincidental things. The first two songs that The Brooklyn Bridge recorded were Bubblegum songs. Buddah Records. Neil Bogart was the President and they had hits like "Yummy Yummy" with The 1910 Fruitgum Company or The Ohio Express. That was pretty much their niche. The first two songs that we did, one was called "Little Red Boat By The River" and the other, the flip side was called "Looking Through My Window", which was not bad. "Little Red Boat By The River" was a little cheesy. But Johnny, before we released that, he asked Neil Bogart if we could to one more and he wanted to do this Fifth Dimension tune. I don't know if you ever heard The Fifth Dimension version, Billy Davis. He was a great singer and sounded just fine on it, but for some reason the song was stripped bare. There were no background harmonies and typically they're like the Black Mamas And Papas, so to speak. Very lush, interesting vocal arrangements and Jimmy Webb had composed the whole album. Jimmy Webb was our age. I didn't know who Jimmy Webb was. I just came to know he did "Up, Up And Away" and "MacArthur Park" and "Wichita Lineman". These are all songs that I like. Then it turned out he wrote "The Worst That Could Happen". We souped it up a little bit. The horns were a little bit more in your face. Background vocals were added, but what really put ours over the top in my opinion is the part of the song where Johnny sings A woman like you needs a house and a home. Baby, if he really loves you more than me, the If he is a high note, but Billy Davis sang it in falsetto, so that's the way Johnny was singing it 'cause that's the way we had heard it. But there was a guy who periodically visited us in the studio. He was a successful producer named Artie Ripp. Artie did The Lovin' Spoonful. He owned a piece of Billy Joel before Billy Joel really made it big. Artie was just the typical hippie cool guy. He always came in with a white suit. He had long hair, Jesus long, and he never had shoes on. He'd have like the best pot in the United States. Funny, but true. Johnny knew who he was. I was a little younger. The Rhythm Method was younger than The Del-Satins. Johnny had eight years on me. So, Artie says to Johnny, "Let me ask you something John. Do you think you could hit that note in natural voice?" Johnny said, "I don't know. Let's try." So we lower the lights in the studio and Johnny goes into an isolated singer booth, but it's just Johnny, and he really nailed that high C and it was true resonance. It wasn't like he was screaming it. He nailed it like Pavarotti or Bocalli. It was a true resonant high C, so that phrase, that part of the song instead of being anti-climatic like The Fifth Dimension version, all of a sudden, as good as the song was, it climaxed. Johnny took it a notch higher and that was a big note. You really felt the power of that note. Then at the end of the song we brought that wedding march thing really out in your face. The Fifth Dimension, their record kind of trailed off with this little Hammond organ just sliding down the keyboard as I recall it. In our case it was part of the signature for "The Worst That Could Happen". When we finished that recording session, I had never experienced having any hit record, but I just felt very good about that record. I remember the first time I heard it on the radio, forget about it. We all just went nuts. But you've heard that story a million times. The first time The Beach Boys heard "Surfin'" on the radio they all had to pull over. Whoever it was, they all say the same thing. It's a big thrill. You're used to just the radio 'cause you grew up with it. All of a sudden you're on it. That was a whole new page in my growing up. It's been fun. It still is. I'm really looking forward to Saturday. Turning Stone is a great venue. It's a showroom. It's not a bar. The equipment is first rate. When you're performing you want a killer sound system and the backline is all top notch equipment. That makes a big difference in your performance. Lighting is alright. The monitors are great. So I'm really looking forward to playing on Saturday. Having Joe Esposito right now is a new page. We do "Heaven Knows" as part of our show. We do "You're The Best" from The Karate Kid. We do a beautiful song called "Lady, Lady", which is from the movie Flashdance. You never replace someone like Johnny Maestro. Johnny's always part of us. Joe makes no bones about it. We still do "My Prayer", which is something we recorded on a later album and Johnny sang it beautifully and Joe does it beautifully, but Joe says at the beginning, "This is a tribute to John. You can never replace Johnny Maestro." The audience warms up because originally when we got on stage without Johnny, whoever is singing lead is in the shadow. Everyone has expectations. Joe has filled the gap in a very nice way because it's not like a copy of Johnny. In other words we are not a Brooklyn Bridge tribute band. We are The Brooklyn Bridge. In this day and age tribute bands are filling up the venues. You go to hire Pink Floyd it'll cost you, I don't know, 150 Grand. You go to hire the Pink Floyd Experience and maybe it's 10 Grand.
A - If you want to hire Pink Floyd it's going to cost a whole lot more than 150 Grand. Those guys are filling 75,000 seat stadiums for a ten day stretch. We're talking millions.
Q - In their prime, when they had a wall of amplifiers like three miles high and they had a stage show, they certainly could've been getting from $500,000 to a million dollars. I know Dave Mathews Band was asking for a million bucks here at like Jones Beach Theatre. You would've had to have paid $250 a seat and they didn't have a stage show like Pink Floyd. I'm not even sure anymore of who gets what, but I know the headliners make major bucks.
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