Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Please welcome - from Detroit! The ROMANTICS!!!

This weekend in Tucson, I'm going to see one of my all-time favorite bands, The Romantics. It's the first chance I've had to see them play in over 14 years. Here are some little-known details about the early days of the group: It was around February of 1977 at a record collector's convention in a Detroit suburb when I was approached by a polite young man who wanted to tell me about the band he and his friends had just formed. At the time I was putting out a rock & roll fanzine that had received some favorable reviews in BOMP Magazine. The guy asked me if I might want to do a story about their group, and when I asked what kind of music they did he said their biggest influences were 60s British bands like the Kinks and the Yardbirds. He said their group didn't even have a name yet, and I told him we'd be happy to give them some publicity once they picked a name and started playing gigs.
During that time one of my favorite groups to see live was Sonic's Rendevous Band which featured former MC5 lead guitarist Fred "Sonic" Smith, ex-Rationals lead singer Scott Morgan, original Stooges drummer Scott Asheton and Up bassist Gary Rasmussen. In August of '77 I went to an SRB show at Ann Arbor's Second Chance, and the warm-up act was a new Detroit group that was getting alot of positive talk on the street called The Romantics. When they came out to play I was happily surprised to see the young man I had met at the Record Con walk out and take his spot on the left side of the stage - it was lead guitarist Mike Skill! The band proceded to launch into a frenzied 10-song, 35-minute set that blew me and everyone else in attendance away. 9 of the songs were wild stomping rockers, interrupted briefly for the group's first ballad (pre-dating "Tell It To Carrie") with Mike on the Rickenbacker called "Stop Fooling Around." Several of the other songs they did that night were never recorded by the band - tunes like "So Fine," "No Responsibility," "I Hope Your Satisfied," "You Really Got Ahold Of My Heart" and "Change My Mind."
Also at the show that night was John Koenig, then the publisher of the fanzine Cowabunga and currently the editor and publisher of Discoveries Magazine. He was even more impressed than I was. When the Romantics' set ended, he came running down the stairs from the Second Chance balcony yelling "THEY'RE BETTER THAN F---ING SONICS!!!" And judging by their latest CD, they still are. Can't wait to see 'em again on Saturday night!

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