1 GETTING STARTED


    It's hard to believe that it was 35 years ago that I got a call from Tom Ayres, an extraordinarily talented keyboard player and musician, wondering if I would be interested in joining a group he was putting together to play original music. He had a guitarist already, a guy who he was playing with at the time, and needed a bass player, drummer, and another guitarist. He told me he had spoken to Tom Nigra and that he was interested, but hadn't made a commitment. Perhaps, since I had known Tom for several years and had been in other bands with him, if I called and said I was going to do it that he might too! So, I did and he did. After a few years of kicking around with other cover bands and traveling all over the place, I wanted to make a serious push playing original music. I knew that the band I was with at the time, although good musicians, were not serious enough to make that commitment. And there is no way you are going to make a living from playing your own stuff. Lesson to be learned in a later chapter!


    Tom also suggested to Tom N and myself, that we try to get a hold of Richie House to let him know that we were on board and that we really wanted him to join this thing. Richie was, and still is, the best guitarist I've ever played with. He was, as we liked to say, a legend in him own mind. Not really, he was a local guitar hero who backed it up with his playing. Having him in the band made it all the more attractive for both Tom and I. Anyway, that part's a little fuzzy as I think Tom Ayres had already told Richie before we committed that he had us in the group. Needless to say I knew both Toms and Richie but had never met this other guitar player. Tom Ayres suggested that he and this guy come to see me play at Dinos in Middletown, NY. He also told me that the guy was a little left of center. The minute I met him I thought this guys crazy, I'm crazy but I've got to play with this band. I did make a trip to see them play at a place in Suffern, NY called the Joker, a fitting name, although I had already made up my mind. Jimmy played, sang and looked great on stage. I knew I was making the right decision.


    Well there you have it. Five guys, from different bands, joining together to embark on this journey to success. Now we had to inform the other bands that we were in that we were leaving. No easy task to say the least. Next installment: That first practice and what are we doing?

2 BREAKING AWAY


    I played the better part of 1973 on the road. Places like Montpelier and Rutland Vermont. Here's an interesting fact, Rutland Vermont's biggest employer at the time was the factory that made of all things, KOTEX Sanitary Napkins. Working class towns that had one or two places where people, after a hard day's work making sanitary napkins or whatever could go for an evening of entertainment. We'd play these gigs from Wednesday through Sunday, living in whatever motel they'd put us up in and eating the finest canned cuisine money could buy from the local supermarket. Heat it up on the sterno, down it with a bottle of canned beer, and top it off with a delicious dessert, Twinkies or Ring Dings. Once a week we'd dine out at the local fast food place right after a competitive game of bowling at the local lanes. Ahh, I really do miss those days.


    Anyway, this is what I was doing when the call came from Tom Ayres. By the way, we called Tom Ayres-Sebastian. That was from my days playing with him in a band called Apricot Brandy, a name we took from a song on an album by a group called Rhinocerous. This has nothing to do with Trigger, I just thought I'd throw it in. Sebastian, as he shall now be known, suggested that we get together for our first practice at the end of the summer. This would give everyone enough time to tell their respective bands that we were leaving them for whatever reason we could come up with. Easier said than done as being in a band with three other members is like being married to three different people, no worse.


    I'd planned on telling them when we returned from our last gig in "Fuzzy Cheeks", Miane or wherever it was at the end of the summer. Do the right thing, give them time to find another drummer so they could continue playing. You have to remember that this was among other things, a job. I didn't want to leave them high and dry, after all they were my friends. I didn't have to actually tell them as word spread rapidly through the local musicians network, everybody knew each other, of this impending 'DOOM" for them. We returned from that last gig and were planning anyway on taking a week off to re-tool. The guys tried everything to dissuade me from leaving, things like ;"this is never going to work, you'll be broke in a couple of months and you'll be back." It didn't make a difference, I was leaving and that was that. I put my drum set in the car and left. I remember looking in the rear view mirror and saw the guys talking together and for a fleeting moment thought, maybe I shouldn't do this. But as I turned onto Route 6, a good feeling took over and whatever reservations I had were gone. I can't speak for the other guys but I'm sure they faced a similar situation.


    September 9, 1973. The first practice was scheduled for the band at Sebastians house. Well actually, his parent's house. I remember it being one of those late summer early fall days. Sunny with a few clouds and a crisp breeze. A sense of newness in the air, much like that first day of school. You know, new jeans and shirt, new sneakers, new note books, but most of all a new outlook. This is going to be the year, I'm definitely going to ace that chem regents. This is how I felt going to Sebastians house that day. A real sense of anxiousness and excitement. This is it!


    Enough of this rubbish, it's just my stream of consciousness. Things are coming to me faster than I thought. I'll save the first practice for next time. Maybe Richie and Tom will add a few comments as we roll along.

3 THE FIRST PRACTICE


    When I pulled up in Sebastians driveway, the garage door was open and I could see him in the back hunched over his keyboards. He had an old Hammond B3 with a clavinette perched on top. The clavinette was a keyboard that was used by artists like Stevie Wonder. Can you hear Superstition and Higher Ground? He was playing something but I wasn't sure what it was, no matter what it sounded great. Richie was there setting up along with Jimmy, I believe Tom may have arrived at the same time I did. I pulled my drums out of the car along with this TEAC 3340 tape deck. The TEAC was state of the art home recording equipment at the time that allowed you to record on four seperate tracks. Imagine that! So, you could record the music first then overdub your vocals and anything else you wanted to put in the song. After setting up my drums, I plugged in the TEAC, put a mic in the middle of the room and set it on Pause/Record. It was ready when we were.


    Guitars were tuned up and plugged in, drum heads tightened, volumes set. And then it happened. I'm sure it was no longer than a few seconds although it felt longer, but we looked at each other for a moment with that "Now What" look. It didn't take long as Richie broke into some Eric Clapton, 12 bar, three chord blues song. Chunking away at the strings as only Richie can. Then Jimmy joined in, bass, drums and keyboards tagging along. It lasted about ten minutes or so, this "Joyous Noise" coming from Sebastian's garage. Once that song ended, any nervousness we had ended with it and it was time to get down to business.


    Jimmy had written some material but it was Sebastian's song that we worked on first. He volunteered to play it for us. Now Sebastian for as long as I had known him never sang. Until that day. Hacking away on the clavinette, he opened his mouth and began to sing; "Runnin', on my way home looking for something, something to find that will remind me of you...." It was magical. A little like Steve Winwood. We spent the better part of the day working over the song, adding bits and pieces as we went along. We recorded the basic tracks and I left the TEAC at his house overnight so he could overdub the vocals when he felt comfotable doing it. He didn't need us standing around watching him. That was day one and I when it was over, we couldn't wait to get together again to finish that song and start working on more material, our stuff.

4 BOUNCING AROUND AND THE MOUNTAIN LODGE INN


    We rehearsed at Sebastians for about three weeks when the word came down that we were going to have to bring our "Joyous Noise" elseware. I guess that his parents or maybe the neighbors had heard enough and it was time for us to move on. This presented a slight problem as the rest of lived in apartments or in Richies case, a trailer. Things had been going great up until this as we had layed down three or four new songs and were cleaning up the others. We needed to find a place and we need to find it fast.


    Tom either knew someone or had a friend who bartended at a local VFW. I'm not sure which? Anyway, he contacted this guy who was only happy to let us set up and do our reahearsing in the VFW' s hall. I think he believed we'd be practicing songs they knew and he might get a few free nights of music out of it. What a surprise when we opened up with all of this original music, the sound reverberating all over the place. Now anyone who has been to a
VFW knows that the guys who go there do so to get away from the noise at home. They go there to hang out, have a few beers and talk to their buddies. It's hard to do this when there is the music, echoing from every corner of the building. I can't remember how long we rehearsed there but it wasn't that long. We did get to lay down some more tracks but the experiment was soon over and we were back to square one. I pass by there every so often and think about those days. You know, in a small way, they helped us and were instrumental in keeping the flame alive. I never said it until now, but thanks guys.


    I had saved some money to get through the first few months while we worked on putting the music together. It was late in October and the days were getting shorter as was my bank account. Tom was in the same boat and he came over to my apartment one evening to talk about what we needed to do if we were going to keep this thing going. If we could put some cover tunes together, how hard would that be, we could get a gig at one of the local bars and use the place to practice in. In the meantime we'd make a little money, enough to keep our heads above water. Since Tom and I go back, we played in several successful club bands in the area, we decided to use our contacts to get a gig in one of the local digs. We went out one or two evenings and hit every club we knew and some we didn't. It was exasperating to say the least. Every place we went to either had a house band, were booked for the next month or so, went through an agent, or worse yet, wanted us to audition. An audition meant a free night for the club and we were not about to audition for anyone. Rod Stewart has a line in his song Every Picture Tells A Story. It goes "Getting desperate, indeed I was." And indeed we were.


    After two nights of refusals it dawned on me that maybe this thing wasn't going to survive. I mean, we went to every place we could think of, but nothing. On the second night of looking for a club, Tom and I just about had it and were driving back from what we thought was our last shot with nothing to show. As we were heading home he turned to me and said, "there's one more place I know of, but..." But, but what? "I'm not sure if it's even open. The guy who owns it shuts down for the winter." I didn't care at this point so I told him let's swing by this place, I mean what did we have to lose. "By the way Tom, what's the name of this place?" He didn't turn his head, "The Mountain Lodge Inn."

 

5 BOUNCING AROUND - Part 2


    The Mountain Lodge Inn, our last chance, was located off the beaten path. Way off the beaten path, somewhere in the middle of a summer home/bungalow resort area. Back in those days, people from New York City and Long Island would spend their summers here leaving after Labor Day. It was country like with access to a lot of lakes, fishing, etc. You get the picture. Kind of like the Jersey Shore without the shore and nightlife. So it was with good reason that the Mountain Lodge Inn closed around the end of September. Well here it was approaching the end of October, so the likelihood of it being open this late was slim at best.


    Either way, we drove up to the place and parked along the side of the road. We looked at each other, kind of shrugged our shoulders, got out of the car and walked up the stairs to the front door. From outside it looked as if there were no lights on, so when Tom turned the knob and the door opened we both were pleasantly surprised. There were light on, very dim, and it felt colder inside than it was out. Very much like a place that was getting ready to close up for the winter, which it was. We approached the bar and sat down. The bartender, who we soon found out, was the owner's significant other. We asked her for a beer and oh yeah, could speak to him about playing at the club. She said nothing, got us the beers and left. There we were, the two of us, sitting in a cold and dimly lit empty bar in the middle of no where.


    It wasn't long before the owner of the place emerged from the back. His name was Bill Hennessey, hence the name Bill Hennessey's Mountain Lodge Inn. Tom did all the talking, explained to him about the band being put together to do originals and looking for a place to play and rehearse. We were not opposed to doing some cover material and if he would let us use the place for rehearsals, we would play there on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. For extra good measure, we'd give him Wednesdays free and play weekends for the paltry sum of $300.00. We guaranteed we would be able to bring at least 30-40 people in just from word of mouth alone. Now I realize that you're thing 30-40 people? That's as many as you have at your backyard barbecue. But believe me, that would fill this place half way. I'm not sure if we sold him on the idea or if he felt our desperation or just felt plan sorry for us, but he said yes. We could start next week and he'd put an ad in the local paper to stir up some interest. You know, let the locals know he was still open for business. "So guys, what's the name of the band?' The name of the band, we hadn't really given much thought to that. I mean, we were too busy writing original material, recording it and rehearsing and redoing and anyway, when we were about to sign that big record deal we'd come up with one then. No, we had to come up with a name now.


    I'm not sure if Tom was prepared for this or it was just something that came off the top of his head. "Applause. That's it, Applause." I thought to myself, "Hmmm… Applause." OK, that works. And anyway, this was just for the short time we would need to get everything together so who really cared about the name of the band. We could always change it, couldn't we?


    We told the guys the great news about the Mountain Lodge Inn and we immediately brought our equipment there to start rehearsals again. It was decided, by who I don't know, that Tom, Sebastian and I should do the cover stuff and the rest of the band would come up on the last set to do our original music. Great, we had to put together a list of cover tunes to do. No problem, the three of us sat together and made up a list of songs we all knew, "Higher Ground" by Stevie Wonder; "Dancin' In The Moonlight" by King Harvest; "Will It Go Round In Circles" by Billy Preston; "Tupelo Honey and Domino: by Van Morrison. A couple of tunes from the Allman Brothers Band and a bunch of other stuff. We were ready. The ad went in the local paper as you can see from Richie's contribution. A small ad placed between the movie guide and the local handyman's ad. Not exactly front page news. Anyway, we told just about everyone we knew we'd be playing this gig and they should show up.


    That first Wednesday came and so did about 20 people. Not what you would call a complete sell out. We did the cover stuff and the originals and at the end of the night told Bill that things would definitely be better on the weekend. Friday came and started off slowly, but then all of a sudden the place started to fill up. I mean 100 people or so showed up and the place actually got warm from the body heat. Saturday was even better, so good that Bill actually had to help bartend. At the end of Saturday night, Bill paid us the $300 for the gig as promised and all us good with the world.


    For the next three weeks we continued to pack the place. Even Wednesdays weren't that bad. I mean we had about 50 people or so show up. It got so good that one of the places we went to see during our two night jaunt sent someone down to scope us out. It was the place that wanted us to audition. Ha! Told you so. Bill was happy, we were making a few bucks but more importantly we were working and playing our own stuff. And, Thanksgiving was approaching and as everyone knows, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is the best night for clubs. We had already built up a following so that night was going to be complete mayhem. We planned on telling Bill the Saturday before Thanksgiving that we wanted to renegotiate the deal, you know, since we were bringing all these people to the club we wanted a little more money for our effort. I mean, how could he refuse.


    That Saturday night came and we finished our last set. We were getting ready to get paid when Bill dropped a bomb on us. He decided that he was going to make a change and have another group come in the next week. Friends of his I believe. Yes things were going good, but people need a little change every so often and anyway we could come back in a month or so. What? We were stunned, I mean didn't he realize that we were the reason all of these people were there. Obviously not. So, we packed up our stuff that Saturday night and left. We heard that although that first Wednesday was good, I mean it was the night before Thanksgiving, it dropped off significantly on the weekend and it wasn't long after that The Mountain Lodge Inn closed for the winter as planned. No consolation for us as we not only were out of a paying gig, but we had no place to practice. There's an old saying that goes, when one door closes another opens. We were about to open that door.

6 MADDY TO THE RESCUE/HOW WE GOT OUR NAME


    We weren't about to let this get us down, so once again we met at my apartment to go over Plan B. Ok so we didn't have a Plan B, we'd just have to make one up. Before Tom joined the band, he had been playing in clubs in Staten Island and New Jersey. In order to get a gig in any clubs at that time you needed a booking agent and Tom knew one. His name was Jimmy Lamar. Tom would give Jimmy a call to see if he would be interested in booking us but we would need to put together another set of cover material before then. And, we would need to have the five of us do it. Remember, it was just the three of us at the Mountain Lodge Inn and we were only doing two sets of cover stuff. There you have it, Plan B just like that! Plan B it was. Now if we only had a place to rehearse.


    Maddy Goldberg was a friend of mine. She knew both Tom and I from various groups we had played in and when she heard of our dilemma, offered to let us practice in the vacated first floor of a building she lived in. It was once a manufacturing plant, where I later found out, they invented and produced "Velveeta" cheese. Didn't Proper Groupie say she ate that stuff? Anyway, Maddy had renovated the second floor into a large loft and the bottom of the building was empty. Without hesitation we said yes and moved our equipment in as soon as we could, probably the next day. For the next several days we practiced, all five of us, on putting together three sets of material. We used some of the stuff we had been playing at the Mountain Lodge Inn and added a few current tunes. The ones that comes to mind were Ringo Starr's "Photograph" and "You're Sixteen". Oh yeah, "Midnight Rider" from The Allman Brothers Band; "Mississippi Queen" from Mountain. and "Brother Louie" by Stories. A blend of pop and rock stuff that we later on would be known for.


    Tom kept in touch with Jimmy Lamar daily, until one day Jimmy contacted him and said he had a weekend gig lined up at a club in Seaside Heights, New Jersey. Now for those of you who are unfamiliar with New Jersey, Seaside Heights happens to be a summer vacation town on the New Jersey shore. This would be great if this was June but it was December. Not exactly prime time but who's complaining. We'll take it. Jimmy booked us sight unseen and asked for a couple of things from us. Could we get him a picture of the group and what was the name of the band? The club owner wanted to post the band's name on his marquee as if that was going to draw the multitudes to see us. Tom told him we would get a picture to him and he'd get back with the name of the band.


    There it was, the dreaded name of the band reared its ugly head again. We got together at Maddys to go over everything and to come up with a name for the band once and for all. We spent the better part of practice trying to come up with something, anything. I can't remember any of them now, but whatever it was we couldn't come up with one that everybody agreed on. I understand today that there's a website for naming a band and that if you type it will come up with different variations for you. Very nice, unfortunately this was 1973 and the only keyboard available was the one on a typewriter.


    Maddy had this kitten. Very playful as kittens are and every time she came home from work and opened the door, the cat would run out and she'd have to go and look for it. We would see her outside walking around and calling for it for it but never really paid any attention to it. We couldn't hear her anyway as were always practicing when she came home. But today, today was different. We were sitting around trying to come up with a name for the band. No instruments playing, no recording, no overdubbing, nothing but deafening silence. Deafening Silence, not a bad name for a band?


    Now every so often Maddy would come home early from work and today was no exception. She waved to us as she passed by the door, as was her custom and walked up the stairs to her apartment. She unlocked and open the door and as was the ritual, the cat would dart out and run down the steps. It wasn't too long before she came back down, only this time instead of going outside she poked her head in and asked us if we'd seen where the cat went. It wasn't with us so it must have gone outside as usual. "OK", she said, "I'll let you guys go back to whatever it is you're doing." What we were doing was trying to come up with a name for this band. Anyway, she walked outside to look for the cat and we went back to the silence. Good thing, because as we were sitting there she began to call out for that cat. "Trigger, Trigger, here Trigger." She must have said it a dozen times. "Trigger, Trigger, here Trigger". Now, I can't lay claim to being the first one to blurt it out but one of us looked up and said, "Trigger, Trigger, that's it!" Trigger, like the trigger of a gun. I mean it sounded like a rock and roll band. What about the horse, Roy Rogers' Trigger? Who cares, gun or horse it's a name you'll remember. So it was unanimous, Trigger it was.


    Tom called Jimmy Lamar and told him the name of the band and that we'd get him a picture as soon as we could. Those first pictures, the one's that Richie posted, were taken at my apartment by another musician friend of mine, Richie Holley. He was the only person I knew who had a really good camera and knew how to use it. By the way, he was the guitarist in the band that I left Trigger for. He took a roll of pictures that night but they all came out looking pretty much the same. Bad, not his fault but we just looked bad. Those shirts and mustaches, what were we thinking?


    Anyway, Jimmy never did get those pictures but it really didn't matter. We had our name, Trigger, thanks to Maddy and her kitten and we were ready to conquer the world. Our first stop, Seaside Heights, New Jersey.

7 TRIGGER’S FIRST GIG & BOWLING FOR DOLLARS


    We practiced the entire week going over the cover material for that first gig, making sure we sounded as close to or just like the record. Very important when doing cover material. Not all bands have the ability to do this, but we had diversity with our vocals and blended really well together. Jimmy, a big Beatles fan, was a stickler when it came to the vocals and was instrumental in piecing together the harmonies. Musically, we played close attention to detail and put in the parts that most bands would leave out. A guitar riff here, bass line there, drum fill. We wouldn't compromise and in the long run that's what made us different.


    Friday night arrived and we drove down to the club, the name escapes me. I remember it being located on the main drag in Seaside Heights, not along the boardwalk as so many of the more popular clubs were located. But, those clubs weren't open as it was December and not exactly tourist season. Never the less this club was and there it was, our name emblazoned on the marquee for all to see, Tonight-Trigger. There's not a lot to tell, we played, no one showed up except for Jimmy LaMar and a few locals. The club owner hated us (not personally) and if I'm not mistaken, tried to ca
ncel us for Saturday night. Jimmy stepped in on our behalf, after all he was now our agent, and made sure we finished the weekend. Looking back, I think Jimmy used the place so he could see what we looked like and hear how we sounded. Also, the club owner wanted one of his groups to play there that next summer so it was a bit of a power play. Although we didn't know it at the time, we'd be that group in later years. Anyway, he was impressed enough with the music to tell us not to worry and that he'd be in touch and would have something for us the following week.


    Booking agents are always looking for the next artist or band to put them back on the map and Jimmy was no exception. He had been an agent for many years and had a great reputation but as is the case in the music business, had lost a few prime acts to other agents and needed something fresh to put him back on top. After hearing us, I believe he thought that we were that vehicle.


    Jimmy LaMar called Tom as promised and told him he had another place lined up for us. Three nights, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday and if we did well that first week, they'd hire us for the following week as well. This would definitely be better than the Seaside Heights gig because there would be people in and out of the place all the time and since we didn't have one anyway, this would be a good place to help gain a following. So, where is this place? It's called Danny's Continental and it's inside the bowling alley off of Route 22 in Union, New Jersey. If memory serves me well, I think it was The Hide-Away Bowl but I'm not certain.


    Danny's Continental, not your typical bowling alley bar, was actually quite nice. We played that first week and as Jimmy had promised, people darted in and out all night. Some people would stay and listen to a few tunes before returning to their alley for the next game. We must have done something right because Danny, the clubs owner, hired us for several weeks after that including New Year's Eve. Things were really starting to look up. I mean we had a gig, were making some money, and we were back to working on our own music. And then……

 

8 AND THEN…..


    Although we were now an official club band again, we continued to work on our own material occasionally dropping a song or two in one of the cover sets at Danny's Continental. We also continued to rehearse and record at Maddy's place, working on new original material and learning a new cover song every so often.


    Enter Mike Fast. I'm not sure how or where Jimmy met him, but he'd told us he knew this guy who was looking for groups to manage, had contacts in the biz and access to a studio. He told us that he called him and invited him to one of our rehearsals. Mike Fast was a self proclaimed rock band business manager with no real track record to speak of. He was managing a club band out of Connecticut and had some tapes of theirs that he was shopping around to some of the major labels. Which meant he was basically doing what everyone else was at the time, dropping off tapes and hoping some A&R guy would listen to it. Never the less he showed up to hear our stuff. He listened, did some shuffle type of a dance, ranked the tunes and thought it would be a good idea to have us record a couple of them at a professional studio. I'm sure the guys were thinking to themselves as I was, who is this guy and why is he dancing? It was as if it was rate a record like they used to do on American Bandstand. Anyway, we agreed to have him set up a session at this studio he knew in Connecticut.


    I don't remember where exactly the studio was located, all I know is that he told us to meet him at this luncheonette somewhere in Connecticut and we could follow him over. We arrived on time however Mike Fast was late and while we were waiting for him to show, Jimmy came up with what would soon be one of his many crazy characters. It was the mountain man who not only chopped down trees, but befriended the "chiparilla", a cross between a chipmunk and a gorilla. He went on for several minutes making up this song as he went along. We laughed so hard that we had tears rolling down our faces. Jimmy was great at coming up with funny stuff off the top of his head, he was Steve Martin before Steve Martin. Zany, crazy, off the wall humor that if he hadn't become a musician, would've landed him on Saturday Night Live for sure. He was that funny.


    Mike Fast finally showed up to the luncheonette and we followed him to the studio. It was a dingy little place and things didn't go smoothly as we had a lot of trouble getting rid of amplifier hum and radio frequencies coming through the guitars. Eventually we laid down the basic tracks and did some vocal over dubs but because we ran out of time, never fully completed the songs. You know, I don't think any of us ever got a copy from that first studio session in Connecticut. Anyway, Mike came to see us one more time at Maddy's to talk about him managing us but after the fiasco at the studio, we sent him packing. Unless he could do something like get us into a studio such as the Record Plant, who needed him? It was the last time we saw Mike Fast.


    We went back to playing at Danny's Continental but by now we were getting tired of the place. We needed some new places to play with new faces and so Tom kept calling Jimmy LaMar to get him to book us into other clubs. The problem with that was that Jimmy, although a really great guy, was limited as to the number of clubs he could get us into. He never said so, but I think he was getting ready to call it quits and retire and the clubs he booked were used more for padding his retirement than anything else. However, he would look around and get back to us.


    The band had been through quite a lot over that six months but we had one more hurdle. Opportunities in the music business don't come around that often and when one does, you have to take advantage of it. Such was the case with Sebastian. He had been approached to audition for a new band being put together by some heavy weights in the industry. Felix Pappalardi, producer and bass player for the group Mountain along with Corky Lang, Mountains drummer. They were looking for a keyboard player and Sebastian's name came up, by whom I don't know. Maybe Sebastian can fill in this part for us? He told us about it one night at Danny's and said he was going to audition but he didn't expect to get the gig. It was tough hearing it but speaking candidly, anyone of us would have jumped at the opportunity. He had to do it and we understood. He auditioned and not surprisingly, got the gig. It was tough I'm sure to have to break the news to us but he did. After all, Trigger was his conception, his band and we were his guys. We played that last Saturday night at Danny's and helped him pack his B-3 and the rest of his equipment. We wished him well and told him to keep in touch. After packing up our equipment, we sat together to talk. We would get together on Monday to talk it over and decide what we were going to do. "We can't wait until Monday", said Tom. "We have to get together tomorrow, there's too much riding on this." He was right, we had the next week booked again at Danny's and it wouldn't be fair to Jimmy LaMar to break the news to him about the band at such a late notice. More importantly the fate of the band was weighing in the balance. No, we had to get together on Sunday at Maddy's to discuss this whatever the outcome would be.


    I had a hard time sleeping that Saturday night/Sunday morning as I'm sure the other guys did too. There was a lot of stuff going through my mind. If we decide to can this thing, what am I going to do? I didn't want to have to start looking for a new band or go back to the old one. What if they didn't want me back? Hey what can I tell you, I didn't want to hear the I told you so's and anyway I was spoiled playing with these guys..


    Sunday came and we arrived at Maddy's place at around 1:00 PM. We didn't bother bringing the equipment in to practice, no need to. It was eerie not having Sebastian there, but it soon sunk in that he wasn't with the band anymore. We knew we were going to have to make a decision, the four of us.

9 WHAT A REVELATION!


    Replacing Sebastian was not an option as far as I was concerned. Anyway, there weren't a whole lot of keyboard players out there that any of us would even consider. We weren't going to find someone to fill his shoes and oh yeah we didn't have a whole lot of time to break someone in. Even if we got somebody to fill in temporarily, we only had three days to rehearse. Remember, this was Sunday and we still were scheduled to play at Danny's on Wednesday. And of course there was Jimmy LaMar to consider. If the band was going to break up, we had to let him know soon so he could book another group to do the gig at Danny's.


    "The Beatles", said Richie. "They were a four piece band just like us, two guitars, bass and drums. I mean we don't have a keyboard player but we still have a band don't we? We could fill in the parts as best we can and if the song depends on a keyboard too much, then we'll drop it from the song list. We have enough time to learn a couple of songs to replace the ones we drop."


    Why didn't I think of that? We were so wrapped up in the whole we need a keyboard thing we forgot that we still had a band. We had the vocals and other than some harmony parts, Sebastian didn't do any leads. All we needed to do was figure out which songs we could pull off and which ones we needed to drop. We took a quick vote, in or out? It was unanimous; we were in this thing together and we would stay together as a four piece band. Just like The Beatles. Thanks Ritchie.


    I remember us going back to my apartment. The fact that we were going to keep this thing going made us a little giddy. Like a bunch of school boys we were. Jimmy had just purchased the National Lampoon Lemmings album and played it for us. It featured a bunch of comedians from Second City, one of which was a guy named John Belushi. It was hysterical, just right for the moment and we needed a good laugh and laugh we did. Leave it to Jimmy to do that.


    We practiced for the next two days and added some new tunes, mostly Beatle stuff. I mean we were a four piece band now just like The Beatles. I was surprised at how well we were able to pull off some the keyboard stuff. Not that we didn't miss Sebastian but by using some of the guitar toys, phase shifter's and the like, some of the guitar fills sounded remarkably like a keyboard. By Wednesday we were ready. Tom had called Jimmy LaMar in advance and told him what had happened and that we were going to stay together as a four piece band. Jimmy had no problem with it and by the way, he had another gig lined up for us that he would tell us about that night when he came to see the band.


    I remember setting up at Danny's that night. The stage looked barren without that B-3 and Leslie speaker cabinet mainly because Sebastian's stuff took up half the stage. Didn't matter, this was the new look and we'd better get used to it. We played that first song of the first set and it seemed a little awkward, but by the time we got rolling it was as if we had been this way right from the beginning. We blasted through the first set and felt pretty good about the new sound. Danny came up after the first set not to compliment us on the sound, but because he noticed there was no keyboard player. Club owners are always looking for ways to pay bands less than they have to. Since we had five guys before and now there was four, he wanted to divide the amount he was paying us by five and deduct that from what he was paying us. Good thing Jimmy LaMar had decided to show up that night as he pulled Danny aside and quickly put that to rest. Never the less, this was going to be our last week at Danny's anyway as Jimmy had lined up this gig at a new club opening in Asbury Park, New Jersey. No, not the Stone Pony, the Empress Hotel!

10 THE EMPRESS HOTEL


     Asbury Park is not unlike any other shore town in New Jersey. There's a boardwalk with carnival games and rides, lots of food places, a convention center, an historic carousel and oh yeah, the Stone Pony and although born in Freehold, the rock birth place of one Bruce Springsteen. In March of 1974 Bruce Springsteen was talked about by everyone we met in New Jersey. I believe he had just released his first album, "Greetings from Asbury Park" and had not yet hit the national scene. But, he was a local fave and as we all know, well on his way to super stardom. No where, that I am aware of, has there ever been mention of The Empress Hotel, until now.


    Jimmy LaMar had booked us for the opening of this new club, which was located in The Empress Hotel. It was located on the corner of Ocean Avenue and Asbury, not far from the beach and arcades. I googled it and low and behold, it's still there! We were booked for the weekend and they put us up in the hotel as part of the deal. Nothing was open yet, after all it was March. I remember seeing lines forming outside of the Stone Pony early on in the evening and thinking, maybe we'll get some of the overflow to come and see us. I mean we were right down the block.


    Jimmy LaMar showed up on Friday evening, the place was virtually empty. I guess the folks that were waiting to get into the Stone Pony didn't realize there was a band playing at the Empress. He brought a camera with him to take a picture of the band and after the first set had us line up in front of the stage to take our first set of shots. The results were the two pictures Richie posted early on, #36. Jimmy sent us the shots a couple of weeks later and we opted for the one with arms open. Let's face it, it was the lesser of two evils and hence became the first official promo shot of Trigger. How about those pants?


    Back to the Empress Hotel. We played that Friday night to about ten people. At the end of the evening we had a few beers and a couple of laughs and went off to our rooms. The next day, since there wasn't a whole lot to do, we took in a movie to pass the time. Papillion,
with Dustin Hoffman and Steve McQueen was playing at the local theatre. The one thing I remember vividly from the flick was the scene where they guillotine a prisoner for trying to escape and his head comes rolling off onto the ground. It was an omen. The Empress Hotel, after having its grand opening on Friday night, closed the next day. We found out when we went to play, the club manager told us that we could take our stuff down and go home because they were closing their doors. And, we weren't getting paid. We now had the dubious honor of opening and closing a club in one night. Get out the guillotine. Jimmy LaMar promised to get the money. It would be a year later that he would show up at a gig we were playing at and give us the money that he promised he would get. He was no longer booking the band but he was a man of his word and we never forgot that.


    With the Empress Hotel gig behind us, Jimmy called to tell us he had us booked for a week long engagement at a place called the Rhoda Arms. It was in Newburgh, New York, not far from where Richie, Tom, and I lived. It was at one time, as the name implies, a catering place that was converted into a night club. Little did we know that the place got packed on Wednesdays, so it was with great pleasure that first night to play to a full house. It really got our adrenalin going and we played like we were playing at the Garden. It was also the first place that I can say we actually started to pick up a following. Glenine and several of her friends were among them. I'm not sure if they were still in high school, but the drinking age was only 18 at the time so……Well Glenine, were you? Anyway, we were glad they came to see us as anytime a band can bring in the girls, pretty ones at that, guys are sure to follow. This means more people in the club and a happy club owner. Junior, who owned and ran the place, liked us so much he offered us the house gig and we rook it. For the next several weeks we built up a following and although Sunday was the weakest night, we still brought in enough people to get through a couple of sets without falling asleep. Now we had a home, were making some money, developing a following, and a place to rehearse. What more could you ask for?

 

11 JOHN SEBASTIAN


    Playing in New Jersey was never far from our mind. Tom knew, more than any of us, that if we really wanted to make a go of it we needed to start landing some gigs in the Jersey club scene. He would constantly call Jimmy LaMar to see what he had or what might be opening up. Although it was spring, summer was not far away. Not that we were going to land a gig at any of the popular shore clubs, most of those were already booked the year before. But, there were others that, even if we could get a night or two would help us in the Fall and who knows, maybe we'd get hired for the following summer.


    We were getting that stuck in the mud feeling at the Rhoda Arms. This had nothing to do with the following we were starting to develop. They would have followed us just about anywhere and some of them did, right Glenine? It's just that you need a change of scenery every so often and we had been playing there for over a month and a half. So, Tom kept calling Jimmy LaMar about getting us booked in New Jersey, but Jimmy was limited to the clubs he could book and there was a new crop of booking agents emerging on the New Jersey rock club scene. What's that adage, out with old and in with the new? Unfortunately at that time, Jimmy was part of the old. It's eventual as we would find out in later years, but that's a story for a later chapter.


    I didn't know exactly how to label this part it so I'm simply calling it John Sebastian. You see, it would lead to a tremendous break for Trigger but came with great sadness for a member of our musician's community and more than that, a great friend.


    John Sebastian was the keyboard player/singer in the group Farm. This was the band that Tom was in before he left to join Trigger. I had met John through Tom when he was with Farm and showed up once in a while at some of their gigs when I had some time off. On one occasion, at a club on Route 35 in Old Bridge, they invited me up to do a couple of numbers and of course I obliged. Musicians, even drummers, really enjoy playing with other musicians. You know, despite the sometime competitiveness, it really is a close knit community and we do look out for each other.


    Such was the case in the spring of 1974. Every so often, John would contact Tom to see how we were doing, and to see if he could help us get in touch with some of the new agents that were making a name for themselves in the Jersey club scene. He gave us a couple of names, one of those was a guy named Sammy Boyd. Sammy was a former musician who had become a booking agent with Art Stock's Agency. Art Stock owned several night clubs in New Jersey and we knew if we could get Sammy to hear us, we'd have a chance at breaking into the market. Tom knew of Sammy and contacted him to tell him about the band. I'm not exactly sure how the conversation went but basically it was "when you're in New Jersey, let me know and I'll come down to listen to you." Well, we were in Newburgh, NY with no gigs lined up in New Jersey so that presented a problem. Never the less, Tom attempted several times to get Sammy to come up to the Rhoda Arms to hear us but to no avail. And, Jimmy LaMar had nothing for us either.


    I'm not sure when Tom received the call from John. We knew his daughter had been diagnosed with childhood leukemia and had gone through extensive medical care. So, it was with great sadness when Tom received the call of her passing. John's call to Tom though, wasn't just to let us know of this tragedy, but to tell us that a group of musicians and agents were putting a benefit together to raise money for his family to help defray their medical costs. And, would we be able to come down to play a set for his benefit. I remember Tom telling us about it the next day at rehearsal. There was no question about it; we all agreed that whenever it was we'd be there.


    Tom called John and told him to let us know when and where and that we'd be honored to play for his benefit. Aside from his grief, which I'm sure was great, here was John telling Tom that this would be a great chance to make an impression on the agents that would be there, including one Sammy Boyd. I can tell you right now that that never entered our minds. We were doing this for John and his family, period.

12 THE BENEFIT FOR JOHN


    "Sunday afternoon, you guys are scheduled to go on around three." That was the word from John to Tom. He told Tom not to bother bringing equipment as there would be amps and drums to use. Just bring your guitars and bass and oh yeah, your snare drum. Drummers are very particular about their drum kits, especially their snare drums. I can't remember the exact date but it was sometime in late April or early May. The club, I believe it was one of Art Stock's, was located in Old Bridge, New Jersey. All I can remember was that it was a pretty big club.


    We got there around two o'clock and there was already a bunch of people coming in and out if the club. John met us and led us to a dressing room located behind one of the stages. I remember there being two stages set up because they wanted to keep the music going without any interruption. We would be playing on the one located on the dance floor, right after the "BLAH BLAH BLAH.'s were finished with their set. Obviously I can't remember the bands name that went on before us but I do remember the band that went on after us. It was a group called, "Rock-em Sock-em".


    Time now for a little side bar. As I said, Tom and John were in a band together called "Farm". The drummer in that band was a guy named Charlie Sciabetta. I believe that's how you spell his name. Anyway, Charlie had left Farm not long after Tom and put together a glam-rock band that wore a lot of make up, ala David Bowie and The Spiders from Mars. They had quite a light show and were the hot band on the market at that time. Their name? Rock-em Sock-em. What set them apart form everyone else was, in addition to wearing make-up and playing all these tunes from Bowie and Mott the Hoople, etc., they performed a Beatles Show. Not to be confused with a Beatle set, which of course was something we did. Now I never saw it, but I was told that they would dress up in Beatle suits, with Beatle boots and Beatle mop top wigs and do a bunch of songs leading up to Sgt. Pepper. Wigs, I'll get to that later. They had a curtain that closed when they finished and would change behind the curtain into Sgt. Pepper outfits. The curtain would open and they'd go into stuff from that era. Pretty impressive I'd say. They were the talk of everyone at the club and would be going on after us. That would be on the other stage, the big stage.


    Three o'clock rolled around and it was our time to go on. I don't remember if they announced us or not, I think they did. We walked out to the stage, plugged in, adjusted the drums, checked the mic's, and started playing. The dance floor immediately got packed and for the next 30 minutes or so, we had the place dancing, singing and in general having a good time. We were really good at that! Just for good measure, we decided to end the set with a mini medley of Beatle songs. Tell Me Why, into Eight Days A Week into Back In The USSR. No stopping too much between songs, a trademark of Trigger. Well, the place went wild. When we were finished we headed back to the dressing room to take it all in. John came running back, "You guys gotta go back out there, they want an encore". Encore? Really! So, we went back out and did another Beatle song. We may not have had the show, or the lights, or the looks for that matter but we could play Beatle songs like nobody else. You know, I think to this day that everyone thought they were listening to Rock-em Sock-em. They weren't.


    I hadn't met Sammy Boyd before this but there he was when we came off. I think he wanted to get to us before any of the other agents that were there could. He introduced himself and told us how great we sounded. He gave Tom his business card and told us right then and there that he wanted to book us and to not do anything until we heard from him. He was going to work on lining up some gigs and to give him a little time to get a schedule together. I'm not sure who was happier, us or John.


    We packed up our stuff and trekked back to the Rhoda Arms to finish out the week. After all, it was Sunday and we still had a gig to play.

13 HELL-O SAMMY BOYD & GOOD-BYE JIMMY LAMAR


    The wait was agonizing. Every day, whether at rehearsal or the gig, we'd ask Tom if he had heard anything from Sammy. You see, Tom had become the bands off stage leader. I mean, he didn't petition for the job and we didn't vote him in. It just happened. He was the one who called Jimmy LaMar way back when, remember The Mountain Lodge Inn, and he was the one who Sammy had given his business card to. So, he became the bands business guy by default. Good thing, as any one of the three of us would never have been able to fill that role.


    By the end of the second week after John's benefit gig we began to get a little worried. The excitement we generated after we played was wearing off and maybe all that talk from Sammy was just a bunch of lip service. You get that in the music industry. But Sammy, much like Jimmy LaMar, was not like that and he finally contacted Tom to let him know that he had a schedule of gigs lined up for us. There was only one thing that he asked and that was he wanted to be the only one representing the band. It made a lot of sense. He didn't want to have to deal with double bookings, or split commissions, or having to coordinate gigs with another agent. So, he needed a decision right away before he committed to booking us.


    Tom told us about Sammy's call at a rehearsal the next day. We had to make a decision. Do we put all of our faith in Sammy Boyd, or do we stick with Jimmy LaMar and hope that he comes through with some new gigs? Even up until this point, Jimmy was still looking for other gigs for us but with little success. Sammy, on the other hand, had access to all of Art Stock's clubs so there would always be clubs to play. You'd think it would be a no brainer? It wasn't. We were very loyal, sometimes to a fault, but in the end we decided to go with Sammy which meant saying good-bye to Jimmy as our booking agent.


    Tom called Jimmy to tell him about Sammy and the decision we had made. Typical of Jimmy LaMar, he said he understood and wished us well. As I mentioned early on, Jimmy made good on his promise to get the money owed us from the Empress Hotel gig. A year later he showed up at the Colonels Garter, a club that would call our home away from home, money in hand and to see how we were doing. He was a real gentleman, and in a large way was responsible for keeping our dream alive.

14 THE COLONELS GARTER


    South Amboy is located in the middle of New Jersey and a little west of the coastline. According to Wikipedia it's on the Raritan Bay. It's not exactly considered the Jersey Shore as it's slightly north of it and to the best of my recollection, there aren't any beaches in South Amboy. If there are, I've never been to one. However, in 1974 there were a lot of night clubs and on any given night, you could hit as many as 6 or 7 of them that had some kind of live entertainment. So, if you went to club and didn't like the music, you could hop in your car and shoot down 35, also known as "the Strip", until you found a club with a band playing the music you liked. Right out of the gate, Sammy booked us for or a month at a couple of Art Stock's clubs. The first would be two weeks at a place called The Colonels Garter in South Amboy, on "the Strip". It was sometime in June and we were scheduled to play Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, four sets from 10:00 PM to 2:00 PM.


    We were pretty excited and a little nervous starting this new chapter. So, we decided that we should get to the club a little earlier than usual to set up and go over some tunes. You know, get rid of the jitters. After all, this was the first gig we were playing that Sammy had booked and we wanted to make a good first impression. Unfortunately, no one told the manager of the club that we'd be there early and he didn't show up until 6:00 to open the doors. The manager's name was Bobby Desantis, a laid back guy with a dry sense of humor. Anyway, we brought our equipment in and set up on the stage which at that time was located on the left right after you entered the club. Not soon after, the bartenders arrived to do their normal set up for the evening. Now the last thing they needed to hear was a band, one they never heard of before, tuning up and going over the same song for a half an hour. Well I remember going over one song a couple of times just to warm up but that was it, as they opened the doors around 8:00 to let people in. Nervous, you bet.


    Sidebar: Anytime a band goes to a new club, you want to make sure you introduce yourself to the bartenders and anybody else that works there. We always made a habit of doing this. It breaks the ice and more importantly, makes them feel more comfortable knowing that you're really one of them. They make drinks and keep people happy; you play an instrument, play music, and keep people happy. Unfortunately, some bands think that they're above all this which is a big mistake. We never felt that way, ever. And so at the end of our tune up, we went over to the three different bars to introduce ourselves to the crew.


    Jimmy was the first and went over to the bar in the back to get a coke and introduce himself to the bartender. That person was Dottie. She was full of fun with a great sense of humor and a terrific laugh. She was loud but not obnoxiously loud. After a few wise ass comments to Jimmy she got him his coke and went back to setting up her bar. That was a small part of what we loved about her. Never get too high and mighty and never take yourself that seriously. No matter how popular we would eventually be she made sure to remind us of that. Over the years Dottie, along with Bruce and Paul, would wind up being three of Triggers' biggest bartender fans at The Colonels Garter and would occasionally drop by other clubs to support us whenever they could. Later on, there would be friendly competition between the bartenders from The Old Straw Hat and The Colonels Garter. Who would appear at the others club more often and make the most noise? It was a lot of fun.


    As was our custom, we wrote out every set before hand so there was never any down time between songs. Usually we'd do four tunes in a row and then
stop to say a few words, like tell people who we were; thank them for coming to see the band; and remembering them to "tip your bartenders". The last making for good relations. Oh yeah, we always threw in a slow song in the middle of the set. The reason? Guys are a little intimated dancing fast but will always ask a girl to dance to a slow tune. Once you get them out there, you go right into a fast song. Something like, "This Boy" by The Beatles into "I Can't Get Enough of Your Love" by Bad Company. A guy won't usually leave a girl hanging if she wants to dance to a fast song so it keeps the dance floor packed.


    And now Timmy's it's time to play Trigger Trivia - Just remember I'll be keeping score. In those early days we always started the night off with this one particular song. For 10 points - Can anyone name the song and the artist? For an additional 5 bonus points - What did everyone think the name of the song was? We'll post the answer on the next chapter.


    Back to "The Garter". That first set, that first forty minutes seemed like an eternity. We knocked out the first three or four songs in a row, dropped in the obligatory slow song, said a few words, and finished up with another four tune medley. I remember heading back to the dressing room, which was really the supply room that had a small office the size of a closet which I think it was, wondering what people thought of us especially the employees of the club. It wasn't until the end of the night, when we were tearing the equipment down, that Dottie came up to tell us "you guys aren't bad". Does that mean that we're good? Yes it did and over the years that's what that came to mean. Anytime after that when someone would say, "you guys aren't bad", it really meant that they liked us, they really, really liked us. Sorry, I had to put that in.


    Those first two weeks at the Garter flew by and by the time that second Sunday arrived and it was time to move on to the next gig, we had picked up a few fans and some great friends. We couldn't wait to get back to play there again, which of course we would do many times over. We didn't have to worry about that as Sammy had already booked us back there for another two weeks about a month later. There was no way of knowing it then, but the Colonels Garter would wind up being our new home for a long, long time.

 

15 SUMMER OF 1974


    We played everywhere that summer, any place and every place that Sammy booked us. It really didn't matter where or what size the club was. We wound up doing a lot of Art Stock's clubs including the Colonels Garter in Wilkes-Barre Pennsylvania. Yes folks, a little known fact, there was another "Garter" with the same layout and design as the one in South Amboy. At that time Art Stock was extremely successful with his clubs in New Jersey and Florida and was trying to break into another market. Why Wilkes-Barre I don't know? Never the less, we trekked to Wilkes-Barre PA to do two weeks, thinking it would be just like "The Garter". It may have looked like "The Garter", but it wasn't. If memory serves me well we did two gigs there, the second and last was Labor Day weekend of 1974. Not exactly the place to be to end the summer.


    As I said earlier, if you wanted to be successful in the New Jersey club market you had to land a summer gig at a club on the shore. People come from all over to vacation and hang out so it helps you pick up a following and better yet, land some good gigs in the fall and winter. Up until this point we didn't have one, but thankfully Sammy called to tell us that he landed us a gig at the shore if we wanted it. It seems as though the owners of a place called The Chatterbox in Seaside Heights were looking for a band to fill their Monday night slot in July. I'm not sure if the band they had bailed out or they fired them. I think it was the latter. Anyway, it was a great opportunity for us to get this type of exposure and even though it meant we'd be working just about every night that month, we jumped at it.


    The Chatterbox was located right on the boardwalk and it was well known having been there for many, many years. There were two stages, one was in the back of the club and the other was smack in the middle of a clover leaf type bar. I remember bringing our equipment in and thinking we'd be setting up on the stage in the back, after all that's where the dressing room was. The owner, Eddie Olson, was quick to tell us that no, we'd be playing on the stage in the middle of this bar. Reason, when people walked by the club they could hear the music, see that there was a band playing and would have a tendency to come in. Also, once you entered the club, you bumped into the bar so it was easy to just pull up a bar stool and order a drink. And so we set up on the stage in the middle of the clover leaf bar. The stage had a small riser in the back and I barely had enough room to set up my drums. But, we somehow managed to squeeze ourselves on it and got through the night. Oh yeah, unlike the normal gigs we were used to playing, this gig was from 9:00 PM to 3:00 AM, six-forty minute sets. Well, we had enough for four so we stretched a few songs and repeated some towards the end of the night. For the next four weeks we played every Monday in July at the Box. We must have done something right because at the end of the summer, Eddie Olsen called Sammy and booked us for the month of July the following summer-six nights a week.


    With a summer gig lined up for the following year and a couple of months already booked in the fall, we had a lot to look forward to. It would be a year since that first practice at Sebastian's house and a lot had gone done since that time. But here we were, still together, still playing, still having fun, and still with that burning desire to get back to writing and performing our own stuff. It was September and I remember playing at one of Art Stock's clubs called the Royal Manor. After one of our sets, Sammy came up to us to tell us he wanted to introduce us to the owner, Art Stock. After exchanging a few pleasantries, Art Stock told us that if we wanted to be successful that we should follow what he did in the beginning, "Make a friend every night". And so we took those words to heart and from that time on, in every club we played, we'd made it a point to "make a friend every night". We started a mailing list and no matter where we played, one of us would stay on the stage between the second and third set to sign people up. Over the years the list got so big that we would periodically sent out a letter asking people if they still wanted to stay on the list. They did, even people that moved away. The last time we would use that list was in 1985 to let our fans know about our farewell gig at Modern Times in Sayreville, but that's a story for another day.

16 ANOTHER GREAT OPPORTUNITY


    We breezed though the rest of 1974 and into 1975, playing a minimum of five nights a week and sometimes six. We were picking up momentum and gathering a following wherever we played. Because we were doing so well, we had to stay on top of the current music and needed a place to rehearse. So Jimmy, through his sister, found this place in Warwick, New York, (she lived in the area). It was a small one room office located three flights up above the local pizza parlor. It would be here that we'd learn new songs for our list and more importantly work on our original material, which would later appear on the Trigger Treat album. With the exception of taking a day off once a week between gigs, we practically lived there.


    By the spring of 1975 we were gigging all over New Jersey and Sammy had us booked for the key summer months of July and August at the Jersey shore. We were b
ooked for July at the Chatterbox in Seaside Heights and August at the Rip Tide in Point Pleasant. The summer of 1975 came fast and furious and before you knew it we were playing once again at The Chatterbox. Only this time it was for the entire month of July, six night's a week, 9:00 PM - 3:00 AM. Oh did I mention, we also had to do a matinee every Sunday from 3:00 PM - 7:00 PM, take a break for dinner and be back on the stage again for the evening performance. It was a grind but it helped us get tighter as a group and we really learned how to work an audience. 10 hours of playing in one day will do that.


    I'm not sure if it was right before the gig at the Chatterbox started or during the first week there, but either way Sammy called Tom to let him know about this great opportunity he had for us. The Beach House, a premier club in Point Pleasant, had lost the band it had booked for the month of August. I believe a couple of guys from that group quit at the last minute and the manager of The Beach House, Jimmy Navarro, was looking for a group to fill that slot. As I said earlier, these gigs were booked months in advance so any of the popular groups (Salvation, Holme, Rockem-Sockem) were already booked at other shore clubs and weren't available. Enter Sammy Boyd and Trigger. Sammy told Jimmy Navarro that he had the band for him, an up and coming group called Trigger. Perfect for the Beach House. Sammy called Tom and told him we had this gig if we wanted it. He would pull us out of the Rip Tide and put another band in our place, no problem. There was, however, one small thing. We had to come up with a show for Saturday nights. Bands were doing shows at the time, they would later be known as Tribute Bands, so we'd need to come up with something fast. We told Sammy to go ahead and book us, somehow or another we'd come up with something. Sammy was quick to respond; "Not so fast boys, come up with something and I'll book it. I need to let the club know by tomorrow what special show you'll be doing on Saturday's so they can start advertising it". Great, we had one day to come up with something.


    I remember meeting the next day for rehearsal. Normally we'd be working on a new song for the club gig or fixing up one of our original tunes. Not today though, one away or another, if we wanted the Beach House gig we had to come up with a show. But what?

 

17 SHOWTIME


    We were doing a mini-medley of Beatles tunes, but Rockem-Sockem was already doing a pretty elaborate show so that was out. An oldies show? No, a lot of other bands were doing that and anyway, oldies shows were overdone and it wouldn't differentiate us from them. The Four Seasons? The Rolling Stones? Motown? No, we needed to do something that was different, something that would be fun to do, something that would show off our vocals, something that people would have fun with. Fun? As in fun, fun, fun?


    You're reading that last line and I know exactly what came to mind. "Fun, fun, fun, till your daddy takes the T-Bird away." Come on admit it. You did.


I'm not exactly sure who came up with the idea, but a light went off between the four of us. The Beach Boys. Great music, great vocals, fun summer time songs. That's it! On top of that, we're playing at the Beach House. Tom called Sammy, "tell Jimmy Navarro we do a Beach Boys show." Sammy called Jimmy Navarro right away, told him of the show and booked the gig. It was July and we had to work fast as we only had about three weeks or so to work on the songs and put together a show.


    Jimmy went out immediately and bought two Beach Boys albums, Best of The Beach Boys and Beach Boys Live. There
were plenty of tunes to pick from and we got on it right away. Lots of surf and car songs, "Surfin' Safari, Surfin' USA, Surfer Girl, Little Deuce Coup, Fun, Fun, Fun, 409, I Get Around and of course Help Me Rhonda". Jimmy worked on getting all of the vocal parts together while Richie and Tom figured out the music. While some of the music was easy, the vocals were not. The Beach Boys had a distinct sound, but more than anything else they were known for their vocal harmonies. So, we spent a lot of time going over parts and making sure we had the vocals together. If we were going to do this Beach Boys show, then we were going to do it right and that meant doing the vocals to a tee. If you have a copy of the Casablanca album, listen to the background vocals on Rockin' Cross the U.S.A., Baby Don't Cry, and Shake It Up, you'll hear the influence the Beach Boys had on us. Anyway, after about two weeks of extensive rehearsal we had put together a ten song medley, trying a couple of songs out randomly during the July gig at the Chatterbox.


    With the songs in place, we had to decide what we were going to do to make it a show. We didn't have an elaborate light show, as a matter of fact, we didn't have any lights. Well, that's not exactly true. We had three fresnels (stage lights) that Eugene would plug in at the beginning of the set and unplug at the end. Who the heck is Eugene you might ask? I'm glad you asked.


    Sidebar-Eugene was a good friend of Ritchie's who would often come to see the band. Road crews were becoming popular, even at the club level. The more popular the band got, the more you needed a crew. The reason? It takes time to drive to the club which was usually in the afternoon, unload the equipment, set it up then tear it down again to load up the van for the next night. This takes time away from rehearsing and working on new material. So, we asked Eugene if he'd like to join our road crew, well actually he was our road crew. He said yes and such began a long relationship. We eventually got a lot more stage lights, including a spot, and a large sound system that Eugene ran along with overseeing two other guys. That would all come later but at this time, Eugene was our crew. By the time we would finish our last set and go back to the dressing room to change, Eugene would have the equipment torn down, wires rapped and ready to load the van. Many times, he'd have half the stuff packed by the time we came out to help. He was one of the most responsible guys I've ever known and it was our luck at the time to have him working with us.


    Ah yes, the show. We had the songs down but we needed a look. The Beach Boys of the Seventies were a scruffy lot to say the least, but on the Beach Boys Live album from the Sixties they were all wearing stripped shirts and white pants. So we decided that's the look, some sort of stripped shirt and a pair of white jeans. I think we picked the shirts and pants up at Penny's and as I found out later, that's exactly where the Beach Boys picked out their outfits to wear on the live album. Coincidence, I don't think so? What possessed us to get blonde wigs is beyond me, but that's what we did. It kind of gave us that California "surfer boy" look because if you look at a picture of the Beach Boys, you'll notice that none of them had blonde hair. I remember putting the wigs on for the first time at rehearsal, we couldn't control ourselves form laughing.


    August arrived quickly and it was time to move from the Chatterbox in Seaside Heights, ten miles north to the Beach House in Point Pleasant. We were as ready as ready could be, or were we?

 

18 “ . . . HERE THEY ARE, THE BEACH BOYS!”


    The Beach House in Point Pleasant, New Jersey was located at the southern end of the boardwalk away from the games, concession stands and rides. It was, at the time, one of the most popular night clubs at the shore. There was a restaurant upstairs and the night club was downstairs. The club itself was a V shaped room with the entrance in the middle. The bar snaked from left to right, straightening out on the middle and the stage was situated directly in the corner behind the bar. There was a door in the corner of the stage that led to a small dressing room which was great because, unlike most other clubs, you didn't have to cut your way through the crowd to get to it.


    We set up on that Wednesday, ran through a few tunes, introduced ourselves to Jimmy Navarro the club manager, a couple of bartenders and prepared for our first night. Sammy showed up that first night to lend his support and to let us know that the club wasn't expecting any miracles from us. We weren't expected to bring in throngs of people, just don't lose the crowd. You know you're in trouble if people start leaving after the first set, so it's important to make a good first impression right from the start. We held our end of the bargain, keeping the 150 or so people that showed up around through the third set that Wednesday and again on Thursday. People who weren't there on vacation, meaning the people that lived there year round, had to work the next day so by the time the fourth set came around the place would start to empty out. Either way, those first two nights went well as we prepared ourselves for the weekend.


    I don't know exactly how many people the Beach House could hold, I'll guess 800-900 although it may have been more. By ten o'clock on Friday night, the place was maxed out to capacity with people waiting outside to get in. It was the same thing on Saturday, a sea of people waiting to greet you when you hit the stage. Unlike the first three nights, Saturday night was different. There was a distinct buzz in the air because Saturday's were show night at The Beach House. The club's manager, Jimmy Navarro, had it plastered all over the club, Saturday Night - Trigger presents their Beach Boys Show. Well, so much for no expectations.


    That fourth set on Saturday, the show set, came all too soon. After finishing the regular third set, we went back through the door on the stage to the dressing room to get ready to do the show. We changed into our Beach Boys show outfits which consisted of a pair of white jeans, red stripped shirt, white sneakers and oh yeah, those blonde wigs. We told Sammy, who had shown up to give us a vote of confidence, to wait a few minutes before he came back to the dressing room. There was a lot riding on this show and we knew it. If it goes over well, it could set us up for some great gigs in the fall, not to mention the rest of the month at The Beach House. And lest we forget, Sammy's reputation was riding on this. We were dressed with wigs in place when Sammy came walking through the dressing room door. The look on his face said it all and the five of us began to crack up. It was just what we needed and it lifted the nervousness and tension right out of the room. Before he left to watch the show he turned to us and said, "Hey, if you guys sound half as good as you look then we've got a winner."


    I remember stepping out from the dressing room onto the stage. It was dimly lit but people could still see us and I could see them pointing up at the stage, lots of them. And just for a fleeting moment as I parked myself behind the drums I thought, we're done. Now for those who remember, the beginning of the Beach Boys Live album from the sixties starts off with the band being announced. So, leave it to Jimmy to remember verbatim what the PA announcer said. While Richie was getting ready to open up with the first song, Jimmy stepped up to the mic and in his best California accent said, "And now from Hawthorne California, to entertain you tonight with a gala concert and a recording session, here they are The Beach Boys!" With that, Richie broke into the beginning of "Surfin' USA." We went from one song right to the next, Surfin' Safari, Little Deuce Coupe, I Get Around, stopping briefly for Surfer Girl, then right back into Fun, Fun, Fun. It was the only breather we gave the audience and before you knew it we we're finishing up with a real crowd pleaser and great sing-along-song, "Help Me Rhonda". The show lasted about 35 minutes, although it seemed like a lot longer at the time, and as the last note rang out, the place went completely berserk. I don't mean polite applause, I mean berserk!


    We literally ran off the stage to the dressing room, closed the door, ripped off our wigs, and looked at each other with that "I don't believe what I'm hearing" look. Sammy came crashing through the door followed closely behind by Jimmy Navarro. Jimmy didn't hesitate, "Do you guys hear that? You gotta' go back out there!" Great, we exhausted all ten Beach Boys songs we knew. I mean, we never expected this. Out we went, the place still going crazy. What are we going to play? Every band knows that when all else fails, play Johnnie B. Goode. So Richie ripped into Johnnie B. Goode. If you think about it, the beginning sounds very much like a lot of Beach Boys songs so I don't think anybody even knew. At that moment we could have played anything. After all, to that audience at that moment, we were the Beach Boys.


    There are times, albeit few and far between, that clearly stands out from others. Times when you realize why it is that you do this. Special moments that leave an indelible impression in your mind. Well for us, the first Beach Boys show at the Beach House in Point Pleasant in August of 1975 would be one of them.


    Word spread rapidly about the Beach Boy's show so that for the next three weeks while we were there, Saturday night's got packed early. It actually spilled over to other nights as well. Word was, if you wanted to get in on Friday or Saturday night while Trigger was there, you'd better be there before 9:00. Sammy wasted no time in using this to his and our advantage. Before the end of August arrived, Jimmy Navarro had booked us for gigs throughout the rest of the year and for the following August of 1976. Clubs were calling Sammy to book us for any openings he had and before we knew it, we were booked solid for the next six months including the entire summer of 1976 at the Chatterbox and Beach House. In a little over one year, we went from almost breaking up to becoming one of the more popular bands on the New Jersey club circuit. Incredible and we owed it all to a 35 minute, low budget show (I think we might have paid $100.00 for the outfits and the wigs) put together at the last minute. Oh yeah, there is one other small debt of gratitude we owe, thanks Beach Boys.


Listen to TRIGGER performing “Darlin’”!

19 TRIGGER TREAT - The First Record


    We didn't set out to do this, yet here we were two years removed from that first practice at Sebastian's on the cusp of becoming one of the more popular club bands in New Jersey.


    During all of this we continued to work on our original material, after all that was the reason we got together in the first place. We sent out demo tapes to all the major labels and got the same form letter reply. It went something like this: "Thanks for considering Atlantic, Capitol, Columbia, A&M, you name it. Unfortunately at this time we……fill in the blanks, but we wish you continued success and good luck in your career." You'd think that this would stop us but it made us that much more determined. We were going to make a record and if a major label wasn't going to sign us, then we were going to make one ourselves.


    In order to do this, we needed a recording studio that fit our budget which left out all of the major studios in New York City. Hourly rates back then, even in blocks of time, were way more than we could afford. Enter Sound House Studios in Newburgh, New York. I don't remember who found out about the place, but it was local so we decided to check it out. The guy who owned it was Pete Gamma. He not only owned it, but was the engineer. We called him and set up a time to see the studio. We didn't know it at the time, but the studio was set up in the basement of his house. I remember the four of us walking up to the front door of his house, ringing the bell, being greeted by Pete and walking through his kitchen to the stairs that led to the studio. I thought to myself, what are we doing here, but when we entered the studio we were pleasantly surprised at the layout and especially the recording equipment. We told him what we wanted to do and that we could block time as the budget would allow. It was agreed on and we scheduled our first session, eight hours which didn't include set up time.


    That first session was to lay down some basic tracks. After setting up the equipment, it was decided to do "Let It Show" first, a song that Tom wrote, and "Hot Summer Night", a song that Jimmy had written. We had been performing these at the gigs so we pretty much knew the parts blind. Unfortunately, we had problems right from the beginning with the sound. The studio was so well padded, that neither Richie nor Jimmy could get the amp sound they were looking for. The same thing held true for the drum booth. It was too dead and to compensate, the guys went directly into the board thinking this would offset the lack of room sound. For those of you unfamiliar with the recording studio stuff, that meant that we weren't using the amps to get certain sounds. Anyway it didn't, but we laid down those first two tracks and did some overdubs along with a vocal thinking that we could fix it later.


    Each week we'd set aside some funds for studio time and would call Pete to schedule studio time as the money would allow. Seeing that this would probably take quite some time to finish, Pete suggested that we book the time to finish the album and not worry about paying him upfront. He'd keep a record of the time and we could pay him off as we went along. Needless to say we took him up on it.


    Up until now, Jimmy and Tom had been doing all of the song writing. In the music business, songwriter and publishing royalties are where the most money is made. So, if you write a song that becomes a hit and you can retain a large percentage of the publishing, you stand to make a lot of money. That's part of the business side of the music industry. Richie, Tom and I didn't give a thought to the business side of it, I mean we were in this thing together and would share the wealth when the time came. Jimmy

was not in complete agreement with this. Jimmy felt that the songs he wrote, either with his friend Richie Tannum or by himself, were his. He didn't have a problem sharing performance royalties, but publishing? For Jimmy, publishing belonged to the writers and not to the group. This was to be our first real disagreement and put a bit of a dent in the armor. We would go back and forth with this but couldn't come to any agreement and as a result, Richie, Tom and I would wind up setting up our own publishing company (Wonder Horse Music) and Jimmy, along with his friend and co-writer Richie Tannum, would set up theirs (Silver Stallion). Not to be left out, Richie and I decided to write a few tunes. We brought them into rehearsal and made sure that we worked on them enough to be included on the album, which of course they were.


    After several months of recording, which we did on our spare time, we finished the album and were ready to take it to the public. One problem though, we didn't have a label. As I said earlier, we were going to make a record no matter what and if that meant creating our own label, then so be it. To Tom's credit, he investigated what we would need to do in order to
start a record label, got all the necessary paperwork together, legal stuff, etc... And so out of the ashes would come Parliament Records, an independent label owned and operated by none other than yours truly, Trigger.


    We created a logo for the new label, had pictures taken for the album cover, hired someone to do the layout and finally in 1975 the album entitled "Trigger Treat" was pressed, shrink wrapped and ready to go to market. As you can well imagine, we were all very excited when the copies arrived and couldn't wait to get home to lay it on the turntable. I can't tell you how disappointed I was when the needle hit the grooves and I began to listen to it. I was expecting this great noise to come through my speakers, but what I heard was thin, tinny sounding and weak. I tried everything. Cranked the volume, reset the EQ, turned up the bass, turned down the treble. I even re-positioned the speakers. Nothing worked. It still sounded thin. I called the other guys and they all said the same, but it was too late. The album was already pressed on vinyl and we didn't have enough money to go back in and redo it. So, Trigger Treat was introduced to our fan base in 1975 and although the sound wasn't to our liking, was amazingly well received. We got a lot of play at the clubs and even received some airplay on a few local radio stations at the Jersey Shore. But for us, although there were hints of good tunes and musicianship, was a disappointing first attempt. What Trigger Treat did do for us though, was open up yet another door and the next phase for the band.

 

TRIGGER performing

“Hot Summer Night”

at Dodd’s, Orange, NJ

20 CORKY, DENNIS AND THE RECORD PLANT


    We ushered in 1976 the way we ended 1975, with a bang. The only difference now was that we could advertise ourselves as Parliament Recording Artists, Trigger. Yes, recording artists. OK, not a nationally known label and we only sold about three hundred copies, but who's counting? In addition to the album, we decided to cut a 45 with Let It Show (originally Tom sang lead on this one) on the A side and Bit 'O Shuffle (an instrumental written by Richie) on the B side. We sold those at the clubs and it even wound up on a few Juke Boxes.


    1976 was a break out year for Trigger in a number of ways. Aside from being booked at all of the top clubs, we were drawing large crowds every where we played and getting a lot of press. In addition, instead of sneaking in an original here and there, people started asking for specific Trigger tunes. Most popular were Let It Show and Hot Summer Night. So, we included them in our nightly song list.


    During all of this, Richie found out that a girl he knew named Helene (she was actually married to one of our musician friends but I think divorced) was working as a receptionist at The Record Plant in New York City. I'm not exactly sure who contacted who, but they connected and she proceeded to tell him that not only was she working there, but a musician friend of his was an assistant engineer there as well. It was Corky Stasiak and she suggested that Richie might want to get in touch with him, what with us having an album out.


    SIDEBAR-Corky had been a front man and he and his band, I believe they were from Long Island, wound up playing at Dino's in Middletown New York during the summer of 1969 or 1970, I'm not sure which. I remember seeing them as Vince Dino, the owner of the club, had hired Corkys band to fill in while the band I was in at the time was going through some changes. It was supposed to be a temporary thing but they did so well that Vince decided to keep them on for the entire summer. Since I was out of a gig, I went to the club to check these guys out. The band was ok, but Corky was the whole show. He was thin and gangly, with long thin blond hair down to his shoulders and never stood still for a moment. He was all over the place, moving from one side of the stage to the other with reckless abandonment. They had the right mix of songs and with Corky's enthusiasm kept the place alive. Richie had met him and I believe after that summer or shortly after tried to piece a band together. I think they may have had a few rehearsals and might have even played a couple of gigs, but nothing materialized from it and everyone went on their merry way.


    Here's a little history of the Record Plant taken from Wikipedia.. The first album recorded at the Record Plant in New York was Electric Ladyland by The Jimi Hendrix Experience, released in 1968. Through the years, hundreds of albums were first cut there (Hotel California by the Eagles, Rumours by Fleetwood Mac, Songs in the Key of Life by Stevie Wonder, etc.). During the 1970s, house engineers Shelly Yakus and Roy Cicala also gave many local bands their start by donating session time and materials to upcoming artists, engineering and producing their demo tapes. This was part of the Record Plant's successful marketing plan which led to its as having recorded nearly 10% of the top 100 albums on the Billboard charts.



    So, here it was 1976 and as you can see The Record Plant had already established itself as the premier recording studio in New York. In order to record there you either had to be signed by a label, or had enough money to buy a block of time. We didn't have either one. We did though have a contact, Corky. Although it took a little prompting on our part, anyone who knows Richie knows he doesn't like to make or take phone calls, he finally agreed to contact Corky. He did and Corky asked him to send a copy of the record so he and this other engineer could give it a listen. That other guy was Dennis Ferrante. He told him that they were putting together a production company and were looking for bands to work with. Now as I said earlier, the Trigger Treat album was not a great sounding record. So, Richie took some time to explain this to Corky who told him to send it anyway. And so, Richie fired it off to Corky and Dennis.



    A few weeks went by and nothing. Finally, after several phone calls, Richie got through to Corky at the Record Plant. He had been tied up working as an assistant engineer on Kisses latest album and didn't have time to get back to him. Assistant engineers basically do everything and many times work long hours, sometimes putting in as much as 18-20 hours a day. More often than not they sleep at the studio so it wasn't out of the ordinary that it took this long to connect with him. He told Richie that yes, he and Dennis had listened to it on the Record Plants system and although it was everything he said, thin and poorly mixed, there were a couple of songs they felt had some potential. In particular, the both liked Somebody Like You. With a new arrangement, a few tweaks here and there and a better production, they thought it had the makings of a hit record. He told Richie that after they finished mixing the Kiss record, he and Dennis would like to come and see the band live. Dennis, I believe, was also working with Jack Douglas on an Aerosmith record so it wouldn't be for a few weeks.



    Never the less, they decided to come see us play earlier than expected and called Richie to see where we were playing on this particular Friday night. It was a place called the Governors Inn in Lake Hopatcong, New Jersey. We had played there before, but didn't know what to expect this time around. We weren't disappointed as the place, like most places we played, got packed early. It was extra noisy this particular night as "the guys from Staten Island" Fat Ed; Ernie; Jimmy Breslin; Tom Bruno; and the Carroll brothers made the trip up to see us. These guys always made a lot of noise wherever they went, and never failed to make the night interesting one way or another. Yet, it was all harmless fun.



    With a great crowd behind us egged on by the boys from Staten Island, we proceeded to rock the house. And because Corky and Dennis were in the audience, we threw in some originals and for good measure, showed off our vocals by doing a couple of Beach Boys tunes. They were both impressed with the reaction from the crowd and the bands tightness, but most impressed with our harmonies. After a couple of sets they had heard enough and suggested that they get involved in producing the band. We could work out the details later but right now we'd needed to start working on some new original material, and they'd work around their schedule to come to rehearsals to help arrange the tunes. They wanted to work on a new arrangement for Somebody Like You and once we had some new stuff together, they'd bring us into the Record Plant to record more professional demos and then shop it around. We shook hands on it and so began the beginning of a new chapter. 1976 was looking very good.


There you goisdksdksdlk

21 BIG GUY PRODUCTIONS


    Throughout the summer of 1976, we spent a lot of time at the Record Plant. We practically lived there. Anytime Dennis or Corky would call to say they had time, we'd be there. Whether it was to overdub a guitar lead, or redo a vocal, or change lyrics, whatever. In the meantime, we continued to play to packed audiences at both the Chatterbox and The Beach House.


    Another sidebar - The TRIGGER Family: It was during all of this that we became friends with a small tight knit group of people that eventually became a part of the Trigger family. These were people that came to see us no matter where we were playing. The Boys from Staten Island, the girls from South Jersey, Nancy and her crew, but of all of those people none w
ere more ardent followers than Bev and Sue. They came every night and would spend their own time selling T-shirts, records, handing out bumper stickers and pins, signing people up on the Trigger mailing list, anything to promote the band. They'd come to see us during the week, sometimes leaving before the last set so they could get home to get a little sleep before heading off to work. I vividly remember the two of them showing up at a club, I believe it was the Beach House, in a snow storm. No, it was a blizzard. As crazy as it sounds, it took Tom and me over five hours to get to the club that night but there they were, Bev and Sue among about 50 other people that night to cheer us on. The club was so surprised that anyone, including the band, showed up that the let everyone in for free. I think they even threw in a drink. Eventually we began to put them on a guest list just so they wouldn't go broke having to pay nightly to get into the club. The two of them were Batman and Robin when it came to the band. Always promoting, forever believing in us, always protective and always there. They even showed up at the Record Plant during the times we were recording our demos, just for support. They were two really great people who never lost faith in us. Thanks girls.


    Things were moving along and by the end of the summer of 1976, we had laid down four originals and two cover tunes. It was decided to do two songs that showed off our vocals, "Drive My Car" by The Beatles and "Darlin'" recorded by The Beach Boys. The music tracks we recorded were very basic for these tunes, so we didn't spend a lot of time overdubbing guitars and the like. Mainly we wanted to show off the vocals. The thinking was if we had a label interested in the band, then we'd present these as testament to the bands versatility. You know, these guys really can sing as well as play.


    The summer flew by and September was upon us. It was during the fall that Corky and Dennis approached us with a production contract. They called themselves Big Guy Productions and wanted us to sign a long term deal with them as our producers. It was like here we go again, contracts, lawyers, who gets what and how much they get, legal stuff that makes musicians crazy. Anyway, they wanted something in writing before they moved any further along with the project. They gave us a copy and told us to have a lawyer review and make changes if necessary. Believe me; changes are always necessary with contracts.


    These are the times when you need representation. Not four guys trying to represent the whole, but one person who acts on behalf of the group. Someone you can trust to make the right decisions. That person would be called a manager. We didn't have that person, but Sammy had often hinted that he wouldn't mind being our manager. We should have taken him up on it. As our booking agent he always seemed to get what was best for the band, so it stands to reason he would have done the same as our manager. Not to mention the 15% cut he would receive. Also, lawyers and record company execs don't want to be dealing directly with the artist. So we went ahead and had a lawyer review the contract, not a music lawyer which was a big mistake. Had the guy take some things out that we didn't like and tried to knock down the 50 percent of publishing royalties that Big Guy Productions was asking for. They stuck to their guns about the publishing and after a few weeks of haggling back and forth we ultimately gave in. This would prove to be a huge mistake later on. As producers it made sense that they get something from the production end, royalties from the sale of the record and guarantees to produce a certain number of albums in the future, but getting any percentage of publishing was not really something they as producers were entitled to. Yet, we gave it to them thinking contracts are made to be broken and if we became that successful there'd be a way to buy them out if it came to that. Ah yes, the business side of the music business.


    With the production contract signed, we went back to the music part of the music business. Something we were more comfortable with. Through the remainder of 1976 and into 1977 we spent a lot of time working on the demos. We wanted to make sure we had the best product we could put together representing us when Big Guy Productions (Corky and Dennis) went to California to shop it around. We had a timetable in place. Finish up the demos by the end of the summer and secure a record deal before the end of 1977. This woud be our next big challenge.


 

22 JULY 13, 1977 “It was a HOT SUMMER NIGHT in the city.”


    To paraphrase a line from a song that Jimmy wrote, it was not only a hot summer night but a hot summer period. For those of us who live in the New York/New Jersey metro area, summer's can be unmercifully hot. It's not so much the temperature, but the oppressive humidity that accompanies it. Such was the case during the summer of 1977. Starting at the end of June and for a couple of weeks in a row the three "H's" (Hot, Hazy, and Humid) were alive and well. Thankfully there was air conditioning in the clubs and the studio to help cool you down. Dennis and Corky called us in to polish up a few lines and some background vocals before the final mix. You know, tweak it a little bit. And so it was that on July 13th, 1977, Jimmy, Tom and I traveled to the studio to finish up the demo. Richie wasn't needed that day so he stayed home.


    As was the custom, we parked in the high rise garage directly across the street from the building that housed The Record Plant. It was about six stories high and although there was ground level parking, by the time we got there that afternoon, there was no space available and so they parked the cars on one of the levels.


    We went into the studio, Studio B, which was directly to the left of the entrance. When you entered through the door to Studio B you went directly into the control room. There, hunched over the console listening to "Somebody Like You" were Corky and Dennis. They were listening to the vocal tracks and writing down what we needed to go over. Inside the studio, smack in the middle of the room, was a mic hanging on a boom with baffles set up behind it and amps and wires all over the place. After listening to the track a few times, Corky went over the vocals with me with some suggestions he thought would make the track more alive. After rehearsing the part for about 15-20 minutes, I'm a quick learner, I was ready to go. For those of you who have never been in a recording studio, it's completely sound proof. There are no windows and the only door is the one that leads you into the studio. It's the entrance and exit. In the case of Studio B, there were actually two doors that you went through to get into the studio. When you went out there to do a vocal, or overdub a guitar, anything, it's you and whatever you hear in the "cans" (headset). That's it.


    "Whenever you're ready big guy", said Dennis. So, off I went through the double doors, stepping gingerly over wires and amps. I picked up the cans and positioned myself in front of the mic. They played the track through a few times so I could warm up, then told me to get a little closer to the mic and try not to move around so much. One of the things Corky wanted me to do in the beginning of "Somebody Like You', was to yell "ALL RIGHT". The track started with the count off, I used my drum sticks, click, click, click, then Tom's bass comes in. Drums follow, light strumming on the guitar, then with all my might I yell out. "ALL RIGHT". They stop the tape, and through the cans I hear Corky say, "that was great but we didn't get that one, let's do it again una morey. (one more time). Once again the tape rolls; clicking drum sticks, bass comes in, guitars then "ALL RIGHT". "


    Back away from the mic a little and let's do una morey." I can't remember how many times we went over this, but eventually we found an "ALL RIGHT" that they liked. There were a couple of lines that sounded a little off so they fast forwarded directly to them. Corky told me to "give this one section a lis (listen)" and try to give it a little more excitement. The tape rolled and I gave it all I had. "No, that wasn't the one, let's go for it again." Again the part came around and I gave it another shot. For some reason, it didn't seem that I was singing in the same key, as a matter of fact it seemed to be one step lower. They stopped the tape and I told them that the key seemed to be lower than where we recorded, maybe they should check the tape recorder to see if it was running slower for some reason. Right about that time, I noticed the lights in the studio getting a little dimmer. I yelled in the mic, "Hey guys, you want to turn up the dimmer on the lights?" The last thing I remember seeing before it got pitch black was Corky and Dennis frantically removing the tape by hand to get it off the tape recorder. Then, the place went dark.


    I stood there with the headset still on waiting to hear something. Nothing. Finally, a voice came through the door, "The lights are completely out in the building, stay where you are and don't move, we'll get a flashlight and come get you in a minute." The Record Plant, without a doubt the most prestigious recording studio in New York City at the time, had the latest up to date state of the art recording and diagnostic equipment but did not have a flashlight. So, I stood there for several minutes, waiting. I'm not exactly sure how long it took, but it seemed like it was forever. Finally, Paul Prestopino, the studios technical wizard, found some diagnostic equipment with a blinking light and used that to fumble his way into Studio B to get me out.


"What the hell happened", I said. Corky walked me through the entrance into the lobby and out to the street. There were people streaming out into the street from all over the place, people who were working late, theater goers, and oh yeah musicians recording at the Record Plant. I looked around and I couldn't believe what I was seeing, there wasn't a light on in the city. The only thing you heard, other then the hum from people talking, were the sirens going off from fire trucks and cop cars. We found out later that the minute the lights went, people started breakin
g into stores and looting them. It was surreal. As people were finding their way out of the building, Corky suggested sending one of the guys from the road crew to Smilers to get some snacks and beer. Smilers was a deli/convenience store on 9th Avenue, right around the corner from The Record Plant. I'm not sure who it was that went, but after about 45 minutes or so they returned with cold beer and a bag full of snacks. So the story goes, the manager of Smilers let one person come in at a time while the other workers escorted you around with a flashlight as you were picking up whatever you needed. When you were finished and had paid for your stuff, they'd let the next person in and so on. Leave it to New York.


    Sidebar- Brushes with stardom. I believe David Letterman used to go into his audience and ask people if they ever met anyone famous, who it was and how they met them, which leads me to the following. We weren't the only people in the studio that night. While I was standing on the sidewalk, a guy comes up along side of me and starts chatting. After some small talk he asked me what I was doing in the city. I told him I was in a band and we were at The Record Plant recording some demos in hopes of landing a record contract. He asked me where we were from and I told him the band was from Jersey, even though I lived in New York. He said, "I'm from Jersey too". At that moment a car pulled up and he said, "Well, my rides here, see you around and good luck with the demos". He jumped in the car and off he went. Moments later, Corky came up to me and asked me if I knew who the guy was that I was chatting with. I said "no". He looked at me as if I had two heads, "you're kidding, right"? "Sorry Corky, but I don't know who the guy was".


    Let me digress for a moment and go back ten years. I was a teenager in high school in 1966, playing in a local rock band. We played all the high school and CYO dances, as well as a few sweet sixteen parties. The local newspaper wrote a nice article about us which caught the eye of a musician who was playing at a place in the Catskills called The Nevele Country Club. He contacted one of the guy's parents to see if we would be interested in auditioning for a gig in the nightclub at The Nevele. Seems they were looking to bring in a rock band to compliment the jazz group they had there. Really, they were looking to attract a younger crowd and having a rock band as entertainment would help that along. So we auditioned and low and behold got the gig. We played weekends and long holidays and got to stay in the main hotel rooms, most of the "help" (waiters, waitresses, bus boys, maids, etc.) had to stay in these bungalow type houses. And oh yeah, we got paid $25.00 each a night. Not bad for back then. During this time Go-Go girls, (not the kind you see now), sixties type dancers with go-go boots, fish net stockings and glimmering outfits that danced on these pedestal type platforms, were huge.


    The Nevele decided that it would be a good idea to bring these go-go girls in to dance when we played. You know, make it a hip place to go after the main show was over. So, they began to hire from an agent in New York City who I believe was called Mambo Hyde, but I'm not sure. The girls would come upon Friday and dance the first set with us, cocktail hour from 6 to 7 PM, before heading off to the "helps" dining room for dinner. As was our custom at the time, remember we were a bunch of high school teenagers, we'd sit with them and all at the same time, shove a bunch of food in our mouths and play Look. Usually they'd get startled and think that it was disgusting aside from being juvenile, which it was. This went on for weeks with the same results until this one weekend when this new face arrived.


    For several weeks, the same three or four girls came to the Nevele. Just like playing a song over and over, it gets boring after awhile. It was summer of 1966, and this new girl comes to the lounge and unlike any of the others, introduces herself to us. She was cute, perky, bubbly, with this tremendous smile and infectious laugh. We all liked her immediately but that didn't mean she was going to escape our Friday night dinner ritual. Cocktail hour ended and we all went together to the employee dining room. On cue, we shoved a pile of food in our mouths and opened up for her to view. Just like that, she piled a bunch of mashed potatoes, peas, meat and anything else that was on her plate and gave us a view right back. That was it, she was one of us. Not only was she our favorite but she became a favorite of the Nevele and wound up returning just about every weekend throughout the summer of 1966. When the nights ended around 2:00 PM, she would join us for late night eats an
d a few laughs at the coffee shop. She had a great laugh, kind of like a giggle and this contagious smile. I vividly remember the last time I saw her, it was towards the end of August of that year. It was a Saturday night; we had finished up and as usual met her for something to eat at the coffee shop. Afterwards we sat in the lobby of the hotel; it was around 3:00 in the morning. She said something like this; "Guys I won't be coming back next week so I want to say good-bye to you now." We all looked at each other, "Of course you'll be back next week". "No, she said, I won't. I'm moving to California to become a big movie star." Yeah right, a big movie star, see you next Friday. Well, next Friday arrived and she was no where to be found. The same thing for the following Friday and the one after that.


    September rolled around and we are all back in school. New TV shows premiered in late September and early October in those days and I remember looking in TV Guide one evening to see what new programs were airing. There was this new show on called "Good Morning World", a comedy show about two disc jockeys. As I read the snippet about that nights' episode, my eye glanced down to the actors names. I couldn't believe it, there she was listed as one of the actors in the new series. I immediately called one of the guys in the band, "You gotta look who's in TV Guide and on TV tonight." We were stunned. I watched the show that night and the following episodes right up until it was cancelled about six weeks later. It would be just the beginning for her as she then landed a gig on Rowen and Martin's Laugh In and became a fan favorite right away. The rest they say is history as she became a huge success and "a big movie star" just as she said the last time we saw her. Her name, Goldie Hawn. You know, I often wonder if she ever thinks about those days and would even remember me? Probably not, but I do. And oh yeah the guy I was talking to that night in the middle of the blackout, Bruce Springsteen.


Our cars were parked across the street in the high rise parking lot, so with the electricity out, those cars weren't going any where and neither were we. Later on that night we were able to get a cab to drive us over the GW Bridge to Jimmy's apartment in Fort Lee, New Jersey. Eventually we were able to get back into the studio to finish up the demos but that's a night I'll never forget.


    Summer was winding down, we were finished doing our part so now it was up to Corky and Dennis to get busy mixing the tunes. It took them a couple of weeks but they finally called us in for a final playback to make sure everyone was happy with the mixes. We were and so they booked their flight to LA to shop it around. With demo tapes in hand they flew to California in hopes of getting us a record deal. They'd call us right away if they had any news, but either way they'd be back in a week. It was September of 1977, four years after we first got together.


 

23 THE DEAL - CASABLANCA RECORDS


    If you ask any artist what they want more than anything, they'll tell you a deal with a major record label. For us it was no different. As the summer of 1977 came to a triumphant end, we had a lot to look forward to especially with Corky and Dennis on their way to LA to shop our demos around. As was the case at the end of the summer, we took a week off after Labor Day to retool before starting up again at our home, The Colonels Garter.


    We returned from our much needed vacation, refreshed and ready to go. People who were close to us knew what was going on but it had leaked out so there was even bigger buzz going around about the band. That first night back at The Garter, a Wednesday night, there was a line to get before the doors opened at 8:00. By the time we went on at 10:00, you couldn't move in the place and there were people waiting outside to get in. It was pure mayhem.


    Corky and Dennis left for the coast that week and on that Monday called us with an update. As a matter fact, they would call us nightly to let us know who they saw, who they were going to see, who liked it, who asked for more material, or who passed this time around. By the end of the week, they'd seen just about every major record label and got some interest but nothing definite. Before leaving, Corky had mentioned to us that they were saving Casablanca as one of their last stops. As Corky told us, he had spoken to Gene Simmons before going out west. Corky had worked on several Kiss album
s so he knew how to get in touch with him. Gene had heard our stuff, liked it, and told them he would be on the west coast at the same time that they'd be there and to let him know when they'd be at Casablanca's HQ. He'd try to be there when they were and with his support, there'd be a good chance that they'd sign the band.


    So the story goes, on Friday of that week they contacted Gene and met him at the Casablanca offices. They told him that they meeting with some key people at Casablanca including Larry Harris, Casablanca's VP. They met with the AR folks with Larry Harris in attendance and played him the four originals. Everyone liked what they were hearing and asked if they had any other material to play for them. Without hesitation, Corky whipped out the tape with Drive My Car and Darlin on it. "The guys are working on some new original material, but threw this together at the last minute," he said. Well, that was a little over exaggerated as we had taken some time to record them. Never the less they were impressed with the covers enough that they asked to listen to the original stuff one more time. At the same time they were listening to "Somebody Like You" for a second time, Gene passed by the room, stopped and poked his head in the door. As Corky tells it, Gene looked at everyone and said "Who are those guys?" Larry Harris told him it was a new group they were considering signing. "Well, you better sign them quick before somebody else does." Apparently that's all they needed to hear, I mean after all it was Gene Simmons.


    Back in New Jersey, we were playing that Friday at The Garter. Corky and Dennis called to let us know they'd be taking the red-eye back to New York and would see us on Saturday at the club. They'd fill us in on everything when they saw us, never letting on for a moment that Casablanca had drawn up a contract to present to us.


    That Saturday they got to Garter smack in the middle of our first set. So they didn't have to wait to get in, we left their names at the door on the "guest list". At that time, the "guest list" was primarily reserved for Bev and Sue. You see, they never had to be put on the list because they usually were with us during rehearsals way before the club opened. Anyway, as the first set ended they waved for us to meet them in the back room. It took a few minutes to get from the stage to the dressing room as the place was packed, wall to wall. And, you'd always get stopped by someone along the way. I remember seeing Corky with a manila envelope tucked under his arm as I entered the room. Before opening it, they went through the entire weeks agenda, giving us a blow by blow detail of what happened ending with the Casablanca story. How, although they liked the material, Gene's stamp of approval helped to move them to present us with this. And with that, Corky opened the envelope to unveil a recording contract between Casablanca Records and Filmworks and Trigger. It was a two album deal, with their option for the second one. Needless to say, we were beside ourselves. Giddy is more like it. There would be a lot to digest over the next two weeks and of course we would need a lawyer to dissect the verbiage, hash out the terms and conditions, see what Casablanca was asking for and how much we were going to have to give up, etc.. But for that moment, it was pure exhilaration. We had set out four years prior to do original music and get a record deal. And there it was, staring us right in the face, a recording contract from Casablanca Records and Filmworks. Welcome to the Casbah!


 

24 PRE-PRODUCTION


    We had a lawyer look over the contract from Casablanca. Basically they wanted a piece of everything including publishing and merchandising. We gave up a piece of our publishing and a percentage of the merchandising just to get the deal done. As is the case many times, the artist gets the short end of the stick. Our feeling was when the album becomes a huge hit, which we all felt would happen, then we can sit down with the powers to be and renegotiate the deal. I mean everyone does this.


    With contract signed we began to pick up the pace. The only tune from the original demo that made the cut was "Somebody Like You". As it was, we had been working on new material throughout the summer. Songs like "Baby Don't Cry", "Gimme Your Love"," Heard That Line", "I Think I'm Ready", and "Don't Stop" but still needed to come up with a few more new tunes to fit the "power pop" style we had developed.


    I had an idea for a song and played it for Tom one day on our way to rehearsal. By the time we got to the club, we had a finished song complete with lyrics. That song was "Shake It Up". I did my best to present it to the band, but I'm not the greatest guitarist. Not to worry, Richie picked up on it right away and added the power chords. Before long, the song started to take shape. I remember having heard The Beatles "Get Back" and liked the drum part, so I suggested that we start the song off with drums. I think it was Richie who suggested playing them right through the verses similar to "Get Back". We arranged the song with the drums playing throughout the verses, breaking into a Beach Bo
ys type background vocal in the chorus and played it for Corky and Dennis. I knew they liked it as the minute we broke into it they both started bopping their heads. Over the next several weeks we brought in tunes to work on. Some made it passed the cut, other didn't. "Shake it Up" made it.


    By the time November came around we had 9 songs in place and were working over them every night before playing at whatever club we were at at the time. Corky came in one evening and told us we needed at least one more tune for the album. He had an idea for a title, "Deadly Weapon", a great title for a song considering the name of the band. Tom and I went right to work. I had this idea for a riff, ala Aerosmith, and played it for him one night on the way to rehearsal. Just like "Shake It up", we came up with some lyrics and by he time we got to the club, had ourselves a song. Over the next few days, we worked over the lyrics and the format before presenting to the guys. Jimmy, not to be outdone, was doing the same. We brought in ours and he brought in his. And so it was that we worked on two different "Deadly Weapons" to present to Corky and Dennis.


    Both were deserving of making it on the album, but only one would. After working on them equally for a few days, we told Corky we had two songs entitled "Deadly Weapon" for the two of them to hear. They showed up for rehearsal and we played both versions. It was a tough decision I'm sure, but after listening to us play both songs several times; they both concluded that the song Tom and I wrote best fit the sound of the album. Thankfully it didn't disparage Jimmy, as the next day he brought in the same tune with new lyrics and a new title, "Beware of Strangers". As I told Dave Reynolds recently, I'm glad he did because it was a perfect tune to showcase Jimmy's vocal talent. We worked it up and played it for Corky and Dennis. They loved it and instead of ten songs on the album, we made it eleven.


    In the meantime, Casablanca had given us a deadline. They wanted us to finish up pre-production and be in the studio recording before the end of the year. So Corky and Dennis immediately booked the Record Plant for the middle of December. To make sure we had the songs ready, it was decided that we would take the first two weeks of December off from the clubs. We needed a place that was secluded and we could rehearse without having to worry about interruptions or having to play that night. So, we booked two weeks at Todd Rundgrens studio in Bearsville, NY not too far from Woodstock. It was the perfect place as it had sleeping facilities right in the renovated barn where we would rehearse. For that two week period we spent countless hours going over the songs, adding and subtracting things as we went along. On occasion we'd head out to Joyous Lake, a popular night club in Woodstock to see the local talent. Or, see great studio musicians like Steve Gadd and "Stuff". It really brought us and everything together.


    That final night before breaking down to leave for the Record Plant, we brought in a four track to record the stuff for prosperity. We played a couple of the originals live and some old rock and blues stuff. We had worked hard and long for two weeks at getting the songs together and just wanted to blow off a little steam. It was a lot of fun to just drink a few beers and play whatever came to mind. I'd love to hear that tape as looking back on it now, what happened at the end that night would be somewhat foreboding.

 
CLICK HERE for Derek’s Trigger History with fan comments.http://www.starzfanzcentral.yuku.com/topic/2140/t/THE-HISTORY-OF-TRIGGER-by-Derek-Remington.html
CLICK HERE for Derek’s Trigger History with fan comments.http://www.starzfanzcentral.yuku.com/topic/2140/t/THE-HISTORY-OF-TRIGGER-by-Derek-Remington.html

THE HISTORY OF TRIGGER

© 2009 Derek Remington

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