The Minutemen – this was a band he played in I guess while still in high school. His band won the Battle of The Bands in 1966 at Acton Regional High School. Still working on getting more information about the band.
The Rockin’ Ramrods – this was a band he played in when he was in college. He joined the band around 1966 or 1967. They did a tour opening for the Rolling Stones and after Ronnie Campisi left the band, they brought Chico into the band because they had seen him playing in another band and immediately realized that he was the talent in that band. He brought a lot of energy and excitement into the Rockin’ Ramrods. He brought a lot of ideas as well. Unfortunately the band didn’t last much longer after that. They were one of the house bands at a venue known as the Surf.
Puff – this was an extension from the Ramrods. This was around 1968. The Ramrods had gotten a record deal. They recorded the record in New York City right off of Times Square. The producer decided to name the band Puff without apparently any input from the band members themselves. They put out one album and I think Chico handled most or all of the vocals on it. I don’t think the band lasted very long but you can buy the record either in LP form, CD, or on eMusic. It appears that Ronnie Campisi started the band but only wrote the music. He didn’t actually play in the band that we’re aware of. They toured mostly regionally throughout New England.
More on Rockin’ Ramrods and Puff:
This is some information I found about The Rockin’ Ramrods and Puff off of a Russian blog. I thought it was pretty interesting.
Biography by Richie Unterberger
Along with the Remains, the Rockin’ Ramrods were Boston’s premier rock band in the mid-’60s. Unlike the Remains, they didn’t gain even a modicum of exposure beyond their city, and are far more obscure even to ’60s collectors. They were a decent if not significant group, sounding kind of like a Beatlized frat band, and relying largely upon original material, much of it penned by bassist Ronn Campisi. Over the course of more than half a dozen singles between 1963 and 1966, they competently tackled garage grunge, wild instrumentals, and some very pleasant hard pop/rock originals with prominent keyboards, somewhat in the manner of an Americanized early Manfred Mann. “Bright Lit Blues Skies,” their best song, was a hit in the Boston area, but they achieved no other success of note before disbanding.
2. I WANNA BE YOUR MAN
3. I’LL BE ON MY WAY
4. DON’T FOOL WITH FU MANCHU
5. TEARS MELT THE STONE
6. PLAY IT
7. BRIGHT LIT BLUE SKIES
8. MISTER WIND
9. CAN’T YOU SEE
10. MARY, MARY
11. FLOWERS IN MY MIND [Puff]
14. RAINY DAY
15. LOOKING IN MY WINDOW
16. WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE
17. OF NOT BEING ABLE TO SLEEP
18. I SURE NEED YOU
19. DEAD THOUGHTS OF ALBERT
20. WHEN I WAKE UP IN THE MORNING
21. GO WITH YOU
22. CHANGES [Ramrods ’71]
23. MY VISION HAS CLEARED
24. I DON’T WANT TO I WILL
Review by Richie Unterberger
A strange compilation that spans several stages of the group’s evolution. There are eleven songs (one previously unreleased) from their mid-’60s prime, presented in much better sound than on the Eva reissue, but six of the songs from the eight singles they recorded during this time are missing. Then there are eleven tracks (one previously unreleased) from the obscure 1968 MGM recording by Puff, a spinoff group that did not feature Ramrods leader/singer/songwriter Ronn Campisi, although, oddly, he wrote all of the material. The Puff cuts are light, sophisticated pop/rock with lots of harmonies and slight psychedelic touches; mildly interesting, it’s much less hard-rocking than the other “Bosstown” groups MGM was giving a big push to in 1968. The CD finishes with three unreleased songs recorded by a 1971 incarnation of The Ramrods. A wealth of genuine Rockin’ Ramrods unreleased material from their 1966-67 prime that has circulated among a few ’60s/garage collectors was not tapped at all. Though less comprehensive, much harder to find, and of lower fidelity, the French import on Eva — which includes both sides of every one of
their eight early singles — still gets the nod over this less cohesive batch.
You can buy the tracks off of the Puff record at emusic.com. They were made available not too long ago.
Chico introduced Doug Kupper to a lot of the musicians that were part of a marketing push called “The Boston Sound”. Doug stated “Basically it was one record company that needed to spend some money, so they spread it around Boston without doing much to promote the acts or the product. It did, however, give a lot of hometown groups a chance to record in those heady days and Puff was one of them.”
Rainface – this was his own band that he fronted in. He formed this band in 1970 and it lasted until 1972. It was formed after the Ramrods fell apart and had two guys in it that would later on become members of Sha Na Na. That’s right. Dirty Dan and Glenn Jordan. Their drummer Bobby Henderson had been in the Rockin’ Ramrods with Chico. The band lasted for two years until Chico accepted a bass gig with Bob Emma and eventually joined The Happenings.
More on Rainface:
RAINFACE was a band formed in Boston in 1970 by David-Allen Ryan, Danny McBride, Bobby “Jesse” Henderson and Glenn Jordan. The first three had been members of a disintegrating Boston Super Group called THE RAMRODS, originally called THE ROCKIN’ RAMRODS, a band that had had great success in the 1960s. But in the early summer of 1970 THE RAMRODS experienced a blow from which they never recovered.- – they were fired from a gig at Preston’s Airport Lounge on Nantucket, the only place on the island with a live band and about the only time they had ever dealt with such a negative reaction. Leader Vinnie Campisi, a founding member of the band, said he’d had enough. He was married now and had a gig with Warner Brothers Records in the Boston office and decided he would devote his career to the business side of music. Danny took a gig as a radio DJ on WAAF, and Bobby devoted more of his time to being a recording engineer at Angus Studios where he eventually became one of New England’s premiere recording engineers. David hung out on the island of Nantucket for a couple of months. During that time he met Alice Pitcher, a beautiful scion of an old Nantucket family dating back to the whaling days of yesteryear. His love of music and his fondness for Alice helped him develop a plan. He would form a new band to play at Preston’s, initially anyway, before going out to conquer the great wide world. He called Danny and Bobby and told them that we should continue playing, using an acquaintance, Glenn Jordan, from Canterbury, New Hampshire to take Vinnie’s place. It would be a great band- -four great singers and players capable of all kinds of music from light country rock to heavier hard rock. They really only rehearsed once because Bobby had decided to stay with his studio gig and not travel anymore. So David went about finding a drummer to take Bobby’s place. He found Stew Kassner from Mattapan, a section of suburban Boston. Stewie proved to be the “Ringo” of the band, totally obsessed with music, and bringing a sense of humor to the group that infected everything they did. So in the winter of 1970-71 they began rehearsals at Stew’s parents’ house, which had a finished basement- family room perfect for a four piece band- -David and Danny, Glenn and Stew- -bass, two guitars and drums.
Their first gig was actually at The Summit Club in Peabody, Massachusetts on Route #1. Club owner “Marion” hired them on for several weeks playing Wednesday thru Saturday nights. During this time another member emerged- -a manager named Arthur “Scotty” Scott, who promised to get some great gigs and supply some equipment. When the springtime came and the snow melted, the band headed out to Nantucket to Preston’s. They lived there and gigged there for several months- -David and Alice in one room, and Danny, Glenn and Stew in the other room. Scotty came to see them occasionally and never seemed to have found another gig. The band had gotten Preston’s on their own, although Scotty took a commission anyway. During band meetings with Scotty it was often mentioned that he didn’t seem to be doing anything for his commission. Eventually this came to a head and RAINFACE was replaced at Preston’s Airport Lounge by another of his bands, JUSTIN TYME, featuring future AEROSMITH guitarist Brad Whitford. This started a feud with Scotty that left him fired and out of the financial equation. It was now late spring and there were no gigs until Ed Malhoit decided to take the band on. He already had several popular bands throughout New England, including the newly formed AEROSMITH, and he plugged RAINFACE into his Northern New England resort circuit. They played The Blue Tooth, The Red Barn, Ladd’s and a dozen more of the happening venues at the time. They worked every week.
They developed a following. Then they scored the summer gig at The Mill Hill Club in Yarmouth, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod. Seven nights a week opening for the headliners, which for July was a barrel-house act called BOB EMMA’S RAGTIME REVIEW which was a musical comedy act that filled the place with college kids. In August the act was THE HAPPENINGS, New Jersey’s great FOUR SEASONS-ESQUE singing group that had had several hits in the 1960s. RAINFACE played every night as opening act. This was a good billing as the two acts were very complimentary in that they really related to an audience, so much so, that when THE HAPPENINGS played in Boston at King’s Row, a very fashionable club at the time, they invited RAINFACE to open. Unfortunately, RAINFACE did not dress in snappy uniforms, or matching outfits, but in jeans and sneakers, and had long hair and looked more like THE GRATEFUL DEAD than grateful to be in one of Boston’s most upscale clubs where there was a dress code to get in that the RAINFACE band couldn’t pass. The clientele liked them anyway, but the management never had them back. The following winter they headed north again to ski country and played a number of the fashionable ski lodges in Vermont and New Hampshire and also in Maine and Quebec. All went well until late winter when Bob Emma needed a bass player and David accepted the gig- -it was more money. His gig with Bob Emma lasted about six months until THE HAPPENINGS needed a bass player, which was more money and better music. He stayed with THE HAPPENINGS until SHA NA NA needed a bass player and he took that gig and played with them for the rest of his career until his death in 1998. Glenn Jordan picked Jeff Licht to take David’s place and as a good a bass player as he was, he was not the stage personality David had been. RAINFACE continued with Jeff instead of David for about six months, but Glenn wanted to do other things- -he came to Hollywood and eventually got music scoring gigs, most notably PEE WEE’S PLAYHOUSE. Jeff went back to school and got his doctorate and is on the frontlines of the greening of America, designing green buildings and eco-systems that will self-sustain. Stew played with some other local Boston bands, got married and moved to Florida. Danny joined David in SHA NA NA for a few years, especially during GREASE and THE SHA NA NA TV SHOW as “Dirty Dan” and now has his own geezer rock band based in Los Angeles.
RAINFACE was as good as EAGLES in those days. Too bad not much exists that they recorded, although there is some out there. They also were more fun than just about any other band around. Vinnie Campisi has retired after a career with Warner Brothers and Bobby Henderson is with the Bose Corporation. Stew is still in Florida, and Glenn and Danny are in Los Angeles.
Thank you Danny McBride and Jesse Henderson!
Bob Emma’s Ragtime Review – Chico did a six month gig with Bob Emma until an opening in The Happenings manifested itself. Bob Emma had a novelty music act with a heavy set female vocalist. He had a gig in a bar in upstate New York with them on a New Year’s Eve which Jesse Henderson attended with his wife before they were married. According to Lenny Baker, Bob Emma and the Ragtime Revue were a bunch of crazy people out of Hunter, New York.
Thank you Jesse Henderson!
The Happenings – this was a band he joined that had a couple of hits, one of them being “See You In September”. His band Rainface opened for The Happenings on many occasions. John Paiva had suggested that Chico join the band. When the gig came up for Sha Na Na, Lennie Baker had asked Chico to join up and Chico asked John what he should do. John told him to go for it so Chico left The Happenings to join Sha Na Na.
Sha Na Na – need we say more? He joined up in 1973 and was in the band until his death. They had a hit TV show and made a cameo appearance in “Grease”. They also starred in an episode of The Fall Guy. The episode was “Beach Blanket Bounty”. Sha Na Na was also in “Festival Express” however this was before Chico became a member. He also got his friend Dirty Dan his audition for Sha Na Na as well as another friend Glen Jordan. He always had a big smile on the show and seemed to thoroughly enjoy being part of Sha Na Na. He brought a lot of enthusiasm and energy not only to the TV show but in the live shows that they did as well.
The Alka All-Stars – This band consisted of Chico, Danny McBride, Lennie Baker, and Jesse Henderson. All the gigs were at the Beachcomber on Wollaston Beach in Quincy, MA. Almost all the material they played were covers.
Myles Connor – I asked Lennie Baker about this guy. He and Chico apparently provided some musical back up for him basically playing in his band. He apparently knew Chico from back in the Surf days. This is what Lennie had to say.
“A friend named Al Dotoli got us that gig. Al does all the production of shows in the Boston area. Everything at Gillette Stadium. He just came off the road with a guy by the name of Dane Cook. I don’t think he’s all that funny but he’s sold out auditoriums all over the country. He’s a comedian. He’s been on Saturday Night Live and he’s been in a couple of movies. Myles Connor was a crook. He liked paintings. Other people’s. He can’t remember anything anymore so he doesn’t do the cops much good. Most people can remember stealing Rembrandt’s but he’s got a lot wrong with him. He spent most of his life in jail. He’s out now and he’ll probably never go back. He had a couple of strokes while he was in there. We played in his band. We played in a couple of prisons with him. We played in Walpole with him. That’s why I know I never want to go there. Boy, I never want to go there. That was a really bad one. Myles did some strange things. His father was a police officer. Myles wasn’t that bad of a guy but he got in a lot of trouble.”
I will post an interview I did with a really cool guy named Brehan Herlihy and he told me a lot about Myles. And he lived next door to Chico growing up!
Bill Haley And The Comets – Mal Gray hooked Chico up as part of the lineup for Bill Haley’s last tour in the U.K. This was around 1979. Mal was instrumental in changing the lineup of the Comets and he invited Chico to be a part of that which he did. Chico brought a lot of enthusiasm and energy to the band when he joined up for the “Royal Command” tour. He even fired up Bill so that Bill started writing again and joined them in the studio for demo sessions. Chico’s enthusiasm was very infectious.
Mal Gray Band – Chico was also a member of the Mal Gray Band when they were touring. If Chico wasn’t working for Sha Na Na he would fly to Europe before or during the tour and join up with the band. He was in and out of the band between approximately 1977 and 1981. Chico brought enthusiasm, energy, and a good time feel to the band.
Mal Gray also invited Chico to be part of his band as the opening act for two European tours for Fats Domino in 1979.
The Wing-It Band – this was Chico’s band. He had rather big plans for it but unfortunately his untimely death stopped that. In March of 1998 they played a show for the Children’s Make-A-Wish Foundation at WATD in Marshfield, MA. He had been invited to go to Los Angeles, CA to play with Sha Na Na at the 20th Anniversary of Grease party but said no as he had promised to play at the charity show. That’s just the sweet kind of guy Chico was. According to Al LoRusso Chico liked to muck around and record stuff with this band.
In 1997 Chico and Lennie played at a benefit in Massachusetts at a VFW post in Tom Nevers to benefit a scholarship fund. Lenny doesn’t remember much about the gig but he stated that Chico was always making him do stuff like that with him. I told Lenny that Chico could make him do anything and Lenny said that he always did it but he didn’t know why. I suggested that it was Chico’s charm and that smile that sealed the deal. Ha ha ha!