Did you ever meet the band in the early days? Back when they were the Soft White Underbelly, Stalk Forrest Group, Oaxaca, etc etc...
Maybe you lived round the corner from one of the band houses or you saw an early gig. Perhaps you were a student at Stony Brook on Long Island back in the late 60s and saw one of their dorm or quad gigs?
Whatever the connection, please send me the ....
When I was a student at Stony Brook University in the fall of 1967 young Sandy Pearlman started bringing the boys around to the college. At first they would jam in the dorm lounges. One Saturday night in November 1967 a Hendrix-Cream copy band named Alice was playing in one of these lounges. The boys and Sandy were hanging out listening. Alice lent them their instruments and let them sit in. They had no singer then. They jammed like you and I breathe--every waking moment it seemed.
SWU let me sing a Doors song "My Eyes Have Seen You" during that set, which they expanded into a long jam after the second verse. I stood right next to Donald and Andy Winters, their original bassist, who was quite good. Donald was all over his guitar, as the saying goes. He flew. The room tripped out with them playing in it. The boys were tight and fast and rocked hard even then. This was 1967. Pearlman knew exactly what he had.
They began opening for every rock concert at Stony Brook. One of their best performances was at the Grateful Dead concert in the gym. After their set the Dead were rigging up. Bob Weir set his Gibson SG against his amp. When he walked away the guitar fell over and the sound of the neck cracking filled the gym. Weir was upset to say the least. Donald also played an SG so guess whose guitar Weir used that night? Mr. Roeser at his kindest.
The boys lived in a house on Lake Avenue in Saint James, the next town over from Stony Brook. I hung out with them a couple of times. The walls of the rooms were painted black. They practiced in a spare room. One bedroom had a fabulous mural of Jim Morrison and the Doors, artist unknown to me. Jim was depicted as a strutting lion.
I asked them if they needed songs--I had started writing some of my own. No, they said, they had plenty. I asked them if they needed a singer. No, they'd found one--probably Les. One thing I remember is the boys were always kind, even in rejection. Polite and kind. They got the success they deserved.
Summer of 1968. I was asked to join guitarist Eddie Schrager's band as bassist and singer. Eddie borrowed the SWU's amps when came time for our Stony Brook gym concert. I remember driving to their house in Great Neck with Eddie in my '60 Chevy to pick them up--three Fender Twins. The boys were still asleep but for one, who let us into the basement studio to fetch the amps.
That's all I can remember about the boys for now. These are sweet memories indeed--happy to share them with you...
I grew up in Setauket, where they are based, and have seen many "Soft White Underbelly" shows at The Mad Hatter of Stony Brook, and Tueys (formerly in Setauket) back in the day. I'm also know Bobby Rondinelli, and have seen Pyramid many times at The Village Pub in Port Jefferson. Pyramid consisted of Bobby R., Doug on bass, and George Cintron on lead guitar. They are excellent, and they mainly just play for the fun of it.
They are local guys, and a big part of my past. Ritchie Blackmore lives nearby. So does Eddie Van Halen. He was undergoing treatment at a local hospital here in Port Jeff. Foghat had their Bearsville Studios right down the block from my house. Was sad to hear of Roger Earl's death. He was great. Tommy Victor (Prong) is also a good friend of mine. Great guitarist. Great band.
Long Island is the Rock and Roll capital of the East Coast.
My name is Bob Tango, I am 42 years old and remember sneaking into the Hatter all the time to see Swift Kick. Maybe you remember the name of the bar BEHIND Hatter? I cannot. Thanks for the memories on your site!
I just happened across your website, as I was reminiscing about my early days living in Great Neck, Long Island NY. I lived around the corner from The Soft White Underbelly on Terrace Drive.
I had gone over to the SWU house the same week that the Beatles White Album was released (I had just turned 11). I remember discussing the LP with members of the SWU, and listening to the Velvet Underground's White Light/White Heat LP (more specifically the cut "The Gift") there.
I remember looking at the SWU list of tunes to rehearse. The only one I recall was called "Bonomo Turkish Taffy".
And that's it!
The Band gig was Soft White Underbelly opening in the gym on May 3, 1969. It was kind of funny, because I was going to a concert with a guy I really didn't know... a BLIND DATE in fact. I was pretty young, just 15 and he was going to Stony Brook. We had talked on the phone and he told me he was premed, and spoke about how he liked all kinds of music, and spoke of classical music too. When he invited me to see the band, he was so low key about it, I thought he meant the school band, like a recital or something. The only other concert I had been to was the Beatles at Shea Stadium in 1966.
So, here I was dressed all nice and pretty in a DRESS with cutesy tights and cutesy dress shoes, all lovely and ready for some kind of classical evening. It turned out the band he was referring to was THE Band...as in Bob Dylan, The Weight, Big Pink, and Stage Fright. The rest of the audience looked NORMAL, like jeans, shirts, etc, and here I was like Barbie, all dressed up. Oh well, in spite of the Fashion Crisis, I enjoyed myself immensely anyway.
SWU was great, powerful and I can't remember what they played at all. And the Band was fantastic. I had been listening to fm radio, so I knew a lot of their stuff...just never realized who they were. I still love them.
One side note to SWU: a few years ago, I had some minor orthopedic surgery done. The doctors in the had WNEW on (they used to be the most pioneering rock station in the NY market; then a talk station; now they don't know what they are) in the operating room. As the anesthesiologist was telling me to count backwards, "Don't Fear the Reaper" was coming on....great timing, eh?
As far as Stony Brook show are concerned, I saw quite a few of them, and heard even more on the evenings when I couldn't go. I lived about 1 mile from campus, and I can remember sitting outside and listening to the music bounce across the golf course... it was very loud and very clear. I remember listening to the Who, and quite a few other bands as well. I think I know that house on Lake avenue that was referenced in Robbie Barkan's SWU/Grateful Dead review, although I wasn't there till about 1970 or maybe 71.
I remember concerts in the Gym that cost 50 cents to get into if you were a student. I saw the Moody Blues with Timothy Leary, Odetta, Richie Havens, the Dead, New Riders of the Purple Sage, Bad Brains who opened for Peter Tosh, Bob Dylan, Janis Ian, Aztec TwoStep, and a whole bunch more that I can't recall immediately. I lived in the area from early 1969 till 1993, and also volunteered at the radio station you mentioned, WUSB from 1981-1993, so I got to see a lot more as years went on. It's a pretty magical place, and some great memories for me.
I was there 68-72 and the concerts were out of this world. Moody Blues/Pink Floyd/Doors/Janis Joplin/Cream/Traffic/Zappa on and on/Jefferson Airplane/Hendrix/Cocker/Who/Renaissance/Mitchell/Collins and the memories were endless like during Timothy Leary by Moody Blues and the whole country looking... Timothy Leary came out throwing hundreds of 'pills' out to us.
We actually had concerts during a couple of times a week. By the way I did get a BS Geol/Oceanography. I would be enthralled to go through the memories. Like Zappa singing in German because the words were so gross. We saw endless artists who unfortunately are no longer with us. My favorites... David Gilmour or Richard Wright.
As I have rediscovered the groups both single and plural on Youtube I am just amazed. I try to tell people about that unique time in history and am thankful that my son and nephews enjoy those groups also...
I also try to tell people that the only groups we did not see were the Rolling Stones and the Beatles and quite frankly other than Sympathy for the Devil, and the white album and magical mystery tour I will never miss the Beatles. It was there loss that they did not appear at SUNY Stony Brook.
My name is Barry Ungar. I just came across your post and it brought back a flood of SB on set memories.
I remember the first time the Allman Bros played they were not alone. They were supposed to open for Chicago, but Chicago came out first and explained they needed to catch a plane. They played less then an hour. The Allman brothers followed and played into the early morning hours.
Thanks again for the memories.
It was almost 50 year ago, but here is what I recall.
I was a student at Stony Brook for summer school trying to convince them to let me stay (it didn't work). Stony Brook was known for concerts, and Country Joe & the Fish were booked for the summer school concert in the gym. As an aside, Hendrix, Janis, the Doors, and most other groups played Stony Brook. The Dead played so many times the administration said no more.
For the concert, myself and a few others were given approx. $150 to do a "light show". We purchased refracting mirror sheets from scientific supply catalogs, got color lenses for the lights, had a projector with color gels, and best of all a strobe light borrowed from Grumman test labs. A runway strobe in a gym, quite impressive.
After the concert, I found out about a party at House on the Hill, and decided to walk there, about 2 miles from campus. I was not part of the "in crowd", so I was impressed to meet Sandy Pearlman who was sitting in the dining room wearing his round sunglasses and receiving folks like he was the pope.
In what was the living room, the band was playing. It was just a general jam session with different people playing. After about an hour, I decided to leave.
As I was walking down the hill, the Suffolk County police were arriving. Someone had called in a noise complaint, probably from a great distance away since there were no neighbors close by.
In the fall of 1967, I was no longer a student but I spent most weekends at Stony Brook. Let's just say I came from the city bringing things that enhanced people's pleasure. During this time, Stony Brook had mini-concerts in the lounge of "G" dorm that were called "moods." SWU was a regular performer at these moods. It was during one of these that the bass player asked to borrow $3; they were not very cash flush at that time.
When SWU played as an opening act at the Fillmore East, the response was less than stellar. I left the Stony Brook area at the start of 1969 and lost touch with their activities until they burst on the scene as Blue Oyster Cult. Most likely the oyster part came from a Long Island town called Oyster Bay.
From 1967 thru 1969, Stony Brook was a premier concert location. I am glad I was able to be there for most of it.
alias - Stoney Peaslap (it's another Stoney Brook story)
Nom de guerre 1966-1969 at Stony Brook - The Barbarian