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Willie Alexander - Photo By Duana Lemay
Willie Alexander - Photo By Duana Lemay

History of Boston Rock
     History of Boston Rock & Roll - Chapter 25 - Willie Loco - Live at The Rat

Boston - 1976 - The Paleys were laying low by the river, waiting for Sire to pull the trigger on the brother duo release. Aerosmith was starting to finally pay off and were seldom seen on the scene. The Modern Lovers had changed base to the West Coast. Glitter's Alice Cooper, The Stones and The New York Dolls inspired young rockers to slap on their sisters' Maybelline. The Dolls, remember, had a short lived relationship with Malcolm McClaren who, in turn, created the Sex Pistols. In short, Punk started here, not there. The Ramones' 1976 release paved the way for faster and louder. This was without a doubt the beginning of Boston's most magical period.


In the late 1960s, a Winchester High band, And Other Railroad Stories , had already caught wind of Willie Loco's music. Along with their repertoire of Stones, Kinks and Hollies were their Lost covers. (The Lost was Willie's first band, on Capitol Records.) Upon graduation, another Winchester High bass player, Scott Baerenwald, saw the country as an Archie. You see, the Archies were a cartoon and a studio band, created by Don Kirschner, and when the song Sugar, Sugar hit #1, there wasn't a touring band to take advantage of the popularity. So a crooked man sent the phony Archies on a tour across the country (he had phony Zombies and Animals, too), with the FBI in hot pursuit.

Mild-mannered Matthew MacKenzie, AORS guitarist extraordinaire, stayed on the North Shore and joined forces with Willie Loco and Scott (upon return) for the Bluesberry Jam Band, later The Jam. By the summer of 1972, the Jam Band, after learning the ropes of biker bardom, split. Willie got together with future Infliktors Gary Cook and Paul Carter to form the Radio Hearts . Matthew, hungry and penniless, was coincidentally picked up hitchhiking by singer John Morse and drummer Joe Marino. John and Scott and Joe needed a guitarist and born, from the Little Richard song (Buddy Holly covered it): Reddy Teddy .

Reddy Teddy's Burlington High debut was met by pubescent screams and rock-throwing teens, and before one could blink an eye, they were off on Aerosmith's first New England tour and were offered a management contract from Aerosmith management, aka Frank Connelly. The percentage cut was too much and the band instead turned toward a Mercury Record connection of MacKenzie's. With the money that was flowing in, John Morse, banker by birth, finally structured away for the boys to have their own place in the heart of Brookline, amid rolling lawns; the for rent ad was removed from the papers. Kilsyth Manor was now officially open for business.


Mercury Records liked what Matthew was up to and assigned the Left Banke's nervous guy, Michael Brown (he wrote Walk Away Renee and Pretty Ballerina), to produce the product. What turned out to be a somewhat regrettable experience was shelved by the company and with a quick reflex, Marino's attorney father sued. An out of court settlement and possession of the tapes were secured, so the band came home from New York. Two songs from the session, Goo-Goo Eyes/Novelty Shoes, were remixed and pressed for the industry's first independent release since the Shillings' Lying and Trying in 1965. It immediately picked up the support of local stations WVBF, where it became one of the station's most requested records, and WBCN by Maxanne Satori, during her powerful afternoon shift. It appeared on Flexible Records. On April l, 1974, Reddy Teddy kicked off a new era at the Rat in Kenmore Square.

The next important event was the two-track recording of Willie Loco 's Mass. Ave. and Kerouac. Willie had since dissolved the Radio Hearts and formed the Rhythm Assholes with future Nervous Eaters - Steve Cataldo, Robb Skeen and Jeff Wilkinson. He now began his first solo effort after more than ten years in the business ... Stephan (Baerenwald) Lovelace, the first long-hair in Massachusetts since Massasoit, was in charge of placing microphones provided by the Record Garage's Jack Griffin. Jeff Wilkinson played drums. Steve Cataldo played guitar and Reddy Teddy bassist Scott (Stephan's brother) did bass deeds. It was released on Garage records and picked up national recognition. Mass. Ave. was also featured by Maxanne Satori on WBCN and by photographer/DJ Oedipus on his VVTBS (MIT) show, Demi-Monde. The country's FIRST seminal punk show.

Oedipus soon began receiving other local singles from the likes of Richard Nolan, The Boize and Thundertrain. In the summer of 1976, Willie Loco wanted a follow-up to his Mass. Ave. / Kerouac 45 really badly but had no means to his end, until he found a sympathetic ear with Natick's Thundertrain - Mach Bell, vocals; Steven Silva, lead guitar; Bobby Edwards, drums; Gene Provost, guitar; Ric Provost, bass. (They had released in 1975 the unsuccessful debut 45 featuring, I'm So Excited" b/w "I Gotta Rock.) Outside of a couple of K- K-Katy's (Kenmore Club) and Newburyport's The Groggery gigs, they had failed to break the Rat or the Club (in Cambridge). What followed was the famous Hit Her Wid De Axe benefit (coordinated by Bell), a sellout, at the Club. Ten bands together to raise money for local legend Willie Loco's new 45. Reddy Teddy, Richard Nolan's Third Rail, Fox Pass, the original Atlantics, The lnfliktors, Mickey Clean & the Mezz and others contributed sets. The show was hyped by Maxanne promoting the New Scene.

As Duke and the Drivers came to a grinding halt, bassist Greg Morton aka Earthquake and George Lilly aka Nighthawk Jackson, brother of Duke's lead guitarist, started their own Jelly Records, which was about to release a new Thundertrain 45 known as Hot For Teacher! (David Lee Roth liked it) which would move about 10,000 copies.

Realize that when Willie released Mass. Ave., he had no band to play out with. So he'd bop between the Club and the Rat and jump in for Mass. Ave. and Kerouac and an occasional Hit Her Wid De Axe" with Reddy Teddy, Fox Pass, The Boize and/or Third Rail, who knew the chords. Next came the Club's Battle of the Bands, set up by Fox Pass' manager, Bruce Minor, best described in J. Frederick Seaman's Willis interview (Beat Vol. 2, #3).

There was the Battle of the Bands in 1976 (precursor to the Rumble) and the manager of Fox Pass said, sort of on a dare, "Willie, when the fuck are you gonna put your own band together? You're playing with everybody, which I think was ideal because I got my name in the paper constantly. I took the dare and got together with Billy Loosigian. He was working at the Record Garage and had a band, Wild Honey, with Sev Grossman (bass) and David McLean (drums). I said hey, I got this gig coming up, can I borrow your band, so he said sure. We got about ten songs down, played it, and ended up winning, so we stayed together." They were still gigging as Wild Honey, then they said, "We'll just do it with you for a while," and that was the Boom Boom Band.

So now Willie's got his Boom Boom band, a new 45 featuring Hit Her Wid De Axe, and the beckoning of Reddy Teddy and Thundertrain , both working on indy LPs, to make guest appearances.

Bruce Patch of Spoonfed Records, also Orchestra Luna's manager, put together the change for the Reddy Teddy LP recorded in the summer of 1976 at Northern Studios in Maynard, MA. Willie, Maxanne and Matthew shared production credits. Willie added vocals and piano to Moron Rock and divine inspiration in Puked Up Poochie Panties (what?).

Earthquake Morton and Nighthawk Jackson put together an LP's worth of material for Thundertrain since Hot For Teacher! had taken off in epic proportions. Willie once again added keys for Hot For Teacher! and Love The Way. Oedipus provided the cover photo for Teenage Suicide.

Meanwhile, the Rat's Jimmy Harold began importing New York bands from Hilly Krystal and sending Boston's finest (who all rehearsed at Kilsyth Manor for 15 dollars a week) down to CBGB'S. When Krystal released the Live at CBGB's LP, Jim Harold had a light bulb appear above his head - Live at the Rat. On September 27, 28, and 29, a mobile unit full of recording equipment pulled up and recorded ten acts. The lines wrapped around Kenmore Square.

Live At The Rat

Side I
At the Rat - Willie Loco Alexander and the Boom Boom Band
I Don't Want To Know Your Name - Susan
Rondey Rush - Third Rail
Boy From Nowhere - DMZ
Who Needs You - Real Kids

Side II
I'm So Excited - Thundertrain
Pup Tune - Willie Loco Alexander and the Boom Boom Band
Right Away - Susan
Rockin' In The USA - Sass

Side III
Bad Ass Bruce - Third Rail
Circling LA - Marc Thor
Kerouac - Willie Loco Alexander and the Boom Boom Band
I Want Sex - Boize
Da Da Dali - Infliktors

Side IV
Ball Me Out - DMZ
Better Be Good - Real Kids
Easy To Fall In Love - Boize
Norkkis of the North - lnfliktors
I Gotta Rock - Thundertrain

You know the cast of characters in the Boom Boom Band.

Rick Coracio - Bass
Billy Connors - Guitar, Vocals
John Kelly - Vocals
Paul Robinson - Drums (David's bro)

Jeff Monoman Connelly -Vocals, Percussion, Keyboards
Peter Greenberg - Guitar
Mike Lewis - Bass
David Robinson - Drums
Jay Rassler - Guitar

Garry Cook - Drums
Paul Carter - Bass
Kit Dennis - Guitar
Lee Ritter - Vocals
J.D. Sky - Guitar

Real Kids:
Billy Borgeoli - Guitar, Vocals
John Felice - Guitar, Vocals
Howard Ferguson - Drums
Alan Alpo Paulino - Bass, Vocals

Paul Caruso - Drums
Dana West - Guitar
Vern West - Bass

Tom Dickie - Guitar
John Kalishes - Guitar
Charles Leland - Bass
Mike Leland - Drums

Third Rail:
Billy Clarke - Guitar
Lenny DuPont - Guitar
Rick Martin - Drums
Richard Nolan - Vocals
John Roy - Bass

Marc Thor:
Marc Thor - Vocals, Piano
Rick Loracio - Bass
Jay Rassier - Guitar
Mono Mann - Vocals
Chuck Myra - Drums

You know Thundertrain.

So to put this straight, Reddy Teddy's LP (the first indy in Boston) was released soon after Live At The Rat was recorded. Live At The Rat and Thundertrain's Teenage Suicide LP were released in March of 1977.

Now a Live At The Rat week was set up at CBGB's in New York. National press screamed that the Bosstown curse had finally been lifted. Record presidents kept a very close watch and before long. Willie signed to MCA, DMZ signed to Sire and the Real Kids signed to Red Star.

Best Of The Press

" talent-loaded, hot shot, up and coming rockers have been proliferating like crazy over the last year or so. People like Willie Loco Alexander, Fox Pass, Marc Thor, The Count, Thundertrain, Third Rail and DMZ ... and add one more... Reddy Teddy. "
Circus, June 1977

" though less publicized than New York, Boston is almost as active. And may be because club venues are limited, there's a spirit of cooperative camaraderie among the bands that contrasts sharply with the backbiting atmosphere of New York."
Playboy, April 1977

This article originally appeared in The Beat in 1985
(c) Charles William White III

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