March 3, 2016 in Happenings
My brother Jimmy and I led four different bands.
Although each group was fun to be a part of, the experience as a member of Bones was probably the most exciting. We were four young guys chasing a dream full throttle in a rapidly changing world. Oh, those halcyon days!
The four of us, Jimmy Faragher, Casey Cunningham, Greg Tornquist, and myself, were already a seasoned studio band, having charted a hit record in 1968 with Baby, You Come Rollin’ Across my Mind, and recorded a future cult classic with the eponymously titled album, The Peppermint Trolley Company. However, there is no resting on one’s laurels in the music business. We were creatively restless, and felt boxed in, confined within the four walls of the studio. Full of fire and eager to take our music to the streets, we chose to walk away from our contract and not look back, changing both our moniker and our direction.
It took us a couple years of wood shedding and playing dives to find that direction, but find it we did. We became a great live act. Crowds flooded to venues like Gazzarri’s, the Whiskey, the Topanga Corral, and the Venice Beach House to listen and dance to Bones. In concerts as an opening act for artists like Little Richard, Alice Cooper, Canned Heat, and the Eagles, the band always projected a visceral excitement that was contagious.
Through it all we remained a tight recording unit, always arranging our songs as if we were making records. We great material to work with. Jimmy, the main writer in the group was churning out quality song after quality song. In 1972 the groups first album, Bones, produced by Richard Perry, was released on Artie Mogul’s Signpost label. The following year, after adding our former Trolley mate, guitarist Patrick McClure to the band, we released a second LP, Waitin’ Here, produced by Vini Poncia (Future producer on three of the four Faragher Brothers albums), on MCA.
Roberta, the hit single, and first release, was the result of a spontaneous and unrehearsed rendition of the Huey Piano Smith song at the suggestion of producer Perry. He’d heard me singing the tune and thought it might capture some of that live excitement. It’s the rock and roll side of Bones.
The band’s hybrid sound, an amalgamation of rock, power pop, and soul, was way ahead of it’s time, and provided a template for the Faragher Brothers to step into. The music biz connections the band had cultivated didn’t hurt, either.
So why does Bones seem to be lost to history? I believe part of it is the lack of visual documentation. There are simply very few photos and, unlike both the Peppermint Trolley and the Faragher Brothers, there is no footage of the band (Strange to contemplate a world where folks aren’t catching every moment with iPhones or video cams!). Being more of a counter culture phenomenon Bones never appeared on television. Thankfully, the music still remains.
With pride I recall how committed we were to the idea of peace and social justice. We not
only talked the talk, but in performing pro bono at numerous peace rallies for the cause, we walked the walk. We were a band of brothers. On a mission. Committed to the power of rock and roll and its ability to bring people together. We lived together, made music together, and at times, starved together. Through the good times and the hard times we had each other’s backs. Bones lives!
Watch Roberta video.