It’s the mid 1980s, the height of hair-band-heaven. Every stage in every club across the United States sports a band dreaming of becoming the next Quiet Riot, the next Ratt, or maybe even the heirs apparent to the mighty Motley Crue. Most of those would-be rock stars fell well-short of the ultimate prize. Lack of talent killed off many of those dreams. Drugs and alcohol took down others–a case of partying like rock stars before ever achieving the actual status.
But those of us old enough to remember wading into the crowded clubs of, say, 1986, remember some of the good ones; those bands that had the talent, wrote their own material, had the look. These were bands that should have made the jump to the big time.
One band in particular was a four-piece from Rock Hill, South Carolina, called New York. I must have seen these guys a hundred times. I’d seen dozens of really good bands at the Silver Dollar Saloon in Lansing, Michigan, got to know many of the musicians, became supporters of the better ones. But New York had that something else that the others all lacked. When seeing them on stage, you just knew it was only a matter of time until they were snatched away to bigger and better stages. They even recorded a great EP, called Carry The Torch, which featured some truly amazing music. Then came a full-length album, entitled Electric Thunder, that they never released but shopped around for that inevitable record deal.
And guess what? That record deal actually came. Yeah, a big label came snooping around and decided to give these guy a break. But this was the 1980s, the time of monster record companies dictating all the ins and outs of the rock and roll game. In their infinite wisdom, these boneheads convinced this amazing band to fire their bass player–a founding member–because he didn’t fit the newly imagined image. Enter a new guy. Good bass player but not one of the family. Things deteriorated quickly, the record deal went away, and the guys in New York eventually called it a day. A true shame, indeed. This was a talented band that deserved to be up there with Motley Crue and Warrant and Poison.
New York had the music, the look, and the following. But they had something else that’s infinitely greater than what most bands brought to the table. These guys treated their fans like friends–some were even treated like family. Jimmy Ennis, the talented singer-guitarist, gave me and my then-girlfriend a bootleg copy of their unreleased album. I still own a bootleg of that bootleg on cassette (when the girlfriend left, she took the actual tape). I’ve also retained an ancient recording of their EP. This music still holds up today. Their songs are on YouTube, posted by Mr. Ennis.
The others in this fantastic band included Freddy Foster on bass, Johnny Glover, an incredible lead guitar player, and Michael Constable on drums. There were other amazing drummers to play for New York, like Rikk Haynes, who can be heard banging the skins on the Carry The Torch EP, and Michael Scott Mills, who recorded most of the Electric Thunder album–late Kiss drummer Eric Carr plays on one of the tracks on the album–but it’s Michael Constable that I think of when I recall those wonderful times from so long ago.
We were young back then, believing the fun would never stop, those nights would go on just the way they had been. But that could never be. This world doesn’t play by those rules. New York broke up, I’m nearly fifty years old, and the Silver Dollar Saloon closed its doors, the building demolished, and an apartment complex erected on the site. But there are still many fond memories to ponder.
When I hear New York rock and roll, I can close my eyes and reconstruct that fabled club, those nights buzzed on pitchers of Budweiser and shots of tequila, the smell of my girl’s perfume, the warmth of her body next to mine as we moved across the dance floor.
So, a big thank you to Jimmy, Johnny, Freddy, and Michael for being a major part of the soundtrack of my life–and the lives of countless others. New * York still ROCKS! Don’t believe me? Just have a listen for yourselves. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFpaSU…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BFzC_b… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XZyUSy…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dz8CRP… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GxtD_H…