Jump to content


  • Content count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won


Everything posted by Raspbernie

  1. Okay, it was The South Amboy/Sayreville Times but my Mom (who had to listen to years of LOUD band practices in our basement) is sure to be proud! Bernie __________ First KISS Tribute? By Michael Parker "Mortimer Snerd may have been one of the first, if not 'the' first KISS tribute band!" —Ken Sharp, Author, KISS: Behind the Mask: The Official Authorized Biography One might ask why a famous author would make such a comment about an unknown Sayreville/South Amboy rock band. It's because Ken Sharp is a good friend of Bernie Hogya, the former lead guitar player for the 1970's band Mortimer Snerd. A few days after the release of Kiss Alive the members of Mortimer Snerd thought it would be a "cool" idea to do a Halloween show dressed like KISS. Recently, I was able to locate the four members of Mortimer Snerd: Bernie; Mark Merriman, front man, keyboardist and bassist; Tom Zebro, bassist, guitarist and vocalist; and Larry Bogush drummer and speak with them about the famed KISS show and about the launch of their nostalgic website mortimersnerdtheband.com Here's their story: MP SA Times: At the time, KISS was big, but still somewhat of a local attraction. So the first question is why a KISS show? Bernie: Mark was the big KISS fan in the group. One evening he came to practice with the first album. We immediately learned "Firehouse" and then "Strutter." The second and third albums came out and we learned more of their songs Tom: But it was nothing more than songs intermingled within our sets. That was it. There was no thought of concept. Mark: However, with the release of the live album, KISS became huge in a relatively short period of time. We in the band had seen KISS a number of times and felt this album captured the energy and power of their live performance. I immediately went to the next band practice and told the band we needed to re-learn the songs, arranging them like the live album. Larry: Our next live show was the Saturday after the release of the KISS Alive album. We played at St. Joe's in Metuchen. There, we performed the new arrangements of the KISS songs. It just so happened that this particular performance, retrospectively was the high point in our career. There were 1,200 kids in attendance, more than three times our normal audience size—and they loved us! It was the first time we were asked to do an encore! Bernie: Two encores, as a matter of fact! Tom: I remember Paul Stanley's influence on Mark. That night when he was working the audience he used all of Paul's banter from the album like: "Give yourself a round of applause," "I know you can do better than that" and "catch your breath." Mark: Really? I don't recall that! Larry: No recollection? Shocking! Bernie: Well after that show we were on this big high. We felt we were going places. But Larry, always thinking, felt we needed to do something bigger, something better. Larry: We had this job coming up on Halloween at Sayreville Junior High and I thought, "what would be more appropriate than to do a KISS show that night?" I felt if we could pull this off, this would be very cool! MP SA Times: Just for the record, how old were you guys at the time? Mark: Me, Tom and Bernie were about 16-17. Larry was the old man; I think he just turned 18. Tom: I recall Larry proposing the idea, and as always we thought it was out there. But so were a lot of his ideas and they usually always worked. So we all said yeah, and began creating our costumes and working out the set. Larry: Meanwhile, I went to the school board and proposed our idea of doing a KISS show, and they gave us permission to do it! Mark: Almost immediately, word got out and people would come up to us and ask if it was true, and our answer would be, "Come and see!" Well, they did. That night there were 500 kids at that show. Bernie: The agreement we made with the venue was, instead of the traditional three sets with 15 minute breaks in between, we would do two longer sets with a ½ hour break in between. This would give us a chance to get made up. Mark: I remember that night vividly. While we were getting into costumes one of our friends, Keith Kotun was working the crowd. And he was doing a great job. He had these kids in a frenzy!! When we came out the kids made a path from our dressing room to the stage, about 100 yards. As we walked through this sea of kids, they were screaming, and trying to grab us and touch the makeup. It was wild! I have to believe some of those kids thought KISS was really there! Tom: And we played the rock star thing to the hilt! When we launched into "Deuce" and the flash pots went off, the kids went crazy—screaming, clapping, and rushing the stage. It was bizarre! Bernie: And we did the whole thing: The choreography, smoke, flash pots, and Tom's guitar bursting into flames (intentionally). Mark even did the flame thing and the blood spitting. MP SA Times: You did the flame throwing? Mark: Yeah, it was kind of cool. Larry and I found this magic store in Red Bank: Doug Heller's. He had this stuff called "Dragon's breath." It was a real fine power, almost liquid and it was in this squeeze container that could fit in your mouth. The deal was when you applied pressure on the container, the powder would spray out, hit the open flame and project outwards from there. It gave the impression you were blowing flames from your mouth, but it was incredibly safe! MP SA Times: I understand there was an incident with the blood. Mark: Yeah, the plan was I would do the blood spitting routine, run backstage and rinse and be ready for the next song. Well, Larry started the song early and in a rush, I swallowed the blood. After the set, I read the label and in big letters it read, "DO NOT SWALLOW." I immediately got sick and drove myself to the hospital. Now imagine, I run into the emergency room still in costume, blood all over my face. I give the nurse the bottle and say, "Hey! I swallowed this stuff, what's going to happen?" She slowly examined the label then looked at me, and in a deadpan tone replied, "You know, you can't get high from this." Bottom line was she told me to get some food so I went for a burger and milkshake and lived to tell about it. Tom: I remember the entire night sounding good! Mark: I remember it sounding great! Larry: The next day, I received calls from a number of venues, attempting to verify that we did a KISS show and asking if we would agree to do one for them. I said sure and made up this ridiculous price and they agreed! It was great. We hit upon something! Bernie: Thinking back, it was pretty "cutting edge" for that time. And the thing is, we always seemed to do something that made us stand out from the other groups, like the Dark Side Of The Moon show with "Hurricane" Hilton on sax, the singing telephone, the props and pyro effects, so we just thought the KISS thing was normal. Since Mortimer Snerd donned KISS costumes and makeup, there have been thousands of bands—local, national, and international that have performed similar KISS tribute shows. But if you were one of the many Snerd fans crowded into Sayreville Junior High that eventful night in 1975, you now know that you can say you saw it first! I have to point out that while this interview centers around the KISS show, each member of the band brought their own musical tastes to the table. They performed the music of: Led Zeppelin, Bad Company, David Bowie, Deep Purple, Genesis (long before anyone knew who Genesis was), The Who, Jethro Tull, Mott The Hoople, Sparks, and the list goes on. To read more about the adventures of Mortimer Snerd go to mortimersnerdtheband.com and find out more about their history, the theatrics, the schemes and gimmicks. You'll find the site pretty amusing. —The South Amboy/Sayreville Times, September 16, 2006
  2. Marty Balin dies at 76

    He had a great voice! RIP, Marty Balin! Bernie
  3. John Wicks (The Records) dies

    "Starry Eyes" is a tremendous song! RIP, John Wicks. Bernie
  4. Geoff Emerick dies at 72

    Agee. One of the men “behind” the Beatles’ success. Bernie
  5. Steve Perry "No Erasin'"

    The video director was like: "Hey, Steve. Get into another outfit and we'll shoot the same video for the second single as the one we shot for the first." Bernie
  6. Steve Perry "No Erasin'"

    For everyone excited about Steve Perry’s return to music, I’m sorry to report that his second single is worse than the first. Maybe he should have thought of reuniting with Neal Schon instead of going it alone. Or found better songwriters to collaborate with. Bernie
  7. Drum cove IDKWIW

    Hmmm. Bernie
  8. Prayers for Gene Cornish (Rascals)

    Yes! Bernie
  9. Lemons to Lemonade

    Proud to have been asked to design the cover for Ken’s latest Bernie
  10. Eric Sells Music Catalog

    ROUND HILL ACQUIRES ERIC CARMEN CATALOG, INCLUDING ‘ALL BY MYSELF’ The New York-HQ’d publisher has just acquired the catalog of hit singer/songwriter Eric Carmen – including hits such as “All By Myself,” “Hungry Eyes”, “Go All The Way” (with his band The Raspberries), “Make Me Lose Control”, “Almost Paradise” and more. In 1970 Carmen formed The Raspberries and became their lead singer and primary songwriter. Less than two years later, the band signed with Capitol Records and released their first hit, penned by Carmen, “Go All The Way.” That record went on to sell 1.3 million copies, and cracked the Billboard top five in the summer of 1972. It has now been played over 52,000 times a year, on U.S. radio, every year, for forty-six years. The Raspberries are often credited with creating the genre now known as ‘Power Pop’. Round Hill’s President Neil Gillis commented, “Eric is a legendary triple threat and hall of fame from every angle; artist, composer and musician. I have been a fan of his music from the earliest of days and it’s a privilege to be involved with his amazing body of work. We are kindred spirits on many levels and we are honored to have him as part of the RHM family.” After the break-up of The Raspberries in 1975, Eric Carmen began a solo career with the million-selling worldwide smash, “All By Myself” and the follow-up single, “Never Gonna Fall In Love Again.” Both tracks were from his gold-certified debut album. Outside of his own recording career, Eric Carmen songs have been performed and recorded by such musical heavyweights as Frank Sinatra, Celine Dion, Sheryl Crow, Frankie Valli, Diana Ross, Motley Crue and Luis Miguel. Carmen’s songs have been featured on several Grammy-nominated and multi-million-selling soundtracks such as “Footloose” (“Almost Paradise”), “Dirty Dancing” (“Hungry Eyes”) and most recently “Guardians Of The Galaxy” (“Go All The Way”). Round Hill Music acquired Carlin Music for a sum in the region of $245m in January. It catalog includes songs and/or recordings by the likes of The Beatles, Eddie Holland, Neil Sedaka, The Rolling Stones, The Offspring, Bruno Mars, Cee Lo Green, Frank Sinatra, James Brown, Bon Jovi, Steve Perry, Louis Armstrong, Tina Turner, Ella Fitzgerald, Celine Dion, Britney Spears, N Sync, Mötley Crüe, Eric Carmen, Percy Sledge, Warrant, Bush and Katy Perry and many others.
  11. From 'The Video Show' '74

    As you might expect, all of the clips used in the pre-concert video were properly licensed. Bernie
  12. John McCain dies

    A great, highly-principled public servant. RIP, sir! Bernie
  13. From 'The Video Show' '74

    Nice quality on this classic Raspberries promo film mucked up by cheesy color effects! Bernie
  14. Eric Sells Music Catalog

    We’re all working toward the same goal, Kirk. Work for most of your life and hope that there’s enough accumulated to enjoy the rest of your life. Bernie
  15. Marathon Man book

    I've discussed this with my co-author Ken Sharp. We certainly have enough new material to make an updated edition worth every penny. Just need to find the time to get it done! Bernie
  16. Ed King (Lynyrd Skynyrd) dies

    Ha! Bernie
  17. Rare Photo of the (Ahem) Week?

    I finally got all of the photos restored to the "Rare Photo of the Week" Forum. It was a lot of work—and I can't imagine it being meaningful to anyone but a handful of fans who still visit—but something inside me still wants to keep EC.com up and running. I also added a new photo. The first new one in about two years! 😳 Bernie
  18. Eric Carmen Birthday Live 2018 Vol.1 Vol.2

    This would be so awesome to see in person! Thanks for the report, Naeko! Bernie
  19. The Rubinoos w/Jim Bonfanti

    Teresa and I had company this weekend. We did all of the things good friends usually do, have a cook-out, sit by the pool, go out to dinner...oh, and watch one of them kick ass playing drums on a song he originally played drums on for one of the most awesomest power pop bands around! Yeah, just another weekend. 😎 Bernie
  20. 2015 Eric's AD in Japan

    Very nice! Japan loves Eric! Bernie
  21. Paul McCartney "Fuh You"

    Hey Nancy! Crank it up! Bernie PS: Man that ending had the hair on my arms standing up straight!!! Joe English is hitting those drums so hard it's like a sledgehammer is hitting you in the gut! And who else but McCartney could belt out those notes! And Denny is up off his piano seat! And Jimmy—he's the only guy playing guitar but it sounds like three guys are playing! Whoa! PPS: That incredible smile Paul gives Linda at 1:43 says, "Screw everybody that doesn't want me to be in a band with my wife. I love looking over there on stage and seeing you there!"
  22. Paul McCartney "Fuh You"

    Ha! I had an art teacher in college that used to tell us, "I want you to make artwork so good, that I'll want to eat it!" I don't remember his name, but he was a super cool, long-haired dude. He looked like George Carlin, and had a wicked sense of humor like him, too! He gave us a test once that included this multiple choice question: Chroma is: A) The brightness of a color B) The saturation of a color C) What an Italian calls the shiny parts of his car Bernie
  23. Paul McCartney "Fuh You"

    "Beware My Love" is a GREAT rocker! and ironically the B-side to "Let 'Em In!" So flip that 45 over, Susie! Bernie
  24. Paul McCartney "Fuh You"

    I agree that "Silly Love Songs," is well...silly. But that bass playing! Wow! Bernie