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Los Angeles Press-Telegram, 10/20/2005


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From The Los Angeles Post-Telegram, Oct. 20, 2005 (http://www.presstelegram.com/portlet/article/html/fragments/print_article.jsp?article=3135028):

Rock and roll never forgets: The Raspberries were reconstituted to play their Seventies hits one time and found that there was more demand

by Phillip Zonkel, Staff writer

U-Entertainment

THE RASPBERRIES' first Los Angeles concert was intimidating, to say the least.

That show was a 1972 KROQ-sponsored event at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The bill featured Cher, the Four Seasons, The Eagles and Stevie Wonder.

The power pop quartet (lead singer-guitarist Eric Carmen, drummer Jim Bonfanti, guitarist Wally Bryson and guitarist Dave Smalley) had a hit with the frisky anthem "Go All the Way," but Carmen knew he and his fellow 23-year-old bandmates were small potatoes.

"I remember having to follow a 25-minute rendition of 'Superstitution' by Stevie Wonder, who had a 15-piece band of virtuosos with him, sessions musicians, horn section, background singers, percussionists, bass guitar, drummer," says Carmen, 56, calling from his home outside of Cleveland.

"I was standing backstage with my three Cleveland bandmates going, 'Oh, my god. There's 75,000 people out there and we have to follow this?" "

"It was intimidating," he says, chuckling.

The Raspberries return to Los Angeles tonight at the House of Blues on the Sunset Strip. It's the first time in 33 years that all four original members have played together in LA.

The concert is the last of a 10-date Raspberries reunion tour, following the band's 1975 breakup.

"We don't have to follow Stevie," Carmen says chuckling about what's different 33 years later. "We're just having fun now. One of the best parts about this reunion is that because it's 30 years later, this isn't life and death the way it was. Back in 1972, everything you did was potenitally a career maker or career breaker."

With their Beatleslike harmonies, Mod-influenced suits and power-pop melodies, the Cleveland-based Raspberries seemed out of place with the day's reigning music champs, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Deep Purple, Jethro Tull, Yes, Black Sabbath and the Who.

But the band still struck a chord. Its 1972 debut, "Raspberries," spawned three hits, including "Go All The Way," which sold 1.3 million copies.

Over the years, the group has been mentioned as an influence by everyone from John Lennon, Keith Moon, Kurt Cobain, Kiss, Joan Jett and Motley Crue,

The following year, during the recording of the third album, "Side 3," Bonfanti and Smalley grew increasingly frustrated with the record label marketing the Raspberries as a teenybopper band and left the group.

In 1974, the group's "Starting Over" signaled the end.

Bryson and Carmen had a now-famous argument after a concert in a Chicago parking lot. It ended with Bryson leaving the band. The three remaining members finished the tour and then called it quits.

Carmen says more has been made of the confrontation in the parking lot than it really was.

"It did happen and it wasn't a fun evening to be sure," Carmen says. "But it was more a symptom of the frustration of what was going on than really a nail in the coffin. The problems existed before that and had existed for some time.

"The real problem was the original marketing of the band by Capitol to teen magazines saddled us with a preconceived notion that wasn't what we were about," he says. "Beyond that, radio didn't embrace the band. The rock critics got it and 16-year-old girls got it.

"What eventually happened was the 18-year-old brothers who were the ones buying all the records by Jethro Tull and Traffic didn't want to like the same band their little sister liked.

"That took its toll," Carmen says. "By the time we got to that fourth album, it went on to sell the fewest of our four albums."

Carmen went on to an intermittenly successful solo career as a pop balladeer — 1976's "All By Myself" and 1987's "Hungry Eyes" were two of his biggest hits. The other band members remained musicians, but stayed out of the public eye.

In the fall of 2004, the four original members were approached by the House of Blues Cleveland for a single reunion concert. The four musicians hadn't kept in much contact over the years.

Except for Dave, who moved to Phoneix, everyone lived in the Cleveland area.

"There were a lot of concerns from everyone on how this would work," Carmen says. "Some of the guys wanted to make sure everyone was going to have an equal say and everyone would be included in the creative process.

"Everybody carries the scars of what happened in the past. They're never terribly far from the surface," Carmen says. "But for the sake of today, we all put that stuff away and try not to let it rear its ugly head. So far that's been successful."

Carmen says no other musical ventures have been confirmed for the Raspberries and doubts many exist.

"The reality is all four of us are 56 years old. We have lives and families and commitments to those things," Carmen says. "I don't know what record labels in their right mind will be clamboring for four 56-year-old guys to make a record deal."

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Ah Raspberries!!! I'm going to my room to listen to that 56-year-old Rick Springfield's new 2-CD "Written In Rock" Anthology on RCA...or, I might listen to some other 56-year-old rockers like Billy Joel, Lindsey Buckingham (Fleetwood Mac), Ric Ocasek (Cars), Daryl Hall and John Oates, Bonnie Raitt, Paul Rodgers, Gene Simmons (Kiss), Bruce Springsteen, Roger Taylor (Queen)...

...maybe listen to that 65-year-old Ringo Starr or that 63-year-old Paul McCartney...

...maybe enjoy an ABC-TV News article on "aging rock stars" (http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/story?id=745312) that notes that The Rolling Stones have a combined age of 242 years and that "aging rock stars" are the top attractions on the concert trail...

...or I can keep the faith on a new Raspberries album (that's my choice and that's what I'll do) --- nothing old about you guys, Raspberries Are Timeless (I'd still love you guys if you sat in chairs on stage and had to wear wigs)...

Don ;-)

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I like this article, because it shows something important about music. Yesterday, I was listening to Rocker Cliff Richard, who I had mistaken on the radio as Keith Richards when I first heard the name.(It happened to him years ago, too,In San Francisco.A sign said,"Welcome to San Francisco, Keith Richards"). He said something similar to the article that music doesn't know your age or who you are. He says the industry categorizes people with another name that they add. Cliff has a new CD now that he is promoting. What a special surprise to me! I wrote to him years ago, seeking some advise about something, and received a letter with a special stamped seal from England. He is now, also, called, Sir Cliff Richard.

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