WHAT? Yes, Octopus…

My bass teacher in 1965 was the guy who got me hooked on 18th Century Common Practice Theory and gave me the absolute BEST start anyone could have given me in the music world. He was Nick D’Allessandro from North Babylon NY. He taught at Bjurmark Music on Deer Park Avenue in NB. I will put more up here later, but when I graduated NBHS, Bjurmark moved to the South Shore Mall in Bay Shore and I worked there as salesman and later manager for 7 years, before opening my own shop, That Music Store in Central Islip NY. Nick, in 1965 or so, also taught my best friends Kevin Cox and Bob Faraino, also of North Babylon. See the Dimensions Page elsewhere on this site. We graduated NBHS in 1970. Bob would have but he passed away in our Junior year from a horrible battle with Leukemia. Bob was my closest friend and we grew up together, right across the street from one another, since we were less than a year old!

OK. so that’s the background.

Somewhere around 1070, Nick gave me a call to see if I wanted to audition for a band. Not just any band. HIS BAND! Kind of a Child Is Father To The Man (BS&T’s first album). This band was a band that I would go to see and DROOL over as the musicians weren’t just good, they were GREAT. 3 Phds I believe, Al (?) on Alto Sax, Dave (?) on Trumpet and Fluegle Horn (sp?) and Ken Andresen on Trombone. So those were the “doctors”. Nick on guitar and Clavinet (or Wurly, I forget), Lenny Albergo on Tenor and amazing lead vocals, Lenny’s brother Richie on Drums and missing a bass player. 7 you ask? Well it used to be 8 but the keys guy left to go play weddings or something, thus OCTOPUS. I took the audition (seriously, reading, stuff from memory, and a quiz) and if EVER anyone could find that original page that I had to sight read, I’ll pay BIG $$. I was HYSTERICAL! 2 staves of your normal bass stuff and then 8va stuff on the G string followed by about 32 measures of RIDICULOUS glissandos with Kilroy looking over the staff.

I realize that many will ask, who the hell is Kilroy. I won’t go into the whole story (I actually KNOW IT) but will show you the pic:

Where was I? OH, so this is the audition of a lifetime. All my musical heroes (at least within driving range), all in one room, all scrutinizing…

I made the audition. The future of the band was not long lived but I did get to do some great gigs. We did a lot of Chicago Transit Authority (funny, I am now good pals with the drummer, Danny Seraphine), Blood Sweat and Tears (I am also now good pals with the original bassist, Jimmy Fielder), Dreams (the Brecker Brothers way back when), The Flock, and many more. The HIGH point for me were some amazing Octopus Original arrangements of things like Hendrix’s Cross Town Traffic with a KILLER DOPE ASS mid section in 5/4 time that you had to be pretty high to be on a dance floor, get to that section and KEEP dancing. Our only big claim to fame was opening for Edgar Winter and his Heroin Shooting White Trash at West Isip High School. Edgar and the boys were pretty wasted. I can tell you that Ronny Montrose was with him at the time and other pretty famous dudes). I thought that Octopus nailed it and I guess so cause Edgar’s production people shooed us off the stage pretty early on. That’s the way I saw it anyway. OUR fans got real pissed, PA bins were trashed, a riot ensued, etc..

My favorite part of the band was Nick breaking my chops about getting EVERY friggin note right (made me a much better player) and we did a few “Jazz Rock Clinics” at high schools in the area that got pretty improvisational. Good times man. And WHO could forget Ken Conrys (sp?) at the end of Deer Park Ave, aka 231! (ed. note: Now that I have had a day to think about it, that wasn’t from Ken Conrys it was from the Edgar Winter gig 2/9/12) (another ed. note: This WAS Ken Conrys? I am so confused 2/9/12)

PICTURES YOU ASK? OK, you asked for them, you got em:

The fellow with me (I’m playing a 1970 3 Tone Precision) is Nick D’Allessandro (with a Dot Neck 335 from the ’60’s),

Here is the only photo that I have from the 1971 North Babylon HS Jr Prom. I graduated in 1970 but the class of 72 had Octopus play their Jr Prom. Click for the photo:

NBHS Junior Prom 1971

The kinda wild picture was a pose that Lenny Albergo had struck for my brother Scott, whose nickname (which stuck for MANY DECADES) Cozmo was from him bequeathed. Lenny was famous for wild faces, crazy voices, unbelievable nicknames (mine was Eimac Putz-Eimac was a maker of GIANT tubes for ham radio and Putz, well, if you don’t know, I ain’t educatin’ ya). Sadly, Lenny passed several years ago. I had not seen him since the ’70’s. He was a funny, brilliant, talented, good looking (HOT girlfriends always), ham radio FREAK (more on that later too, I can share it now that the CIA is no longer researching the case), and a guy I really loved. He also had a KILLA ’64 GOAT, aka GTO!

(Click on image for larger view)

3 thoughts on “Octopus

    • Lenny was a mentor to me musically and as a friend. I remember him bringing his state of the art Roberts X-Field Stereo, reel to reel recorder to one of my junior high school rock band’s rehearsals. It had “sound on sound”. We played all the instruments live and then could go back and record one more track over that, typically the vocals. The quality? AWFUL, but it’s what we had! That’s the very first time I ever heard my singing voice played back to me. Horrible. I thought. That was… 1965.

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