Once Upon a Time...
The EmotionsIt was 1974 on North Carolina's Outer Banks. September was rapidly approaching and the summer would soon be over. Mike McAdam and Jimmy Morgan knew their cush gig as The Wrong Brothers (yes, Orville & Wilbur) would soon be drying up. In those days most of the resort towns along the East Coast became ghost towns on the Tuesday after Labor Day. McAdam and Morgan figured that if they didn't come up with an alternate plan they would soon be knee deep in freezing mud on some construction site in Richmond.

Having been pals since kindergarten and bandmates since Junior High School (The Emotions and Brelo Magruder), they thought they might try the band thing once again. Besides, back in Richmond all of the musicians seemed to be playing in Top-40 funk bands, glamour rock acts, or wannabe jazz bands. Just maybe there was a niche for the more roots-oriented rock ‘n’ roll that seemed to come so naturally to Jimmy and Mike.

Drake and MikeThey moved back to Richmond and enlisted the help of longtime musician friends Mark Corvino and Bill Gerloff (a.k.a. Manny Green) on drums and bass, as well as Pittsburgh native Jack Irwin on piano. Together they shared a mutual affinity for '50s and '60s music, funny stories, and cold beer. They began rehearsing and hanging out in McAdam’s grandfather's basement. The only name they could find that was dumber than The Wrong Brothers was The Good Humor Band and it stuck.

The first gig was at a local watering hole, The Hitchin' Post, just blocks from their rehearsal spot. Soon to follow was a regular gig in Richmond's Fan District at The Back Door, a bar now legendary for early Springsteen performances as well as a number of bullet holes in the ceiling. One night, as the story goes, the police shut the doors so nobody could leave, led a guy in with a scarf over his face and a motorcycle helmet on to disguise his identity, then proceeded to arrest every person their helmeted friend pointed out, hauling them away on drug charges. Or worse.

Mark CorvinoThrough 1975 the band started earning a reputation in the regional college towns,  playing some of the seedier bars along the Virginia/North Carolina coast. When in Richmond they had a regular gig at a new music club called The Pass. The club was located next to Virginia Commonwealth University, where some of the band members had enjoyed their brief college careers. McAdam, Morgan, and Corvino were still the core of the band, but by early '76 Gerloff and Irwin had left the band. That year saw the arrival and departure of Craig Roberson, Herbie Atkinson, Barry "Mad Dog" Gottlieb, and McAdam's cousin, Johnny O'Brien.

By the spring of '76 McAdam had become a business partner in The Pass, which essentially meant the band had a "free place to drink and rehearse." Bruce Bouton had come on board with his pedal steel, bringing with him Tony Jordan, who remained the band's soundman for most of the next six years. Drake Leonard had been coaxed out of college in North Carolina to bring his bass up to Richmond (reading, writing, and the road to ...). Everyone was living close by in the Fan District and spending most evenings, when not gigging, around the bar at The Pass.

Who's room was this, anyway?An old acquaintance, Gregg Wetzel, had recently returned to town after a two-year Top-40 stint in Florida to join Robbin Thompson's band. (Robbin had been in Springsteen's band but now had his own record deal.) Wetzel had been spending most nights around the bar with the "Humorhoids" at The Pass. When Robbin lost his tour support, Gregg was moaning at the bar about being unemployed again. Eventually everyone wound up on the second floor stage in an all-night jam session. They tried to stump one another with rock 'n’ roll oldies, R&B classics, and Merle Haggard country standards. It seemed like they all had been “brainwashed" by the same eclectic record collection since childhood.

And then? >>>>

 

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