Dr Zoom and the Sonic Boom
by Albee Tellone (aka Albany Al)
This band was a fun band that Bruce threw together when the owner of the Sunshine Inn in Asbury Park,NJ wanted to hire him but his new 10 piece band wasn't ready. One day Bruce came over to our apartment to talk to us about helping him play a show. I was sharing an apartment in Asbury Park with Steve VanZandt, "Southside" Johnny Lyon and John "Hotkeys" Waasdorp. He he told us he just wanted to have fun with his friends and maybe make a little money. We were all starving young musicians back then. He tried to include as many of his friends as he could. That's why Kevin Connair was MC and Danny Gallagher played a game of Monopoly onstage with 3 friends. Almost every night of the week we played Monopoly all night at my dining room table in our apartment in Asbury Park which was just up the street from Palace Amusements. We could see the face of "Tillie" the clown from our front window. The Monopoly game was a reflection of what we did at night during the week. There was nothing else to do. We actually had four of our friends sitting onstage at a card table playing Monopoly during the show. What an inside joke that was. Most of our fans didn't know what that was all about. We opened for the Allman Brothers, but the place was packed with Bruce's fans who had never heard of them. Steven loved the Allmans and thats why we had 2 drummers to show them they weren't the only band with 2. It was a lot of fun.
Bruce got all of his musician friends from Asbury for this. We had a band called "Albee and the Hired Hands" because I was into country-rock at the time. Southside Johnny played bass, Steven on lead and Hotkeys on piano; Bobby Williams on drums; me on acoustic guitar and vocals. A lot of people don't know that after Dr. Zoom and the Sonic Boom, Bruce was invited by Steve and Johnny to play guitar in the Sundance Blues Band after second guitarist Joe Hagstrom quit. Sundance was Steve's idea. It was basically Bruce's bandmates with SSJohnny as lead vocalist. They got the name from the movie "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" which was their favorite at the time.
Dr. Zoom's MC Kevin Connair was a singer-songwriter friend of ours whom Bruce liked very much. That is why Bruce asked Kevin to be the master of ceremonies to introduce the band and some of the songs. He also sang in the Zoom Chorus with the Zoomettes.The "other" Kevin - Kevin Kavanaugh was later my piano player in "Albee and the Hired Hands"when Steve left and John Waasdorp took over lead guitar. He also sang in the Zoom chorus with the Zoomettes. At first we had 2 separate men's and women's choruses but it became the Zoomettes later. I don't remember if Kevin Connair appeared at all of the gigs but I do know that Kevin Kavanaugh was at all of them. He helped me and Tinker set up the PA system for all of the shows. Kevin Kavanaugh later played piano in the original Jukes with Southside Johnny. John Waasdorp was a terrific lead guitarist who played with the Jukes in the beginning but left the band before recording. He suffered from severe depression and committed suicide a few years later.
We went to a 2nd hand clothes store and got hats and things to wear for the gig. Southside got an old suit to wear and a fedora hat because he wanted to look like a Chicago blues cat. We rehearsed at Tinker's surfboard factory where Bruce and Vini Lopez lived. When we got there Bruce looked at Johnny and said "Hey man, it's Chicago Johnny" to which John replied, "From the Southside" (of Chicago). We all called him Southside Johnny after that. I don't remember why, but Steve started calling me Al-bany Al-bee during rehearsals. It became Albany Al after a while even though I have never been to the city of Albany,NY in my life. So whenever I played the sax I took on the character of Albany Al
Dr. Zoom and the Sonic Boom was not an important or missing link in the overall picture of Bruce's career. It was just friends having fun playing music together. Just like any musicians do when they have jam sessions. I will have more stories available on this website in the future if anyone is interested.
Copyrght by Albee Tellone for www.castiles.net
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