Interview with Harvey Cherlin
by Torsten Mörke, September 2000
Harvey Cherlin plays trumpet and keyboards and hails from New Jersey. His rich musical
background began with his study of music at Rutgers University. He went on to perform for
Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs and opposite Peter Frampton. In 1971 he joined the Bruce
Springsteen Band to play the trumpet beside Springsteen for about one year. Today he's
playing with "Mango Mango", a Caribbean style four piece band from Phoenix, Arizona. (Note: outdated information).
They recognize the popularity of all styles of
Caribbean music including calypso, reggae and soca music made popular by music legends
such as Harry Belafonte, Bob Marley and Jimmy Buffett.
Torsten Mörke: Can you remember the day when you joined the Band?
Harvey Cherlin : The Bruce Springsteen band started around January 1971.I was playing in a band called "Lazarus". Our guitarist left the band so Bruce came in made a couple rehearsals and decided it wasn't his cup of tea. When Lazarus broke up around march (1971) Bruce asked me to check out the band. He had been auditioning singers and horn players for about a month. He liked Bobby on sax. By the way: One trumpet player came with a trumpet mouthpiece and a cow bell said he didn't have a horn.
What did Bruce and Tinker told him?
All kinds of people were trying out for the band so he got the standard answer "we call you back if we can use you".
What feeling was it to play in the Band?
It was fun playing in the band with a lot of positive energy. David was wonderful. Bruce was very focused I had a lot of respect for him. Vinni and I were friends and still were until I left New Jersey in 1993.
What about the story that Vinni once punched you a tooth out?
It was at a gig at university of Richmond in the end of October. Here's what happened: Tinker booked the gig in Richmond, no pay, a promo gig. We were supposed to get rooms. Bruce and Tinker were staying at friends, Garry stayed at his girlfriends place in Richmond, me David, Vinni, Barbara and Delores went to the address for the rooms. It was a drug rehab Center one big room lots of people while were we looking at each other a junkie came in with a knife and was tackled by a guard (bouncer or what ever) So we went to a Holiday Inn and paid out of our own pocket money. It was tight then, I was pissed off called Tinker an asshole. Vinni slapped me across the face (just a slap no tooth was knock out sorry) But I gave Bruce my notice after that when we played in Richmond. After that concert I left the Band.
Bruce's former band "Steel Mill" was a harder rocking band. How would you describe the sound of the Bruce Springsteen band?
The Bruce Springsteen did at times have a hard rocking sound also at times a gospel feel with the girls background and at the an R&B feel with the horns.
Was there ever a chance to get a record-contract?
Peter Frampton was one of the lead singers of "Humble Pie", a band we played along with in the Sunshine Inn. He talked to me and most of the band members about getting a contract with A&M records and going on tour with them. Tinker said no way was he going to sign with a major label they were scavengers (in a way he was right) this was about three months or so before Richmond and I never thought Bruce would leave Tinker, Tinker did do everything for Bruce , a place to rehearse to sleep etc.
One of your shows (Damrosch Park, New York July 23 1971) was recorded by CBS. Do you now for what reasons? Bruce hadn't signed a record contract at this time. Was it perhaps because Tinkers connections to Mike Appel?
The concert at Lincoln Center , Damrosch Park I was not aware that any special recording done. Tinker recorded all the concerts, that's all I knew. We were advertised on WNEW in NY for the concert they played a small music clip for us.
For what reason did the Band broke down?
I was working with other bands at the same time ,Bruce rehearsed about four days a week and we also rehearsed with the horn section at my house (me Bruce and Steve, Steve wrote most of the horn lines) It took a lot of time so I did lose some interest. I also was working in a factory making clocks, I hated it. So I told Bruce after Vinni slapped me I had enough but would hang until he found a replacement. He decided to give up the horns (Tinker told him to downscale the band for money reasons) so the band broke up in November 1971. Dr Zoom was going on at the same time as the Bruce Springsteen band.
Have you seen Bruce again after your time in the Bruce Springsteen Band?
I've seen Bruce several times after I left the band, the last time I saw him was right before I left New Jersey in November 1992. I was also in a Reggie band and he sat in and played My Hometown and Born in the USA in a Reggie style Version. I think that was in the late 80s or early 90s.
Have you seen Bruce and the guys on their reunion tour?
I haven't seen the band in the reunion tour , but I think its great they got back together.
If you look back to this time, do you sometimes wish that you would have become famous with Bruce and the E-Street Band?
It would have been nice if I was with the band but I'm still having fun ,except this week cause my car broke down.
Interview by Torsten Mörke
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