What Happened To The Insiders…

THE LEGACY AND LEGEND OF THE INSIDERS

West Side Family Tree Circa 1984

West Side Family Tree Circa 1984

I was pretty psyched when I first saw The Insiders at Scorgies. They, and few other bands, were anomalies sandwiched between the “New Wave” and “Punk” bands. Seeing them play live was like watching  the Beatles playing in a Rochester version of England’s Cavern Club (the Chesterfield Kings were like the Stones and the Projectiles were like the Animals)!

Every person sang in the group, although Walt O’Brien was considered the group leader (and had the best voice, to this day). I wrote about them and created a Pete Frame-like family tree in Notebook Magazine (run by Absolute Grey’s Pat Thomas). Though costly, I created a few fan club magazine issues of The Insiders that I’d pass out for free at Scorgies and other places.

Shaunn Day (who now works with Jim Havalack at Quality Transportation) started the Insiders fan club during their high school days in the late 1970’s. I continued the fan club until my I started first web site (sadly, I lost all of my copies of the Insiders fanzine in a house flood). There were several line-ups of The Insiders incorporating members of Luther & The BBB’s (who also played at Scorgies), The Infants, Projectiles, Cousin Al and the Relatives (“Cousin” Brian Goodman) and other like-minded musicians  that had an affinity for 1960’s British-invasion era music.

The Insiders started out as a band called The Outsiders (the same as Sonny Geraci’s band and/or the European group with Wally Tax); when a more popular Insiders had a hit with Ghost On A Beach, they had to change their name. Rumor has it that their sound man and fill-in drummer Marty York suggested that they just change their name to The Insiders. Thankfully, everyone agreed to that name! As the Insiders, they recorded and released one 45 (Can’t b/w You’re My Baby) and placed a track (Leave Me Alone) on a compilation album. A later reunion resulted in the CD track (All Your Life).

Toward the end of the Scorgies era, ex-members of the Insiders ventured off into highly original and creative directions. Walt O’Brien would team up with Doug “Davies” Cox, the former co-leader of The BBB’s to form a “super group” with drummer Judd Williams (ex-Mission Emission). After consulting with Stan The Man (a fellow Record Archive employee),  Judd heard that Beth Brown didn’t want to name her new band The Swing Set (for some strange reason her band preferred the name Absolute Grey). Seizing the opportunity, Judd asked Stan if he could take the name for his band. Stan said “sure!” and so the die was cast.

Subsequent  members of the Swing Set would be added from veterans of The Tension (Ted Perkins – later with Nik Entertainment) and The Royals (Mick Hargreaves). They regrettably released only one 45; it was recorded in an old oil tank converted into an echo studio. Egos and the usual reasons resulted with the break up of the Swing Set.Doug and Mike ended up with the Diljoys (with Matt Voytpka) before forming the Tonebenders in NYC, recording one EP. Judd moved to Boston and joined Jeff “Monoman” Connelly’s band The Lyres before becoming a member of The Royal Crowns.

Walt then joined up with Ken Peters and Bob Janneck (former Insider) to form The Pawns. The Pawns, like the Insiders, used many drummers (Dave Dispirito & Steve Lowden, mostly). The Pawns released a cassette of half originals, half covers. The Pawns, like The Insiders, have a treasure trove of unreleased originals and live material. At one point, The Insiders were a trio; with Jim Lampert, Bob Janneck, and Dave Dispirito. They often performed I Feel Free by Cream. Surprisingly, Belinda Carlisle of The Go-Go’s released an inferior version just weeks after they covered it. Drummer Dave was also a member of EXP, a Jimi Hendrix cover group.

Walt O’Brien was also a member of The Chesterfield Kings, The Cells, performed in a duo act with Joan Burton, and even played drums in The Riviera Playboys with Bob Janneck and Dave “Devoe” Anderson. He passed on the opportunity to join a latter day version of the 1970’s era group Orleans (remember Still The One?!). Currently, Walt O’Brien’s group Inside-Out (or 3-In-One, featuring ex-Pawn Ken Peters and drummer Dave Drum) still plays local clubs in the area. Dave Drum is also well known for having backed David Bowie’s late guitarist Mick Ronson. Insiders member Bob Janneck has an equally impressive career having been a member of The Dragonflys/Bootleggers with Brian Lindsey, 28-IF with Ray Paul, The Riviera Playboys (with Walt O’Brien and Dave “Devoe” Anderson) and has guested on recordings with Luther & The BBB’s .

Drummer Steve Lowden often works with his brother Brett (Aces & Eights) or his wife’s group (Entwined; also with Bob Janneck & wife). Jim Lampert moved down to Virginia and plays in a Sun Records tribute band (King Cadillac). If you take a look at the final issue of the Notebook magazine you’ll see my Scorgies era “West Side” family tree. Or, you can wrangle an invite for one of their occasional Christmas time reunions and ask one of the  original Insiders themselves.

To this day, Insiders fans still talk about Walt and Bob’s music and trade tapes of their performances past and present. As a measure oftheir popularity, the Girl Group It’s My Party chose Can’t by The Insiders as the first cover song when they recorded their first CD single. I hope that one day we’ll see the Insiders reunite on stage again… perhaps at the second Scorgies Reunion!

Extra Notes about The Insiders, Swing Set, Etc.:

Another offshoot band of later Swing Set was guitarist Damon Hennessey’s Mother May I. They tried to sound like a modern Badfinger. Their CD release was titled Splitsville.

Former drummer Brian Goodman of the early Insiders also played with Chris Beard, Susan & The Surftones, 1313 Mockingbird Lane, and Thee Ummm.

As a near joke, Walt O’Brien performed as Boxcar Wally. Often bluesy versions of Who songs or other tunes.

Walt, along with The Chesterfield Kings, appear in the Best of Bomp book.

In 1978-1979, Walt O’Brian played in a high school band with Paul Pakusch (of Channel 10-WHEC and Intrigue). They were called Silver Quarry. A rare, early original was entitled All I Need.

The first (and only 45) by The Insiders – Can’t b/w You’re My Baby is worth a fortune among record collectors, nationally.

The Insiders opened for Steppenwolf, Guess Who, Badfinger, and several other 1960’s bands at the tail-end of their careers.

Walt O’Brien plays a prominent role on Billy North Show’s second CD called “…Show Your Work”. (Billy’s first CD was “While Your Down There” with Mike Pappert). Billy North’s schoolmate was Phillip Seymour Hoffman, the famed actor.

Ken Peters of The Pawns, also played bass for a brief period with an early version of the girl group It’s My Party.

Bob Janneck and Mick Alber (of Whole Lotta Shakin radio show) both played in a short-lived group entitled The Purple Flashes.

Fans of The Tension, Chesterfield Kings, and The Insiders also followed the long-time duo (with Mike Pappert) called Pallini & Pappert. They had one cassette release with the same name, similar music style.

Another fill-in Insiders drummer – Marty York – currently plays in Watkins and The Rapiers. They have two CD’s – one is a Christmas CD.

Note: this article will be edited as more info and trivia is found!).
  1. Paul Pakusch’s avatar

    Jim, thanks for the mention of Silver Quarry! We had exactly one radio show and one gig. Anybody around from Spencerport Junior High’s (Cosgrove School) graduating class of 1979? We played your dance!

    Other members of Silver Quarry were my current bandmate Tony Wechsler, (www.intriguedband.com) and John Borrelli (http://www.noboundariesband.com/)

    Paul Pakusch

    Reply

  2. Brian Goodman’s avatar

    Del,
    I think this is wrong:Bob Janneck and Mick Alber (of Whole Lotta Shakin radio show) both played in a short-lived group entitled The Purple Flashes.

    1st line up of the Purple Flashes:
    Mick Alber – Vocals
    Brian Goodman – Guitar & Vocals
    Chuck Irving – Bass & Vocals
    Paul Foster – Guitar
    Darren McFadden – Drums

    2nd:
    Mick Alber – Vocals
    Brian Goodman – Guitar & Vocals
    Mike Abrams – bass & vocals
    Darren McFadden – Drums
    Dave Thompson – guitar

    Dave, Mike & Darren left to start The Rising Sons

    Reply

  3. Del Rivers’s avatar

    I got word that The Pawns did a reunion show! I’ll add more as I find out stuff from Walt O’Brien or Kenny Peters!

    Reply

  4. Aurthur’s avatar

    Additional Info & Corrections:

    Within a short period after forming The Swing Set, Judd Williams was asked to leave the band. Drummer Dave Martin (formerly of The Tension) was called back from NYC to join the group and add an all important third vocal harmony.

    The Swing Set was Rochester’s busiest band during their brief run in 1983-1985, often playing 5-7 gigs a week. Their solid 60’s sound won them gigs sharing the bill with Eric Burton & The Animals, Jan & Dean, Frankie Valley & The Four Seasons, Peter Noone & Herman’s Hermits, Gary Puckett & The Union Gap, The Grass Roots…and even The Bangles at Scorgies.

    After several years, Martin and Davies left the band to pursue broader opportunities in NYC. They formed The Tonebenders, along with Mick Hargreaves (formerly of The Royals).

    Reply

    1. Mick Alber’s avatar

      Surprisingly, this is fairly accurate, although there are a few factual errors here, and in Del’s original story. To clarify, The Swing Set were playing out from 1984 to 1986. They did NOT open for Eric Burdon. They did, however, open for Frankie Valli, Peter Noone, Gary Puckett, Rob Grill (of The Grassroots) and Tommy James. And yes, The Bangles. By late November, Martin and Davies were no longer in the band, although the last version of The Swing Set continued with Damon Hennessy and Steve Lowden until May 1986.
      I do speak with some accurate knowledge, as I kept a diary and exclusively worked with them as a roadie for those years.
      Just wish people would contact me for ALL the facts, rather than writing things that people might read as true events…

      Reply

    2. Stan’s avatar

      RIP Bob Janneck…

      Reply

    3. Walt O'Brien’s avatar

      Walt here. There are quite a few inaccuracies here, but I enjoyed reading this. I am not so sure that the Insiders single is actually worth “a fortune”!!!

      Reply

      1. Walt O'Brien’s avatar

        It’s 2:59, not 6:59!

        Reply

      2. Stan’s avatar

        While I cannot vouch for Del’s facts, I did have to do a (ahem) a bit of editing here to give Del’s piece some structure. Just ran into Judd Williams in Bibao, Spain this past March. He’s gigging with the Real Kids, and I caught them @ the Satelite T 5 gigs into their tour. And yes, Judd will vouch for the fact that I named ’em.

        Reply

Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *