THE LEGACY AND LEGEND OF THE INSIDERS
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.