The "Mad and Mod" Missing Lynx started in 1965 with Cleveland Heights students Mark Ostrovsky (guitar, vocals), Pete Stankovich (bass), Bill Jaros (keyboards), and Neil Hecht (drums). Hecht graduated in '65 and went to college, his replacement was Steve Andrews from Shaker Heights.
"In 1965, we played anyplace that would have us, I.E., a Greek night club in Willowick or somewhere like that where we played Miserlou for what seemed like all night (the Dick Dale tune) since it was the closest thing we had to a Greek song. It was sort of the Greek equivalent of the Blues Brothers playing "Stand By Your Man" at that redneck bar with the barbed wire band cage in the movie. We also played various high schools around town and stuff like that." (all quotes from Mark Ostrovsky).
"Billy Bass (who would later become a D.J. at WMMS) was selling records at Woolworth's at Severance Center in 1965-66, and a few of us used to stop by to check out interesting new music releases and hang out with Bass. He took an interest in the band, saw that we needed some direction; and we would become his first venture into the music business when he became our manager along with a music biz guy named Oscar Fields. Bass or Fields introduced us to Al Cassaro (AKA Al Leatherwood) and Bob Shirl who would help us produce a demo tape so we could shop around for a label." Billy Bass would have a say in many Cleveland bands into the early 70s (along with managing Luther Vandross), the Lynx were probably the first rock band he worked with.
The session was done at Cleveland Recording and Cassaro wrote four songs ("Don't Waste My Time" was co-written by Mark) that would match with the band's sound. Pete played electric guitar on "Don't Waste My Time" while Mark played acoustic. Al provided the harmony vocals. All four songs are excellent!
Word got back to the "Distant Cousins" team of Larry Brown and Ray Bloodworth, possibly when the duo was in town for an "Upbeat" show appearance (their "She Ain't Lovin You" was a big Ohio hit, especially in Youngstown) and a session was arranged at Cleveland Recording. "Either Bloodworth or Brown (I can't remember which one) showed up in Cleveland from N.Y.C. for the session at Cleveland Recording with one eye brow, half of a mustache, half a head of hair & half of a beard ... Oh yes, and one sideburn. Remember this was 1966 so us locals were sufficiently impressed. The other Distant Cousin, on the other hand, was virtually hairless. Bloodworth & Brown did write both tunes and we did have a fair amount of say in the arrangement. No other songs (except the demos) were recorded." The unusual keyboard sound was generated by Bill Jaros playing his combo organ run through an Echoplex. "Bloodworth and Brown put a few of their finishing touches on our songs back in N.Y.C. during the mixing phase, including some screams, a few licks, and some other effects. Truthfully, at the time I was not thrilled with the result." The strange bass sound at the end was the result of Pete Stankovich plucking very loose strings. Mark had to redo the vocal tracks, as he had dosed on some asthma medicine a friend from California 'accidentally' gave him and was a bit 'out of it' for the first session.
Prior to the recording session the band added Donnie Baker (from Cleveland Heights) on lead guitar, and got a residency at a club called the English Grille, 3 nights a week. "There was a great mod club called the "English Grill" on 105th and Euclid where we were the house band. The building is gone now. We also played at Cedar and Taylor in the Heights at a place called "The Cave." This is not to be confused with La Cave which was also on Euclid Avenue (near the English Grill). A little aside ... the Blues Magoos from N.Y.C. were playing at La Cave and ran out of money after their gig, so we arranged for them to fill-in at our gig for a few nights at the Cave so they could make enough money to get fare home to N.Y.C. We were blown away with how good they were and how progressive they were. They definitely influenced us. Speaking of which, our roots were definitely hard blues and British invasion groups of the day like the Yardbirds, the Animals and so on." The promo pic above was taken at the English Grille.
The record did pretty well locally, enough to get the band a headline at a fairly large show at Canton Auditorium. While the show went well, Pete Stankovich, a 'genuine punk', got busted for some pot party action with a few local girls. This was not the only time Pete caused trouble. After the band had broken up, Pete coerced Mark into taking a trip with him out to the practice space for the Rebel Kind. When they arrived, Pete and a couple of his buddies started stashing band gear into the car, to Mark's complete surprise and disgust. Apparently Pete figured Mark's judge father could help get them off if caught (which of course they were). The case was written up on the local media making it seem like the band was involved - the perps were all listed as band members.
The Lynx definitely had their own look and sound - "Regarding our clothing, here was a store called "Man Talk" (located in the 'hip' Coventry neighborhood of Cleveland Heights) operated by a man named Chuck Avner. He apparently bought a ton of mod clothing close-outs to furnish his store. I guess most consumers were not buying that stuff. A department store named "Higbees" also sold us some of the clothes in our promo shot. They actually briefly had a Mod department, complete with Vox amplifiers as props." "Towards the end I did a lot more singing than guitar playing and I used the tambourine a lot. I recall going for guitar feedback effects on psychedelic numbers when I did play. Our show became increasingly more psychedelic and I credit groups like the Yardbirds, Animals and even the Blues Magoos as major personal inspirations. The other guys almost certainly had their own favorites."
"Anyway, maybe a half year or so after the Crewe session us band members started drifting in different directions. Two us wanted to go to California and start a new group, one decided to go to college, drugs and alcohol were becoming an issue for some of us (big surprise there), and things were just getting out of hand so we split-up for good."
After the Lynx broke up, Donnie Baker and Bill Jaros (for a while) joined the recently formed Case of ET Hooley. Mark started to do a folk-styled singer/guitar act, both solo and duet gigs. At differnt times he partnered with Ron Kornhauser and John Aleksic (of Gang Green, Fortega, and the original bassist in the Raspberries), playing frequently at Farahgers' in Cleveland Heights. One of the people he encoutered in the Cleveland scene was a young Rick Otcasek, the future Cars front man who was pursuing his own songwriting agenda.
Steve Andrews died many years ago, Bill Jaros runs a DJ service, and Pete Stankovich's whereabouts are unknown. Donnie Baker is back in Cleveland, teaching guitar and playing occasional gigs. Mark also lives in Cleveland where he's an attorney, after spending time in Boston and Miami.
Credits: Mark Ostrovsky