Mineral City / Akron, 1965-71
"The band began in 1966 as "By Popular Demand", in Mineral City, Ohio. The four original members were Joel Gordon (rhythm guitar & vocals), Terry St.George (lead guitar, keyboards, & vocals), Dave Bartos (bass & vocals), and Jeff Kerekes (drums & vocals). They covered songs by the Beach Boys, Vogues, Knickerbockers, & others and were very well received in the Akron/Canton/New Philadelphia area. All four members were good vocalists (Joel had a Franki Valli-like falsetto) and decided to emphasis their close harmonies. They began working with Nick Boldi, changed their name to "The Velvet Crest" and under Nick's direction recorded the song "Look Homeward Angel" (an old Johnny Ray record) at Cleveland recording, with Boldi's associate, Carl Maduri, producing. They even had members of the Cleveland symphony provide the background strings. The record charted at # 93 nationally in Billboard, and the band played lots of dates to support it in Spring 1969. They also began to work on some original material for future records. Unfortunately, the band had a falling out between Jeff and the other members, and Jeff left the band. He was replaced on drums by Ritchie Billanco, and Ken Waggen also joined the band on bass, allowing Dave to play his chosen instrument, guitar. (Both Ken and Ritchie were from a great New Philadelphia band, the Royal Chessmen). The band continued playing through 1970, changing drummers several times (Rick Mackey, who had played with the outsiders, and Bob Cairns). Owing to the fact that Nick Boldi owned the rights to the name, this band could not perform as The Velvet Crest, and used a number of monikers, including "The North Wind" (supposedly from Canada). Nick Boldi was not managing the band when I was in (the rest of the guys, Dave, Joel & Terry St. George (aka "Beater") still referred to themselves as The Velvet Crest, we just couldn't use the name out. I know we took some gigs through Marty Kahn. I was just 19 and thrilled to be with a band that had some success, even if it only lasted for me for a few months. I was in several bands before this experience, but we'd play a few gigs, change some guys and our name, play a few more, change guys & name, etc. Terry St.George was drafted in 1970, and was replaced by a "hired gun" who was a great guitar player, but not so easy to get along with. By 1971 this branch of the band had broken up. Meanwhile, Jeff Kerekes had continued working with Nick Boldi, and formed a band advertised as "The New Velvet Crest""
The 'New' Velvet Crest included two former members of the Zoo, Bob Baird (bass/vocals) and Bobby Coleman (keyboards), and drummer Eric Oswalt, who had also been in some bands.
Under Nick, they did shows backing up singer Charles Davenport (another Boldi client) and recorded several sides at Cleveland Recording. Both of their 45s on Bold, "Things We Said Today" and "Na-Na Song" were pretty big local hits. "Na-Na Song" sounds like the missing link between Bubblegum and the early 70s NE Ohio power pop sound. The band released one more 45 on Liberty, which featured a much slicker, orchestrated sound. By then, there had been some personnel changed in the band.
After Velvet Crest, all the members continued playing in bands. Jeff Kerekes was in the 1980s band the Source. Bob Baird joined the Measles (yes, the original Measles) and has also been in Beyond Control, and currently in the Group. "Joel Gordon still is in the music business. For a long time he had a band called "American Grease" that did the summer festival rounds and played clubs in the winters. This band, to the best of my knowledge, morphed into "Joe Banana and the Bunch", and they're still playing, although I haven't heard them. Terry St.George works singles.He's a very funny, personable guy and really makes that work. He occasionally works with pickup bands. Both still live in Tuscarawas County. I heard through friends that Dave Bartos is a Chiropractor." Bob Cairns currently plays in the band 7T7, very popular in the Akron/Canton/New Philadelphia area.
All quoted comments by Bob Cairns
Na-Na Song/ Did You Ever Feel Like Kicking Yourself (Bold 8732/488)
Things We Said Today / Something Tells Me (Bold 17914)
Gotta Make You Mine / Lookin' Through the Eyes Of Love (Liberty 56141)
Look Homeward Angel / Song Of The Rain (Harbour 303)