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Ronnie and the Rainbows / Capris

Amherst, 1959-66

The Capris were started by  Amherst area high school students. Ron Zehel was the guitarist and the leader. Like many bands of the time they played a lot of instrumentals. The band played local dances and parties. They recorded a good rockin' instrumental 45 on Destiny called "Comanche" and played as the backing band on the Destiny release by Bobby Hues. 

Ron Zehel tells the next chapters of the story how they became Ronnie and the Rainbows and recorded their second 45 on a national label, Landa...

"We were a popular high school band, the ‘Capris’, sax, guitar, bass and drums. One night we had a gig, a teen dance in Amherst. A record promoter, Carl Maduri, happened to be there and asked if we would like to go into Cleveland that weekend to record. WOW! 

When we got there, he played a 45rpm record of Marty Robbins, ‘Don’t Worry ‘bout Me’ and said he wanted to reproduce the sound of the solo, a cool new sound. Joe Szucs had been instructed to bring his baritone sax. They had him growl to imitate the record and I just improvised the rest. Mike Vanca on bass and John Tassone on drums. We added clapping on the bridge. Actually I think the Marty Robbins record had the very first distortion guitar lead; I have read that the bass player on the Marty Robbins session was Grady Martin and a mike stand fell over and punctured his speaker. They liked the sound a gave him a solo. Our recording was sold to a label and we went back to do the flip side. Our band name was changed to Ronnie and the Rainbows."

In 1965 the band lineup was Ted Zaborniak (lead vocals), Ron Zehel (guitar), Al Szucs (bass), Joe Szucs (sax), John Tassone (drums). The group recorded a second 45 at Cleveland Recording, covering two songs originally recorded by Ricky Nelson - "Gypsy Woman"/"Only the Young". "Gypsy Woman"  features a classic Cleveland sound mixing bluesy guitar licks, droning sax, and strong vocals. 

Ted Zaborniak - " Ron and the guys and I went into Cleveland Recording to record the two songs. While there Joe Segal heard us and signed us to Clevetown records. Following that we appeared on the Jerry G TV show, which was kind of the American Bandstand in Cleveland. WKYC, the 50,000 watt station, was playing the record 24 hours a day. Records sold ourt locally in just a few days, however the record company was late in pressing more and eventually the record lost momentum. We continued to do personal appearances  with Jerry G and remained active in the local nightclub scene."

After the band broke up, Ron and another former member were in the Showmen. John Tassone is deceased.

Ballad of a DJ / Comanche - Destiny 500, 1960
Loose Ends / Sombrero - Landa 667, 1962
Gyspy Woman / Only The Young - Clevetown 129, 1965

Thanks to Ron Zehel, Ted Zaborniak