Music-management company Amphion brought a new level of professionalism to the Boston-based bands they handled in the late 1960s. At the time, most of the groups in the city lacked even basic management services, but Amphion provided its artists with essentials for success such as rehearsal space, storage, booking, transportation, promotion and graphic design.


Formed in the summer of ’67 by MIT student Ray Paret and Williams College alum David Jenks, Amphion’s first group was a band that Paret and Jenks saw at the Unicorn CoffeehouseUltimate Spinach, a wildly psychedelic creation fronted by singer-songwriter Ian Bruce-Douglas. Through Amphion, the group landed gigs at The Boston Tea Party and a record deal on MGM with producer Alan Lorber, who packaged them together with The Beacon Street Union and Orpheus in a promotional campaign called the “Bosstown Sound.” It was a crass marketing hype, most people agreed – and not of Amphion’s making – but it put the company on the map.

Ultimate Spinach recorded a second album and then, after Bruce-Douglas left the band, a third one in 1969 with a completely different lineup, noteworthy for featuring 21-year-old guitarist Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, who co-founded Steely Dan in 1972 and became a member of The Doobie Brothers in 1974.


The Amphion roster soon included Butter, a Harvard-based power trio inspired by Cream. Although the band never recorded any LPs, bassist Andy Pratt went on to a long career as a singer-songwriter best known for his song “Avenging Annie,” a big regional hit that reached #78 in the Billboard charts. The group’s drummer, Rick Schlosser, moved to Los Angeles to become a studio musician and worked with many top recording artists.

In 1968, Amphion was representing The  J. Geils Blues Band when they added frontman Peter Wolf and kitman Stephen Jo Bladd from The Hallucinations. The band eventually left Amphion but became a huge success as The J. Geils Band, with several successful albums and hit singles on Atlantic Records. Also that year, Amphion worked briefly with another of Lorber’s “Bosstown Sound” acts, Chamaeleon Church – which included singer-songwriter Ted Myers (formerly of The Lost) and future Saturday Night Live and Hollywood film star Chevy Chase on drums – and Country Funk, a country-rock band from LA that was based in western Massachusetts at the time and often appeared at former Boston Tea Party manager Steve Nelson‘s Woodrose Ballroom. After Amphion signed Country Funk, they recorded an album for Polydor and were featured in an article in Newsweek magazine.


In the summer of ’69, one of Amphion’s more successful groups, Quill, performed at Woodstock and recorded an album on the Atlantic sublabel Cotillion. Another band under Amphion’s guidance, The Bead Game, cut an album for Avco-Embassy and appeared in the film The People Next Door. Their drummer, Jimmy Hodder, became Steely Dan’s first drummer, after “Skunk” Baxter recommended him to the band songwriting team, Walter Becker and Donald Fagen. Amphion also managed well-known Boston folk artists Paul MacNeil and Bob McCarthy, both of whom recorded several albums.

Although short-lived compared to larger management outfits, Amphion made an extremely important contribution to the Boston-area music scene and local musicians in the late ‘60s. Paret went on to a long career as a record and film producer while Jenks became an accomplished painter.

Published On: February 19, 2013