The music management company Amphion brought a new level of professionalism to the bands they handled in Boston in the late Sixties. Formed in the summer of ’67 by M.I.T. student Ray Paret and Williams College alum David Jenks, they got their start with a band they heard at the Unicorn Coffeehouse: Ultimate Spinach, a psychedelic creation of its leader/songwriter Ian Bruce-Douglas.
Ray and David landed them bookings at The Boston Tea Party and then a record deal on MGM with producer Alan Lorber, who packaged them with The Beacon Street Union and Orpheus in his ill-conceived promotion campaign called “The Boston Sound”. It was a crass hype not of Amphion’s making, but it put the company on the map. Spinach recorded a second album and then, after Bruce-Douglas left, a third one with a completely different lineup noteworthy for young guitarist Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, later of Steely Dan and the Doobie Brothers.
At a time when most Boston bands lacked basic management services, Amphion provided its artists with rehearsal space and storage, booking and transportation, and promotion and graphic design. Their roster soon included Butter, a Harvard-based power trio inspired by Cream. Although the band never released an album, bass player Andy Pratt went on to a long recording career as a singer/songwriter best known for his song Avenging Annie, a big regional hit which reached #78 on the national Billboard charts. Drummer Rick Schlosser became a studio musician in L.A. and has worked with many top recording artists.
In 1968, Amphion was representing the J. Geils Blues Band when they added frontman Peter Wolf and drummer Stephen Jo Bladd from The Hallucinations. Ray insisted that the group keep its name, that of its guitarist. The band eventually left Amphion but became a huge success as The J. Geils Band, with several albums and hit singles on Atlantic Records. That same year Amphion worked briefly with another group recorded by Lorber, Chamaeleon Church, with singer/songwriter Ted Myers, formerly of The Lost, and future comedy star Chevy Chase on drums.
Country Funk was a country-rock band from L.A. living in western Mass. in early 1969 with former Tea Party manager Steve Nelson and playing his Woodrose Ballroom. After Amphion signed them, they recorded an album for Polydor and were featured in an article in Newsweek magazine.
That summer one of Amphion’s more successful groups, Quill, performed at Woodstock and recorded one album on Cotillion, an Atlantic label. Yet another band under Amphion’s guidance, Bead Game, recorded an album for Avco-Embassy and appeared in the film, The People Next Door. Their drummer, Jimmy Hodder, also played in Steely Dan. Well-known Boston folk artists Paul MacNeil and Bob McCarthy were also managed by Amphion and both recorded several albums.
Although short-lived, Amphion made an important contribution to Boston’s music and musicians. Ray went on to a long career as a record and film producer, while David became an accomplished painter.