In 1978 singer and guitar player Frank Rowe formed Classic Ruins with ex-Real Kids guitarist Billy Borgioli, which at the time was a big deal in the local rock scene. The Real Kids were Boston’s brightest hope to bust out of town via the punk/new wave movement that swept into town in ’76 and ’77. But leader John Felice stunned the group’s many fans by breaking up the band after one brilliant album and then going to work for the Ramones road crew — for many, an act akin to leaving the Red Sox and joining the Evil Empire! That left Borgioli out of a job, but he didn’t stay unemployed for long. Rowe may never have had the best voice around, but it suited the duo’s brand of no-frills rock and roll, plus his dry and ironic songwriting style always elevated what could have easily remained ordinary in someone else’s hands. Grabbing a rhythm section, Classic Ruins made it official by playing in the first WBCN Rock and Roll Rumble in 1979. The band members didn’t win, but with a dogged persistence which typified their career, they quickly recorded a debut 7″ single on the local Ace of Hearts label. Both “Heart Attack” (at 2:10 long) and “Nyquil Stinger” got some exposure on the college radio dial and Classic Ruins became a sturdy and much adored addition to the Boston music scene. In 1986 the group released its nine-song album Lassie Eats Chickens, following that three years later with Ruins Cafe Although Borgioli would eventually depart, Rowe kept the band active for a surprising number of gigs in the years that followed. After 31 years it was obvious that no one was going to get rich or sell platinum in Classic Ruins, but Frank Rowe was clearly happy to just keep playing rock and roll for the people who wanted it. It’s either that or he was just trying to get out of the house!
(by Carter Alan)