The Atlantics

The Atlantics

The Atlantics were formed in January 1976 by bassist Bruce “B.” Wilkinson and guitarist Tom Hauck (who were students at Tufts University), singer Bobby Marron, lead guitarist Jeff Locke and drummer Boby Bear. In May that year, just four months after coming together, they opened for The Ramones on two consecutive nights at The Club in Cambridge, having asked the group’s co-manager Danny Fields – whom Wilkinson and Hauck had met in late 1975 at a Talking Heads show in New York City – for the gig. Those shows and the many others that followed established The Atlantics as one of Boston’s most popular acts during the post-punk and new-wave eras.


The band signed a management agreement with New York City-based Fred Munao and Ray (Rayboy) Fernandes replaced Boby Bear on the skins in 1977. After that, the group cut and pressed a 45 that they planned to self-release, “When You’re Young,” but Locke left the group before they issued it, replaced in the summer of 1978 by Fred Pineau.

They recorded their next 45, “When You’re Young” b/w “Big City Rock,” at The Hit Factory in New York City for ABC Records with ABC staff producer Steve DuBoff, who’d produced The Cowsills‘ pop classic “The Rain, The Park & Other Things.” It wasn’t a good pairing, however, as DuBoff hated both punk and new wave; the resulting recordings were not something that the musicians or the label were excited about releasing.

The signed agreement stipulated that if the label didn’t release the record within 60 days, then the band had the right to cancel their contract. The label didn’t release the track, so the band did exactly that. ABC was pissed off to no end and offered the band a deal for a full album, which they accepted based on Muano’s recommendation but against their own better judgement. (Sound familiar?)


In 1979, The Atlantics recorded Big City Rock with another ABC staff producer, John Stronach, whom the band members didn’t want any more than they wanted DuBoff. They wanted to work with producer Ed Stasium, who showed interest, but the label fought them on it for so long that by the time they were ready to go in to the studio, there were no other options but to use Stronach – the wrong guy, the band agreed. The disc was production and commercial disaster. Stronach had a decent resume as a producer but his ears were shot – among other things, some said – and the album wound up sounding flat, the band members agreed. Despite that, Rolling Stone gave it a positive review.

Next, The Atlantics signed with Premier Talent in New York City and the agency booked the group on a national tour opening for Roxy Music. In the meantime, MCA Records acquired ABC and the band didn’t know if Big City Rock would be shelved or brought to market. As it turned out, MCA was mostly interested in ABC’s country roster and kept only three of ABC’s rock acts: Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Steely Dan and The Atlantics.

MCA stepped up to finance the Roxy tour, with The Atlantics traveling in a great tour bus and staying in top-tier hotels. The only three dates on that tour they didn’t do were in Philadelphia, Detroit and Boston, where another great local band, The Stompers, shared the bill instead. By the end of the tour, both the label and the band knew that Big City Rock had tanked, but MCA kept them under contract and even bought the band a new set of drums, which everyone took as a good sign. It wasn’t, though, since the label’s limited promotion and lack of support brought dismal results and the execs ended up dropping the group.


Following the commercial failure of Big City Rock, Ray Fernandes left the band in the summer of ’79, right after returning from the Roxy Music tour. He was replaced by Paul Caruso (who remained with the band for the last four years they were together) and his creativity changed their sound significantly.

In 1980, the group paid for and recorded the single “Lonelyhearts” b/w “Can’t Wait Forever” at The Hit Factory and pressed the it with a cardboard sleeve. Before it was released, MCA called and wanted to re-sign them. The Knack had major hit with “My Sharona” and MCA, thinking that that The Atlantics could be their own version of The Knack, asked them to record M’s song “Pop Music,” which hadn’t yet been released in the US. The musicians declined, which was the deal breaker for everyone involved.

At this point, the group was having trouble drawing crowds. Other local bands like The NeighborhoodsNervous Eaters and The Real Kids had gained a bit of national traction and The Atlantics had become old news to many on the scene. They ended up opening shows for Robin Lane, The Neighborhoods and some other acts; audiences seemed to appreciate what they had to offer.


In 1980, the band self-released the track “Lonelyhearts” and it took off like a rocket in and around Boston. It was in regular rotation at WBCN for some six months, making them even more popular than they had ever been in their home region. Looking for a fresh start, they fired their manager but, since the legal actions resulting from that decision were still being litigated during “Lonelyhearts”‘ reign on the radio, no record company was willing to sign the band. ATCO and EMI showed strong interest but nine months passed before all legal matters were settled and by that point the interest had waned. Shoulda. Woulda. Coulda.

The group recorded and released the singles “Pop Shivers,” “Weekend” and “Wrong Number,” all of which were big radio hits in Boston, and signed with veteran New York City-based manager Steve Paul, but never landed another record deal. Caruso and Wilkinson decided to go in different musical directions and that, coupled with The Atlantics’ lack of mainstream success, resulted in the group disbanding in 1983. They played their final show at The Channel in May that year, with Extreme as one of the opening acts.

After The Atlantics, Caruso played with Hauck in Ball and Pivot, became a producer and engineer and worked with both Aerosmith and Joe Perry, co-producing Perry’s 2005 solo effort. He was nominated for a Grammy in 2006, the year he died of heart problems. Wilkinson took his own life in 2000.


Following their deaths, the surviving members regrouped and released 2006’s self-titled collection of unreleased tracks. Encouraged by the success of their first new music in almost 30 years, the group also released Live (recorded in 1979 on the eve of their tour with Roxy Music) in the summer of 2007. Marron retired from show biz 30 years ago, Hauck makes albums under the name “Telemor” and writes novels, Bear and Fernandes still play and Pineau ventures out from time to time as well.

(by A.J. Wachtel)

Published On: December 28, 2012