Bruce Benson was a guitarist for The Barbarians and Black Pearl.
March 1964 midnight headed home. 55 Chevy Ragtop. Cold outside, cold inside. Heats on high. Radio tuned to WBZ AM. Dick Summer played “ I Saw Her Standing There”. My life changed.
The Beatles invaded the U.S., appeared on Ed Sullivan, topped Billboard charts with two albums and packed Shea Stadium. A new look, a new sound, the fans went wild. When John Lennon announced The Beatles were bigger than Jesus “Everyone” went wild.
Until now music to me was, Elvis, Chuck Berry, Duane Eddy and the Ventures. What was cooler than Del Shannon and “Runaway”? Bob Dylan sang “The Times They Are A’changing”. He was right.
I had a guitar and an Amp. Both from Sears Mail order. Silvertone guitar by Danelectro. Not bad. Silvertone amp. Pretty bad. Volume said 10 sounded like 1. I had friends and we jammed in my garage. A true garage band. We weren’t good but we loved it.
I graduated from Provincetown High School. Class of 64. “ Footsteps in the sands of time” was our motto. Quite prophetic considering where we lived. I was accepted at U Mass Amherst for the fall semester. Life’s getting serious. What to do now?
Back to my summer job at Ho Jo’s in P Town. I helped man the soda fountain. All the 3D burgers and ice cream you could eat. Clean up after closing, share the tips and head “downstreet”.
Victor Moulton known as Moulty worked in the kitchen washing dishes and we became friends. A few years earlier during a failed pyrotechnic experiment he had lost his left hand below the elbow.
Moulty had an “Accident”. He sure did. He blew his hand off. The photo in his wallet showed his mangled surgically draped hand. Now he had a hook. With a notch in the end of a drumstick he could play the drums. Moulty had rhythm and a nice set of drums. Moulty had hair and lots of it. After work we could go to Victors and play music.
Victor was not shy and loved a gag. Moulty sits in the coffee shop having a coffee and donut. Some guy sits alongside doing the same. Moulty says “ Mind if I dunk”? “ Not at all was the reply. The guy gets Moulty’s donut in his coffee. I recall In years to come more than one well dressed record promoter who got his hand shaken with a hand and his tie straightened with a hook.
One set of drums, one Silvertone guitar and one crummy amp. Sick of Ice cream , sick of dishes and the beat goes on.
The Rumpus Room was a beach bar in Provincetown. Down the alley attached to The Old Colony Tap. Four walls, wrap around windows, right on the beach. A bar. a stage and a dance floor. Lenny Enos known as “ Lenny Blue” owned and ran the place and said if we had a band he would give us try.
Jerry Causi was in town recently discharged from the Coast Guard. Jerry had a Gibson Bass, Ampeg Amp and could play and sing. Great you’re in. Now we are three. Ronnie Enos joined the band. Ronnie could play and sing, had long hair and most of all Ron was cool. Now we have a band.
Lenny Enos gave us a job at The Rumpus Room. I barely made it. Still 17. Since I would be 18 in July Lenny said OK. We would get a cut of the door and have to carry out the beer cases that stacked up by the bar after closing. Part of the deal. Great, stack “em up.
Mr Enos ran the door. Lenny was a powerhouse of a man. Short sleeved white shirt, bar towel around his neck collecting the gate. A buck to get in. Nobody messed with Lenny Blue. More than one rowdy patron was eased politely or forcibly down the alley and back onto Commercial street. Take a right take a left. Didn’t matter, just get out.
The place is packed. The alley is packed. We’re having a ball. Playing music and getting paid. We got a large banner for the wall behind the stage. “ The Barbarians” in red letters. Moulty painted his name on the bass drum. We put flyers on almost every car in Provincetown. “ The Barbarians Are Coming”.
Causi’s singing, We’re rocking, People are dancing and the empty beer cases are stacking up by the side door. Moulty and I quit our day jobs to dedicate ourselves to Rock and Roll. What a summer so far.
Seven nights a week at The Rumpus Room and soon we are playing matinees at the Surf Club less than a block away. We carried our equipment twice a day through the streets. Banging cymbals, the bass drum and making as much spectacle as possible. People loved it. Great two gigs. More music and more fun.
We were getting some favorable press from local newspapers. Walter Chrysler of car fame owned the Chrysler Art Museum in town and took an interest in the band. How about a night at the museum? Sure. Under Walters direction we bought matching different colored leather jackets for the gig. I noticed they were quite expensive and mistakenly thought Walter was paying. TV cameras and the press were there. Lights, Cameras, Action. We’re on the 11:00 news and in the Boston Herald.
Well back at the shack. Not many beer cases got stacked that night and Mr. Enos was less than pleased. We never worked for Lenny again.
Anyway, Rock On. Labor Day is almost here and somebody knows a guy who knows a guy in New York City. We packed up Jerry’s Pontiac and off to “The Big Apple”.
We had new management and signed off large percentages of our future. By November we were in LA filming “The TAMI Show”. Ronnie Enos left by his own will in December and we needed a guitar player. Jerry knew a friend from Boston. Geoff Morris shows up straight from Boston University with a Gretsch Country Gentleman, Echoplex and FenderTwin reverb. Geoff auditioned with some Chet Atkins, Les Paul and plays the solo to Johnny be Good behind his head. Geoff you are hired.
February 1965 we were on Shindig and soon had a regional hit record. Off on the rocket ride.
The Barbarians eventually morphed into Black Pearl. Another blast off ensued.