The Rondels

In the wildcat days of pre-Beatles rock and roll, four teens from the Boston suburbs — Lennie Petze, Jimmy Petze, Ray Pizzi and Lenny Collins — separated themselves from the Beantown pack in the early 1960s with a handful of raucous, largely instrumental rockers that are fondly remembered to this day, and serve as an exciting counterpoint to the comparatively staid sounds of Freddy Cannon and the G-Clefs that dominated Kennedy-era Boston. The band members cut their teeth playing record hops in various local bands (the Rhythm Rockers, the Rainbows, the Reveleers, the Three D’s, the Hi-Fi’s) — and even getting some radio play from the likes of Arnie “Woo Woo” Ginsberg with the Rhythm Rockers’ 1960 single, “Madness” — before joining forces as the Rondels and earning the attention of New York City-based producer Bugs Bower with their version of the standard “Greensleeves” (which they titled “Shades of Green”). That single’s flip side, “Back Beat No. 1”, cracked the Top 100, landing at #66 in August 1961. the band continued to gig and cut singles — 1962’s “Meet Me At The Peppermint Lounge” was an attempt to cash in on the Twist craze — but greater success eluded the group, and the tidal wave known as Beatlemania proved to be too much to compete with, though the band (with a few line-up and name changes) soldiered on until 1968. Lennie Petze remained in the industry, eventually becoming East Coast Director of a&r for Epic Records, for whom he signed, among others, Boston and Cyndi Lauper.

(by Stephen Haag)

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