Thursday, February 28, 2008

Blue Angels - Hammond, Indiana

The Blue Angels from Hammond, Indiana have reported in, and we have a great story to tell. The Blue Angels started as the Starlighters, but that name was cut short when they joined the musicians union. Seems there was some band known as Joey D & the Starlighters that had some hit record or something, and the Blue Angels was chosen as the new name.
Band members pictured: (B&W photo)
Mario Muniz - Singer
Kenny Simmons - Bass
John Puskas - Sax
Bob Zemburski - Drums
Rick Toth - Guitar

Also members included Paul Rivich (first guitar player) and singers H.A. Gentry and Micky Mack. The Blue Angels were on the cutting edge as style went, sporting blue silk suits, blue boots, and of course BLUE HAIR!!!

I'll step aside and let John tell his story!

John Puskas:

WE STARTED OUT AS A 3 PIECE POLKA BAND. KENNY ON ACCORDION -JOHN ON SAX AND BOB ON DRUMS. WHEN WE ADDED THE GUITAR AND SINGER KENNY STARTED PLAYING ORGAN AND BASS GUITAR. WE CHANGED OUR NAME TO THE BLUE ANGELS AND ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE. I'M NOT SURE WHO THOUGHT OF THE BLUE HAIR. WE SOMETIMES CHANGED OUTFITS EVERY SET. WE PLAYED EVERY VFW , AMERICAN LEGION , LIONS CLUB, AND EVERYHALL BIG ENOUGH TO HOLD A CROWD. WE PLAYED AT LEAST 5 NIGHTS A WEEK--NIGHT CLUBS--TEEN DANCES--CONCERTS- WEDDINGS. WE WERE THE HOUSE BAND AT MADURAS DANCE LAND IN WHITING INDIANA. IT WAS A HUGE PLACE WITH A STAGE ON BOTH ENDS. ALL OF THE TOP ACTS IN THE COUNTRY CAME THERE TO PLAY. WE MET A LOT OF FAMOUS GROUPS THIS WAY. THE KINGSMEN OF LOUIE LOUIE FAME WOULD EVEN COME TO VISIT US WHEN THEY CAME TO TOWN. THEY SHOWED UP ONE NIGHT AT MIDWAY BALLROOM IN CEDAR LAKE INDIANA WHILE WE WERE ON STAGE. WE TALKED THEM INTO PLAYING A SONG-- THE CROWD THOUGHT WE WERE KIDDING- BOY WERE THEY SURPRISED! ONENIGHT WE PLAYED A BIG CONCERT AT THE HAMMOND CIVIC CENTER-- 10,000 PEOPLE--CHUCK BERRY AND BOBBY FREEMAN WERE THE BIG DRAWS. THE RIVIERAS-- CALIFORNIA SUN FAME- WERE SUPPOSED TO BACK CHUCK UP-- WE CAME OUT FIRST AND BLEW THE CROWD AWAY. CHUCK WENT RIGHT TO THE PROMOTER AND SAID I WANT THOSE GUYS TO BACK ME UP- FORGET THE RIVIERAS! WE DID --CHUCK LOVED IT-- WE LOVED IT - AND HISTORY WAS MADE. THE RIVIERAS -- THEY WERE FROM GARY INDIANA-- WERE NOT HAPPY CAMPERS AND DID NOT TALK TO US MUCH THAT NIGHT. SPEAKING OF GARY-- ONE NIGHT WE WERE PLAYING A VFW IN HAMMOND WHEN THIS FAMILY OF 5 LITTLE BLACK BOYS AND THEIR FATHER SHOWED. THEY PLAYED DURING ONE OF OUR BREAKS. THEY WERE FANTASTIC. I PATTED LITTLE MICHAEL ON THE HEAD AND SAID, YOU KIDS ARE GOING TO BE FAMOUS SOME DAY. BOY --WHAT A MOUTH FULL-- THAT WAS THE LAST TIME I SAW THE JACKSON 5 LIVE! NOT VERY MANY BANDS WANTED TO PLAY ON THE SAME STAGE WITH US-- MORE THAN ONCE. WE PLAYED JAMES BROWN-- CHUCK BERRY- OTIS REDDING-- BO DIDDLEY-- RAY CHARLES- KINKS -- BEATLES- SAM AND DAVE- WELL YOU GET THE IDEA-- LOTS OF ROCK AND ROLL AND BLUES. ALL OF OUR RECORDS WERE ORIGINAL EXCEPT FOR SHAKE A TAIL FEATHER. WE DID TRY TO GET ON THE TED MACK AMATEUR HOUR ONCE-- WHILE WE WERE PLAYING FOR HIM--MOST OF THE GROUPS WAITING IN THE HALL FOR THEIR TURN-- PACKED UP AND LEFT. TED SAID WE WERE TO GOOD TO PLAY ON THE SHOW AND SENT US HOME.

Thanks John!

The Blue Angels put out three 45s on Cap records out of Chicago.

Cap 76 Fame & Fortune - Quicksand
Cap 77 Dance with me Lynda - Shake a Tail Feather
Cap 79 Please Don't Leave Me - Let's Shout and Shimmy

Hear a clip of Quicksand here!!

Is it just me, or does the CAP font and label info look related to the Cha Cha records stuff?

Thanks to John and the guys for letting me do this! I'm sure I'll get the tunes soon, and I'll post them for all the fans listening pleasure!!!

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Actually I have a copy of "Shake a Tail Feather" Clearly shows Cha Cha records under artist name.Cap most likely a subsidiary.

Anonymous said...

Boy do I remember those days. I used to stay in touch with Bob Zemburski, but lost contact in moving around. Great band. loved them. Hope if Bob sees this he will contact me on facebook. Carolyn Trapp. Orangeburg SC.

Phil Swan said...

I have been searching for info on the Blue Angels for many years. In the summer of '65 the Blue Angels booked a 2-week gig playing for a county fair in Illinois. One week in Decatur, and a week in Lincoln. It so happened that their drummer Bob Zemburski got drafted and they needed a drummer in a hurry. They wanted John Toda (from Oscar & the Majestics) to help them out, but he wasn't available. John mentioned my name to them, and I got to audition. I realize they didn't have many to choose from, and I was only 16 at the time. My old buddy Timmy Jones auditioned, but his summer college courses kept him from making the trip. I guess you could say I won by default. I immediately joined the Hammond, IN local of the AFM and my parents actually let me go with this cool group of guys.

Needless to say, it was an experience I'd never forget. I turned 17 during that time, and I got my share of birthday punches from all the guys. During the day we would visit the carnival guys, and then walk around downtown wearing light blue Levis and wearing blue hair that we would spray. This was for advertising purposes for the shows we were putting on.

The tour finally ended, I went back to school for my senior year, and the Blue Angels became a part of my past. I knew they wanted to find a more experienced drummer, especially one who was not still in high school. My time with them was over, but it was a great ride for those 2 special weeks. I will always be grateful to the guys. They were actually very talented musicians. Kenny played a super organ lead on De Shannon's "Runaway". Mario sang "Any Day Now" by Chuck Jackson, and "Since I Don't Have You" by the Skyliners. Guitarist Rick Toth played great guitar, and was a real cut-up. Always kept us laughing. And Johnny Sax, totally cool (Fonzie-like) with a wailin' sax._