Bluebeard guitarist and business manager Vincent Bitetti, recently re-connected with Darrell Wayne to bring him up to date on what the band was up to. Although Darrell introduced the band at a few shows in the past few years (the band opened for Kansas, Blue Oyster Cult and Foghat in 2009), they have a history that goes back to the late seventies – when Darrell was the Program Director at KROQ in Los Angeles.
Vincent Bitetti caught up with Darrell last year to get some friendly advice about a project he was working on called The Story Of Bluebeard. In 1979, Bluebeard was so popular in Southern California that they could sell out venues with up to . 5,000 seat capacity. They routinely sold out the Whisky A – Go – Go on weekends with double encores being the norm. Their music was a mix of their influences (Queen, Styx, Aqualung-era Jethro Tull and other melodic progressive rock bands of the 70s) and their own unique style that was progressive, melodic and commercially accessible. The songwriting and musicianship was on par with platinum selling artists – which is why Darrell added 5 of their songs in heavy rotation at KROQ.
Black clouds were on the horizon for both KROQ and Bluebeard. The music industry was changing. The arrival of Punk, New Wave and the ever present drone of disco, was about to put the kibosh on both the programming direction of KROQ – which went form “The Rock of Los Angeles” to “The Rock of the 80s” – and major label signing decisions. Although Bluebeard was a huge draw, had radio AirPlay, shipped 20,000 copies of their independent LP Bad Dream – it was too late. The band continued on for 7 more years, only to disintegrate into darkness in the late 1980s’
This story begins in 1972, when five high school kids with like minds form Bluebeard in a suburb outside of Los Angeles called West Covina. Among the members is an extremely talented songwriter/musician Robert Barry Leech. The dual lead guitars of Vincent Bitetti and Vincent Penny, combined with the rock rhythm section from hell – Gayle Hart on bass and Danny Bogan on drums and percussion was unstoppable. In 1977, Bob Campbell – a child prodigy keyboardist joined the band. Bob had the same interests and influences as the rest of the band and his influence magnified their dynamic, dramatic, powerful sound – turning it into a symphonic hard rock experience. As dramatic as the music was, the stage show was more so. These guys brought the arena rock experience (with pyrotechnics, fog and even magic tricks) to the small stage. There were no nosebleed seats at a Bluebeard show. The audience was part of the show – with dry ice fog up to their knees and blue lighting EFX at their feet – it was no wonder that between the live music and dynamic show, multiple encores were the norm. And the “Insane” Darrell Wayne was a witness and participant to it all (he MC’d at least twenty shows between 1979-1980).
By 1981, this kind of music (all lumped into a category we now call Classic Rock) was out of favor with the major record companies. And without that kind of backing, world tours and worldwide distribution of your album was just not possible. So… Along the way some of the guys got lost. For some it was drugs, for others alcohol, for Bob – he was just lost (disappeared in 1983 never to be heard from again).
In 2001, guitarist Vincent Bitetti put the band back together and recorded a new album – with the original 5 members from high school. But tragedy struck in 2004 and 2011 respectively. Robert Barry Leech was a victim of suicide in 2004 and Danny Bogan was killed while riding his Harley Davidson on a sunny Sunday afternoon – T-Boned a young driver that made an illegal turn right into Danny’s path – he was killed instantly.
After the death of Barry in 2004, the remaining members (and new guitarist and old friend Brian Barnum) recorded a “tribute” album (released in 2007 and distributed by Warner Bros. Records subsidiary ada) to honor their friend and musical soul mate Barry. They have utilized the talents of three lead vocalists to play live shows and until the untimely death of Danny Bogan, were happy just to be playing and doing what they loved most in life.
Well, Mr Bitetti – Vincent – is now writing a book about the band. It’s an eBook, complete with rich media (including video, songs and photos – he has 120 songs and 4,000 photos to choose from!). About eight months ago he set up a Facebook page The Story Of Bluebeard to keep a correct Timeline and reach out to old and new fans… Well, that page now has almost 44,000 Likes. Combined with all their web activity, Bluebeard has had over 400,000 song plays, 25,000 + YouTube video plays and friends worldwide in the 10s of thousands – he calls them FanFriends.
The band, now preparing to record a new album (working title: Double Infinity – due out in fall 2013), releasing an eBook, and putting The Story Of Bluebeard stage show together, is as busy as they were back in 1979. Darrel Wayne… He is an integral part of the story of Bluebeard with his own story to tell, and this year should prove to be a good one for both of these “infamous” music industry icons.
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