It was Sunday, January 27, 1991 and this was going to be quite an evening. It was Parousia’s debut performance of our new show-set ‘Virtual Reality’ at the Whisky a Go-Go on the Sunset Strip.
After our ‘dress-rehearsal / warm-up’ performance at Madame Wong’s in November, we took-away a flood of ideas. We practiced the changes all through December 1990 and into January 1991 and were now ready to release the updated show to the West Hollywood crowd. A local popular radio station KROQ 106.6 FM, sponsored tonight’s event at the Whisky with another unique band from Buffalo that was well known for it’s songs and showmanship… Green Jello.
Patt and I had composed Virtual Reality to be a rock-play written in the spirit of the greatest rock plays created by bands in the 1970’s. Artists like, Todd Rundgren, the Tubes, Alice Cooper, the WHO and Meat Loaf. In terms of musical content, style and presentation, Virtual Reality is best described as a cross between “Tommy” by the WHO and “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” by Jim Sharman / Richard O’ Brien.
For me, the most incredible thing about tonight was that both Parousia and Green Jello were bands from Buffalo sharing the same stage on the West Coast and performing together at the world famous Whisky a Go-Go on the Sunset Strip. How crazy is that?
About Green Jello…
Patt, Claude and I knew many of the guys in Green Jello, er-r-r, i mean Green Jelly (please don’t sue us KRAFT corporation!) from our days performing and rehearsing in and around Buffalo, NY. There was guitarist C.J. Buscaglia (who I am sad to say, passed away on January 16, 2015 in his hometown, Buffalo, NY. He was 51). We knew C.J. mostly from the Kenmore band, Future History. F.H was booked around town by the same booking agent as our band, Mr. Dave Buffamonti at Backstage productions.
Green Jello bassist, Bill Tutton, we also knew from the band Future History. When Bill moved out to L.A. after Green Jello, he played bass for a well known Spanish Elvis impersonator known as “EL-VEZ”
Green Jello’s drummer, Jim Laspesa (aka: Mick Stadium) had a special connection to Parousia. Back in 1978, Jim played drums in a band called “Slow Gin” with Garth Huels (Parousia’s long-term guitarist from back in Buffalo) and Robert Lowden (Parousia’s long term bassist who switched to guitar when the band moved to Hollywood in 1987). After the band ‘Slow Gin’ broke up, in 1978, both Garth and Robert joined up with Parousia.
Green Jello guitarist, Marc Levinthal (aka: Pippi Rockstocking) was someone Patt and I knew well from our high-school days at St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute in Kenmore. A few interesting stories about Marc:
He was quite the musical genius as far back as I can remember. While performing in the St. Joe’s band, Patt Connolly said that when Marc played the guitar, it was like an extension of his own self. Every expression and nuance was heartfelt.
Back in 1976, during first period class at St. Joe’s, Marc was sitting at a desk next to me. He was humming Frank Zappa and writing out the exact notes to Zappa’s guitar solos on a music sheet!
Garth Huels recalls traveling to Boston with the ST. Joe’s lab band when they entered a national competition at the Berklee College of Music. He remembers Marc Levinthal turning him on to an eclectic collection of music like, Weather Report, Frank Zappa, Chick Corea, the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Earth, Wind & Fire and the Commodores.
After graduation in 1977, I heard about Levinthal’s progressive-rock band called “Pinheads”. Marc wrote out all the parts for each band member to play. The parts were so complex, his band mates couldn’t play them in the way they were written. Marc would actually cry tears when this happened and begged his band mates to “try a little harder”.
Another creepy coincidence about Green Jello was the name of their guitar player, Joe Cannizzaro (aka: Dunderhead), who apparently is not a relative of mine (yours truly, Gerry Cannizzaro). Even though we both come from the same home-town and knew a lot of the same people… whenever we spoke, we could never seem to find a common relative between us.
A bit of Green Jello History: Green Jellÿ (pronounced “green jello”) was formed in 1981 in Kenmore, NY by founding member Bill Manspeaker. Originally named Green Jellö, the band changed its name to Green Jelly due to legal pressure from the owners of the Jell-O trademark, Kraft Foods, who claimed that it was an infringement of their trademark. …Maybe if the band hadn’t made their motto “Green Jello Sucks” KRAFT foods might not of been so upset about the usage of their product name?
Green Jelly’s reputation for over-the-top live performances and food-hurling audiences got them banned from most local venues. In 1992, Zoo Entertainment, a subsidiary of BMG, released Green Jellÿ’s “Cereal Killer,” an “all video album” including the MTV hit video, “The Three Little Pigs.”
The following year, Zoo released an audio version of the album called, “Cereal Killer Soundtrack.” This album went gold in the US, and sold nearly 2.5 million units worldwide. The success led BMG to open Green Jellÿ studios on Sunset in Hollywood, where the band recorded “The Bear Song” from the Farrelly Brothers’ film, “Dumb and Dumber”.
Back to the night’s events…
After Parousia finished sound-check at about 3:00 pm, we went back to the house on Berendo St. in Hollywood to get ready with a little pre-party action to help remove any “opening night jitters” and to finish some last minute details. We were pretty psyched… The Virtual Reality show was a mixed blessing. A wonderful fun show to play and a huge monstrosity to coordinate and bring to life. The entire entourage was comprised of five musicians, six dancers, and five technicians. We had programs printed up (just like in an actual play) with lyrics and pictures.
We got back to the Whisky at about 7:45 pm and the place was full. Local Los Angeles D.J. “Jed the Fish” from the alternative rock station KROQ, promoted the event for weeks before the show, and it worked!
I remember going to hang-out backstage in Green Jello’s dressing room and when I got there, I couldn’t find any of the guys that I went to school with or knew from Buffalo… they were “away” doing other “things”. I did meet one of the girls who traveled around with Green Jello. She was very friendly and struck up a conversation with me right away. I thought I was doing really good with this girl until she comes out and asks me for money… I was a bit heart broken I must tell you! I thought I was being more captivating than that… apparently not.
We played our set of ten-songs to an enthusiastic audience. We caught the attention of band-manger Marianne Smith, whose day job was working for AON, (a major entertainment broker). Marianne really liked what we were doing and offered to help manage the band and book us at The Troubadour, another world-famous venue in West Hollywood. It was definitely a good start for our new Parousia project ‘Virtual Reality’ which ran on the Sunset Strip from 1991-1992
Here are some pic’s from the rock play “Virtual Reality” by PAROUSIA: