Tag Archives: The Remains

Beatles’ Final Tour Remains In Westport’s Memory

Today marks the final concert of the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ last US tour.

Also, the Remains’.

For local musicologists — and fans of the regionally famous band that included 2 Westporters, and lives on in the hearts and souls of anyone who heard them — that 2nd fact is as least as important as the 1st.

Fred Cantor — the band’s Boswell, who makes sure his fellow Staples High grads Barry Tashian and Bill Briggs (plus Vern Miller and Chip Damiani) “remain” alive, with an off-Broadway musical (“All Good Things”) and documentary film (“America’s Lost Band“) — sent along a reminder of the legendary summer of ’66 tour.

By then the Remains had already appeared on “Ed Sullivan” and “Hullabaloo.” They’d relocated from Boston to New York, and had a contract with Epic Records. But they had not yet broken into the big time, when they got the offer to tour with the Beatles (along with the Ronettes, the Cyrkle and Bobby Hebb).

Untitled

Tashian — the front man, just 3 years out of Staples — remembers not being able to get out of their car, on the way to their 1st concert in Chicago. Screaming fans thought they were the Beatles. He found it funny — and scary.

They could not use their own amps there — and did not even have a chance to try out the ones they were given. To musicians, that’s like walking on a tightrope without a net.

Indoor arenas — like Detroit, where the band could see the crowd — were excellent. “They were digging us,” Tashian told Cantor. “We were saying, ‘This is great. This is elevated to another place.”

But in large stadiums like Cleveland, the audience was too far away to make the connections the Remains thrived on. After that show, they met with their road manager. They second-guessed everything they did wrong — and right.

Barry Tashian (left) and Vern Miller, on stage. Drummer ND Smart (who replaced Chip Damiani on the tour) is hidden. Keyboardist Bill Briggs is not in the shot.

Barry Tashian (left) and Vern Miller, on stage. Drummer ND Smart (who replaced Chip Damiani on the tour) is hidden. Keyboardist Bill Briggs is not in the shot. (Photo/Ed Freeman)

Their interactions with the Beatles were limited, but memorable. Tashian says they had tons of energy, and great senses of humor. They did not take things too seriously.

Tashian learned a lot. “The world was a different place when you were with John Lennon,” he says.

The Westport guitarist also listened to Ravi Shankar with George Harrison. Indian music was a revelation. So was a new invention Harrison had gotten hold of: tape cassettes.

Six days before the end of the tour, the Remains and Beatles played Shea Stadium. Tashian calls it “an emotional moment.” The lights were the brightest of any place they played. With a rare break the night before, he felt rested, “a little more balanced and grounded.”

The Remains, back in the day.

The Remains, back in the day.

In California, near the end of the tour, Harrison sent a car to pick up Tashian. Meeting the Beach Boys, Mama Cass Elliot, Roger McGuinn and others, he was “speechless.”

Briggs — the Remains’ keyboardist — recalls the final concert, at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park:

“It just seemed like you were playing on a mountaintop and there was nobody there. They shut off the lights, all in the stadium proper and they just left a row of the lights on the top. It was like we were playing there by ourselves.

“I really enjoyed it. That was probably the most relaxed I was on the whole tour.”

What came next was tough. “It was like being dumped from a dump truck down over a ledge into a quarry or something, just left down there in the dust,” Tashian says.

He realizes now that his band had been breaking up — for various reasons — even before the tour began.

The Beatles kept recording, until they too broke apart. Today, of course, they’re still big — perhaps bigger than ever.

The Remains are just a footnote in rock ‘n’ roll history.

But to anyone who heard them play — particularly at small clubs, not the big arenas and stadiums of that 1966 tour — what a footnote they are.


Click here for “06880+”: The easy way to publicize upcoming events, sell items, find or advertise your service, ask questions, etc. It’s the “06880” community bulletin board!

17 Soundview: The Sequel

A “notice of demolition” sits on the front of the house at 17 Soundview Drive. Such signs are common in Westport. But this home is special.

For one thing, every Westporter knows it. We pass it whenever we walk or drive on the beach exit road.

For another, it has an amazing musical history. Two years ago — when the house was up for sale — I recounted the story, as if its walls could talk.

—————————————————

Ginger Baker sent a drum set to the house. Peter Frampton lounged on the front deck. Carly Simon wanted to buy it.

Those are just a few of the musical memories associated with 17 Soundview Drive. It’s one of the most handsome homes lining the Compo exit road, drawing admiring glances from walkers and sunbathers for its beachside gracefulness.

If only they knew the musical history hidden throughout the property.

17 Soundview Drive.

17 Soundview Drive.

It was built — like the rest of the neighborhood — as a summer house in 1918. One of Frank Lloyd Wright’s students designed it, ensuring harmony with the beach environment.

Francis Bosco — current owner Gail Cunningham Coen’s grandfather — bought it in 1928. A Sicilian immigrant and lover of opera, he tuned in every Saturday to NBC Radio’s live Met broadcasts. For years the voices of Enrico Caruso, Maria Callas, Robert Merrill and others soared from the living room, under the awnings and onto the beach, thrilling neighbors and passersby.

In 1982 Gail and her husband Terry Coen bought the house. She’s a musician and music teacher; he’s a songwriter and music promoter. Over the past 32 years they’ve lavished love on it. It was one of the 1st Compo homes to be raised, to protect against storms. The Coens added a secluded rooftop deck, and flower and vegetable gardens.

You can see the water from nearly every room in the house. This is the living room.

You can see the water from nearly every room in the house. This is the living room.

But the professionally designed, fully soundproofed music studio is what really rocks.

It — and the chance to hang out privately, yet in the middle of all the beach action — has made 17 Soundview a home away from home for 3 decades of musical royalty.

Ginger Baker spent many evenings talking about the birth of British rock, touring with Eric Clapton, and his childhood in England during World War II. He also recited some very bawdy limericks. In return, he gave Ludwig drums to Soundview Studios.

Ginger Baker, and his drums. (Photo/Wikipedia)

Ginger Baker, and his drums. (Photo/Wikipedia)

Peter Frampton brought his young family. They loved the warm summer breeze, and being able to sit anonymously just a few feet from the hubbub of a beach afternoon.

One summer day, Carly Simon said she was thinking of buying a beach house. #17 was her favorite, because it reminded her so much of Martha’s Vineyard.

Meat Loaf played Sunday morning softball at Compo. After, he headed to the Coens’. One day, he played his next single on the roof deck. No one on the beach could see he was there — but they heard him. At the end, everyone applauded.

The Remains reunited for the 1st time in decades in the studio. (Full disclosure: I was there. It was one of the most magical moments of my life.)

Eric von Schmidt loved to sing by the fireplace, and joined jam sessions in the studio. One day, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott rambled over with him.

Other regulars included Jimi Hendrix’s bass player Noel Redding; Corky Laing and Leslie West of Mountain; former Buddy Miles Express front man Charlie Karp; Eric Schenkman of the Spin Doctors, and guitarist/producer/songwriter Danny Kortchmar.

17 Soundview - roof deck

The rooftop deck is a great place to watch fireworks. It’s also where Meat Loaf played his next single, to the unknowing delight of a Compo Beach crowd.

Some of those musicians — and plenty other great ones, though less known — were guests at the Coens’ annual July 4th fireworks parties. The food and drinks were fantastic, capped off by watching the passing parade on Soundview.

But the real action happened when the fireworks ended. Everyone piled into the studio, and jammed till the sun came up.

From Caruso to the Spin Doctors, 17 Soundview Drive has seen it all. If only those walls could talk (or sing).

(The new owners will replace the 98-year-old house with a handsome new one. They’re making sure it fits in well with the streetscape. We’ll continue to admire 17 Soundview Drive. We’ll just sing a different song.)

Remember The Reverbs?

Plenty of Westporters remember the Remains. Their lead singer and keyboardist were from Westport. They toured with the Beatles. They were on track to be America’s best rock ‘n’ roll band — until they broke up.

Not many Westporters — perhaps none? — remember the Reverbs. I’m pretty good with local rock trivia, but I’ve never heard of these guys.

The Reverbs’ guitarists were Larry Didona, Ken Josselyn and Bob Erisman. Fred Erisman was on drums; Gerry Lenore sang lead.

Apparently they cut a record — a big deal in those days — in November 1965. Like many local groups, they were a cover band. Among the songs: “Twist and Shout,” “Hang on Sloopy,” “Get Off My Cloud,” “Money,” and (of course) “Louie Louie.”

Reverbs

The only way I know of the Reverbs is because alert “06880” reader Chip Stephens sent me a link to eBay.

“The Reverbs Chalk-Up” album is still available — but act now! Bidding ends on Tuesday at 9:10 p.m.

Last I saw, the highest bid — of 2 — was $10.50.

I’m sure there’s at least one Reverbs fan here who can top that.

Diddy Wah Diddy!

Willie Dixon was born 100 years ago this month. The Chicago blues musician, arranger and record producer influenced many generations of artists, from Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and Bo Diddley to Bob Dylan, Cream, the Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones.

Willie Dixon

Willie Dixon

He wrote over 500 songs, including “Back Door Man,” “Little Red Rooster” and “I Just Want to Make Love to You.”

Willie Dixon also wrote “Diddy Wah Diddy.” It’s been recorded by Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty and Captain Beefheart.

Westporters know — and love best — the version by The Remains.

Featuring Staples grads Barry Tashian (vocals/guitar) and Bill Briggs (keyboards), they opened for the Beatles on their 1966 tour. The Remains performed on “Ed Sullivan” and “Hullabaloo.”

Rock journalist Mark Kemp said if they had stayed together, “we might today be calling them — and not the Stones — the World’s Greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll Band.”

Springsteen’s guitarist, Little Steven Van Zandt, called the Remains “living history, and one of our most valued American treasures.”

And Rolling Stone magazine described them as “a religious totem of all that was manic and marvelous about mid-’60s pop.”

But they dissolved before most Americans ever discovered their greatness. They got back together a while back, and — though drummer Chip Damiani died last year — still occasionally perform to ecstatic audiences.

Now “Diddy Wah Diddy” is about to get a new life — with another Westport twist.

Staples Class of 1970 grad Bill Banks — whose real job is banking — spent the past year developing Billion Planets Music. Emerging artists and seasoned veterans to work together, in music and video production.

Westport's Charlie Karp, at the hometown Blues, Views & BBQ Festival, has long known

Westport’s Charlie Karp, at the hometown Blues, Views & BBQ Festival, has long known “Diddy Wah Diddy.”

A group of those musicians — including Charlie Karp, who dropped out of Staples in 1970 to tour with Buddy Miles, and later played with Hendrix — has recorded a new version of the song. Banks calls the 2015 genre “blues/hop.”

He liked the collaboration so much, he contacted Willie Dixon’s family in Chicago. They loved it. During the centennial of his birth, it may be included in some of the Blues Heaven Foundation events they’ve planned.

Meanwhile, Banks is starting work on a movie about life in North Miami, as seen through the eyes of Hans Louis. He’s the “emerging artist” singer on the new recording.

“Hans grew up there,” Banks says. “The theme is that it’s an urban/modern ‘Diddy Wah Diddy’ place.” (The Remains’ Tashian sang: “She don’t come from no town, she don’t come from no city/She lives way down in Diddy Wah Diddy.”)

You’ll have to wait to hear the blues/hop version. But just click below for the Remains’ take. They’re still rockin’, after 50 years.

(If your browser does not take you directly to YouTube, click here.)

BONUS HIT: Click here to link to a Gap commercial — shown only in India — featuring “Diddy Wah Diddy.”

After Nearly 50 Years, The Remains Come Home

The last time the Remains played in Fairfield County was 1966. The legendary rock group was a few months away from opening for the Beatles, on that legendary band’s final tour. Now they were at Staples High School, the alma mater of half their members: guitarist/vocalist Barry Tashian and keyboardist Billy Briggs.

Rock critic Jon Landau had already described the Remains as “how you told a stranger about rock ‘n’ roll.”

That 1966 gig was to raise money for the Orphenians’ — Staples’ select choral group — upcoming tour of the Virgin Islands.

Westporters and Remains Barry Tashian (left) and Bill Briggs flank Staples music director John Ohanian in 1966.

Westporters and Remains Barry Tashian (left) and Bill Briggs flank Staples music director John Ohanian in 1966.

After that Beatles tour, the Remains broke up. Rolling Stone magazine later called them “a religious totem of all that was manic and marvelous about mid-’60s pop.”

They reunited a decade later, for a few dates. But Tashian joined Emmy Lou Harris’ band, and moved to California. In the 1990s, he and his wife — 1964 Staples grad Holly Kimball — formed a Nashville-based duo.

Then, in the mid-’90s, a promoter invited them to play in Spain. They were up for it — and so were their rabid European fans. They played a couple of dates every year since.

In June 2013 they rocked the Bell House in Brooklyn. They were excited about their half-century return to this area: a gig in Fairfield this past April.

But in February, drummer Chip Damiani died of a brain hemorrhage.

In January, Chip Damiani attended the Fairfield History Museum's opening reception for its rock 'n' roll exhibit. He posed in front of posters of his legendary band, the Reamins.

In January, Chip Damiani attended the Fairfield History Museum’s opening reception for its rock ‘n’ roll exhibit. He posed in front of posters of his legendary band, the Reamins.

The loss of their “brother” — whose pounding drums helped drive the group to cult status in the 1960s, and who still played as energetically 5 decades later — stunned the 3 remaining Remains.

But the show must go on. In August — the day after Holly’s 50th Staples reunion, where she and Barry (SHS ’63) played and sang — the band auditioned new drummers. They chose George Correia, who played with Clarence Clemmons and, Tashian says, “locked right in to what we do.”

On Friday, September 26, the Remains return to Fairfield County for the 1st time since 1966. They venue is the Fairfield Theatre Company (7:45 p.m.), and they are as amped as when they played with the Beatles (and Bobby Hebb, the Cyrkle and the Ronettes).

The Remains, back in the day.

The Remains, back in the day.

“When Chip died, we really understood the saying ‘You don’t miss your water till your well runs dry,” Tashian says.

“Losing Chip makes us appreciate what we have even more. We look at each other and say, ‘How could it be 50 years?’ But it is. And we’re committed to each other — to our brothers — totally. We’re spread across Massachusetts, New Jersey and Nashville, but we really are a family.”

In just a few days, they’ll see plenty of Westport fans who for years have been part of that Remains family too.

(For information and tickets to the Remains’ September 26 show, click here.)

Putting The “Sound” In 17 Soundview Drive

Ginger Baker sent a drum set to the house. Peter Frampton lounged on the front deck. Carly Simon wanted to buy it.

Those are just a few of the musical memories associated with 17 Soundview Drive. It’s one of the most handsome homes lining the Compo exit road, drawing admiring glances from walkers and sunbathers for its beachside gracefulness.

If only they knew the musical history hidden throughout the property.

17 Soundview Drive.

17 Soundview Drive.

It was built — like the rest of the neighborhood — as a summer house in 1918. One of Frank Lloyd Wright’s students designed it, ensuring harmony with the beach environment.

Francis Bosco — current owner Gail Cunningham Coen’s grandfather — bought it in 1928. A Sicilian immigrant and lover of opera, he tuned in every Saturday to NBC Radio’s live Met broadcasts. For years the voices of Enrico Caruso, Maria Callas, Robert Merrill and others soared from the living room, under the awnings and onto the beach, thrilling neighbors and passersby.

In 1982 Gail and her husband Terry Coen bought the house. She’s a musician and music teacher; he’s a songwriter and music promoter. Over the past 32 years they’ve lavished love on it. It was one of the 1st Compo homes to be raised, to protect against storms. It’s been beautifully renovated inside. The Coens also added a secluded rooftop deck, and flower and vegetable gardens.

You can see the water from nearly every room in the house. This is the living room.

You can see the water from nearly every room in the house. This is the living room.

But the professionally designed, fully soundproofed music studio is what really rocks.

It — and the chance to hang out privately, yet in the middle of all the beach action — has made 17 Soundview a home away from home for 3 decades of musical royalty.

Ginger Baker spent many evenings talking about the birth of British rock, touring with Eric Clapton, and his childhood in England during World War II. He also recited some very bawdy limericks. In return, he gave Ludwig drums to Soundview Studios.

Ginger Baker, and his drums. (Photo/Wikipedia)

Ginger Baker, and his drums. (Photo/Wikipedia)

Peter Frampton brought his young family. They loved the warm summer breeze, and being able to sit anonymously just a few feet from the hubbub of a beach afternoon.

One summer day, Carly Simon said she was thinking of buying a beach house. #17 was her favorite, because it reminded her so much of Martha’s Vineyard.

Meat Loaf played Sunday morning softball at Compo. After, he headed to the Coens’. One day, he played his next single on the roof deck. No one on the beach could see he was there — but they heard him. At the end, everyone applauded.

The Remains reunited for the 1st time in decades in the studio. (Full disclosure: I was there. It was one of the most magical moments of my life.)

Eric von Schmidt loved to sing by the fireplace, and joined jam sessions in the studio. One day, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott rambled over with him.

Other regulars included Jimi Hendrix’s bass player Noel Redding; Corky Laing and Leslie West of Mountain; former Buddy Miles Express front man Charlie Karp; Eric Schenkman of the Spin Doctors, and guitarist/producer/songwriter Danny Kortchmar.

17 Soundview - roof deck

The rooftop deck is a great place to watch fireworks. It’s also where Meat Loaf played his next single, to the unknowing delight of a Compo Beach crowd.

Some of those musicians — and plenty other great ones, though less known — were guests at the Coens’ annual July 4th fireworks parties. The food and drinks were fantastic, capped off by watching the passing parade on Soundview.

But the real action happened when the fireworks ended. Everyone piled into the studio, and jammed till the sun came up.

From Caruso to the Spin Doctors, 17 Soundview Drive has seen it all. If only those walls could talk (or sing).

It’s on the market now, ready for the next gig. For Westport’s sake, I hope the new owners understand the home’s history. I hope they realize how the place has sheltered so many artists, and helped their creative spirits grow.

And though Brian Wilson was one of the few musicians not to hang out at 17 Soundview Drive — well, I don’t think he did — I hope whoever buys this beautiful, wondrous property will “get” its longtime, way cool and very good vibrations.

(Interested in buying the house? Click here for details.)
 
 

 

The Remains Live

Chip Damiani’s death yesterday — from a massive cerebral hemorrhage, at age 69 — was the final drum roll for the Remains.

For a generation that loved them in the 1960s — and for new listeners, born long after the half-Westport band toured with the Beatles and broke up — Chip’s death was devastating.

But — thanks to 1969 Staples grad Ray Flanigan, who shot these videos last June, when the Remains rocked Brooklyn’s Bell House — one of America’s greatest rock ‘n’ bands will never die.

They opened the set with “Hang On Sloopy.” It starts slowly, then takes off like a runaway train:

Here’s part of the Yardbirds’ classic,”I’m a Man.”

And, for good measure, “All Day and All of the Night.”

Bonus feature: Click here for Fran Fried’s very long, but tremendously insightful, piece on the Remains and their place in rock history.

Remains Drummer Chip Damiani Dies

Chip Damiani — whose pounding drums helped drive the Remains to cult status in the 1960s, and who still played as energetically 5 decades later — died today, of a massive brain hemorrhage.

The Remains — who besides Chip included Staples grads Barry Tashian and Bill Briggs, plus Vern Miller — had been preparing for a special show in Fairfield in April. It was scheduled for the end of the Fairfield Museum and History Center‘s current exhibit saluting area musical legends.

In January, Chip Damiani attended the Fairfield History Museum's opening reception for its rock 'n' roll exhibit. He posed in front of posters of his legendary band, the Reamins.

In January, Chip Damiani attended the Fairfield Museum and History Center’s opening reception for its rock ‘n’ roll exhibit. He posed in front of photos of his legendary band, the Reamins. (Photo courtesy of Facebook)

The Remains were — quite simply — America’s best rock band.  Ever.

Jon Landau said they were “how you told a stranger about rock ‘n’ roll.”

Rock journalist Mark Kemp said if they had stayed together, “we might today be calling them — and not the Stones — the World’s Greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll Band.”

Unfortunately, they broke up — right after touring America with the Beatles, a bit after performing on “Ed  Sullivan” and “Hullabaloo.” 

It took them decades to get back together. When they did, they picked up right where they left off. In fact, they were better than ever.

Chip Damiani, doing what he loved most.

Chip Damiani, doing what he loved most.

I was fortunate enough to be in Gail and Terry Coen’s Westport basement studio the 1st time they rehearsed for a European reunion tour, a decade or so ago. It was one of the most magical moments of my life. And no one was happier to be back than Chip.

The Remains got together regularly after that. They were the subject of an off-Broadway show (“All Good Things”) and a documentary (“America’s Lost Band”).

They all had separate lives, of course — hey, they’re in their mid-60s. Barry has had a long career as a musician in Nashville. Bill is a luxury automobile dealer. Vern is a high school music teacher. Chip was a roofer.

But at heart, Chip was a drummer. He played regularly with any band he could find. And every summer, he was at Gail and Terry’s 4th of July party on Soundview Drive. The food and fireworks were fun. But the highlight of the night — for Chip, and anyone fortunate enough to listen — was the midnight jam session that followed, down in the basement. As his bandmate Barry Tashian marveled, “He still played like a teenager.”

“All good things don’t have to end,” the Remains sang.

For Chip Damiani, the life he loved ended far, far too soon.

Fairfield Museum Unites Leonard Bernstein And Keith Richards

In 2014, the town of Fairfield celebrates its founding 375 years ago.

And nothing says “1639” like rock ‘n’ roll, soul, jazz and show tunes.

The Fairfield Museum and History Center kicks off the 375th anniversary with a “Rockin’ Top Ten” exhibit. Among the area musicians honored: former Westporters Ashford & Simpson, and the Remains, a half-Westport band that still inspires awe nearly 50 years after touring with the Beatles.

The exhibit features rare photographs, videos and artifacts from other artists who lived next to Westport, and spent (or are spending) plenty of time here: Weston’s Keith Richards and Jose Feliciano; Wilton’s Dave Brubeck; Fairfield’s Leonard Bernstein, Richard Rodgers, Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth (Talking Heads, Tom Tom Club), Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards Chic), and Donna Summer.

It’s safe to say that, before this exhibit, all of those names had never before appeared in the same sentence.

The Remains included Westporters Barry Tashian (3rd from right) and Bill Briggs (far right). Rock critic Jon Landau said the band was "how you told a stranger about rock and roll."

The Remains included Westporters Barry Tashian (3rd from left) and Bill Briggs (far left). Rock critic Jon Landau said the band was “how you told a stranger about rock and roll.”

Over the next 3 months the museum show — partially sponsored by Westporters Deej and Deborah Webb — will include musical performances, lectures, artist evenings, films and more.

It kicks off tomorrow (Thursday, January 16, 6 p.m.) with a show featuring Chris Frantz. Other events this year include appearances by Caravan of Thieves, Mystic Bowie and the Zambonis; a performance and lecture tracing the influential friendship between Leonard Bernstein and Aaron Copland; the story of Bridgeport’s once-famous Ritz Ballroom dance palace, and an evening with Jose Feliciano.

About the only thing missing is Hall and Oates.

(For more information click here, or call 203-259-1598.)

Westport And Tyson Chandler: “The Minister Of D”

In 2010, Staples grad Fred Cantor co-wrote “Monbo Time.” It was a paean to pitcher Bill Monbouqette Monbouquette, and 40 years of Red Sox history.

The legendary Remains — a band that got their start in Boston, but whose lead singer Barry Tashian and keyboardist Bill Briggs called Westport home — recorded the song. They donated half of all revenues from it to cancer research and treatment.

Fred Cantor

Fred Cantor

But Fred is not a Red Sox fan. He loves basketball, and has been a New York Knicks fanatic since before the championship days of Willis and Walt.

So for his encore sports-songwriting effort — again for charity — he’s gone to the hoop.

Fred — who in real life is an attorney — chose Tyson Chandler. The veteran center “epitomizes selfless team play,” Fred says. “I really appreciate that, not only as a longtime fan but also having played on successful soccer teams at Staples and Yale.”

If the Knicks win an NBA title for the 1st time in 4 decades — since Fred was young — Tyson will be key.

Tyson Chandler

Tyson Chandler

First, Fred wrote some lyrics that capture the essence of Tyson’s game. Then he decided to give him a nickname. “I feel he deserves even greater recognition than he’s gotten,” the songwriter says.

Which is how Tyson Chandler became “The Minister of D.”

Next, Fred called Charlie Karp and Michael Mugrage. Both are Staples classmates of Fred’s — and friends dating back to Coleytown Elementary and Coleytown Junior High, respectively.

They’re hugely talented musicians. Charlie left Staples to join Buddy Miles’ band. He played at Jimi Hendrix’s memorial service, and earned a devoted local following with bands like White Chocolate, Dirty Angels and Slo Leak.

Michael toured with Orleans, and composed music for Chaka Khan, Smokey Robinson and Terry Cashman’s classic “Talkin’ Baseball.”

Michael Mugrage (center) and Charlie Karp (right) record "The Minister of D," with sound engineer Tom Hawes.

Michael Mugrage (center) and Charlie Karp (right) record “The Minister of D,” with sound engineer Tom Hawes.

“I wanted a song that combined different elements,” Fred explains. “The lyrics were to be rapped, but I also wanted a funk sound that evokes the era when the Knicks won their 2 titles. And I wanted the song to be part rock.”

“We wanted the music to harken back to the glory days of the Knicks of the early ’70s,” Michael told TheKnicksBlog. The site describes that “New York cool” time of Sly and the Family Stone, and Isaac Hayes, as “an era one imagines Tyson would  have felt right at home in.”

Within minutes of getting together, Charlie and Michael nailed it. After a bit more work, they recorded it with sound engineer Tom Hawes.

They continued to improvise, taking turns on lead and bass guitar, and sharing vocals in different octaves to create harmonies (and a “big group” sound). At the end, they created crowd noise to mimic the Garden.

Tyson’s reps say he is honored by the song. He feels good too that 25% of the royalties go to the Garden of Dreams Foundation, benefiting kids facing obstacles.

And Fred no doubt feels good that he’s written a song about favorite team. Not the Red Sox.

(Click here to hear “The Minister of D.” Search “Charlie Karp & Mike Mugrage” on iTunes to buy it.)

The cover, as it appears on iTunes. It's a ticket stub from a game Fred went to the 1st week the new Madison Square Garden opened. Fred  Cantor calls Tyson Chandler "a throwback" to that era of championship NY Knick teams.

The cover, as it appears on iTunes. It’s a ticket stub from a game Fred Cantor went to the 1st week the new Madison Square Garden opened. He calls Tyson Chandler “a throwback” to that era of championship NY Knick teams.