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the Shademen

Elyria, 1964-8

The Shademen reigned as Elyria's top teen band for several years, helped by their great 1st 45 "That's Tuff, a collector favorite for years. The band was started in late 1965 and early 1966 by Elyria High School student Bob Sebastian. Bob had already been in a band or two that hadn't made it beyond rehearsal stage. Bob mentioned to a neighbor that he was starting a band, and the neighbor in turn mentioned it to Bill Foss, a sophomore at Elyria Catholic High School. Bill and Bob were already skilled and practiced players, Bill having taken up drums in grade school. Together with a couple other forgotten players, they started the long and fun rock-n-roll journey in Bill's family's garage.

Shortly, the band started searching for permanent members. Pat Barden was another Elyria High student who had gone out and bought a Silvertone guitar at the start of the British Invasion. He noticed that bands were always looking for bass players so he switched figuring the odds were better. Pat had been in a couple dead-end bands when Bob contacted him to check out the new band. Steve Oleneck was an Elyria High senior classmate of Bob's who had been in a local R&B styled band who joined on as well.

The first few times the full band rehearsed, Bob and Steve had shown up in sunglasses. The men in shades provided an immediate choice for the band name- the Shademen. The band started to play out at school dances. A band battle at Holly Hall in Elyria matched the Shademen against Rich and the Yorkers, who were a more British styled band compared to the Shademen, who leaned a bit toward the greaser style. The Yorkers' keyboard player was Mike Moore, and after the competition (the winner of which is forgotten) he and the Shademen mutually agreed to have him join. Mike was a very talented musician who had been in school band and choir since grade school. He burst onto the teen band scene by singing "Yesterday" at a school talent show and was asked to join the Yorkers in late 1965.

With all the pieces in place, the Shademen quickly moved up the local band hierarchy. During the summers, they participated in a band battle held at Crystal Springs in North Ridgeville. The events would feature 10 or so bands that would lead to a showdown between the top two bands. The Shademen won the initial 10 band tilt and the finals over the British Sterling. The band quickly jumped to the top of the local scene and gained a large following, which increased as they played local clubs like the Cave and the Music Box in downtown Elyria, and eventually the North Ridgeville Hullabaloo. The Cave was a club in the basement of the Fife and Drum teen center in downtown Elyria. One day a food delivery man named Al Geraci caught them and passed word onto a couple of his friends, brothers Joe and James King, who were also professional non-rock musicians. The three had considered forming a record company called Verann Records when Al called the Kings and had them check out the band at the Cave. The Kings liked what they heard and decided to make the Shademen their first recording act.

Al became the band's official manager and the Verann team booked them at Cleveland Recording, where they cut two of Mike Moore's original songs, "Sick and Tired" and "That's Tuff". Mike was the musical leader of the band - he chose and arranged most of the band's songs, in additon to playing keyboards and much of the lead vocals (he's lead on the two recordings). The Kings pressed up 500-1000 copies on their Verann label and used their publishing, Farakin music. Al Geraci and the Kings started to push "Sick and Tired" to local radio stations. WWIZ in Lorain gave it steady play, as did WREO in Ashtabula. The record did sell in the Lorain County area, but really took off in Ashtabula, and the Shademen made their way out east for many gigs, including a autograph session and on-air interview/phone call-in with WREO jock Dave Barry. The 45 sold out of the first pressing and a second pressing of 1000 copies was done. A quick trip to the collectors corner - the first pressings have dark blue horizontal lines, while the second pressings have a more sky-blue label and black lines. Steve Olenek had been drafted and left the band shortly before the 45 was recorded. He did sit in with the band when home on leave.

As spring and summer of 1967 came around, the Shademen were in high demand. They were featured at the North Ridgeville Hullabaloo (auditions were held on Sundays) and as one of the prime Hullabaloo bands, they rotated to the other clubs in Kamms Corners and Ashtabula. Other bands in the rotation were the James Gang, Renaissance Faire, and Muthers Oats. They played the Note, Danceland (in Wellington), The Rathskeller and Pony Tail in Sandusky (owned by the same person), and places in Vermillion. The Shademen made a couple appearances on Upbeat, playing one side of the 45 on each show. Their Upbeat appearances were shared the Music Explosion and Question Mark and the Mysterians. The band's popularity was due to several factors - the musicianship, of course, but the band was also known for their stage act. The group performed comedy routines and occasionally got a little 'wild'

In the fall of 1967 the Shademen added a lead singer, a black Elyria High student named Greg Young. Shortly after, the band went to Audio Recording to cut a couple songs written by Greg and Mike Moore. Greg's addition to the band had signaled a direction towards more soul music. The Shademen had been a top-40 styled band that included soul, always popular in the working class cities in Lorain County, and Greg's addition reinforced that style. The songs were "Strange" and "It's Okay, Either Way". The group had parted ways with the Verann team and released the 45 on their own. They chose the name Riot records, a typical teenage tweak on a controversial topic, the race riots that had inflamed Cleveland and the country over the past year. The record was a custom Pama press and like many of the other Pama customs (see the AR-Pama topic under Labels) this was pressed in very limited (100-200) amounts and only a few copies have ever been found. "Strange" is a solid soul mover, Greg's vocal a bit like the Four Tops' Levi Stubbs. "Okay..." was more mid tempo Detroit soul style, both sides are a band sound without extra instrumentation. The second 45 did get some airplay on WWIZ but was not promoted or sold like the first 45.

Not long after the Riot 45 recording, Bob Sebastian was drafted and he left the band in early 1968. He was replaced by Carl "Ozzy" Osborne, who had been in another popular Elyria band, the Boss Tweed (not to be confused with other bands by that name who cut records). The band continued to play into mid 1968 but by then, all but Bill had graduated high school and the usual pressures of the draft, college, jobs put an end to the band. All the core members (Bob, Bill, Mike, Pat, Steve) continued in other bands once they were more settled, with Mike being the most prolific.

Sick and Tired (Of Waiting) / That's Tuff (Verann 501)
Strange / It's Okay, Either Way (Riot No #)

Enjoy the Shademen recordings below!

Shademen - Strange
Shademen - It's Okay, Either Way