Orleans on USA “Hot Spots” show – 1983
For us, the 70s were about the rise of Orleans … 1972 through 1977, when John left the band for the first time. That threw a monkey wrench into things but, after some drama during a 2-year process of regrouping, “Orleans Mach 2” … Larry, Lance and Wells, along with new bandmates Bob Leinbach and RA Martin, re-emerged in 1979 with the “Forever” album and a #11 hit in “Love Takes Time”. On the strength of that success, 1980 was a very strong touring year. Rise #2!
Even so, things began to become very tough for us. Between the advent of cassette tape recording (which meant fans could copy, not buy, LPs) and the oil shortage which sent vinyl prices soaring, record labels were hemorrhaging dollars, cutting artists and staff like crazy. Infinity Records, the MCA subsidiary label who had released the Forever album, went out of business.
Rather than let us out of our contract (please ?!?!?), MCA decided to keep us for a 2nd album (Orleans 1980), which we recorded in the winter of 80-81 (that’s a whole ‘nuther story). For a variety of reasons, that album did nothing (although it does have its own artistic merits).
After that, Bob left, RA stayed on and Fly Amero joined us for the first time for 1981, into ’82. Wells also departed the band and Ithaca native Charlie Shew took over the drum seat.
We learned at at the end of the ’81 touring season that our so-called Business Manager (accountant) had failed to make certain payments as directed and, as a result, we were deeply in debt as a company. RA left, Lane came in. In 1982, with new management, we endeavored to find a new record label deal while taking whatever gigs we could get … mostly club gigs in the northeast.
Suffice it to say that this was not Orleans’ finest hour!
Eventually, we landed a tiny $ deal with a small label with distribution through Atlantic. So we … Larry, Lance, Lane and Fly … headed to Miami to record what would become the “One of a Kind” album. Rather than track with Charlie Shew, we engaged our former drummer, Jerry Marotta, to play drums for the sessions.
As if there wasn’t enough stress and drama, our Producers lobbied to replace Fly with a pick of their own … Michael Mugrage … for reasons I won’t go into here. Let’s just say this was not an easy thing to do … to let Fly go mid-recording. Yikes!
After finishing the album we headed back out on the road, trying to pay down our debts and make a living while swimming upstream. For awhile, Jerry agreed to play live shows, but that only lasted so long. When he left we hired Nick Parker on drums … 1 of 4 drumming Parker brother … Chris, Eric and Tony being the others.
It’s here where this week’s video comes into the picture.
Among the endless stream of club gigs was this one, videotaped at the Tally-Ho Club in Wilmington, Delaware for the then-TV cable network, USA. “Hot Spots” was a series devoted to capturing live performances at local venues for new and established artists alike. As you’ll see, it’s no Midnight Special. Still, in retrospect, it’s fortunate that somebody offered to record the band during this short-lived stage of its long and winding journey.
One of the things that stands out the most to me (besides the embarrassing 80s hair styles) is how THIN we all were! Oh, well …
This version of the band with Michael, Lane and Nick persisted until September of 1984, at which point Larry and I were just exhausted by the chronically uphill climb. After a particularly grueling run, he and I decided we had had enough … all we could take … and officially decided to end Orleans.
But fate had other plans for all of us. What happened next is told here.
Finally, let me note that we are eternally grateful to ALL of our many alumni, without whom we would not have gotten this far. From time to time, I’m in touch with Nick, Michael and Charlie Shew and continue to hold them in high esteem.