|Holy neckerchiefs! On the set of the Brad Davis Show in Hartford, CT. From left: Bill Gumlaw, Gene D'Amico, Arnie Gay, Greg Grimm, Wade Smigelski and Stan Wawrowski. Photo courtesy of Stan Wawrowski.|
The 5th Generation recorded an ace two-sider of a 45, conquered countless battles of the bands, and even gained heavy promotion from both Connecticut and Massachusetts media personalities Brad Davis and Dick Booth. Ultimately, the "big break" never materialized. But behind the scenes, the organ-dominated lament of "If I See Her" continued to attract fans of garage-era 45s throughout the decades. Band members Stan Wawrowski and Bill Gumlaw share their recollections:
I met Arnie Gay in the summer of '66 when we were in our teens working tobacco. We both had electric guitars, amps, and great “rock band” aspirations. We quickly arranged a jam session at his house with a few of his friends, Joey Coach (drummer), Bill Gumlaw (singer), and Wade Smigelski (bass). We liked the way we sounded and decided to form a band. We had our first paying gig within a week and there was no stopping us after that.
The members of the band changed through the years but myself, Arnie, Bill and Wade were a constant. Joey the drummer was the first to leave. His position was filled by Dana Bien and then by Gene D'Amico. Along the way we picked up Greg Grimm on keyboard. Dana and Greg both played at the recording session for "If I See Her."
I remember that Bill and I got together at my house one day after school and fleshed out the heart of the two songs in about an hour. Bill went home and by the next practice he had added a few new verses and we were done. I will always regret that we didn't keep writing more songs. Anyway, the songs were received with a surprising amount of interest, even from music professionals like Dick Booth. Dick was popular AM radio personality in the Spingfield area. He helped us get the songs recorded and we name our record label "Fone-booth" in his honor.
I give most of the credit for our success to manager Tony Smigelski (Wade's father), who as a retired US Air Force colonel, was genius at keeping us flying in tight formation. He bought a used VW micro bus to transport our instruments, let us practice in his basement, and was instrumental in getting us recorded. Tony did countless other things for us. He was like a second father. Thank you so much, Tony.
The band went on to win the "Mountain Park Battle of the Bands" in Holyoke, Mass. We also made several appearances on the Brad Davis TV Show and opened for "The Cowsills" at the Big-E in Springfield, Mass.
Looking back on that wonderful period of my life, I smile at what it was and what it might have been had we continued.
—Stan Wawrowski, December 2014
• • •
Wade's dad Tony was like a manager and my dad George helped too. He actually got us many gigs to play too. We practiced at Wade's house. We played everywhere. When we won the Mountain Park Battle we won studio time to record our two original songs.
We also made a demo of "You Keep Me Hanging On" and "In The Midnight Hour" [which was pressed to an acetate 45]. Greg wanted to record "Fire" by Hendrix but we elected not to and that eventually festered within Greg and he quit the band. He was replaced by Art Tubner and later by Eddie Stoltz on Keys. Before Greg left we replaced Dana with Gene on drums and that group played on the Brad Davis Show many times and we appeared with Gene Pitney, Lulu and The Cowsills. We played all throughout Connecticut for Brad Davis.
The Ovation Company was also sponsoring us and gave us a lot of equipment and a fantastic PA system. Our record was getting on air thanks to Dick Booth and Brad Davis and we thought we might get a big break and backers, but alas it never came.
When Stan left we got another friend of mine, John Dolan, on guitar. The band continued for maybe a year or so. I joined the RD3 Trio which evolved into The Elastic Band and the other members went their own ways. The following past members have passed: Joey, Freddie, Phil, Greg and Arnie.
— Bill Gumlaw, January 2015
|All memorabilia courtesy of Bill Gumlaw. (Click to enlarge.).|
THE 5TH GENERATION
If I See Her / You Lied To Me
Fone-booth (Fb-1001) January 1968
In The Midnight Hour / You Keep Me Hangin' On
Unreleased acetate demo
In The Midnight Hour
You Keep Me Hangin' On