August 30, 2016

THE INSANE (Southington, CT)

The insanely rare, only existing band photo looks like it survived electroshock therapy. From left: Gary Shea (bass), Jerry Talbot (lead guitar), Bill Tomlin (rhythm guitar), Pete Brown (keyboards). All memorabilia courtesy of Gary Shea.

“Lose Your Mind With The Insane” was the motto of these Connecticut madmen who released one top-tier two-sider during their year-and-a-half existence. With a home base of Southington, the band was actually made up of guys from three different towns and high schools. The lineup featured Jerry Talbot (Southington High School) on lead guitar; Gary Shea (Southington High School) on bass; Peter Brown (Plainville High School) on keyboards; Bill Tomlin (Plainville High School) on rhythm guitar; and Bill Buckland (Bristol Eastern High School) on drums.

The band started rehearsing on New Year’s Day, 1967 (initially calling themselves The Wrong Bunch). Gary's guitar teacher, Jerry Talbot, approached him about playing bass in a band he was putting together. The bass player for local stalwarts The Blue Beats was Gary's inspiration — and coincidentally, The Insane would be booked by the Blue Beats' manager, Hartford radio personality Ken Griffin of WDRC, through his Christopher Productions agency.

The band gigged steadily in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island — and were even favorites at the three gay bars in Hartford. Typical sets included a mix of rock and roll and soul hits (check out a vintage set list below), with an emphasis on The Who. Shea recalls that Michael Bouyea, drummer for Bristol, Conn., major label act The Squires, told him he nailed John Entwistle’s bass solo in their version of “My Generation.”

In an unfortunately unrealized gimmick, manager Gary Przybylski wanted the Insane members to walk on stage in straitjackets, and then he'd shoot each member one by one and they'd start playing!

On May 1, 1967, the crew set up with mobile recording unit Allen Associates in a Thomaston high school gymnasium and laid down two Pete Brown originals for their 45, with Pete singing lead on both tracks. The cost: $500 for 1,000 records.

The Insane went for a second recording session in spring 1968, yielding a Jerry Talbot original “Out On A Limb” for the a-side and a cover of “Parchment Farm” for the flip. Jerry sang lead on these two sides. But with college and the draft looming, the band called it quits in the summer of 1968 and the two tracks only remained on an acetate which has yet to surface.

Gary Shea went on to a successful career in music, supporting countless musicians and touring worldwide with hard rock bands New England and Alcatrazz. Check out his website and a couple of interviews here and here.

Pete Brown still writes music — instrumental backgrounds and theme tracks for film and video — and over 180 compositions can be heard on his website
“A few years later I joined a band from Winsted, CT called 'Snoopy's Crew,’ later to be called 'Burgundy Sunset.’ We also played all throughout New England and in 1969, moved to the West Coast in California. The two guys that set up our gigs and and located us out there were Bob and Fred who, many years earlier, used to choreograph dancers for the Ed Sullivan show and many others in Hollywood TV at the time. We signed with Herb Albert's label for a short while (A&M Records). That led us to more gigs in Las Vegas, 'The Whiskey,’ 'The Troubadour' in LA and many clubs around San Francisco and San Diego. Dennis Langevin, our guitar player who died in 2013, later went on to record in the Van Morison band and I collaborated with Tim Hardin at the time we played the Troubadour in LA.”
Sadly, Jerry Talbot passed away in 2014.

Bassist Gary Shea in the midst of growing his hair out, and an Insane set list. Note the 45 tracks at numbers 3 and 9.

Some gems in this gig diary! “Let Bitter Sweet use our stuff. They stink.” “Fight with Romano for 10% of take. Thieves. Called cops.” “Dud in Bristol. Everyone over 21-25.” “Played all night. Free booze. Buckland got banged up.”

I Can't Prove It / Someone Like You
Allen Associates
July 1967

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