Welcome to the OFFICIAL website of Boston rockers....
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The Stompers story begins in the fall of 1977 when friends Sal Baglio and Mark Cuccinello decided to start a band. Stephen Gilligan and Dave Friedman, the only people to respond to an index card posted on a music store bulletin board seeking musicians, arrived a short time later. On November 7, 1977, the musical neophytes played their first gig in Beverly, Mass.
The act started out in area hang-outs like Cantone's, Inn Square Men's Bar (ladies invited), Jonathan Swift's and The Rathskeller, where each gig was a rock and roll slugfest. It didn't matter where the band performed. Show after show the faith of devoted followers mushroomed and the number of converted non-believers grew. The early Stompers all-out, work-horse performances became legend, but more importantly the purity of their music really stood out. It was believable, with feeling and conviction. Word of mouth quickly spread as the The Stompers reputation as high-energy, no-frills, infectious rockers soared.
While rehearsing at the Cambridge Complex in 1977, The Stompers met a guy who looked like Elvis Presley and sounded like Tennesee Tuxedo. Always in sunglasses, be it indoors or out, he was truly The Goomba From Another Planet; going by the code name: Lembo. Peter Lembo became manager of The Stompers on the very same Monday night that he stood in front of the stage at The Rat and booed the band. (True story)
As early as 1978, a rapid breakout for the Boston-based locals seemed virtually assured. Their naive excitement and their fresh interpretations of rock's fundamental roots became contagious. One scorched summer day, the boys dragged all their equipment up to the second floor of an apartment building converted to a recording studio. The primitive space had no air conditioning and mattresses were tacked up on the walls for sound proofing. From this sweaty initial session, the show stopper "Coast to Coast” (backed with "I'm in Trouble") was recorded and pressed as a vinyl single. The band received instant gratification when film-meister John Sayles included the track in his classic film, "Return of the Secaucus Seven."
"Coast to Coast" launched a long string of unprecedented FM radio support for the band and New England quickly became aware of their mission. In a scant two year period, an even dozen Stompers songs, including “American Fun,” “Summer Girls” and the ballad “Anymore,” were released and feverishly played and re-played on FM stations in fourteen states. Boston television also grabbed onto the momentum, by producing a two-hour concert special. This was incredible exposure considering that the subject of all this attention was an independent band, not signed to any kind of record deal. Despite this seeming handicap, virtually all shows became standing room only.
On January 3, 1979 (traditionally a slow period in the nightclub and concert business still smarting from the post-holiday financial depressions) The Stompers and their home base of Boston unofficially embraced one another. The Paradise was arguably the premier club in the area, booked by the region's largest entertainment agency.
The Paradise usually promoted nothing but major label acts. The Stompers date marked one of the first times the concert club dared to book an unsigned act to headline it's cavernous room. Fans were at the box office hours before the first tickets went on sale. The lines stayed long and hundreds had to be turned away. The band was booked for a return engagement, even before the two hour plus show, with three encores, was completed. The area's largest dailies had a field day and were quite effusive in their praise. Steve Morse of The Boston Globe went so far as to say "it was a clear triumph," in a review entitled "Stompers are here!"
Later that year, radio station WCOZ released the compilation album, Best of Boston Beat Volume 1. It featured The Stompers song “This is Rock n Roll” which had been recorded at one of these legendary Paradise shows.
By year's end, The Stompers were presented to the national music community, via the cover of an industry trade magazine, "Performance." They were the first unsigned band ever to achieve this recognition.
NUMBER ONE BAND
For the next three years The Stompers rise continued. Their die-hard fans followed them everywhere. The band played in every college, roadhouse, nightspot and concert hall in New England, consistently packing them in. The still unsigned group was also invited to share arena stages with many national rockers. A tour with the mighty J. Geils Band in the winter of 1980 certainly helped increase the bands popularity by playing in front of 20,000 people a night, something for which the Stompers have always remained grateful. Touring with The Beach Boys was also a most significant co-billing, as Brian Wilson had been one of Baglio's life-long influences.
From 1981 through 1986, readers of The Boston Globe voted The Stompers the Number One Band in New England three times and in the top three the other years. Mind-boggling indeed when you consider the competition of the era, as many locals had already gone on to national success.
RECORD DEAL & A RIOT
In 1981, the song “Shutdown” was featured on a second WCOZ compilation, Best of Boston Beat Volume 2. Through a mail in fan ballot, the Stompers were chosen as best group on the album, earning the right to compete in the “Rock to Riches” talent search at the Palladium in New York in April 1982. After winning the competition, Atlantic Records offered the band a deal for a single. However, Boardwalk Records also had reps in the house that night and offered a deal for a full album, which the band signed on to record.
Racing back from the late night New York City gig, the band set-up for a next-day afternoon concert at Boston University. The show was part of an outdoor block party on a side street. Apparently, local residents didn't appreciate this "loud" event and let their complaints be known to the city and the university. Mis-communication followed as authorities forced the band to shutdown. Although the sound engineer dutifully killed all levels as requested by the local gendarmes, the band's on-stage monitors continued, as did the band, blissfully unaware of any difficulty. Oblivious to the official's entreaties, the boys had progressed into a ripping encore of "Shout" and were just completing the final chords when the impatient BU cops stormed the stage. The blue shirts ripped-out the amp connections and wrestled drummer Mark "Cooch" Cuccinello from his drum kit. Thousands of students were confused and angrily screamed at the cops. Things progressed from bad to worse and eventually the simple misunderstanding intensified to an all-out street brawl, kids against the armed police. Mace, billy clubs, water guns and a crammed paddy wagon full of arrests later, The Stompers were again on TV, this time making the national news broadcast "coast to coast." The million-dollar's worth of publicity didn't hurt the never-a-dull-moment band and they now felt ready to cut the first album. But, first things first; the band was bailed out, as they had to make a club gig THAT NIGHT.
Boardwalk Records ignored the BU incident. The mega-successful label wanted another Platinum record and they heard it in The Stompers. Boardwalk Records was quarterbacked by industry hit-maker and promotional genius Neal Bogart and he signed the band on the strength of their live shows. The effort was duly recorded and in the week of national release, the single "Never Tell An Angel” charted at number 86 "with a bullet," quite an impressive initial showing. Industry standards virtually assure three weeks of upward mobility for any song so designated and the band's success seemed guaranteed. Not so quick, band-fans. Bogart died on May 8, 1982 at the age of 39; Boardwalk filed for Chapter 11 (protection from creditors); and The Stompers debut album got lost in the bankruptcy proceedings.
AND ANOTHER RECORD DEAL
1983 was both one of the roughest and most liberating years for the band. Cooch, a huge backbone to the band's success, left the band in July. When Sal recruited his East Boston high school buddy, Lenny Shea to replace Cooch, Gilligan recommended an old friend of his, Jeremy Brown, to play piano. Suddenly, The Stompers were a five-piece act with a fuller, "wall-of-sound" rhythm section. The concerts were still blistering without ever being insincere or phony, and word of their rock and roll firepower continued to spread like a wild virus.
Polygram Records "bought" The Stompers deal from Boardwalk in bankruptcy court. The label had big plans for the album, which was re-titled "One Heart For Sale," and included a single by the same name. Again, the release kicked-out white hot with great potential. The new/old album was "bubbling under" at #110, followed by the single "One Heart For Sale." Like the Boardwalk fiasco, the timing of this LP was tainted by bad luck. The week of the release, Polygram, in a typical industry purge, fired their entire promotional staff. The company promised a massive push from newly hired independent promoters. The Stompers were handpicked (along with Lita Ford and The Everly Brothers) in this special campaign. But, just as quickly it was learned that these new groups of promoters were owed upwards of $100,000 from Polygram, all support campaigns quietly died and the band's “second album,” with their second chance to "break-out," was again denied.
Whether brick walls, bad breaks, misfortunes, stolen gear (twice), personnel changes or deal or no deal, The Stompers remained at the top of their game. Ironically in 1985, the band's first conceptual music video, "East Side Girl," was produced and released without major label support. It remained in heavy rotation on many of New England's TV video channels for well over two months. The Stompers popularity built new momentum. The five-some was expanding to newer territories with great enthusiastic response. Their tunes hit the silver screen for a second time in the cult classic "Fraternity Vacation," which featured the songs "Coast to Coast," and "Rock, Jump, and Holler."
One of their wildest shows also took place that summer at New Jersey's legendary Stone Pony. Sal was grabbed from the stage and became airborne as he was passed over shoulders in the crowd during the encore. Another virgin audience won over by The Stompers definitive brand of rock and roll.
November 1987 marked the tenth anniversary of The Stompers. For well over a decade they had put emotion back into rock and roll. Their distinctive sound needs no definition - you simply "feel" it!
The huge Channel concert club was the site of another landmark event. The band wanted to say thanks to their loyal fans the best way they knew how… by playing an unforgettable 10 year anniversary show. This special night was released on video as "Live Your Dreams For Real" and became an award-winner in the documentary category of the International Film & TV Festival of New York.
In 1990, Fast Track Records released “Unfinished Business”… a collection of songs recorded five years earlier, but never released. For the next few years, the Stompers continued to play live shows to enthusiastic crowds, including their first appearance on Boston’s City Hall Plaza.
In the spring of 1994, “Greatest Hits…Live” was released. To celebrate, the band played a series of summer shows, highlighted by a return engagement on City Hall Plaza in front of 20,000 people. Following these shows, 17 years of playing together had seemingly come to an end. Until……
IS ROCK N ROLL…AGAIN!
In the summer of 2000, the Stompers re-united and released “Record Album,” a 21 song compilation covering the years 1978-1986. They played sell out shows all summer long, giving their fans more of that high-energy rock and roll they had been missing.
In 2001, two more releases hit the street; “The Stompers,” containing the original 1982 studio recordings, and the compilation “Live Scrapbook”. Another summer of sold-out shows followed, with fans always looking for more.
November 2002 marked the band’s 25th anniversary. Two shows were played that month to commemorate the occasion. The Stompers continued the party through the summer of 2003, capping it off with a headlining night at New Hampshire’s Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom.
2009 saw the release of "Stompilation", an 18 track anthology of The Stompers 1983-1985 studio recordings. These tracks include the hits "Coast To Coast"...which appeared in the John Sayles movie The Return Of The Secaucus Seven..."Rock, Jump and Holler"...from the cult classic Fraternity Vacation..."American Fun" which has since been featured in Adam Sandler's 2010 movie Grown Ups and "Never Tell an Angel" which is featured in 2013's Grown Ups 2. This compilation is a must for hardcore fans and serves as a solid introductory for the new.
Established in 1977...The Stompers now play a limited number of shows each year to sellout audiences that span three generations!
by David "Max" Segal, Mickey O'Halloran [RIP], Jay Lanney and Dave