Showing posts with label Robert Gillespie. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Robert Gillespie. Show all posts



The Rockets

The seventies rock & roll in the Motor-city... An amazing time to be playing in the bar scene. Between Detroit, Ann Arbor, and Toledo there where only a handful of clubs and they would be packed every night.

I started a new band called The Rockets featuring Jim McCarty on guitar who was also a band mate from our first band Mitch Ryder And The Detroit Wheels. And on bass was John Fraga, and Marc Marcano on keyboards. We had no vocalist at the time and so I sang from behind the drums.

There were many musician friends who would always stop by and wanna sit in, we only allowed the musicians we knew who could play to sit in. There was a young lad that would always be hanging out and asking us to let him sit in, he had a cropped haircut like the English musicians ala The Faces and he always had on a Burgundy Velvet suit.

He was like the Mick Jagger of Detroit. Before he would sit in he'd walk into the restroom and wrap wads of toilet paper around his neck and as we started to play he would grab the mike and start singing while ripping piece's of the paper off from around his neck and he'd be throwing piece's of it at the girls on the dance floor.

 Johnny Angelos (photo) Sue Rynski

And believe me I'm talking about a lot of toilet paper. The dance floor would be covered. He had it all, a rock star in the making. At the time The Rockets were managed by John Sinclair and Pete Andrews who lived in Ann Arbor.

Johnny Angelos and Robert Gillespie
(photo courtesy of Robert Gillespie)

After playing the Red Carpet one night and Johnny sitting in with us, the next day I had to go to a band meeting in Ann Arbor. It was early afternoon and I was in heavy traffic, as I was flying down I-94 just passing Metro Airport I did a double take because out of the corner of my eye....

I saw Johnny Angelos hitch-hiking on the side of the freeway with his Burgundy Velvet suit on and messed up hair in the hot sun, and I'm thinking damn that's one crazy mf. He never even went home yet and the man is heading out to sing on another gamble with love in his eyes. Johnny was a bad-ass singer who never reaped the awards he was due.

RIP my brother. Much love, Johnny Bee Badanjek

From Ricky Ratt's Article: Fallen Angelos

Detroit Guitarist Robert Gillespie and Johnny Angelos formed the Torpedos in October 1978, fusing their love of classic Motown soul and blues with elements of Heartbreakers and Sex Pistols punk. Gillespie says the Torpedos stood out from an emerging pack of new bands because “we had killer songs and a excellent front man in Johnny, who was like Rod Stewart, but more deviant.”

They developed a following, label interest and landed choice shows with the Romantics at venues such as Cleveland’s Agora ballroom and Detroit’s Masonic Temple. They got some radio support from Doug Podell and Steve Kostan. Yet it was not enough.

The Torpedos broke up shortly after Angelos split in 1981. He went on to form the Reputations with guitar slinger Bobby East. The Torpedos tried to continue with Thomas Anonymous, a singer from New York.

Thanks Bee and Robert!! xxKim

Stay tuned for more...

Post from: Retro Kimmer is a talented and widely-respected writer, show promoter and multi-media event designer. Kimmer's blog,,  is about pop culture and it's evolution into today's hottest trends.



Torpedos circa 1981 (from l): Jim Banner, Johnny Angelos, Robert Gillespie, Ralph Serafino, Tom Curry 

Was just sitting in my office the other day and I was thinking about which band from Detroit that was never mainstream, is still relevant today...What band would I share with our overseas readers? A band that is still very cool. They had a punkish attitude and had great singles, like NO PILLS, and CHECKIN OUT

Guitarist Robert Gillespie kicks back and pours another vodka, playing the charming host in his sprawling Pleasant Ridge home. It’s a spacious rock ’n’ roll mansion of sorts — guitars, books and records are scattered amid leopard-print rugs and throw pillows. The basement is jammed with musical gear, ready for impromptu drunken jams.Gillespie has a casual star quality. He plays in the super-group Power Train as well as with Mitch Ryder (since 1983).

Today, however, he’s talking about his “favorite band.” They were called the Torpedos, they were full-on Motown rock ’n’ roll punks, and they debuted in October 1978 at the infamous Bookies 870 club in Detroit.

“Nobody liked us at first,” says Gillespie as he pops in a 1981 video of a Torpedos performance at Harpo’s. He apologizes in advance, saying the tape had no sound. But once it begins playing, it’s obvious that the sound has been mysteriously restored.

Perhaps it’s the work of the spirit of vocalist Johnny Angelos, who is front and center on the video. Angelos, the gangster R&B punk, doesn’t just look out from the screen, he jumps and screams out at you. He sounds cocky and cool and he looks fantastic.He would be dead in three years.

Even though the Torpedos released just one single and an EP, both on Brian Williams’ Four Winds Records, which both sold more than 1,000 copies, they left an indelible mark. Thanks to Mike Leshkevich and his homegrown Motor City Music label, the Torpedos can be experienced fresh and new with the release of the band’s first-ever CD, No Refills.

Gillespie and Angelos formed the Torpedos in October 1978, fusing their love of classic Motown soul and blues with elements of Heartbreakers and Sex Pistols punk. Gillespie says the Torpedos stood out from an emerging pack of new bands because “we had killer songs and a excellent front man in Johnny, who was like Rod Stewart, but more deviant.” He recalls meeting Angelos “in 1969 down on Plum Street at the Red Roach coffee house when I was 14 years old.”



Detroit's Amazing Guitarist Robert Gillespie

Had a great time chatting with Bad ass Detroit Axe man Robert Gillespie the other day.  It has been a long time coming as i know damn near everyone he played with! We almost met at a gig at Alvin's in 2009.  I thought it was time to share the man with my readers...He has a long history and is a founding father of Detroit Rock n Roll.  He is so smooth but right on the money... as Stanley T. Madhatter used to say...."ARE YOU READY TO ROCK N ROLL?"

 Robert Gillespie

Detroit Guitarist Robert Gillespie has had an interest in guitar since the early age of six or seven; his grandmother, Martha played piano and a little banjo and his grandfather, Jesse, played fiddle and mandolin.

There was an old guitar in granny’s closet that Robert wanted to play with all the time and finally Martha got it out and tuned to to an open chord Hawaiian style and laid it across his lap and would use a butter knife to play chords and slide up and down the neck. Robert was hooked but still too small hold it up-right and play it properly.

The Torpedos

At the age of ten Robert got a cheap acoustic and started banging around with that and finally took lessons after seeing the Beatles on Ed Sullivan show like many other young people.

After a year and a half of lessons he was ready and got organized with some older guys and played in a garage band called The Wise Guys they played one back-yard party and a wedding, then broke up.

All through school the interest continued and Robert was very into the English wave of Rock bands like Rolling Stones / Kinks / Animals and most of all the Yardbirds and The Who.

Robert Gillespie

Robert played with a cool East-Side band called Lickin’ Stick that performed at the Cinderella Ballroom in 1971, and also backed up Chuck Berry at the Allen Theater in Cleveland, Ohio that fall.

Lickin’ Stick turned into Limousine and they recorded a few songs that Robert wrote and one caught the interest of a local D.J. Johnny Williams.  The new 18 year old vote had just came into effect and Johnny Williams added some lyrics.

"This is my 50's Les Paul Gold-top; "Goldie" I bought her from Paul Warren from Rod Stewart's band......she's smooth like "butta"..." Robert Gillespie

The song  “You’ve Got The Power” b/w “Natural Fact” written by Gillespie and vocalist John Ogen, a great singer from downriver received airplay locally and in Flint. That band turned into Northstar with Motown bassist Tony Newton. 

The summer of 1976 Robert was jamming at the infamous Red Carpet, a popular east-side club with the Rockets. Robert met guitarist Jimmy McCarty and drummer Johnny Bee Bandanjek, the cream of the crop of Detroit musicians from the Detroit Wheels, whom Robert admired blaring from the transistor radio in 1965.

One special night Robert found himself on stage with Rob Tyner from the MC5. They both hit it off and starting rehearsing, writing songs.

Robert Gillespie with Rob Tyner

Their new band the New MC5 played their first show the next year at the Red Carpet. They soon signed with Brass Ring Productions and began playing arenas all over the tri-state area, mostly Michigan. They opened for big headliners like AC-DC, Alice Cooper, Cheap Trick, Blue Oyster Cult, Rush,  and recorded some tracks for Atlantic Records.

By late 1978, Robert and Johnny Angelos started the Torpedos with Mike Marshall on bass and Ralph Serafino on drums (both from the Tyner band). They began writing and recording then became very big in Detroit creating a buzz with record people on a national level.

The Torpedos

The late Johnny Angelos a brilliant pop songwriter and much more. — with Tom Curry, Robert Gillespie, Johnny Angelos, and Ralph Serafino.  Johnny quit the Torpedos just as things were getting hot on the scene.  He went on to front another smaller band then sadly committed suicide. Robert and the Detroit rock scene were devastated.

Robert is very proud of the music the Torpedos created. In recent years Johnny's son Mitchell Angelos has been fronting the reunited Torpedos. My pals Robin and Trudi went with me in 2009 to see Helldrivers/Torpedos/Circus Boy at Alvin's in Detroit.

 Robert Gillespie and Mitch Ryder

Though they were all me the Torpedos stole the show! We danced their entire set. Barely got any photographs due to having so much fun.  Didn't get to meet Robert that night but we will meet soon I am certain.

ROBERT SMOKES THIS TUNE......................

During the 1980′s Robert started a band with vocalist Dennis Quinn and Mike Marshall on bass plus Greg Calder on drums called The Finnz.

They recorded two singles and performed on Doug Podell’s T.V. show called The Beat. The Finnz’s were finished in early ’83 when Robert heard "When You Were Mine" on the radio from Mitch Ryder and just had to have that gig.

He auditioned and got hired spring of ’83 and toured the US and Europe and recorded five albums and a DVD over the 19 years with Mitch (longer than anyone else BTW).

L2R Andy Frost Chris Taylor Robert Gillespie and Scott Morgan

In 2001 Robert formed Powertrane with Scott Morgan of the Rationals and Sonic’s Rendezvous Band. They performed and recorded two CD’s, two singles and did gigs sporadically over the next eight years.

Ron Asheton Robert Gillespie Scott Morgan

When Geoff Ginsberg, president of Real O Minds Records (Philadelphia), brought Robert Gillespie into Forty-Ounce Studio in Ann Arbor, Michigan to overdub the guitar work on Morgan's song, "Satisfier", the chemistry between Morgan and Gillespie was immediately apparent.

Powertrane's combination of young talented rockers with Detroit legendary musicians has created a unity and cohesion which has drawn out the talent and creative energy evident in this lineup.

 Ron Asheton, Robert Gillespie, Deniz Tek, Chris Taylor Scott Morgan

Their first show was at the Magic Bag on St. Patrick's Day 2001.  Powertrane played sold-out, high-profile gigs in New York, Philadelphia, Cleveland and Cincinnati, not to mention Detroit and Ann Arbor. They were been joined on stage by Mitch Ryder, Ron Asheton and Deniz Tek.

Robert Gillespie and Mike Marshall

Then in 2010  Robert had the idea to start an instrumental band. He called his long time pals bass man Mike Marshall and drummer Greg Calder. Will be writing more on these guys soon...K

Robert Gillespie Greg Calder and Mike Marshall

Guitarist Robert Gillespie along with Mike Marshall on bass & Greg Calder on drums. They play instrumental Guitar-Rock; from Dickie Dale to Jimi Hendrix and exciting originals.

Together they formed The Detroit Daggers.. I am anxious to see them play..Loved their videos..

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