I guess it all started around the late 1970’s. In high school, I kinda got off on pissing-off the Hilton farm boys that teased me about music. All you would hear is Lynyrd Skynyrd, Genesis, and Stanley Clarke jazz. I was going to train to be a DJ, but sadly our equipment was busted and there were only a few Beatles records worth playing. I never became a DJ at school, but had a reputation for liking alternative stuff and hung out with similar people. I kept buying cool albums, 45s, and 8-tracks that were rebellious or non-popular items. I scoured every budget bin. I was a DJ in my short college days, mostly at parties and a couple bars later on. I hadn’t quite appreciated hard Punk Rock like the Sex Pistols or stuff like Iggy Pop or Johnny Thunders until I met Luke Warm – the most infamous DJ at Scorgies. He often mocked my occasional Fleetwood Mac, Boston or Foreigner T-shirts left over from that time period. My neighbor, Mike Murray (from WITR’s “Whole Lotta Shakin”) grew up near me and is probably responsible for getting me into music and comedy (Ramones & Elvis Costello after school, Saturday Night LIve & SCTV late at night). We would try to outdo each others collection and knowledge of trivia. After seeing New Math open for the Ramones at the Auditorium Theatre, we were hooked on going to Scorgies every week.
New Math’s “Die Trying” became everyone’s anthem. Mike Murray started to learn guitar; and I bought a blue sparkled Slingerland drum set (albeit missing parts) from Sonny Boy; a Rockabilly singer as well as a bouncer at Scorgies. Before I knew Sonny, I thought he was Asian, not Native-American which we’d joke about. At first, Mike wanted me to try singing as he played and/or try to play drums. I learned a basic beat from playing a previous set of Ludwigs borrowed from my sister’s boyfriend. Ultimately, I was too limited and so Mike found another drummer and started a real band. I was relegated to maracas or backing vocals at times with Mike’s bands the Reactions, Hidden Charms, Quatloos and the Fertility Rite Brothers. I thought my initial band names were cool…like The Piss-Offs or White Male Supremes(!). I came up with my alter-ego, a combination of Johnny Rivers and Del Shannon (I actually met Del Shannon at a festival tent and received Christmas cards that he signed from his fan club).
Mike and I were still working together soon after on WITR with Mick Alber. At first, the show was called Psychedelic Sunday, then Boss Beat, and is now called Whole Lotta Shakin. My association with the show allowed me several backstage interviews and MC work. It felt as if I was almost Rochester’s version of Dick Clark as I introduced several Scorgies bands with a cheap joke or bad impression. Through Scorgies, I was able to befriend several bands and musicians. This led me to create a Boss Beat TV show; however the pilot video never aired (and is currently missing). I imagine my show would have been similar to WXXI’s On Stage program; only over 20 years ago. I’ve also written many reviews of Scorgies bands for the local Notebook and Shindig fanzines. Pat Thomas from Absolute Grey and Jim Havalack (former Chesterfield Kings manager) started them, respectively.
Dave Anderson of Saxon Recording helped me make my first record in his early attic studio, with backup assistance from the Projectiles. The first track was Second In Line (co-written with Luther Holtzman of the BBB’s). They referred to it (at the time) as Suckin’ The Lime because I had a cold and it had to be sped up to correct the pitch! Prior to recording music, I tried my hand at managing bands with Jon Pirincci’s Musical Messages Agency. One of his clients, at that time, was Rick Baker & The Commercials. I sadly remember when Jon (who is now an actor/comedian) handed one dollar to each member of The Presstones because the soundman had to be paid first and there was no money left. He was fired on the spot. I tried to manage a few solo artists and an early offshoot band of The Insiders known as The Mods (now called Intrigue). I often videotaped bands at Scorgies until Armand Schaubroeck (of the House of Guitars) stopped me one night during a Chesterfield Kings gig there!
Music itself has changed greatly since American Idol and “iPods” seemed to ruin a lot of it. Maybe the bar is now set too high; because anyone could make it; up into the mid-1980’s, I suppose. Being at Scorgies, I witnessed Punk to Power-Pop to Garage Rock to Rockabilly Revivals, and lastly Alternative Rock. The anomalous music that I liked was British Invasion (done American style), Roots-Rock Americana, and Surf-Rock. I’m especially a big Bobby Fuller 4 fan. People that went there were quite diverse as well – from Nazi Skinheads all the way to ultra Gay Cross-Dressers. I sort of felt like a misfit among misfits! Before I started creating my own songs for myself, I wrote a batch of lyrics and a couple demos for Cousin Al with guitarist Chaz Lockwood. One was Surfin’ Dog; and the other was My Little V-6 which I wrote with Ed “Hank Blast” Karuth (of the BBB’s/Shakin’ Bones) and Dan Frank of the Projectiles (then the Riviera Playboys). Both Second In Line and My Little V-6 (and later She Walks Like A Robot) received some college radio airplay.
Del Rivers and the Electric Cowboys – She Walks Like A Robot
Sadly, I only sang back-up with Scorgies bands (like the Fugitives or the Fadeaways) and never performed much there for anyone to notice. I worked extensively with McFadden’s Parachute later on and hit with the CD track – Stop Pushin’ Me. My live “singing career” pretty much ended with the Quitters on Ride On, Josephine at the Bug Jar Bo Diddley tribute show. I wore my 80’s thin black tie in memory of the Scorgies era. I hung at Scorgies through the changes to Yuk-Yuk’s, Funny Bone, Token Joe’s, and the re-incarnation of Scorgies. At Yuk-Yuk’s, I began an on-and-off stand-up comedy career. After all this, I saw how time had changed me when I took a look at myself in the Bo Diddley Tribute video. it wasn’t drugs & alcohol that aged me…it was the end result of battling career challenges, debt, and the loneliness that comes from following an alternate way of life. I’m sort of like England’s Johnny Sandon who sang with the Searchers & The Remo 4 and then became a stand-up comic…But I still wouldn’t change anything. And I still miss getting that slice of pizza at Scorgies downstairs!
Del Rivers Trivia:
The song My Little V-6, was also considered for use by Gary The Happy Pirate for his puppets and for the show Life Without Shame. Del did a cameo on Life Without Shame in the Psychic Faire episode.
Del’s step-grandmother on his mother’s side was a cousin to Bobby Darin.
Del appeared in and on City Newspaper with an article written by Thom Metzger – a former member of The Badenovs.
A girlfriend of Del’s Scorgie’s years was Charlotte Petras. Charlotte claimed to be a part-time stripper, and said that she once played keyboards with The db’s.
Other cable-TV shows that Del was involved with in the ’80’s were The Humor Room and The Herb Iitch Box. Today, he is on YouTube videos and the Frontal Lobe and Dumplings cable-TV show.