1967 Newport, RI & The Pigeons

I have many great memories of the Vanilla Fudge when they were know as the Pigeons. Back in 1967 I was a senior in High School and a drummer in a band. It was spring March-April and we went to a place called the Bastille,(a circular building located right on the beach in Newport) to hear the band ? and the Mysterians (remember 96 tears?) Well they were snowed-in at Chicago, so the opening act (a band called the Pigeons) were the only band of the night. Believe me when I tell you, none of the 200 or so people went home disappointed.

This night began a long series of seeing the Pigeons just before they changed their name to the Vanilla Fudge. They played a couple of times a week that entire spring in Newport, at the Bastille, Dorians, and Bambi's (a club that was owned by the group? The Cowsills). . . It sounds ridiculous even mentioning them other than to say that the Pigeons were thrown out of their club for supposedly stealing some microphones.

Anyway, I have many memories of this time and had a chance to see the band many times. Their set in those days was usually opened with Gimme Some Lovin (Spencer Davis Group), Shotgun, a song called "One More Heartache" they did a killer version of Little Anthonys "Outta My Head", For Your Love (Yardbirds), Devil with a Blue Dress, and most of the stuff from the 1st album. Seeing the Pigeons and then going to band practice was a trip. We would want to destroy our instruments, but we had a great time trying to do Pigeon type arrangements. Back in those days they looked very different than the pictures on the first album. The record company "cleaned them up" and put them in clothes I'm sure they are embarrassed about today. The first time my bandmates and I heard You Keep Me Hangin On on the radio, it only took a first couple of notes to realize it was them. We all felt they were our band, Late that spring/summer, they went off to record the 1st record and then do the Ed Sullivan show, and thats when they changed their name. After that they did come back to the Newport area but the days of seeing them in a small club were over. The rest is history.

For the record, I still believe that Cactus was/is the best power band of them all. This was our chance to really hear what Carmine & Timmy could do. I was really sadden to hear about Rusty Day. . .

It would be easy to go on for hours writing stuff I still remember about those times but I'll spare you all.

Thanks for reading. . .Jeff


Hello Jeff, Had to respond, yes Cactus was/is the premiere power rock blues band. I to was saddened by the news of Rusty Day. The Cactology collection release by Rhino is a great source for turning others on to the band and includes some informative liner notes. People are always amaxed after I lend them this release. Lets hope Jimmy Mccarty gets his due someday as the great guitarist he is. K.C. Sloan


Hi Jeff,

Please *don't* spare us all of your great memories! That's some incredible stuff. I would have loved to hear the Fudge-Pigeons do "Gimme SOme Lovin'" - great song for a band like the Fudge!

As far as Cactus being a "heavy band" I hope you've checked out "Rumblin' Man" (recorded when they made their 1st LP but never released) and the live version of "Parchman Farm" on their Rhino compilation cd, "Cactology". My favorite Cactus LP was their first, self titled one. Tim's "Oleo" was a killer song!:-)

I think Carmine summed up Rusty Day very well in the liner notes of the Cactology cd. He sang and wrote songs about what he lived. He had artistic integrity.

BTW, if you've heard it, how did the Pigeon's LP, "While the Whole World Was Eating Vanilla Fudge" compare with their live performances in those early days? The LP came across very conservative and a little weak (arrangements wise) when compared to the Fudge records. The guitar and bass were especially muted/conservative on it. Stein's vocals on the ballads really saved that LP, IMO.

Thanks for the great memories! Bill