- The BANG odyssey begins in Philadelphia in August 1969, just a week or two after Woodstock. Lead guitarist Frankie Gilcken and bassist Frank Ferrara, started playing in bands together since their early teens. They were 16 years old and had recently dropped out of high school and placed an advertisement in a local newspaper for a drummer. Their ad was answered by 26 year old Tony Diorio. On the surface, the two Franks had little in common with Tony, who was not only ten years older than them but had a wife and children to support. Nevertheless, the three of them quickly gelled, and they worked hard, rehearsing and practicing endlessly.
- July 1971. Tony went to the bank and borrowed $1,000. We bought a tent, rented a trailer, packed up our equipment, and headed down Interstate 95 in the Vista Cruiser to Miami. On the way, we mailed out hundreds of postcards to everyone from Walter Cronkite to Lassie, from Warner Bros Records to Daffy Duck. Each postcard was stamped, ‘Bang is in Miami’. Something was about to happen!”
- Our careers were launched due to the need to buy rolling papers. (See BANGstory)
- Frank became lead singer because he looked like one!
Capitol had refused to release “Death of a Country” because they thought a heavy concept album would go over people’s heads”. The label brought in producer Michael Sunday, who had overseen the fourth, self-titled Blue Cheer album and therefore had all the right credentials to handle a heavy metal power trio. Sunday took one look and announced Frank Ferrara looked like a hard rock lead singer, and should therefore take that role! And he did…
- The first bands to use fireworks and a shotgun in a show (See receipt in “Pictures”)
- Using a shotgun to open our show we blew out all or part of the sound system twice.. (Blame it on the sound-man for not turning off the mikes)
We stopped ending the show with a shotgun because of a mishaps near Tony’s head. (blame it on Steve the roady with a heavy finger on the trigger)
waiting to hand the gun to Tony)
- Opened for Ike and Tina Turner.. Twerking vs Metal
- On March 1st 1972 in Fayetteville NC, we opened for Black Sabbath. That day we introduced them to Philly cheese steaks while Frankie explained to Ozzy what the 2 finger “peace symbol” everybody was was doing at concerts meant. He used it on there next album cover.
- We knew ‘Death Of A Country’ so well that we were able to record it on the first take, with very few overdubs. At the time, Frankie was the lead singer, and Frank sang mostly back-up. We used all kinds of effects on different songs, lots of panning and phasers.
- Originally Death Of A Country was conceived as a concept LP, so at the end of the album is a recording of the first atomic bomb blast at Yucca Flats. We tried it fast, slow, forwards and backwards, trying to make it sound right. We finally settled on slow and backwards.”
- BANGfact: There was a reason for the sudden shift in BANG’s sound with the “Music” album. “We’d just signed a deal with a publishing company that was run by Raspberries producer Jimmy Ienner. Both Jimmy and Capitol said that they wanted us to go in a similar direction to the Raspberries, which is why “Music” had a lighter sound. It was a chance for us to do something different, but even so, it wasn’t really what BANG was about. Still some of our best stuff is on “Music”
- “It’s about three a.m., the morning of BANGday in Hollywood. Frank and Tony are walking the strip heading back to the hotel from somewhere. At the time, longhairs are viewed with suspicion, especially by the authorities. Being in the middle of the block, we casually crossed the street, like we would in Claymont or Philly. There is no traffic, and few, if any, people. Suddenly, police are yelling at us. Stop, put up your hands, don’t move! They cuff us roughly, and drive us to jail. Here we are, a few hours from BANG Day, and we’re sitting in jail for jaywalking. Eventually we get in touch with our manager, Rick, who bailed us out in time for the party.”(See BANGstory)
- Tony was introduced to Rock & Roll when he was about 12..His father was friends with the manager of Bill Haley and the Comets and one day he brought tony over a album….
- After our arrest for jaywalking and not having slept yet, we enter the Capitol Tower building later that morning of BANGday where we are met with BANG posters, balloons, album covers, guns and explosions. In the elevators, BANGmusic is playing. We still remember riding up to the offices of the “big guys” in their expensive suits listening to ‘Future Shock’ as background music.
- We’re actually asked by Capitol to write a song like “I Am Woman” by Helen Ready.
- Our first time on a concert stage was standing behind stacks of Marshalls watching Jimmy Hendrix do things no one had seen or heard before. “That’s when we knew what we were meant to do.” (See BANGstory)
- In the beginning, when we were the “Magic Band”, before we became BANG, our first gig was at a mental hospital where our Frontman CJ
was a resident! One day at practice in the basement he ran up the stairs, shouting “Hey guys you sound great” and we never saw or heard from him again (See BANGstory)
- Bruce Springsteen opened for us as an acoustic act.
- After opening for Rod Stewart and faces, we had to go back out on stage aAfter opening for Rod Stewart and Faces in Orlando, After our set we had to go back out on stage and haul off our equipment in front of the crowd of 8000 we had just left yelling for more. We had no roadies. The shocked looks from the people down front watching us move our stuff was something to see. (See BANGstory)
- Practiced in basement nightly for 18 months..played 4 gigs.
- Being major fans of the Beatles, one day early on during a practice, we decided to call Paul in England to see if he could help BANG get started… After finally finding the number of Abby Road studios, we called. When a voice answered, we excitingly asked for Paul. The voice on the other end said he was the janitor cleaning up ( It was the middle of the night.) and Mr. McCartney wasn’t in and we should call back. Still amazing the things you do to try and get your career started….
- Name came from a Rolling Stone article. Tony was reading Rolling Stone when he came across the headline “The English Boom is Over BANG!,”
a reference to the explosion of British bands that were causing a sensation in America. The word “BANG” leaped off the page at him, and the
erstwhile Magic Band became BANG. “We wanted to find a name that was short and powerful”, explains Frank Ferrara. “BANG was short,
sweet and to the point. It fit our music.” (See BANGstory)
- One of the first song we ever wrote together was “Death of a Country”. Tony came up with the riff on his kids toy piano. His one and only musical contribution to date.
- Frank was born in Naples Italy and came to America at 5 yrs old.
- Single “Questions” was #2 in Hong Kong
- Crashed Rod Stewart, Faces, Deep Purple, Southern Comfort concert.
- Originally the artwork for the BANG album had an ink drawing of the three of us standing in the gun barrel. Capitol’s art department came up with the cartoon-like BANG explosion, which proved to be eye-catching worldwide and still remembered today.
- After Capitol rejected releasing the Death of a Country album, our new producer Mike Sunday said that he was going away for a couple of weeks, and that we needed to write a new album before he returned, and that was what we did. When he came back after two weeks, we had written the “BANG” album. Lions…Christens, The Queen, Last Will and Testament, Come With Me, Our Home, Future Shock, Questions and Redman.
- A recording of the first atomic bomb blast at Yucca Flats ends our Death of a Country album. We tried it fast, slow, forwards and backwards, trying to make it sound right. We finally settled on slow and backwards.”
- We step onto the largest stages in the country with Bands that were household names like,,,, Rod Stewart, Deep Purple, Steppinwolf, Guess Who, Kinks, James Gang, Mountain, Ike & Tina, Fleetwood Mac (opened for us), Cactus, Uriah Heep,Bloodrock, Dr. John, The Byrds, Alice Cooper, Allman Bros, B.B. King, Chuck Berry, 3 Dog Night, Black Sabbath, Emerison, Lake and Palmer, J. Giels Band, Billy Preston, Peter Frampton, Doobie Bros, Yes, Nazareth, Jethru Tull, Joe Cocker, Savoy Brown, Bruce Springsteen (opened for us), Bob Seger, Edgar Winter, Steve Miller, Buddy Miles and last but not least the Funkadelics…that’s how we started to build our fan base.” (See BANGstory)
- Recorded 12 min. Death of a Country song on the first take with few over dubs.
- On BANGday at Capitol Records, our manager hired a helicopter to fly around Hollywood dragging a sign that said..Capitol, BANG Loves You…Were on roof.
- One job Frank had was painting the Dess building in Claymont with a 1″ brush. Workers across the street at the Post Office, had a pool going to when he would finish. The building could have been sprayed in two days. Frank took 3 months.
- At the Mar Y Sol Pop Festival in Puerto Rico 1972, we were put up in a beautiful up scale hotel on the beach with all those great bands that performed. We took over the place. It was high rollers and a bunch of long hair hippy musicians. What was cool was flying from the hotel in a helicopter to play on this large stage built in the middle of the jungle. We hired some local folks to transport our equipment from our plane, to the concert site. When it was time to leave, our roadies had to hot wire and steal the locals truck when they refused to bring our stuff back, demanding more money. We hurried to the plane, throwing our equipment and luggage on board. As we were taxing down the runway, a pickup truck of guys yelling, screaming and waving machetes, chased the plane as we were taking off. We watched them slowly fall behind as we lifted into the air heading home to Miami. It was like a scene right out of a thriller movie.
- “Bow to the King” was written about Muhammad Ali, who we were privileged to meet one day in the Philadelphia airport. We told him about the album and that we had mailed him a copy after it’s release. Ali told us he wold look for it when he got home. (that’s where he was headed). Later that night Tony answered the phone to ” this is Mrs Mohammad Ali, we found the album and my husband says he will listen to it tonight. Later we received an autographed picture and note from the champ signed Muhammad “Cassius Clay” Ali. What we remember most is how “The Greatest” had the softest hand shake you could imagine.
- Moving from Philly to Ft Lauderdale was an incredible change of environment to start our careers. Our manger Rick Bowen introduced us to conk chowder from Ernie’s in Miami, which we visited many times.One night all of us, Roadies and Road manager Tommy Wingate were driving there in two cars, when suddenly our music came over the radio. We rolled down the windows, music blaring, screaming with excitement from car to car. This was the first time we heard our music on the radio. Something sweet that only happens once.
- Sometimes Bands want to “write a song like”. One for us was “Bow to the King” for “Stairway to Heaven” and “Glad Your Home” (returning POW’s) was release around the same time as “Tie a Yellow Ribbon”
- One of the first (of many) bands to use a Mellotron on their album. It used pre-recorded tapes mounted inside a keyboard instrument in such a way that, whenever you pressed a key, the sound or musical instrument recorded on the tape emerged through the instrument’s amplifier and speakers.
- An audition was held in the studio for finger snaps to be used in “Exactly Who I Am” on the “Music” album. Tony won and that’s who you hear.
- By the time we did the “BANG” album, Frankie had gotten his Marshalls. Initially he had a Vox amp when we did Death Of A Country. The first day, at Criteria studio in Miami, was spent with Producer Michael Sunday getting Frankie’s guitar sound. His speaker bottom finally ended up facing a wall with a mike in front of it. Mike Sunday basically got the sound you know, the Wall of heavy metal sound.
- Our management hired a helicopter to fly around LA and the Capitol Tower, dragging a sign that read, ‘Capitol BANG loves you!”
- On BANGday at Capitol Records, for some reason the promotion department associated our name BANG with sex, so when we walked into the big party room, they were showing porno movies made in the 1920s, something like Debbie Does The Keystone Cops. At the time, it was all a little embarrassing, but it was our day, and everybody loved us. Hello rock’n’roll!”
- BANGfact:And then there was ‘No Sugar Tonight’. Penned by Randy Bachman, ‘No Sugar Tonight’ had been the B-side of the Guess Who’s ‘American Woman’, which had topped the US singles chart a couple of years earlier. Recorded because, in Frank Ferrara’s words, “Capitol was trying their best to make us a commercial band”, BANG disliked ‘No Sugar Tonight’ so much that, when they made Mother/Bow To The King available via their website a few years ago, they excised it from the album.
“Bow to the King” was written about Muhammad Ali, who we met one day in the Philadelphia airport. We told him about the album and song we wrote about him and had mailed him, a copy after it’s release. Ali told us he would look for it when he got home. (that’s where he was headed). Later that night Tony answered the phone to ” this is Mrs Mohammad Ali, we found the album and my husband says he will listen to it tonight. Later we received an autographed picture and beautiful note from the champ signed Muhammad “Cassius Clay” Ali. What we remember most is how “The Greatest” had the softest hand shake you could imagine.