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The Raspberries

The Raspberries cut through the epic pretensions and pomposity of '70s-era rock to proudly reclaim the spirit and simplicity of classic pop, recalling the heyday of the British Invasion with their exquisitely crafted melodies and achingly gorgeous harmonies. The group was formed in Mentor, OH, in early 1970 by singer/songwriter Eric Carmen and drummer Jim Bonfanti, local pop heroes thanks to the respective tenures in the hugely popular bands Cyrus Erie and the Choir; guitarist Wally Bryson and bassist John Aleksic (both Choir veterans as well) completed the original lineup, which made its live debut in mid-October. With their short hair, matching suits, and Beatlesque sound, the Raspberries ran in direct opposition to the prevailing hard rock mentality of the Cleveland scene, but after just a handful of gigs, the band was among the city's most popular live acts. However, after cutting their first demo session, Aleksic left the lineup in March of 1971, and with the addition of rhythm guitarist Dave Smalley, Carmen assumed bass duties.

The Raspberries' demo tape ultimately found its way to producer Jimmy Ienner, and in the wake of a major-label bidding war, the band signed to Capitol, issuing their self-titled debut LP (complete with a raspberry-scented scratch-and-sniff cover sticker) in the spring of 1972. The debut single "Don't Want to Say Goodbye," stalled, but the follow-up, "Go All the Way," a magnificent fusion of Who-inspired guitar snarl and Beach Boys-styled vocal harmonies, went on to sell over a million copies on its way to cracking the Top Five. Carmen and Smalley swapped guitar and bass chores prior to recording the Raspberries' sophomore effort, 1972's Fresh; the record generated two more hits, "I Wanna Be with You" and the beautiful "Let's Pretend," and solidified the band's stature as critical favorites. Nevertheless, tension within the ranks -- sparked largely by Carmen's creative primacy and the shadow it cast over the songwriting contributions of Bryson and Smalley -- were beginning to boil over, and accordingly 1973's Side 3 boasted a more raw, aggressive sound than its predecessors, typified by the visceral crunch of the opening "Tonight."

Side 3 failed even to crack the Top 100, however, and following a triumphant Carnegie Hall date, both Smalley and Bonfanti exited the Raspberries to form their own band, Dynamite. They were replaced by bassist Scott McCarl and ex-Cyrus Erie drummer Michael McBride. 1974's acclaimed Starting Over continued the harder-edged approach of Side 3, yielding the band's final chart smash, the superb "Overnight Sensation (Hit Record)." A nasty post-gig confrontation between Carmen and Bryson soon resulted in the latter's departure from the group, and after playing a handful of shows as a three-piece, the Raspberries disbanded in 1975. Carmen then mounted a solo career, tapping McBride to play drums on his self-titled debut LP, which launched the number two blockbuster "All by Myself." He did not return to the upper rungs of the charts for over a decade, however, scoring a major hit in 1987 with his Dirty Dancing soundtrack contribution "Hungry Eyes." "Make Me Lose Control" reached the number three spot a year later. Bryson, meanwhile, resurfaced in the short-lived Tattoo before joining the power pop group Fotomaker for three albums during the late '70s.

In March of 1999, all four original members (Smalley, Carmen, Bryson, and Bonfanti) met up for the first time in years sparking rumors of an impending reunion. A few months later (after three of the four members played together onstage in Cleveland to celebrate the 80th birthday of rock journalist Jane Scott), a Raspberries reunion tour was confirmed as fact by Billboard Magazine. Unfortunately for fans, the reunion failed to materialize. Carmen continued to write and record as a solo artist, while Bryson, Smalley, and latter-day member Scott McCarl opted to resurrect the Raspberries as a trio, issuing the album Refreshed in 2000. ~ Jason Ankeny & Greg Prato, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

People forget how good this band is - vocals as good as any band and great melodies.
taniahalaby1 2
♡♥♡♥
The Dick Panthers are better.
Actually the Raspberries did reunite for several memorable concerts with full line-up including several at Cleveland's Palace Theatre -a DVD resulted Live From Sunset Strip.
Great memories of them playing at The Agora downtown Cleveland
Loved the Band and Wally Bryson was married to my sister Ellen Bryson and the band came over my house several times when i lived in Cleveland. Dan Johnson now in Seattle working at Boeing
if you only new what making a statement means the caught in the act band
They were ok. But, Badfinger blew them out of the water.
My god how good do those over-compres s e d drums sound!
saw them in Salem Oregon in the 70s great voice nice guy
mbykerk
I LOVE this band; will never tire of them. Wally Bryson is a phenomenal guitarist; he plays the perfect combination of crunchy rock and beautiful melody, usually at the same time. I saw them live in 2007 and despite that the members are obviously older (aren't we all?!?), they performed just as well as they did when they were in their 20s. They were a part of my angst-filled adolescence and will continue to be a part of my musical life until I've turned up my toes........ . . .
Best first love memories listening to rasberries.. . .
POWER POP BABY !!!!!!!!!!!!
gilikin
RASBERRIES RULE!! Also Eric Carmen's incompletely released catalogue; check him out!
nik_dangr
These guys rock. Maybe a little bit preoccupied with nooky, but what the hell. There are worse things to scream about, right? Besides the other groups listed as "similar to", I would definitely add The Who for some memorable parts of "Ecstasy" and "Tonight", and the Beach Boys couldn't improve on "Cruisin' Music" if they wanted to.
dave.mizda
I was a young teenager in early 70's Cleveland. I was leaning on Eric Carmens piano during Go All The Way at a concert (circa 1972) featuring the Rasberries in an old church building located in Highland Heights Ohio.
longone610
The best "Power Pop" band ever! They reunited for a tour in 2004 and 2005 and were even more powerful than before. Sell-outs at all tour stops. Get their "Live on Sunset Strip" cd/dvd released in 2007. A double cd and full dvd of their performance at the House of Blues in Los Angeles. You won't be disappointed .
107565037
Painfully underrated band...
That last paragraph is not quite accurate, as the Sunset Strip CD and DVD are proof of a fully-realiz e d reunion tour of primarily House of Blues venues which did in fact happen . . . featuring the original four members: Carmen, Smalley, Bryson & Bonfanti. They also appeared together on a VH1 special speaking of trying to keep the reunion going beyond a one-off tour. We'll see!
shore62
They certainly made their mark as leading power popsters of the 70's.
I WANT to BE all by myself!!!??? ? ! ! ! ! !
The early efforts of the Raspberries greatly contributed with ushering-in the 1970s era of rock. Carmen's solo efforts, though excellent, still couldn't duplicate his creativity and freshness while with the Raspberries. If compiling a collection of the very best of 1970's rock, you owe it to yourself to include the first three Raspberries albums... rock simply doesn't get any better than this.

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