July 17, 2003

The Aerovons, the Band that Wanted to be the Beatles

They looked like the Beatles, sang like the Beatles - and should have been as big as the Beatles. So what went wrong for the Aerovons?

an excerpt:

"'Did you see The Matrix?' asks Tom Hartman. 'There's a scene where time stops, and everybody stands frozen on the street. That's how I feel. It's like someone just released a pause button pressed in 1969.'

"Back then, Hartman was 17, and his band, the Aerovons, were tipped to be the next Beatles. They had already travelled from their home in St Louis to London, been signed to EMI (home to the Beatles) and recorded their debut album, Resurrection, in the Abbey Road studio. "

"Hartman, a child prodigy who played piano and guitar, formed the Aerovons with two brothers, bassist Billy and drummer Mike Lombardo. All three shared an obsession with the Fab Four. They had the same equipment as the Beatles, and were persecuted by greaser gangs for liking the Liverpudlians - almost an alternative act in pre-Vietnam America. They'd say, 'Hey Mary, come here, we'll give you a haircut,' Hartman recalls.

"It was through sheer naive bravado that the band ended up on the same label as their heroes. Initially they were offered a deal by the California-based company Capitol USA, but Hartman turned it down, declaring: 'I don't want to be like all those Beach Boys groups.'"

"But then everything fell apart: the band split up and the album was shelved. Now, 34 years later, that title (a reference to the then disappearing sounds of psychedelia) seems weirdly prophetic. Resurrection is finally being released - and hailed as a lost classic."

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