Larry Alexander blinked twice as he stared at the computer screen. Then a third time. And a fourth.
The album he and his band mates made in 1967 was a hit? Amazon.com listed his album's sale price at $14.95 and Larry, was more than a little surprised Hi didn’t know it was for sale… anywhere. And neither did any of his band mates.
The album, Afterglow, was made when Larry and his friends were known as The Medallions. They had written the music, spent a summer recording it, and delivered it to the record company with distinct pride. But then nothing happened. No tour dates and no publicity resulted in an album that faded away. Disappointed, the band broke up and Afterglow became just a fond memory. Until, on a lark four decades later, Larry took a minute out of his workday to search the word “Afterglow” on the internet. Then he saw it. He saw what every musician desires.
Afterglow, a long lost rock band from Northern California, is found and in demand. Original copies of their album, noteworthy for its unique and diverse musical spirit and its memorable psychedelic cover art, is worth hundreds of dollars. The music caught the attention of notable producer, Bob Irwin, of Sundazed Music in New York in the early 1990s. Sundazed was so impressed with the album that they purchased the rights and released a compact disc in 1995 and an LP in 2001. The label’s efforts were well received and a commercial success. The music company, its passionate founder, and the new crop of fans, however, had a problem.
No one could find the band.
It was early in1967 when Ron George on bass guitar & vocals; Gene Resler on guitar & vocals; Roger Swanson on keyboards& vocals; Tony Tecumseh on guitar & vocals; and Larry Alexander on drums; were chosen by Leo De Gar Kulka to come to Golden State Recorders in San Francisco to record an album.
“To say we were nervous and feeling the pressure of the situation is certainly an understatement” recalls Larry Alexander.
Tecumseh, now living in Klamath Falls, Oregon, wrote most of the songs and he recalls being very concerned with “showing the producers that we could cover a wide range of musical styles.”
Another producer in the studio, Larry Goldberg, commented that the band’s music had stayed with him and they should be renamed “Afterglow”. The band members, most still teenagers, followed the producer’s advice and Afterglow was born.
Months later, the album was ready. The guys opened the box and stared at its contents. The album was inside, but the cover was not a photo of the band as was the tradition, but an extremely psychedelic artist rendering of a profile shot they remembered posing for one day.
Alexander remembers the rollercoaster of emotions that the album’s arrival evoked. He felt a strong disconnect as he stared at the extremely modern album cover. The band members were, for all essential purposes, unrecognizable and in fact, other than the song writers’ acknowledgements, their names didn’t appear anywhere on the album.
The usual tours and promotions never took place, despite the album’s international release. The band didn’t hear anything else much from the producers or the label, MTA Records in New York City. Soon, it was clear; there were no calls, or royalties, coming.
Were albums sold? If so, no one told the young men who wrote and performed the music. The whole experience continued to exist, to the band, in the same emotional place it landed when they first opened that box in 1968 – bittersweet.
The members of Afterglow went on to other careers including military service, accounting, engineering and even a mayoral term.
After 40 years, these five friends recently discovered that their album didn’t fail; it just took its own sweet time to succeed.
When Larry Alexander’s employees discovered that he had once been the drummer in a rock and roll band, they were shocked. One of the employees had found the album, bright orange and psychedelic, on the shelf in his office and asked why it was there.
“Afterglow was something that I didn’t mention to many people”, Alexander said “I am proud of the music, but the overall memory is one of incompleteness.”
That didn’t stop the employee from doing an internet search for Afterglow’s album. “You know, we were sitting there while the site loaded” Alexander remembers “and when it popped up on the screen I practically fell out of my chair.”
A quick call to Sundazed Music was met with a “We’ve been looking for you guys for fifteen years!”
Alexander was soon on the phone with his fellow band members. This was news to them as well. It had been decades since they spoke.
Each expressed the same sentiments as Alexander when discussing the album. “It is a bittersweet thing for me” states George when discussing the album.
Resler recalls his disbelief when he saw the album for sale “I bought six copies immediately; I was afraid it might go away!”
The band is now ready for their long delayed close-up. “It is, to me, a great American story” says Calvin Kennedy, founder of Freedom Films, who helped produce a recently released DVD about the band. “It is a story of five honest, dedicated young musicians who set their mind to it and produced a classic piece of art and are finally receiving the recognition they deserve.
The band is thrilled to be back in business and supports the film one hundred percent. “We are really happy that Calvin sees the story as something he wants to tell” says Alexander “the band is rehearsing again and looks forward to producing a follow-up album.
Now that Alexander understands the power of the internet and the level of appreciation for Afterglow’s music, the band has a web site (www.afterglow1968.com) and is pleased to be corresponding with the fans who have always wondered “who are these guys?”