The story of the R&B Bombers starts long ago, in the 1980’s, at a time that music was starting to become unhinged. Electronics were being brought into the human produced order of sounds and many were tempted by the newness. Larry Nass, a guitar virtuoso from Ventura CA, along with another pair of Southern California natives Steve Nelson on bass and Joe Wilson, a vocalist whose influences are almost forgotten (but revived by Wilson in a brand new way,) wanted to form a band with a raw, human emotional feeling that captured the essence of what music is, and what made all of us start to play music in the first place. And so players in the area were recruited one by one. The immensely talented keyboardist Ken Stange, the wonderful multi-instrumentalist and writer arranger Jim Hochanadel on tenor saxophone. Craig Thomas switching on alto and tenor sax and providing added vocals, Dave Tolegian on his booming yet intricate baritone and alto saxes, Craig Woods on trombone extraordinaire, and local favorite on drums Tom Lackner were all recruited by Nelson, Wilson and Nass. After much planning, arranging, and rehearsals, the band made it’s debut in Santa Barbara, CA. at the Head of the Wolf for a packed house, the first of many that the band and venue was treated to.
From there it was all up hill, as clubs, festivals, and concerts were queuing up in droves to get the R&B Bombers to play for them, opening concerts for groups as diverse as Toto, the Pointer Sisters, and the Count Basie Band with Cab Calloway. Sellout crowds, with lines down the block waiting to get into see the group on WEEKDAY nights were common in places like Sundays at Andy’s Barbecue Heaven in Ventura, Mondays at the Central(now known as the Viper Room) in Hollywood sharing the bill with the renowned Chuck E. Weiss, and the Tuesday night patio parties at the 1129 club in Santa Barbara. The group even headlined at the Ventura Theater. This newfound fame was not lost on promoter Michael Kaufer, who instituted the long running Bowlful of Blues in Ojai. CA. with the R&B Bombers as the house band for the first three years of it’s existence, playing their own sets and backing up such artists as Charlie Musselwhite, Eddie Cleanhead Vinson, Pee Wee Crayton, Margie Evans, Cash McCall, Johnny Copeland, and many others. These appearances, coupled with the release of the self-titled R&B Bombers vinyl LP, described by the late legendary record producer Terry Melcher as a “complete and well-produced work,” catapulted the band into one of the top acts in the Southern California area.
Success for the R&B Bombers unfortunately was not, shall we say, handled as well as it could have been, and the group had to replace members temporarily and in some cases permanently, and this led to general disarray of the band. This coupled with the untimely passing of guitarist Larry Nass ultimately caused the break-up of the group. One fan of the band, Kenny \"the Doorman\" Borrell, was able to coax the band into re-uniting for his birthday parties, and fans of the group would turn out in droves. In early 2008, the core remaining members decided that the R&B Bombers music is timeless, and extremely enjoyable to play. So, a serious reunion, with the release of a CD with unreleased tracks included and a serious commitment to perform the music, and a second CD of all new material, is now being implemented “as we speak.”
Not that the band members have been inactive. The present group of players includes new members Don Roberts on baritone and alto saxes, Steve Wachsman on guitar, and long time member Jim Christie returning on drums. These and the original members have toured and performed in the back-up bands for such artists as Elvis Presley, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Brian Setzer, Joe Cocker, Freda Payne, The Temptations, Four Tops, James Brown, Joe Walsh, Dwight Yokam, Paul Anka, Tony Bennett, Big Mama Thornton, Manhattan Transfer, and Bobby Caldwell, just to name a few. The R&B Bombers are back and ready to become a mighty force on the blues circuit!