Class Act featuring Rita
Members: Bob Angelucci, drums; Rita Angelucci, vocals; Bill Bower, saxophone and vocals, John Goshkey, trumpet and vocals, Tom Pane, saxophone and vocals; Jim Seville, bass and vocals; Greg Tooloumes, keyboard and vocals; Dan Wolfe, guitar
Who we talked to: Bob Angelucci
Can you go back and talk about the formation of the Magnificent Men? Actually, Magnificent Men started in late . . . '64, early '65. Two of the members - Dave Bupp and Buddy King - were from York. The other members were from the West Shore, Camp Hill . . . and Harrisburg area. They (were) Terry Crousore on guitar, Jim Seville on bass, Tommy Hoover on keyboards . . . and myself on drums . . . and Tom Pane also on sax. (Tommy Hoover was later replaced by Bill Richter on keyboards.)
You guys backed some really big bands and played The Apollo Theater. What was it like to be in the thick of things during the '60s? It didn't start out that way. What I was trying to do was just find seven people (who) wanted to go on the road and, you know, make a full-time living out of it. I had no game plan at the time. I had just gotten out of (Harrisburg Area Community College) and so did the sax player Tom Pane.
But you guys found your way. We started out doing the . . . nightclub circuits in the New York City (and) Manhattan area. At the same time, we got picked up by a management firm who managed my brother's group. My brother is Andy Angelucci. He is a fine jazz trumpet player. He brought (his mangers) into hear us. Things started happening rather quickly for some reason or another. We got a connection with Capitol Records through my brother's management firm. We auditioned for Capitol Records . . . and they signed us for a three-year contract. We did a lot of college concert tours with the Magnificent Men. We did the theater circuit with a lot of the big Motown artist and almost anybody (who) was big in the R&B field in those days. We ended up on a number of TV shows - The Merv Griffin (Show) and The Mike Douglas (Show). Late in our career, (we ended up) playing at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, which was really exciting. In a five-year span that all the original members were in, it was a pretty interesting experience. The band did continue on with other members.
How did you start Class Act? Later on in years, I put together a group called Rita and the Heartbeats, which (had) my wife Rita singing lead (vocals) and the . . . second keyboard player from Magnificent Men, Bill Richter. Back in 1980, I formed Class Act featuring Rita. Three of the original Magnificent Men are currently with that group - Jim Seville on bass, Tom Pane on sax and myself on drums. This is our sixth year at the Whitaker Center, and Buddy King will join us again this year. Dave Bupp was performing with us previously, but Dave's retired from the music industry.
How did the Whitaker tribute show come about? There's a guy out of Baltimore (Dave Zang) who's a professor (in) Towson, Md. He's doing a documentary about the history of the Magnificent Men, which is in progress right now. Dave's been working with us hand-in-hand for the past six years. Back in 2007, what we . . . did do was have the original seven Magnificent Men perform at the (Whitaker Center during the Class Act tribute show) for the first time in about 40 years. The original keyboard player . . . Tommy Hoover . . . passed away about a year-and-a-half ago. (Richter played the keyboard a the show.)
Do you have fans from the '60s who still follow you? A lot of the same people (who) follow us, follow both (Magnificent Men and Class Act). Plus, we have new followers for both groups. For the past five years, we've done very well at the Whitaker. We've sold out. This year, we hope we do as well. During that 2007 show, everything was filmed . . .a nd it was also audio recorded. So what we did was we . . . mixed down (the audio) to put out a CD. Dave Zang . . . said, "Why don't we do a DVD of some of the songs of that evening?" Eight songs are the Magnificent Men, four song are Class Act featuring Rita. At the upcoming concert, we are going to be selling . . . the Magnificent Men live at the Whitaker Center DVD. Some of the members of Class Act have changed since that time . . . (including) Rick Shouck from York. Rick was with us for a couple years. He was a very fine entertainer, a great vocalist (and) an excellent trumpet player. He passed away from cancer. I'm just honored that at least we can have him on this video with us.
I guess some of the lineup changes through the years have switched up your sound? The Magnificent Men always had a big sound . . .a very bold sound as far as a horn band goes. On top of that was a nice smooth vocal or strong, powerful vocals. We had a combination . . . that was absolutely great. With adding my wife to (Class Act). . . we're also able in addition to covering all the male . . . material that was covered in the past, now we can do all the female material.
Do you plan to retire anytime soon? Not particularly. The band's booked. We have quite a few shows coming up. I'm already taking dates for 2010. I have to say the music industry has been very good to us. It's very rewarding that people continue to follow you through the years. We found out through e-mails . . . that there are a lot of people (who) follow the Magnificent Men in Europe. The same thing is starting to happen with Class Act. That's very interesting to see that phenomenon.
- ERIN McCRACKEN, FLIPSIDE STAFF
If you go
See Class Act featuring Rita perform a Magnificent Men tribute with Buddy King at 8 p.m. Saturday in the Sunoco Performance Theatre at the Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts, 222 Market St. in Harrisburg. Tickets are $38. For details and tickets, call 214-ARTS or visit www.whitakercenter.org.
"A Magnificent Reunion" - a live DVD of the Class Act featuring Rita's 2007 Magnificent Men celebration show will be available at the concert. The DVD, which costs $20, features the seven original Magnificent Men performing together for the first time in nearly 40 years.
On the Web
For details about Magnificent Men, visit www.magnificentmen.org.
For details about Class Act featuring Rita, visit www.classact-rita.com.
Listen to an interview with Bob Angelucci at www.flipsidepa.com.
Read more meet-the-artist interviews at www.flipsidepa.com/musicdirectory.