I started playing professionally at 10 years old as a member of the Rockin' Angels band with a brilliant drummer Steven Angel, his brother Bobby Angel (accordion) and Malcolm Philips on electric piano. This band made it onto Fox 5 television in New York City for a performance and we played locally. I was in 4th or 5th grade.
At age 11, I left the Angels and joined my older brother Barry in our own band called the Telstars. You can imagine how irrelevant elementary school was to me at the time.
(LISTEN: Telstars recordings on Soundcloud)
The Telstars carried me through middle school times. Our mom Pearl was our partner in this endeavor; she encouraged us to get fitted for tuxedo jackets and fancy shirts, and she and the various parents drove us to our gigs. My dad Melvin generously bought us top of the line instruments, amps and mics. Barry Schwartz, a talented electric piano and Hammond Organ player who sang leads joined us, along with Doug Solomon, a drummer from Valley Stream. We occasionally added a lead singer - Mark Levinson - to the combo. After a year Michael (Colchamiro) Tapes, an outstanding drummer, replaced Doug.
The Telstars practiced on weekends when we were not working - which was constantly. We practiced with full sound inside our garage or basement. We played every kind of party imaginable (kids, adult) political rallies for Bobby Kennedy and local Democrats, and eventually made our way to New York City high society affairs at Tavern on the Green, Pierre Hotel and other Manhattan venues. At the peak of this I was in 8th grade.
I was musical leader of the band and my brother Barry was the band's manager. During the week I would pick songs and transcribe them into lead sheets with musical notation and chords. Barry and Mom booked the band and made sure we were busy. Through this experience, I learned how to lead, arrange music, manage and bank cash.
Eventually we recorded a few tunes at Ultra Sonic Studios in Hempstead NY and my older bandmates decided we were matured and so changed the band's name to The Lonely Crowd.