The Choir 1

Barely Appreciated

THE CHOIR – Career Overview
In the mid-1960’s, the Cleveland music scene was spurred on by the success of local heroes, the Outsiders.  Bandleader Dann Klawon of the Choir knew a girl who had been to England in 1963 and picked up some of the early Beatles singles and one of their albums.  Like most of the American garage bands, they were influenced by the British Invasion; but for them, it hadn’t even arrived here yet.  Klawon wrote an unabashedly Beatlesque power-pop classic for the band called “It’s Cold Outside” that made the local charts and is among the most beloved garage-rock songs from the era.  Stiv Bators, frontman for the seminal 1970’s Cleveland punk band the Dead Boys was among its admirers; but his band couldn’t figure out how to play the song!  (Later, as a solo artist, Stiv Bators came up with a nice version). 

In most places, bands formed and kept a stable line-up for years, sometimes decades; but in Cleveland, musicians were constantly being lured from one band to another in order to get the freshest sound and keep the locals’ respect.  As an example, no fewer than eight members of the predecessor band the Starfires were members of the quartet the Outsiders at one time or another.  But nowhere was this truer than with the ChoirAllmusic referred to the large number of fine musicians who went through “the Choir turnstile”.  A retrospective album of their music called Choir Practice shows a host of styles that the band recorded over the years. 

When Eric Carmen, a fan of the band in its early years, auditioned to join the Choir, he was rejected and instead became a member of Cyrus Erie (which was named for a brand of tractor).  He turned his hurt feelings into revenge by stealing away their best musicians; and before long, Cyrus Erie was widely regarded as the best band in the Cleveland area.  The tug of war between the two bands went on for awhile; but ultimately and ironically, the Raspberries were formed by Eric Carmen with three core members of the ChoirWally BrysonDave Smalley and Jim BonfantiThe Raspberries released several albums in the early 1970’s and had a number of hits, particularly “Go All the Way”.  The band is remembered for their intelligent pop craftsmanship; and they are cited as influences by artists as diverse as Bruce SpringsteenPaul Stanley of KISSTom Petty, and Axl Rose of Guns N’ Roses.  The Raspberries reformed in 2004 and were the first performers when the House of Blues opened a venue in Cleveland.  They began to receive so many requests for It’s Cold Outsidethat the Choir also came together for a two-night stand in 2006
Though the James Gang and the Raspberries each had a generous write-up, there was nothing at all in Wikipedia on the Starfires or the Choir, so I also contributed those articles.   
(February 2010)
Last edited: April 7, 2021