THE NIGHTROCKERS (Bristol, RI)

The night time is the right time: The sun is down and the Nightrockers are up. From left: George Raposa (bass), Glenn Medeiros (rhythm guitar), Ron Medeiros (lead vocals, keyboard, harmonica), Ray Gajoli (drums), Bobby Gajoli (lead guitar).

The town of Bristol, R.I., with the country's oldest 4th of July parade celebration, detonated a bona fide firecracker in the summer of 1966: the lone recording of keyboardist/singer Ron Medeiros and his band the Nightrockers. In fact, Bristol High School proved to let off quite the explosion of rock and roll activity, with members of both the Nightrockers and the Hot Beats graduating in the Class of '66.

Prior to his commanding role in major-label psychedelic legends Tangerine Zoo, band leader Ron Medeiros formed the Nightrockers as a senior in high school with his brother, two stepbrothers, and a neighborhood friend. (Ron was 17, and the rest of the band descended in age down to the 9th grade!) The band included Ron "Ronny Knight" Medeiros on lead vocals, keyboard and harmonica; his younger brother Glenn Medeiros on rhythm guitar and vocals; stepbrothers Bobby Gajoli and Ray Gajoli on lead guitar and drums, respectively; and George Raposa on bass.

Senior yearbook photo, June 1966. Ambition accomplished!
The crew practiced daily in their house and neighborhood kids, drawn to the racket, would congregate outside and listen — and then get invited inside to watch. It's clear judging by the choice of cover tunes that Ron's vision gravitated to the "tougher" side of rock and roll. In addition to the obligatory Rascals tunes and "Louie Louie" (to which the 'Rockers performed both a slow version "for the girls" and the standard fast version), a typical set list included:
  • ? & The Mysterians "96 Tears"
  • Rolling Stones "The Last Time," "Satisfaction," and "It's All Over Now"
  • Animals - many songs, including their signature "Inside Looking Out"
  • Syndicate of Sound "Little Girl" (for this tune, Ron played drums and drummer Ray sang)
  • Count Five "Psychotic Reaction" (Ron played harmonica)
  • Kinks "All Day And All Of The Night"
  • Yardbirds "For Your Love"
  • Beatles "I Should Have Known Better" (Ron played harmonica)

The son of the owner of the Venus de Milo — a popular restaurant just over the state line in Swansea, Mass., with large banquet-style seating rooms — had connections with local venues and helped the band get gigs. In one particularly memorable performance, the Nightrockers shook the Academy Theater in Fall River, Mass., after a showing of the Elvis Presley "Girls Girls Girls" movie.

The idea of recording and releasing the "Junction #1" single — the only originals the band penned — came from Ron and Glenn's stepfather. Prior to marrying their mom and moving to Bristol, Mr. Gajoli and his sons lived in the Fall River area. Mr. Gajoli worked at the Fall River Herald newspaper and was familiar with the nearby New Bedford, Mass., Arco recording studio and its record label. And luckily for us, in addition to financing the record, he also paid for the killer full-color picture sleeve!

The Nightrockers dissolved when their parents split up and the Gajoli clan moved back to Fall River. Following a brief three-gig stint with the Mojo Hands, Ron joined the Swansea, Mass.-based Ebb Tides on organ when the Robidoux brothers — keyboardist Bobby and lead singer Charlie, from neighboring Warren, R.I. — left the band. (The original Ebb Tides lineup with the Robidoux brothers had previously released the "My Baby's Gone / Summertime" 45, also on the Arco label, shortly after the Nightrockers' single.) Guitarist Wayne Gagnon joined at this time as well, forming the lineup which would eventually morph into the Tangerine Zoo.

Ron continues to play music to this day, under the alias Adrian Zoo. The rest of the Nightrockers never pursued music any further, and George Raposa passed away in the 1990s.

UPDATE 1/11/14: Sadly, both Ron Medeiros and his brother Glenn passed away in December 2013, Ron on Dec. 14 and Glenn on Dec. 30. One can only assume they're now permanent residents of Junction #1. R.I.P.



THE NIGHTROCKERS
Junction #1 / Run Mary Run
Arco
(SC-105) August 1966



2 comments:

  1. I remember Ron when he did a few gigs with my group the Mods around 1966. He was one hell of an organist and singer. He helped us win a battle of the bands in Woonsocket RI. Keep on rockin Ron.
    Bill Large

    ReplyDelete
  2. pretty cool. I love reading about stuff like this from back in the day.

    ReplyDelete