December 27, 2014


Jimmy Fleet and Elwood Donnelly performing
in their handmade orange satin shirts (certainly
against the suit-and-tie dress code) at the LaSalle
Academy "Jam Session," October 1966.
The Lonely Things were one of many Providence teen bands who performed at various schools, halls and battles of the bands in the mid-1960s. However, what makes these guys more than just another typewritten name on a yellowed newspaper page, forgotten to the ages except for family and friends' memories, is that they left behind a demo recording — an otherwise unreleased one-sided acetate 45rpm — capturing their lone original vocal tune for garage music fans to enjoy decades after the fact.

The Lonely Things originated at Central High School in 1965 at the age of 15, formed by vocalists Elwood Donnelly and Jimmy Fleet, drummer Mike Pappas, and his older brother Peter on rhythm guitar. During the band's two-and-a-half-year run, additional musicians with stints in the Lonely Things included John Badessa (lead guitar), Jim Auclair (lead guitar), Kenny Franco (lead guitar), and Jim Haritas (keyboards on the 45).

Mike and Peter's father, Nick Pappas, knew an engineer at New England Recording Studios — owned by Ray and Myron Muffs of Planet Records — and arranged studio time for the boys to cut two original tunes: Elwood's "Our Generation" and Peter's instrumental, "Zephyr." (The acetate with "Zephyr" has yet to surface.) One copy of the demo was mailed to a label in New York, which prompted a refusal letter saying the theme was too similar to The Who's "My Generation"! The Lonely Things also lip-synced the tune on WPRO's television show Wing Ding, where bands could only perform if they had a record.

Nick Pappas served as the band's manager and got the Lonely Things gigs at high schools, VFW halls and a spot at Sugarberry, a dance series that WICE AM radio held at the Alhambra Ballroom at Crescent Park in East Providence.

The band dissolved in mid-1967 due to the draft. Sadly, Mike and Peter died young, in 1990 and 2009, respectively.

An interview with Elwood Donnelly appears at the ever-cool 60s Garage Bands site, and check out Elwood's own Atwater-Donnelly site featuring his many current musical projects and a Lonely Things page chock full of old news clippings.

We'd love to hear the lost instrumental, "Zephyr." If anybody has a recording, please get in touch!

Our Generation
New England Recording Studios, Inc.
(one-sided acetate)

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