Long Island rock ‘n’ roll fans of my vintage will pause and shed a tear today.
I just got a message from my sister, who listens to morning radio down there where the North and South forks meet.
She heard that Peppi Marchello died.
The news has spread to a Long Island web site.
The lead singer from The Good Rats died Wednesday night, of a heart attack. He was 68. I nod my Good Rats-loving head in tribute.
I first saw this hard rocking group in the bars of Suffolk County in the mid-1970s. Back then, a knowing nod at the guy at the door at Tuey’s or The Mad Hatter of Stony Brook would get you in before you were 18. Everybody wanted to hear Peppi sing “Tasty.”
They put out albums that I absolutely cherished right along with my Stones and Beatles and Stevie Wonder.
“Tasty” was the break-out, in 1974. Back in the day, Long Island disc jockeys could pick what they played, and they spun the title cut and the bluesy “Back to My Music.”
“Ratcity in Blue” followed in 1976. It’s still my Good Rats favorite, for the rollicking “Writing the Pages,” soothing “Advertisement in the Voice” and, well, I truly fell for every single cut.
“Rags to Riches” kept the momentum in two years after that. Somewhere in that timeline, my sister and her boyfriend found in a North Fork record store the rare self-titled first album that came out in 1969. It was one hell of a present to me.
The Good Rats toured the northeast, too.
I know this because I saw them rocking — and tossing around their trademark rubber rats — in the Last Resort at Morrisville College, here upstate, and in a bar on M Street in Washington, D.C.
But for some reason, Peppi and mates never fully caught on like fellow Island band led by Dee Snider, Twisted Sister.
No matter. They were popular enough in their hub to put out a live album in 1980 that I wore the grooves out on, too.
There’s a gap in the Good Rats discography from “Great American Music” in 1981 to “Tasty Seconds” in 1996, but the list today totals 13 albums, finishing with last year’s “Blue Collar Rats: The Lost Archives.”
The all-time band roster contains 20 musicians, including Peppi’s brother, Mickey, in the original band, and, later, Peppi’s sons, Gene and Stefan.
It was a great run for The Good Rats.
To say that Peppi’s music was part of the life of millions of Long Islanders should not be an exaggeration.
I will listen to Peppi’s splendid voice today, and cherish the memories.
Here’s a touching piece written today by blogger Cliffford Meth, at the behest of the Marcello family.