New England Rock Icons Fortune !
Fortune has been entertaining rock audience for over 20 years in the north east and will plug in Friday November 11th at Junkyard in Nashua!
Fortune plays an outstanding mix of old and new rock – songs you know and love! Get your Drinking and dancing shoes on for this one folks! Doors are at 9pm!
While Fortune have been playing the New England, Boston / New Hampshire area for many years a lot of you may not know much about them – Here is the back story from their Website:
Now for the real dirt, the history, the story behind the story……You want to know how this band started, where it all
began, and who it began with? Why they had more bass players than Spinal Tap had drummers? More comebacks than Muhammad Ali? Why their road crew is more famous than they are?
OK, all seriousness aside here. This is one of the most talented bands the area has ever seen….And the story is, well,
Once upon a time, back in 1985 when horses and carriages rolled along the cobblestone streets of Downtown Peabody, Bob Vose and Pete DiStefano started Prowler with guitarist Bill Plourde, bass player Mike Fee and drummer Mark Bistany.
They were mainly a cover band, and played until Bob went off to college.
Sometime around February of 1986, phase 2 of Prowler began, with Kevin Belanger on bass and Bob commuting from college on weekends. When the decision came to add Keyboards, Jeremy Heussi came aboard. In 1988, the departing Mark Bistany was replaced by Dave Vargas. Shortly after, they were off on a Summer-Fall Winnebago tour that took them from Boston to Baltimore, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Texas, Arizona (sans the Winnebago, which blew up in Texas), California (where they showcased at SIR Studio for Fred Davis and Robert Ace), back to Arizona, then to Texas again for the winnebago (which wasn’t supposed to leave MA, and was a pile of black dust when they got back to it), and then home.
Dickie Paris x2 (The Haven years)
1989, Kevin Belanger was replaced by Mike Finnegan mainly because Dave Vargas wanted him in the band, and then Dave ended up flying the coop (figuritively, and otherwise).
While auditioning drummers, some attempted to come as package deals, bringing bass players with them….which leads us to the ill fated audition of one drummer, who brought his bass player with him…….that’s when Mike Finnegan showed up to pick up his skis, and ended up taking them, along with all his equipment, as he left in disgust. Ironically, one of the drummers auditioned lived next door to Bass player Lou Spagnola, who was doing weddings and functions in bad suits at the time.
One of the package auditions yielded Bass player George Roelke, and after many more auditions, Drummer Bill Ferraro rounded out the new lineup.
Not too long after, Ferraro left to pursue other tastes and George went his own way, later moving to California (where he worked for Hustler’s Larry Flynt).
In February of 1991, a coworker of Bill Plourde’s suggested auditioning his cousin, Drummer Dickie Paris.
After waiting for Dick to set up what looked like a 47 piece drum set with a full cage
and 26 cymbals (“This kid BETTER be good”, remarked Bob to Pete while they walked to the store during the assemblement of the drums), Dick aced the audition and was in.
While working Dickie into the set, a bass player who rehearsed down the hall, Kevin Brooks, was asked to jam and subsequently joined. This lineup set out to record its debut release, the self titled “Fortune” (which would ultimately be finished and released in 1993).
From 1991 to 1995, Fortune dominated the North Shore and basically anywhere they played, with a massive following in tow. Packed shows at the Rockpile, Ovations (later Classics), Club 114, the Paradise, the Ocean’s Beat, and the Hampton Beach Casino validated the fact that this was undoubtedly one of the area’s top bands. An acoustic side project was also started by Bob, Pete, and Bill, called Serenade, and that packed people into Classics every Thursday. The engine was clicking on all cylinders, and life was good!
But with this being the world of Rock and Roll, something always has to go wrong. It’s in the script.
The first sign of trouble came when Serenade became a 6 member electric project, which meant electric versions of songs like Thunder Island instead of Queensryche. People were wondering aloud, “Serenade? I thought they were called Fortune??”. More on that later….
Sometime in 1995, during the long process of recording their second CD “Storyline”, an irreparable personal rift developed, and Kevin Brooks left, never to be heard from again.
With Brooks gone, and gig at Classics coming that Thursday, fate intervened when Bass Player Phil Bynoe happened to be in the audience. After paying someone $20 to rent their bass for the night (it just happened to be in their car), Phil sat in, and ultimately bridged the gap until a new bass player could be found.
Enter Rick O’Neal, late of the Ben Orr band.
During Rick’s tenure, they were hired to play the 1st Anniversary party for Eagle 93.7, which led to them being hired as the opener for Eagle’s 1996 Summer Concert Series at Boston’s City Hall Plaza. While the highlight was opening for Cheap Trick and America in front of over 20,000 people, the low point came when BTO refused to allow an opener at the last minute (rumor has it that they were afraid a 6-man band like Fortune would take away from their supply of food at the buffet table….).
Shortly after, with Rick wanting more gigs, he decided to leave the band.
At this point, Jeremy Heussi realized that he couldn’t possibly bear the thought of playing Boz Skaggs’ “Lido Shuffle” even one more time, and not only left the band, but the business as well, selling all his equipment to incoming keyboardist/sound man Bryan Petrocchia, who joined immediately. Bill’s brother Rick Plourde took over as the interim bass player, and Jeremy retired to life as a painter (where he reportedly once fell from a ladder when Lido Shuffle came on the radio).
Somewhere in Revere in January of 1997, Bass player Lou Spagnola was hired by the band Graphite to record (More irony-Graphite’s former drummer was Dickie Paris…..it’s a very small world indeed!!).
Not happy with their choice of a drummer for the session (Lou demanded they hire “someone who knows where the 1 is without using a flashlight”), they instead hired former Fortune drummer Dave Vargas, who was now playing with Brian Maes, and was living next door to Pete DiStefano. The rehearsals and recording went well, and Lou and Dave stayed in touch.
In February, Dave called Lou and asked, “Are you playing with anyone?”
Lou had just ended a stint with Angel’s Frank DiMino (it’a rumored that Lou missed out on the Angel reformation tour when he cut his hair….), and his cover band had just bitten the dust as well. He remarked, “Yeah, myself…I have my thumb up my ass, why?”
“How’d you like to join Fortune?”
Lou’s first thought was how great they sounded when he practiced down the hall from them a few years back, and dove right in. The new lineup debuted at the AOH on March 14th, 1997, and shortly after played at Boston’s Hatch Shell.
A return engagement at Eagle 93.7’s Summer Concert Series was on tap for 1997, opening for Dave Mason, Kansas, Orleans, Ben Orr, Blood, Sweat & Tears, and America. While all the shows had crowds of gigantic proportions, Lou and Bill needed a police escort to get through the massive crowd to their cars after the America show!
This was the beginning of the “revolving keyboard player era” that saw Bryan Petrocchia leave after the Dave Mason gig, with Jeremy Heussi coming back for a handful of shows before leaving again.
While Pete was filling in as Beatlejuice’s guitar tech, he met keyboard player Steve Baker, who told Pete he’d be interested in doing some gigs.
While Steve stepped right in and kicked ass (due to the fact that he’s one hell of an incredible player), the band was definitely losing steam. The gig schedule was basically once a month at the Town Line, and some people weren’t afraid to suggest that the song list left a lot to be desired…(One guy came up to Lou and said, “What the hell happened to you guys?? I used to see the band at the Rockpile, playing Queensryche and originals and basically killing the place! What’s with the Doobie Brothers?? You sound like you had your balls ripped off!! You guys suck!!”). And he was being nice about it….The set list did suck.
In January of 1998, Bob developed an inner ear problem that forced the band to the sidelines indefinitely. Lou and
Boston’s City Hall Plaza, June 20th, 1998
Bill started a classic rock band called Tangerine to kill some time, while Pete, Dickie, and Lou all filled in with the Brian Maes band. When Eagle 93.7 called about their 1998 Summer Concert Series, they decided to have a Harbor Cruise to kickoff the big event, with Fortune playing. One warmup gig was all the warmups they got before jumping into the cruise, and gigs with John Cafferty, The Guess Who, and Jefferson Starship (a gig with Loverboy was rained out) followed that summer. But all was not really well. The apathy that started creeping in at Serenade gigs (and worsened in the ensuing years) was now at an unbearable level. After a few fall gigs, Pete decided he’d had enough of the lack of focus within the band and made the call to stick a fork in it, with the last show coming in December of 1998.
While Bill, Pete, Lou and Dick kept busy with other bands, Bob stayed away from music altogether.
This was a good time for reflection. When you’re a band dominating the North Shore like Fortune did in the early 90’s, and major record labels are looking at you, it’s a matter of when, not if, you’re going places. When you’re down to one gig a month and you’re not enjoying yourself, it’s very easy to wonder where it all went wrong and what might have been.
Especially when you consider that while the band was cutting back on gigs, band tech’s Tim Coakley, Zeus, and Scott
Mitchell moved on to bigger things, working together and seperately on tours with RTZ, Peter Wolf, the J. Geils Band, and Meatloaf.
Fortune may not have made it, but their road crew certainly did!
By the Summer of 1999, Bill informed everyone that the band needed to pay corporation fees and taxes, and unless everyone wanted to dig into their pockets, gigs would have to be played.
Where else but theTown Line Lounge, where the band played once a month over the next 3 years, using Steve Baker, Jeremy Heussi, Frank Herland and Brian Maes on keys. Rumor has it that there was talk of installing a turnstile where the keyboard player set up. Over the course of that time, Pete, Bill, Lou, and Dickie formed Five Easy Pieces with Mary Beth Maes (formerly of Mixed Nuts) to supplement their gig schedule.
There were just three gigs in 2003 with Jeremy coming out of retirement, though no thought was put into actually playing a regular schedule.
A gig in February of 2004 brought Bob, Bill, Pete, Dick, and Lou together with Brian and Mary Beth Maes, figuring it would be fun to mix material by Fortune with Brian’s and Mary Beth’s songs. While the gigs of the past couple of years were decently attended, there was a line down the street to get in, and for some reason that “something” that was missing for years was suddenly there again. Sometimes there’s just no explaining it….that electricity in the air.
Many people who stopped following the band during their slow demise are coming back out to see them again, proclaiming them better than ever before.
Considering how many bands who were starting out around the same time as Fortune have either bitten the dust or can no longer book more than a small number of shows, it’s a pretty good accomplishment to still be able to draw 400+ people to a show, especially with today’s economy. And with so many online sites such as MySpace, Youtube, and Garageband.com giving bands worldwide access to new fans, Fortune has gained new fans in Russia, Sweden, and New Zealand, among other places.
So that’s the story. The kind of stuff that happens with every band, right?
And to show you how many people out there find this site, we recently heard fromformer bass player George Roelke. He was glad to hear that Fortune is still playing, and he sent along this picture from the early 90’s, from the old JR’s Fast Lane: