The Blues Magoos were a music group which hailed from the Bronx, New York. The band was formed in 1964 as "The Trenchcoats". The original members were Emil Thielhelm aka Peppy Castro (vocals and guitar), Dennis LaPore (lead guitar), Ralph Scala (organ and vocals), Ronnie Gilbert (bass) and John Finnegan (drums). The band made a name for itself in various clubs in Greenwich Village. By 1966 the band had changed its name to fit in with the psychedelic vibe of the times - they first changed their name to the Bloos Magoos, though they changed that to the more conventional Blues Magoos. They also made some line-up changes, bringing in Mike Esposito as lead guitarist, and Geoff Daking as drummer.
Like their name, the group's sound was of the psychedelic variety. They released singles on smaller labels, like Ganim Records and Verve Records, but those singles did not gain the band much recognition. However, Mercury Records signed the band to a record deal in late 1966 and the group's debut album, Psychedelic Lollipop was released shortly thereafter. It was one of the first records to contain the word "Psychedelic" on the sleeve (along with the 13th Floor Elevators' The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators).
The group's biggest song, "(We Ain't Got) Nothin' Yet" was released as a single in 1967, with "Gotta Get Away" as the b-side. The song hit number 5 on the US charts, although it did not fare nearly as well in the UK. The next single by the Blues Magoos, "There's A Chance We Can Make It," was only a minor hit, with its b-side "Pipe Dream" actually charting higher (though neither side hit the top 40). After one more minor chart single with "One By One," subsequent singles were largely ignored by record buyers. Neither of the two albums released after Psychedelic Lollipop, Electric Comic Book (1967) and Basic Blues Magoos (1968), had much success. By 1968, the band was discouraged and they split up.
The group's management had other plans. The band was signed to ABC Records, but most of the members did not go along with this plan. Only Castro agreed and started up a revamped Blues Magoos, with Eric Katz, Richie Dickon, John Leillo and Roger Eaton. In 1969, the band completed Never Goin' Back To Georgia, but that release did not attract public attention either. Eaton left the band, and the other Blues Magoos used session musicians for the follow up Gulf Coast Bound. It did poorly as well and though the Magoos struggled for another two years, they eventually parted ways. In 1981, Castro resurfaced with the group Balance.
The original group's output on CD is now complete. Repertoire has released their three albums in deluxe digi-packages with detailed liner notes. Each CD has bonus tracks which include mono versions of single releases, fan club exclusives, and obscure early recordings. Additionally, Collectibles still has the doubled-up "Lollipop/Comic Book" CD for sale and Mercury's "Kaliedoscopic Compendium" anthology is still available as well. The post-1969 group's output has not been released on CD to date.
After a stint with the rock musical Hair and recording with Mercury label mate Exuma (Tony McKay), Peppy Castro formed Barnaby Bye with fellow cast members Bobby and Billy Alessi. The group released two albums on Atlantic Records, Room to Grow (1972) and Touch (1973). In 1981, Castro resurfaced again with the group Balance whose song "Breaking Away" reached No. 22 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. In July 2008, the Blues Magoos with original members Ralph Scala, Castro and Geoff Daking reunited for the first time in years for two concerts, including one with The Zombies at the Fillmore New York at Irving Plaza in New York City. In December 2009 they traveled to Spain for the Purple Weekend festival.
In 2014, The Blues Magoos released their first new album in 43 years, titled Psychedelic Resurrection. The Blues Magoos toured in 2015. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply.