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Mortimer

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Biography

Mortimer evolved out of a later incarnation of the Teddy Boys, from Hyde Park, New York, who recorded a handful of singles for MGM and Cameo Records in 1966 and 1967. They changed their name to Pinocchio & Puppets, for a two-sided instrumental single which was released by Mercury in 1967. The band -- Guy Masson (vocals, drums, percussion), Bob Ronga (vocals, guitar), Tom Smith (vocals, guitar), and Tony Van Benschoten (vocals, bass, guitar) -- then settled on the name Mortimer and signed a production deal with U.K. record producer Daniel Secunda (brother of Procol Harum manager Tony Secunda) and his B.B.& D. Productions, Inc. The group got a record deal with Phillips and cut a self-titled album, which was released in 1968. The record was originally recorded with Ronga's participation, but after he left the group, his parts were re-done and his image cropped from the album cover. The album didn't make much of a splash and the band soon moved to England, where they turned up at Apple Records in search of a contract. Given George Harrison's blessing when he heard the trio playing in the Apple offices, the band signed up and began work on an album. Produced by Peter Asher, and featuring a song given to them by Paul McCartney ("On Our Way Home," which was later retitled "Two of Us" and released by the Beatles), the record was slated to be released in 1969. Unfortunately for the trio, the record was shelved when Allen Klein took control of Apple and began implementing cost-cutting measures. The group split soon afterward, and remained a mostly forgotten footnote in Beatles history. Some light was shed on the band by Cardinal's lovely cover of the 1968 album's "Singing in the Sunshine," then the blinds were fully opened by Rev-Ola's 2006 re-release of their first album. More than a decade later, their lost Apple album was rescued from oblivion and released by RPM Records. ~ Bryan Thomas

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