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The Rivieras

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A South Bend, IN, rock & roll band, the Rivieras' one big hit was one of the last great gasps of pure American rock & roll before the British Invasion took over the charts. Original members Otto Nuss (organ), Doug Gean (bass), Marty "Bo" Fortson (vocals and guitar), Joe Pennell (guitar), and Paul Dennert (drums) were local teen ballroom heroes. They recorded a supercharged version of the Joe Jones R&B semi-hit "California Sun" featuring a powerful drum intro and the now-famous signature guitar and organ riff. The song became a hit in the midst of the first flush of Beatlemania, only nudged out of the number one spot on the national charts by "I Want to Hold Your Hand." Although several equally fine 45s and two albums followed, the bandmembers' relatively young ages, coupled with numerous personnel changes caused by the draft and the changing musical climate, caused the group to break up by 1966. Nuss, Gean, and Fortson reunited the Rivieras in the mid-'80s, recording and doing local shows, sounding as great as ever. Though their time in the spotlight was brief, their one big hit continues to define for future generations everything that's pulsatingly great about American teen-band rock & roll. ~ Cub Koda

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Years Active:

'50s, '60s