The Rockin' RamrodsView in iTunes
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One of the leading acts on the Boston rock & roll scene in the 1960s, the Rockin' Ramrods never broke through to nationwide popularity but they were a potent draw in New England, playing a steady stream of gigs both as headliners and opening for many of the leading acts of the day, as well as releasing a handful of regional singles. The Rockin' Ramrods were formed by Ronn Campisi, who played bass, sang lead, and wrote the group's original material; Vin Campisi, Ronn's older brother, on guitar; and drummer Bob Henderson, who also sang backing vocals. A number of other musicians worked with the Ramrods, including guitarists Bill Linnae and Scott Curtis and keyboard man Lennie Cirelli. The group started out as an instrumental combo, but as acts without singers fell out of favor, Ronn Campisi took on vocal duties, and the group wrote and recorded a number of strong pop/rock tunes. The Rockin' Ramrods were managed by Bill Spence, owner of the Surf Ballroom chain in Massachusetts, and they were frequent headliners at Spence's venues as well as other New England clubs, social events, and teen dances. In 1965, Spence helped book a short tour of New England for the Rolling Stones, and the Rockin' Ramrods opened the shows as well as backing up two vocal groups on the bill, the Bluebelles (featuring Patti LaBelle) and the Vibrations. The Ramrods learned the song "I Wanna Be Your Man" from the Stones, which John Lennon and Paul McCartney had written with the Londoners in mind; the Rockin' Ramrods recorded it for a single, with another obscure Lennon/McCartney number, "I'll Be on My Way," on the flip side. As the '60s wore on, the Rockin' Ramrods became the Ramrods (they also recorded a single as the GTO's) and appeared in the American version of the film Disk-O-Tek Holiday (aka East Is East and Just for You). In 1968, they evolved into Puff, who recorded an album for MGM Records (Ronn Campisi wrote all the songs for Puff but didn't appear on the album, with bassist and vocalist David Ryan and Jim Mandell on keyboards, flute, and vocals joining Vin Campisi and Bob Henderson in the group). The Puff album proved unsuccessful, and Ronn Campisi joined a new version of the Ramrods (featuring Vin Campisi, Henderson, Glenn Jordan, and Danny McBride on guitars and keys and Stu Kassner on percussion), who cut a self-released album in 1971. ~ Mark Deming