Thursday, November 3, 2011

10,000 Maniacs

John C. Lombardo was born on 30th September 1952, in Jamestown, N.Y. Founder member of the band 10,000 Maniacs , John played rhythm guitar and wrote the music of most of all songs from the period 1980 to 1985, when he left the band . He played in several bands before join the Maniacs, singing and playing bass like Succotash, Albatross, Rocky and the Colavitos and Jimmy and the Socialists.
10,000 Maniacs (named after the low-budget horror movie 2,000 Maniacs) was formed in Jamestown, NY, in 1981 by singer Natalie Merchant and guitarist John Lombardo. Other members of the sextet were Robert Buck (guitar), Steven Gustafson (bass), Dennis Drew (keyboards), and Jerry Augustyniak (drums).They performed as 10,000 Maniacs for the first time on September 7, 1981 - Labor Day. Tim Edborg left and Bob "Bob O Matic" Wachter was on drums for most of the 1981 gigs.
Tired of playing cover songs the band started to write their own music, usually with Natalie Merchant handling the lyrics and John Lombardo the music. In 1982, 10,000 Maniacs ( without drummer Jerry Augustyniak) released their first EP, called "Human Conflict Number Five", on their own label, Christian Burial for a sound-engineering program. They toured the East Coast and Ontario, Canada, working their way through 87 performances in six months and selling their record themselves.At the beginning of 1983, Jerry Augustyniak joined the band as their permanent drummer.In that time they recorded their first full-length album, "Secrets of the I-Ching", this time in a run of 2,000 copies. The record was well-received by critics and it caught the attention of John Peel - DJ at Radio BBC Radio 1 in London. One song, "My Mother the War" turned out to be a minor hit in United Kingdom, and it entered the independent singles chart. During 1983 and 1984, touring was a way of life for the band, which included gigs in the UK.In 1985 they signed to Elektra and released "The Wishing Chair". They played in US and UK, but selling didn't reach their expectations (about 85,000 copies). They did not earn enough money to pay their bills and John kept working as a teacher in Jamestown.
Co-founder Lombardo left the band in 1986, and they continued as a quintet, releasing their second album, "In My Tribe", in 1987. This album broke into the charts, where it stayed 77 weeks, peaking at number 37."Blind Man's Zoo", the 1989 follow-up, hit number 13 and went gold. The remaining five members started the recordings of a new album in Los Angeles, with Peter Asher as the producer.
In 1990, with the help of John Lombardo, they remastered their first two records "Human Conflict Number Five" and "Secrets of the I Ching" and released them as a compilation called "Hope Chest: The Fredonia Recordings 1982-1983".In 1991, during the recordings of a new album, Natalie Merchant revealed to the other members that she would be leaving for a solo career in two years' time.
In 1992, Our Time in Eden was released."MTV Unplugged" was released a few months after her departure. The remaining 10,000 Maniacs decided to continue performing, adding the folk-rock duo John & Mary (original member Lombardo and violinist/vocalist Mary Ramsey).
The new lineup released "Love Among the Ruins". 10,000 Maniacs released two albums with Mary Ramsey on vocals.In 1997 they released "Love Among the Ruins" on Geffen Records and followed up in 1999 with "The Earth Pressed Flat" on Bar/None. "The Earth Pressed Flat" will sound familiar to Maniacs fans, but its focus is sharper and the playing sounds particularly expressive in stripped-down settings. It’s not so much unplugged as un-stressed.On Friday, November 3, 2000, 10,000 Maniacs played with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, in Buffalo, NY. It would be the last concert they would perform with Rob Buck. Sadly a year later lead guitarist and founding member Robert Buck, who co-wrote some of the band's classics like "Hey Jack Kerouac," "What's The Matter Here?," and "These Are Days," died of liver failure. He was 42. The band took a break. The Maniacs always had a way with their covers, from their best-selling version of Patti Smith’s “Because The Night” to their more recent take on Roxy Music’s “More Than This.”In 2002, Steve Gustafson, Dennis Drew, and Jerry Augustyniak decided that they wished to continue on with a new lead singer. John Lombardo showed up at the first band practice, found out that the band had hired Jeff Erickson to play lead guitar and Oskar Saville of the Chicago-based band Rubygrass to sing, and quit the band. Mary Ramsey rejoined the current edition of 10,000 Maniacs for several dates in 2006, playing viola and singing backing vocals.
On Tuesday January 27, 2004, Elektra/Asylum/Rhino Records released "Campfire Songs:_The Popular,_Obscure_and_Unknown_Recordings", a two CD set compilation, with 31 digitally remastered songs, four of them demos and one unreleased. The second disc contained B-sides and outtakes throughout the band's up to that point career, including many covers. Jackson Browne's "These Days" and Tom Waits's "I Hope That I Don't Fall in Love with You" were among those included, as was Cat Stevens's Peace Train which had been removed from later U.S. pressings of In My Tribe.
Oskar Saville left 10,000 Maniacs in late Summer, 2007 and has been replaced by former Maniac Mary Ramsey for the final show the band has this year. 10,000 Maniacs today consists of long-time members keyboardist Dennis Drew, bassist Steven Gustafson, drummer Jerome Augustyniak, and guitarist Robert Buck, along with more recent additions, guitarist John Lombardo and singer/violist Mary Ramsey.

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