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A rock group scheduled to appear at the annual spring concert of St Patrick’s high school in Chicago called in at the last moment and said they couldn’t appear due to illness. Pat McBride, emcee of the show and senior at the school, got together with three other seniors and formed a group to fill in. They did three Beatles numbers that night and the response was so good they decided to become a regular group.
They called themselves The Patsmen but soon tired of that name and searched for a new one. They decided on ‘The New Colony’ since it was in the middle of the first big British musical invasion and they wanted to be known as a strictly American group. By the time the group had grown to six-hence, The New Colony Six, which went on to become one of Chicago’s most popular groups and eventually spread across the nation.
From their own family-financed Centaur records to the Chicago based giant Mercury records, the New Colony Six evolved from exuberant farfisa-propelled them / Yardbirds style garage mayhem into one of the most polished American ballad orientated harmony vocal bands of the late sixties.
after a string of big local hits, the national breakthrough came in 1968 with their Œrevelations¹ album and the hit singles Œi will always think about you¹ and Œthings i¹d like to say¹. Œrevelations¹ and the slightly jazzier Œattacking a straw man¹ lp that followed are impressive examples of period romantic songwriting and musical versatility
Like Free Design and Margo Guryan and given their obvious class their failure to become enormous seems in retrospect almost inexplicable but the fast changing pop scene of 1969 had found the New Colony Six at a stylistic crossroads and further progress was impeded by the internal strife that eventually dismantled the band.
Given the refined quality of their music, one will not be surprised to discover that the New Colony Six were cultured young people; according to ‘flip’ magazine’s ‘groovy guide to he groups’, Ray Graffia Jnr’s favourite things included cranberries and collecting coins, drummer Chic James smoked a pipe and dug filet mignon and mat-zoh ball soup and Ronnie Rice dug all colours but preferred Ferraris and Jaguars when it came to cars.
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