Partial HARRY SANDLER Discography

This page has been reconstructed from a cached version of the original, which was a part of the now defunct Boston Rock & Roll Museum web site www.dirtywater.com.

Click on the blue links to hear sound clips.

Harry Sandler

Harry Sandler So the adage goes, “in the end of our journey, we find our beginning” and it is at this critical juncture we find our dear friend Harry Sandler. December of 1969 marked the end of the whirlwind run of the band Orpheus.

Come January, we had officially kicked off the decade of “the 70s”. In search of self and of enlightenment, Harry and a friend divested themselves of their worldly goods - except of course his trusty drum kit, which survived both the Mods and Orpheus and safely made its way to his parents' basement - and the intrepid lads soon found themselves in Lisbon, Portugal. For the next three months they would travel from Spain to Gibraltar, from the Kasbah of Tangiers to Mauritania, and from Marrakech to Casablanca. Many a night would be spent in mud huts with no running electricity.

As a member of the Mods and Orpheus, Harry was always found behind the drums. In the studio with Orpheus he often sang background vocals, but live it was strictly skins. At rehearsals and down time, he would often tinker around on the six-string where he learned the non-traditional voicing and chord structures of Bruce Arnold and Jack McKennes.

It was at the beginning of this Mediterranean expedition that fate showed its hand and the wandering Sandler came upon an acoustic guitar in a small village store. He would spend the rest of the trip writing and singing and strumming. When he emerged three months later from the clouds of hashish (some swear it would be years later that he actually emerged), Harry Sandler had made the metamorphosis from drummer boy into a bona fide free wheelin', guitar wieldin', songwriting troubadour. It was time to come home.

170 Thorndike Street in Brookline had served as the Boston base of Orpheus' road crew and members during it's waning months. On its kitchen wall there was a sign that simply read, “NO BREAKS”. It defined the law of the good-natured chicanery and relentless ribbing that all it's occupants and those who dared to enter it's walls were to abide by. By the early seventies, 170 had become a lair of communal and carnal doctrine and it was at this address that the Harry Sandler Circus was born.

Harry Sandler Circus Inspired by Mad Dogs and Englishmen, the Circus was never ending, revolving door of New England Teen Scene ex-patriots featuring members of the Rockin' Ramrods, The Orphans, Boston, Mass, The Reveliers, and of course, the Mods. The concept musically was quite simple… throw structure and traditional constraints out the window and anything goes. After spending years in the world of two minute and thirty second pop gems and perfecting the art of note for note replications of cover tune standards, Harry wanted to break loose. These were the early days of the post-cultural revolution and the idea of freeform, loosely structured arrangements was quite appealing. Once and for all Harry shed his role of one of the city's premier drummers to become the ringleader (guitar and vocals) of his very own circus.

The music itself was a glorious stew of country, raga, ragtime, blues, minstrel, rock, roll and theatre - all wrapped up in technical proficiency and feel good presentation. Recorders, fiddles, saxophones and pianos littered the musical landscape with nods to Neil Young's After the Goldrush, John Prine, The Kinks' Muswell Hillbillies, David Bowie's Hunky Dory, Leon Russell's Carney and Billy Joel's Piano Man.

For the majority of the next seven years, Sandler could be found hitchhiking his way throughout the Northeast with a pocket full of food stamps and a guitar on his back. It was not so unusual for him to perform as a duo at an afternoon happy hour and later that evening be fronting a seven to twelve piece band across town. The Harry Sandler Circus became year-round fare at the likes of Joe's Place, Bunratty's, the Oxford Ale House, Jack's, the Orson Wells, Brandy's, Sandy's, and Zircon and, on a warm summer's day, it was not uncommon to find them on stage at his favorite dig, The Cambridge Commons (birthplace of Jonathan Richman).

Though the gigs were plentiful and the act rose to a level of local notoriety, the nucleus of the Circus' ragtag line-up eventually spun off on its' own direction. Sandler today recalls, “At a certain point the band had developed its own personality and the band and I grew apart musically. But still we maintained a very close relationship. I actually became their booking agent.” By 1975, Phil Gentile (who would later pen the local hit “Mama Lied”) and others appeared on the Boston scene under the moniker Hummit.

The following two years saw the Circus evolve into the Harry Sandler Road Show and, later, the Harry Sandler Good Time Show featuring players such as Hartley Severns (T-Bone Walker, Airline), David Broderick (Tom Rush) and Bobby Lynch.

The last hours of nineteen seventy-six were spent overhauling the engine of Harry's Volkswagen Beetle and, come the new year, he and ex-Ultimate Spinach drummer Russ Levine headed for the left coast as a major snowstorm crept into town.

“A gypsy at heart, and at times he seems to exist on air”
     - Charles Guiliano, Real Paper, on Harry Sandler

Hollywood Harry They soon made camp on the corner of Western and Hollywood and, except for a quick trip back east to cure a bout of homesickness, it is Los Angeles that Sandler would call home for the next fourteen years.

In Venice Beach, Harry would reconnect with Boston alumni that included Bobby Dunlap (Boston, Mass), Jeff “Skunk” Baxter (Ultimate Spinach), Annie McLoone (Fast Annie), Jocko Marcellino (Sha Na Na), Elliot Randall (Steely Dan), Jack Bruno (Apple Pie Motherhood Band), and David Woodford (Swallow, James Montgomery Band). He would rub shoulders with Rikki Lee Jones, share stages with Hunter S. Thompson and Al Stewart and, eventually, became the agent/road manager for the musical career of Dennis Quaid & the Eclectics during Quaid's “Great Balls of Fire” period (the duo Sandler & Dunlap would often be the show's opening act). It was here in the City of Angels where Harry would perform at the Hollywood Bowl alongside of Robin Williams and, finally, meet the lovely Miss Shirley whom he would wed and return to New England with to raise their son Ian.

In 1994, Jack, Harry & the Snake (3/4 of the original Orpheus) sold out three nights in Cambridge at the Kendall Café. In the summer of 2003, the Mods appeared for the first time in over thirty-seven years at a benefit for the Boston Rock & Roll Museum.

Today Harry Sandler is a vice-president of a prestigious international lecture agency whose CEO was actually the promoter of the infamous 1965 Manning Bowl show in Lynn (featuring The Rolling Stones and the Mods) and represents Mick Fleetwood (who once self-proclaimed Fleetwood Mac as The Boston Tea Party's house band) and Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, the former Doobie Brother/Steely Dan/Ultimate Spinach guitarist who speaks nationally as a motivational speaker - teaching non-linear thinking that inspires his audiences to think outside the box, amongst others .

Who would have guessed the fate of the South Shore boy teen who auditioned for his first band by pounding out beats on his parents' living room furniture? Over the course of the next twenty-five years, Harry Sandler penned, performed and produced a body of work numbering well over one hundred songs. (His first composition, Magic Air, appears on Orpheus' Ascending LP)

“I always said, 'It's not the person with the most things that in the end wins. It's the person with the best stories!”, says Sandler.

Something tells me that the long, strange trip it's been is not quite over.

Harry Sandler also formerly served on the Board of Advisors for the Boston Rock & Roll Museum.

Chuck White, March 2004

154 Adams Street
Suite 1
Waltham, MA 02453


Harry Sandler: click here
The Mods: click here
Orpheus: click here
Orpheus Reborn: click here
Sandler & Dunlap: click here