» Band formed by guitarist Shane Faber, keyboardist Ward Camp and drummer Bill Dube.
» Single “Angeline” (45 rpm vinyl) released on Bad Sneakers’ newly formed Now & Then Records.
» Bill Dube leaves to join the Johnny Neel Band. Shane and Ward team up with the longtime trio of bassist Dale Dallabrida, guitarist Marc Moss and drummer Neal Tillotson, who leave their gig backing up soul icon Larry Tucker. Watch.
» End of the decade: Marc, Shane, Ward, Bill and guest bassist Johnny Hedges of Jack of Diamonds play the End of the Decade Party at the historic State Theater, Newark, Del.
Sharing the stage: the indestructible Sin City Band, Roscoe, the Voltags (“Delaware’s first New Wave band”), Rafique and the Steppin’ Uniques, hula dancers juggling torches, flamingo puppets and MCs dressed as giant hamsters. Hey, it was still the ’70s.
» WTV videos: The five-piece band’s first performance is not for a live audience but for video cameras.
With the University of Delaware’s Winterim TV, Joe Dombroski directs “I Don’t Need a Reason” and “I Want You Right Now.” MTV would not be launched until August 1981.
» Wireless guitars: Bad Sneakers guitars and bass go wireless, telegraphing the band’s ongoing fascination with gee-whiz technology. Joe Dombroski joins the crew as audio technician.
» A self-produced studio demo includes songs by Marc and Dale, adding a sly New Wavy edge to the band’s growing catalog.
» The Bad Sneakers newsletter publishes its back-to-school issue.
» Rock the vote: In conjunction with the League of Women Voters, Bad Sneakers holds a midday concert in Wilmington’s Rodney Square encouraging citizens to register and vote.
This begins a tradition of public service in which the band gave back to its community. OK, free publicity and significant tax benefits don’t hurt either. OK, the whole thing started because the band thought it was the League of Women Boaters, with babes in cute sailing outfits.
» The Tally-Ho disco palace north of Wilmington, Del., morphs into one of the state’s leading rock venues. Over five years, Bad Sneakers will play scores of shows and debut two albums at the club – “alive and rockin’ seven nights a week,” a radio promo trumpets.
» “Angeline” wins second place for best single in readers’ poll by Wilmington, Del.-based monthly Fine Times, serving 100,000 readers in four states. The band takes third place for group vocals. Ward earns third place for synthesizer. It’s a start.
» The Bad Sneakers newsletter goes for baroque. No computer graphics here, just an IBM Selectric typewriter, lots of Letraset and some clip art.
» The Bad Sneakers newsletter this month looks like a big dollar bill, but instead of George Washington there’s a picture of Shane! Har!
» Big Red, a 1972 GMC truck with years of faithful service to Bad Sneakers and the Larry Tucker Band, was totally wasted in a highway accident en route to Frederick, Md. Read more
» Audio technician Dante Pagano (not his real name) leaves to seek fulfillment as a musician. He is succeeded by Greg Mack of Eighth Day, who becomes the funniest guy in the band.
» Happy birthday, Darlene: Band members serenade a fan during a show at Lucas McCain’s, Frederick, Md.
» Packing the truck: Stage gear is loaded into a brown 1970 model M1500 International Harvester truck, following a detailed three-page instruction sheet. Step 26: “Check club again. Shut door. Go home.” This band doesn’t leave much to chance. Read more
» Recording basic tracks for debut album “Sneak Attack” in Georgetown, Md.
» The Bad Sneakers newsletter gives a nod to the Reagan recession.
» Radio interview with WMPH-FM, Wilmington.
Host: “What do you guys do to relax?”
Shane: “I go to my girlfriend’s house.”
Marc: “Hey, that’s the same thing I do. … Funny I don’t run into you there.”
» “Angeline” named best single in Fine Times’ poll, after taking second place a year earlier. Bad Sneakers wins for best group vocals. Ward again earns third place for synthesizer.
» “Sneak Attack” released on the Now & Then label, Fine Times magazine reports. Read more
» The cover of The Paper Magazine: “We tend to make music that sounds the way a stainless steel kitchen looks,” Dale tells The Paper Magazine, which serves 100,000 readers in Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Read more
» The Paper Magazine reviews “Sneak Attack.” Read more
» “Sneak Attack” named best album by readers of The Paper Magazine. Bad Sneakers takes first place for group vocals; Shane wins best male vocal and best arranger.
» “Congratulations Bad Sneakers, your talents are the dreams of many,” says a mind-boggling cover story in the Worton, Md.-based fanzine “The Staged Musicians Review.”
We are not making this up. Read more
» “Sneak Attack” named best album in Fine Times’ poll, besting debut efforts by George Thorogood and Robert Hazard. Bad Sneakers takes first place for best light show and third for group vocals. Ward wins first for best synthesizer.
» “Bad Sneakers is rolling,” writes News Journal columnist Charlie Walker. “The promotional wizards behind Bad Sneakers, a local band on the run to stardom, have come up with a stroke of genius. Copies of the band’s album ‘Sneak Attack’ are being distributed to roller-skating rinks, according to band member Dale Dallabrida. The album has been faring well at record stores, and this is just another advance in a many-pronged attack.
“Dallabrida says the album is being played at rinks in Christiana, Del., in Elkton, Md., and downstate Delaware. ‘The idea is threefold. One is to get our record out to people who don’t get out to see the band – maybe they’re too young. The second is a marketing strategy, to see reaction from DJs. And thirdly … we happen to think our record is great skating music,’ Dallabrida says.”
» Ward leaves the band to set up his own recording and producing business in St. Georges, Del. His move triggers a tectonic shift midway through the band’s career. Rather than enlist a new keyboard player, the band has its bassist and both guitarists double on synthesizers. The investment in technology signals a radical new direction for Bad Sneakers’ songwriting, production and image.
» National TV exposure: Several songs videotaped June 5 at Wilmington’s Outdoor Cabaret appear on the USA Network’s “Hot Spots” program. The band says it will revamp its act to focus on electronica: “The guitar is an instrument of the past,” Shane says in an interview between songs.
» National indy music media notice “Sneak Attack”:
Option, a national music magazine based in Los Angeles, praises the album’s “solid musicianship, tight arrangements, clean production.”
International Rock, nationally syndicated new-music radio series originating in Michigan, says it will feature the music of Bad Sneakers through its first 13 shows.
Radio stations from Oregon to Florida request promo copies. “Sneak Attack” is already enjoying airplay in the Pacific Northwest and southern California.
The New Music Review, a cassette “sound magazine” originating in Florida, features cuts from Sneak Attack.
» “Bad Sneakers steps into the future with a new approach to dance-rock performance!” gushes a Now & Then Music press release. “The band has trimmed down to four members, each musician doubling on synthesizers to give the Bad Sneakers sound state-of-the-art versatility. Traditional mikes on stands have been replaced by tiny head-worn microphones.
“The new technology is reflected in the latest Bad Sneakers songs: hook-laden layers of electronic textures over an unmistakably ’80s rock dance beat. If you haven’t seen Bad Sneakers lately, you haven’t seen Bad Sneakers!”
Neal gets a set of Simmons electronic drums, and the other members get headless Steinberger-type guitars. Unmistakably ’80s, indeed. The Bad Sneakers Operations Manual attempts to explain. Read more
» The Bad Sneakers 23-Hour Hotline: Call (302) 368-5108 to find out where the band is appearing this week.
» Cutter Mohawk: Bad Sneakers videotapes a live outdoor concert at the Cutter Mohawk, an historic U.S. Navy ship anchored on Wilmington’s waterfront. Local bands Risque and Crazy Dog also appear. In a horrible twist of fate, the video recording deck remains on “pause” for most of the band’s performance.
» Makin’ tracks! “Bad Sneakers returns to the studio this month to continue work on their second album,” the band newsletter says. “Basic tracks are being recorded at Now & Then Studios in Newark, under the direction of producer Ward Camp. The LP will be released on the Now & Then label early next year, reflecting the new sound of Bad Sneakers: lean, streamlined state-of-the-art music for head and feet. Songs under consideration include ‘Anesthesia,’ ‘Down To It,’ ‘Man Overboard,’ ‘Ground Zero,’ ‘Paper Doll’ and other favorites from the Bad Sneakers repertoire. Wilmington News-Journal staff writer Al Mascitti will be present at various stages of the album-making process to take notes for a projected feature article.”
» Bad Sneakers thanks the nation’s stations for their interest in “Sneak Attack,” including WVVX, Chicago; WRGU, Washington; WBCR and WSIA, New York; KGNU, Boulder, Colo.; WSPN, Saratoga Springs, N.Y.; WRNP, New Paltz, N.Y.; WUNH, Durham, N.H.; WACC, Arnold, Md.; WMFO, Medford, Mass.; KVSC, St. Cloud, Minn.; WRPR, Mahwah, N.J.; and WFDU, Teaneck, N.J.
» BS holiday TV special: Written and produced entirely without adult supervision, “Hark! The Hairy Angels Sing!” features new Bad Sneakers songs and a few genuinely funny moments, as well as some painful sketches that are best forgotten. Watch
» Bad Sneakers sweeps The Paper Magazine poll: Readers name “Sneak Attack” best album for the second year running, and choose Bad Sneakers as best original group. The band also earns first place in group vocals and group sound. Shane takes first place as best songwriter and third place in arranger and rhythm guitar categories. Neal wins as best drummer. Marc earns second place as lead guitarist. Ward comes in second place for electric keyboard and third place for synthesizer (huh?). Bad Sneakers thanks the readers of The Paper Magazine for their support, and congratulates them on their good taste.
» Ward Camp dies: Ward C. Camp, a founding member of the rock band Bad Sneakers, died from a gunshot wound to the head. Read more
» Bad Sneakers audiovisual specifications: For the technically minded, here’s the sound and light gear the band was running. Note the four aircraft landing lights. Read more
» The next Bad Sneakers album will be titled “Beat the Meter,” the winning entry in the band’s fan contest. Runners-up: “Son of Sneak Attack,” “Footprints of Your Mind,” “Traction,” “Where’s the Beat?” and “Big Ducks in the Basement.”
» Snakebit: Bad Sneakers headlines the nine-hour 55th aniversary show at Newark’s historic State Theater, videotaped by Angeli Film and Video. Also appearing: Tommy Conwell’s Young Rumblers, Rocket 88, the Markley Band, the Maytags, Kim Millner and the duo of Alfie Moss and Dexter Koonce.
In an eerily familiar twist of fate, the cable carrying audio from the stage to the control booth – known as the “snake” – fails, rendering the band’s performance unlistenable.
Onlookers, however, blame all those new-fangled synthesizers, electronic drums, headset microphones and funny little guitars for making the sound system blow up.
» “Beat the Meter” previewed on Wilmington FM powerhouse WSTW. Host Bob Bowersox plays both sides in full and chats with the band.
» “Beat the Meter” released on Now & Then Records and distributed to more than 400 alternative radio stations in conjunction with trade publication College Music Journal.
Early reviews run positive from U.S. college radio stations, Ocean City, Md.-based Oceana, the Delaware Beachcomber (Rehoboth Beach, Del.) and even the Keyser (W.Va.) Rock Monitor. A proposed TV documentary, “The Making of ‘Beat the Meter,'” fails to materialize.
“From the frantic crunch of ‘Anesthesia’ to the silky balladry of ‘All I Want to Know,’ Bad Sneakers displays an impressive new depth of songwriting talent,” one writer says. Well, the writer of a Bad Sneakers press release.
» What sort of music do the Sneaks play? “It’s hard to label,” bassist Dale Dallabrida tells the Delaware State News. “Let’s just say it has digital texture and audio wizardry, and that it’s sleek contemporary dance rock.” Read more, if you dare.
» “Beat the Meter” hits Number 25 on U.S. Rock magazine’s independent-label airplay chart. Bad Sneakers edges out releases from Black Flag, Allan Holdsworth, Billy Bragg and Naked Raygun, while nipping at the heels of Husker Du, Sonic Youth, the Minutemen and the Meat Puppets.
» U.S. Rock critic Chris Mehl writes: “‘Beat the Meter’ is packed with memorable, danceable songwriting as well as chancy, exciting arrangements. With all four guys singing lead and writing songs, the excitement runs high and sustains throughout.
“They top all this off with a great live performance of ‘Anesthesia’ and the a capella ‘Invisible Man II,’ making this record a complete package.”
» “Bad Sneakers, a fantastic band that is quickly on the way up, is offering any radio station a copy of their second album ‘Beat The Meter.’ Airplay in the East is very heavy, phones are great, and I personally can say I’m impressed with their sound! Great album!” says Rick Kimball, assistant program manager at radio station WDOV in Dover, Del.
Buffalo, N.Y.-based music industry newsletter Behind the Scenes reports that WDOV has added “Blue Light” to its playlist along with Cyndi Lauper’s “All Through the Night” and Lionel Richie’s “Penny Lover.” WDOV joins a dozen regional stations adding tracks from “Beat the Meter.”
» Town council members in Smyrna, Del., turn down Bad Sneakers’ offer to perform a free concert in the town park. Councilman James S. Mood notes that the only thing he ever got for free was advice, “and sometimes that was bad.”
The band issues a snooty press release in response. You try to do something nice for Smyrna, and this is what you get. Read more
» Brush with greatness: Columbia recording artists Scandal (“Goodbye to You,” “The Warrior”) hobnob with members of Bad Sneakers after the Sneaks’ show at Kenny’s Castaways in the heart of Manhattan’ s Greenwich Village. From left: Marc Moss, Scandal’s Patty Smyth, Neal and Keith Mack of Scandal.
» News Journal columnist Al Mascitti on “Beat the Meter”: “I think it’s sort of a cross between ‘Thriller’ and ‘The Dark Side of the Moon” and better than both – an opinion that has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I co-wrote two of the songs.” Read more
» New York-based Cashbox magazine names “Beat the Meter” a Feature Pick: “Pop melody and vocal harmony-conscious dance rock shade this second LP from Delaware’s Bad Sneakers. Each of the band’s members sings lead and is well-versed on the synthesizer. Strong material with an abundance of hooks.”
» Bad Sneakers appears on Dancin’ on Air on WPHL-TV (17) in Philadelphia. “You’re a talented bunch of guys with a great future ahead of you,” producer Michael Nise says.
» Rock the vote, again: The League of Women Voters of Greater Wilmington joins rock band Bad Sneakers to encourage citizens to register and vote. League members will be on hand in Rodney Square to provide information about upcoming elections. Bad Sneakers performs from noon to 1:30 p.m. See, Smyrna?
» The Bad Sneakers Annual Review is published annually by Now & Then Music, Box 9650, Newark DE 19711. Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable state and federal laws and will be swiftly avenged by the mighty sword of Zandor the Giant Slime Chipmunk. Read more
» Fan mail: The good, the bad and the weird. Read more
» Bad Sneakers’ namesake bowling team, sponsored by the band, gains top spot in state tourney action. “It’s the mid-point of the 18th Delaware State Bowling Association Tournament,” the News Journal reports. “Bad Sneakers holds down No. 1 in Class A team with pinfall of 3,237. Skip Saienni rolled a 695 series, when the other Bad Sneakers, Eugene Saienni, Ken Hofstetter, Jesse Edwards and Henry Davis Jr. joined in for a 1,073 scratch game.”
» “Caught in the Act” video shot in New York. Directed by Howard Zeidman of TV soap opera “One Life to Live,” the video stars Sean “Hollywood” Hamilton as the guy who gets caught. “Billboard” magazine runs a photo of the shoot. Read more
With Zeidman bankrolling the project, Bad Sneakers yields all creative control. The band is horrified at the result. Watch
» Dale leaves the band while recording is under way on the band’s third album. Charlie Hill joins as bassist. Read more
» “Big Ducks in the Basement” is released.
» Shane leaves the band. Marc and Neal officially end Bad Sneakers.
» Shane reports on his first year of life after BS as president of Tritone Productions. Read more
» WSTW-FM’s Bob Bowersox dusts off “Beat the Meter” and discovers it still sounds pretty good. He likes “Big Ducks” better, though.
» “Invisible Man” added to playlist on WRUW-FM (“More music, fewer hits”), Cleveland, serving northeast Ohio from the Pennsylvania border to Toledo as well as parts of Michigan and Canada.
» “Beat the Meter” remains in the library of KUOI-FM (“Witness the strength of street knowledge”), Moscow, Idaho.
» Bad Sneakers gains 100th fan on the band’s Facebook page.
» Dale dies: Dale Anthony Dallabrida, an exceptional writer, editor and musician, died Aug. 5 at his home in Wilmington from a pulmonary embolism. He was 59.
Neal remembers Dale
» Bad Sneakers makes Delaware Today Magazine’s Top 50 Songs list: “Perhaps Delaware’s best entry in the ’80s new-wave genre, Newark’s Bad Sneakers were one of the state’s most prolific live acts of their era.” Read more …