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Sainte Anthony’s Fyre interview with Bob Sharples

March 10, 2013

Sainte Anthony’s Fyre interview with Bob Sharples

Sainte Anthony’s Fyre are the most heavy underground rock you will ever hear. They released only one album and thanks to Rockadrome there is a brand new reissue of it. Bob Sharples, the drummer told the story. Before the start of the interview I would like to quote something he said to me:
“When I was in the studio up here trying to rerecord Fyre music, my bass player/Hammond organ guy (the late John Whitesel…42) was a little perplexed about original recording…he
discovered that all Fyre music (Greg was ahead in his time for those days)  we played in those days
was played in a “drop down-key”….you,re the first to know!! Nobody knew this…cosmic!!”

Interview:
You were from Trenton, New Jersey. Let’s
start with your childhood and teen years. Where did you grow up and what were
some of your biggest influences?
To start with I was born the U.K. (bow to
the Queen!) and when we came here, we would always go back, so i was already
moving around. At age ten I was on the BBC playing my trombone and would listen
to the radio in the a.m….sounded like shite haha. Years later ended up in
Trenton, NJ I mostly grew up in this country, but as a child I always listened
to my fathers albums (he was a drummer in England). Thelonious Monk, Chet
Baker, GENE KRUPA, Charlie Ventura, lots of jazz and traditional jazz….as a
kid. Also listened to the 1st. Beatles and Stones, now I had to choose between
Stones and Beatles……love songs to 13 years old girls….or R&B, I
chose the Stones especially after seeing Mick Jagger spit on the stage on
national TV! That was decadent and to me that’s what rock & roll is all
about. At age 12, in N. Bergen, I saw a kid wearing Cuban heeled boots as I
did, and started a band. As a young teenager I listened to the Blues Magoos,
The Shadows Of Knight (Gloria), The Real McCoys, Searchers, Moby Grape,
Quicksilver Messenger Service… So many influences. As my mother woke up…I
was playing “Freak Out” by Frank Zappa (“Help I’m A Rock) and
scarred the shit out of her.
Were you or other members in any other
bands and if so did they release anything?
Pre-Fyre band we were all in different
bands. I was in so many bands ie. the Statics, The Orange Invasion, The Tins,
D.D. and the Dive Bombers until at age 15 I auditioned for this really weird
guy…..a young Tom Nardi!! Later on he would record an album called “The
Marshmallow Way”, bubble gum music to the max, on the cover of the album
was a giant bubble gum machine with him inside of it….we used to break his
balls about it, sooooo funny Tom and I hooked up with this Radio guy from
Philly who did live shows every Saturday night for high schools, auditoriums,
and churches (The 3rd Degree) playing loud psychedelic music until one show at
a church, Tom wanted to do the “Who” on the last song… I remember
Tom kicking his Dana Electro amp off stage as I demolished and flipped over all
my gear, there was smoke, chaos, cymbals hitting the floor….that was the end
of that gig and band. I didn’t see Tom Nardi for some years. Greg was in a band
called Peters Precious Soul and they were good.

How did you guys came together to form
Sainte Anthony’s Fyre and why did you use this name?


Ahhh…this is a great question! This is the birth of Sainte Anthonys Fyre.
Years later we would have non stop jam sessions in a
friends large building, way in the back of his mothers property. All my music friends would hang
out in black light and very psychedelic atmosphere, we would sleep there. We were always high
on grass, amphetamines, acid and lots of wine, but were always jamming. Greg had made a
bit of a name for himself, I had started hanging with him and he came to jam with us on rare
occasions. then I didn’t see him for quiet a while. Things continued that way (in the psycho building) until one day I got a call from Greg, he had hooked up with a rock promoter having great success with her #1 band..”Betsy Jean and The Gems”, you know with a horn section, Hammond organ
and Betsy on vocals. Promoter was Jean Francis and wanted to put together more Motown
bands. Greg was in touch with her and and I was to be the drummer. When I showed up in her
basement, there was this weird guy on bass, Richy Helmke. Her plan was to start out with guitar, bass
and drums, get a horn section, keys and a front man. While we waited for this to happen we would, as
per Jean, have to start learning her song list. We waited and waited all the while developing a good
chemistry and started jamming on this new guy…Jimi Hendrix, she would come down from her 3rd. floor
office and make us stop and get back to her music. We had to wait for her to leave. Meanwhile, and I
got a real kick out of this, we were getting louder, then Greg showed up with his 1st Marshall Stack and
Richy followed suite and blew her out of her office, but that was OK w/ us, we said fuck her shit
and split that scene…..and that’s how Fyre was born plus we had a small song list ie Cream, Hendrix, Doors so on
and so on. We excelled in improvisational long solo type music. We tried the club seen with all the au-gogo
dancers but always got thrown out while playing…trying to break the boredom, Richy and I would play
out of time, complicated bass and drum rhythms the dancers couldn’t dance to and got down or out of
there perches pissed off…haha!!..We were breaking all the rules and it was fucking great. I remember
playing at this psychedelic place in Philly, Greg was always trying to be innovated and nailed treble horrns to
some old cabinets, right behind memso when he hit high notes they would scream, making my eyeballs
go up in my head…..hence Marshal stack #2. We just couldn’t come up with a name we all
agreeded on but Greg was reading and very much into a book by Fuller “The Days of
Sainte Anthonys Fire”. We hated the name but Greg was stuck on it, so we just went with it, and for a long time before we played, Greg would
have us take a concoction of speed, amphetamines and acid to enhance
our performance… I was breaking a lot more sticks, and skins!!

Young Nardi and Sharples. Nardi is laying on the floor.

What do you remember from some of the
early basement rehearsing? Did you use a lot of “psychedelics”?
Early basement rehearsals were always
difficult because it was hard to find a place to rehearse. When my parents
weren’t home we would move all the furniture to another room (split level) and have at
it. Greg would bring some new songs and we had to get it down the way Greg wanted it. There were always
fights or Greg walking out. Greg had a best friend…..Harry Wolski who taught algebra at a high school, but
choose to live in a shithole, in a row house in the bad side of town, but Greg would scramble a practice at Harrys
house…a row house with loud amps. Chaos, booze, and all kinds of LSD
flourished!!I must mention that we always partied with Harry anyway. One
time I got so blasted I fell down the stairs, and while I lay on the bottom
step…help came in the form of….Greg with a magic marker
wrote “FUCK” on my forehead! In the morning I tried to wash it off
but it stayed on my forehead plus I had to catch a bus. Yeah we were using
“psychedelics”, everybody was getting into Hendrix or Cream, anything
psychedelic. We…per Greg, had just gotten a new
manager…Dickie Diamond who also kept Patti La Belle and the Blue Belles busy along with Kool and The Gang. Somewhere
in here is where we lost Richy to the military…so remember that old bass player-Tom Nardi, well he was on board.

What do you remember from recording your
album, released in 1970? Where did you record the album? What gear did you guys
use? And what can you tell about Zonk Records Inc. How many copies were
released and how did the distribution looked like if there was any? Were there
any singles out?

Before we went in the studios to record our
album, Dickie Diamond had us recording in CBS studios along with Patti LaBelle, payment for doing this was to let us put
down some tracks for ourselves (more missing tracks). Recording our Fyre album was a trip, I
remember at times staying in the studio, 5 days and nights non stop, the guys in suites spread out piles of speed all over
the console. Greg didn’t like his sound and came up with opening these double
doors which led to a hall way, at the end of which Greg set up a marshal and put studio mikes by those doors This studio was L & H just outside of Philly. We were
upstate NJ for some reason, but someone had the brainy idea of popping into
“ALL Platinum Records a Motown, soul studio where instead of amps. they would just run you straight through the board!! And Greg was pissed and walked out..haha,
then we were booked for Electric Ladyland studios. by now we were up to 3 marshal stacks, and
Nardi went nuts with Sunn Cerado Cabinets and heads, with all lower cabinets
loaded into our new (60,000 at the time). Our new management, Bob Balerna and Frank
Kelly owned a chain of hippi clothing stores the main one in down town Trenton,
after hours when the doors were locked we would
all get blasted or Zonked. I forget how many records were pressed and released,
but I think maybe between 5,000 and 10,000. I
wasn’t supposed to think about that, they were strict. We would rehearse in
the basement of the “Hip Pocket”. Now in those
days they also had a sub basement in which I found my way into and discovered
air raid supplies, which to me were shite, until I found that
bottle of “Pheno-Barbital”, I was mia for 2 days until they found
me…haha.
Would love if you could comment each
song from the LP.
Random note: About the band, Tom, Greg and
myself, we had rituals like the music 1st, (always) being driven to gigs, to make sure we were
all accounted for, do our sound balance (check) then we were ready. I remember doing sound checks
for drums with Mick Fleetweed….Fleetwood and he would gab with me! Just think, 2 Brits=2 drummers, very polite
indeed. When I was young my father told me “if it wasn’t for Paul Revere, he might of been the Duke of Jersey. Now
most bands play and go home, not us, we would always rally at Gregs chicks house, Harry’s or most of the time my house where we would try to come down by drinking, downers or Quaaludes. I remember Greg’s favorite was booze and ludes
and we always took care of one or another…even our wives and ladies took care
of us. I,m just going to put this in here….at my
house after playing our balls off, we were very, very out of it and I had to
use my bathroom after being in there for a few minutes the
fucking door opens up and it,s a very ludded up Greg wanting to see if I was
alright and starts motor mouthing me, I said please, then
noticing our absence in comes Nardi and it was so funny…we ended up having a
band meeting which invariably turned into a wrestling
match! Greatest times ever!

We would get airplay by underground radio
stations, especially if Mountain, or Blue Cheer were coming to to town. The
first thing I did when I got my drivers licence was to go see Blue Cheer at the
Electric Factory in Philly, and they were as loud as us, and there claim to
fame was that they were the loudest band around. Remember they had to record
there 2nd. album out side on pier 54 (Outsideinside)…phasing. One of our
problems that fucking Motown records couldn’t handle, or MIX until 40 years.
later!!


A1          Love
Over You
Listen for Greg’s 2nd “ghost
guitar” interwoven through out the song and you’ll hear it after the song
stops. It’s weird (and done in the hallway, there were offices down that hall, and when Greg
started adjusting his levels, all those people had to split…haha). This song was 100 times better live-in
cocert…oh my mistake, leave that in there..COCert haha…ever been to one?
Also note Gregs classical piece within his solo. Greg played classical violin when
he was young.
A2          Get
Off
This was a fun song to play, a meaty
begging on Gregs cue he would say “get it” and onstage sparks would
fly, listen to Gregs ending riff, he made no mistakes.
A3          Summer
Fun
Ah yes, I always thought that if you added
a flute and mouth organ, it would sound like Canned Heat, what with the drum
shuffle and so on. I don’t know where he came up with this song but I do remember, as groupies go, there
were these 2 transvestites who came to see Greg every where we played until one night, Greg already fucked up on Quaaludes, kid-napped him and took him off to somewhere in Pennsy,
where I was living. About 3 in the A.M. I get this call from Greg to PLEASE come
get him, given directions I pro ceded, and when I found him and got him he was dressed as a
women, make up, jewelry and I did like his lipstick…told me never tell
anyone, but a day or 2, he starts going over this new song…Summer Fun.
A4          Star
Light
Kind of a funk song with 3 separate
instrumental solos in a row, all connected, discounting my solo, the others were great. When Gregs
solo starts…it’s all dynamics..smooth transition into his solo then after these solos are done listen to
the 3 of us playing, jamming, just getting into it. A much better live song, I was funny in
those days about drum solos…I guess a head thing but they usually lasted 20 min. and I would get a
standing ovation some times. It wasn’t long ago (in those days) I saw Cream’s Ginger Baker with two bass drums
and his solos put the Zap on me. Yeah I remember I was 16 when I got my 2nd bass drum.
B1          Lone
Soul Road
This song was always in demand and played
on underground radio stations, I mean this is riff city, what can I say rhythm, blend of instruments and 2 bass tracks, reg. and fuzz bass, we knew all of our changes….blind! I was stuck in the drum room with a small glass window, I
couldn’t see anybody, I was left all alone…hehe. Sometimes a tech. would come in to make a mike adjustment or
whatever and he would bail….post-haste, to much wine and beans=purple stinky haze…or call Nardi in to see something
and he would puke!
B2          With
Your Beau
Lots of strange overdubbed guitar solos,
which Greg would try to duplicate live playing that chord melody thing.
B3          Chance
of Fate

/

B4          Wet
Back
MMMM lets see, well this was one of our
older songs, and nothing to do with ethnicity, I love our little
intros, bringing Greg’s guitar solos in, and
when he was there…just close your eyes.
“The original Wavey Gravey, I remember our
road guys would bring him a long, cause he spent a life lonly…”

Where all and with who did you play?
What are some favourite memories from performing live?
We would play as opening act for so many
people like Grand Funk Railroad, my favorite Fleetwood Mac, Patti Labelle, James Gang with Joe Walsh, Edgar Winter Group
and all the soul acts with Dickie Diamond. I have so many favorite memories of playing
live, I have a hard time singling them out… Just playing live was what we
wanted. Management didn’t want us loading or
setting up gear up anymore, that was up to our road guys and tech. That was
fine by me! I think most of our funny times was with (a
mention to) our road guys, they were so dedicated. There was always Big Jim
Cerand, he was almost 7 feet tall and wider than a
door opening and lots of scarves, I used to look at him talking to my mother..so polite until he got me out side, then the fun
began…you know..wine chugging competing, along w/ cheeba, and oh
yes…”hey Sharples how does the wine taste, cause I just put a
tab of acid in it” Then there was tri cornered hat…Gary Sampson and
“little John who was being vetted for the Breed M.C. gang, so the Breed
started to follow us around and you couldn’t tell them to sit down or move over!

What happened next. You were active from
1968 to 1972. What happened for you and other band members in the 70s, 80s
and so on?
After the demise of Fyre, in 1973 I had an
invite to move with my 1st. wife to Arkansas. One of the better bands in Ark.
were auditioning for a drummers, so now I was in
“SASS” who played original music, got along and opened for Nitty
Gritty Dirt Band. After SASS, I tried out for and this was funny….an Elvis impersonator
band in which we threw him out and just played country music at this private
club in El-Dorado, Ark. not far from LA. We played there every
weekend, Thur. Fri, Sat, and Sunday night The club was called The Rathskellar
Club, and we or our wives would take the door money and come early
Monday morning we each made a shit load of money. I flew back to visit my mother and tried to
locate Greg, they told me he was in the hospital so I went to see him….nobody
told me what to expect… He was completely yellow and bruised with cherosis……he died the next day!! Yeah I know he drank himself to
death…but I know what killed him..
What happened after Fyre, was I got out of
Dodge and I heard years later was Nardi this shit head drummer George Miller, was always when I was
back in town for a visit, ego tripping about him being the drummer for Fyre and that was total
bullshit and I let him know with much attitude. What he really was talking about was Nardi, George and other
musicians formed a band called “Shock Troop” staring a very drunk Greg Onusko (OHM)….they should of
taken care of Greg! I had other good bands up in Kansas, Okl, Texas. You see I had a very good time doing
that country stuff, but I divorced, after 7 years, a very good wife and ran off to Kansas chasing this road
lady, Tina, who became wife #2….that lasted 6 months. In a court house in Ponca City after that divorce, I needed
some papers notarized and this very, very beautiful long haired paralegal I had been talking to (with my big cup of
whiskey in hand) told me to stop by her office and she would notarize my papers. We became famous friends….and I
married her, she was from Texas…wife #3…we had a son, Rory, after Rory Gallagher. She spent a shit load of
money on new gear (drums) for me and they set in the living room. I auditioned for this band in Kansas….Driver, a techno
monster band and off I went playing everywhere…mostly collegs, punk clubs that were rare, in Wichita, by know I was a
full blown alcoholic…”ocean going”. We would drink, fight and make
up. But while I was away, her family came and took
her to Texas, I never got over that and along with my drinking I was in and out of hospitals…even given my last rites
once, but stayed with Driver in Kansas. Mention to my very best friend Jeff
Thomas, whom we were always getting arrested on a
regular basis…and so on!
How do you like the brand new official
reissue by Rockadrome? Isn’t it amazing, young people from all over the world
are more into your music, than they were back in the 70’s?
Enter, 40 years later….Rockadrome Records
finally mixed an unmixed old record and I had no idea how GREAT the reissue and release would be!!!!  I had been breaking Dennis balls for 2 years but he came thru big time, even sent me a big box of samples, vinyls and CDs. To be honest I
went 4 days until I gave it (new records) a listen……..WOW!!!…it’s amazing, I mean how did they do that! I’ve had many people wanting to
know where and when they could get a hold of the new, official Fyre release.
Years ago they were selling it in N. Korea, Japan, Europe
and even a Swedish web-site, maybe it became a cult classic.

Are you still in contact with band
mates?
Those old band mates are gone so no
contacts with them, but I still talk to other musicians that still remember the
good old days. In those days we were not popular with a lot of
the other bands, ya know…we are to kewl to talk to us, with all that magical
mystery shit, or bar bands. Two brothers….The Van Eaton Brothers, got
signed by Apple Records but for what, they don’t talk to me, not even on Facebook, which my son Patrick set up for me under Savona Sharples
(friend an old hippi), a lot of women found me…haha. Oh yeah I moved back to Jersey in 1980 and spent a a lot of time in and out of rehabs, but what really straitened me out was my 4th wife (female Stalin) of
now 29 yrs. She inadvertently got pregnat (in our 30s) and on my
birthday…Jan. 16, gave me the son I had lost sooo many years. ago, and didn’t
drink as of 1990…isn’t life weird? But as my mentor Kieth Richards said
“There’s always alternatives…where as a photo journalist, my doc. gave me
a bottle of cough syrup w/ codeine. And then pain killers for over 10 years.  Well I’m off all that shite now.

What currently occupies your life?
Taking care of my wife, my old Tabby cat who
does not leave my side, watching my long…long beard grow, I live in the
Adirondack mountains so I guess with my skull cap and cheap
sunglasses, I look like Billy Gibbons of ZZ-Top and scare these hayseeds..hoho
“Would you like some candy”?
Someone lately gave me one of the biggest
buds I’ve ever seen, so here and there I sniff it and get China eyed. I’ve got
an acre of ground so I have to watch for animals like bears and Bigfoot.
What was the main inspiration behind
the band? Your extra raw sound and amazing atmosphere will not be forgotten…
Our main inspiration with Fyre was all the
attention bands like Cream were getting for improvisational music,
while we out of boredom, were already doing in that Jeanne Francis promoters basement
only to be thrown out. Where ever we would rehearse or play the crowds were getting
bigger and bigger as we were good at it. We didn’t have to watch one another for cues
to changes, we had our eyes closed and just FELT what was coming next…Greg’s music stand
on stage with a road map on it…what a trip seeing those people getting into it. A big
plus here was later on with management, if we didn’t have any big bookings, we always and you
could count on it, played colleges up and down the east coast, my favorite one being Douglas
University…all female college where they always wanted us back. To think, that at that 1st day at Jeane
Francis, out of all the drummers Greg could of had in Trenton, he called me.
Thanks a lot for taking your time and
effort. Would you like to send a message to It’s Psychedelic Baby Magazine
readers?

I’m so amazed to be called upon
by…”It,s Psychedelic Baby Magazine” by Klemen Breznikar, what an honor!!
To people who read It’s Psychedelic Baby
Magazine….It,s kewl to keep this style alive, have some fun with it, and for musicians, try going into different
types of music because it stays with you inside. When I 1st. moved here I jammed
around, when you do this word gets around and I
came up with my new Hammond/bass player who took me to his friends cookout with only as I was to learn Metal
guys. When I mentioned Green Day they made fun of me. These guys hadn’t even played out of state, so I just left,
and I love most metal music, but I’m trying to make a point here, what if they
had to move somewhere with no metal music, would
they quite playing? Remember me moving to Arkansas and running out of rock bands to play in? I didn’t piss and
moan I joined whatever…so it was country music, as it turned out I came up with my style of drumming….decadent country
music fueled by lots of money (Conway Twittys kid) The Jessica James Gang Nashville style…oh yeah staying on road
buses. Well I don’t mean to piss off any metal guys, but I guess I loose track
of all the styles in metal…speed metal, thrash
metal..oh I don’t know….dick metal, Tit metal, turd squash metal it’s all right though…but because at a young age I
played classical, Jazz, real R&B, even some good Polka music, don’t laugh
at me just cause you can’t!! I better shut up
know!! And I don’t care much about mainstream country.
Send me a message to
savona173@aol.com………………………or women to Snogginu@aol.com  
Peace people….love
Interview made by Klemen Breznikar/2013
© Copyright
http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2013
5 Comments
  1. Heavypsychmanblog

    Kick ass interview Thanx Very much

  2. THAL band

    Just picked up the Rockadrome vinyl reissue. Kicks ass! Thank you for the great music.

  3. Anonymous

    Bob is a great guy, and a versatile, polished drummer. The man can play anything.

  4. Jeff E.

    I stumbled on to Saint Anthony's Fyre on YouTube. Then found this interview. I dig the music and really liked the interview. I am glad you survived Bob Sharples. What stories you could tell. Peace. Jeffro

  5. bruce s kelso

    hi bob. wow what a story. very sad to hear what happened to greg. RIP brother. first found the lp in 77 beat to shit but it started my long crusade to find a mint one. thanks to dennis( a great guy) at rockadrome for this OUTSTANDING reissue.all the best bob peace,bruce

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