The Lonely Things

While on vacation in Charlestown, RI, my younger son, Uriah had an idea to try and find information regarding a band I was part of between 1965 and 1967. Together with Uriah and his brother Noah, we set out, on laptops, searching for The Lonely Things, our band name, and a record we made in 1966, "Our Generation." The B side was an instrumental named "Zephyr," written by another band member, Peter Pappas.

Believe it or not, after much searching and refining, Uriah came up with several websites that offer blogs, information and recordings of teen garage bands of the 1960's. We finally narrowed it down to a site where Erik Lindgren had compiled a CD recording of 30 teen garage band hits from that era – all teen bands, and all from New England. Here's a link: Click on "New England Teen Scene" in the left column; then click on the album: New England Teen Scene-Unreleased AA-060.

Here's what it says in that CD booklet regarding "Our Generation":

      "Here's a terrific teen folk-rocker circa 1966 that is musically reminiscent of Barry McGuire's classic top 40 hit "Eve Of Destruction." Unfortunately, nothing else is known about this track which came from a one-sided acetate that credits New England Recording Studio out of Providence, Rhode Island on the label."

New England Teen Scene CD
30 Killer Garage Rock Winners From 1965-1968
(click on photos to enlarge)

We were able to download the song from another site, and Uriah immediately sent it to his cell phone ring tone. For the rest of the week, whenever Uriah got a phone call, we'd all hear "Our Generation" until he answered the call.

I contacted Erik to tell him about our surprise to find the recording after these 43 years. He was equally surprised and excited to find more information regarding the song and the band. Erik sent me two copies of the compilation CD.

Here is an MP3 of the song: click here

Here's what I remember about The Lonely Things:

The acetate from which Erik got "Our Generation" didn't include the B side, "Zephyr." We have been, so far, unsuccessful in locating that song or even a copy of the 45 rpm which we recorded at the New England Recording Studio in the Crown Hotel, 208 Weybosset St., Providence, RI 02903 in 1966.

The Lonely Things, a name thought up be a friend back then, Dennis Wilmot, was made up of Peter Pappas on guitar, his brother Mike Pappas on drums, and Jimmy Fleet and me, Elwood Donnelly, on vocals and small percussion.

Over the 2 and 1/2 years of which we were together, from 1965-67, several other musicians joined The Lonely Things on occasion, including John Badessa (lead guitar), Jim Auclair (lead guitar), Kenny Franco (lead guitar), and the keyboard player on the recording is Jim Haritas.

Most of us attended Central High School in Providence during that period, although I graduated in '67, six months before the band dis...well...banded.

Mike Pappas died in 1990 at the age of 38. His brother, Peter Pappas passed away in August, 2009. Here's his obituary:

      Peter J. Pappas
      PAWTUCKET - Peter J. Pappas, 58, of Middle Street, passed away Friday, August 21, 2009 at Memorial Hospital. He was the husband of Mary C. (White) Pappas. Born in Providence, he was the son of the late Nicholas and Tacu (Kirkorian) Pappas. Mr. Pappas was a Vietnam Veteran serving in the US Air Force. He was a Journeyman Electrician in both MA and RI for many years, working until the day he fell ill and entered the hospital. Besides his wife he is survived by a son, Nicholas J. Pappas, of Cranston; three grandchildren, Christopher DiLucchio of NH, Madison G. and Nicholas J. Pappas both of Cranston and three nephews. He was also the brother of the late Michael Pappas.

I recently and coincidentally ran into the son of Mike Pappas, who runs a Physical Therapist office nearby. His name is also Mike. He gave me copies of some newspaper articles from back then which are included below.

One article mentions an upcoming first time ever Battle of the Bands at our High School, and another proclaims that we actually won that contest. There are some pictures of screaming teen girls and the dismay of their respective boyfriends, and another photo of Jimmy Fleet and me singing at a single mic with our handmade orange satin shirts (made by Jim Haritas' mother and which wouldn't stay tucked into our pants); the song we're singing for this photo, according to Jim Fleet, is "Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying" (Gerry and the Pacemakers).

Included in these copies is also a scribbled-out set list on our letterhead, dated 11-24-67, for a concert at Cranston West High School.

The songs listed are as follows, and I've added the full title when possible:

Intro, Shake – (Sam Cooke, 1965), Letter (The Letter by The Box Tops), Do Something, Little Help (Little Help From My Friends, The Beatles), Shotgun (Shotgun - Jr. Walker, 1965), Along Came Mary, Never My Love (both from The Association), I Can See For Miles (The Who), and Sgt. Pepper's (Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Beatles.)

The Lonely Things broke up in December, 1967. I went on to solo performing, picking up the guitar in Viet Nam in 1969, and picked up the harmonica that I had played briefly as a pre-teen. I didn't do too much between 1975 and 1985, as I was a single parent, raising 3 kids. But I met Aubrey Atwater in 1987, just after I began playing my guitar regularly again.

Her stepfather was a big folk music fan, including Celtic music, who also owned a home in Ireland, which we visited over the years, performing in some pubs, until the house was sold in the mid-nineties.

Aubrey played guitar, but also mountain dulcimer, which she taught me to play as well. Then she learned tin whistle, claw-hammer style banjo and mandolin, while I stuck with the guitar, continued to learn dulcimer, continued with harmonica, and picked up more percussion, including bodhran (an Irish frame drum), as well as spoons and bones and limberjacks.

She and I formed the Atwater~Donnelly duo in 1987, and it wasn't until around 2000 we started adding more players. First, Cathy Clasper-Torch on fiddle, cello and er-hu (Chinese violin).

Then, in 2006, I decided to put together an old-time string band for a recording of all old-time gospel music. So that includes Aubrey, me, Cathy; and then I brought in John and Heidi Cerrigione (ser-a-go-nee). Heidi is a champion autoharp player, and she also plays mountain and hammered dulcimers. John plays bass for us, but can play guitar, autoharp and banjo, too. Lastly, I brought in my younger son, Uriah for keyboard, and he also adds guitar and mandolin, too. All of us sing. I named the band Jerimoth Hill (Jer-eye-moth), after the highest point in RI, which happens to be in the town where we live, Foster.

So, when Aubrey and I decided to recording our 11th recording, The Weaver's Bonny, we called in the same folks to record mostly traditional ballads, including two songs written by our friend, Dan Dutton, from Somerset, KY.

Here is Erik's reaction after I caught up with him with more information about The Lonely Things for his archives:

      As surprised as you probably were upon finding out that your song was reissued on a CD, I am equally amazed to discover the actual story behind this mysterious acetate that I've had in my personal collection for over 2 decades! If memory serves me right, another collector pal of mine from the Pittsburgh area found it somewhere and gave it to me since I was pulling together a disc of cool, unreleased material from the New England region. You are right--my one-sided reference disc does not have "Zephyr" on the flip so I have not heard that track.

      Thanks for the band history and I will certainly keep this info in my archival file. Local rock history fascinates me and I am a serious archivist of obscure '60s rock (with a New England slant since I live in Southeastern MA). Fortunately I use my reissue label Arf Arf to help spread the word about the sounds I unearth. Nobody's getting rich but it's fun to let other fans of the genre know about my cool discoveries.

      Wish we had made contact earlier and I would have loved to include a band shot in the booklet of you guys sporting handmade orange satin shirts! There's very little info on the label of the acetate (which I've reproduced in the CD booklet) except for the recording studio--New England Recording Studios, Inc, Crown Hotel, 208 Weybosset St. in Providence; plus the phone number, the song title with your band name, and the handwritten inscription "from Pete to Bev," which now I know was Peter Pappas. So at least we all know the source of where the acetate came from.

       Being from SE Mass, I've certainly heard of Atwater~Donnelly and see from your site that you are quite active musically. Thanks for the brief history and it's a thrill to know about your formative years. Hopefully I'll get to check you out live sometime and will no doubt request "Our Generation," ha!

      You made my day!

      Erik Lindgren

If anyone has any information regarding The Lonely Things -- anecdotes, a copy of the 45rpm, or any scrapbook items -- please contact Elwood.

For more on The Lonely Things, check out:

(click on photos to enlarge)

Elwood Donnelly

3rd Annual Jam Session
LaSalle Academy
Saturday, October 22, 1966

Jam Session
LaSalle Academy
Saturday, Nov. 5, 1966

Jam Session
St. Mary's Academy - Bay View
Saturday, November 19, 1966

"Vacation Fling: Dance
Circa December 1966

2nd Annual Jam Session
Saturday, February 4, 1967

Circa Spring 1967

Battle of the Bands
Central High School
Friday, March 31, 1967

Special Performance
Miss Cranston Beauty Contest
Park View Junior High School
Saturday, May 20, 1967

Letter from WICE
re: Sugarberry
July 31, 1967

"It's Happening"
The Providence Sunday Journal
October 8, 1967
pp. 16-18

"Gobble Go-Go" Dance
Central High School
Friday, Nov. 17, 1967

Practice Notes
November 15 & 16, 1967

Play Sheet
Friday, November 24, 1967
Cranston West High School

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