Up Close with The Tempests’ Tom Angarano
A Hot ‘60s Florida Garage Band Still Active Today
[Interviewer’s note: In continuing our coverage of the many great Florida garage bands of the '60s, “The Lance Monthly” is pleased to be able to present an interview with The Tempests' Tom Angarano. The band is still performing on a frequent basis in the Sunshine State, and continues to play many dates in and around the Tampa Bay area.]
[Lance Monthly] How did you first get interested in music?
Tom Angarano I first got interested when I was around six years old. I played the accordian. I was on “Ted Mack Amateur Hour” at age ten.
[Lance Monthly] Was the Tempests your first band?
Tom Angarano The Tempests was my first band. We got together in late 1963.
[Lance Monthly] Who formed the Tempests, and where?
Tom Angarano The Tempests were formed in St. Petersburg, Florida in 1963 by five, really motivated players.
[Lance Monthly] Please identify those players.
Tom Angarano There were two sets of members. The original members were Charlie Bailey, lead guitar; Doug Palmer, rhythm guitar; Bill Hickman, bass guitar; Bobby Allen, drums; and Tom Angarano, lead vocals. Then Bill and Doug left, and we brought in Mike Hammer for rhythm guitar and Buddy Peterson for bass guitar. They could both sing very well and we developed a great three-part harmony. This expanded our sound.
[Lance Monthly] How would you describe this sound?
Tom Angarano We really didn't have a certain sound. We did so many cover songs from so many bands that we could imitate the sound of the music we were playing. We still do that today. It makes it more interesting. However, with three-part harmony, we did a lot of Beatles, Hollies, etc., I guess. Like most other musicians back then, we were influenced by the Beatles, Rolling Stones and a few other top bands.
[Lance Monthly] Where did the band typically practice?
Tom Angarano We typically practiced in garages at each of our homes and sometimes at the dance halls we played at.
[Lance Monthly] What type of gigs did you typically play?
Tom Angarano We originally played at private dances, school functions, etc. As the band progressed, we played at the National Guard Amory, Surfers Club, Jokers Club, and many other teen spots in Tampa Bay. After winning the Battle of the Bands, we were picked up by a major booking agency, Gulf Artist Productions, which got us gig-openings for big names like the Shangri-Las, Blues Magoos, The Gap, Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs, Tommy James and the Shondells, The McCoys, etc. Some of the bigger venues we played were Bayfront Center Arena in St. Petersburg, Curtis Hixon Hall in Tampa, Orlando Civic Center, Sarasota Sports Arena, Miami Convention Center, and many other concert halls where national acts were booked.
[Lance Monthly] You won that Battle in 1966 at the Electric Zoo, right?
Tom Angarano Yeah, we did. I can only remember a couple of bands: The Emotions, The Roving Flames, Split Ends, and a couple of bands from around the state. We received a recording session, and got lots of gigs out of it. Our popularity really climbed after that.
[Lance Monthly] How popular locally would you say you were?
Tom Angarano Well, in 1966, The Tempests were one of the top bands in Florida. This was also the year we won the Florida Battle of the Bands. We never achieved national fame. Our record won several local station contests and got lots of airplay.
[Lance Monthly] Did the band participate in any other Battles?
Tom Angarano We never played in any other Battles. We really never wanted to play in any at all. We were pushed into the Zoo battle by our agent. So we really prepared for it and it paid off.
[Lance Monthly] Who acted as the band's agent?
Tom Angarano We originally had Big Moose Vasburg, a local agent who also owned the Jokers Club and Eldorado Showcase. Later on we were picked up by Marjie and Dick Sexton, the owners of the Surfers Club. Dick Sextion was very instrumental in helping us with routines on stage and stage appeal.
[Lance Monthly] You mentioned that you received a recording session after winning the Electric Zoo Battle. The Tempests recorded "I Want You To Know" and "I Want You Only" at Fuller Studios in Tampa. What do you remember about the recording session?
Tom Angarano Well, back in the sixties, recording studios were not like today. But I remember playing the tunes several times until we got it right, then we listened to the music with headphones, and sang the vocals and harmony parts. After we got a perfect cut, the sound engineer did his magic mixing them. The songs were released on Fuller's label, and played on WLCY and WALT radio (local A.M. stations).
[Lance Monthly] Do any other '60s Tempests recordings exist? Are there any vintage live recordings?
Tom Angarano No other Tempests '60s recordings exist. I know many tapes were made and I have tried to track some down, but we were young and didn't care. So we have very few pics and no recordings.
[Lance Monthly] Did the Tempests make any local TV appearances?
Tom Angarano The Tempests appeard on 10 A-GO-GO, a local teen show, and for a while we were the house band for the Hullabaloo clubs and we appeared on their TV show.
[Lance Monthly] How were you selected as the house band for the Hullabaloo Clubs? Do you recall any other bands with which you may have competed?
Tom Angarano We just received a call to audition on a certain date. We showed and played three songs and were immediately asked if we would like to travel the state and be the house band for them. It was a great opportunity so we jumped at it. I don't know how many other bands they auditioned.
[Lance Monthly] What other local bands do you recall at that time?
Tom Angarano Some of the other local bands were The Impacs, the Tropics, The Ravens, The Emotions, Me and the Other Guys, The Outsiders, The Royal Guardsman, Allman Joy (Allman Brothers later), Roving Flames. There were so many local bands.
[Lance Monthly] The Tempests split in 1967. Why?
Tom Angarano In 1967 one of the members was drafted. Music was changing and we just fell apart like many other '60s garage bands.
[Lance Monthly] Did you join or form any bands after the Tempests broke up?
Tom Angarano I joined The Emotions for a while and then formed a band called Pink Anacin. That was a fun band. We were influenced by New York sounds as well as Vanilla Fudge, Rascals, and Three Dog Night.
[Lance Monthly] I know the band is still going strong. What was the catalyst for getting back together again? What year was this in?
Tom Angarano We got back together for a reunion in July of 1998. Probably the biggest reason for me was the death of Charlie Baily. However, Mike Hammer called me and wanted to play again. We set up a concert at the Gulfport Casino in January 1999. It was a huge success. We got more people than we ever thought we would.
[Lance Monthly] What about today? How often, and where, do the Tempests perform?
Tom Angarano We mainly perform at festivals and big concerts. We still open for other national acts. We recently played at the Tall Ship Festival in St. Petersburg.
[Lance Monthly] What are your plans musically for 2002 and beyond?
Tom Angarano We still want to keep rockin'. It's lots of fun. We have many gigs set up for up coming festivals in various cities in Florida . . . mainly Tampa Bay.
[Lance Monthly] Can you give me more information about the reissue of "I Want You Only" and "I Want You To Know?" Is the band itself reissuing these tracks? Will it be a 7" reissue?
Tom Angarano We are trying to re-record the two songs, along with some others by the end of this year. We want to release a CD.