When I talk to Youngstowners who were doing their hardest rocking in the ’70s and early ’80s, the first name that always comes up is Left End.
The glam-rock band formed in 1971 and its impact is still felt.
Left End played huge shows in Valley clubs then quickly moved on to the national stage. The band released its Polydor Records debut (“Spoiled Rotten”) in 1974 and performed with the likes of The Eagles, Foghat, ZZ Top, Cheap Trick, New York Dolls, Uriah Heep, Ted Nugent and Bachman Turner Overdrive.
The Youngstown act had an LA pop-metal sound that defined the era’s radio rock. The also dressed the part. The pioneering band took the stage in spandex suits, with face paint that presaged KISS.
Left End played its last reunion show in 2004. Those who have been clamoring for another show — and they are legion — will get their wish Nov. 30 when the band will reunite to play at the inaugural Youngstown Music Awards ceremony at Rodeo Music Hall in Austintown.
The reunion was announced Monday, and Pat Palombo’s phone has been blowing up ever since.
Palombo, the drummer for the band, said the band has already begun to shake off the rust — but there wasn’t much.
“We first rehearsed three weeks ago, and we were shocked at how well we could still play the songs,” said Palombo.
Left End constantly gets requests for a reunion show but inevitably turns them down. But the band was impressed with the notion of the YMAs, and its founder, Mike Kermec, and agreed to do it. Left End will receive a prestigious achievement award at the event.
If you want to get a glimpse of Left End in its heyday, go to YouTube and check out a video from a 1973 outdoor concert at Idora Park (keywords: Left End, WHOT Day). The grainy video, digitized from 8 mm film, was put up Monday, and its views quickly topped 1,200.
Be sure to notice the similarity of the face paint to KISS in the video.
“When we were signed to Polydor, we were in makeup,” said Palombo. “About a year later, KISS came out. We always joke, ‘Those guys ripped us off!”
Left End has a history of reuniting, but its last show was a decade ago — July of 2004 at Yankee Lake.
Its original stint was 1971 to 1985. Then it broke up, reunited and played from 1988 to 1991, broke up again, then reunited from 2000 to 2004.
“Quite frankly, we get a lot of requests to come back and do a concert, and we’ve had a history of doing that,” said Palombo. “We turn them all down. We’ve even had a request to go to Germany to play a rock festival. We have a cult following there — I don’t know how that happened.”
Palombo said he and his bandmates were flattered when told they would be honored for their place in Youngstown music history at the YMAs. “We thought, ‘This might be the thing to get us out of retirement,’” said Palombo.
Left End will play its biggest hits at the reunion, including “Sunshine Girl, “Bad Talkin’ Lady” and “Cyclone Rider.” Most of the original lineup will perform: Palombo, Tom Figinski (lead guitar, chief songwriter), Roy Guerreri and Jim Puhalla.
Dennis T. Menass, the singer and frontman for Left End and a local legend, will attend the show but unfortunately will not perform because of health issues. Filling in for him will be some of the top singers in the area: Jimmi Migliozzi (Huckin Fillbillies), John Yuhas (Leddfoot) and Danny Butch (Haymaker), plus Leanne Binder and Ashley Miller (Perfect Pair).