Winners of the 1967 New Jersey Battle of the Bands, The Pur'Swa'Der...s would later compete in the National Battle and finish in a very respectable sixth place. A very successful regional band, The Pur'Swa'Der...s toured for three years as part of a traveling auto show, and recorded a couple of original singles. The band would later morph into The Strimbling Blimbles and record a very successful single before calling it quits in 1971.
An Interview With Jim Corbett
60sgaragebands.com (60s): How did you first get interested in music?
Jim Corbett (JC): When I first saw The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show.
60s: Where was The Pur'Swa'Der...s formed?
JC: The band was originally formed by Chris Queenmore and was called Chris & The Crystals. I joined Chris and The Crystals in 1965 and after about a year Ralph, Joe and Pat joined. We (then) changed the name to The Pur'Swa'Der...s in1966
60s: Who were the members?
JC: Chris Queenmore - sax; Ralph Citro, Jr. - drums; Jim Corbett - guitar; Andy DiLeo - lead guitar (replaced by Ron Lovett); Pat McLaughlin - bass; Joe Di Bartolo - lead singer.
60s: Who named the band? Why the odd spelling?
JC: Ralph Citro, Sr. who became our manager (named us). He said the spelling of the name would catch people’s attention. He was an Insurance Agent and liked the sound of the band. He was very good at promoting us and landing jobs on a regular basis.
60s: Where did the band typically play initially?
JC: Chris lived on the outside of town over top of a barn that we called the Cow Palace. He had parents that were very cool and let us put signs up for free concerts on the weekends. It got to where we had large crowds showing up. Ralph started getting us booked at school dances and colleges like the University of Pennsylvania.
60s: How would you describe the band's sound? What bands influenced you?
JC: Since it was the Sixties and the (era of the) British Invasion we did stuff by The Beatles, Stones, Animals, Zombies. Joe was a very soulful singer so we (also) started doing songs by Otis Redding, Four Tops and The Righteous Brothers.
60s: Did you play any of the local teen clubs?
JC: We did play teen clubs in Mt. Holly (Teen A Go Go) and Vineland (Hullabaloo).
60s: The Pur'Swa'Der...s won a 1967 New Jersey Battle Of The Bands, and then competed in the National Battle...
JC: Ralph was responsible (for arranging the New Jersey Battle). It was through the local chapter of the Jaycees. The Pur'Swa'Der...s finished sixth in the national battle. This was the 1967 National Finals at the Ridge Arena in Braintree, Massachusetts. It was won by a group called The Gents from Provo, Utah. Some of the other bands were The Soul Division (Alabama), The Immortals (Florida), SoulBenders (Michigan) and Tony’s Tigers (Wisconsin).
60s: The Pur'Swa'Der...s landed an auto show gig that allowed the band to travel many cities. How did this come about?
JC: Ralph had a lot of contacts and one came to see us one night liked how we looked and sounded and tried us for a year. We wound up playing three years. The tour took us to nine cities, (and we played) the Philadelphia Convention Hall, New York Coliseum, Baltimore Civic Center, Springfield Mass. Fairgrounds, Pittsburgh Armory, Charlotte Coliseum, Cleveland, Erie and Wilkesboro.
60s: What other local groups of the era do you especially recall?
JC: Johnny Caswell and The Crystal Mansion, Pal and The Profits, Soul Survivors, Jay and the Techniques.
60s: How did The Pur'Swa'Der...s land the contract with Mica Records?
JC: Our Manager landed us the deal. We recorded the songs in Philadelphia.
60s: Who wrote the songs that comprised the singles?
JC: You’re Mine, She’s The Kind of Girl and Search Light were written by Joe DiBartolo and Jim Corbett. Love Is A Magic Story was written by Eddie Harris. The first single demo we had was an original song by Andy DiLeo and Jim Corbett called Every Night and Every Day on the B-side and Runaway - a remake of Del Shannon’s hit - was the A-side.
60s: What were the circumstances leading to the recording of the demo?
JC: Les Paul was one of the judges at the Battle of the Bands and liked our sound. He contacted Ralph Citro Sr. and we went to his one of his homes in upstate New Jersey - a town called Mahwah. He had a recording studio downstairs. We did a tape of some original songs that were written by Joe, Jim and some by Eddie Harris.
60s: Do any other Pur'Swa'Der...s recordings exist? Are there any vintage live recordings, or unreleased tracks?
JC: I have some 45’s of You’re Mine and Love Is A Magic Story. I don’t know what happened to the Runaway 45; I think Ralph Sr. has it. We did start an album that was never released and I have the old reel to reel tape of that. We also taped a number of the auto show tour on reel to reel.
60s: Why was the album never completed?
JC: There were internal problems between Joe and Ron and that is when we disbanded and added Joe Seddon , Lee Albright and Al Webber. We had ten songs taped and were going to use the two from the 45 to make a twelve song album; they were all original except one - Always Tomorrow by Keith. The album was a rough draft on reel-to-reel. We wanted to see what we had before we went into the studio for Mica Records and professionally recorded it.
60s: Did the band make any local TV appearances?
JC: We did perform on a show called Danceland on the Delaware with The Three Degrees. We also (appeared) on The Ed Hurst Show with The Soul Survivors (Expressway To Your Heart).
60s: Why and what year did the band change names to The Strimbling Blimbles? What was the significance of that name?
JC: We changed the name at the end of 1968 when we replaced some of the band members. Joe Seddon replaced Joe DiBartolo and Lee Albright replaced Pat McLaughlin on bass. Joe Seddon came up with the name. It was so bizarre and when people heard it they remembered it. He originally thought we should be disguised so no one would know who we were - like Kiss - but eventually we just went with the weird name.
60s: How did the gigs change for The Strimbling Blimbles compared to The Pur'Swa'Der...s?
JC: The gigs we did with The Pur'Swa'Der...s were dances, local clubs, the Battle of the Bands and the auto shows. The Strimbling Blimbles was more of the steady club circuit and a good record contract with a major label, Mercury. I think when we were The Pur'Swa'Der...s we were more popular.
60s: Where was the Blimbles' Perfect Dream / Holding My Eyes Down single recorded?
JC: It also was recorded in Philadelphia and was produced by Joe Renzetti, who also produced Spanky and Our Gang (Sunday Will Never Be The Same), Keith (98.6). The song was a tri-state hit in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware.
60s: Why did the band break up in 1971?
JC: Like most bands you start having internal problems; guys are thinking about going away to college and about relationships. We spent a lot of time playing on the road, summers down the Jersey Shore, and on the road for a month at a time in places like Rhode Island.
60s: What about today? Do you perform at all? If not, what keeps you busy?
JC: When I left the band in 1971 I married the girl I was going with in high school. We moved to Florida where her parents lived. This December we will be married for 33 years. I have four children who are all out on their own. I worked construction for about four years with my wife’s father but it was too inconsistent. I got a job working for Pepsi Cola as a delivery driver and have worked my way up through the company. Right now I am an Education Key Account Manager overseeing School contracts for the West Coast of Florida.
I still write music and sit in with a friend of mine, Dennis Lee (The Dennis Lee Show), who plays state fairs and festivals all over the country. I had the opportunity to sit in with him when he opened the Taste of Pinellas for The Neville Brothers, Chicago, and B52’s in 2003. That was a great experience.
60s: How do you best summarize your experiences with The Pur'Swa'Der...s?
JC: I look back on those days as memories that will be with me my whole life. I can hear songs on the radio today and picture where I was and our band playing that song to a crowd at a college or a club. It is too bad that time and miles come between things that meant so much to me as I was growing up.
"Copyrighted and originally printed on www.60sgaragebands.com