Though The Shadows Four never broke out nationally, they very successful in their home state of Massachusetts.
Aside from releasing a handful of singles, The Shadows Four was the first rock band ever to perform at the Boston Music Hall.
In addition, they performed as a touring band for a couple of motion pictures, and promoted Vox instruments. Bill Trainor -
lead guitarist - graciously shared his recollections with 60sgaragebands.com.
An Interview With Bill Trainor
60sgaragebands.com: How did you first get interested in music?
Bill Trainor (BT): I started playing guitar at age six. Elvis and the Everly Brothers were my favorites. I took lessons for a few years but spent most of my life playing by ear.
60s: Was The Shadows Four your first band?
BT: No, my first band was called The Rhythm Masters. It was together for about four years. We played instrumentals only; stuff by The Ventures, Shadows, Duane Eddy, etc. We were just kids.
60s: And The Rhythm Masters lead to The Shadows Four?
BT: One other member of The Rhythm Masters and I started The Shadows Four when the band broke up. A month after starting the band Fred Keeler joined the Airforce and never returned. We were from Woburn and Revere (Massachusetts). That was in 1964. We started as an instrumental group and played at school dances, CYO dances, and Battle of the Bands in the area. That kind of jobs.
60s: Who were the members of The Shadows Four?
BT: I played lead guitar. Donnie Gelaides played rhythm and bass guitar. Ronnie Borelli played some lead and rhythm and bass guitar. Joey Salemi played drums.
60s: The band reportedly chose it's name as a tribute to the instrumental U.K. band, The Shadows. What was it about The Shadows that inspired you so?
BT: I heard Wonderful Land by The Shadows in 1960. I fell in love with the Strat sound and the echo. I tried to get as close to that sound as possible. I play a Fender Jazzmaster that I bought in 1963. It's the guitar The Ventures use. I also have a Stratocaster for The Shadows sound and a Gretch for the Chet stuff.
60s: What type of gigs did The Shadows Four originally land?
BT: We played all kinds of general business jobs. We were only teenagers so we couldn't really do any clubs yet. As I said earlier, we started as an instrumental group, but when The Beatles hit the scene we rapidly were forced to become a vocal group. Ronnie and I split the leads about 50/50. Joey and Donnie sang mostly backup vocals. We sang okay but our strength was in the instruments.
I had worked since age 15 at E.U. Wurlitzers Music in Boston as their stock boy. I asked a salesman, Phil DeLeo, to come and hear us. I wanted him to be our manager. We were playing a job at Harvard for a frat house. We were to play Bo Diddley's breaks. He was late and we played the first 1 1/2 hours. He finally showed up and was terrible. The audience asked if he could play our breaks. We said no, he was the star act. In the end Phil showed up and acted as our manager and got them to pay us Bo Diddley's money and he was paid ours. He wasn't happy. We left quickly while he was playing his final set. He only played one beat all night for every song. How he ever made the hall of fame is beyond me.
Phil also did some PR work for the Music Hall. He got us the gig playing live with the movie THAT FUNNY FEELING (Sandra Dee and Bobby Darin). Having a live band went over so well that they started putting on rock shows a month later. The first group to play after us was The Kingsman. They continued these concerts for years.
In the summer of 1965 we were sponsored by Vox to perform live at theaters and drive-ins to demonstrate the Vox equipment. We got that tour because of Wurlitzers. At some of the drive-ins we played on the roof of the concession stands. It went over really big.
60s: Was the band featured in any Vox print/radio/TV advertisements?
BT: There was a picture of us in the Vox magazine. I met a 15 year old kid in San Diego that actually saw and remembered it. It stood out because Joey played double bass drums with a big 4 on one of them. That's what the kid remembered.
60s: Did this sponsorship assist with the band's success at all?
BT: I don't think it played too much of a part in the success of the band.
60s: How far was the group's normal touring territory? Did you regularly cross state lines?
BT: We played mostly in the Boston area. We played a few jobs in New Hampshire.
60s: The Shadows Four recorded Follow Me b/w Heart Of Wood in 1966. What were the circumstances leading to the recording?
BT: We wanted a demo recording to get the band known.
60s: Reportedly, this 45 was never issued, resulting in a lawsuit with Fleetwood Recording, the label it was on. Could you please explain what happened here?
BT: The recording of Follow Me was pressed with only the lead guitar and drum tracks. The rhythm and bass tracks were left out for some reason. We were really upset when we heard it. They wouldn't re-press them. We said we weren't paying for the recording unless they fixed them. There were months of phone calls to get the 45's but we never got any in the end. We never knew they were sold by Fleetwood. We have no copies. I only got a copy when it showed up on an album called New England Teen Scene years later. This was an album of garage bands in the Boston area.
60s: Is it true that prior to the second single, I'm Beggin' You b/w Summertime, you had joined the service and therefore were not present for the recording? Who replaced you for the single?
BT: I enlisted in the Marines and was in San Diego when they recorded that single. I heard it for the first time over the telephone when I called the guys one weekend. Peter took my place. He played keyboards. While I was in the service I came home a few times to record (in a studio) with the guys. We recorded a bunch of instrumentals.
60s: I've heard rumors of many unreleased Shadows Four songs. What can you tell me about them?
BT: We recorded some original vocals and a few cover tunes. A friend Louie sang the lead vocals for us since he had a good voice. We had intended to work with Louie but it never got started. The recordings were either home recordings or local recording studios so they don't sound all that great.
60s: How long were you in the service? When you returned, did you immediately rejoin the band?
BT: I was in the Marines for three years. When I returned, the band was not playing anymore. I immediately restarted things. This time we played mostly clubs. Problem was that we each had developed different tastes in music and wanted the band to go in different directions. We broke up about two years later.
60s: How popular locally did The Shadows Four become?
BT: In the Boston area we were pretty well known. I still meet people that remember the group. We were sitting in the audience once at a Dave Clark 5 concert at The Boston Gardens. The spot light was put on us and they announced that the Shadows Four were in attendance. You would have thought we were the Beatles. The girls chased us around the building when we tried to leave near the end of the show. This was our only real brush with what fame is like.
60s: Other than Bo Diddley, did The Shadows Four perform with any other national acts?
BT: Bo Diddley was about the only big act we played with.
60s: The Shadows Four was the very first rock band to play the Boston Music Hall. How did you manage that prestigious accomplishment? What songs did you play?
BT: We sang a few Beatle tunes as I recall. We were doing top 40 off the radio. I would record songs played on the radio with a tape recorder and we would be doing them before you could even buy the 45. That really made us popular. We sometimes had as much as a two week jump on them. I don't remember any other local bands doing that.
60s: What were some of the other venues that you regularly performed in?
BT: We all worked steady jobs so the band was a weekend thing mostly.
60s: The Shadows Four also toured the country in support of the movie HOW TO STUFF A WILD BIKINI. How did the tour come about?
BT: Again, this was from Wurlitzers. It lasted the whole summer. We toured most of New England.
60s: What did you think of HOW TO STUFF A WILD BIKINI at the time? Did you enjoy it?
BT: I have to confess that I never saw the movie. We packed up and were gone before it started. Don't forget, back then there was a "B" movie then the "A" movie. I don't think I've ever seen that movie now that I think about it.
60s: Did the band make any TV appearances, local or otherwise?
BT: No TV and no film that I know of.
60s: Why did The Shadows Four eventually call it quits?
BT: It was quits because of the different tastes in music. Ronnie and I were into country rock. I play finger style guitar (Chet Atkins stuff) and preferred doing that style. Donnie and Joey were into the horn sound bands like Chicago and Blood, Sweat & Tears.
60s: Did you join or form any bands after The Shadows Four broke up?
BT: I was in a band called Alec and The Rouges for about six years. Then I started a band with my wife Peggy. She is an excellent singer and she got us a lot of general business jobs for ten years. The band was called Breeze. Donnie was with us the whole time playing bass. Joey played for a few years on drums. Drummers came and went. We had many excellent drummers. One was Paul Caruso formerly of the Atlantics, a Boston based punk group. The other was Ron Stewart. Ron left us to join The Joe Perry Project when Perry left Aerosmith for a few years to go on his own. He asked Ron to be his drummer. I have a demo video we made with Ron just before he left the band.
During the late 70's Joey, Ronnie and I were on a kids TV show backing up Rex Trailer. The show was called BOOM TOWN. Rex had been a popular Boston TV star for years. Every kid wanted to be on BOOM TOWN. That was fun.
60s: Do you still perform at all? If so, where, and how regularly?
BT: Currently I'm working with a lifetime friend, Ron Cote. We have an instrumental band doing all those old tunes by The Ventures and Shadows. We're called Driving Guitars (a title of one of The Ventures tunes). We made one CD and are just completing a second. This past summer we opened for Tommy Roe (Sheila, Dizzy) at the Marshfield Fair in Marshfield, Massachusetts. My wife Peg and I are also playing a little. I record all the background music with a sequencer and then dump the songs on to mini discs. It sounds like a whole band. We also recorded a CD. It's called Reminiscing with Breeze.