I started my original-music career by joining up with two of the former members of the all-girls group, Crayola, in 1978. I saw them opening for a friend’s band, The Victims, in New York City. Soon afterwards, through a friend, I met with the lead vocalist Janis Shaw.

We got together a couple times and soon Janis would give me lyrics she had written. I took them home and wrote a few songs and we decided we could do something with them. With original Crayola bass player Karen Boltax, we held auditions for a drummer and found Jackie Machules from Staten Island.

Janis and I went on to write a lot of the band’s material which was our set mixed with a couple of versions of obscure cover songs. We released a 45, Queen of the Beach, a Carole King song, and Girl With the Hair, one of our own. The band found some popularity in New York City clubs such as Max’s Kansas City and Heat, as well as playing many other places in the New York area.

I always wanted a different name for the band instead of what they were called as an all-girl group since we were very different musically from that group. We received a letter from the Crayola crayon company’s lawyers asking us to stop using the name. We wound up changing the spelling to Creyola.

Next, I played with Donna Destri. We also did original songs and some covers. Donna and I were the constant members and otherwise we went through multiple lineups.

Toward the end of this phase, I decided to start my own band. It started as a roots rock ‘n’ roll band. One of the originals I came up with was called The Song with No Name which was inspired by the music of spaghetti western films, notably the music by Ennio Morricone. Because of this song, I decided to have the band generally follow the spaghetti western theme. It was originally called Bandidos but a couple of the guys did not like the connotation so we switched the name to the Bandits. I eventually wanted help with the vocals and we auditioned Tom Pisaturo. Tom went on to become the bass player replacing original member Regis Ferrence. We continued with Tom and the other original members Gene Braden on guitar and Steve Reiser on drums. We soon changed the band name to New West.

I began recording tracks; mostly myself and then Tom on the bass. Steve Neighoff at Fake Doom Records heard what we were doing and liked it and offered to release what eventually became the New West EP.

About Joe Burdette