- Joseph Shingler
My less than auspicious introduction into the world of music began as a scrawny 8-year-old moppet behind the bellows of a red and silver speckled accordion. And for the next few years I was awarded the dubious honor of entertaining my bemused relatives at family gatherings, as both the monkey and organ grinder.
The Italian side of the family grew misty eyed to standards like Lady Of Spain and anything by Al Martino, while my Slovak relations leaned towards the polka classics, She's Too Fat and The Beer Barrel Polka.
All throughout the ordeal I sweated like a pig on a barbeque spit from embarrassment, and the sheer exertion of pumping that gaudy speckled squeezebox.
Fast-foreword to the early 1960s, to a time when Garry Lewis & The Playboys made it chic to have an accordion player in a pop/rock band. Well, maybe not chic but acceptable.
It was also a time when nearly every neighborhood had a garage rock band on the block, and ours was no different. Our band, The NyteRaiders (pretty cool eehhh), had three guitarist with a working knowledge of four chords, a hyper-kinetic drummer who insisted on including a variation of the �Wipe-out� solo to every song, six wannabe vocalists crowding around a pair of microphones while alternating tambourine duty, and I provided psychedelic accordion. We were avant-garde and didn't even know it.
Our sole motivation was to attract girls. Unfortunately, in order to do so, you had to be good. So The NyteRaiders rode quietly into the sunset, never to appear on American Bandstand Shindig Where The Action or even headline a junior high Sock Hop.
Yet my short stint in this musical abomination did whet my appetite, setting the wheels in motion for what would take another 15 years to achieve the creation of an Honest To God band Vesuvius.
After undergoing three name changes (Crimson Cult, Quartermass, and Asylum), and a revolving door ensemble of musicians numbering over 50, Vesuvius eventually stabilized and settled on the line-up of Kevin Lazar (lead vocals, flute & sax), Thom Havens (guitars & vocals), Roger Hutchins (bass & vocals), Greg Shaginaw (percussion), and yours truly (keyboards & vocals). The band incorporated elements of prog/rock, commercial rock & roll, heavy metal mayhem, and what would now be termed Industrial sensibilities; coupled with an elaborate theatrical stage presentation bordering on the bizarre. Vesuvius combined the theatrics of Gabriel era Genesis and the psychedelic lighting effects of Hawkwind on a bargain basement budget.
The band attained local cult status and attracted the attention of various labels with their inclusion on a radio sponsored compilation album of Chicagoland talent The WKQX Hometown Album.
Unfortunately, the full potential of the band would never be realized. The group disbanded at a critical juncture in their career due to the unexpected departure of an integral member, and the inability to find a suitable replacement. The departure left the remaining members fragmented, bitter, and disillusioned. Indelible scars which remain today.
But life goes on. And thanks to the advancements in affordable professional home recording equipment the time was right for my return. So in 1998, after a twenty-year self-imposed exile I returned to music with a renewed vigor and the unique vision that has become my current project Ghosts Of Pompeii.
Ghosts Of Pompeii is the culmination of my musical DNA , beginning with my first accordion recital and leading up to my current compositions. And all the nicks and bruises along the way.
I've been happily married to my childhood sweetheart Andrea - and on September 29th 2007 we celebrated our 40th Anniversary. We�re the proud parents of two adult sons, Jason and Keith; and Jason has provided us with three beautiful grandchildren, Seth, Brooke, and Tara. We have been truly blessed.
In those wenty missing years between Vesuvius and Ghosts Of Pompeii I re-channeled my creative energy becoming a free-lance writer, publishing over 40 articles and four short stories.
In 2003, after 34 years of service, I retired from U.S. Steel allowing me to concentrate on my music and writing skills, as well as Moderate a number of Music and Horror Movie Websites.
Yet with all the free time that retirement has afforded me there are still not enough hours in the day to accomplish everything that needs to be done.
Joe Shingler/Ghosts Of Pompeii
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