The MOB Biography
This exciting group was born in Chicago and has come to be known as one of the top show bands in the country. They were formed in the late sixties.
They grew up together, hung around the same neighborhoods together and from their mid-teens played music together. Those years have made them a tight and very solid musical aggregation.
In that they were the first windy city group to incorporate a full horn section, they influenced many local bands who came later. (i.e. The Buckinghams, The Ides Of March and CHICAGO)
The majority of member’s (pre-the formation of The MOB), had played with the back-up band for the Dick Clark Caravan of Stars tour. Thru years of grueling one-niters, crisscrossing the US and Canada in a Greyhound bus, they learned the importance of stage presentation.
When The MOB decided to go it on their own, their goal was to be a triple threat in the entertainment industry. That meant having the best presentation, involving the audience and keeping the quality of the musicianship at its highest level.
They accomplished all three goals which resulted in them earning “headliner status” in every major showroom in Nevada and across the country, including Canada, Puerto Rico and Hawaii.
A highlight of their career as “road warriors” was being the first rock band ever to perform at a Presidential Inaugural Concert & Ball.
Although national recording success eluded them, two members of the group (Holvay & Beisbier) penned million selling records for The Buckinghams. These include: “Kind Of A Drag”, “Don’t You Care”, “Hey Baby” and “Susan”. The MOB had numerous regional hits such as: “Disappear”, “Open The Door”, “I Dig Everything About You”, “Give It To Me” and “Money”, which was a hit in Europe.
Unbeknownst to The MOB, they had developed a cult following with the Northern Soul fans in the UK. In 2005, Sequel Records, a label based in England, released a CD compilation of two MOB LP’s titled “The Heritage Sessions”.
Chicago-based group called the MOB, a seven-piece “show band” that had been playing around the Windy City for years. Jimmy Holvay and Gary Beisbier, go all the way back to 1964 with the Chicago chart instrumental “Beatle Time” as the Livers on Constellation. The MOB was formed in the mid-1960s and was one of the early rock bands that featured brass in the lineup. They were still charting records in the mid-1970s, and were quite influencial on the Chicago scene. For Colossus, they charted “I Dig Everything About You” [Colossus 130, #83] and “Give It to Me” [Colossus 134, #71] in early 1971, the last chart hits for Colossus. Their album charted at #204. Holvay and Beisbier were accomplished songwriters, having penned most of the hits of fellow-Chicago band the Buckinghams. Other members of the Mob were Al Herrera (lead vocals), Tony Nedza, Bobby Ruffino, James Franz, and Michael Sistak.
- Art (a.k.a. “Little Artie”) Herrera – lead vocals (1966-67)
- Mike Sistak (aka Mike Paris) – guitar, trombone, lead & b/g vocals (1966-75)
- Albert “Little Al” Maligmat – bass and lead & b/g vocals (replaced Mike Sistak 1977-1980
- Dwight Kalb – drums (1/1/1966 to 5/1/1966)
- Bobby “The Cheeze” Ruffino – drums, percussion (1966-75) replaced D.Kalb
- Dave Heidelberg – trombone replaced originally slated Larry McCabe 1/1/1966
- Tony Nedza (aka Tony Roman) – B3 organ, trpt, keys, keys keyboard bass, b/g vocals (1966-76)
- Michael “Cavy” Cavanugh on keys, replaced Tony Nedza (1977-78)
- Rob Swenson replaced Michael Cavanugh @ keyboards and lead vocals (1976-1979)
- Cordell Thompson – keyboards b/g vocals replaced Rob Swenson (1979-80)
- Big Al Herrera – lead vocals, sax (1966-80)
- Gary Beisbier (aka Gary Stevens) – sax, trombone, keys, b/g vocals (1966-80)
- Jim Holvay (aka Jimmy Soul) – guitar, bass, lead & b/g vocals (1966-80)
- Jim Franz (aka Jimmy Ford) – trumpet, flugelhorn, percussion (1966-76)
- Tom Howard – trumpet (replaced Jim Franz 1976 – 1979
- Guy Shoeb – trumpet (replaced Tom Howard 1979-1980
- Joe Farrell – drums, percussion (replaced Bobby Ruffino) (1975-76)
- Eric Guthman – drums (replaced Joe Ferrell) 1976-1980
- Tom Howard – trumpet (replaced Jimmy Ford) (1978-79)
Jimmy Ford & The Kasuals
Kane & Abel (Al Herrera and Artie Herrera)
Little Artie and The Pharaohs (Al Herrera and Artie Herrera)
Jerry Ross’ Colossus Records included The George Baker Selection, The Shocking Blue and The Tee Set.
Lead singers Little Artie Herrera and his brother and Big Al Herrera had been members of Milwaukee’s Little Artie and the Pharaohs and subsequently recorded as a duo under the name Kane and Abel.
The mid-1960s found the Herrera brothers in Chicago where they joined up with Jim Holvay (aka Jimmy Soul) and Gary Beisbier (who co-wrote hits for The Buckinghams), Jimmy Ford, Tony Nedza, Bobby Ruffino and Mike Sistak. Artie was drafted, exchanging life as a musician for The U.S.Army. With Al handling lead vocals as The MOB, became one of the first horn-rock outfits in Chicago where they released a series of singles over the next couple of years:
- 1966’s ‘Wait’ b/w ‘Mystery Man’ (Cameo catalog number C-421)
- 1968’s ‘Unbelievable’ b/w ‘Try a Little Tenderness (Twinight catalog 111)
- 1968’s Open the Door To Your Heart’ b/w ‘I Wish You’d Leave Me Alone’ (Daylight catalog 1000)
- 1968’s ‘Disappear’ b/w ‘I Wish You Would Leave Me Alone’ (Mercury catalog number 72791)
Having started in early 1966 and playing in small clubs throughout the Midwest, by 1970 the group had developed into an exciting show band. They found steady bookings from LA to Vegas, Miami, Hawaii, the Caribbean and all across Canada. In fact it was a concert in Puerto Rico that brought the group their next break. Performing at San Juan’s Americana Hotel, they attracted the attention of producer/record company owner Jerry Ross. Impressed with the band Ross immediately signed them to his newly formed Colossus label, resulting in the release of 1971’s “The MOB” produced by Ross and Chuck Sagle. With Holvay and Beisbier responsible for all nine tracks, material such as ‘Give It To Me’ and ‘Love’s Got a Hold of Me’ was probably best described as a Blood Sweat & Tears sound with a soul influence.
Wondering about the horns? Tracks like ‘Once a Man’, ‘Goodtime Baby’ and ‘Back On the Road Again’ sported horns, but for the most part the arrangements were conventional, avoiding the experimentation. The overall results were quite good, making for an album that was commercial and should have attracted considerable radio play. (Interestingly virtually every online review reports these guys were powerful in concert.) Elsewhere, Colossus pulled a series of quickly forgotten singles from the LP:
- 1971’s ‘I Dig Everything About You’ b/w ‘Love’s Got A Hold Of Me’ (Colossus catalog CS-130)
- 1971’s ‘Give It To Me’ b/w ‘I’d Like To See More Of You’ (Colossus catalog number CS-134)
- 1971’s ‘Lost’ b/w ‘Where You Lead Me’ (Colossus catalog number CS-144)
“The Mob” Colossus album track listing:
- I’d Like To See You One More (James Holvay – Gary Beisbier) – 3:34
- Once a Man Twice a Child (James Holvay – Gary Beisbier) – 4:07
- Give It To Me (James Holvey – Gary Beisbier) – 2:52
- Maybe I’ll Find a Way (James Holvay – Gary Beisbier) – 2:42
- Goodtime Baby (James Holvay – Gary Beisbier) – 2:17
- I Dig Everything About You (James Holvay – Gary Beisbier) – 2:30
- For a Little While (James Holvay – Gary Beisbier) – 3:57
- Love’s Got a Hold of Me (James Holvay – Gary Beisbier) – 2:28
- Lost More of You (James Holvay – Gary Beisbier) – 3:55
- Back On the Road Again (James Holvay – Gary Beisbier) – 3:17
Colossus released one more non-LP 45:
- 1971’s ‘Money (That’s What I Want)’ b/w ‘Once A Man, Twice A Child’ (Colossus catalog CS-145)
Having eluded recording success with Colossus, they were quickly scooped up by then young President of MGM Records, Mike Curb. Curb was “on a roll” with The Osmond Brothers, Sammy Davis and Lou Rawls. He’d seen The MOB perform live in Vegas and along with the trak record of songwriters Holvay & Beisbier, he quickly signed them to a contract in 1973 with the band self-producing themselves along with engineer Jack Hunt.
A series of four unsuccessful singles followed. Although The MOB had recorded 3 albums worth of material they were never released.
- 1973’s ‘You Give Me the Strength (To Carry On)’ b/w ‘Feel Like Dynamite’ (MGM catalog number 14406)
- 1973’s ‘One Way Ticket To Nowhere’ b/w ‘Who’s Shaking Your Jelly Roll’ (MGM catalog number 14456)
- 1973’s ‘Tear the House Down’ b/w ‘Rockin’ Revival’ (MGM catalog number 14519)
- 1973’s ‘Dynamite Lovin” b/w ‘Fat Lucy’ (MGM catalog number 14575)
Still chasing recording success, Holvay reached out to his old band mate Jimmy Guercio who had now been tremendously successful with BS &T’s second album and a string of albums by CHICAGO.
He sent Jimmy the tapes from the MGM sessions for his review. Jimmy’s response was that he played the tapes at a meeting he had with CHICAGO in their conference room at the Caribou Ranch compound. And although they loved the music they felt that Jimmy’s involvement with producing The MOB would be a conflict of interest.
The MOB’s then manager (Pat Collechio – former manager of the Association) reached out to Bones Howe to produce the group.
Bones saw The MOB perform at a club (The Playgirl) in Anaheim and fell in love with the band.
Bones in turn reached out to Larry Uttals Private Stock label and a deal was made. 1975’s title “The MOB” produced by Bones Howe is their sophomore album. It abandoned their earlier blue-eyed soul and pop moves for a more contemporary sound which included nods to disco (‘All the Dudes Are Dancing’) and Latin dance music (‘Get It Up For Love’), Mixed in was extensive horn arrangements. Big Al Herrera’s dark and bluesy voice remained an undiscovered treasure, saving all but the band’s most routine offerings. The instrumental ‘S.Y.A.’ and the ballads ‘ I Can’t Stop This Love Song’ and ‘ Magical Lady’ were among some of the numbers. Recalling their earlier sound ‘Hot Music’ and the rocker ‘Rock and Roller’ were radio friendly. The highlight as the atypical bluesy closer was ‘Who’s Foolin’ Who?’ The album was also tapped for a pair of singles:
- 1976’s ‘Rock and Roller’ b/w ‘Just One Good Love Connection’ (Private Stock catalog number PS 45,016)
- 1976’s ‘All the Dudes Are Dancing’ b/w ‘I Can’t Stop This Love Song’ (Private Stock catalog number PS 45,053)
“The Mob” Private Stock album track listing:
- All the Dudes Are Dancing (James Holvay) – 4:34
- Get It Up For Love (Ned Donhey) – 3:45
- S.Y.A. (James Holvay – Gary Beisbier) – 3:54
- Hot Music (Michael Randall – James Holvay) – 3:38
- Rock and Roller (Chris Bond) – 3:16
- I Can’t Stop This Love Song (Michael Randall) – 3:39
- When You Get Right Down To It (Barry Mann) – 3:35
- Magical Lady (James Holvay – Gary Beisbier) – 3:46
- Just One Good Woman (Don Dunn – Tony McCashen) – 3:13
- Who’s Foolin’ Who? (Michael Price – Dan Walsh – Steve Barri – Michael Omartian) – 4:54
Private Stock also released a pair of non-LP singles over the next two years:
- 1976’s ‘Don’t Let It Get You Down’ b/w ‘Skysurf (Theme For The Hanggliders)’ (Private Stock catalog number PS 45,084)
- 1976’s ‘Love Connection’ b/w ‘Gemini Lady’ (Private Stock catalog number PS 45,159)
In 1995 the British Sequel label released a posthumous 17 track compilation – “The MOB – The Heritage Sessions” (Sequel catalog number NEM CD 724). In addition to all of the material off of their first Colossus LP, the set was rounded out by 9 bonus tracks including ‘I Feel The Earth Move’, ‘Make Me Yours’, ‘All I Need’, ‘Everyday People/Love Power’, ‘Savin My Love For You’, and the previously unreleased ‘Uh Uh Uh Uh Uh Uh’.
Also making the WLS charts in 1964 was a snappy little British-sounding single called “Beatle Time” by the Livers [Constellation 118]. The Livers were a group known as the Chicagoans, featuring Jimmy Holvay, Gary Beisbier, Larry McCabe and Bobby Ruffino well-known performers in the mid-60s Chicago teen and Midwest ballroom circuit. Holvay and Beisbier later wrote many hits for the Buckinghams (“Kind of a Drag,” “Susan,” “Don’t You Care,” “Hey, Baby, They’re Playing Our Song,” etc.). Holvay was the force behind the show band called The MOB, who had several national chart records in the 1970s.
“OPEN THE DOOR TO YOUR HEART” – Released 1967. This was a song that the group performed in their club set. At the suggestion of their then manager, Joe DeFrancesco he brought them into RCA studios in Chicago and recorded the trak. The MOB were previously signed to Cameo/Parkway where they had only “1” release. Their manager then went to Mercury Records where they had only “1” release too. The group had their challenges, trying to convince record labels that having a horn section in a rock/r&b band was the “new sound” but nobody got it.
“Open The Door” did receive local record play on WCFL but at the request of their manager, Joe DeFrancesco had it pulled from their playlist. He didn’t like the way it sounded on the radio.
Many years later apparently it bcame a hit over in the UK for the “northern soul fans.
The MOB, band members: Gary Beisbier – alto, tenor and bari sax, keys, valve trombone, b/g vocals and arranger. Jimmy Ford – trumpet, flugelhorn, percussion. Big Al Herrera – vocals, tenor sax. James Holvay (aka Jimmy Soul) – guitar, bass, vocals. Tony Nedza – B3 organ, keys, keyboard bass, trumpet and backing vocals. Bobby Ruffino – drums, percussion . Mike Sistak – guitar, trombone, slide guitar and vocals.
“Give it To Me” and “I Dig Everything About You”
are available on “The Heritage/Colossus Story” @ the iTunes Store
WCFL Big 10 Countdown
11/16/1970 #20 “I Dig Everything About You” The Mob (peak 12/21/1970) 8 weeks
Billboard Hot 100
1/23/1971 #83 “I Dig Everything About You” The Mob (Colossus 130) 3 weeks
3/13/1971 #71 “Give It To Me” The Mob (Colossus 134) 4 weeks
THE CHICAGO HORN ROCK SOUND__________________
The MOB was the first band in Chicago to have a full horn section. Prior to The Mob (early-to-mid ’60’s), Gary and Jimmy had horns in all of their line-ups. “Beatle Time” was recorded in December of 1963 and charted on WLS. Gary and Jimmy recorded as a group called The Livers, previously The Chicagoans. The song carries the melody with a horn section.
In June of ’66, The MOB was playing at a club in Schiller Park on River Road called the Wine and Roses. Coming to see The MOB were every musician in a rock band in town. The Missing Links, The Exceptions and Carl Bonafede. The MOB’s very first release (”Wait” b/w “Mystery Man”) was on Cameo / Parkway Records in May of 1966. “Kind Of A Drag” by The Buckinghams was released in 1967, later Blood Sweat & Tears, CTA, the Ides Of March and Chase all featured horns.
It was said in Danny Seraphines’ book, that the MOB inspired Danny, Terry and Wally to add horns to their group, which was originally called The Missing Links, which then became The Big Thing. (now known as Chicago). In March of ’66, Jimmy Holvay was asked to write and produce a two sides for The Missing Links. It was a single called “Makin’ Up And Breakin’ Up” b/w “You Hypnotize Me” on Ivanhoe Records, when they were a four piece band, prior to them adding a horn section and re-forming as The Big Thing.
The Buckinghams also recorded their version of “Makin’ Up And Breakin’ Up” for their first USA LP. It was the producers (Dan Belloc and Carl Bonafede) who added horns to The Buckinghams tracks. The Buckinghams did not have horns in their band.
- WCFL Chicago Top 40 Charts 1965-1976 compiled by Ron Smith
- Joel Whitburn’s Tot Pop Singles 1955-1990 (Billboard) Record Research
Rock N’ Roll Stories – James Holvay
James Holvay, songwriter who penned “Kind of A Drag” and other hits for The Buckinghams in the 60’s brings insight to Rock N’ Roll Stories
the maybees the chicagoans the livers the executives caravan of stars
the mob chicago group chicago band