Now I have to be honest. The following article is one I wrote about three years ago, but since I finally quit procrastinating and called up Tommy Redd for a fun filled conversation, I decided to pull this one out of mothballs. I was originally entitled "When Nantucket Ruled The Earth." I hope you like it, and I hope you'll tune in to The Buffalo Radio Show this Sunday, May 1st, when Tommy will be one of my guests. You can even call in and talk to him and my other guest, Bruce Brookshire of Doc Holiday.
I was talking to my friend Dewayne “aka: Rebyll” this afternoon when the conversation shifted to his first live concert experience. It was Molly Hatchet and Nantucket. This got me to thinking about my own experiences with the Carolina band Nantucket, which run all the way back to the early seventies.
The first time I laid eyes and ears on Nantucket was in the early-1970’s. They played quite often at The Midnight Sun in Spartanburg, SC, a club I used to go to quite often. Great bands played there, like Mother's Finest, Beaverteeth, Toby King and the Chocolate Buttermilk Band, The Spontanes (along with their alter egos, Harley Hogg and the Rockers), and Garfeel Ruff, a group that would soon sign with Capitol Records. One group I saw there more than any other was called Nantucket Sleighride, named for a song by the rock band Mountain.
Originally formed in Jacksonville, North Carolina in 1969, Nantcket would soon drop the “Sleighride,” and in 1977, they would sign with Epic Records and release a self-titled album that spawned a hit single called “Heartbreaker.” During that summer, the band did an in-store appearance at Camelot Music in Westgate Mall. I was among the many fans hanging out and meeting the band, who were on their way to play at a venue in Asheville, if memory serves.
The six-member group featured show stopper Tommy Redd on guitar and Larry Uzzell on vocals, along with Mike Uzzell, Eddie Blair, Kenny Soule, and Mark Downing. With the success of "Heartbreaker," they were opening for bands like KISS, Styx, Boston, Mother's Finest, and Journey.
As a tribute to AC/DC lead singer Bon Scott, who died in 1980, Nantucket's Long Way To The Top included a version of the 1975 classic "It’s A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock 'N' Roll)". The move landed the band a spot with AC/DC on its Back In Black tour for the entire summer.
BACKSTAGE CRAZINESS: Nantucket & AC/DC
Prior to that, I had seen the band in 1979 at Greenville Memorial Auditorium, opening for KISS on their “Return of KISS Tour.” I’ll never forget sitting in the side balcony right over the stage, and just before the show started, seeing Larry Uzzell walk across the stage in a fur coat and shades, walking what appeared to be a white wolf on a leash (Actually one of his two big German shepherds) . Larry was determined to show those New York rockers how a Carolina boy sports the rock star image.
About a year later I saw Nantucket again at a club across the street from Spartanburg Memorial Auditorium and they simply rocked the house.
Unfortunately, the band's last two studio albums produced in 1983 and 1985 were disappointments and the group had disbanded by 1990. A compilation album came out in 1986.
The original members of Nantucket reunited in 1991 to record a live session and released an album called Still Live After All These Years
in 1995. Today, the band still plays night clubs throughout the Carolinas, entertaining generations of fans who still follow them to this very day. I’m going to be keeping my eyes open. It’s about time for me to see them again and take another "Nantucket Sleighride."