Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Hot Hero Sandwich — On the Flip Side! Hot Hero Band Interviews

by G. Jack Urso 

“I weep in joy! I watched this every Saturday and i still think it was one of the best theme songs I have ever heard. I started playing guitar around this time and the theme song was such an inspiration. Once they had a band on there, probably a house band, playing a version of "Get Together" that really inspired me. I recall they were playing Dean guitars which I lusted for at the time.”

@999manman (posted 2008)

“OMG, 1979. I was only 9 years old at the time, but this stuck in my head forever. I thought I would NEVER see this again, just like so many good things from back then just disappeared, never to be seen or heard again. I wish this show could have survived all the way through the 80's-- that would have been so cool to grow up with. Thank you SO MUCH for posting this and bringing back a good piece of my childhood. If this EVER comes out on DVD, I'll be first in line to get my copy.”

@phenixxfire1 (posted 2011)

“So, I was 12 when this show aired, and I can't even begin to express how unbelievably exciting it was to see an actual band on Saturday mornings. I've had this version of "Get Together" in my head for nearly 40 years and I'm thrilled to find this and realize that it really as great as I had recalled. 

@stanleycullerculler1658 (posted 2019)

“This show absolutely rocked my world as a kid! I was obsessed with guitars and playing in a rock band. I was glued to the television set every Saturday just to see what awesome guitars they were playing and so badly wanted a Dean Z and a Marshall half stack! Lol! Brings back so many great memories growing up in that era.”

@christopherzarlenga7875 (posted 2021) 

Hot Hero Band caricatures (Sherry Coben, 1979).
Top row (L-R): Richie Annunizato and Mark Cunningham.
Bottom Row (L-R): Robert Brissette and Mike Ratti 
The above sampling of fan comments from social media posts of musical clips from Hot Hero Sandwich exemplifies the enduring passion that fans still have for the show so many years later. As I read them, I have to remind myself these aren’t teenagers. Even the youngest HHS fan would be in their 50s by now. That the show clicked with them and remained a memory for so long is a testament to the show, its creators, and its performers. Considering that the show only lasted ten episodes, was never syndicated or released on video, and saw no merchandizing, it is a remarkable testament.

Yet, with all due respect to the sketches, animated shorts, in-depth celebrity interviews, and short subject films, ask anyone who remembers Hot Hero Sandwich and invariably the first response will be something along the lines of, “Oh yeah — Awesome band!”

That's not a reflection on the rest of the show, but in the absence of VHS and DVD releases of the series it is understandable that the — literally  loudest voice in the room still echoes four decades later, especially to its teen audience.

In creating “edutainment” with teen appeal, a key ingredient is the music, and here the Harts knew exactly what they were doing. Instead of picking some slick TV soundtrack producer and studio musicians, they instead choose actual rock and rollers who were tapped into the youth culture of the time. Indeed, the Hot Hero band members looked like they were our only slightly older brothers — making the appeal all that much more exciting and accessible. We felt like we were being spoken to by one of our own.

The band’s producer, Felix Pappalardi (right), is a legendary Classic Rock performer and producer who left an indelible on the industry through his work with Mountain (sharing co-lead vocals on “Mississippi Queen”) and producing albums with Cream (co-writing “Strange Brew” with his wife Gail) and the Youngbloods’ first album, Get Together. Pappalardi passed away in 1983 after being shot by his wife.

In this section of The Hot Hero Sandwich Project, members of the Hot Hero Band share their thoughts on how the band came together, how the songs were produced, a behind-the-scenes look at all the action, and what they have been up to since the show went off the air.

While working in radio, I interviewed a number of celebrities from the acting and music industries and I admit to being a bit anxious speaking to my childhood rock idols, but I needn't have worried. They were friendly and welcomed the opportunity to share their experiences on the show. I'm sure it would please Bruce and Carol Hart to know how those on show are still graciously treating their teenage fans — no matter how old we all get. 
Bookmark this page for more Hot Hero Band interviews in the near future!

(Left to right) Robert Brisstte, Mike Ratti, and Richie Annunziato, May 2023
(photo courtesy Mike Ratti).
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1 comment:

  1. One of the joys of older age are the memories of things that now, in older age, mean so much. Thanks for posting.