Deloris Telescope

Deloris Telescope is a Tampa Bay, Florida area rock band. It was originally formed in 1983 with members Lee Steel on guitar, Dave Fairman on bass, Russ Hammock on drums and Bruce Batton on guitar; momentum didn't begin to build until a year later when Kacy Ross (guitarist with the Theatre Band) and Andre' Belloice (drums) took Bruce and Russ' places.[1][2] [3] [4]

The final trio of Ross, Wilcox, and Grandmaison would continue along a path for another 10 years that would make Deloris Telescope a household name throughout Florida, winning several awards, appearing on radio, television, on film, and recording a string of highly successful albums.

The following is the story of DT as told by guitarist–singer Kacy Ross. Of course, memory is clouded by time and the residual effects of the "rock lifestyle" back then. There definitely was an incarnation of Deloris Telescope prior to the better-known version of the band. Lee Steel's writing in this World Heritage Encyclopedia entry explains the earliest incarnation of the group.

The long-standing version of Deloris Telescope formed in 1983 in Largo, Florida. The lineup consisted of Kacy Ross (Lead Vocal, Guitar), Lee Steel (Vocals, Guitar), David "Fanmail" Fairman (Bass) and Andre Belloise (Drums).

Initially low volume and art-rock oriented with odd time signatures and quirky lyrics, Deloris Telescope steadily veered towards a more accessible approach with the addition of powerhouse drummer Ricky Wilcox just three months after the groups inception. Ross had previously played with Wilcox in the band "Theatre," a power pop group based in Chicago that had enjoyed a good amount of popularity in the American midwest and southeast. Theatre recorded one album, "Diamonds," for Spirit Records in 1981. Ironically, Wilcox joined Deloris Telescope after Theatre vocalist Donnie Bennett wooed Andre Belloise away from the band to play in his post-Theatre group, The Donnie Bennett Band.

After some early gigs in the Tampa Bay area at places like Ron's Highway Lounge and The Cheshire Cat, Lee Steel left the band and Deloris Telescope continued on as a trio. Next to depart was David Fairman, beginning a revolving-door effect that would see several bassists come and go from the DT lineup. (In all fairness, the departure of Steel and Fairman may have had more to do with inner-band politics than these members simply leaving the group. Lee and Dave certainly had important input into the arrangements of early songs and were more than worthy musically. Wilcox and Ross, having played together the previous three years, may have had a differing vision for the band and a future agenda that wasn't being met somehow by the line-up at that time. Looking back, perhaps things could have been handled better but, such is the nature of music sometimes. Fortunately, all members have remained good friends over the years.)

Bassist Eddie Pecchio was Fairman's initial replacement. Pecchio's older brother Daniel had been a member of Phil Keaggy's "Glass Harp" and Youngstown Ohio's "Michael Stanley Band." Eddie was a very capable bassist and vocalist. He played with the group during a formative period when the band was slogging it out weekend after weekend at El Gordo's Mexican Restaurant on St. Pete Beach. It was here that the band began to attract a loyal following and to focus their prolific songwriting skills and wild stage performance. Over the years, longtime fans would often single out the "El Gordo's Days" as the time when DT was at its irreverent and incendiary best.

After a year and a half in the band, Eddie Pecchio left, sighting dissatisfaction with the bands progress as the reason. He went on to play with the popular Tampa Bay area band Stormbringer and later teamed up with ex-Kansas violinist Robbie Steinhardt and guitarist Rick Moon to form the Steinhardt-Moon Band.

As DT's reputation grew, the band was left looking for a permanent bassist. Von Lupa of Tampa's seminal punk band Zenith Nadir played briefly with DT, followed by Patti Labelle sideman Manny Yanes. Yanes was a good fit for DT's funk-rock oriented approach of the mid-1980s. But being a sideman for a prominent national act, he eventually had to leave the band.

Stevie Grandmaison was the soundman for DT at this time. Grandmaison was a talented guitarist and vocalist who had fronted his own band, Stevie and the Hotheads, in the Tampa Bay area. One evening, Grandmaison filled in on bass and everything just seemed to click into place. He was hired on as bassist and would remain with the group until their dissolution in 1996.

It wasn't long after this solidified version of DT began playing around Tampa Bay that things really began to come together for the band. They were hired at the area's biggest clubs and were asked to open for many of the prominent bands that came through the area including Men Without Hats, X, Modern English, Flock of Seagulls, Hunter-Ronson Band, Warren Zevon, Lords of the New Church, Robin Trower, Steppenwolf, Cheap Trick, Foghat, Joan Jett, XYZ, 24/7 Spyz, and countless others.

Deloris Telescope did an extensive amount of touring in later years, often heading up the east coast for gigs in Atlanta, Nashville, DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York, where they frequented clubs such as CBGB's, The Rodeo Bar, The Bitter End, Cafe Wha, Cat Club, Spo-Dee-O-Dee's and the Lion's Gate where they were offered a residency that they ultimately declined.

The band also visited Japan twice to perform for the U.S. Marines at Iwakuni.

In 1991, DT broke up temporarily as guitarist Kacy Ross decided to relocate to NYC. Much was made of this breakup in the Tampa Bay music press and some well-publicized farewell shows were performed for packed houses. After just four months however, Ross returned and the band continued on as if nothing had happened. Though DT was still one of the most popular bands in the Tampa Bay area, this short hiatus may indeed have marked the end of their heyday. A certain degree of momentum seemed to have been lost in their absence.

Internally, the band had a desire to be taken more seriously as musicians and songwriters. Their fans, however, were more interested in the wild party side of the band that they had grown to know and love. Deloris Telescope was indeed a notorious party band, known for excess on and off the stage. But, it was not a lifestyle that they could rationally continue without negative results. Dolorous, recorded at Panda Studios in Clearwater, Florida with George Harris co-producing and engineering was the band's first real attempt to break out of the party band mode and attempt to capture a serious piece of work on tape. It was a dilemma that would follow the band throughout their career: an inability to transfer their kinetic live show to a studio setting. Fans and critics were disappointed with "Dolorous." Most fans point to "Milk The Glory" as the definitive Deloris Telescope recording. This 90-minute collection captured live in the studio came the closest to defining the spirit of the group at its raw and ribald best.

Deloris wasn't without its chances for major success. Many major labels sent A&R reps to check out the group, including a showcase at New York City's S.I.R. rehearsal studio for Atlantic Records Jason Pflom. Always though, the bands cavalier attitude and uncategorizable approach was its commercial Achilles heel. Record companies acknowledged the bands appeal and talents, but were at a loss as to how to market them. Perhaps, in its prime, the band members were too content with all the local attention and high life to focus on furthering their careers beyond the Tampa Bay area. Then again, one had to admire their uncompromising "our way or no way" approach to their craft.

In 1994, DT again entered the studio with George Harris to record what would be the their swan song and first and only CD, Xenolith. Forgoing earlier funk and pop inclinations, Xenolith was inspired by the heavier sounds emanating from Seattle and the grunge movement of the time. The unique Telescope vibe managed to save the album from sounding too Seattle-derivative though, and in hindsight, Xenolith featured some of the band's most fully realized recordings. Though still not as popular as Milk The Glory with longtime fans, Xenolith proved to be a fitting epitaph.

By 1996, after 13 years as a group, their long ride came to an end. Following one last trip to Japan and some final gigs in the Florida Keys, Deloris Telescope quietly disbanded. They left behind many fans and a legacy that will live on in Tampa Bay musical history with other acts such as Stranger, White Witch, Roxx Gang, Four-In-Legion, Savatage, Mercy, Bertie Higgins, The Bellamy Brothers, Firefall, Slim Whitman, The Hazies, Donna Allen, Jim Stafford and others.

Most large cities have their local legends like Deloris Telescope, bands and performers who made an impact in those places without breaking big across the nation. DT websites are frequented actively today with many fans still seeking copies of the old records and tapes and looking to make contact with fellow devotees from the "good old days." Deloris Telescope will be remembered as one of Tampa Bay's most popular bands of the 1980s and early 1990s.[5] Deloris Telescope was a fixture on Tampa Bay's alternative-rock scene for nearly two decades.[6]

The band dissolved in 1996 while the members are still active with solo careers or new projects.

Member roster

1st line-up [7] Russ Hammock (drums)
Bruce Batton (guitar/vocals)
Lee Steel (guitar/vocals)
David Fairman (bass)

2nd line-up
Russ Hammock (drums)
Bruce Batton (guitar/vocals)
Joel McClellan (bass/vocals)
Lee Steel (guitar/vocals)

3rd line-up
Russ Hammock (drums)
Bruce Batton (guitar/vocals)
Joel McClellan (bass/vocals)
Lee Steel (guitar/vocals)
Ray Rosario (vocals)

4th line-up
Kacy skelbo white Ross (guitar/vocals)
Andre' Belloice (drums)
David fanmail Fairman (bass)
Lee-roy plaything Steel (guitar/vocals)

5th line-up
Kacy Ross (guitar/vocals)
[8] Ricky Wilcox (drums/vocals)
David Fairman (bass)
Lee Steel (guitar/vocals)
Rick DeMartini (engineer)
Paul Muenz (the first roadie to drop a cheap Japanese guitar in the mud!)

6th line-up
Kacy Ross (guitar/vocals)
Ricky Wilcox (drums/vocals)
David Fairman (bass)
George Harris (engineer)

7th line-up
Kacy Ross (guitar/vocals)
Ricky Wilcox (drums/vocals)
Manny 4 in Legion (bass)
George Harris (engineer)

8th line-up
Kacy Ross (guitar/vocals)
Ricky Wilcox (drums/vocals)
Eddie Pecchio (bass)
George Harris (engineer)

9th line-up
Kacy Ross (guitar/vocals)
Ricky Wilcox (drums/vocals)
Stevie Grandmaison (bass/vocals)
Duane Potter (roadie, driver, & videographer)
Melvis (roadie & videographer)
Denny (engineer)

10th line-up
Kacy Ross (guitar/vocals)
Ricky Wilcox (drums/vocals)
Stevie Grandmaison (bass/vocals)
Duane Potter (roadie, driver, & videographer)
Mike Petruzzi (engineer)

Discography

Record Label: OHIOWA / LARGOPHONIC / DOWNTOWN RECORDS [9]

Skelbo White "Hawkeye Root" CDR, cassette

Deloris Telescope "In Focus" promotional cassette songs include: Fashion Would Dictate, Heavy Philosophy, Head On Hayride, & Sometime Next Year

Deloris Telescope "Basement Tapes" promotional cassette songs include: Long Sleeve Shirt produced by White Witch's Buddy Pendergrass

Deloris Telescope "6UL-DV8 b/w Pink Mescaline" CDR, 33/45 rmp EP

Deloris Telescope "Tres Miserables" cassette

Deloris Telescope "Milk The Glory" CDR, cassette

Deloris Telescope "Dolorus" cassette

Deloris Telescope "Ting" cassette

Deloris Telescope "Dull" cassette

Deloris Telescope "Xenolith" CD, cassette

Kacy Ross "1961" cassette

Kacy Ross "1962" cassette

Kacy Ross "That Dirty Clown" cassette

Kacy Ross "Demos 2003-2004" CDR

Ricky Wilcox "monkeyshine" CD

Ricky Wilcox "Bonecrusher" cassette

Current status

Ricky Wilcox is actively recording and playing in the Tampa Bay area.[10]

Stevie Grandmaison still performs around Tampa Bay.[11]

Kacy Ross hosts a weekly radio show on WFMU in New Jersey.[12]

Lee Steel is still playing live music in the Hartford Connecticut area.

On November 26, 2010, Deloris Telescope (Ross, Wilcox, Grandmaison) reunited for a concert appearance at Jannus Live in St. Petersburg, Florida. The event featured Deloris Telescope alongside fellow Tampa Bay acts of their era, The Hazies, Dee Force, Freak's Rule and Men From Earth.

References

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