RRI: The Names frontman Dave Galluzzo
By Todd Houston
Special to TRRT
Rockford Rocked Interviews: Hi Dave! How are things going for you in Arizona?
Dave Galluzzo: Everything here is fabulous!
DG: You know I was watching an Eddie Van Halen interview recently and he was asked a similar question about influences and who he listened to and his answer was basically nobody, and that he really didn’t listen to much music at all. So at the risk of nicking Eddies lines, I too have been and pretty much am the same way.
RRI: I remember seeing a photo of an early Rockford band of yours called flight. Incidentally the drummer John Darby is now an American motor racing official, currently serving as Managing Director of Competition and Director of NASCAR. Are you ever able to squeeze any good tickets or NASCAR swag out of him?
DG: Nope, no NASCAR perks (laughs). I haven’t spoken to or seen John for many years. Congratulations to him though on his serious NASCAR success!
RRI: Let’s talk about the band The Names! The classic lineup was (you) Dave Galluzzo on vocals/guitar, Rick Pemberton-lead guitar, Rick Szeluga on bass (original cheap trick bass player) Steve Howser- briefly on keyboard and Chip Greenman (ex – Fuse) on drums. Did I miss anyone?
DG: The Names were actually an off shoot project of an earlier band called Nicknames. I was in a band called China and had just gotten back from a trip to England when I got a call to come over and talk to the Nicknames guys, which were Rick Pemberton, Russ Freeman, Pat O’Brien and Lee Kelso who was singing at that time. They were looking for a young, good looking bass player/singer. I told them I had the bass/singer thing down but the good looking part was definitely subjective! Anyway, I did and that was that. Rick Michaelsen would later replace Pat on drums.
RRI: The Names released a single in 1977. You guys were supposed to be the next Cheap Trick! What the hell happened?
DG: Oh the little single that keeps on giving! Hard to believe but I still have people as far as England, Finland and Japan that contact me about that record! Serious power pop fans they are for sure. We have to thank Bun E Carlos and Cary Baker for that little record. Cary wanted to start a label called Fiction Records and asked Bun for suggestions as to who he should record and Bun being an all around stand up guy with incredible taste mentioned that he should record us and he did. Rick Pemberton wrote the A side Why Can’t It Be and I wrote the B side Baby You’re A Fool. A couple thousand records were pressed and sold and once again because of Cary Bakers publicity and distribution skills some of those records got into the hands of some of the right people. The Names little 45 would go on to earn us a viable spot in power pop history. – They were included in the Rhino Records compilation, come out and play American power-pop 1 (1975-1978).
To answer the, “What the hell happened?” part, well it wasn’t for lack of trying that’s for sure. We were on the road working as many as 24 days a month doing all one and two nighters, that whole Midwestern circuit thing back then. We worked very hard!
RRI: I’m going to say a name or phrase and you answer with the first thing that pops into your head. Waverly Beach (club in Beloit).
DG: I loved that place! The Names, Cheap Trick, The Runaways, 18 year old drinking, etc. John Helland was the bouncer and a good friend!
RRI: Rick Neilsen.
DG: An inspiration since I was 14 when him and Karen lived in the little apartment on 15th Ave.
RRI: Flight of the Phoenix.
DG: The home bar with the big hole in the stage wall that Rick Szeluga punched in with the head of his bass. Awesome!
DG: Waverly Beach – the greatest little poster and show that never happened! AC/DC and The Names!
RRI: Frozen margaritas pool side in the 106 degree Arizona heat.
DG: Palm trees, crystal blue skies and total semi nude bliss!
RRI: What’s next for Dave Galluzzo? Can we expect any new music in the near future?
DG: My only musical purpose now is to do some songs with players I like to play with and respect, for no worries about money, no expectations, no pressure and just for fun. Just allow creative to be creative. OK I’ll take some money but the rest is really true. We’ve recently been having some fun with a little project called The Smiling Lizard Sessions which is an ever changing group of players around the country compiling wav files from home recording sessions and creating some semblance of great rock music!