Tell Tony Gunther's Bus Is Here
The inside story:
In the fall of 1967 two bands in the Rochester, New York areas were in the process of breaking up. The Angry Men and the Gallant Men. Some of the members decided to merge and form a new band. Art Foti, Carl Foti and Jerry Cummings from the Gallant Men teamed up with Tom Bittle from the Angry Men, added Joe Dasheneau on bass and began rehearsing top 40 and R&B songs from that era.
They were to be managed by James (Gunther) Kranz, owner and proprietor of Duffy's Hotel in the heart of downtown Rochester. Gunther, a businessman thru and thru who would never make a bad investment, had purchased an old gray school bus for reasons unbeknownst to the band and it remains a mystery to this day. It was during that conversation at a rehearsal that the band got their name.
One night at precisely 9:00PM Gunther pulled up in his old gray bus to the front door of Duffy's Hotel honking the horn madly and out jumped 5 beaming young musicians who proceeded to hop up on the stage and began playing "Even the Bad Times Are Good" by the Tremolos. The band, Gunther's Bus, was very well received. The place was packed and everyone, band and audience had such a great time. They all knew this would be the start of something really great
"Time to make it big," they go on the road. Their first stop would become their biggest challenge and one that changed them forever, they played Tony Mart’s in Somers Point NJ If you have seen the 1980s movie Eddie and the Cruisers and you remember the line “tell Tony Eddie and the Cruisers are here," in 1968 GB did exactly the same thing.
Here was this “cocky” band from upstate New York invading this club in little Somers Point about to be taught a lesson in how to become something special at the hands of a wonderful man named Tony Mart.
The first night they played they took the stage and began as if this was just any road club. Long delays between songs with young angry musicians the attitude that your lucky we are playing for you mentality. Jerry Cummings the drummer remembers looking down and seeing a stocky older man glaring up at him. At first he thought it was the professional Wrestling Manager Dr. Lou Albano, but soon dismissed him as if he had wandered in off the street wondering who these gods of music were. They soon found out whom that man was, it was Tony.
After there first set they were ushered into his office by their road manager Peter Salerno for a lesson they all remember to this day.
Tony was sitting behind his desk. He looked up pounded his fit on the desk and said “listen, you are going to play your songs 1,2,3 and stop wasting time or I’m going to throw you bums out and you can go back home, now get out!”
Needless to say we did exactly that and the rest was an incredible three years working and living at the greatest club ever, Tony Mart’s, but most of all a man they will never forget, Tony Mart.
By the time he got through with them, they came back home with a whole new sound and show. They were a different band. The local fans were blown away.
The band has reunited with all the original members and will play again this coming year.
You can never go back but you can remember and enjoy.
Thank you Tony.