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NRBQ 2007.jpg
General information
Genre (s) Rock , pop
founding 1967
Current occupation
Keyboard, piano, vocals
Terry Adams
Casey McDonough
John Perrin
Scott Ligon
former members
Steve Ferguson †
Al Anderson
Tom Staley
Frank Gadler
Ken Sheehan
Joey Spampinato
Tom Ardolino †
Johnny Spampinato

NRBQ is an American rock band formed in 1967. She is known for live performances, which are characterized by a high degree of spontaneity and ease. Her style is influenced by rock, pop and jazz of the 1950s and 1960s. The best-known line-up of the band is the quartet from 1974 to 1994, consisting of keyboardist Terry Adams , bassist Joey Spampinato , guitarist Al Anderson and drummer Tom Ardolino.


The acronym NRBQ stands for New Rhythm and Blues Quartet (originally quintet), although an article in Creem magazine suggested a different meaning: “Nothing Really Beats Quality” (meaning: “Nothing can really beat quality.”).

Style and environment

The band's music is an exuberant mix of every kind of driving, from rockabilly to Beatles -influenced pop to jazz in the style of pianist Thelonious Monk . The band's fans include Bob Dylan , Paul McCartney , Elvis Costello , Keith Richards , Penn and Teller and Steve Sweney . NRBQ songs have inspired musicians like Bonnie Raitt , Los Lobos and Dave Edmunds and many others to do cover versions . In addition, NRBQ were the unofficial house band for The Simpsons in seasons 10 through 12, whose main screenwriter and production manager was NRBQ fan Mike Scully. Several of the band's songs were heard, and in addition, the members themselves appeared in animated form at the Simpsons . The band can be seen in the credits of the episode Der Kampf um Marge ( Take My Wife, Sleaze ) playing the theme song. The band members have also worked in feature films, including 28 Tage and Zombie 2 (Day of the Dead) , in which the band played zombies.

NRBQ's following has been built up over many years through the concerts. The band never plays a pre-determined program, in addition to their own compositions, there are numerous cover versions in the repertoire; the band also fulfills requests from the audience.

The band has almost no chart successes, in their almost forty-year career only managed a positioning (number 70) in the Billboard Hot 100 in 1974 with the title Get that Gasoline Blues . Time and again, NRBQ have signed record deals with major record companies that ended after an album or two due to poor sales. Neither their numerous fans nor the band's eccentric humor was able to increase the commercial potential. Over the years the group has performed in pajamas at festivals, hired wrestler "Captain" Lou Albano as manager (whom they composed a song in honor of), and "exploded" on stage.


The beginnings

NRBQ was founded in 1967 in Miami ( Florida ) by members of disbanded bands. Founding members were keyboardist Terry Adams, guitarist Steve Ferguson, singer Frank Gadler, drummer Tom Staley and bassist Joey Spampinato . In addition to their instrumental skills, all band members also appeared as singers at different times. The group moved to the northeastern United States, lived for a while in Park Slope, a borough of Brooklyn, and gained attention in local clubs. In the spring of 1969 they were the opening act for an event at Fillmore East , where the second act was Joe Cocker (in the program it was said that "... his version of With a Little Help from My Friends was a small success in the USA") . The main act was the Jeff Beck Group with their then singer Rod Stewart .

NRBQ signed a recording deal with Columbia Records in 1969 and released the debut album NRBQ that same year . In addition to cover versions - including songs by Eddie Cochran and Sun Ra - there are also a number of stylistically broadly diversified original compositions. The following year the group played with rockabilly legend Carl Perkins on the album Boppin 'the Blues .

"The Q": Adams - Anderson - Ardolino - Spampinato

Even before NRBQ could finish recording their third album, Columbia got out of the contract due to a lack of chart success. In the following three years the band experienced numerous line-up changes. Ferguson dropped out and was replaced by Ken Sheehan for a year, as did Gadler and Staley. Finally, two new members came who had been part of the permanent line-up for many years: guitarist and singer Al Anderson, previously with the Wildweeds , who had become known regionally in Connecticut and Massachusetts with the song No Good to Cry , and drummer Tom Ardolino. Ardolino was already a fan of the band and was in contact with Terry Adams (among other things to swap mixtapes he had recorded himself ). One night when Staley was too sick to do an encore, Adams is said to have asked Ardolino to help out as a drummer. Ardolino is said to have played so well that Al Anderson didn't notice the change until he had another look at his fellow musicians during the encore. When Staley later decided to leave the band, the decision for Ardolino was an obvious one. The quartet with Adams, Spampinato, Anderson and Ardolino existed longer than any other line-up of the band (1974 to 1994); it was often supplemented by the Whole Wheat Horns , consisting of tenor saxophonist Keith Frühling and trombonist Donn Adams (Terry Adams' older brother).

The 1970s: Ridin 'in My Car

In 1977 NRBQ released the single Ridin 'in My Car from the album All Hopped Up . 'The piece was originally released on Al Anderson's first album with the Wildweeds and cemented Anderson's status as a singer-songwriter . He often set melancholy reviews of summer experiences to music. Ridin 'in My Car never became a nationwide hit, but the song always stayed in the band's concert repertoire.

Another piece that exemplifies the NRBQ sound on their album Scraps is Howard Johnson's Got His Ho-Jo Workin ' . The song was played frequently by radio stations in Massachusetts and Connecticut, but it did not make a nationwide breakthrough in the United States. Still, Mercury Records suspected enough commercial potential to license the title for the follow-up album At Yankee Stadium . While the first version of At Yankee Stadium contains the title, Mercury Records decided not to renew the license agreement, so the following pressings appeared without the song.

During the 1970s and early 1980s, NRBQ released their albums mostly on Rounder Records or their own music label Red Rooster Records . The band gained a good reputation, especially with their unpredictable concerts. A fixed item on the program of the live shows back then was the Magic Box , a mysteriously painted box into which fans could throw scraps of paper with music requests. The band then played what was pulled out of the magic box . This resulted in cover versions of Caroline No by the Beach Boys or a disharmonious interpretation of the Christmas carol Jingle Bells . If the band did not know the selected title, they usually improvised on a spontaneous disharmonious musical motif and inserted the hookline of the desired title at some point in the course of this.

The 1980s: Grooves in Orbit

The band got another major contract in 1983 with the release of Grooves in Orbit on Bearsville Records . However, a feud developed between the group and label owner Albert Grossman , who refused to release the band from their contract. Therefore, until Grossman's death in 1986, NRBQ could neither release new records nor sign with another label for several years. During this time, however, NRBQ was allowed to release its archive material on its own label.

Released from the Bearsville contract, the band then signed with Virgin Records . With Wild Weekend , NRBQ reached a position in the album charts for the first time since their debut. But this success wasn't enough for Virgin to renew the contract.

The 1990s: You're Nice People You Are

In the early 1990s there were several appearances by NRBQ members on albums by Keith Richards , Chuck Berry and Johnnie Johnson .

The long-term occupation of the band joined in 1994, got out as Al Anderson to his career as a songwriter in Nashville ( Tennessee continue). Johnny Spampinato, the younger brother of Joey Spampinato, a member of the Incredible Casuals , stood in for him. The band's recordings and concerts continued unabated, including You're Nice People You Are (1997), an album especially for children, as well as the formation of their new label Edisun Records .

Since 2000: anniversaries and solo projects

On April 30 and May 1, 2004, the group celebrated their 35th anniversary with concerts at the Calvin Theater in Northampton, Massachusetts. The show featured all of the band's current and past members, including Ferguson, Gadler, Staley, Sheehan and Anderson.

Towards the end of 2004, NRBQ took a break. It was rumored that Adams was suffering from severe tendonitis in his hands. During this time, Ardolino and the Spampinato brothers traded as Baby Macaroni ; At the beginning of their career, when the band was still looking for a name, they already performed under that name. Other names now used were Billy the Kid and The Marlboro Men . After a few months, Adams got better, allowing him to tour with ex-drummer Staley and Japanese rockabilly group Hot Shots .

In June 2006 Adams and Ferguson released their album Louisville Sluggers (with Ardolino on drums, Pete Toigo on bass and other musicians). They gave some live shows in the US and Japan as The Terry Adams-Steve Ferguson Quartet and Rock & Roll Summit Meeting . In September 2006, during an appearance on Bob Brainen's show on WFMU , Adams explained the almost two-year hiatus from NRBQ by saying that “some members” of the group had “different priorities” than he did. He stressed that fans shouldn't see the Adams-Ferguson Quartet as a replacement for NRBQ, but was also unwilling to call the new band a side project.

Also in September 2006, the SpongeBob SquarePants album The Best Day Ever was released. It contained music by all four NRBQ members as well as by Al Anderson. This collection of songs influenced by 1960s pop rock was written by Andy Paley and Spongebob voice actor Tom Kenny and produced by Paley. The musicians Brian Wilson , Tommy Ramone , James Burton , Flaco Jiménez and the DJ Jerry Blavat from Philadelphia were also involved.

On April 27 and 28, 2007, NRBQ gave a few concerts for the first time since 2004, on the occasion of their 38th anniversary in Northampton. This included both Al Anderson and Johnny Spampinato, the Whole Wheat Horns (Donn Adams and Jim Bob Hoke), John Sebastian as an unannounced guest, the original NRBQ drummer Tom Staley and Klem Klimek, saxophonist and long-time companion of the band. Management announced plans to hold an annual event, at least for the next two years until the band celebrated their 40th anniversary in 2009. However, Terry Adams said in an interview on Michael Shelley's radio show on August 11, 2007 on WFMU that this statement was made without consulting the band.

In 2007 Terry Adams released a solo album called Rhythm Spell . On the NRBQ homepage he published tour dates of his new band Terry Adams Rock and Roll Quartet for the year 2008 and provided information about further solo activities.

Around 2008 the original guitarist Steve Ferguson fell ill with lung cancer. While it was said in the spring of 2009 that he was too weak to travel, it was reported on June 26, 2009 that he would be "playing live again with many of his old pals" in Northampton for a three-day event. There were Al Anderson, Joey Spampinato, Johnny Spampinato and Frank Gadler. In a radio interview, Terry Adams said that he had heard about these shows but had not been invited. He went on that there might be a NRBQ reunion, from which it must be concluded that the band had split up in the meantime, but without announcing this.

Ferguson died on October 7, 2009. Tom Ardolino died on January 6, 2012.


  • NRBQ (Columbia) 1969
  • Boppin 'the Blues (with Carl Perkins ) (Columbia) 1970
  • Scraps (Kama Sutra) 1972
  • Workshop (Kama Sutra) 1973
  • All Hopped Up (Red Rooster) 1977
  • At Yankee Stadium (Mercury) 1978
  • Kick Me Hard (Red Rooster / Rounder) 1979
  • Tiddly Winks (Rounder / Red Rooster) 1980
  • Grooves in Orbit (Bearsville) 1983
  • Tapdancin 'Bats (Rounder / Red Rooster) 1983
  • She Sings, They Play (with Skeeter Davis ) (Rounder / Red Rooster) 1985
  • Lou and the Q (with "Captain" Lou Albano ) (Rounder / Red Rooster) 1986
  • RC Cola and a Moon Pie (Rounder / Red Rooster) 1986
  • Christmas Wish EP (Red Rooster) 1986
  • Uncommon Denominators (Compilation of the Rounder years, 1972 to 1984) (Rounder) 1987
  • God Bless Us All (live album) (Rounder) 1987
  • Diggin 'Uncle Q (live album) (Rounder) 1988
  • Kick Me Hard - the Deluxe Edition (reissue with eight bonus tracks) (Rounder) 1989
  • Wild Weekend (Virgin) 1989
  • Peek-A-Boo (compilation of several labels with titles from 1969 to 1989) (Rhino) 1990
  • Honest Dollar (Live Compilation) (Rykodisc) 1992
  • Stay with We (Compilation of the Columbia years with previously unreleased tracks) (Columbia / Legacy) 1993
  • Message for the Mess Age (Rhino) 1994
  • Tokyo (live album) (Rounder) 1996
  • You're Nice People You Are (Rounder) 1997
  • Tapdancin 'Bats - The Anniversary Edition (reissue with four bonus tracks) (Rounder) 1998
  • You Gotta Be Loose (Live Album) (Rounder) 1998
  • Ridin 'in My Car (re-release of All Hopped Up with previously unreleased tracks) 1999
  • NRBQ (Also known as "The Yellow Album") (Rounder) 1999
  • Scraps (re-release, remastered, with three bonus tracks) (Rounder) 2000
  • Scraps Companion (15 tracks from a Memphis radio show, 1972 and six outtakes from the Scraps sessions) (Edisun) 2000
  • Atsa My Band (Edisun) 2002
  • Live from Mountain Stage (Live recordings from the Mountain Stage radio show) (Blue Plate) 2002
  • Live at the Wax Museum (previously unpublished concert from 1982) (Edisun) 2003
  • Dummy (Edisun) 2004
  • Transmissions (DoCD Japan-exclusive compilation with 40% unreleased material) (Caraway) 2004
  • Froggy's Favorites Vol. 1 (compilation with previously unreleased live tracks 1979–1999) (Edisun) 2006
  • Ludlow Garage 1970 (previously unpublished 1970 concert) (Sundazed) 2006
  • Christmas Wish - Deluxe Version (Clang) 2007
  • Keep This Love Goin` (Big Notes) 2011
  • We Travel the Spaceways (Live Album) (Big Notes) 2012
  • Brass Tracks (Clang Records / In Deutschland Staatsakt ) 2014
  • Live at My Father's Place (2014)

NRBQ cover versions

Tribute album: The Q People - A tribute to NRBQ (including Steve Earle, Mike Mills, Bonny Raitt, J. Mascis, Los Lobos, Yo La Tengo) [2004]

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Bob Brainen Show from September 3, 2006 (RealAudio),
  2. Michael Shelley Show from August 11, 2007 (RealAudio),
  3. NRBQ members salute ailing Steve Ferguson , in Springfield Republican, June 25, 2009,
  4. WMNF Sonic Detour dated June 24, 2009,  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@ 2Template: Dead Link /  
  5. WMNF Sonic Detour from June 24, 2009,
  7. Archived copy ( Memento of the original from December 15, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /