Rasputin and the Mad Monks started out as a 4 piece basement band in Newark, New Jersey. They met as music majors at Jersey City State Teachers College in 1965. John Mulrenan, the lead guitar player and lead singer majored in piano; Ed Shaugnessy, the keyboard player majored in clarinet; Steve Gibba, the drummer majored in bassoon and Alex Mancini, the bass player was the only one who actually played his major instrument in the band. After about a year, they added Richie Malfitano, another JCSTC music major on tenor sax and flute and Dawn Colton, his girlfriend on trumpet and lead vocals. The Jack Fisher Agency booked them into many top night clubs in New York (Trudy Heller's The Village Barn (along with an upcoming comedienne who eventualy became Ted Baxter's love interest on the Mary Tyler Moore Show…believe me, she was the same performer off stage as she was on), The Trick, The Peppermint Lounge (where they played opposite a scrawney, scraggy, snot nosed Hippie kid with a ukelele named "Tiny Tim"), the Jersey shore in such now de-funked venues as "Mrs. J's", in Asbury Park, "D-Jais"" in Belmar, "The Beachcomber" in Seaside Heights (where they backed up Dion Damucci), not to mention their stint at "The Long Pond Inn" where they backed up "The Drifters"….at that time, Steve was offered a position to go on the road with them by their guitarist and musical director. Steve entertained promises of tours throughout Europe, the Middle East , Japan, Asia, Africa and the Land Down Under…before reaching his decision, he asked "How did you become their musical director anyway?" The concertmaster replied, "I was the only one who had a valid drivers license and a current registration on my vehicle"…needless to say, Steve turned down the offer. The Mad Monks' repertoire leaned heavily toward R&B covering such artists as James Brown, Sam & Dave, Wilson Pickett and Otis Redding. They also covered pop groups such as The Mamas and the Papas, Jefferson Airplane, The Doors and The Beatles. They were among the first rock bands to perform at Carnege Hall with a musical extravaganza called The Kazenetz and Katz Singing Orchestral Circus. They played together for about 4 years before going their seperate ways. John formed a group called "Godzilla", Steve joined Ritchie with his group The Wet Clam to perform in an off-Broadway musical called "I Dreamt I Dwelt in Bloomingdale's" and then formed the group "Peartree". "Godzilla" and "Peartree" met together playing opposite each other at "The Triangle Inn" in Somerset, NJ. That was truly a gig to remember. Steve moved to St Petersburg, Florida in 1971 and played with a society band called The Glades for about 5 years and The Paragons for another 5 years and retired in 1991.
John opened for Bruce Springsteen's Steel Mill Band a few times and he and Bruce became fast friends . John went on to play with Musique, Benny Mardones, and Lord Gunner (Lance Larson). John had a charting record, "Heavens Here On Earth" (RCA), with a group called Hudson County in the early 70's. He runs a commercial recording studio in Farmingdale NJ. (See mulrenan.com to check out some tracks) John Mulrehan (aka Jon Colter) is signed to Westwood Music Group for worldwide Film & TV music representation.
With the exception of Dawn, Richie's eventual wife and mother of his children, who was tragically struck down and killed by a drunk driver, and whose spirit will always remain among those who had the extreme pleasure to have known her, the remaining "Mad Monks" are all proud Grandparents.
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