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Rubber Rodeo

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Biography

Rubber Rodeo was a Boston-based band active in the 1980s. Uniquely for the era, the band fused Roxy Music-influenced music with influences, and dressed in 1950’s-vintage country & western clothing. They are best remembered for their heavily rotated 1984 MTV hit “The Hardest Thing” and the US chart hit “Anywhere With You”.

Foundation and early years (1980-83)

Rubber Rodeo was founded in Rhode Island in 1980, and initially consisted of Bob Holmes (vocals, guitars), Trish Milliken (vocals, keyboards), Gary Leib (synthesisers), Eddie Stern (pedal steel), Doug Allen (bass) and Bob’s brother Barc Holmes (drums). Almost all were students at the Rhode Island School of Design, and lead singers Holmes and Milliken were also romantically involved. Bob Holmes later described the band as “a cross between Gene Autry and Devo”. Others noted that when Milliken was singing, Rubber Rodeo sounded something like a countrified Blondie.

Most of the band’s material consisted of original songs composed by Bob Holmes, or by the team of Holmes and Milliken. However, the group also recorded takes on country and western classics such as Ennio Morricone’s “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” and the Patsy Cline standard “Walkin’ After Midnight”. As well, their first independently released single was a cover of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” in 1981. Shortly after this single was released, pedal steel guitarist Stern left the band, to be replaced by “Easy” Mark Tomeo.

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