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The Left Banke

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The Left Banke was an American 19 -music group which produced the two hit singles of “Walk Away Renee” and “Pretty Ballerina”. Often utilizing so-called string arrangements, the band’s music was an imaginative response to the work of The Beatles, The Zombies, and other groups of the era. The band was short-lived, but it had a major influence among many later American groups.

The group was formed in 1965 and consisted of keyboardist/songwriter Michael Brown, guitarist Jeff Winfield (later replaced by Rick Brand), bassist Tom Finn, drummer George Cameron and singer Steve Martin (aka Steve Martin Caro). Brown’s father, Harry Lookofsky, a well-known session violinist, ran a studio in New York and took an interest in the band’s music, acting as producer, manager, and publisher. Brown’s song “Walk Away Renee” was sold to Smash, a subsidiary of Mercury Records, and became a hit in late 1966. “Pretty Ballerina,” also written by Brown, charted in early 1967, and the Left Banke released an LP entitled, appropriately enough, Walk Away Renee/Pretty Ballerina.
At this point, tension between Brown and the rest of the group began to surface, as Brown recorded a single, “And Suddenly”/”Ivy Ivy,” under the Left Banke name, using session musicians and Bert Sommer on lead vocals.

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