One of the unheralded greats of 60s and 70s music, Mike Condello was a pioneer in psych, garage-punk and jangle pop. Born in Phoenix in 1946, Condello had a natural gift for music and by the time he was 14, he was already one of the key players of the burgeoning Phoenix scene, playing in the Stage 7 Club's house band (though he was still four years underage). Before he was 20, Condello had already issued records for several labels under several different names and was a star of records, radio and television; in 1963, Condello joined Phoenix's legendary Wallace and Ladmo Show (then known as "It's Wallace?") and, as bandleader, helped to create one of the great and most successful in-jokes in rock history–Hub Kapp and the Wheels. The group was originally a savvy spoof of both the Beatles and Elvis, fronted by W&L comic genius Pat McMahon (heavily disguised in pompadour and false eyebrows); after selling thousands of records in Phoenix, their snarling garage-punk sound and winking bad-attitude lyrics on such hits as "Work, Work", "Let's Really Hear It For Hub Kapp" and others made them the toast of Hollywood and earned them repeated appearances on the Steve Allen Show and the Regis Philbin Show, as well as a contact with Capitol records, who were entirely oblivious to the joke. After significant success in LA, McMahon, Condello and company returned to Phoenix, where their association with Wallace and Ladmo would continue for many decades; Hub Kapp was a huge influence on young Vincent Furnier and his band the Spiders, who later found fame as Alice Cooper.
Condello issued numerous additional records in association with the W&L show, many of which have become staples of Dr. Demento and other comedy/parody outlets; many are classics in their own right, such as "Soggy Cereal" (featured on the first "Nuggets" compilation), "Ho Ho Ha Ha Hee Hee Ha Ha" and "Pollen's Found A Home In My Nose"; others feature spot-on Beatles parodies such as "A Day On The Tube". During this time, Condello issued numerous records in association with Lee Hazlewood's LHI records, notably under the name Last Friday's Fire. He also made huge contributions to the psych genre–in 1967, Condello released "Phase 1" on Scepter records, one of the most acclaimed and influential psych albums of the late 60s. The material ranges wildly from psych-influenced baroque and jangle pop to heavier pure-psych material, and features lead guitar from future Tubes guitarist Bill Spooner; in 1969, Condello produced Warren S. Richardson Jr (aka Spooner)'s self-titled LP for Cotillion records.
Condello moved to LA and spent many years producing and making music; highlights included his work with Elton Duck, whose sole unreleased LP for Arista records is one of the great lost poper-pop albums. He also issued a solo album, "No Bathing In Pond", in 1984, and produced or co-produced records for Phoenix faves Billy Clone and the Same and The Jetzons. Tragically, Condello died in 1995, on the cusp of massive renewed interest in the Wallace and Ladmo show in general and Condello's exceptional body of work in particular. He is greatly missed.
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