Frijid Pink began life as the Detroit Vibrations with Rick Stevers on drums and Tom Harris playing bass. While playing a gig at the Chatterbox in late 1967 Gary Thompson a brash but talented young guitarist, approached the band with the intent of becoming a member After auditioning, he along with another local guy with a powerful voice, Tom Beaudry, later known as Kelly Green, were invited to join the group. Dan Yehley, was also added to the band playing guitar.
With the line-up now set, the search began for a new name to fit the group. While painting his mother’s bathroom in the very trendy color at the time, Rick Stevers and Dan Yehley came out of the room with pink all over him including in their hair. With it being fashionable for women to have their hair frosted, Rick’s mother suggested ‘Frosted Pink’. That name just didn’t fly, but without losing her train of thought she looked over at her Frigidare refrigerator and blurted out “Frigid Pink!” The ‘g’ was changed to ‘j’ and the name was born.
Debut of Frijid Pink:
The new line-up was still performing as the Detroit Vibrations using their original set list. While headlining a packed music theater called The Harbor Lights, in Ecorse, Michigan (where such groups as The First Edition Band featuring Kenny Rogers) the group played from their old set list dressed in their usual Motown look. During the first break, the band changed into brand new custom made pink satin and velvet outfits,. They had the largest light show in the city that included spotlights, stage fog and a psychedelic backdrop of melting colored water. When the group came back on stage they were introduced as Frijid Pink and played all new gutsy, hard driving, guitar oriented rock, The crowd went wild and, in musical circles, that debut and concert is still spoken of.
After the debut at the Harbor Lights, the group hit the studio in the fall of l969, recording at Pioneer Studios in Detroit. Several songs were recorded during this session including “God Gave Me You” and ”Tell Me Why” With 10 minutes of studio time left the engineer asked them if there was anything else they wanted to record. The guys had been working on a song for the live set, but had never planned to record it, but with expensive studio time left they decided to lay it down anyway. In one take, Frijid Pink recorded a hit—–a heavy version of the public domain song ”HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN’.
At the time there were only two radio stations in the Detroit area that played rock n roll, CKLW and WKNR (KEENER 13). Paul Cannon was a very popular program director at Keener and a friend of Rick Stevers. One day while at the Cannon home, Paul asked Rick if he had the studio tapes with him. Rick went out to his car and got them and played them., Cannon liked what he was hearing but when the last song started (the beginning of ’House of the Rising Sun’) Rick shut the tape off. The group had never considered releasing the song and it was intended only for the live set, but Cannon told him to turn it back on and let it play, When he was finished listening he told Rick he needed to call New York right away. Mr. Cannon got on the phone and contacted the then President London Records, Walt McGuire, who had already released Frijid Pink’s “God Gave Me You” and “Drivin Blues” in Detroit and Buffalo. Cannon persuaded McGuire to stop the release and get “House” out immediately,. Cannon knew they had a hit, but never imagined how big.
Within days the song charted and was getting national, then international air play within weeks.
The Psychedlic Party Begins:
After the release of ”House “ as a single, Frijid Pink flew to New York to finish recording their first album at Media Sound Studios for London/Parrot Records, then a division of EMI. While in New York, they stayed at the Lows Midtown Hotel where they were checked in along with other musicians who were recording and performing in the area(included were Rod Stewart, Janis Joplin and Gordon Lightfoot, just to name a few). All the musicians were kept isolated from the other guests on one floor to themselves. Nobody kept his or her room locked due to the many ‘ideas’ being exchanged.
“House” went on to #7 on the Billboard charts and the band left on a road tour that included a three week spring concert schedule in Australia and months of shows in Canada and the United States. During this tour and successive tours, Frijid Pink has shared the same stage with numerous groups including The MC5, Iggy Pop, Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band, Alice Cooper, Ted Nugent, Savage Grace, Savoy Brown (later to become Foghat), Grand Funk Railroad, Bachman Turner Overdrive, Steppenwolf,, Kiss, Led Zeppelin and Guess Who, to name a few.
Frijid Pink’s first album was larger then life in the United Kingdom and especially in Germany. Pink was on the cover of all their music magazines and spent 11 weeks at #1 in Germany and 5 months in their top 100. To this day the group still receives email from fans from all over Europe and the United Kingdom,
While touring in support of the groups second album, ’Defrosted”, Kelly Green and Gary Thompson left the band due to ’musical differences’. Auditions were held which resulted in Jon Waring being named the new vocalist and a local guitarist Craig Webb replacing Gary on lead.
The new line up was in place and ready to record their third album, Earth Omen, The album was recorded at the Osmond’s Family Studio and was released in 1972 by Lion Records. “Earth Omen” showed a different side of the Pink that included backup singers Thelma Hopkins and Joyce Vincent. (Joyce would go on to fame with Tony Orlando and Dawn and Thelma went on to an acting career which included staring roles in shows such as Roots, Bosom Buddies, Gimme a Break, Family Matters and Getting By). The title song and the follow up singles, ‘Lazy Day”, “Shorty Kline” and a remake of the Moody Blues ‘Go Now’ failed to connect with hard core Pink fans and failed to chart.
The band members lost interest in the project and more auditions were held.
By this time Rick Stevers was the only remaining original member with Larry Poplizio replacing Tom Harris on bass and Joe Baker taking over the vocal duties The fourth album, ’All Pink Inside’, was recorded in Berkley, California at the Credence Clearwater Revival private studio and released by Fantasy Records in 1974. Although music critics praised the album, saying the it would put the Pink back on top, due to lack of promotion and therefore lack of air play, the album failed to chart.
Frijid Pink continued to record and tour in various incarnations through 1977 until management problems ultimately led to the break up of the group.
As a side note, most people didn’t know at the time, but President Richard Nixon was a huge fan of Frijid Pink, inviting the group to play three shows for him in Chicago, Toledo and Miami.
Frijid Pink of Today:
With prodding by family, friends and the continuing support of fans, Rick Stevers began auditions in 2006. The group has a sound consistent with the original band, hard driving Detroit rock. The band consists of seasoned professionals with an excellent chemistry which is essential for this type of music. The group has been recording a new album consisting of some old tunes redone and new tunes which will be released shortly. Frijid Pink has also been performing at local clubs in Michigan and Ohio.
Members of Frijid Pink include Rick Stevers on Drums, Phil ‘Mac’ McIlvenna on guitar, harmonica and lead vocals, Ricky Houke playing lead guitar, lead vocals and backing vocals, Joe Gillis on keyboards and backing vocals, and Brent Austin playing bass, lead vocals and backing vocals.
Rick Stevers remained involved in music since the break up of Frijid Pink in 1977 with management and production of local talent.
Phil ‘Mac’ McIlvenna has played in bands since high school including Vengeance, G.,O.S.T., Draw 4, Double Down, Tailspin and Section 8 among others. From 1997 through 2002 he was a partner in the Star Traxx Recording Studio and Earth Records.
Ricky Houke has played with Joint Effort, Fricition and Yankee Road. Ricky has also written folk tunes, comedy music and children’s songs.
Brent Austin has been involved with Legend, Ruby Jones, Yazoo, Georgia Peach and Gypsy Wind. Brent has had the opportunity to play in groups that have opened for Rare Earth, Bo Diddly and Tower of Power.
Joe Gillis has been a member of Mondo Cane, Catalyst, The Larados, The Reflections, GNS The Classics and Legend the Band. Joe has also worked in sound engineering with Reel Life Recorders.
The Future of Frijid Pink:
The current members of the group are very excited about the future of Frijid Pink. The chemistry between the members is excellent and the interest being expressed by old and new fans and by people in the musical industry, from other musicians to record companies is phenomenal. The future truly looks bright for this group.
Track descriptions on Last.fm are editable by everyone. Feel free to contribute!
All user-contributed text on this page is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply.