By Peter Becker
Dec 03, 2009
Honesdale, Pa. -
The heritage of the Stourbridge Lion has been celebrated both in
Honesdale, Pa. and in England where America's first commercial
locomotive was built in 1829. We have also learned that the Lion was
celebrated in Los Angeles, California, where the locomotive's name
was adopted by a group of 1960's hopeful rock stars.
Mark J. Bradlyn, who lives in the Santa Cruz, CA area, was a member
of the Stourbridge Lion band in 1967-1968. He shared that the folk
rock band adopted the name of the famous, early steam locomotive,
inspired by another rock group. "Naming our band after a famous early
steam locomotive seemed quite fitting in light of our admiration of
Buffalo Springfield," said Bradlyn. "The name was also right in line
with the many other two-word band names of the time like 'Moby
Grape', 'Jefferson Airplane' and others. We were often asked in those
days about the origin of the band's name, and we sometimes replied
that just as the original Stourbridge Lion locomotive forged its way
into American railroad history, so did we hope to lay tracks into the
future of rock and roll music. Unfortunately our band did not survive
past the tumultuous summer of 1968."
Buffalo Springfield was named for a steam roller company, which was
written on a roller parked outside the house where the group's
founders happened to be staying. This group debuted in1968 and stayed
together two years.
Under the guidance of an energetic management team, A-Brah
Productions, led by Charlie Oyama and Pete Apo who were members of
the 60s folk group The Travelers Three, Stourbridge Lion was on the
verge of what looked like commercial success, Bradlyn recounted
on-line. They played at several important Los Angeles venues but
broke apart when they embarked on a Midwest tour in the summer of 1968.
In addition to a number of original songs, two of which Bradlyn
penned, Stourbridge Lion's repertoire included songs by Tim Buckley,
Phil Ochs, Moby Grape, Buffalo Springfield and The Everly Brothers.
They also began performing songs by a friend, an unknown young
songwriter named Kenny Loggins. Despite their name, they did not sing
any railroad songs.
None of the Stourbridge Lion members were from Pennsylvania, let
alone Honesdale. Several members of the band have continued on with
careers in music, Bradlyn said. Their bass player, Richard Davenport,
is now a successful piano technician in Los Angeles and guitarist
John Bidasio played steel guitar with Dolly Parton's band during the
1970s. Bob Jacob is now a landscape architect. Drummer Ron Wilson,
who will always be famous for his timeless drumming on the surf rock
song "Wipe Out" died many years ago, he noted. Dick was a music major
and he used his musical knowledge to help them craft their
distinctive four-part vocal harmonies. Bradlyn was in the middle of
his sophomore year at Occidental College in Los Angeles when he was
asked to be lead singer and rhythm guitarist for Stourbridge Lion.
Bradlyn said that he is still active in music as a singer,
songwriter, and composer, and have spent the last few years studying
the oud, the middle eastern lute, and learning to play Arabic music.
Bradlyn released a CD, Lighthouse Keeper under Gentle Wednesday
records, in 2000.