The Buoys was a progressive rock band from the early 1970s. Its membership included Bill Kelly, Fran Brozena, Jerry Hludzik, Carl Siracuse and Chris Hanlon, based in the Wilkes-Barre-Scranton, Pennsylvania area. Bob Gryziec was the original bass player and a member of the group when they recorded "Timothy."
Hits by Rupert Holmes
They are most famous for their recording of Rupert Holmes's "Timothy", a song deliberately written to get banned, based on a theme of cannibalism. Holmes himself selected the group to record the song, although The Glass Prism had been his first choice. Because The Glass Prism were under contract to RCA, Holmes and C. Michael Wright had to go to their Plan B. Recorded at Scepter Recording Studios in New York City and released by Scepter Records, with whom the Buoys had been signed but previously ignored, the song hit No. 17 on US charts in 1971. The song was recorded after the 1963 mine cave-in in Sheppton, PA, a small mining community outside of Hazleton, PA. Rupert Holmes told rock journalist Maxim Furek, “I learned about the Sheppton Mine Disaster after Timothy was on the charts. If I had known about that at the time, I probably never would have written the song because I don’t want to make fun of something that’s tragic.” Scepter executives did not catch what the song was about until after it started climbing the charts, after which they claimed that Timothy was a mule, a concept Holmes found more offensive than cannibalism, which he intended. Holmes, with D. Jordan, wrote a less-successful hit for them titled "Give Up Your Guns" (1972), an epic narrative dealing with an escaped bank robber. Much more serious in tone than their previous hit, "Give Up Your Guns" reached only No. 84. By contrast it was a massive hit twice in mainland Europe, when originally released, and when re-released in 1979. Holmes wrote a number of other songs for the band, including "The Prince of Thieves", "Blood Knot", and "Tomorrow", most of which had much of the darkness but little of the humor of "Timothy". Like "Give Up Your Guns", they are complaints by criminals. Holmes now writes Broadway musicals.
Their other songs, written by the band without Holmes, include the following:
- "Sunny Days/Memories"
- "Tell Me Heaven Is Here"
- "Streams Together"
- "Good Lovin'"
- "Pittsburgh Steel"
- "Absent Friend"
- "Sunny Days"
- "Look Back America"
- "Liza's Last Ride"
In addition, the songs "Don't Try to Run" and "Dreams" were written by Brozena, Kelly, and Hludzik only.
Musically The Buoys combined CSN-style harmonies blended with assorted musical approaches. Their eclectic style combines piano as a major instrument, with guitar, drums, strings, winds, brass, and harp, but tends to vary in sound heavily from the 1950s rock 'n' roll sound ("Good Lovin'", "Sunny Days") to more 1960s-influenced songs of protest ("Look Back America", "Pittsburgh Steel"), 1930s-style pop like "These Days", to Renaissance-influenced prog like "Castles". Without Holmes, the darker lyrical aspects largely went away, though "Pittsburgh Steel" contains more dark humor; Pittsburgh steelworkers plot to kill their foreman by dumping him in a vat of ore.
Then and Now
After The Buoys, Bill Kelly and Jerry Hludzik teamed up as The Jerry-Kelly Band. In 1980 they formed a band called Dakota. Dakota toured the country as the opening act for Queen. The national sold-out tour took them to places such as Baton Rouge, Montreal, Toronto, Philadelphia, Houston and Atlanta. Danny Seraphine of Chicago, produced several albums for them. The group reformed, again in the 1990s with several new members, playing folk-country influenced rock. An album on compact disc of eighteen of The Buoys' songs was released in 1993 by Movieplay S.A., Intermusic, Inc., and Remember Records, in some markets as Give Up Your Guns and in others as Timothy: Golden Classics. Both albums contained the same cover image: a vintage photograph by Michael Ochs of the five core band members standing before the entrance of a building, under an awning that says "Timothy". On the right, "Give Up Your Guns" is spraypainted on the wall of the building. This includes most of their pressed recordings, although an alternate B-side take of "Liza's Last Ride" did not make it on. According to Rupert Holmes's webmaster, this pressing is unauthorized and neither Holmes nor the Buoys receive any royalties from its sales.The band Dakota disbanded in 1987. Bill Kelly has relocated to Nashville where he operates Sweet Suite Music. Jerry Hludzik moved to Philadelphia where he operates the cryptic Last Man Standing. Kelly and Hludzik have regrouped several times as The Buoys, but with a different lineup of musicians.
- Furek, Maxim W. "The Pina Colada Man: Northeastern PA's Adopted Son Comes Home to Crow." Timothy, 1981.
- Nash, Bruce, and Allan Zullo. The Wacky Top 40: The Most Outrageous, Hilarious, and Unforgettable Songs in Pop History. Holbrook, Massachusetts: Bob Adams, Inc., 1993.
- Chisak, Richard. Is There Life After the Garden? The Dakota-Queen Tour. Timothy. March, 1981.