Blotto was a rock band from Albany, New York which mixed music and humor. They were formed in 1978 out of the remains of the Star Spangled Washboard Band, a "post-hippie" comedy jugband. Blotto music was a sort of combination of new wave and soul/R&B, but with comical songs. It began as basically as a pick up band; three of the Washboard Band, Bowtie Blotto, Sergeant Blotto, and Broadway Blotto, as well as a drummer and a bassist, at The Metro in Saratoga Springs, New York, then known as 17 Maple Ave. They were soon joined by Blanche Blotto, who contributed vocals and keyboards and was the figure of the drumhead lady that became their logo. They began to have a following that led them to New York clubs such as The Ritz, SNAFU, Eighty-Eight, My Father's Place and others. Vin Scelsa of WNEW picked up their initial recording of "I Wanna Be A Lifeguard," and it soon became the theme song of the Jones Beach Lifeguards. Their songs were played on the Dr. Demento Show, and they appeared on television's Uncle Floyd Show. They toured frequently and were popular primarily in the northeastern United States, especially among college students.
After releasing two EP records by their own Blotto Records, they produced a video (an early example) for their song "I Wanna Be A Lifeguard", working with video production students at University at Albany, The State University of New York. The video was played on the very first day MTV was broadcast and continued being played frequently due to its catchy tune and humorous appeal. This exposure helped them produce their album Combo Akimbo, which was released with assistance from Peter Pan Records, as well as a "Video 45" on VHS from Sony with three videos of their songs that also received wide exposure on MTV. Those songs included the heavily-rotated "Metalhead," with Buck Dharma from Blue Öyster Cult on lead). Blotto worked with producer Bob Clearmountain on one of the songs on their album.
The group was eventually disestablished in 1984, with the players continuing with more profitable interests. Drummer Lee Harvey Blotto (Paul Rapp) graduated from Albany Law School, became an attorney with a specialty in intellectual property law, and continued to play with the band as "F. Lee Harvey Blotto" (a pun on famous lawyer F. Lee Bailey and assassin Lee Harvey Oswald). Bassist "Cheese Blotto" (Keith Stephenson) died suddenly in October 1999 of cardiomyopathy brought on by a liver condition.
All the group's studio recorded material, excepting the song "Bud ... Is After Us", was reissued on a compact disc titled Collected Works (1994). In 1999, the band released a second CD, Then More Than Ever, consisting of previously unreleased recordings from live concerts, including excerpts from a 1982 appearance on the "BBC College Concert" radio series, as well as tracks that had been intended for a never-ompleted follow-up album to "Combo Akimbo."
The band in its current incarnation (Broadway, Bowtie, Sergeant, F. Lee Harvey, Clyde and Hammerhead) is still active and still reunites occasionally for concerts in their home area of Albany, NY, with performances including the 2008 4th of July celebration at the Empire State Plaza. In summer 2011, the band performed several shows at festivals in the Albany area. On August 6, 2015, the band opened for Blue Öyster Cult at an "Alive at Five" concert in Albany.
In 2005, the group released a DVD assembled by Bert Blotto containing all the video material in their vaults. Included are appearances on The Mike Douglas Show (as The Star Spangled Washboard Band), The Uncle Floyd Show, MTV with VJ Martha Quinn, The Joe Franklin Show, and Carmine's Table, among others.
Group members took on pseudonyms for their performances. The members of the classic crew were:
- Bowtie Blotto (guitar, vocals). Born 1937 in Detroit, Michigan.
- Broadway Blotto (guitar, vocals). Born 1950 in the Bronx, New York.
- Keith "Cheese Blotto" Stephenson (bass guitar) 1956–1999.
- Lee Harvey Blotto (drums). Born June 13, 1955 in Batavia, New York.
- Sergeant Blotto ("Sarge") (vocals, percussion, Director, Blotto Graphic Arts Dept.) Main singer.
- Blanche Blotto (keyboards, vocals; 1978-1980). Born 1955 in Schenectady, New York.
- Hammerhead Blotto (keyboards; 1988–present)
- Clyde Blotto (bass; 2000–present)
- Bert Blotto - (Webmaster for Blotto.net, Merch Guy, Keeper Of All Things Blotto-present)
- Johnny Blotten (drums; 1978–1979)
- Bluto Blotto (sax; 1978)
- Scott Blott (sax; 1978–1979)
- Chevrolet Blotto (vocals and keyboards; 1980–1981)
- Ink Blotto (roadie; 1980–1982)
- Phil Auteliblotto (guitar; 1990-1991)
- Juan Pablo Blotto (1990–1995)
- Riff Chord Blotto (lead guitar; 1979-1980)
- Hello, My Name is Blotto, What's Yours (EP, Blotto Records) (1980)
- Across and Down (EP, Blotto Records) (1981)
- When the Second Feature Starts (Single, Blotto Records) (1981)
- Metalhead (Sony Video 45, VHS) (1982)
- Combo Akimbo (LP, Blotto Records) (1983)
- Blotto (compilation) (LP, Attic Records of Canada) (1984)
- I Wanna Be A Lifeguard (PVC Records) (1988)
- Collected Works* (CD, One Way Records) (1992)
- Then More Than Ever (CD, One Way Records) (1999) (previously unreleased tracks)
- Blotto - Play Something Good! The Definitive Video History (2005)
The group also had a cover of Lou Christie's "Lightning Strikes" which appears on the compilation LP Hudson Rock and their Collected Works. "Metalhead" appears on the compilation LP Metal For Breakfast.