The Godz (New York band)

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The Godz
Origin New York City, New York, United States
Genres Experimental rock, avant-garde, psychedelic rock, psychedelic folk, noise rock, drone
Years active 1966–1973; 2007–2012
Labels ESP-Disk, Manta Ray Records
Website [2]
Members Larry Kessler
Paul Thornton
Mike Cerri
Mike Diamond
Doug Gussio
Rick Sambuco
Past members Jim McCarthy
Paul Thornton
Jay Dillon
Larry Kessler

The Godz were a New York City based avant-noise psychedelic band that originally existed from 1966 to 1973.[1][2]


The Godz musicians were guitarist Jim McCarthy, bassist Larry Kessler, autoharpist Jay Dillon, and drummer Paul Thornton.[1] They started the band after Larry Kessler met Jim McCarthy and Paul Thornton when they all took jobs in the 49th Street location of the musical instruments store Sam Goody's.[3]

According to McCarthy they came up with their musical approach on this situation: "One day Paul came over to visit them, and the three gathered in Larry's living room to smoke a joint." What happened next was purely accidental, according to Jim: "There were all these percussive instruments lying around and out of total frustration, I got up and started shaking a tambourine or something like that, and that's how it all started. We all started to get up and make noise like a bunch of maniacs, expressing our frustration."[3]

After this event, "Larry made a suggestion that had both Jim and Paul questioning his sanity: that the three audition this impromptu 'band' for ESP."[3] Larry Kessler had been working for the ESP-Disk jazz record label which was founded by Bernard Stollman. ESP also released recordings by other two underground rock bands from this era from New York City: the Fugs and Pearls Before Swine.

The Godz' first recording session took place on September 28, 1966 from which came their first album Contact High released on 1966.[3] They released their second LP in 1967 called Godz 2. Without Jay Dillon "the remaining three Godz cut The Third Testament (in 1969), inviting several friends to invade the studio and freak out on a few numbers (a concept borrowed from the Red Crayola's Parable of Arable Land), then filling in the rest with solo numbers by each of the three remaining members."[3] Their final album was released in 1973 and it was called Godzundheit.[3]

In July 2005, Jay Dillon's niece posted a message stating that he had died several years before. Two years later in early 2007, the surviving members, Jim McCarthy, Larry Kessler, and Paul Thornton, reunited to produce new recordings. Six of these recordings appear on The Godz Remastered, released by Manta Ray Records in 2012 and another three of the recordings from this session appear on Gift from the Godz released in 2014 by Manta Ray Records. In late 2014 original member Larry Kessler put together a road band of seasoned musicians and billed the experience as L.L. Kessler's "GODZ" show and started touring the northeast United States.[4] [5]

Sound and musical style[edit]

John Dougan from describes The Godz as follows: "Few bands in the annals of rock & roll were stranger than the New York City-based Godz...the Godz coughed up some of the strangest, most dissonant, purposely incompetent rock noise ever produced...Sounding like a prototype for Half Japanese or the Shaggs, the Godz play as if they discovered their instruments ten minutes before the tape started rolling. The singing is intentionally off-key, almost parodic, and the songs...well, they sound more like improvised snippets than actual compositions. And while that may not be your idea of pop music, this works, in large part, due to the absolute glee and unself-consciousness with which they approached their peculiar brand of aural nonsense."[1]


  • Contact High with the Godz (1966) ESP-Disk 1037
  • Godz 2 (1967) ESP-Disk 1047
  • The Third Testament (1968) ESP-Disk 1077
  • Godzundheit (1973) ESP-Disk 2017
  • Pass on This Side (1974) ESP-Disk 3019
  • The Godz Remastered (2012) Manta Ray Records QS938
  • Gift from the Godz (2014) Manta Ray Records MR 0155



External links[edit]