The Cherry People

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The Cherry People
Origin Washington, D.C., United States
Genres Psychedelic pop, bubblegum pop, hard rock
Years active 1967–1975
2005–present (As Cherry People Acoustic)
Labels Heritage, Hot Cotton
Associated acts The Intruders, The English Setters, BUX, Angel
Members Chris Grimes
Doug Grimes
Michael Fath
Jude Vitilio
Past members Punky Meadows
Jan Zukowski
Rocky Isaac
Pick Kelly
Larry Gray
David Alves
Mike Zack
T.C. Tolliver
Chris Noe
Wayne Tomlinson
James Musgrove
Rick Benick
Andre Sokol
Barry Brandt
Steve Riley
David Namerdy

The Cherry People were a psychedelic pop and later hard rock group that formed from remnants of The English Setters. The band is best known for their semi-hit single And Suddenly, which reached No. 44, and including guitarist Punky Meadows who would join BUX and Angel in the early to mid 70s after leaving the Cherry People in 1972.


Psychedelic Pop/Bubblegum Years[edit]

During the summer months The English Setters changed its name to the Cherry People and embarked on several trips to play nightclubs in New York City. While working the Café Wha? the band attracted the interest of producer Ron Haffkine, which led to a new five-year management contract with Jerry Ross Productions and a deal with Heritage Records. The Cherry People were the inaugural group to go out on the MGM-distributed label. The group were introduced Nationally by Jerry Ross with Dick Clark on American Bandstand where they debut their new single " And Suddenly "

The band spent the fall of 1967 shaping their debut album at Bell Sound Studio in New York City. Ron Haffkine brought in Barry Oslander to co-produce and automatically a host of studio musicians were dispatched to replace the band members when the tape started rolling. When the eponymous album was released in May 1968, it had a bubblegum pop sound. The band toured the country in support of the album and worked the Whisky a Go Go on the Sunset Strip during a West Coast jaunt. In April 1969 Chris Grimes, Punky Meadows, Rocky Isaac, Al Marks, Doug Grimes and Jan Zukowski went to NY to try to get released from their recording contract. Failing to get a meeting with Jerry Moss the band went to Steve Paul's Scene where it was known that Tuesday was jam night and anyone could show up. Sure enough after about an hour Jimi Hendrix, Billy Cox and another person came in and sat down. Al said to the rest of the guys that he had met Hendrix at Monterey Pop and was going over to talk to him. No one believed him but he went over and came back saying that Hendrix needed a drummer and invited the whole band to the studio. Rocky, Chris, Al and Jan went over to the Record Plant and wound up recording 3 tracks that night with Hendrix.."Room Full Of Mirrors", "Crash Landing","Stone Free Again"..Rocky played drums,Al and Chris played percussion and Jan played some bass( but was not used on the tracks).Hendrix asked them to come back 2 nights later to do some more tracks.."Bleeding Heart", Drone Blues"..All these tracks were later released on Experience Hendrix reissues.

The Hard Rock Years[edit]

In the spring of 1969 the Cherry People returned home to Washington, D.C., turned up the volume on their hard rock sound, and perfected their repertoire of original songs. They staked a spot as house band at the popular Silver Dollar throughout the remainder of 1969 and 1970 and worked six and sometimes seven nights a week at the rockin’ Georgetown nightclub. The band filled in gaps in their schedule with one-nighters around the metropolitan area at places like the Greenbelt Armory, the Bladensburg Firehouse, St. Mary’s Church in Landover Hills, St. Ambrose Church in Cheverly, and the Wedge (a teen club that operated from the Bethesda Youth Center in Montgomery County, Maryland). On Sunday, October 19, 1969 the Cherry People headlined “The Intercollegiate Music Festival” at the Sylvan Theatre on the Mall in Washington, D.C. before a crowd of over 10,000. Other performers at the festival included Love Cry Want, Claude Jones, and Jabberwok. The band also headlined concerts at the Falls Church Community Center in Virginia on Saturday, March 7, 1970 and the University of Maryland’s Ritchie Coliseum on Thursday, April 30, 1970. The Cherry People continued working the Silver Dollar in 1970 and moved on to a long engagement at the Keg that lasted throughout all of 1971 and into 1972. Still trapped by the Jerry Gross Productions-Heritage Records contract, the band self-produced a single titled “Sea and Me” backed with “Come on Over” and released it on their own label, Hot Cotton (a division of Tracy Records). By June 1972 the five-year period of constant nightclub work and assorted one-nighters began to take its toll. Rocky Isaac left the band and was replaced by Mike Zack, who in turn was replaced by T.C. Tolliver, a Black drummer from Southeast Washington, D.C. who had previously played with a soul band called J.J. and the Invaders. Lead guitarist Punky Meadows also left and joined BUX. A month later the Cherry People quit.

The break in the action didn’t last long. Chris and Doug Grimes began rehearsing musicians at the Keg later that summer and soon lined up a schedule of nightclub dates in Boston, Massachusetts. The new Cherry People lineup now consisted of the Grimes Brothers in their usual roles, a bassist Mark Hughes from Wheaton MD who was born September 13, 1951 and had previously played with Blitz, Liberation, Les Colours, The Daylight Band, Rockinghorse and Link Wray, going on to open the world's largest used music equipment store in Nashville as Mr Mark's Music, drummer T.C. Tolliver, and a guitarist from Camp Springs, Maryland named Chris Noe (who was born December 5, 1951 and had previously played in the Living Ends, Spread Eagle, Devil’s Track, and Black on White).

The Cherry People left Boston and returned to Washington, D.C. to work the Keg in December 1972. At this time guitarist Chris Noe was replaced by Wayne Tomlinson of Landover Hills, Maryland (formerly of the band Green Eggs). Throughout 1973 the band worked the Bayou, the Keg, and the Crazy Horse and former members Pick Kelly, Mike Zack, and Jan Zukowski all passed through.

Late in the year the Grimes Brothers received an offer to work a nightclub called Beginnings in Schaumburg, Illinois. They revamped the Cherry People and the new quintet included three new members: lead guitarist Rick Benick (born January 23, 1952), who hailed from Forest Heights, Maryland and had previously played in Hailstone; bassist Andre Sokol (born January 8, 1954), who lived in Oxon Hill, Maryland and had worked in the bands Hailstone and Earth; and drummer Barry Brandt (born November 14, 1951), who was raised in Wheaton, Maryland and had recently played in Earth, Max and with Mark Hughes, both in The Platters and an unknown rock band with David Namerdy. The band spent all of 1974 going back and forth between Chicago and Washington, D.C.

In early 1975 more changes took place. Former Cherry People guitarist Punky Meadows had spent the previous year in a Boston-based band called BUX. In September 1974 Meadows brought this band down to Washington, D.C. and worked at Bogie’s on Connecticut Avenue NW. In December 1974 BUX changed their name to Foxie, and in April 1975 Meadows turned Foxie into Angel.

Coinciding with the loss of drummer Barry Brandt was the departure of founding member Chris Grimes, who grew tired of the rock and roll nightclub routine. Their replacements were drummer Steve Riley of Revere, Massachusetts and guitarist David Namerdy of Arlington, Virginia. Both had previously played together in the band Max.

For the first six months of 1975, the Cherry People (who during this final period occasionally performed under the name “Pearls”) based out of the Varsity Grill, a Prince George’s County nightclub on Baltimore Avenue in College Park that was in recovery from its roughest early seventies period of use by outlaw bikers, drugs, and violence. At that point in time, the Varsity Grill often booked heavy rock and roll bands. The Varsity Grill owners did well, but the band did not. Doug Grimes could see that the end of the Cherry People was close at hand. After dominating the Washington, D.C. rock and roll scene for over eleven years, the Cherry People played their final gig with a three-night stand at the Varsity Grill from Thursday, June 19 to Saturday, June 21, 1975.

Cherry People Reunion[edit]

In 2005 Doug and Chris Grimes reformed the Cherry People. Michael Fath joined in as lead guitarist and vocals and Michael Andreski who plays the drums and other percussion instruments. They recorded their new and second album under the Cherry People name. It was scheduled for release in mid-late 2009. The new album is the vein of hard rock with a light progressive influence, which is what they originally played in the 60s and 70s during their live shows. [note] in 2009 Jude "Meatball" Vitilio took over the rock machines and percussion so Michael Andreski can devote full-time to the studio.



  • The Cherry People—Heritage HT 35,000 (mono)/HTS 35,000 (stereo) (1968)
  • Nobody's Perfect (CD) The Cherry People (2010)
  • Whoopin'& aWhoppin' (CD) The Cherry People—Angel Air Records


  • And Suddenly b/w Imagination—Heritage 801 (1968)
  • I'm The One Who Loves You b/w Gotta Get Back (To the Good Life) -- Heritage 807 (1968)
  • Feelings b/w Mister Hyde—Heritage 810 (1969)
  • Light of Love b/w On To Something New—Heritage 815 (1969)
  • Sea and Me b/w Come on Over—Hot Cotton (number unknown) (1972)

External links[edit]

  • The Cherry People - Official Website: [1] (this is the most current and updated)- Doug G.
  • Cherry People Acoustic Official Website: [2]
  • Cherry People Acoustic Official Myspace: [3]
  • Guitar World magazine Vol 31/No. 4 April 2010 "Hendrix: The Lost Year" Alan Di Perna pg. 52