The Starfires (Cleveland band)
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|Genres||Rock and roll|
|Associated acts||The Outsiders
|Past members||Tom King
The Starfires is an American rock and roll band, founded in Cleveland, Ohio in 1958, by Tom King when he was aged 15. The band is sometimes identified as Tom King and the Starfires. King is best known as the original bandleader of the Outsiders; however, it was only at the insistence of Capitol Records that the band's name was changed when they created their breakout hit "Time Won't Let Me". (This is not the same band as the Starfires, a 1960s Los Angeles garage rock band best known for their track, "I Never Loved Her".)
The Starfires were formed by Tom King at Shaw High School in Cleveland in 1958, and remained a popular local band through the mid-1960s. Their forte was rhythm and blues instrumentals, with occasional vocals by King. Also, his uncle, Patrick Connelly owned a record company, Pama Records; and the band (along with at least one single by Tom King individually) produced several sides over this period, notably "Stronger than Dirt" (which charted locally) that was based on a well-known jingle for Ajax Laundry Detergent. After a tonsillectomy, King had a tonsillectomy limiting his singing, so he added a new lead singer, Sonny Geraci and changed the band's sound somewhat to match the musical tastes of the period. This led to the eventual creation of the Outsiders.
Tom King, Sonny Geraci, Mert Madsen, Al Austin, Richard Kriss and Ronnie Harkai were the members of the Starfires when the name was changed to the Outsiders in 1965. All performed on the original recording "Time Won't Let Me" by "The Outsiders"
Walter Nims, Jimmy Fox and Richard D'Amato all performed with the Outsiders at a later time.
Geraci and Nims were among the founding members of Climax. Jimmy (Jim) Fox and Richard Kriss's brother, Tommy Kriss, were the founders of the James Gang. Harkai was a member of The Pilgrims a popular Cleveland rock band in the early to mid-1960s, prior to joining The Starfires.
- Tom King, guitarist, vocals
- Walter Nims, lead guitar
- Howard Blank, drums
- Dennis Slifko, saxophone
- Mert Madsen, bass guitar, hamonica
- Richard Kriss, "lead guitar"
- Tony Sawyer, saxophone (joined in the early 1960s)
- Ray Miller, lead guitar (early 1964)
- Jimmy Fox, drums (joined in the early 1960s)
- Sonny Geraci, lead vocals (joined in 1964)
- Ronnie Harkai, drums (joined in 1964)
- Roots of the Outsiders; Collectables Records
Jazz sax player, Tony "The Big T" Lovano also played with the Starfires on numerous gigs throughout Cleveland. Tony (deceased) was the Dad of Grammy Award-winning sax player, Joe Lovano
- Bruce Eder, Allmusic, and also the source of the other unreferenced material.
- Bruce Eder, op. cit.