still in his
teens, guitarist Jim Gustafson was bitten by the recording bug, when he
made his first pro recording 45 RPM record at age 15, with a band
called Daze Endz.This was Jim's first song he had written, called "What
Can I Do?"He also sang lead vocal on this record.
Soon after this band broke up, Jim started Biggy Rat with Scott Hunter on bass, Gary Dipasquale on drums, and bluesy singer Shirliann Shank .This lineup recorded a 45 RPM record, also called "Look Inside Yourself", another Jim Gustafson original, with an old blues song on the back. Soon after,drummer Gary lost interest, and was replaced by Steve Rohrbaugh, and they added keyboard player Frank Amedia. They spent the next few years traveling around doing shows, and recorded an album in Memphis, Tenn., with Jimi Hendrix bassist Billy Cox producing. They had signed a contract with Kenny Rogers' brother Lelan, but the label went under, and the LP was not released. The band played at the Who's private party at the Cleveland Agora, and did shows with Cheech and Chong, Ted Nugent, Sugarloaf, and many more. When the label folded the band broke up soon after.
Not too long after this, Jim hooked up with high school buddy Phil Jones, an excellent bassist and vocalist, who had played with one of the area's top jazz bands. They put an ad in the local papers for a drummer. After auditioning several people, they chose Glenn Wiseman, who was a very powerful skin basher. They decided to rock as a trio, and took the name Poobah, as it was a name Jim and Phil had teased each other with in high school.
Not long after this ,Jim received a gift from his grandmother, of money, and he took the band into Peppermint studio in Youngstown, Ohio, and recorded "Let Me In". Some of the songs were actually written while Jim was still in Biggy Rat, along with some choice new material.
Next thing you know, the top FM radio stations in the region, WPIC and WHOT started playing Poobah. DJ's Vince Radilovic, Ralph Caldwell, Jimmy Green, Jerry Starr, and Thomas John, all dug Poobah, and with all this airplay, National Record Mart sold 500 copies in one day! Suddenly, all of Poobah's live shows were packed with fans, and everyone in the region knew their name.
The LP was submitted to Columbia Records, but with no management, and no real business sense, the band was turned down. After 8 or 9 months, the relationship between Glenn and Jim was marred by differences in opinion, and Glenn was replaced briefly by Steve Schwelling from Sharon, Pa. who was just 16 at the time. They played some shows, and then Jim and Glenn tried to bury the hatchet, and Glenn rejoined for a short time. Not able to agree on new material, Glenn was again replaced, this time by drum phenom, Nick Gligor, who was a schooled musician, and vocalist. This lineup went to Cincinnati, and recorded songs for a second LP. Most of these 1973 sessions ended up on the CD "Rock Collection".
The band hooked up with Pittsburgh promoter Rich Engler. He had them go back in the studio and record the 45 RPM single "Rock City/Bowleen". Poobah was soon playing tours with Canned Heat, Spirit, Glass Harp, Alice Cooper, ZZ Top, James Gang, Judas Priest, Foghat, Godz, Uriah Heep, Mitch Ryder, Brownsville Station, and many others.
In 1974, after 2 years of nonstop touring, drummer Nick announced he was leaving with recently added rhythm guitarist Pat O'horo, to start a new band.
At this time auditions were held in Maryland and West Virginia, while on tour. Two new members were added,keyboardist Ken Smetzer, and drummer Gene Procopio.
Ken had been lead singer for the band that became Kix, and Gene had been in a top jazz group from Harrisburg ,Pa., and was an excellent drummer. This lineup toured nonstop in the US and Canada for 2 years, taking only enough time off to record US Rock, in 1976, a batch of new Jim Gustafson originals, for the new label A.E.I. Records.
Peppermint Studios had upgraded from 12 track to 16 track by this time of this record. With lots of airplay in Akron, Ohio and in Maryland, the LP had orders for 5000 copies from Camelot Music Distribution, who had already sold every copy of Poobah they had.
A.E.I. had just had the plug pulled by it's investors, over a riff with their house producer. They never knew how much money they lost at this time.
The band should have looked for another label, fast, but by this time they were locked into constant touring, with no manager, and booking agents keeping them on the road constantly.
After 2 years, the band split. Jim and Gene formed another band, but no recordings were made, and they folded quickly. Jim played with some other bands at this time, but no records were made.
By 1979, Jim was back in Youngstown, and Phil Jones showed interest in reforming. The hunt was on for a good drummer for this new Poobah. After some false starts, drummer Judd Gaylord joined. His powerhouse drum style was featured on "Steamroller". Because Judd and Phil did not see eye to eye, this lineup only lasted for 7 or 8 months, but did produce a fine LP.
Jim and Phil searched for another drummer in 1980, and found Ralph Haring, who played on "Rock Collection". In addition they hired 2nd guitarist/keyboardist Gus Theofilos, who also plays on 2 live songs on "Rock Collection" About a year later, this lineup split.
Jim formed another short lived band, who recorded 2 songs that were never released, as Jim was unhappy with the results. He formed another band, and started playing live shows with Dan Tharp on bass, Jeff Hickman on 2nd guitar, and Ken Dicks on drums.This lineup played some festivals, and clubs, and was starting to really shape up, but Jim inherited
property 4 hours away, in Marietta, Ohio, and moved away, ending this version.
A year after moving, Jim formed a band lineup with multi instrumentalists Woody Hupp( drums,bass, guitar, vocals), and Joe Mowery (bass, guitar, keys). This band recorded the album "Switch On" and played a ton of live shows, staying together for an amazing 7 1/2 years. Joe left the band, and as talks were in place to reform 7months later, was killed in an auto accident. During this time drummer Terry McGee, and guitar/keyboard player Tim Querry joined, and recorded 2 songs on the "Furious Love "CD. They also appear in the Poobah video of "All you Do is Bitch". Seven months later this line up split.
Jim and Woody have stayed together as a recording team, and played close to a thousand live shows. They have recorded tons of songs in pro studios, and continue to make new Poobah CDs( check the Poobah store link) , all guitar rocking blasters.
They added Steve Richards as live drummer in late 2005, who also sings. They continue to tour everywhere they can, making that Poobah noise. You can expect another new Poobah CD soon , and maybe they will come to your part of the world to rock out live, in the near future.
2012 news/ For close to 4 years now, the POOBAH lineup live is: Jim Poobah Gustafson-Voice ,guitar,harp,songwriter/ Lori Powers -Percussion,backing vocals/ Mike Lewis-Bass,backing vocals/ Mike Fortino-Drums,backing vocals. We have played a lot of live shows, and we are getting ready to do a whole lot more rockin'! Come see us in person ! We are currently working on another POOBAH CD, so we hope to have more new recordings for you, soon !
You can contact the band at email: firstname.lastname@example.org