Thursday, January 1, 2009

Did You See Her Eyes

The One Hit Wonder Band The Illusion was formed in 1967 when the members of several of Long Island, New York's local bands merged together to form a new entity.

The brand new quintet included former doo-wop singer John Vinci on Lead Vocals, who, at the time, was fronting a very "1956-sounding" band called The 5 Illusions, Chuck Alder (on Bass) and Mike Maniscalco (on Guitar) from another local group called The Dell Sonics, Drummer Mike Ricciardella from yet another local area band named The Creations and free-lancing Lead Guitarist Rich Cerniglia who, by the age of 15, had already been backing up artists like Gladys Knight and the Pips, The Temptations, The Ronettes and The Shirelles when they came through town for local appearances. Once the new line-up was set, they dropped the "5" (and the "s") from Vinci's band's name and became known simply as The Illusion.

In yet another example of just how tough it is to make it in the music business, the group was taken under the wing of Detroit Rocker Mitch Ryder, who wrote and produced their very first single. It bombed, never charting at all. He next took them on tour with him as his opening act. Still nothing.

Then in 1968 they hooked up with legendary songwriter Jeff Barry, who signed them to his new Steed Record Label. He even wrote their first hit song, Did You See Her Eyes, which went on to peak at #30 on The National Charts, made The Top Ten here in Chicago, and reportedly went all the way to #1 on some of the local New York radio stations the following year. It seemed that The Illusion were finally on their way.

Perhaps it was an ill-advised ad campaign for their new self-titled album that turned off any potential new fans ... it certainly turned off this one ... when the ad referred to The Illusion as "the biggest thing since The Beatles" ... fact is, they never reached The Top 40 again ... and, by 1972, the band had split up for good.

Along the way, however, they toured as the opening act for The Who, The Allman Brothers Band, Chicago and Sly and the Family Stone and, in 1970, even opened for Jimi Hendrix at The Boston Garden, which was one of Jimi's final gigs, shortly before his untimely death.