"None of us ever thought of a career in a rock and roll band." William Yergin
Beneath a local dentist’s methodical, steady demeanor beats the heart of a psychedelic rock-and-roller.
For Munson Township resident William H. Yergin, recent news of a re-release of a long-forgotten record makes him want to pick up an instrument and start partying like it was 1969.
Yergin — a dentist currently practicing in Chester Township — was a member of a New York City-area band, Rainbow Press, which landed a recording contract in the late 1960s.
Two albums were released in 1968 and 1969 and then band members went their separate ways.
In subsequent decades, bootlegs were released in Europe, but last year, a Spanish company specializing in official re-releases contacted band members about re-releasing Rainbow Press’s first album in vinyl, “There’s a War On.”
On Monday, Yergin said the process was underway to have the record re-released this year.
He spoke about his journey from New York to a new band he plays with in Cleveland.
A Chance Meeting, a New Band
Yergin attended Mamaroneck High School in Mamaroneck, N.Y. and played in a high school band. He attended The College of Wooster in Ohio, but stayed in touch with a high school friend, Marc Ellis, who attended Ithaca College in New York state.
In the fall of 1967, Ellis told him about a friend from Suffern, N.Y., on the Hudson River, who was looking for other band members.
So, that summer, Yergin and five others jammed together. Halfway through the summer, they auditioned in New York City at the same theater used by Ed Sullivan.
“The booking agent really liked us, but we didn’t fit into the club scene,” said Yergin, the band’s drummer. “So Marc and his father, Ray, an orchestra leader, listened to us and recommended us to a recording company.”
The band subsequently logged its first contract in middle of the summer of 1968. The recording company, Mr. G, was a division of Audio Fidelity Records, Inc., which was the first company nationally to release a true stereo record, a revelation in the mono-heavy time.
“We were just college students then,” Yergin said, adding the band switched its name from Continental Divide to Rainbow Press once it got its contract.
Cashbox and Record World magazines, which featured industry news, named Rainbow Press picks of the week. The band’s record company wanted a second album, “Sunday Funnies,” which was recorded around Christmas 1968 and released in the spring of 1969.
The group went its separate ways that summer. Yergin went to Case Western Reserve University and became a dentist. Another band member wound up playing wedding music in New England, while a third one flourished with the Los Angeles music industry.
“None of us ever thought of a career in a rock and roll band,” Yergin said.
Big in Europe and Overseas
Bootlegs of the band’s first album sprung up in Spain, the United Kingdom and the former Federal Republic of West Germany during the 1990s and early 2000s. A white label identifies a bootleg; a red label designates an original copy.
“In 2004, a United Kingdom label, Radioactive, released a bootleg, while in 2006, Estrella Rockera, of Spain, had its own bootleg,” he said.
But last year, an innocent Facebook post Yergin made about the band started a chain of events that lead to a record re-release.
Alex Carretero, of Guerssen Records, contacted him. Guerrsen specializes in releasing authorized albums from the 1960s. The company said it would re-release the album on vinyl with new liner notes sometime this year, the dentist added.
“Also, go onto Facebook and type ‘Rainbow Press’ for more information about the band as the album nears release,” Yergin said.
Rainbow Press albums and memorabilia also were found on eBay. Yergin happened upon an original copy of the band’s debut album.
He asked the owner how he obtained an original. The owner said the original album was popular in Europe and the band received rave reviews in a well-known band publication. Since the news broke about the band’s potential re-release of its material, the six band members started getting in touch with each other.
His wife, Annie, whom Yergin has known since 1967, said the whole situation was “unbelievable.”
“It’s great to see that this has been played all over the world and I have to take all of it in,” she said.
Today, Yergin keeps his chops up by playing with a five-member Cleveland cover band, HeadFirst, which covers blues-rock acts like the Allman Brothers Band, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Blood, Sweat & Tears.
“Just getting together with the band and saying hello to them would be great,” he said.
For more information about HeadFirst, visit www.headfirstcleveland.com.
Rainbow Press songs are featured via YouTube link on the Geauga County Maple Leaf website, www.geaugamapleleaf.com.