The first EROS band was formed in Utica, NY in 1966 at MVCC (Mohawk Valley Community College) by Mark Ernst, Gary Butts, and Bill Zannie. I wanted a short name... like four letters and "EROS" was just that. During the two years we attended MVCC there were a number of temporary members that came and went. By 1970 Gary moved to Schenectady and we set out to do the band thing seriously. The first incarnation was a trio with Joe Cirincione on drums that played mostly original (or highly arranged commericially unrecognizable) music. The three of us shared a low rent apartmnent on Huron Street in Schenectady and played anywhere that would hire us. I actually don't recall getting a second date at any of these places,but the Huron Street apartment hosted some interesting happenings during that period as it was still almost "The Sixties".

At some point we exhausted all resonable avenues for gigging with an all original band, and I joined a group named "Clyde" with Gary Solytis (Hammond B3 organ), Eddie Boianni (drums & vocals), and Gene Karaunkawich (the Fabulous Gener... bass, lead vocals and way too much Gin). Within a month or so we moved Gene to frontman to make an opening for Gary (taking over the bass spot but also playing some electric piano and flute)... then we replaced always tardy, girl crazy Eddie with Skip Lombardi on drums, then we replaced crazy drunken Gene with Alan Payette on lead guitar. Then Alan quit. Then Alan came back two weeks later. Then we replaced Gary Soltis with Eddie Collins on Hammond B3 and vocals.... and that was the first real EROS if you don't count the Joe Cirincione version or the still born MVCC fetal versions.

EROS 1970

Mark Ernst, Joe Cirincione, Gary Butts
Photo taken inside the old abandoned train station in Schenectady, NY.

EROS 1972

Skip Lombardi, Eddie Collins, Mark Ernst, Gary Butts, Alan Payette
Photo taken behind The Showboat, New Lebonon, NY. This version of EROS was
perhaps the most creatively unstructured of all versions and used to improvise hour long
jams on Sunday nights for an entire set. We actually played a very regular schedule:
six sets per night, four nights per week, four weeks in a row at the The Showboat, then on to
six more sets per night, four more nights per week, four more weeks in a row at The Office,
Saratoga Springs, NY (now called La-La's), then on to six sets per night, four nights per week
but only two weeks in a row at The Rice Paddy on Fuller Road, Albany, NY. At that point we might go
play some out of town gigs in western New York for one or two weeks, then begin the entire cycle
all over again. Gary and I took a trip to Florida looking to get the band out and into a real road circuit,
Eventually Skippy was replaced by a fill in drummer from Utica (Darrell Somebody), EROS disbanded
then reformed with Al Weeks on drums and the intention of moving to California. Eddie quit, we took
a regular four night per week gig in Torrinton, Conniticut and got ready to pack up and move west.
The new drummer, Al Weeks did some "unusual" things like breaking down our apartment door when
the key was misplaced, and then I had to bail him out of jail in Utica after an altercation with
first his girlfriend Marsha, and then the police. I really wanted to move to California asnd take the
band on to "the bigtime" so I ignored the obvious warning signs with Al.
Reality settled in after we got to the Bay Area in September 1973.

EROS 1973

from left to right: Alan Payette, Mark Ernst, Gary Butts, Al Weeks

This is the lineup we took to California for about eighteen months in 1973 and 1974. That was the
most "educational" period for a number of reasons and just about the most colorful (and often
painfull) periods of my life. This section will grow over time although I'll undoubtedly have to
censor much of the events that transpired during that time. We eventually moved to Lake Tahoe
and became the house band at Yank's Station and The Pilgrimage just accross the border in Navada.
We left Al behind in Tahoe, moved to Sacramento for about 10 days, and then headed back east to
try to make some money. Bill Rocker joined the band replacing crazy Al and we played our first gig
at The Lodge in Syracuse, NY, a club owned by our former manager. I remember clearing something
like $2.72 per man after expenses, but that was actually better than what we had done in California.

EROS 1975

from left to right: Bill Rocker (drums & vocals)), Mark Ernst (lead guitar & vocals),
Alan Payette (lead guitar & vocals), Gary Butts (bass guitar & vocals)

EROS 1978

Mark Ernst (lead guitar & vocals), Gary Grimaldi (drums)
Alan Payette (lead guitar & vocals), Gary Butts (bass guitar & vocals)
If there was a "real" EROS, this lineup was certainly it. Bill Rocker left the group
after eight months to get married, and Gary Grimaldi replaced him. His playing, attitude,
personalty and professionalism changed everything. By this time we had established a steady
road circuit all around New England and into eastern Canada. I consider the time I spent with
this group of individuals the most significant and purest musical experience of my entire
life to date. The regular gigs in Plattsburg, NY , Burlington, VT, and Sherbrook, Canada
(especially during the Canadian winter) we played,featuring a stylized version of the entire
"Wish You Were Here" LP by Pink Floyd, offered me an unrestricted outlet
for everything I ever wanted to do musically, artistically, spiritually, and eventually
psychologically, although that last one got me into trouble.

EROS 1980

from left to right: Gary Grimaldi (drums), Mark Ernst (lead guitar & vocals),
Bob Gangloff (keyboards), Larry Foy (bass)

"New" Old Photos for Jay - click here