The original Revolver, from left, Bill Dunlop, Bob MacOrquodale, Howie “Zowie” Colclough and Ron Andrews.
BY BILL BROTHERTON
LYNN — At 3:15 p.m. on Sunday, the longest running band in New England will take the stage at the second annual Razzmatazz Music Festival.
Formed in Lynn, Revolver has thrilled fans of classic and Southern rock for nearly four decades. As the Grateful Dead proclaimed, what a long, strange trip it’s been.
“I get up on stage and I’m still 22 years old in my head,” said Howie “Zowie” Colclough, with a laugh. “It started in the living room of an old mansion on Herbert Street in Lynn nearly 40 years ago. We rehearsed there, lived there and had the time of our lives there. Forty years ago, wow.”
The original quartet was comprised of Colclough on drums and percussion, Ron Andrews and Bill Dunlop on guitar and vocals and Bob MacOrquodale on bass. Dunlop left in 1979, MacOrquodale passed away in 1991 and cancer forced Colclough to take a break in 2006. He rejoined iron man Andrews, who’s performed with Revolver all 39 years, last month. Current members also include Jay Uva, guitars, vocals, who joined in 1989, Tony Uva, drums, Jay’s son, and Ron Belben, bass. There have been many personnel changes through the years.
One thing that’s been constant is its devoted fan base, which continues to grow. “Our fans have been unbelievably great,” said Colclough. “They were there when we played four-night bookings at Rick’s Lounge in 1977 and they’ll be there this weekend, too. I’ll never forget the Blizzard of ‘78. We got permission to drive so we could play. We figured no one would show up, but the place was packed, they had to turn people away, in the middle of a blizzard.”
Revolver also wowed the crowds for the eight consecutive years it played the Summer in the City series on Lynn Common in the late ‘70s and ‘80s.
“We felt like we were in the Beatles,” said Colclough. “I still have the photo of us that appeared in the Item.”
Still, the guys had to maintain daytime jobs to pay the bills.
“Yup, we all worked. We would stand in front of the coffee machine all day and do our best to stay awake. We’d do our best to make it through the day … then we woke up to play.”
Through the years the band has headlined most of Boston’s major rooms, including the Paradise and the former Channel nightclub. It has opened for such acts as Grand Funk Railroad, Creedence Clearwater Revisited, Kansas, the Marshall Tucker Band, Rick Derringer and others. It added two female singers in the early ‘80s and played original material. Even a “shady producer” in the ‘80s couldn’t drown the band’s enthusiasm and love of performing.
Colclough said Andrews, who lives in Saugus now, is Revolver’s “anchor.”
“He has always been the voice of reason, the one with the level head, the voice of reason. Even when a vote was 5-1, he had a way of convincing us all that his way was the right way,” he said.
During their 40-minute set at the Razzmatazz festival in Lynn Woods on Sunday, the band will cover songs made famous by the Allman Brothers Band, Lynryd Skynryd and other Southern rock stalwarts. “And we’ll do some Bad Company. Jay loves Bad Company.”
Colclough is looking forward to every second he can sit behind the drum kit and play. “I’m feeling really good, the best I’ve felt in years, and I never feel better than when I play. I have to thank my brother Kerry, who got me up and out of the house and playing again. I’m having a ball.”
Revolver plays at Capone’s in Peabody tonight, at the Razzmatazz Music Festival on Sunday and at O’Brien’s Pub in Lynn July 23 and 24.