The group the Ideals came first. The Ideals existed from 1962-1963 and consisted of Roger Bruno, Felix DeMasi, Tim Maia, Paul Mitranga and Bill Adair. Bruno joined the group later on and Maia eventually had to leave the country in 1963 (he overstayed his visa).
The Ideals recorded a few demos circa early 1963 (including “New Love,” “Go Ahead And Cry,” and “You.”) Some of these demos were written by Bruno and Maia – Felix helped with the background arrangements (they never signed with a record company nor had anything released) and the Ideals dissolved in 1963 – but from its ashes came the Meridians.
The Meridians consisted of Roger Bruno, Felix DeMasi, Cornelius “Bill” Adair and Tommy Brown. Tommy was the last member to join. Roger Bruno and Felix DeMasi were white and Bill Adair and Tommy Brown were African American. Felix DeMasi and Bill Adair were from Tarrytown, NY, Tommy Brown was from White Plains and Roger Bruno was from Croton. Thus, the Meridians were a Westchester County group. This photo of the group in their black suits was also taken in Westchester County:
The Meridians (Left to Right: Roger Bruno, Felix DeMasi, Bill Adair and Tommy Brown)
The four-man group that became the Meridians formed in late 63/early 64 and hooked up with Parnaso Records, which was located in what is now known as the Ed Sullivan Building in Manhattan (Felix believes the studio they recorded in was also located in the same building). The person in charge of Parnaso, a Spanish fellow named Rogelio Lopez (Spanish for Roger), was the one who gave them the name The Meridians. They were under contract to record only 2 songs for Parnaso. Parnaso gave them about 4 or 5 songs to listen to and the Meridians picked 2 to record – “Blue Victory” and “Have You Forgotten.” Thus, the Meridians did not write these 2 songs, but they DID do their own vocal arrangements for them. They recorded their 2 songs at Parnaso’s studio in Spring of 1964 (probably March). Roger Bruno sang lead vocals on both songs. They were booked in the studio from Midnight to 3 AM. It was a “split session” – they began the session by backing a female singer (name and song not remembered) on one or two songs. After that, they recorded their 2 songs. The recording of their 2 songs lasted no longer than about 45 minutes. Felix believes they recorded “Blue Victory” first, followed by “Have You Forgotten.” “Have You Forgotten” was recorded in 2 takes – the one on the record was the second take. For “Blue Victory,” the song starts out with the background vocals of Bill (low voice), Felix (middle voice) and Tommy (high voice) and then goes into Bruno’s lead. “Blue Victory” was done in about 2-3 takes (they wanted to get that Latin feel to it, such as they had arranged it, so they asked the musicians to change the rhythm to get it just right). In the studio, Roger was on one side, Felix, Bill and Tommy on the other side, the musicians were in the middle and the company people were in the back of the room. The musicians were simply the studio musicians that the company used. When Parnaso mastered “Blue Victory” they added in the high pitched falsetto that you hear in the background of the song. This falsetto was done by an artist named “Gino” , who also recorded for Parnaso Records. The Four Seasons were very popular at the time, and this was thought to be a good gimmick.
Listen to “Blue Victory” by the Meridians on Parnaso HERE
The record was released by Parnaso a few months later – probably in the Fall of 1964. In October of 1964 the Meridians went out and toured in support of their records. They did shows in New Jersey and even went as far as Allentown, PA. At one show, they opened for the Duprees. At another, they performed with Candy and the Kisses (“The 81”). When the Meridians performed live, they took turns singing lead on different songs (Roger Bruno wasn’t the only one who sang lead).
Listen to “Have You Forgotten” by the Meridians on Parnaso HERE
The Meridians continued to do shows, but by early 1965 were probably limited to doing shows only in the Westchester Country area. (clubs, etc.) By the end of 1965, the Meridians were no more – Felix got drafted into the army and the group went their separate ways.
The Meridians group that recorded “He Can’t Dance’ and “Blame My Heart” on Parnaso was, in fact, a completely different group (Felix believes these songs were recorded later, by a different group that Parnaso used).
Steven Kahn, November 2018
Special thanks to Felix DeMasi
Additional information/photos can be found at this link
Roger Bruno sings in a group called “Too Human” today – check out their website here