Q, the band with the shortest name in the world, followed in the one hit wonder footsteps of the Pittsburgh area’s blue-eyed R&B bands the Jaggerz and Wild Cherry. The Jaggerz reached number 2 in the nation with “The Rapper” in 1970. Wild Cherry topped that going to Number 1 in 1976 with “Play That Funky Music. Q scored a hit record with their soulful R&B dance tune “Dancin’ Man” in 1977. While Donnie Iris in the Rapper warns "Hey Girl, I bet there's someone out to get you….Rap, Rap, Rap they call him the Rapper.” In “Dancin’ Man” Q tells the guys not to rap, to get the girl they got to get up and dance. Backed by the deep baritone sax and bright tight funky brass horns of the Rhythm Kings Q’s lead singer Ron Peckman urges lounge lizard lotharios everywhere to get up dance….
“Hey buddy, you ain't gonna make that chic just sitting and running your mouth.
Gotta get up, gotta get that feeling….
Put down that drink and do it right quick. 'Cause dancing's what it's all about
All she wants is a dancin' man…
How can you sit still when music's hot?
You gotta come up and move
Hey, dancin' man!
Gotta get up, get it on
All she wants is a dancin' man
Released in the UK on UK Records and distributed by EPIC/Sweet City Records in the U.S. “Dancin’ Man” garnered major airplay on stations across the U.S. and U.K. With sales of over 600,000 it reached number 23 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart. The follow-up Epic album landed in the Top 50 on Billboard. The band went on a nationwide tour opening for the Sanford Townsend Band, Ricky Nelson, Go with Michael Shrieve of Santana, The Dwight Twilly band and others. After a brief taste of success Epic dropped ‘Q’ from the label and the band broke up. Members of Q went on to success in other popular Pittsburgh acts such as Pure Gold and No Bad Juju. Other members found success in writing and producing commercials as wells as engineering hit records for Donnie Iris, B.E. Taylor, and others.
Discovered in New Brighton by the Brits
Q was comprised of Cannonsburg native Bill Thomas on keyboards and vocals, New Brighton songwriter Robert "Pecky" Peckman on bass and vocals, New Sewickly guitarist/recording engineer Don Garvin, and Bellevue drummer Bill Vogel. Bill Thomas founded a band with his singer partner Suzanne calling it Suzanne & Co. Bill’s wife Judy replaced Suzzane when she left. Veteran musicians Robert Peckman, Don Garvin, and Bill Vogel joined Suzanne & Company. Peckman, before joining the band, had performed as a bassist, drummer, and singer with the Starliners (1962-63), The Skyliners (1964-'66), Johnny Daye ('66 to '67), The Groove-U in 1967, and The Jaggerz ('70-''71). Peckman's voice was heard as the lead singer on song "Ya Ya" by covered Mike and Ike on Acrtic Records in 1965 and on the Sparkz 1966 Bell Records single. In the early 60’s Garvin performed and recorded several Pittsburgh area groups, was a member of Ralph Natural and The Naturals and recorded with the Buddha/Kamasutra Records group Bluebyrd from 1968 to 1970. Bill Vogel had been a member of funk horn band Groove-U in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s which also featured Jimmy Beaumont and Robert Peckman. Suzanne & Company worked around the Pittsburgh area doing two week engagements at the Holiday House and performing at Lastella’s and other popular clubs.
In 1975 guitarist Don Garvin partnered with Jeree Reed to build a 16 track recording studio in a Victorian house in downtown New Brighton that they named Jeree Studio. Garvin, an electronics wizard built the elaborate studio control board. After Judy Thomas left the group Suzzane & Co became the Jeree Studio house band. They backup other artists and recorded commercials. The band also took advantage of the studio and began recording original songs written by Robert Peckman including the tunes "Love Pollution" and “Dancin’ Man”.
Tony Cook, a talent scout for a British record label, by chance drove through downtown New Brighton on his way to a foreign car repair shop in Beaver Falls. Seeing the big wooden Jeree Studio sign he pulled over out of curiosity and popped into the studio. While at Jeree’s he heard a recording of the "Love Pollution" by Suzanne and Company. Impressed with the recording Tony sent aSuzzane & Company demo tape to a record label in the the U.K. Jonathan King, the owner of the label “UK Records” signed Suzzane & Company to a record deal. King, a former singer who had a big hit with his song "Everyone's Gone to the Moon" in the early 70's, had been president of Decca Records before founding his own label. He was a hit maker responsible for the songs "Una Paloma Blanca," "Sugar Sugar", "It Only Takes A Minute", "Johnny Reggae", "Lick A Smurp For Christmas" and "Loop di Love." Billboard Magazine reported in September of 1972 that King had produced 10 of the Top 30 singles in the UK during 1971 and 1972. He is credited with producing Genesis and signing 10CC and the Bay City Rollers. King changed the name of Suzzane & Company to ‘Q’ making them the first band to have a one letter name.
UK Records released the single “Love Pollution”/ “Dancin’ Man” in the UK. Sales we limited in the U.K. Record producer Carl Marduri of the Cleveland based Sweet City Records, who had been the producer of Wild Cherry’s hit song “Play That Funky Music, saw great potential in “Dancin’ Man”. Two of Maduri’s acts Wild Cherry and Maureen McGovern had recorded at Jeree Studio. Maduri brought in the Rhythm Kings’ horn section and re-recorded “Dancin’ Man” at Jeree Studio. Sweet City Records’ partner Epic Records agreed to distribute the “Dancin’ Man” / “Love Pollution” as a single in the U.S.
The band continued to perform in Pittsburgh as “Suzanne and Co” until the release of the single. Epic Records released the single “Dancin’ Man” in the spring of 1977. They were still playing in Pittsburgh when the single started to get airplay and quickly climbed the charts. It reached number #23 on the Billboard charts with sales of over 600,000 copies. Epic Records sent Q back to Jeree Studio ordering them to write and record an album in three weeks. Robert Peckman worked at night writing the lyrics and music for eight of the album’s 10 tracks. The band recorded during the day and finished the album titled “Dancin’ Man’ on time. Carl Maduri produced the recording sessions and again brought in the Rhythm Kings great horn section to play back up on several cuts. Epic released the album “Dancin’ Man”’ which climbed to #140 on the Billboard 200 for 1977. Jeree Studio had its first hit single and hit album.
Carl Mardui’s partner Mike Belkin put ‘Q’ on a national tour opening up for Ricky Nelson, the Sanford Townsend Band, Go, The Dwight Twilly band and a few more. Don Garvin and Bill Thomas elected to stay behind in Beaver County. Singer/guitarist B.E. Taylor went in place of Don Garvin and keyboard player Larry Seifers went in place of Bill Thomas. George Magura also toured with the band. But they couldn’t reproduce the sound of “Dancin’ Man” and other songs live as the Rhythm Kings horn section did not make the tour. Epic release a second single the Peckman tune "Sweet Summertime" in June of 1977. It peaked at number 50 on the Billboard charts.
Q Members Spawn Pure Gold, No Bad JuJu and More Hits
According to Bill Vople Sweet City Records had a dispute with Epic Records that resulted in the band being dropped from Epic. Q continued to work as the Jeree Studio house band. Over the next two years the members of Q went their separate ways. Bill Thomas left first and was replaced by Brooks Whipple on keyboards. Peckman and Garvin left in 1978 to form a new band that became Pure Gold. Bill Vople moved to Houston Texas in 1980 to work with the band Tilt and continued to work as a performer and recording artist.
Peckman and Garvin Spin Pure Gold
In 1978 Robert Peckman and Don Garven founded the oldies revival group Acappella Gold that eventually become Pure Gold. Pure Gold became Pittsburgh most popular oldies music review acts singing its signature acappella vocals and rich four-part harmonies. Over its 30 year history Pure Gold released several CDs, appeared nationwide on numerous PBS music specials, and performed at the Radio City Music Hall, the Waldorf Astoria, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They have appeared with Aretha Franklin, Frankie Valli, Chuck Berry, The Temptations, Smokey Robinson, The Four Tops The Isley Brothers, and many more on the PBS productions of Doo Wop 50, Doo Wop 51, Rock, Rhythm & Doo Wop, Soul Spectacular, Rhythm Love & Soul, Red White & Rock, Rock & Roll 50.
Peckman Founds No Bad JuJu and Goes Solo
Peckman left Pure Gold in 2001 to become the founding drummer/vocalist of the blues/R&B band No Bad Juju, the house band at the Chapel of Blues club in Pittsburgh’s West End. After leaving No Bad JuJu Peckman released a solo Stax like R&B album titled "Stirrin' Up Bees" in 2008 on Bonedog Records. The album features 13 tracks written by Peckman and an appearance by former Stax recording artist Jonny Daye on two tracks. Peckman released a second solo album “Right Where I Want to Be” on Bonedog Records in 2010.
Jingles from Bill and Judy
After leaving Q, Bill and Judy Thomas built a commercial recording studio at their countryside home. There they wrote and recorded several national jingles for companies such as Ladybug Clothing, Rainbow Sweepers, and Entertainment U.S.A. Bill Thomas was killed in a tragic car accident in 1984. Judy Thomas continued in music forming the band Modern France and recorded a concept album. She filmed a music video to the song “In My House” which was nominated for an award at the Cannes Music Festival.
Garvin's Jeree Studio - Home of the Hits
Don Garvin continued to engineer recording sessions at Jeree Studio. Garvin engineered two of Donnie Iris’s albums that were released on MCA: "Back On The Streets" (1980) and “King Cool” (1981). With Donnie’s national hits Jeree Studio became the top recording studio in the Pittsburgh Tri-State area. B.E. Taylor recorded his MCA Records release “Intermission” at Jeree’s in 1982. The Granati Brothers, the Iron City Houserockers, The Silencers, The Spuds, Cooper & Ross, Triple X, The Corbin / Hanner Band, Quiet Heroes, Carter & Chanel, Kenny Blake, Billy Price, Pure Gold, The Skyliners, and others have recorded at Jeree Studio with Don Garvin at the board. In 2000 Don Garvin produced, engineered and played guitar on two of Billy Price's recordings “Danger Zone” and "Is It Over?/They Found Me Guilty"