The illusion, one of long island's greatest bands that lasted from 1965-1972 which some say were the greatest years of rock ‘n’ roll. The illusion will always be remembered for their incredible harmonies, insane light shows, raw energy, intense mind-expanding sound effects, and great musicianship. But what was going on before the illusion?
John Vinci (lead vocals) was into doo wop during the early 60's. "During that time (early 60's) Johnny had that greecer look" says Lance Folger (illusion roadie)."We used to call Johnny the walking stick" says Chuck. "He was about 6 ft. and very thin". "Johnny was always very creative (says Lance) and had a lot of ideas that he would incorperate in to the show". This creativity would make the illusion different from all the other New York bands.
Mike Maniscalco was the most versatile member of the illusion. Mike always enjoyed music, "He could pick up anything and play it" says Lance. (we'll soon have more on Mike). Rich Cerniglia (lead guitar) started playing guitar when he was about 10. By the time he was 15 he was backing up the likes of the Shirelles, The Ronettes, Gladys Knight, The Temptations, and many others.
Chuck Alder (bass) was playing guitar by age 12, when he was about 15 he switched to bass. Some of the groups Chuck was in during the early 60's were: The Uncalled Four, The Arrivals, The Dell Sonics (where he met Mike Maniscalco), and The Creations (where he met Mike Ricciardella). Mike Ricciardella was banging on drums since before he could remember, at about age 16 he competed in a New York State drum competition and won (he was officialy the best drummer in New York). Mike would later meet Chuck Alder in "The Creations".
How did the illusion get "Together"? After the Creations fell apart, Mike Ricciardella joined a band called "The 5 illusions" they were very "56" sounding. "I remember the first night Mike went to play with them (the 5 illusions)" says Lance." it was at a club in West Hempstead in a little basement room, the place was like a little college mixer, they sounded pretty good, that had to around 1965". "The original line-up was Johnny Vinci, Steve Burg, Howie Blume (Howie later became the bass player in Network under the name of Howard Davidson), Frank Carrillo, and Mike Ricciardella". "After a while, Frank and Steve were leaving the band, and Howie joined the service, that's when they brought in Mike Maniscalco, Chuck Alder, and Rich Cerniglia."
The name of the band went through a few changes, first... The 5 illusions, then the 5 illusion, then the illusions, then The illusion. The illusion's first release was a single tittled: "My Party" which was backed with: "It's groovey time". Both tracks were written and produced by Mitch Ryder, the single was unfortunatly unsuccessful. Time would pass before the band would record their first album. In 1967 the band did their first national tour with Mitch Ryder, the tour started on March 5th, and ended some time in November. Later, The illusion began recording their first album which was produced by Jeff Barry.
The album did very well, and the band had a hit with: "Did you see her eyes?" Which went to #1 in some areas of New York and #22 in the nation. Although the album didn't make it to gold, it did so well that Paramount (instead of advertising the record) wanted another record from the band. The band's new album was rushed in three days, however, it did not have the success of their first lp.
The illusuion always put on an incredible live show! They were ahead of their time in many ways. The band undoubtably had fun in the studio recording their first album, but something was missing in the recordings. That Hard Rock attitude that the band had on stage wasn't there.
by Dennis Folger
1. Did You See Her Eyes - 6:59
2. Talkin' Sweet Talkin' Soul - 2:44
3. Just Imagine - 3:31
4. Medley: Run, Run, Run / Willy Gee - 5:57
5. I Love You, Yes I Do - 2:22
6. Alone - 3:04
7. Charleena - 2:20
8. Medley: Why, Tell Me Why / The Real Thing - 6:22
9. You Made Me What I Am - 3:25
*John Vinci - Vocals
*Richie Cerniglia - Guitar
*Mike Maniscalco - Guitar, Keyboards, Organ
*Chuck Alder - Bass
*Michael Ricciardella - Drums