Sunday, April 21, 2024

Sweet Lightnin' - Sweet Lightnin' (1972 us, bright delicate slight rock)

Sweet Lighting was a supergroup of very talented musicians who went on noteworthy careers.  The members of Sweet Lightning were singer/guitarist Pete Hewlett, guitarist Sid MGinnis, drummer Ron Foster, bassist Harry Turner and keyboard wiz Fred Delu.  Formed in 1969 they performed at Mancini's in the Rocks and the Staircase in downtown Pittsburgh.  In 1972 they signed with RCA to release the self titled album 'Sweet Ligntin'". Their cover of the classic tune “Dancing In the Streets was a hit single of Pittsburgh radio. The group disbanded in 1975.

Before forming in 1969 several members of Sweet Ligthning had already released singles on two major labels..Pete Hewlett at age 16 was the lead singer and guitarist of "Peter's Pipers" who released three Brit Pop singles on the Philips label in 1968.  Ron Foster and Fred Delu as members of  the Igniters / Jimmy Mack and the Music Factory released the single "Baby I Love You" on Atlantic Records in 1968.  Ron, Fred, and Harry Turner worked together in the psychedelic band the Marshmallow Steam Shovel before joining Sweet Lightning.

Sweet Lighting recorded the album “Sweet Lightnin' ” at Fox Studios in East Liberty. The music ranged from the jazz rock tune “Reo Deo” written by Harry Tuner, to the spirited rocker “Sometimes All Do”, to the Bryds/Buffalo Springfield influenced tunes “In the Morning” and “Remember Me” penned by Pete Hewlett. Pete shines on vocals, McGinnis shows his skill in solos, and Fred Delu lays down cool Fender Rhodes and Hammon B3 jams.  Their cover of the classic tune “Dancing In the Streets”, was arranged by Norman Nardini and backed with the hot horns of the Rhythm Kings. Sweet Lightning broke up in 1975.

Guitarist Sid McGinnis moved to New York City in 1974 where he began a career as a session player and touring sideman. In the late 1970's and early 80's he recorded and toured with Dire Straits, Carly Simon, Peter Gabriel, Robert Fripp, Cher, Clarence Clemons, Melissa Manchester, John Mayhall, Ashford and Simson, and Barry Manilow. In 1984 Sid was invited for a one night stand as guest guitarist on the David Letterman Show. He's been on the show ever since.

Byrd Foster became known on the national blues scene in the 1970’s touring and recording with legendary blues guitar master Roy Buchanan.  He recorded five albums with Roy Buchanan as a vocalist, drummer, and song writer:    Leaving Buchanan's band Foster formed the Silencers who released two albums on (CBS/Precision).  In 1980 their single "Shiver and Shake" reached number 81 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.  Early pioneers in music videos they were featured on the very first broadcast of MTV in 1981.  Foster recorded an album with the Iron City Houserockers  in 1983.  During the 1990’s and into the 2000’s Foster recorded with bluesmen Billy C, Wirtz, Sonny Rhodes, Ace Moreland, Eric Culberson, Smokehouse, and many others working at Kingsnake Studio.  Foster recorded on over 36 releases.  He was a much in demand session player and live performer who energized every band with his strong steady beat.

Pete Hewlett released a solo album "Sky High”on RCA in in 1975. He then recorded with Eric Carmen and the Euclid Beach Band of Cleveland International records. Sid McGinnis recommended Pete to Carly Simon.   Pete moved to New York City in 1979 to join Carly Simon’s band.  After touring with Simon he band a sought after vocalist touring and/or recording with with Billy Joel, Elton John, Joe Jackson, Amy Grant, Julian Lennon, Andrew Lloyd Weber, the Psyhedelic Furs, Beeb Birtles of the Little River Band, and more.  As a recording artist his discography includes over forty recordings.  Hewlett was a founding member of the CBS Recording act Novo Combo.  Hewlett won an Emmy Award for his work as host of the WQED TV show “Live From Studio A”.  

Fred with the help of Ron Foster went on tour with Roy Buchanon for two years.  Returning to Pittsburgh he has performed with the popular bands the Rhythm Kings, Pure Gold, Gary Belloma and the Blues Bombers, Chizmo Charles, the Billy Price Band, No Bad JuJu, and Jill West and the Blues Attack.

Harry Turner, who had been the leader and founder of the Marshmallow Steam Shovel band, owned two music stores. He ran "Sunshine Music" in downtown Pittsburgh and "Turner Music" on Oakland Avenue in Oakland.
Pittsburgh Music History  
1. New Life (Peter Hewlett) - 3:20
2. In The Morning (Peter Hewlett) - 3:48
3. Paths (Peter Hewlett) - 3:28
4. I've Got Friends Here (Ron Foster) - 3:03
5. Humming Bird (Leon Russell) - 4:38
6. Sometimes All Do (Peter Hewlett) - 3:10
7. I'm Not Sure (Peter Hewlett) - 2:40
8. Though You're Not With Me (Peter Hewlett) - 2:55
9. Reo Deo (Harry Turner) - 3:56
10.Remember Me (Ron Foster) - 3:19

Sweet Lightnin'
*Fred Delu - Keyboards 
*Ron "Byrd" Foster - Drums, Vocals 
*Peter Hewlett - Vocals, Guitar 
*Harry Turner - Bass 
*Sid McGinnis - Guitar