Orphan was the creation of songwriter/singer Eric Lilljequist (born January 1, 1948) who grew up in Massachusetts' Brockton/Avon area, the ensemble emerging in the mid-'60s, a time when few bands in the region performed their own material. Originally calling the group Orphans, they dropped the plural during the first wave of musicians who worked with Lilljequist on his music. Managed by Ed Mottau, a guitarist who worked with John Lennon prior to the Elephant's Memory, Mottau was in turn managed by Paul Stookey of Peter, Paul & Mary. There were always famous names coming through Mottau's house in Avon, and Eric Lilljequist got to meet them. Local entrepreneur Peter Casperson, instrumental in the careers of the Fools, Duke & the Drivers, and other Boston-area entertainers, picked up Orphan, and they went from playing high schools and armories to landing more prestigious club dates as well as a recording contract with Epic Records.
In the late '60s, while Lilljequist was taking vocal lessons from legendary voice teacher Dante Bavone, the man who worked with Faye Dunaway, Peter Wolf, Steven Tyler and so many others, Lilljequist met his musical partner, guitarist/vocalist Dean Adrien, at the suggestion of Bavone. The group spent an autumn recording nine singles for Epic Records; the CBS building in New York providing a great atmosphere and learning environment for the young artists. The two co-heads of Epic A&R, Sandy Linzer and Denny Randell, performed production duties for Orphan as they had for Barbara Harris and the Toys. Linzer and Randell fostered cover versions of Orphan material; the Bandwagon and the Four Seasons doing renditions of this new sound; Frankie Valli singing on Eric Lilljequist's song "He Gives Me Light."
After their stint at Epic and hoping for another deal, the band began recording on spec at Intermedia Studios in Boston where their friend Jonathan Edwards tracked his hit "Sunshine." They got offers and auditions with surprisingly more notice from Columbia, garnering interest from Clive Davis after leaving Epic. The offer from London Records allowed for more creative freedom so they signed a four-album deal with that label, tracking three albums starting with 1972's Everyone Lives to Sing, followed by 1973's Rock & Reflection.
During this time, they were performing on record and sometimes live with Jonathan Edwards, and he often with Orphan, the two acts actually living in a big house in the Boston area for awhile. Four Eric Lilljequist compositions showed up on Edwards' 1973 Atco release Have a Good Time for Me, the title taken from the song "Have Yourself a Good Time for Me" which also appeared on Orphan's final London release, More Orphan Than Not. Lilljequist played on Edwards' first three Atco albums with the entire Orphan band backing him in Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA, on March 22 and 23 of 1974 for the Lucky Day LP. It's a fine document of Orphan live working with their folk star friend.
Orphan played on many bills with the Castle Music stable of artists, Martin Mull, the McKinney Brothers, Travis Shook & the Club Wow, and, of course, Jonathan Edwards. They played all over the country, opening for the Allman Brothers Band, the Byrds, the New Riders of the Purple Sage, Hot Tuna, and Jessie Colin Young, even recording at Young's house. Orphan backed up Chuck Berry at the Cape Cod Coliseum and Lilljequist and Adrien performed with Bo Diddley at Symphony Hall. One special night was at a party for John Lennon in New York's Tavern on the Greens off of Central Park at the time of Lennon's One to One concert. The Beatle arrived at his party while Orphan was performing on-stage.
Dean Adrien and Eric Lilljequist appear on Tom Rush, Live at Symphony Hall, Boston, released in 2001 on Varese Sarabande, and have performed over the years in a trio with Rush. Lilljequist's music has been recorded by acts as diverse as the Four Freshmen and Bruce MacPherson, the band's presence an important element of the Boston rock & roll scene during the late '60s. The entire summer of 1967, the band performed at the Atlantic House in Provincetown, the group performing in one room while the likes of Odetta, John Lee Hooker, and Nina Simone appeared on the larger stage. It was no doubt a magical summer, as Moulty & the Barbarians and the Velvet Underground were also making noise on Cape Cod, the Barbarians sometimes sharing bills with Orphan.