The Lost Souls

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The Long Island band called the Lost Souls -- not to be confused with the Cleveland-based outfit of the same name from the 1960s, or the Australian group of that name from the same period -- are remembered…
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The Long Island band called the Lost Souls -- not to be confused with the Cleveland-based outfit of the same name from the 1960s, or the Australian group of that name from the same period -- are remembered today because of the membership, from 1964 through 1967, of Billy Joel. Before he joined the Hassles in 1967, Joel played piano and sang, and contributed songs of his own to their repertory of covers, for more than three years, during which the Lost Souls went from being local attractions to winning a few regional band competitions, playing the New York World's Fair, and getting a contract with Mercury Records. The band was founded as the Echoes in the early '60s by guitarists Jim Bosse and Kenny Recher, with bassist Howie Blauvelt and a succession of drummers, among them Ronnie Delacrose, Billy Zampino, and Dave Baglioli coming along a little later, and finally a keyboard spot added in the person of Billy Joel. According to Bosse in his account as part of the notes to the Billy Joel collection My Lives, they changed their name in 1965 to the somewhat more distinctive Lost Souls. By late 1965, they were winning and placing high in talent competitions and getting very visible gigs on Long Island and in New York City, when their manager secured a contract for them with Mercury.

In their infinite wisdom, the powers-that-were at Mercury insisted that the group give up the name under which they'd won all of this goodwill all over Long Island, and for a time the Lost Souls became the Commandos. Although originally founded in Chicago, Mercury during the second half of the '60s had become a serious outlet for New York-based talent, including the Shangri-Las, the Left Banke, and the outfit that became known as Steam, and whatever the name they were using, the Lost Souls/Commandos would seem to have been tailor-made to join this stable of acts. According to Bosse, however, the group got midway through a proposed album when the label lost interest, and soon the Commandos were the Lost Souls again, with a certain loss of momentum coming off the disappointment of the false start. They were still rolling along on Long Island, however, and it was while playing an extended gig with a rival outfit called the Hassles that someone came up with the idea of merging the two bands into a mega-stage outfit. The latter didn't work out, and it was decided instead that the Hassles would continue separately, but also take on two of the Lost Souls' members, Billy Joel and Howie Blauvelt. The Hassles in their new incarnation went on to cut two LPs for Liberty Records, but never quite made the leap to national stardom, despite a strong following on Long Island and some good songs in their repertory, while the Lost Souls passed into history. Their Mercury sides went unheard until the release in 2005 of My Lives, which included "Time and Time Again" from those sessions, and "My Journey's End," another track by the group from 1965.