The Crome Syrcus was formed in Seattle, September 1966, involving members John Gaborit, James Plano and Dick Powell of the Mystics. Gaborit, Plano and Powell all attended Renton High School together outside Seattle, graduating in varied years. While Plano was away in the Marine Corps, Gaborit and Powell recorded with the Mystics on a 45 in 1963 for NOLTA, a sister label of the Northwest's Seafair Records.
The band was initially started by Rod Pilloud, a University of Washington art major, at the Gallery Tavern in Pioneer Square in '66, when he connected with Ted Shreffler (keys) as he left his jazz trio. The two met up with Lee Graham (vocals, bass), formerly of the Seattle Jazz Quintet. They soon added UW student Gaborit for guitar, and Powell, who was a trumpet player in the school’s marching band.
Plano arrived back from the military by 1966, and he eventually took over duties on drums for the Syrcus, playing every date from 1968 on. In this year, the Crome Syrcus were the opening act for the Doors at Fillmore East in New York City, with 'Love Cycle' out just two months before.
When they met Robert Joffrey, of New York City Center Ballet fame, the Crome Syrcus was ready to convince him to let them adapt the 26-piece score from "Opus '65," which the ballet was planning to perform at Eagles Auditorium. After a successful performance, Joffrey offered the chance to write an original score to his new ballet, Astarte, which the group premiered in New York in the Fall of 1967.
Boyd Grafmire, Richard Ward and Bill Graham were the Syrcus' managers. Soon enough, Graham had found the band opening slots for acts such as Jefferson Airplane, Iron Butterfly, the Byrds, and Lou Reed. The band was also constantly working with some of the most vibrant, iconic artists in all of the world. Artists of the area such as John Moehring, Don Paulson, and Jacques Moitoret.
The Crome Syrcus released music most actively in 1968, along with the long player, Love Cycle, issued in January 1968 by New York City's Command/ABC, and completed in NYC with assistance in production provided by Seattle's Peter Katims, working for Command.
The music on this album is naturally based on the 1960's early psychedelic pop/rock sound, but there are elements which stretch artistic expression beyond the boundaries of conventional popular music, with wild atavistic guitar solos, confusing arrangements, references to classical choral music, orchestrations, and pastoral flute sequences. They also created a title track lasting over 17 minutes, which features some of the largest melody.
With this approach, this obscure band might please both the fans of the late 1960's west coast rock, and also the listeners of more challenging adventurous art rock.
D i s c o g r a p h y
1968, Love Cycle
1968, "Take It Like a Man" / "Crystals" (ABC-Command)
1968, "Long Hard Road" / "Lord In Black" (Piccadilly)
1968, "White Korte Feather (In My Life)" / "Blue Morning" (Merrilin)
1969, "Elevator Operator" / "Lord In Black" (Jerden)
John Gaborit ~ Guitar
James Plano ~ Drums
Dick Powell ~ Harmonica, Keyboards, Vocals
Mikel Rollins ~ Vocals, Bass
Rod Pilloud ~ Drums
Lee Graham ~ Vocals, Bass, Flute
Ted Shreffler ~ Keyboards