John Cafferty & the Beaver Brown Band were not just the musical avatars of Eddie and the Cruisers, but inspiration for the look and feel of the band. Kenny Vance who was the music supervisor on Eddie and the Cruisers
, told Songfacts the story
: "I met [director] Marty Davidson at a party. I'd never met him before, and he talked to me about the fact that he was getting ready to do a movie in South Jersey. I didn't know there was a book Eddie and the Cruisers
, I didn't know any of that stuff. And I said to him I used to be a in a group called Jay & the Americans, and we used to play a lot down there. I have a lot of photographs of us in those days down at the Jersey Shore. So he said, 'Boy, I'd really like to see that stuff, would you come up to the production office?'
The next day I went up to the production office and I showed him all these pictures. We had an old Chevy, and we had a U-haul that we pulled our equipment in, and I also had the marquee of this place that we played in Wildwood called The Beachcomber. We played there with the Isley Brothers, and also Steve Gibson and the Modern Redcaps. While I was there, he says to me, 'Let me play you the music.'
There was a song called 'On The Dark Side' - I think that title was from the book. He played me the music and he says, 'What do you think?' And I said, 'It's horrible. It's a joke.' It was like a jingle writer or a Broadway guy writing his version of what he thought that should be. And he says to me, 'Well, what do you think it should be?' And I said, 'It should be authentic.'
I took the script home and while I'm reading the script, I'm envisioning this group that I had seen about a year ago while I was walking on Bleeker and McDougal - I saw John Cafferty & the Beaver Brown Band at The Bitter End. And as I'm reading the script, I keep thinking of these guys. I think of Tunes, the sax player, and I called Marty up and I said, 'I kind of know the real life Eddie and the Cruisers.'
I didn't know where they were from, even. And I started to do some research, and I wound up going up to Rhode Island. Marty Davidson trusted me, and he said, 'Well, what can you do?' I gave Cafferty the script, and he came up with his version of 'On The Dark Side' based on kind of a Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels song. I told Marty that I thought we had something great, and he says, 'Well, I could give you a couple of dollars to make some demos.' We brought the guys down to RCA Studios in New York, and we recorded 'On The Dark Side.' We recorded 'Oldies But Goodies' with me singing, and 'Betty Lou's Got A New Pair Of Shoes.' And that night the Hollywood guys flew in from California, because Cafferty was going to be playing in a bar in New Jersey. I got them in my car, we drove out there, and in the parking lot of the bar, I played them 'On The Dark Side.' And then we went in, and when they saw Cafferty destroy the room with 'Wild Summer Nights' and all the other stuff, they immediately had a template for who Eddie and the Cruisers should be, and also what the music should be. And they basically fired the guy that they had hired, and they hired us, and we wound up doing all the music for the film."