Guitarist, Steve Ferguson met keyboardist, Terry Adams in Louisville, Kentucky, when Adams replaced the original keys player in Ferguson's band, MerseyBeats USA. After moving to Miami, Florida, Ferguson and Adams met vocalist, Frank Gadler, drummer, Tom Staley and bassist, Joey Spampinato, who together formed NRBQ - short for "New Rhythm and Blues Quintet" (later "Quartet") - in 1967. In 1969, having relocated again to Brooklyn, New York, NRBQ were signed by Columbia Records and released their self-titled debut album that same year.
Despite a spectacular recording career that spanned 40 years (and all manner of genres!), NRBQ failed to break into the mainstream and are now widely considered to be one of the most underrated bands of all time. Nevertheless, NRBQ still count Sir Paul McCartney
, Bob Dylan
, Keith Richards and Elvis Costello
among their fans.
In 1970, NRBQ teamed up with the Rockabilly legend, Carl Perkins, to release the collaboration album, Boppin' the Blues.
NRBQ launched Moon Pie Festival - a music festival held in Hartford, Connecticut - in 1976. The festival - which was named after the NRBQ song, "RC Cola and a Moon Pie" - was held annually until 1980. Adams told Hartford Courant: "It was the biggest event that Hartford ever saw. We had wrestlers there. We had all kinds of stuff." The festival was briefly resurrected by NRBQ in 1993, when every ticket holder was treated to a free Moon Pie pastry!
In 1983, NRBQ released the album, Grooves in Orbit, on Bearsville Records - a label which was owned by Albert Grossman, who famously managed Bob Dylan between 1962 and 1970. Grossman severely disliked the song "12 Bar Blues" and wanted NRBQ to remove it from Grooves in Orbit. When the band refused, a riled Grossman prohibited the release of any further NRBQ material. Trapped in their contract, NRBQ were unable to record any new songs until Grossman died in 1986. Thankfully, the band had a substantial back catalogue of unreleased songs, recorded prior to signing with Bearsville, that they were able to issue during this period.
NRBQ were cast as zombies in George A. Romero's 1985 horror film, Day of the Dead.
NRBQ were briefly managed by the legendary wrestler, "Captain Lou" Albano, who is best known in the music world for playing the father figure in the video for Cyndi Lauper
's "Girls Just Want To Have Fun." In 1986, NRBQ released a novelty collaboration album with Albano titled Lou and the Q
. Adams told Discoveries
magazine that Albano – who died of a heart attack in 2009 - was a "genius": "He'd come out and insult the audience. We'd send him out first and have him just intimidate everyone. Working with him was a highlight of our lives. He is a genius. Those were the days when wrestling was beautiful, you know?"
Joey Spampinato married the country musician, Skeeter Davis, in 1987. The couple divorced in 1996.
Guitarist, Al Anderson, quit NRBQ in 1994 to become a successful songwriter for various country artists including Tim McGraw, Trisha Yearwood and Vince Gill
. In our interview
, Anderson reflected on his time with NRBQ: "NRBQ was all over the map. We did everything, from TV themes to rock and roll to polkas. It was an omni-directional band."
The American television writer, Mike Scully, is a big NRBQ fan. Between 1997 and 2001, Scully served as head writer for The Simpsons. Scully regularly incorporated the band's music into the show and in 1999, he convinced NRBQ to cameo in the episode "Take My Wife, Sleaze" (they are the band that is playing in Poppa Wheelie's Bar). NRBQ also wrote a song, "Mayonnaise and Marmalade," especially for this episode.
NRBQ provided backing music for the SpongeBob SquarePants
album, The Best Day Ever
, which was released in 2006. Brian Wilson and Ramones
' drummer, Tommy Ramone, also contributed to this album. Tom Kenny, the voice of SpongeBob, started out doing stand-up comedy and once opened up for NRBQ.
In 2004, NRBQ went on hiatus after Adams was diagnosed with throat cancer. When Adams recovered in 2007, he formed The Terry Adams Rock & Roll Quartet. In 2011, this band appropriated the name "NRBQ," even though Adams was the only original member.
, Dave Edmunds, Yo La Tengo and actress Zooey Deschanel's band, She & Him, are just some of the artists who have covered NRBQ songs.
In October 2009, Steve Ferguson died of cancer at the age 60. In January 2012, Tom Ardolino passed away from diabetes at the age 56.