Around 1969 in Greenwich Village, New York, Stefen Shady, Gerhard Helmut and John Christian got together and started forming a band that would become known as ‘Shady Lady’. They were having a difficulties finding the other two members to complete the group. They had been auditioning musicians for months to no avail. One night at a ‘Doors’ concert in the East Village they ran into Johnny Thunders, (pre ‘New York Dolls’) whom Stefen already knew. Stefen told Johnny that they were putting this band together and that they were looking for another guitar player and a drummer. He asked if he was interested in auditioning but Thunders was playing bass at the time and they already had a bass player in Gerhard. After having run out of prospects they soon headed west to Los Angeles where they met guitarist, Leonard Denault. They had already been conducting auditions with other musicians and decided on Leonard as their fourth member. They hadn’t had much luck with drummers as they were looking for a dynamic Keith Moon type.
One day they got a call from Billy McCartney who turned out to be the drummer they were looking for. Now, all the musicians were finally in place. Stefen and John already had a pocketful of tunes that they had written and were continuing to write more all the time. Soon after, a manager was procured but after a short while decided he wasn’t leading them in the right direction and gave him the boot. Robert Stigwood then found the band and offered his expertise. The only problem was Stigwood’s involvement with some other significant major projects which caused the band to shy away. Not long after, Robert Fitzpatrick approached with his offer of management. It turned out that Fitzpatrick had formerly been partnered up with Stigwood and together they had successfully managed Eric Clapton’s band, ‘Cream’ as well as ‘The Bee Gees’ along with some other noted musical talents. ‘Shady Lady’ signed with the Robert Fitzpatrick Corporation, who also was managing Taj Mahal, Buddy Miles, Genya Raven and Bobby Whitlock at the time. Robert was their business manager and his associate Max Byfuglin became the band’s personal manager. Fitzpatrick invested a good deal of his time and money in the group. Also, Max Baer (Jethro from The Beverly Hillbillies TV series) and football great turned actor, Jim Brown had investments in the band. Under Fitzpatrick’s guidance the band started playing the local venues, always being introduced as “the world’s most beautiful rock ‘n roll band.” It wasn’t long before they had an army of ardent fans. ‘Shady Lady’ held all of their rehearsals at either Dress Revue or at the S.I.R. Sound Stages. (Sorry, if anyone thought that they were really a garage band although it sounds good) Actually, at one point they did play in their garage once in awhile. That was when they lived across the street from Ricky Nelson in Nichols Canyon. But hey, ‘Ricky Nelson And The Stone Canyon Band’ rehearsed in the Nelson’s garage.
Sometimes the band held open rehearsals at the studios but soon found out they had to hire security when they did. The studio would be packed as so many kids would show up and there would be a line formed down the sidewalk. The fans were great though, lots of cute girls all dressed up getting into the whole glam thing, the guys did too. However, ‘Shady Lady’ as well as ‘The New York Dolls’ didn’t just start “glam rock” but they also were the jump-starters of “punk rock” along with the infamous ‘Iggy Pop’. ‘Shady L’ and ‘The Dolls’ may have looked glam but both bands had punk attitudes. One time, this obnoxious reporter from some local L.A. rag got all miffed because he was ejected from Shady Lady’s dressing room at Oop-Poo-Pah-Doos. Stefen had asked Bill Rhodes, the band’s road manager to throw the guy out as the guy was being an asshole and Bill promptly did so. The next time the paper was published there was an article calling ‘Shady Lady’ a shitty litter of young “punks.” That really was probably the very first time a rock band was referred to as punks. Anyway, the band didn’t care, they thought any and all publicity was good publicity and they got their share of both good and bad. As long as people were talking about you it didn’t matter is what they said. They just kept playing and having a good time with an occasional bar brawl here and there. Numerous recording offers came their way including such companies as Atlantic, MCA and CBS records but they ended up signing with Scepter Records.
The band had three albums worth of new material to record but only ever recorded one, which by the way was never released. They recorded all but one song at The Record Plant in Los Angeles. That one song being, “Night Witch” was recorded at Larabee Sound Studios also in Los Angeles. Max Byfuglin, John and Stefen produced the recordings. They also had some really talented musicians helping out on some of the sessions such as John Hobbs on piano, Genya Raven, who sang backup on the very nasty lyric tune, “Down ‘N Dirty” while Bobby Whitlock played the Hammond B3 organ on “Stranger”. Stevie Wonder was recording next door in the studio and they borrowed Stevie’s Moog synthesizer along with Malcom who played with Stevie to make it sound right. Buddy Miles showed up regularly for moral support and there seemed to be plenty of white powder daily to keep the band going into the wee hours. Leonard says, he thinks the sax player they used was the then unknown, Dave Sanborn but can’t say for certain. The album was coming along fine and was almost complete except for some fine tuning when they got word Scepter Records were in trouble and were going bankrupt. Everything crashed at that point.
Drugs, ego clashes and now the defunct record label had exacted it’s toll and the band split up. Fitzpatrick and Max called Stefen into a meeting and asked him to go solo which he declined. The band members went their seperate ways. John took off to London, England and Stefen returned to New York City. Stefen ran into The Dolls at Max’s Kansas City not long after he arrived. The Dolls manager immediately asked if Shady Lady would go on an upcoming tour with The Dolls not knowing they had disbanded. After a couple months had gone by Johnny Thunders, his girlfriend Sable Starr and Stefen decided to get an apartment together. The winter was approaching and upon the day of the move-in Stefen called from the airport telling them he was going back to Los Angeles. He had gotten homesick for the warmer city on the West coast. After arriving back in L.A., Stefen and Gerhard attempted to reform the band but it never happened. John had returned but he had been just too overcome by drugs and alcohol. Shady Lady – Raving Mad was recorded in ’72-’73 at the Record Plant in Los Angeles.
Surfadelic presents more obcure proto-punk/glam stuff from 70’s. Here are lost glam rock punkers from L.A. just fer you NY Dolls fans and others. Hip, Hip, Dig!!!