Artful Dodger

Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1972-73) as Brat

- Steve Brigida -- drums, percussion
- Gary Cox (RIP 2012) -- rhythm guitar, vocals
- Gary Herrewig -- lead guitar, backing vocals

- Rob Michael Inglis -- bass
- Billy
Paliselli (aka Billy Paoli)-- vocals, harmonica


  line up 2 (1974-79) as Artful Dodger

- Steve Brigida -- drums, percussion

NEW - Steve Cooper -- bass, backing vocals (replaced 

  Rob Michael Inglis)
- Gary Cox (RIP 2012) -- rhythm guitar, vocals
- Gary Herrewig -- lead guitar, backing vocals
- Billy
Paliselli (aka Billy Paoli -- vocals, harmonica


  supporting musicians: (1975)

- Jackdaw -- backing vocals

- Luther Riks - percussion

- Eric Troyer -- keyboards


  line up 3 (1979-80)

NEW - Peter Bonita -- keyboards 

- Steve Brigida -- drums, percussion 
- Steve Cooper -- bass, backing vocals
- Gary Cox (RIP 2012) -- rhythm guitar, vocals
- Gary Herrewig -- lead guitar, backing vocals 
- Billy
Paliselli (aka Billy Paoli -- vocals, harmonica



Members Current members Steve Brigida – percussion (1973–1982, 1991, 2005–present) Steve Cooper – bass (1974–1982, 1991, 2005–present) Gary Herrewig – lead and rhythm guitars (1973–1982, 1991, 2005–present) Billy Paliselli – lead vocals, harmonica (1973–1982, 1991, 2005–present) Peter Bonta – keyboards, guitars (1979–1982, 1991, 2005–present) Former members Gary Cox – lead and rhythm guitars (1973–1980, 1991, 2005–2012; his death) Robb Michael Inglis – bass guitar (1973–1974)


- Brat

- The Band of Steves (Steve Brigida and Steve Cooper)

- Gary Herrewig (solo efforts)

- Homestead (Steve Brigida, Gary Cox and Gary Herrewig)

- The Nighthawks (Steve Bonita)

- The Roselyn Mountain Boys (Steve Bonita)

- The Sleepers (Steve Brigida and Steve Cooper)


Genre: rock

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Artful Dodger

Company: Columbia

Catalog: PC-33811

Year: 1975

Country/State: Fairfax, Virginia

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: --

Price:  $30.00


Powered by vocalist Billy Paliselli and lead guitarist Gary Herrewig's affection for '60s rock, Artful Dodger stood as a mid-1970's band possessing all the skills required for major stardom. Unfortunately, in spite of support from a major label and several critically acclaimed collections of mainstream power-pop/rock; the quartet's efforts were greeted by complete critical and public indifference.


Cousins Steve Cooper and Billy Paliselli had been playing in the Northern Virginia band Badge, while Steve Brigida, Gary Cox and Gary Herrewig were members of Homestead, having managed to record a one-shot single for the local Odyssey label:


- 1972's 'I Need You' b/w 'School Jive' (Odyssey catalog number SAAB 61)


1973 saw the members combine their talents under the endearing name Brat.  Extensive touring playing high schools, small clubs and anything that would give them a platform to play drew a mid-Western audience (particularly around Cleveland, Ohio).  As Brat they made their debut with the obscure 1974 single:





- 'Not Quite Right' b/w 'Long Time Ago' (Red Rooster no catalog number shown)






While the single instantly vanished, Cox somehow managed to get one of the band's demo tapes to the New York-based management company Leber-Krebs; best know for getting Aerosmith signed to Columbia.  That brought them to the attention of Columbia Records which signed them under the name Artful Dodger.  The name change was mandated given the existence of a San Diego-based band going by the Brat name.

By the time their album was recorded the band had undergone a personnel shift with original bassist Inglis having been replaced by Pallisell's cousin and former Badge alum Steve Cooper.  Teamed with Aerosmith producer Jack Douglas,"Artful Dodger" was recorded in New York's Record Plant Studios.  Largely written by Herrewig and Pallisell, material such as 'Wayside,' 'You Know It's Alright' and 'Think Think' offered up a great set of Raspberries-styled guitar pop; albeit with a much tougher bite.  Imagine Eric Carmen with a nasty temper and too much attitude. Paliselli had a raw, but powerful voice that was perfect for the band's blend of strong melodies, tight harmonies and chiming guitars.  Herrewig was a talented, but economical guitarist and the Brigida-Cropper rhythm section was flawless.  Mid-'70s power pop didn't get much better. By my count the album featured at least six outstanding tracks with personal favorites including 'Wayside,' 'Follow Me,' their remake of the Brat single '
Long Time Away' and best of all 'Things I'd Like to Do Again.'  Elsewhere rhythm guitarist Cox provided the ballad 'Silver and Gold.'  Slicked-up and quite commercial, the ballad was very different from the rest of the set.  Ironically Columbia tapped it as the first single.  Unrepresentative of their power-pop/rock sound, the 45 crashed and burned, taking along with it Columbia's interest in promoting the band.  In all honesty, none of these  tracks were high on the originality scale and none were going to drastically change your life, but with the exception of 'Silver and Gold' and the weird country-tinged closer 'New York City' it was a solid and thoroughly enjoyable collection.  


In spite of extensive touring opening for a wide array of acts including Ted Nugent and REO Speedwagon, the album failed to chart.  


I've sold three or four copies of the LP and every time I do I regret it and end up tracking down a replacement.  One of these days I'll learn my lesson.

"Artful Dodger" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Wayside (Gary Herrewig - Billy Paliselli) - 4:26 rating: **** stars

It didn't dawn on me until years later the opening acoustic section sounded a lot like something The Hooters borrowed for their entire career.  Spotlighting Paliselli's growling voice, 'Wayside' offered up a classic slice of '70s power-pop/rock. It was the kind of song a band like The Rapsberries could only dream of writing. Great melody, nice harmonies, killer Gary Herrewig guitar solo and the song's secret sauce - Steve Cooper melodic, pounding bass lines. The video and sound quality are poor, but YouTube has an uncredited live performance of the song: Artful Dodger - Wayside (Live 1975) (
2.) You Know It's Alright (Gary Herrewig - Billy Paliselli) - 3:34
rating: *** stars

Dropping some of the pop, 'You Know It's Alright' went for more of a conventional rock attack. The results were still highly commercial, with a nice melody and taunt backing vocals.
3.) It's Over (Gary Herrewig - Billy Paliselli) - 4:06
rating: *** stars

Ah, Paliselli's howling vocals are the perfect way to capture four minutes of teenage heartbreak ... Herrewig added one of his most melodic solos.   Neither the black and white video, or sound quality are great, but YouTube has a live performance of the track: Artful Dodger - It's Over (Live 1975) (
4.) Follow Me (Gary Herrewig - Billy Paliselli) - 3:44
rating: **** stars

Powered by Herrewig's slashing guitar, 'Follow Me' was one of my favorite performances on the album.  Awesome slice of power-pop with a hook that should have made it a candidate to be a single. 
5.) Long Time Away (Gary Herrewig - Billy Paliselli) - 2:38
rating: **** stars

An updated version of their 1973  Brat single, 'Long Time Away' was the album's most pop oriented tune.  To be honest, while the remake was played faster, the Brat version reflected a little more energy and a wonderful Herrewig solo.  Nice keyboard solo from Eric Troyer on the remake.

(side 2)

1.) Think Think (Gary Herrewig - Billy Paliselli) - 2:56 rating: **** stars

In a just world 'Think Think' would have broken the band into the top-40 world.  Classic power-pop with an "ear candy" refrain that doesn't want to leave you alone.  Another reason Gary Herrewig was such an overlooked lead guitarist ... Supposed Columbia released the song as a single, but I've never seen a stock copy; only promos.



- 1976's 'Think Think' b/w 'Follow Me' (Columbia catalog 3-10339)


The video and sound quality are very poor, thin, new wave ties and all, YouTube has an August 1980 performance of the song from a show at Cleveland's Agora Theater.  Artful Dodger - "Think Think" (




2.) Silver and Gold (Gary Cox) - 3:23

Cox's lone contribution to the debut album, the ballad 'Silver and Gold' sounded very different from the rest of the album.  With Cox handling lead vocals the tune offered up a smooth, almost Yacht-rock sound that was quite commercial.  Easy to see why Columbia tapped it as the lead-off single, but it wasn't a reflection of the band's true sound.  When the 45 flopped, Columbia seemed to lose interest in the group, putting little effort into promoting the follow-up single 'Think Think' (which should have been the lead-off release), or the parent album.



- 1976's 'Silver and Gold' (mono) b/w 'Silver and Gold' (stereo) (Columbia catalog number 3-10282)


YouTube has a live performance of the song recorded by an audience member at their  April, 2006 reunion show at Cleveland's Agora Theater.  Yeah, the vocals are a little rough.  Artful Dodger - "Silver And Gold" (




3.) Things I'd Like to Do Again (Gary Herrewig - Billy Paliselli) - 4:51 rating; **** stars

My choice for standout performance, 'Things I'd Like to Do Again' had a glistening power-pop melody, lyrics that many of us can identify with, cute backing vocals and one of Paliselli's most energetic performances. Who at Columbia was  responsible for picking the singles?  They messed up big time. 
4.) Waiting Place (Gary Herrewig - Billy Paliselli) - 4:34
rating; **** stars

Opening up with some pretty acoustic guitar, 'Waiting Place' unexpectedly shifted into the album's most sophisticated arrangement.  Paliselli's lead vocals were unexpectedly restrained (and all the more impressive), while the Brigida-Cropper rhythm section finally got a chance to showcase their chops.  My choice as the album's best deep cut, this one's always reminded me off something off of one of the early Ambrosia.  The song featured another sterling Herrewig solo.

5.) New York City (Gary Herrewig - Billy Paliselli) - 3:05 rating: ** stars

Apparently one of their earlier compositions, 'New York City' featured original bassist Rob Michael Inglis.  Opening up with thunderstorm sound effects and a strolling, country-tinged melody, this was the album's lone mis-step.  




I've never seen a copy, but in tandem with the LP, Columbia released a four track promotion EP  (Columbia catalog number AE7-1097):


(side 1)

1.) Wayside (Gary Herrewig - Billy Paliselli) - 4:26

2.) Think ThinkThink Think (Gary Herrewig - Billy Paliselli) - 2:56


(side 2)

1.) It's Over (Gary Herrewig - Billy Paliselli) - 4:06

2.) Follow Me (Gary Herrewig - Billy Paliselli) - 3:44




I haven't spent a lot of time looking at it, but the band have a FaceBook page at: (2) Artful Dodger [Welcome to ringside and bring all your friends] | Facebook




Genre: rock

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Honor Among Thieves

Company: Columbia

Catalog: PC-34273

Year: 1976

Country/State: Fairfax, Virginia

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: minor ring wear

Available: 2

Catalog ID: 3218

Price: $25.00


Given these guys were from Northern Virginia, I can clearly remember buying this one at my local record store/head shop (a Penguin Feather in Herndon, Virginia) and simply being knocked out by the album.  I must have played it every day for a month straight and know that I did my best to convince school friends that these guys were going to be the next big thing ...  Co-produced by Edward Leonetti and Jack Douglas, 1976's "Honor Among Thieves" was one of those classic mid-1970s rock albums that (in spite of my best efforts to promote it), somehow managed to slip through the cracks.  With guitarist Gary Herrewig and lead singer Billy Paliselli again responsible for the bulk of the nine tracks (lead guitarist Gary Cox contributed two songs), the sophomore set was slightly slicker and better produced than the debut collection.  It may not have had the overall freshness of the debut, but song for song it was as good as the first album with at least four of these tracks standing as lost FM radio classics.  Exemplified by songs like the title track, 'Not Enough' and 'Remember' these guys managed to effortlessly blend hard rock moves with great melodies, and a healthy dose of affection for English rock.  Powered by Paliselli's ragged voice, it was power pop with brains; the kind of stuff better known bands like The Raspberries would have killed for.  Unfortunately, in spite of some strong press reviews the set could do no better than # 208 on the US album charts.


"Honor Among Thieves" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Honor Among Thieves   (Gary Herrewig - Billy Paliselli) - 4:14   rating: **** stars

To this day I can't understand how 'Honor Among Thieves' missed out providing the band with a massive commercial hit.  This was the kind of rocker that bands like Badfinger and The Raspberries would have gladly sacrificed their rhythm guitarists to have written.  Fantastic melody, pounding beat, great jangle guitars, and one of Billy Pallisell best vocals.  What wasn't to like ...

2.) Not Enough   (Gary Herrewig - Billy Paliselli) - 4:00   rating: **** stars

Even though it had a slightly more pop orientation, 'Not Enough' was every but as good as the title track and would have made an equally impressive single.   This one also served to showcase the band's impressive harmony vocals.   

3.) Scream   (Gary Herrewig - Billy Paliselli) - 5:42   rating: **** stars

'Scream' showcased the band's obvious affection for British rock a-la Badfinger.  A fantastic ballad, Eric Carmen would have killed to have written something this good which is probably why Columbia tapped it as a single.   



- 1976's 'Scream'  b/w 'Keep Me Happy' (Columbia catalog number 3-10431).   


YouTube has a concert performance of the song:






4.) Keep a Knockin'   (Otis Blackwell) - 4:20    rating: *** stars

Slapping a heavy metal arrangement on top of Otis Blackwell's classic 'Keep a Knockin'' probably didn't sound like the year's most original decision and it wasn't ...   That said, propelled by Steve Cooper's deafening bass they managed to turn in a credible Zeppelin-esque take on the track.   


(side 2)

1.) Keep Me Happy   ( Gary Herrewig - Billy Paliselli) - 3:42   rating: **** stars

At least to my ears  'Keep Me Happy' was another track with a distinctive British feel, to say nothing of another instantly attractive melody and one of Gary Cox's best lead guitar solos.   

2.) Remember   ( Gary Herrewig - Billy Paliselli) - 3:27   rating: **** stars

One of the album's standout performances, powered by Cox's jangle guitar and an amazing hook, 'Remember' had everything you'd expect of a hit single (not that it was).    

3.) Dandelion   (Gary Cox) - 4:16    rating: **** stars

Penned by lead guitarist Cox, the ballad 'Dandelion' took awhile to get going but redeemed itself with a classic chorus.  Easily one of the album's most impressive songs ...    

4.) Hey Boys   ( Gary Herrewig - Billy Paliselli) - 2:56   rating: **** stars

Showcasing Cox and Herrewig on twin lead guitars, 'Hey Boys' was a taunt bar rocker and served as a great example of the band's ability to mix rock moves with more commercial touches.    

5.) Good Fun   (Gary Cox) - 4:15   rating: **** stars

With a distinctive Anglophile edge, Cox's second contribution to the collection  'Good Fun' could easily have been mistaken for a Badfinger track.  This one simply dripped top-40 commerciality and the unexpected doo wop moves were hysterical.   

Honor Among Thieves Despite being laden with radio- and arena-ready rockers, Artful Dodger didn't go anywhere commercially. For their second album, Honor Among Thieves, the group worked with Douglas and co-producer Eddie Leonetti. Arriving in 1976, Honor Among Thieves was supported by an opening tour for Kiss, but the record stalled commercially. Babes on Broadway, produced by Leonetti, arrived in 1977 to less attention, as rock was undergoing a generational shift. The Complete Columbia Recordings Artful Dodger lost their deal with Columbia after Babes on Broadway and Cox left the group. The group hired Peter Bonta as a replacement and delivered Rave On to the Arista subsidiary Ariola in 1980. Rave On was another commercial disappointment and the band began to splinter, with Paliselli leaving after its release; the group called it a day in 1982. Most of the group busied themselves with music in the ensuing years -- notably, Bonta went on to play with Mary Chapin Carpenter -- but the group reunited for a pair of 1991 reunion shows in Cleveland, Ohio; this was the original lineup plus Bonta. They'd continue to play the occasional live performance in Cleveland during the 2000s, during which time American Beat reissued Honor Among Thieves. Cox died in 2012 and the group finally got its due in 2017, when Real Gone Music released the double-disc retrospective The Complete Columbia Recordings.


Fast forward to 1976. Another album (Honor Among Thieves), another tour (this time, opening for KISS).

Honor Among Thieves (produced by Douglas understudy Eddie Leonetti when Douglas himself was unavailable due to outside commitments) was a solid Artful Dodger album with more than its share of standout tracks - " Scream,” "Not enough,” fan-favorite " Dandelion" (penned by Cox), a scorching cover of " Keep A' Knockin'." Noted critic Dave Marsh neatly summed up the album's appeal in a review for The New York Post: "This one has so much energy that all other considerations are rendered irrelevant... If you love the idea of an American Rolling Stones, Artful Dodger is as close as you'll come." Unfortunately, Artful Dodger again found themselves plagued by a lack of support from Columbia (wary perhaps, and still smarting from the non-starter that was " Silver and Gold"), and the album never received the kind of promotional push that would've helped it catch fire on radio and in record stores. A problem Steve Siminec gamely tackled in Cleveland's Scene magazine, when he vaulted Artful Dodger to the ranks of "one of the best kept secrets in the business."

A combination of bad luck and ill-timed decision making extended to the tour as well. Although KISS and Artful Dodger got along famously offstage, as headliner and opener they were woefully mismatched. Ramped-up for the fire breathing antics and party-all-night anthems to come, audiences - often in Kabuki face paint themselves - were in no mood for Artful Dodger's no-frills stage presentation and deft pop rock. Night after night, the band found themselves - in a surreal twist - facing down an angry crowd of Space Aces, Catmans, Demons and Starchilds.

The following year, a road-weary Artful Dodger entered the studio to record Babes on Broadway, their third album in as many years. By all accounts, Babes on Broadway was a troubled project. With Leonetti back on board as producer, Herrewig and Paliselli, for the first time, found themselves lacking their usual quota of solid gold pop songs. Gary Cox, for his part, did what he could to make up the shortfall - contributing three originals and two co-writes - but there was no stemming the tide of self-doubt that was beginning to lap at the edges of this once tight outfit. Further complicating matters - as well as hopelessly skewing the band's sense of identity as a five-piece - Cox hatched a plan to call in some music industry heavyweights to guest star on the album, hoping the name recognition would bring the band reflected glory. This maneuver did not fly with his bandmates, who saw themselves taking a backseat in their own band in order to make room for the Rock Star reinforcements. Paliselli and Herrewig, in particular,were incensed, threatening to walk out in the middle of the project in protest. But once Cox's plan was underway, it played out to its inevitable conclusion as Aerosmith's Steven Tyler, Alice Cooper guitarist Dick Wagner, former Nugent frontman Derek St. Holmes, and go-to saxophonist of the day Michael Brecker (Billy Joel, Steely Dan, Eric Clapton, Dire Straits) trouped into the studio to make guest appearances on a number of tracks. Still, nothing really gelled as it should have. On paper, of course, the roll call of celebrity names looked great ; in the end, though, perhaps it was simply a case of too many cooks. Whatever the reasons, once the dust settled and the album was released, by the band's own standards Babes on Broadway was a lesser effort.

That being said, several tracks stand out as worthy of mention. Cox's " Can't Stop Pretending,” for one, convincingly recalls past glories without being a retread of what came before. "Who In The World ,” moreover - another Cox original - is a jaw-dropping evocation of The Bee Gees, circa "Gotta Get A Message to You." Avoiding pastiche, Artful Dodger nail the Carnaby Street whimsy of the Bee Gees' mid-'60s singles with uncanny accuracy.

Still, those powderkeg recording sessions had left an ugly stain. By the time Babes on Broadway was released, in October 1977, aside from a handful of club dates the album received no tour support to speak of. Tepid reviews from the music press only served to confirm everyone's worst fears. The comedown was hard, and Gary Cox became the band's first casualty. By November, he'd left Artful Dodger to pursue a solo career.

While Cox's departure wasn't necessarily a fatal blow to the band, at the same time, if there is a certain truth to the old adage about strength in numbers, navigating through the waning, wasted years of the '70's would prove difficult for the four who remained.


Following the loss of Gary Cox, an ill wind seemed to blow through the band's declining fortunes. Before the turn of the decade, Leber & Krebs would fall out of favor with Columbia Records, and in one broad stroke Artful Dodger would lose their management deal and their label. Arguably, this would have been reason enough to call time on the band. But that question will remain forever unanswered as, at the advent of the '80's, Clive Davis's Arista Records offered Artful Dodger a deal on their subsidiary label, Ariola. They jumped at the chance.

Aware that this next album was a make-it-or-break-it proposition - at least in marketplace terms - the band left little to chance, hammering out their finest batch of songs since the debut, and recruiting multi- instrumentalist Peter Bonta to take the place of the departed Cox. The result? 1980's Rave On, considered by many to be the pinnacle of Artful Dodger's recorded output. David McGee's review in Record World that year typified the kind of reaction the album was garnering from critics: "Rave On, the group's first Ariola album, marks their triumphant return... they also remember when rock was truly great, when every song on the radio was a gem, and they've succeeded in capturing that feeling in their music..." In the same issue , Rave On swept the week's' " Album Picks" (most recommended) and "Album Airplay" (most added) categories.

Still, for all the industry tip-sheet buzz about the band, Rave On never gained much of a footing in the charts, gradually slipping away from whatever tenuous hold it might've had. Given the circumstances, it's difficult not to think of the refrain from "Wayside,” the anthemic opening track from Artful Dodger's 1975 debut album : " Don't it seem like we've been here before?" Words which carry an oddly prophetic ring today - as if they were already looking back across the years and disappointments to come. A shame then that Rave On flew under the radar, because it was - and remains - the band's masterpiece. Revisionist history may give the nod to the debut, but that would be wrong. Rave On was a career-defining - and era-defining - release, one that found a remarkable band at the absolute peak of their powers. And, sadly, the end of the line.

For an album whose songs seem loosely themed around concepts of loss and regret, given hindsight, it's difficult not to interpret tracks such as "Forever,” "So Afraid " and "Now or Nevermind" as the band's own commentary on their frustrating lack of commercial success. Indeed, the album title alone could be read as a defiant middle finger to the vagaries of the music business and its star-making machinery. As ever, though, and this being an Artful Dodger album, the music inside the cardboard sleeve was catchy enough to sugarcoat the bitterness of the lyrics. Still, the subtext of disillusionment - disillusionment with the music business and a fickle record-buying public - was plainly on offer for anyone who cared to listen.

Prior to Rave On, Paliselli's vocals seemed to jet-propel the band's songs. But something markedly different was afoot this time - most pointedly, perhaps, on Rave On's penultimate track, the heart-rending, " Forever." To Peter Bonta's lovely piano accompaniment, Billy Paliselli starkly addresses the band's "do or die" career dilemma. And if ever a song could be described as an open wound, this would be it:

It's now or never Is that what you're saying? Get on home, boy Put your dreams away This ain't no dream I talk about This here is something I can't live without By song's end, Paliselli's voice is a whisper - plaintive, aching - and all the more powerful for it. A long way from the youthful optimism of "Think, Think,” but maybe that was the point. Hard-won wisdom never comes without a price, and this one would prove particularly costly. Within the year, Artful Dodger would break up. V.

On August 16, 2012, Cleveland's classic rock station, 98.5 WNCX, announced the passing of Gary Cox. It was reported on their website that Cox had succumbed to a brain tumor. " Gary leaves behind a wife and 13 year old daughter who probably never fully realized how much the Cleveland fans loved Artful Dodger, " the station noted, in a fitting tribute to the guitarist and the band he helped found.

After hanging up his stage clothes in the early '80's, Billy Paliselli owned and operated American Road Motorcycles, in Amissville, VA, before relocating to Florida, where he still lives today. Steve Cooper and Steve Brigida, when day jobs and schedules allow, still play together on occasion as the appropriately titled, Band of Steves. Cooper also finds time to record with The Rectifiers, an offshoot of the Christian-based motorcycle ministry he rides with. Peter Bonta's last known whereabouts? Pistoia, Italy, where, according to his LinkedIn profile, Bonta is " Back doing what I know and love best, music! " And Gary Herrewig? In 1985, Herrewig self-released an EP, 4-Gone Conclusions, which has since become a highly sought after treasure among fans of power pop. One of the highlights of the EP is Herrewig's re-recording of a long lost Artful Dodger demo, " Hurt You Too."

On January 13th of this year, Real Gone Music released a lovingly assembled repackaging of the band's three Columbia albums, entitled (natch) Artful Dodger: The Complete Columbia Recordings. It may come as a surprise to some that a market still exists for for a band whose last album was released in 1980, 37 years ago now. For the faithful, though, this release was long overdue.

Most enduring of all, perhaps, is the existing concert footage of the band, circa their '70's/'80's residency at The Agora Ballroom, available on the Internet for a new generation of fans to discover. Through the timeworn frames of film, this is as close as they will ever get to what the fuss was all about. Watching, and wondering, one suspects, whatever happened to the band. Or didn't happen to the band. What might have been...

As for final words, well, that's easy enough. Picking up where we left off backstage at the Agora, in 1991, as Agatha Szubski asks Artful Dodger one last question before the show. " Any future plans you're willing to share with us?"

Billy Paliselli: "Nothing that could come out of this - that could potentially come out of this - could possibly surprise me. Because it's been such an absolutely wonderful time..."

Rave on.

Special thanks to Steve Cooper, Artful Dodger bassist and band archivist, for his valuable assistance and encouragement.

Ed Turner is the Executive Producer of the documentary, Ticket to Write : The Golden Age of Rock Music Journalism.

Artful Dodger never really had its day in the sun, but a recent compilation, The Complete Columbia Recordings, has rekindled interest in the power-pop cult favorites. Here's what the world's been missing:

Artful Dodger (Columbia Records PC 33811) – The band's self-titled 1975 debut is brimming with tight, cocksure hooks, soulful yearning and pristine melodies. Produced by Jack Douglas of Aerosmith fame, it mixes Beatlesque pop charm with gritty, blue-collar hard rock. "Wayside" is a classic anthem, bright and exuberant with a sugary crunch that also candies "Follow Me" and "You Know It's Alright," while the bittersweet "Silver and Gold" just melts in your ears.

Honor Among Thieves (Columbia Records PC 34273) – A worthy successor, their second album arrived a year later, with Artful Dodger sounding a little tougher on a rowdy title track, "Keep Me Happy" and "Not Enough," even as the deep, torn-and-frayed power ballad "Scream" swooned and "Dandelion" exuded summery languor.

Babes on Broadway (Columbia Records PC 34846) – While struggling with the weight of unmet expectations, a splintering Artful Dodger was also growing more ambitious and experimental. Increasingly refined pop sensibilities emerged in songs like "Alright," as some of their bold assertiveness was lost. For every sunny, upbeat winner like "Can't Stop Pretending" – horns and all – there was a limp, lethargic ballad such as "Mistake" or a weird, if energetic, outlier like "Idi Amin Stomp."

Rave On (Ariola America Records OL 1503) – A fitting last hurrah, this final album saw Artful Dodger recapture the magic with the most polished, accessible effort of their career. Always adept at simply elegant song construction, Artful Dodger sounds as focused and confident as ever on engaging, memorable gems such as "She's Just My Baby," "A Girl (La La La)," "Get in Line" and "Now or Never Mind."




Genre: rock

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Babes On Broadway

Company: Columbia

Catalog: PC-34846

Year: 1977

Country/State: Fairfax, Virginia

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: original customer inner sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 2792

Price: $20.00


Understandably frustrated that neither of their first two albums had sold well, 1977's "Babes On Broadway" found Artful Dodger making some minor changes in pursuit of commercial acceptance. Continuing their partnership with producer Edward Leonetti (Jack Douglas credited as executive producer), the band still boasted a formidable songwriting pool in lead guitarist Gary Cox, rhythm guitarist Gary Herrewig and singer Billy Paliselli. At least to my ears material such as the opener 'Can't Stop Pretending', 'Alright', the acoustic ballad 'Who in the World', and 'Wave Bye Bye' was as good as anything on the first two albums. Boasting the band's trademarked blend of gorgeous harmonies, chiming guitars and sweet melodies, mid-1970s rock simply didn't get much better. Less impressive, but perhaps more in keeping with popular tastes,  exemplified by tracks such as 'Mistake', 'Loretta' and a remake of Eddy Cochran's classic 'C'mon Everybody' much of the second side found an element of formula AOR orientation creeping into the formula. 


Sadly, the album matched their earlier sales and Columbia management quickly gave  the band their walking papers. 

"Babes On Broadway" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Can't Stop Pretending   (Gary Cox) - 3:51   rating: **** stars

If there was a mud-'70s band that deserved to have made it big time, then these guys would have been prime contenders.  'Can't Stop Pretending' was a near perfect slice of power pop - the kind of tune that Eric Carmen would have traded the rest of The Raspberries to have written.  Gary Cox's jangle guitar makes me smile every time I hear it.  Columbia tapped it as the leadoff single and you can only wonder how radio missed it:





- 1977's 'I Can't Stop Pretending' b/w 'Hey Boys' (Columbia catalog number 3-10603)






2.) Alright  (Gary Herrewig - Billy Paliselli) - 3:36   rating: **** stars

I've always liked Paliselli's nasally voice and he seldom sounded as good as on the sneering 'Alright'.  

In case anyone cared, Aerosmith's Steve Tyler supposedly provided backing vocals on the tune.  If he's there, my ears simply weren't good enough to pick him out.   By the way, Steve Brigida's powerhouse drumming was the secret sauce on this one.  The video and sound quality are poor, but taken from a 1991 Legends of Rock tour, YouTube has a live performance of the song at: 
3.) Who in the World   (Gary Cox) - 4:45  
rating: **** stars

As exemplified by the power ballad 'Who In the World,', few mid-'70s American bands could trot out an English sound as well Artful Dodger.  Actually, the melody sounded like something The Bee Gees might have crafted. 
4.) Wave Bye Bye   (Gary Cox) - 3:27  
rating: **** stars

A song Cox supposedly wrote while in high school; 'Wave Bye Bye' captured the band at their most propulsive and poppiest.  With those glistening harmonies this was another tune that would have sounded sweet on top-40 radio.

5.) All I Need   (Gary Cox - Gary Herrewig - Billy Paliselli) - 3:03   rating: *** stars

Okay, lyrically it wasn't going to win them any prizes, but even a throwaway bar band tune from these guys was worth hearing.   Paliselli in heat was 50 times more fun to hear than Steve Tyler playing the same card.

(side 2)

1.) Babes on Broadway   (Gary Herrewig - Billy Paliselli) - 3:18   rating: **** stars

I always loved the unique sound Gary Cox coaxed out of his guitar - kind of a cutting, bell sound.  coupled with the band's knack for crafting insidiously catchy hooks, it didn't get much better than the title track.
2.) Mistake   (Gary Herrewig - Billy Paliselli) - 4:08
   rating: **** stars

One of their prettiest songs - 'Mistake' was a ballad for rockers who don't like ballads.  Paliselli easily out shredded Steve Tyler's best efforts on this one
3.) Loretta   (Gary Herrewig - Billy Paliselli) - 3:40  
rating: *** stars

'Loretta' was a nice slice of boogie rock worth hearing just for Steve Cooper's chugging bass line.
4.) Idi Amin Stomp   (Gary Cox - Steve Brigida - Steve Cooper) - 2:57  
rating: *** stars

Not quite sure I understand the title, but 'Idi Amin Stomp' was an okay bad band rocker.  Nice Cox solo, but kind of AOR anonymous.   

5.) C'mon Everybody  (Eddy Cochran - Jerry Capehart) - 2:56   rating: ** stars

Pedestrian cover of the Eddy Cochran classic.   I'm guessing it got better with a couple of cold beers.





The next album, Honor Among Thieves (1976), co-produced by Douglas and Eddie Leonetti, featured the power ballad "Scream" as the single. This album was not as successful as the first. During the summer of 1976 the band opened for KISS. Their next album, Babes On Broadway (1977), also did not sell well, and Cox left the band. He was replaced by Peter Bonta on piano and guitar and they signed to Ariola Records in 1980.[1]

The band broke up after the departure of Billy Paliselli in 1982. Steve Cooper and Steve Brigida partnered with Washington DC guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Jeff Smith and continue to record and play live with Smith as the Band of Steves. Peter Bonta opened his own recording studio, Wally Cleaver's, located in northern Virginia. He produced, engineered and played on solo projects for Gary Herrewig (the unreleased Four Gone Conclusions), Billy Paliselli and Gary Cox (a set of country demos shopped unsuccessfully to Nashville). Bonta also found steady work recording and touring with Mary Chapin Carpenter.

In 1991, Artful Dodger played two reunion shows in Cleveland, Ohio for the Cleveland Agora's 25th anniversary and appeared at the Legends of Rock Reunion 1991 event held in Parkman, Ohio. Sony issued Honor Among Thieves on CD in the 1990s, and the first two LPs were reissued on CD by Pendulum Entertainment Group in 1997. In 2008, American Beat Records re-issued Honor Among Thieves. In 2017, Real Gone Music issued a 2-CD set The Complete Columbia Recordings, making the Babes on Broadway album available on CD for the first time. Rave On has not yet been released on CD.

Due in large part to a resurgence of fan interest on the internet, Artful Dodger reunited to kick off a year-long series of "flashback" concerts to celebrate the Cleveland Agora's 40th anniversary. This reunion show occurred on December 31, 2005. The band returned to the Agora for a show on April 1, 2006 and played at the annual Taste of Cleveland event on September 2, 2006. The band last performed on May 3, 2008, once again at the Cleveland Agora.

The band continues to practice together and interacts with fans on the internet. Their performance at the Cleveland Agora on November 21, 2009 was recorded live to multi-track by Lava Room Recording.

Former guitarist Gary Cox (born Gary Steven Cox in Arlington, Virginia on January 17, 1953) died in Bristow, Virginia on August 12, 2012, at age 59.[3]


10.) C'mon Everybody (Eddie Cochran - J. Capehart) - 2:56

Genre: rock

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Rave On

Company: Ariola

Catalog: OL 1503

Year: 1980

Country/State: Fairfax Virginia

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: minor ring wear

Available: 2

Catalog ID: 5571

Price: $20.00


It only took three years and a line-up adjustment (the addition of keyboard player Peter Bonita), but in 1980 Artful Dodger's extended recording hiatus came to an end when they were signed by Ariola Records.  Recorded in Springfield, Virginia's Bias Studios 1980's self-produced "Rave On" didn't show any adverse effects from the layoff and served as a a partial creative comeback, coming close to the quality of their first two studio collections on about half of the tracks.  Like those original albums, on songs like 'It's a Lie' and 'Get In Line' the writing team of Gary Herrewig and Billy Paliselli managed to combine conventional rock and power pop moves into a highly commercial end product.  Palisell's classic rock voice remained in fine form and the band's vocal harmonies were enough to shame most of the competition.  On the single 'A Girl (La La La)' and a couple of other tunes Paliselli sounded a bit like Faces-era Rod Stewart.  Elsewhere imagine The Raspberries with rock aspirations rather than power pop tastes and you'd have a good feel for the record.  Unlike many AOR band, these guys even managed to make power ballads like 'So Afraid' and 'Forever' palatable.  Other highlights included the sparkling 'She's Just My Baby', 'I Don't Wanna See Her' and the country-flavored closer 'Gone Again'.  Unfortunately, in an era of rampant disco and new wave madness, pop-rock gems such as 'It's a Lie', 'Come Close To Me' and 'Now or Never Mind' attracted little attention from the buying public or radio stations.  Ariola's promotional support was also lackluster.  True the company tapped the album for a couple of singles, but in spite of some first-rate material to work with, were somehow unable to break the band.  


With sales peaking at # 209, the album quickly vanishing into cutout bins. Cox subsequently tendered his resignation with the rest of the band then calling it quits.  Shame it was their final album, but certainly an impressive way to shut down the franchise.

"Rave On" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) She's Just My Baby   (Gary Herrewig - Billy Palisell) - 2:42   rating: **** stars

I've always loved these guys when they amp up the power-pop quotient in their sound and that was seldom done as well as they should've been a massive hit 'She's My Girl'.  Kudos to Ariola for at least floating it as a single:



- 1980's  'She's My Baby' b/w 'Gone Again' (Ariola catalog number OS816)   

Taken from the Artful Dodger website, YouTube has a promotional video clip fo the song at:  




2.) It's a Lie    (Gary Herrewig - Billy
Paliselli) - 3:48   rating: **** stars

Gary Cox's jangle rock guitar leads made it impossible to not love this Merseybeat-tinged rocker.  The video and sound quality are poor, but YouTube has a promotional video of the song at:  
3.) So Afraid    (Gary Herrewig -
Billy Paliselli) - 4:47
4.) Get in Line    (Gary Herrewig - Billy
Paliselli) - 2:42   rating: **** stars

You had to wonder how late-'70s radio picked up on bands like The Knack, but ignored Artful Dodger. 'Get In Line' had everything needed for radio airplay (except radio airplay)/  Quality power-pop that puts Doug Fieger and company to shame. 
5.) Now or Never Mind    (Gary Herrewig - Billy
Paliselli) - 3:37  rating; *** stars

Kind of a pedestrian rocker that actually got better as it went along.   Again the sound and video quality are poor, but YouTube has a clip of the band as a Fisher House charity concerts: 

(side 2)

1.) Come Close to Me   (Gary Herrewig - Billy Paliselli) - 3:42  rating; *** stars

Powered by Gary Herrewig chiming guitar, 'Come Close To Me' offered up a nice slice of slightly new-wave tinged power-pop.  Skinny ties and all, YouTube has a performance from a 1980 performance at Cleveland's Agora Club: 
2.) I Don't Wanna See Her   (Gary Herrewig - Billy Paliselli) - 3:15
   rating: **** stars

Not hard to imaginef Herrewig and Paliselli saying something along the lines of "hey guys, let's out Knack the Knack ..."   Brilliant slice of '80s power pop that should have stormed up the charts.
3.) Forever   (Gary Herrewig - Billy Paliselli) - 5:05
   rating: **** stars

With Paliselli seemingly channeling a touch of Faces-era Rod Stewart, 'Forever was another nice addition to their catalog of sweet, radio-friendly ballads.  The song was also a nice spotlight for new keyboardist Bonita.
4.) A Girl (La La La)   (Gary Herrewig - Billy Paliselli) - 3:42
   rating: **** stars

Geez, did I mistakenly put on a Faces album ?   Another tune where Paliselli seemed to be channeling classic Rod Stewart (plus the song included a touch of Ronnie Lane-styled mandolin).  One of their creative highpoints, the combination of Herrewig's muscular guitar riffs and the la-la-la choruses made this one instantly memorable.  Another missed opportunity to break the band nationally.  If I were in a cover band, I'd have this one in my repertoire.

- 1980's 'A Girl (La La La)' b/w 'I Don't Wanna See Her'  (Ariola catalog number OS815) 

I think their lip synching this one, but here's another promo video:  
5.) Gone Again   (Gary Herrewig - Billy Paliselli) - 3:59
   rating: **** stars    

Totally unexpected and decades before if became a cool thing to do, 'Gone Again' found the band diving headlong into country-rock with a beautiful keyboard and pedal steel powered  ballad.   Easy to picture The Marshall Tucker Band, or some other Southern rock ensemble taking this one to chart success.



By the way, you'll have to register, but the band has a nice website presence at:



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