Big Wha Koo / Wha Koo

Band members                              Related acts

  line-up 1: (1977)  (as Big Wha-Koo)

- Danny Douma (RIP 2010) -- lead guitar, vocals

- Don Francisco -- lead vocals, percussion

- Richard Kosinski -- keyboards

- David Palmer -- lead vocals, tambourine

- Nick van Maarth -- lead guitar, backing vocals

- John Mack (aka Claude Pepper) (RIP 2003) -- drums, percussion

- Andrew Silvester -- bass, harmonica


  supporting musicians (1977)

- Reinie Press -- bass, sax


  line-up 2: (1978) (as Wha-Koo)

- Danny Douma (RIP 2010) -- lead guitar, vocals

- Don Francisco -- lead vocals, percussion

NEW - Peter Frieberger -- bass (replaced Andrew Silvester)

- Richard Kosinski -- keyboards

- David Palmer -- lead vocals, tambourine

- Nick van Maarth -- lead guitar, backing vocals

- John Mack (aka Claude Pepper) (RIP 2003) -- drums, percussion


  line up 3 (1979)

NEW- Ron Frasen -- keyboards

NEW- Eric Gotthelf -- bass

NEW- Fragile Line -- 

- David Palmer -- lead vocals, tambourine

NEW- Eddie Tuduri -- drums, percussion


  supporting musicians (1979)

- Chuck Cochran -- lead guitar

- David Woodford -- sax, flute







- Atlee (Don Francisco)

- Batteaux (Peter Frieberger)

- Big Town Playboys (Andy Sylvester)

- The Bonedaddys (Eric Gotthelf)

- Boxer (Eddie Tuduri)

- Chicago (Danny Douma)

- Chicken Shack (Andy Sylvester)

- The Crickets (Nick van Maarth)

- Crowfoot (Don Francisco)

- Danny Douma (solo efforts)

- Dr. Strut (Peter Frieberger and Claude Pepper)

- Fra Lippo Lippi (Claude Pepper)

- Highway Robbery (Don Francisco)

- The Honeydrippers (Andy Silvester)

- Jack Mack and the Heart Attacks

- The Myddle Class (David Palmer)

- Pan (Don Francisco)

- The Quinaimes Band (David Palmer)

- The Raik's Progress (Nick van Maarth)

- The Mike Sanchez Band (Andy Silvester)

- Savoy Brown (Andrew Silvester)

- Silver Condor (Claude Pepper)

- Steely Dan (David Palmer)

- The Sunday Funnies (Richard Kosinski)




Genre: rock

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Big Wha-Koo

Company: ABC

Catalog: AB-971

Year: 1977

Country/State: Los Angeles, California

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: original custom inner sleeve; demo stamp on front cover; minor ring wear

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5388

Price: $15.00


Based on the Steely Dan connection (vocalist David Palmer sang with the original 1972-73 line up), I bought a copy of this album when it first came out.  I can remember playing it in my dorm room, though my roommate was less than thrilled (Rob sorry for the aural abuse I subjected you to).  For a long time it was a big favorite and I still have the original filed away (with the rest of their catalog), but I hadn’t played it in years.  Anyhow, a couple of months I was at a flea market and stumbled across a copy of the band’s “Berkshire” album.  For a buck I couldn’t resist and after spinning it I was about to go pull the rest of their albums in order to get reacquainted.  About a week later I was in Chincoteague, Virginia and stumbled across a copy of “Big Wha-Koo” at a used record store for a buck. Couldn’t turn it down at that price (along with about 40 other items) …  


Guitarist Danny Douma was the man behind Big Wha-Koo.  Living in Los Angeles, he started pulling the band together in 1975.  By the time they signed with ABC 1977, the line-up reflected Douma on lead guitar, former Atlee/Crowfoot and Highway robbery singer/percussionist Don Francisco, keyboard player Richard Kosinski, ex-Steely Dan singer David Palmer, former Crickets guitarist Nick van Maarth, drummer John Mack (aka Claude Pepper)  and ex-Chicken Shack and Savoy Brown bassistAndrew Silvester.


Though most critics disagree, produced by Roy Halee, 1977’s “Big Wha-Koo” always struck me as being the band’s best release (critics seem to give the nod to “Berkshire”).  In my book the album’s  one of those lost mid-1970s pseudo-classics. With a little bit of publicity and a better album cover who knows what might have happened … With singer Palmer and guitarist Douma credited with penning most of the material, the album represented a nice niche between commercial pop and AOR.  Today we'd label it a prime example of "yacht rock."  Nice melodies, great vocals from Palmer and Don Francisco and modestly entertaining lyrics (I know, who listens to the words), made for a strong collection with five of the eight songs being worthwhile. Perhaps a result of his association with Steely Dan, the late Palmer was always a personal favorite.  Though his voice was light and somewhat fragile, it proved well suited to material like the opener 'Whiskey Voices' and ‘Love’s Been Known’.  The band was blessed with an equally good vocalist in Francisco, whose spotlight moment came in the form of the ballad 'Save Your Tears'.  That said, these guys could also rock out.  Douma and  van Maarth were both gifted guitarists who shined on the jangle-rocker ‘Oh Philistine’ and the title track.  The set wasn't perfect.  Featuring sight songs, the set was far too short.  The throwaway reggae number ‘Waiting On a Woman’, Douma’s bland ballad ‘Amnesty' and the needless Gospel-flavored 'Don't Knock' were all pretty worthless   Still, after hearing the album, with a little bit of imagination you could picture what Steely Dan might have sounded like had Becker and Fagan elected to keep the “Can’t Buy a Thrill”-era band together and pursue a more commercial stance.  


"Big Wha-Koo" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) Whiskey Voices   (David Palmer - Carbone) - 5:13 rating: **** stars

Having grown up with Steely Dan, I'll readily admit that David Palmer's voice was the original draw to Big What-Koo.  That was certainly the case on this glistening country-tinged rocker.  Besides Palmer, Richard Kosinski turned in some nice cheesy synthesizer washes at the end of the song.  I've always wondered why ABC only released it as a promotional 45:





- 1977's 'Whiskey Voices' b/w 'Whiskey Voices' (ABC catalog number ABC-12271).







2.) Save Your Tears  (David Palmer - Carbone) - 6:01   rating: **** stars

Featuring Don Francisco on lead vocals, 'Save Your Tears' was the album's contractually mandated "big ballad."  I have to admit the song was quite pretty; particularly on the chorus where Francisco and Palmer shared the spotlight.  The track was well suited for Francisco's fragile voice.  Nick Van Maarth turned in a beautiful guitar solo.

3.) Oh Philistine   (Danny Douma - David Palmer) - 3:43

4.) Love’s Been Known   (Danny Douma - David Palmer) - 5:18


ABC again released the song as a promotional 45:

- 1977's 'Love's Been Known' b/w 'Love's been Known' (ABC Catalog number AB-12290)


(side 2)

1.) Waiting On a Woman   (Danny Douma) - 6:14

2.) Amnesty  (Danny Douma) - 4:56

3.) Don’t Knock () - 3:56  rating: ** stars

I guess it sounded better on paper than in execution ...  Hearing a bunch of Southern California guys trying to do an earnest Southern Gospel track just wasn't going to cut it. 

4.) The Big Wah-Koo   (Danny Douma - David Palmer) - 6:44


Douma subsequently released a solo album (worth looking for) and then reappeared as Terry Kath’s replacement in Chicago.





Genre: rock

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Fragile Line

Company: Epic / City Lights

Catalog: BL 36173

Year: 1979

Country/State: --

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: promo stamp on back cover; white inner label

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5389

Price: $15.00


In 1979 vocalist David Palmer decided to reactivate the Wha-Koo nameplate.  For the project Palmer recruited guitarist Chuck Cochran (who quit before the album was released), bassist Eric Gotthelf, keyboardist Ron Fransen and former Boxer drummer Eddie Tuduri.  Signing with Epic's City Lights subsidiary, the band went into the studio with producer Alan Abrahams.  Taking square aim at prevailing AOR trends, 1979’s Fragile Line” had its momentst.  Largely penned by Palmer, material like ‘Silken Chains of Memory,' ‘Camarillo’ and ‘Love Draws a Fragile Line’ wasn’t bad in a late-1970s corporate-rock fashion, but the over abundance of ballads and mid-tempo rockers had the effect of blurring everything together.  Palmer was a more than capable vocalist, but to be honest, tracks like ‘The Velvet Screw’ and the group-penned ‘After the Rapture’ could easily have been mistaken for dozens of other California-based yacht rock outfits.  The pretty ballad ‘Don’t Say You Love Me’ echoed Ambrosia and bits of Pablo Cruise, Journey, etc. scattered throughout the ten songs. Best of the lot simply for the fact it strayed the furthest from their formula was the dark and atmospheric closer ‘Everything My Daddy Used To Be.'  The results were pleasant and predictable; music reduced to a commercial formula.  Probably the least enjoyable of their three studio albums.    


The album did little commercially and Wha-Koo subsequently came to an end.


"Wha-Koo" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) Silken Chains of Memory   (David Palmer) - 4:02

Showcasing Ron Fransen psuedo-classical keyboards, 'Silken Chains of Memory' could have served as a poster child for late-'70s radio airplay.  With Palmer over-emoting, every part of the song seemed structured for radio airplay.  Yeah, I'm a sucker for this stuff.

2.) Camarillo   (David Palmer - Chuck Cochran) - 2:55

3.) Tonight On Old King’s Cross   (David Aplmer) - 3:54

4.) The Velvet Screw   (David Palmer - Ron Fransen) - 3:57

5.) Love Draws a Fragile Line   (David Palmer) - 3:45


(side 2)

1.) Don’t Say You Love Me    (David Palmer - Chuck Cochran) - 3:59

Epic tapped the album for a single in the form of 'Don’t Say You Love Me' b/w '' (Epic catalog number 9-50772)

2.) After the Rapture   (David Palmer - Eddie Tuduri - Eric Gotthelf - Ron Fransen) - :;31

The line group composition, 'After the Rapture'

3.) She Sees the Night  (David Palmer) - 4:20

4.) The Chinese Kiss  (David Palmer - Chuck Cochran) - 3:19

5.) Everything My Daddy Used To Be   (David Palmer - Chuck Cochran) - 5:54



The Big Wha-Koo were a Los Angeles, California-based soft rock ensemble formed in 1975 under the leadership of singer, songwriter and guitarist Danny Douma. Douma assembled an entourage of veteran musicians that included David Palmer, who had sung lead vocals on two tracks of Steely Dan's debut album Can't Buy a Thrill, Nick Van Maarth, from Buddy Holly's backup band, The Crickets,[1] Don Francisco, formerly of Crowfoot and Atlee and British blues man Andy Silvester, formerly of Savoy Brown. L.A.-based session musician Reinie Press, bass player on many of Neil Diamond's most successful recordings, contributed bass and saxophone on two tracks on the band's 1977 debut album, The Big Wha-Koo for ABC Records.

Peter Freiberger replaced Andy Silvester on bass for the band's 1978 album, Berkshire. Produced by Grammy Award winner Ken Caillat, it proved to be the band's most successful release.[2] Berkshire featured "You're Such a Fabulous Dancer", composed by Douma. Although a top ten hit in some international markets, it did little[clarification needed] in the American music charts.

In 1978, Douma left Wha-Koo to pursue a solo career. He released a solo album, Night Eyes, on Warner Bros. Records. The album featured many of the members of Wha-Koo as well as guest appearances by Eric Clapton, Garth Hudson from The Band and several members of Fleetwood Mac. Douma toured with Fleetwood Mac as a supporting act for the remainder of 1979 [3] and then left the music industry soon after. Chuck Cochran replaced Danny Douma on vocals and lead guitar and was with Wha-Koo at two notable appearances in 1978. On August 26, they played before an estimated crowd of 110,000 music fans at the Canada Jam festival near Toronto, Ontario and on October 29, the band performed with Thin Lizzy on the steps of the Sydney Opera House in Sydney, Australia before an estimated crowd of 100,000.[4]

I found an interview from 1/97. With this info you can search for more if you want to update.

BD: What other projects have you been working on since the 70s?

Since the '70s I've written songs for The Pointer Sisters , The Neville Brothers, Randy Travis , Laura Branigan , various other artists , T.V. and movies. I'm still very much involved with "the business". I work a lot with a producer and writer out here : Steve Tyrell. I spent two months in Europe this past year traveling with an artist Steve produces and manages named Jamie Walters. Jamie played the "bad boy - musician" on "Beverly Hills 90210" and had a very successful CD out here and in Europe.

I have a home studio these days which enables me to record my own demos and send them to other artists.,,562323,00.html?artist=Wha-Koo