Wiggy Bits

Band members               Related acts

- Peppy Castro (aka Emil Thielheim) -- vocals (1976)

- Richie Cerniglia -- lead guitar (1976)

- Mike Maniscalco -- keyboards (1976)

- Mike Ricciardella -- drums, percussion (1976)

- Dennis Santiago -- bass (1976)




- Aviator (Richie Cerniglia and Mike Ricciardella)

- Balance (Peppy Castro)

- Barnaby Bye (Richie Cerniglia, Peppy Castro and 

  Mike Ricciardella)

- The Blues Magoos (Peppy Castro)

- The Illusion (Mike Ricciardella)

- King of Hearts (Peppy Castro)

- Network (Richie Cerniglia and Mike Ricciardella)





Genre: rock

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Wiggy Bits

Company: Polydor

Catalog: PD-1-6081
Year: 1976

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG+ / NM

Comments: still in shrink; promo white label; cut lower left corner

Available: 1

GEMM catalog ID: 5655

Price: $20.00


Ah the short-lived and wonderfully named Wiggy Bits ...  These guys actually had rather impressive resumes.  Lead guitarist Richie Cerniglia and drummer Mike Ricciardella had recorded a series of three late-1960s albums with The Illusion.  


Ricciardella subsequently hooked up with brothers Bill and Bobby Alessi, and  former The Blues Magoos singer/bassist Peppy Castro as Barnaby Bye.  The group signed with Atlantic recording a paid of early-1970s albums.  When Barnaby Bye collapsed, Castro and Ricciardella elected to continue their partnership with the addition guitarist Cerniglia, former The Illusion keybaordist Mike Maniscalco and new bassist Dennis Santiago.



Signed by Polydor, the quartet made their debut with 1976's cleverly title "Wiggy Bits".  Co-produced by the band and Sandy Linzer, I remember this one generating quite a bit of media attention, including some airplay on my local AOR station, though that attention didn't translate into great sales.  Interestingly on his earlier work Castro never struck me as a great singer, but I have to admit that he hit his stride when surrounded by quality hard rock like 'Free To Ride the Wind', 'Lies' and ''.  'Bad Situation' even displayed a bit of funk in the band - the chorus sounding like they'd been listening to some Ohio Players.  Yeah, Castro's voice wasn't perfect - when he reached for this upper ranges the results could be painful (check out the power ballad 'Alone Again').  Still, he came off every bit as good as say Whitesnake's David Coverdale, Def Leepard's Joe Elliott, or Foreigner's Lou Graham.  Featuring all original material virtually every one of these ten tracks managed to meld hard rock with strong melodies and insidiously catchy hooks - check out the hook on 'Place In the Sun'.  Yeah, these guys weren't going to get a Pulitzer for their lyrics ('it takes a lady to lay a man on his back'), but then the young white male segment of the audience wasn't looking for anything deeper than your standard wham-bang-thank-you-mam plotline, though to be fair 'Oh Captain' actually had some interesting lyrics.  Give 'em credit (or blame) for opening the door for a literal late-1970s wave of commercial hard rock bands (shades of Foreigner, or Def Leppard), 


It didn't do anything commercially but Polydor tapped the album for a single:


- 1976's 'Ellie' b/w 'Love Tracks' (Polydor catalog 14369)


"Wiggy Bits" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Free To Ride the Wind   (Peppy Castro - Mike Maniscalco - Richie Cerniglia) - 3:00

2.) Oh Captain   (Mike Ricciardella - Richie Cerniglia) - 3:08

3.) Lies   (Peppy Castro - Mike Ricciardella - Richie Cerniglia) - 3:48

4.) Ellie   (Peppy Castro - Mike Ricciardella - Richie Cerniglia) - 3:17

5.) Place In the Sun   (Peppy Castro) - 3:08


(side 2)
1.) Wiggy (instrumental)   (Peppy Castro -
Mike Ricciardella - Mike Maniscalco - Dennis Santiago) - 1:22

2.) Love Track   (Peppy Castro - Richie Cerniglia) - 3:22

3.) Alone Again   (Peppy Castro) -5:20

4.) Bad Situation   (Peppy Castro - Mike Ricciardella - Richie Cerniglia) - 3:23

5.) I'll Write You Off   (Mike Ricciardella - Richie Cerniglia) - 3:12



Castro went on to record an album with King of Hearts and then joined the band Balance.


Cerniglia and Ricciardella reappeared as members of Network and Aviator.




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