Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1967-70)

- Vincent James 'Jim' DeMeo Jr. -- lead guitar, vocals

- Gregory Kimple -- drums, percussion

-,Jamene Miller (aka Lydia Miller) (RIP 2008) -- lead vocals

- Billy Robbins (RIP 1970) -- vocals

- David Robert Robbins -- bass

- Mario Russo -- keyboards 


  line up 2 (1970)

- Vincent James ' Jim' DeMeo Jr. -- lead guitar, vocals

- Gregory Kimple -- drums, percussion

NEW - Jamene Miller (aka Lydia Miller) (RIP 2008) -- lead vocals

  (replaced  Billy Robbins)

- Mario Russo -- keyboards 

- David Robert Robbins -- bass


  line up 3 (1970)

NEW - Julie Applebaum -- vocals (replaced Jamene Miller)

- Vincent James 'Jim' DeMeo Jr. -- lead guitar, vocals

- Gregory Kimple -- drums, percussion

- Mario Russo -- keyboards 

- David Robert Robbins -- bass




Wild Honey (David Robbins)

- Year One (Jim DeMeo Jr., Gregory Kimple, David Robbins, and

  Mario  Russo)





Genre: progressive

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Fantasy

Company: Liberty

Catalog: LST-7643

Country/State: Miami, Florida

Grade (cover/record): VG/G+

Comments: minor ring wear; gatefold sleeve; small cut out notch lower edge

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 6282

Price: $40.00


Hailing from Miami, Florida, The Fantasy came together in 1967 around the talents of  lead guitarist Jim DeMeo, drummer Greg Kimple, lead singer Billy Robbins, his twin brother Bob on bass, and keyboardist Mario Russo..  Still in their teens the band gained a local fan base playing school dances, local clubs, including a stint as house band for Miami's Thee Imagine and eventually gaining greater exposure opening for national acts like Cream, The Doors, The Grateful Dead.  and Iron Butterfly.


Signed by Imperial, the band made their 1968 debut with the single:

- 'I Got The Fever' b/w 'Painted Horse' (Imperial catalog number 66394)


Sadly after having mysteriously disappeared, front man Billy Robbins' body was found in the Everglades in mid-1970.  Initially thought to have been a suicide, a subsequently investigation indicated Robbins had died in a drug deal gone wrong.  The surviving band members decided to continue onwards eventually recruiting 16 year old singer Lydia Jamene Miller as a replacement.  Signed by Liberty Records, later in the year the revamped band released their debut LP - the cleverly-titled "Fantasy."  While the band were quite talented, the spotlight was clearly on the attractive Miller who had a truly impressive voice recalling the likes of Lydia Pense, Janis Joplin (at least on 'Understand'), or perhaps a pissed-off and very uptight Grace Slick.  While Miller had a power instrument, like Pense and to a lesser extent Slick, her performances sounded tightly wound, arch, and occasionally barely under control; almost as if any sign of fun or enjoyment would kill her.  Not sure operatic is the right adjective to use in describing her voice, but it came close ...  That also encapsulated my major complaint with the collection.  Technically all of the performances were quite good, bouncing between folk-rock, progressive, and conventional rock (frequently mixed together in one song), but they were plagued by a suffocating sense of self-indulgence that effectively eliminated almost any sense of fun, or enjoyment from the proceedings.  And these guys were from Southern Florida for gawds sake ...  you would have thought they'd know how to loosen up a bit.


"Fantasy" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Happy   (Vincent James DeMeo Jr.) - 5:24   rating: *** stars

Yeah, you had to sit through some needless Miller scat singing, but if you could get through that, 'Happy started the album off with a decent slice of jazz-rock.  Built on Mario Russo's keyboards, the song actually bounced around from jazz-rock to what almost sounded like British folk-rock with some mildly entertaining results.   Certainly wasn't going to change your life, but it was one of the album's better performances.

2.) Come   (Marc Russo) - 6:10   rating: **** stars

Penned by Russo, 'Come' found the band trying to stitch together a mixture of progressive and rock themes.  With some hyper-sensitive and pompous lyrics, it was kind of a chore to listen to Miller struggle through the clunky lyrics, but the song actually morphed into a surprisingly attractive rocker which featured a touch of Latin percussion and a blazing DeMeo fuzz guitar solo.  Shame it didn't start out with the same energy.

3.) Wages of Sin   (Gregory Kimple) - 3:37     rating: ** stars  

Opening up with a melody that sounded like it had been ripped off of some sort of Russian folk song, 'Wages of Sin' featured DeMeo and Miller sharing lead vocals.  Perhaps having listened to too much UK folk-rock, the song sported another set of medieval fantasy lyrics that quickly lost my interest ("the knights of the seventeenth century they use to burn your kind ...").    Clearly meant to give off a dark and disturbing vibe, the end results were actually kind of funny (especially the laughter sound effects).  

4.) Circus of Invisible Men    (Vincent James DeMeo Jr. - Gregory Kimple) - 6:32       rating: ** stars  

In case you couldn't tell from the song title, 'Circus of Invisible Men' found the band going headlong over the pretentious edge.  Imagine Slick and the Jefferson Airplane at their most over-the-top obnoxious (complete with circus-inspired melodic snippets) and you'd have a feel for what to expect on this one.  


(side 2)
1.) Stoned Cowboy (instrumental)    (David Robbins - Vincent James DeMeo Jr. - Gregory Kimple - Mario Russo) - 5:55    rating: **** stars

Totally unlike anything else on the album, 'Spaced Cowboy' was a six minute instrumental built around DeMeo's fuzz drenched lead guitar and Russo's Stax-tinged organ. Yeah it was an atypical performance, but stands as my choice for standout performance.   It was also tapped as a single in a shortened format.  





- 1970's 'Stoned Cowboy' b/w 'Understand' (Liberty catalog number 56190)    






2.) Understand   (Lydia Jamene Miller) - 4:42     rating: ** stars  

Propelled by DeMeo's fuzz guitar and Russo's organ, the Miller original 'Understand' sounded like a Janis Joplin left over.   While it was a decent enough slice of stomping blues-rock, there simply wasn't a great deal of originality here.  Might as well just pull out a Big Brother & the Trucking Company LP.  

3.) What's Next   (Mario Russo) - 9:24     rating: ** stars  

Seemingly intended as Russo's spotlight moment, 'What's Next ' found the band dipping their collective toes into UK-styled early-'70s styled progressive moves.  With Russo pounding outs some pseudo-classical keyboard moves, Miller and DeMeo choked their way through some 'heavy' lyrics that would have gotten them a C- if submitted for an English composition.  The cabaret-styled segment was certainly unexpected and brought a momentary smile to my face, but then it was back to the more standard pomposity.  Once again DeMeo's lead guitar provided the performance highlights.



The album wasn't bad offering up an unusual progressive edge, but it could have been dynamite with a bit of added work.

While the album attracted favorable reviews and actually hit the Billboard top 200 charts (peaking at #  194), the usual mixture of personality conflicts, drug and alcohol issues, musical disagreements, and business issues took their toll and the band quickly fell apart.



Sans Miller, the other members (DeMeo, Kimple, Robbins, and Russo), soldiered on as Year One, releasing a couple of singles and a 1971 double album studio set - "Year One" (private press catalog number YO-52347).


Miller signed with Liberty as a solo act, but nothing came of it.  She recorded a second album with the Florida band Power, but it was also shelved.  She worked as a backup singer and touring vocalist, including a stint with Stevie Wonder's touring band and participated in a pair of one-shot Fantasy reunions, but by the early 1980s battling drug addiction and personal demons, largely dropped out of the music scene and passed away in September 2008 at the age of 55.



For hardcore fans, in 2006 the Swiss Black Rills label reissued the collection in CD format (BRR-CCD-014).  The reissue included four bonus tracks, including both sides of their debut, non-LP single:


1.) Painted Horse - 4:35

2.) I Got Fever - 2:07

3.) Stoned Cowboy - 2:41

4.) Understand - 3:20


Pulled from Iron Butterfly's film "Musical Mutiny", YouTube also has a couple of performance clips of Miller and the band doing her best Janis Joplin impersonation at:






Seemingly credited as a Fantasy album (see the front cover), in 1976 the Above & Beyond label reissued the Year One collection as a condensed single LP.