Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1  (1971-74)

- Len Fagen -aka Len Feigin) (RIP 2020) -- drums, percussion

- Jeff Hawks -- vocals

- Bruce Hauser -- vocals, bass

- Joey Newman (aka Vern Kjelberg) -- vocals, lead guitar


  supporting musicians:

- John Gallucci -- keyboards

- Jimmy Greenspoon (RIP 2015) -- organ

- Jeff Simmons - harp


  line up 2  (1974-75)

NEW - John Bordonaro -- drums, percussion (replaced Len Fagan)

- Len Fagen -- drums, percussion

- Jeff Hawks -- vocals

- Bruce Hauser -- vocals, bass

- Joey Newman (aka Vern Kjelberg) -- vocals, lead guitar




- Blue Mountain Eagle (Joey Newman)

- Don and the Goodtimes (Jeff Hawks and Joey Newman)

- Joey Newman (solo efforts)

- Touch (Bruce Hauser, Jeff Hawks and Joey Newman)

- Wichita Fall (Len Fagen)




Genre: rock

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Stepson

Company: ABC

Catalog:  ABCX 826

Country/State: Portland, Washington

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 2849

Price: $75.00

Formed in 1971, Stepson featured former Wichita Fall drummer Len Fagen (aka Len Feigin), bassist Bruce Hauser, singer Jeff Hawks and lead guitarist Joey Newman.  By this point in time three of the four were seasoned musical professionals with resumes that stretched back to the late-'60s.   Newman and Hawks had been in Don and the Goodtimes.  Newman, Hawks and Hauser had all been in Touch and following that group's demise Newman had played in Blue Mountain Eagle.

With the addition of drummer Len Fagen,1971 found Hauser, Hawks and Newman reunited as Stepson. Working LA's club scene eventually saw them gain a steady job as the house band at the Whiskey a Go-Go where they made connections with the likes of Arthur Lee of Love fame and Three Dog Night's Jimmy Greenspoon.  Finally signed by ABC, the quartet made their debut with the Bob d'Orleans' 1971  produced "Stepson".   Featuring an enthusiastic, if somewhat pedestrian collection of hard rock and blues rock numbers, the album's become quite a collectable over the years.   Showcasing Hawks growling voice and Newman's chunky lead guitar, this was your typical "bell curve" album.  What the hell's he talking about?  Well, as you probably remember from statistics, the album's ten songs followed a bell curve in terms of quality.  To my ears there were three excellent performances - the fuzz powered opener 'Rule In the Book', the bluesy, Free-styled 'Suffer', and the proto-Van Halen-styled closer 'Burnin' Hot'.   At the opposite end of the spectrum 'Back to 'Bama', 'Man, I'm a Fool', and 'Turnpike' were pedestrian, forgettable blues and country-rockers.   And in the middle were the other four tracks.  A typical bell curve distribution.  Professional, occasionally enthusiastic, but hardly original or groundbreaking.  Think along the lines of Grand Funk Railroad, The J. Geils Band, or perhaps a touch of Free.   As mentioned above, the most interesting tune here was the closer 'Burnin' Hot' which really did sound like a prototype for Diamond Dave and the Van Halen brothers.

"Stepson" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Rule In the Book   (Len Fagen - Jeff Hawks - Bruce Hauser - Joey Newman) - 3:23   rating: **** stars

Wow, if you ever heard the albums by Don and the Goodtimes, Touch, or Blue Mountain Eagle, this crushing fuzz powered rocker was going to come as a major surprise.  Kicked along by Newman's blazing lead guitar and guest Jimmy Greenspoon on organ, this was a slice of blues-rock for folks who didn't like blues-rock.  ABC tapped this song as a single for the Japanese market:





- 1974's 'Rule In the Book' b/w 'Lil' Bit' (Probe catalog number IPR 10637)







2.) Lil' Bit   (Len Fagen) - 4:07   rating: *** stars

Bar band blues normally doesn't ring my bell, but 'Lil' Bit' was better than most things in the genre.  Jeff Simmons on harp.  It's always reminded me a bit of a hard rocking version of early-'70s Steve Miller.

3.) Rude Attitude   (R. Atkins - C. D'Errico) - 3:29   rating: *** stars

A couple of years too early to be labeled punk, a bit too hard rock-ish to be labeled glam, but Hawks' sneering vocals gave 'Rude Attitude' a blaring in-your-face attitude.  Docked one star for the hyper misogynic lyrics ... 

4.) It's My Life   (Jerry Goffin - Carole King) - 3:05   rating: *** stars

I'm guessing a record executive came up with the suggest they do this cover.  Drenched in Newman's fuzz guitar, Hawks' dire vocals, and some chirpy female backing singers, the results could have been far worse ...   Still, with so many first rate originals to chose from, you had to wonder why ABC tapped this one as the single for the German market.





- 1974's 'It's My Life' b/w 'Rude Attitude' (ABC catalog number 1C 006-95-991)






5.) I Apologize   (Len Fagen - Jeff Hawks - Bruce Hauser - Joey Newman) - 5:44   rating: *** stars

Showcasing some of Newman's prettiest leads, 'I Apologize' found the band dipping their toes into a more soulful sound.   The STD-oriented lyrics were certainly unexpected.  It's also the only tune I've ever heard that references a lyric about "holding one's own ding dong".


(side 2)

1. Suffer  (Jeff Hawks -  Joey Newman) - 4:45   rating: **** stars

'Suffer' found the band at their blues-rock heaviest- picture an American version of Paul Rogers and Free.   Again, nothing particularly original, but professional and enthusiastic.   One of the album highlights.

2.) Back To 'Bama   (Len Fagen - Jeff Hawks - Bruce Hauser - Joey Newman) - 2:36   rating: ** stars

Hearing a Northwest-based band singing a tune called 'Back To 'Bama' always makes me smile.  Imagine Skynyrd singing "Driving to Portland' ...  John Gallucci provided the barrelhouse piano, but this was still a slice of forgettable bar boogie.  Under the title 'Alabam'; the late Gayle McCormick (of Smith fame), actually recorded the track before the band did - it appeared on her second solo album "Flesh and Blood".

3.) Man, I'm a Fool    (Jeff Hawks - Bruce Hauser - Joey Newman) - 4:34   rating: ** stars

'Man, I'm a Fool' featured a hardcore blues sound.  Competent, but hardly the most exciting four minutes you've ever heard.

4.) Turnpike   (Bruce Hauser - Goldsmith) - 2:44   rating: ** stars

'Turnpike' was the only non-Hawks vocal .  With the vocals credited to "Lucky Boy", I'm guessing bassist  Hauser was featured on this one.  If so, the results made it clear why Hawks handled the other nine tracks.  The song was best described as a formulaic slice of country-rock ...  is it me or do the cocaine references seem dated now?

5.) Burnin' Hurt   (Len Fagen - Jeff Hawks - Bruce Hauser - Joey Newman) - 4:42   rating: **** stars

Newman' growling guitar and Hawk's hand-slammed-in-a-door yelp have always reminded me of something off of an early Van Halen album.  The unexpectedly sweet backing vocals only served to underscore the comparison.   Wonder if Diamond Dave and the Van Halens grew up with this album in their collection ...  Be warned the lyrics certainly aren't politically correct in this day and age.



For anyone interested, there's a small Stepson Facebook page and several of the members seem to participate: 



After playing in Stepson Fagen turned his attention to running the Los Angeles club The Coconut Teaszer.  He  passed away from COVID in May 2020.  Here's a link to his obituary: Len Fagan, Coconut Teaszer visionary, dies of coronavirus - Los Angeles Times (







Genre: rock

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  The Lost Tapes 1972 - 1974

Company: Rockadrome

Catalog:  048V1

Country/State: Portland, Washington

Grade (cover/record): NM/NM

Comments: sealed copy

Available: 2

Catalog ID: 2864

Price: $30.00


Released in 2016, the ten tracks on the vinyl version of "Lost Tapes 1972-1974" apparently reflected demos and unfinished songs recorded for possible inclusion on the debut Stepson album.   Drummer Len Fagen had the foresight to hold on to the master tapes for some four decades, which were then transferred to digital format and re-mastered by bassist Bruce Hauser.  Sonically most are surprisingly strong, though the CD version of 'The Tears You Cried (Ain't Never Gonna Buy)' and '' were clearly never finished demos.


Anyone who enjoyed the 1974 Stepson album was likely to find these tracks equally impressive.  Musically it was standard '70s hard rock with a nod to the usual suspects - Aerosmith, Bad Company, Free, Led Zeppelin.  Falling under the old adage that imitation was the sincerest form of flattery, there may not have been a great deal of originality across these grooves, but there was no denying singer Jeff Hawks and the rest of the band (drummer Len Fagen, bassist Bruce Hauser, and lead guitarist Joey Newman) were energetic and enthusiastic disciples of the hard rock genre.  As on the debut album, the band's "secret sauce" came in the form of Newman whose snarling, fuzz guitar leads made virtually every one of these songs worth a spin.


Maybe because it's a better reflection of the band's roots without the "commercial" touches ABC management forced on to the group, I actually like this set better than the 1976 studio album.


"Lost Tapes 1972- 1974" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Danger Zone

2.) Streets of Alameda

3.) Can't Help Myself   rating: **** stars

One of my favorite performances, 'Can't Help Myself' was another fuzz powered rocker that managed to retain a commercial edge - Hawks sounded like he was singing though a fog band of stale cigarette smoke, but the refrain was as sticky as fly paper.  You had to wonder why this one was left in the recording can.

4.) Flesh & Blood   rating: **** stars

Sounding like something nabbed off a Bad Company album, the highlight on 'Flesh & Blood' came in the form of Joey Newman's dirty fuzz leads.  Awesome slice of blues-rock.  Former Smith front woman, the late Gayle McCormick, appropriated the song as the title track for her second solo album.

5.) Don't Say Goodbye (Say Goodnight)


(side 2)

1.) S-H-A-K-E

2.) Midnight Creep

3.) Mississippi Dirt Road

4.) Rock'sd To My Very Soul

5.) Bad Situation


5.) The Tears You Cried (Ain't Never Gonna Buy)   rating: **** stars

One of the tracks that sounded like an unfinished demo, 'The Tears You Cried (Ain't Never Gonna Buy)' was also one of the standout performances.  Maybe because the band's patented hard rock recipe hadn't been added to the mix, what you got was a stripped down version of the band.  Coupled with one of their prettiest melodies and some totally unexpected harmonies, the song was stunningly pretty.

6.) Legalize It


A. Kicking off with a crunching riff by guitarist Joey Newman, ‘Danger Zone’ is the heaviest track Stepson ever cut, replete with an ominous atmosphere reflecting the seedy side of their native Los Angeles; ‘Streets of Alameda’ (1974) is an ode to vocalist Jeff Hawks’ hometown,  featuring a liquor store holdup and a stolen Lincoln used as the getaway car. ‘F

Tc. The powerful opening track "Danger Zone" is screwed into your head, then you get hit with the excellent "Streets of Alameda" and ripping "Can't help myself". The songs on this LP are played with such awesome power that you cannot fail to be blown away. Possibly the best track on the album is the stunning MC 5-like "Midnight creep" which is a roller coaster ride into guitar madness. The recording is marred somewhat by inferior equipment and bad mixing, but it still is a splendidly thick slice of 70's hardrock served up in the Golden Eagle in the motorcity Detroit, Michigan.


First off, I'm going to try my hardest not to throw out a million other bands to try to give you an idea of the STEPSON sound. Yes, it is heavy...But the factor that for me puts these "lost" tracks over the top is the sheer groove, songwriting, and musicianship. So take stoned out grooves, wicked hot guitars, classic heavy blues-based riffs, strangely captivating lyrics, Jeff Hawk's seemingly effortlessly cool vocals, and you have the unique, yet very early 70's sound of STEPSON. Fans of bands like CACTUS, early GRAND FUNK, GRANICUS, MC5, STONEWALL, HIGHWAY ROBBERY, etc. will dig this band, however STEPSON has a distinctly West Coast (L.A.) sound. And by that I'm NOT referring to the 60's West Coat psych-rock of Big Brother & The Holding Company, The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Moby Grape, etc., (although there are a few faint hints of the classic TOUCH sound), but rather to the dangerous, sleazy, wild, urban landscapes of the city and the hedonistic impulses of the time. The 1969 self-titled TOUCH LP (which featured 3 of the 4 members of STEPSON: vocalist Jeff Hawks, guitarist Joey Newman, and bassist Bruce Hauser) was a flat-out masterpiece that has never received its proper due. Likewise, with a little luck STEPSON could have become one of the premier hard rock bands of the early-mid 70's. But unfortunately, all we were left with was one self-titled LP, which only hinted at what could've been, despite being a very good album. Which is what makes "The Lost Tapes: 1972-1974" all the more important. Honestly I prefer these raw tunes to STEPSON's excellent official LP. "Danger Zone" is just a monster of amphetamine-powered post-psych hard rock, verging on proto-metal (almost sounding like some obscure druggy NWOBHM single), while "Midnight Creep" is so freakin' awesome, with its malevolent, yet, oh so groovy and nasty, funky vibe. There's a tinge of a sound that would later be described as Southern Rock (albeit super heavy) and the song features a simply stellar guitar solo from Joey Newman. This song is a bona fide lost classic of 70's hard rock and a must hear! "Streets Of Alameda" is almost too good to believe! An awesome blend of menace and melody with dark lyrics with a kind of THIN LIZZY-"Johnny" or "Suicide" vibe (although this tune was recorded before either of those classic tunes). "Can't Help Myself" has razor sharp, fuzzed out guitar tones and relies on a smokin' groove to propel the song into stoner heaven. This is classic indie American hard rock/proto metal at its best with an almost PAT TRAVERS meets POOBAH vibe. "Flesh And Blood" is a fairly straight forward riff-rocker which really shows off Jeff Hawks' excellent vocals. Again, an almost Hendrixian-groove drives much of the song which builds into a scorching heavy ending. "Don't Say Goodbye (Say Goodnight)" is an excellent, mellow, almost MAHOGANY RUSH meets BUDGIE "ballad". Very well-written this tune demonstrates how dynamic this band truly was and hints at the infinite possibilities had the band only had better luck. "S.H.A.K.E." is all attitude, with a killer riff and heavy groove. It also features an awesome melodic chorus. Again Hawks' vocals don't just shine they're like a spotlight. A truly great voice. The song kicks into a wicked double time blow-out ending filled with tasty guitar licks, a bit of tambourine, and great backing vocals. "Mississippi Dirt Road" is a straight forward rocker kind of like MAGI or DRYEWATER. Great guitar throughout and a rock solid rhythm. "Rock'd To My Very Soul" is a full-steam-ahead rocker with a catchy chorus and tons of guitar. "Bad Situation" (while of lesser recording quality than the records other tracks) is simply awesome, with Jeff Hawks confident vocals riding atop of a very earthy groove featuring some wild guitar soloing and killer backing vocals. Even despite its audio limitations its nothing short of kickass. So in the end what we have with STEPSON-"The Lost Tapes: 1972-1974" is a collection of excellent songs basically in demo form. That in itself is shocking as virtually EVERY song on this album would've sounded great on a classic AEROSMITH LP. STEPSON really were ahead of their time in a sense. While yes, it is 70's hard rock, the songs are simply so rad that to think these tunes were born at the birth of the 70's and mostly recorded in '72 just seems strange. It's like the band was TOO good....A bit too electrified, maybe a bit too wild sounding, definitely high as all hell! In conclusion, had these songs been re-recorded with a big budget and big name producer they MIGHT have sounded better. Certainly after 40 years the tapes these tunes were taken from betray their age. Yet the quality of them is still surprisingly excellent. Which brings me to the thought that maybe in a way it's best that we have only these raw, no holding back, amps to 11, versions rather than a slickly produced LP. Certainly that would've been of benefit to STEPSON, but like GRANICUS for example, some bands were just too cool for their time. Hell, STEPSON is still too cool, even 40 years later.