John Finley (vocals)
Alan Gerber (piano, vocals)
Michael Fonfara (organ, piano)
Danny Weis (lead guitar, piano)
Doug Hastings (lead guitar)
Jerry 'The Bear' Penrod (bass)
Billy Mundi (drums)
Steve Weis (bass; replaced Penrod; 1969)
Peter Hodgson (bass; replaced Weis; 1969)
Larry Leishman (lead guitar; replaced Hastings; 1969)
Eddie 'Duke' Edwards (drums; replaced Mundi; 1969)
Richard Crooks (drums; replaced Edwards; 1970)
Malcolm Tomlinson (drums; replaced Crooks; 1970)
Rhinoceros was conceived in August 1967 by Elektra Records producers Frazier Mohawk (Barry Friedman) and Paul Rothchild as a means to create a 'Supergroup' similar to Mohawk's earlier co-creation, Buffalo Springfield, with Stephen Stills.
The duo had a short list of potential enlistees including guitarist Doug Hastings (ex-Buffalo Springfield/Daily Flash). In September 1967 the first formal meeting of 12 potential players took place at Mohawk's Laurel Canyon home. Hastings was present as was his former Daily Flash associate and drummer John Keliehor, bassist Kerry Magness (ex-Kingsmen), pianist/singer/songwriter Alan Gerber, and guitarist Danny Kortchmar. However, neither Rothchild nor Mohawk were content with this line-up and continued their search.
In November 1967 Mohawk and Rothchild held a second meeting with nearly 20 players in attendance at a Los Angeles motel and from this meeting decide to run with Gerber and Hastings plus guitarist Danny Weis (ex-Iron Butterfly) and singer John Finley (ex-Jon And Lee And The Checkmates).
As the fall progresses Weis recommends his former Iron Butterfly bandmate Jerry 'The Bear' Penrod as bassist, while Finley calls on his old keyboardist from Jon & Lee Michael Fonfara to round out the line-up.
By January 1968, the newly formed Supergroup (without Finley and Gerber) are asked to be backing musicians on the debut album by newly signed solo artist David Ackles. Still without a drummer, ex-Daily Flash member John Keliehor is brought in for the recordings.
Not long into 1968 drummer Billy Mundi (ex-Mothers Of Invention) is the final piece to the puzzle completes group who soon gather in Los Angeles to begin rehearsals at a Hollywood theatre.
In May 1968 the newly re-christened 'Rhinoceros' records its debut album at Elektra's newly opened La Cienaga studio with Paul Rothchild.
Rhinoceros made their live debut at the Whisky-A-Go Go in West Hollywood in June 1968. Soon the group is touring with the likes of Love and Taj Mahal while headlining their own shows from Los Angeles to New York and every stop in between. In late September 1968 Rhinoceros would make their New York City debut at the Cafˇ Au Go Go.
A highlight of their New York visit was an afternoon show in front of an estimated 12,000 people at a free concert in the Central Park Mall with Spooky Tooth, Traffic, Wind In The Willows and others. Other shows follow including a headlining show at The Scene with Muddy Waters opening and a Filmore East opening slot with The Moody Blues and John Mayall's Blues Breakers. They stay throughout November in New York.
By the end of November 1968 the band's eponymous debut is released in the US on Elektra while UK disc jockey John Peel plays the debut UK single "I Don't Want To Discuss It (You're My Girl)" on his Radio 1 show called 'Top Gear'. Back in the US, the group's domestic single is Finley's "I Will Serenade You" which gets a favourable review from Billboard magazine.
A second single, the Weis/Fonfara instrumental "Apricot Brandy" is issued in the UK in early 1969. The 'Rhinoceros' album will eventually hit the #115 spot on Billboard and the artwork is nominated for a Grammy award (but doesn't win).
Rhinoceros returns to New York to play The Scene, but have to cancel a second show after the sudden, unexpected departure of Penrod. He is replaced initially by Danny Weis' brother Steve Weis who was the band's equipment manager and after Rhinoceros ventures northward to Toronto to tour and drops back into Baltimore and then New York Finley's cousin, Peter Hodgson, from Jon & Lee & The Checkmates is asked to join as a permanent replacement.
In March 1969 "Apricot Brandy" becomes UK Radio 1's 'What's New' show theme song. Meanwhile, Rhinoceros return to Los Angeles briefly to record their second album with producer David Anderle.
By April "I Will Serenade You" is released in the UK and fails to chart, while "Apricot Brandy" reaches #46 in the US.
In May Billy Fields and Sid Bernstein become the band's management team. The group's profile continues to grow as they tour with Ten Years After, Blood Sweat & Tears, The Grateful Dead, Johnny Winter, Sweetwater, Tommy James & The Shondells, The Foundations, and others.
In July Doug Hastings leaves to return to L.A. where he joins ex-Gentle Giant singer Pam Polland's backing band. Rhinoceros replace him with another ex-Jon & Lee & The Checkmates member Larry Leishman.
In a blunderous career move, manager Billy Fields turns down an offer to play Woodstock and instead books the band at the Boston Tea Party while offering the Woodstock slot to Rhinoceros' support band Sha Na Na. The group is devastated by the decision and after the Boston shows Alan Gerber quits.
As a means to quell the discontent between the band and management, Rhinoceros gets to perform in September at the 'Freak Out' Festival held at Rock Hill Park, Orangeville, Ontario, Canada in front of large crowd of 30,000-50,000 alongside Lighthouse, Motherlode and many others .
Rhinoceros' second album, 'Satin Chickens', is released in September 1969 and eventually hits US #105 despite the failure of the single "Back Door".
By the Fall of 1969, Mundi left the band to pursue session work with the likes of Bob Dylan and Maria Muldaur. He is replaced by Eddie 'Duke' Edwards (ex-Young Ones/Duke Edwards' Cycle). The band continues on their tour of the eastern seaboard throughout December 1969 and into early 1970. (BR>
In March 1970, the new line-up records what will become its final album with Philadelphia producer Guy Draper at New York's A & R Recording Studios. Finley's contributions are minor with Draper and the Leishman/Edwards songwriting team taking the lion's share of the songs.
The band, always in demand in New York, return to that city for months of headlining performances plus a show at the Fillmore East with Procol Harum and Seals & Crofts. Edwards leaves soon after and is replaced by Richard Crooks (ex-Dr. John).
In July 1970, Rhinoceros' final album, 'Better Times Are Coming' is released but fails to move past #178 on the US charts. The final single, "Better Times Are Coming", peaks at #109 in the US during August while the final UK single, "Old Age", fails to chart.
In December 1970, Crooks leaves and is replaced by drummer Malcolm Tomlinson.
Rhinoceros continues with steady work in Toronto throughout the first few months of 1971, but the band finally succumbs and breaks up.
Hodgson joins Genya Ravan & Baby, while Fonfara and Weis appear on The Everly Brothers' album 'Stories We Could Tell'; Former member Alan Gerber signs a solo deal with Leon Russell's Shelter Records, travelled to Memphis, recorded an album, and toured with Russell before moving to Montreal, Canada. He would later release the single "Tied On" which was quite successful in Quebec.
By February 1972 there is a Rhinoceros reunion of sorts with members Finley, Fonfara, Weis, Leishman and Hodgson launching a new band, Blackstone Rangers (later just Blackstone) who release on unsuccessful for GRT Records called 'On The Line'. The band had a complete member change but broke up in 1973.
Fonfara and Weis would go on to become top session players in L.A.
1968 I Don't Want To Discuss It (You're My Girl) (Elektra - UK)
1968 I Will Serenade You (Elektra)
1969 Apricot Brandy (Elektra - UK)
1969 I Will Serenade Youy (Elektra - UK)
1969 Back Door (Elektra)
1970 Back Door (Elektra - UK)
1970 Better Times Are Coming (Elektra)
1970 Old Age (Elektra - UK)
1968 Rhinoceros (Elektra)
1969 Satin Chickens (Elektra)
1970 Better Times Are Coming (Elektra)
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