In the early Seventies, Eric Carmen and Jim Bonfanti recognized that a huge void existed for the kind of music that would rekindle the glory days of the Beatles, the Who, and the Beach Boys. Along with Wally Bryson and Dave Smalley their new band – Raspberries - produced a head-on collision with the progressive rock scene and coined the “Power Pop” sound, which featured explosive rock guitars combined with soaring two and four-part pop harmonies.
Raspberries played their first show on October 16, 1970. Weekly gigs at the Agora in Cleveland created a groundswell of support for this new hot local band whose reputation as a live act was already becoming legendary, and before long they were attracting more than 1,000 people a night. Signed to Capitol Records by noted producer Jimmy Ienner in the winter of 1971 they completed their first album, Raspberries. To create excitement about this new band, Capitol employed a raspberry-scented scratch-and-sniff sticker affixed to the cover of their debut, the aroma of which exists to this day.
Released in early 1972, the album showcased the smash top 5 single, “Go All The Way”, which became a million-seller and Raspberries’ first gold record. Raspberries garnered rave notices from almost every music publication of the day with Rolling Stone providing their most impassioned review: “Raspberries opens with the finest burst of lightweight English rock I’ve heard all year. The rest of the album is just as good.” Following the album’s release, Raspberries toured with the Grass Roots and the Hollies and appeared in front of over
50,000 fans at a major outdoor rock festival held at the Los Angeles Coliseum with such acts as Stevie Wonder, Sly & the Family Stone, the Bee Gees, the Eagles and Chuck Berry.
Raspberries’ second LP, Fresh, contained the hits, “I Wanna Be With You” and “Let’s Pretend” and saw the band embarking on a European tour. The group’s third album, 1973’s Side 3, demonstrated a clear evolution in the band’s sound and Eric, Wally and Dave’s songwriting skills and featured the standout rock tracks “Tonight” and “Ecstasy.” During this time, Raspberries’ media profile was further heightened by appearances on television shows, Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert and The Midnight Special. A career highlight was the band’s sold-out concert at New York’s Carnegie Hall on September 26, 1973, which has achieved near mythical status among their fan base. Raspberries’ final LP, ironically titled Starting Over, included what many critics and fans alike still consider to be one of the best singles ever recorded, the Top 20 “Overnight Sensation (Hit Record).”
On November 26, 2004, 31 years since their last performance, Raspberries classic lineup of Eric Carmen, Jim Bonfanti, Wally Bryson and Dave Smalley reunited at Cleveland’s House Of Blues for a show that sold out in four minutes. A handful of additional shows in 2005 produced SRO crowds and rave reviews from both critics and peers alike. Artists such as Paul Stanley, Rick Springfield, Jon Bon Jovi, Steve Van Zandt, Max Weinberg, Desmond Child, as well as members of The Romantics, Blondie, the Go Go's and other peers attended their shows, and Bruce Springsteen affectionately spoke of the band at three of his concerts in the summer of 2005.