The Misfit Toys  History


  Every band has a history. Usually what you read or hear is mostly fiction in an effort to bolster the desired image to the public. Musicians who struggled for years or even decades and suddenly have a hit try to make their background interesting or even controversial. When Elvis Costello's "Watching the Detectives" was climbing the charts a story widely circulated that he went from a desk job to musician because ' so many people were making money at it and it is easy'. Pretty much mocking the bands that rose from playing bars for only a beer tab. Devo too had a story circulating that they were computer programmers who saw how easy it was to manipulate the public into buying anything and so quit their day jobs to pursue music. Some bands want to appear hip while others want to be known as 'bad boys'. Traditional rock bands formed and performed in order to get chicks and have fun. If they made millions then all the better. Some bands took delight in stretching the truth to the extreme to see how far it would actually go. Even live ,many bands delighted in piling on the BS, taking a different course each time. The Misfit Toys public image and story was left for the hands of Ed Fusco, their manager and bassist and band mates rarely crossed the line into his domain of publicity. This was not that he (I) had concocted a story they were to not infringe upon but more often that he alone knew future plans and deals in the making. As a rule the band lived on the premise that if you always tell the truth then you needn't remember what you said to whom because it will always be true.The Misfit Toy's history is simple and no dramatic story. The members loved to perform music. Elizabeth had an older brother who played guitar in a high school cover band. She was around them while they practiced and heard their stories of performing out. Her favorite bands became those with a powerful male lead vocal and by singing with them year after year her voice developed equally strong. Ed was in love with the bass guitar since junior high school and enjoyed playing. Dennis moved from imitating Kiss on a tennis racket to mastering his guitar at an early age. Mike likes a wide variety of music but all of it has terrific drumming and his hands and feet reproduce what his brain imagines behind each song. There were a few other members to the band who came and went but these four people were and are the heart and soul of the band that came to be known across the U.S.A. and in spots around the world. Where people desire an alternative to mindless pop music or trendy styles that won't last the test of time, bands like the Misfit Toys will continue to be created and to live on.

 I believe every band has a similar birth story; at least two people with a similar taste in music somehow find each other and at some point decide to start a band. It makes no difference if any can actually play any instruments, sing in tune or keep a beat. After hearing someone or a band it is as though they are bitten. They just feel a strong desire to make music. I've never in my lifetime encountered anyone who formed a band or learned an instrument simply to make money. In the Twentieth Century it is without any doubt that teen and pre-teen boys upon hearing the Beatles or watching "A Hard Days Night'' dropped the ambition of playing baseball like Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Ruth DiMaggio or hundreds of other sports stars and began coveting the ownership of a guitar - any guitar so they could begin to learn how to play it. There was something ignited inside of those young men and even some girls that made them desire to experience the feeling of being on stage in front of hundreds or even thousands of screaming fans. Certainly a large majority of those young men realized what playing in a rock and roll band was a 'chick magnet'. Once they had a toe hold in the business Musicians could do pretty much anything they wanted. It was the ultimate freedom from parents and society in general. A person who had once been outcast from social groups could thumb their noses at them and others. Society had been stagnant for decades with the same morals and morays as their grandparents. Wars and the depressions helped to cage in contrary thought and expression. The 1950's and early 60's were a unique time in all of history. The world war was still fresh in everyone's memory as was the over ten years of depression. As the world rebuilt and made efforts to never repeat 1939-45 the word in everyone's nightmares was " A-Bomb" and then "H Bomb". Mankind had arrived at a point in history where the destruction of it's people and the collective arts and sciences of all the ages could be destroyed within minutes of deploying the dreaded bomb. School age people were being exercised in what to do in case of a nuclear attack. As a result 'fatalism' crept into the minds of 'the civilized world'. So when the Beatles broke into the world music scene a philosophy of 'have fun today because we may all be ashes tomorrow'.  None of this affected the future members of The Misfit Toys as they were either too young or hadn't been born yet. Still it set a stage and opened a door to new aspects of art and music.

   The Misfit Toys like many bands began in a basement. The idea to form a band originated in an attic but with good reason the basement became their home for seven years. Ed married Elizebeth in mid-1979 and they fell into the mold of traditional married couples. They bought a house, married, firnished the house and then prepared to live while paying down the debt. They became part of a machine all across the world. It seemed as this would be their daily routine for many years to come. When a son was born two years later Ed worked even harder and Elizabeth became the rnvied 'stay at home mom'.The endless hours along with her infant seemed to drum into her head that she would never sing. It was firmly in her head that she can sing and should sing and it broke her heart to think that her opportunity to sing in a band has passed her by. The marriage seemed to her to be a cage and resentment boiled inside of her. Ed was working long days and 6 of them each week but happy to be reducing their debt. She was very unhappy. So Ed did what so many hisbands do when their wife is unhappy in a marriage. He proposed starting a band.

  From the beginning it was to be a backing band for her. An ad was placed seeking a guitarist and keyboard player. The position of drummer was quickly filled by and excellent drummer with a jazz kit. A gentleman named Andy. He was a very nice person who loved playing the drums and dedicated a large portion of each day practicing. He lived a reasonably close distance from the band and almost his only flaw was a wife that called several time each practice make sure he made it and to ask how much longer before he was coming home. Compared with issues with drunks and drug fiends or a person who was gradually selling off all of his gear because of monetary needs. He had only been with us for several months when he was diagnosed with a serious issue with his intestine requiring immediate surgery for a partial removal. He was also told no drumming for six months so Ed brought in a band mate from a band they were both a part of in 1977. Ed remodeled their basement for a 4 or 5 piece band and wired in outlets for the equipment. Since the basement was 80% underground it seemed reasonable that no additional insulation would be needed to absorb sounds before they could cross the property line. The early incarnation of the band spent as much time at the bar in the side of the room than at their places. Once our first guitarist and keyboard player left we no longer offered beverages of any type to the band. Our next guitarist could play but he had an obvious trouble with his guitar. In early 80's music there was no requirement for instrumentational virtuosity and we were patient but he too had a wife inclined to phone several time each practice. We attempted to use a friend of mine who played well but lived some fifty miles away. He was said to have gone a day without getting stoned but I wasn't there to verify it. He also played a Les Paul with a cracked neck. The result was a Gibson that actually had a g string that was never in tune. When Dennis answered our ad we knew more of what to look for in a guitarist. When he came by to audition we were immediately struck with how young he was. He dressed appropriately for 1985 and had a portion of his hair lightened before styling. To my dismay I had never heard of the bands on the stickers covering his case. He opened that case and brought out a beautiful guitar I later learned was a Gibson ES 335.  My drummer friend had come by to help me interview and judge Dennis. The drummer with the surgical issue had left his kit in my basement so we felt free to use it. We talked for a time and then came the playing part. I was never one to just jam cold. If whomever I was playing with decided to jam on a song we were playing that is different. For the purpose of auditions I used to have the person choose a song the knew well and we would play a verse and chorus and then jam a bit. We were unfortunate in that everything the drummer and I knew Dennis did not and vice versa. This situation was nothing for the drummer since he could play drums to any song. Ed was very limited to be polite. After a long 20 minutes or so they sound a song in common: The Rolling Stones song "Honky Tonk Woman ". Dennis turned a few knobs on an effects pedal, adjusted something on his amp and said he was ready. The drummer counted us in and I'd have sworn someone had just turned on the record. We began to play along with him, mouths agape in disbelief he played it so well.


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