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a 46-year musical journey

WRITTEN BY B. Derek Shaw

Starting bottom left, clockwise: Bob Kimmel, Rich Clare, Jim Colestock, Jim Seville, Benjy King, Skip Mahler and Jim Fornay.

RICH CLARE IS ENTHUSIASTIC ABOUT MUSIC—no, make that dedicated to music. For the past 46 years he has been part of one band or another, entertaining Central Pennsylvanians and beyond with his own brand and style of music. Most people in these parts are familiar with the

After this first stint in 1962, Clare became part

show band Pentagon. Founded by Rich Claar in

of The Unknowns through 1965. (Member Terry

1972 (known professionally as Rich Clare),

Crousore later became another member of the

Pentagon is still performing a hefty amount of

Magnificent Men). Next came The Formations with

dates, especially during the summer season.

Diddy Potter and Billy Richter (Yes, you guessed

However, many people are not familiar with Clare’s

it: Richter later became the keyboard player for

involvement with other groups over the years.

the Magnificent Men, replacing Tom Hoover in

Growing up in Central Pennsylvania in the early 1960s yielded lots of venues for startup bands to play, whether it was fire halls, teen clubs, or

that group). Clare quipped, “We were the feeder team!” These groups and their personnel really confirm

trampoline centers. At the early age of 14, Clare

that Central Pennsylvania was a hotbed of talented

got involved with his first neighborhood band,

musicians and singers during the ’60s and ’70s.

Tommy Hoover and the Pyramids. (Hoover later

Most of the output was soul and R&B music,

became a member of the blue-eyed soul group the

whether they were an all-white, all-black, or a

Magnificent Men). The name was selected based on

diverse group. “It was a magic time period,” said

transportation—an important issue for fledgling

Clare. “This was a marvelous place to be in the

high-school bands. “He drove,” said Clare, referring

’60s. Everyone involved [in the music scene] knew

to Hoover, who was two years Clare’s senior.

each other.”

) ) ) pentagon


We’ll keep

playing until a year after people stop coming! It’s been a fun life so far, and I’m not done.

1981 photo, pictured left to right: Jim Colestock, Skip Mahler, Frank Gorgo, Bob Kimmel, Rich Clare, Jim Seville and Jim Fornay.

Clare’s entry into recording music

huge regional success, even seeing Top

all genres of music except country. “If

came when he was 20. Local record label

Ten action in Atlantic City. That prompted

they want country, we’ll throw in a couple

co-owner Bobby Fulton came to see The

an appearance on Ed Hurst’s

Eagles tunes,” laughed Clare.

Soul Brothers, a group Clare was with at

Philadelphia-based TV show, as well as

the time, asking if they would like to be

their material being used on WITF

who both play and sing, along with four

part of a backing group that was being

Channel 33 for two specials dealing with

crew members. Their show features dance

formed for the Harrisburg-based Soulville

social unrest issues at the time (“A Time

sets as well as show sets, including a

label. Clare jumped at the chance, which

to Act” and “Ring Around the Ghetto”).

Sonny and Cher tribute. Clare plays Cher,

provided the talented tenor and trombone

As times changed, so did the name.

nailing her voice, while sidekick Colestock

player a new opportunity. Fulton renamed

The All Stars became Life in 1971 to

doubles as Sonny. Both the dance and

them The Soulville All Stars.

more accurately reflect their repertoire.

show sets are laced with a heavy dose of

The first 45rpm single for that label,






Pentagon is comprised of six members

During this time period, Clare took a

comedy, the zany glue that ties it all

“Nobody to Blame”/“Nothing Matters (in

teaching position at a local high school, a

together. This humorous combination has

this World Matters to Me But You),” was

job he would return to in later years.

been highly successful for Clare and stage

also the first for the new eight-piece band

“They are not just a band, nor are

partner Colestock for the past 37 years.

that featured three lead vocalists: Milt

they only a show—they are a total

Palmer, Kirk Bruner, and, of course, Rich

musical experience.” That’s how Clare’s

performing a larger variety of medley-

Clare. This Fulton-penned release didn’t

next and current band has been described.

style music. This really shows the

garner too much local radio attention;

Formed in 1972 with drummer Jim

versatility of the band—having to learn

however, their second one did. “Won’t

Colestock and a host of talented

parts of lots of different music. Some of

You Please Be My Girl”/“I’m Gonna Get

musicians and singers, Pentagon is a

their medleys include the Beach Boys, the

to You,” both written by Clare, enjoyed

traveling variety show on stage. They play

Beatles, a Woodstock tribute, a Sly and

magazine | s u m m e r 2 0 0 8

Pentagon’s stock and trade is

the Family Stone/The Who/Hendrix medley, R&B/funk, and even an ’80s and ’90s medley. Clare summed up their music selection: “If you haven’t heard something all evening you like, you don’t like music!” The band members also pride themselves on trying to imitate the artist that originally recorded the song they are

Original band at 35th reunion at Hershey Park amphitheater, left to right; Jim Colestock, Joe Abbondanza, Rich Clare, Al Hess and Mike Sansone.

performing at the time. This is important, as most show attendees don’t want to hear someone else’s interpretation of a hit

suitcase. The band was touring 49 weeks a

casino circuit. Clare was able to take

song. “We try our best to get as close as

year, playing six nights a week. Some of

Pentagon on the road at age 24 because

we can,” Clare said.

the time was spent out West—Las Vegas,

he had already been on stage for 10 years.

The first 20 years of Pentagon were on the road; its members living out of a

Was it a grind? “It can be,” admitted

to be exact. Many East Coast engagements were on the Atlantic City

Clare. He would often tell band members,

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) ) ) pentagon


who were perhaps weary from the

Pentagon was not moth-balled but rather

rigorous schedule, “They’re paying us for

retooled. Instead of playing out most

something we love [to do].” But by the

nights a week, the band plays about twice

music,” Clare said. “People coming to see

early 1990s, it was enough. Clare said the

a month in the winter. The summer season

us is such a gift.” Asked how long he

nightclub days had their heyday, but soon

can include 20 or more dates. That

plans to keep Pentagon going, he injects

slot machines occupied space that at one

schedule also includes two dates at

his wry humor: “We’ll keep playing until

time was designed for lounges.

Hersheypark, a 32-year tradition for

a year after people stop coming!”

In 1991 Clare returned to the area. He finally got to do what he earned his degree in, taking a position at

Pentagon, on Memorial Day Sunday and Clare recalls making history when




far, and I’m not done.” ) ) )

Pentagon was part of the first television

guidance counselor. Clare’s contribution

special filmed at sea. This was on board

to up-and-coming musicians is the music

the Queen Elizabeth 2 in 1981—a special

and freelance writer. He serves as KEY-NOTES

club he oversees at Susquehanna

for the Showtime network. The two-week

editor and communications specialist for the

Township High School. This is a group of

cruise featured Steve Allen and wife

Keystone Record Collectors, and as host of the

“would-be rockers,” as he refers to them.

Jayne Meadows, Phyllis Diller, Norm

monthly Pennsylvania Music Expo

Crosby, Barbi Benton, and female


That’ss okay,, he’ss probably y nott sure e either. ((

Summing up his 46-year musical journey, he added, “It’s been a fun life so

August 10 this year.

Nott sure e whose e agenda a your r broker r iss following??

“I’m very happy I can still play

Susquehanna Township High School as a

Even with this new career path,


impersonator Jim Bailey.

magazine | s u m m e r 2 0 0 8

B. Derek Shaw is an avid music collector

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46 Year Musical Journey - Rich Clare Pentagon