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.
) ) ) pentagon
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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Published on May 18, 2009
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, ente...