Vocals, Guitar

Vocals, Keyboards

Drums

Vocals, Bass

Larry was born in Paterson, NJ and plays keyboards (piano, organ and electric piano). He sings background vocals, lead vocal on “Wooly Eyes” and arranged most of the string and horn parts on the album.

Born in Brooklyn, NY. Elliot wrote “Don’t It Make You Feel Good,” “Golden Rainbow,” “Brandy” and “From Stanton Station” on their first album. Functioning as chief musical idea man, lead guitarist and occasional bassist, he shares lead vocals with Pieter Sweval.

Piet wrote “One by One,” “Dealin’ With the Devil,” “Catherine Street” and “Jenny-Lynne”. Born in Montclair, NJ, he plays bass and acoustic guitar with an occasional harp solo thrown in.

Jeff went to Rider College while his bandmates were at Rutgers and was born in Orange, NJ. He plays drums and assorted percussion.

From the Looking Glass Songbook, as recorded on Epic Records KE 31320

All photos by KLN Photos, INC.

“New York, once a prolific breeding ground for rock groups, hadn’t seen a local group make it big since nearby New Jersey gave us The Rascals in 1966.


Now, Looking Glass has catapulted from local fame in  New Brunswick, NJ to national popularity, thanks to a phenomenally successful single, “Brandy”, a critically acclaimed first album and a string of exciting live appearances, some with Jeff Beck and some headlining themselves.


Looking Glass had been together for the better part of five years. Guitarist Elliot Lurie, bassist Pieter Sweval and keyboard man Larry Gonsky met while attending Rutgers University and formed the original Looking Glass, which they continued after graduation.


Due to the usual hassles (no gigs, no record contract), the band broke up after a year, but they played together off and on. Lurie and Gonsky formed a band called Fake Fun. Sweval and Looking Glass’ drummer Jeff Grob formed a group called Tracks. Neither was destined to make it.


Then, in 1969, like 500,000 of their contemporaries, the four went to the Woodstock Music and Art Fair. Overcome by the intensity generated there, Elliot, Larry, Piet and Jeff decided to re-form Looking Glass.


Another year and a half later, they had still failed to make their mark outside New Brunswick. Through a mutual acquaintance, they met their manager and co-producer Mike Gershman.


The first order of business was to get them a record contract. They signed with Epic Records but learned that being signed to a major record label was only half the battle. Finding the right record producer proved to be even more difficult. After several well-known producers had recorded them with no success, the band and their manager got a chance to produce themselves and took advantage of it.


The first piece of material the five amateurs worked on was “Brandy.”


With help from Bob Liften, owner of the New York’s Regent Sound Studios, the album was completed in two months. When it was issued, Harv Moore of WPGC in Washington, DC started playing “Brandy” and, three weeks later, the record was number one in Washington and on its way to the top of the charts nationally.


While “Brandy” got immediate attention, the other seven cuts on the album got favorable reviews as well. Lenny Kaye says of the album, “I’d talk about highlights here, but the whole album really stands as one flash moment after another.” Writing in Rock, Bud Scoppa mentions similarities to the Rolling Stones, Byrds and Rascals and concludes by saying “Looking Glass is really close to being good.”


From the Looking Glass Songbook, uncredited

    Brandy was “born” in 1972 and this year, is turning 40! In celebration of the event, we have put together some of the history and vintage photos of the band from back in the day, as well was info on the new line up, which will be touring the country this summer reminding everyone of the summer they fell in love with Brandy.

© 2012 FigLeef.com

Updated 4/17/12

  1. 1. Jenny-Lynne (P. Sweval)

  2. 2. Brandy (E. Lurie) (Hit #1 - 1972)

  3. 3. Catherine Street (P. Sweval)

  4. 4. Don’t It Make You Feel Good (E. Lurie)

  5. 5. Golden Rainbow (E. Lurie)

  6. 6. Dealin’ With the Devil (P. Sweval)

  7. 7. From Stanton Station (E. Lurie)

  8. 8. One By One (P. Sweval)

  1. 1. Jimmy Loves Mary-Anne (E. Lurie) (Hit #33 - 1973)

  2. 2. City Lady (E. Lurie)

  3. 3. For Skipper (P. Sweval)

  4. 4. Sweet Somethin’ (E. Lurie)

  5. 5. Who’s Gonna Sing My Rock N’ Roll Song (Gonsky/Nalence)

  6. 6. Are You Dreamin’ (Money In My Pockets) (Lurie/Gonsky)

  7. 7. Rainbow Man (P. Sweval)

  8. 8. Wait (E. Lurie)

  9. 9. Sweet Jeremiah (P. Sweval)

  10. 10. Wooly Eyes (L. Gonsky/N. Nalence)

© 1972 Epic/Legacy

© 1973 Epic/Legacy

    Looking Glass toured the country on the heels of Brandy’s success, appearing at Carnegie Hall (opening for guitar hero Jeff Beck) and the Steel Pier. The band toured with Steely Dan and were received far better than when they opened for Alice Cooper. The public couldn’t decide if Looking Glass was a pop band or a rock band. They had another hit in 1973 with “Jimmy Loves Mary-Anne” which reached #33. To help fill out the guitar parts during the live shows, the band hired guitarist Brendan Harkin. Brendan remembers that his first ‘gig’ with Looking Glass was an appearance on the Merv Griffin Show. The next was an obscure music venue somewhere in Middle America called The Electric Cow.


    Elliot decided to leave the band to concentrate on his solo career, but it was difficult to match the success of “Brandy.” He eventually found work in the movie business, supervising film soundtracks.


    The boys in Looking Glass held an audition for a new lead vocalist, and found him in Michael Lee Smith. Brendan recalls telling the rest of the band “He’s the one!” - he had the swagger, the voice, and apparently auditioned in a memorable blue jumpsuit. The band would typically fly out of New York on Wednesdays, play 3 or 4 venues in one area, and return home the following Sunday. This version of the band lasted for about a year, playing “Brandy” hundreds of times to fans all over the country.


    Eventually they tired of the travel and the tune. Hard rock was emerging as a popular genre and Michael Lee, Larry, Jeff, Pieter and Brendan recorded an album at Sound Stage Studios in Toronto in December of 1974, changing their name to Fallen Angels. Failing to find distribution, they exchanged Larry Gonsky’s keyboard for Richie Ranno’s Strat guitar and tried again as Starz. Produced by Jack Douglas and managed by Bill Aucoin (Kiss), Starz made four albums for Capital Records. At Starzfest in 2005, they once again sang “Brandy” to an amused crowd.

STARZ

Pieter Sweval’s Gold Record for “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl)”

Courtesy of the Sweval Family


Check out Piet’s site at PieterSweval.com

Special thanks to Kris Sweval Peters & Brendan Harkin for their help.

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