One of the very first bands of young white teenagers in the Rochester area to adopt the rockin' home-grown R&B sound was King Louie & The 3Ds. Ever the trend-spotters, the guys also sent a strong surfin' counter attack in 1962 after hearing the Beach Boys, when they recorded "Surfer Girl" and 3 other tracks at the Fine Recording Studio. Lou Rotunno tells it like it was, at the birth of the pre-Beatles white R&B teen scene, Rochester NY 1962.
Where were King Louis & the 3D's based?
Who was King Louis?
How did you decide on that name?
The last names of the 3 other group members began with a "D", which was were the 3D's came from. "King Louie" just evolved. We started thinking about Louie and the 3 D's and one of the members of the band suggested King Louie.
Was King Louis the leader of the band?
How did you first become interested in music?
My father instilled his love of music in me. We always had music playing in the house. It would range from classical to opera to R&B! My Dad played the accordian. And who taught you to play? Marty Owens, a guitar player you ended up as an organ player doing solo in the Rochester area. He started me out playing guitar, then I moved to bass guitar.
What kind of music were you listening to before you formed a band?
R&B, Top 10
Was King Louis & the 3Ds your first band?
No, the first was The Monteray's. I was 14 years old.
How did the band first get together?
John DiPonzio (drums) and I started the band and recruited Warren Doherty (lead guitar) and John DiPasquale (rhythm guitar).
What was the original line-up of the band, including the instruments played?
Lou Rotunno, bass guitar; Warren Doherty, lead guitar; John DiPasquale, rhythm guitar; John DiPonzio, drums.
Who played lead guitar for the 3Ds?
Warren Doherty played lead guitar. If Warren had continued in the music field, no doubt in my mind that he would have risen to become one of the finest guitar players in the Rochester area.
What was the average age of the bandmembers when you started?
Where and when was the band's first live performance?
YMCA in Rochester, NY at a Sock Hop
Can you remember the crowd reaction for that first performance?
Dance, dance, dance, dance!
Did you feel the band was doing something new in music at that stage?
Yes, we were white guys singing R&B. Not a lot of that happening at that time.
The band had a great raw rockin' sound! Did you all love wild rock n' roll?
We tried like hell to acheive the fullest sound we could. That was our interpretation of wild rock n' roll.
Do you consider that the band was a rock n' roll? Or a garage band? Or a rockabilly? Other?
Definitely rock n' roll.
Were you influenced by any of the other groups you saw playing in the area?
Yes. Some black R&B groups and some road groups (much older than us)
What songs made up a typical setlist for the band?
Top 10, plus anything by any R&B groups that was good to dance to.
What kind of venues did the band typically play?
Clubs, school dances many, many, many benefits.
Did you ever travel out of town or go on a road tour?
Only within a days drive, due to our ages.
Did the band have a manager?
Do you have memories of any particulary exciting live shows?
Yes. The Joe Dean Saturday Dance Party on local television and the Battle of the Bands at the Rochester War Memorial.
Did you have a special stage act or appearance?
Typical for the time uniform. Everyone in the same blazer, tie and dark slacks. Conservative by today's standards.
How popular was King Louis & the 3Ds locally?
Not quite sure. Very popular at our high school. We were never out of work, so I guess we were popular.
Did you get mobbed by female fans?
Only once that I can recall. Happened at the Battle of the Bands at the Roch War Memorial.
Did the band support any well-known acts?
Was the band still operating when the Beatles first hit the scene?
Not the 3D's. Had another group, with a new drummer, Bob Cichetti. John DiPasquale playing bass, Warren playing lead guitar and me, fronting the group. This group was named, The Tributes.
Did the band write any of its own material? If so, who were the songwriters?
We did a few. The songwriters were myself and Warren.
How did you get the opportunity to record at Fine Recording Studios?
Vince Jan had the largest studio in the Rochester area. He was our only choice.
Do you remember Vince Jan?
Yes, of course. Vince was a seasoned muscian and helped us tremendously during our recording session.
What do you remember about recording there? Was it a pleasant experience?
It was one of the most exciting experiences I had. I have to tell you a funny (now) story, certainly not funny then! At the time the 3-D's recorded at Fine Recording Studios, we had two PA speakers, and one lonely microphone. We all came from low to middle income families, and could not afford to buy any more audio equipment. After spending two 8 hrs. sessions with Vince, we finished our record that was going to sell enough copies to allow us to purchase more microphones. The following weekend, when The 3-D's reported for work at a club that we were playing at, (illegally, because we were all under age), one of Vince Jan's microphones appeared on stage with my group! I was very grateful for the microphone, however I was very concerned that we would be found out. The 3-D's assured me not to worry, that no one saw them take the microphone, and how badly we needed another microphone. Monday morning Vince was calling my house. He simply said, "Lou, bring the microphone back". I , being the hardened criminal that I was, replied, I have no idea what your talking about. Vince simply said, "If the Microphone isn't back in my studio by 5:00P.M. I'm calling the Police!". Obviously all anyone could see, was a streak of Brylcreme from my house to the studio to return the microphone! Vince never much liked the 3-D's after that. And I had nightmares of the Police taking the whole band to jail for the remainder of our careers.
Did Vince show interest in the group at first?
Do you remember how many songs you recorded?
3 or 4
"Surfer Girl" must be one of the very first surf recordings! It's a killer! What made you record a surfin' song? Did you know of the Beach Boys at that stage?
I knew of the Beach Boys. I thought that we might get on that band wagon, but as you can tell from hearing it, there was still a strong R&B flavor even though it was a surf tune.
Was the band happy with the sound achieved at the studio?
Did you intend to release a record?
What happened to the tapes of the session after you recorded at Fine Studios?
Vince tried to get Surfer Girl published.
Did you make any television appearances?
One, the Joe Dean Dance Party. (Copied after Dick Clark's Bandstand)
The photo shows the band wearing very cool suits and hairstyles! Who was responsible for the band's image?
The drummer, John DiPonzio, was the fashion guru.
Did this image work well for you with promotors and (especially) girls?
When did the band break up, and why?
1964, new group formed, minus the drummer, called The Tributes. I really don't recall why we broke up.
Did any ex-members go on to perform with other bands, or make any recordings?
I worked with many local groups in the Roch area and in 1967 took a group to Los Angeles, CA. Came back in 1968, played around town with different groups. At that time the Showstoppers hit Rochester and my friend Jay Capozzi set Rochester's music scene on fire. I worked with a couple of local groups until 1969. Then I joined a group called the Rochester Police Department! Warren got on the ground floor with computers and furthered his education and became a very successful business man. (Good Move Warren!) Warren now lives near Orlando, FL with his wife, Nancy who faithfully followed the 3D's where ever they played. John DiPasquale lives somewhere in FL, exact location unknown. John DiPonzio, drummer, went on to work with the Fabulous Five and then eventually on the road with The Portable People, and sadly, passed away in 1991.
Do you have any recollection of the following Rochester bands?
Heard - Yes
Groop Ltd. - Yes
Invictas - Yes
Preechers - No
Jesters - Yes
Escorts - No
Nomads - Yes
Do you, or any of the other bandmembers still perform live?
No, but now that I'm retired from the RPD, I'm thinking about it.
Are you proud of the music you made with King Louis & the 3Ds?
Would you consider allowing the music to be released on CD?
Yes, of course.
THANK YOU KING LOUIS & THE 3D's, for the killer sounds you laid down, in the early days of garage/rock n' roll... LONG LIVE KING LOUIS & THE 3Ds!