Glenn Messmer (drums), Mark Zapel (bass) and John Gilleran (guitar & vocals) founded The Jamestown Massacre in 1967. Hailing from Downers Grove, IL, they agreed to play at Downers Grove Youth Center monthly in exchange for rehearsal space. In 1968, V.J Comforte (lead vocals) and Dennis Carlson (lead guitar and vocals) joined the band, along with Naperville resident Dave Bickler (lead vocals, flute, harmonica & trumpet). In early 1969, Jeff Quinn (organ, trumpet & vocals) from Glen Ellyn was recruited to round out the lineup.
From 1968 to 1974, Jamestown Massacre played at nearly every teen club, youth center, high school and college in and around Chicago. The band featured excellent vocal harmonies and prided itself on the ability to play a wide variety of styles of music, copying original artists very closely. Through challenging songs made popular by Three Dog Night, Chicago, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Deep Purple, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Led Zeppelin and the Beatles, “The Massacre” generated a loyal following while honing their musical skills.
During this period, Jamestown Massacre was also developing its own material and unique sound. In their first recording session at Chicago’s Paragon Studios in August 1970, they recorded two original songs. Concurrently, they then began work with a local advertising jingle producer on commercials for Schlitz Malt Liquor and Nestlé’s Crunch. From late 1970 to 1971, the Band did numerous recording sessions at Chicago’s famous Chess Studios, and in the summer of 1971, released its first single on the Destination label called “Comin’ Home to You.”
In the spring of 1972, the group traveled to Detroit and recorded six tunes, one of which was “Summer Sun.” The song was quickly released locally on the LUV label and was soon after picked up by Warner Brothers records and sold around the world. “Summer Sun” was a major hit not only in Chicago, but also in other markets across the United States including Hawaii, where it held a number one chart position for six weeks. In as far away as Japan, “Summer Sun” reached #18 on the major Tokyo radio play list.
In 1973, three band members decided to pursue other interests and were replaced. Shortly thereafter, the band began working with Jay Senteron, a record producer who produced Helen Reddy’s hit single “I Am Woman.” The Massacre released a second single on Warner Brothers Records called “Saturday Night” in 1974. In 1975 the Band renamed itself Mariah and released an album and two singles on the United Artists Record label.
Thirty years later, Jamestown Massacre has reformed, with original members Glenn Messmer (drums), V.J. Comforte (vocals) and Jeff Quinn (keyboards/guitar/vocals), and talented additions Larry Baran (lead guitar/vocals) and Tom Fezzey (bass guitar/vocals). The Massacre still features strong vocal and instrumental abilities and performs a broad mix of classic rock of the late 60’s and 70’s, selected music of the 80's, 90's (and into the the 2000's) along with some originals. Whether you’re an old friend, a fan, or a seeker of good music, you will enjoy The Jamestown Massacre.