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The Third World Raspberry


   I can truthfully say that the Third World Raspberry were a very memorable band because I remember one of their sets vividly even after 40 years. They are not a name that is bandied about when the Bosstown Sound is mentioned because they never got any recorded material out. I saw them at the Psychedelic Supermarket, which is mentioned on this page - click please. Their idea of doing an entire set with every song segued to make one long undivided suite was novel at this time. I always find myself thinking of the guitar tone which was fuzzed out. They were psych but controlled.
   Recently Don Renfro of the group found this site and has related some stories about those days.


   I was wondering where the band members were from and that question revels that this band has Berklee members which has been the case for many bands from Boston.
   Don Says:
   "None of us were from Boston. I lived in Boston because I had gone to Berklee music school and had played in bands around town before the Raspberry. John, the bass, was from Chicago. He went to Berklee too and had played in many bands before around Boston. Herbie, I think his last name was Edwards, was from P-town. SJ was from Springfield, MA."

   The group also had a band house:
    "We all lived in a building on Tremont Street in the South End. In those days the South End was in pretty bad shape. Just poor people. Puerto Ricans, Blacks, poor Whites, and us. We had the whole building, and we practiced there. We start off practicing in the basement, but since everyone was stoned all the time, it took a long time to get down there.
    SJ and I lived on the top floor. I had a big room, and we decided to practice there since half the band was already there. John and Herbie lived on the 3rd floor. The second floor we let people crash there. Then there was the first floor which just had a hallway. Then the basement. Also, after practice we might be more stoned, and it was hard getting back up to our rooms.
   At the very end, John and I had moved to Columbus Ave. We got kicked out of the Tremont street because we never paid the rent (we never made any money, and the money we got we spent as quickly as possible usually on drugs), and eventually the building was condemned, so we were forced to move. Actually, people used to bring us food and drugs."

   Now, where they played:
    I think some Greek dude named Papadopoulos or something like that owned the Psychedelic Supermarket. He wanted us to be the house band and play there every night, but SJ showed up late for our first official house band gig, and we got fired before we even started. (a typical day in the life of the Third World Raspberry).
   (At the Psychedelic Supermarket)... there was a night I got up off the drums and went out front of the band while they kept playing and lit a joint and passed it around and held it for the others while they kept playing. (Sometimes people threw joints up on the stage.) Then I went back to the drums and continued playing.

    We played a place called the "Unicorn" a few times. Another place called "The Catacombs" a lot. We played on the altar in the Old North Church. Wow! What an experience. We are the only band to have ever played there before or after. It was a special concert for people rehabilitating from drugs, and we were completely stoned. They loved us. But I don't know how the church people felt. I think they didn't like us very much. Everyone was very somber and we came in, set up, and started singing songs about drugs and stuff. Plus, we were wearing the typical colorful clothes of that era, so the church people didn't like that either. We also played various concerts and special shows and things like that around and outside Boston.

   Although they never released any vinyl they did record:
    "We recorded in Columbia studios in NYC. The vice president was there and was talking about hit songs and whatnot. We couldn't finish all the songs because SJ and Herbie (they did the singing) couldn't sing because they kept laughing. They had smoked something on a break and couldn't stop laughing during the singing recording. We came back to Boston to return and finish everything at another date.

    I do have two songs recorded at Columbia that were finished with the singing complete. One song is titled "Public Gardens", but I don't know what the other song title is. I guess I'm lucky to have those. "

   The end came fast:
   "One night we were supposed to play at the Catacombs and me and John were sitting around at home smoking waiting for someone to come and get us. Suddenly in walked Herbie with a beautiful blond and announced that he was going to California. He left and we never saw him again. That was what happened to The Third World Raspberry."

    Don says they were stoned most of the time but they were together enough to get the music together and were good enough to be asked to be a house band. Then Don relates that, " I went through something called "life", and now I'm getting a new band together. We do long jams, but they aren't there".

Two songs recorded at Columbia Studios in NYC
    It's exciting to be presenting these two songs that haven't been heard by most for 40 years.
   Both songs are suitably in the psych vein. Public Garden has an unusual half step modulation in the chorus and the untitled track has several dramatic tempo changes: both of these moves show the Berklee influence of the band members.

Public Garden

Love Has Flown

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