Members: John Finley (vocals), Michael Fonfara (keyboards), Danny Weis (guitar), Doug Hastings (guitar), Alan Gerber (keyboards, vocals), Jerry "The Bear" Penrod (bass), Billy Mundi (drums)
In the mid-60s, the phenomenon of the supergroup came to pass. The basic definition was a group made up of musicians who had been successful with other groups. The first was probably Cream, where Clapton, Bruce, and Baker had already established themselves with John Mayall and Graham Bond. Later, of course, Clapton and Baker joined forces with Steve Winwood and Ric Grech to form the superest of supergroups, Blind Faith (along with Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young).
Rhinoceros was an attempt to manufacture a supergroup.
Elektra Records producer Paul Rothschild decided to create a group of semiestablished rock musicians and promote them heavily. After a series of auditions, the nucleus of the group was formed,
The problem was that people with successful groups didn’t usually want to leave them, so the original members were not exactly household names. Danny Weis and Jerry Penrod had been with Iron Butterfly, but had left before they hit it big. Billy Mundi was the original drummer for Frank Zappa’s Mothers. The rest were talented musicians who had never quite hit it big.
Rothschild got the group together and they recorded their self-titled album. The album is decent, though without any of the standout songs that turn unknowns into stars. A second album. Satin Chickens, was released, but did even worse and the group disbanded.
About the only recognition the group got was for the funky instrumental, “Apricot Brandy,” which was used as a theme song for the BBC.
It’s tough enough to keep a group together when you worked together for years to make it to the top, and when you’re basically thrown into a room and told you were bandmates, it’s not surprising they didn’t last long.
But it’s a bit unfair. If they hadn’t had the “supergroup” label*, people might have taken them more seriously. The pretentiousness of it made people skeptical, and they wanted something spectacular. The quality of the band was secondary to its hype, and they’ve been forgotten.
*Lillian Roxon’s Rock Encyclopedia talked about how they should have been called “Supergroup.”