Friends for Life … in the Beginning … Tea Tournament!

Rockin’ and Rollin’ for nearly Sixty Years … friends for LIFE! I met Pete Hewlett back in the 60’s when we competed against each other in the West View Amusement Park Battle of the Bands … “The Tea Tournament”. Since then, Pete has recorded with many of his Bands … Peter’s Pipers … Sweet Lightning … Novo Combo … the Euclid Beach Band … The Hit Men … and performed Nationally with Billy Joel, Paul McCartney, Joni Mitchell … just to name a few. I have recorded with many of my bands … the Cordells … Johnny Angel and the Halos … and performed with National Artists through the years like Ben E. King, Little Anthony and the Imperials, Mary Wilson, Eddie Holman … to name a few. Pete and I still get together now and then to perform but our friendship over the years has us usually reminiscing about the good old days… especially the days of the Tea Tournament at West View Park! Let me set the stage… West View Amusement Park had two superb music venues … Danceland, which had Rock n’ Roll Concerts over the years that featured groups like Tommy James and the Shondells, the Shangri-las, Dion and the Belmont’s and even the Rolling Stones … and in the summertime the outside music pavilion under the bridge to Kiddie-land was the Talkie-Temple … home of the early “Battle of the Bands … Tea Tournament”. A place where local bands could show their talents … bands like Peter’s Pipers, the Cordells, the Red Coats, the El Pooks and the Vee Jays and a list of great Pittsburgh and regional bands as long as your arm. The winner won a chance to compete state wide for a recording contract! Each group had to do three songs … a cover tune … an original by the band … and a song they wrote about Tea, the Tea Tournament that was sponsored by a tea company. As you can imagine …it was the sixties … bands were all trying to find that lucky break to make it big time … to be the new Beatles or Temptations! Well, the grand winner was my old friend … Pete Hewlett of Peter’s Pipers’ … and they did go on to win a record contract with their original … “Airplane”! We, the Cordells, lucked out a year later and recorded on the Steel Town Sound Label with our song “You Do A Thing To My Mind”. I wouldn’t change those days for the world … and I treasure the friendship with Pete. Who would have ever thought that both Pete and I would still be Rockin’ and Rollin’ to this very day! Rock On!!!

Leave a Comment