I’ve written several pieces recently about groups like the Knickerbockers and the Buckinghams, two American bands in the Sixties who attempted to emulate the success of British groups like the Beatles. But popular groups of all kinds have always had their imitators, and it’s sometimes fun to rediscover one like the Trade Winds, who seemed to bear more than a passing resemblance to the Beach Boys. In fact, the group’s biggest hit, “New York’s A Lonely Town,” might have owed a lot of its popularity to that connection.
The Trade Winds hailed from Rhode Island, which is a long way from the golden beaches of California, but maybe that distance helped inspire the story of a lonely surfer stuck in New York.
Providence natives Pete Anders (Andreoli) and Vinnie Poncia were veterans of an earlier group called the Videls, and were also songwriters who’d found a little success furnishing songs for other performers. By 1965 the twosome had put together a new group they called the Trade Winds, a name that they sort of shared with a Chicago-area band called the Tradewinds. (After the East Coast bunch hit it big, the Chicago guys stopped using the name — and later became famous as Styx.)
Anders and Poncia were pretty much the whole show, but they filled out the group at various times with Norman Marzano, Paul Naumann and/or Jim Calvert. After the success of their surfing song, the group did record a few more interesting pieces; among them “Mind Excursion” and “I Believe In Her,” but it eventually disappeared. Anders and Poncia continued to work together for a while as part of a group named Innocence, but eventually went their own way. In the years since, both have continued to be active in performing, composing and producing music in a variety of venues.