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The Popsicles

Band:The Popsicles
Origin:Huntington Beach, California
Genres:Power Pop
Years Active:1978-1980
Labels:Ocean Sound Productions
Members:Mark Krischak, Anthony Mario Denuccio, Tristen Beamon, Eric Watson, Scott Sneller
Associated Acts:The Lifesavors, High Plains Drifters, Louvre, The Coolers

History

“Teen glam rock-n-roll band from Orange County California turned their back on fame, became a christian band, then broke up.”

The Popsicles were a Power Pop/teen “glam” pop rock Band based in Huntington Beach, California, formed in 1978. Members included Mark Wayne Krischak (lead guitar and lead vocals), Anthony Mario Denuccio (guitar and vocals), Tristen Beamon (bass and vocals), Eric Watson (drums and vocals), and Scott “The Sword” Sneller (keyboards and backing vocals). After recording an independent 45 record on the OSP label in 1978, The Popsicles frequently played the Los Angeles Strip Club Scene. Rodney Bingenheimer of LA's KROQ FM brought the Popsicles Band to the attention of Kim Fowley Record Producer in 1979. Kim Fowley signed The Popsicles to a 5 year record deal. The Popsicles recorded under contract 3 songs, “Let's Kiss” (unreleased), “Secret Rendezvous” and “Endless Teen Party” for Kim Fowley as listed on the Hollywood Confidential compilation LP.

New Guys in Town

They were also featured in a full article in Super Teen magazine:

“When Super Teen editor Kathy flew out to L.A. recently, five super cute guys met her at fhe airport. Tony, Mark, Scott Eric and Tristan are the Popsicles and we predict they are going to be big, BIG teen stars real soon!

Rock promoter/producer Kim Fowley (he's worked with such people as Kiss, The Runaways and Helen Reddy) discovered the foxy fivesome one night when they were playing in a small Los Angeles rock club. The girls in the audience were going absolutely berserk over them, so Kim quickly decided to see if they needed a manager with his expertise.

Naturally, The Popsicles were thrilled by Kim's interest in them and their lives soon began to change once they signed on with the famous Mr. Fowley.

When Kathy stepped of the plane and saw the five foxy Popsicles and Kim waiting for her, she couldn't believe it. (It was after midnight!) The Popsicles brought along a guitar and were dressed in their colorful stage clothes. Soon they burst into song singing, “Born To Be A Superteen!” (“Born To Be A Superstar” is one of their songs, but they changed the lyrics slightly for Kathy's benefit!)

Tony, Mark, Scott, Eric and Tristan range in age from 18 to 20 and are all California boys from the Huntington Beach area. Surfing, swimming, rollerskating, girls and pigging out on Mexican food are some of their fave activities besides singing.

They get together and rehearse at a small studio near their homes every day and, by the time you read this, they'll be in the recording studio working on their first album. We heard some of their songs and they're really good. Sort of a combination of rock and new wave, they have the kind of sound that should appeal to a wide audience. Mark is the lead singer, Eric plays drums, Tony plays bass, Scott is on keyboards and Tristan plays guitar. All lend their voices to background vocals.

We were fortunate enough to be invited to a backyard barbecue at Tristan's house and met all of the Popsicles' parents, brothers, sisters, and even a grandmother and one of their cats! Their parents are 100 percent behind them, which is wonderful considering the opinion some parents have of rock 'n' roll. We took lots of pictures of the five foxy Popsicles and we'll be helping you get to know them one by one in the next issue of Super Teen. Remember, you saw them here first!”

The Popsicles: A True Story

As told by Eric Watson (the Drummer). Drawings/paintings by Eric Watson (htttp://www.ericwatsonartist.com).

“The Popsicles were a teen “Glam” pop rock group, formed in Huntington Beach, California, in the mid to late 1970’s. The players were Mark Wayne “Kirk” - lead vocals and lead guitar; Tony De Nuccio “The Italian Stallion” - guitar; Tristen Beamon “Tris” - bass, Eric Watson “Ernie” - on drums, and Scott “The Sword” Sneller was added later on keyboards.

Our first practice was in my parent’s living room in Huntington Harbor with Jim Decker (of The Crowd) as lead singer. After a few rehearsals, Decker was a no-show Mark stepped to the Microphone, and it all clicked.

I came up with the name “The Popsicles” and it stuck. Consequently that night Mark and Tristen spray painted “Popsicle” graffiti all around Huntington Beach. Mark was high on life, we were all jazzed - we had a band. The Popsicles quickly rose to local fame in Orange County and Hollywood, California. For a short time we were the house band at The Cuckoo's Nest on Monday nights, Orange County’s famous rock club where The Ramones, Blondie, New York Dolls and countless others played.

Funded by our parents, The Popsicles cut a 45 at a local studio called Ocean Sound Productions. The place looked abandoned from out-front but was across the street from our favorite surf spot. Mark and Tony penned most of the tunes. Side A) was “Try Try Boys” and B) side was “Pretty Rock and Rollers.” Both songs are on YouTube. We played a party at the “Castle House” in my neighborhood; it became total chaos with crowds of rowdy locals. The cops had to bust-up the raging party and shut the posh island down. Greg Lindborg, a reckless charismatic rich kid, stepped in as our part-time bodyguard and full-time friend, from that night onward. When the sun rose we filled bag after garbage bag of empty beers off the streets. People talked about that party for years.




Bob Forrest’s first job out of high school was personal assistant to Mark Wayne. Bob got Mark anything he wanted in a snap, be it a new string for his guitar or Velveeta Cheese (his staple). Bob was infatuated with Wayne’s eccentric mannerisms and reclusive rock star humor. Mark never let his Gibson Firebird out of his hands. As long as Mark was awake his fingers were moving up and down that fret board. Tony recalls how, when Mark and a girl named Jill broke up, Mark, when they split, said “My guitar is my girlfriend.” Bob soaked up every nuance.

Dressed like rock stars, Mark used to have up him around the Hills of Beverly looking at mansions. We happened upon a huge party at a huge estate and decided to crash it. Avoiding security, we cat walked past the peacocks, past the pool and upon our arrival; we realized it was the Playboy Mansion. We strolled in like “the cat who ate the canary.” We proceeded to walk through the legendary Hefner mansion. Unfortunately for us, the party was just ending and we were herded out the front doors as fast as we came in; where upon a Valet asked if he could get our car. We casually said No, we can walk and get it ourselves. With a first taste of the world we wanted, we climbed back into our band mobile, my mother Marilyn’s scarlet 73 Ford Thunderbird and drove back to Orange County.

Frenzied female fans began to pack Hollywood clubs every time we played, from The Stanwood, to The Troubadour and the famous Whiskey a Go Go, where DJ Rodney Bingenheimer of KROQ immediately took a liking and played our 45 regularly on his show. I remember the first time we heard The Popsicles on the radio. We had just parked the car in a cul-de-sac at a friend’s in Huntington when the song came on. It was so thrilling.



Rodney summoned his friend, legendary Hollywood rock producer, Kim Fowley, who instantly befriended our band backstage and said his famous line, Do you want to wear expensive shoes and ride in limousines?” Mark met his match in the enigmatic Kim Fowley, a former rock star himself, with over sixty five albums to his credit and many films. Fowley was and is Hollywood Rock Royalty. The following week, the lanky, eccentric Fowley invited us to his swanky Hollywood apartment above the Sunset Strip. We played our songs for him acoustically in his living room. One by one he diligently listened to each song and said “Yes” to some and “No” to others, all the while chewing gum incessantly. Kim suggested we add a keyboardist. Back at my parent’s house that night we partied and feted like there was no tomorrow; Greg got so wasted he peed in a big indoor potted plant then passed out, chicks everywhere, we laughed so hard…

We found Scott Sneller on a lark. We needed a PA System and Mark knew Dave Diamond (of the band Berlin) - Diane Diamond’s brother. Scott tells it like this- “…One of them says, hey man, we’re here to borrow the PA System (l’m 99% sure it was Tony) I say yea, ok here it is, just take it all the chords are here too. We just used it last night, it’s working. One of them said, hey I hear you are the keyboard player; I say yea, that’s me, that’s my stuff, the organ, the synthesizer, the electric piano. We are looking for a keyboard player; can you play like Nicky Hopkins? I was like; who the heck is Nicky Hopkins? The Rolling Stones Man!! (What’s up with you?) I was like, yea sure, I could play that crap easy, I’m into Jon Lord of “Purple”, and Keith Emerson so could play circles around your Hopkins!”

Fowley brought in super smooth publicist Ron Scott and the uber hip rock photographer Brad Elterman, turned back the clock a few years, made us teenagers again; so as to splash our faces across teen magazines from Tiger beat and Super Teen to 16 magazine. Subsequently, we signed a big management contract with Fowley and celebrated over dinner in West Hollywood where Kim told us to get passports because we are going to Japan. The Popsicles were on fire. Someone had the idea we should walk through the audience to get to the stage at The Troubadour; we practically got our clothes ripped off and barely made it to the stage that night.

Although not every show was a success (hardly anyone showed upstairs at Madame Wong’s) nevertheless we received a great review in a local paper, something about “…having the energy of The Who…” One night after rehearsal we bumped into a bouncer from The Cuckoo’s nest, he recognized us and asked “Which one of you is the drummer?” “Me” I said, he said “More girls come crying out of that club over you…” When our first picture broke in Super Teen magazine, I didn’t have enough change in my pocket to pay the dollar for it.

Fowley positioned himself to strike a major record deal and recorded some Popsicle songs at Hollywood recording studio The Kitchen Sync. Kim brought Liv Tyler’s mother Bebe Buell to hang out during those sessions. The Popsicles were living the dream, spandex pants, guyliner and blow dryers going twenty four seven. One night, Tris had two fourteen year old girls over for a “Secret Rendezvous,” Tony and I bailed him out and drove the girls home in the T-bird.Another night, my mother Marilyn rented a suite at the “Riot Hyatt” for an after party. We didn’t throw any televisions out the window but packed as many girls as possible. They were clamoring to get in. The Popsicles made it into a German magazine called Bravo. One day we saw Brooke Shields at a bus stop in front of Grauman’s Chinese theater we jumped out of the limo and invited her to our gig that night. Brooke said she wanted to go to the gig (she was thirteen years old). We had lofty ambitions. But the God of the universe had other plans.

About thirty minutes south, pending on traffic, it was a different story. In the O.C. there was a strong Christian movement happening known as “Jesus Freaks” or “Born Agains” from warm hearted Pastor Chuck Smith, founder of Calvary Chapel, Costa Mesa. Chuck spearheaded the “Jesus movement” of the 70’s. They wore Birkenstocks, had piercing blue eyes and carried their bibles in cool leather cases with a fish sign on it. That story is captured in the book “A Venture in Faith” by Chuck Smith. The proselytizers passed out booklets called “Christian Tracts” through the beaches of Huntington and preached “You are going to Hell unless you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and savior.”

Mark and Tony had a close childhood friend, Brian Brodersen, who had recently become a Christian and joined that movement. Tony, Brian, Mark and I used to surf together in Huntington and Newport Beach. Tony won surf contests in high school. We played a star studded affair at Flipper’s Roller Boogie Palace in West Hollywood. Everyone from Cher to Charlie’s Angels to David Hasselhof roller skated there in a biog circle to disco music. Good times! One night at Gazzarri’s, Fowley lights backstage before the gig with a rocker chick hanging on him, he declares “See, I can get hotter chicks then you guys can!” Fowley figured we cared more about girls than guitars, emphasis on more. Except for Tony, he was the serious musician of the group. We were partying pretty hard at that point; Mark wanted to be like The Stones.

Distance began to grow between Fowley and The Popsicles. Perhaps things weren’t happening fast enough for Fowley - he wanted a record deal now or would lose interest. Maybe he was tired of paying publicists to chauffeur us to our favorite Hollywood boutiques like Fiorucci’s for skinny rocker tops and capezios “Hey Kim, can you put us on that billboard?!” Or it could have been his new girl band “The Orchids” who got his attention. Meanwhile our parents got together and raised money upwards of around ten grand to hire lawyers to look over the Fowley contract. The men in suits ascertained if any money was to be made, Fowley would receive the Lyon’s share. We signed a bogus deal. The new lawyers proceeded to try to break us out of the Fowley contract. My mother Marilyn thought or hoped we could walk away but we signed it and it was binding. I never forgot what entertainment lawyer Barry Rothman calmly said to my mother Marilyn “you are extremely naive and I mean that in the best sense of the word.”

After headlining the Beaux Arts Ball a big glitzy affair in Las Vegas all hell broke loose and Mark disappeared. Whether The Popsicles were close to gaining a recording contract one will never know. Either way, two weeks go by, Mark shows up (look what the cat dragged in) and quits the band claiming “He gave his life to the Lord and that we should also.” Mark said “The Popsicles were a worldly or secular band that he could no longer be a part of” something to that effect, in other words, The Popsicles were a sinful band. Mark was always a convincing and sincere fellow in his approach. Brian was instrumental in Mark’s conversion. Needless to say, we were dumbfounded. It was rumored throughout Huntington Beach “The Popsicles melted.”

Now that Mark had derailed the band, darkness fell. We were shocked and distraught. Tony was drowning his sorrows at a Hollywood dive bar where he met Mr. Jim Pattersen, an old drunk hermit who lived in a seedy apartment in Hollywood. He said he was a “Management Consultant” and kept us holed up in his place while we searched for a new lead singer. Mr. Pattersen gave us a plan, plus he loved our company and we liked his too - quite the character. He would chuckle away; he said “Hollywood was a boiler pot of debauchery.” Yet he had the DTs (severe alcohol withdrawal) very scary. We auditioned singer after singer at Mr. Pattersen’s apartment and we’d show each guy our pictures in teen magazines. Some of them would show us their pictures in teen magazines. It felt strange and futile, sad in a way. No more Kim Fowley, no screaming fans and photographers, and no limousines. Just a few months ago we cut a record at The Kitchen Sync, now all I cut was my hand washing a dirty dish in the kitchen sink at Mr. Pattersen’s. The blood was pumping out so badly Mr. Pattersen drove me to get stitches.

We tried singer Sten Sarracino and began new rehearsals in a new studio. It became clear we couldn’t replace Mark. Tony was the next Popsicle to convert to Christianity. Then Scott left the band. And for myself, as much as I knew Jesus died on the cross for my sins, and how I, in no way, wanted to spend eternity in hell; I still didn’t want to give up on the chance for fame. God really had to break me down and he did.

By 1980 The Popsicles sans Scott became a Christian band; it was all rainbows and flower petals. And on the warm sands of Bolsa Chica Beach, we converted our lyrics to match our newfound faith. I’ll never forget that day because a person dressed in a white robe and a walking stick sat in the shade of a nearby tree, people gathered. We made our way to him as he claimed to be Christ. We were skeptical and headed back to the beach back to our own newfound Christian business.

I remember Mark and I hanging out somewhere deep in Huntington, middle of the day, Bibles spread out on the floor sharing the Psalms. It was all peace, love, and daisies; bathing in the new Christian life. Clean. We prayed for just about everything, from a job, to a parking space, to a couch to crash on and always encouraged each other with the words “The Lord has a plan.” That same year 1980, Kim Fowley released an album titled Hollywood Confidential (various artists) which included two Popsicle cuts “Secret Rendezvous” and “Endless Teen Party.”

Randy Griest replaced Sneller on keyboards. Randy had a great rehearsal space covered in orange shag carpet. Our friend Greg used to hang out in there. He said he could feel the heavy presence of the Lord in that place. The Popsicles played Calvary Chapel, O.C. on a Tuesday night, many of our fans showed up and heard the gospel preached for the first time by Randy Ziegler - a hip, young, gifted preacher. That was the last time The Popsicles played in public: a concert in church.

Times were tough and the pressure of daily living proved too much. The Popsicles disbanded for good. Mark lived part time in his VW bus and I lived in the garage at Greg’s girlfriend Judy’s house. I nicknamed Greg “The Snake Charmer” because he could charm anyone. He nicknamed me “Forty Dollar Man” because all I could scrounge up was forty bucks to live in Judy’s garage. I went from rock star to flipping burgers at Wendy’s and living in the T-Bird.

Mark and my brother Jamie had a short lived punk band in which Jamie was lead vocalist; he was like a young Iggy Pop. Jamie became a believer as well. Greg always wanted to perform with The Popsicles and his dream was realized. Mark, Greg, and I formed a band called The High Plains Drifters or The Drifters for short. We played one gig in the nightclub in our elite neighborhood of Huntington Harbor. Greg played bass and sang one of his own songs. Greg was like a young Keith Richards, cigarette dangling, skinny jeans, shorty boots.

As the years passed everybody went their separate ways. The elusive Mark Wayne took his surname Mark Krischak and went on to success in some powerful Christian bands such as The Lifesavors, The Coolers (with Kirk Heiner) and was part of the punk and hardcore Christian music movement. He also started Xchak Records. Tony exclaims “Mark Wayne remains a mystery to all and even his former spouse Camille has no idea as to his whereabouts. No one even knows if he is still alive on earth.” Scott Sneller worked with Deke Richards, a songsmith at Motown Records and also performed and recorded with The Sirens and The Clues. Tristen Beamon was in a few bands, Louvre (with Mark), Glass Target, Summit, 13th Step; he is also CEO/Owner of Best Wines Online and lives in Newport Beach, California.

In 1986 Greg Lindborg died of a drug overdose at age 30 and upon Greg's funeral, in front of a large crowd, his father, a mix of sadness and disappointment for his oldest son; a life wasted on drugs and parties, lifted his glass in a toast and simply said “The party’s over.” He got back into his limousine and drove away. Was Greg “saved?” I don't know, he once said he saw Jesus while in a gas station bathroom, but he was high as a kite. I once took Greg to Calvary Chapel; he put his feet up on the chair in front of him. He even lived at Pastor Randy Ziegler’s house for a short time. I don’t make those decisions about who's saved and who's not.

Keyboardist Randy Griest went on to become lead singer in the rock band Zot and Sten Sarracino fronted his band Love Razors.

Tony took his given name Anthony Mario De Nuccio and earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Music from Eugene Bible College, his Master’s in Education and is presently working on his second Master’s in Music Composition at Vermont College of Fine Arts. On top of that, Anthony is composing Choral Music and started his own music company “Bridesong Music Chorus International.”

I tried acting, writing, bounced from band to band, and played in a worship band at “The Hiding Place” church in West Los Angeles. Then I moved to New York, played in two bands, Ferries Wear Boots and Palomar. Now I’m a singer/songwriter for my own band Skunkroot.

Bob Forrest had a hugely successful band called Thelonious Monster; he then co-created Celebrity Rehab and mentions The Popsicles in his memoir book published in 2013. Also published in 2013 Brad Elterman’s collection of rock and roll photography titled “Dog Dance” in which The Popsicles were featured.

Incidentally, Pastor Chuck Smith passed on to eternity in 2013; Pastor Brian Brodersen became his successor and is now head of Calvary Chapel, Orange County, California. Again read A Venture in Faith by Chuck Smith, tells the Calvary Chapel story.

That’s the true story of The Popsicles as best as I can remember. I also would like to say, I think we were too young, naive, and full of ourselves to understand how fortunate we were to have an iconic music man like Kim Fowley behind our band. Special thanks to Anthony’s mother Dawn, She kept us fed and clothed and even paid off the lawyers, such a beautiful woman. She passed on to eternity in 2014. And thanks to Tristen’s friend Dave Dunbar, who always helped out and Jim Benedict our roadie. Special thanks to my brother Jamie Watson His dedication, early influence on the band, enthusiasm, humor and all-around cockiness remain unmatched to this day. Special thanks to my Mother Marilyn who placed my first drum set under our Christmas tree at five years old. She’s a “dyed in the wool catholic.” And thanks to Mr. Je Vanhattan, the voice at the beginning of this video, to whom, without this only live Popsicle’s recording would not exist. Years later Jeff became a Christian and worked at Focus on the Family in Colorado. A very special thanks to The Popsicle‘s fans who made it what it was.

In conclusion: For me, it was the cast of characters and the fans that made it so intoxicating, special, and exciting. I was fortunate to have experienced it. But at the end of all the chapters, to be “saved” and to know you are saved and loved by the Creator, for me, is the most secure, beautiful, and satisfying feeling. That is why I am sharing this story. May your hearts be pliable and your minds willing to accept the free gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ.

P.S. I never got the expensive shoes - but learned we humans have a soul that will live on through all eternity.“


Discography

1978 Try Try Boys (7” single) Ocean Sound Productions
1979 Live at The Starwood

Try Try Boys

Genre: Power Pop
Year: April 20, 1978
Label: Ocean Sound Productions

This release came with 4 mini posters of the band. One review refers to it as “very poppy new wave ala the Cars.”

  1. Try Try Boys
  2. Pretty Rock And Rollers

Live at The Starwood 1979

Genre: Power Pop
Year: 1979
Label: Independent
  1. Tiger
  2. Secret Rendevous
  3. Take Me Home Tonight
  4. Little Did I Know
  5. Doesn't Matter
  6. What's Left to Do
  7. Time Out for Love
  8. Say Hello to My Baby
  9. Raggedy Andy
  10. What You Want To Be
  11. Endless Teen Party
  12. Let's Kiss
  13. Take Me Home Tonight (featuring Sten Sarracino on vocals)