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NRBQ was a band that could play a little bit of everything, from rockabilly to Beatles-influenced pop to jazz and blues. They were what I think of as a musician’s band — no great commercial success but popular with other musicians (Bob Dylan and Paul McCartney were fans). They were famous for taking requests from the audience and playing ANY song that was requested. In my opinion, the best bar band ever. They flirted with widespread recognition on several occasions, but never quite got there. Get That Gasoline Blues reached #70 on the Billboard charts in 1974, their only appearance in the Hot 100.

NRBQ stood for New Rhythm and Blues Quartet during most of the band’s existence, but the “Q” originally stood for Quintet, since they started out in 1967 as a 5-piece band.  A handy abbreviation I would say. From 1974 to 1994 the band members were Terry Adams (keyboards), Joey Spampinato (bass), Al Anderson (guitar), and Tom Ardolino (drums).

The following video of them performing the rockabilly classic I Got a Rocket in My Pocket shows some of their strong points. You can see them careening back and forth between order and chaos.  Terry Adams demonstrates that the piano can be a percussion instrument.

The song Me and the Boys was one of their most popular. It was covered by Dave Edmunds, Bonnie Raitt, Thin Lizzy and Twisted Sister, among others, and the Dave Edmunds version was used in the movie Spring Break. Here’s a video of NRBQ with the Whole Wheat Horns (who doubled as the band’s roadies). Donn Adams (Terry’s brother) on trombone does a fine impression of a car taking off at the end.

This next song, Ridin’ in My Car, should have been a hit. It’s a terrific song that has all the ingredients for a great pop song. Here’s the video:

The song was recently covered by She and Him. Here’s a video of them doing the song along with NRBQ guitarist Al Anderson (who wrote the song).

One more great pop song — Magnet — which is one of my favorite songs ever.  I love the lyric “You’re like a magnet, I’m like a piece of steel, the way you break my will”. This is the only video I could find with NRBQ’s version of the song: