Apr 19
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The Electromaniacs, still rocking

The Electromaniacs: Emile Caballero, Rolly Roldan, Lito Toribio, Lenny de Jesus, and Ernie Delgado

Author: Leah C. Salterio

The Electromaniacs: Emile Caballero, Rolly Roldan, Lito Toribio, Lenny de Jesus, and Ernie Delgado

They were the music icons of the '60s, when combo was the in thing. They lorded it over the airlanes with their hit singles and dominated the live music scene with their widely followed performances.

Ask any music aficionado who's familiar with '60s music and The Electromaniacs will never be out of the picture. They even became the toast of high-end private parties of that era.

On radio, they were heard in "Ang Tindahan ni Aling Pepang." They also appeared in TV shows like "Dance-O-Rama."

Originally composed of Lito Toribio on drums, Joey Gordon on bass, Gene Generoso on rhythm guitar and Ernie Delgado on lead guitar, The Electromaniacs calls their sound "sweet" music, which, they believe, sets them apart from other bands. This distinct sound became evident in their original hits, like "Tahitian Drums."

They hit it big in recording, too. Gene Generoso's "Broken Guitar" led the local Top 10 charts for three straight months. In 1963, they compiled their singles into the long-play release, "Lover's Guitar," the only album that came out of the many bands at that time.

Ernie, who was then the band leader, penned the hit, "I Miss You So," which, he said, was inspired by Perry Como's ballad, "Wanted." Actor Jose Mari Gonzalez, who stood as the original manager of The Electromaniacs, even used "I Miss You So" as the theme of his movie with the same title opposite Liberty Ilagan.

When Joey Gordon left the band, Ernie invited his neigHBOr, Emile Caballero, to join as the new bass player. Gene Generoso was replaced by Chito Perez.

Among the band's memorable career highlights were performing with foreign artist Neil Sedaka and doing the front act for Paul Anka. The group was also the first to play at Rizal Theater and the Araneta Coliseum.

In the early '70s, the members of The Electromaniacs went separate ways but as fate would have it, the music icons were bound to see each other again. A US-based Filipino psychiatrist, Dr. Norberto Tuazon, who has been an avid Electromaniacs fan since the '60s, decided to look for Ernie and Lito and subsequently formed the Pinoy Classic Rockers group.

The doctor was pleased no end when he plucked out Ernie and Lito from retirement. Whenever he is in the country, Dr. Tuazon would make it a point to jam with the two Electromaniacs. The sessions inspired Ernie and Lito to revive the band.

Making that dream come true was Lenny de Jesus, who became the moving spirit for the return of The Electromaniacs. Lenny previously worked as Cabinet secretary and head of the presidential management staff in Malacañang during the terms of Presidents Fidel Ramos and Joseph Estrada. Lenny was then performing with a band called Walking Shadow, but she accepted the offer to join The Electromaniacs.

In May 2008, The Electromaniacs performed at the Yeba Combo Festival and their spot turned out to be the most applauded of the evening. The stint compelled them to pursue the band's reunion.

"That made us realize there are still people out there who love us," Ernie grants. "We still have something to offer our audience even if we have been out of the limelight for a long time."

Completing The Electromaniacs today are Rolly Roldan as the new bass player, Boy Camara as vocalist/percussionist and businessman Tony Boy Cojuangco on rhythm guitar.

Boy is best remembered for playing the lead in the 1971 production of "Jesus Christ, Superstar." Tony Boy, meanwhile, flexes his musical artistry with the band that ignited his passion and love for music.

Those who have seen The Electromaniacs perform attest that whenever Tony Boy joins the regular gigs or special performances, his ladylove, Gretchen Barretto, is always on the front row to applaud him.

Since they have their respective jobs that keep them busy, the group doesn't get to perform often. Obviously, the members do not sing for the money but because of their love for music that binds them together.

"We decided to play again because we want to continue the legacy of the band in defining the '60s era with our music," Lito says. "Performing is something we love and enjoy. We want to share that with our audience."

They are proud to say that their audience ranges from ages '30s to '70s. "It's not a lucrative job, but regardless of where we play, even in our rehearsals, we get a different kind of enjoyment that's priceless," Ernie maintains. "Our group is still young. It's the crowd who gets older."

The group sings every second and last Monday of the month at Strumm's Makati and every other Thursday at Taboo Lounge along Julia Vargas in Pasig. They experiment on doing covers of The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Elton John, Billy Joel, Carlos Santana and even Boyz II Men and Spandau Ballet.

Today, Feb. 11, The Electromaniacs takes centerstage at Merk's Bar and Bistro in Greenbelt, Makati, upon the invitation of owners Richard and Roni Merk. Richard and Lito share a common bond when they performed together with the Sangkatutak Band.

The reunion of The Electromaniacs brings a nostalgic feel to the success they once enjoyed as a group. If at all, they want to prove that the band is still rocking.

Source: The Manila Bulletin