in Atlanta in 1974, Starbuck was the brainchild of Bruce
Blackman and Bo Wagner. A native of Greenville, Mississippi,
Blackman’s musical career dated back to the mid-60s when
he formed Eternity’s Children, a group that included future
Starbuck members Bo Wagner and Johnny Walker. After scoring
a top 100 hit with “Mrs. Bluebird” in 1968 and appearances
on American Bandstand, Bruce left the group and moved to
Atlanta in 1969.
Blackman, Wagner and Walker teamed up again in 1972 in Atlanta and assembled
the group, “Mississippi” that also included Jerome Olds on vocals, Ricky Keller
on bass and Chris Seymour on drums. After recording an album with producer Gary
Paxton in Nashville (the album was never released), the group once again morphed
into Blackman and Wagner. Wagner spent 1973 serving as musical director for Liberace
while Blackman worked on his songwriting skills.
Magazine - 1976 |In
March of 1974, Wagner returned to Atlanta and recruited vocalist
Elgin Wells, keyboardist Sloan Hayes, drummer David Snavely
and bassist Jimmy Cobb into a group called “Extravanganza.” Blackman “officially” joined
this lineup a few weeks later, although he had been working
with Bo while the group was assembled.
Bo and Bruce rented a 7-bedroom house in Marietta, GA and used the great room
as a rehearsal hall and recording studio. In April of 1974, the band recorded
a demo of “Moonlight Feels Right” written by Bruce Blackman. After Atlanta music
mogul Bill Lowery heard the song, he offered to sign the band to record “Moonlight
Feels Right” and 3 other songs written by Blackman. Elgin Wells then decided
to leave the group because Lowery did not want the group to record any of the
songs written by Elgin. He was replaced with Tommy Strain on guitar and Ron Norris
on vocals and the group began playing around the Atlanta area using the name
Starbuck while continuing to record for Lowery at Studio 1 in Doraville.
|In July 1975, Private Stock Records, a NYC company, signed the group to a single
deal for “Moonlight Feels Right.” The song was released in September of 1975
and failed to garner any airplay. Then, in the spring of 1976, Mike St. John
at WERC in Birmingham, Alabama started playing “Moonlight” and the song soon
vaulted to the top of the national and international charts, selling over
3 million copies.
Just as “Moonlight Feels Right” was re-released in 1976, Tommy Strain, Ron Norris
and David Snavely left the group and were replaced with David Shaver, keyboards,
Ken Crysler, drums and Daryl Kutz, guitar. Later Kutz was replaced by Johnny
Walker on guitar.
Douglas Show - 1977
toured from 1976 to 1980 with some of the great names of
the era. (KC & the Sunshine Band, ELO, Hall & Oates, Seals & Croft,
Boston). They hit the top 40 with 2 songs, “Moonlight Feels
Right” and “Everybody Be Dancin,” cracked the top 100 with
5 songs, recorded 3 albums and appeared on numerous TV shows
including American Bandstand, Merv Griffin, Dinah Shore,
Mike Douglas, Peter Marshall, and Solid Gold. The band broke
up in 1980 but Bo Wagner and Bruce Blackman continued recording
together until 1984 when the two long-time partners decided
to pursue other business interests.
Today Blackman serves as CEO of his own music publishing and production companies.
He is producing an album project on his daughter Sarah along with writing and
producing for several other artists. He is affiliated with Sony/ATV and is busy
working on several movie soundtrack projects. Wagner’s whereabouts are unknown.
The other members of Starbuck continue to perform at various venues in the Atlanta