Elephant’s Memory

Plastic Ono Band with Elephants MemoryFrom: New York City, NY, USA

Elephant’s Memory was an American rock band formed in New York City during the late 1960s, primarily known for backing John Lennon and Yoko Ono from late 1971 to 1973. For live performances with Lennon and Ono, the band was known as the Plastic Ono Elephant’s Memory Band.

Elephant’s Memory was formed between 1967 and 1968 by Stan Bronstein (saxophone, clarinet, and vocals) and Rick Frank Jr. (drums). In 1968 they briefly added Carly Simon as a vocalist. By 1969 the line-up had expanded to include John Ward (bass), Chester Ayers (guitar), Myron Yules (bass and trombone), R. Sussmann (keyboards), Michal Shapiro (vocals), Guy Peritore (guitar and vocals), and David Cohen (guitar, keyboards, and vocals). Further additions in 1970 saw Chris Robison (guitar) and Davey “Crabsticks” Trotter (mellotron) join the band.

Two of the band’s songs, “Jungle Gym at the Zoo” and “Old Man Willow”, appeared on the 1969 soundtrack to the film Midnight Cowboy. Elephant’s Memory received a gold disc for their contribution to the soundtrack.

In 1970 the band had a minor hit single with the song “Mongoose” on Metromedia Records. Between 1970 and 1973 the line-up remained more or less constant around Bronstein and Frank, together with guitarists Wayne “Tex” Gabriel and Harry “Crow” Eisenberg, keyboardist and vocalist Adam Ippolito, and bassist Gary Van Scyoc.

Known around the Greenwich Village area as a politically active street band, Elephant’s Memory backed Lennon and Ono on the double album Some Time in New York City during recording sessions in March 1972. The album was released in June 1972 in the United States, and in September 1972 in the UK.

Later in 1972 they were billed as the Plastic Ono Elephant’s Memory Band and performed with Lennon and Ono on various TV shows, albums and concerts. On August 30, with the addition of John Ward on bass and Jim Keltner on drums, the band played with Lennon and Ono at the famous One to One Concert, organized by Geraldo Rivera to benefit the Willowbrook State School for mentally handicapped children. The concert was filmed and recorded, later released in February 1986 as the album Live In New York City. One week later, on September 6, they played live again with Lennon and Ono at the Jerry Lewis Telethon on TV, playing “Imagine”, “Now or Never” and “Give Peace A Chance”.

In April and May 1972, the band recorded their second self-titled album, produced by Lennon and released on the Beatles’ Apple Records label. It also contains various contributions by Lennon himself on guitar and vocals. This album has never been re-issued on compact disc. From October to November, the band recorded material for Ono’s double album Approximately Infinite Universe, released in January 1973.

On September 5, 1973 the band appeared at the Hells Angels’ Pirates Party held on the SS Bay Belle, together with the Jerry Garcia Band. The Pirates Party was later featured in the 1983 documentary film Hells Angels Forever.

The line-up of Elephant’s Memory included at various times, Daria Price on castanets, Robert O’Leary on bass, and John La Bosca on piano. However, the line-up that recorded Angels Forever in 1974, was Stan Bronstein and Richard Frank, plus Gary Van Scyoc on bass, Chris Robison and Jon Sachs.

In 2010, Van Scyoc and Ippolito appeared in LENNONYC a documentary about John Lennon for the PBS American Masters series.

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Tracks played on Psychedelicized…

From 1969 album Elephant’s Memory
Elephants Memory

  • Jungle Gym At The Zoo
  • Old Man Willow
  • R.I.P.