For those longing for the Bay Area sound of the early 70s, or simply blue-eyed soul, snatch up your ticket quick to see the band Pablo Cruise, who will be bringing their groovy rhythms to the Admiral Theatre Friday night.
For those unfamiliar, Pablo Cruise is an American pop-rock band from San Francisco that formed in 1973. The band originally included members Cory Lerios (keyboards, vocals), David Jenkins (guitars, vocals), Bud Cockrell (bass, vocals) and Steve Price (drums). Currently, three of the four original members are still playing with the band, as well as new additions Larry Antonio (bass vocals) and Robbie Wyckoff (vocals, percussion).
Before Pablo Cruise came to fruition, Lerios, Jenkins and Price were in a local Bay Area band called Stoneground around 1971 and 1972. Lerios spoke about the genesis of his early music and how it evolved into the start of a new band.
“We weren’t real happy with that band and that’s when we started talking about forming another band,” he said. “That’s when it officially became Pablo Cruise. We got together and started knocking songs out. It was a really great coalition once we put this thing together.”
Regarding the unique band name, Lerios recalled giving the nickname Pablo Cruise to a buddy of his in school before bringing it to the attention of his bandmates.
“We just threw the name in a hat with a bunch of other names and everybody liked the name Pablo Cruise,” he said. “Pablo represents every man and Cruise is just kind of a free-flowing way of living.”
Lerios and Price grew up in the Bay Area while Jenkins and Cockrell relocated from Florida and Mississippi, respectively. The band formed at a time when many American bands were starting in that region, including Journey and The Doobie Brothers.
“We were all playing the same club circuit from Berkeley to San Francisco to San Jose to Santa Cruz,” Lerios said. “It was a very exciting time. The rehearsal halls were highly populated by a lot of the new bands coming in so we would see each other in the lobby. There was kind of a whole different air in the music world, it was sort of still evolving.”
In 1977, the band reached its turning point with the album “A Place in the Sun,” which featured hit singles like “Watcha Gonna Do” and the title track “A Place in the Sun.” Pablo Cruise began to expand past its regional listeners and reach national prominence, touring across the United States, and even Canada and Japan.
“Once you have a national hit, the phones start ringing,” Lerios said.
The band went on to sell several million albums and started to develop a niche for songwriting within the music industry. They appeared on numerous tv shows, including Dick Clark’s “American Bandstand” and “The Merv Griffin Show.” Perhaps the most impressive feat was breaking Elvis Presley’s attendance record at the Sahara Tahoe in Nevada, becoming the first rock band to play a casino showroom.
Lerios recalled one of the band’s more memorable experiences in 1978 when legendary singer/songwriter Paul Anka called him to do a telethon in Las Vegas. Through the band’s participation in the telethon, they were able to meet some of entertainment’s most recognizable figures, such as Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Michael Jackson.
By 1985, the group decided to take a break from touring and recording. Lerios found himself wanting to work on music scores for television and movie productions. His credited work includes films “One Crazy Summer” and “Child’s Play 3,” along with TV shows “Baywatch” and “Days of Our Lives.”
“I always wanted to do it, it’s always been a passion of mine,” Lerios said of his desire for film and television scoring. “It’s kind of a thankless job but it’s fun to solve the musical needs of a TV show. If you look at a picture and you take the music away, it’s very different. The music plays a huge part but it’s not like people even know it’s there.”
Twenty years later, Pablo Cruise reunited and is currently touring across the U.S., as well as recording new material. Looking back on where it all started almost 50 years ago, Lerios never takes any performance for granted.
“Through it all, I’m proud of the fact that three of the four original members are still in the lineup,” he said. “When we’re out there, it’s a pretty special thing. It isn’t about the financial part as much as it’s about a great time and a great show.”
The West Coast group, ironically enough, has never played in Bremerton before. Lerios said Pablo Cruise is ready to show folks what they’re still made of and gave a friendly warning for those who will be in attendance.
“Pablo Cruise doesn’t disappoint. We engage the audience big time and they better be ready.”
Doors open at 6 p.m. with the show set to begin at 7:30 p.m. Tickets range from $15 to $72. Dinner, desserts and cocktails will be available for those sitting on the main floor.