Windsor musician recalls how the Beatles changed his life

By Brenda Sullivan - ReminderNews
Windsor - posted Wed., Feb. 12, 2014
Drummer Doug Nahabedian of Windsor, now 65, took up the drums after seeing the Beatles on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’ in 1964. He continues to play today as a member of Undercover. His music room includes posters of other musical influences.
Drummer Doug Nahabedian of Windsor, now 65, took up the drums after seeing the Beatles on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’ in 1964. He continues to play today as a member of Undercover. His music room includes posters of other musical influences.

Feb. 9, 1964. It’s a moment of shared pop-culture history, one millions of Americans still recall vividly: the first time the Beatles appeared on American television.

More than 74 million viewers are reported to have tuned in as Ed Sullivan introduced the Beatles, who performed their then number-one single, “I Want to Hold Your Hand.”

Among those mesmerized by the Brits was 15-year-old Doug Nahabedian, who, like so many other teenagers that night, was inspired to pick up a guitar. Or, in Nahabedian’s case, drum sticks, because it was Ringo who impressed him the most.

Watching him perform, Nahabedian told himself, “This is what I want to do.” Within a week, he was taking lessons at Windsor Music Center.

Nahabedian reflected on these memories before the 50th anniversary of the day that changed his life. Leafing through a scrapbook dating back to 1965, the Windsor musician opened to a photo of his first band, The Centaurs. Taking a cue from the Beatles’ early signature look, the band members are dressed in crisp white dress shirts, vests and ties.

All were Windsor High School students – bass player Henry Moore, guitarists Jimmy Falco and Dean Fusco (and later, Peter Plante), and keyboard player Bobby Daddario.

In the photo, Nahabedian stands beside his Trixon drum set, whose bass drum cover is among the memorabilia in his practice room today, which is also decorated with posters of other musical influences such as Jimi Hendrix, Santana, Chicago and of course, the Beatles.

“In Windsor alone, there were five other Beatle-inspired bands,” he recalled.

Nahabedian also happens to come from a musical/showbiz family. His father, Sarkis, and sister, Lorraine, played the piano. His cousin, Bob Avian, is an award-winning Broadway choreographer, and another cousin, John Baboian, is a composer and jazz guitarist whose work has been used for TV programs such as "The Sopranos."

But it was his mother, Violet, who co-managed the band along with Moore’s mother – the teenagers needed an adult chaperone to play in clubs serving alcohol.

The Centaurs billed themselves as performing “hard and soul rock,” and soon became one of the more successful local bands, thanks to positive press generated by a battle-of-the-bands style contest, “Shindig ’67,” sponsored by The Big E in Springfield, Mass., in 1967. The Centaurs placed sixth out of 160 competing bands.

Around that time, a Connecticut band called The Wildweeds – also heavily influenced initially by the Beatles – was making a big splash with a tune called “No Good to Cry.” And The Centaurs were being hailed in reviews as “the next Wildweeds.”

The Centaurs went on to press a demo single at Synchron Studios, still in business in Wallingford, and played such popular venues as The Hive in West Springfield and Hullabaloo in Rocky Hill.

The Beatles have continued to be an inspiration throughout Nahabedian’s musical career, he said. “Even after they stopped performing live, they were revolutionizing music in the studio… multi-track, overdubbing, adding strings and horns – not to mention sitar. That’s where guys like me were blown away,” he said.

After the Centaurs, Nahabedian went on to play with a husband-and-wife duo, The Versatiles, Lorraine and Roland “Lucky” LaChance of Newington, and then from 1980 to 1992, a rock-and-roll nostalgia band, The Cycles, with Joanne Derosiers, Bruce McGrath and Karla Newmark (who also performed with Bob Dylan, Little Richard and Rick Derringer).

Other bands followed, and since 1995, Nahabedian has been drumming for Undercover, along with Ed Killingbeck, Greg Sireci, Wally Rogers, Bill Mocarsky and Dave Poirier.

“I’m lucky that I know how to network and get along with all kinds of people,” he said. “But if you told me I’d still be playing when I was 65, I would have said, ‘No way.’ I really am blessed,” he said.

Nahabedian welcomes former Centaur fans and current Undercover fans to contact him at Drummer4you@att.net.


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