San Mateo anglophiles Rich and Tom Martin pursued a different musical path to many after the Beatles epiphany they shared with millions of other American teenagers in 1964.
Smitten by The Who and The Move rather than Stones and Kinks they formed the Bay Area’s only mod band, even braving its psychedelic peak with obscure Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich covers.
In their early days, the trio were fronted by New Zealand singer Ray Columbus, who named them The Art Collection, recording tracks including garage classic Kick Me (I Think I’m Dreaming). Columbus returned to New Zealand in mid-1967 and by 1968 the Martins had become the explosive Powder.
Being selected as the touring band for Sonny and Cher, Powder would open the concerts under their own steam before backing the singers for the remainder of the show.
Signing with Bono’s Progress Production Company, Powder recorded an unreleased album of quirky anglophile power pop and provided songs for the soundtrack to Bono’s 1969 film, Chastity.
Powder eventually evolved into the fraternal acoustic duo of Thomas & Richard Frost – taking the new surname at the insistence of their new label, Imperial Records – who produced the minor hit She’s Got Love, which peaked on the Billboard chart at #83 in late 1969.
Tom Martin retired from the music business in 1972.
With lilting ’66 Who-style harmonies, drummer Bill Schoppe’s Keith Moon-like avalanches, amped-up guitar assaults and heists of Gimme Some Lovin’, Powder stood as one of the great lost West Coast bands until some of their tracks were released as Biff! Bang! Powder! by Distortion Records in 1993.
The release prompted Rich Martin to re-form the band with his brother Mickey on drums, vocalist Paul Kopf and bassist Alec Palao.
Ka-Pow! An Explosive Collection: 1967-1968 (2014) finally provided a grab-bag of their whole recorded output, including demos, obscurities, and unreleased songs.
Vocals, bass, guitar