MARK GALLAGHER - Lead Vocals and Guitar
Born in Chicago, Illinois on March 17, 1948, Mark was singing as early as age 3 and he hasn't stopped since. As a young boy growing up in the Windy City, it was commonplace to own a transistor radio. Mark and his friends used to listen to their radios constantly, even taking them to bed and falling asleep to the music. Mark once said "In those days there wasn't much else to do but go to ballgames and listen to our transistor radios".
As he got older he began making the rounds to Chicago area clubs and ballrooms, listening to music every chance he got. By the mid '60's he was singing in bands. While at a friends house, rehearsing with a band just starting out, Mark had the good fortune to meet a guitarist from another group who just happened to stop by. Greatly impressed with Gallagher's vocal abilities, he asked Mark to join his band. The name of the group was "The Morticians" and it was Mark's first professional experience. Musically the group was typical '60's style rock, but visually they were unique as they would appear on stage in black turtle-neck sweaters, black suits and silver sprayed hair.
As Mark neared his twenties he had already sang in quite a few Chicago area bands, but none was as popular as "The Saints". The year was 1966 and the group had an original song they recorded which was written by Michael Bean, the group's lead guitarist. The song Please Don't Leave Me became one of the first documented hits of the Chicago area. Later Bean would go on to play Bass with a group called "Aorota" who rivaled "Chicago" and "The Buckinghams" in popularity in the late '60's.
By early 1968 Mark had quit "The Saints" to join one of the bigger draws in town, "The Troys". Here is where Gallagher got his first real exposure to the world of recording and appearing at big name venues. Promoted by Bill Trout of Windy City Productions, the band played clubs like "The Barn" and "The Cellar" both well known and popular Chicago venues. It was at "The Barn" that Gallagher met "The Litter" for the first time. "The Troys" were the opening act and after their set Mark stuck around to catch "The Litter's" performance. He was very impressed and got a chance to meet Jim Kane, "Zip" Caplan and Tom Murray after the show. It wouldn't be long before their paths would cross again.
As "The Troys" continued to successfully play the area, Bill Trout was busy securing them a record deal with Tower Records, a Capitol subsidiary. Bill also gave them the song they would record Got To Fit You Into My Life. The interesting thing about this record is the fact that because of it's title, it has been mistaken for the "Beatles" Got To Get You Into My Life on more than one occasion. Bill Trout had put the band in a new position as they were now recording artists for a major record label. That the record was less than successful is surprising considering the fact that Bill Trout was also the man responsible for groups like "Mason Profit" and "The American Breed" who had a big national hit with Bend Me Shape Me. Bill had not only produced that record but Gloria by "The Shadows of Knight" as well.
With record sales less than exciting and new bands like "Cream" making their way up the charts, Mark was beginning to look for other options. "The Troys" were a six-piece band with five-part harmonies covering tunes by "The Beach Boys", "The Hollies" and "The Beatles" but Gallagher longed to sing in a much harder vein more in tune with the likes of "Blue Cheer", "Jimi Hendrix" and "Cream". Finally in frustration he quit.
For awhile Mark was in and out of smaller Chicago groups and at one point even had his own band, aptly name "Mark Gallagher and Friends", but this group was short lived. One interesting side note is that the bass player, Phil Magini, eventually went on to release albums with a group called "Shadow Fax" and they won a Grammy in 1988 for Best "New Age" Band.
Finally in November of 1968 Mark Gallagher was approached by long time friend Scott Doneen in regard to auditioning for a group Scott was managing. The name of the band was "The Litter". Lonnie Knight, who had replaced both Denny Waite and "Zippy" Caplan had left "The Litter" after only a few months and they had just hired Ray Melina to sing and play lead guitar. Ray, however, was not a strong enough singer to carry the lead vocal chores for an entire night's work, so Gallagher got the job beginning what would become a long successful partnership.
For awhile in 1969 "The Litter" lived and rehearsed in a house in Minneapolis also occupied by "White Lightning". It was here that Mark and "Zip" Caplan became close friends. Gallagher, at one point, lent his talents to a "White Lightning" song Bogged Down by penning the lyrics to Caplan and Woodrich's music. Mark also became good friends with the rest of "White Lightning" and jam sessions at the house were not uncommon.
For the next three years Mark toured and recorded with "The Litter" playing some of the most prestigious venues in the country and working with some of the era's top Rock bands.
As "The Litter" moved into the early '70's their music, guided by Gallagher, became more theatrical and more bizarre. With songs like Ungrateful Pig, Trek of The Mongoloids, Crossover and Crazy Horse, the band was stunning crowds everywhere. Crossover, a song written by Dan Rinaldi and Gallagher, became a showstopper for the band. Bringing the crowd to almost riotous behavior, the lyrics told the story of a man confined to an insane asylum with Gallagher going into a Barber of Seville parody ending in crazed laughter.
Mark Gallagher had come a long way from those earlier days and the simpler more wholesome music of "The Beatles" and "Beach Boys". He had developed a totally unique approach to heavy rock music way ahead of his time. As much as the original "Litter" was a forerunner to the Punk movement, it can be said the '70's "Litter" was a forerunner to the Heavy Metal music of the '80's and '90's.
Mark's style both vocally and in his stage persona was truly amazing, different and exciting. After sitting through a "Litter" concert you knew you wouldn't see anything else quite like it. Gallagher had the ability to throw his limber body around the stage like a rag doll while at the same time keeping his powerful voice and extraordinary range in complete control. As good as Mark was, the strain of turning in this kind of performance night after night, combined with numerous personnel changes and other differences within the band, eventually led him to the conclusion it was time for a change. Mark Gallagher left "The Litter" in 1971.
It wasn't long after Mark quit "The Litter" that Sean Jones, then "Litter" guitarist, also quit the group. A short time later Sean ran into two brothers, John and Bob Flomer, who were jobbing around Minneapolis in a band called "U.S. Pipe". After doing some sessions with them in smaller recording studios, the Flomer's decided to bring Sean into the group and Sean in turn brought in Gallagher. They changed the name to "Archangel" added Doug Paulson on guitar and a then unknown keyboardist named Yanni. Sean wouldn't last long with the new group, but Mark found a new home for his theatrics. In fact the band became totally theatrical and Gallagher himself dubbed their music "Science-Fiction Rock".
The "Archangel" original songs were actually stories set to music. Gallagher wrote all the lyrics and acted them out on stage using mime, theatrics and choreography. The band moved to Los Angeles in 1973. Working all over the LA area, they met a lot of music industry heavy weights. At one point Mark was in negotiations with Herb Cohen, Frank Zappa's manager. Although Cohen showed extreme interest in "Archangel", he was so busy with Zappa's affairs that nothing other than talk ever came out of it. Finally, recording some material and continuing to play in LA venues, the group believed they were making progress. Unfortunately most of the "big-wig" record executives felt the group was way ahead of it's time and therefore hard to promote. Some exec's even suggested the band would do better to wait for 6 or 7 years until an up and coming new format "Video" could jump start them. Feeling they needed to be seen to be promoted properly record exec's told them this new medium could be the avenue that would launch the group into stardom. The problem with this for "Archangel" was how to survive for that long of a time period without breaking up. It didn't seem realistic to them at the time and Gallagher knew the group couldn't make it that long on pure speculation.
Finally in late '73 after knocking around LA for almost a year with less than satisfying results, the band drifted apart. Mark had a chance meeting with "Zip" Caplan, during the last days of "Archangel's" existence, in a rehearsal hall on Sunset Strip. Caplan was there rehearsing with a group and the two had a chance to catch up on each others lives. Their paths would not cross again until the '90's.
Returning to Chicago, Mark worked odd jobs around town until 1977 when he returned to Minneapolis to rejoin a newer watered down version of "Archangel". They had now become a cover band jobbing at local Minneapolis bars and it wasn't long before Mark realized he was on a one way street to nowhere. Disappointed and frustrated he went back to Chicago.
By 1979 Gallagher could be seen jobbing with a group called "Clone". Put together by a Playboy International executive, the band began playing Chicago area clubs. A theatrical style group with all original material, the bands future looked promising, but poor management and a lack of industry savvy doomed the group to failure. The sad truth was that these Playboy exec's, as Mark put it, "------ knew girls but not music". Gallagher quit and moved back to Minneapolis where he would finally settle down.
Out of the business for most of the '80's, Mark worked for some time as a pit mechanic for the bus company. Married and then divorced, he finally decided to get back in the music business and by 1990 could once again be seen performing his acrobatics with a group called "Dick Tracy". A bar-cover band, with some original material, the group would play six nights a week rotating clubs in and around the Twin Cities. Gallagher, every bit as good vocally as he was in "The Litter" heyday, gave his all to the band, but the grind of four 45 minute sets per night six nights a week eventually wore him down. By late 1991 "Dick Tracy" was no more.
A few months later in early '92 Mark was contacted by "Zippy" Caplan in regard to taking Mick Stanhope's place in the reunion "Litter". Mark, completely surprised by the offer, was more than agreeable to finish the new album and perform live with the group.
After "The Litter" reunion ran it's course in 1993 Mark continued to keep up with his own guitar playing and writing. In recent years he has taken to playing drums as well as painting and working part time for a local Co-op. He takes pride in his son Mike and daughter Ellie, spending time with them whenever possible.
In touch periodically with his good friend "Zip" Caplan, Mark has recently been discussing plans with "Zip" regarding a new "Litter" reunion show for the 1998 Mill City Festival in downtown Minneapolis. The 1997 event, showcasing both National acts and old favorite local groups, was very successful and packed thousands of people into the downtown area. Mark is looking forward to being a part of the 1998 show and once again working with his "Litter" friends.