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Fandango

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New Jersey rockers Fandango were dogged by misfortune and misadventure throughout their inglorious career, and are now best remembered for launching the career of well-traveled vocalist Joe Lynn Turner, later of Rainbow, Yngwie Malmsteen, Deep Purple, and other A-line bands.
Turner had already been involved in a few amateur groups in the early '70s, but it was with the formation of Fandango in 1975 that he would officially go pro, joining guitarist Rick Blakemore (no relation, huge coincidence), keyboard player Denny LaRue, bassist Bob Danyls, and drummer Abe Speller in the lineup that finally graduated from countless club gigs to a record contract with RCA. The group's eponymous debut was released in 1977 and boasted a commercial sound inspired in equal measures by slick hard rockers Boston and the easygoing Eagles; but along with its 1978 successor, Last Kiss (which introduced new drummer Lou Mondelli, second keyboard player Larry Dawson, and a percussionist named simply Santos), and 1979's One Night Stand (marked by a dash of Southern accents à la Allman Brothers Band) it failed to dent the charts or expand Fandango's audience beyond the American Northeast. And then disaster really struck when the band's tour truck, packed with $80,000 worth of equipment, was stolen after a festival performance in Chicago, forcing them to sign over their publishing rights in exchange for funds with which to replace their gear before getting to work on fourth album, Cadillac, in 1980. Ironically, the latter would arguably prove to be Fandango's finest hour, despite the fraught conditions of its recording (bad vibes, bad producers, bad everything), as though the growing tension between bandmembers, business associates, and record label lent more urgency and focus to its hard rock direction (at times, eerily similar to what Turner would create with his next employer, incidentally). Unfortunately, this record was another commercial stiff and there was to be no last minute salvation for Fandango, which finally crumbled in a heap of shattered dreams and personal recriminations soon after its fourth album's release. ~ Eduardo Rivadavia, Rovi

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