Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Medical Examiners' Legend

The Medical Examiners

The Medical Examiners burst onto the American rock ‘n’ roll scene in 1956, with their first single, “Let’s Go to the Autopsy” (AutoPlay 5601). The song raced to the top of nearly all the charts in the band’s native Spelunk, New Jersey and found another hot market on the radio stations and dancefloors of Scranton, Pennsylvania.
Their follow-up hit, “With You on My Table,” this time credited as The Five Medical Instruments (Gasp 3102), gained them a major label record deal. They retook their original name, and as The Medical Examiners, were bankable stars and toured the nascent rock ‘n’ roll world incessantly. Their debut LP, the breakthrough Teenage Autopsy sold 8 million copies, unheard of at the time. The dark Crime Scene Bigshots fared just as well. Their fame, however, waned, and their 1961 release, a weak, instrumental “cocktail” album entitled An Autopsy for Two failed in the record stores.
The Medical Examiners were not deterred. They followed musical trends, with 1963’s Autopsy Surfin’, and their folk album, My Son, the Medical Examiner, enormous hits. With “the five aut-tops’” 1964 smashes, Music to Watch Autopsies By and Autopsy á Go-Go, the boys from Spelunk were back on top again. The “Autopsy” craze was defined by their appearance on the Jackie Gleason Show, when “The Vivisect” became a nationwide dance sensation. They continued in 1965 with Having a Wild Autopsy (with its own dance hit, “Do the Microscopic”), but later that year, Autopsy Rave-Up and its ill-received “butcher cover” found them again in a downturn of popularity. They became angry with themselves, their public, and their management and descended into seclusion and narcotics.
In 1968, their money had run out.
Their lead singer, Frank Offerman says, “I was just sick of being idle. We still had some gas in the Medical Examiner tank.”
Tommy Persicchiola, the band’s lead guitarist agrees. “Frankie is a f-----g jackass, but I had to get out of my mom’s garage. She pretty much told me that.”
Musical trends had been changing in the boys’ time off. They moved to upstate New York and over the next two years constructed their opus, the double album, The Rest of Your Life. It helped define FM radio and what became known as “album-oriented rock.” Arenas were ablaze with the plaintive strains of “Dead Inside,” and their rocker, “Cutter.” They followed in 1974 with Cold and Blue, and their final studio release, 1977’s Saturday Night Autopsy, earning them two Grammy nominations and an Australian Golden Globe win for Middle-aged Group of the Year.
The decade turned, and in 1981, bassist Charlie Davidsen left the band, forming his own, The Quincys, who had a string of AOR hits. His departure spelled the death knell for the band; however, a comeback LP entitled Culture on the Slide is purportedly in the works.

Michael Chandler

Rock-O-Motion Magazine - 1992

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