70s Music

Introduction to Brownsville Station

Brownsville StationGet to know the band at a glance

Brownsville Station is a Michigan rock and roll band that was popular during the early 1970s. The original lineup of the band consists of guitarist/singer Cub Koda, guitarist Mike Lutz, bassist Tony Driggins and drummer T.J. Cronley. Later members are Henry “H-Bomb” Weck, Bruce Nazarian, Andy Patalan, Billy Craig, Arlen Viecelli and Brad Johnson. In 1973 they reached their commercial peak with the #3 pop hit single “Smokin’ In the Boys Room.”

Beginnings and early career

Brownsville Station was formed in Ann Arbor, Michigan in the late 1960s. The initial lineup consisted of Michael “Cub” Koda (guitar), Bruce Nazarian (guitars/vocals), Mike Lutz (guitar), Tony Driggins (bass) and T.J. Cronley (drums). Later on Henry Weck came to replace Cronley on the drum kit.

The band’s early recordings consisted of song covers from acts that they adored. They were largely influenced by 1950s rock artists such as Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, and Jerry Lee Lewis.

The band made much more impact when they performed live, thanks in large part to Koda’s onstage antics (which would influence later artists such as Peter Wolf of J. Geils Band and Alice Cooper).

The Brownsville Station released their first album No BS on Warner Bros. label in 1970. Two years later they issued their second LP A Night on the Town, which barely made it to the Billboard 200 at #191. Their cover of Australian country singer Slim Newton’s “The Redback Spider” became their first charting single ever, just a minor hit on the Hot 100 at #96.

 

A big hit with “Smokin’ In The Boys Room”

Their biggest success arrived in 1973 when the Koda-Lutz team penned single “Smokin’ In the Boys Room” went to #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 (it went to #27 on the UK singles chart). The success of that single brought its LP Yeah! (the band’s third) topping out at #98 on the Billboard 200, making it their most successful album ever yet. A previously released single from Yeah! — their cover of the Pioneers’ “Let Your Yeah Be Yeah” — had peaked at #57.

 

Later career and life after the original Brownsville Station

During their heyday, Brownsville Station released other albums: School Punks (1974; reached #170 on the Billboard 200), Motor City Connection (1975), Brownsville Station (1977), and Air Special (1977), which was released on Epic label.

The band’s second-highest charting single was “Kings of the Party” (from School Punks), which rose to #31 on the Billboard Hot 100. Another Hot 100 single “The Martian Boogie” (at #59), was also used as a feature on Dr. Demento’s radio show.

The classic Brownsville Station lineup disbanded in 1979. During those long, intervening years, each former group member had been busy with their own projects.

After the band split, Koda launched a solo career and later became a music journalist; he died in 2000 as a result of kidney failure, aged 51.

Lutz, on the other hand, went on to produce music for several bands, including rock star and fellow Michigan native Ted Nugent’s Spirit of the Wild LP. He teaches guitar in his hometown of Ann Arbor, where he still resides, as well as is active in the recently-revitalized Brownsville Station in the new millennium.

After he left the band in its early years, ex-drummer Cronley became a US Marine Corps pilot and later lieutenant coronel until he retired from the service in 1992. Currently, he is a pilot on FedEx planes.

Weck also ventured into producing records, something he had already done while he was still with Brownsville Station. He worked for Atlantic Records’ house artists, including Southern rockers Blackfoot.

Nazarian also became a record producer, and now serves as a CEO of his own company Digital Media Consulting group. He is also a radio show host, website owner, and entertainment manager.

Re-formation with new members and a new album

In 2012 Lutz and Weck helped to reform Brownsville Station. This resulted in the band’s first album in over three decades, Still Smokin’ which was released that same year. For the first time in many years, Brownsville Station finally hit the road again in 2013, along with current members Andy Patalan, Billy Craig, Arlen Viecelli and Brad Johnson.

 

Helpful Brownsville Station links

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