Introduction to the Cascades

Who are the Cascades?

Primarily known for their 1963 hit song “Rhythm of the Rain,” the Cascades have still been active even past their prime. The group was formed in San Diego, California in 1960, starting out as a purely instrumental outfit. Influenced by the vocal harmonies of the Beach Boys, the band took an interest in harmonized singing as well. They were subsequently signed to Valiant Records, Warner Bros.’ subsidiary label and was given the name the Cascades. They had their first released single, a regional hit single “There’s A Reason.”

Then they released another single, “Rhythm of the Rain,” which became the band’s biggest hit that spread worldwide in 1963. They would record and release subsequent singles like “Shy Girl” and “The Last Leaf” but none of them matched the success of “Rhythm of the Rain.” Nevertheless, their recordings remained popular in their hometown San Diego, where they continue to perform at local clubs. They disbanded in 1975, and reformed 20 years later. The Cascades have retained a large fan base in the Philippines where they would come and perform in sold-out concerts now and then, catering to nostalgic audiences and people who are in the mood for mushy and romantic songs.

From being instrumental to being vocal

The Cascades originated in San Diego, California in the early 1960s. The original members were lead vocalist John Claude Gunmoe (who was an ex-US Navy man), guitarist Eddie Snyder, keyboardist Von Lynch, keyboardist and saxophonist Ronald Lynch, bass guitarist Dave Stevens and drummer Dave Szabo. Starting out as a purely instrumental act, they released their first single “Thunder Rhythm” on the Del-Fi imprint.

The group learned about the Beach Boys, and soon they were interested in singing, especially in vocal harmony. Soon they started to record demos and were eventually signed to Warner Bros.’ Valiant subsidiary.

“Rhythm of the Rain” – The Cascades’ trademark tune

The Cascades’ first single as a singing act was “There’s A Reason,” which was released in 1962 and gained regional success. That summer they trooped to a Los Angeles recording studio to record a song titled “Rhythm of the Rain.” Gunmoe, who wrote this song, derived inspiration from his Navy years where he was on duty during one stormy day.

During the recording of the song, they were joined by a group of session musicians collectively known as the “Wrecking Crew.”

Released on Valiant label in late 1962 or early 1963, “Rhythm of the Rain” became the Cascades’ first national hit, peaking at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It also topped the Billboard’s easy listening charts, and did well on the US R&B and UK charts at #7 and #5, respectively. The single sold over a million units, guaranteeing it with a gold certification.

“Rhythm of the Rain” was also to be the Cascade’s only Top 10 hit on any of the charts, and has grown to be their trademark song.

Later career

The Cascades would never match the commercial success of “Rhythm of the Rain”, although they continued to record and release singles. They include “Shy Girl” (#91 pop), “The Last Leaf” (#60 pop), “For Your Sweet Love” (#86 pop), and their last Hot 100 single “Maybe the Rain Will Fall” (#61 pop) which was released in 1969.

By 1967, Gunmoe quit the Cascades to pursue a solo career, and his singing chores were taken over by keyboardist Gabe Lapano. Some lineup changes followed in an attempt to float above the changing musical tastes during those days. They finally disbanded in 1975.

In 1995, the Cascades reunited for a series of nostalgic/oldies concerts in some areas in the US (particularly in their hometown San Diego, California) and in the Philippines, where the group has a strong following. In 2004 and 2012, the Cascades got together again to do some more touring. The new millennium witnessed the releases of compilation CD’s Hits and Rarities and All the Way to Yesterday.