Back in 1980, a band was forming that would end up in the charts in Europe in 1996. The band was called The Message, and not only did it have a modern day revival, but the group played a major role in the formation of one of New Jersey’s biggest contributions to rock and roll history.

Dean Fasano, long known as one of the most distinctive voices on the New Jersey music scene, was playing in various bands with guitarist Richie Sambora in the late ‘70s. One of the groups actually got a recording deal with Led Zeppelin’s Swan Song label, but Zeppelin drummer John Bonham dies, and the label disbanded.

In 1980, Dean was approached by a financial backer, who offered to form a company to back a band. Dean brought together Richie, former Phantom’s Opera bassist Alec John Such, drummer Andy Rubo of the circuit band Flossie, and Simon from Rivendell as well as the original act Mirthandir. Bruce foster, who appeared on the debut KISS album, and who had a Top 40 hit of his own, also came in to play some keyboards.

“We pulled it all together ourselves,” explains Dean. “It was our own company, our own publishing deal. We only did about 1800 pressings, and we sold it out of the trunk of our car.”

The band managed to get some midwestern dates with Joe c**ker, and in 1982 was doing a small-scale tour. “We got a great reception,” remembers Dean. “We were writing, and rehearsing new songs, and then the money ran out.”

Meanwhile, the backer of the group bought a club in Sayreville, to give the group a place to practice. They had a lot of bands to play there, and one of the groups coming through was Jon Bon Jovi and the Wild Ones. That’s where Jon had the opportunity to meet Richie and Alec, and in 1983, when he was putting together a band to back up the success of his “Runaway” recording, he called on Richie and Alec.

“I still remember playing in Chicago, and Richie and me were sitting in the dressing room, and this big ass dude came in. He said to Richie, ‘You’re gonna be a big guitar hero.’ He was just some voodoo guy, and we were throwing stuff at him, but a year later, Richie was on his way to stardom. I don’t even know if Richie would remember that story.”

Recently, Ted Poley, the vocalist from Danger Danger, was getting together his Bone Machine project fro release overseas. When he found out his European label liaison was a big fan of Dean, he hooked them up. Since some Italian labels were getting ready to release bootleg recordings of the Message album, he called Dean to put a deal together for an official release. “It did pretty well,” says Dean. “In the first five days, it sold 8,600 copies.” They also hit the charts in some other countries, and it was released in Japan as well.

Since the demise of the band, Dean has kept extremely busy, singing on the first Prophet album for RCA Records, doing back-up on Richie’s solo album, and recording with bands such as Phantom’s Opera and Adrian Dodz. He has just started a new company, and is writing and recording songs to be shopped to the labels. There is even talk of a Message II album for release overseas. He is also singing backup on Jon Bon Jovi’s new solo album, which will be out next year. “It’s a great sounding record,” says Dean. So keep your ears open for one of the unique vocal stylists in the area… he’s still got a lot of music left in his storied voice.

Copyright © Hal B. Selzer/The Aquarian/East Coast Rocker and transcribed with permission.

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