FLA… not only an abbreviation for Florida, but one of the Jersey circuit bands in the ‘80s that played all the top clubs. The band was formed by one of the circuit agents on the early ‘80s, Artie Fletcher. On a trip to Florida, he discovered Laura, who was not only a great vocalist, but played a mean guitar. So he brought her to New Jersey, and soon FLA was born.

Joining Laura in the group were Chris on drums, Bruce on bass, Ace on guitar, and Richie on keyboards. Soon after, Michael was brought in on drums. “I knew Bruce and Ace, and I was going to all the gigs,” remembers Michael. “And then they were having trouble with the drummer, or he was having trouble with them; I can’t remember which. I played with Bruce and Ace for a long time, and they kind of brought me up. I was younger.”

The band soon made a name for themselves playing a mixture of dance and rock music. They covered Motown, Genesis, Nightranger, Bryan Adams and Journey, among others. Some of the clubs where the band was most popular were The Nook in Hackettstown, the Raritan Manor in Somerville, and Mingles on Route 35. They were also very popular at the all-girl Centenary College. Thursday nights featured the band at Tradewinds in Sea Bright, which in those days was an all ages night during the summer at the shore venue.

One of the highlights of the show was a “knock contest” hosted by Richie. “He was completely insane,” says Michael. “He would go on stage in everything from street clothes to Saran Wrap to an adult diaper.” The contest would involve getting girls onto the stage to gyrate, and have the audience cheer for the best one. The he would bring up the guys, and have them do the same thing. Then the winners would be put together to bump and grind with each other.

After the demise of the band, Bruce and Ace went on to form the recent circuit band known as The White Boys. Ace eventually got married, and Bruce is presently working on a project with Vito Bratta, former guitarist with White Lion.

Laura has returned to her native Florida. “She was a very, very talented artist,” recalls Michael. “And the artistic part of her started to take precedent over music. It was scary how good an artist she was.”

Michael went on to play with quite a few bands. “I was in 11 bands in 12 years,” he says. He finally ended up in the major label recording act Tyketto. While they didn’t achieve great recognition in this country, they became quite popular in Europe and spent a great deal of time there in past years. Other projects he is working on are an album with Tyketto’s former singer, Danny Vaughn, and managing one of the top circuit bands, the Love Pumps.

He still has good memories of FLA. “It was a pretty cool band,” he says. “It was good music from a drummer’s perspective.”

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

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