One of the wild nights on the Jersey shore scene back in the late 1970s and early 1980s was at the Union Jack in South River, where the band Pretty Baby held a long running Sunday night party. “The bartenders used to jump on stage and sing with us,” explains guitarist Pete Weber. “It was a real party night.”
Joining Pete in Pretty Baby were vocalist/guitarist Kim Catrillo, bass player Rich Gray, drummer Joe Cailo, and keyboard player Wayne Decker. Together they formed the nucleus of what was one of the mainstays on the Jersey club scene at the time.
Besides the Union Jack, they could often be seen at clubs such as Close Encounters in Sayreville, the Headliner in Neptune, Motions in Irvington, Dodds in Orange, the Final Exam in Randolph, the Lighthouse in Lake Hopatcong, the popular Colonel’s Garter on Route 35, and just about every other major club on the circuit. They even had a steady Tuesday night in the Irvington/Vailsburg area that became a hot night.
The group did all cover material, which ranged from heavy rock to new wave. “At first we were doing all rock and roll, heavy stuff, like Janis Joplin, Heart and Led Zeppelin,” remembers Pete. “Then we converted to more poppy stuff, like Go-Gos and Pat Benatar. It was just the times.”
The most popular music the band performed turned out to be a lot of the new wave songs that were big at the time. But they also became known for great renditions of some classic material such as “White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane. “It’s hard to say what was most popular,” adds Pete. “We did such a variety at that time. I guess it was all that Pat Benatar, and all that new wave stuff.”
Finally, the group called it quits in the early 1980s. Even though Pretty Baby were still quite successful, they decided it was time to move on to other things, “We just had done enough,” says Pete. “Everybody kind of went their separate ways.”
After the demise of the group, Pete and Rich put together another long running popular band on the Jersey club circuit, Last Exit. The group were well known for classic rock and R&B, as well as ‘50s music, right up to hits by Journey and Barry Manilow, and even into the ‘90s, covering Live, the Spin Doctors, and Lenny Kravitz.
Just recently, Pete and Rich disbanded Last Exit, and are now part of another new band just hitting the scene, Superfreak, which covers the disco era. The band is just now hitting all the top clubs, and looks to be one of the major bands at the shore this summer. Besides covering disco and dance music, they utilize costumes and props to bring back the ‘70s decade in all its glory.
Coincidentally another of the hot new bands on the scene, Overboard, contains Angela Bruno, who was the keyboard player in Last Exit with Pete and Frank.
Wayne has gone on to a career as a high school teacher, and works in Hillside. Kim has continued performing, mostly on the wedding circuit. Joe, meanwhile worked with some ‘50s national revival touring bands.
The Union Jack is now known as c**ktails, and still hosts many of the top circuit bands. So it may be a return to the glory days of Pretty Baby for Pete and Rich, as they once again hit the nightspots that were the scene of wild times with Pretty Baby.
Copyright © Hal B. Selzer/The Aquarian/East Coast Rocker and transcribed with permission.