Pablo Cruise back together for special Lake Tahoe show
Ryan Summerlin October 30, 2012
Pablo Cruise found its place in the sun when it hit gold with more than a half-dozen hit singles. It also has another special location.
“Lake Tahoe is a special place in everbody’s hearts,” keyboardist Cory Lerios said.
The band plays just 15 to 20 concerts per year, but it will come to Tahoe for the fourth time since 2007 for a show Saturday, Nov. 3, in Harrah’s Lake Tahoe’s South Shore Room.
Lerios and drummer Steven Price met in the late 1960s at Heavenly Valley Ski Resort.
A 17-year-old Lerios, a Palo Alto native, pursued a goal of skiing by day and playing music at night when he started a club and a newly built Round Hill mall. Heavenly’s Hugh Killebrew appreciated Lerios’ entrepreneurship and invited him to perform regularly at his ski lodge. When his band’s drummer returned to school, crew member Price said, “I can play drums.”
Lerios and Price have performed together ever since. Dave Jenkins and bassist Bud Cockrell came aboard and Pablo Cruise was born.
“Whatcha Gonna Do” was the huge hit on the third Pablo Cruise record, “A Place in the Sun,” which was the name of the second big hit off of the album.
Pablo Cruise smartly followed up a year later in 1978 with another solid album “Worlds Away,” securing the band a permanent mark on rock ‘n’ roll.
One of the band’s members, however, made an ill-timed move. Cockrell, the lead singer in “Whatcha Gonna Do,” left the band for another project just before the song ascended up the charts.
Bass has been the band’s only instrumental position in flux. Ex-Santana player Bruce Day, who recently died, replaced Cockrell for a record. Day was replaced by John Pierce, who now plays with Huey Lewis’ band. George Gabriel joined when the band started playing again in 2004, and the latest bassit is Larry Antonio, who was recommended to Jenkins by Bill Champlin.
Antonio is one of the busier bass players in the business, performing more than 200 shows a year with bands such as Air Supply, Barry Manilow and Jeff Lorber.
“He’s a huge inspiration and an excellent singer,” Lerios said. “He has a pure tenor voice.”
Many of the Pablo Cruise hits have been rearranged for a new live DVD/CD, “It’s Good to Be Live.” The quality of the songs endure more than 30 years after hitting the top of the charts.
“It’s not like we’re hemmed into a really bubble gummy tune that you have to live with for the rest of your life,” said Lerios, who now lives in Thousand Oaks and for the last 25 years has written television soundtracks, including the upcoming syndicated program “Rescue 3.”
“I am working out of Britney Spears’ house today,” Lerios told Lake Tahoe Action last week by phone.
Lerios brought on Leroy Bell, last season’s star of “The X Factor,” to sing lead on a new version of “Love Will Find A Way,” which is expected to be released early next spring.
Lerios also is overseeing the rising music careers of his sons Dimitri and Michale and videographer Andrew.
But he said he will always find some time for Pablo Cruise.
“This is our golf,” he joked.
“Dave and I always stayed in contact,” he said in an earlier interview. “It’s not like we had an ugly breakup, and when we get back together it’s like we never left. When you go back that far with buddies who you started out basically out of school and you put something out there that actually does get international recognition, there’s a lot of stories that are passed over those years. So when you get back together it’s a lot of fun.”
Pablo Cruise was huge in Japan during the band’s heyday. Its instruments are the soundtrack for that country’s cult surf film “Free Ride.”
The band recently performed in Japan for six shows in the venerable Blue Note. Lerios said he didn’t know what to expect, but was happy to play for enthusiastic crowds who knew the words to all the hits.
Pablo Cruise doesn’t play often, and Tahoeans are the fortunate ones who get to still see the band.