For the preferred few with the raw intensity and reckless abandon of hungry warriors out to conquer the musical world lucky enough to be part of Cold War or Illumination, the journey was both inspiring and rewarding. They found a deep and soul filled satisfaction of knowing that they were part of something great that will never be forgotten.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Cold War's breakup was a hard one to take, however Richard (Kephas) Gonzalez was not going to be denied the chance for musical greatness and soon after formed the next "super group "Illumination (1974/1978). This musical group consisted of band leader Richard Gonzalez (Kephas) on lead guitar and vocals, Albert Acosta on guitar and vocals, Adrian Garcia (RIP) on a sizzling bass, Sean Moore and Albert Banos on drums, Wolf and Ibrahim Munoz on congas, Anthony Fortuna on the keyboards, Eli Perez on lead vocals and Debbie Arch as back-up vocalist to complete the group.
Illumination Concert / 1976
Justo Sierra came back as manager of the new group for a short while as he was soon replaced by Pedro and Julia Padron who suggested to give the band a new look, adding a salsa blend to an already full musical repertoire. This move was thought to be necessary to enlarge the band's horizons, they also made it a point to reinvent Eli from a hard rocker to a crooner, bolero style singer in which he quickly adapted and excelled with beautiful Spanish love songs that were simply amazing.
The band's unique energy filled songs which included many original tunes were featured many times on the Channel 23 shows of Blanquita Amaro and Armando Rodriguez, getting many rave reviews was the band's original Spanish version of "Solo un Beso". The band's lead vocalist Evelio "Eli" Perez was also featured in the band's version of Armando Manzanero's Adoro, delighting the ladies and giving the band another musical dimension in it's arsenal for future venues.
Illumination went on to be one of six national finalists for 1975's Florida Y-100's Battle of the Bands, not only
Anthony Fortuna (The Wap)
beating out hundreds of other aspiring South Florida bands but also earned important bragging rights as the best band that South Florida's music scene had to offer.
They were competing for a record deal with a major label. The group was not only told by some of the judges that they were the best and most original group in the competition, but that they were a shoe in and the heavy favorites to win it all.
But politics and behind the scene deals stunningly ripped away the obvious victory and abruptly ended that dream.
Sadly, Illumination did not last much longer after that perceived betrayal. Some of the members left the band and regroup to play the more popular dance tunes that were so much in demand in those days.
They formed "The Starfire Disco Band" featuring Albert Banos on drums, Anthony Fortuna on keyboards, Hector E. on congas, Albert Acosta on bass, Jimmy Feliciano on lead guitar and Eli and Debbie Arch on vocals, they became a formidable duet where vocals and harmonies was more in demand in the new Disco Era.
Al Banos ( El Caballin )
The band played in Calle Ocho, The Wreck Bar in the Castaways, The Button on the Lauderdale strip and many other clubs, they recorded some original material and became a fixture in the club scene.
Richard (Kephas) continued with Illumination, along with Joe Soria on keyboards, Juan Carlos on rhythm guitar, Julio and Paco Rodriguez on bass, Freddy and Eloy Guanche on drums and Eddy Perez ( RIP ) on lead vocals. (Twin brothers Eddy and Eli had performed together earlier in their musical adventures for another Miami Open House Band "Blue Haze" in 1972)
Eddy and Richard played many clubs in the Lauderdale area, together creating a great friendship between the two that lasted until Eddy's car accident that tragically ended his life on May 19, 2003.
Eddy with Illumination / 1978
But the "musical genius" and legend Richard (Kephas) Gonzalez continued playing under the banner of Illumination in the New York limelight for many years after and as of today he is still playing and recording his music (as Kephas), dedicating his deeply inspirational songs to God.
Although The Cold War and Illumination Bands did nor reach their expected goals, they were clearly ahead of their times, for they will forever live in the hearts and minds of the lucky few that saw this great band. This is our attempt to make things right and put both Cold War and Illumination where it belongs, among the great bands of the 70's Miami Open House Era............................