After nearly 20 years, the members of Wild Sound Unlimited will return to the stage together for two shows in Petersburg.
The band got started in the Tri-Cities area in late 1966 when drummer Marvin Faison and other band members started taking band classes at Petersburg High School, Faison said. Most of the members grew up in the area of Columbia Road and Bellevue Avenue, he said.
“That’s essentially where it all started, and the band just kind of escalated,” said Faison, who now lives in Chester. By 1968, the band was playing all over the Tri-Cities area at dances and sock hops, he said; he remembers playing at Thomas Dale High School’s prom in 1969 or 1970.
“That was some really wild times around 1969,” Faison said. Kevan Key joined as the lead singer in 1969 when he was just 14 years old, he said. Someone recommended Key, saying he’d “heard this guy sing with the radio and he’s really got a great voice,” Faison said.
The popularity of the band really picked up then, he said, and, after Paul Scott and Marty Stone began managing the band, the group went to Philadelphia and cut a single, I Know You and its flipside, I Just Can’t Wait.
“We were like mini rock stars on a local level around here,” he said. The band broke up in May of 1971, he said, after most of the group’s members graduated from high school.
The group played for several of the Petersburg High School reunions, and “they asked us to once again get together and play for the 40th reunion,” which will take place Saturday, June 19, Key said.
“We just figured it was a time to get together and play again,” Key said. For the shows, the keyboard player, J.T. Garrett, is coming in from California, and the saxophone player is making the trip from Florida, he said.
“The core of the band still lives the Tri-Cities area,” said Key, who lives in Chester.
The band will also take the stage Friday, June 18, at the Petersburg Civic Center. The band will go on at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20, and proceeds from the show will go to the Cares Shelter in Petersburg, he said.
The group plays a lot of music, including that of Chicago, Blood, Sweat and Tears, James Brown and Wilson Pickett, among others, he said.
The last time the group played together was in 1990. They played a high school reunion, and decided to hold their own dance in Hopewell on New Year’s Eve, Key said. The band is gearing up for its first shows in nearly two decades.
“We’ve been practicing and making really good progress, and we’re really excited about it,” he said.
Faison said the group has been amazed by the response to the shows, and he expected the June 18 show to be sold out by the weekend.
“We caught a cultural wave,” he said. “We were simply in the right place at the right time.”