The Sandpipers were a folk rock and easy listening group with an international flair that became famous during the mid 1960s. The group's founding and core members consisted of Jim Brady, Michael Piano (October 26, 1944 - December 29, 2014), and Richard Shoff. Additional members included Pamela Ramcier who provided wordless female backing vocals on most of The Sandpipers' hits, giving the group its distinctive ethereal sound. Several other (mostly uncredited) female singers also served at times as backing vocalists, and there were a number of personnel changes in the 1970s. The Sandpipers are best remembered for their haunting rendition of the Cuban patriotic song, "Guantanamera," featuring guest vocalist Robie Lester (March 23, 1925 - June 14, 2005), with the spoken English narration provided by the song's producer, Tommy LiPuma (July 5, 1936 - March 13, 2017).
The Sandpipers began in the early 1960s as an all-male folk trio known as The Grads made up of Brady, Piano, and Shoff who had first performed together in The Mitchell Boys Choir. They were active in the Lake Tahoe area and had a residency at Harrah's Lake Club (now Harveys Lake Tahoe) in Stateline, Nevada. They came to the attention of famed trumpeter and record executive Herb Alpert of A&M Records who signed them to his label. They released several non-charting singles as The Grads before renaming themselves The Sandpipers.
The Sandpipers made their debut on the Pop/Rock charts in 1966 with the Grammy-nominated "Guantanamera," which became a Top 10 hit and also charted internationally. They had a Top 40 hit later that year with their more subdued and delicate cover of The Kingsmen's garage rock classic, "Louie, Louie." The Sandpipers had a Top 20 hit in 1969 with "Come Saturday Morning," which was part of the soundtrack to "The Sterile Cuckoo." The group's other hits, which continued on both the Adult Contemporary and Pop/Rock charts through 1970, also included "Cuando Sali De Cuba" (1967), "Quando M'Innamoro" (1968), "Santo Domingo" (1970), and "Free To Carry On" (1970).
The Sandpipers released many albums and singles through 1979, with seven albums in the Billboard 200 and over a dozen charted singles. They performed the title song to the 1970 cult classic parody, "Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls," which was released as a single and included in their album, "Come Saturday Morning" (1970).
- The Garden Island remembers Michael Piano.
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