Chapter 15 – Ch-Ch-Changes
In 2003 and 2004, Rich found himself reassessing his personal and professional life. The business was changing and in many ways, so was Rich. These years saw Rich slowly pull away from music and saw many of his projects fold; including “The Cover Girls,” “Spina and Sullivan,” and by extension, “Spina, Sullivan and Hudak.” Changes were on the way indeed.
Rich Spina performs on Cleveland’s Fox 8 Show
Certainly the biggest change during this period was his decision to leave “Gary Lewis and the Playboys” after 17 years touring the country and world. The decision was much needed, yet bittersweet at the same time.
“The years with Gary were lots of fun. He was a funny, sweet & gentle man to work for and also a good friend. As I look back on the 17yrs together, a smile always appears because we did have some hilarious times together on the road.”
Rich completely stepped away from music in 2005, his first break since he began playing. He spent the year being humbled in ways he couldn’t have imagined and coming to terms with some very heavy stuff. John Lennon once said “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” Rich found Lennon’s words to be all too true.
He was able to release his first solo CD in many years, entitled “Sometimes, When I’m Alone,” which was mostly recorded in 2004. The CD is a collection of neatly crafted, well written and introspective songs on love and life, with Rich’s signature polished production and gifted sense of melody. The disc garnered excellent reviews and is available on iTunes.
Rich returned to music full time in October of 2005 and with a newfound appreciation for playing and a humbled heart. He also returned to the scene with a vengeance. His first live show was for the TV show “Upbeat Show Reunion 2005” on October 29th at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio. Rich served as musical director for the evening, playing keys and singing backup for industry heavyweights like Mark Farner (Grand Funk), Joey Molland (Badfinger), Terry Sylvester (Hollies), Andy Kim, Ron Dante (The Archies) and Eddie Holman.
Shortly after “Upbeat,” Rich reunited with Love Affair band mates Wes Coolbaugh and Mike Hudak, along with former Playboy, Darren Frate, to form “The Cleveland Boys,” playing bars around town. He also joined “The Praise Band” at his church, a position he still holds to this day.
In addition to returning to the stage, he also found time to produce Graham Girard’s second solo CD, “The Long Way Home,” and the debut CD for Donna Bernsdorf’s (Lipstick) new Christian band “U41.” He joined Girard and Bernsdorf on stages around town.
Rich was back and it was good to be busy again. Despite a difficult few years, something told him he was about to be “into something good” in the near future. And then Peter Noone, of Herman’s Hermits called.