Hear the voice of America’s sons: John Cafferty & the Beaver Brown Band’s soundtrack saga blues

By on November 21, 2018

Night Flight’s “Take Off to Patriotism” — which originally aired on November 27, 1987, and you can watch on Night Flight Plus — featured music videos promoting the patriotic idea of being proud to be an American (sadly, we haven’t felt very proud or patriotic about America since the 2016 election of President Donald Trump).

One of the videos featured is John Cafferty & the Beaver Brown Band’s “Voice of America’s Sons,” the theme to George P. Cosmatos’s 1986 film Cobra, starring Sylvester Stallone (he’d starred in Cosmatos’s Rambo: First Blood Part II in 1985).

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Stallone originally had several ideas for Cobra‘s action-packed screenplay — based loosely on Paula Gosling’s novel Fair Game — for an entirely different film, 1984’s Beverly Hills Cop.

When producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer decided to go a different way with that film’s lead role, Stallone left the project and brought his ideas to Cobra (his replacement, Eddie Murphy, would become a huge box office star).

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Directed by Dominic Sena,  “Voice of America’s Sons” is pretty straight-forward, as music videos go.

The band are seen standing on the roof of a skyscaper, with L.A.’s skyline behind them, lip-synching the song while scenes from Cobra are seen playing on a billboard.

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Today, John Cafferty & the Beaver Brown band — John Cafferty (lead vocals/guitar), Gary “Guitar” Gramolini (lead guitar), Bobby Cotoia (keyboards), Michael “Tunes” Antunes (sax), Pat Lupo (bass) and Kenny Jo Silva (drums) — are still mainly known as the band who recorded tracks for the fictional movie band “Eddie & the Cruisers.”

There’s quite a story behind this, which we’ll tell you more about below.

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John Cafferty & the Beaver Brown Band — originally calling themselves Beaver Brown, after the color of their first recording studio — formed in 1972 in Narragansett, Rhode Island, playing covers on the East Coast beach-bar circuit and gigs at local Northeastern colleges.

By the mid-’70s, the blue collar working man’s bar band were one of the most successful bands in the entire New England area, playing gigs up and down the Atlantic seaboard, all the way down to the Washington D.C. area.

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Whenever they played on bills with Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band — particularly at the Stone Pony and the Fast Lane in Asbury Park — Bruce would often join them onstage to jam.

Their first single, “Wild Summer Nights,” was released on Coastline Records in 1980, selling over 100,000 copies.

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Then, in 1981, they caught their first major break when movie soundtrack producer Kenny Vance saw the band playing at the Bitter End on Bleeker Street in NYC.

Vance — the former musical director of “Saturday Night Live” was now putting together soundtracks for movies like Animal House and American Hot Wax — asked them to write songs for a movie being directed by Martin Davidson (The Lords of Flatbush).

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Eddie & the Cruisers was based on a best-selling novel about a fictional 1960s Jersey Shore garage rock band who have success with their first album.

Their record company refuses to release a follow-up album, however which eventually causes poor Eddie to crack up and drive his car off a bridge.

Years later, their debut album is re-issued and once again it becomes a hit, albeit shrouded in mystery due to the fact that the master tapes to the second album are now missing.

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Cafferty wrote some new songs, and he came up with new versions of some older songs, which were then lip-synched onscreen by actor Michael Paré as lead singer “Eddie Wilson.”

Eddie & the Cruisers was released in 1983 to boffo critical reviews but poor box office receipts.

Eddie & the Cruisers: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack was, however, a surprise success, and John Cafferty & the Beaver Brown Band — now being promoted as the “real life” band behind Eddie & the Cruisers — scored with a couple of hits clinging to the bottom rungs of Billboard‘s Hot 100 chart.

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After the movie began playing frequently on HBO, their record company Scotti Brothers re-released “On the Dark Side,” which shot up to #7 on the Hot 100 and #1 on Billboard‘s Top Rock chart.

The soundtrack eventually sold over three million copies, achieving triple-platinum status.

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John Cafferty & the Beaver Brown Band released their Tough All Over album in 1985, the title track single scoring at #22 Hot 100 hit, reaching #1 on the Top Rock chart. A second single, “C-I-T-Y,” scored even higher (#18).

The band toured the U.S., opening for the Beach Boys, Roy Orbison and other top tier acts, and appeared on Dick Clark’s “American Bandstand” and other network and cable TV shows.

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More soundtrack opportunities arose when Cafferty’s “Hearts on Fire”appeared on the Rocky IV soundtrack, while Cobra‘s “Voice Of America’s Sons” landed in the Hot 100.

Unfortunately, sales of their 1987 album Roadhouse weren’t all that great.

When their soundtrack to 1989’s sequel — Eddie & the Crusiers II: Eddie Lives! – was released, its sales were much better than their own albums.

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In 1991, Scotti Brothers released outtakes, scoring cues, and demo recordings as Eddie and the Cruisers: the Unreleased Tapes, but they failed to get Cafferty’s approval first.

When the band’s live concert album — again credited to “Eddie & the Cruisers” — was released next, Cafferty’s name didn’t even appear on its cover.

Cafferty eventually sued Scotti Brothers for copyright infringement, false advertising, unfair competition, breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and other violations of state law, but the Scotti Brothers label prevailed in the lawsuit.

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Watch Night Flight’s “Take Off to Patriotism” on Night Flight Plus.

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.