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After that Bob Leonard moved to Massachusetts and then back to Vermont. In 1976 he picked up some gigs in a little bar in Waitfield, Vermont where he vacillated between playing tunes on the piano by David Bowie and his own original compositions. While in Vermont Bob met a gentleman named Larry Rosenbloom. Larry Rosenbloom, was originally from Memphis, Tennessee but was residing in New York City. He was spending time in Vermont on vacation when he met Bob Leonard.

 

Rosenbloom was living in New York on the West End on 84th Street and extended an invitation for Bob to come and visit him in New York City. Bob accepted the offer and stayed with Rosenbloom in New York for a while. While he was in the Big Apple, Bob began playing open mic nights at venues like Paul Kolbays Other End club.

This is where yet another phase of Bob Leonard’s career in music begins. While he was in New York, Bob was introduced to Willie Mink DeVille through Eve Moon, a friend of Larry Rosenbloom’s. (Eve Moon is a former New York City street performer/rock belter who released a self-titled album in 1981. She sang back up vocals on Mink DeVilles’ Le Chat Bleu (1980) and Coup de Grase (1981) and also composed a song with Soozie Tyrell that appeared on Tyrells’ 2003 release White Lines).

In 1977 Bob joined Mink DeVille. Mink Deville were considered by many to be among the most original groups on the punk scene in New York City at the time. The group made numerous appearances at the legendary music club CBGB’s and were often mentioned in the same breath as Blondie, the Talking Heads, Televsion and the Ramones...

Mink DeVille lp Cover

In 1977 Bob played piano on Mink DeVille’s first album for Capitol Records. Mink DeVille [also called Cabretta] was originally issued as Capitol ST 11631. It was later reissued on CD as Era Records 501201 in 1993.

Mink DeVille’s debut album has the distinction of being produced by Jack Nitzche. Jack Nitzsche is a composer whose credits include work with legendary rock producer Phil Spector. The disc received a Rolling Stone Magazine Critics Choice Award and was praised by the publication as one of the best albums of the year.

Mink DeVille, with Bob Leonard on piano, toured Europe in 1977 to promote their new record. They visited 30 towns in 33 days. This tenacious tour schedule earned the band a cult following in the UK. Two tracks from the Mink DeVille/Cabretta album, “Spanish Stroll’ and Cadillac Walk became fairly big hits in Europe.

In 1978 Mink DeVille cut their second LP, Return to Magenta (Capitol SW 11780, reissued on CD as Era Records 501202 in 1993). Like its predecessor, this album also featured the help of Jack Nitzsche and contained a ballad titled Just Your Friends which the composer co-wrote with Willie DeVille. In addition to Nitzsche’s help, the LP boasts contributions from New Orleans pianist Dr. John and sax man Steve Douglas.

Steve Douglas began his career touring and recording with Duane Eddy in the 1950’s. In the 1960’s He enjoyed a long association with Phil Spector and appeared on numerous hot rod and surf recordings by the Beach Boys [Pet Sounds] and Jan & Dean. In the ’70’s he performed with Bob Dylan, Mickey Hart, Ry Cooder and the Ramones.

Bob played piano on Return to Magenta but he went back and erased most of his parts. He describes that album as “dog shit”. He goes on to explain, “Willy had wanted to do an album much like the first one, he wanted to team up with Nitzsche to write some tunes but Nitzsche wasn’t interested in doing that. All he wanted to do was produce. He was there to help. He didn’t actually say no. He said hey we’re wasting valuable time and you don’t have a lot of material. The record companies want you to produce a product every year, 10 to 12 songs, but nobody writes that way. You do a record when you’ve got something. Don’t record unless you’re ready to record”.

Leonard agreed with Jack’s assessment and Says, “I went back and erased most of my tracks, but some of mine are still on there.” After this record Willie “Mink” DeVille dismissed his band.

Bob Leonard eventually took a day job as an IRS worker in Kansas City before assuming his current position as a construction consultant in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.