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The Aerovons' story sounds like a fairytale, and in most respects it was a fairytale come true, except for the anticlimactic and grim ending. It was probably the dream of millions of teenage American boys to meet the Beatles and record at Abbey Road Studios in the late '60s. The Aerovons, unlike virtually every other such band, did so. Personnel instability intervened, however, and the group only got to issue a couple of rare singles before splitting up. They did record an entire album of promising material heavily influenced by the late-'60s Beatles, which finally saw release on CD in 2003.

The Aerovons were formed in 1966 in St. Louis, and in late 1967, guitarist/pianist Tom Hartman recorded a demo of his composition "A World of You" at the instigation of his mother. The demo was heard by a representative of Capitol Records, and though he offered the group a session in Los Angeles, Hartman's mother told him the band wanted to record in London. In early 1968, the still-young Aerovons -- Hartman was 16 -- flew to London to play their demo for EMI. EMI was impressed enough to sign them when Hartman and his mother returned to London in August 1968, and the Aerovons even got another offer at the time with Decca. The whole band came back to London in March 1969 to record.

Over the next few months the group cut about an album's worth of material at Abbey Road. Unsurprisingly considering the surroundings, and considering that the Beatles were the group's heroes anyway, the material sounded much like the Beatles did circa 1967-1969, though on the lighter side of what the Beatles themselves came up with. More surprisingly, the album was produced by Hartman himself, who also wrote most of the songs laid down in the studio. Though the sessions were quite well-produced and well-arranged, with some of the settings also reminiscent of the late-'60s Bee Gees or (more distantly) Hollies, the songs were still too derivative to have stood much chance of making a big mark had everything been issued at the time.

In a perfect world, perhaps such a young group should have been given some more time to hone a more original sound. It was and is an imperfect world, however, and before an album could even be released, fate intervened to end the Aerovons' brief career. The sessions had themselves been done as a three-piece, although they'd come over to London as a quartet, when guitarist Phil Edholm left before recording began. Shortly after returning to St. Louis in mid-1969, drummer Mike Lombardo left. EMI, concerned about the personnel shifts, canceled the album, and the band split up shortly afterward, though a couple of rare singles were issued on Parlophone in 1969. Hartman did a single for Bell in 1970 before abandoning the record business to go to college, though he later got into writing music for television, radio, and film. The Aerovons' canceled album was issued on CD by RPM in 2003, with both tracks from a non-LP single, a demo, and an unreleased song added as bonus cuts. ~ Richie Unterberger, Rovi