Climax was an American band formed in 1970 in Los Angeles, California, most noted for their 1971-1972 hit song "Precious and Few," which peaked at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart and #1 on Cashbox magazine's Top 100 singles chart. This disc sold over one million copies and was certified gold by the RIAA on February 21, 1972.
Climax consisted of Executive producer Marc Gordon, record producer Larry Cox, lead singer Sonny Geraci, composer and guitarist Walter D. Nims and drummer Jon Jon Guttman (who wrote songs on the album and also played other percussion). Other musicians who played on the band's lone album included Gordon MacKinnon (double reed and woodwind solos); bassists Joe Osborn, Steve La Fever, Reinie Press, and Joe Bellamy; keyboardists Larry Knechtel; drummers Jon Jon Guttman, John Raines, and Earl Palmer; and percussionist Alan Estes. The band was together from 1970 to 1976.
Climax came out of the ashes of the 1960s hit band The Outsiders. A few singles were released under the Outsiders name, but when Tom King of the original band threatened legal action, the name of the band was changed to Climax (singles released under The Outsiders name included "Lovin' You"/"Think I'm Fallin'" and "Changes"/"Lost In My World"). Following the name change, the album Climax Featuring Sonny Geraci was released. The band is often considered a one-hit wonder because other than "Precious and Few", no other releases gained much widespread success. In spite of the success of "Precious and Few", the album barely made it into the top 200 portion of the Billboard 200 sales chart, peaking at #177.
"Precious and Few", the band's biggest hit, was actually first recorded in 1970 with producer Ron Kramer. It was later re-worked by producer Larry Cox, who was assigned by label owner Marc Gordon to re-tool the band's material. Cox, who later would work with Jefferson Starship and produce many of their soft rock ballads (including "Miracles"), was introduced to Climax by fellow Texan and band keyboardist Johnny Stevenson. Cox urged the band to re-record "Precious and Few" and encouraged lead singer Sonny Geraci to capitalize on his extraordinary abilities to perform high-powered ballads.
The story of "Precious and Few" has many twists. It was stored in the Bell Records archives for a couple of years, but was dusted off after a Bell executive heard it being played on a Santa Barbara radio station (Climax's home base). Bell Records subsidiary, Carousel, released the record in Hawaii as a test six months prior to being a hit on the mainland. After more market tests in Buffalo and Boston in early 1972, the record exploded and gained momentum quickly. On the week ending February 26, 1972, "Precious and Few" peaked at the #3 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart (spending two weeks at that position), and also hit #1 on Cashbox magazine's Top 100 chart.
The follow-up single to "Precious and Few" was "Life and Breath", a song written by George S. Clinton (who later would contribute to the Austin Powers movie song tracks). "Life and Breath" reached #1 status in Hawaii, #11 at KHJ in Los Angeles, and topped out on the national charts at #52 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #15 on Billboard's Easy Listening chart. Once "Life and Breath" ran out of steam, Climax never recovered. It should be noted that they were the first band to record "Rock and Roll Heaven", a song written for Sonny Geraci by both Alan O'Day and Climax keyboard player Johnny Stevenson. "Rock and Roll Heaven" was later recorded by The Righteous Brothers (with some lyric changes), and became the duo's comeback hit in the summer of 1974.
Climax's record label, Carousel, was owned by Marc Gordon, who was also managing The 5th Dimension at the time. The existence of another Carousel label caused Gordon to change the label's name to Rocky Road. In retrospect, Gordon's plate was full managing a supergroup, and signing and managing other artists, including Al Wilson ("The Snake" and "Show and Tell"). All of this hampered Climax's follow-up single ("Life and Breath") and future singles releases (including "Rock and Roll Heaven"). During Climax's run with Rocky Road, they charted four top 5 records in Hawaii: "Precious and Few", "Life and Breath", "Walking in the Georgia Rain" and "Caroline This Time".
"Walking in the Georgia Rain" was issued with the artist name displayed as "Sonny Geraci and Climax." A short time later, an article appeared in Billboard stating that the group had recorded four new tracks with producer Larry Cox, and "It's Gonna Get Better" would be the first track issued from the session. "It's Gonna Get Better" was issued, also as by Sonny Geraci and Climax, but stock copies were not pressed, and the other new tracks recorded with Cox were left in the can, as "It's Gonna Get Better" proved to be the final Climax release.
Keyboard player Johnny Stevenson also scored a solo release issued as Rocky Road 30065, pairing "The Great Campaign" (an instrumental written by Stevenson) with an instrumental version of "If It Feels Good - Do It."
Many industry insiders felt Climax should have been far more successful than they actually were. The lack of a solid, powerful marketing and managing organization hurt the band when their follow-up "Life and Breath" was not given enough attention and funding to break through. After "Life and Breath" fizzled, the label was not ready to release the band's only album, Climax featuring Sonny Geraci during "Precious and Few"'s climb up the charts, which eroded the band's popularity and market edge.
They recorded one album, many singles and unreleased sides. Nims was their principal songwriter and guitarist. "Precious and Few" was famed vocal arranger Tom Bahler's first opportunity to demonstrate his extraordinary talents. Hired by producer Larry Cox, Bahler, along with his brother John, later created a significant impact in the music industry as arrangers and session singers in the late '60s and '70s performing on hundreds of singles (most notably the recordings by The Partridge Family).
"Sounds Like The Navy" Radio Show Appearance:
In 1972, the group appeared "live in the studio" for the promotional "Sounds Like the Navy" radio show, issued on 2 LPs only to radio stations. Performing without any orchestral backing, the group faithfully reproduced many of their released songs and also performed several songs, including originals written by Nims, that were never issued in any other format.
The show was split into four 15 minute mini episodes and the songs that were performed in full were:
I've Got Everything, I Can't Quit Her, Life & Breath, The Lady Is A Nasty Dancer, Picnic In The Rain, Going Through The Motions, Droopy Shoulders, Wait For You, Child Of December, Hand Me Down My Rock N Roll Shoes, Face The Music & Precious & Few
Songs performed and only had parts aired were: If It Feels Good-Do It, Diving Duck Blues, The Cage (Elton John song) & Rainbow Rides Are Free
Climax's lone album, Climax Featuring Sonny Geraci, was released in 1972 on Rocky Road Records. The album had twelve cuts, and some were used as B-sides for subsequent singles.
"Life & Breath" - (3:17),
"I've Got Everything" - (3:16),
"Postlude" - (:38) (instrumental - orchestral version of "I've Got Everything"),
"Picnic In The Rain" - (3:29),
"Face The Music" - (3:00),
"Precious and Few" - (2:43),
"It's Coming Today" - (3:02),
"Rainbow Rides Are Free" - (3:06),
"If It Feels Good - Do It" - (3:33),
"Merlin" - (4:18),
"Prelude" - (:48) (instrumental - orchestral version of "Life & Breath"),
"Child Of December" - (3:15),
In 1979, a compilation album titled "Picnic In The Rain" was released on Koala Records. Only 2 of the songs had appeared on their 1972 album.
"Changes" - (2:48),
"Somebody's Watching You" - (4:02),
"The War" - (3:28),
"Small World" - (2:47),
"Child Of December" - (3:19),
"Hard Rock Group" - (3:15),
"Park Preserve" - (5:26),
"Easy Evil" - (4:08),
"Searchin'" - (4:06),
"Picnic In The Rain" - (3:17),
Changes & Hard Rock Group: A-Sides of single releases.,
Park Preserve: Originally B-Side to Precious & Few, This was the full unedited version.,
Child Of December & Picnic In The Rain: Originally released on 1972 album,
Somebody's Watching You, The War, Small World, Easy Evil & Searchin': Previously Unreleased,
"Lovin' You" / "Think I'm Fallin'" (issued as by Sonny Geraci, on Capitol; both sides written by Walter Nims),
"Changes" / "Lost in My World" (issued as by The Outsiders, on Bell with a Carousel imprint; both sides written by Nims),
"Hard Rock Group" / Child Of December (Early Version, Different from Album) A-side written by Nims,
"Precious and Few" (#3 Billboard Hot 100) / "Park Preserve" (B-side by Nims and non-LP; longer version of B-side issued on compilation CD),
"Life and Breath" (#52 Billboard Hot 100) / "If It Feels Good Do It" (B-side later covered by The Stories),
"Caroline This Time" / "Rainbow Rides Are Free" (A-side non-LP and written by Nims),
"Rock and Roll Heaven" / "Face the Music" (A-side non-LP, written by Johnny Stevenson and Alan O'Day; lyrics revised for later version by The Righteous Brothers),
"Walking in the Georgia Rain" / "Picnic in the Rain" (A-side non-LP and written by John Rhys; issued as by Sonny Geraci and Climax),
"It's Gonna Get Better" / (no B-side; no stock copy known to exist; A-side non-LP and written by Geraci; issued as by Sonny Geraci and Climax),
(Some of these were recorded for their second album which was never released)
"Waiting for the End to Come" (recorded as proposed A-side for Metromedia in 1969 but not released; appeared on compilation CD),
"Hand Me Down My Rock & Roll Shoes",
"Love Doesn't Live Here Anymore",
"Young Boy" (written by Lee Dresser),
"Searchin'" (a cover of The Coasters track),
"Wait for You" (a cover of the Neil Young track),
"The War" (Lee Michaels tune),
"Somebody's Watching You" (Written by Sly Stone),
There have been three official CDs released. All are on budget labels, and none have been remastered.
The first was released in 1997 and listed ten tracks, but actually included eleven:
"Precious and Few",
"Life and Breath",
"Picnic in the Rain" ("Postlude" is here prior to "Picnic...", but not listed),
"Rock and Roll Heaven",
"Park Preserve" (long version),
"Rainbow Rides Are Free",
"Waiting for the End to Come",
"It's Coming Today",
"If It Feels Good-Do It",
The second was released in 1998, and contained fifteen songs (actually sixteen with another "hidden" song). Many were in the "unreleased" category above:
"Precious and Few", "Life and Breath", "Merlin", "Picnic in the Rain" (without "Postlude"), "Rainbow Rides Are Free", "It's Coming Today", "If It Feels Good-Do It", "Child of December" (with an unlisted "Prelude" before it), "Caroline This Time" (longer version than on the single), "Walking in the Georgia Rain", "Searchin'", "Love Doesn't Live Here Anymore", "Droopy Shoulders", "Rosemary Blue" and "Young Boy".
The third compilation was released in 2002, and is available on iTunes:
"Precious and Few",
"Life and Breath",
"Picnic In The Rain",
"Rainbow Rides Are Free",
"Waiting for the End to Come",
"It's Coming Today",
"If It Feels Good Do It",
"I've Got Everything",
"Child of December",
"Searchin'" (shorter single version),
Other bootlegs have been released including a 26 track compilation called The Best Of Climax.
Text from this biography licensed under creative commons license