Legendary band Waterfall broke up in 1975, but its legacy lives on.
|The band which would eventually be known as Waterfall came out of the ruins of two other New Jersey bands, Terminal Sky and the Dead Sea Monkeys. It only came together because of the long friendship of Stanley Livingston Kremp and Paul Miles Wilson.
Stan and Paul had been friends since kindergarten, having lived on the same street for years. When they reached their teens, they both formed rock ‘n roll bands, though they never played in the same one.
“It just never occurred to us to play together,” Stan said in a 1978 interview. “His style was so different from my style, it just never came up. He did his thing, and I did mine, and it wasn’t till our respective bands broke up that we got together, compared notes, and decided to join forces.”
Terminal Sky played mostly ballads and moving power songs. The Dead Sea Monkeys were a high-energy rock group. You wouldn’t think the two styles would mesh . . . but that was part of the magic of Waterfall.
At first, the band that would be Waterfall had no name. In fact, they played their first few gigs as This Band Has No Name. Jeff Swaddle, who joined Stan from Terminal Sky, explains: “Everyone thinks we were being clever, but the truth is we just couldn’t decide on a name. Every one we brought up, someone hated. Finally Stan got sick of it. The contract was in front of him, so he wrote on the “Band Name” line “This band has no name”. And the management thought it was our name. Funny, huh?”
It wasn’t until their fourth show, at the Blue Lagoon Ballroom, that their destiny changed forever. In the audience of that show was Golden Records producer Gordon Lunde. The moment This Band Has No Name took the stage, he knew he’d found a winner.
The first thing Gordon did was to change the band’s name. The general consensus is that he chose the name Waterfall from a motivational poster in his office, which featured a tropical waterfall in all its splendor.
Next, he made the mistake of asking who the band’s leader was.
“Leader?” The boys looked around at each other, confused. “Nobody said we had to have one of those!” Jeff protested.
“Every band has a leader,” Gordon told them. “Gordon Lunde wants to know who to do the actual business with. It’s very important.”
Stan raised an eyebrow. Why was this guy referring to himself in the third person? “I suppose I am, I guess. I sign all the contracts.”
Paul looked over at him. That wasn’t what he thought. In his understanding, it was a partnership.
“Look, it doesn’t matter,” Stan said. “It’s not like I’m the king and the rest of you are peasants. We’re all in this together. I’m just the guy who signs the paperwork. I only took on that responsibility because no one else wanted to do it.”
“I suppose the fact that your name comes first on all our songs had nothing to do with it?” Paul said bitterly.
“I thought we went through this already. Rather than fight about who gets credit for what, we just put the names in alphabetical order. Kremp/Wilson. We can put your name first if you want.”
“I just don’t want you thinking this is your band,” Paul said.
“I’m not! I promise you right now, I will not make any band decisions without consulting the rest of the band.” He looked around. “Okay, guys?”
The rest of the band murmured in assent.
“Splendid!” Gordon said. “Jeremy, bring Gordon Lunde the contract.”
Gordon had two assistants, and they happened to be brothers. Jeremy was the production assistant: it was his job to file paperwork, make business-related phone calls, and talk the talent off a forty foot ledge. (That had only happened twice.)
Jason was Gordon’s personal assistant, mostly in charge of making coffee and doing the little gofer jobs that were deemed too menial for Jeremy, who was the “smart one”. In contrast to his brother, who dressed in stylish clothes, Jason wore the same white button down shirt every day, along with a worn pair of khakis with the crease in the wrong place, and scuffed brown loafers.
It was Jason who brought the copy of the contract into the office, apologizing as he always did. “I’m sorry, Mr. Lunde, Jeremy just stepped out for a minute. He told me to bring this to you. It is the right one, isn’t it?”
Gordon looked it over. “This is it. Now go straighten something.”
Jason left the room hurriedly, still apologizing.
“Gordon Lunde’ll give you a few minutes to look the contract over. Have yourselves a cup of coffee,” he said, indicating a full pot on a hot plate across the room. He then left, probably in search of Jeremy.
Stan took five minutes to fully read over every word of the three-page document.
“Well?” Sean asked.
“Looks good to me,” Stan said.
“I don’t know,” said Jeff. “I kinda don’t like this guy. I mean, why doesn’t he say ‘I’ll do this’ or ‘I want that’? He always says his whole name every time.”
“He knows what he’s doing, though,” Stan said. “If we walk away from this, it could be years before we get a chance like this again. I don’t want to wait any longer.”
“We don’t want to jump on the first offer we get, though,” Paul said. “It makes us look desperate.”
“We are desperate,” Howard reminded him. “Or do you want to keep eating day old bread and stuff from dented cans?”
“We don’t know what else is out there,” said Sean. “Maybe we can get more money from someone else.”
“Okay,” Stan said. “I’ll pass this around, you can read it for yourselves, and then we’ll take a vote. If the majority rules we walk, we walk. Personally, I think we’d be crazy, but I’m willing to go along with the majority vote. In the interest of band harmony.”
They each read the contract in turn. When it came back to Stan some twenty minutes later (Jeff kept reading and then flipping back to the previous page, and then continuing; they weren’t sure what he was looking for), he said, “All right now. All in favor of signing on with Golden Records?”
He raised his hand. Howard’s was also up, as was Sean’s. Jeff wavered. “I don’t know . . . I still think the guy’s creepy. But I want to be famous.” In the end, he raised his hand.
Paul put his hand up. “I just think we can do better.”
“We don’t know that.”
“What if we don’t make it?”
“What if we do?”
“C’mon, man,” Jeff said. “You heard Stan the Man. Majority rules.”
“You promised that,” Paul said. “I didn’t.”
“It’s only a two year contract,” Stan said. “If we don’t like it after two years, we can leave and look somewhere else. But let’s at least give this a shot.”
“Okay,” Paul said, “but I get to help negotiate the next contract.”