As recounted by Frank Manchisi
It started in the Greene's basement in Searingtown, NY with 45rpm records, plastic baseball bats , and a toy drum set. The first time the band decided to name itself it made the ill-advised choice of "Tuberculosis." The only song I can remember recorded under that name was "46th St. Progression " . I can't remember the musicians involved. The band wisely changed their name to "White Lightning" and then shortened it to "Wite Lite".
The band began to shape itself in the Big Guy's basement in Boonton, NJ , and then in various studios at the Jersey Shore. It was at this time that the core of the band was formed:
Mike Manchisi - lead guitar (formerly from PMA)
Tommy Greene- bass guitar
Kevin Finnegan- rhythm guitar and political lyrics during Republican administrations
Billy Greene - ( previously with the Badbeats and still with The Benders)
All four of the band members provided lead and background vocals
Other family members provided contributions: Patty Doyle vocals on "Caroline"( one of my favorites), Frank Manchisi on flute and a thankfully brief stint on the saxophone, Timmy Doyle on keyboards and comic relief, and the quiet one, who simply goes by the name of "Zach", on Jack Daniels and kick-ass blues vocals.
Perhaps the best music recorded by the group was when they teamed up with a keyboard player named Townsend (no relation to Pete) to produce "Ebby's Lament", "Finnless", "Working on Wall Street" and "Train Surfer". A music agent by the name of Frankie Mann was so impressed with these songs that he had them copyrighted. To this writer's knowledge, these are the only Wite Lite songs that are protected by copyright. The highlight of the band's career was probably when Mann used his connections in the television industry to air the song "Train Surfer" on the popular Fox prime-time show, " A Current Affair." But when Mann was unable to deliver with future TV bookings, the band switched an agent known as "The Wizard", who handles all current bookings.
Wite Lite can now be seen playing bowling alleys in St. Louis.
A Little Added History and some Archived Material
Over the Christmas Holiday 2014, I decided to digitize any available WITE LITE/Tuberculosis material I could find. After all, when The Museum of Arts and Sciences calls in 50 years, my kids will know where to go to provide them the material for preservation.
As Frank mentions above, the band formed early under the ill advised name of Tuberculosis. In addition to covers of Joy to the World, Light My Fire, Whole Lotta Love, and Horse Latitudes , the group was also exploring improv with their recreation of the Ed Sullivan Show. An early Howard Cosell interview of Tim Doyle Sr can be found here.
On 46th Street, main songwriters Finnegan and Manchisi began composing originals including Helpless and what is likely Manchisi's first pop song - Girl of My Dreams in 1979.
But it was the Boonton Jams (I believe 3 of them) that cemented WITE LITE's status. The jams (to the best of my recollection) took place in 1977, 1980 and 1981, usually done during the family's annual outing to the Jersey Shore. The group would head to Boonton for one of the days and swim, play and enjoy the family. Boonton Jam 1 gave birth to the legendary Moochin' Blues (and perhaps the saying can you "core an apple'), Boonton Jam 2 provided us with Jack Daniels Blues - to this day a staple in the WITE LITE repertoire when Zach is in town.
Boonton Jam 3, which took place prior to Zach's wedding saw the band rehearsing "She Got Me Where She Wants Me" and also showed the struggles the band had with a 4 count. And when Mike Manchisi took a break from the set, the Jam included Kevin Finnegan guitar virtuoso performances of Satisfaction that to this day can not be transcribed.
The band then moved on looking for recording studios closer to the Jersey Shore and from the period 1984-1988, recorded 4 separate times at closer locations. The first of these "Allaire Industrial Airport" was arguably the best, and included a Wayne County and the Electric Chairs cover and a few originals including So I'll Call Again Another Day and Standing Here with No One left to Blame. The clip here is of Honky Tonk Woman which is significant for two reasons. It features one of Kevin's guitar solos and also shows the beginnings of the bantor that he carries on to this day.
In 1986, the band returned to a shore studio with the live follow-up "Do It Til You See the Head", which was named after Tim Doyle Sr's advice to one of the band members about sex during pregnancy. One of the standouts from the session is Bill and Tom's version of One After 909. This session also included Tim Doyle's spacey keyboard solo in Spirit in the Sky.
Returning to the studio in 1987 to record "Have You Seen the Lite", this session includes the first recorded version of Fight For Your Right to Party - which 27 years later remains the band's closing tune to the chant of "Mom your just jealous it's the WITE LITE boys". It was this session where the band officially changed it's name to WITE LITE from White Lightning - courtesy of Tim Doyle Sr's purchase of baseball caps for the band that could not accommodate so may letters! The remaining recordings from the session are the worst of the bunch, as Kevin Finnegan decided to record over the originals on a cheap cassette player. I still remember running over to try and salvage the tapes from the Sapienza household.
Finally, the band went on for one more shore session known as the "No Excuses" tour. The session included I Drink Alone, the iitial versions of Apolitical Blues and The End of the World as We Know It, T Texas Gunn (which was an original from the trio of Doyle, Finnegan and Manchisi which came to be known as Triage). The session also included Goin Up the Country, which was later performed at a Manchisi wedding, though the version here is audible to more than the canine family.
And then the band took their recording to St. Louis and were signed by CDBaby and are available on iTunes. And the rest is history......