Pushups Is Pop

It is an article of faith among musicians, especially those who fail to achieve the degree of success they and their fans think they are entitled to, that the business of getting your music out to the public and attaining fame and fortune is a bit of a lottery.

“It’s all a matter of who you know,” or “You just have to be in the right place at the right time, ” or “If only we would have had a better manager.”  The explanations and excuses are endless, and who’s to say which if any are valid and which are simply the bellyaching and sour-grapeing of those who almost but didn’t quite have what it takes?

Before I got involved in putting out records myself, both as a musician and as head of a record label, I was much more prone to buy into the simple-twist-of-fate theory; until I personally had to go through the machinations of persuading critics to pay attention to a record, stores to stock it, and people to buy it, I assumed that any artist or band I really liked would almost certainly be the next chart-topper if only that evil, Machiavellian music business would give them a fair shake.

Perhaps not surprisingly, I no longer look at things that way.  Some of my favorite bands – my own included – continue to make little or no impact upon the public consciousness, but if asked to explain why, in almost every case I can find something about the band itself that partially if not wholly explains it.

Perhaps the songwriting isn’t strong enough, or maybe the chemistry among band members isn’t right.  Sometimes they’re too hungry for instant success, and sometimes they’re not hungry enough.  From an outsider’s viewpoint, it may indeed look like a crooked agent or an incompetent manager or an ineffectual record label dealt a death blow to their dreams, but with few if any exceptions you can trace the misfortune back to the band itself, i.e., the ones who chose that particular agent, manager or label and/or stuck with them far past the point when it became obvious that they’d made a mistake.

I don’t mean to come across as being hard on bands.  I love bands.  I’ve been in two and I’ve worked with dozens.  I would have liked to see all of them – all right, almost all of them – become fabulously successful, but for those who didn’t, I could go down a list and show you, band by band, at least one or two reasons why.

In fact, after 45 years of buying records, going to shows, hanging around with bands and producing records myself, there’s only one band who I still think deserved to be way bigger than they were, and whose failure to reach that level I still can’t totally explain.  Needless to say, this happened long before I got even semi-officially involved in the music business, when I was still one of those guys you always see hanging around backstage, the ones that nobody knows exactly why they’re there, but at the same time nobody can think of a good enough reason to tell them to leave.

It would have been around 1979, maybe even late 1978, the first time I saw the Pushups.  Originally they were called Aurora Pushups, and no, I’m pretty sure it didn’t mean anything other than, “Hey, we’re new wave and have a wacky, zany name that doesn’t make any sense!”  And I believe we were supposed to call them “Pushups,” not “the Pushups,” hence the promo button with its seemingly ungrammatical slogan, “Pushups Is Pop.”

I hated the slogan – even then, before I’d discovered the more sensible British method of referring to collective nouns in the plural, as in “the band are…” – but I liked the Pushups enough to wear it anyway, and I began making a point of going to as many of their shows as possible.  There were a lot of them, too; this was when San Francisco’s punk and new wave scene – it was still more or less lumped together as one – was in its heyday, and it was quite possible to see a decent show – or two or three – on almost any night of the week.

My original connection to the Pushups was by way of their drummer, Al Leis.  He’d been one of my brother’s best friends in high school, but I first met him in 1969 when he was living in the basement of an Ann Arbor communal house known as the Congolian Maulers.  A year later, he was living on Oakland Street – still in Ann Arbor- when he got his first set of drums, something I was made aware of from at least two blocks away the next time I came to visit.  The noise was so deafening and discordant (all right, I know drums can’t technically be discordant, but you get the idea) that I was amazed the police hadn’t been called yet, yet somehow Al heard me coming up the front stairs, stuck his head out from the garret-like tower adorning the front of the house, and shouted cheerfully, “Hey Larry, guess what, I got some drums!”

Since I was living in California by then, I didn’t see much of him for the next few years, and mostly relied on my brother for updates.  Sometime in the mid-70s, Al moved to Colorado and joined a band called the Ravers, who I guess were a reasonably big deal in Colorado, but who I never saw or heard, and whose sole distinguishing feature in my memory – apart from having Al as a drummer, of course – was their roadie, a Boulder native by the name of Eric Boucher.

Fast forward to 1978: Al has left the Ravers and is living in the Mission District with my brother as a semi-permanent crasher.  There’s a knock at the door, and it’s Eric Boucher, now re-christened as Jello Biafra, come to seek his fortune as a punk rocker.  Al’s not home, so it’s my brother who literally opens the door to that particular chapter of San Francisco musical history, giving him cause to wonder from time to time during the ensuing years, what might have happened if he hadn’t invited young Biafra in.

A couple years later Biafra would repay Al’s hospitality by inviting him to audition as drummer for the by then very successful Dead Kennedys (I drove Al and his drums to the practice space where I promptly fell asleep behind the bass amp while the DKs tore through “Holiday In Cambodia”) before choosing Darren Peligro instead, but apart from that, they went separate ways musically.  The Pushups, if you had to pigeonhole them, become one of those “skinny-tie” bands, whose look, if not so much their musical style, owed much to the sharper-dressed days of the early 60s.  Still having a few skinny ties of my own left over from high school (sadly, my mother had finally thrown out my iridescent sharkskin suit, which would have been worth a fortune in New Wave days, and probably again now), I felt right at home in this milieu, even though my first loyalty was to the burgeoning SF punk scene.

Luckily, there was considerable overlap between the two.  The Pushups often played at the Mabuhay and similar venues; in fact, it was at the Mab where I first saw the Go-Gos – still in their “punk” phase, literally dressed in trash bags – opening for the Pushups sometime in 1979.  But they played all over the city and the suburbs, even way out in what were then still rural precincts of Marin and Sonoma County, and I, with not much on my agenda at the time except to rock and roll all day and party every night, would follow them as assiduously as any Deadhead would attach himself to Jerry & Co.

Eventually I became an accepted part of their entourage, which apart from a few girlfriends and a couple other longtime buddies, didn’t amount to much.  I mean, people liked and enjoyed the Pushups, but I don’t recall anyone besides me repeatedly predicting that they were going to be the Next Big Thing.  I had a lengthy, perhaps at least partially drug-fueled rap ready to unleash on anyone within earshot, illustrating how the Pushups had the harmonies, the songwriting skills, and, most importantly, the perfect four members to become, as I rather embarrassingly put it, “the New Wave Beatles.”

According to my theory, it didn’t matter so much whether the individual members of a band were geniuses, as long as they were at least competent on their instruments; what was far more important was how they interacted as a unit.  Ringo Starr, I argued, hadn’t been an especially gifted drummer (not even the best drummer in the Beatles, John Lennon once cruelly observed), but he had been the perfect drummer for the Beatles, and Al, a similarly reliable but somewhat pedestrian percussionist, seemed to be exactly what the Pushups needed.

Then there was Ricky Swan, frequently referred to by friends and the not-so-friendly alike as a space cadet, who could barely play keyboards, or, to put it more charitably, was busily learning.  He was the “zany” one that every band needs, and despite being the Pushups’ least musically gifted member, was invariably one of the most popular with the fans.  His wide-eyed mugging, his self-deprecating manner that seemed to say, “I don’t know what I’m doing up here either!” and his ethereally robotic backing vocals were essential to the band’s image and sound.

Tony Rainier was the flashy guitarist.  I always had the impression that he’d come up from LA to join the band, but a little research reveals that he was originally from Oakland and Davis.  With his roostertail rock star hairdo, his velvet jackets, his jaded/cool attitude that combined “I’ve seen it all” with “Where’s the money?” he’s the one MTV would have been interviewing if, in fact, there had been an MTV in those days.

Finally there was Ed Dorn: bassist, lead songer, chief songwriter, resident genius.  Everybody knew (or should have known) that without him there would be no band, but because he was so laid back and cerebral, you could sometimes get the impression that the other three were running the show and just let Ed come along for the ride.  Ed liked being in a band, liked having the opportunity to get his songs heard by the public, but it wasn’t always easy to tell just how much he cared about it.  Quite a bit, I suspect, but he had other irons in the proverbial fire, though I can’t at the moment remember exactly what they were.  I do recall that one of the longer and more impassioned conversations I had with him was about Weimar Germany and how it might compare to the artistic and intellectual climate of America at the end of the 70s.

The Pushups came out of the box with a bang: their first (and what would ultimately be their only) 7″ single was either nominated or (I think) won the Bay Area Music award (Bammie) for best debut, and right from the start they seldom had trouble getting gigs.  Not all of them were brilliant, but most were at least decent, and some were really, really good.  They had, as industry folk used to, and may still, say, a buzz.  This was long before I got it into my head that I could somehow run a record label, but that didn’t stop me from entertaining fantasies about being their manager or agent or roadie or, well, something, anyway…

If the Pushups had come along ten years later, when I was starting to sign bands left and right for Lookout Records, I would have snapped them up in an instant, and I suspect we would have done pretty well with them.  It’s sort of absurd speculating, of course, since a late 80s version of the Pushups might have been playing very different music than the late 70s originals, and also because their orientation to “the business” was very different from the DIY ethos that would evolve later on.

Not that the Pushups were against doing things for themselves – they did put out their 7″ on their own, after all – but they were still operating in that frame of reference where “success” meant getting “discovered” by a manager and a label, after which would come the fairy tale ending of rock stardom, worldwide acclaim, and all the usual perks and clichés that went along with it.  So the part-punk, part-hippie, part-making-it-up-as-we-went-along methodology of Lookout might not have set well with them.

I like to think it could have worked out, however, but we’ll never know, because the Pushups imploded long before I or any more likely entrepreneur (Howie Klein’s 415 Records might have been a good bet) could begin spinning those dreams into reality.  The songs were getting better and better, the crowds bigger and more enthusiastic, and to true believers like myself it was only a matter of when, not if the Pushups would achieve the stardom they obviously deserved, but things began going painfully awry within the band itself.

By now I was such a familiar fixture on the Pushups scene that nobody objected (or perhaps even noticed) that I frequently sat in on band meetings and strategy sessions, often expressing my views more loudly and assertively than some of the members.  Since I hadn’t yet gained much insight into the process of how to get a band noticed, especially by the right people, and had no knowledge, apart from the vaguely theoretical, about how the music business worked, I mostly functioned as a cheerleader.  I was the annoying guy who, no matter what happened, in the face of all evidence to the contrary, continually assured them, “You guys are gonna do great, everyone’s gonna love you, it’s only a matter of time till you’re the biggest band in America, if not the world.”

My cheerful protestations notwithstanding, trouble continued to brew, and no longer just on the back burner.  Ricky wasn’t making much progress learning his keyboard parts and was having trouble showing up for practice.  I seem to recall there being a girlfriend involved, but I might just be falling back on standard rock and roll formulations.  Ed was growing withdrawn, interested, it seemed, only in writing new songs and not particularly bothered with the minutiae of how the band operated.  “Tell me where and when we’re playing and I’ll be there,” was about as involved as he wanted to get much of the time, whereas Tony was getting increasingly agitated because the band, in his opinion, was “going nowhere.”

This was clearly not true.  The band was obviously going somewhere, and that somewhere might even be in the general neighborhood of where Tony wanted it to go.  It just wasn’t getting there fast enough to suit him.  “If we were in LA…” he’d often start out, going on to describe either how much more money they’d be earning down South or what a laughingstock the Pushups would be for having such an amateur operation.

Anyone who knows anything about San Francisco and San Franciscans knows that “this is how they do it in LA” is probably the least effective selling point you can come up with, something that should have quickly become apparent to Tony but possibly didn’t, because he kept at it.  Ricky would stare up at the ceiling or fidget with his fingernails, Ed would look thoughtful and give a carefully reasoned and well-organized three-point description of how the band was progressing on all fronts, and Al would cheerfully ask when the next gig was and if anybody was going to that party over at so-and-so’s house tomorrow night.

Although I was there for many of these discussions, I was out of town when things really busted up, so I can’t give an accurate accounting of how it happened.  I seem to remember that it started with one member – possibly Ricky – being kicked out and replaced, and that it maybe degenerated to a point where only one or two original members remained, but I could be confusing one of many band breakup stories with another.  It was a chaotic time, a lot of drugs, a lot of parties, then suddenly it was the 80s, and, just as in that Agent Orange song, things were so much different now, the scene had died away…

The last time I saw Tony was in front of the Savoy Tivoli on Grant Avenue in North Beach; I later heard that he’d gone to LA (don’t know if that’s true) and was in a new band (several, as it turns out, most notably an attempted reincarnation of Dickie Peterson’s Blue Cheer that never quite made it out of the studio).  I remember seeing Ricky at a pretty wild birthday party for Ginger Coyote somewhere in Noe Valley, and I ran into Ed now and then around town for a couple years, until I didn’t anymore.  I still saw Al regularly until I moved up north to Spy Rock, but he’d found new interests now, and not especially healthy ones.  After his audition with the Dead Kennedys, I don’t remember him being seriously involved with a band again, and he died of a heart attack sometime in the late 80s or early 90s.  My brother would know the exact date, and if he were here now, or it weren’t the middle of the night, I’d ask him.

So I know I started out this story by saying that I couldn’t explain why the Pushups didn’t “make it,” and I guess that turned out not to be true after all.  In fact, there are several pretty obvious reasons why they didn’t, and they’re pretty much the same reasons that have been stopping bands – and collective enterprises in general, for that matter – in their tracks since time immemorial.  I guess the real question should be: how does any group manage to hold it together long enough to achieve something, how do they arrive at the necessary admixture of ego and deference and cooperation and competition that allows them to create great art together without feeling the need to murder one another?

If it weren’t going on 4 o’clock in the morning, I might try tackling that question as well, but it is, and I won’t, and to save time in the future, I might as well just admit right now that I have no idea.  Great music, great art of any kind is a miracle even when it originates from a single creator; when several human beings manage to collaborate on something that turns out to be far more than the sum of its parts, it’s almost as though nature itself has been simultaneously denied and transcended.

Well, enough high-toned musings for now; I’ll leave you with some samples of the Pushups’ music.  I was fortunate enough to collect, as far as I know, everything they ever finished recording.  I think there may have been a couple more rough demos that were still being played around with the band self-destructed, but the seven tunes I have are going to have to serve as their legacy.  I think they all hold up pretty well.  The last of them, “Beauty Changes Everything,” is itself a not-quite-finished demo, and when I heard it for the first time, the band had already ceased to exist.  I thought then and continue to think today that it serves as a fitting epitaph.

Empty Faces

Global Corporation

(“Empty Faces” and “Global Corporation” were on the Pushups’ only record, a 7″ single released in 1979.  The rest of the songs were demos of varying quality.)

So Let Down

Love That Girl

Sooner Or Later

The Illuminated Age

Beauty Changes Everything

46 thoughts on “Pushups Is Pop

  • Brendan

    Love That Girl is a great song, holds up well.

  • I agree with Brendan, Love That Girl holds up well. Could have been a hit. Very catchy. Overall, some of the lyrics are a bit… ’70s, but the music is pretty good. Thanks for these.

  • A bit besides the point, but when I worked for my college newspaper as an arts writer I was always being told that I needed to talk about bands in the singular, and I found it really annoying. By nature a band is a group, thus THEY are more than one person. The editors even made me follow this rule when the band name itself was plural. I like the “British method” better.

  • I vaguely remember there might have been a compilation album of SF indie bands from that time including a Pushups song called “Play On” — anyone else remember or was it a hallucination?

  • rickmaymi

    WOW! Ed is my uncle! would love to get these mp3’s off of you somehow!
    Brian Jonestown Massacre

  • Kel J. Von

    Yes, please, any way to share some mp3’s of those Pushups demo songs?

    Those are awesome!

    Stumbling across this post made my day! Thanks Larry!~

    Also, you mention that they only had the one single release, in 1979…
    however, there is also the Aurora Pushups – Angels On Runway One / Victims Of Terrorism 7″ single from 1978. I have mp3’s of that as well.
    (ps, i do also have an mp3 of “play on” from that compilation album if anyone needs it”)

  • Tim Durex

    I remember seeing The Pushups play at Sproul Plaza in 1979.
    I was a sophmore at Berkley High and I cut school with Chris
    Douglas (who later went on to be the drummer for Crucifix) and
    Max Fox (Boneless Ones)to skate on the UC campus. It was my first
    pogoing experience. Within one year we Chris, Max and I were all
    heavy into the hardcore scene and started bands. Memories.

  • I have 2 of those records– want them??

  • Dan Garvey

    Hi … I used to play music with Ed Dorn in Fremont during the mid 60’s … lost track of Ed about ’73 … do you know how to reach him?

    • Larry Livermore

      No, I’m afraid I don’t.

  • JasonC

    Thanks for this. I can’t stop listening to “Love That Girl.” Maybe if I listen to it enough times I’ll convince myself that I wrote it!

  • Chrissi Fields

    Do you have a music file of Love That Girl? That was always my fav Push Up’s song. Also looking for a music file of anything from Kid Courage or Mr. Clean, Sudden Fun, if you know of where I might find these that would be awesome!

  • Lois Felice

    I’d like to “second” the above comment dated 7/18/2010 by Kel J. Von, that the band indeed also had that single Von mentioned. I looking at my own copy right now. The sleeve names them as “The Aurora Pushups.” Label is Pop Up Discs (almost certainly self-released), and both sides are credited to Dorn/McCartney as songwriting team. A little twist of humor there referring to Sir Paul, I take it, on the part of the Ed Dorn guy.

    As of the date I write this (3/22/2011), a web record dealer named Stoopid Records has a copy of the single for sale for $79. This is without the picture sleeve. The single definitely has one; sort of a basic two-color graphics thing, with no picture of the band on it.

    LL: u may want to amend your article to reflect this single. Just a suggestion. 🙂

  • Lois Felice

    Further to my post of an hour ago, here’s a link where you can see & hear the band’s other single:

    I recall “Victims of Terrorism” getting a tiny bit of either airplay on the underground local SF radio shows, or local in-store airplay.

    Then, I may have been quite wrong about the McCartney/Sir Paul reference’s being a joke. In actuality, it may have been collaborator Billy McCartney.

    Lastly, to Dan Garvey’s 9/6/2010 post above re contacting Ed, all I can suggest is the web people-search engines for a 60-or 61-year-old Edward Charles Dorn.

    (The foregoing may be a bit of unwelcome invasion to Ed Dorn’s privacy, so LL please pass on this info to Dan Garvey, then delete the foregoing sentence from view. THANKS!)

  • Lois Felice

    In response to the Chrissi Fields question dated 1/9/2011, the part about Sudden Fun, they had a 4-song 7″ 45 which now goes for over $600 on auctions like eBay. (I have a copy.) They also had a cut on the compilation LP “415 Music” from 1979/80. This LP is easy to find online, and doesn’t cost much. Lastly I read that their theme song “Sudden Fun” appeared in the bootleg compilation series called Killed By Death (or just “KBD”).

    There should be audiofiles of the EP posted somewhere. Where all have you looked so far?

  • Chrissi Fields

    Thanks, Lois. I just a year ago tossed all my singles, from friends bands back then, days of the Mab. Did you know Dennis Kerr from Sudden Fun? I was wondering what ever happen to him? I am amazed to find all these bands from back in the day on youtube.

  • Kinda funny listening to this after so long. I knew Ed’s brother Jim. These guys were struggling on the scene the same time as gogo’s and a few others that did make it in the 80’s. Funny when listening to Global Corporation that it seems even more fitting today. Oh well thanks for posting these songs.

  • Lois Felice

    Chrissi Fields, in response to your April 2 2011 post: No, I did not personally know Dennis at all.

    I did google him recently, and found he’s gotten into artwork (i.e. photography and painting); and is somehow involved with the homeless in S.F. Try googling the term “Dennis Kernohan”, and you’ll see what I mean. Brace yourself for the surprise of what he looks like now, after 30 years.

    But you’ll see, the eyes are the same. 🙂

    Yikes — those singles you “tossed” are now worth three figures. Many of them are, anyway; especially the ones which are (1) hard-edged punk, and (2) self-released by the band themselves; from the years 1977-82. For instance, the first Black Flag single is now going for $800. I kid you not.

  • Lynn Owens

    Hi Larry – I am Al’s sister Lynn. I just returned from San Francisco and I saw your brother! Albert died on December 31, 1997 in San Francisco.
    His ashes are buried at Michigan Memorial Park, halfway between where we grew up and Ann Arbor. I had a musical note included on his gravestone to represent his musician status and also a Peace sign. Hope you are well.
    I would love to have these recordings if there is any way possible.

  • Larry Livermore

    Hi Lynn! I remember you from Ann Arbor as if it were yesterday! Well, maybe two or three days ago… I’d be happy to get you a copy of all the Pushups songs I have. Actually, it’s too bad you didn’t ask my brother; I’m pretty sure I made a CD of them for him.

  • Lynn Owens

    Thanks Larry – I didn’t even think to ask K for the Pushup recordings – I actually have some of the Ravers stuff – if you want any of it let me know. I have tried to save some things for Jesse (Al’s son/ my nephew)as I would like him to have what rememberances I can collect for him. Jesse has three children now and I want Albert’s Grandchildren to know who he was! You have a real talent for writing – I’ve enjoyed reading your blog!

  • Chrissi Fields

    To Lois: Are you kidding me???? I had no idea those old 45’s and LP’s were work anything …I’m stunned. I’ll have to do a search for Dennis, and Derek Richie …. I can’t remember Kennon’s last name.

    Thanks for the info …. too funny.

  • Michael

    Re: karlap’s question, “I vaguely remember there might have been a compilation album of SF indie bands from that time including a Pushups song called “Play On” — anyone else remember or was it a hallucination?”

    Twas real, called “Rising Stars of San Francisco”, and contained said “Play On”. Also the incredibly awesome New Romans tune “She Doesn’t Play With Yo-Yo’s”. Well worth tracking down.

  • Hi Larry, I shared this link with a Mab site on facebook. I hope you don’t mind. I was just writing a funny memory about the Push Ups and making sure I had a band members name right when I found this blog. Well written and I enjoyed the walk down memory lane. I dated Al for ahile. I had heard he had passed. It broke my heart. He was a good guy. I hope his family and his two sons are well. It is great to hear all these songs and see the picture of those guys in their hey day. And all the rest of the names and wonderful music mentioned. Thank you. Cassi

  • Michael – I remember that album and that song! Now I should try to find it. A friend of mine has 415 Music on vinyl. I have a box of 45’s from the day. (Flipper, VKTMS, Mutants, Push Ups, Dickheads…)

  • frank ventura

    man do you have things all wrong …i am the original bass player that ed had a problem with only because i was always too loud and he was never much of a guitar player…….if you want to hear a good push-up song with the real band look for pop power….and ed if you are not old im alive and well still playing with the next…..still have push-up singles that i will gladley give to anyone that wants them .ed and i sold the lot of them in L.A for 48 cents a record WAY BACK IN THE LATE 70’S

  • Ostreet steve

    I don’t know where to begin larry.How about great story!There is more to be told about the likes of this band the pushups.For instance,project 58,the video west taping and airing at the waldorf of play-on,ricky leaving the band to get married(fact)he just didn’t want to do it no more.His choice.I think when that happen that was a big part of the end and that happened right after the Bammie Awards.That left a big whole for Ed to fill and some keyboards to buy.This took time and $$. Al grew impatient and then he decided to leave. For the record he was almost replaced with Billy Freedom a.k.a. Donn Lo but Ed and Tony waited to long.What a kick he would of brought.I know this because I was the last bass player to be in that band.It really could of been the new wave Beatles!Just bad luck at a time when they/we could of used some.

  • frank ventura lll

    my old bandmate ricky is now playing with zolar-x im with the next and the gleasons…..ed dorn doesnt want to talk to us….. i guess life has left him “so let down”and my man al is gone….

  • frank ventura lll

    and when youre gone…….your GONE…i will always love you al……………..

  • Honeydonthink

    Hi Larry, It’s Al’s girlfriend Jennifer from the Pushup days. I just ran across an old photo of you and me at a party in Al’s apartment in Noe Valley. i found out that Al had died from Karen “Wild Woman” Walker at Tina Sciller’s wedding in NYC 11 years ago and went to see Peter on Cook St. who told me the sad story.
    You never know what you will find on the Internet but here is a video of Play On recorded by Video West that I found on their website with a myriad of other fun recordings from that period. You can see the boys in action. I remember Eric coming over to our house on Bartlett St. and telling us he was forming a band and oh, could we please call him Jello?
    The Pushups were a great power pop band and Al loved to drum. Ed was a great arranger and I think was just ready to move on and not live in the past which I suppose I am guilty of right here!
    I have a few really great shots of Al his family might like but none of the band – no one had iPhones or digital cameras back then. Say hi to Ken for me.

  • If anyone cares to assemble and issue a full Lp by the Pushups, I’ve got at least one more audio artifact. It’s a seven song tape of tunes : “Let Me Out,” “Sorry Now,” “Play On,” “Too Bad,” “Teen Love” “Can’t Help Myself,” and “Love That Girl.” I know that I was playing some of these songs on the air in Dallas in the fall of 1980, but I might have been sent the tape in 1979. Seems I’ve got some correspondence with the group here as well from the Aurora Pushups days. Reach out if you’re interested. I will be digitizing the tape (among 2,000 demos) in the coming months.

    • hey George i know of a label doing reissues and regional comps spotlighting forgotten bands that might be into putting some of this stuff out and getting in touch with band members. drop me a line cavityrockbooking(@)gmail

      • John dorn

        I can get the tracks Ed Dorn is my brother I still have the complete demo with all the tracks I’m sure he has the master still.

  • Hi George, What you have there is 7 out of 11 songs called: Project 58.It was recorded @ Army street studio by Jim K at the board in 1979.This recording was post Ricky Swan and Al Leis but has some jems that I think bare a serious listen such as Too Bad, Teen Love.There are but a handful of persons that could do what you are proposing legally as I’m sure you know but I believe the effort would be a testament to a couple of great pop/punk songwriters and a band that delivered on stage. I’m in George and I’m on the Copywrite!

  • John dorn

    Wow, I hadn’t listen to some of the songs in a long time. Ed Dorn the leader of the push-ups is my brother and I was there with him along the way for all of this ride. Such an incredible time in my life I was 15 when I started to go shows At The fab Mab. And various other clubs , the scene was so incredible at that time totally change my life.
    They were great band and put on a hell of a show. I became the roadie for a while and later started a roadie scool for other bands in the Bay Area. They totally should’ve been famous. But I guess it wasn’t meant to be. They sure inspired me, I became a musician And later move to Austin Texas and still play today. I loved the push-ups And hold those times very dear to my heart. Thanks For writing a story it brings back so many Memories of so many good times with Brother Ed Performing with the rest of the guys in the band and my other brother Jim dorn pulling all the strings behind the scenes booking the band, funding the band and me moving all their equipment and setting it up and being there number one fan. We were like the three musketeers.

  • John,I was sorry to hear of Jim’s passing some years back.My belated condolences to you and Ed and Jim’s family.
    Thanks also for toting that heavy ass Ampeg SVT bass Amp that Mr. J. Keylor loan us from his Army Street studio for the shows and rehearsals.Without all three of you bro’s no Pushups live shows period! I think you would agree that Larry has done a beautiful thing here with this Blog.Both in the fact that he has told the story as a fan and placed the music up for conversation between other fans and the like. The Pushups had 3 chapters as you know. I was in the last chapter bud.Came in right after Ricky quit and ProJect 58 was being written and rehearsed at the ranch at your brother Jim’s house. I believe, John, that there should be a 4th Chapter in the form of vinyl and video for the tubers.We can do this only with permission from all Copywrite owners of the Masters(if still available in original form i.e. 8track)or 2 track mixed masters.I would love to talk about it with you and Ed if he and the others would be interested in leaving a grade AAA legacy in Vinyl. I’m also on the copywrite bud so one down 5 to go.Lets pray those masters are still available cause as nice as it is hearing the old cassettes there nothing like the masters. LET CHANGE THAT JOHN!!

    • Rick Maymi (Ed Dorn's nephew)


  • Ed Dorn

    Ed Dorn here,
    Very interesting article. Very accurate on most points. I am still trying to remember who Larry is.
    Something is coming up in the spring of next year regarding a pressing of all the recorded Pushups

    • I was Al’s friend originally, dating back to hippie days. That’s how I got to know the band.

    • Steve Burke here also, ED DORN BRAVO!! Best news I’ve heard all year! I just got my ass kicked with the rest of the town of Paradise and finally got settled in Chico for the moment anyway then I saw your post. PLEASE Let me know if I can help in any way with the transfers of the audio or the scope of the project through whatever mean$ you may need. I’m here to help with The Pushups Story and it really need to be told Ed. Although history hasn’t been kind to the Pushups (even the bloody name has been taken) the music is great and CAN BE Greater still IF EACH of the MASTERS are baked and Transferred to 24bit/96hz then begins the real work but its a hell of a lot of FUN!! In short Ed, the release is worth every Paypal or Zelle dollar that can be thrown at it. One last thing so you know i know, the Pushups story is your story so let ” the unknown that’s really unknown” be known or something like that Bud. Peace and love to all

  • Rick Maymi

    I just got all of the Pushups reels baked and digitally mastered. More news soon!

  • The Aurora Pushups was the first band I _ever_ saw live; they played an evening show at my high school (Miramonte High, in Bay Area suburb Orinda, CA). I believe this was with a band called The Readymades. This would have been in the spring of 1979. I can’t number myself a fan of Pushups now, but I had a great time, and that show definitely changed my life.

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