Ron Mael - keyboards, vocals; Russell Mael - vocals; Sal Maida - bass; Hilly Michaels - drums; Jeff Salen - guitar
Sparks, which has been together in one form or another for the better part of four decades, originated when brothers Ron and Russell Mael were attending UCLA and decided to form a band. The Mael brothers had spent their childhood as young models in mail order clothing catalogs. While growing up in the City of the Angels, they were constantly exposed to the most explosive rock music coming out, among them the Venice Beach-based superstars, the Doors.
While at UCLA, they formed Half-Nelson (a reference to a wrestling hold), and started gigging around LA. They caught the attention of emerging rock icon Todd Rundgren, who got them a deal on his own Bearsville-Warner Brothers Records, and who also produced the band's 1971 debut. (Among the members of Half Nelson was Earle Mankey, who would later go on to be a hit record producer.)
When the Half-Nelson LP stiffed, their manager covinced them to change their name to Sparks, under which they released A Woofer in Tweeter's Clothing before being dropped from Bearsville. They subsequently moved to Europe where they believed their music would be more widely accepted. They were right.
By 1973, Sparks was a hit band in the U.K. and had signed a long term deal on Island Records. They hit pay dirt in 1974, with a glam-pop opus entitled, "Kimono My House." The single "This Town Ain't Big Enough For The Both Of Us" would place Sparks firmly at the top of U.S., European, and Asian pop charts.
The band went through a number of personnel changes (usually after every couple of albums and tours, the Maels would completely revamp the line-up). This performance, recorded at New York's Bottom Line for the King Biscuit Flower Hour, featured an all-new version of the band that included former Tuff Darts guitarist Jeff Salen, session drummer Hilly Michaels, and bassist Sal Maida, who had previously been in the punk-pop band, Milk & Cookies. The group was out promoting its Big Beat album, the last of the pop records before they headed into making disco albums in 1977.
By 1981, the band had departed the dying disco scene and returned to rock with the memorable disc, Whomp That Sucker. The band (which now only features the Maels and cast of revolving backing players), continues to record and tour. Their last album was 2008's Exotic Creatures of the Deep.