Week of March 11, 2007

Power Of Zeus

Bill Jones Bass
Bob Michalski Drums
Joe Periano Guitar
Dennis Webber - Keyboards

Gospel According To Zeus (Rare Earth 516) 1970
CD: Buy Or Die/TRC BOD109, 1995, Germany

One of the more obscure hard rock acts of the early 70s, Detroit's Power Of Zeus became the first hard rock group to sign and record for Motown subsidiary Rare Earth, but theirs was hardly a successful relationship. The band that would become Power Of Zeus was formed in 1968 by vocalist/guitarist Joe Periano, shortly after his release from the Marine Corps and while working at a Chrysler plant outside Detroit. A newspaper ad brought him together with bassist/vocalist Bill Jones, drummer Bob Michalski, and, through a moneymaking side gig with a local country band, Hammond organist Dennie Webber. Drawing most of their inspiration from British hard rock and heavy metal titans like Cream, Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, as well as the era's pervasive psychedelic stereotypes, the quartet -- then going by the name of Gangrene -- became the unofficial house band at the Wooden Nickel club, where they were eventually spotted by a local manager.

Motown soon signed the band on the condition they find a new name, so both parties came up with Power Of Zeus shortly before starting work on 1970's The Gospel According to Zeus LP. Although it failed to find an audience upon its release (the blame was generally laid on Motown's inexperience with recording and marketing heavy rock), the album has since become a hard-sought collector's piece and sampling favorite among crate-digging hip-hop producers. Of course, none of this did Power Of Zeus much good at the time, and internal squabbles over musical direction and drug abuse soon split up the group. Periano moved on to briefly work for Motown, produced a Luther Allison album and spent a few years performing live with ex-Temptation David Ruffin before retiring from the road. Sadly, Webber died from a drug overdose in the mid-80s and Michalski followed him a decade later because of a brain tumor.

Ed Rivadavia
All Music Guide

Discography and line-up taken from: Fuzz, Acid & Flowers - American Garage, Psychedelic & Hippie Rock 1964-1975

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