The New Vagrants

Vagrants

Peter Sabatino (Vocals, Percussion)
Tom San Filippo (Guitar, Vocals)
Eli Brown (Bass, Vocals)
Tony Pinisi (Keyboards, Vocals)
Russ Giannotti (Drums, Vocals)

Most famous for featuring Leslie West on guitar in his pre-Mountain days, the Vagrants were extremely popular in their home base of Long Island, NY in the
mid-’60s. Although they never charted, several singles are now choice collectibles.

Like fellow New Yorkers the Rascals, the Vagrants prominently featured a Hammond organ, and often played soul-influenced rock. The Vagrants were far more guitar-based than the Rascals, however, as well as projecting a more garagey, less mature outlook; their later material lands somewhere between the Rascals and Vanilla Fudge.

One of the few rock bands signed to the folkie Vanguard label, the Vagrants cut some fair singles between 1965 and 1968. “I Can’t Make a Friend,” which shows up on some garage compilations, is the most well-known of their initial efforts. The group took their closest swipe at stardom after Felix Pappalardi helped them sign to Atco. A rock version of Otis Redding’s “Respect” (which surfaced on the Nuggets compilation) was a hit in some Eastern regions in 1967. After a couple of other singles on Atco, the group broke up in late 1968, when West formed Mountain (which also included Pappalardi). Much of the Vagrants’ material was reissued in the mid-’90s.

In 2002 with the push of executive producer Randy Pratt, original lead singer Peter Sabatino was asked to record a new album of unreleased Vagrants songs from the sixties. Reuniting the original line up was unlikely so a new band was assembled with Tom San Filippo in the Leslie West position. The new band took great care in preserving the essence of the original 60’s vibe. They played only a half dozen shows before going on hiatus in 2009.