In a semi-recent comment on this blog, a friend mentioned losing an old Closet Brothers’ tape. They signed off as “a faithful Closetini”. It’s time for a little more background, if you would please indulge me.
Back in the 70s, one of the original bands I was in, that formed in Elsinore Valley, was Johnny Katt & the Closet Brothers. I was Johnny Katt (a parady name of Johnny Cash, but actually a kitty litter brand). The Closet Brothers were Barry Lewis (M.T. Closet) on drums, and Phil Jones (Dark Closet) on bass. After a while, I dropped the cowboy hat and the name Johhny Katt, and we just called ourselves The Closet Brothers. Now that I’m thinking about all of this, I should have named myself Joaquin Closet. Darn. Anyway, we played the local bars and parties for the regulars and irregulars in the valley between Elsinore and Temecula. We played originals, old Stones and old country.
Closet Brothers – Me, Barry Lewis, Phil Jones
Closet Brothers – mid-70s
Quite a few of the local teens became faithful followers. We referred to them as the Closetinis (pronounced, “clozeteeneez”). As time went by, Mike Canipe (Pipes), my good friend from The Flying Crowbar in Laguna Beach, starting coming over the hill to play with us. He added another guitar, and incredible vocals. In no time at all, another good friend and great guitar player, Doug Suman (The Prof), started coming out from the Brea area to jam with the band (he just wouldn’t go away). At this time, Pipes implemented the maximum three guitar player only rule. The band became a five piece and we started calling ourselves the Closetinis. To us, Closetini became more than a name. It became a a way of life that signified a loud, obnoxious fashion sense, highlighting vintage 50s sports coats and mismatched everything else, and a somewhat benign, sort of smart ass, joker attitude. The Closetini salute was a back handed flip of a hand under the chin, Italian style. The Closetini handshake was a fakely sincere reach for a handshake and then, at the last second a quick pull-back with a flip of the thumb over the shoulder. We would comment during gigs on each other’s guitar solos, saying things like, “don’t use that tone with me”, “you could shave with that tone” or “your solo probably cleared the mice out of the building”, etc, ad infinitum. We would critique dancers on the floor at our gigs by announcing over the mic that they looked like ducks on a hotplate, or a national geographic movie. All harmless, fun making. We were happy jokers. GOOD BAND, GOOD TIMES, GOOD TRIBE.
It’s a little sad that this is one piece of history that cannot repeat itself, except in the memories of those who were there and remain faithful Closetinis. I raise my glass to all the friends, players, fans, and families who experienced and participated in the Closetini dynasty. Unfortunately, because of the chemo, any glass I raise cannot have alcohol, but that does not distract me from my sincerity.
Closetinis – Halloween Mid-70s
L-R(Prof, Pipes, Jonesy, Louie, and WoodZ)