Wednesday, May 4, 2011

THE COLD WAR (1971-1974) AND ILLUMINATION BANDS (1974-1978)



Cold War (1971/1974) was a musical group in the Miami 70's open house era formed and created by bandleader Richard (Kephas) Gonzalez, as early as age 12 he had ideas of forming the next great band and so with a lot of practice and determination, Cold War became a reality, along with his close friend Justo Sierra (the band's manager) the plan was put in motion. From the start Richard Gonzalez (Kephas) looked to form "the super group" and revolutionize music as we all knew it. Richard himself a top of the line guitar player and performer who would at any moment stun an always amazed crowd with his signature behind the back guitar playing as well as with some many moments picking his guitar with his teeth while sprawled on his back on stage, all of this without missing a beat. Richard (Kephas) wanted a special and unique sound that came from the heart and he would settle for nothing less, it was a long and demanding chore but it was one that he was willing to take on.
From day one the search for the young untested future superstars was on, whatever instrument it was, he had to have the "unique" sound apart from the many other bands, that was the way it was as many who tried and failed to join the band found out.

For the preferred few with the raw intensity and reckless abandon of hungry warriors out to conquer the musical world lucky enough to be part of Cold War, the journey was both inspiring and rewarding, they found a deep and soul filled satisfaction of knowing that they were part of something great that will never be forgotten.

One of the band's maverick traits before performing anywhere was to meditate for one minute before they started to play, this allowed them to be at the next level of the group's soulful preparation..... that did not sit well with some in the crowd, but as always the audience was about to be stunned and surprised with the music explosion of their lives, the boos and hisses turned into cheers and applause as the band would proceeded to kick major music booty each and every time that they got on stage for a performance.

The band was offered a recording deal with M & M Records and Justo Sierra, the band's manager at the time declined to accept the same recording studio's terms that many of the other local bands were offered (like Coke and the Antiques) and thus killed the deal and hopes for the band's musical legacy.
From the open houses to the many proms, dances produced and promoted by the group and sharing the stage with the likes of Johnnie Ventura, Fajardo y sus Estrellas, and many other top of the line performers, the countless telemarathons, weddings, 15's parties and the many weekends playing on the roof top by the pool of the Surfcomber Hotel in Miami Beach to overflowing and delighted crowds, Cold War was highly sought out and regarded by many as the best band in the south. Cold War consisted of band leader Richard Gonzalez (Kephas) on lead guitar and vocals, Alberto Acosta on bass and rhythm guitar, Phillip Alvarado, Ito Sargen and Albert Banos on drums, Hector Perez on bass, Alex Sanchez on keyboards, Jose Roque and Wolf on congas and Eli Perez on lead vocals. The journey however took a detour with the beginning of the disco era with Richard wanting to play a "more meaningful music" causing a major rift with some of the band members who wanted to play more modern top 40 dance selections thus putting a stop to Richard's vision of soulful originality.............so after one fateful practice full of arguments and disagreements, a meeting was called and Richard was voted out of the group, Jimmy Feliciano replaced Richard as it's lead guitarist and Albert Banos took control of the group and changed it's format to the new disco sounds for the new times, but this union did not last long as the band did not get any other gigs causing the collapse and end of Cold War.




But Richard was not to be denied and formed Illumination (1974/1978), this musical group consisted of band leader Richard Gonzalez (Kephas) on lead guitar and vocals, Albert Acosta on guitar and vocals, Adrian Garcia (RIP) on a sizzling bass, Sean Moore and Albert Banos on drums, Wolf and Ibrahim Munoz on congas, Anthony Fortuna on the keyboards, Eli Perez on lead vocals and Debbie Arch as back-up vocalist to complete the group.
Justo Sierra came back as manager of the new group for a short while as he was soon replaced by Pedro and Julia Padron who suggested to give the band a new look, adding a salsa blend to an already full musical repertoire, this move was thought to be necessary to enlarge the band's horizons, they also made it a point to reinvent Eli from a hard rocker to a crooner bolero style singer in which he quickly adapted and excelled with beautiful Spanish love songs that were simply amazing. The band's unique energy filled songs which included many original tunes were featured many times on the Channel 23 shows of Blanquita Amaro and Armando Rodriguez, getting many rave reviews was the band's original Spanish version of "Solo un Beso", the band's lead vocalist Eli Perez was also featured in the band's version of Armando Manzanero's Adoro, delighting the ladies and giving the band another musical dimension in it's arsenal for future venues.



Illumination went on to be one of six finalists amongst hundreds of other bands for the 1975's South Florida Y-100's Battle of the Bands, competing for a record deal with a major label, the group was told by some of the judges that they were the best and most original and were the heavy favorites to win it all, but politics and behind the scene deals ended that dream.
 Illumination did not last much longer after that, a few of the members left the group to play the more popular dance tunes that were so much in demand in those days and formed "The Starfire Disco Band" featuring Albert Banos on drums, Anthony Fortuna on keyboards, Hector E. on congas, Albert Acosta on bass, Jimmy Feliciano on lead guitar and Eli and Debbie on vocals, they became a formidable duet where vocals and harmonies was more in demand in the new Disco Era.



The band played in Calle Ocho, The Wreck Bar in the Castaways, The Button on the Lauderdale strip and many other clubs, they recorded some original material and became a fixture in the club scene.
Richard (Kephas) continued with Illumination, along with Joe Soria on keyboards, Juan Carlos on rhythm guitar, Julio and Paco Rodriguez on bass, Freddy and Eloy Guanche on drums and Eddy Perez (RIP) on lead vocals. (Twin brothers Eddy and Eli had performed together earlier in their musical adventures for another Miami Open House Era Band "Blue Haze" in 1972)

Eddy (RIP) and Richard (Kephas) played many clubs in the Lauderdale strip together with Illumination, creating a great friendship between the two that lasted until Eddy's tragic car accident in March of 2003.


Richard (Kephas) Gonzalez continued playing under the banner of Illumination in the New York limelight for many years after and as of today he is still playing and recording his music (as Kephas), dedicating his deeply inspirational songs to God.
Although The Cold War and Illumination Bands did nor reach their expected goals, they were clearly ahead of their times, for they will forever live in the hearts and minds of the lucky few that saw this great band. This is our attempt to make things right and put both The Cold War and Illumination Bands where they belong, among the great 70's bands of the Miami Open House Era..........................









14 comments:

COLD WAR / ILLUMINATION said...

When I first met Justo, I was at playing open houses with my brother Eddy with Blue Haze, Justo must have seen one of our shows because he invited me to see his Band "Cold War" in a 15's party, at the time I was having problems with Blue Haze's musical direction and was open to a change. Well, the first song that Cold War played that night was Woman by Barabas, ( they had me at hello ) if they were trying to impress me it worked, they played like no other band that I have ever seen before and I knew that I had to be part of what I saw. I will forever be greatfull for them accepting me into this great band, the memories and the brilliance that I saw will always stay with me.....

COLD WAR / ILLUMINATION said...

Last Thursday I had the honor and pleasure to re-connect with one of the band's founding members Albert Acosta, he is doing well in his A/C business and working like a dog ( but working ) He is trully one of a kind and a real sweet gentleman....God Bless you Albert Acosta, you are awesome !!!

Scott said...

I remember how impressed i was when i saw Cold War in some Miami Beach wedding in the early 70's. Let me just say that for me to still remember how good you guys were, is amazing in itself. You guys never recorded?

Marylin said...

Illumination played in my 15's at The Diplomat Hotel, so many great memories!

Caty said...

I was in the first row when your band played in the Miami Springs High Concert in 1976? What are you guys doing now ?

Anonymous said...


Memories!

Jorge said...

Wow,this brings back great memories !

Al said...

I have a bet, did Hector Perez play bass for Cold War?

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Anonymous said...

Cold War was the best!

Anonymous said...

Ican't believe i found this page, you guys played in my Jr. Prom!

Miami, Florida said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Wow!

Cold War said...

This page has been compromised, please go to our new page, thank you.... http://illuminationakscoldwar.blogspot.com/