band profiles

Hap Snow’s Whirlwinds were active between 1958 and 1966. In their first iteration, the regular lineup was composed of classmates and friends at Williams College including Art Bearon on piano, Harry Lewis on saxophone, James K. “Hap” Snow on lead guitar and vocals, and Stefano Torossi on drums and piano. The band primarily focused on instrumentals in these first several years.

After graduation, the band was reborn with Frankie Mento (Frank Chiumento) on drums, Steve James (Steve Fradkin) on rhythm guitar and lead vocals, Michael Kaye on piano, keyboards, lead and background vocals, Ted Pina on bass guitar, and Snow on lead guitar and background vocals. In this second phase of the Whirlwinds from 1961 to 1966, Weston, Massachusetts served as a home base. It was during this time frame the band moved from instrumentals to a more vocal-oriented sound.

A number of part-time and honorary Whirlwinds deserve mention, including Len Arnold (Leonard Hochman), an experienced sideman and studio musician, who succeeded Lewis on saxophone and played with the band off and on between 1960 and 1963; drummer Billy Elgart, who recorded three tracks with the band in the early 60s and played one summer when the Whirlwinds worked full-time on the Cape; Brad Perry, who played guitar in the Whirlwinds’ Williams years; Dick Maine, a guitar player and classmate of Michael Kaye’s who first introduced him to the band; Ken Roy, who helped out with driving as well as filling-in on a number of occasions; Al Hart, the official band photographer, and Herb Diet, who sat-in as drummer several times.

In fact, the honor roll of musicians who sat in with Hap Snow’s Whirlwinds, a band that would often be split into two sections to be able to appear at the maximum number of gigs, is quite long. As Steve Fradkin explained:

Many Friday nights, we would go down to the Berklee College of Music on Massachusetts Avenue to find a pianist or a drummer for the weekend.”

On the other hand, during another time period, the band consisted of a pianist, two guitar players, and a drummer only–there wasn’t a regular bass player. Therefore, one way or the other, quite a few musicians jammed with the Whirlwinds over their 9-year run.

Click photos to view profiles for individual band members:

Bill Elgart from Eric Watson, John Lindberg, Bill Elgart - The Fool School (1993) CD booklet

bill elgart

Mitch Seidman, Harvie Swartz & Alan Dawson with Charlie Kohlhase & Leonard Hochman - Fretware (1994) Brownstone Recordings (BRCD 946) inside crop of Leonard Hochman

leonard hochman

Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 5.34.32 PM

michael kaye

Stefano Torossi, circa 2008

stefano torossi

band lineup

Phase I – The Williams College Years (1958-1960/61)

  • Art Bearon, piano & vocals
  • Harry Lewis, saxophone
  • James K. “Hap” Snow, lead guitar & vocals
  • Stefano Torossi, drums & piano

Phase II – The Weston, Massachusetts Years (1960/61-1966)

  • Frankie Mento (Frank Chiumento), drums
  • Steve James (Steve Fradkin), rhythm guitar & lead vocals
  • Michael Kaye, piano, keyboards, lead & background vocals
  • Ted Pina, bass guitar
  • Snow, lead guitar & background vocals

Part-Time

  • Len Arnold (Leonard Hochman), saxophone (~1960-1963)
  • Herb Diet, drummer (196?)
  • Billy Elgart, drummer (~1962-1963)
  • Dick Maine, guitar (~1960-1961)
  • Brad Perry, guitar (~1958-1960)

Click on individual picture to enlarge

Whirlwinds postcard from 1958 (courtesy of Luci Bearon)

Whirlwinds postcard from 1958 (courtesy of Luci Bearon)

reverse side of Whirlwinds postcard from 1958 (courtesy of Luci Bearon)

reverse side of Whirlwinds postcard from 1958 (courtesy of Luci Bearon)

Stefano Torossi and Harry Lewis, circa 1959

Stefano Torossi and Harry Lewis, circa 1959

Whirlwinds 1959

Brad Perry, Hap Snow, unidentified drummer, Harry Lewis, and Stefano Torossi circa 1959

Fleetwood Records' releases, circa 1959

Fleetwood Records’ releases, circa 1959

Stefano Torossi's first record credit on "Banshee," 1959

“Banshee” 45 1959

Whirlwinds outdoor group shot

Steve James, Frankie Mento, Michael Kaye, and Hap Snow circa 1963

Big, Bold Sound handbill

Big, Bold Sound handbill circa 1963

Michael Kaye, Steve Fradkin, and Hap Snow circa 1963

Michael Kaye, Steve Fradkin, and Hap Snow circa 1963

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