The Crystal Blue Band - Bios

Mike Vale

Mike began his musical/recording career in the Pittsburgh area in 1960 while playing with The Sonics and then the Raconteurs, a Saint Vincent College group that eventually became The Shondells. Mike, along with Ron Rosman, George Magura, Joe Kessler and Vinnie Petropauli, joined Tommy James in early 1966 and while the group experienced several personnel changes during its successful tenure, only Mike and Ron Rosman remained a part of Tommy James and the Shondells throughout their long series of classic hits. www.tommyjames.com In addition to playing the bass and singing background vocals while with the Shondells,
Mike is credited with either writing or co-writing many of the groups releases. (See compositions at bottom of page.) During the lengthy, successful run of Tommy James and the Shondells, Mike Vale shared the pleasure of performing for crowds of up to 50,000 spectators at some concerts and appearing on a multitude of TV shows such as The Ed Sullivan Show (twice), Joey Bishop, The Dating Game, Dick Clark's Bandstand (twice), Mike Douglas and many more and sharing the stage with the world's greatest rock acts. Asked what he most enjoyed during his association with TJ and the Shondells, he replied: "Well, musically I most enjoyed taking a song from its creation through the recording process and watch it mature into a final product that others appreciated." "From the standpoint of single experience, I especially enjoyed traveling the country with then Vice President Hubert Humphrey during his 1968 presidential campaign and then spending election evening with him and his family in his hotel suite watching the returns come in. What a trip!"
In 1970 The Shondells and Tommy James went their separate ways, and The Shondells became Hog Heaven. Mike Vale and Pete Lucia wrote the material for the first album and recruited Jack McNicol, Buddy Cage, Ron Hand and Chuck Demorat for balance of the first album and all of the second when Ron Rosman and Ed Gray left. After a two-year run with Hog Heaven, Mike Vale left the full-time music business for an extended period to fulfill his other dream, becoming a successful entrepreneur.
Mike founded and presided over a manufacturing firm called Stellar Precision Components (www.stellarprecision.com) which designs and builds nuclear and aerospace component hardware for the Defense Department and their prime contractors. After approximately 25 successful years, Mike Vale has turned the corporation over to his daughter, Lori and son, Michael who continue to grow the company now employing almost 100 technicians. Additionally, daughter Cari teaches nursing. Daughter Traci went home to the Lord in 1983.
During the building of Stellar, Mike kept active in his first love, music, by writing and recording several gospel albums with his friend (and great singer) Bill Monach from Philadelphia under the group name of David's Harp (www.davidsharpgospelgroup.com)
Today, Mike is enjoying his wife Val, eight grandchildren and 5 Great Grandchildren. In 2010 Mike wrote and recorded his "It's A Pittsburgh Thing" CD and followed that up in 2014 by releasing his acclaimed album, "In My Dreams". He was also the impetus behind the reuniting of The Original Shondells under the new name, "The Crystal Blue Band" which is presently touring and performing all of their classic hits from the 60's.


Ron Rosman

I started playing music when I was seven years old on the accordion. I took lessons on this instrument until I was 18, forming various groups in H.S. and college to help defray the costs of my education. While in college at St. Vincents, in Latrobe, PA. I formed a group called the Raconteurs who later became the Shondells. The keyboard I used then was an accordion / organ called a Cordovox and it allowed quite a bit of versatility with little equipment to carry. We played two or three nights a week to help pay for our education costs. I was a liberal arts student, while George M was a music major and very talented musician and arranger. Joe K. was a history major and both attended the same college with me. We met Mike V. and liked his falsetto voice and, because of the types of music we were playing, new he would fit in well. He had a good voice for the R & B we were playing and he new how to harmonize so we asked him to join us. I finally transitioned away from the Cordovox when I went with Tommy James and the Raconteurs became the Shondells. Tommy was brought to Pittsburgh by a promoter named Bob Mack, who we had done a lot of work for, to promote Hanky Panky. Bob always like our sound, so on a Thursday night, in Greensburg, PA, he brought Tommy to a little bar called the Thunderbird Lounge to hear us. Tommy was looking for a group to be the Shondells, since they no longer existed. Tommy was impressed with our group and asked us to go on the road and promote Hanky Panky. At first, we thought he was joking. But after we found out he was serious we asked him to give us that weekend to discuss it and give him and answer on Monday. We talked it out and figured if we took 6 months off and played this record out, thinking it would be a lone hit, we might be able to reduce the number of nights we had to play to pay for our education, if we could sock most of our personal appearance money away. So that was the plan. We dropped out of school the month of our junior year finals. The road was very difficult, especially for George, Joe and Vinny, our drummer. They really had a rough time. Vinny was basically a big band drummer, who did great with the R & B style of music we did as the Raconteurs. But he was not fitting in with the style of music Tommy wanted us to play, he was just too aggressive as a drummer. The same was true for George and Joe. George's music background was a lot more sophisticated than what Tommy was looking for. So after our 2nd album, Tommy decided to make some changes and left Vinny, George and Joe go. We hired another friend of mine, Eddie Zgorecki ( alias Ed Grey), who was attending college in Clarion, PA. as our new guitarist, and a drummer, Pete Lucia, we had seen play in upstate NY. He was showy and good looking and was more of what Tommy was looking for. Thus we became a 5 piece group. We were beginning to enjoy some success. We were making enough money to live on from our personal appearances and thought we would not worry too much about taking any artist royalties, since that was going to be our nest egg, so to speak, when this thing ended. As it turned out, we never did see any of those royalty dollars. We were taken advantage of by Morris Levy and the Roulette mafia family. They never intended paying us any part of what our contract called for. And if we new what was good for us, we should not do anything about it. I am sure there is a book that could be written about this, but it is not unlike several other groups who went through the same thing we did back then, as the mafia was infiltrating the music industry and used it as a way to launder money. After five very productive but hectic years, our career ended in Mexico City, Mexico. Tommy had to take a break form the road and the business all together. He was in very sad shape physically and could no longer perform or record. We went back to our hometown area and decided to continue with our music career, without Tommy, and formed the group Hog Heaven, adding a drummer friend of ours, Phil Falcoccio we had known in the Raconteur era. We worked diligently for that summer writing and recording in a make shift studio Eddie had put together in Scottdale, PA, then took our product to NY to pitch it to some other labels. We hired a lawyer to do the legal work for us and negotiated a deal with Buddha Records. He advised us to stay away from Roulette Records until the deal with Buddha was signed, sealed and delivered. Unfortunately, Pete and Mike did not adhere to this advice and went to Roulette to attempt to get some writing royalty monies. They, like the rest of us, were needing money from our being out of circulation for so long, during the production of our Hog Heaven project. It was at this time that Morris Levy found out we were negotiating with Buddha and made a phone call which ended that deal and ultimately the musical affiliation of the original Hog Heaven ( Shondell) members. We were very disappointed after all of the hard work and sacrifice we had put into this project, but there was no way we were going to pursue another relationship with the man and company who had already stolen millions from us. At that time, Ed, Phil and I went back to Scottdale and began another band called Shadraque, leaving Mike and Pete to fulfill the contract, Morris Levy forced on them. We continued playing music together until 1975. At that time my family was growing and needing more than the band was able to provide and I wanted to pursue something a little more stable to better support my family. Mike was able to get me an interview for a job at the company he went back to work for, Hamill Mfg., a Navy Nuclear machine shop. I got the job and worked there for 4 years learning a completely new trade wHich later enabled me to secure a position with Volkswagen of America in their quality department. I worked for VW from the day they opened until they closed in 1988. It was while working at VW that I gave up playing / singing music entirely. In 1992, I brought my family up to my birth place, DuBois, PA to offer assistance to my parents who wanted to re-open a pizza shop. While we were doing this, and after opening this shop, my son told me about a company who was going to open an distribution center near Clearfield, PA . That company was Wal-Mart, where I have been working since they opened their doors in 1993. It has been a terrific experience and a great company to both me and my family. (My wife Maryann also worked there for 8 years as well other family members.) Four years ago,at the encouragement of my daughter, I began singing and playing again, but this time for a much higher purpose, for God! I started playing for a little church in the Treasure Lake Community and most recently have begun a project with Eddie Grey, back in Scottdale, where he now has a terrific, state of the art studio, Mikro Sound. We are doing a Contemporary Christian CD project of what I like to say are love songs to God and hope to have it finished sometime later this year or early 2009. God has so blessed me and I just want to do his will and serve him the rest of my life. I am blessed to have the greatest woman of God, Maryann, as my wife, 3 wonderful children and 9 grandchildren. He has always provided beyond my expectations and continues to do that for us. I have absolutely no regrets and live on the promises of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, that all things are possible and work for good for those who trust in the Lord'!


Ed Gray

Waiting content.


Mike Wilps

Waiting content.