One of the great homegrown bands of Long Island, The Good Rats emerged on the scene in the late 60s and their eclectic raw energy helped them thrive throughout the 70s, making them one of the most memorable and popular local acts of the era.
Starting as a cover band in 1964, The Good Rats were originally called the U-Men and built a respectable little following around the island, enough to attract the attention of a record label, which encouraged the band to develop their original material and change their name. Rechristened The Good Rats, the band released its self-titled debut album in 1969.
Numerous personal changes occurred during this time, but by 1972, the band had settled into a line-up that included vocalist and band leader, Peppi Marchello, John “The Cat” Gatto on guitar, Joey Franco on drums, and Lenny Kotke on bass.
The band’s popularity continued to rise in the Tri-State area and in 1974, they released their most popular album to date, Tasty. The album received plenty of local FM airplay and soon after, The Good Rats were performing in such prestigious locations as Madison Square Garden, Nassau Coliseum, and even the Whisky-a-go-go, all the way out in Los Angeles.
In 1976, the band released Ratcity in Blue, followed two years later by From Rats to Riches. Sadly, although these albums were also local hits for the band, The Good Rats could never quite break out of the New York scene to get some much-deserved national attention. By 1983, the band decided to call it quits.
Then, in the early 90s, Marchello and his sons, Stephan and Gene, began playing around the island, first under the name “Marchello” and eventually reclaiming the name, The Good Rats. The band still plays sporadically to this day, and still enjoys a strong loyal following. They were inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame in 2008 and released a new album in 2012 called Blue Collar Rats.
The Good Rats never found the mainstream success they deserved, but their stature among Long Island music fans was never questioned. And if you made it through the 70s on the island without ever hearing their name, you were likely living in a cave.
On July 11, 2013, news spread quickly that beloved leader Peppi Marchello passed away after suffering a heart attack at the age of 68. He was the heart and soul of the Good Rats, and riches or not, there is many a Long Islander out there that won’t soon forget seeing these hometown heroes bring down the house night after night.
Are you a fan of the Good Rats, let’s hear all of your memories and reflections in the comments section.