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Wizard

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Biography

Wizard(not to be confused with Roy Wood's Wizzard) formed in spring 1970 at the University of South Florida virtually by accident. Paul Forney(vocals, bass) and Ben Schultz(guitars) met through a mutual friend, jammed together, and immediately hit it off. The two formed a short-lived rock trio, Brother, and were slated to open a gig in Tampa for Chicago's Flock. Prior to the concert, Forney and Schultz had a falling out with Brother's drummer, who promptly walked out on soundcheck to clear his head. The duo asked Brother roadie Chris Luhn, who they had known for a couple years, to sit in just to balance soundboard levels, completely unaware that he had been playing drums for nearly five years and knew Brother's songs by heart. Instead of just pounding away, he kept perfect time and by the next morning, Brother's old drummer was instantly looking for a new band. The new combo rechristened itself Wizard. Over the course of the next year, the band took off on the road from Tampa to Colorado, playing gigs in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Michigan, and Illinois and opening for the likes of Iron Butterfly, Chicago, Mountain, and Rod Stewart. During that year, Wizard logged thousands of miles in a 1967 Pontiac Bonneville to get to their performances, as well as hour upon hour of rehearsing, writing music, and jamming together. The apotheosis of the first summer was when they crashed the Goose Lake Festival outside Detroit, at which the band finagled their way onto the stage for a set. The trio caught the attention of Decca Records' Bob Fletcher and he took the group to Atlanta for a recording session that lasted days. By the end of the session, The Original Wizard, the band's first and only album, was completed. The album was released in 1971 on Peon. Wizard continued to play and perform, including a memorable gig the next winter at an indoor festival at the Hollywood Fairgrounds in Florida with main draw Van Morrison, but the band slowly began to come apart. Only 16 months after forming, the band called it quits.Forney went on to play with Bacchus and later with the Jimmy Castor Bunch, finally giving up touring in 1980. Schultz went on to do live and studio work for Buddy Miles, Belinda Carlisle, Stephen Stills, Diana Ross, Ric Ocasek, Rick Nelson, and Rod Stewart, among others. In 1999, Gear Fab reissued their album on CD. ~ Stanton Swihart
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