Brownsville Station is an American rock band from Michigan that was popular in the 1970s. Original members included Cub Koda (guitarist/vocalist), Mike Lutz (guitarist/vocalist), T.J. Cronley (drummer), and Tony Driggins (bassist/vocals). Later members included Henry “H-Bomb” Weck (drummer) and Bruce Nazarian (guitarist/vocalist).
They are remembered for the top-10 hit single “Smokin’ in the Boys Room” (1973).
Brownsville Station was formed in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1969. Brownsville Station’s early albums included song covers from bands which had inspired them. In 1970, they released their debut studio album, No BS, on a Warners Bros. label. Their biggest hit, “Smokin’ in the Boys Room”, written by Michael Lutz & Cub Koda, from their 1973 album Yeah!, reached No. 3 on U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart and No. 27 in the UK Singles Chart. The track sold over two million copies and was awarded a gold disc status by the RIAA on 15 January 1974.
In 1977, Brownsville Station recorded “Martian Boogie”, one of their seven singles to chart on the Hot 100. The song was also a feature on Dr. Demento’s radio show. “(Lady) Put The Light On”, their penultimate single, also charted in the Hot 100, at 46.
After drummer Cronley left the band, Van Wert, Ohio native Henry “H-Bomb” Weck was called on to fill the position left by Cronley.
The band’s second-highest Billboard charting single was “Kings of the Party” which topped out at No. 31 in 1974.
Original members of Brownsville Station disbanded in 1979 and their final studio album together, Air Special, was released by Epic in 1978.
Cub Koda was the most visible Brownsville Station member after their break up. He recorded a number of solo albums and toured with his own group The Points as well as blues man Hound Dog Taylor’s backing band The Houserockers. His solo repertoire included the albums Cub Koda and the Points, It’s the Blues, Box Lunch and the career spanning compilation Welcome to My Job. In addition, Koda, a rabid collector of rockabilly, doo wop and blues, wrote liner notes for numerous retro releases (including Jimmy Reed, Freddy Cannon and The Kingsmen) and countless music reviews for the All Music Guide series of books and website. He also wrote a popular column (“The Vinyl Junkie”) for Goldmine magazine and co-authored the book Blues For Dummies. In addition, he hosted The Cub Koda Crazy Show for Massachusetts radio station WCGY during a period in the early 80s. Koda died of kidney disease in July 2000 at the age of 51.
Mike Lutz went on to produce many bands, including Ted Nugent’s Spirit of the Wild album, and toured in the 1990s with Nugent. Lutz still resides in Ann Arbor, teaches guitar and bass at a local music store called Oz’s Music, writes and produces many acts.
While still in Brownsville Station, Henry Weck engineered and co-produced the Strikes album for Blackfoot, which produced two hit singles, Highway Song and Train Train (on which Koda played harmonica). Weck continues to record and produce in Memphis, in Ann Arbor at Lutz’s Tazmania Studios and is the co-driving force of the re-united Brownsville Station.
After T. J. Cronley left Brownsville Station, he spent a career in the U.S. Marine Corps as a Marine aviator, and retired as a lieutenant colonel in 1992. He is currently a pilot for FedEx and resides in Yuma, Arizona. He is also an artist.
Bruce Nazarian went on to produce, engineer and perform with his band “The Automatix”, who released their debut LP on MCA in 1983. He was the CEO of Digital Media Consulting Group and ran a popular digital media website “TheDigitalGuy.com”. Nazarian also produced and hosted The Digital Guy radio show in addition to being a music producer, concert impresario and artist manager. His last band, “The Brotherhood” is slated to release their debut CD “(It’s) All About The Groove” in early 2016. Nazarian died in October 2015.
In 2008, Brownsville Station was inducted into the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends Hall of Fame.
Through the band’s early days, Weck captured over 500 hours of Brownsville demos, rehearsals, live shows and even some special events. In 2012, Lutz and Weck began sorting through the recordings in Lutz’s Tazmania Studio. The result is Still Smokin’, featuring new songs and updated versions of the band’s “My Friend Jack” and “Smokin’ In The Boys Room”.
Augmented by new players Billy Craig, Arlen Viecelli and Brad Johnson, Brownsville Station returned to the road in 2013.
In the television series King of the Hill, Brownsville Station is part of the subplot in Episode 10 Season 10 entitled Hank Fixes Everything. The band is a favorite of the character Lucky, who camps outside the ticket booth to purchase seats for prime viewing of Mike Lutz playing guitar.
Brownsville Station’s early influences included Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and other 1950s rock and roll musicians. Koda’s onstage antics influenced many rockers including Peter Wolf and Alice Cooper (by wikipedia)
1969 saw Brownsville Station signed to Punch Andrew’s Detroit-based Palladium label where the made their label debut with the single:
– 1969’s ‘Be-Bop Confidential’ b/w ‘City Life’ (Palladium catalog number H 1075)
The single sold well locally, leading Palladium to finance a supporting album – 1970’s “No BS”. Curiously. anyone whose knowledge of Brownsville Station was limited to their hit ‘Smokin’ In the Boys’ Room’ was liable to be a bit confused and perhaps disappointed by their debut collection. Mind you, it wasn’t a bad album, but unless you lived in Detroit and saw some of the band’s live shows, as the band’s ‘roots’ album, the collection’s heavy reliance on covers of popular 1950s rock and R&B chestnuts was probably going to prove somewhat unexpected. So here’s the god news; the album served as a pretty good representation of the band’s Marshall amp powered live shows. Yeah there were plenty of covers, but the performances were uniformly enthusiastic (these guys were foremost fans of these musical genre) and while remaining true to the spirit of the originals, most of their arrangements were at least somewhat updated and more rock oriented (back to those towering stacks of Marshall speakers that Cubby Koda would apparently climb and jump off of). (by RDTEN1)
But this was only the start of a real underrated band from Michigan !
ROCKS LIKE A MOTHERFUCKA DOING 75 ON THE FREEWAY
This album rocks like a MOTHERFUCKER. it’s one of the best sounding (recording) hard rock albums of its era that i have ever heard (i have a wlp promo copy, so i dunno if it has any sonic variations from the original Palladium pressing, or the retail Warner Bros pressing).
the drummer is INSANE. great guitar sound, the whole thing is straight up “live band in the studio,” tape rolling. no overdubs. (vocals probably). I love this album and always have.
and it’s got the BEST Roadrunner kickass version like ever. E V E R! (mike_in_oakland)
Tony Driggins (bass)
T.J. Cronley (drums)
Cubby Koda (vocals, guitar, harmonica)
Michael Lutz (vocals, guitar, clarinet)
Big Jim Bruzzese (percussion)
Pat McCaffrey (keyboards)
Al Nali, Sr. (accordion)
The Applesaucettes (background vocals)
01. Be-Bop Confidential (Vincent/Hargrave/Davis) 2.24
02. Guitar Train (Lutz) 2.06
03. Rockin’ Robin (Byrd) 2.46
04. Blue Eyed Girl (Lutz) 2.46
05. City Life (Lutz/Driggins) 3.02
06. Do The Bosco (Koda/Lutz) 2.37
07. Roadrunner (McDaniels) 2.38
08. Hello, Mary Lou (Pitney) 3.06
09. Cadillac Express (Koda) 2.30
10. My Boy Flat-Top (Bennett/Young) 2.02
11. Rumble (Wray) 3.04