Left End rides again

By John Ostapowicz

After going on hiatus for nine years, Left End will return to the Packard Music Hall in Warren, Ohio on March 11. 

Many said Youngstown’s classic rock band Left End pioneered the glam rock sound of the early 1970s in the Mahoning Valley. 

The band’s rise to popularity stemmed from the late lead singer Dennis Sesonsky, widely known by his stage name Dennis T. Menass. His onstage antics made him the face ofLeft End. 

Before Left End was founded, drummer Patsy Palombo, bassist Roy Guerrieri and guitarists Tom Figinsky and Jim Puhalla started as the Soulsations. 

During a show at The Apartment, a local nightclub in Youngstown, Sesonsky approached the group and wanted to join the band. Palombo remembers the impact he made on the group. 

“He came in our dressing room after the show and said you are the loudest, most obnoxious group I’ve ever seen in my life. I’d love to play with you guys,” Palombo said. 

At the time, Sesonsky was the premier rock singer in the Mahoning Valley, as he had been a part of the Pied Pipers, Citations and Holy Mackerel. 

With the addition of Sesonsky, the Soulsations went from soul music to hard rock in 1971 and officially changed the band’s name to Left End. 

“He came into the band and insisted that we do glam rock stuff,” Palombo said.”He was only with the band for our second rehearsal when we wrote ‘Sunshine Girl.’”

In 1972, Left End recorded its first single, “Sunshine Girl,” with Peppermint Records, a recording studio on the south side of Youngstown. The single quickly reached the top of the charts with the help of popular radio station 101.1 WHOT-FM.

“We took it to their Program Director Dick Thompson,” Palombo said.”It got a great response, so they played it again until it was number three.” 

A year later, the band released “Bad Talking Lady,” which reached number one on 101.1 WHOT-FM and 1390 WNIO-AM, formerly known as WFMJ-AM. In the same year, “Bad Talking Lady” finished sixth on the WHOT-FM ‘Good Guys’ Fabulous 50 Tunedex” for the week of July 2. 

At the time, the tunedex was picked by popular disc jockeys A.C McCullough, Boots Bell and Jerry Star. 

Besides Left End’s radio popularity, the band’s live performances took Youngstown by storm. The band played at popular attractions including The Apartment, The Tomorrow Club and the Idora Amusement Park ballroom. 

The Tomorrow Club featured big names such as AC/DC, The Ramones, Joe Walsh and Madonna. The interaction between the bands and the fans is what made the club popular. 

At Idora Park, Left End was a featured act for 13 consecutive years for 101.1 WHOT-FM’s Spring Thing, a run that ended when a fire destroyed the park in 1984. 

With the traction and hours of radio play from local radio stations, Left End landed a record deal with Polydor Records in 1974. The band released its first and only album, “Spoiled Rotten.” 

The record catapulted Left End into national success, as it toured with The Eagles, Ted Nugent and Foghat. 

The band’s hopes of a second album and international tour were dashed after Polydor merged with RKO Records. The band sued the company to get out of its contract, which led to Left End being blacklisted among other record labels. 

After disbanding in 1985, the band reunited in honor of Sesonky in 2014 for the Youngstown Music Awards. The awards featured Left End as the headliner with four local singers, each taking turns singing the band’s hits. 

Lead vocalist for The Stage of Dreams and Haymaker, Daniel Butch, performed “Sunshine Girl” with the band and remembers the pressure of performing. 

“It was quite an experience and a little intimidating to be honest,” Butch said. “The place was sold out. There were so many people there and it all led up to the Left End performing.”

In 2020, Palombo published the band’s memoir, “Tenacity: The Left End Story.” The inspiration for the novel came from the band’s countless stories. 

“Many fans for years have said you ought to write a book, you have all these cool stories,” Palombo said. 

With the help of co-promoter Ray Timlin, the band will reunite for its reunion show, Left End Ridin’ Again, featuring original members Palombo, Guerrieri, Figinsky and Puhalla. 

For the show, guitarist Dave Lemasters and lead vocalist Michael Lawerence will perform with the band. 

Lawrence graduated from Coastal Carolina University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts and toured around the United States before finding his way to Las Vegas.

“It’s been a dream come true for me. I love rock and hard rock and grew up listening to it,” Lawrence said. 

To purchase tickets for Left End’s reunion show, visit ticketmaster.com. Doors open at 7 p.m. on March 11.