Sonny Geraci, Outsiders and Climax Singer, Dead at 69

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The Outsiders’ first album

Most artists are lucky to have a top 5 hit with one band. Sonny Geraci reached that plateau with two different groups: first, in 1966 with the Outsiders (the #5 “Time Won’t Let Me”) and then again in 1972 with Climax (“Precious and Few,” which reached #3). Geraci died today, Feb. 5, at age 69. The news was posted on the Sonny Geraci and the Outsiders Facebook fan page and confirmed by Geraci’s daughter Brianna. No cause or place of death have been reported as of yet. Geraci had suffered a brain aneurysm in 2012.

Those two hits could not have been more different: “Time Won’t Let Me,” a frenetic dancefloor rocker, written by Tom King and Chet Kelley, incorporated popular soul music elements and was consistent with the garage-band trend of the mid-’60s. “Mersey meets Motown,” was how Geraci once described it. “Precious and Few,” credited to Walter D. Nims, was a sweet ballad characteristic of the soft-rock emerging at the time from the West Coast. Together they showed the diversity of which Geraci was capable.

Related: What were the biggest hits of 1966?

Sonny Geraci in 1972, when he was with Climax

Born Nov. 22, 1947, in Cleveland, Ohio, Sonny Geraci was, like seemingly everyone else in the mid-’60s, inspired by the Beatles to join a rock band. He teamed up with guitarist Tom King and other members of the local band the Starfires, who changed their name in 1965 to the Outsiders. Signed to Capitol Records that year, they released “Time Won’t Let Me” in early 1966 and it quickly found its way up the charts. The group reached the top 40 three more times in 1966, with “Girl in Love” (#21), “Respectable” (an Isley Brothers cover, #15) and “Help Me Girl” (#37), a song arranged by jazz artist Chuck Mangione. Four other singles charted in Billboard, as did three albums (the first, also called Time Won’t Let Me, hit #37), before the group disappeared from view.

Geraci was not a national presence for a few years but then he resurfaced in 1972 fronting the Los Angeles-based Climax. Recording for Carousel Records, their ballad “Precious and Few” became one of the biggest hits of that year, but they were only able to follow it with one more chart single, “Life and Breath,” which topped out at #52. Their first and only album, simply titled Climax, fizzled at #177 and the group disbanded in 1975.

Geraci recorded under the pseudonym Peter Emmett in 1983 but then largely disappeared from the music scene until the 2000s, when he began touring with a new group of Outsiders.

In November 2013, a benefit event for Geraci took place in Ohio, featuring several oldies artists such as Gary Lewis, the Shadows of Knight, Joey Molland and others.

Tributes began to come in from other musicians as news of Geraci’s death spread. Said Dennis Tufano of the Buckinghams, “I am speechless, but will do my best…Very sad word comes this morning of the passing of an amazing human being, wonderful friend, and fantastic artist. Please join me in sending prayers to Sonny Geraci , his family and friends ..God Speed to Heaven, Sonny…as the saying goes..’You know they got a helluva band!!'”

Watch the Outsiders lip-sync “Time Won’t Let Me” in 1966

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  1. Juj
    #1 Juj 15 March, 2017, 18:07

    I have flyers from the UAW hall where they played a lot. Great music

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