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Franke Previte was one of countless Springsteen wannabes that got signed by A&R execs between 1975 and 1985. Willie Nile, John Cafferty & the Beaver Brown Band, Southside Johnny & the Asbury Dukes, John Eddie, and to a lesser degree, Eddie Money were among the notable names. They all came and most of them (sans Southside Johnny and Eddie Money) went by the end of the '80s. The similarities were striking among them: Nearly all were east coast based, they all had a powerful backing band that was integral to the live show, part of their stage charisma included the bravado of a pool-hall punk, and they all sang to their audience as if they were the first artist to ever cry about unrequited love in a dark city alley.
Among these "Springsteen-ies," as some critics would call them, Franke Previte was better than most. With his band, the Knockouts, he had played in a plethora of local bands in his hometown of New Brunswick, NJ. In 1981, he formed the Knockouts with Billy Elworthy, whom had been in many of his teen bands. Elworthy was the "Little Steven" of the relationship, helping him with his musical direction throughout. As soon as they created a buzz on the NJ club circuit, they were signed to Millennium Records, a label started by former Casablanca Records chief, Neil Bogart.
The group was reshaped into a softer, mellower group, with a focus on pop music. They still relied on their Jersey/Springsteen influence, however, and that is apparent with this show. Taped at Cleveland's famed Agora Ballroom, the show originally aired on the King Biscuit Flower Hour, after the band had released its second LP, Below The Belt. Although Franke & The Knockouts never really got farther than a few moderate hit singles ("Sweetheart" and "Without You,") some of the members did. Drummer Tico Torres departed after the band fell apart to join Bon Jovi, where he remains today, and bassist Leigh Foxx (who had been in the Runaways), became a successful TV and film producer.
The band was signed to MCA in 1984, but within a year fell apart due to poor record sales. Previte, oddly enough, hit the mother load in 1987 when he co-wrote two songs for a failed Franke & the Knockouts LP entitled "I've Had The Time Of My Life" and "Hungry Eyes." Both ended up on the soundtrack to Dirty Dancing and both became Top Five smash hits for Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes and Eric Carmen, respectively.
Plus, check out the "Sweetheart" music video from 1981.