Private Lightning strike

The other day I ran across a great find: a new blog — here — by Steve Keith, ex-member of Private Lightning, a Boston-area band from the late 1970s and early 1980s. He’s also made a great collection of their music online (linked from that blog), and suggests that he will not only be adding more but sharing some reminiscences.

Private Lightning was one of my favorite local bands from that era. (It also curiously provided an early point of commonality with a couple of friends that I met at two different software contracting jobs way back then). I’ve long wished that some of their music was available in digital format, and from time to time (say, annually) have gone searching the web for news of same, always to give up and vow to one day digitize what I have on vinyl (those being: their 1980 album release, a 45 single, and a couple of tracks on a “Live at the Metro” LP). The other day, a woot offering of a fairly inexpensive USB turntable prompted me to go another search, apparently on the very day on which Steve started his blog.

What joy! Private Lightning ought, I think, to have had great success. An older posting by Steve that I’ve run across before, here, on a New England Music Scrapbook site, might explain why great fame did not come, as might another posting by Joe Viglione here. Who can say? Those have some sad reflections, but there’s been a lot of water under the bridge at this point, and I’m just happy to now be able to hear some of their familiar tunes plus many that are new to me. Thanks, Steve.

12 replies on “Private Lightning strike”

  1. I share the same joy you listed above. Steve Keith was generous to share those great Private Lightning gems that unfortunately never saw the light of day unless you were able to see them live back in the day.
    I’d love to see an official release of the unreleased tunes and a reissue of the Album with bonus tracks added from the 45 and Metro album. Long live Private Lightning!

  2. Steve says:

    Hey – thanks for the kind words.


  3. revmem says:

    I’d certainly spring for such an album, as well. I dunno how economically feasible it would be to produce it, though.

    (Sorry for the long delay in approving the comments, I guess I was asleep at the switch! But thanks, too.)


  4. John Antczak says:

    It has been so long since I have heard any of Private Lightning’s songs. Until a few years ago I still had that awesome cassette. My friends and I would go to various venues to see Private Lightning play. My wife and I took my sister in law to see Private Lightning at Salem State College one year and she has ben a fan ever since. She has been trying to find their album on some kind of media and today I was able to download the album and I will be emailing her one song each week as a tease. Thanks for the blog Jim and thanks for the great music Steve.

  5. Steve Keith says:

    Wanted to drop a quick note here. The Private Lightning album will be released with additional cuts on or about June 16 2009 on CD. See either or the Renaissance Records site for more details. I have seen pre-order pages on Best Buy, Amazon and Barnes and Noble. I do not know if the CD will be in stores, or only available on line.


  6. revmem says:

    That is excellent news, thanks! I’ll be ordering for sure. I had also seen your mention on your site – also great news that you are expecting new tracks to be recovered from tape(s). Can’t wait…


  7. LSaint says:

    I saw Private Lightning live in Lowell, MA probably in 1979 or 80. What a show! I still remember it today. “Thriller” is my favorite track from them. CD is out got it on Amazon.

  8. revmem says:

    I got my copy of the CD from Newbury Comics, I think. But also note that Steve Keith continues to post interesting PL stuff (including wav and mp3 files) on his site (and I continue to be grateful!).

    mm (who thinks the Blue Jay Sessions set is tremendous)

  9. Ken Ferguson says:

    I went to college with Paul and Patty (now Patricia) Van Ness. I think their original drummer also went to the same school…a blonde guy whose name I forget. I was truly excited whenn I first heard Song of a Kite on WBCN’s Big Matress and Charles Laquidara pushed the band and the album as much as he could.
    My wish would be to see the band reunite for a college Homecoming weekend (Clumbus Day Weekend Sat) some year!
    During my 12 years on WHUS in Storrs, I played Private Lightening a good bit. Got good response from listeners along with Pousette Dart and Liv Taylor…all Boston based music.

  10. Steve says:

    Ken – the drummer was Gary Snyder…we used to practice right on campus there. There was an old bldg down past the cafeteria where we first got together.



  11. Justified says:

    Does anybody know if they have a youtube page? I guess it would be nice to see some videos.

  12. Steve says:

    Scott provided me with some video material – Live at Keene State. Not the best quality but still pretty fun to watch. I will probably be posting some of these at Drop me a line if you want me to move faster on this 🙂 My email account is available on

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