Chapter 11 – Spina & Sullivan (& Hudak)

Rich Spina and Bill Sullivan 1992.jpg
Billy Sullivan and Rich Spina – 1992

Rich Spina & Billy Sullivan (The Paul Pope Band, Club Wow) began performing together in 1987 on a lark. Rich had been holding down a successful Thursday night solo gig at a local nightclub when the club owner asked Rich to add another weeknight. Rich declined; fearing it would hurt his Thursday night by splitting his audience. Then the club owner asked Rich if the guitarist (Billy) that sat in with him one night would be into doing it. So Rich called Billy and asked him if he was interested. Billy didn’t want to do a solo gig but agreed to do it as a duo. So with a rehearsal that took all of one hour, Spina & Sullivan was born. Needless to say, the night was a huge success and fun. So much fun that Rich eventually turned all of his solo gigs into duo gigs. Through this, Rich Spina and Billy Sullivan have formed a musical bond and close friendship that lasts to this day, whether in the studio or on stage, musically together, or giving moral support to each other’s separate ventures.

Rich and Billy clowning in 1989
Billy & Rich clowning around in 1989.

At the end of 1987 they became full-time members of Gary Lewis and The Playboys. When they were off the road, they would sometimes play as many as 8 gigs a week as Spina & Sullivan, doing double gigs on Saturday and Sunday.

In the summer of 1992 they brought out a cassette titled “12 by 8 by 2″. Locally, the cassette got good reviews and some airplay, but the band was on a 70-date tour with Gary that summer and couldn’t support it.

A year later they did have the short-lived original band The Unavoidables that did feature songs from that cassette. The other members of that band were: Rich’s ex-band mate Mike Hudak (who was now also in Gary Lewis & The Playboys) on drums; Mike Criscione on keyboards; Ed Sarley on guitar; and Paul Sidoti on bass.

Billy Sullivan & Rich Spina.
Billy Sullivan & Rich Spina. Cover photo for 12 by 8 by 2 – 1992

By 1995 they began playing more dates as a trio locally with Mike on drums. So they named that appropriately Spina, Sullivan & Hudak. Though the duo is still together this day, by the end of the 90’s, most of their local gigs would be played as a trio.

In 1997 they joined another group to add their workload. The talented singers Debi Lewin and Jennifer Lee front the band and the group is called The Cover Girls.