They haven’t played together in more than three decades. But the Dirty Angels consider the music they made the “high water mark” of their careers, and fans still remember them more than 30 years later.
The band, which from its base in Fairfield County played from Boston to Philadelphia and earned praise from legendary New York DJs during the golden age of radio reunited for the first time Friday, Nov. 9, before a sellout crowd at the Bijou Theatre, 275 Fairfield Ave., Bridgeport.
David Hull, a Stratford native who has played bass for Aerosmith during tours, credited Mary Lisi of Stratford for putting the band back together.
“She put the idea out there, said, ‘I’d really like this to happen, I’d come to the show if you guys commit to a date.’ She went venue hunting,” Hull said.
“They were the biggest thing,” Lisi said. “The music from their albums is something I listened to through the 90s, 80s, disco. Whatever was on the radio, their music stayed with me.”
Retired after 30 years at Sikorsky, Lisi kept in touch with members of the Dirty Angels, and discussed the idea with Jimmy Maher, the group’s drummer.
While Hull and Fairfield resident Charlie Karp have shared the stage as recently as last year at Fairfield Theatre Co., this will be the first full reunion, including Jimmy and George Maher.
They played together for “eight or nine years,” Hull said. He, Karp, and Jimmy Maher played together for 10 or 12 years, with breaks.
And when the 1980s began, Dirty Angels were no more.
“We split for business reasons,” Hull said. “It wasn’t because we didn’t want to keep playing together.”
But the memory of Dirty Angels lived on.
“Dirty Angels is how I measured each subsequent band I got into,” Hull said. “Is it as good? Is it as exciting? Are the players that good?”
As members moved on with their lives, they stayed in touch. And talked about playing again.
“Charlie’s joke was, ‘We’re always threatening to play together again,’” Hull said. “It was never a chapter closed.”
“They always kicked it around, but it was kind of like an impossible thing,” said Lisi. “David was doing his thing, making new music. Charlie was making new music. George and Jimmy have children, they’re raising families.
“We’re not getting younger,” Lisi said. “If we don’t do this, it will never happen.”
She took on the task of finding a hall, the Bijou, and promoting the reunion show.
“Time goes by, several decades pass, and if not now, when?” Hull said. “I’m really gratified it’s going to come up. It took getting poked by someone else. She said, I’ll put the show together. That and we didn’t have time to get together and argue, though we were not an argumentative band.”
“I’m very excited,” Karp said. “It’s a true nostalgia feel because the band has not played together in 35 years or something. Everybody who bought tickets is coming because they love the records we made. It’s a great feeling to know they’re coming to hear the songs they love.”
Part of what made Dirty Angels special, Karp said, was the insistence on making their own music while other bands played the club circuit performing covers.
“It meant so much to us at the time,” Karp said. “It’s like a watermark when you’re young, when you make an album.”
It cost Dirty Angels gigs, but, “we had to dig in our heels and write our own material,” Karp said. “That was the price to pay for it,” he said. “I’m glad we did it.”
Rehearsals began this week, with Dirty Angels gathering at a basement in Lordship cleared by Dave Hull’s brother, Peter, and friends.
With the show coming on the heels of Hurricane Sandy and another storm, there were fears the reunion might not happen.
But the members of Dirty Angels are confident the show will go on.
“A lot of people are saying, ‘Charlie, by the time the cleanup happens, people are going to be ready to rock and roll, and have fun and have a great time,’” Karp said.
“I’m not even going to say this is a once-in-a-lifetime gig,” Karp added. “Who knows, maybe we’ll do another Dirty Angels album. To know people are out there, to know they want to see Dirty Angels again, it’s very nostalgic.”