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The Monroes reunion is for real this time

Reassembling a local 80s one-hit wonder

The Monroes: getting the band back together.
The Monroes: getting the band back together.

“Could you be the one I’m thinking of?

Could you be the girl I really love?

All the people tell me so,

But what do all the people know!”

-- The Monroes, “What Do All the People Know”

Although 1981’s “What Do All the People Know” by The Monroes was one of the most popular new wave hits ever to come out of San Diego, the band found it difficult to follow it up. The group was founded by San Diego bassist Bob Monroe with Lansing, Michigan-born keyboardist Eric Denton. Next to join was Rusty Jones, who had several songs on KGB FM’s Homegrown albums that he’d recorded at Denton's Accusound recording studio, on 42nd and El Cajon. Then came the drummer from Denton's band Peter Rabbitt, Jonnie Gilstrap, and finally singer Jesus Ortiz, aka Tony Monroe joined. Bob Monroe wrote most of the songs.

Signed to Alfa Records, the band entered Chateau Studios with one-time Doors producer Bruce Botnick and Stones engineer Alex Vertikoff. “What Do All the People Know” came out late 1981 and garnered immediate, and constant, airplay. In San Diego, it was inescapable. Within weeks, they were appearing on the Merv Griffin Show, as well as opening for Greg Kihn, the Motels, Rick Springfield, Toto, and others. They were invited to record a song for a Yoko Ono tribute album, got listed in Billboard as a “Top Album Pick” and landed a tune called “Stones Against the Rain” on local San Diego radio station 91X’s Sand-Aid album (a benefit for African famine relief).

Video:

The Monroes 1984 live public access TV "What Do All the People Know"

Then, their label ended up selling the Monroes’ contract to CBS, and thus began around two years of basically nothing.

As more time went by with no new record, the band’s prospects looked bleak. They were even sued (unsuccessfully) over their name by another Monroes, temporarily forcing them to adopt the moniker “Man to Man.” The group badly wanted out of their CBS deal so they could move to another label. Rusty Jones was the first member to officially quit. Gilstrap was next to exit, though various versions of the Monroes still played out. The band finally dissolved completely around 1988.

Denton went on to run Music Power and Guitar Trader. In 2007, former Monroes singer Jesus “Tony Monroe” Ortiz turned up in North County, performing with old Monroes mate Rusty Jones. Summer 2014 found Bob Monroe and Ortiz teaming up to promote the iTunes debut of music by The Monroes, along with the launch of the band’s first official website.

Bob Monroe announced a new band called The Remnants in 2017. Monroe soon renamed that group The Monroes, despite having no other Monroes members, and even retitled previous Remnants recordings to appear as if they were by “The Monroes.” Many weren’t pleased.

The Real Fast Times: Clairemont High Reunion Concert

  • Saturday, August 20, 2022, 6 p.m.
  • Belly Up Tavern, 143 S. Cedros Avenue, Solana Beach
  • 21+ / $45 - $55

The Monroes are reuniting August 20 in Solana Beach at the Belly Up for The Real Fast Times: Clairemont High Reunion Concert. The band lineup includes original members Bob Monroe, Eric Denton, and Tony Ortiz, along with Ronny Jones (Aircraft, Black Bambi), who is the brother of original Monroes guitarist Rusty Jones, and new member Barry Scott (Coyote Problem, Copenhagen). The show will include guest Laurie Beebe Lewis.

Other bands on the bill that evening feature members who've either attended Clairemont High School or have close ties to CHS.

Pendulum was a late 70s act featuring Don Bogtong, George Gagarin, Mike Collamer and the late Jay York and Ken White. Rounding out the Pendulum lineup today are Clairemont alumni Roger Baquial, Rick Miller, LA Studio drummer and recording engineer Mike Sandberg, and Phil Jones on vocals.

The Nowhere Men are a group of baby-boomers who grew up in Clairemont in the 60s and 70s. Hardcore Beatle fans they eagerly awaited each new Beatle album prior to its release and developed their chops learning those songs. The band’s repertoire includes tunes from The Beatles, Stones, Bee Gees, Smokey Robinson, Everly Bros, Creedence Clearwater and many other bands of the era.

Cocoa Blue was a 1970s group of young musicians who played at parties and rock dances all over San Diego. Members of the band went on to play with Chicago, 707, Robbin Crosby, Ted Nugent, Ace Frehley, Cheap Trick, etc.

Peter Rabbitt formed in 1973. Featuring future Monroes Jonnie Gilstrap and Eric Denton, the band started playing locally in the San Diego area and after a few personnel changes they went on the road to tour nationally and released several records.

Band Jam Session to follow with other CHS musicians.

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The Monroes: getting the band back together.
The Monroes: getting the band back together.

“Could you be the one I’m thinking of?

Could you be the girl I really love?

All the people tell me so,

But what do all the people know!”

-- The Monroes, “What Do All the People Know”

Although 1981’s “What Do All the People Know” by The Monroes was one of the most popular new wave hits ever to come out of San Diego, the band found it difficult to follow it up. The group was founded by San Diego bassist Bob Monroe with Lansing, Michigan-born keyboardist Eric Denton. Next to join was Rusty Jones, who had several songs on KGB FM’s Homegrown albums that he’d recorded at Denton's Accusound recording studio, on 42nd and El Cajon. Then came the drummer from Denton's band Peter Rabbitt, Jonnie Gilstrap, and finally singer Jesus Ortiz, aka Tony Monroe joined. Bob Monroe wrote most of the songs.

Signed to Alfa Records, the band entered Chateau Studios with one-time Doors producer Bruce Botnick and Stones engineer Alex Vertikoff. “What Do All the People Know” came out late 1981 and garnered immediate, and constant, airplay. In San Diego, it was inescapable. Within weeks, they were appearing on the Merv Griffin Show, as well as opening for Greg Kihn, the Motels, Rick Springfield, Toto, and others. They were invited to record a song for a Yoko Ono tribute album, got listed in Billboard as a “Top Album Pick” and landed a tune called “Stones Against the Rain” on local San Diego radio station 91X’s Sand-Aid album (a benefit for African famine relief).

Video:

The Monroes 1984 live public access TV "What Do All the People Know"

Then, their label ended up selling the Monroes’ contract to CBS, and thus began around two years of basically nothing.

As more time went by with no new record, the band’s prospects looked bleak. They were even sued (unsuccessfully) over their name by another Monroes, temporarily forcing them to adopt the moniker “Man to Man.” The group badly wanted out of their CBS deal so they could move to another label. Rusty Jones was the first member to officially quit. Gilstrap was next to exit, though various versions of the Monroes still played out. The band finally dissolved completely around 1988.

Denton went on to run Music Power and Guitar Trader. In 2007, former Monroes singer Jesus “Tony Monroe” Ortiz turned up in North County, performing with old Monroes mate Rusty Jones. Summer 2014 found Bob Monroe and Ortiz teaming up to promote the iTunes debut of music by The Monroes, along with the launch of the band’s first official website.

Bob Monroe announced a new band called The Remnants in 2017. Monroe soon renamed that group The Monroes, despite having no other Monroes members, and even retitled previous Remnants recordings to appear as if they were by “The Monroes.” Many weren’t pleased.

The Real Fast Times: Clairemont High Reunion Concert

  • Saturday, August 20, 2022, 6 p.m.
  • Belly Up Tavern, 143 S. Cedros Avenue, Solana Beach
  • 21+ / $45 - $55

The Monroes are reuniting August 20 in Solana Beach at the Belly Up for The Real Fast Times: Clairemont High Reunion Concert. The band lineup includes original members Bob Monroe, Eric Denton, and Tony Ortiz, along with Ronny Jones (Aircraft, Black Bambi), who is the brother of original Monroes guitarist Rusty Jones, and new member Barry Scott (Coyote Problem, Copenhagen). The show will include guest Laurie Beebe Lewis.

Other bands on the bill that evening feature members who've either attended Clairemont High School or have close ties to CHS.

Pendulum was a late 70s act featuring Don Bogtong, George Gagarin, Mike Collamer and the late Jay York and Ken White. Rounding out the Pendulum lineup today are Clairemont alumni Roger Baquial, Rick Miller, LA Studio drummer and recording engineer Mike Sandberg, and Phil Jones on vocals.

The Nowhere Men are a group of baby-boomers who grew up in Clairemont in the 60s and 70s. Hardcore Beatle fans they eagerly awaited each new Beatle album prior to its release and developed their chops learning those songs. The band’s repertoire includes tunes from The Beatles, Stones, Bee Gees, Smokey Robinson, Everly Bros, Creedence Clearwater and many other bands of the era.

Cocoa Blue was a 1970s group of young musicians who played at parties and rock dances all over San Diego. Members of the band went on to play with Chicago, 707, Robbin Crosby, Ted Nugent, Ace Frehley, Cheap Trick, etc.

Peter Rabbitt formed in 1973. Featuring future Monroes Jonnie Gilstrap and Eric Denton, the band started playing locally in the San Diego area and after a few personnel changes they went on the road to tour nationally and released several records.

Band Jam Session to follow with other CHS musicians.

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