Once dubbed the Magic City, by 1983 Gary, Indiana, had fallen on hard times. Over the previous decade the steel capital of America hemorrhaged half its population, including the Jackson 5, and changed its distinction to America’s murder capital. Lost in this transition was Billy Foster & Audio’s self-titled disco-jazz LP.
A classically trained pianist and Gary native, Billy Foster cut his teeth sitting in at clubs up and down 11th Avenue, including The Glass Case, The Zodiac, The Blue Room, Lynn’s Lounge, and Sunny’s Den throughout the ’70s. A chance encounter with Impressions baritone Fred Cash led to Foster joining the stalwart vocal group’s backing band as the decade closed. A new found love for pop music resulted, and Foster returned home with a fresh songbook and designs for a group of his own. He recruited Franck Russell and Rocco LaBroi on bass, Lannie Turner on drums, and Larry Campbell and Henry Johnson on guitars. Brenda Marshall McClure tickled the synthesizer and backed up vocalist Glenda Eskew. With a handful of originals under their belt, Billy Foster & Audio trekked to Arlington Heights, Illinois’ Hedden West studio in 1983 for three nights under the watchful eye of Bill McQueen. The resulting album served as a culmination of Foster’s musical experiences, utilizing his jazz training on the piano-forward “Sometimes” and employing his synthesizer pop finesse on “I Need Your Love.” Hoping to plant his flag in Gary’s musical canon, Foster issued the LP via his own Equistar imprint, distributing the release as far as a tank of gas could carry him. Two follow ups appeared in ’86 and ’89, but by that point Gary was in deep decline. Audio disbanded in 1993, the year Gary claimed its murder capital distinction.
“Gary was a one trick pony,” Billy Foster said of his beloved steel city. “When that fell apart, so did everything else.”
- Billy Foster & Audio Night Music
- Billy Foster & Audio Always On My Mind
- Billy Foster & Audio It All Depends On You
- Billy Foster & Audio City Lights
- Billy Foster & Audio I Need Your Love
- Billy Foster & Audio Sometimes
- Billy Foster & Audio Waiting
- Billy Foster & Audio As A Matter Of Fact
- Billy Foster & Audio Samba