Paul Collins Beat
DJ Mongo Style & Richard Thompson
An important early figure on the Los Angeles power pop scene, Paul Collins was a key member of two bands that anticipated the "skinny tie band" explosion of the late '70s and early '80s, the Nerves and the Beat.
In 1974, Collins met like-minded songwriters Peter Case and Jack Lee, and they formed a pioneering power pop band called the Nerves. Playing fast, ear-catching pop songs while wearing matching pink suits, the Nerves had more than a bit of the street energy that would later manifest in Los Angeles's early punk movement, and like the punks, the Nerves made their own opportunities when L.A. clubs didn't know what to make of them. the Nerves booked their own shows, did a nationwide tour of small venues on their own dime, and in 1976 put out a four-song 7" EP on their own label.
While Blondie would have an early hit with a Nerves cover, "Hanging on the Telephone," the band broke up in 1978, and not long afterward Collins set out to form a new band. Hooking up with bassist Steve Huff, former Milk 'n' Cookies drummer Mike Ruiz, and guitarist Larry Whitman, Collins formed the Beat, whose tight, wiry hard-rockin' pop tunes picked up where the Nerves left off. Championed by Eddie Money, the Beat landed a management deal with West Coast rock powerhouse Bill Graham and a record contract with Columbia, releasing their first album (simply called The Beat) in 1979. While reviews were positive, for the most part American radio was still closed to "new wave" bands, and when the Knack broke through later the same year, it didn't help that the Knack sounded more than a little bit like the Beat -- leading some to believe Collins was copying a style he had helped to invent.