Gorgon Medusa

In myth, there were two other Gorgons—Stheno and Euryale to be exact, both immortal—but Medusa herself is peerless, so far as 1970s Chicago hard rock bands were concerned. In fact, Gorgon Medusa founder, guitarist, vocalist, and main songwriter Ken Michaels says he tacked on that “Gorgon” to avoid confusion with the cosmic—and rather jazzy, to Michaels’ taste—rock music peddled by the Portage Park neighborhood’s Medusa, a chief competitor. Michaels, plus bassist Louis Mercado and drummer Jimmy Janeck, had come up through Catholic school on Chicago’s near south side, forming Gorgon Medusa in 1977 as young 20-somethings. An apartment above Boston Pub at 47th and Wood often withstood band practice until wee hours, long after the pub’s last pizza had been served. Early on, the power trio’s Rush fandom resulted in the longform instrumental “Anger of the Gods,” which V&F Management’s Fred Jacobsen nixed for wax in favor of shortening and pairing the more commercial “Sweet Child” with “Situation.”

Gorgon Medusa tracked their material in ’77 at Paragon Studios, 820 W. Fulton Market, in slicksounding sessions helmed by the capable Bill Rascati, just a year removed from co-engineering Chicago singer/songwriter/pianist Vyto B’s sci-fi experiment Tricentennial 2076. The lady-obsessed and electronics-spiked “Sweet Child,” a Ken Michaels original, cleaved a churning hard-then-soft guitar path closer to that of contemporaneous Pink Floyd. Band members chipped in to press several thousand copies of the resulting 45, yellow labeled and sporting Gorgon Medusa’s own filigreed Apocalypse Records logo. Careful listeners to WXRT-broadcast rock music may’ve caught it once or twice. But Gorgon Medusa felt itself going inert. Things went all the way south at a Bass Lake, Indiana, gig in support of a warmed-over Frijid Pink, when malfunctioning smoke machines rendered the band unable to see, and therefore play, its instruments. After impregnating at least one groupie and gracing forgotten stages in Ohio, Maryland, Tennessee, and Florida, Gorgon Medusa relinquished their unambiguous name in 1980.

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