Psychedelic-Rock'n'roll: The Mandrake Memorial - The Mandrake Memorial (PSYCHEDELIC ROCK US 1968)

The Mandrake Memorial - The Mandrake Memorial (PSYCHEDELIC ROCK US 1968)


"The Mandrake Memorial" were a Psychedelic Rock quartet which helped pioneer the use of electronics in Rock music.
The "Mandrake Memorial" were "Randy Monaco" (lead vocals, bass guitar), "Craig Anderton" (lead guitar, modulator, sitar), "Michael Kac" (keyboards, vocals) and "J. Kevin Lally" (drums).

From Philadelphia, "Mandrake Memorial" added a uniquely baroque touch to the usual mix of Rock and Pop.
Attending the University of Pennsylvania, "Craig Anderton" found time to play in an outfit called "The Flowers Of Evil".
"Michael Kac" started out as a folkie playing Philadelphia coffee houses, before hooking up with "The Candymen" (later renamed "Cat's Cradle" ).

mandrake_memorial,psychedelic-rocknroll,1968,poppy,medium,puzzle,harpsicord,Candymen,kacThe Candymen: Michael Kac's first band (Michael is on the far left)

"J. Kevin Lally" and "Randy Monaco" cut their professional teeth in the New York City based "The Novae Police".
The four came together through Philadelphia promoter "Larry Schriver", who was looking for a Rock group to serve as the house band for "Manny Rubin"'s Philadelphia-based "The Trauma Club".
With help from "Manny Rubin", the quartet began an in-demand local act, opening up for various nationally known touring bands.

The resulting buzz saw them start to attract attention beyond Philadelphia including touring throughout the North East, eventually catching the attention of the "MGM Records" affiliated "Poppy Records".

Signed to the label, the "Mandrake Memorial"'s cleverly-titled "The Mandrake Memorial" debut album ("Poppy Records" PYS 40 002, 1968) teamed them with producers "Tony Bongiovi" and "Tony Camillo".

mandrake_memorial,psychedelic-rocknroll,1968,poppy,medium,puzzle,harpsicord,kac,anderton,lally,monacoThe Mandrake Memorial from left to right: J.Kevin Lally, Michael Kac, Craig Anderton and Randy Monaco, photo courtesy by Elbert Budin

Their self-titled debut album is absolutely brilliant.
The synergy created between the breathless vocals of "Randy Monaco", the elaborate keyboard playing of "Michael Kac", and the searing guitar work of "Craig Anderton", is stunning at times.
This amazing musicianship applied to very interesting and melodic original material makes for a very special listening experience.

mandrake_memorial,psychedelic-rocknroll,1968,poppy,medium,puzzle,harpsicord,liveThe Mandrake Memorial live in Philadelphia, 1968

"The Mandrake Memorial" sound is baroque, exotic, ethereal, and utterly infectious.
With their harmonies and interplay between guitar, electric keyboards, and occasional sitar, they were very much a band of their age, but played with a drive and precision that anticipated Progressive Rock.
Nevertheless, it went on to sell a respectable 100.000 copies mainly in Philadelphia, Boston and New York City.



George Manney said...

My live photo of Mandrake Memorial (on this site) was taken at the Philadelphia Be-In in 1969 at the sconcert that my band, Stone Dawn, shared on the same bill.
In fact we, Stone Dawn, played at the Trauma with Mandrake opening for Clear Light in late 1967.
late 2008 I filmed an interview with former keyboard player, Michael Kac, along with his late musical partner, Linda Cohen, that I have posted on YouTube.
Please check my documentary website, Philly Pop Music, for more Philly bands.

Anonymous said...

Excellent! Never saw those pictures until now...Mandrake is my favorite band along with Zappa, Beatles and Doors.

Psychedelic-Rocknroll said...

Thank you !!

see you soon!

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for some info about The Mandrake Memorial! Incredible band but... not much info about them in internet. Where is no even article in wiki. Thank you again, nice site, nice shares!
p.s. sorry for my English. I am not native speaker.

Anonymous said...

Anyone know where randy monaco is these days? I am an old friend and we were very close in the Philadelphia days. If you are him or know how to contact him please send info to

Unknown said...

I heard them this morning on WXPN for the first time since the late 1960s. The radio announcer never heard them before. I saw them open for The Mothers of Invention in 1968 at the trama.


Anonymous said...

Randy Monaco died in the late 70's.

Anonymous said...

I heard Mandrake Memorial when they opened for The Doors at the Arena circa 1968. I, being a keyboard player myself, was in heaven as two of my favorite keyboard gods, Michael Kac and Ray Manzarek were on the same bill together. That memory is etched in my mind forever. I also heard the Memorial at other coffee houses in Philadelphia, but the names escape me now.

Anonymous said...

I saw MM open for "The DOORS" at the Arena in W.Philly and they were great AND JIM MORISSON was sober and put on the best show I have ever seen.

lellie said...

Ahhh...The Trauma, The Second Fret, and The Electric Factory...memories!
Now...if I could just find that photo I took back in the day of their microbus, I'd post it.

Anonymous said...

Saw them also at the Arena with the Doors. Great concert and met Morrisons groupies on the El who had Jim's sweaty shirt with them to wash.

Bob G. said...

I heard them at a small venue on Long Beach Island, NJ when I was 15, in 1968. Never forgot it! I was thinking that Randy Monaco may have been dating a girl in Wilmington, DE at about that time, as I thought I saw him several times a few doors away, driving a red, convertible Buick Skylark... Any of his old friends remember that?

chiller said...

Does anyone know if Randy or Michael sings the lead on their cover of, "Something In the Air"?

Unknown said...

does anyone have a tape of their sets live?

Unknown said...

does anyone have a tape of them live??

Unknown said...

does anyone have a live tape

Unknown said...

does anyone have a tape of their sets live?

Edward Fenning said...

I saw Mandrake Memorial in the Fall of 1968 at Lafayette College. The concert was free and took place on a Sunday, during the mid afternoon, in the large basement lounge of Marquis Hall. There were maybe 70-100 people present; it was an intimate room with a with a small and attentive audience.

As I remember they performed their entire first album, which was to be released shortly, with almost no pauses in between the numbers. The pieces were longer and had more of a jamming quality to them, then the versions on the album. It was a very good concert.

They returned to Lafayette College the following year, late 1969 or early 1970, playing for a larger audience in the Colton Chapel. They performed some or perhaps all, of the material from their album Puzzle. I seem to recall too, that this was just prior to the release of Puzzle.

This was certainly a group which should have received much wider recognition. I will post the same question as some others have, are there any live tapes in existence, which might possibly be released at some future date. They would give a whole other picture of the way Mandrake Memorial sounded in concert.

Anonymous said...

Mandrake Memorial gave me some of the best memories of the best summer of my life... From the Main Point, The Second Fret, Strawberry Hill in Fairmount Park on Easter Sunday.. live was so much better than the albums... I still miss their shows and the strobe lights...