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Student Teachers

Rock & roll started out as teenage music, and punk rock was supposed to be about encouraging fans to make their own music; the Student Teachers were the band on New York City's new wave scene in the late 1970s that put these two ideas together, a handful of kids who made their way into one of America's hippest music communities by being in the right place at the right time. The band's story began in 1977 when Bill Arning, a 16-year-old music fan learning to play the keyboard, went to see John Cale play a show at New York City's punk mecca CBGB, and met two other teenagers attending the gig, David Scharff and Phillip Shelley. The three became fast friends, and they decided that forming a band would be fun and give them a chance to see shows for free, since New York clubs often let musicians attend without charging cover. The three founded the Student Teachers, with Arning on keyboards (he was the only one who owned an instrument at the time), Shelley on guitar, and Scharff as lead singer; two of Arning's friends, Lori Reese and Laura Davis, rounded out the lineup on bass and drums, and gave the band the distinction of having the only female rhythm section in a mixed-gender band in New York. After playing a dance at Friend's Seminary, the Quaker high school Arning and Davis attended, the Student Teachers were given their first paying gig on Easter Sunday, 1978, sharing a bill at Max's Kansas City. Playing clever, angular pop with fractured guitar lines and retro-styled organ lines, the Student Teachers were soon making the rounds of New York clubs like Max's, CBGB, Hurrah, and Tier 3, and sharing bills with Richard Hell, the Mumps, Teenage Jesus & the Jerks, and many other notable bands of the day. The band was befriended by Jimmy Destri, the keyboard player with Blondie, who produced a demo that caught the ear of Terry Ork, whose label had released Television's groundbreaking "Little Johnny Jewel" single. Ork released the Student Teachers' first single, 1978's "Christmas Weather" b/w "Channel 13." Not long after the 45's release, the group expanded to a six-piece with the addition of guitarist Joe Katz. More gigging followed, and in 1979, the Student Teachers were one of five up-and-coming bands included on the sampler album Marty Thau Presents 2x5, featuring two Destri-produced tracks, "Looks" and "What I Can't Feel." When Destri became romantically involved with Laura Davis, it led to tensions within the Student Teachers, and she left the band, with another female percussionist, Hayden Brasseur, taking her place. On Halloween 1979, the Student Teachers played a high-profile gig opening for Iggy Pop and the Cramps, and the group made plans to record and release a four-song EP. However, by the time it appeared, the Student Teachers had called it a day; the record was titled Easter 78, Halloween 80 to commemorate the group's timeline. Shelley went on to play in the groups the Mystery Dates and the Nitemares, while David Scharff worked in the record industry and published 'zines, Bill Arning ran art galleries in New York and Houston. ~ Mark Deming
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Invitation To...

1. Channel 13

2. Christina

3. Christmas Weather

4. Invitation To

5. Looks

6. Past Tense

7. Samantha

8. Second Before

9. What I Can't Feel

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