The 1976 band Solaris - Still not to be confused with any of the following:

Hungarian progressive rock band 1978, Bulgarian progressive rock band 1987
or Any definition in Wikipedia other than
Solaris (New Jersey band)

Somewhere back in 1975-1976 I was in a band called Cinders with Mark Doroba, Henry Rosen, and Jeff Plotkin.  At one practice session a friend of Mark's (another guitarist himself) came down to jam with us.  We seemed to click.  That guitarist was James Curran.  A short time went by and Cinders was reformed, but not as Cinders.  At that point, the band was James on guitar, Henry Rosen on bass, Jeff Plotkin on keys, and myself on drums.

Now, some of this is foggy-- gray matter meltdown and all-- James introduced Dave Piszko on bass, who replaced Henry.  Henry became lights, theatrics, and allsorts.  Not too long after that (probably 1976-1977) Jeff informed us that he was going to be moving.  Enter Jim Waterman on keyboards, a friend of mine from different circles.  So, the core of Solaris was born.  Hmm, what do we do about vocals now?

In 1975-1976 I had already met Elaine Zmuda (now Ciba) in college.  She had musical background and was interested in hearing the band.  She came down to a practice and was asked if she would like to sing something.  I can't remember what, but I think she reluctantly did.  Knowing she was a flautist and had a guitar she would fit in with the repertoire of songs we were doing.  In fact, flute was in demand for some of the Genesis tunes.  So, there it was.  The initial circle was complete.

As time went by, Dave was seeking other ventures.  Dave has his roots in blues (and good at it I might add).  At what would be our last performance with Dave (Sept, 1979 at Rutgers) turned into another chance meeting.  A fellow who came to hear us play talked with us between sets.  We informed him that we were losing our bass player so we weren't sure when we'd be playing again.  "I'm a bass player!", he exclaimed.  We tried out Wayne Speranza and it was a hit!

Shortly thereafter Elaine decided to go back to school to finish getting her degree.  So now we were on the hunt for vocals, even though James was handling them quite well.  There was something about the number 5 that seemed to fit better with the band's makeup.

Then we found the husband-wife team of Tom Kaplan and Robin Shoudt-Kaplan.  Robin for sure had the voice!  Tom played keys and replaced Jim.  Sadly, though many years after the end of Solaris, Robin lost the battle with cancer.

Solaris played in this form for about two and a half years or so and in 1980 or 81 James departed the band leaving Wayne, Tom, Robin, and myself.  It was shortly thereafter that Solaris came to a quiet end in 1981.

I was a fun and sometimes grueling part of our lives.  But, after over 25 years of not playing together, we still had some verve left for Wayne's 50th!

And who knows what time may bring?  Genesis is touring again in 2007, as is Roger Waters.  And just recently it was announced that Asia will be touring, not to mention The Police.  Hmm... if they 
start playing their stuff again maybe we'd better polish up...

As an addendum to this-- Wayne was playing in a band called Panic in later years and Jim & Craig have been creating what they call "spontavisation" which is music that is created spontaneously with improvisation.  They have been known as Electronify since 2009.  I know Dave had been getting together with various musicians and James was composing tunes with his wife, Sue, over the years.  Tom and Robin were in a band after Solaris (I think Wayne may have been with them as well).

Sometime around 2008 Jim, James, Wayne, and new drummer Chris Ryan put the next version of Solaris together for a few years.  Sometime around 2011 Chris then moved on to the Anderson Council.  A highlight from this time period is that this version of Solaris played a gig at John & Peters in New Hope, PA nearly thirty years after the first time Solaris played there!

Craig Hobschaidt

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Last updated 01/10/2017