The Nomads – Original Personnel and how the group changed


Here are some remembrances of  how the Nomads first got started and evolved— starting with the original founding members and recollections as to how things started.  An interesting bit of information about the Nomads is when they formed – in 1958.  This is a few years earlier than the beginning of most of our Baltimore Jam groups with the notable exceptions of The Tilters, The LaFayettes and the Admirals.

Gary Rusinovich (drums), Roland Gannon (guitar), Bill Barladge (guitar) and Elwood “Woody” Schneider (bass) first started the group. (Elwood now goes exclusively by the nickname “Woody”).  It was originally Roland’s idea to have a band.  He knew some musicians who had a band and he wanted to start one too, and Gary, Bill and Woody went along with the idea.

Gary adds…

“We started when Jerry Berran brought drums to one of our parties. Roland and Ellwood were at the party and had their guitars with them. Jerry was more interested in the girls than playing, so I ended up playing his drums. That’s how I got started playing and hooked up with Elwood & Roland at the same time.”

The group rehearsed at Gary’s house, close to the corner of Loch Raven Blvd and Cold Spring Lane.  It was a semi-detached corner brick house.  The actual address was 1358 Crofton Road.  An alley ran to the side of the house making it convenient to enter the basement from the side, allowing us to get our equipment inside without trudging up and down stairs. The area was just North of Cold Spring Lane and was sometimes referred to as New Northwood.  It was about a mile north of the Northwood shopping center.

Gary remembers the rest of the addresses or neighborhoods and a couple of memories:

“Roland (RIP) lived on Kernwood Ave, in the 2nd or 3rd house from the corner of Old Cold Spring Lane one block past York Road –  that’s either Waverly or Govans.  Kernwood Ave. was one of those narrow Baltimore streets that allowed parking on both sides.  Ellwood lived on Falkirk Ave. off of Loch Raven Blvd. north of Belvedere Ave.  Bill Barledge, who started with us but soon left the group, lived near Woody.  Tom lived on Townsend Ave in Brooklyn.  Earl lived in Waverly, but I’m not sure of any of the addresses. Harvey Phillips lived in west Baltimore in the Pimlico area.  I’m not sure of his street name though.

“John Zaucha lived on Doris Ave. in Brooklyn Park as did Tom Fischer but once again I’m not sure of the street names. (I always teased John & Tom calling the area “God’s Little Acre.”  I always liked the area because pinball machines paying out in the front of the machine were legal. We played them often together).  Dan lived near the WJZ tower but I can’t remember the area or street.  Phil lived in Hamden, across from the Noxema plant, at the bottom of a hill near the Florence Crittenton home for girls. (We played at his place one summer day and Earl sang ‘Annie Had A Baby’ – Tasteless Youth!)  As I remember, Ed’s father would not let him play at Buddy’s Subway – our first nightclub stint.  That’s when Butch Wagner walked up one night & asked if he could blow his horn with us, which gave us our first taste of a good old B-flat progression.  That, in turn, tied us in with Tom Fischer & John Z later.  We took off as a good solid group after that experience.”

Woody recalls…

“Bill played guitar and I believe later on he was replaced with Tom Fischer on piano. When we first started out we were all playing  cheap Sears Silvertone guitars. I was playing bass on guitar.  A friend of Roland’s, we’ll call him Jim, went to Ted’s on Central Street (memories) and rented a Fender bass to let me use for as long as I wanted. What he did was rented the bass in a fake name and address so he didn’t even pay rent.  I never knew this the entire time I played that particular bass.”

The 5th member to join the Nomads was Earl French, a singer who was also a drummer.  Recently Earl and Woody had a phone conversation about the order of members joining and leaving the group and here is what they mutually agreed upon:

  1. First there was Bill Barladge, Gary Rusinovich, Roland Gannon and Woody Schneider (Elwood then).
  2. We were called the Trojans then but Gary’s brother called us the rubber band and we changed our name to the Nomads because Earl’s dad had a Chevy Nomad (station wagon).
  3. We then got Earl French from Bobby Day and the Playboys. Earl played drums and was a singer, and we needed a singer.
  4. Bill Barladge left and we got Tom Fischer playing the Wurlitzer piano and Tom can still do What’d I Say to a tee.
  5. We stole Harvey Phillips, sax, from Dick Phillips’s band.
  6. We then added Ed Hall, sax, for a total of 2 saxes.
  7. Harvey Phillips left and we added Phil Correlli on sax.
  8. Tom Fischer then left and Danny Fitez joined on keys. This was the Nomads for a long while.
  9. Phil left and we added John Zaucha.

Earl and Woody didn’t have dates for these changes but are fairly sure of the order.  Ed Hall however, begs to differ on one point.  In an email to Woody he states:

“Woody, Bill Barladge was gone before I got there and I was there before Tom Fischer.  I never new Bill.”

Woody remembers –

“The Nomads first paying gig was at Lieth Walk school outside on the playground bazzar. Roland got a Gibson 400 amp from Fred Walkers. It was a big amp at the time. I think we got $10 each.  That first gig was scary for us.  We were only about 15 years old at the time”.

Ed Hall, tenor sax with the Nomads recalls the order that the horns were added and left:

“I joined the Nomads after they were together approximately 6 months.  Harvey Phillips was the 1st horn…I was the second and stayed with the group until the breakup.  To my knowledge, the way I remember, the Nomads were together a total of 6 1/2 years.  When I joined the group there was no keyboard…The Nomads consisted of Gary, Earl, Roland, Elwood and Harvey.  Then I joined and next was Tom on keys.”

Woody adds in a note to Ed:

“I forgot about Butch. The Nomads let Phil go to hire John. This I do remember because it was very hard and disturbing to do. As far as why Bill left the band, it must have been because he didn’t hang out with us.  He was a bit older and relatively new on guitar.”

So, it looks like the sax players in order were:

  1. Harvey Phillips
  2. Ed Hall
  3. Butch Wagner
  4. Phil Correlli
  5. John Zaucha

I think we were together for about 6 or 7 years.

Tom Fischer puts his two-cents worth in:

“I was brought into the group circa late 1960/early 1961. In the group at that time were Gary (Drums), Roland (Guitar), Ed (Sax), Earl (Singer), Elwood (Bass) and John ‘Butch’ Wagner (Sax).  Butch and I had been in another group for a short time. Butch left that group to join you guys and then quickly introduced me into the group as I believe you had not had a piano before then. Butch played with us for a short time and then decided to move on again.   When Butch left, I introduced John Zaucha (Sax) to the guys.  John and I grew up together in Brooklyn and had also played earlier in two other groups prior to the NOMADS.  We all then were together until I joined the Military in March 1962 and was replaced by Danny Fitez. I think Phil subsequently replaced John as the second Sax sometime after I left.”

And now, the end of the Nomads as recalled by Woody Schneider and Earl French

“The two main reasons we broke up were our popularity and the fact that we were only fifteen years old when we formed the group.  The phone at Gary’s house was always ringing and Gary was the one who booked us and did contracts. Gary’s mom would relay messages. Gary was spending way too much time doing all this (teenage years) and got tired of doing it all himself and we decided to call it quits.  As we remember, it was a disappointment but nothing earth shattering. I guess we didn’t realize all the work involved then. Seven years is a long time when you’re that young. We were in our early to mid 20’s and I guess it was time for something new.”

The Nomads at a Memorial Day, 2009 Reunion
Left to right standing – Tom, Ed, Phil, Gary, Dan and Earl
Left to right kneeling – Roland and Woody

To end this post we again offer this beautiful poem, written by Gary’s wife Sharon about the Nomads so long ago.


How I remember the Boys in the Band:

Gary-drums, my heart beat faster just walking past his house. Married him 46 years ago.

Ellwood-looked like a young Elvis, we shared the same last name

Roland-lead guitar, cute and funny, thoughtful and mysterious

Earl-loved watching him perform

Harvey-sax, nice smile, married Margie, had a baby girl, left the band

Ed-great sax, just as important, the first to have his driver’s license

John Z-sax, in and out of the Nomads twice, a dear friend for many years post-Nomads

Tom-keyboard, dreamy eyes, all the girls compared him to Ricky Nelson only better.

Danny-keyboard, introduced the Nomads to the Organo, so nice I figured if I named our younger son Daniel he would be nice too

Phil-sax, in and out of the Nomads twice, Muscle Man

Last but far from least, Gary’s mother Mary. The band practiced in her basement every week.  The vibration was known to knock things off the living room walls.  She was chauffer and chaperone, supporter and fan. Tom and Danny were often asked to, “Play Misty for  Me”.  Those were wonderful years for her, the band, and me too.



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14 Responses to “The Nomads – Original Personnel and how the group changed”

  1. Harvey Phillips Jr. Says:

    Hi from HARVEY PHILLIPS Still alive and kicking. Good memories

  2. Sharon Schneider Rusinovich Says:

    It is 2017 The Nomads, Gary Rusinovich, Elwood Schneider, Ed Hall, Tom Fischer, Danny Fitez and Earl French will be at our Annual Memorial Day Party again this year.


  3. Kurt Willem Says:

    You guys were great. I was wondering if you ever played at a nightclub on Belair Road across from the Earl movie. I think it was called the Single Source. Also did you ever have a singer/guest singer named Steve Clay. Many thanks. Kurt Willem

  4. Leona Says:


    What a lovely recap of the past years. Thanks for sharing…Leona

  5. Erika Gannon Says:

    Gentlemen…thank you so much for taking the time to put these details out there!!! Felt my Dad, Roland, was smiling beside me the entire time I read them :)You were all such a big part of his life, and as such, part of mine!!! Much love to you guys…from the baby Gannon child!!!!

  6. samtowers Says:

    Jack – my email address is Send me an email so I can pick your address off of it and we can continue our conversation via email and get off of this web site. thanks

  7. samtowers Says:

    Jack – I got in touch with Woody, the Nomad’s bass player and here is a cut and paste of his response:

    Yes, Sonny Rosbach sang with the Nomads when Earl French (singer) and Ed Hall (sax) got drafted into the Army. Sonny is a real good singer. I believe Tommy Van wanted to go out as a team with him at one point in time.

    • Jack Griffin Says:

      Sam..Thank you for getting back to me ….and so quickly. I couldn’t think of Sonny’s last name….and yes, Rosbach was correct. I wonder what ever happened to Sonny. I know Ed Hall….casually….. he is a great sax player. What are you up to, musically, these days? Jack Griffin

  8. Jack Griffin Says:

    May I ask a question? Did the Nomads have a singer around 1965 ???, not sure of the year…..named Sonny? I think it was around the time you played at the Homeland House . ????? He was with us, ( The Del-Rays ) for a short time. Jack Griffin

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