The Air Boys
1965-1970 / A brief history
The AIR BOYS were formed in the beginning of 1965, at the 115th Combat Wing of the Airforce Base of Souda, Chania, Crete. It was one of the first rock bands in Greece and the first in the whole of Crete.
In the first formation, the AIR BOYS consisted of Greek and American boys serving at the Airforce Base. Their first configuration consisted of: Yiannis Gkikakis (founder and godfather of the band – rhythm guitar and vocals), Yiannis Georgantis (lead guitar and vocals), the American Harrold Byrum (base), Kostas Kastrinakis (drums), Giorgos Chintirakis (singing) and Nikos Pantalos (rhythm guitar, acoustic guitar and vocals) whose transfer left an irreplaceable space as far as his music but also his personality was concerned.
As time went by, members of the band, who were transferred or released from duties, were replaced by the Americans Robert Knepp (guitar and base) and William Hoey (singing), Nikos Vlachopoulos (guitar), Stelios Kouklakis (drums), Nikos Tserkakis (saxophone), Makis Georgoyiannakis (piano), Giorgos Georgiou (lead guitar), Dimitris Kabitis (base), Petros Giparis (singing), Nikos Konstoglou (rhythm guitar), Giorgos Christodoulakis (drums and trumpet), Petros Papadopoulos (singing), Charis Dionisopoulos (singing).
The AIR BOYS’s fame spread quickly across Chania, Crete and soon across Greece. In Chania, the love of teenagers reached frenzy levels. The AIR BOYS performed in (8) concerts in Chania, at the Apollo Theater, all for charity purposes. All eight concerts were sold out (1.750 tickets sold) leaving more than 500 people outside the theater begging for tickets. A notable fact was that all other bands (IDOLS, OLYMPIANS, DRAGONS, SOUNDS, etc.) coming from Athens to Chania, only sold 300 to 700 tickets.
It is estimated that from the charitable concerts of the AIR BOYS, more than 300.000 euro (current monetary matching) were raised and appropriated for philanthropic purposes.
By the mid 1966, the AIR BOYS began presenting their songs (composed by Yiannis Gkikakis), which were met with great enthusiasm from the youngsters of Crete. Actually the Director of the Chania Music School when he found out that Yiannis Gkikakis had not attended any music lessons was so impressed, that he granted him free attendance at the Music School. Remarkably, all members of the AIR BOYS, except from Nikos Vlachopoulos and the two Americans, were self taught musicians.
The band becomes famous in Crete. Numerous appearances in parties, clubs and official balls took place.
In October of 1967, Yiannis Gkikakis is transferred at the 123rd Technical Education Wing in Tatoi and a month later, he arranges with “A.M.I Records” to record and release the bands’ first four songs. Though the coup of the previous April, makes it impossible for all members to get a leave so as to meet. Hence, with a pre scheduled recording timetable, Yiannis Gkikakis is forced to request help from a band from Piraeus called “SEA BIRDS” consisting of: Vangelis Vogiatzakis (lead guitar), Yiannis Chatzichidiroglou (singing), Yiannis Fridas (base), Dimitris Lemonitsakis (drums), Antonis Flabouris (guitar) and Christos Constantinidis (organ player) to record those songs. After precipitated rehearsals, the recording takes place merely within two hours, between the time slot of the studio recording Poli Panou and Stelios Kazantzidis records.
The songs recorded were: “I feel alone”, “Modern girl” and “Sorrow” lyrics and music composition by Yiannis Gkikakis and “You have been gone” lyrics by Vassilis Mastrokostas and music composition by Yiannis Gkikakis.
Gradually, by the mid 1969 the AIR BOYS break up due to the release from duties of yet three members of the band. Previously, in October 1968, they organized a farewell and unprecedented “GRAND RECITAL” at the Apollo Theater in Chania, lasting four hours, along with the participation of three more bands.
After his transfer in Tatoi, Yiannis Gkikakis, for the sake of 123rd Technical Education Wing and the Academy, forms a new band named again AIR BOYS, consisting of the cadets: Viron Lianos (guitar), Stefanos Iliopoulos (guitar), Giorgos Polichronos (drums) and Yiannis Gkikakis (lead guitar and vocals) lasting until the dawn of 1970 due to the graduation and release from duties of the cadets.
With the breakup of those last AIR BOYS, the life of that unique “uniformed” band came to an end. Its members spread across the “four corners of the world”, without any contact between them whatsoever, until 2013, when the founders’ actions brought them to a meet on the 23rd of July 2013 in the “center of the earth”, Stylida. It was an overwhelming meet up that went on until late at night. At the end of that night, they promised each other to get together again and try to record those 20 unreleased band songs. Still, distance and biological factors left little hope for that, until 2015 when four members of the band living in Attica (Yiannis Gkikakis, Nikos Pantalos, Panos Athanasiou and Dimitris Patiniotis) managed to recall in memory and record (2016) seven more songs, included in this album, thus reserving strictly the “sounds” of the 60’s.
AIR BOYS had three rare characteristics marking them as unique within the rock-wave genre of the 60’s!!!
It was the only “uniformed” rock group in Greece!
It was the only group which dedicated all ticket profits to charities
It was the only group, in spite of being “uniformed”, that managed to write and include to their play lists, two anti-war and political songs!!! (THE WAR IS OVER and ARMAGEDON).
Two additional facts distinguished them during the 60’s music era.
Historical researchers of the 60’s and 70’s rock music, included their song “I FEEL ALONE” at the top ten of that era.
That same song (I FEEL ALONE) was aired in radio stations across the U.S.A. for over 25 years!!!
THE AIR BOYS FAN CLUB
In the beginning of 1966, a group of youngsters watching the AIR BOYS, decide to form the “AIR BOYS FAN CLUB”. Their founders were Giorgos Gavriil and Niki, Nikos Kotsakis and Lila, Stelios Angelakis and Roro, Takis Chatzidakis and Lela, Thodoris Vourvachis and Kiki, Pantelis Vourvachis, Makis Ventikos and Joulia, Michalis Giorgarakis and Soula, Miron Psomadakis and Tonia, Thomas Vretos, Michalis and Flora Zabetaki, Maria and Antonis Potesianakis, Vassilis Demiris and Maria, Popi, Zilda, Maria, Aleka, Frideriki, Koko, Lela, Leli, Alkis, Maraki, Eleni, Kalergos Chacharidakis, Klelia, Stefanos Louverdis, Yiannis Tsirakakis, Petros Androulakis and others… Registered members of the AIR BOYS FAN CLUB exceeded 300!!! Parties organized by the A.B.F.C. were unprecedented and marked indelibly the youth night life of Chania!!!
(For the english translation: Christina Stefanidou)