It all started with Cuba B.C. (before Castro), when a young Fred Beato arrived in America as part of then “Peter (Pedro) Pan” Project that brought young Cuban children to the USA for a better chance at life. Mr. Beato landed at Torrance High school in California, where he became friends and bandmates with a young David Pack. Their band, the “Symbols of Tyme,” went on to almost make it big, winning a national Battle of the Bands competition and an audition for “The Ed Sullivan Show.”
After high school the pair drifted apart, with Mr. Beato going on to become a respected drum accessories designer and Mr. Pack having a rock career, with his band Ambrosia ruling the ‘70s soft rock airwaves with hits “Biggest Part of Me,” “You’re the Only Woman” and “How Much I Feel.”
The magic of the Internet brought the pair back together decades later for a chance to rock again, this time as the Beato Band. Their highly autobiographical debut CD tells the tales of their lives from Mr. Beato’s arrival in America (“Cuba B.C.”) to the joys of long-term connections (“My Old Friend”) in song.
Question: Fred, how did you come to America from Cuba?
Fred Beato: It started with a rumor floating around Cuba that Fidel Castro had just made a pack with the Soviets and was going to send all the children to Russia to train them to become pioneers of the revolution. All the parents started freaking out. They started sending their kids to the United States to this Catholic organization whose mission was to help all the children get out of communist Cuba. Parents were sending children without even knowing if they would ever see their children again. Fourteen thousand children left Cuba.
Shortly after that they had the Cuban Missile Crisis, and at that juncture Castro made the announcement that nobody could leave the island. I would not see my mom again for many many years.
Q: How did you two meet?
David Pack: We both went to Torrance High School in Southern California. There was this pep rally at the gymnasium and I heard this music playing. I saw this incredible horn band, like Chicago or Blood Sweat and Tears, that Fred had put together called The Symbols of Tyme. They all had matching suits on. They had a girl keyboard player plus two lead singers. The whole thing sounded great, and I couldn’t take my eyes off the drummer, Fred.
I was in another band but eventually I joined Fred’s band.
Q:While in that band at Torrance High, you received an award, yes?
FB: In every garage there was a band playing because of the British Invasion. When Dave Pack joined the band, the thing really started taking off. The talent Dave brought to the group put us on a different level. Then we won the Battle of the Bands championship for the state of California. Then we represented California at the national competition at the old steel pier in Atlantic City. And we won! For the whole United States of America. Second place was the band The Ohio Players.
We auditioned at Radio City in New York for all the network TV shows [including] “The Ed Sullivan Show,” Joey Bishop’s show. We came very close to success.
The band broke up a year later, and that was the beginning of Ambrosia for Dave. My friend hit the moon and left me in Torrance, California.
Q: Did you lose touch after high school?
DP: I was busy chasing my career. Fred was chasing his. Those were the ‘70s, man. We drifted apart following our dreams and trying to make a living.
Q: Fred, did you follow David’s success when he was in Ambrosia?
FB: Every time I would hear Ambrosia on the radio, I didn’t know if I should scream for joy for my friend or if I should cry. It was almost like torture to hear Dave Pack on the radio. I knew he was gonna hit the big time from Day 1. I was very hurt that I got left behind.
Q: How did you reunite and start Beato Band?
DP: My wife and I decided to moved to Orange County, California, where we didn’t know anybody, because we wanted to grow spiritually. That was nine years ago. Within a year of being there, I found out Fred lived right down the road. I hadn’t talked to him in over 20 years.
FB: One day I was killing time on the Internet and decided to see what Dave Pack was up to. I went on his website and left him a personal message. I had always hoped that before I hung up my cleats as a musician, I would get to make a record. I emailed Dave and said, “This is a blast from the past, your old drummer. I wanna do a record and need your permission to do the song ‘The Cow,’” which was one of the first songs Dave ever wrote when we were kids.
He called me back and said, “Are you out of you mind?” That’s how it started. We caught up and realized we lived a mile away from each other.
Q: Why is it called the Beato Band and not Beato Pack?
DP: First off all, I think being a drummer with the name Beato, you couldn’t hope to have a better name than that. If Fred’s name would have been “Muddlesmucker,” then things would have been different.
This album was a complete act of love. I wanted this record to be about Fred, put the spotlight on him and leave me out of it. Make the record about Fred and the songs about our friendship. This is two guys in the golden years of our lives doing this just for the pure joy of making music.
Beato Band’s their debut CD is available on iTunes. For more info check out BeatoBand.com.