The Left Banke were a late 1960's band from New York with a unique sound. Critics labeled them "baroque-pop" due to the
classical influences in their music.|
Besides three songs that hit the Billboard charts, "Walk Away Renee," "Pretty Ballerina," and "Desiree," the group left behind a legacy of music that influenced notable musicians ranging from Leonard Bernstein to Alice Cooper.
|News & Updates Trivia Discography Pictures Related Artists 1 Related Artists 2|
|Walk Away Renee/Pretty Ballerina Left Banke Too Various Sessions|
|»The History Of The Left Banke|
|Tom Finn Steve Martin Caro George Cameron Michael Brown|
|»Dawn Eden Interviews|
|Walk Away Renee Michael Brown Tom Finn Rick Brand Alan Merrill|
|»Articles & Interviews|
|Left Banke Fan Club Newsletter KYA BEAT Oct 1966 KYA BEAT Nov 1966 KBTR/71 1966 Teen Screen 1967 LP Liner Notes 1967 Teen Set 1967 Song Hits 1967 Teen's Top 1967 Top Ten 1967 Teen Screen 1968 GO 1968 Hit Parader 1968 Hit Parader 1969 UK Record Collector 1991 Mojo 2002 Big Takeover 2003 RIP Jeff Winfield Left Banke 2011 Reunion|
|»Walk Away Renee by Dawn Eden|
The first hint of industry recognition came from Harry Lookofsky
himself. "Mike's father used to come in late at night, on and off,"
says Cameron, "to check up on the boys and see what they were doing."
The boys were doing a lot besides playing, I'll tell you that much! Mike
went down one night and introduced 'Walk Away Renee' to us. Steve hated
the song, of course. Tom and I thought it had possibilities. We played
it and had Steve sing lead on it, and it started coming out pretty good.
Mike's father heard it and said, 'Let's try to record it.' And bingo.
The song was inspired by Renee Fladen, a platinum blonde vision. Cameron: "Renee was Mike Brown's big love, and Tommy liked her a lot too. Tall, blonde, and quiet. Mike was like a little kid around her. He'd bring her up to the studio to hear his latest songs, and then we'd all come out and sing. She'd just sit there and listen and smile a lot."
Finn: "Most of the kids were half-runaways in those days. A bunch of teenagers got an apartment together- a crash pad- in Tin Pan Alley, around the Broadway area. Renee lived there part- time when she didn't live with her mother."
"I brought her over to the studio. For a kid of 16, or 17, she was free, liberal, open- minded, sexy- everything. She was just very different for that time, so she bowled Mike over."
Brown: "I met her through the newly formed Left Banke. They would run around, so to speak, because they knew a lot of people. I was hanging around with the group, and it was just in one of those chance encounters that I met her."
Discussing Renee, Brown refers to her in free-spirited terms like those used by Finn: "What people forget is that the main thing that was happening with everybody I was hanging around with- was a new era. That didn't last very long. The Reich was supposed to go for a thousand years, and this couldn't last 10. But whether you fell in love or anything else, everybody just sort of floated around."
Brown says that he wrote "Walk Away Renee" one month after he met Renee, in the winter of '65. He then wrote what became the Left Banke's second hit, "Pretty Ballerina" and "She May Call You Up Tonight" (on the Walk Away Renee/Pretty Ballerina LP), both about the very same young woman.
Renee never went out with Brown, dated Finn briefly, and later went out with the group's original drummer, Warren David. "After that," says Finn, "using 60's lingo, she 'split the scene' because of all the different guys liking her. She felt very uncomfortable."
Brown describes his unrequited feelings for Renee: "I was just sort of mythologically in love, if you know what I mean," he says, "without having evidence in fact or in deed." As Brown says this he laughs softly. His laugh sounds like that of one who would rather laugh than cry.
"But I was as close as anybody could be to the real thing," he adds. "As a matter of fact, like in the Twilight Zone or something, if you cross over, you lose what you have. It's only because you're away from it that you can appreciate the beauty of it. Once you've become immersed in it, you can't see the sunlight coming through the window, because you're no longer doing that. You're in that light."