Sneaks Shoes?

Sneak Memorabilia

Here are memories and stories from the Sneaks archives. Most of these stories— remaining hidden over the years—are now revealed for your enjoyment. Each tab holds a selection of these gems. Make sure to click on the picture icons for the BIG picture!

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They Said What?

The local press (namely, the Arcadia Tribune and the PCC Courier) was interested in the band’s transformation from “high school kids” to “recording artists.” The Sneaks' unique culture often was captured in unintentionally humorous ways when the band was being interviewed. Brett, rightfully, was the band’s “spokesman.” He wrote all of the press releases, and, his phone number was on the business card. While Brett’s message typically was controlled and on-target, when the other members were interviewed, it was anyone’s guess what pearls of wisdom might spring forth.


The Buttons That Were

Sneaks buttons were a hot commodity in 1981 and beyond, and Brett’s marketing genius kept fans wanting more. The original white buttons were released first and rapidly achieved “collector” status. Rob was well known for “hoarding” collectibles and for many years had a brown paper sack containing dozens of the rare pieces. Black buttons were the next iteration, followed by the “ringed” black and white design. When Brett strove to “modernize” the band’s cartoon-like logo, he met with a graphic artist who updated the typeface and the “Sneak Man” to more closely resemble an international spy, hence the final button design.


The Buttons That Never Were

It was always a good day for the band when new buttons arrived, but there were some button designs that never arrived due to budget constraints. Each band member had a “theme” color that was displayed in advertising, where possible, and in on-stage band attire. What the band members really wanted were theme-colored buttons to distribute to our personal posses. Sadly, these buttons were envisioned for several years but never came to pass. The concept has been digitally created here almost 30 years after the idea’s conception.

Band Perks (Pt. 1)

Receiving gifts that were unique to the band was one of the great joys of being in the Sneaks. In 1981 a band friend purchased custom, high capacity Sneaks mugs as a gift for each band member and also for the band’s road crew (Rob Cushman, aka Mushman; and Keith Levitt, aka Mr. Furnell). The ceramic mugs were black (for the band) and white (for the road crew) with gold-leaf detailing and an engraved brass name plate. These were valued so highly, that for fear of breakage or loss, they were very rarely used.

Band Perks (Pt. 2)

The band had fans of all ages, but our mothers were particularly proud of our accomplishments and wanted to help in any way they could. Marilyn “MP” Perkins (Brett’s mom) one-upped all of the other Sneak moms by knitting each band member a stylish, theme-colored Sneaks neck scarf (perfect for those outdoor wintertime gigs), complete with “Sneak Man” graphic. In all the world, the only people who had an official Sneaks scarf were Pat, Rob, Greg and Brett!



Band Friends (Pt. 1)—Keith Levitt

Keith Levitt was always there. The band's trusty "light man," Keith was at the light board (whenever there was a light board) for practically every Sneaks gig that was. Keith's big, white, Ford truck hauled the group's gear from place to place, and Keith never complained. He loved the work and he loved the band. For his association with (and knowledge of) all things "lighting," Keith was known to the band as "Mr. Furnell," or more informally, as "Mr. F."


Band Friends (Pt. 2)—Mrs. F

Tammy Levitt, or "Mrs. F" as she was then called, was Keith's wife and the mother of their three children, and one of the boys' biggest boosters. Mrs. F, always with a smile on her face, was a valued member of the Sneaks inner-circle for the joy she brought to the band, simply by "being there." (Pictured here at the Perkins house with Brian Stewart and Woody Smith)


Band Friends (Pt. 3)—Jim O'Toole

Jim O'Toole was the band's original guitarist. Once Rob was invited aboard in late 1980, Jim soon became a footnote in Sneaks history. However, his departure did not end Jim's association with the band as he often attended Sneaks get-togethers during the band's salad days. Jim's (unintentionally) funny quotes continue to play a big role band folklore (i.e. "That tape sounded so good, I couldn't believe it was me. And, "Baby, oh baby, she sounds so sweet.") He is pictured here at a band party with "the uh, woman," a girlfriend whose name was never divulged.

Band Friends (Pt. 4)—Brian Stewart

Brian was a childhood friend of both Pat and Rob. While he moved from California to Illinois in the mid-70s, Brian returned to the Golden State in the 80s and rekindled the old friendships just in time to catch the tail-end of Sneaks history. In this 1984 shot, Brian "goofs" just outside the storied "Friedman Warehouse," the Sneaks long-time rehearsal studio in El Monte, California.

Band Friends (Pt. 5)—Mark Coyle

Mark Coyle (also known as “Hoyle"), proprietor of Limelight Limousines, was the band's erstwhile limo driver (on the two or three occasions when the Sneaks actually could afford transportation services). In addition, Mark served as a part-time drum roadie and full-time band groupie. Aside from his meticulous driver's uniform, Hoyle was known for two things: 1) always eating more slowly than whomever he dined with; and 2) purchasing two of everything he owned (i.e. jet skis, motorcycles) so that his friends would never feel left out.


The Song Remains Unknown

In the early days, the band was limited to or two sets of original material, but the boys were prolific writers (especially Brett) and the set-length limitation was soon to change. By 1984, the band’s final year, the number of songs in the repertoire had grown to over fifty, and the Sneaks were often booked to play four-hour shows. Notable in this set list from January 9, 1981 is the inclusion of “Back to Me.” A song that was dropped that same year and which no band member remembers today. (As a footnote, this gig was Jim O'Toole's last with the Sneaks.)


Lets Get Lyrical (Pt. 1)

Before the advent of the personal computer, many songwriters actually hand-wrote their lyrics. The Sneaks were no exception and despite sometimes-illegible penmanship, the first drafts of most lyric sheets were hand-written. Here, for your perusal, is Rob’s scratchy, water-stained draft of “The Calling” (c. 1983). This song was about the suicide of Jay Adams, a schoolmate of the Sneaks.


Lets Get Lyrical (Pt. 2)

Brett’s hand drawn lyrics for “Lay it on the Line” (c. 1982) are shown here. Over the years, many of Brett's songs referred to his "latest flame" as noted by references to “Julia” (Julia), “Dawnell” (A Step Away From Love), “Mary” (Mystery Mary), and “Laura” (Laura’s Song) among many others. However, this song referred to a mysterious girl named “Cari.” To this day, the subject of Brett’s fleeting affection (and whether she was real or imagined) remains an unsolved mystery.

sneak freak

Are You A Sneak Freak?

Even at the tender age of 20, Brett was a marketing wizard and he was constantly devising ways to promote the band. Before the advent of email, Bands had mailing lists: an expensive but generally effective way to keep in touch with the fan base. Here is a 1981 promotional piece that was effective in building the bands’s mailing list to the point where the band could barely to afford to mail to it! Take the test to see if you are/were a Sneak Freak.



The band loved KISS, at least ¾ of the band did. Brett preferred Styx, but you couldn’t dress up as Styx for a Halloween gig. (And even if you could, no one would know who you were supposed to be.) Halloween night, 1982, saw the band donning makeup and wigs from the “hottest band in the land” for a special gig at Pookies, in Pasadena, California. The show opened with a blazing instrumental version of Detroit Rock City. Rob, of course, was Paul Stanley, pictured here in his parents’ living room, just prior to the gig.


click me!

The Amazing, Handy-Dandy Press Kit

The Sneaks always enjoyed being photographed, but one session above all others stands out as particularly enjoyable and fruitful. Photographer Victoria Wendell caught the boys at their dapper best and in a fine mood toward the end of 1981, in her Skid Row loft studio/apartment. The photographic negatives of this session have been lost along the way, but the pictures were used extensively in this 1982 Sneaks press kit, designed and written by Brett.

What's With The Flashlight?

In addition to the press kit, the band’s publicity photo featured great individual shots from the Wendell photo-sessions. From dozens of posed portraits taken that day, each band member selected the picture that he felt best represented his persona. Victoria then assembled these into a composite photograph that wowed club owners considering a booking of the Sneaks. When the band signed autographs of this picture, it was usually done in each member’s signature color, as is shown in this original example.

We Still Don't Know Why He Left

Pat said goodbye to the band in 1984, just after the Sneaks finished recording their second EP, Success the Hard Way. Pat’s sudden departure shocked and saddened his band mates who reacted to the news with a mixture of disbelief and despair. There would be no replacing Pat. His goodbye party was held at the Perkins house on Greenfield Avenue—the site of band rehearsals, parties and performances over the years. Pat received many gifts that evening, but perhaps the most memorable was this hand-decorated cake featuring the Sneak man.

Go Ahead And Jump

Soon after Pat left the band, and new bassist Howie Orell took his place, the Sneaks needed new promotional photos for their soon-to-be-released EP. So, it was back to Victoria’s loft for another session. This time the band decided to have some action shots taken. Adjacent to Victoria’s studio was an X-Rated Movie Theater. The band hauled their equipment up the loft stairs and then climbed out of Victoria’s window and onto the theater roof, which the band commandeered as an impromptu sound stage. While blasting songs from the EP on a boom-box, the band lip-synched a mini-concert while Victoria snapped away, much to the amazement of window gawkers from adjacent hi-rise buildings. This picture, which caught the band in their signature “jumping” position, was used as the insert photo for the Success The Hard Way EP.

A Drummer With Three Hands?

What appeared to be the perfect picture was not perfect, however. While the three front-men were airborne, alas, the drummer was bending down to retrieve a lost stick (as if to shave). Since Adobe Photoshop had not yet been invented, Victoria had to hand-cut the photo and insert a great picture of Greg from another shot, thus salvaging this shot. The only vestige of the photo-surgery is what the band called the “Mercibeate Phantom Hand.” It is circled in red here for your analysis and amusement.

The Band: An Artist's Conception

To say that the Sneaks had talented and creative fans might be an understatement. Among those who followed the band were two top-notch photographers (Scott Forden and Jorge Mena), a gifted pianist and arranger (Jeff Vande wege), and talented artist Kim (forgot her last name). After Howie Orell replaced Pat Hacker in 1984, Kim drew this stylized pen-and-ink portrait of the band. Lost to history is whether this drawing was inspired by a photograph or composed from memory.

Calling It Quits

When it was time to stop being The Sneaks (probably when Pat left), everyone knew it, but nobody wanted to say it. In late 1984 amid acrimony, personnel problems, and band debt, Brett decided to dissolve the band in favor of a solo career. Rob went on to found Blue Frontier (for which Greg briefly played drums) in 1985 before joining The Prime Movers in 1987, and Greg co-founded Dread Zeppelin (additionally comprised of former Prime Mover members) as the lead singer, Tortelvis. No one knows what became of Howie Orell—unseen by any other band member since that 1984 day of parting.

The Boys Are Back In Town

It is said that time heals all wounds, and bitterness that surrounded the band in 1984 was all but dissapated by 1987 when Brett proposed a Sneaks reunion. Getting back together was like old times for the boys as all of the day-to-day pressures of maintaining The Sneaks now were gone. This show was all about reuniting under the Sneaks banner in the spirit of the band’s early days. That spirit was captured perfectly for this reunion show as band and fans alike reveled once more in the Sneaks phenomena. In retrospect, many have said that the 1987 reunion was the Sneaks best performance ever. Video of the show is available in the Video Archive and on YouTube.

The Band Reforms…Briefly

Since the reunion had gone so well, and Rob and Brett had successfully been playing acoustic shows under the name of “Perkins & Schilling,” Brett proposed constituting a new version of The Sneaks. Drummer, Curt Lichter (The Prime Movers and Dread Zepplelin) and bassist Woody Smith (Blue Frontier) were recruited to fill-out the new group. The lineup never solidified, as Woody was soon replaced by David Leonard Gonzalez and Curt, by Chuck Crump. After a couple of disastrous live shows and an unfinished three-song demo, the Sneaks folded for a final time.


Still Friends After All These Years

Despite the decades that have passed since the group’s inception, and the Sneaks current geographical dispersion, the band (and band confidants) have remained close friends and in close contact. While often three-quarters present (when either Brett or Rob are visiting Southern California), the entire band has not shared the same physical space for many years. Brett-less and Rob-less Sneaks gatherings have taken place on several occasions, but the elusive full-band reunion remains elusive…for now.