We may be a young community, but we're old enough to speak of legends. Hilton Head Island boasts a few, yet probably the most enjoyable, exhilarating legend in his own time is entertainer, Larry Perigo, founder of the fabulous "Headliners." Remember the Hyatt's popular night spot, Club Indigo? Crowds were drawn there to hear the resident band six nights a week for nearly 17 years! A visit to the island without experiencing The Headliners was like missing the beach. With their '50s floor show, Larry's quick, clean humor and contagious delight in music, the band splashed the crowds with glee and left them swimming in joy. Few groups can compare with their unique ability to lead audiences into the Electric Slide, entice them into a pantomimed "YMCA," motivate them into a bouncy jitterbug, slip them into a sexy shag, then serenade them into a romantic sway.
The harmony of The Headliners is not simply in their performances but in their relationships. The key ingredient, according to the guys, is their Nashville-born leader, Larry, whose love of music developed while listening to a neighbor play guitar. The violin lessons he later received were halted. "They interfered with my sports!" he said. Interestingly, after high school, a sports buddy discovered Larry's talent while listening to him sing along with the car radio. "I did not know he had a band, which he asked me to join. As it grew, it was decided I needed to learn saxophone too," said Larry, who got a sax and a book to learn.
His God-given talents led him into the Phil Harris Vocal Show Band and upward until the formation of the early Headliners, who performed all over the country. By 1977, Larry assembled additional members and acquired the band's contract at the Hyatt. He laughed recalling the renegotiation of his contract with the new boss, Cherie, now his wife of 22 years. Larry believes The Headliners' longevity and success stem from sincerity. "We are all sincere about music and realistic about what we do. We feel very fortunate that we can make people happy while earning a living in a profession we love," he said.
"Larry's good business head and leadership are the keys," said Mark Husbands, Headliners drummer and vocalist since 1988. "He is well-organized and handles our bookings very efficiently. We have all become very close."
Attributing his interest in music to his brother's guitar playing, Mark settled on the drums at about age 12. "I transferred all my excess energy into my drum set-probably drove my parents nuts!" he said. A Florida native, Mark attended Berklee College of Music in Boston and Hollywood's Musician's Institute, where he developed his drumming, Latin percussion and audio recording talents. Touring extensively abroad, Mark met both his wife, Lise, and Larry in Hawaii. After moving back to Florida, Mark was invited to join The Headliners.
Trombone player and vocalist, Danny Dennison, loves the variety, travel and recognition the music business brings. "No one in my family was particularly musical, but I loved listening to Al Hurt albums," he said. "My dad finally ordered a trombone for me, and I signed up for all the bands I could, always trying to emulate the horns."
The handsome, lively singer attended a community college and recalled, "I had the exciting opportunity to play briefly with the Sammy Kay Orchestra then joined a rock and roll band entertaining for many corporate functions. Filling in at Club Indigo when The Headliners had private parties gave me a chance to meet Larry, and in 1998 he invited me to join them. He is an excellent leader, very fair and a good friend. He keeps everyone on a cooperative basis, and we enjoy doing things for him. We love the challenge of learning new music and singing the old favorites."
Headliners bass guitar player, George Slone, comes from a musical family. "I grew up with piano, guitar and keyboard, so it was natural to pick it up," he said. A Tennessee native who landed in Orlando in 1975, working as a desk clerk, George found his niche after being laid off due to a travel industry decline. "Someone told me a band at the Officer's Club needed a bass player. My girlfriend gave me a guitar, and I started with the band," he said. The group played on Hilton Head Island a few times, so in January,1985, when friends from another band called him about joining The Headliners, George felt it was a great opportunity. "Larry is a real pro, and really good at entertaining the crowd. He knows how to keep us together, and our personalities just blend," he said.
Steve White did not travel far from his South Carolina home in Charleston to hook up with The Headliners in 1985 as keyboard player and vocalist. He studied classical piano from ages seven-17 and played in high school bands. The next few years found him studying at Spartanburg Junior College and finishing with a degree in sociology/psychology from USC. Yet music was his first love. "The keyboard gives me the best of all worlds. I can create such a variety of sounds. Larry runs a smooth business, and all of us get along great," he said.
No one would believe that Billy Howe, who croons and plays trumpet, feels a bit nervous when singing, but he says it's magic to see the crowd reacting. "It gives me chills," said the 23-year Headliner. It was an old horn in the attic of his Chicago home leading Billy, at age eight, into the world of music. Since his father's family was very musical, he quickly received lessons, and easily began a career giving him a way to make a living at something he loves. Billy performed all over the U.S. with a band out of Cocoa Beach until asked to join The Headliners.
Whether it's a wedding, corporate gathering, or an evening at the Hilton Hotel, the legendary Headliners always deliver a magical and powerful performance and continue to enrich our lives.