Proudly Canadian: Frank Marino and Mahogany Rush

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Submitted by Sandy Graham

Mahogany Rush was a Canadian rock band led by guitarist Frank Marino. The original band was formed in Montreal, Quebec, but was actually more famous in the United States than their native Canada. In the U.S. they headlined for The Chambers Brothers, Graham Central Station, Ted Nugent, The Amboy Dukes to name a few.

The band is perhaps best known for Marino's soaring lead guitar which bears a strong resemblance to the playing of Jimi Hendrix.

After playing drums since he was 5 years old, somewhere around the age of 13, Marino started playing guitar. The myth is he was visited by an apparition of Jimi Hendrix after a bad experience on LSD; Marino has always denied this. He will say he was inspired by Hendrix, claiming to be the one who is "carrying Jimi's psychedelic torch".[Marino is notable for strong cover versions of Hendrix classics such as "Purple Haze", often being criticized by some as a Hendrix clone. Marino states that he never set out to imitate Hendrix's style at all. "The whole style just came naturally. I didn't choose it; it chose me."

Frank Marino Mahogany RushFrank Marino Mahogany RushMahogany Rush was moderately popular in the 1970s. Their records charted in Billboard, and they toured extensively, playing such venues as California Jam II (1978). Toward the end of the 1970s, the band began to be billed as "Frank Marino and Mahogany Rush. Not much later, Mahogany Rush split up and in the early 1980s Marino released two solo albums on CBS. The band reformed and continued to perform throughout the 1980s and 1990s. In 1993, Marino retired from the music industry.

Marino returned in 2001, inspired in part by a fansite,"I always knew we had fans, I just didn't know I'd find half a million of them on the Web," he said in an interview with Guitar Player in 2005. He released 'Eye of the Storm', and went on tour again, playing more improvisational shows. Frank is still active, recording and touring under his own name. He has also been involved in blues recordings with other artists, playing on tribute albums to Albert King and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Long term members of the band have included founding bassist Paul Harwood and drummer Jimmy Ayoub, and Frank's brother Vince on guitar; Frank Marino is the sole continuous member of the band. In 1980, the group toured as Frank Marino & Mahogany Rush, and after Ayoub left the group a couple of years later, it simply became Frank Marino, which is the name which remains to this day.

Frank Marino’s music never reached the mainstream of popularity, but he still has a huge fan base and following, and can claim sobriety for over 35 years. A survivor of this business, Marino still records and produces his own material.

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