Salvatore J. Perillo has retired as general counsel to Mohawk Industries in Georgia, a floor covering firm descended from one of Amsterdam’s carpet mills.
But when Perillo was a high school senior in 1963 and Mohawk was still weaving carpets in Amsterdam, his nickname was Sam the Sham and he played saxophone with the Daiquiris, a rock and roll band.
Perillo’s nickname came from a group of the day called Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs, who produced one blockbuster hit, “Woolly Bully.”
First organized as the Valiant Four, the Amsterdam band featured Perillo, Bob Olbrycht on drums, guitarist Bob Dietrich and bandleader Norb Sherbunt, a Syracuse University student, also playing guitar.
Dietrich left to go into military service and Ed Emmrich joined the band, renamed the Daiquiris. Bill Vrooman made the Daiquiris a five-piece group in 1964 as a horn and keyboard player.
Playing covers of James Brown songs and other soul and rock music, the Dacs (as they were known) played at night spots such as Russo’s, still a restaurant and bar on West Main Street in Amsterdam, and The Glove Inn in Gloversville.
Sherbunt “really put the band together, he had the ideas,” said Perillo. Two of Sherbunt’s ideas were a dress code and publicity pictures.
Band members visited proprietor Paul Gutenberg at Mortan’s men’s store in 1963 and bought dark pants and light blue sport coats. Wearing this sharp attire the band went to Paul Masto’s photography studio on East Main Street.
After a standard studio pose, Masto suggested another shot. Masto stopped traffic on East Main Street and took a picture of the band in the middle of what was then a bustling downtown.
The buildings in the foreground still exist but the structures in the background were demolished in the 1970s for a downtown mall.
The band spent the summer of 1965 at the Glen Lake Casino near Lake George and played clubs in Albany. They were popular at college fraternity parties at Union, Rensselaer, Syracuse and even Penn State.
The Daiquiris broke up in the late 1960s, mainly because Sherbunt was having difficulty balancing the demands of the band and his studies at Albany Law School.
Members of the Daiquiris pursued other careers but most of them maintained an interest in music.
Perillo worked in the finance department of Mohasco Industries in Amsterdam. Carpet production already had moved south and when the company moved corporate offices to Georgia in the 1980s, Perillo followed. He went to law school while on the job and became general counsel of the firm. He has played with bands in Georgia.
Ed Emmrich later played in wedding and banquet bands while working at Schenectady General Electric, including a stint as manager of the employee store.
Bob “Bubba Boy” Olbrycht was the youngest member of the Daiquiris, recruited in 1963 when he was a high school sophomore.
His previous experience was as a drummer in polka bands but he learned to be a rock drummer.He continued playing in blues and rock bands while pursuing a career as a graphic artist. Olbrycht owns Ricmar Design and Print on Edson Street in Amsterdam.
Bill Vrooman, who joined the band after the 1963 picture, became a hospital administrator in Florida.
Bandleader Norbert Sherbunt practiced law in Amsterdam for more than 40 years. As president of the David Wasserman foundation, he helped support numerous community organizations. An animal lover, he personally helped support the Montgomery County SPCA.
He continued to have an interest in music, doing the sound and lights for his son’s alternative band. Tunnel. Sherbunt died from pancreatic cancer in 2012.