The Romantics (Rock Band)

The Romantics (Rock Band)

The Romantics, an American rock band formed in 1977 in Detroit, are celebrated for their distinct blend of power pop and new wave. Influenced by a range of music, from 1950s American rock and roll to Motown R&B and British Invasion rockers, they created a unique sound. The band achieved significant popularity with hits like "What I Like About You," which reached #49 in the US and #2 in Australia, and "Talking in Your Sleep," peaking at #3 in the US and #1 in Canada. Their 1980 debut album holds the distinction of being the first record released in that decade.

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The Romantics, an American rock band formed in 1977 in Detroit, is often categorized as a power pop and new wave group. Their musical influences encompass 1950s American rock and roll, Detroit’s MC5, the Stooges, early Bob Seger, Motown R&B, 1960s North American garage rock, and British Invasion rockers.

The Romantics gained significant popularity in several countries, including the United States, the Netherlands, Germany, Canada, and Australia. Their most notable songs, “What I Like About You” (peaking at #49 in the US and #2 in Australia) and “Talking in Your Sleep” (reaching #3 in the US, #1 in Canada, and #14 in Australia), have become staples on 1980s-focused, classic rock, and active rock radio stations. Notably, their debut album, released on January 4, 1980, in the UK, holds the distinction of being the first record of the 1980s decade.


The original lineup of The Romantics included Wally Palmar as the vocalist, rhythm guitarist, and harmonicist, Mike Skill as the lead guitarist and vocalist, Rich Cole as the bassist and backing vocalist, and Jimmy Marinos as the drummer and vocalist. Each of the four band members contributed to songwriting, with Palmar and Skill being recognized as the primary songwriters. The band’s debut performance took place on Valentine’s Day at the My Fair Lady Club in Detroit in 1977, where they opened for the New MC5. Over the course of three years, the band toured extensively, performing at renowned venues such as Boston’s Rathskeller, New York City’s CBGB and Max’s Kansas City, and Cleveland’s Agora.

Their breakthrough came when they were signed by Nat Weiss’ Nemperor after a performance at Hurrahs. In September 1979, the band collaborated with British producer Pete Solley to record their debut self-titled album. Prior to their LP, they released the single “Little White Lies” (backed with “I Can’t Tell You Anything”) on Spider Records in 1978, followed by the Bomp! single “Tell It to Carrie” (paired with “First in Line”) in the same year. These early singles were later re-recorded for their first album.


On November 21, 2007, The Romantics initiated a legal action against Activision, RedOctane, Harmonix, and Wavegroup Sound concerning the rendition of their song “What I Like About You” featured in Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s. Although the game developers had legally obtained the rights to create a cover of the song for the game, The Romantics contended that the cover was so similar to the original that it could potentially confuse consumers into thinking the band had endorsed the product. The lawsuit sought to stop the game’s sales and sought financial compensation.

A summary judgment hearing occurred on July 9, 2008, and the case was dismissed the following month. U.S. District Judge Nancy G. Edmunds ruled that Activision had properly obtained the necessary licenses for the musical works, and the band no longer held the copyright for the song.

Band Members:
Current Members
  • Wally Palmar – lead vocals, rhythm guitar, harmonica (1977–present)
  • Mike Skill – lead guitar, vocals (1977–1981, 2010–present); bass, vocals, additional guitar (1982–2010)
  • Rich Cole – bass, vocals (1977–1982, 2010–present)
  • Brad Elvis – drums, percussion (2004–present)
Former Members
  • Jimmy Marinos – drums, percussion, lead vocals (1977–1984, 1996–1997)
  • Coz Canler – lead guitar, vocals (1981–2011)
  • David Petratos – drums, percussion, vocals (1984–1990)
  • Clem Burke – drums, percussion (1990–1996, 1997–2004)
Touring Members
  • Barry Warner – keyboards, backing vocals (1985–1986)
  • Johnny “Bee” Badanjek – drums, percussion (early 1990s)
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