MEET THE BAND: Paul Pope (guitar, vocals), Billy Sullivan (guitar, vocals), Bill March (bass, vocals), Don Krueger (drums, vocals)
IT STARTED WITH AN UNTITLED SONG: Pope says that when he was growing up, he thought Elvis Presley was "it." "When I saw him perform, I knew that's what I wanted to do," he says. "Every Christmas, my parents would buy me a plastic guitar, and I'd play with the thing, and it'd be broke by the next Christmas, and they'd buy me another." Pope started taking lessons when he was 8 and began performing when he was only 13. He still plays "Untitled," the first song he ever wrote. "I wrote it about the death of my father, because my dad died when I was 13," he says, adding that he wrote it when he was 15. "Ironically, it requires a really high range. But for some odd reason, I've never had a hard time singing it, which is weird. Every once in a while, Mr. Classic on WNCX used to play it."
A FOND FAREWELL: After having some success in the '70s with the rock act Molkie Cole, Pope opened his own recording studio in Elyria and formed the Paul Pope Band with Tom Kriss, the original bassist from the James Gang, and guitar prodigy Billy Sullivan. He's kept the band going for the past 30 years, playing with Glass Harp drummer John Sferra, Beau Coup bassist Bill March, Molkie Cole bandmates Phil James and Bob Steinmetz, and Eric Carmen drummer Donny Krueger. But now, Pope has said he will play one last set of shows with the group and call it a day. Drummer Donnie Krueger, bassist Bill March, and guitarist Billy Sullivan will join him for the farewell show that takes place on Thursday at the Music Box. "I never thought in my wildest dreams that I'd still be doing it," says Pope, 64. "It's just gotten to be too much. Every show [on the farewell tour] is a little different. I want to make the Cleveland show a little longer. I want to play as much original music as I can. I don't think I was made to play other people's music. I like to play original music. That's always been the thrill for me."
WHY YOU SHOULD HEAR THEM: Lone Shoe, a 2001 album that compiles some of Pope's best material, commences with the hard-driving "Bombs," a barroom rocker, and delves into power pop with "Miss Understood" and "You Can't Hide (in the Shade)," catchy tunes that benefit from harmony vocals. "Second Time Around" possesses a Beatles vibe and shows off Pope's vocal prowess.
WHERE YOU CAN HEAR THEM: facebook.com/paul.pope
WHERE YOU CAN SEE THEM: The Paul Pope Band plays a farewell show at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 25, at the Music Box Supper Club.