TIR 78: Band Members Tell How They Made Their Funk Perfectly Kleeer


Brought to you by FUNKNSTUFF.NET and hosted by Scott Goldfine — musicologist and author of “Everything Is on THE ONE: The First Guide of Funk” ― “TRUTH IN RHYTHM” is the interview show that gets DEEP into the pocket with contemporary music’s foremost masters of the groove.

Featured in TIR Episode 78 (3 Parts): One of the most finely crafted and orchestrated funk-soul-disco bands of the late 1970s and 1980s — Kleeer, that’s K-l-e-e-e-r. On hand to discuss their legacy are founding guitarist-singer Richard Lee and keyboardist-saxophonist Eric Rohrbaugh. Founded in New York in 1972 as The Jam Band, Lee and the rest of the group would serve as the backing band for several artists and undergo several name changes that included Pipeline and The Universal Robot Band before releasing the first Kleeer album for Atlantic Records in 1979. That disco-heavy debut was called I Love to Dance and included the fierce dance club track, “Keep Your Body Workin’.” Settling more firmly into a funk-R&B blend, Kleeer would go on to cut six more albums for Atlantic between 1979 and 1985.

Their popularity peaked with Winners, which reached No. 24 on the U.S. R&B albums chart, and License to Dream, which climbed all the way to No. 13. They also notched three top 40 R&B hits, consisting of “Tonight’s the Night,” “Winners” and “Get Tough.” Other key Kleeer tracks included “Nothin’ Said,” “Open Your Mind,” “De Kleeer Ting,” “Where Would I Be (Without Your Love,” “Taste the Music,” “De Ting Continues,” “Swann,” “Get Ready,” “Stonseee,” “Intimate Connection” and “Seeekret.”

Here, in likely Kleeer’s most in-depth interview ever, Lee and Rohrbaugh recount the glory and the gory of the band’s founding, rise, pinnacle, fade and demise. One thing to make clear before proceeding are a few technical matters. A third group member, founding keyboardist-composer Paul Crutchfield, was supposed to participate but was not able to connect to the video session. An unfortunate technical glitch was then discovered after the interview in which Rohrbaugh’s visual did not register, only his audio. His visual later inexplicably pops on with about a half hour left in the session. To compensate, stills of Rohrbaugh have been added over some of his audio. Lastly, Lee’s feed was at times compromised by less-than-ideal connectivity, resulting in lower frame rates and some audio dropouts. A lot of painstaking postproduction work has been put in to make this episode as good as possible despite those issues.

Highlights along the way include inside looks at Kleeer’s albums, songs and shows, including sharing the stage with Prince and Rick James, among many others; an explanation of the group’s unusual spelling and fascination with wordplay; and what Kleeer looks like today as well as plans to produce brand new music.

Recorded January 2019


Scott Goldfine

As a fervid lifelong music & film enthusiast / student, I grew up in and around the Los Angeles entertainment industry. I have worked and held many positions in various media realms, since 1998 serving as Editor-in-Chief and now Associate Publisher for Security Sales & Integration, a trade publication serving the electronic security industry. I love several genres of music & film. The former includes funk (Parliament-Funkadelic, Prince, Ohio Players, etc.); blues (Stevie Ray Vaughan, Buddy Guy, Eric Gales, etc.); rock (Jack White, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Neil Young, etc.); hard rock (AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, etc.); jazz (Herbie Hancock, Bob James, Crusaders, etc.); R&B (Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan, Gil Scott-Heron, etc.); and more. I was a club disc jockey and ran a mobile DJ company (Musical Moods) for more than 15 years, which is where the name Dr. GX originates (Doctor Good Times). Fave film genres include horror (Dawn of the Dead, Evil Dead, Nightmare on Elm Street, etc.); science fiction (Aliens, Terminator, 2001, etc.); action (Warriors, Road Warrior, Die Hard); westerns (Outlaw Josey Wales, Showdown at OK Corral; Wild Bunch, etc.); suspense (Jaws, Inception, Silence of the Lambs, etc.); drama (Apocalypse Now, Goodfellas, Pulp Fiction, etc.); and comedies (Life of Brian, Superbad, Ruthless People, etc.). I have attended many hundreds of concerts and movies (in theaters or screenings). I may as well also throw in a few favorite TV shows to give an even broader taste of my sensibilities. A handful would be Breaking Bad, Walking Dead, Lost, Justified, Fargo, Seinfeld, Sopranos, South Park, Brooklyn Nine Nine, Key & Peele, Monty Python, Inside Amy Schumer, Louie, Modern Family, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Last Man on Earth, Bob Newhart Show, All in the Family and The Office. Fave authors are Stephen King, Clive Barker and Michael Crichton. I am also a big sports fan and lifelong supporter of the Dallas Cowboys (NFL), Los Angeles Lakers (NBA) and Pittsburgh Pirates (MLB). Also enjoy my family of course, electronics/computers/AV gear, and animals, nature and outdoor activities. Graduate of Santa Monica High School, Santa Monica College and California State University Northridge (Radio-TV-Film, Psychology minor). Also studied at UCLA for kinesiology/psychology and earned post-grad Certificate in Accounting from Santa Monica College. Present main occupation is as Associate Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Security Sales & Integration (SSI), which I joined in 1998. I am responsible for overseeing all editorial content in print. online, electronic, in-person and any other media or products for the electronic security industry's leading business-to-business trade publication. SSI is part of Framingham, Mass.-based Emerald Expositions.