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The Automatic Pilot story

The AP story begins with the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus and ends with Theater Rhinoceros "The AIDS Show." The short version:

Automatic Pilot was born in 1980 when members of the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus did a punk rock parody for a skit, writing original songs by Karl Brown, piano and Matthew McQueen lead vocal, with Tom Gschwind, violin. More voices were added, particularly Tony Kramedas, and more songs written; AP performed in public at Chorus events, and other gay community venues.

Joined by a string bass player Steve Graham, and drummer John Orlando from the SF Gay Freedom Band, and John Selby, a sax / flute player with a jazz background, AP built the original punk parody into a unique sound, an all acoustic rock band with no guitar, and complex vocal arrangements of nasty, gay lyrics. Late in 1982, the bassist and drummer left, and were replaced by our straight boys, Jeremy Rexford (drums)and Dave Moseley (bass guitar) who were available and interested in our music. We continued to perform live though mid 1983, most often at the Valencia Rose and the On Broadway where we made the only live recording. We also did some studio demos along the way.

After the live band's last performance, singer Tony Kramedas undertook to produce (and finance) professional recordings of AP's songs, with a decidedly more electric sound featuring some of the Bay Area's best studio musicians accompanying the voices of Matthew, Tony and Karl, and Karl's keyboards. Four songs were completed in 1984 when Tony became sick from AIDS; two more were completed over the next few months.

During these recording sessions, Matthew and Karl joined several other writers and performers to create Theater Rhinoceros "The AIDS Show" contributing a song in the Automatic Pilot style. Tony was in the audience during the first run. On September 21, 1985, during a recording session for a restaging of The AIDS Show, Tony died. A new song for the show was dedicated to Tony.

The master tapes of the all the recording studio sessions, along with all of our demos and our live recording were stored on the shelf until 2002, when they were transferred to digital and this website was created.

What we built upon

Punk rock parody at chorus talent show

Talented Butt, Extremely Tasteless
The community nurtured us even as we scandalized them.

Erotic jazz wave
Creating a unique music to fit our unique performance niche

Selby joins

Too Queer, Too Acoustic, Too Weird
Our ties to the organized gay performing arts drew industry attention, but we did not fit the market.

Jeremy Rexford, Dave Moseley join

Tony Puts His Money Where His Mouth Is
He financed numerous recording sessions in top end studios, with some of the Bay Area's best musicians backing us up.

Automatic Pilot, RIP
Automatic Pilot dies along with Tony.

Life goes on for the living

Back from the Dead
This website project, 17 years later

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