The Fabulous Knobs were one of the most sought after Comboland bar and party bands of the early 80's. Playing every bar, club, and frat house in the Triangle, The Knobs were a hard-working full time band. Their 1981 album was the first local hit for regional label, Moonlight Records and heavily promoted by record chain Record Bar. The fans were fueled by lead singer Debra DeMilo's no-holds barred performance and soulful vocal styling, along with a tight band that knew how to play and have fun too! Added to the mix was Dave Adams (Glass Moon) who played keyboard on the recording sessions and occasionally live as well. Here's some great insight from a Terry Anderson (The Fabulous Knobs drummer and songwriter) from his April 2006 Whassupta blog,
The Fabulous Knobs really were quite popular around North Carolina from '78 to '84. We had a road crew that drove our big ass 20-foot box truck filled with lights and our huge PINK P.A.! It was full time job. We did about 4 to 5 gigs a week and put ourselves on the big big salary of $250 a piece, each one of those weeks. This lasted almost 3 or so years. And, we all lived together in a huge house on Edenton St. in downtown Raleigh and the band paid all of our expenses, so the $250 was free and clear.
We had some unbelievable gigs. Most were packed, many sold out. Our lead singer, Debra DeMilo was quite flamboyant and showed her ass (literally!) about every night. It was the same kinda rockin' shit I'm doin' today [with the band, The Olympic Ass Kickin' Team, but] with a little more Soul/R&B thrown in. I wrote a lot for that band too. It's really hard to explain how great it was. Jack Cornell was on bass and he and I solidified the rhythm section. The guitar players, David Enloe and Keith Taylor were perfect together. For a while there, just to be ASAP (as stupid as possible!!) they were "twinin'," or trying to be twins of each other. They were dressing alike with red Keds sneakers, blue jeans, an orange bandana and a white t-shirt. It was dumb as shit and really funny.
We would piss club owners off so bad by doing "plays." The most popular one was called "Go to Hell!" That one would start with David layin' on the floor trying to get some sleep after the late night gig and his neighbor next door, played by Keith or me, mowing the lawn at 7am. Eventually, David would get up and poke his head through the window (somebody's arms!) and yell, "Go to Hell!!" Of course, there were other scenarios and subsequently other "plays" that prompted that response from David. Pretty dumb. Another thing we did was "Jerry Duty." Every night we would take turns holding up a little G.E. tape recorder up to the mike while a Jerry Clower tape played one of his stupid ass jokes. This was called "Jerry Duty". . . and "Bullshit!" by the club owners. But the crowd usually ate it up.
We were pretty much ruined after seeing NRBQ. They got away with murder! And that's how we wanted to be!
Terry Anderson - April 2006
Talk of label deals were always around. Moonlight Records and Record Bar promoted The Knobs like they were the next Rolling Stones. And Don Dixon (Arrogance) and Robert Kirkland (Arrogance), who both produced their first EP along with Mitch Easter (Let's Active) as engineer, also tried getting them deals, including a slightly post-partied Robert calling the head of Curb Records as 3am, hounding him for a Knobs deal. There was even a showcase for major labels at CBGB's in New York, but no deal.
Without a major record label behind them, The Fabulous Knobs survived until 1984 when Debra left the band. The group renamed themselves The Woodpeckers and added Dan Baird as lead singer. After a year, Dan left to join The Georgia Satellites and kept a song Terry Anderson wrote for the Knobs called Battleship Chains. This song would be the second national hit for The Georgia Satellites giving both the Satellites and Terry a well needed pay check and a gold record to hang on their wall. After the demise of The Satellites, Terry gave Dan Baird another national hit, this time as a solo artist with the song I Love You Period .
Terry and Jack Cornell continue their hardcore party rock with their band The Olympic Ass Kickin' Team . Terry also plays with Dan in the group The Yahoos, while Debra DeMilo will occasionally appear with her band, DeMilo with Arms (featuring Scott Davison from Arrogance).