Sweet Breeze on Okaloosa: Local beaches inspire new tune from ’70s surf-rock band (PHOTOS)

Sweet Breeze
Special to The Log
Published: Friday, October 11, 2013 at 04:17 PM.

For a musician whose band opened for The Beach Boys, the Emerald Coast is a paradise worth singing about.

Guitarist and songwriter Greg Scharpf, 58, grew up in Fox Chapel, Penn. In high school, he and four friends formed the band Sweet Breeze. After starting their stage career playing their high school dances, the leisure-suit-clad surf-and-soul rockers caught their big break when singer, producer and record label president Lou Christie signed them to 2001 Records in 1978.

Christie had written and recorded a string of hits throughout the ’60s, including Top 10 records "Two Faces Have I," "Lightning Strikes," and "I'm Gonna Make You Mine." After signing Sweet Breeze, he produced a 7-inch single featuring Christie's "Summer in Malibu" and "Two Faces Have I," recorded by the band.

"Summer in Malibu" became a regional hit for the band in Pennsylvania. Later that year, Christie helped the band land a gig at Jam '78, opening for The Beach Boys and the Steve Miller Band at Three Rivers Stadium in front of more than 15,000 fans.

That year marked the peak of Sweet Breeze's popularity. The members moved on to day jobs, while continuing to play benefit concerts together around Fox Chapel and doing studio work with other musicians.

Now retired, Scharpf and the other members of Sweet Breeze: drummer and vocalist Don Marsico, keyboardist Joe Di Benedetto, bassist Freddy Patterson, and lead vocalist Drew Martier, once again have time to devote to their music. While vacationing at the condominium he owns at El Matador, Scharpf got the inspiration for the band's latest tune, "Okaloosa Island."

"The beach is just gorgeous down there. It's virtually unspoiled," Sharpf told The Log.

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