Flash back to 1979 on L.A’s Sunset Strip, and Bluebeard is at the top of its game, playing with the biggest acts of the day, including Hall of Famers Van Halen, Steppenwolf and The Motels. The six-piece rock group featured multi-talented lead singer Robert Barry Leech, whose flute playing recalled Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson, along with guitarists Vincent Bitetti and Vincent Thomas-Penny, bassist Gayle Hart, drummer Danny Bogan and keyboardist Bob Campbell. We’d headline the Whisky Go-Go Thursday through Saturday and sell it out every night, says Bitetti. In 1979, Bluebeard released a single album, Bad Dream, on an independent label, which sold 20,000 copies two-thirds of them in Europe and Japan. The band gradually mutated into new wave groups The Receivers and Catwalk before disappearing completely, the victim of changing tastes and fickle record labels. Cut to 2001. Bitetti acquires the master recordings of the band and reassembles the original line-up. Barry Leech, after struggling with drug and alcohol abuse, is now clean and sober, but a member of a born-again cult. Bitetti offers to record some of Leech’s Christian material to lure him back into the studio. Three years later, Vincent Bitetti is now a successful videogame entrepreneur (as a CEO and President of Publishing) at two companies with a combined $220 million in sales, but he’s aching to release the definitive Bluebeard album. Unfortunately, Leech, who had started drinking again, committed suicide by hanging himself in the garage of his Apple Valley home. While at the funeral viewing the open casket containing his friend and musical soul mate, whom he’d known since he was 16, Bitetti had an epiphany. He looked so young and at peace, I realized it wasn’t too late to tell his story. When we got over the shock, we all realized we weren’t just mourning Barry, we were grieving over Bluebeard, this band that almost was. Our goal is to honor the music and his memory with the realization that we are still viable as a group and have more to say musically. Bitetti then hooked up with veteran producer/arranger Barry Foz Fasman to form Shelter From the Storm Records, an independent label now distributed by the Adrenaline Music Group/ADA, to put out Bluebeard’s Deluxe With Reverb, which streets May 22. The album features original members Bitetti, Thomas-Penny, Hart, Bogan and Leech, along with Fasman on keyboards and lead vocalist Ellington Erin, brought in to channel Barry Leech for the release. The album includes a hard-edged cover of the Rolling Stones Paint It Black from the band’s debut, featuring a duet with Leech’s original vocals and Erin. A re-mastered and remixed version of the title track from Bad Dream, featuring Leech, is included as a bonus. Original Bluebeard members Bitetti, Hart and Bogan will be joined by Fasman, guitarist Brian Barnum and front man Lee Gordon for live performances, beginning with two L.A.-area shows, opening for Blue Oyster Cult, March 23 at the Canyon Club in Agoura Hills and March 25 at the Grove in Anaheim. The group has marketed itself aggressively on the Internet, garnering more than 26,000 plays and over 16,000 friends on its MySpace page www.myspace.com/bluebeardmusic , over 54,000 plays on Number One Music http://www.Numberone.com and selling downloads on iTunes, Napster, Rhapsody, eMusic, MusicNet and Sony Connect. Bitetti refers to the band’s sound as original classic rock, remarking that approximately 80% of its MySpace friends are under the age of 25. There is no commercial radio format for this kind of music, which is being discovered by kids for the first time via the Internet. According to Bitetti, the purpose of Shelter From the Storm Records is also to help young bands achieve their goals while avoiding the pitfalls we went through. The second release from the label will be local buzz band In Theory, whose debut album This Is It streets June 5. We’re very serious about what we’re trying to accomplish, but I wouldn’t mind putting a stake in the ground and saying,We are the real Spinal Tap,laughs Bitetti. Our story has had so many twists and turns and is so emotionally charged that it would make a great movie.