On St. Marks, a Record Vendor Who Toured The World Behind a Disco Hit

Joe BarbosaSuzanne Rozdeba Joey Barbosa

In November, Andrea Truden, the adult-film actress turned singer who, as Andrea True, had a disco hit with “More, More, More,” died at the age of 68. She left no survivors, but on St. Marks Place, her musical legacy lives on in the form of Joe Barbosa, who toured the world with her as part of her backing band, the Andrea True Connection.

For years, Mr. Barbosa has sold vinyl outside of Rockit Scientist Records, first in front of the store’s former location on Carmine Street and for the past several years, on the St. Marks Place strip. Passersby who see him hawking records next to a sign that reads “Joey’s Vinyl” have no idea that he himself has a place in music history.

Mr. Barbosa, 61, began playing guitar in the ’60s. In 1976, at the age of 26, he was living in his parents’ apartment in Washington Heights and playing in a barroom cover band when Ms. Truden’s manager, through a mutual acquaintance, recruited him to play in her touring band. At the time, “More, More, More,” with its hook of “how do you like it?”, hadn’t yet risen to #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

“When we first auditioned for her, it was going up the charts and her manager said this was going to be a big hit,” said Mr. Barbosa. “Andrea wasn’t much of a showperson, so she hired four dancers that had all these disco moves to make it into a disco show. We traveled all over the country.”

Joe BarbosaSuzanne Rozdeba

The band boasted a horn section as well as a lead guitarist, Bruce Kulick, who would later join Kiss, among other high-profile acts. The musicians got paid $100 per gig, but traveling the country in station wagons took its toll. “We had a lot of fun but got burnt out after a while,” said Mr. Barbosa.

Toward the end of the tour, as the band performed at a string of Texas military bases, the horn section was replaced by keyboards and some of the dancers were cut. Mr. Barbosa returned to playing in a bar band.

In 1978, Ms. Truden called Mr. Barbosa and invited him to tour behind her follow-up album, “White Witch.”

“She said she was putting another band together, and there would be more traveling,” said Mr. Barbosa. “She had booked an Australian tour, Hawaii, and Rio. I had never traveled before, so I couldn’t say no.”

The second tour took the band to locales as remote as New Finland. Mr. Barbosa recalled being flown to Edmonton, Canada just to open for Rufus, the funk band that Chaka Khan fronted.

During all the traveling, Mr. Barbosa avoided asking Ms. True about her past as an adult-movie star. “When she got into her singing career, she wanted to avoid all those questions,” he said. “Sometimes people would say something when they came up to her for an autograph. She was okay with it if anyone asked or said anything about it, but I never mentioned it.”

Mr. Barbosa said, “She was a troubled lady but still had a great heart.”

Again, the band split up after the tour. “Both times, we got fed up with the touring or the business part of it,” said Mr. Barbosa. “Sometimes people wouldn’t get paid.”

Mr. Barbosa stayed in touch with Ms. Truden after she moved to Florida and then to Woodstock, N.Y., where she died of heart failure. He continued playing music, and now performs in a British Invasion cover band called Tru Brit. They play mostly in Queens and Long Island; the Manhattan scene, he said, is mostly for kids who are fine with not getting paid.

In the late ’70s, he began selling items from his record collection. Now, five to six days a week, around 1 p.m., he comes down from his home on 90th Street to sell 1960s-1980s rock, soul, jazz, folk, and blues records out of plastic crates.

He said business has been good. “Vinyl has gotten very popular – it’s gotten big in the past four, five years. A lot of the young kids are picking up on it and buying turntables. I’ve seen a surge of young kids in their early twenties.”

Most of those young audiophiles probably haven’t heard of Andrea True, but they’ve heard her song. A version of it currently backs a Honey Bunches of Oats commercial.