A new book celebrates the 50th anniversary of a macabre hit song

“Since its primitive beginnings, rock has screamed and moaned adolescent angst, sometimes wandering deeper and deeper into the dark quagmire of Freudian complexities,” writes author Maxim W. Furek in his latest book “Somebody Else’s Dream: Dakota, the Buoys, & ‘Timothee.'”

One song that got deeper and darker than most is “Timothy”, written by playwright Rupert Holmes and recorded by The Buoys in 1971. The lyrics allude to cannibalism – which sparked a storm of controversy – and despite its Banned by radio stations across the country, the song quickly earned a spot on Billboard’s Top 40 Countdown.

“Timothy” looks back at the Sheppton mine disaster, where a mine collapsed and trapped three miners in 1963 in northeastern Pennsylvania. Incidentally, the band hail from the same area and despite the song also mentioning three miners trapped underground, Rupert Holmes claimed he had never heard of the incident.

Either way, audiences were captivated by the chilling parallel, and the group was launched into a successful career.

One fan was rock journalist Maxim W. Furek, who began chronicling Buoys’ journey and even founded the tabloid “Timothy: Northeastern Pennsylvania’s First Music Publication.”

Furek says, “I was writing the book probably decades ago and used to interview the buoys.” He adds, “A little before 2015, I realized there was more to the book than just the song ‘Timothy’.

Subsequently, Furek wrote the book “Sheppton: Myth, Miracle and Music” about the supernatural aspects of the notorious mining incident. Furek ultimately decided to complete his manuscript for what he describes as “the real book” during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic.

After compiling decades of interviews, photographs and notes, the author finally had a finished product to release in time for the song’s 50th anniversary.

“There are so many of us, baby boomers, that was about all we had. They were the only successful regional rock band that really hit the Billboard charts in North Central and Northeastern Pennsylvania. So that was a big thing and they had such a wonderful career, as you read, and they just met everyone, Furek notes.

Buoys’ successful career has led to many interesting encounters which Furek describes in “Somebody Else’s Dream”. The band opened to a crowd of 150,000 at the famous Satsop River Festival, played pool with Sly Stone, hung out with Frank Zappa and were close with Delaney Bramlett. Eventually, the band would morph into pop rock band Dakota in the 1980s and open for Queen’s sold-out 1980 tour.

An undercurrent throughout “Somebody Else’s Dream” is a strong anti-drug message. Although Furek is quick to note that the book is not a ‘say it all’, he adds, “They were surrounded by people using drugs, so I was able to go and articulate my anti-drug message through the people around them.”

The book is a detailed and comprehensive, yet enjoyable, account of the rise and fall of the greatest rock band to hail from the Pennsylvania coalfield. Furek hopes his readers will pick up on The Buoys’ “never say die attitude” and be inspired by their perseverance and resilience.

The author states: “It’s a story of survival, survival and even of some, despite many obstacles, like companies they have dealt with.” He notes that the band never really took a big break despite their musicianship. Furek says “it’s kind of a lesson for a lot of young musicians who belong to bands. It takes a little more than talent. You need to build a marketing team, a promotional team, and get the word out.

He adds, “Overall, despite a lot of adversity these bands have had – The Buoys, Dakota, they still had successful careers and just did wonderful things.”

Furek will be present and available for signings during the band’s performance on May 14 at the Best Western Genetti Hotel and Conference Center in Wilkes-Barre.

“Somebody Else’s Dream: Dakota, The Buoys & “Timothy”” is available for purchase on the author’s website https://www.maximfurek.com/ and through Sunbury Press, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble Books.

Corina C. Butler