Collinwood, on the East side of Cleveland, OH is, and has always been a tough and solid working class neighborhood. Built around the huge New York Central rail yard, Collinwood grew and then declined along with the railroad.
The 1940's were a boom time for the railroad, and for Collinwood. It was there and then that two remarkable musicians were born and grew up: Glenn and Gene Schwartz.
Glenn & The two brothers grew up in the blue-collar heart of a Cleveland that was itself the heart of American industry. Glenn & Gene's dad worked at Republic Steel, their mom in an office of a business forms company.
At an early age, Glenn's parents recognized that he had interests that were something outside of the close knit Collinwood world.
At age 10 in 1950, Glenn's dad bought him a new guitar, a good one, a Gibson ES-125, and lessons to go along with it.
Glenn learned fast.
At age 11 he was good enough to enter a music contest at Baldwin-Wallace college. Glenn won first prize with a nearly perfect score.
Growing up in Collinwood in the 1950s, Glenn stood out for his abilities as an artist, a musician and as a drag racer.
Glenn played in polka bands, rock & roll bands, wedding bands, and blues bands, constantly and obsessively practicing his instrument, honing his craft. Playing with the Pilgrims he wore a wig. At that time long hair didn't go over very well in Collinwood.
The Army called.
Glenn trained as a medic, and was shipped to Germany.
Army service in Germany was a lot different for a medic than service in Vietnam would have been. There were no casualties. So Glenn started playing in bands.
After his discharge in 1966 Glenn returned to Cleveland. His playing had reached a high level. He began playing with the Mr. Stress Blues band.
He was also playing with the first version of the James Gang. In 1967 he got a call from his friend Dewey Dorrow, urging him to come out to California.
With Pacific Gas & Electric, soon to known more simply as PG&E, Glenn quickly began to develop a reputation. He was hot, admirers included Jimi Hendrix, and even Duane & Gregg Allman, who offered Glenn a position in the Allman Brothers band before the job was offered to Dickie Betts. Glenn's star rose even higher when PG&E's recording of Are You Ready, began to climb up the charts.
Glenn had embraced the 1960's Rock & Roll lifestyle with everything that went with it. But he wasn't happy.
By June of 1968, despite all his success and renown for his guitar playing, Glenn wanted something more. He wanted to change. On a warm June evening he took a walk down Sunset Avenue that would change his life forever.
Glenn stayed in PG&E for another two years, but his newfound religion had changed his relationship with the rest of the band.
In 1970 he returned to Cleveland.
Shortly after his return to Cleveland, Glenn put together the first Schwartz Brothers band, and had a weekly gig at Faragher's Back room in Cleveland Heights. Glenn's backsliding began to bother him. He did six months in the workhouse for spousal abuse.
Larry Hill convinced Glenn to move to a Christian commune near Orwell, OH where Glenn became the lead guitarist in the All Saved Freaks band, the outreach arm of the farm's ministry. Glenn stayed at the farm for seven years, recording four albums and touring throughout the country.
As the Reverend Hill's hold over the group became stronger and the group became more cult-like, Bill and Ann, Glenn's parents became more and more concerned. They arranged with Ted Patrick, the noted deprogrammer, to have Glenn kidnapped...and deprogrammed. It didn't work.
Glenn returned to the farm where he recorded "Brainwashed" an album filled with furious guitar playing and songs telling the story of his experience with Patrick.
In 1978 or '79, he's not sure which, Glenn finally left the farm and returned to the family home in Euclid where he and Gene live today. Despite periods of what he calls "backsliding"Glenn has fought to remain true to his faith while continuing with his first passion: guitar playing.
In the early 1990's Glenn & Gene began a series of Thursday night shows at Major Hooples, a nightclub in Cleveland's flats area. Glenn & Gene's fans regularly packed the house to hear Glenn's firey playing and even firier preaching.
Glenn's religion is harsh, severe, and uncompromising. It might be described as Calivinism on steroids. To the uninitiated, a Schwartz Bros. show can be a bit...daunting-
Today, in their seventies, the Brothers continue to play with a fire and energy that would be impressive for musicians 50 years younger. Now, with an added monthly gig at Collinwood's Beachland Ballroom, there's no sign of that fire going out.