Better known by his fans as Joe Schermie, Joseph Edward Schermetzler was born on February 12, 1946, in Madison, Wisconsin. Joe grew up in a musical family. His parents were both in vaudeville and when they finally left the road to settle, they bought a nightclub in Madison. Joe and his sister, Judy, would sneak in and watch the shows. Outside of the club, the Schermetzler family spent many hours singing and performing together at home – each taking a different instrument and/or singing. Joe, himself, learned to play drums and then bass, and he had a wonderful bass voice that he shared in later years on various recordings – including the song he wrote for the "S.S. Fools" album called "Whatever Happened To America." This song showed off Joe's lead vocals and his passion for music.
After Joe's family relocated to Phoenix, Arizona, due to his mother’s health. This is when Joe started hanging with various bands in the area. Along the line, he was introduced to Cory Wells, and, eventually, Joe was able to bring his good friend, Michael Allsup, into the new musical project called Three Dog Night, which would also include Jimmy Greenspoon, Danny Hutton, Floyd Sneed, and Chuck Negron. Joe's destinctive, hard-driving bass lines can be heard in all the biggest hits by the band to 1973, when he was the first to leave the band. Just three years later, he would re-join his former Three Dog Night band mates, Floyd Sneed, and Michael Allsup, and join forces with Bobby Kimball (later of Toto fame), Stan Seymore, and Wayne Devillier to form S.S. Fools. Only one album came of the union, but they DID make an appearance on "American Bandstand"!
In the years after leaving Three Dog Night, Joe performed with various famous recording artists both in and out of the studio. In the studio, he recorded with Kim Fowley on his "Outrageous" album and Stephen Stills on his "Stills" album. Joe also went out on the road with Yvonne Elliman in support of her hit single, "If I Can't Have You," and he ventured into production with his first effort being that of Gayle McCormick's first solo, self-titled, album after leaving the hit-making group, "Smith."
In 1976, Joe, Michael Allsup, and Floyd Sneed formed a band called S.S. Fools with Bobby Kimball (later of Toto) and recorded an album on Columbia Records. The 1990s were also a good time for Joe. He thoroughly enjoyed playing live and joined Chuck Negron on stage for a few shows, becoming a member of Chuck's band for a brief time around 1997. Not long after that, he joined good friend, Floyd Sneed, in the formation of a rock group called "K.A.T.T." and, with the band, recorded his last album – a self-titled effort. From the very beginning, Joe always had a troll doll proudly displayed at the top of the neck of his bass. Through the years, those dolls would be stolen or lost, but he would always replace them. He never told anyone why they were there – not even his sister! The unique "dancing" he did while he was playing was a style he picked up from another family member early in his life.
But Joe's legacy lives on in his bass playing on all those Three Dog Night albums, his art work, his songwriting, and his singing – and in the friends and family he left behind. To know Joe Schermie was to know the man with the great sense of humor, the zest for living a fun and active life, the pranks with that “stinker twinkle” in his eyes, and his incredible talent for not only playing that bass like nobody else has ever been able to play it, but his wonderful songwriting, and, of course,, that incredible bass voice – heard in his lead vocals on “Whatever Happened To America” on the S.S. Fools Album. And, yes, the troll doll at the top of the neck of his bass – that’s a trademark that will always be associated with the king of bass: Joe Schermie!
Joe passed away suddenly on March 25, 2002, from a massive heart attack. He had just turned 56 the month before.