The Pandas formed in Beverly, MA during early 1964. Packing a rocking repertoire of contemporary hits, they soon gained recognition in North Shore communities like Danvers, Peabody, Salem, Gloucester, and Manchester, and their reputation began to spread throughout New England. From the start, however, Teddy & The Pandas was different from most other groups of their time. Having heard of the exploitation of musicians in the 50's, they determined from the start to be professional and protect themselves. Starting with the formation of a corporation, they next hired a top entertainment legal firm, an accounting firm to handle all financial activity, and their own PR consultant. With the addition of a 4-man road crew and corporate-leased vans, this sophisticated group of young musicians placed themselves and their entire entourage on a payroll system. All of this was done long before their real income generating power was actually proven. However, that proof came soon enough.
Knowing that original music is what makes a group, the Pandas began a two-year goal to write their own material, and try them out at their live performances. The response was more than enthusiastic. As a result, in late 1965 Teddy & The Pandas booked Ace Recording studios, and proceeded to record their own song material. One of Teddy Dewart's compositions, "Once Upon a Time," was released as a single, with the B side, "(Bye Bye) Out the Window," a collaboration between Dewart and the group's long-time friend and road manager, Johnny McEwan. "Once Upon A Time" hit the Top 10 on Boston's pop radio stations WMEX and WBZ in April, 1966, and continued as a hit throughout New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and into upstate New York. The song's signature sound turned out to be 'Dickey' Guerrette's harpsichord, an instrument left in the studio after the Boston Symphony Orchestra had recorded earlier in the afternoon. Once the song hit, they had an electrified harpsichord custom made for them by Boston Symphony's master keyboard makers, only theirs was constructed of see-through Plexiglas, complete with interior spotlights! When the curtains parted at the Rhode Island Arena, the audience response was overwhelming. While the group was well-known for its uncanny ability to replicate recordings of other artists, it now dazzled the audience with its rendering of their own hit single... combined with the visual excitement of the see-through harpsichord. Even well known disc jockey, Rockin' Ron Robin of Boston's highly touted radio station, WMEX couldn't resist. Alluding to the band's live sound, he wrote, "If you don't have a chance to see their versatility in person, (you should)... It will turn you on like it turned me on." (As an ironic note, Teddy and Billy later recorded with Arthur Feidler & Boston Pops on their "Italian Festival" series. Sure enough, Teddy remembers seeing the original harpsichord that started it all sitting in the corner of the recording studio.)