The core group who comprised Salt Water Taffy was Rod McBrien, Johnny Giametta, Phil Giarrantano, Kathy Weinberg, and Janie Brannan. McBrien, the co-writer and producer for the group, was their leader. He was raised in Amityville, near Long Island, in New York. He'd written and recorded his first songs in high school, and fronted a band called the Tornadoes, who recorded a single for R&M Records. Soon, that group was banging on the doors of the Brill Building, where Jim Gribble, a manager, liked what he heard in their new demos, signing them to a recording/management contract.