Bobby & the Denos

Bobby & The Denos, Arkansas, 1961
Bobby & The Denos at a country club gig in Arkansas, 1961.
Left to right: George Lynn, Billy Wilfong, Billy Jack “Bobby” Rogers, Gary Stamps, Roy Rogers, Toney Thompson

Jeffrey Harvey interviewed Roy Rogers of Bobby and the Denos and wrote this article on the group. Roy has a fantastic collection of photos which he kindly shared with Garage Hangover.

Bobby & The Denos were a Fort Smith, Arkansas based group that released just one 45 on Fayetteville’s Chance label in their five-plus years together.

Bobby & the Denos Chance 45 Just Like Me“Just Like Me” is a super-tough outsider anthem penned by Billy Jack “Bobby” Rogers, lead singer of the group, and features lyrics such as:

I don’t want to be like Elvis Presley
I don’t want to be like Jerry Lee
I don’t want to be like Ricky Nelson
Oh baby, I just want to be like me!

The flip is a solid take on Peggy Lee’s version of “Fever” that the boys didn’t even know how to play until they got to their recording session at Gene Sullivan’s studio outside of Oklahoma City.

I was able to track down Denos guitarist Roy Rogers (birth name), and speak with him about the band’s history.

GH: Can you tell me how the band was formed?

Roy Rogers, age 12 with custom lap steel guitar
Roy Rogers, age 12 with custom lap steel guitar

RR: Well, I started playing lap steel guitar when I was 11 years old. After a couple years, a piano player (Tony) showed up at the music school where I took lessons. He had perfect pitch and total recall, and after a while the music school told his parents “Don’t bring him back, cause we can’t teach him anything he doesn’t already know!” We were 14 and 15 years old by then, and Elvis was jumping around and wiggling, and the girls were screaming, and I went; “Holy Hell, I gotta do that!” So I dug out an old Kay guitar my dad had in the closet and started asking around and learning chords. Well, pretty soon Tony and I were at a party, and we met a bunch of boys older than us who played. A few days later some of those boys came by my house to jam.

GH: What year would that have been?

RR: Probably ’58 or ’59. We just all started jamming out together and calling ourselves “The Satellites.” We added a bass player (George), drummer (Gary), and sax man (Billy), to round out the sound. Gary was our age and in the high-school jazz band, so he could really play the drums. We continued on until probably 1960, when we changed our name to “Bobby & The D-Notes.”

GH: What prompted the name change?

RR: Our original lead singer Gordon Jennings quit, and we had heard about this guy named Billy Jack Rogers – no kin to me – and we went out to the American Legion one night to listen to him sing. He was singing Elvis Presley’s “It’s Now Or Never” and he was just killing it! I was like “My God, you’re kidding me!” So we approached him on one of his breaks and told him that we needed a singer, and asked if he’d like to come over and jam with us. Well, he did, and he quit the other band real quick.

Bobby & the Denos: early 60’s promo photo
Bobby & the Denos: early 60’s promo photo

GH: How did the Denos name come to be?

RR: Well, just about six months after Billy Jack joined, someone told our sax man that “Denos” meant “well-liked” in Italian. I still don’t know if it’s true or not, but that’s the story we got from some guy, and it made for a pretty easy change!

GH: That is a great story! Where were you guys musically around this time?

RR: We were practicing all the time. I mean, we were playing so much that my damn fingers were bloody! We also started making real money playing dance halls and what not. My dad was an upholsterer who worked in a factory, and he kept telling me I was gonna be a bum if I didn’t learn how to upholster or something. By this time I was 15 or 16, and making more money in two nights than he was working a whole 40-hour week!

Bobby & the Denos: early 60’s promo photo
Bobby & the Denos: early 60’s promo photo

GH: What were your live shows like?

Choreographed live show at the 2500 Club in Kansas City, MO
At the 2500 Club in Kansas City, MO

RR: We did choreography and all that stuff like The Temptations. Our piano man Tony would jack up the upright piano back in the day on two Coke cases, and he would stand up, play one-handed, and do the steps with us. We also really liked what the black artists were wearing. Very snug tailored jackets and pegged pants. We loved our “Beatle Boots,” and started having our jackets made out of red, blue and green, brocade material with the James West waistcoat look. Remember the Wild, Wild West series on TV? Maybe you’re too young for that. We were very sharp dressed. We didn’t think too much about politics because we were into being the coolest cats in town. Music and women… Typical band boy stuff, you know?

GH: What comprised your live set list?

RR: We were playing about 50% – 60% R&B and blues numbers that were popular at the time.

Bobby & the Denos Chance 45 FeverGH: Tell us about the recording of “Fever” b/w “Just Like Me”

RR: “Fever” and “Just Like Me” were recorded in Oklahoma City around 1961 in Gene Sullivan’s recording studio. A guy named Phil Eagle out of Fayetteville, Arkansas owned a small label called Chance. He was also a booker, promoter, and manager, and he approached us about recording. We said “Of course!!!” and did some demos before heading down to Sullivan’s to cut the record for real. The record actually got played on the radio in Oklahoma City, Dallas, Little Rock, and Fort Smith for a while.

GH: What was the music scene like in Fayetteville around that time?

RR: Oh boy, there were all kinds of bands going on. Ronnie Hawkins was on the scene around that time. He ended up marrying a girl out of Canada and moving there. His group went on to be The Band. We played in and around Fayetteville lots back then. We were playing sorority and fraternity parties, and this beautiful, two-story club called the Rockwell Club that looked like it just grew up out of a mountain! It looked like it was made out of all native stone, and we would open for Ronnie in there sometimes.

GH: What else do you remember about recording in Oklahoma City?

with keyboardist Toney Thompson’s 1959 Chevy at a motel in Bossier City, LA
with keyboardist Toney Thompson’s 1959 Chevy at a motel in Bossier City, LA

RR: We were all 16 and 17 years old when we made that record. I remember we went down there, and realized that nobody in the band really knew the lyrics to “Fever.” We ended up going down to a drugstore and finding a Hit Parade magazine. Sure enough, the song “Fever” was in there, and that’s what we used to remember the lyrics! After that, we just went in the studio and did it. It was so dumb how we did it, but it was great!

GH: The lyrical content of “Just like Me” conjures up the image of an outsider essentially giving his girl an ultimatum that if she can’t take him for who he is, then don’t even bother. The anti-name dropping is also impressive for the time. Did you feel that you guys were making a social statement with that song?

RR: Right!!! That was it!!! When we played music, we did it our way. I didn’t learn the lead guitar parts exactly right for all the songs we covered or anything, we just jammed them out. I mean, of course we rehearsed them all and got it the way we wanted, but unless it had a really important lead part in it, Tony and I were, at that time, just good enough to play our own lead. We were playing a lot of black clubs back then too, and musically, we were kicking ass. Billy Jack (Bobby) was a lot older than most of the Denos, and he came to us and said “I wrote this song!” It was “Just Like Me” and it ended up perfectly fitting the way we played. We just did our own thing, you know?

Choreographed live show at the 2500 Club in Kansas City, MO
Choreographed live show at the 2500 Club in Kansas City, MO
with unidentified bar patron at 2500 Club in Kansas City, MO
with unidentified bar patron at 2500 Club in Kansas City, MO

GH: Tell us more about the kinds of clubs you guys played back then.

RR: One of our first jobs was in Kansas City in September of 1962. We were all around 17 years old (except for Billy Jack), and had graduated high school earlier that May. We decided we were going out on the road, so we just took off. I had an aunt in Kansas City and I called her. She obliged us, and we slept on cots down in her basement. We got there on a Sunday, went out banging on doors on Monday, and landed our most lucrative job at the 2500 Club on 2500 Truman Road.

GH: What was that scene like?

RR: Oh man, it was your typical “knife & gun club!” You know, one of those places where you gotta give them your license in exchange for a knife or gun to go inside! (laughs). The crazy thing is that we ended up playing there, off and on, for the next three years!

The Denos with 2500 club owner Lee Webb
The Denos with 2500 club owner Lee Webb

GH: Do any other clubs or acts that you shared a bill with at the time stand out in your mind?

RR: Well, we went down to Galveston, Texas – I think it was Pleasure Pier or somewhere – and just walked into a little club and told them we were good. There was a black band called Little Hot & The Volcanoes – or something like that – playing and Little Hot was a five-foot tall drummer who was a monster when he played. He would stand up and play the hell out of those drums! We worked there for a bit, and while we were down there, we got to open a show for Bobby “Blue” Bland out on the pier one night. We were just five white guys playing our damn hearts out, and they loved it!

GH: Wow!

RR: Yeah, and after that we headed over to New Orleans, to 426 Bourbon Street at a place called “The Dream Room,” which was later called “Your Father’s Mustache.” Well, The Champs – from “Tequila” fame – were playing there, and we had met them in Kansas City, and they told us to go up to The Peppermint Lounge in Shreveport because the owner – Mr. Mike – needed a band. We said “Hell yeah we’ll do it,” and it was actually in Bossier City, Louisiana. At the time back then, Bossier City looked like Vegas. It had more neon than you’ve seen anywhere! Dale Hawkins – from “Suzie-Q” fame – and his band were already playing there, so we just set up on the floor of the club and kicked his ass!!!

Bobby & The Denos with Conway Twitty & Band in Bossier City, LA
Bobby & The Denos with Conway Twitty & Band in Bossier City, LA
with keyboardist Toney Thompson’s 1959 Chevy at a motel in Bossier City, LA
with keyboardist Toney Thompson’s 1959 Chevy at a motel in Bossier City, LA

GH: That’s a great story! Who were your main musical influences at the time?

RR: Bo Diddley, Bobby “Blue” Bland, Freddie King, B.B. King, The Ventures, Duane Eddy, Ronnie Hawkins, and Lonnie Mack.

GH: When did Bobby & The Denos finally go their separate ways?

Marquee at The Peppermint Lounge in Bossier City, LA
Marquee at The Peppermint Lounge in Bossier City, LA

RR: Well, Billy Jack (Bobby) quit around 1964 after another run we had at The 2500 Club in Kansas City. We went back home and needed a singer. We found a guy named Jim White, who later changed his name to Jim Mundy. He went on to do commercials for Green Giant vegetables and some beer companies. He was married and only lasted a few weeks with the Denos. We were younger than him, and a lot wilder at the time. One night we were raising hell and Jim just said, “Boys, I can’t take this… I QUIT!!!” After that, we were still rehearsing at Tony’s house in Fort Smith and one day he said “I know all of Billy Jack’s (Bobby’s) songs. I said “Bullshit.” But man, he sang every damn song Billy Jack (Bobby) sang, and just as good too!!! We went back to The 2500 Club, and after the first week, had the place packed out. We were making $1200 a week at the height of our run, and they had to lock the doors on Friday and Saturday nights and do a one-in/one-out type thing! After our run at 2500 was up, we went back home to Fort Smith. The day we arrived, I found a letter in the mailbox that said: “Uncle Sam Wants You.” I called around and found out I wasn’t the only one. Two other Denos got the same letter on the same day, and that’s when we knew it was over.

GH: So essentially, by the time you guys were really up and running as a band, really hitting your musical stride, that’s the time the war put an end to things?

RR: Yeah, that’s right. We had picked up an agent – The Jackson Agency in Kansas City – and they were booking us around. The war ended all that, and we all went our separate ways.

Bobby & The Denos as a four piece in 1962
Bobby & The Denos as a four piece in 1962

GH: What happened after Bobby & The Denos broke up?

RR: Well for one thing, I got married. This was around 1965 and I had been dating a girl for about a year. I also ended up flunking my physical for Uncle Sam. I had double-curvature of the spine, and they said “Get your ass out of here!”

GH: Did your music career end there too?

RR: Well, no. When everybody quit Bobby & the Denos, I just kind of took over. I had always done the majority of talking to the club owners and such, so when everybody left; I started up Roy Rogers & The Denos. I recruited some guys to play, and we continued traveling around. That lasted until about 1966 when my daughter was born. After that I joined a group out of Louisville, Kentucky called The Imitations. Can you believe that in early 1970 we toured the Far East? We were in Japan, Korea, Thailand, Okinawa, The Philippines, and Vietnam for six months. Dumbass me gets recruited for the Army, and ends up going over there anyway as a civilian without a gun! At some point The Imitations turned into Roy Rogers & The Internationally Famous Imitations, and that lasted until 1979.

GH: Are there any last words or memories you’d like to share about your time with the band?

RR: I’ve probably had one of the best lives of anyone you’ve ever met. I feel that we grew up in the best of times ever in the history of the United States – the late ‘50’s and early ‘60’s. When I got into music, it changed my life. All I ever wanted to do was play music, and whenever we got on the road I was just free, man. You know? We were five Arkansas hillbillies, and we would go into black clubs, play with the bands, and be welcomed. We could go wherever we wanted, and be accepted. It was just a great time to be alive. 1958 – 1965 were the best days of my life.

Bobby & the Denos: early 60’s promo photo
Bobby & the Denos: early 60’s promo photo
Bobby & the Denos: early 60’s promo photo
Bobby & the Denos: early 60’s promo photo

The Beaus of Beethoven

Beaus of Beethoven Sound-Pro Studio 45 It's Too Late Beaus of Beethoven Sound-Pro Studio 45 Goin' AwayThe Beaus of Beethoven came from Patton, Pennsylvania and other towns of  Cambria County, about 75 miles east of Pittsburgh. Their manager Jack Cessna’s base was Ebensburg.

Members were:

Ron McClinsey – lead vocal, guitar
Nick Fagan – lead guitar
Dave Holtz – keyboards
Paul Lazendorfer – bass
Danny Miller – drums

The Beaus of Beethoven opened for many artists at the Jaffa Mosque in Altoona and appeared on WIIC TV Pittsburgh’s Saturday bandstand show.

In 1967 the band cut two originals at Sound-Pro Studio for release in September. I don’t know the location of that studio and haven’t seen it credited on other singles.

“It’s Too Late” (by Ronald McClinsey, Nicholas Fagan Jr. and David Holtz, B-W Music Inc. BMI) has a buzzing lead guitar while the singer tells how he’s “sing my time just hanging around town, drinking coffee, smoking cigarettes, living my sins with no regrets” while his ex is “ridin’ uptown in a limousine, checking the nice balls, making the scene”.

A real treasure is the flip, “Goin’ Away” (written by Miller, Holtz and Lazendorfer, Weldee Music Co. BMI), a true picture of teen angst in lyrics like:

I’m comin’ down off the roof, gonna bring my baby back,
I’ve been around too long, now I want to be alone.
So many people tell me I’m nothin’ but a nothin’

wish I could make out the next line “but I can get with my girl …..”

Publishing was through Weldee Music and B-W Music Inc, owned by the same company in Ohio.

The video below has three photos of the band.

Thank you to Peter Aaron for the scans of the 45, which he compiled on a 50 run cassette “Epitaphs for Heads volume 1” in the late ’80s.

Tony Church and the Crusade

Tony Church and the Crusade Tammy 45 Love TrioTony Church and the Crusade came from Youngstown, Ohio; Church’s real name was Tony Chirchiglia.

Chirchiglia started as early as 1960 in a rockabilly style, recording two of his original songs, “A Car” / “Oh! By the Way” on Hy Joy, released as Tony Chick, and backed by his brother Rocky Chirchiglia’s group (hear both songs over at Rockin’ Country Style). “Rocky” Rocco Chirchiglia owned music stores in Ravenna and Youngstown.

In the ’60s Tony Chirchiglia had a group for live shows called the Imperials, who may be the ones backing him as the Crusade on this single on Tammy. He did a great job of keeping up with the times, as “Love Trip” has an eerie psychedelic vibe and “Can You Picture Yourself” is catchy late ’60s pop, though his vocals are deeper and more stylized than a typical teen sound. It’s too bad he only has two singles, eight years apart to his name. He was obviously a creative writer and arranger, I would like to hear more of his work.

Tony Chirchiglia and J. Creature wrote both songs for Fiore Pub. Co, BMI. The RCA pressing code W4KM-3213/4 indicates a release in the second half of 1968.

Anthony Chirchiglia died in 1994.

Some info on Chirchiglia came from Buckeye Beat.

Tony Church and the Crusade Tammy 45 Can You Picture Yourself

The Trojans

Trojans Boss 45 The Kids Are Allright“The Kids Are Allright” / “Leave Me Be” by the Trojans is another of the lesser-known singles on Tampa’s Boss label. High school kids from the Harry B. Plant and Jesuit high schools, members were:

Mike Regar – lead vocals & keyboard
David Lasswell – lead guitar & vocals
Tom Saussy – rhythm guitar & vocals
James Spoto – bass & vocals
John Trujillo – drums

Released on Boss 006 in December 1966, the band do an excellent job with their harmony singing on the Who’s “The Kids Are Allright” (sic) and the Zombies’ “Leave Me Be”. I know bands in my high school never sounded this competent.

It was their only single. Mike Regar eventually joined a longer-lived Tampa band, Amanda Jones.

Info on the Trojans from Tedd Webb’s Tampa Bay bands site.

Bands with singles on Boss that I haven’t covered yet include the Berkley Five, the Journey Men, Me & the Other Guys, and the Purple Underground.

Trojans Boss 45 Leave Me Be

The Five of Us

The Five Of Us Platt 45 Hey YouThe Five of Us came from Tuscon, Arizona. Members included Paul Canella on lead guitar and George Maryville on bass (also sometimes spelled George Miraval), Alex Valdez on drums and vocals, Lee Stansrud on vocals and Richard Gomez on organ.

In 1965 they backed Tommy Gardner, a singer who sounds a lot like post-army Elvis on “Why Oh Why” / “Pretty Baby” on Keeson Recording Ltd KRL-125. The labels credit the single to Tommy Gardner and the 5 of Us. Both songs were Gardner originals, published by Keeson BMI and produced by E.M. Keener. This is the same Tommy Gardner who cut “Why” / “That Kind of Love” with the Versatiles on Rev Records.

The Five of Us - Need Me Like I Need You - Current 45Without Gardner the Five of Us cut an interesting single on Platt Records GMJ-8149 in May 1966, “Hey You” / “I Don’t Believe” – covering both sides of the Guilloteens first single on HBR 446 from June of the previous year. The Five of Us version of “Hey You” is almost as good as the Guilloteens, but the group is a little shaky on “I Don’t Believe”. The Platt label has no publishing info; deadwax has the Monarch delta # 61973 and CJM 8149. I can’t think of any other single that covers both sides of another artist’s release.

The next single would be their best, the band original “Need Me Like I Need You” published by Wayne-Houle BMI, with a repeat of “Hey You” from their Platt single. The Current Records label released it in July 1966.

Think of the Good Times: The Tucson Sound features the previously unreleased “Let Me Explain”, recorded in 1966. There’s another unreleased song titled “I Lied” that I haven’t heard yet.

When the Five of Us split, Paul Canella and Alex Valdez joined the Yellow Balloon, and would continue into The Popcorn Explosion.

The Five Of Us Platt 45 I Don't Believe

The Checkmates “Do It” on Flic Records

Checkmates Flic 45 Do ItI don’t know anything about The Checkmates, who put out one 45 on Flic Records 786 in the early or mid 1960s. Tim Garbocz wrote “Do It” with vocal by Mickey Stillson. There’s no publishing info listed.

Crypt Records put “Do It” on the 2015 compilation Ho-Dad Hootenanny Too!, which I recommend buying if you like this crude, rockin’ garage sound. The instrumental flip is only a minute and a half long and has not been reissued before, so I’m including the clip below.

The Checkmates – Checkmate

The initals MW on the label (MW 544/5) indicate Midwest Record Pressing in Chicago pressed this single. Could be they were an Illinois group.

One source shows this band connected to the Checkmates from Johnson City, Tennessee who recorded “Talk to Me” / “Cindy” on Champ Records 2009 in August 1967. That may be possible, but I doubt it – the band would have had to add an organ player and the vocalist sounds different. The Checkmates who recorded “Do It” were a pre-British Invasion group in their style. It would have been a leap for them to get to the sound on “Talk to Me”.

Checkmates Flic 45 Checkmate

Portsmouth, New Hampshire area bands 1966-68

Spectras opening for the Tidal Waves, Teddy & the Pandas, Gary Lewis & the Playboys, August 10, 1966
Spectras opening for the Tidal Waves, Teddy & the Pandas, Gary Lewis & the Playboys, August 10, 1966

While searching for articles on the Devil’s Own, I came across news clips about other bands from the Portsmouth, New Hampshire area in the mid-60s.

The Spectras seem to have been a successful band. Over two nights at the Hampton Beach Casino in August 1966 they opened for Gary Lewis & the Playboys, the Tidal Waves, Teddy and the Pandas. At other shows, the Spectras opened for the McCoys, Gary Pickett & the Union Gap, the Doors, Gene Pitney, the Easybeats, the Happenings, Buckinghams, Music Explosion and Fifth Estate. That’s an amazing list of ’60s bands!

The Orphan, Country Gentlemen, Shades of Difference, Portsmouth Battle of the Bands, November, 1966
The Orphan, Country Gentlemen, Shades of Difference, Portsmouth Battle of the Bands, November, 1966

A Portsmouth Battle of the Bands in November, 1966 featured three bands I don’t see mention of again, The Orphan, Country Gentlemen, and the Shades of Difference.

Unidentified group at the Portsmouth Battle of the Bands, December, 1967
Unidentified group at the Portsmouth Battle of the Bands, December, 1967
Battle of the Bands with the Collections, Assassins, Coachmen, Nameless, Elements of Sound, Roulettes, Wonders, Disinherited Sunns, Portsmouth Herald, December, 1967
Battle of the Bands with the Collections, Assassins, Coachmen, Nameless, Elements of Sound, Roulettes, Wonders, Disinherited Sunns, December, 1967

Also in December 1967 there was a Jaycees Battle of the Bands at Portsmouth High School featuring the Collections, the Assassins, the Coachmen, the Nameless, the Elements of Sound, the Roulettes, the Wonders and the Disinherited Sunns.

Pine Grove Pavilion shows with the Tierdrops, Four Musketeers, Warlocks, December, 1967
Pine Grove Pavilion shows with the Tierdrops, Four Musketeers, Warlocks, December, 1967

The Tierdrops shared their manager with the Devil’s Own, one gig notice from December 1967 shows them at the Pine Grove Pavilion.

Exeter Battle of Bands Wuz Five, Back Street Windows, Plate of Garbage, Lords of Mourning, Coachmen, Northern Lights, Wonders, March 1968
Exeter Battle of Bands featuring my favorite band name, The Plate of Garbage

An article from March 1968 discusses a battle of the bands at Exeter High School featuring a number of bands.

from Exeter: The Wuz Five, The Back Street Windows, and The Plate of Garbage !
from the Hamptons: The Lords of Mourning
from Portsmouth: The Coachmen, The Northern Lights
from New Castle: The Wonders

The winner went on to the state finals in Manchester NH in April.

Elements of Sound, June 19, 1968
Elements of Sound, June 19, 1968

That state contest seems to have been won by The Elements of Sound, the only band I can find photos of in the Herald. The Elements of Sound began in 1965 at Portsmouth High School, adding a brass section in the fall of 1967.

Members included John Keenan (guitar), Ken Scarponi (lead vocalist), Dale Dockham (drums), David Schiefer (bass); front row: Dan Meehan and William Carder (trumpets), Charles George (guitar) and James Watt (trombone).

The Elements of Sound played in a national Battle of the Bands in Atlantic City in June of 1968 where they just missed the top ten acts.

Elements of Sound, July 12, 1968
Elements of Sound, July 12, 1968

The Devil’s Own

The Devil's Own Exit 45 I Just Wanna Make LoveThe Devil’s Own came from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, or more precisely Greenland which lies just to the west. They cut a double-sided monster on Exit Records in late 1966, one side a version of “Hey Joe” with writing credit to Powers (Chester Powers, a pseudonym for Dino Valenti). The flip is an intense take on Willie Dixon’s “I Just Wanna Make Love”.

The single actually made the local radio charts. The ARSA site has a survey of WBBX 1380 AM from November 28, 1966 showing the Devil’s Own version of “Hey Joe” at number 16. The release number CO 1907 probably refers to Cook Laboratories, the eccentric studio run by Emory Cook in Stamford, CT.

The Devil's Own Exit 45 Hey JoeI can’t tell you very much about the band. I haven’t learned their names yet, but I’ve found notices of their live shows starting in January 1966 and continuing through February 1968.

One news clip from the Herald shows the band’s manager, George A. Browning, taking ownership of a Shelby GT-500 and a Shelby Cobra. Browning was in his mid-twenties at the time and also managed the Tierdrops (who included Paul Murphy).

Browning’s name appears extensively in the Herald for speeding and drunk driving citations until about 1973. I wonder if the bands ever got to drive those Shelbys.

Battle of the Bands with the Devil's Own, the Mongols, the Ushers, the Agents, Portsmouth Herald, Tues. Jan. 18, 1966
Eliot, New Hampshire Battle of the Bands with the Devil’s Own, the Mongols, the Ushers, the Agents, January 22, 1966
The Devil's Own with Little John and the Sherwoods, March 4, 1966
The Devil’s Own with Little John and the Sherwoods at the Skyline in Newington, March 4, 1966

Advertisements show the Devil’s Own playing many school dances and a military teen center, and entering a battle of the bands with the Scorpions and Mongols from Kittery, the Ushers from York, the Agents from Eliot.

At the Skyline in Newington, NH, the Devil’s Own supported Little John & the Sherwoods (the Lowell, MA group who had the cool “Long Hair” / “Rag Baby” on the Fleetwood label) and co-headlined with the Spectras. They shared the stage with the Spectras again at the Pine Grove Pavilion in Portsmouth.

Anyone have a photo of the Devil’s Own?

The Devil's Own with the Spectras, March 25, 1966
The Devil’s Own with the Spectras at the Skyline in Newington, March 25, 1966
The Devil's Own with the Spectras, November 11, 1966
The Warlocks followed by the Devil’s Own with the Spectras at the Pine Grove Pavilion, November 10-11, 1966
Devil's Own Hey Joe at 16 on WBBX, 1966-11-28
The Devil’s Own version of Hey Joe at number 16 on WBBX, November 28, 1966. Courtesy of ARSA
George A. Browning manager of the Devil's Own, Portsmouth Herald, Tue. Feb 21, 1967
George A. Browning, manager of the Devil’s Own and the Tierdrops buying two sportscars from Patterson Ford Sales, February, 1967

The Early Americans

Early Americans Brenick Flagg 45 I Love You (I Want You)The Early Americans come up with a balanced, rich ’60s sound on “I Love You (I Want You)”, not released until May of 1971.

The group may have been from Bath, Pennsylvania. Both this and the b-side “Got a Lot” were written by Nick Mitchell and produced by Nick Mitchell and Brent Koehler.

The Early Americans released this single on Brenick Flagg Records STEA 1012. Pete Helffrich mastered the single, signing the deadwax and indicating stereo sound, though I don’t hear much stereo separation on this single.

Helffrich Recording Labs did a lot of mastering for classical labels like Everest, Nonesuch and Turnabout, but as far as I can tell, relatively little recording. One of Pete Helffrich’s most notable recordings was another PA band, Sandstone, for the album Can You Mend A Silver Thread? I checked the back cover of that LP and didn’t find any other names in common with the Early Americans.

This is not the Early Americans from Tampa, FL who cut Night After Night on Paris Tower in 1967.

Early Americans Brenick Flagg 45 Got A Lot

The Ravens (Tampa, FL)

Ravens Boss 45 Reaching For The SunThe Ravens came from Tampa, Florida. They two singles a couple years apart with different band lineups. The first single is on Charles Fuller’s Boss label, the original and gentle “Reaching for the Sun” b/w a slamming instrumental version of “Things We Said Today” on Boss BOS 003 in 1966.

According to Brian Egan on the Tampa Bay Garage Bands website (originally published in Fuzz, Acid & Flowers I believe), the first line-up of the Ravens consisted of Mark Maconi on lead vocals, Richard “Rick” Vincent Simpson on lead guitar and vocals, Richard “Thor” Simpson on rhythm guitar and vocals, Brian Egan on bass and vocals and Paul Purcell on drums and vocals.

Ravens Boss 45 Things We Said TodayBy 1966 the two Rick Simpsons had left the band. Al Schweikert joined on lead guitar – at 21 he was four years old than the rest of the band and became their leader. John Hallenstein came in on organ and the band started playing bigger gigs. This was the lineup that Charles Fuller saw at the Spot in Tampa and brought in to cut a single. “Reaching for the Sun” had song writing credits to Albert Schweikert and Bob Orrick, an early manager and subbing bassist with the group. Brian Egan credits Richard Vincent Simpson as the original writer of “Reaching for the Sun”, however Schweikert at least would prove himself to be a fine song-writer in the near future.

Soon after the Boss single, the band dropped Brian Egan and replaced him with Ken Spivey. Chris Krawczyn replaced Hallenstein on keyboards, and later Beau Fisher replaced Spivey on bass. The band split up around 1968 and Schweikert reformed the group, bringing in Kent Pearson on bass. Mark Maconi and Paul Purcell were the only original members to last the full time with the band. Their second manager was major Tampa area promoter A.J. Perry

The Raven Rust 45 Calamity JaneThe lineup of Marconi, Purcell, Schweikert and Pearson recorded “Calamity Jane” / “Now She’s Gone” as the Raven on Rust 5123 in late 1968.

Albert Schweikert and Karl Lamp (Karl Leopold Lamp, Jr.) wrote “Calamity Jane” for Roznique Music, BMI. Schweikert and Lamp had scored a success (artistic anyway) in 1967 when they co-wrote “As Time’s Gone” for the Tropics, a classic of ’60s garage.

The Gernhard Productions credit on the Rust label refers to Phil Gernhard, who co-wrote “Snoopy vs. the Red Baron” and brought the Royal Guardsmen to Laurie Records (Rust Records’ parent label). Gernhard surpassed himself on “Calamity Jane”, blending bullet ricochets, morse code beeping, horns, fuzz guitar, electric sitar, flute and melodica sounds and cowbell into the backing track. The single attracted no chart action – perhaps Laurie Records was in the process of phasing out the Rust subsidiary so they didn’t promote this late single. In any case, “Calamity Jane” has become a catchy hit among club DJs in recent years.

Schweikert’s original “Now She’s Gone” has none of the flashiness of the A-side, but an inventive organ track and good harmonies back up an impassioned lead vocal. Copyright registrations from that era show another Schweikert song never recorded to my knowledge, “The Prism”.

Towards the end of the band, Albert Schweikert left. Tommy Angarano came in on organ and Charlie Bailey on guitar for the final lineup of the band.

If anyone has more input on their time with the Ravens I’d like to hear about it.

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