Tony 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.
“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.
The 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.
Without 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.
I 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 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”.
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!
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.
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.
The Tierdrops shared their manager with the Devil’s Own, one gig notice from December 1967 shows them at the Pine Grove Pavilion.
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.
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.
The 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.
I 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.
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.
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.
The 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.
By 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 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.
Here’s an obscure single on Tampa, Florida’s Boss label, the Souldiers with a great harmony song “Would You Kiss Me” b/w an underrated ballad, “Lemon Sun”. Release date was approximately January 1967 on Boss BOS 007 (BSKM-1119/20)
Lewis and Swilley wrote “Would You Kiss Me” for Fulprod Music Pub ASCAP, while Hillert wrote “Lemon Sun” published by Fuller Music Pub. BMI.
Despite the obscurity of the band, the other two names on the labels are famiilar, John Brummage and Charles Fuller.
John Brummage had a hand in the production of the Royal Guardsmen’s “Snoopy Vs. The Red Baron”. He produced the Split Ends “Rich with Nothin'”, the Noah’s Ark “Love In”, several for the Rovin’ Flames including “I Can’t” (which he wrote) on Boss, “Gloria” on Fuller and “How Many Times” on Decca, and many for the Boss label including the Berkley Five’s “You’re Gonna Cry” and the Ravens who I’ll feature soon.
Charles Fuller headed the CFP, Fuller, Tigertown and Boss labels, among others, with Brummage most often listed as producer.
There’s a possibility this Souldiers band is connected to another local group called the Soljers aka Blues Syndicate, with Bob Conn as either member or manager, but otherwise I can’t find any definite info on who was in the band or any photos of the group.
The Denny and Kenny Duo were Kenny Whitcombe on organ and Dennis Sacco on drums. They came from Davis, California, where they played regularly at Gi-Gi’s night club.
“Meet My Little Sweety In the Night Time” immediately grabs the listener with its speed and echo. I find Sacco’s drum fills endlessly entertaining. The flip “I Love You So” is also good, if not as original. Kenny Whitcombe wrote both songs. Released on Sacramento’s legendary Ikon Records IER 179/180 in 1965.
I’ve always loved this single since hearing it on Crypt Records’s fantastic “The Ikon Records Story”. I finally found a copy, signed by Dennis Sacco! For two people they raise a huge racket.
Whitcombe came from the Carpetbaggers with Dehner Patten who would go into the Oxford Circle and Kak. I’m not sure if this was the same Carpetbaggers from Sausalito who had the single “Let Yourself Go” / “Just a Friend” on the LTD International label in mid-1966. Sausalito is an hour and a half from Davis, but it’s not inconceivable.
After splitting with Sacco, Whitcombe opened another Davis club, Mousey’s. Sacco played with the Daytrippers, then with the Sacramento’s Burgundy Express.