Ronnie & the Sinsashuns

Ronnie & the Sinsashuns photo
(Left to Right) Ronnie Wilson, Ronnie Mobley, Ronnie Hellard, Ricky Hackworth and Ronnie Moore

Ronnie Hellard – vocals
Ronnie Mobley – rhythm guitar (Fender Jazzmaster)
Ricky Hackworth – drums
Ronnie Wilson – bass guitar (Gibson EBO)
Ronnie Moore – lead guitar (Fender Telecaster)

Ronnie & the Sinsashuns on stage
Moore and Mobley on stage at Danceland, Lexington, Ky.

Ronnie & the Sinsashuns were a teenbeat/surf/rockin’ combo formed in ’62 around Versailles, Kentucky just outside of the small college town of Lexington, Ky.

Vocalist Ronnie Hellard was born and raised in Versailles, Ky. Ronnie Mobley was born and raised in Lexington and moved to Woodford County in 1962; he played a Fender Jazzmaster he bought from local rock n’ roll singer Jimmy Lee Ballard, who recorded for REM.

Drummer Ricky Hackworth and Ronnie Wilson were both from Lexington, and lead guitarist Ronnie Moore came from Woodford County.

Ron Mobley recounts his memory of how the band started in his own words:

“I was 15, all the others were 16 except Hellard, who was 18 when the group formed.  I met Moore at Woodford County High School in 1962.  He knew of a singer and contacted Hellard.  Moore had met Larry Wilson, a good Lexington guitarist and brother of Ronnie Wilson, so we got him on bass and he knew of a drummer, Ricky Hackworth.”

“Our initial rehearsals were at Ricky Hackworth’s parents’ home. We all lived with our parents in 1962.  Moore and Hellard had cars and drivers licenses, so they transported the rest of us and our gear.”

“The first time the band received recognition was when we competed in a “Battle of the Bands” in Lexington and won. There,  Bill Stakelin, a student at Georgetown College and part-time disc jockey at a daylight to dark AM radio station WAXU in Georgetown heard us play. He had been booking The Castaways, a group that attended his college.  He approached us and asked to represent us and we agreed; a move that was not popular with The Castaways.  He kept us busy with frat parties and events during the school year and in the bars during the summer months.  We were all under age but the bar owners didn’t care because we attracted customers.”

Ronnie and the Sinsashuns Wham 45 Laugh It Up BabyThey recorded and released one 45 in the summer of ’64, both original sides penned by Ronnie Hellard and the band. Recorded in Lexington at Lemco Studio, it has a heavy reverb’d production quality and was released on the band’s own custom moniker through Lemco, on the WHAM label – named after neighboring Ohio rocker Lonnie Mack’s song on Fraternity. It is noted that the 45 is the first 2-sided vocal release to come out on a Lemco label – all previous releases having an instrumental b-side.

“Laugh It Up Baby” is the rockin’ side- it has a cool country drawl on the playful lyrics, back-up vocal group chatter, reverb’d guitar and production, handclaps, along with a raucous scream by guitarist Ronnie Moore right before his blistering guitar break.

Ronnie and the Sinsashuns Wham 45 Sonya“Sonya” is the ballad side penned by Hellard, Moore and Mobley- it has a nice laid-back rhumba-beat, with a sparse guitar break, exotic drums and pleading vocals.  The song is said to have been written about the prettiest girl in Woodford County who just happened to also be the daughter of a local deputy state trooper.

The group had previously recorded an Audiodisc 5-song 12″ acetate at WVLK, a local radio station situated in the top of the Lafayette Hotel on Main Street in Lexington.  This record contains 3 vocal tracks- “True Fine Mama” – “Pretty Girls Everywhere” and “Peepin’ and Hidin'” along with two tasty surf instrumentals called “Caliente” and “San Jose”. This demo was recorded on January 20th 1964,  shortly before they recorded their original sides at Lemco.

Ronnie & the Sinsashuns news clip, March 6, 1964

Kingsmen show poster, October 2, 1964 at Joyland Casino, Lexington, Kentucky
Ronnie & the Sinsashuns shared the bill with the Kingsmen at Joyland Casino, October 2, 1964

Ronnie & the Sinsashuns had a regular presence around Lexington performing at Danceland, The Palms and on The Nick Clooney Show to name a few. They also did a brief tour up through Ohio and Indiana to promote the record. They competed in and and won local Battle of the Bands competitions and were well plugged and promoted  by WVLK.

They were the featured opening band for shows with the Kingsmen and Bo Diddley on the stage at Joyland, a popular amusement park on the north end of Lexington,  circa 1964. In recent interview, Mobley jokingly commented that the Kingsmen only knew about four songs and the Sinsashuns had to play longer to fill out the concert’s bill. He also noted that Bo Diddley was a super nice guy and even sent him a Christmas card that following year.  Joyland Park closed down soon after the Kingsmen show and was destroyed by fire in June, 1965.

Ronnie Mobley (rhythm guitarist for the Sinsashuns), who was very in-demand around town, once was called-in as a last minute player for a rockin’ Conway Twitty, circa ’64, at a rough joint called The Palms – another memorable moment and highlight of the band’s short career.

Ronnie & the Sinsashuns on stage
(Left to Right) Moore, Mobley, Hellard and Wilson on stage at Danceland, Lexington, Ky.
Ronnie & the Sinsashuns on stage
(Left to Right) Moore, Mobley, Hellard, Hackworth (drums), Wilson, and a dedicated fan who frequented Danceland on maracas.

Pepper Swift and the Monzzas Whirlaway 45 FunRonnie Hellard made another similar sounding record, “My Yo-Yo” / “Fun” on the Whirlaway label in Lexington, Ky in 1965 as alter ego “Pepper Swift” with a backing band called the Monzzas, having no known relationship to the Sinsashuns. He later moved to Nashville and became a famous songwriter, penning tunes like “I’m No Stranger to the Rain” and many others.

Ronnie Mobley continued to play music and became an accomplished mandolin player in a professional bluegrass group called Kentucky Blue, who toured all over the US, Europe and Japan- and released 5 albums during their career.

Ricky Hackworth continued playing drums and toured professionally with the Charlie Daniels Band, David Allen Coe, Johnny Paycheck and others. He died in 2004.

Ronnie Moore became a barber and co-owned his own shop, was a US Navy Vietnam veteran and died in 2015 at the age of 69.

Ronnie Wilson is deceased; it is unknown at this time what he went on to do after playing bass with the Sinsashuns.

Ronnie and the Sensations news clipping
Ronnie and the Sensations [sic] play a variety show
WKLX Paris, KY Survey August 28, 1964
“Laugh It Up Baby” at #25 on the WKLX survey on August, 28, 1964, Paris, KY
Ronnie & the Sinsashuns photo records
Ronnie Hellard and Ronnie Mobley posing with their new 45rpm release, summer of ’64.
Lee Bryant and Ronnie Mobley
Lee Bryant (author of this article) with Sinsashuns guitarist Ronnie Mobley, October 2015.

Tabernash “Head Collect”

Tabernash Dym-A-Nite 45 Head Collect

The Contents Are continued until around 1972, when they changed their name to Tabernash and moved from Davenport, Iowa to Westminster, Colorado, just northwest of Denver. Prior to their move, they made this one single on Dym-a-Nite, the only release they would have under the Tabernash name.

The members of Tabernash were Craig Hute, Dave Neumann, Paul Staack and Mick Orton.

“Head Collect” is an excellent rocker written by Craig Hute. The song dates back to 1969, when a demo was recorded at Columbia studios in Chicago. The single is 44 seconds shorter, quicker in tempo, with a drier sound than the Columbia studio demo, but both are excellent performances.

“Out of the Cold” is another original by Craig Hute, again dating back a couple years, this time to a demo session at Golden Voice Recording Studio in Pekin, Illinois from 1969 or 1970. The Dym-a-Nite 45 is more sparse and plain in production than the Golden Voice demo, and is also 90 seconds shorter. Songs from that session will be released by Alona’s Dream Records in 2017.

The deadwax contains a “tulip” marking that indicates Wakefield in Arizona pressed the single, with a five digit code dating it to February 1972. Both sides have publishing by Sarfran / Unichappel BMI, and “Produced by Tabernash for Experience Group” and “Dist. by the Clouds, Bellville, Ill”.

When I sent scans and audio of the Dym-a-Nite single to Mick Orton, he didn’t recall it. After speaking to Craig Hute, he reported back that one of their managers, Spence Stein owned the Dym-a-Nite label and worked with someone at Unichappel to release the single. The band didn’t hear it until they had made the move to Westminster, but they disliked the quality of the pressing.

Mick Orton has posted photos and info about Tabernash and the later Contents Are on his extensive website. I highly recommend checking it out.

Thank you to Mike Markesich for the Wakefield pressing info.

Tabernash Dym-A-Nite 45 Out of the Cold

The Happy Return

Happy Return Stack 45 Longed ForThe Happy Return came from St. Louis, Missouri, releasing two very different 45s in the space of a couple years.

Members at the time of the Cadet single were:

Steve Noack – vocals, lead guitar
Tom Noack – rhythm guitar
Jim Cunningham – organ
Jimmy Albright – bass
Rich Carroll – drums

In November 1967 the Happy Return released a very good Steve Noack original in the Beatles style, “Longed For”, backed with another original “Maybe”, and issued Steve’s own Stack Records TS-XM510. The publisher, Country Stream Music BMI mainly handled country and gospel songs.

Steve Lee RSSP 45 She's Afraid To AnswerIn July of 1968 Steve Noack had a light pop single as Steve Lee on the R.S.S.P. Inc label featuring his original “She’s Afraid to Answer” as the b-side to “Baby” (by G. Tomsco, B. Tomsco).

Missouri Music BMI published “She’s Afraid to Answer”. Missouri Music’s biggest copyrights seem to be on the Norman label, including “Rockin’ Little Egypt” by the Egyptian Combo and “Jerkin’ Time” by Bob Kuban with vocalist Little Walter.

The Happy Return next appear in June 1969 on the Cadet label with a great double-sided single featuring two more Steve Noack originals with great production by Norman Petty at his Clovis, NM studio. The plug side at the time was “I Thought I Loved Her”, a gentle ballad with keyboards making harpsichord and flute sounds. The Library of Congress registration for “I Thought I Loved Her” in April 1969 shows words by Rich Carrell (sic) and music by Steve Noack.

Happy Return Cadet 45 To Give Your Lovin'The flip is the very different and hard-rockin’ “To Give Your Lovin’”, full of crunching guitar and heavy drumming. Both songs list Steve Noack as writer and Heavy Music, Friedman-Collins Music BMI as publisher.

“I Thought I Loved Her” showed up as a “hitbound sound” in a weekly chart of Saint Charles, Missouri’s KIRL 1460 AM that August, but otherwise seems to have missed all radio charts despite being on Cadet. The band broke up the following year.

On the Cadet labels, the band’s manager Stan Friedman is listed as producer of the single. He was a booking agent in St. Louis with a University City address.

Info from Alec Palao’s notes to Get Ready to Fly: Pop-Psych from the Norman Petty Vaults on Big Beat Records, which also have two small photos of the group.

Happy Return Stack 45 Maybe

WGXC New Year’s Eve benefit in Hudson NY

WGXC New Year's Eve 2017 Half Moon, Hudson NY

I haven’t been promoting my own DJ nights on this site much, but this one is special: a New Year’s Eve party to benefit local community radio station WGXC 90.7 FM. Admission is only $10 all of which goes to the station.

There will be a live band featuring Bobby Previte bashing out some rocking r&b, with DJ sets by Peter Aaron of the Chrome Cranks and me.

If you’re in the Albany / Kingston / Hudson NY area please come out and support community radio.

Saturday, December 31, 2016, 10 PM to 2 AM

The Half Moon
48 S Front St
Hudson, NY 12534

Easy walk to the Amtrak station. 21 and over. Food and drink available.

Happy New Year!

Nigel Basham (Mark Loyd of the Monotones)

Westcliff High School for Boys circa 1958: Nigel Basham, Arthur Walker, Martin Bayley, Chris Winch, Selwyn, Ian Crawshaw.
Westcliff High School for Boys circa 1958. Nigel Basham is third from the left, with Arthur Walker on Nigel’s right doing the V-sign. Others in the group include Martin Bayley, Chris Winch, Selwyn, and seated, smoking, Ian Crawshaw.

Tim Wainwright sent in this photo of Nigel Basham with school friends at at Westcliff High School for Boys, circa 1958. Not bad quality from a worn 3″ x 2″ print. Tim wrote the caption above and adds, “the pic is a group from the school having a smoke by the bike sheds, totally against school rules.”

Nigel Basham was part of the Monotones, covered extensively on this site in a main post and a second focused on photos of their early days. In the Monotones, Nigel took the professional name of Mark Loyd, sometimes spelled Mark Lloyd.

As Mark Loyd, he released three singles on Parlophone, timeless British soul music that is highly valued now. Mark Loyd passed away on April 4, 2012 in Sydney, Australia, where he ran a successful event and performance management company called Popset.


The Nightshades on Gear

Nightshades Gear 45 American Boy

The Nightshades formed as the Deadly Nightshades at Glenbrook South High School in Glenview, IL, a suburb of Chicago. The group’s lineup changed, sometimes to a quartet or trio format, but included at various times:

Gary Schaeffer – vocals
Bob Zemke – lead guitar
Larry LaCoste – rhythm guitar
Phil Jernigan, replaced by Tom Lavin – bass
Dan Locke, replaced by Kenny LaCoste – drums

I only have one of their singles, the second of three the band released on Gear Records in 1967 and 1968.

The first was “Summertime” / “Wonder Where My Baby Is Tonight” on Gear 747/8.

“Summertime” and the Kinks cover are cool enough, but I like the original songs on their second single on Gear C 749/750, “Flying High” and especially the heavier “American Boy” with its sustained guitar sound and lyrics that would tell an interesting story if I could decipher more of them. The labels list Zemke, La Cost, Jernigan as writers for both songs, published by Gear Music BMI, with arrangement by Bob Zemke, plus Gear Enterprises, c/o Ed Zemke.

I haven’t heard their last single, “Sweet Cecelia” / “My Mother Done Told Me (That You Were a Lover)” on Gear 751/2.

Nightshades Gear 45 Flying High

Billy Stephens on Kidd Glove

Billy Stephens and the Nashville Cats Kidd Glove 45 Baby You Got MeBilly Stephens seems to have been based in Belmont, Mississippi, about 45 miles north east of Tupelo, and three hours southwest of Nashville. According to a comment online, he died at age 55, which would be sometime around the year 2000. I can find no obituary or biography, but here is what I know:

Billy Stephens registered two songs in June 1963, the intriguingly-titled “Rice Paddies” and “I Need Wanda”. Unfortunately, neither seem to have been released. I wonder if demo acetates exist of these songs.

Starting around 1966, he did release three singles of excellent original songs on his own Kidd Glove label.

The first was Kidd Glove 101, credited to Billy Stephens & the Nashville Casts. One side was the amazingly brooding “Baby You Got Me” while the flip is the country “Lumber Jack”. “Baby You Got Me” almost defies description, not exactly garage and really has to be heard.

I’m not sure of the date for this one, the NRC # 510 indicates pressing at National Recording Corporation’s plant in Atlanta, sometime between late 1966 to mid 1967.

Next he released an excellent instrumental, “Sneak Attack” backed with one I haven’t heard yet, “Shirley”, on Kidd Glove 301 with a redesigned label and motto, “The Sound That Leaves You Breathless”.

Billy Stephens Kidd Glove PS Dozen Diamond ManThe third single was the rockabilly “Dozen Diamond Man” b/w an offbeat harmony jangler, “There’s a Time” on Kidd Glove 302. Lyrics for “There’s a Time” are hard to make out, but seem to be about how his teenage queen got locked up “they took her far away, said she had to pay”. This single was released in 1967 with a b&w photo sleeve.

All of his songs were published by Kidd Glove Music BMI, though I can’t find registrations for all of them.

Certainly this was an artist with a lot of talent and originality.

The Smoke featuring Mark Sheldon

Smoke 45 Half Past The End

“Half Past the End” by the Smoke is hard-rocking and heavy on the keyboards, which I don’t usually like, but it has some lead guitar work that hooks me, and features a solid performance by the entire group.

The group included Mark Sheldon, who had played bass for the Mussies on their 1967 Fenton single, “12 O’Clock July” which is a great psychedelic take on Link Wray’s “Jack the Ripper” b/w one of the better versions of “Louie Go Home”.

Other members of the Mussies were Chic Ericksen (lead vocals), Paul Knapp or Paul Nabb (lead guitar), Tom Mann (rhythm guitar) and Bill Johnson (drums). I don’t know if any of them played on the Smoke single from late 1968.

The Mussies & the Smoke came out of South Haven, Michigan. Mark Sheldon wrote both songs on the Smoke single, “Half Past the End” and the flip, “My Mama”. Both published by Rise Music, Inc. BMI. Mark Edward Sheldon registered the copyright for “Half Past the End” with the Library of Congress in February 1969.

The Smoke single was produced by Sheldon-Pielert, the Pielert standing for Fred Pielert, the manager of the band with his wife, Gail Ostrow.

The ARP stamp in the deadwax indicates the American Record Pressing Co. in Owosso, MI, pressing number 1316.

I’ve seen promo and stock copies of this 45, and all seem to have stickers listing the band as the Smoke. Mark Sheldon’s name is underneath.

There’s not much info on the Smoke out there (or the Mussies for that matter). I gleaned a little from the Grand Rapids Rocks site.

Smoke 45 My Mama

The site for '60s garage bands since 2004