I’ll be spinning 45s at the next SmashCrashBash at the Half Moon in Hudson, NY on Friday, September 5, with bands the Luxurious Faux Furs and the Beech Creeps. It should be an insane night of crude garage rock!
Richard Kuzniak sent me the photo above of the Private Collection, a band he used to see weekly at the El Patio nightclub in Yorkville. He’d like to know more about the group if anyone has info on them.
Geno Washington & The Ram Jam Band
(April 1967-April 1968)
Geno Washington – lead vocals
John ‘Silkie’ Culley – lead guitar
Dave Greenslade – organ (replaced John Carroll who played a few weeks)
Peter Carney – bass
Lionel ‘Rocky’ Kingham – tenor saxophone
Clive ‘Hercules’ Burrows – baritone saxophone
Hans Herbert – drums
Melody Maker announced that three (of the original) members (Pete Gage, Geoff Pullum and Herb Prestidge) had left in mid-April 1967 and Geno Washington would be replacing them the same week. The revised line up (deputy musicians alongside surviving members) was due to play its debut on 19 April (Wednesday).
NME also noted that three original members had left the week ending 22 April. It reported that Geno Washington had taken on deputy musicians until permanent replacements could be found as commitments would not be interrupted.
Guitarist John Culley confirmed from his diary that he played his debut on 26 April (with John Carroll on organ) after auditioning at the Ram Jam in Brixton a day or two beforehand (24 April is the most plausible date) so deputy musicians were definitely used in the interim.
The personnel changes were subsequently announced in South East London Mercury on 18 May 1967. NME announced the Dave Greenslade line-up above in the week ending 6 May, so it seems that John Carroll did play a few weeks before Greenslade joined after honouring his commitments with Chris Farlowe & The Thunderbirds.
Keyboard player John Carroll knew bass player Peter Carney from The Flexmen and The London Beats during 1963-1965. He also briefly played with Carney in Tony Knight’s Chessmen in 1966 before joining The New Pirates in February 1967. Carroll had commitments with The Flower Pot Men and later went on to play with Herbie Goins & The Night-Timers and Stevie Wonder’s touring band.
Guitarist John Culley had formed The Hi-Grades in spring 1962 alongside guitarist Glen Desmier, bass player Mike Watson drummer Phil Wainman and others. After backing singer Michael Holliday in Jersey the following summer (as Mike Twain & The Hi-Grades), the musicians moved to Sweden in June 1964 and recorded for Sonet. They also backed other artists on recordings for the label. In 1965, Tony Walter replaced Phil Wainman on drums and the musicians toured Denmark, briefly working as The Dynamiters and backing singer Swedish Jerry Williams before Culley returned to the UK in late 1965.
Culley next moved to Paris to work with French singer Ronnie Bird until auditioning for Geno Washington in April 1967. Peter Carney brought his old friend Pete Ross from The Flexmen along to the Ram Jam audition but John Culley got the job.
Drummer Hans Herbert, who’d played with Peter Carney and John Carroll in The Flexmen, had gone on to work with The Just Four and The Guests during 1965-1966 before playing with The All Night Workers from October 1966.
Keyboard player Dave Greenslade was a longstanding member of Chris Farlowe & The Thunderbirds (who’d gigged with the original Ram Jam Band on numerous occasions), having briefly worked with Clive Burrows in the Wes Minister Five in 1964.
After Greenslade joined, the new Ram Jam Band (with a session bass player, possibly Tony Reeves) recorded and released two singles – “She Shot a Hole In My Soul” c/w “I’ve Been Hurt By Love” (Piccadilly 7N 35392), released in June 1967; and “Different Strokes” c/w “You Got Me Hummin’” (Pye 7N 17425), released in December 1967. For the “Different Strokes” session, noted session player Harry Stoneham arranged the track and added keyboards alongside Greenslade.
With Peter Carney on bass, they also cut the remainder of the tracks on the second LP, Hipsters, Flipsters, Finger-Poppin’ Daddies! (Piccadilly NPL/NSPL 38032), which was released in September 1967 and peaked at #8 in the UK charts. Later that year, the band recorded a studio album, Shake a Tail Feather Baby! (Piccadilly NPL/NSPL 38029), which was issued in January 1968.
“Different Strokes” and “You Got Me Hummin’” also appeared on a second EP, “Different Strokes” (Pye NEP 24293), which also included the tracks “I’m Your Puppet” and “Use Me”. The former was cut earlier in the year by the Pete Gage formation.
19 April 1967 – College of Commerce, Hull, Humberside
22 April 1967 – Twisted Wheel, Manchester
23 April 1967 – Plaza, Newbury, Berkshire
(Please note: above gigs may not have happened but if they did, they were with deputy musicians)
24/25 April – Auditions at Ram Jam, Brixton bring in John Carroll and John Culley
26 April 1967 – Top Rank, Croydon, Surrey (Carroll and Culley’s debut)
27 April 1967 – Locarno Ballroom, Swindon, Wiltshire
28 April 1967 – Chelmsford Corn Exchange, Chelmsford, Essex (not in John Culley’s diary)
28 April 1967 – Shoreline, Bognor Regis, West Sussex
29 April 1967 – Floral Hall, Southport, Lancashire
30 April 1967 – Nantwich (possibly Beau Brummel Club), Cheshire
1 May 1967 – Top Rank, Watford, Hertfordshire
2 May 1967 – High Wycombe (possibly Town Hall), Buckinghamshire
4 May 1967 – Stevenage (possibly Locarno), Hertfordshire
5 May 1967 – Southampton Guildhall, Southampton, Hants
6 May 1967 – Chelmsford Corn Exchange, Chelmsford, Essex
7 May 1967 – NME Poll Winners’ Show, Empire Pool, Wembley, Middlesex with Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Titch, Cream, Dusty Springfield, Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames, The Beach Boys, Paul Jones, Lulu, The Move, The Small Faces, The Spencer Davis Group, The Alan Price Set, Cat Stevens, The Troggs and others
16 May – Recording at Pye
17 May 1967 – Top Rank, Doncaster, South Yorkshire (also TV appearance)
18 May 1967 – Locarno Ballroom, Coventry, West Midlands
19 May 1967 – Starlite Ballroom, Greenford, Middlesex
20 May 1967 – Toft’s, Folkestone, Kent
21 May 1967 – Ricky Tick, Newbury, Berkshire
22 May 1967 – California Ballroom, Dunstable, Bedfordshire with The Penny Blacks
25 May 1967 – Recording at Pye
26 May 1967 – Pavilion Ballroom, Weymouth, Dorset
27 May 1967 – Winter Gardens Pavilion, Weston-Super-Mare, Somerset
28 May 1967 – Ram Jam, Brixton with The Hunky Chunk Band
29 May 1967 – Tulip Bulp Auction Hall, Spalding, Lincolnshire with Jimi Hendrix Experience, Cream, The Move, Zoot Money and Pink Floyd
31 May – Recording at Pye
1 June 1967 – Salisbury City Hall, Salisbury, Wiltshire with Combustion
2 June 1967 – Ricky Tick, Hounslow, Middlesex
3 June 1967 – Morley Town Hall, Morley, West Yorkshire
4 June 1967 – Agincourt Ballroom, Camberley, Surrey
6 June 1967 – Britannia Ballroom, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire
10 June 1967 – Carlton Ballroom, Erdington, West Midlands
11 June 1967 – Redcar Jazz Club, Coatham Hotel, Redcar, North Yorkshire
13 June 1967 – Caius College, Cambridge University, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire
16 June 1967 – Bird Cage, Portsmouth, Hants
17 June 1967 – Oxford University, Oxford, Oxfordshire
18 June 1967 – Britannia Pier, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk
26 June 1967 – St Luke’s College, Exeter University, Exeter, Devon
27 June 1967 – Queen’s Hall, Barnstaple, Devon
29 June 1967 – Scotch Club, Torquay, Devon
30 June 1967 – St George’s Hall, Exeter, Devon
1 July 1967 – Ritz Ballroom, Bournemouth, Dorset
2 July 1967 – Khyber Club, Taunton, Somerset
3 July 1967 – Bath Pavilion, Bath, Somerset
4 July 1967 – Winter Gardens, Malvern, Worcestershire
6 July 1967 – Cornwall College of Technology, Redruth, Cornwall
9 July 1967 – Ram Jam, Brixton
11 July 1967 – Torquay Town Hall, Torquay, Devon
12 July 1967 – Bal Tabarin, Downham, Kent
13 July 1967 – Recorded for Top of the Pops (according to John Culley’s diary)
(Note: This may have been same show that was aired on 1 September and also included The Action, Pinkerton’s Assorted Colours and Matt Munroe)
15 July 1967 – Twisted Wheel, Manchester
18 July 1967 – Marquee, London with The Amboy Dukes
19 July 1967 – Ram Jam, Brixton (recorded promo video at Battersea Park earlier in the day)
21 July 1967 – Casino Club, Burnley, Lancashire with Sisters of Idle Dreams
22 July 1967 – Floral Hall, Southport, Lancashire
24 July 1967 – Recorded for BBC in Manchester (Pop North)
25 July 1967 – Left for Scottish tour that lasted until 29 July
28 July 1967 – Ballerina Ballroom, Nairn, Scotland
3 August 1967 – Locarno Ballroom, Streatham, London
5 August 1967 – St Austell, Cornwall
7 August 1967 – Birmingham Roller Rink, Birmingham (also BBC recordings Monday Monday)
8 August 1967 – Sherwood Rooms, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire
10 August 1967 – Locarno, Bristol, Avon
11 August 1967 – Locarno, Basildon, Essex
16 August 1967 – Seagull Ballroom, Ryde Pier Head, Isle of Wight
17 August 1967 – Locarno, Portsmouth, Hants
18 August 1967 – Flew to Spain
19 August 1967 – Tiffany’s Ballroom, Barcelona, Spain (also play gigs at Platja D’aro)
22 August 1967 – Spinning Disc, Leeds, West Yorkshire
24 August 1967 – Locarno Ballroom, Coventry, West Midlands
25 August 1967 – Gaiety, Grimsby, South Yorkshire
26 August 1967 – Ram Jam, Brixton
28 August 1967 – Hastings Festival, Hastings, East Sussex with The Kinks, Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich, The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, Robb Storme & The Whispers, Winston’s Fumbs and Hip Hooray Band
30 August 1967 – Locarno, Stevenage, Hertfordshire
31 August 1967 – Pavilion, Southampton, Hants
1 September 1967 – Botwell Community Centre, Hayes, Middlesex
4 September 1967 – Queen’s Ballroom, Wolverhampton, West Midlands with Robert Plant & The Band of Joy
5 September 1967 – BBC Saturday Club appearance
7 September 1967 – Skyline Ballroom, Hull, Humberside
8 September 1967 – Boulevard, Tadcaster, North Yorkshire (and another venue in Castleford)
9 September 1967 – Floral Hall, Southport, Lancashire
12 September 1967 – Palais, Ilford, Essex
13 September 1967 – Orchid Ballroom, Purley, Surrey (short holiday after this)
28 September 1967 – Assembly Hall, Worthing, West Sussex
30 September 1967 – Band flies to Copenhagen for short Scandinavian tour, sharing some dates with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers and Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention
30 September 1967 – ‘Love Out’, Brondby Pop Club, Brondby, Denmark with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, Hurdy Gurdy and R&B Section
3-4 October 1967 – Star Club, Copenhagen, Denmark
7 October 1967 – Idrotthuset, Orebro, Sweden with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, Blues Quality and The Quints
8 October 1967 – Jernvallen, Sandviken, Sweden with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers and Two Good Reasons
10 October 1967 – Konserthuset, Stockholm, Sweden with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers and The Defenders
17 October 1967 – Marquee, London with The Amboy Dukes
29 October 1967 – Starlite Ballroom, Greenford, Middlesex with The All-Nite Workers
18 November 1967 – Twisted Wheel, Manchester
2 December 1967 – Imperial Ballroom, Nelson, Lancashire
30 December 1967 – Starlight Room, Boston, Lincolnshire with Ebony Keys and The Lost
4 January 1968 – Locarno Ballroom, Portsmouth, Hants
5 January 1968 – Royal Ballroom, Tottenham, London
7 January 1968 – Starlight Ballroom, Crawley, West Sussex
9 January 1968 – Bluesology Festival, Chateau Impney, Droitwich Spa, Worcestershire with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, Joe Cocker, Cliff Bennett & The Rebel Rousers and Duster Bennett
9 January 1968 – Marquee, London with Ferris Wheel
10 January 1968 – Pavilion, Southampton, Hants
11 January 1968 – Locarno Ballroom, Streatham, London
13 January 1968 – Floral Hall, Southport, Lancashire
19 January 1968 – Queen’s Hall, Burslem, Staffordshire with The Iveys
20 January 1968 – Twisted Wheel, Manchester
30 January 1968 – Palais, Ilford, Kent
31 January 1968 – Locarno, Stevenage, Hertfordshire
2 February 1968 – New Central Pier, Morecombe, Lancashire
February 1968 – Eden Park Hotel, Beckenham, Kent (replacing Georgie Fame)
16 February 1968 – Top Rank Suite, Swansea
17 February 1968 – Corn Exchange, Chelmsford, Essex with Simon K & The Meantimers
2 March 1968 – Winter Gardens, Weston-Super-Mare, Somerset
3 March 1968 – Starlight Ballroom, Crawley, West Sussex
11 March 1968 – Locarno Ballroom, Glasgow
23 March 1968 – Twisted Wheel, Manchester
11 April 1968 – Eden Park Hotel, Beckenham, Kent
12 April 1968 – Imperial Ballroom, Nelson, Lancashire
Geno Washington & The Ram Jam Band
(April 1968-July 1968)
Geno Washington – lead vocals
Dave Greenslade – organ
John ‘Silkie’ Culley – lead guitar
Peter Carney – bass
Lionel ‘Rocky’ Kingham – tenor saxophone
Pat Higgs – trumpet
Hans Herbert – drums
Clive Burrows left around April 1968 and the band took on trumpet player Pat Higgs, a former member of Elton John’s mid-1960s band, Bluesology and then a brief member of Hamilton & The Hamilton Movement.
This version of the band was responsible for a lone single, “I Can’t Quit Her” c/w Carney and Culley’s “Put Out The Fire Baby” (Pye 7N 17570), which was released in July 1968.
11 May 1968 – Bouton Rouge, Paris, France (filmed for French TV)
16 May 1968 – Black Prince, Bexley, Kent
17 May 1968 – Mayfair, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Tyne & Wear
18 May 1968 – Pavilion Gardens, Buxton, Derbyshire
22 May 1968 – Top Rank, Reading, Berkshire
24 May 1968 – Town Hall, Walsall, West Midlands
25 May 1968 – Civic Hall, Nantwich, Cheshire
31 May 1968 – Winter Gardens, Blackpool, Lancashire
6 June 1968 – Locarno Ballroom, Portsmouth, Hants
12 June 1968 – Locarno Ballroom, Stevenage, Hertfordshire
13 June 1968 – Locarno Ballroom, Coventry, West Midlands
14 June 1968 – Club A Go Go, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Tyne & Wear
21 June 1968 – Burton Constable Hall, Skirlaugh, East Yorkshire with Savoy Brown Blues Band, The Move, Marmalade, Family, Fairport Convention, Spooky Tooth, Tramline, Elmer Gantry, Mandrakes and Angel Pavement
4 July 1968 – Dreamland Ballroom, Margate, Kent with The Iveys
6 July 1968 – Woburn Music Festival, Woburn, Bedfordshire with Jimi Hendrix Experience, T-Rex, Family, New Formula and Little Women
Sources: South East London Mercury, Melody Maker, NME, Newcastle Evening Chronicle, Nottingham Evening Post, Dave Allen (Bird Cage gigs), Steve Ingless (Bishop’s Stortford), Fabulous 208.
Huge thanks to Peter Carney, John Culley (who shared his 1967 diary) and John Carroll for helping with line ups
Copyright © Nick Warburton, 2014. All Rights Reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced or transmitted in any from or by any means, without prior permission from the author. To contact the author, email: Warchive@aol.com
It has been nearly a half-century since five musicians from Martinsville and Danville banded together to form a group that would record just six sides over their decade together, but the music they created continues to gain fans and now reaches a far greater audience than was possible when they honed their skills in rural Virginia in the 1960s.
Gene and the Team Beats started their career as the Corvettes, an instrumental group led by Gene Rumley of Martinsville, who also played sax and booked the band throughout Virginia and the Carolinas. Carl Clarke (also from Martinsville) was the group’s original rhythm guitarist and joined the band near its inception in 1959. He remembers that the band originally performed as the Teen Beats, borrowing their name from a popular instrumental recorded by drummer Sandy Nelson. But when several of the members turned 20, Gene and the Team Beats were born.
The Team Beats performed mostly in Virginia, North and South Carolina and the DC area between 1959 and 1968. The band started recording late in their career, with all three 45s released between 1965 and ’67.
The Team Beats were especially popular in the Danville area and early performances saw the group backing recording artists Freddy “Boom Boom” Cannon, Brenda Lee and Jimmy Clanton at the local Coke plant. Clark recalls that the crowds were huge and even the local musicians were treated like rock stars. Butch Fox doubled on guitar and bass, while Dennis Porter played drums in the 1961 Team Beats’ configuration. Both commuted from Danville.
An article appearing in the Martinsville Bulletin in September 1961 recounts the band’s return from a summer tour which took them across eight states. They began playing in Myrtle Beach, S.C. at the Ocean Forest Marine Patio and Pavilion. Other appearances included the Top Hat, the Tropicana, and the Star Terrace Room in Virginia Beach.
Besides Rumley, bassist Carl Barrow had the longest history with the band, starting with the original line-up and continuing through countless personnel changes. Barrow’s bass can be heard on all three recording sessions. He first met Rumley when the future bandleader was “16 or 17 and he was working a night job as a curb hop at Sugar’s Drive-In, a small diner located in Martinsville on River Hill.” He remembers Gene had a strong work ethic and didn’t seem to mind holding down a full-time job, booking the band and driving the Team Beats to and from jobs in Virginia and the Carolinas.
But there were equipment problems early in their career, with Barrow blowing speakers at performances. He went to work with Clark and the pair designed their own cabinet. They mounted two 15 inch JBL speakers in a huge cabinet powered by a Fender amp. Other bands heard about the innovation and were coming to hear this “loud and very deep bass amplifier.” The huge tower was years ahead of the Marshall stacks of the sixties and even had a practical application, providing the band a safe hiding place when fights and gunfire cleared the dance floor.
Clark and Barrow’s paths first crossed when they attended separate high schools in Martinsville. Barrow remembers being blown away at an assembly at Drewry Mason High School when Clark took the stage playing guitar. This was before the Team Beats, but “Carl got them reelin’ and rockin’ with a Chuck Berry song; he could really play.”
In the summer of 1961, the Team Beats were playing a night club in Norfolk — the Star Terrace Lounge — and living in a motel near Virginia Beach. With all of clubs booked at the beach, the band had to make do with the steady job in Norfolk. Clark recalls that “after a month or two some shyster talked us into going to Chicago, explaining that he had worked up a job for us there and we would be famous.”
All five members crammed into Rumley’s vintage Oldsmobile, pulling a wooden trailer covered with a tarp to the Windy City. On arrival, they discovered that the club manager had never heard of the band and had no interest in booking an unknown group from Virginia. Clark explains that “you had to be 21 to walk into the place, much less work there. We had been had by a manager who wanted us to leave (Norfolk) so his group could move in.”
The group piled back into Gene’s Olds and were trying to find their way out of Chicago when they “found this nice quiet road with no traffic.” With no place to stay and a long drive home, the band found a secluded spot by the water and went to sleep. The next morning they were preparing to leave but couldn’t understand why so many people were walking in the “road” and looking at them like they were from another planet. The band stopped the car and got out, only to be greeted by sirens and police cruisers coming through the woods in their direction. Gene and his compatriots were soon surrounded by the law. With guns drawn, they ordered the band to spread eagle and were promptly searched. Unbeknownst to the Team Beats, they had been driving on the sidewalks of Lake Shore Park.
The group was ordered to remove everything from the band trailer and all of their instrument cases were searched. With no machine guns in tow, Chicago’s finest finally realized that they weren’t dealing with criminals but “five dumb, redneck hillbillies from Virginia trying to become rock and roll stars.” They repacked their equipment and were escorted from the city by one of the officers. When they arrived at the outskirts of town, the cruiser stopped and the cop told them to “head that Oldsmobile south and don’t look back.”
Clark married in 1963 and “found a shift job,” which didn’t jive with the night life and long hours required for road gigs on weekends. He left the band and music shortly thereafter but still plays, although he has switched to bass and Bluegrass music.
Lewis “Lew” Woodall of Bassett was the band’s original lead guitarist, and still performs with his own jazz quartet. He recalls the early years, when the band formed in 1959-60 as Gene and the Teen Beats. He says the band played about every weekend around Martinsville, Danville and Roanoke, frequently crossing the state border to play jobs for college fraternities. Woodall says in addition to the extended engagement at Norfolk’s Star Terrace, the Team Beats also played Virginia Beach’s Top Hat Club in the summer of 1961.
Woodall’s instrumental prowess was already legendary in Southside Virginia and Barrow says he had no rivals, calling him “the best guitarist anywhere around” and “way ahead of his time.” Barrow recalls that “Lew was getting sounds out of just his straight guitar without the fuzz box and pedals that came along years later.”
While the band was small in number, they were able to get a full sound because each member was an accomplished musician. They were primarily a soul and rhythm and blues band and Rumley points out that “Lewis (Woodall) and some of the guys hated playing rock and roll.”
Gene and the Team Beats were the house band at the Peppermint Beach Club in Virginia Beach for the summer in 1962. The club was the sister of the renowned Peppermint Lounge in New York City and home of Joey Dee and the Starlighters of “Peppermint Twist” fame. The Team Beats played to a packed house during their two-month stint at the club. Between frat house engagements found by Rumley (aided by Bill Buckner) and the jobs secured by the group’s three booking agencies, there was seldom a weekend when the group wasn’t on the road.
One such weekend found the Team Beats in Greensboro in the dead of winter. Rumley drove the group’s blue Econovan, pulling a band trailer with the guys crammed inside the van. Barrow admits “it wasn’t highfalutin; we were lucky to get there at times.” The band finished their job about 1 a.m., loaded the trailer and Gene got behind the wheel. He was also working a day job for Gerber Foods at the time, so Rumley was tired. Barrow recalls that it was bitterly cold outside “and Gene was so sleepy that he would roll the window down and stick his head outside until he nearly froze. That would wake him up for a few minutes and when he was about to doze off, he’d do it again.” Barrow suggested that “maybe one of us should drive,” but Rumley would have none of it. They made it home safely but Barrow marvels that “we weren’t all hurt or worse.”
Wayne Motley was the band’s vocalist during this period. Rumley describes Motley as “an amazing showman and singer,” but with a troubled life that made him “hard to manage at times.” Motley, who also played guitar, keyboards and “just about anything but a horn,” was in and out of the band. Rumley explains that he “had to let him go a couple times (but) took Wayne back out of desperation.” He finally left the band for good after a minor scrape with the law.
Motley was fronting the group when the Team Beats won second place in a statewide battle of the bands competition in Richmond. Dressed in matching outfits and belting out a Jackie Wilson tune, the band took home $250 and new suits for each member.
Motley was already a veteran of the band scene by this time, starting at age 14 as a founding member of the Royal Kings, which played the club and college circuit in the Virginia Beach/Ocean View area. He would return to the Royal Teens after his ouster from the Team Beats. Barrow recalls seeing the band in Roanoke then and not recognizing Motley immediately because he was wearing a blonde wig.
In later years, Motley recorded and performed with his wife, Katherine, in the Newport News area as Wayne “King” Motley. His three-hour show was interspersed with vintage rock and roll, country classics and an Elvis tribute. He continued entertaining at assisted living and retirement communities until just before his death at age 67. Barrow, Buckner and Lew Woodall visited Motley at his home a month before he died on August 18, 2012. Barrow says he was in good spirits and glad to see all of them after so many years. Bill Buckner, who was instrumental in promoting the band, died months later on April 2, 2014. He was 76.
Lew Woodall remembers that in 1963, the band played a couple of months at the Twist Lounge at Nags Head. Nights found the band sleeping in a hot dog stand on the beach, with all five members crammed into a small cinderblock room and sharing a single sheet. Rumley recalls that “one night the guys left the sheet for me, but they’d wrapped it around a dead shark.” While the stand had “gone broke and closed,” the awning was still up and band members would be awakened by beachcombers who wanted a snack in the middle of the night.
Woodall left the Team Beats at the end of that summer when he transferred to Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. After graduating in 1965, Woodall was drafted and his brother, Lonnie, began playing with Rumley while Lew was in Vietnam.
The younger Woodall and Barrow shared an affinity for the same music and he recalls “Lonnie and I used to do a little soulful singing to each other.” The two were like brothers and Lonnie was already a regular on the bandstand, tagging along when Lewis was playing with the group. Lonnie picked up the guitar and “after a while we could see he was going to be a great guitarist. He joined the band and Lonnie took over where Lew left off.”
With Motley’s forced exodus from the band, Rumley was in need of a soulful vocalist. He found Charles Hairston by sheer tenacity, explaining that he went up Fayette Street in Martinsville saying: “Hey, we’re looking for a black singer to really represent our group with soul music… who’s a good singer?” Someone recommended Charles, who passed the audition and became the voice of the Team Beats. Gene says his contribution cannot be overlooked, and believes “Charles really made our band at that time.”
The addition brought some problems in the segregated South, where the band was refused service at a restaurant while returning from a fraternity gig at the University of Virginia. But having Hairston on vocals also allowed the Team Beats to play in some black clubs that were generally off limits to white bands.
There were some close calls, though. On one occasion the band was playing in the basement of an all black club in Martinsville when a woman accused her boyfriend of cheating and pulled a Saturday night special from her purse. She pointed the gun at the boyfriend and shouted: “I’m gonna blow your head off!” He ran into the women’s bathroom as the band scurried for cover, ducking behind the piano and amplifiers. With a staircase on each side of the bandstand, the patrons ran up the steps to the right as the irate female continued to wave her pistol in the other stairwell. The band had nowhere to go and remained in hiding until the standoff could be diffused.
Rumley recalls another incident at a long since forgotten club “somewhere back in the sticks” of North Carolina. After agreeing to take the job, Rumley was contacted by Bill Buckner, who wanted to book the band for the same date. When Buckner learned where the Team Beats were scheduled to perform, he warned the bandleader that they were risking life and limb by playing there. But the gig paid about $300 and the band needed the money, so Rumley instructed Buckner to keep quiet about his reservations.
Rumley didn’t tell the band about the club’s reputation for violence, but instructed the guys to pull the old, upright piano away from the wall, in case they had to duck for cover. With just one door on the opposite end of the dance hall, he also made certain the window behind the bandstand was open, in case they had to stage a speedy exit.
The band was rocking about 1 a.m. when two gunshots rang out. That brought things to a standstill, but the partying resumed once the patrons realized the shots had come from the parking lot.
As the band was packing up for the night, Rumley inquired about the gunshots and learned that a woman had fatally shot her boyfriend.
The band was instructed to pick up their pay at another location. Rumley was returning to the van with the night’s receipts when he spotted a drunk standing by the van, talking to the musicians about the shooting that had happened a couple of hours earlier. Turns out he was also the local undertaker and, upon determining that the shooting victim had died, simply placed him on the back seat of his car and returned to the festivities. When the band declined his offer to view the body, the mortician drove on to the morgue. It would be the first — and last — time the Team Beats booked a job there.
Musician and composer Rickie Fox was also an early member of the band and says one of his first performances as a Team Beat was at the Rathskeller, a downtown Danville nightclub located off Main Street, behind the Elk’s Lodge. Fox explains that his brother, Butch, got him into the group after one of the members (he’s not sure which) was drafted into the Army. Butch Fox switched to lead guitar and 12-year-old Rickie picked up the bass. Fox ended up playing with the group for about two-and-a-half years, first on bass, later on guitar and finally on drums. His drumming can be heard on the band’s first two records.
Butch was asked to leave the band after missing several rehearsals. Rickie was not yet old enough to drive and had no way to get to Martinsville “so Gene hired Brian Thomason to play bass” and bring the younger brother to rehearsals. Fox switched to guitar; Lew Woodall was drafted and Rumley hired his brother, Lonnie, to play guitar with Fox. Charles Hairston was the vocalist, Mickey Walker played drums and Rumley was on sax.
Fox shifted to drums when Walker was drafted and recalls driving to Sam Ash Music in New York, “where I bought a set of drums just like Ringo’s: black pearl Ludwig’s.”
Fox says his most vivid memory is playing with Otis Redding in Martinsville on Friday, June 4, 1965. Fox recalls that Redding, then billed as “Mr. Pitiful,” was playing at the June German Ball, which was being held on Fayette Street in Martinsville. The “School’s Out Celebration Show and Dance” was billed as a five-hour show featuring Redding, with Little Royal and the Swingmasters of Washington, D.C. and Gene and the Team Beats as support acts. Fox says that Rumley and friend Bill Buckner had arranged for Redding to play for about an hour, with all of the bands using the Team Beats’ equipment “because they just kind of came in and then they went out.” According to Fox, the Team Beats were playing a club on 220 at the time and both he and Lonnie Woodall worshiped Little Royal’s guitar player, Robert Parker, stealing “every guitar lick we possibly could from him.” Little Royal was also quite a showman and emulated James Brown.
The Otis Redding show was at Baldwin’s Gymtorium on Fayette Street and attracted 3,000 fans. Rumley says the aging, two-story building had a balcony that circled the interior, with a high stage and a large dance floor. The Team Beats got the crowd warmed up and by the time they left the stage, “that place was jumping and the old wooden building was literally shaking.” He says when Otis Redding performed, the sound was “absolutely unbelievable.” Rumley recalls that the horn section from James Brown’s band had just defected to the “up and coming” Redding and says “they basically tore the roof off the place. That was one of the best jobs that we’d ever played.”
Fox was also with the band when the Team Beats opened for the Shangri Las at the Danville City Auditorium. The all-girl group was backed by a stellar English instrumental band, Sounds Inc. The group had recently performed with the Beatles and — like the Liverpudlians — honed their skills at the famed Star Club in Germany.
The agent for the show arranged for the Team Beats to travel to Washington, D.C. to play for other booking agencies. Fox remembers that they played a club with Little Willie and the Hand Jives. And while nothing ever came of the audition, Fox says they had a great time there.
The Team Beats performed with Sam and Dave, Percy Sledge and the Showmen. They also provided instrumental backing for Joe Simon, Inez Foxx, William Bell, the Kelly Brothers and Freddy Cannon.
Eddie Scott, who played drums after Fox left the group, says the show with Sam and Dave was especially memorable, since the Team Beats had the chance to join the duo’s huge band on stage. Scott remembers that the Team Beats “were the opening act (but) as the night wound down, we were able to play together, all of us. Sam and Dave and their group (were) on stage and then Gene and the Team Beats along with them… we were able to deliver a high powered performance.”
The Team Beat’s first single, “I’ll Carry On” b/w “Apple Fuzz” was released on Leatherwood (RI 2096) in 1965. Rickie Fox played drums on the session and says the band recorded the 45 not long after he joined.
“I’ll Carry On” is credited to Rumley, while bothers Lewis and Lonnie Woodall are listed as composers of the instrumental, “Apple Fuzz,” which features nice jazz phrasing on guitar.
Rumley explains that for the first release, the band saved some money “from a couple of gigs, rented a studio near Rocky Mount somewhere and cut our first record, which we self-promoted.” Rumley describes the recording quality as “bad,” noting “there wasn’t much separation at all… probably one, two tracks because we were playing like we were playing in a nightclub and had the volume cranked up. When the sound came out, we were not too happy with it.” The single is distorted and poorly mixed and received little airplay.
Fox insists it wasn’t recorded in a studio at all, but rather in the basement of a home in Rocky Mount. He was 12 at the time but remembers the night vividly. Fox says the band had played a job in Roanoke at the Sportsmen Club and “Gene had hooked up with some guy that had a quote-unquote ‘studio’ in his basement.” That night after the gig, the band went to his home and recorded “I’ll Carry On” and the flip side in a marathon session. Fox says the band was “literally there pretty much through the night.” While he knew little about recording studios at the time, Fox remembers “it was kind of primitive (and) I don’t think we did a lot of overdubbing or anything like that. It seemed like it was just a situation to record right onto a big reel-to-reel.”
He says the setting looked nothing like a studio. Fox had just started playing the drums and when he listens to the 45 today, “I cringe because everything I like in a drummer now I didn’t do then; I was playing everything on the off beat… a lot of off beat snare drum hits and the ride cymbal was real heavy.” But he feels justified in that the record was “hastily done in somebody’s basement and there’s no telling what type of equipment he had.”
“I Wanta Be Your Baby,” and “I’ll Let Nothing Separate Me” were the group’s second and third 45 releases, respectively. Both were pressed in Tennessee by Nashville Record Productions, Inc. for Raven Records in Danville, although “I Wanta Be Your Baby” was actually recorded at Copeland Studios in Greensboro, N.C. Rumley doesn’t recall why they opted to record the single there, but believes it was because Copeland had better equipment than the fledgling House of Sound Studios on Old Piney Forest Road in Danville.
“I Wanta Be Your Baby” b/w “Sorry ‘bout That” was released in 1966 and was the first rock record in the Raven Records (Raven 45-2006) catalog and was among the label’s first releases. Writing credits for both sides are given to Gino Lamonte, although the Italian never existed. Rumley explains that he penned both sides; however, the band decided to create a composer pseudonym because they thought a European name would look more impressive on the label.
This was to be Fox’s swansong with the band and he recalls that Frank Koger, who ran the House of Sound and Raven Records, accompanied the band to Greensboro, along with Koger’s close friend Bill Buckner, who was managing the Leeds Music Store in Collinsville at that time. Fox remembers “it was the first time I’d ever gone to a real studio and the guy came running out and oiled my (squeaking) bass drum pedal and I was like: ‘Hey, what are you doing?’ I didn’t quite get it.”
The band was well prepared to lay down the plug side, but Fox recalls that the B-side was another matter, adding that the band would always make up something for the second side. “We would go to the studio with one song, which looking back on it is not very smart, and then we would just kind of make up something to go on the other side right there in the studio,” said Fox. The flip side was usually an instrumental, because the group didn’t have time to write lyrics. “And that’s how we made up that “Sorry ‘bout That,” which he says was created on the spot in the studio. Buckner laughs on the track and Koger can be heard saying “Sorry ‘bout That” at the end. Fox was in seventh grade at the time but still remembers the excitement of recording in an actual studio setting.
The personnel on “I Wanta Be Your Baby” is: Gene Rumley (sax and backup vocals); Charles Hairston (lead vocal); Lonnie Woodall (guitar and backup vocals); Rickie Fox (drums); Carl Barrow (bass).
In addition to Rumley and Buckner, the Team Beats had three agencies booking the band: Hit Attractions out of Charlotte, N.C.; Cavalier Attractions in Charlottesville, VA; and Southeastern Artists and Promotions of Florence, AL.
As he was too young to drive, Fox recalls that “when my ride (Brian Thomason) left the band, I had to leave, too.” He went on to form the Soulmasters with musicians from Danville and Eden, N.C. He played drums in the early Soulmasters, with Thomason on bass. Fox also played in the Majors, City Council, the Manchesters and Fox and Company. He continues to record, produce and perform today, both as a solo artist and with various bands.
To “promote” the record Rumley and the band’s drummer got in Gene’s car “and drove for two days from Danville to Richmond, up to a guy playing all kind of rhythm and blues out in Delaware. Just anybody who would listen to us we go into a studio and try and tell them who we were and what we were doing.” Apparently it worked, as “I Wanta Be Your Baby” was a regional hit and the group’s best selling 45. Bassist Alan Rowe remembers buying his copy at Leeds Music Center in Danville from Soulmaster Doug Hyler, who worked at the store when not on the road with his band.
A letter from Broadcast Music, Inc. to Rumley dated May 10, 1966 lists the A-sides of both singles and “I’m Sorry About That,” urging Rumley to notify the publisher (Old Standby Music Co.) and have the songs registered with BMI as soon as possible. His experience was not unique. Two other Raven bands, Lost Soul and the Individuals, thought their songs had been registered, only to learn years later that the music licensing firm had no record of their recordings. Individuals’ bassist Tommy Redd kept the paperwork showing he paid Koger $6 to register two of his songs with BMI.
Interestingly, Koger recycled the single’s flip side without telling the band. “Sorry ‘bout That” can be heard as the instrumental backing to an otherwise forgettable B-side recitation (“I’m Fine”) recorded by Charlie Chandler (Raven HOS-45-2042 “The Drunken Driver” b/w “I’m Fine”) and released on Raven’s C&W subsidiary.
Most regard the Hairston line-up as the band’s best. Hairston would remain with the Team Beats until his conscription to military service. He would later be reunited with Fox in City Council, a horn band that toured extensively, performing original material and covers of popular songs that were given the band’s unique stamp through creative arrangements.
Hairston moved to North Carolina in the mid-70s. He remained a fixture on the Charlotte music scene until his death from prostate cancer in 2009 at the age of 61. As vocalist, he fronted the All Stars and is best remembered for being “the soul and energy” of the band’s Monday night performances at the Double Door Inn.
Hairston put on a memorable show for the Inn’s 35th anniversary in December 2008, just two months before his death. Fans say he was his usual self, sweating, singing and moving all around the stage. He last performed publicly at the Double Door in January 2009. By then the cancer he’d battled all year had taken its toll and he sang while sitting on a stool. Hairston’s mother and family visited from Maryland about a week before his death and he sang for them and the hospice staff. He was in good spirits and one in attendance described it as “a wonderful moment… and then he passed peacefully.” The Charles Hairston Memorial Foundation was established the following year.
Guitarist Lonnie Woodall also died too soon, suffering a fatal heart attack on May 20, 2002. He was 54 and had recently attended a bands reunion in Danville that included many veterans of the Team Beats. He played with numerous local and national groups, including City Council, the Rogues, Fox and Company, Percy Sledge and the Blues Defenders. He was the owner of Woodall’s Music and was also instrumental in establishing Harrison Scales Young Musicians Foundation and worked closely with the Bassett High School Jazz Band.
Woodall is still remembered as a great guitarist and a soulful blues singer, but also as a friend to all. Barrow calls him his “brother” and Rumley said he was “always dependable, up-beat and loved music.” Gene says there were many times when he considered quitting, but “I could always depend on Lonnie being there when we had to start over with new people in the group: singers, bass players or drummers. I don’t know of anyone who did not like Lonnie; he was always learning, always caring and kind to everyone he met.”
The band’s third and final release, “I’ll Let Nothing Separate Me” b/w “Here I Stand” (Raven HOS 42-2011) came out in 1967 and features a cover of an obscure song by the Wallace Brothers as its A-side. Early pressings featured a photo card insert of the band with a brief bio and booking information.
Since they were no longer writing their own material, Rumley explains that the members would “sit down and listen to old records,” then decide which tunes would be suitable for the group.” This time the group delivered what is arguably their best effort. And, unlike their previous releases, the B-side was no throwaway. “Here I Stand” stands on its own and is preferred by many to the single’s infectious plug side.
Mitchell was needed because “when Charles left we were missing that soul that only some people can bring to our style of music.” Rumley discovered Mitchell after again asking friends to recommend a good, soulful singer. He says Jimmy’s vocal styling fit the band perfectly. It didn’t hurt that he was a consummate “showman and front man.” By this point the band was moving in step on many of their numbers and Mitchell was a natural for the choreography, adding his own gyrations. Scott was also quite a dancer and Barrow recalls Eddie would hit the dance floor during breaks, “doing his best James Brown impression.”
Mitchell’s tenure with the band was brief. The singer married and left because it was too difficult to balance his day job with the band’s busy travel schedule. At some point he left Martinsville and Scott recalls that Mitchell later sang in clubs in New York City.
Barrow also left the band shortly before the break-up in 1968. Carl had been with the group on-and-off since he beginning but explains that he “went into commercial artwork” and the pressure of holding down a job and playing every weekend became too much.
A fourth single release was planned and the backing track was recorded. The project was shelved after the group’s new lead singer, Alfonzo Martin of Martinsville, was also inducted into the military. Rumley regrets that the band was unable to add Martin’s vocals to their final recording session, describing his range as “unbelievable.” Martin served in the U.S. Army and rose to the rank of staff sergeant. He was killed by hostile fire in Vietnam.
The group disbanded shortly thereafter. Rumley points out that the band had been together nearly a decade and he had grown weary of replacing members who moved on to other bands, full-time jobs or were drafted and shipped out to Southeast Asia.
Scott moved to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina in 1996 and drove a truck until his retirement. He played in several bands over the years, including Martinsville’s Renegade Demolition Band in the eighties.
With the break-up, Rumley left touring behind and concentrated on a career. He spent more than 30 years in the business world, serving as president and vice president of multi-national corporations while leading training seminars throughout Asia-Pacific, Europe and North America. He was named “Business Man of the Year” by Alibaba.com, the world’s largest B2B search engine. While his home is in Florida, Rumley continues to travel extensively as a John Maxwell certified coach and teacher. But he is most passionate about his work with children in India, where he founded Mission for Orphans, a non-profit organization that helps feed, clothe and educate street children and orphans.
But rarely a day goes that he isn’t contacted by a follower of the music his band created nearly fifty years ago. The songs have stood the test of time, and Gene and the Team Beats live on through the dedication of Beach Music fans on the East Coast and lovers of Northern Soul in the United Kingdom.
10 years ago Rhino released two fine 24-track CD compilations, Come to the Sunshine and Hallucinations, both subtitled “Nuggets from the WEA Vaults.” These compilations made thematic sense and included a lot of unfamiliar music. The sound was consistent as most of the songs came from the Warner Bros./Reprise labels, with a smattering from labels like Cotillion, Atco and Valiant.
I was hoping this approach would be repeated for this 3 CD set, Dig That Underground Sound! Rare Garage Rock from the Vaults of Warner Bros., Elektra & Atlantic Records. It’s a well-programmed selection of music, mixing familiar songs with the obscure, but that’s about the only thing I like about this release.
Unfortunately, there’s no unifying theme to this compilation. “Farmer John” follows “Black Roses”, and is followed by the Association. Most selections are singles, but then there are album cuts by the Fugs and Iron Butterfly. A few UK singles are mixed in, for no particular reason other than that they were released on Atco or Elektra. There are even a couple Flamin’ Groovies cuts from 1976, originally released on Sire!
Nor is there anything approaching ‘rare’ on this set. The only song that hasn’t already been reissued on CD is the Waphphle’s “I Want You”, which is hardly essential. There are no previously unreleased tracks. 13 tracks appeared on Rhino’s earlier CD set, Where The Action Is! Los Angeles Nuggets: 1965-1968 including the most inspired choices of obscure songs, such as “The Rebel Kind” by Dino, Desi & Billy, and “Come Alive” by the Things to Come.
A third of the selections come from the Warner Bros./Reprise labels, including oft-reissued fare by the Electric Prunes, the Music Machine and the Premiers. This set would have benefited from songs like the Magic Mushroom’s “I’m Gone”, the New Order’s “Why Can’t I” & “Meet Your Match”, and the Gates of Eden “Elegy”, all originally released on Warner Bros and never officially reissued.
Other than three songs from Love, Elektra is only represented by Leviathan’s “Remember the Times”, Clear Light and the Waphphle (the undeserving “I Want You” instead of the better “Goin’ Down”).
Atlantic/Atco provides the Vagrants (three songs), The Common Cold, Rose Garden, Iron Butterfly, and a couple UK artists: Vamp (“Floatin’”) and Sharon Tandy. The rest of the tracks are from other labels controlled by Warner Music Group, such as Dunwich, Mustang, Roulette, Mira, Original Sound, Autumn, many of which are good selections.
The sound quality is generally good but suffers on certain tracks, such as the Shadows of Knight’s “I’m Gonna Make You Mine” which is brittle and lacking in bass. The clipping was obvious when I opened the file up in an audio editor.
Other than a few nice Record Store Day 7″s, the Rhino Custom imprint seems to specialize in unexciting rehash of old music. The six page booklet has short bios on the three primary labels and ten of the bands. It’s a cheap package, but at 15 tracks per CD, it’s not even a bargain.
Frank Milone – lead guitar
Butch Cappolino – drums
Jim O’Connell – bass
Bob Wolfkill – rhythm
The 4-Dimensions were started 1963 in Miami Shores, Florida by three friends, Frank Milone, Butch Cappolino, and Jim O’Connell. Frank had been playing the guitar for several years, Butch had taken drum lessons and Jim volunteered to play bass.
They went through several lead guitar players when they met an older musician Buck Campbell. He trained Frank to play lead, Butch to play drums and Jim some bass. Once he had the band going with a list of top ten songs Buck moved on. The band auditioned several rhythm guitar players and found Bob Wolfkill who matched the temperament of the other three and fit right in.
The band started playing at many of the local schools and community clubs. Their first real big break came when they got a gig with local disk jockey Charlie Murdock. The band played every Friday night at the Cutler Ridge Mall south of Miami and eventually became the house band. They began playing all over the town and especially on Miami Beach. During the summer of 1964 they played in a small club call the Coffee House in Coral Gables where they played rock and roll music six nights a week.
Near the end of 1964 they became one of the regular bands at the North Miami Armory on Sunday nights and at War Memorial Auditorium in Fort Lauderdale on Saturday nights. These were the top dance locations for teenagers on the weekends.
At the end of the summer of 1965 Bob left for college and the band disbanded. The band had a reunion in 1999 and jammed for the last time.
Frank is now currently playing in two separate bands.
Butch use to jam with Frank every once in a while and still had his original set of drums when he passed in 2008 at age 60.
Jim still has his original Gibson SG bass but does not play.
Bob sold his guitar to go to school when he left the band. All agreed it was the best time of their lives.
Kevin Longendyke sent me the transfers and scans of this demo acetate by the Cisum V. I have no info on the band, other than it was recorded at Ultra-Sonic Recording Studios at 149 North Franklin Street in Hempstead, NY, on Long Island. Both sides are moody winners, though “I’m So Glad” may have the edge on “You Told Me”.
Any info the band would be appreciated.
Mike Markesich suggests this is the same group that recorded the single “Medal of Honor” / Mrs. Orange” on Epic 5-10362, both songs by David Brightman and Phil Galdston for Brigand Music ASCAP. The label credits Stu Krane with production.
However that 45 features keyboards, unlike this demo, besides being a much more sophisticated production.
The Epic group Cisum (‘music’ spelled backwards) were Phil Galdston (keyboards, vocals), Dave Brightman (lead guitar, vocals), Rich Bronsky (rhythm guitar, vocals), Gary Mandel (bass, vocals) and John Glowa (drums, percussion).
Engineer & producer Jim Reeves has a website dedicated to his work at Studio 3 on East 57th Street and at CBS Columbia studios on East 52nd Street, including some (very small) photos of the band, about a third of the way down the page. On another page he writes that Cisum recorded an entire LP, Myriad Marvels at Studio3.
Mike Cooper sent in this photo of the Sensations, who were one of the bands on a list of groups playing the Texas State Fair in 1967.
Mike wrote to me about the band:
Roe Cree – lead singer, rhythm guitar
Mike Nelson – lead guitar and vocals
Mike Cooper – bass and vocals
Richard Schulze – drums and vocals
All alive and kicking. Played around Dallas from 1964 to 1968, Studio Club regular. We recorded three songs written by Mike Jones but they never went past demo ["Father Brown," "The Kind of Girl," "Gone Tomorrow"]. All of us did vocals and that was one thing that we felt set us apart from some groups was the harmonies. Roe sang lead but the others sang back up three and sometimes four part.
We played similar venues as groups like The Novas, The Briks, Kenny and The Kasuals. We never called them rivals because we were all friends. Mike Nelson plays gigs with Kenny yet today.
From the Sensations Mike Nelson went on to play with Gladstone who had a top 20 song “A Piece of Paper” in 1973. Later he became founder and owner of Boomerang Musical Products.
Roe Cree went on with Rose Colored Glass. They had a top ten hit “Can’t Find The Time,” 1971. They played American Bandstand. Roe said Dick Clark was one of the nicest guy he had ever met.
Mike Cooper and Richard Schulze did not continue to pursue music.
Roe Cree’s brother Joe was in the U.S. Britons with Mike Jones, Larry McNeny, Herman Drees and Larry Meletio.
By Jack Garrett
In the days before tribute bands, a group of high school friends from Danville, Va. formed a group that borrowed everything — including their name — from their idols, the Rolling Stones. And while the local band would continue to emulate the English rockers, they quickly developed a style that incorporated the best of British blues, funky Southern soul and West Coast psychedelia.
The nucleus of the Stones Unturned — Jim Ray (vocals); Pete Hilliard (bass); and guitarist Doug Starnes — formed in 1965 to play for a Junior Variety Show at George Washington High School in Danville.
The band needed a drummer and Rick Blair was recruited, along with rhythm guitarist John Douglas. Douglas was a junior at GW and was the lead guitarist for the recently disbanded Kondors, so he was anxious to play again.
The group learned three Rolling Stones songs and Douglas recalls they “blew the roof off the place and the people just went nuts.” J. Ray, all 115 pounds of him, was a consummate showman and had the audience in his pocket. Douglas and Starnes alternated playing lead as they ripped through “Not Fade Away,” “The Last Time” and “Satisfaction.”
Ray had spray painted a parade drum from the GW marching band, mounted it on a stand and joined the drummer on “Not Fade Away.” After the show, Ray was mobbed by classmates who told him the group was great, adding: “You guys can mouth those records super.” After convincing them that the band was actually playing, they were immediately hired to play 3 parties. The only problem was that the group only knew 3 songs. They went to work and quickly learned about 25 tunes off the Top 40 charts.
Blair’s mother wouldn’t let him play in a rock band and Douglas was more interested in soul music and his girlfriend, so Curtis Vaughan was brought in on drums and Truxton Fulton was added on organ.
Ray explains that the band played everything in their repertoire during the first set of those early gigs and repeated the same songs after intermission. He handled vocals on the rockers, while Hilliard sang lead on the ballads and soul numbers.
Rehearsals were held at the Starnes’ home on South Woodberry. Sheet music for anything but standards was non-existent, so the group bought 45s and Starnes “would sit down and figure out the chords and Pete and Jimmy Ray would figure out the words.” None of the members had any formal musical training but Starnes “could sit down and pick out a song in less than 5 minutes,” so he was placed in charge teaching the band the arrangements. He says the idea was to “imitate (the 45) as closely as we could.”
The Stones played sorority dances, night clubs, hotels and fraternal organizations in Virginia and North Carolina, eventually venturing as far south as Asheville and the Carolina coast. Unable to find a regular venue to showcase their talents, the band became adept at self promotion, renting space at the Hotel Danville for performances. Friends were recruited to collect the small admission fee at the door. Just by word of mouth and a few homemade flyers, they were able to pack the auditorium.
An early demo tape was recorded in 1966 at the WBTM studios in Danville, where Hilliard worked weekends as a disc jockey. The group delivers note-for-note covers of several Rolling Stones songs, along with “96 Tears” and a raucous rendition of “Baby Let Me Bang Your Box” that borrows heavily from Doug Clark and the Hot Nuts, an R&B party band that frequented the frat house scene in the South. Hilliard produced the sessions, which were recorded with one mic on a single-track, Ampex reel-to-reel.
Fulton, who was an intern at WBTM at the time, recalls that the recording session was in lieu of payment for a commercial the band had recorded for Jet Wash, a new car wash that had opened in nearby Martinsville. Owner Joe Stendig wanted a jingle sung to the tune of the Batman television theme, with the group singing “Jet Wash” instead of “Batman.”
Since Hilliard worked at the station, the Stones “had all of the time we needed” to get the songs right.” Given the fact that all of the performances were laced with profanity and sexual innuendo, it is hard to believe that an unedited version of the tape was ever distributed outside the group’s inner circle.
Al Newman had recently opened a high-end clothing store and his son loved the band. Before a performance at the Danville Coke Plant, the group was approached by the haberdasher’s son, Mark, who had talked his father into outfitting the Stones for free, provided they put up a sign advertising his store and boasting that “The Stones Unturned are outfitted by A. Newman Ltd.” The guys agreed and showed up unannounced, bypassing the three-piece suits in favor of houndstooth jackets and corduroy pants. Nothing matched and the horrified shopkeeper never repeated the offer.
Fulton recalls getting a last-minute call from Starnes during the height of a snowstorm. The Danville Golf Club had booked a “professional” band out of Greensboro but the group canceled due to the weather. The Stones had the gig, provided they could get there. Fulton hailed a taxi while other members got there in a four-wheel drive. They arrived to find Vaughan waiting on the dance floor with a date. After a hasty explanation, he joined his mates on the bandstand.
The Stones played the Sand Fiddler Club in Yaupon Beach for a week in the summer. Vaughan recalls consuming “lots of beer” and wearing lampshades during the beach trip, describing the experience as “a kind of institutionalized delinquency.”
Vaughan and Fulton showed up at the Sand Fiddler for one of the performances and waited anxiously for the arrival of the other three. Fulton explains that “the time came and went for us to play and no Pete, or Jimmy or Doug and we were getting concerned and just a little miffed.” They showed up late, explaining that Hilliard’s car had gotten stuck on the beach as the tide was coming in and was nearly swept away.
Hilliard had convinced his dad to loan him his new ’66 Dodge Coronet to haul their gear to the beach. He said the three decided one afternoon to ride along the beach, explaining that “I guess we thought we were at Daytona and I took the Coronet onto the beach and immediately got stuck.” They were there about a half-hour when they flagged down a Jeep and asked the driver for a tow. He refused, explaining that the vehicle was new and he didn’t want to scratch the paint. With the tide lapping at the doors of the Dodge, the band members reluctantly called a tow truck, which wiped out any profit from the week’s engagement, since they were playing for a portion of the gate. The following night they spotted the new Jeep outside an oceanfront house shortly after stopping at a fireworks stand in Myrtle Beach. The band placed two M-80s on a cigarette fuse, chucked them into the tailpipe and left for the club.
A show at Virginia Intermont College in Bristol almost didn’t happen. Administrators should have known they were in for trouble when Ray opened the band trailer and empty beer cans fell to the pavement. The shoeless singer made a grand entrance to the formal ball, walking across tables to the stage. Vaughan wore his “Strawberry Alarm Clock shirt,” with Neru collar and reflective flowers that would blind the audience during the light show. At the break, one undergraduate in a suit approached Vaughan and remarked: “Wow, you guys are crazy!”
Another road trip took the band to the Albermarle Beach Casino in Plymouth, N.C. The building was on stilts above the Albermarle Sound and band members went up the back steps to reach the stage, only to find it surrounded by chicken wire. Ray says the clientele expected a country band and the Stones were pelted with beer bottles until they broke into “Rawhide” and “Big Boss Man.”
In the summer of 1967, the band morphed into the Purple Haze Publication and Light Show. The name was chosen over the objections of Fulton, who wanted to rename the band Radio Super Ice Cream Parlor. Members built light columns and a huge purple strobe light that was pointed toward the audience. Ray, who would go on to become an electrical engineer, wired it all to a foot pedal he could control from the stage. The band covered Hendrix, Cream and the Vanilla Fudge.
The group was excited about the chance to play with one of their idols, Jerry Lee Lewis, even though the venue was the Skylark Club, a beer joint on Rt. 86 that was notorious for rowdy drunks, shootings and stabbings. While the group had no problems, Ray recalls that Lewis arrived late and “drunk as hell, so we played a little longer than expected.”
Starnes was dating vocalist Flo Penn and it wasn’t long before she was added to the line-up, allowing the band to cover the Jefferson Airplane. Penn was already a veteran of the music scene and had recorded (as Little Lambie Penn) for two labels, including Atco where label mate Bobby Darin wrote and produced a novelty song (“I Wanna Spend Christmas with Elvis”) for his young protégé in 1956.
During this period, the band entered the House of Sound Studios on Piney Forest Road in Danville and recorded covers of the Nashville Teens’ hit “Tobacco Road,” and Bobby Hebb’s “Sunny.” Hillard sings lead on both and “Tobacco Road” features a blistering instrumental break that rivals the original in intensity. The Stones seemed equally at ease covering the MOR ballad, which at the time was a dance band standard.
A session tape survives, complete with the band’s banter between tracks. The recordings are some of the best to come out of the studio, but for some reason were never committed to vinyl. Ray says both songs were later submitted to CBS Records, along with the band’s slower version of the Temptations “Get Ready.”
Hilliard insists the band recorded several others songs that day and says nothing came of the tapes because “we looked at them as cover material” and “we didn’t have money to take them any further.” Everything was recorded in a single take with no overdubs. He attributes a bad note on “Sunny” to the fact that he “was singing and playing at the same time.”
Starnes says the band recorded as many as a half-dozen songs that day and recalls that the studio was booked so the Stones could back Flo on a demo tape for her agent in New York City, where she performed that summer. The group made quick work of her vocal numbers and — with studio time remaining — convinced producer Frank Koger to keep the tape rolling and record the band. The results were impressive and Starnes calls the recordings “one of the biggest turning points for the Stones Unturned.”
Both songs recorded at the House of Sound Studios and four tracks from the W.B.T.M. sessions are included in a Virginia garage band compilation slated for release later this year on Garden of Delights Records, a Greek label that specializes in vinyl offerings for the collector’s market.
Flo was never an official member of the group. Starnes notes that she sang with the Artie Tompkins Dance Band, and “if they weren’t playing on weekends and we were, she would come and sing with us. She would do a lot of the Jefferson Airplane and other groups that and it gave us a real full, more professional sound.”
The group opened for Joe Tex at the WDVA Barn Dance at the Danville Fairgrounds on Thanksgiving Day. Ray remembers the day well because the family was seated for the annual feast when he grabbed a turkey leg, informed his mom that the group was playing and ran from the house. This was an important performance and the band planned to go all out with their stage show, with an 8mm projector showing “Varan the Unbelievable” on a screen at the rear of the stage. Ray also rigged an overhead projector with a clear glass beaker containing oil and water, with food coloring dropped in as the stage floor vibrated, creating a montage of colors over the giant Japanese monster.
When the emcee announced the group, the curtains parted and the band launched into “Purple Haze” before realizing they were playing to an all black audience. Once they made it through the first number, Ray turned to Hilliard and told him to forget the song list and play “Funky Broadway.” When they got to the middle break, the pair brought the house down when Ray called Hilliard to center stage to teach the audience the new dance. The crowd rushed forward and dozens joined Hilliard on stage.
Hilliard decided to leave the group shortly thereafter, but not before a final show at the Danville City Armory in support of the Soulmasters and Minit recording artists the Showmen. Hilliard had already informed the band that as they were performing their last song, he planned to smash his guitar. He borrowed a Fender bass from the Soulmasters’ Ernie Dickens for their set, but switched to his cheaper knock-off when the band hit the first chords of “Tobacco Road.” When they reached the instrumental break, Hilliard walked to the center of the stage, jumped high into the air and landed on his knees. He fell backwards and continued playing. Starnes saw the crowd response and slammed into his amp, ending on the floor atop his equipment. Ray got so carried away that he jammed his mic into the P.A. column, piercing the grill cloth and a speaker cone. Vaughan kicked his cymbals onto the stage as Hilliard raised his bass above his head and smashed it into three pieces on the stage. The band quit playing and the curtains closed as a cacophony of noise and feedback filled the auditorium and the crowd erupted in cheers.
The audience kept calling for an encore and the curtains parted with Hilliard holding shards of his guitar. He threw the remnants into the audience and exited stage right as the crowd fought over the pieces. Backstage, the Showmen were watching in the wings in stunned silence and were reluctant to follow an unknown act that had just brought the house down. One of singers approached Hilliard and said, “man ya’ll were really smoking tonight.” When Pete thanked him for the complement, he replied: “No, I mean your amplifier is on fire.” Unbeknownst to Hilliard, the bass amp had shorted out during the melee and was ablaze. While he had trashed the equipment, Starnes said “it sure did make a good closing.”
After the show, fans made their way to the dressing room, bypassed the headliners and went straight to Hilliard and Ray.
With Hilliard’s departure, the group brought in rhythm guitarist/vocalist Joe Mitchell and bassist Jay Barker. The two lived in an apartment above an old movie theater that had no lighting, save for some neon beer signs the pair had won in drinking contests at the Skylark Club. The two left town — and the band — in a matter of months.
Another beach trip included an audition at the famed Pavilion in Myrtle Beach, S.C. By that time the group was playing strictly psychedelic music and the club’s owner explained that his soul audience had no interest in fuzz guitar and feedback. Carolyn Garrett accompanied her cousin Flo to take care of Penn’s young daughter and remembers that the Pavilion’s owner “loved the singer but hated the band,” offering Flo the chance to sing without the group.
One of Purple Haze’s last gigs was for a boy’s prep school is Asheville, N.C. The students were dressed for the occasion and had their dates with them. Starnes remembers that the band played their usual set of Cream and Hendrix covers and was well received. “They kinda got into that music; they liked Flo a whole lot. Oh course everybody liked Flo because she had such a good voice. She could sing just about anything. That was about a far away as we ever went… and we knew we were getting close to the end.”
The band had signed with Bowmar Productions in Wilson, N.C., a booking agency that also handled Danville’s Soulmasters. CBS expressed an interest and a test pressing of the band’s version of “Get Ready” was made.
Plans for additional recordings were shelved when PHP&LS split in the summer of 1969. The break-up was amicable as most were leaving to attend college.
Fulton was the first to leave the Stones and went on to play with a Farmville soul group, Sammy Hawks and the Satisfactions, who recorded two 45s, including a cover of “Day Tripper.” During his senior year at GW, Truxton formed the American Band and performed his own compositions, with the assistance of drummer Larry Abbott and guitarist Walter Dalton. The trio recorded an acetate album of original material at Crescent City Sound Studios in Greensboro on July 15, 1969. Fulton handled the vocals and played organ, piano, and bass piano, while a session violinist was used on one track. Shortly thereafter, Fulton moved to Richmond to attend Virginia Commonwealth University. The recordings got the group a gig with Bruce Springsteen’s band, Steel Mill. Larry Powers and John Coppinger saw that show and recruited Fulton into their newly formed group, Play Innocent, followed by a stint with a “working band” called Matrix.
Fulton abandoned the idea of music as a career in the 70s and moved to Alabama, where he worked for years as an engineer with Boeing, specializing in missile defense. Since retiring, he has reconnected with some of his former bandmates from Play Innocent and the band recorded a music video (“Monster Movie”) in Florida. Fulton also records original material as Karl Mahlmann.
Hilliard studied electrical engineering at Virginia Tech before moving to D.C., where he worked in radio before joining the Army. He spent three years with the American Forces Radio Network in Germany, interviewing many of his idols, including Mick Jagger, Bill Wyman, Steve Miller, Ian Anderson, Edwin Starr and Godley and Crème. After the service, he moved to Florida and “starved, worked in sunshine” before receiving an offer to return to Germany to work in television with the AFN. Today he lives in Connecticut and is the owner of Hilliard Creative Group, a digital media production company. He returned to the guitar in 1998 and married a music teacher and keyboardist in 2004. He currently performs for friends and in church.
Ray left the band just before the split, went to Blacksburg and majored in electrical engineering at Virginia Tech. He went into business for himself and continues to work as a consulting engineer, specializing in automation systems. He still lives in Danville but has not performed since 1969.
Vaughan was a year younger than the rest and remained with the group until the end. He was so committed to the band that he skipped his high school graduation to play a road gig. After finishing college, Vaughan was drafted and spent two years in the Army. He moved to California, earned a doctorate in Psychology at Berkeley and taught in Tokyo before returning to the West Coast, where he taught briefly before working for 30 years in the Bay area as an Applied Psychologist in Adolescent Child Development. He continues with his day job and also travels with his wife, who is a performer of Japanese classical music.
Starnes attended Virginia Tech, married Penn and the couple moved to Greensboro, N.C. Starnes left the music business and worked as a traveling salesman for a company that sold sportswear and lingerie. Flo continued to perform, singing in Las Vegas and on countless of radio jingles. She also released a growling version of Timi Yuro’s “What’s A Matter Baby” that went nowhere. The couple eventually moved to Salisbury, N.C. before splitting. She remarried and performs Christian music. Starnes lived in Danville in the same house where the Stones spent hours practicing until just prior to his death in 2013. He gave up playing but said he always regretted selling his five guitars.
While it’s been more than 40 years since the band played its last note, Vaughan says they built a bond that continues, because “we were able to communicate totally through our music.” Ray says the members concluded “there was a lot more to be had by going to school than playing rock and roll,” but has always wondered what might have happened had the band stayed together. Fulton has no regrets about leaving the business but has enjoyed returning to music now that he doesn’t have to depend on it “as a source of income.” Hilliard says their “brief moment of fame” was fun but insists the band never seriously entertained the idea of trying to make a living at it. Starnes sums it up by saying he “wouldn’t trade a single day or do anything any different,” adding: “We made a little money off of it… and that was all we were interested in, making some money and turning the girls’ heads.”
The Odds And Ends have two excellent original songs on their 45 on the South Bay label from November 1965. The band came from Playa Del Rey and Westchester, just north of the Los Angeles airport. The band was probably a quintet or sextet, with keyboards, two guitars, bass, drums and maybe a lead singer not playing an instrument.
“(Cause) You Don’t Love Me” was written by Acqui, Davis, while “Be Happy Baby” by Acqui, Russek. Both songs were produced and published by Daley & Moore, BMI.
The band changed their name to the Heroes for their next 45, released on the M-Gee label in April of 1966. The A-side features a good version of “I Can Only Give You Everything” with keyboard and a drum break.
On the flip is very pop song with harmonica, “Say It With a Smile”. The writing credits for “Say It With a Smile”, Acquarelli and Ferguson for GaryMarv Music, BMI give a fuller last name for what is likely one of the members of the band, Acquarelli.
The Heros single reads “a Garmar Product, Distributed by Cinema City”. I believe Garmar and GaryMarv refers to this being a Gary Paxton and Marvin Phillips production.
I don’t know the names of the band members or any other info on the group, so if anyone have more information or a photo of the band please contact me.