Danny and the Counts


Danny & the Counts featured in the KELP Paper shortly after their second single.
From left: Eric Huereque, Joe “Bozo” Martinez, Joe Huereque, Danny Parra and Javier “Jaguar” Valenzuela
Danny Parra – guitar and lead vocals
Javier Valenzuela – lead guitar and vocals
Eric Huereque – bass and vocals
Joe Huereque – drums
Joe Martinez – tambourine and vocals

Danny and the Counts “You Need Love” is a signature tune of the mid-60s, with its unforgetable buzzing guitar riff and opening “Oh, yeah!”. Not to mention the cool bending lick after the chorus, or the lyrics about seducing a rich girl. The b-side “Ode to the Wind” is slower and moody, again with good fuzz guitar.

This was their second single, from 1966, on the Coronado label. Danny Parra wrote both songs. Chiyo Music BMI published many of Coronado’s releases at this time.

Their first 45 was more sedate. “For Your Love” is the Ed Townsend ballad, not the Yardbirds song, and on the flip is another mellow one, “It’s All All Over”. KELP DJ Steve Crosno’s Frogdeath label released this single.

The band consisted of Danny Parra, the song writer and lead vocalist, plus the Huereque brothers and (I believe) their cousin, Javier Valenzuela, along with Joe Martinez on tambourine and backing vocals. They were from the Clardy neighborhood in the east side of El Paso, along Delta Drive. The article by Susie Dominguez in the the KELPaper states that the band formed two years before “You Need Love”, though I’ve also read that the band formed as early as 1960, originally performing soul and Tejano music. The article also says that both Javier Valenzuela and Danny Parra played lead guitar.

After these records, Danny Parra went into the Navy and Ken Prichard joined on lead guitar. I’ve also seen two other members listed, but don’t know the accuracy of these: Javier Venisula – organ (same person as Javier Valenzuela?) and Irene Porras – vocals.

Ken Prichard later joined Brand X. Danny Parra moved to California. Eric Huereque passed away in 2003 at the age of 56.

Since first posting this I’ve heard from “Danny”, frontman Danny Parra:

Although I was indeed interested in R&B type music back in the day, it was an absolute nightmare to put together and organize a large (8-12) R&B band in El Paso that could ever hope to compete with the likes of The Night Dreamers, The Valiants, The Premiers, etc. which were all fantastic bands in that genre of music in El Paso. One summer after a dismal year of trying to pull together R&B bandmates for rehearsals and even actual gigs to perform I’d pretty much gave up the quest for a large band with a powerhouse brass section.

My interests and my best friend Eric Huereque started to notice the music trends going on in England via the Beatles and Stones, etc. Not only was their music cool and different but their groups were usually only four or five guys! Much more attainable we thought ….. so we one summer Eric and I were jamming on guitars and we noticed Eric’s little brother Joe drumming in the corner of the room with a couple of yellow lead pencils …. and keeping pretty good time at that. We eventually enlisted (after much persuasion) him to try learning some basic beats for our jam sessions. Took a while but we encouraged him.

Spurred on by by his potential and the knowledge that at least we could count on him showing up for practice we realized Eric’s cousin Javier Valenzuela was also an aspiring guitar player and that we might be able to recruit him if an audition proved him viable. Note that at this time the big draw of the eventual band’s members was that most keys guys were Eric’s family and therefore more dependable in contrast to the people we had been trying to recruit and pull together as a viable band from all walks of life and all parts of sprawling El Paso!

Somehow, after countless hours of practice (weeks, months, lifetimes it seemed sometimes) and many horrible and worse experimental gigs we started to focus more on the “English sound” and less on R&B. To make a name for ourselves with this new image and music direction was a herculean task in El Paso because we were all latinos. If you were a band with latinos it was expected that you played only R&B style music back in those days.

Up to this time we had a first record under our belt which was recorded on Steve Crosno’s Frog Death label. We recorded “For Your Love” / “It’s All Over” in a single live take in Steve’s home without a drummer! Unbelievable! The recordings were meant to be a dry run but Crosno decided to put them on vinyl since he could promote them on KELP airwaves where he pretty much reigned as the biggest disc jockey around in those days.

Interestingly, our “For Your Love” was released at the same time the Righteous Brothers released the same song nationwide and the two records were being played back-to-back on KELP. In short order, both records made it up to number ten on KELP’s top 20. KELP published a brochure listing of popular records and music events found all over town that I wish I’d kept a copy of!

Although we got some modest notoriety because of his help on KELP and numerous appearance on his TV “Crosno’s Hop” show, we ultimately made it clear to him [Crosno] that we wanted to pursue the English music trends as a group and abandon R&B. He wasn’t happy about this because his whole market niche was R&B …. so we had an eventual parting of the ways. We produced and recorded our next record “You Need Love” / “Ode to the Wind” using the Coronado label and our own funds.

I’ve seen many comments & references of people who liked our music but were not impressed by the “production” and/or “sound quality” of the tunes. Guess what? These have been very accurate statements since the songs were recorded as live single takes in a dumpy downtown El Paso recording studio for the princely sum of $75.00 (included master tape). The fee was for an hour of recording studio time with a very bored, spectacled, bald geezer that was truly bored out of his gourd during our session. Did he kick up our audio or segregate the instruments and vocals for a sweeter mix? Hell no! What you hear on those tracks was raw, one take, wham-bam-thank-you-maam sounds. We didn’t know any better and the audio engineer simply didn’t care squat or know any more than we did! He might’ve even been the janitor for all we knew.

Q. Is that you playing the lead guitar line on “You Need Love” or Javier?

It was Javier. Many have assumed over the years that the sound was a sitar but I can assure you that we didn’t even know what a sitar was in those days. I recollect that he used either a small glass bottle or lipstick cover on his finger as a “slide” to get that sitar-sound you hear. The fuzztone sound was one of the few guitar effects available back then … made trendy by the Rolling Stones on “Satisfaction”.

Our tape was sent through Steve Crosno’s contacts. He was a bit reluctant to help at first because we weren’t following his R&B recommendation on his FrogDeath label, but he was still cool enough to get it pressed for us with Coronado.

Ironically, I am astounded and flattered that our music seems to somehow endured through other band’s interpretations on their albums and through some compilation albums that you can still buy today that showcased much of the music happening in those days in Texas. There have even been some interesting video efforts (YouTube) made to fit our music. Hmmmm, wonder where that audio engineer dude ended up after all these years?

I was drafted in late 1966 (Vietnam) and ended up serving eight years serving my country (Navy) all over the world …. including London, England. Moved with family to California, worked for years as an electronics engineer. Due to a layoff (1985) re-invented and established myself as a much published fashion and beauty photographer in L.A. and authored a book “Model Mystique Unraveled” in 1995-96.

I regret that I lost touch with the band after going in the service after 1966. But I heard that Eric (bass/manager) perpetuated the band for years in spite that I was obviously missing as the frontman!

Article scan from Rick Kern’s El Paso Musicians site, used with permission. Photos of the Frogdeath single courtesy of Danny Parra. A special thank you to Oktay for the scans and help with this article, and to Sam Stephenson for letting me hear “For Your Love” and “It’s All All Over”.


18 thoughts on “Danny and the Counts”

  1. I can verify that Ken Prichard did in fact join the band and play lead guitar after Danny Parra left (and later played with Brand X). Javier Valenzuela and “Venisula” are the same person – I do remember Javier playing keyboards when Ken joined the band. Irene Porras sang with them during that time also. Irene and Joe Martinez (Bozo) did a great duet on “I Got You Babe”. I got to see them play at Jesuit HS dances and also got to watch them rehearse at the Huereque brothers dairy down in the lower valley. When Ken was with them they also played a local TV show called “Son of Action” that came on after “Where the Action Is”. This is a great site and I look forward to seeing some more info on the Frogdeath/Coronado labels. I am familar with most of the groups that recorded on the labels. David Hayes and the Pawns used to rehearse down the street from our house and I can remember seeing them playing in the halls at Eastwood High School for a winter festival. Thanks again for putting this on the site.
    Crees

  2. Following my interest for the band legacy, I am in touch with several members of Danny and Counts and they asked me to connect them with you- regarding the good musical memories they wish to share with you. Ask Chris Bishop, he will put us in touch Thanks.

  3. Back in the 90’s I was working in Hong Kong. I called my computer guy and asked him how to get on the web.
    Well, after pulling up some search engine I typed in Danny and the Counts, and to my surprise something came up about the band. I tracked down the web site to a record company in the UK, got their number and called. I told them that I used to play with Danny and the Counts and wondered if they had any of their records. Wow, you would have thought I just told them that I played with Buddy Holly…for real. The Brit on the other end of the line explained to me that the Coronado record was a collectors item worth over 200lbs and that all the bands were listening to D&C and some were playing (You Need Love, and Ode” I was amazed that the Brits were listening to music from El Paso that never went national..We listened to them in the 60’s doing American Music…and they still were taking the Texas sound and trying to emulate us. The Brit told me that Danny and the Counts were highly regarded and listened to and asked me if I could reassemble the group and tour the UK…..Not gonna happen, I told the guy, but I ran down the escalator to Tower Records and ordered Pebbles #5.
    Danny if you are reading this, you should contact me about putting something together in El Paso..

  4. Hi Ken,

    Are you related to “Chris Prichard”? Although I’ve never met either of you I want to say that I truly appreciate the tidbits you’ve mentioned regarding my yesteryear band, Danny & The Counts. Anything you care to impart from 1966 on would be greatly appreciated in terms of filling in the blanks as to how the band carried on without me, etc. and for long …. most of all, how the hell (as you pointed out) did anyone outside of El Paso ever know who we were??? Only in the last couple of years have we found out some of my music did indeed end up on some compilation albums and apparently some independent records too. I’ve heard from New Zealand to Sweden, Canada, etc. Someone recently asked if wanted to “reissue” the record altogether again. Sheesh! We never had a chance to really try and promote the Coronado effort because I was called into the service the same year we cut it. As I mentioned elsewhere, we didn’t have Steve Crosno’s support at that time, but I remember dropping off (excitedly) the newly printed 45 at KELP to be offered on air as FRRRRRREEEEE if listeners could identify the (mystery) group. We were dumbfounded that listeners that called in were guessing “Mamas and Papas”, “Stones” Yardbirds” and everything else but our little band of nobodies. Unbelievable! Flattering perhaps, but no one knew we were more inclined towards MerseyBeat influences in our own way.

    Feel free to enlighten me about the band at your convenience. I’m in the L.A. area and not inclined to return to El Paso in the near future! Still into R&R as a hobby and presently setting up a home studio!

    Cheers to all!

    -Dann

    1. Dann, I came when you left….I was now Danny, since I was a Pinchie Gringo…everybody assumed. Please lets put the band together for one or two gigs in El Paso It would be fun Javier, and both Joes would love it…Border ledgends would be the venue.
      I went to Nam right after you.
      We could, seriously do some gigs in Europe……. it would me wild.
      I know you are a photo guy now…but come on rock and roll…………???
      I talked to Stevie Crosno and became friends with him in his later years..he had fond memories of you…but did not like your direction…I played with rock bands in the 60’s and always thought that you guys were pure chicano………….but when I auditioned it blew me away….Crosno said he wanted you to go the other way…you stuck to rock..
      Anyway consider it……..putting the band back for a couple of gigs/ I even have a beatles vox bass like Erics………………..Peace out, Ken………

  5. Ken, just wanted to say hello and hope that you are doing well. I am amazed at how our band is being remembered. I live in Decatur, Tx now and am doing well. It’s been a while since we threw some links down. I’ve still got 3 guitars and a electric piano I mess with now and then. Hope to hear from you.
    Javier.

  6. Danny, just wanted to touch base with you. It has been a long time since we played together. I pray that life has treated you well. Things sure have changed since then and I miss Eric. I sure gave you two alot of trouble, I apologize. You two guys gave me a chance to play in your band and I am grateful to you for the great experience. I am now living in the Ft. Worth area and have a powerful jail ministry. I am ordained and have my BA and MA in Bibical Wisdom. I will be recieveing my Doctorate in August. I pray that one day we will connect and talk about some of the past. I spoke with Joe the other day and he has a thriving Diary farm outside of El Paso, and the last time I saw Bozo was in El Paso, I believe he is still living there. Have a great day and be blessed. It was fun playing with Danny and the Counts. I have a lot of crazy stories of places we played at after you left for the Navy. Eric would book us in some nutty places. Hope to hear from you.
    Javier

  7. Man, You are one of the best musicians I have ever known, and I know a lot………………I think that we should get Little Joe, and Bozo, you, and me back together. And play in El Paso at borders legends…I think I would pay for Danny’s trip if that would get him there…or maybe meet somewhere. I live in Ruidoso NM. Danny and The Counts are international…….and Danny is a rock hero, I was glad I got to be the “pinche gringo” in the group. Eric would have loved getting back together I talked to him back in the 90’s but I guess he was sick because he did not remember me or Irene Porras…Cheers, Ken.

  8. Ken you are too kind, It was good to hear from you. Hey, you were pretty good at hitting them licks also. I really enjoyed playing with you. We did change the name of the band at one time to Nottingham Daily didn’t we or am I just dreaming. It would be real crazy to gather and strum the drum for old times sake. I still have 3 guitars and a electric piano I mess with now and then. I live in the Ft. Worth area, but I’ll let you know next time when I’m in El Paso and we’ll get together. How can I get ahold of you? Ken, you be blessed and I’ll jump on here every once and awhile to keep you updated. Hey, I’ll be 60 years old in a week, Thank God I don’t feel 60. See ya Guitar Man. Border legends would be fun. Adios Amigo!!

  9. I am going to the guitar show in Dallas Apr 15, but I am staying off of 114 near Justin, so I will be close.
    My email is kenprichard [at] zianet.com. Yeah we changed the name to the Nottingham Daily because I had a bunch of bookings left from my old band..and they would not book Danny and the Counts, because they thought that we were R&B and not solid Rock……….man, once they hear what we had, they were blown away..I was blown away and intimidated when my audition, was “A Day In The Life” I just watched your chord changes and turned my amp way down low………….Hope to hear from you this week..if you are listed I will find you. Ken

  10. Danny,

    I have been a fan of your band for decades! Four years ago I started to gather information about the legacy of the band. At first I really wanted to find a picture of the guys who played You Need Love that I dig so much. I was very lucky ..finding the KELP picture on the cool El Paso Musicians blog runs by Rick Kern, who tried to put me in touch with El Paso 60`s musicians and witnesses to find more about your band & Coronado-Frogdeath recordings. Soon after I found Doug Neal & Eric Huereque Jr., who put me in touch with Javier Valenzuela…and El Paso people who are giving me a hand to find the master-tapes of both singles…

    Now, I want to ask you sincerely, if you would agree for an interview regarding an exhaustive article on Danny and the Counts & El Paso music scene during the sixties + a potential reissue of Coronado & Frogdeath 45rpms. A legit vinyl reissue, will no doubt pleased the fans worldwide !
    I look forward to hearing from you and hope that we will be able to work together.

    All the best !

    Oktay
    (oktaygurbuz71@gmail.com)

  11. Just for the record…Joe Martinez was no tambourine player. He was a fantastic lead singer after Danny left.
    Javier and I met at Javier’s house and played just as natural as 42 years ago and we both agreed that Joe was no Bozo either. How he got the nickname I can only imaging but every member of the counts was a talented musician…and Danny was obviously a great writer…In fact I do not know how Javier got his Jaguar name..
    Maybe we can lay down some tacks in the future…………………..

  12. Thanks, Danny is a good song writer and a great voice. I enjoyed recording this song. I believe we recorded this song at Danny’s house on an old reel to reel recorder. It was a blast. What a crazy time in my life. The Jaguar.

  13. It’s great to have been a member of Danny and the Counts.I want to give Danny a special hello! I haven’t seen Danny in a long time . I always talk to my good uncle Javier and often see Joe martinez . I had thanksgiving lunch with Javier and he said that he and Ken got together and jamed . Hello Ken ! I miss Eric my brother and busness partner . Danny and the Counts . Great band !

  14. Joe, please find Joe M…and lets play at Border Legends! I enjoyed playing with Javier earlier this year, and wish we could all get together and revive the music. Best regards, Ken.

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