|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”.