Floyd Dakil


Early photo, 1963, l-r: Ronny Randall, Floyd Dakil, Geoff West on drums, Terry Billings on bass, and Andy Michlin on keys

Updated April, 2010

Floyd Dakil formed his group in 1963 with fellow Highland Park High School friend Andy Michlin, and three sophomores of Thomas Jefferson High School: Ronny Randall on guitar, Terry Billings on bass, and Geoff West on drums. Within a year or so, Andy’s brother Laurry Michlin took over on keyboards.

In February 1964 they won a competition to become the house band at the Pit Club, a 2,500 person venue located at the Bronco Bowl in Oak Cliff. “Chuck Berry rock ‘n roll pre-Beatles – that’s how I would best describe the music we played at that time” said Floyd in a 2008 interview.

They soon released their first 45, the classic “Dance, Franny, Dance” b/w “Look What You’ve Gone and Done” on Jetstar. The label says both sides were recorded live at the Pit. Originally I thought it was likely to be a studio recording with overdubbed handclaps and applause at the beginning, but Geoff West says in his comment below that it was recorded in front of a large crowd at the Pit in the Spring of 1964: “on ‘Dance Franny Dance’ it required at least five minutes to get several hundred teenagers to clap together!”

In 2009 original member Ron Randall contacted me about the group:

Geoff’s recollections are correct. The recording of “Dance, Franny, Dance” was done live at the Pit Club. Larry Lavine was the engineer using a 4 track recorder set up in the women’s dressing room backstage. It was just one of those nights when everything came together. A great recording.

The recordings done live at the Pit survive on CDs that Geoff West made from an original, not released LP. There are eight songs, some are covers, some original. I have my copy.

Maybe, to add to the confusion, or clear things, the songs “recorded live at the Pit”, and then released on Jetstar have the name of the group as The Floyd Dakil Combo. This is correct for legal reasons. “The Pitmen” referred to the house band at the Pit Club. We were the first. The original Pitmen backed a long list of entertainers at the Pit Club, and went on to other successes around Texas. There were others, after we left the Pit Club, called the Pitmen.

The eight songs recorded at the Pit Club represent the beginnings of Dallas’s incredible garage rock scene. The songs are “Roadrunner”, “Dance, Franny, Dance”, “Look What You’ve Gone and Done”, “You Got Me Crazy”, “Concentrate on You”, “Bad Boy”, “Maybe Someday” and “Rendezvous”.

Floyd recalled that he and the producers brought the live tape into a studio and “sweetened” the two songs for the single.

“Dance, Franny, Dance” peaked as high as #4 on KLIF in May, 1964, which is not surprising given KLIF DJ Chuck Dunaway’s involvement – he’s listed as co-producer along with Bob Sanders, owner of the Knight and Spectra record labels. When the Phiadelphia-based Guyden label picked up the songs for national distribution, “Dance, Franny, Dance” hit local charts in Pennsylvania and California, leading to a brief tour of California state fairs and DJ hops that summer. Floyd noted that the Beach Boys came out with their hit “Dance, Dance, Dance” soon after (in November 1964).


Floyd Dakil and Pitmen, the group on the Jetstar 45, l-r: Floyd Dakil, Geoff West, Laurry Michlin, Ronny Randall and Terry Billings

The Floyd Dakil Combo, l-r Floyd Dakil, Andy Michlin, Dennis Mills, Ronny Randall, and Chris Brown
Floyd Dakil went on to record three 45s on the Earth label as the Floyd Dakil Four. “Bad Boy” is the first of these, a very good rocker, produced by John Anderson. The flip is a good uptempo song “Stoppin’ Traffic” about a girl who does just that.The second Earth single combines the rockin’ “Kitty Kitty” (great guitar solo too) with a neat pop song, “It Takes a Lot of Hurt”. The third 45 on Earth has a good original, “You’re The Kind Of Girl” with “Stronger Than Dirt” on the A-side.It was a later Pitmen group who recorded a couple 45s: “Earthy”, plus “Summertime Blues” b/w “Suzi Q” (released on Earth 401).

Ron Randall:

There was another, later group, called the Floyd Dakil Four. That group was Floyd, Ronny Randall, Mike Giles (drums) and Terry Billings on bass. That group recorded the songs on the Earth label, produced by John Anderson. I have that picture somewhere.

“Earth” was a term coined by John Anderson, our manager/producer to describe the sound we had with the Floyd Dakil Four. I had added a Fender VI Bass Guitar to the instrument mix, along with my Stratocaster. So we had two bass instruments on some recordings and live performances. Terry Billings on Fender Precision bass, Ronny Randall on Fender VI bass. It was/is a hard driving click-bass/surf/rock sound done an octave lower to the Stratocaster. Add Terry’s Precision bass, and Mike’s drums and that was the foundation of the sound called Earth. “Earth” was written in huge letters on the back of that Fender VI bass. Ron Chapman commented on how full the live sound was at the “Sump’n Else” Studio at Northpark.

I continued to perform with Floyd at all kinds of venues until I decided to go to college, get a day job. We continue to be friends today. We participated in a concert about 18 months ago at the Lakewood Theater on Greenville Ave. The concert was dubbed “The Legends of Rock and Roll,” produced by Kenny Daniels. We did a “Reunited” performance live at the Stoneleigh in 2005.

After the Earth 45s, Floyd kept the band together while earning a B.A. from Texas Tech. In 1968 he had a solo 45 “Merry Christmas Baby” / “One Day” on Pompeii. Sometime after that Floyd became the guitarist for one of his idols, Louis Prima, and remained for several years until Prima’s ill health curtailed his touring.

In 1975 he released a LP with his own group, Live! in which he runs through 42 songs in as many minutes. It’s definitely an odd mix, if you can imagine “Everyday People” segueing to a chorus of “Yummy Yummy Yummy” then straight into “Whiskey River”! Also about 1975 Floyd turned down a two LP contract with CBS, feeling that the contract was unfair in charging promotional costs back to the artist.

In the late ’80s he started a band with Larry Randall, and this group’s songs were featured in a 1991 movie, Love Hurts with a brief cameo by the group.

In 2009 Floyd was one of the featured acts at the Ponderosa Stomp at SXSW in Austin. I’ve heard a tape of the show and it’s one of the better sets from that night. Floyd played “Dance Franny Dance”, “Look What You’ve Gone and Done”, “Bad Boy” and “Stopping Traffic”, as well as “Nadine”.

This year Floyd’s friend Phil York released an official new CD Rolling Dynamite, collecting some of his early singles and a number of previously unreleased tracks. I just received the copy I ordered, and can provide an overview:

Included are both sides of the Jetstar 45 and both sides of the first Earth 45 (“Bad Boy” and “Stoppin’ Traffic”, though “Bad Boy” on the CD is an alternate with a shorter intro and piano solo ['take it Andy!'] instead of the ringing guitar break on the 45). Also included are “Kitty Kitty”, the A-side to the second Earth 45; “You’re the Kind of Girl”, the flip from his third Earth 45; and his Pompeii single, “Merry Christmas Baby”. Everything else on it was never released on vinyl that I know of, though five of the unreleased tracks did appear on a CD collection in the mid-90s.

It’s hard to know when the unreleased tracks were cut, as the notes only include a general reminiscence by Floyd and no recording specifics, nor is the CD sequenced strictly by recording date. Of the unreleased tracks the two highlights are definitely the title song, “Rollin’ Dynamite” (a cover of Scotty McKay’s first single, written by Joann Owen) and “Shiver”. Other early songs include “Cold As Ice” and “Sweet Little Anna” and a ballad “Pretty Girl”. “She Bops a Lot” may have been a later song done as a throwback to his earlier style, it’s hard to tell.

A few tracks sound like they could be from late-’60s or early ’70s sessions, including “I Know”, “Turn to the Night” and “Here I Am”, all excellent songs in a gentler style. “Good Times and Rock and Roll” sounds like a 70s track, at least in it’s nostalgic look at the early rock scene. The rest are definitely from the late ’80s or ’90s and range from country to zydeco to “Old Time Rock & Roller”.

Details on recording personnel and dates would be useful for fanatics like myself, but overall I would consider this an excellent retrospective of Floyd’s work, with all of his essential songs presented in excellent sound quality.

I had been looking forward to hearing him play in Brooklyn, New York this summer, but I’m very sorry to report that Floyd passed away on Saturday, April 24, 2010.

Sources include photos from the bigd60s group and a long interview with Floyd Dakil by WFMU’s Michael Shelley from May 10, 2008.


Floyd Dakil … Live!

25 thoughts on “Floyd Dakil”

  1. You Won;t Find Me by The Executioners on Vermilllion is BRUTAL punk with a jagged Kink-ish riff, really it’s one the BEST punk tracks ever!!! i believe that You Won’t Find Me appears on one of the Scum Of The Earth comps from the 80′s; i got my copy of it from a mix tape Mike Kuzmin made me of Md. garage 45s awhile ago when i was trying to help me finish a zine about Maryland 60s garage bands(which I will finish someday, i swear!). Wow! Floyd Dakil’s combo guys did that!? it’s almost the polar opposite of Dance Franny Dance in terms of sheer bad vibes, and it’s chaotic noisey guitar solo i’m sure made LINK and his bros proud. so how did those guys end up recording for Vermillion? For years i’ve seen speculation that the Executioners on Vermillion were from either Md., Pa. or Ohio. Did they relocate to record up there for some reason? or did they just go back to Texas after the recoridng session?

  2. I used to hang out with Floyd, Ronnie, Andy, Chris and Geoff…we used to love to go to lake and waterski…and had a blast…They were a lot of fun!! Geoff and I dated while he went to SMU and played at WhiskA-Gogo on Oak Lawn…
    Years later…I hired the Night Caps to play at one of our Beta Sigma Phi dances…and Chris Brown was doing drums and Andy on keyboards…that was in the 70′s..I remember Robert Price was in the Exotics and did the Pit Club too…when Chris Brown was with Robert…lots and lots of good memories..I saw Andy at the Big D 60′s Reunion in December last year at Poor David’s Pub…it is an event that no one should miss…lots of memories and friends…
    Ginny “Bluzgal” Ivey

  3. Andy Michlin, Laurry Michlin and I did not form the Executioners. That is total fabrication. In 1966 we joined Robert Price, Blair Smith and Tommy Spalding as the Exotics, a local Dallas Band. In 1963 the Exotics had a #2 hit, I Said Hey Little Girl. on the Mercury label, recorded by Larry Lavine (founder of Chili’s)in Robert Price’s living room. Our configuration of the Exotics had several local tunes that charted, including Come With Me (Tad Records) and Morning Sun (on Monument). We also backed Scotty McKay on Train Kept ‘A Rollin’ in 1967.

    Larry Lavine also recorded eight of Floyd’s original tunes live at the Pit Club in the spring of 1964, utilizing the girls’ restroom as the control room. Dance Franny Dance & Look What You’ve Gone & Done were selected to be the A & B sides of the 45. The hand clapping and cheering at the beginning of the tunes was live, not overdubbed, and on Dance Franny Dance it required at least five minutes to get several hundred teenagers to clap together!

    Geoff West 12/30/07

  4. Thanks for your comments Geoff, I’ll correct my mistakes in the original posting. Don’t know how that rumor about the Executioners got started, it seemed unlikely anyhow.

    I wonder if the tape with the other six songs the band recorded still exist? If the songs were anywhere as good as Dance Franny Dance and Look What You’ve Gone and Done, it would make for one of the best live sets recorded in the 60′s!

    The Exotics were a fabulous band, I’ll have to write about them in the future.

  5. Geoff,
    Just found this site and somehow this post about Floyd and the Exotics, etc..
    I was at the Pit in `64 when “Franny” was recorded.
    I’ve known Larry Lavine for 40+ years and you’re right on with your account of the recordings. Also, if my weak memory serves me well, Larry was also the original (?) drummer in the Exotics. And, don’t forget Larry’s other claim to fame, as the “father” of Dallas’ great teen-club, The Studio Club in Preston Center. Larry also owned Louann’s in it’s last incarnation as a “teen” music club. After it burned down, Larry built the “New Louann’s” and later turned it into his first dining venture “The Kitty Hawk” complete with scale replica of the famed airplane hanging from the ceiling.
    Duncan Engler

  6. Sorry I missed that reunion…I knew Chris from school (Highland Park) and he along with Russell Johnson were playing with Floyd while we were hanging out at the Pit.
    Will be in Dallas sometime in June and Larry is on the top on my list for folks to see.
    Duncan

    San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

  7. The drummer in the third picture on this web page is Chris Brown (note “CB” on the drum head) and not Geoff West. I played bass with Chris for over 20 years in bands including later incarnations of Billy Joe Shine and the Nightcaps.

  8. Larry Lavine was also the founder of a restaurant called “Chili’s”! He was replaced by Chris Brown as drummer for the Exotics. In 1997 the Nightcaps and the Exotics reunited for a party at the old Knights of Columbus on East NW Hiway in Dallas. Larry played drums the first set; Chris Brown the second set.

  9. I have to correct the comment about Larry Lavine being the original drummer with the Exotics. Floyd Dakil, Eddie Willman, and I (all guitarists at Highland Park) were the original Exotics (so named for an instrumental Floyd wrote called Exotic), formed in 1959. Eddie was replaced by Elliott West on guitar and Gene Sanger on drums. Elliott quit, later to rejoin the group in one of its best known line-ups, and Gene was replaced by Mike Fulton on drums. As an instrumental trio, we won the KLIF Stars of Tomorrow contest in 1960 and were immediately joined by a vocal quartet consisting of Robert Price, Tom Price, Wayne Olmsted, and Steve Miller (not THE Steve Miller). I quit soon thereafter upon being threatened with bodily harm by George Price, (Robert and Tom’s brother), who said that my guitar playing was drowning out his brothers. George was reputed to be someone you didn’t want mad at you, and so, rather than being a star of tomorrow, I opted for being alive tomorrow. I was replaced by Blair Smith on guitar, and Mike Fulton gave way at some point to Larry Lavine on drums. I went on to form the Echos with several guys from TJ, and we routinely thrashed all comers in various local battles of the bands, including frequently the Marksmen featuring THE Steve Miller and Boz Skaggs, although I will admit Boz and Steve have subsequently had a tad more success musically than I. By the way, I now have the best rock band I’ve ever had…Bill Wallace and the Neanderthals (Stone Age Rock ‘n’ Roll) which freequently features Andy Michlin on keyboards.
    and Johnny Hooper, a noted local session guitarist

    Bill Wallace

  10. RIP Floyd Dakil. June 16, 1945-April 24, 2010 – i just recieved the news floyd has passed away, can’t believe it, good man, sent me numerous letters and photos and had been talking of new live dates.

  11. Geoff West has it right. I played my Stratocaster with Floyd for several years, including back up vocals. I stayed with Floyd when Geoff joined the Exotics. The first photo included Floyd Dakil, Ronny Randall, Chris Brown on drums, and Dennis Mills on bass.

    The recording of Dance Franny Dance was done live at the Pit Club (aka Bronco Bowl). Larry Lavine used a 4 track recorder, setup in the women’s backstage dressing room to get those great sounds. I don’t know how, but everything came together on that song and that particular performance.

  12. A good friend of mine, Mike Giles, Played in the ‘Four’ back in the day. I just wonder if anyone remembers Mike. He’s just about the best drummer I ever played with. Mike could play rock and jazz equally well and had tremendous limb independence and one of the best left hands I ever say. Mike played with a tremendous sense of humor. Tremendous chops.

    I understand from his friend, Jerry Bowen, that Mike has passed on. I was never able to determine when and how he died. If anyone knows, I’d like to hear

    Best Regards,

    ‘Spoon

  13. This above comment refers to an old citation on this page from WangDangDula.com that Dakil Combo members Geoff West, Andy Michlin and Laurry Michlin joined with Robert Price, Blair Smith, Tom Spalding and Chris Brown for one 45 on the Vermillion label as the Executioners: “You Won’t Find Me” / “Haunting My Mind”. However, Geoff West stated (see below) that they were in the Exotics, not the Executioners, and this makes sense as Vermillion was a label run by Link Wray’s brother in Maryland, an unlikely location for a Dallas group to be recording. That site has since corrected that mention.

    The Exotics recorded some excellent 45s, including “Come With Me”, “I Was Alone” and “Queen of Shadows”.

  14. I am surprised and feel honored to share a birthdate with a performer one of my best friends and I used to love to hear play/sing at skating rink sock hops in the Dallas area in the mid 60s. My respects to his family, combo members and friends.

  15. There has been much submitted about Floyd the humle, creative musician. An aspect of his life, probably the foundation of his life, to which I was extensively exposed was his Christianity. He was very generous to the work of Bible translation and went to the dedication of a New Testament in Panama. He spent much time with our Grandson Mark, who is just entering the movie making business.He introduced Mark to several leaders in the business but he never neglected to emphasize keeping that “sure” foundation.We will miss him but will always remember his positive impact on those with whom he came in contact.

  16. I was a friend of Blair Smith at SMU — saw you guys pre-Blair and post-Blair –what ever happened to him? — Good guy but ran hard!

  17. I don’t think Blair would mind me saying this. He did run hard, but found the Lord in the seventies and has just recently married. He has played for several years in the house band at Watermark Church.

  18. WOW! Sometimes insomnia leads you to an internet “walk down Memory Lane” that ends up being amazing… I used to date Blair Smith (actually my first love), and I worked for Larry at the opening of The Studio Club.

    Regarding Blair’s running hard – “Yes”. I did some running with him. Years ago I looked him up on a return visit to Dallas; went to his house in Highland Park; sat in the car for a long time remembering his brother Kempton standing on the front lawn gazing at the stars and reciting whole episodes of The Honeymooners. Bittersweet…

    I think he answered the door holding his Bible. The person he was during that conversation was not the person who once held my heartstrings. But, he seemed peaceful. I’m glad to have run across this posting and to know that Blair is well and happy, has found love & partnership. I will always remember him with great affection… I did not know Floyd, but may he rest in peace. d

  19. Is this the same Whoopster from the Studio Club? Remember showtime–Dan-Dan the drink chip man? Wonder boy? Simpy? Give me a shout

  20. Ran with all these guys. Sat in regularly with Floyd at the GoGo. Randall’s roommate at NTSU. Road drummer for Exotics in fall 66. Mary Taylor at the Holiday in Reno. In jail with Laurry in Fort Smith cuz the promoter skipped and we couldn’t pay for breakfast. Kicked out of most motels in Austin. Hot check from Marie Nohra. Chased out of town by thugs in Somewhere Oklahoma. Or was it Kansas? Remember the wig? Hacked my hair to work at Collins Radio. If we still did our cover of Beatles’ Rain we could make the proverbial million dallahs. Boogajiggabuggaboo. I can still do the backwards vocal at the end.

  21. Rick, you brought back a real bad memory…Marie Nohra. My college band, The Radiants, later Radiance, played for her club The Saracen for a month, probably about 1967 or 1968 and got stiffed for a couple of G’s. She was judgement proof, and about the only satisfaction we got was occasionally whizzing in the gas tank of her Cadillac (obviously title in some other entity’s name) for about a year. I wouldn’t have wanted to be that car’s engine block!

  22. Figured we weren’t the first or last Marie Whoredog did that to. We took the bad check to our agent Sam Coplin for rectumfication, and that’s what we got. She wrote him another/good one for his commission and he blew us off. That wasn’t the only time Coplin pulled that stunt either. How was a 19yo from an honest working family to know what kind of sewage scum inhabited that business?

    Here’s to you Marie and Sam, I hope really heinous things happened to you, as if just being you wasn’t bad enough.

    1. Our agent was Charlie Hatchett, who died recently. I had always suspected that he had settled with Marie separately for his commission. Your story would pretty much confirm that, as her M,O. Didn’t vary much. Lots of slime balls in that business

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