“One of the gassiest groups in Miami, man. Got a smash-a-demus going for ’em. The Invaders — it’s rated number two on the survey tonight. It’s called ‘She’s A Tiger’!”
Rick Shaw’s words in ’65 let teens in sixteen counties know that a band from South Florida — for that night, at least — had the second most-requested song in the area. On that night, the Invaders had outperformed the Beatles, the Supremes, the Byrds, and Herman’s Hermits, as their fans all flocked to their phones to give support to the guys who’d just won the Burdines Combo Castle Battle Of The Bands.
“She’s A Tiger”‘s brief success was certainly a highlight for the group, which had started out way back in 1962 as the Playboys. After adding Don Goodson on drums and Kenny Ahern on guitar, keyboard player Robert Haas renamed the group The Invaders.
Their electronics expert manager Richard Sano leased a rehearsal studio for the guys on Northwest 27th Avenue, near the Palmetto Expressway. Inspired by the Canadian Legends, the guys decided to buy all new Fender equipment. Ahern exited, and Dave Davis came in as the band’s new lead guitarist.
It was about that time that Goodson purchased a new Chevy van to transport the group’s new gear. Haas designed a logo that was then painted on the van. Everyone knew when the Invaders were coming!
By ’64 the band was booked solidly all over Dade County, and into Hollywood and Ft. Lauderdale as well. They played at spots such as PAL, Code One, the Diplomat, the Fontainebleau, the Bath Club, the Hollywood Armory, and the Surfside Community Center.
The band members traded in their Fender equipment, after agreeing to an endorsement deal with Vox. Haas became one of the first keyboard players in America to own a Vox Continental organ. The Invaders appeared in a series of ads for Vox, including the one above that promoted the House Of Pianos and Organs, on Northwest 7th Avenue and 34th Street. The band also played at the South Florida premier of the movie “Help!”
The Invaders caught the attention of several WQAM Tiger d.j.s, including Rick Shaw and Jim Dunlap. It was only natural that their record would get airplay on the station. (Having the word “Tiger” in the title didn’t hurt matters, either). The single, by the way, was engineered by Mac Emmerman at Criteria.
The B-side title was changed from “She’ll Come Back” to please one of their sponsors, Honda… even though the word “Honda” is never mentioned in the tune.
Rick Shaw introduced two Capitol Records A&R men to the boys in the band, who were then offered a record deal — with one catch. The boys were told they’d have to devote all their time to their career, which would mean dropping out of school. That offer was turned down.
Some additional information on the Invaders, from Robert Haas:
The Honda Corporation, a sponsor of Burdine’s Combo Castle Battle of the Bands, insisted that the Invaders use the brand name, “Honda,” in one of the songs the group recorded. The recording, which took place at Criteria Studios on W. Dixie Highway in N. Miami, was as part of the grand prize for winning the contest. The requirement to use “Honda” in one of the two songs recorded was made known to the band AFTER I had written the lyrics to the original tune, “She’ll Come Back.” It was an absurd request since the song had nothing to do with a Honda motorbike and the only solution I could come up with on the spur of the moment was to use “Honda” as a nickname for the girl referenced in the song. Silly, but those were the rules!
“She’s A Tiger” was never used intentionally for promotional purposes. I wrote the lyrics prior to winning the battle-of-the-bands-contest. WQAM, purely by coincidence, was called “Tiger Radio” and the DJs there did not miss the opportunity to capitalize on the coincidence. It was good for the Invaders, who had already caught the ear of DJs Rick Shaw and Jim Dunlap. Rick was instrumental in getting Capitol Records to offer the group a recording contract (which we turned down). He nevertheless continued to play the song nightly and used it to promote not only the Invaders but also WQAM.
There was another DJ on FM radio who came to prominence two or three years after the Invaders had disbanded. Her name was Trish. I don’t recall the station’s call letters. I would tune Trish’s show in at night and listen to her talk about the Invaders. She apparently had been a big fan of the group. To my knowledge, I never met Trish. She would regularly play “She’s A Tiger,” for her audience.
I think that’s about as much exposure as the song got. It was the very first song I had ever written, so I guess that’s not too bad for a first effort. Little did I realize that it would not be until I was 40 years old that I would become a major label recording artist and pen a few Billboard-charting songs! From 16 to 40 is quite a wait!
Peter Pan Productions was the name of the Invaders’ publishing/recording company. I cannot recall why we chose that name but I am fairly certain it was the result of a standing band joke. Humor ruled the day whenever the Invaders got together.
Not long after, Dave Davis left town, and the members of the Invaders drifted into different directions. Don Goodson would join former Invader Kenny Ahern in The Echoes. Haas would replace Richie Borkan in Sounds Unlimited. (Borkan would soon join the Kollektion.)
Steve Seitz opened an artist management firm on Miami Beach in the 1980s.
Don Goodson worked at Ace Music in North Miami for many years, and made appearances recently at both Geezerpalooza and the “While We Still Can” reunions. Don passed away in late 2007.
Ahern can still play surf guitar with the best of them, and a few years ago was in a duo called The Stratospheres with Bill Kerti, another Echoes/Echo veteran.
Robert Haas went on to write the best-selling health and fitness book, Eat To Win, and collaborated with Cher on another best-selling book. He landed a major label recording contract with Mercury/Polygram with the group Siren (aka Red Siren), and has been told one of his songs is on hold for recent American Idol winner Taylor Hicks.
Unfortunately, Dave Davis killed himself in the 1970s, before he could see his music appreciated by a new generation of fans. I do not know what happened to Jeff Glass.
Thanks to Robert Haas for most of the photos. Invaders van picture by Linda Neary. Thanks also to Billy DeMoya. 45 transfers from Jeff’s Florida Flashbacks.
The Invaders story by Jeff Lemlich. Originally published on the Limestone Lounge and reproduced with permission.