King James and the Royal Jesters


Bottom left to right: Art Thevenin and David Anthony.
Standing left to right: Eddie Swann, Dee Thevenin, Mike Carlisle and Jack Simpkins

The old US Route 60 runs through Milton, West Virginia, home of the Plato label, which released at least three garage discs and a great funk 45 from 1966-68. Anything else on the label is completely unknown as far as I can tell. All of these 45s were produced by Ullom-Wiseman.

Since hearing from a couple of the bands on the label, I’ve split the post into this one on King James and the Royal Jesters, and separate ones on the Outcasts, the Satisified Minds, and the Kickin Mustangs. Or check out the complete set of posts on the Plato label.

One of my favorite records on this label is King James and the Royal Jesters “I Get a Feeling”. The swirling organ and lethargic vocals give it a haunted sound unlike any other garage song I can think of. The band came from Point Pleasant, WV, at the junction of the Ohio and Kanawha rivers.

Since my original posting, I’ve heard from the Dennis Thevenin, whose father Dee was lead singer of King James and the Royal Jesters. He told me that they recorded their 45 at King/Federal Studos in Cincinnati, Ohio, which thrilled them being the same studio James Brown used. They were only about 17 at the time, so they didn’t play many live shows.

Mike Carlisle, the keyboardist wrote “I Get a Feeling”. Mike Carlisle and D. Thevenin wrote the ballad on the flip, “Girl”, which became popular with homesick soldiers in Vietnam when a Point Pleasant recruit took the record overseas with him. Other members of the band were Willie Louis guitar, Butch Bright and David Anthony on bass, and Eddie Swan drums. Dee remembers a photo was taken of the band but he does not have it.

Thanks to Dale for the photo and caption!

14 thoughts on “King James and the Royal Jesters”

  1. I think your site is great as well, but I want to clear up some things about Carlisle. I will agree that he is still in Pointless Pleasant, but I may have to contest the statement about being a great musician. More like a great pain in the butt. I am also in the band “Two River Junction” with him, although I hesitate to call it an honor. More like a burden straight from the innermost cirlcle of Hades itself. I will also be sure to let him know his music is still alive, but dying a well-deserved slow and painful death, just like it sounds.

    Just kidding! All in good fun, just like in rehearsal. Mike is one of the most accomplished musicians I have ever had the good fortune to perform with, and I have learned a great deal about music from him. I count myself lucky to be in the same band with him, I just wish he’d write us fellows in TRJ some killer songs like the two on this page. I knew we had us a good one with Mike, but this information here just sent his stock up even higher. Everyone out there keep your eyes open for a Two River Junction show near you this summer and come out to see Dr. Carlisle playing with his organ.

  2. Hi.

    I want to start out saying that your site is great. And to let you know that Mike Carlisle is still in Point Pleasant and still a great musician. I have the honor of being in a semi-cover band with him, calle Two River Junction. I will be sure and let him know that his music is still alive and well in cyber space.

  3. I just wanted to inform you that Dee Thevenin passed away on 8-22-07 at his home in Covington, KY. I also wanted to give you some info that Dee’s brother Art Thevenin sang backup vocals in the band.

  4. I’m sorry to hear about Dee, my condolences to your family and to Dee’s friends. This has been one of my favorite records since the first time I heard it. His singing is unforgettable.

  5. i just want to say first i want to thank my cousin starr for bringing it to everyone’s attention that dee had passed on. i never knew art and snakebite both sang back up with dad. he never told me this stuff. i remember dad telling me a story later on that him and snakebite had played together some time after king james and the royal jesters. as a matter of fact i think the band was called snakebite which art was a part of too. thanks for the condolenses folks and carlisle if you read this you know i kinda sound like dee and i would consider it an honor and a priveledge to sing these 2 songs with you and your band. thanks again everyone for keeping my dad’s and everyone else’s dad’s music alive! if anyone would like to contact me my e-mail is thevenin1981@aol.com

  6. There is another guitarist in that group and his name was Jack (Snakebite) Simpkins. If I’m not mistaken he is also singing backup on Girl. He was my Dad!!!!

  7. David Anthony was the bass player for the Royal Jesters. He is listed in the photo but not given credit for the recording of the record. Butch Bright was not in the band.
    An old Jester fan.

  8. Dee Thevenin’s son Dennis wrote to me last year and listed Butch Bright as bassist. Could Butch have been in the group before or after David Anthony?

    1. The original members of The Royal Jesters were as follows:

      Dee Thevenin(Vocal)
      Jack (Snakebite) Simpkins (lead guitar)
      David Anthony(bass)
      Eddie Swann(drums)
      Mike Carlisle (keyboard)

      Art sang backup for a short time before forming his own band.

      Willie Lewis and Butch Bright were members in a previous band with Dee called The Rhythm Kings.

      Seems as thought there was some dischord with some members of the Jesters and Swann either left on his own or was kicked out. Then David Anthony left the band. Swann was replaced with Johnny Love and Anthony was replaced with Butch Bright also added to the group was Myself and Willie Lewis as backup singers.

      Dee and I decided to enlist in the Navy, we both did…fortunately Dee was given a deferment…unfortunately…I wasn’t. Dee continued with other members of the band and I went to war.

  9. I am soooo sorry to hear about your dad. We were a couple for years in high school. Was his go-go girl with the bands. I fell in love with your dad from his singing and there was no other. He touched my life like you will never know. I was trying to get in touch with him the month he passed. Have listened to the song Girl over and over. When ever we had a fight and broke up and I went to a place where he was playing and he saw me come in he started singing Girl and Crying Time. He’s always in my mind and feel he’s with me always.

    Again I’m very sorry that this happened, heard you had his talent of singing. Keep him alive through the song

    Love to you and your family,

    Charmaine

  10. i apologize to the anthony family….i went off information dad had told me….he had mentioned something about david anthony….thank you so much for submitting that picture by the way…they were all awesome and will live on forever in our hearts and chas if you can do me a favor and fix that it would be great because those are the original members….i’m really sorry i relayed the wrong info….charmaine i know you have been looking for dad….he talked about you often…..if anyone knows anyone that would like to get together and maybe do some of the music dad did with me i know both songs on this album and i know what he liked and he told me some of the songs they did later as snakebite…i would love to get together with someone and do these songs…the thevenin name is something i take much pride in and i consider it an honor and a privlidge to have the name thevenin….i got the great honor of singing with my father…although we never recorded anything together, he was a great singer. thanks all so much again…let’s keep the royal jesters ringin y’all..they were AWESOME!

    sincerely,
    Dennis Arthur Thevenin

  11. Hi. I was a close friend of Dee and lived with him and worked with him the last few years of his life. I took a road trip with him to his hometown of Point Pleasant exactly two years before he was killed. I also wanted to correct where he was killed was not in Covington, Key but in Newport, Ky. The exact address as a matter of fact was 736 Washington Avenue at the corner of 8th street in Newport. He lived above a bar called Mary Lou’s Bar & Grille. When I was last by there in late 2010, Dee’s name was still on the mailbox out in front. He had fallen of of the roof early that morning on august 22, 2007. I was there perhaps 7 or 8 hours after it happened when his son Dennis finally reached me. Anyway, don’t know if this info is of any help but, it’s important to me for the sake of his memory that you know exactly where he passed away. Thanks.

  12. Can’t believe it will be six years since he passed. He was a father figure to me and he is in my thoughts to this day often. That k you for this site. He would have been thrilled if he had known about it. R. I. P. Dennis. I Love you and miss you VERY much! – Joshua M. Roark

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