The Nightshades formed as the Deadly Nightshades at Glenbrook South High School in Glenview, IL, a suburb of Chicago. The group’s lineup changed, sometimes to a quartet or trio format, but included at various times:
Gary Schaeffer – vocals Bob Zemke – lead guitar Larry LaCoste – rhythm guitar Phil Jernigan, replaced by Tom Lavin – bass Dan Locke, replaced by Kenny LaCoste – drums
I only have one of their singles, the second of three the band released on Gear Records in 1967 and 1968.
The first was “Summertime” / “Wonder Where My Baby Is Tonight” on Gear 747/8.
“Summertime” and the Kinks cover are cool enough, but I like the original songs on their second single on Gear C 749/750, “Flying High” and especially the heavier “American Boy” with its sustained guitar sound and lyrics that would tell an interesting story if I could decipher more of them. The labels list Zemke, La Cost, Jernigan as writers for both songs, published by Gear Music BMI, with arrangement by Bob Zemke, plus Gear Enterprises, c/o Ed Zemke.
I haven’t heard their last single, “Sweet Cecelia” / “My Mother Done Told Me (That You Were a Lover)” on Gear 751/2.
Billy Stephens seems to have been based in Belmont, Mississippi, about 45 miles north east of Tupelo, and three hours southwest of Nashville. According to a comment online, he died at age 55, which would be sometime around the year 2000. I can find no obituary or biography, but here is what I know:
Billy Stephens registered two songs in June 1963, the intriguingly-titled “Rice Paddies” and “I Need Wanda”. Unfortunately, neither seem to have been released. I wonder if demo acetates exist of these songs.
Starting around 1966, he did release three singles of excellent original songs on his own Kidd Glove label.
The first was Kidd Glove 101, credited to Billy Stephens & the Nashville Casts. One side was the amazingly brooding “Baby You Got Me” while the flip is the country “Lumber Jack”. “Baby You Got Me” almost defies description, not exactly garage and really has to be heard.
I’m not sure of the date for this one, the NRC # 510 indicates pressing at National Recording Corporation’s plant in Atlanta, sometime between late 1966 to mid 1967.
Next he released an excellent instrumental, “Sneak Attack” backed with one I haven’t heard yet, “Shirley”, on Kidd Glove 301 with a redesigned label and motto, “The Sound That Leaves You Breathless”.
The third single was the rockabilly “Dozen Diamond Man” b/w an offbeat harmony jangler, “There’s a Time” on Kidd Glove 302. Lyrics for “There’s a Time” are hard to make out, but seem to be about how his teenage queen got locked up “they took her far away, said she had to pay”. This single was released in 1967 with a b&w photo sleeve.
All of his songs were published by Kidd Glove Music BMI, though I can’t find registrations for all of them.
Certainly this was an artist with a lot of talent and originality.
“Half Past the End” by the Smoke is hard-rocking and heavy on the keyboards, which I don’t usually like, but it has some lead guitar work that hooks me, and features a solid performance by the entire group.
The group included Mark Sheldon, who had played bass for the Mussies on their 1967 Fenton single, “12 O’Clock July” which is a great psychedelic take on Link Wray’s “Jack the Ripper” b/w one of the better versions of “Louie Go Home”.
Other members of the Mussies were Chic Ericksen (lead vocals), Paul Knapp or Paul Nabb (lead guitar), Tom Mann (rhythm guitar) and Bill Johnson (drums). I don’t know if any of them played on the Smoke single from late 1968.
The Mussies & the Smoke came out of South Haven, Michigan. Mark Sheldon wrote both songs on the Smoke single, “Half Past the End” and the flip, “My Mama”. Both published by Rise Music, Inc. BMI. Mark Edward Sheldon registered the copyright for “Half Past the End” with the Library of Congress in February 1969.
The Smoke single was produced by Sheldon-Pielert, the Pielert standing for Fred Pielert, the manager of the band with his wife, Gail Ostrow.
The ARP stamp in the deadwax indicates the American Record Pressing Co. in Owosso, MI, pressing number 1316.
I’ve seen promo and stock copies of this 45, and all seem to have stickers listing the band as the Smoke. Mark Sheldon’s name is underneath.
I don’t have any info on the Mark V other than what’s on the labels. BMI lists the “Mark V” as the song writer for “I Want To Say”, so that indicates the band members were L. Cerame, G. Snow, R. Eder, T. Montanino, and R. Hackling.
The b-side “You Make Me Lose My Mind” is the wilder of the two songs; Jack Provenzano is the writer. Unfortunately it’s not on youtube right now, but it’s worth seeking out for the weird scream after the opening drum roll.
Released on Blast 215 in 1964. Vincent Catalano (Vinnie) owned the Blast label, and also had the Sinclair, Whale, Mermaid, and Camay Records labels with Don Ames. Blast is known for doo wop, especially “Coney Island Baby” by the Excellents. Basil Bova did some A&R work for the Blast label.
Years ago, Wayland L. Davis wrote a detailed story about his time with the Outer Limits, and the Las Cruces, New Mexico music scene he grew up in. He was going to expand on it for publication in Garage Hangover, but then we lost contact. I won’t publish it since I haven’t received his permission, but I will include a little info about the band from our email back in 2009:
I grew up in Las Cruces and was one of the original members of the Outer Limits. I left the group before they recorded with Golddust. But, I helped write “The Waves” and “Walking Away” long before that, and we recorded our first version of both songs with Steve Crosno
Keith Hackney [of the Four Dimensions] lived a block away from me and taught me how to play a barre chord, which led to me playing rhythm guitar for the Outer Limits and Pete Hecker playing bass.
The original Outer Limits were Jim Westbrook, Wayland Davis, Pete Hecker and multiple drummers. First, Jerry Savage and later Jerry Bachman. We named ourselves after the TV show and not the Markettes “Out of Limits” song. John LeDuc [was] my replacement as I left the band before this picture and Goldust recordings.
I can’t find much info on the Apaches, who had one single on Galena Records out of Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1966. One side is a pleasant original song, “Please Understand” by Burgess, Tousley. My copy is too scratchy to include a sound file, sorry.
The flip is a cover of “Heart of Stone”, which sounds like it features a different lead singer.
The Apaches was an RCA custom pressing, TK4M-4746/7, from late 1966, released as Galena G-131.
There was one other garage 45 on Galena Records, the Executives, who did a good original, “Why Make Me Cry” by T. Carter, Brock, Hoffman, G. Carter, Teaff, b/w “I’ll Feel a Whole Lot Better When You Are Gone”, also released in 1964.
Though the label for “Please Understand” lists Galena Music BMI, I can’t find copyright registration with the Library of Congress, or for the Executives song.
I find a number of registrations with Galena Music from 1964 and 1965, including: “Just Another Night”, “Gonna Find Me Someone” and “Moon Girl” by Roy L. Ferguson and Leroy Duncan, “Tear Drops” and “This Same Old Heart” by Sam Barrett, “Lonely Hours” by Roy Ferguson, Lercy Duncan and Autry Rutledge, “My Castle by the Sea” by David Vowell and Autry Rutledge, and “Back Up, Back Out” by Roy Ferguson, Leroy Duncan and Connie Rutledge, but these all seem to be country or pop music.
The Cloudwalkers came from the Bensonhurst neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. They cut one single, the harp-driven “Sunglasses” b/w “Never Told Me So” on Capco 106 in mid-1965.
“Sunglasses” isn’t the same song as the Cramps’ “Sunglasses After Dark” but I’d like to think there was some influence there. The single made it to #49 in Record World’s “Singles Coming Up” chart.
Members included Chris Welch and Peter Polizzano, who wrote both songs on their single, plus Pete Frias.
“Never Told Me So” is a fine Buddy Holly influenced rocker.
George Napolitano of the Ox-Bow Incident told me that Pete Frias was the guitar instructor and mentor of many musicians in the neighborhood, and also was guitarist for Jimmy & the Jesters, a group that often played the Peppermint Lounge. George also thought the Cloudwalkers single was recorded at Rossi Sound Studios at 2005 West 8th Street and Avenue T in Brooklyn.
The labels note “A Billyjo Production”. The engineer for the session was Joe Venneri, who was a guitarist for the Tokens during their early days, then became an engineer at Incredible Sound Studio, Mira Studios and Mercury Records.
Chris Welch and Peter Polizzano registered both songs with the Library of Congress on July 2, 1965. Publishing came through Calboy Music, BMI, owned by Joe Calcagno who also owned the Capco Records label.
An ad in Billboard in November 9, 1965 lists Capco Hitsound Records at Southard Ave in Rockville Center, NY. The label was promoting Capco 108, Irv Goodman’s “Hava Nagilah” / “Sugar Blues au Go Go” produced by Jimmie Haskell.
Singles by the Crossfires, the Don Rays and others on a green Capco label, circa 1963, come from a Los Angeles company probably not associated with Joe Calcagno.
I’d appreciate any further info on the Cloudwalkers.
The Zounds released their only single in June of 1967. “Me and My Girl” is the more uptempo side, while the organ leads the melody for “Love Has Found Me”. Both have fine performances by the band and singer, though the lead guitar and rolling drums on “Me and My Girl” stand out. The horn sounds a little out of place on “Me and My Girl” but fits in better on the flip.
The group came from Lebanon Junction, Kentucky, about 25 miles south of Louisville.
I’ve seen a photo of the group as a six-piece, but I only know four names:
Doug Hawkins – ? Roger Smith – guitar David Berry – ? Thomas Troutman – ?
David Berry and Roger Smith wrote “Me and My Girl”; Doug Hawkins and W. Hawkins wrote “Love Has Found Me”. Both songs published through Falis City Music Co. BMI.
The Music Mountain labels list the band as The Sound of the Zounds. Music Mountain was a recording studio in Lebanon Junction run by Bill Masden with Grant Watson engineer. It was active into the 1970s. The U4KM-9950 shows this was a custom RCA pressing.
I looked for mention of the band in local newspapers and could only find one reference from the Louisville Courier-Journal on August 6, 1967. The discussion of the ‘combo contest’ lists a number of local groups, but limits coverage to the winner, the Frogs from Jeffersonville, Indiana, across the Ohio River from Louisville. The Frogs never recorded to my knowledge.
‘Frogs’ Jump to Win ‘Crusade’ Combo Spot
If their Jeffersonville neighbors knew what 17 teen-age talent judges know, they’d be more tolerant when The Frogs roar into a practice session. This guitar-banging, organ-pounding, drum-beating quintet last night topped seven other finalists in the second annual WHAS Crusade for Children combo contest, combining the loud and the soft in today’s Mod music taste. The selection by the teen-age panel on an hour-long WHAS program makes them the best among more than 90 area combos which auditioned for a place among the eight finalists.
Popular as they may be among the younger set, the “Monkee-suited” group has its problems with the older generation. “It’s kind of tough to find a place to practice,” leader Douglas Decker, 18, of 608 Kewanna Drive, Jeffersonville, said. They’ve tried basements and backyards, but the sound of The Frogs isn’t always in tune with the neighbors. Right now they’re practicing in Doug’s basement. “The folks don’t mind, as long as we practice and don’t goof around,” Doug said. “Of course they bug out when we start to play.”
Other finalists were The Zounds, of Lebanon Junction; the Cavaliers, The Silhouettes, The Dynamic Imperials and The Dark Shadows, of Louisville; The Exotics, of Leitchfield; and . “I thought The Dark Shadows were going to win,” Decker, the base guitarist, said. But the other members of his group were convinced that The Dynamic Imperials were the combo to beat.
Other members of the winning Frogs are: Rhythm guitarist Rob Roby, 16, of Utica Pike, Jeffersonville; lead guitarist David Rowan, of 210 Spickert Knobs Road, New Albany; organist John Shaughnessy, 17, of 716 Roma Ave., Jeffersonville; and drummer Richard Wolfe, 17, of 401 Chippewa Drive, Jeffersonville. While they reluctantly admit- their zany outfits are patterned after the famed Monkees, The Frogs’ favorite big-name groups are The Beatles and The Young Rascals. They organized their group only six months ago, although most of them had played with other combos which drifted apart. Shaughnessy had been a member of the Centrics, last year’s winners, before that group competed in the 1966 Crusade combo contest. The Frogs will be one of the acts to perform on this year’s WHAS and WHAS-TV Crusade for Children program Sept. 23-24. Last year’s Crusade provided $415,592 in charity for handicapped children of Kentucky and Southern Indiana.
The Marquis from Louisville could be the Marquee Monsters who recorded “I Love The Beat” (B. Cason) b/w a favorite of mine, “Laws and Restrictions” (Mac Gayden and Bill Fennell) on Our Bag Records in Sept. 1966.