Baby Huey and the Baby Sitters

I’d like to focus on the early career of Baby Huey and the Baby Sitters – four songs released across five singles during 1964-1966, before Huey signed to Curtom and recorded the songs issued on his great posthumous LP.

These four are the influential “Monkey Man” and a great cover of Junior Wells’ “Messin with the Kid”, along with a fantastic soul number, “Just Being Careful”. His version of “Beg Me” isn’t bad, but it’s probably the weakest number on these early 45s.

Baby Huey was born James Ramey in Richmond, Indiana and formed the Babysitters in Chicago in 1963 with guitarist Johnny Ross and organ player/trumpeter Melvin “Deacon” Jones. Melvin Jones is brother of jazz drummer Harold Jones. Reno Smith was the drummer at some point (though I’m not sure if he’s on these singles). “Monkey Man” and “Just Being Careful” were both written by John R. Ross.

Other members of the Babysitters included Plato Jones on percussion, Danny O’Neil on guitar, Rick Marcotte on trumpet, and Byron Watkins on tenor sax.

Baby Huey died in a South Side motel room on October 28, 1970, after a show in Madison, Wisconsin.

Early 45 releases

The history of Baby Huey’s early singles is somewhat confusing because of the repetition of songs. Below seems to be a complete list from this time period:

Shann 73924 – Just Being Careful / Messin’ With the Kid (1965)
USA 801 – Just Being Careful / Messin’ With the Kid (April ’65)
St. Lawrence 1002 – Monkey Man / Beg Me (1965, issued on both blue and white labels)
St. Lawrence 1002 – Monkey Man / Messin’ With the Kid (1965, white label only)
Satellite 2013 – Monkey Man / Messin’ With the Kid (1967)

Some or all of the Shann 45s have the label name marked over with “USA”. I don’t believe “Monkey Man”/”Beg Me” exists on Satellite.

The St. Lawrence white label of Monkey Man was bootlegged in 2011.

In 2005 an acetate came up on auction that was supposed to be an unreleased instrumental by Baby Huey and the Baby Sitters. I had a sound clip up here for over a year before Mark Namath identified it as “Zoobie” by the Noisemakers. The acetate was probably a DJ or collector’s cut misidentified as Baby Huey – there’s no connection whatever between the groups.

Thanks to Dean Milano for scan of the photo of Baby Huey and the Baby Sitters at the top of the page. Check out Dean’s new book The Chicago Music Scene: 1960s and 1970s.

Transfer of “Beg Me” thanks to a fan of the group.

Gigs and announcements in the press

According to Billboard, promoter Barry Fey’s first production was a Baby Huey show in Rockford, IL. Eventually Huey and the Babysitters were managed by Marv Stuart’s State and Madison Management (listed as Marv Heiman on wikipedia).

Billboard and Jet magazines kept tabs on some of Baby Huey’s doings during the late ’60s. I’m sure Chicago newspapers from the time have more listings.

1966
various months – Thumbs Up, Chicago
February 25 – Harmony Hall, Chicago
October – at Trude Hellers, also an announcement that Capitol Booking has signed the group

1967
January- at Ungano’s club in New York
November 10-21 – at the Cheetah in Chicago
December 31 – at the Cheetah in Chicago with the Exception

1968
March 16 – at the Jaguar with the Shadows of Knight
April 5 – The Deep End, Park Ridge, Illinois
May 31 – The Deep End
June 28 – The Deep End
July 9 – Hullabaloo Club, Genoa Road, Belvidere, Illinois
July 10 – The Deep End
July 12 – The New Place with Christopher Robin & Friends
July 19 – The Green Gorilla
July 20 – The Cellar, with the Byzantine Empire
July 26 – The Deep End
August 7 – The New Place with Fire and Ice
August 9 – The Cellar with the One Eyed Jacks
August 17 – The Deep End
November 23 – at Mother Duck with the Box Tops
November 27 – The Deep End

1969
March 1 – The Wild Goose, Rt 120 & Lewis Ave, Waukegan, Illinois
March 22 – The Wild Goose
April – at Barnaby’s Balcony in Chicago and at the Cheetah in Chicago beginning April 21
May – Billboard reports the group scheduled to record their first LP for Curtom in New York.
May 6 – Appearance on the Soul! TV show, with Dee Dee Warwick, Lord Superior, Shirley Chisholm and Jacob Lawrence - anyone have a clip of this?
May 22 – The Chances ‘R’, Champaign, Illinois
May 21 – appearance on the Merv Griffin Show, in New York
June (2nd week) – Merv Griffin Show broadcast on various dates depending on city
August 14 – Jet announces that Baby Huey was “ailing a bit” in Chicago.

1970
April 24 – Sound Storm Festival, Poynette, Wisconsin (There are a number of excellent photos at (Wisconsin Historical Society – search for Baby Huey or Sound Storm under photos and images.)
August 1 – Lou’s Quarry, Appleton, WI
October 31 – Drake University Homecoming Dance, Val-Air Ballroom (scheduled but cancelled due to Jim Ramey’s passing on the 28th, replaced by Just Us and the Batch)

Billboard also mentions that after Huey’s death, the Babysitters changed their name to Boink for at least one live show. However Robert Baker, in a comment below states “The Babysitters never changed their name to Boink. This was another concurrent group that had at least two ex-Babysitters in the group.” Live dates from publications including The Daily Herald (Chicago), the Des Moines Register, the Belvidere Daily Republican.


at the Jaguar with the Shadows of Knight!
March 16, 1968
 


Jet, November 12, 1970
 


Billboard, December 5, 1970
 


Jet, October 7, 1971

Billboard, October 29, 1966


Billboard, November 26, 1966


Jet, January 19, 1967

Baby Huey & the Baby Sitters, Traverse_City Record Eagle Aug. 8, 1967
This news item was picked up nationally in August, 1967. I can’t find further details.


Billboard, September 30, 1967


Billboard, November 18, 1967


Billboard, December 23, 1967


at Mother Duck with the Box Tops
November 23, 1968

Jet, March 6, 1969

Baby Huey & the Babysitters on Soul!, Bridgeport Post March 6, 1969
Baby Huey & the Babysitters appear on the Soul! TV show, with Dee Dee Warwick, Lord Superior, Shirley Chisholm and Jacob Lawrence, March 6, 1969 - anyone have a clip of this?


Billboard, April 1, 1969


Billboard, April 12, 1969


Billboard, April 26, 1969


Billboard, May 17, 1969 – does the tape of this broadcast still exist?!

Baby Huey & the Babysitters on Merv Griffin, Independent Press-Telegram, June 8, 1969
Broadcast of the Merv Griffin Show on June 11, 1969

Baby Huey & the Babysitters at Lou's Quarry, Appleton Post-Crescent July 31 1970
Lou’s Quarry, Appleton, Wisconsin, August 1, 1970


Jet, August 14, 1969

At Lou’s Quarry, Appleton, Wisconsin, August 1, 1970
Baby Huey & the Babysitters, Daily Journal March 20, 1969
Baby Huey profiled in the The Daily Journal (Fergus Falls, Minnesota), March 20, 1969

38 thoughts on “Baby Huey and the Baby Sitters”

  1. I was born and raised in the city of Chicago. Right after turning 21 we starting visiting the local bars in the Chicago area. There was a place on Clark St., can’t remember the name where a local band with Pete Cetera and Billy Herman played on weekends. A year or so later, we started going to bars closer to downtown. A place called The School on State St. Worked the floor there. Then a place called Maiden USA that burned, I think on New Years Eve, worked the floor there also. We all went to Ft. Lauderdale for the Winter. While we were in Florida a new bar opened called Beavers on State St. I returned to Chicago and went to work at Beavers as Co-Manager with Mike Sage and tended bar also at the end of the bar. Great music. Steve Miller, Country Joe, Buddy Miles and many others including Baby Huey and the Baby Sitters. Man, what an alive group. Got to be friends with Ramey. We all spent some time with the band. A good man.
    Anybody remember Beavers?

    1. i played guitar with baby huey for the last 2 and 1 half years of his life and it kills me how you people make up some of these stories when u werint there my name is danny oneil and i was there every nite playing guitar with reno dave danny bass byron othello turk rick my friend plato as well as other horn players it was a great honor to have worked with one of the most magnificent people i have ever met james ramey baby huey if you really want to know what really went down talk to the the people went thru it

      1. Hey Danny O’Neil I First Met & Heard You (The Babysitters) At ‘THUMBS UP’ On Broadway! Then,..In !969 -!970,. I Owned And Managed ‘BEAVERS’, 865 N State Street,. Accross From ‘Barnabys';..Where ‘BABY HUEY And THE BABYSITTERS Played Many Times What Ever Happened To My Friend, ‘Drummer Reno Smith’? You Take Care! Bill Sherman. Jacksonville Beach, Florida – Atlanta, Georgia

      2. Hi, I too was friends with the band. Followed you guys around. Danced on staged and my friends dated Turk and Plato. Gina and Pat .Tons of memories . Those were the best times of my life being a groupie and following the band around. Went the his funeral. Very sad…He was so young. I last saw Reno when I was tending bar in Lincoln Park around 2000. He was on his motorcycle. Lost his number but always wanted to keep in touch. How about Turk? Ok Danny you might remember me if you saw me but that was 45 years ago. Glad to hear you are still around. I know what you mean about stories people make up about hanging with the band. Lived through it and still have you guys picture on my wall in the basement. Great memories all the clubs Cheetah, Club Lorel, Thumbs Up, Holiday Ballroom, Rush Up, Lollys, Barnabys, Mother Goose. Thanks for that!

  2. OMG, this is so cool. I am a sixty year old granny thinking about the old days dancing at The Cheetah, aka Aragon Ballroom. Baby Huey played there frequently. How I enjoyed dancing there on the weekends, starting in 1966 till 1968. I remember Baby Huey being a large kind of guy in stature but what a band they had. Does anyone remember going to The Cheetah? The walls were splash painted in neon colors. They had strobe lights on the dance floor and black lights so the colors on the walls glowed! We used to wear mod clothes in neon colors and also white so that your clothes glowed in the dark too! Boy, thanks for the memories! I would like to hear anyone who remembers Baby Huey at the Cheetah!!!!!

  3. I met my wife one night at the Cheetah a night with Huey and the Babysitters…Huey wore a Lime Green suit and was just fantastic, Pete Cetera was also on the bill as a bass player with a top 40 cover band called ” The Exceptions” he was shy and very reserved with his back to the audience most of the time, but when he sang I knew he was destined to be a superstar someday. I was a drummer with several bands in the sixties and palyed the Cheetah as well as many clubs on Rush street in Chicago in the early to late sixties…went on to LA and was in the Music Biz in many capacitive for several decades…BTW…I married the girl I met in ’67 less then 3 months after that night, and we’re still married…42 years later…Love CAN be forever!!…PEACE TO HUEY!!

  4. Peter and Marty Greb were both in Cal David and the Exceptions an excellent cover band of the time. Peter was later solicited to join the CTA. Marty went to the Buckinghams when their keyboardist was drafted. Today Marty is still a studio musician and believe he is living in LA

  5. do you have anymore of his music like the living legend album this group is amazing its a shame curtis mayfeild did not sign the whole band

  6. Boy does the name Baby Huey bring back memories. I was working as a stable hand at the Valley View Young Adults Club, Mokena,IL and use to sneak in to all the shows. The two acts I remember most were Archie Bell and the Drells and Baby Huey. I loved his reditions of Sam and Dave songs. One night after he played we went skinny dipping in the pool at the club. I recall Baby huey on the high dive yelling Outta Sight!!!

  7. One of the finest bands I have ever heard. I was at the Aragon too,(gramma) It is so sad that somebody did not record the shows, i truly miss them,

  8. Yes, Bill Schuerman was part owner of Beaver’s. He was also manager of the previous bar calle Maiden USA, and manager before that of The School. All of these places were within 1/2 block of each other. Not only did I work at all those places, Bill and I and others were room mates on State St. and on Chestnut St. over a period of about 4 years. There was another place on the other side of State St. that set back from the street called Barnabys. That’s where we were fortunate to see the early CTA (Chicago). I’ll bet I saw them 20 + times during the late 60’s. I worked at Beavers until it closed. I have lost contact with everyone from that era. George Edens, a bartender at the School and at Barnabys. Anybody know where he is? Jane, were you a customer or did you know us personally?

  9. Maaaaaan, these tunes are HOT!
    Big fan of the man ( by no mean what we call a ‘Spod’ (encyclopedic memory / obssessive) jus a music lover and DJ of 24 years) and absolutely knocked sideways to find him on here..and mucho pleasedo!
    Just being careful SLAYED ME! My hips started shakin and a snake took over me spine.
    Monkey Man … whaaaaat?! Laughed ma ass off while shakin n boppin … jeeez, I’m supposed to be writing a book and the discovery of this site has knocked me sideways!!! heh heh.
    I received my ‘other music’ education when I started working in Red Rhino Records in 1988 ( York, UK… find the group on facebook, RRR changed the face of music distribution in the UK and had a European infuence).
    I’d already been a scratch mixer/ working DJ for 4 years but when they took me on my musical horizons went from Moon like to Saturn like proportions !!! I hooked up with some other DJs and over the next 5 years we did regular club nights playing Psych/ garage/mod/indie/punk/rap and early electronica all in one night.
    Finding this site after spending the last 8 years promoting pretty much exclusively Electronic music is a GODSEND!
    My ears are very relieved and my spirit is lifted.

  10. Was at Northwestern and went to The School on my 21st birthday. Bill S. was at the door that night. Then over the next few years we all went to Maiden USA, then Beavers, after I’d graduated and was working downtown and I got to know him a bit.
    I actually went to your Chestnut St. place with Bill one Sat. after hours -you were probably there-I can’t say I ever really knew him very well though-I think he was engaged at one point-or something like that-don’t remember the timeline. I moved back to Mich and that was that. I just remember the irony of holding a ‘normal’ job during the day and then partaking of a totally different scene at night and on weekends- youth!

  11. Jane, who are you. If you went to all those bars, etc. over all those years, than we must know each other.
    Larry

  12. Well,in those days, I had long, streaked, blond hair and was (still am) short. Can’t think of any other distinctive facts-one time I came back to Chestnut St. and a few people were there smoking pot–I passed which seemed like something unheard of- that’s about all I remember. I’m sure we crossed paths but I didn’t really know anyone other than Bill. Also went to ‘Store north’ a lot, all the bars you mentioned.

  13. I am a 67 year old fan of Baby Huey. Lived in Chicago until 1976 when I moved to Alexandria, Virginia. I used to go to “Thumbs Up” every chance I could. Having just gotten discharged from the Air Force and living just north of London, England for 3 years, meeting him and hearing what he and the Babysitters could do, just simply rocked my world. While the group was appearing at the Cheetah way back then, I took a series of photos of them on stage. They are Ektachrome slides I believe, shot under available light (they are very redish)and all I have to do is find them so I can digitize them and get them uploaded to you and/or other fans. Will keep you all posted.

  14. I AM A POOL PLAYER, AND IF YOU REMEMBER THERE WAS A POOL HALL NEXT DOOR TO THE CHEETAH. A GIRL I WAS SEEING AT THE TIME, MET ME IN THE POOL HALL ON A FRIDAY NIGHT IN 1967. SHE HAD TICKETS FOR THE CHEETAH SHOW THAT NIGHT. TOMMY JAMES AND THE SHONDELLS WERE THE HEADLINERS. BUT, IF I REMEMBER CORRECTLY, THE NEW COLONY SIX AND BABY HUEY AND THE BABYSITTERS ALSO PLAYED AS WELL. MY GIRLS FRIEND, MAUREEN CONNOLLY KNEW JIMMY ROSS WITH THE BAND. AFTER THE SHOW, WE WERE INVITED TO THE TIDES MOTEL ON SHERIDAN RD. I AM SURPRIZED BABY HUEY LIVED AS LONG AS HE DID IF THAT NIGHT WAS ANY INDICATION HOW HE LIVED HIS PRIVATE LIFE. HE WAS A HUGE MAN WITH HUGE TALENT. A GENTLE CHARISMATIC ENTERTAINER. COULD THE BAR THEY ASKED ABOUT ON CLAEK ST. UP NORTH HAVE BEEN THE CLUB LAUREL? ALSO ANYONE REMEMBER THE SITZ MART ONTHE WEST SIDE OF STATE ST. AND ABOUT ONE BLOCK NO. OF CHICAGP AVE.?

  15. Yep. Chicago in those days was a lot of fun before being sent on to military duty. The Exception, Rovin Kind, Huey, The Delights. All was good

  16. The Babysitters never changed their name to Boink. This was another concurrent group that had at least two ex-Babysitters in the group.

  17. I guess this is slightly off topic, but I haven’t thought of the Valley View in decades! I grew up in the town of Thornton, and we had never even heard of a place called Mokena! When we heard of the club, we started going nearly every weekend. We even saw the Buddy Rich Orchestra perform on stage there! My favorite band to follow at the time was Aorta, and we saw them there a couple of times. Loudest band was Blue Cheer, you could hear them from miles away. They were so loud, they ended up playing outside!

    Thanks for the memories!

  18. When I was discharged from the Air Force in ’66, it wasn’t long before I discovered Baby Huey and the Baby Sitters. I loved their music and hung out at Thumbs Up every chance I could. At the Cheetah, I didn’t much like how long it took to get to the dance floor from the entrance on Wilson or was it Lawrence? (68 and an appropriately poor memory). I took a series of photos of Baby Huey with the available light of the Cheetah’s stage. I am looking for them now and will post them when I find them. These are slides I swore I would never loose…… Oh! I am from Chicago, grew up on the West side (Austin High School), moved North, Lincoln and Peterson area, and graduated from Von Steuben HS in ’62. I spent the end of ’62 to the beginning of ’66 in England with the Air Force (there was no greater place on the planet to be then in or around London during those years as you can well imagine).

    So, Linda. Tell me more about yourself and what else you remember.

    Les

  19. In the 60s I was with Denny and the Decades. We occasionally got to fill in for Baby Huey and the Babysitters at Thumbs Up which I believe was on Broadway in Chicago. We were under age at the time (probably 18 or 19) but never had a problem playing there. As I recall, Thumbs Up was their “home” venue. It was noted as having toilet seats hanging from the ceiling (never did understand that). I don’t even recall how we got those gigs. We did go several times to see Baby Huey play as well.

  20. I remember the Cheetah well. My band played ther in 1966 or maybe 1967. We were called the Chicago Fire. I remember opening for Baby Huey and his band one night. We were a six piece rock cover band with a female lead singer named “Mousie” who we stole from her previous Chicago girl trio called “Mousie & the Traps”. We were also represented by Marv Stuart’s booking agency, “Musical Enterprizes”. I married her in 1969 and we’re still together and living in the suburbs of Dallas Tx!

  21. The Festival of the Arts in Richmond, Indiana where Baby Huey is from is having a closing event for the summer. A recognized guitarist, Randy Baker, will be playing with his band, who plays various genre of music but is sited for his blues. We will be recognizing our hometown son, Baby Huey, during this event. I would love for anyone to come and share their memories of Baby Huey since many of the Richmond residents did not get to experience the performing side of him while he was in Chicago.

    Friday, Oct. 7 in Richmond, Indiana at the 4th Floors Blues Club (outdoor)starting at 7:00 p.m.

    If you can’t make it, would still love to hear some memories to put in some literature we will be sharing with the public to educate.

    Contact: Pamela Bliss leonardosart@yahoo.com

  22. Jane,
    UNBELIEVABLE,This IS BILL S! We obviously have memories. I was in Chicago for my once a year visit during the past few weeks, and have been in ‘The Concert Music Promotion and Production Business,..as well as The Night Club Business ever since ‘BEAVERS’.

    Please contact me at
    E-Mail: cubswinatlanta [at] aol.com
    Bill Sherman
    Jacksonville Beach, Florida

  23. THIS IS BILL (SCHUERMAN) SHERMAN FROM ‘BEAVERS’ AND MORE;…AND I HAVE RESPONDED TO ‘JANE’, AND TO WHOM I BELIEVE AT LONG LAST,.. IS ‘LARRY PERLMAN’ PLEASE CONTACT ME!

    BILL SHERMAN
    E-MAIL: cubswinatlanta [at] aol.com
    JACKSONVILLE BEACH, FLORIDA

  24. Larry Perlman,
    The previous comment DEFINATELY was written by You! I always remember Our Trip To ‘The Yaght Parked Across from ‘The FOUNTAINBLEAU Hotel at Miami Beach';..and The Serious Meeting We Had in Your Behalf.
    I have copied This Web Info To Dave Queen;..and He also would like to know the whereabouts of George Edens and Tom Ritter! Let me hear from you!

    Bill (Schuerman) Sherman
    E-Mail: cubswinatlanta@aol.com
    Jacksonville Beach, Florida and Atlanta, Georgia

  25. To Larry Perlman, and Jane from Michigan:

    This IS Bill (Schuerman) Sherman from ‘BEAVERS’. I Believe that at long Last Larry (The Legend) Perlman Has Been Found. Larry, I Have been in ‘The Concert Promotion – Production Business and The Night Club and Restaurant Business since ‘BEAVERS. I always remember Us Visiting ‘The Yacht’ parked at ‘The Fountainbleau Hotel on Miami Beach,..and calling ‘The Governor’!
    Dave Queen and I have both attempted to locate George Edens,and Tom Ritter! Contact Me…
    Bill (Schuerman) Sherman
    E-Mail: cubswinatlanta@aol.com
    Jacksonville Beach, Florida and Atlanta, Georgis

  26. My best friend, my sister and I used to frequent Cheetah almost every weekend….it was the most wonderful memory I have of dancing to Baby Huey and his singing “My Girl”, he would always stop and let us sing with him….he was a super nice guy….as were all of the guys in the band. I am a 66 year old grandmother and have the fondest memories of Baby Huey and the Babysitters at Cheetah Lounge. A great group of people joined there every weekend, there was never any trouble, we just all had good clean fun dancing the Boogaloo, ShingALing, etc…We were stunned when Jimmy passed away, and will never forget him. RIP Baby Huey, I know you are singing up a storm up in Heaven….we miss you and your great voice.

  27. Hello, having just read your comments I saw some pictures on Amazon, I don’t know if they are the ones you are referring too. They are on the customer image page for Baby Huey and the babysitters. Sorry no very helpful. Cheers, Chris Green.

  28. 1966: Thumbs Up at Broadway, Clark and Diversey.
    What a great scene! Baby Huey and The Babysitters rocked that place.
    Lovely memories and a shame it ended so quickly.

  29. Hi everyone, I am 33 years old and i was clicking around youtube for funky stuff and i got into Baby Huey today, I was really impressed by his music and I decided to read about this amazing band…..I am glad I had That Lucky Click! Salutes to everyone of you guys, from Argentina!!!!!

  30. Dan o neil, you were baby h ueys guitar player. I knew him when I was a little boy . As round 11-12 he lived down the street from me .allways walk in up to the grocery beside my house with a transistor radio blasting in his ear. If you get this message I must compliment your guitar playing . I also play guitar you played a black l.p.custom? I would like to see some more early pics of the band. Richmond in. Where he was from doesnt hardly remember him . I do . He made it out of his o ne horse shit hole and was successful thanks for your time sir

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>