The Contents Are continued until around 1972, when they changed their name to Tabernash and moved from Davenport, Iowa to Westminster, Colorado, just northwest of Denver. Prior to their move, they made this one single on Dym-a-Nite, the only release they would have under the Tabernash name.
The members of Tabernash were Craig Hute, Dave Neumann, Paul Staack and Mick Orton.
“Head Collect” is an excellent rocker written by Craig Hute. The song dates back to 1969, when a demo was recorded at Columbia studios in Chicago. The single is 44 seconds shorter, quicker in tempo, with a drier sound than the Columbia studio demo, but both are excellent performances.
“Out of the Cold” is another original by Craig Hute, again dating back a couple years, this time to a demo session at Golden Voice Recording Studio in Pekin, Illinois from 1969 or 1970. The Dym-a-Nite 45 is more sparse and plain in production than the Golden Voice demo, and is also 90 seconds shorter. Songs from that session will be released by Alona’s Dream Records in 2017.
The deadwax contains a “tulip” marking that indicates Wakefield in Arizona pressed the single, with a five digit code dating it to February 1972. Both sides have publishing by Sarfran / Unichappel BMI, and “Produced by Tabernash for Experience Group” and “Dist. by the Clouds, Bellville, Ill”.
When I sent scans and audio of the Dym-a-Nite single to Mick Orton, he didn’t recall it. After speaking to Craig Hute, he reported back that one of their managers, Spence Stein owned the Dym-a-Nite label and worked with someone at Unichappel to release the single. The band didn’t hear it until they had made the move to Westminster, but they disliked the quality of the pressing.
The Fabulous Thunderbolts started as a quartet at Kuemper Catholic High School in Carroll, Iowa. Carroll is situated about 90 miles drive NE of Omaha, Nebraska, or 90 miles NW of Des Moines.
The Thunderbolts traveled to Sears Recording Studios in Omaha to cut their only single, “My Girl Sue”/”I Want to See You Again” released in August 1965. Ted Kisgen wrote both sides and copyrighted both under his own name in April, 1965.
I’d like to know what other singles were recorded at Sears. The Echos V from Des Moines recorded a five-song demo there that has not been released. I haven’t seen any other releases on a Poverty Records from Omaha.
“My Girl Sue” is a sharp two-minute rocker. The entire band is solid, but one can’t help but notice the blazing lead guitar, the excellent lead vocals, and the sax solo.
Jerry Hauser – lead vocals Ron Hauser Gene Wycoff – saxophone Mike Kisgen Rich Danner Harold Powell Ted Kisgen – drums
They seem to have been a quintet for much of their existence. On their single I hear lead guitar, bass guitar, saxophone, drums and lead vocal. The Iowa Rock n’ Roll Music Association Hall of Fame inducted the group in 2000 and has a tiny photo of the group as a quintet on their inductee page.
The band also recorded a couple of acetate demos at Sears that I haven’t heard, the uptempo “Say That You Love Me” and an instrumental, “The Explorer” that seem to predate the Poverty release.
I had a photo at the top of the page from an ebay auction of this demo, but a comment below correctly pointed out the photo was of a different group, the Thunderbolts from Plattsburgh, NY.
Ted Kisgen joined a later version of the Green Giants, originally from the southern Iowa towns of Shenandoah and Bedford. They had one single on Round & Round Records 4501, “Pity Me” / “You’re Going to Lose That Girl” in November 1966.
The Golden Cabaleers are one of the more obscure bands on the IGL label. They released their 45 “Come Back to Me” / “All Alone” on IGL 123 in August of 1966. Teen Beat Mayhem lists the band’s location as Holstein, Iowa, 50 miles east of Sioux City, and about an hour and a half drive south of the IGL studio in Milford.
James Goettsch wrote and sang both songs on the single. He attended high school first in nearby Cushing, IA, then graduated from Eastwood Community School in Correctionville, IA in 1967. His first band was the Roadrunners with his brother Gerald Goettsch, T.J. McGuire and Lane Volkert. According to James’ obituary, the band changed their name to The Golden Cavaliers, which makes more sense than Cabaleers. James Goettsch became a physician. He passed away on June 30, 2005.
“All Alone” is very underrated – it received only a 2 in TBM. Check it out below and judge for yourself. It’s a low-key ballad with steady picking and fine vocals. “Come Back to Me” is more upbeat. No indication on the label as to which is the top side. I realize now my copy of the 45 is signed by both brothers on the labels.
Dave Neumann – lead guitar and vocals Craig Hute – 2nd lead guitar and vocals Larry Smith – bass and vocals, replaced by Mick Orton – bass, keyboards, vocals Paul Staack – drums and vocals
The Contents Are came from the Quad Cities area by Davenport, Iowa. High school students Dave Neumann and Craig Hute were in the Blazers when they decided to form a new group to pursue a more original and harmonic direction. Adding Larry Smith and Paul Staack, they started playing live shows in the area, including Cedar Rapids, IA and Rock Island, Illinois.
In April of 1967 they entered the Fredlo studio in Davenport and recorded “I Don’t Know” and “Direction of Mind”. Craig Hute wrote both songs, with arrangements by Dave Neumann. The 45 did well locally, selling as many as 1,000 copies, though it’s pretty scarce nowadays. It’s one of my favorite 45s, I don’t think there’s anything else quite like this band in the ’60s. They have a calm, melancholy sound and their lyrics really stay with me.Once the band was out of high school and mostly attending college, they played shows as far away as Champaign, Illinois and Minneapolis.
Later in 1967 or early ’68 they returned to Fredlo to cut an album of originals by Craig Hute. These are just as good as the single, my favorite being “If You’re Relaxing”. Marianne Dean played piano, oboe and sang on the album.
The band pressed 100 copies and gave them away, and it is now incredibly rare. This record was mostly a rumor until a demo copy surfaced in 2005. Shadoks reissued the album, adding a little color to the line drawing that was the front cover. The original back cover was bland, but the Shadoks release has a photo of the band and and info on who sang or played on each song. There’s also an insert with entertaining notes by Craig, but he doesn’t mention many details of the recording sessions. He does say Mercury bought the Rok 45 for national release which never came about.
The Contents Are had one last single release, “Future Days” / “New Mexico” on Rok Records 6907, which has the same harmony qualities even though the guitars are heavier.
The group stayed together for four years then split amicably as members went in various directions. Larry Smith and the band’s road manager Christy Peake moved to Portland, Oregon to work on acoustic guitars. Mike Orton (Mick) of the Todd Beat Group replaced Larry Smith, and in the early ’70s the band moved to the Denver and Boulder Colorado area where they changed the band’s name to Tabernash.
Their second bassist Mick Orton sent in the later promotional photos seen here and wrote to me about the group:
The CD liner notes made it sound like the band broke up after Larry left which was not the case at all. But I didn’t play on that album, so I kind of understand leaving me off.
When I joined The Contents Are: we were basically a cover band doing a few original tunes that Craig wrote. We only did a few of the songs they had previously recorded; “Country Roads”, “No Chance to Choose” (which I have live on the tapes I am transferring), “Recurring Changes” (also on the live tape, I think), “I Don’t Know” (one of my favorites), and “New Mexico”. There may have been others, but they don’t come to mind. Anyway, I think Craig wanted to leave the old music behind and focus on the new stuff.
Then we started doing some of mine (“All Around”, “Old Man”, “Grey, Cloudy Skies” and a few others), and finally some of Dave’s.
We put together a bunch of original tunes which we recorded in Appleton, Wisconsin and later we recorded others at Columbia Studios in Chicago. It was amazing what a difference that made in the quality. By then, Dave Neumann was writing, and the A&R man at Columbia really liked all of Dave’s songs. Somewhere there are tapes of us doing Neumann originals like “JTK” and others. “JTK” was about James T. Kirk, as Dave was an avid Star Trek fan.
By the time we moved to Colorado, we were trying to emulate Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, The Allman Brothers and Steely Dan. All of the band but me wanted to do “non-commercial” stuff. My feeling was, if it’s non-commercial, who is going to buy it?
When we moved to Westminster, Colorado, our first house, we all lived under one roof: Craig, Marianne, their young son Aaron, Dave, Paul and me. Eventually the girlfriends from Davenport came out; Teresa for Dave and Pam for me. Paul met Dave’s cousin, Donna. Everyone split up to have their own households.
We didn’t play much, so I had to get a job working in factories. Lange Skis was hiring, so I ended up running a bunch of riveting machines and met our eventual road guy, John Zimmer (now deceased). He introduced us to his friend, Clay who also helped out. There also was Colin who did our sound.
We were playing very little when Jon Ludtke called me to join Silver Laughter. I guess my leaving broke up Tabernash. We never recorded any music, I am sorry to say.
“Grey, Cloudy Skies” we revised and recorded on Silver Laughter’s “Handle With Care” album.
Paul Staack would also join Silver Laughter after their first drummer departed. Craig Hute continued writing music and recording on two-track and, more recently, digitally.
The Contents Are have little presence on the internet, other than some reviews of their album and the titles of their songs. The album has one photo of the band, are there others out there?
Information on Silver Laughter from Mick Orton’s website. On that site you can also hear a couple of the demos the band recorded in Chicago, including Craig Hute’s excellent, rocking “Head Collect”, and a live version of Mick’s “All Around”.
Al’s Untouchables’ “Come On Baby” / “Stick Around” is one of long-time classics of 60s garage rock. Original copies are rare and when they do sell, go for well over $1,000. The G45 Central site described “Come On Baby” as “raw energy that may never be equaled”, all within two minutes of playing time. After the band establishes the pounding rhythm, lead guitarist Dick Douglas solos for nearly half a minute, and continues whenever there’s a break in the lead vocals.
Though overshadowed by “Come On Baby”, the flip “Stick Around” is excellent bluesy r&b. The label for “Stick Around” has “Douglas” in parentheses, referring to Dick Douglas on lead vocals.There were actually two different groups on Hunt Records called the Untouchables. The first group consisted of Al Huntziner (drums), Larry Fountain (guitar), Ernie Dvorak (saxophone), Ron Hamad (guitar), Bob Keith (keyboards), Bill Alley (bass), Mel Winder (guitar), Frank Glaser (guitar) and Bob Gaston. This Al & the Untouchables released one 45 on Hunt, “Church Key” / “Danny Boy”.
Then came an all-new Untouchables – but that story is best told by bassist and vocalist Tom Hankins. Tom also sent in the photos seen here.
In 1962, 14 year old Tom Hankins (bass and vocals) started a rock band with Scott Bascom (guitar and vocals), Mike Sexton (guitar and vocals) and Mike Curley (drums). The band was formed in Cedar Rapids, IA and named themselves The Belvederes.
Personnel changes were made at various points and the final version was Hankins on bass, keyboards, guitar and vocals, Dick Douglas on lead guitar and vocals, Bruce Nunamaker on rhythm guitar, Eddy Hood on 12 string guitar, bass and rhythm guitars and vocals and Ron Bressler on drums.
They were having moderate success when area manager Al Huntzinger called Tom and asked him if his band would become Al’s Untouchables, as Al’s band of that name had all quit over money issues with Al. Hankins accepted and The Untouchables were born. Al still insisted on putting his name on the band, but they were just known to their fans as The Untouchables and Al no longer performed with them, as Hankins made that part of the deal [which is why “Hankin’s” is included in parentheses underneath the band’s name on the second Hunt single – ed.].They quickly became Iowa’s top group with the backing of Darlowe Olsen, owner of Danceland Ballroom in Cedar Rapids, where The Untouchables became the house band and backing band for touring acts like Sam The Sham, Ike & Tina Turner, The Hullaballoos and dozens more top national and British Invasion acts. They also toured on Olsen’s circuit of venues in the Midwest with Chuck Berry, The Dave Clark Five, The Animals, Johnny Tillotson and others.
In 1965 The Untouchables recorded what turned out to be a double-sided hit in the upper Midwest in 1966 with the songs “Come On Baby” and “Stick Around”, both penned by Hankins and Douglas writing under the name of Thomas Richards.
“Come on Baby” is now being called “The Holy Grail of Garage Punk”. This was recorded in Chicago at Sound Studios, the same studio used by The Stones and also with their engineer Stu Black. Hankins and Douglas produced the songs, but manager Huntzinger listed himself as producer when the record was pressed.
They began drawing packed venues. In 1966 the entire band was kicked out of high school because the school board deemed their hair as “unfit”, as it covered the top of their ears and almost went over their collars.It turned out that Jefferson Senior High School principal William Paxton found out that the boys in the band were making more money than he was and he developed a grudge against them, doing his best to make sure the boys wouldn’t get their diplomas, but he failed. This put The Untouchable’s name in the headlines nationwide and they drew record crowds at all of the big ballrooms in the Midwest.
Once they were out of school they immediately headed to Hollywood. They had been there during Spring Break when Liberty Records asked them to come out and sign a contract. Liberty, however, wanted The Untouchables to clean up their image and cut their hair, to which the band refused, ripped up the contract and walked out the door.
They dumped their manager Huntzinger and changed the band name to The Orphans at this point after finding out he had been pocketing up to 80% of the band’s pay before dividing the rest up with the musicians. Famed producer Phil Spector listened to “Come On Baby” and “Stick Around” and helped them get a production deal with producer Marshall Leib. Herb Alpert was just starting A&M records with Jerry Moss and he wanted to sign The Orphans, but they lacked enough original material and Alpert needed someone immediately.They met The Doors and toured California with them. This was before The Doors were known outside California and were not even signed yet. Dissension broke The Orphans up.
The band returned to Iowa where Hankins and Douglas took over the operation of Danceland Ballroom from Olsen and ran it until it was closed for good, to be ripped down to make room for a parking garage and events center. They also put The Orphans back together. The duo also promoted concerts in The Midwest with The Orphans generally headlining, but other groups like The Byrds and Beau Brummels headlined some of these shows.
Douglas and Hankins returned to Hollywood and formed a new group with vocalist Aaron Brownstone and world-famous drummer Sandy Konikoff, who also played with Taj Mahal and George Harrison, among others. They record a 12 song album of original material for ABC Records, but upon completion of the LP, Brownstone was killed in a motorcycle accident, thus negating the contract.
Douglas and Hankins returned to Iowa where Douglas formed Enoch Smokey and they became one of the top Eastern Iowa groups. Hankins former a power blues trio with Dan Daniels and became the house band at the all-African American club called The Cougar Lounge in Cedar Rapids. In 1969 both Hankins and Daniels started training to become professional wrestlers and became known nationwide as “The World’s Most Dangerous Wrestlers”.
During this period they were both offered a berth playing with Charlie Daniels after participating in a jam session in Nashville, where they happened to be wrestling, but they had to turn him down as their wrestling career was just taking off.Dick Douglas still plays in Iowa and is recording a new CD as this is being written. Coincidentally, Hankins is currently recording and producing a new CD with The Powerhouse Blues Band in Los Angeles. Nunamaker lives in Colorado and continues to be one of the state’s top guitarists. Bressler left the music business completely and Eddy Hood is currently an artist living in Northern California, and still plays with his own group around the San Francisco area.
The band was inducted into the Iowa Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2007, with Douglas and Nunamaker accepting the awards for the band, while Hood and Hankins went to San Francisco for a musical reunion of their own and jammed for two days.
Tom kindly answered some of my questions about the Untouchables and also about the unreleased recordings of the Orphans:
Q. What was the connection with the Legends?
The Legends were the top drawing band in Cedar Rapids until The Untouchables hired Douglas out from under them. They did release a song that Eddy Hood and I wrote called “Sunshine Daydream” and the flip side was a cover of “Back in the USSR”. It received airplay in Cedar Rapids only however and their popularity was mainly around Cedar Rapids itself.
Q. Is that you playing organ on “Come On Baby”?
Yes, I’m playing organ on both sides of the single and Eddy Hood played bass.
Q. Do you remember where the show with the Left Banke took place?
The Left Banke show was at Danceland Ballroom when Dick Douglas & I were running it and was the last major act to play there in 1967. They no-showed twice and this third time when they finally did show, the fans didn’t and they drew less than 200 people.
Q. The Orphans was at least pressed to vinyl – what happened to all the copies of the 45?
“Without You”, written by Dick Douglas and me and recorded as The Orphans in 1966 in Hollywood at Gold Star Studios. It was never released as the, engineering, production, mixing and mastering was so terrible and the quality of the recording is so bad that we refused to let them release it. This is what broke up The Orphans.
The flip side of “Without You” was “Hey Gyp”. written by Donovan and obtained from him for The Orphans to record before anyone else did. The Animals did a much better version.
Our “manager” and all-around thief Al Huntzinger stole the 45’s when we quit, even though we’d paid for them and for the recording session ourselves, and he must have destroyed them. I only have two myself.
I run into Eric Burdon at times as he lives here in Los Angeles too. He remembered Cedar Rapids and being hungover badly while playing there. We had just come off the road and were really hung over too.
Tom Hankins May 2012
Despite the muddy sound, the Orphans’ “Without You” is an excellent cut and deserves to be heard. As far as I can tell it’s never been comped or featured before now. Norman Goodman engineered it and Larry Herbst and Dick Michaels are listed as producers. I can’t find much further info about Herbst or Michaels as far as the music biz goes.
Hunt Records discography: Any additional info would be appreciated
Hunt 450 – Al and the Untouchables – Church Key / Danny Boy Hunt 1401 – Al’s Untouchables – Come On Baby / Stick Around Hunt 1201 – Corruption, Inc – She’s Gone (Logel – McCleary) / Somewhere (produced by Jim Logel) Hunt 270 – Uncle ‘na Anteaters – Kathy Ran Around / I Can’t Go On (formerly the Countdowns)
The aptly-named Stompers cut one of the wildest rock records of the ’60s, “I Know”. The drummer slams the cymbals while pounding the toms, a great intro that they come back to after each chorus accompanied by intense screams. The rhythm of the guitars is ferocious and the lyrics are delivered in clipped phrases of a few words at a time. “I Know” was released in February 1965, with a cover of Bruce Channel’s “Hey Baby” on the flip.
It took me years to find a copy of “I Know” after hearing it on Root ’66: The Frozen Few where they were mistakenly thought to be a Minnesota band because of the Studio City label. The Stompers were actually from Mount Vernon, Iowa, a town east of Cedar Rapids and 300 miles away from the studio in Minneapolis where they recorded.
It seems like every state in the Midwest has a rock music association to formally recognize the great local acts of the ’50s and ’60s. The Iowa Rock ‘n Roll Music Association Hall of Fame inducted the Stompers in 2006.
The Association’s website gives this intro to the band and is the source for the photo:
Inducted Members: Donald A. Bradford, Steven M. Edwards, Bill Bauman, Greg Harman, Randy Harman, Brian Harman, Michael S. Sexton, Scott Bascom
In 1963 … Steve Edwards exposed southern-oriented R&B to the small-town, upper-Midwest ears of Greg Harman, Randy Harman and Bill Bauman who at that time were immersed in Beach Boys/Surf music. By 1964, the Stompers’ sound had become heavily influenced by British R&R (especially the Beatles and the Rolling Stones). During this time, the Stompers played a regular circuit of ballrooms (Danceland, Dance-Mor, Highway Gardens, The Col) and other eastern Iowa venues. They opened for the Everly Brothers, Buddy Knox and the Rhythm Orchids, the Hondells and backed Chuck Berry at Danceland in Cedar Rapids.
In the fall of 1964, the Stompers recorded their first record in Minneapolis which featured “I Know” b/w “Hey Baby”. “I Know” was an original song written by Greg and Randy Harman which gained a notoriety long outliving the band. “I Know” made it as high as #19 on a number of regional charts.
The summer of 1965 brought the release of a second record “You’re Gone” b/w “I Still Love Her” (two Greg Harman originals). “You’re Gone” peaked at #24 on regional charts. The Edwards, Bauman, Harman, and Harman version of the Stompers ended in the fall of 1965 with the departures of Edwards and Bauman.
Version Two of the Stompers included Greg and Randy Harman and the addition of Scott Bascom, Don Bradford and Mike Sexton. The Stompers’ venues expanded to include several Chicago-area clubs. The Stompers opened for Eric Burdon and The Animals at Danceland Ballroom in Cedar Rapids.
Later that spring, Randy Harman and Don Bradford made contact with Nathan Weiss. He told Randy and Don to send him a tape and he would give it a listen. The tape was recorded at Fredlo Studios in Davenport and sent to Weiss. He invited the Stompers to come to NYC. Weiss produced a record-company-exec showcase at The Scene in Manhattan with the Stompers featured. Present at the showcase were Brian Hyland, Tiny Tim, The Cyrcle, and The Tokens. Weiss helped the Stompers get a gig as the house band at the Village Purple Onion. In the fall of 1966, version two of the Stompers disbanded.
In 1969, Steve Edwards, Greg and Randy Harman reunited and with Brian Harman opened a show for The Paul Butterfield Blues Band at Vet’s Coliseum in Cedar Rapids. This turned out to be the precursor to a series of annual reunions that continue to this day. In September of 2004, Edwards, Harman, Harman, Harman, Bauman and Kansas City keyboardist Everett DeVan recorded a group of original songs by Steve Edwards for distribution among friends. Individually, many of the Stompers continued their much varied musical interests.
The Studio City label shows “I Know” written by Stonie Beecher and Randy Harman instead of Greg and Randy Harman. I hadn’t heard their second 45 on their own Stomp label, “I Still Love You” / “You’re Gone” until November 2011.
This 45 doesn’t match their name, as both sides are very calm originals by Stonie Beecher. They’re excellent sides, especially “I Still Love You” which reminds me of the Zombies.
Thank you to John Owens for the scans and transfers of the Stompers second 45.
Splitsound was a Tucson, Arizona label owned by Dan Gates, DJ/Program Director at KTKT and Dan Peters. Splitsound is best known for the Dearly Beloved’s great “Flight Thirteen”, but it also had fine 45s by the Lewallen Brothers, the Buckett City Distortion Rackett and the Grodes.
The Whose Who were actually a vocal group from Dayton, Ohio Des Moines, Iowa. Dan Gates recorded their tracks at Audio Recorders in Phoenix in return for doing background vocals for another artist produced by Gates, Rena Cook.
James Hagerty of the Whose Who wrote to me, “The group was from Des Moines, IA and included James Hagerty, Kathy Mazzola, Darrell Chrystle, and Al Jinx. We came to Tucson to record at the request of a former member of the group, Steve Harris who had recently moved to Tucson. I don’t know how he met Dan Gates.”
Fans of moody pop should dig “Don’t Let Her See You Cry”, written by Grodes vocalist Manny Freiser. The breezy flip, “The Fun We Had” was written by J.J. Hagerty.
Usually Splitsound releases have a catalog prefix “SSDG” with the DG standing for David Gates. The Whose Who was produced by Steve Harris, so it has the prefix “SSSH”, unique among Splitsound 45s as far as I can tell.
any help with this discography would be appreciated!
SSDG 1-1/1-2: Lewallen Brothers – I Think I’m Glad (Cal Lewallen) / It Must Be Love
SSDG 2-2/2-2: Rena Cook (with The Grodes Orch. & Chorus) – Once in a Lifetime Love (Manny Freiser) / The Lovelost (featuring Reggie Arvizu) – Lost Love
SSDG 3-1/3-2: Buckett City Distortion Rackett – I Can See It’s Coming / I Lied (Steve Lewis)
SSDG 4-1/4-2: Grodes – Give Me Some Time / Background of Give Me Some Time (both by Manny Freiser and Rich Cota Robles) (December, 1967)
SSDG 6-1/6-2: Lewallen Brothers – Only A Dream / Somethin’ On My Mind (March, 1968)
SSDG 7-1/7-2: Butterscotch – Your Own Love / Three-O-Nine (Fred Porter)
SSDG 8-1/8-2: Spring Fever (The Grodes) – Sand / Give Me Some Time (June 1968)
SSDG 9-1/9-2: Greylock Mansion – Over My Shoulder / Dedication (1970)
SSSH 1-1/1-2: Whose Who – The Fun We Had (J.J. Hagerty) / Don’t Let Her See You Cry (Manny Frieser).
Max Waller writes about Greylock Mansion that it “was released in 1970 but had been recorded in December 1969 at the same time as the ‘Catafalque’ / ‘Amazon’ pairing that was released first in Jan 1970 on Dynamic Records.”
Shep Cooke? – or is that a mix up with the Rena Cook 45?
Sources include: 60sgaragebands.com interview with Dan Gates.
Thank you to Max Waller for his help with this discography.
Originally from Council Bluffs, Iowa, the Royal Flairs began as the backing band for singer Dick Hodge, cutting one single at Sears Sound Studio in Omaha, Nebraska, “Dream Angel” / “Let’s Go”, in October of 1962 as Nelson Royal, Bobby Williams and the Royal Flairs*.
The Flairs became house band at the Milrose Ballroom outside of Omaha, playing primarily surf instrumentals. Three members stayed with the band through all of their changes: Bob Everhart (Bob Williams’ actual name) on sax and vocals, Dave Krivolavek on guitar and Dave Brubeck on bass. Other early members included Jerry Fleetwood on trumpet, Daryl Hill on organ, Brian Sallozo on sax, Brad Starr and Mike Nelson on lead guitar, and Rick Brown on drums.
Everhart, Brubeck and Krivolavek relocated to Chicago in early 1965, adding Mike Donion on drums and Mel Matthews on lead guitar and organ. In 1966 they cut two 45s for the Marina label, one as the Royal Flairs, and another as the Unlimited.
The first, “Suicide” has a sharp garage sound and a great solo. In the lyrics the singer wants to join the girl who killed herself over him. It was written by Everhart and Dave Krivolavek, with Everhart playing the harmonica. The instrumental flip, “One Pine Box” (misprinted on the label as “One Pink Box”) has an earlier surf style. It’s a gruesome number featuring the sound of scraping and a hammer nailing a coffin lid shut.
The second Marina 45 as The Unlimited was another morbid number “Feelings.” The flip was one I haven’t heard yet, “Gone Away”.
Bobby Williams remained a pseudonym for Bob Everhart as that name appears as the promotional contact on their Marina 45. For the Flairs final 45, they released the folky “Hat On Tie” as by Bobby and Dave on one side, and the killer soul screamer “My Baby Cries” as by Bobby Williams on the other. These were produced by D. Marrone for the Tonorous label.
According to the notes from Back from the Grave, the band broke up after Bob Everhart was shot when he tried to protect a 350 pound go-go dancer named Miss Temptation from a crazed patron. Bob survived the wound but decided to get out of the nightclubs while he was still in one piece!
In the 1980’s an EP Surfin’ with the Royal Flairs featured five unreleased versions of surf songs recorded in 1962. Another LP, The Royal Flairs, Rare Recordings from 1965-66 contains their singles along with a side of unreleased songs that reflect their change to r&b and British Invasion sounds, recorded in Omaha.
*The Routers cut a version of “Let’s Go” in 1962. Bob Everhart filed a complaint with BMI over the copyright of “Let’s Go”, which caused SAM owner Leona Leivas to release the copyright. However, a 1973 European Warner Brothers release of “Let’s Go” shows song writing credits to Lanny Duncan and Robert Duncan.
Sources: Royal Flairs photo from Back from the Grave 3, Marina 45 scan and transfer of Suicide taken from bosshoss’ Flac Attack vol. 1. Info from the liner notes to Rare Recordings. Thanks to Phil Dirt for the better quality rip of “One Pine Box”.