Category Archives: St. Louis

The Happy Return

Happy Return Stack 45 Longed ForThe Happy Return came from St. Louis, Missouri, releasing two very different 45s in the space of a couple years.

Members at the time of the Cadet single were:

Steve Noack – vocals, lead guitar
Tom Noack – rhythm guitar
Jim Cunningham – organ
Jimmy Albright – bass
Rich Carrell – drums

In November 1967 the Happy Return released a very good Steve Noack original in the Beatles style, “Longed For”, backed with another original “Maybe”, and issued Steve’s own Stack Records TS-XM510. The publisher, Country Stream Music BMI mainly handled country and gospel songs.

Steve Lee RSSP 45 She's Afraid To AnswerIn July of 1968 Steve Noack had a light pop single as Steve Lee on the R.S.S.P. Inc label featuring his original “She’s Afraid to Answer” as the b-side to “Baby” (by G. Tomsco, B. Tomsco).

Missouri Music BMI published “She’s Afraid to Answer”. Missouri Music’s biggest copyrights seem to be on the Norman label, including “Rockin’ Little Egypt” by the Egyptian Combo and “Jerkin’ Time” by Bob Kuban with vocalist Little Walter.

The Happy Return next appear in June 1969 on the Cadet label with a great double-sided single featuring two more Steve Noack originals with great production by Norman Petty at his Clovis, NM studio. The plug side at the time was “I Thought I Loved Her”, a gentle ballad with keyboards making harpsichord and flute sounds. The Library of Congress registration for “I Thought I Loved Her” in April 1969 shows words by Rich Carrell and music by Steve Noack.

Happy Return Cadet 45 To Give Your Lovin'The flip is the very different and hard-rockin’ “To Give Your Lovin’”, full of crunching guitar and heavy drumming. Both songs list Steve Noack as writer and Heavy Music, Friedman-Collins Music BMI as publisher.

“I Thought I Loved Her” showed up as a “hitbound sound” in a weekly chart of Saint Charles, Missouri’s KIRL 1460 AM that August, but otherwise seems to have missed all radio charts despite being on Cadet. The band broke up the following year.

On the Cadet labels, the band’s manager Stan Friedman is listed as producer of the single. He was a booking agent in St. Louis with a University City address.

Info from Alec Palao’s notes to Get Ready to Fly: Pop-Psych from the Norman Petty Vaults on Big Beat Records, which also have two small photos of the group.

Happy Return Stack 45 Maybe

The Sounds, Ltd. featuring Phil Jackson

Sounds, Ltd. Peak 45 Slimy Sue“Slimy Sue” by the Sounds, Ltd. featuring Phil Jackson is the kind of odd, non-commercial record of the ’60s garage era that I love.

These lyrics are bizarre, with plenty of humor in the masochism of the second and third verses.

I got me a woman, buddy, she’s got purple hair
Ain’t no other woman, buddy, that can compare, that can compare
To my girl, true blue, back alley Sue
Slimy Sue, yeah, well alright now

When I want some lovin,’ buddy, Sue knows what to do
She can kiss so gently, buddy, turns me black and blue
My girl, true blue, back alley Sue
Slimy Sue, yeah, well alright now

Hit it [guitar break]

When I get in trouble, buddy, with someone tough like you
Me, I never worry, buddy, I call on Sue, I call on Sue
My girl, black belt, weight lifting, Sue
Slimy Sue, yeah, well alright now

Philip W. Jackson wrote this song as well as the flip, “Fly Away”, for Cookie Crumb Music, BMI.

The Sounds, Ltd. recorded at Midwestern Recording Studios at 3140 The Paseo, Kansas City, Missouri. The studio’s own Peak label released the single on P-108 in October 1966. I’d like to know more about the band, who maintain a rough but great sound throughout “Slimy Sue”.

The band was from St. Joseph, Missouri, about 45 miles north of Kansas City. “Fly Away” was the ostensible A-side at the time, a kind of folky almost hippie-sounding song featuring lead vocalist Kathy Helmick.

Midwestern Recorders operated a studio since at least 1952 if not earlier, originally releasing records on the Central label. I assume other garage bands must have used Midwestern but haven’t found evidence of that yet.

Sounds, Ltd. Peak 45 Fly Away

The Symbols

The Symbols photo Ken Johnson, Rich Judkins, Ron Pearson, Bob Wyman and Arthur Herman
The Symbols, circa early ’67. L-R: Ken Johnson, Rich Judkins, Ron Pearson, Bob Wyman and Arthur Herman

The Symbols Anaconda 45 What You've ShownArthur Herman presents the history of his group the Symbols, creators of the minimalist garage classic, “What You’ve Shown”. All photos are from Ken Johnson’s collection.

In the mid ‘60s the Symbols rode out of St. Louis and settled in Elsah, Illinois. Tax exiles.

The five of us were all actually out of Principia College in Elsah, just across the river from St. Louis. The nucleus of the group did actually start off in St. Louis [as the Squires]. The name The Symbols wasn’t used until Elsah and 1965, but the record was cut in St. Louis so maybe that’s why we were identified with that city.

The classic Symbols lineup is the one that recorded their 1967 single. Well-known for its obscurity, “What You’ve Shown”, re-surfaced on a number of 21st century garage compilation CDs.

The single was recorded and pressed at Technisonic Studios in St. Louis in spring ’67. Technisonic was the site of many noteworthy rock n’ roll recordings including Ike and Tina Turner’s early hit “A Fool in Love.”

We certainly paid for the recording and pressing of the 45. For my money “What You’ve Shown”, an uptempo fuzz extravaganza, beats hands down “I Know That I”, which is kind of an Everly Bros. type ballad.

The 1966-68 lineup was Richard Judkins (lead guitar, vocals) Ron Pearson (drums, vocals), Kenneth Johnson (bass, vocals), Bob Wyman (guitar, vocals) and Arthur Herman (Farfisa, later Vox organ). Judkins, Pearson and Wyman were from St. Louis, Johnson from Cincinnati and Herman from Ada, Oklahoma.

The Symbols of Missouri photo
l-r: Kenneth Johnson, Ron Pearson, Arthur Herman, Bob Wyman and Richard Judkins

Ken Johnson and Rich Judkins of the Symbols
l-r: Ken Johnson and Rich Judkins
Since Richard Judkins is the only band member who remembers the early 60s here’s his take on the group’s beginnings:

In the 1962-63 timeframe, Rich, Bob, Ron, Bill Hibreider (Sp?) and Rick Alt put together a group called “The Squires” and played at various Principia Upper School [in St. Louis] functions until Rich and Rick graduated in 1964. In 1963 or early 1964, The Squires recorded a 45 on Anaconda Records containing a vocal entitled “Wonderin” and an instrumental entitled “Stratford on Avon.” During the 1964-65 school year, Bob, Ron and Bill played in another upper school group called “Buddha and the Idols.” You may also recall that Rick Alt was a vocalist for The Symbols at Principia College during the 1965-66 school year.

Little did we know at the time that 1965 would be the beginning of the mega-group now simply known to rock historians as “The Symbols.”

The ’67 single is also on the Anaconda label. Judkins wrote “What You’ve Shown” and sings lead. Pearson supplies the backing grunts. The two of them shared writing credits on “I Know That I”. Judkins remembers:

The Anaconda label – yes, we used the same label in ’67 for continuity sake and it was a made up label (no real entity except I thought the name sounded neat). By the way, the colors (blue and silver) were inspired by the similar colors used on the Chess label in the 50s/60s (i.e., I remembered it from the colors on my 45 rpm copy of Chuck Berry’s Rock n’ Roll Music).

 Ron Pearson of the Symbols
Ron Pearson
Label problems – the labels on our 45s were reversed and this fact is noted in the liner notes to the Australian compilation Teen Blast U.S.A. Vol. 2.

At the time, I got Terry Bell, a DJ and celebrated Oklahoma garage band drummer, to play the single on KADA in Ada, OK. He was and is with The Monuments and remains a friend. I imagine my colleagues in the Symbols took similar stabs at promotion. But I don’t remember us doing any really hard sell. We divided the 500 copies up and I think a number were just given away to friends.

The photo of Pearson is at a college dance. He must have just been wanting to power up his sound with that microphone. That I remember, we just played pretty much for college events. Everyone had a pretty full schedule, Judkins played varsity baseball, and that limited the time dedicated to music.

The Symbols broke up in May 1968 when Judkins and Johnson graduated from Principia College.

Interest in The Symbols may have been fanned by their 30th anniversary tour in 1998. It consisted of a single performance back in Elsah at Principia College. Pearson could not be lured backed from California for the 1998 reunion tour and was replaced by hot-shot St. Louis drummer Greg Grattan. He got the job through his daughter who played on the same soccer team as Wyman’s daughter. CDs and even DVDs of this event do exist, and I understand they change hands for extremely large sums of money!

Arthur Herman

Also check out Arthur’s band before the Symbols, the Fanatics of Ada, Oklahoma.

 The Symbols l-r: Arthur Herman, Kenneth Johnson, Richard Judkins and Bob Wyman
The Symbols l-r: Arthur Herman, Kenneth Johnson, Richard Judkins and Bob Wyman