Category Archives: Las Cruces

The Outer Limits on Goldust Records

The Outer Limits on top of Amador Hotel, 1966, from left: Jim Westbrook, Pete Hecker, John LeDuc and Jerry Bachman. Photo from elpasomusicians.blogspot.com
The Outer Limits, 1966, from left: Jim Westbrook, Pete Hecker, John LeDuc and Jerry Bachman

Outer Limits Goldust 45 Don't Need You No More

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.

The Imposters

Writing about Danny and the Counts has brought in a lot of information about the Coronado and Frogdeathlabels, so I’ll feature some more artists from these companies, starting with the Imposters.

The A-side is “Wipe In”, their take on the surf standard “Wipe Out” of course, with plenty of reverb and a deranged introduction. It was written by E. Teleheny, published by Conte Music. The flip is a standard blues, “Tulsa”, written by L. Miller.

I can’t find any info or photos of the band, if anyone has one, please let me know.

Although a DJ in El Paso, Steve Crosno’s Frogdeath label was based in University Park, New Mexico. At least some records were cut at his house. He usually put a witty quip on the label, this one has “Produced by Shteve [sic] Crosno”.

Thanks to Sam Stephenson for the scans and transfers of this 45.

Frogdeath Discography

Any help with this discography would be appreciated.

Frogdeath (sometimes listed as Frog Death) was run by Steve Crosno, a DJ on El Paso’s Top 40 radio, KELP. He also had a TV dance show Crosno’s Hop on the local Channel 7 that ran from summer of 1961 into 1970. He obviously had a sense of humor, from the logo to the messages on the labels like “Do Not Write in This Space”, or “for best results use riaa curve (whatever that means)”. Crosno passed away in September 2006.

Early releases like the Imposters have a University Park address, by Las Cruces, New Mexico, the same location as the Goldust label.

Froth 1 – The Imposters – Wipe In / Tulsa
Froth 2 – Cain & Able – Creí / La Bamba (arranged by Rick Young) / A Moment of Soft Headedness
Froth 2 – Four Frogs* – Think I’m Losing You / Mr. Big (both by Colin Flannigan) (some copies with picture sleeve)
Froth 4 – Danny & the Counts – It’s All All Over / For Your Love

Froth 66/1 – The Night-Dreamers – Mr. Pitiful (vocal Sunny Powell) / I Can’t Help It (I Just Do) (James Brown)
Froth 66/2 – El Paso Premiers** – This Is the Beginning (Bobby Rosales) / Let Me Call You Darling (vocal by James Patterson)
Froth 66/3 – Mike Reynolds and the Infants of Soul – When Will I Find Her*** / It’s Judy (both written by Mike Rosen)
Froth 66-4 – The Astros – Amarga Navidad / I Love You Dear (Hector Luna)

Froth 67-1 – The Night-Dreamers – I Take What I Want (featuring “the amazing ‘Sonny & Sam'” / Wisdom of a Fool (vocals by Al ‘Mr. Tears’ Sanchez)

There are two releases labeled Froth 2, but I haven’t found a Froth 3 yet.

* According to Doug Neal, the Four Frogs were Bert Peters, Claude Perilli, Colin Flannigan, Billy Withers with one other member.

** aka Bobby & the Premiers, who also recorded for C.L. Milburn’s Souled-Out of Texas label.

*** Westex tells me an earlier version of “When Will I Find Her” was released on a Las Cruces label. I’ve heard there’s also an LP on Frogdeath by Mike Reynolds, but I haven’t seen it.

More info on Steve Crosno can be found at Lone Star Stomp (which also discusses the Four Frogs release) and Borderlands.

There was also a very rare LP titled Steve Crosno Day, July 9, 1967, Recorded Live at the El Paso Coliseum, but I’m not sure if that was released on Frogdeath or some other label. Anyone have photos, scans or a transfer of it? A CD release may have additional songs but the track list seems to be:

The (Las Cruces) Starliners
01. Instrumental
02. The One That’s Hurtin’ Is You
03. It’s Not Unusual
04. Tramp

The El Paso Drifters
07 – 09 Featuring Martha Sifuentes
05. Intro / Sweet Soul Music
06. Groovin’
07. Respect
08. Close Your Eyes
09. All In My Mind

The Las Cruces Majestics
10. Band Intro
11. Instrumental
12. Intro / Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag
13. Goin’ Back To Miami
14. More

The Impressions
15. Let’s Go Steady / You Are My First Love
16. I’ve Been Lonely Too Long

The Gene Willis Aggregation
17. Instrumental
18. Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag / Instrumental
19. James Brown Jam

The El Paso Premiers (Bobby And The Premiers)
20. I’m A Practical Guy
21. I Dig Girls
22. Hello Stranger
23. Put Me In Jail

Sonny Powell And The Night-Dreamers
24. Kind Of A Drag
25. Mr. Pitiful

Bernard Tanchester
26. Steve Crosno Tribute Presentation

Thanks to Ken Prichard for the Cain & Able scan and to Sam Stephenson for the Mike Renolds scans.

The Vibrations

The Vibrations, 1963, l-r: Jack Starkey, Barry Leonard, Rex Harmonson and Al Moses

Jack Starkey sent me these excellent photos of his first band, the Vibrations. For those who saw the Four Dimensions post last week, take another look as I’ve updated it with two photos Jack sent in.

Jack Starkey: The Vibrations were formed by Al and me during our junior year in high school. The band had several forms over the 2 1/2 years we were together. The final band was two guitars, drums, bass, and electric piano.

We played steadily in northern New Mexico and at Las Cruces until I joined the 4 Dimensions. There are no surviving recordings of the Vibrations that I am aware of. The photo of us on stage was at a local movie theater for a promo of a rock and roll movie. I believe that Bobby Vee was on the phone talking to the girls on stage.

Most of the group have continued to play throughout their lives. Al Moses (the blond fellow) was my best friend and was playing in a band here in Arizona called the Rusty Zippers. Al and Rex have passed away, but the others still perform in some capacity. Ronnie was a teacher and had a band in California. He was in the Sacramento area and his group used to play at the governor’s mansion during Governor Jerry Brown’s reign.

The Vibrations, 1964, l-r back row: Al Moses, Jack Starkey and Rex Harmonson; front: Tim Long and Ronnie Nemec

The Vibrations, 1963

The Four Dimensions

Keith Hackney and Jack Starkey with Lucky the cat and the Four Dimensions’ Chrysler 300, April 1966

The surf craze of the early ’60s wasn’t limited to kids living by an ocean coastline – the Astronauts from Colorado and the Trashmen from Minneapolis are two of the most famous examples. The Four Dimensions of Las Cruces, New Mexico had their own take on surfing – riding plywood down sand dunes! More than just a laugh, their song “Sand Surfin'” will hook you, and it has some of the wildest screams ever waxed (hear it at at Lone Star Stomp, where I nabbed the label scan.) Prior to the Four Dimensions, Jack played with The Vibrations.

Jack Starkey of the Four Dimensions answered a batch of my questions about the group:

I was in the Four Dimensions. Members were: Keith Hackney, Phil Holmes, Jack Starkey, and Billy Conger. Keith Hackney and Phil Holmes started the group. They played in a local bar as a duo. Later they added a drummer and then asked me to join the group.This was in early 1965. The original drummer quit because he didn’t want a cut in pay when I joined, so we found Billy Conger to play drums. Billy and I were both from other towns and had come to Las Cruces to go to college.

I had met Keith in Los Alamos, NM through a mutual friend, Tommy Edwards. Tommy was a student at New Mexico State University and brought Keith home with him during a school break. They had a band called the Keymen.

The Four Dimensions played at several locations in the area and usually worked 6 nights per week. The clubs were: The Palms Motor Inn, The Cork and Bottle and a club in El Paso. The Cork and Bottle was our base. We eventually worked there 6 nights a week and in El Paso on Sundays.

There were many good bands and musicians in the Las Cruces and El Paso area back then. There was a band called the Outer Limits that did original music. They were in high school at the time and had some good songs.

We all used to hang out in Juarez at the Lobby bar. There was a blues guitar player that packed ’em in every weekend and most week nights. I was there watching him at every opportunity. His name was Long John [Hunter] and did mostly original material. He played guitar with one hand while hanging from the rafters with his other hand. I ran into him a few years back and he plays here in the Phoenix area on a regular basis. He has several CD’s out.

Gold Dust records was a local studio and Keith and Phil knew the owner. His name was Emmit [Brooks] and he played in a country music band. We had a great relationship with Emmit and he shared in the cost and profit of the record (I don’t think there was any profit). We backed other performers at the studio also.

The Four Dimensions, l-r: Phil Holmes, Billy Conger, Jack Starkey and Keith Hackney

We didn’t have many original songs. “Sand Surfin” was written by Keith and Phil as a novelty and “I Love You For What You Are” was written by Keith. We put our spin on most of the covers that we did. Sand Surfin proved popular locally, because many of the local kids sand surfed at the Whites Sands site.

In the fall of 1965, we won a battle of the bands in Las Cruces and then headed to California. We had an agent in Hollywood and played the club circuit in Southern California. We ended up in a Las Vegas Lounge and had to split up early in 1966 as we received draft notices. Billy left Vegas with another band and Keith, Phil and I returned to New Mexico. We played a few times in Las Cruces before we finally broke up. After, Phil and one of the Keymen started a group. I believe the guy’s first name was Stan but his last name escapes me.

Keith is the only one of the group that actually went to Viet Nam. He made it back safe. I never had any contact with Phil after that but I heard that he formed another band that included his wife and played the club circuit. During those times you could make money playing the clubs and Vegas. Billy and I had another band for a little while after he returned from California. He played organ after the 4 Dimensions broke up. He still plays I the Seattle area. He was by far the best musician in the group, followed by Keith and Phil.

I really never played in a group. The group Billy and I had broke up because I got another draft notice. I had received a deferment earlier. I still have guitars and amps, but rarely play.

My kids took my copies [of the 45] back in the 80’s. One of my kids’ friends had a punk a band and did a cover of “Sand Surfin”. I would like to get my hands on some of the tapes we made at Gold Dust records. Although I would probably be disappointed. Our memories have a way of making things better than they really were.

Jack Starkey

The Grass on Goldust Records

Stanley and the Grass at Las Cruces High School 1965, Lynn McIntyre, Dennis Finn, Stanley Stenner, James (Timmy) Schaefer, and JT Archer
Stanley and the Grass at Las Cruces High School cafeteria dance, Fall, 1965.
Left to right: Lynn McIntyre, Dennis Finn, Stanley Stenner, James (Timmy) Schaefer, and JT Archer.

The Grass came out of the Las Cruces, New Mexico scene that included bands like the Keymen, the Four Dimensions, the Morfomen and the Outer Limits.

In August 1966 they released their only 45. recorded at Emmit Brooks’ Goldust Recording Studio, “I’m Getting Tired” (written by Dennis Finn and Lynn McIntyre) backed with “Y’Love”.

In the lyrics of “I’m Getting Tired” the singer is having trouble finding a girl worthy of his continued attention:

There’s just one reason why the girls never hit me with a put down,
I’m cool enough to know just when to put my foot down.
They offer me their love – what can I do then but take it?
Offer me their heart – what can I do then but break it?

JT (Tim) Archer sent in the photo at top, adding “here is a pic of Stanley and the Grass before the Goldust recordings with The Grass w/ Larry Lucero. Notice two of the guys are wearing ‘belt-straps’ instead of regular guitar straps. Except me, I left mine at home.”

JT wrote more about the band in comments below:

I was the lead guitar player for The Grass. The band included myself and Lynn McIntyre (formerly of the Checkmates and The Hustlers), Dennis Finn, and Tim (James) Schaefer. We first formed with Stanley Stenner as our lead singer and thus Stanley and The Grass was born circa 1965-1966. When Stanley left, we added Larry Lucero and he was the lead singer on our Gold Dust sessions.

I played a Fender Jazzmaster; Tim Schaefer played a Strat; Lynn played a Precision Bass. We refinished them all white and used belt straps instead of regular guitar straps… How cool is that?

I grew up on the Ventures and even during The Grass days we played a few instrumentals including “Slaughter on Tenth Avenue”. The band broke up and I went to Hollywood and tried to make it with Stanley, Lynn, Dennis and other friends from LC. Great experience -tough business! After Hollywood, I still pursued music and toured in lounge bands and even worked with Link Wray in Tucson.

I recorded two solo albums: Canyon (Gold Dust 1974) and Who’s Watching (my label – see CD Baby). I am now into Jazz and R&B. I hope to someday release another album under my jazz persona – Joey Primo. I have quite a guitar collection including a Mosrite which Semi Mosely custom made for me. It’s a keeper!

I have a picture of Stanley and The Grass at a Las Cruces High Dance. I also have a few pictures of me in the Shandels at Skylanes Bowing alley in El Paso when I filled in for Bob Allinder when he was on vacation one summer. I also have a picture of The Hustlers that pre-dates the Grass.

Stanley Stenner had a 45 on the Dynasty label from the early ’60s, “Teri” b/w “Angel of Mine”, written by Stenner, Charles and Richards for Borgelin-Melissa Music, BMI, orchestra conducted by Gene Garf. It’s a pop vocal style record.

Dennis Finn added:

Stan was one of the elves [Curly, one of the Lost Boys] in Peter Pan. He was from Hollywood. His dad was the great grampa on the Munsters. He also performed in Vegas with Sammy Davis, Jr., a great singer. He went back to Hollywood, and we got Larry Lucero to be the lead singer. I wrote “Y’Love”, and Lynn and I wrote “I’m Getting Tired”. We recorded them at Emmit Smith’s Gold Dust records.

Later, Pete Hecker and John Leduc (from the Outer Limits) and Dennis Lucero (from the Shandells) and Tim Archer and me (Dennis) went to Hollywood, and played at Ciro’s for 16 weeks in the summer of ’69. It was wild and crazy, and we had long hair, but were mainly hicks from New Mexico. In 1970 we came back to New Mexico, either to go back to college, or whatever.

Goldust is still in business: for more information see their website www.goldustudios.com

If anyone has photos of other Las Cruces groups of the time, please contact me.