|Before the Symbols, Arthur Herman was in the Fanatics of Ada High School in Ada, Oklahoma, 1965.
Can garage bands wear matching outfits and turtlenecks? The correct answer is no in 1968 but yes in 1965. Under the influence of the early British bands, if you wanted to get hired for dances you did want to wear matching outfits and Beatle boots. That’s me on the Farfisa organ, the same one I used two years later on the recording with The Symbols.
Huey Meaux and Doyle Jones behind the console, the Dawgs in front, from right to left: Bobby Sharp, Freddy Arechiga, Gaylan Latimer (in the striped shirt) and Jimmy Rogers filling in on bass.
“This photo was taken at 2 AM, at Gold Star Studios in the summer of 1965″ – Freddy Arechiga
|Updated and rewritten, January 2011
Fred “Freddy” Arechiga wrote to me about the origins of the Dawgs:
Gaylan Latimer (Gaylon Ladd) adds:
As Gaylan explains on his excellent web, gaylanladd.com, Meaux released songs cut by the Dawgs at Gold Star on three different labels and under three different artist names, hoping one would break out in the charts.
First out was the Dawgs release on Pic 1 (#119), “Won’t You Cry for Me” / “Shy”, both songs written and sung by Gaylan and pressed in June of ’65. Hear these and other songs I’m not featuring on Gaylan Latimer’s site.
Next came a release as Bob and Gaylon on Ventural V-722, both songs by Sharp, released in September of ’65. On the A-side, “Don’t Go in My Room Girl”, the singer is warning a girl who “laughed at me” not to go into his room because he has another ex-girlfriend in his room?! The tearjerker on the flip, “It Belongs To You” features some nice acoustic guitar.
That same month Meaux placed two more of Bobby Sharp’s originals Epic – “Walk, Think & Cry” / “I Don’t Want to See You Again”, receiving notice in Billboard in November, 1965.
The band toured as Bob and Gaylon, until Bob Sharp had a nervous breakdown, smashing a Gibson 12-string and pawning his Birdland and Gibson amplifiers.
Many of these 1965 recordings turned up on two LPs credited to Bobby Sharp and released on Crazy Cajun in 1978, Walk, Think, and Cry and Autumn Leaves Must Fall.
The first of these leads off with both songs from Bobby Sharp’s Epic single, contains seven other songs that went unreleased at the time, and finishes with “Won’t You Cry for Me” – the same version as on the Pic 1 single, but with drums and bass low in the mix. The sound on the album isn’t great, with occasional dips in volume from mishandling the tape. The cover just shows some clouds and sky and has Bobby’s name and the title on it. There are no notes, or a listing of musicians or recording info on the back.
The unreleased songs are “Baby We Got a Good Thing Going”, “I’ve Done It Again”, “Please Not Again”, “Bring It to Me”, “Down Home Girl”, “Something’s “Wrong” and “This Reminds Me”. “Something’s Wrong” really shows Bobby’s fake English accent and Beatles affectation.
Gaylan is listed as writer of “Please Not Again” and “Won’t You Cry for Me”. Bobby Sharp has the credits for all the rest of the songs except “Baby We Got a Good Thing Going” which lists Meaux. I expected the Barbara Lynn song, but it’s altogether different, and works well. “Down Home Girl” should not be listed as a Bobby Sharp song, it was written by Leiber-Butler for Alvin Robinson, then covered by the Stones.
I haven’t yet heard the second Crazy Cajun LP by Bobby Sharp, Autumn Leaves Must Fall. These are all Gold Star cuts from ’65 as well, and none were released prior to this album. The titles are: “Autumn Leaves Must Fall”, “How Many Times”, “That’s All”, “Naughty Girl”. “Find Me Another”, “Love Is Gone”, “The Picture”, “As The World Turns”, “Greenie Meanie” and “Please Lie To Me”. If anyone has a copy or a CD transfer of this, please let me know.
Gaylan Latimer again:
Around this time Huey Meaux opened up Pasadena Teen Town, with an office and studio in a building nearby. At this location Gaylan recorded three solo 45s, starting with “Smokey Places” / “Think About Me” on Ventural in September of 1965, then “Think About Me” / “Her Loving Way” for national release on MGM in December, and another 45 on Ventural “I Better Go Now” / “Painted Lady” released in 1966. This was a different band than the Dawgs, and included Dennis “Crash” Collins on bass, Wallace Pelton on bass and keyboard, and a drummer named Tommy. They really rock on some of these songs, notably “Her Loving Way”.
Gaylan wrote all of the songs he performed as a solo artist. Later on, for the Heather Black band he would collaborate with Tommy Christian on most of their material.
In 1966 Huey Meaux and Charlie Booth were arrested and eventually convicted for violating the Mann Act, bringing a 15 year old girl to Nashville for purposes of courting favor with DJs attending the NATRA convention. While fighting the case he moved between Texas and Clinton, Mississippi where he started the Grits and Gravy studio. Gaylan moved back to Waco, writing and recording at Chuck Harding studio, including two songs for an obscure release, Glennis Annette and the Confederates “You Better Find Your Way” / “Sadness Is” for Harding’s TRC (Texas Recording Co.) label (read about it on Lone Star Stomp).
In the spring of ’67, Gaylan came back to Houston to record with Meaux, cutting Gaylan’s originals “Repulsive Situation” / “My Life, My Love” for release on Meaux’s Pacemaker label in May of 1967. His band for this record was the East Life Transfer with Tommy Christian on guitar, Vernon Womack on organ and Sammie Piazza on drums, while Gaylan sang and played bass. “Repulsive Situation”, is a lament against distrust and alienation.
The Pacemaker label had other good releases, including Johnny Winter’s psychedelic number, “Birds Can’t Row Boats”, the Triumphs “Better Come Get Her” and Yesterday’s Obsession “The Phycle” / “Complicated Mind”.
In May of 1968 Huey went into prison to serve a 14 month sentence for the Mann Act violation. Gaylan returned to Waco where he cut a 45 with the Silvertones “Something Is Strange” / “Get Out of Town” for TRC (without the Confederate flag now) at Chuck Harding’s studio.
Gaylan writes, “As far as the Silvertones, after Ramsey and Bobby Bradshaw, there were quite a few different personnel changes. I was in Houston when a lot of the early Silvertones were playing together. When I started playing with them, they had a singer named Little Anthony (not the famous one). I believe Dennis Black was the leader at the time, Jim Shanks, another sax player and another horn player that I can’t remember. When I started, I was playing bass and singing. Mickey Sharp was playing drums–I don’t remember who was playing guitar at the time.”
Gaylan formed Heather Black with members of the Silvertones, Mickey Sharp, Ted Richardson and Tommy Christian. They would record again with Meaux, first a single on Meaux’s American Playboy label, and then an LP on Double Bayou, produced by Meaux and distributed through his new deal with Shelby Singleton in 1970. For more on this period of Gaylan’s career, check his website.
Gaylan Latimer’s recording releases (pre-Heather Black only):
The Dawgs – Won’t You Cry for Me / Shy (Pic 1 119, June 1965)
Sources include: the SugarHill Studios site (http://www.sugarhillstudios.com/news/news_doylejones.html – link now dead) and background on Huey’s conviction from The B-Side.
Thanks to Larry Nichols and Freddy Arechiga for help with identifying the band in the photo, and to Mike Markesich for accurate record release dates. Thank you to Gaylan Latimer for answering my questions. Special thanks to Fred Arechiga whose comment below I’ve added to the main text.
Billboard announces Epic’s release of Bobby Sharp’s 45, November 5, 1965
Bob and Gaylon from the Houston Varsity Tattler, 1965
Click on these for larger images
The Back Alley
|Ellis Starkey wrote in about two Shreveport-based bands he played drums and sang with, The Back Alley and The Rogue Show. The Back Alley didn’t release any records at the time, but I hope some unreleased tapes surface so we can hear what they sounded like. Here are the bands’ stories in Ellis’s own words:|
|In 1966 “The Back Alley” was formed with Ellis Starkey – drummer, vocalist; John Barlish – guitar, vocalist; Bob “Fist” Raley – Hammond organ, trumpet; Kenneth Nealy – trumpet, vocalist; and Gary Rhineheart – bass, vocalist.
We rehearsed where ever we could, sometimes in Mr. Barlish’s barber shop, sometimes the Musician’s Union Hall, sometimes at Fist’s house, sometimes a laundromat, but most of our practice came from OTJT- on the job training!
We played soul music. In October 1968 we played a black club in Shreveport, La., called The Hollywood Palace. We were the first white band to ever play there. The billed us as “The Back Alley – the Blue-eyed Soul Brothers”. We had a packed house! When we started playing no one danced. We had a light show, strobes, black lights, and flashing color lights. I had the strobes turned on the crowd and during the next song the dance filled up! They loved the strobe lights. John played the guitar behind his head, his back, and with his teeth! He was one of the best soul-type singers around. We also performed at the Afro-American Scene, on Texas Street, Shreveport.
The Tau Kappa Epsilon, at Centenary College in Shreveport, La. “adopted” the band and we were able to play all of their dances. They had the BEST “weekend” parties at a private camp on Lake ‘O the Pines, in East Texas. We would bring our camping and fishing gear along with a ski boat and stay all weekend. What a life!
Fist, the organ player, on guitar; Ellis on drums and John, the guitar player on organ at LSU, Baton Rouge
|Whenever we needed a date to fill our calendar, I would call Charlie Winn,”The Working Girl’s Friend”, he owned the Bayou Club in Shreveport. We played there alternating with Eddie G. & the Jive Five [who recorded 45s like "Losin' Boy", "Go Go Train" and "Soul Feelin'" as Eddy "G" Giles.]
Eddie G, his drummer was nicknamed “Caveman”…he was a tall, big man. One night a fight broke out and one guy told Caveman, “You better watch it…I know karate”. Caveman snarled and said, “I know “ka-38″. Caveman won without a punch!
Eddie G. had a black girl that was his go go dancer, “China Doll”. The night we played the Afro-American Scene, Eddie G. and all his entourage came to see us play. About the 3rd set Eddie sent China Doll up on the bandstand and she started dancing with us. After several songs she flipped off her top. It landed on Gary the bass player…he cracked up when he realized what had happened. He turned every shade of red!
One of our favorite bands was Noel Odom and The Group, they were very good musicians!
“The Back Alley” performed at fraternity and sorority parties at all of the surrounding colleges in Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Mississippi until 1969. The Back Alley recorded several original songs but didn’t put anything out, we basically played gigs.
Ellis Starkey on drums
|The Rogue Show
In April 1969, I received a call from Jerry Hawkins, President of Musicians Local 116 in Shreveport. He said a full-time band needed a drummer and for me to go play with them. I told him that I didn’t feel I was good enough to play with them. He said yes you are…get on out to the club. The band was The Rogue Show and they were in their third year playing at the Shindig. Very rehearsed.
When we started we sounded like we had been together forever…on the first break Dino Zimmerman, guitar player, came over to me, put his arm around my neck and said you are our new drummer. My band The Back Alley had a gig at La. Tech the next night. David Shelton, another drummer, came in and said he wasn’t playng in his band anymore, so I called John Barlish and set it up for David to play with them.
The Rogue Show was Larry Gordy bass guitar, vocalist; Dino Zimmerman guitar, vocalist; David Rowe organ, vocalist; and Ellis Starkey drummer, vocalist.
Another reason the band was so good was because we kept the same four members for the five years the band was together. We played six nights a week and rehearsed twice a week, learning at least two new songs a week for the duration of our band.
When I joined the Rogue Show they had been playing at the same club, The Shindig, for three years. I handled all the bookings in my other bands so I started booking college and high school jobs. We left The Shindig and started playing one nighters, we never did go back to the Shindig. That summer I booked the Bayou Club so we could stay rehearsed and learn new songs for the upcoming “fall school season” Sept. – December.
On October 30, 1969, The Rogue Show opened for the Grassroots at Stephen F. Austin College, in Nacogdoches, Texas. We played 30 minutes before they started. They played 30 minutes and then took a 20 minute break. The Rogue Show played those 20 minutes. Then the Grassroots got back up and played for 45 minutes. It was a big night, it was a pillow and blanket concert in the gym. The place was packed. I signed 5 contracts for school dances before I could pack up my drums!
In February, 1970, Kenny Rogers and the First Edition were booked to play SFA. I contacted the lady that had booked us with the Grassroots. She said that we would not be hired because we were too good! She said we don’t want to make concert bands mad by having a local group show them up. First time I ever lost a job for being too good! We ended up playing just about every dance over the next couple years but we never opened for anybody again!
Dale Hawkins (co-writer and singer of Susie Q) came out to hear us perform. He was working for Bell Records at that time. That next week he had us in the studio at Steve Wright’s in Tyler, Texas. Dale said he would shop it around and let us know.
Jerry Hawkins (Dale’s brother and president of Musicians Local 116) called us and said he wanted to take us to the studio. We went to Robin Hood’s and recorded several songs. Jerry said he would shop it around and let us know.
Jerry called about a week after that and wanted to have a meeting with the band. He told us he had two labels interested, Paula Records and RCA, Nashville. WOW!!! We all talked it over and asked whatever questions we could come up with. It came down to how many cents we received per record sold. Paula Records offered 5 cents and RCA offered 2 cents. Well needless to say went with the higher figure . Major mistake! Knowing what I know now, we should have gone with the major label regardless.
We signed a four record deal over two years. The releases were:
1) Make Me Over Again / Nadine
The “Make Me Over Again” record label shows the writer as Roman Gorky. Ro from David Rowe, man from Dino Zimmerman, Gor from Larry Gordy, and ky (misspelled) key from Ellis Starkey.
Gretta was released one week when it was a “Newcomer Pick of the Week” in Cash Box, Billboard, and Record World, the week of March 25, 1972. The next week no one would play the song, seemed like someone was trying to kill it. In a couple of days Jerry Hawkins resigned as our producer and said that from now on we would have to go through Gene Kent at Paula. I called Gene and set up a meeting.
Gene Kent and I have never gotten along and things didn’t improve this time. There was a time he wanted to be our manager and wanted us to pay him 25%. We said No. I guess this is how he got us back. He said he would handle our selections of songs from now on. I reminded him that we had 1 more release according to our contract. He said OK, but I want you to pick out one of our music tracks of the Uniques and y’all decide on who you want to sing over the track. I said do you mean for one of us to sing over a music bed already recorded by the Uniques? He said that’s it exactly what I mean, like a smart ass. I told him we would not do that and to stick the “Biggest little record shop” up his ass! They sent us a release of contract by mail.
Meanwhile, we were making more money that we ever had. We went to the Orbit Lounge in Bossier City, playing 6 nights per week. In the contract, I stated that we could be off at the club as long as we had a replacement band. I booked the colleges and high schools. We stayed there 2 years and 2 months. When we played at the schools we told everyone to come out and see us whenever they came home. We had big crowds all around.
We played at Hawks Lounge in Shreveport, La. for 8 months. We held the attendance record there with 975 customers paying cover charge of $1.00 per person.
In 1973 we went to the Landmark Club in west Shreveport. We had the same type contract as with the Orbit but at twice the price. We played the Landmark through December 1974. We continued to book all of the best college and high school dances. We performed in Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Mississippi. After five strong years of playing almost every night the Rogue Show hung it up on New Year’s 1975.
Ellis Starkey, 2008
Update: I’m very sad to report that Ellis Starkey passed away on June 1, 2009.
For more Rogue Show photos, memorabilia and music, check out their videos of Come Back Baby and Can’t Judge a Book and Make Me Over Again. Special thanks to Ellis for sending in the history and photos of his bands.
Dino and Gordo
David and Ellis
The Scholars (white sweaters) with vocal trio the Perennials, plus manager Nat Segal
Cameo Parkway Studio, Philadelphia, January 28, 1967
|A quintet of Drexel and Temple University students (hence the Scholars name) from the Port Richmond section of Philadelphia. The only name I can associate with them is Bernie Winski, who wrote both songs on the 45, “I Need Your Lovin” and “Please Please”.
Opening with a pounding snare, “I Need Your Lovin'” is intense garage. The sound is dense, with background vocals by the Perenials [sic] and heavy swirling organ. A sax solo is followed by some great surf-type runs on the guitar. A remastering from the original tape, if it exists, might really bring out all the elements.
“Please Please” is competent but less exciting, I’m including it for the completists out there. They also cut one unreleased song, “I’m Gonna Make It”, that really shows doo-wop influence. “I’m Gonna Make It” originally appeared on the Crude PA compilation.
The 45 was released in February, 1967 on the Ruby Ray label out of Cornwell Heights (northeast of Philadelphia, I believe) and distributed by David Rosen Inc. Mastering by Frankford/Wayne.
The Perennials at Cameo Parkway Studios, Philadelphia, January 28, 1967
|Update, June 2011
Three years after writing this post I am no closer to knowing the identities and full story of the Scholars, but this month backing vocalist Jack Donadio wrote to me about the session with the fine photos seen here:
I am one of the Perennials who recorded the songs featured on your website: “I Need Your Lovin'”, “Please Please”, and “I’m Gonna Make It”.
Thank you to Jack for providing the photos and information on the recording session.
Nat Segal was a clarinet player who owned the Downbeat Club in Philadelphia and booked jazz shows into the Academy of Music in the ’40s and ’50s. In the early 1960’s he went into personal management for Danny & the Juniors, the Orlons, the Dovells and DJs Bob Horn and Jerry Blavat before working with the Scholars.
Sources on Nat Segal: Jersey Jazz’s December 2009 issue (PDF document) and “To the Geator, Bob Was Horn of Plenty. To this Day, Jerry Blavat Feels Debt of Gratitude to the Show’s Founder … and its Biggest Victim” by Jonathan Takiff, Philadelphia Daily News, August 5, 1997, accessed through Philly.com.
The Perennials, from left: Jack Donadio, Gene (surname?) and Jim Tucker
The Perennials at Cameo Parkway Studio, Philadelphia, January 28, 1967
There’s more to the Counts IV than I originally thought. Don Roof was sixteen when he started his first band The Little Boppers in Goldsboro, NC, southeast of Raleigh. Don was stocking vending machines at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base just outside Goldsboro when he met three musicians stationed at the base: Rick Turner, Joe Booher, and Al Peluso and together they formed the Counts IV.
The original Counts IV were Don Roof – vocals, rhythm guitar, harmonica; Joe Booher – lead guitar, vocals; Al Peluso – bass, vocals; and Rick Turner – drums. Their competition around the Goldsboro area came from the Spectaculars, with Bill Stroud on sax.
They were regarded as having the British invasion sound down, which is apparent on “Lost Love”, the breezy B-side of their first 45. The A-side, “Listen to Me” stands out with its vocal trills and purposefully dissonant harmonies. Melodically it sounds sort of like an adaption of Larry Williams’ “Slow Down”. “Listen to Me” was written by Joseph Booher, and “Lost Love” by Albert A. Peluso.
This is one of the earlier releases on Raleigh DJ Jimmy Capps’ JCP label, which would date it to approximately late 1965 or early 1966. It came with a picture sleeve, occasionally done for JCP releases like the Invaders’ “(You Really) Tear Me Up” and a Dayv Butler 45. The group is listed as the Counts Four on the sleeve, but the JCP label and their next 45 both refer to them as the Counts IV.
The band replaced Rick Turner with Enrique Pacheco (‘Chico’), and toured from South Carolina up to New York. They played many shows at the Round Table in Washington D.C. and for a time were the house band at the Cavalier Club in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Their second 45, “Spoonful” / “Where Are You” was recorded in New York and came out on the CBS subsidiary Date in 1966. “Spoonful” is an adaption of the Willie Dixon song, while “Where Are You” is an upbeat original by Donald Roof with some odd female backing vocals.
Around late ’66 or early ’67 the Counts IV recorded two songs at a D.C. studio that went unreleased at the time and are now available on a Sundazed 7″. One is a cover of “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue”, but the other is a very interesting original by Don Roof called “Discussion Of The Unorthodox Council”.
This turns out to be the same song as “What Good Is Up”, a great track released under the name The Inexpensive Handmade Look on Brunswick in August of 1968. In fact I’m almost positive it’s the same take, though the Brunswick 45 has serious amounts of echo and effects added to the performance. I wonder if someone at Brunswick retitled the song, which doesn’t quite match up with the lyrics. The Brunswick label lists Ben Mullarkey, Mike Divilion and Mike Kelly as producers. It’s backed with “Ice Cream Man”, another Donald Roof composition.
What place is up if fate has no eyes?
What smile is happiness if hate lingers on?
What word is truth if evil holds on?
What lives are lived if this [...?]
What motion is man if Satan holds on?
What is right? – ah, who can tell?
But I know the truth is written … if you look for it.
What cries are heard if people can’t see?
What sins are left if everything’s wrong?
What skies are up if all roads lead down?
What ships can sail if seas have all dried?
What left is death if people don’t live?
What are we, if the world does not turn?
But I know the truth is written … if you look for it!
There were personnel changes around this time, as Doug Farwig replaced Al Peluso.
Bassist Doug Farwig wrote in about his time with the group:
I was a member of The Inexpensive Hand Made Look. Ha! What a name.
I was very good friends with the Counts IV. I actually joined the Counts IV in Washington DC after their bass player Al left the band during a fight at one of their rehearsals. I had just left my North Carolina band “The Fabulous Dimensions”, also out of Goldsboro, NC and had gone to DC to visit The Counts IV who were playing in a Georgetown club called “The Round Table” when their little spat happened and I just so happened to be there.
They all turned to me at once and said “Doug, how would you like to play bass in our band”. I didn’t know what to say at first because I was a guitar player. I didn’t have any bass type equipment or anything. They talked me into it and off we went to Washington Music to make my big purchase. The rest is history so to speak, because I’ve been a bass player ever since.
I now live just outside of Orlando, Fl in one of the suburbs called Longwood and have been here since 1970. During that time, I have played in many bands the best of which was a group called “The Gatton Gang” in the mid 1970’s. That was a very good band and we toured with it thoughout most of the easten part of the country.
I still see and am now recording with the keyboard player (Kibby Gary) and the guitar player (Rick Warsing). Both are excellent palyers and they both have remained active in the business while I only play part time. I started my own construction conpany which is still active now.
Why no mention of “The Embers” from Raleigh? They were fabulous and even had their own strings of dinner clubs through out the state. We would run into them all over the place. Sometimes in Virginia at some frat house were they would be playing next door or as openers for some of the big shows that would come though our area from time to time.
Another one is “The Villagers”. They had their own Saturday morning TV show based out of Charlotte. They were a big band with about 9 pieces and had a guy and a gal out front that were very good. The Inexpensive Hand Made Look actually played on one of their TV shows.
Ken Taylor, drummer for Mike and the Dimensions, told me the story of how he joined the Counts IV:
Doug Farwig and I had played together in The Dimensions … We used to go see the Counts IV at the teen club on Seymour Johnson Air Force base and wanted to be just like them. They wore black turtle neck shirts, tight jeans and “Beatle boots” and we thought they were the coolest thing we had ever seen! We idolized the Counts IV and traveled with them as roadies when they opened for the Dave Clark 5. They also opened for the Zombies and I’ll never forget Chico teaching me how the drummer played the opening lick on “She’s Not There”.
Joe Booher quit the Counts IV and they broke up. Al and Chico went back to New York. We hooked up with Don Roof who had a bunch of gigs already booked to form the new Counts IV which later became the Inexpensive Handmade Look. Joe joined us for a while and we called ourselves the Counts IV but changed the name after Joe quit again.
Chico came to play with us and I was the front man. Chico quit after a while to return to his family in N.Y. and I went back on drums. I am the guy singing on “Ice Cream Man” with Inexpensive Handmade Look. When we went to N.Y. to record “Ice Cream Man” I’m pretty sure the producer was the same guy that the Counts IV had worked with and he decided to put their song on the flip side. I think they added the effects to try to make it more psychedelic.
We added another guitarist named Bill Collins also known as Mojo Collins who is still playing around North Carolina to this day.
After Doug Farwig left IHL, Don Roof and I formed a new band called Strange Brew with some guys we had met in Atlanta, GA and started playing in clubs down there. We met this guy named Jeff Lee who was a local pot dealer with connections in L.A. He supposedly got us booked at the Whiskey A Go Go and we pooled our meager funds and headed West.
We drove across the country in a Chevy van with five guys and all our equipment. When we got to L.A. we quickly found out there was no gig. We managed to find a job three doors down from the Whiskey at a bar called the Galaxy. One night this guy came in and invited us to an after hours party at the Hollywood Landmark hotel. He turned out to be Shep Gordon and offered to manage our band. He said he had a group from Phoenix that he was handling who were starving but that he believed were going to be very successful. That band turned out to be Alice Cooper and Shep is still Alice’s manager today.
We decided not to take him up on the offer (big mistake!) and a few days later we broke up after someone stole our lead player’s guitars. His name is Spencer Kirkpatrick and he was so bummed he flew back to Atlanta the next day. He later signed with Capricorn records and formed a band named Hydra.
Don went back to Atlanta and I went to D.C. where I literally ran into Doug Farwig walking down the street. That’s when he offered me the job with Wild Honey. Their drummer had left so they hired me and we had a house gig at the Bayou in Georgetown, six hours a night, six nights a week making $200.00 a week. That was a really good band with great vocals but a lot of ego problems. Once again the band broke up and I went to London, England to play and record with Denny Laine (Moody Blues, Wings).
After freezing and starving in England, I returned to D.C. and worked with some local bands before moving to San Francisco and hooking back up with Mojo and his band Initial Shock. We played at the famous Fillmore and Avalon ballrooms and opened for Santana, Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane and many other bands.
Ken’s stories of his time in London and San Francisco will be continued in a later article.
I presumed the group broke up sometime after the Inexpensive Handmade Look 45 but in fact Don Roof continued the band as the Counts IV with different musicians. Mike Malonee wrote to me about this lineup and sent in the photo above:
I first saw the Counts IV at the Teen Club on Seymour Johnson AFB in 1965. I was totally impressed with their look and the great British sound they were producing. I can clearly remember hearing Don Roof knock out “Twist & Shout” and thinking, that’s as good or better than The Beatles! They were very professional and an extremely tight group. I followed this group throughout the mid to late 60’s.
I was 15 years old when I formed a band call “Mike and the Dimensions” in 1965, which included Ken Taylor on drums and lead vocals. I had only been playing guitar for a year and [was] very immature. I was later replaced by Doug Farwig who I considered to be a solid guitar player and later became an even better bassist with the Counts IV.
I played in rather good band that I’d formed in Goldsboro called The Chosen Few and we won the local battle of the bands in 1968. We also opened for Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs in 1967. We were all just teenagers then and were living large. Then I grew up and tried to make a living at playing in a band. Big surprise! You can starve doing that!
In 1969, long after the original Counts IV had broken up, Don Roof replaced the original members with some younger, less talented musicians and performed under the name Counts IV. I was asked to join the group as second guitar and lead vocalist.
Don Roof was playing keyboard during this period. The other three [were] Mike Fowler (Blues), Billy Merrit, and the black dude I only remember as Danny. This version of the Counts IV lasted less than one year.
W. Michael Malonee
Rick Turner (Robert Ward Turner) passed away some years ago in Tampa, Florida. Tragically, lead guitarist Joe Booher committed suicide in 1971. Enrique Pacheco (Chico) passed away in July 2007. Don Roof currently plays with The Back Alley Band in the Manassas and Fairfax area of Virginia.
One request – if anyone has photos of the group please get in touch with me at email@example.com
The Originals recorded at least five 45s on the Van Recording label out of Angleton, Texas. Members were Gary King on lead guitar, Tommy King on bass, Ronnie Ellis rhythm guitar and George Shelton on drums.
Anyone have a photo of the group?
The Originals first 45 is “Scatter-Shot”, a good instrumental written by lead guitarist Gary King, with a cover of Little Richard’s “Lucille” on the flip. It was released in 1964.
Their second (that I know of) is “Honey Blonde”, released in December of 1964 with the artist listed as Ronnie Ellis and the Originals. The b-side is a ballad, “One Little Raindrop”. Both songs were written by Monte Angell and produced by Wallace Schlemmer.
The third 45 features two rockin’ instrumentals. “Stick Shift” ’65 was written by Terry Simpson and Jessie Castor, lead guitarist and bassist, respectively, for the Raiders, who had scored a big local hit on Van with “Stick Shift” back in 1962. Gary King’s original “Blast-Off!” is just as good as the top side.
Their next had two more great instrumentals, “Night Flight” and “Comanche!”:
Another ballad “Searching for Your Love” is the A-side of their last 45 that I’m aware of, written by Wayne Gust with vocals by Ronnie Ellis and George Shelton.
I prefer the flip, another Monte Angell composition, “How Much of Your Heart”. Ronnie Ellis sings in a rough style while the guitars use heavy tremolo instead of the sharp sound on their earlier 45s. This one was recorded by Billy Snow and also recorded in 1965.
The Originals releases:
Scatter-Shot / Lucille (Van V-01464)
Honey Blonde / One Little Raindrop (Van V-01864), as “Ronnie Ellis and the Originals”
Stick Shift ’65 / Blast-Off! (Van V-02165)
Night Flight / Comanche! (Van V-03065)
Searching for Love / How Much of Your Heart (Van V-03565)
Goodnight Little Sweetheart / The Right Way of Doing Things Wrong (Van V-02865) credited to simply “Ronnie Ellis”
Hop, Skip and Jump / No Love For Me (Van V-04066)
I Can’t Forget / Old Enough to Break a Heart (D. McBride) (Van V-04166)
Each Night At Nine / Only Want a Buddy (Not a Sweetheart) (Van V-04266) as “Lonny Roberts & the Originals”
Gulf Coast Records compiled five of these songs on the LP Texas Guitars back in the ’80s. Distortion during the first seconds of “Scatter Shot” seems to be present on original 45s and that LP.
For more on the Van label see the article I’ve posted here.
A psychedelic ode to street walkers! Buried on the b-side of a heavy version of Peggy Sue with a good drum break.
Don’t know a thing about the American Express. “When the City Sleeps” was written by Mani and Fournier.
I’m sure there’s a tie to some other group, but who? Not the American Express from Wisconsin who cut “You & Me” / “You’re Going To Be The One” on the Teen Town label, produced by Jon Hall.
Max Waller connects this to Ed Fournier of the Challengers and Dave Mani – see his comment below for more info.
Delta # in the dead wax dates this to February 1969.
|This is an excellent psychedelic 45 from early 1969. “Light the Glass Candle” has piercing guitar lines; “Keep Right on Living” chugs along to steady tom tom beats with vocals that sound either very young or speeded up.
Both sides written by Jimmy Tillmann. Two other members named Roger and Danny have signed my copy of the 45. There must have been at least one more member, as the lineup includes guitar, bass organ and drums.
The 45 was produced by Alan Posniak, and seems to be their only recording. The Target label was based in Appleton, Wisconsin, but I’ve read the band was from Milwaukee, about a hundred miles south of Appleton.
The äva label – Elmer Bernstein, Fred Astaire, Carol Lawrence, the Pete Jolly Trio – lots of movie themes and light pop music. It makes sense for a label distributed by MGM. Yet I’ve managed to find a couple great instrumental 45s on äva, Allyn Ferguson’s “Your Red Watermelon” and this one, a solid double-sided winner by the Pace-Setters.
Mustang has a nicely tremoloed guitar setting up riffs for a sax to finish off while engines rev in the background. Heads Up is a great r&b guitar workout originally done by Freddie King.
As for the Pace-Setters, they seem to have been a faceless group of studio musicians. Shows how much talent was around in LA in 1964 – two well-produced instrumentals like this get buried in obscurity.
Mustang was written by Gary Moulton, both sides were produced by Steve Benson.
|Frank Stallone sent in these photos of his first band, the American Tragedy. Frank’s playing the ’58 Gibson Explorer. The band never recorded.
Frank wrote, “I had a band the American Tragedy out of Philadelphia from 1965 to ’68. We played all the hops and were in the Battle of the Bands and came in 2nd. I went on from there to form a group called Valentine with John Oates.
“Also the Hangmen are from Maryland, I’m from there as well. I saw them open for the Lovin’ Spoonful at the Shady Grove Music Fair, Rockville MD in 1965.”
For more on Frank and his music and film career check out FrankStallone.com
The American Tragedy, 1965