Category Archives: US

Chuck Conlon & the Crawlers

Here is Chuck Conlon on two fascinating 1967 45s on Henry Stone’s Marlin label after leaving the Nightcrawlers and relocating from Daytona Beach to Miami. “I Won’t Tell” reworks the opening guitar line of “Little Black Egg” and adds similarly odd lyrics like “A teaspoon holds more than the fork does”, sung in the same naive style.

“You’re Comin’ On” has fine production, opening with distinctive percussion, allowing the bass carry the melody and keeping the distorted guitar as decoration. Though credited to Conlon and the Crawlers, I don’t know if any of the his former band the Nightcrawlers actually played on these songs. I’ve heard that Ron and the Starfires were backing him on some of these tracks.

The A-side of the second 45, “Won’t You Say Yes to Me Girl” is a pop gem. I don’t usually object to horns on songs but I wish the producers had kept to the simple arrangement of the intro for this one. The piano trills and organ are excellent and the trombone player’s solo lines blend well.

“Midnight Reader” is more obscure, an ode to introspection as far as I can tell: “He goes behind closed doors every night / all that shines is a small intensity light / there’s no one inside the room but him”. Another verse goes “All the persons who are drunk are asleep / he cares not if they leave him in peace”: the scholar surrounded by hedonistic students maybe?

Compare the opening lines to another that Conlon wrote for the Nightcrawlers, “A Basket of Flowers”: “She sits in a cell at the midnight hour / gatekeeper tied in the darkest hour / she seems so lonely there”.

“I Won’t Tell” entered the charts of Orlando AM station WLOF in April ’67 and reached as high as #19 in May. The first 45 was a Bard Shapiro / Steve Alaimo Production, the second credited to Marlin Productions. All four songs are Conlon originals, though “Won’t You Say Yes to Me Girl” is co-credited to Brad Shapiro.

Chuck released a few solo 45s that I haven’t heard about once every ten years beginning with “When God Comes to Call” in 1965, all as Charles Conlon. He also wrote “Eric Cleveland” which appears on a 45 by the Yak on Tooth 533 and Avco Embassy AVE-4514 with a cover of the Beatles “Every Little Thing” on the flip. I don’t know if he had any involvement with that group, it was pressed at Queen City Album Co. in Cincinnati, Ohio in August, 1969. There seem to be some unreleased recordings as well, including one titled “Poor Little Mixed Up Kid”.

Thanks to Joe Emery for suggesting this post way back in February.

Barry Lee and the Actions

Barry Lee is the stage name of Lee Cuilli, who came from the Italian section of Cleveland, like Bocky, both of them managed by Redda Robbins.

In 1964 Barry released his first 45 on the Redda label. One side is the upbeat vocal pop “Make It” which earned some radio play at the time and got the record picked up by UA subsidiary Veep. More interesting is “Things Gotta Change” a nice bit of r&b with guitar flourishes, credited to Lee, Redda Robbins and Tony Styles. The backing vocalists really getting a workout trying to keep up the bop-ba-shu-bop-ba-bas. The buckeyebeat site suggests it’s likely that Barry is being accompanied by Bocky & the Visions on vocals with their backing band Richie & the Fortunes.

Barry Lee found a group of teens from Euclid, a town northeast of Cleveland, to become his band the Actions. Members included Dave Zaller guitar, Vince Baskovic bass and Ken Ruscittio drums. With the Actions he released his second record in 1966, almost two years after the first. “For Such a Little Wrong” might best be called a power ballad, but on the b-side “Try Me”, Barry’s vocal blends perfectly with the band’s strong backing and harmonies. Production was by Kenny Lark, arrangements by Barry Lee and Fortunes guitarist Tony Styles (Tony Bodanza). Originally released on the Wine & Roses label, it too was picked up by a UA subsid., Ascot, for a quick ride to nowhere.

Interestingly, Barry Lee puts songwriting credits to both Barry Lee and Lee Allen Cuilli. Barry wrote a number of songs that he didn’t record himself, as BMI lists him as co-author of “Can’t Get You Home on Time”, “Down Down”, “I Can Dance”, “I’m Not Worth It”, “I’m Pickin’ Petals”, “Land Beyond the Moon”, “Little Wheel” and “When the Sun Goes Down”, all written with Tony Bodanza.

Info for this article from Buckeyebeat.com. Thanks to Mark Meinhart for the transfer of Things Gotta Change.

Stephen Hartley

This 45 has great atmosphere and unusual production. It’s the work of several talented people who were usually involved in much more commercial music.

Singer and songwriter Stephen Hartley is Stephen Hartley Dorff, a composer of songs and movie & TV soundtracks. The producer Walt Levinsky was an old-time swing clarinet player, composer and arranger who is most well known for writing theme songs for television, including the old CBS evening news theme. The arranger Steve Cagan worked for years with Melissa Manchester. MB Records is also the label that released Manchester’s first record, again with Cagan and Levinsky’s production.

“Have You Seen Her” did make the charts of WOR-FM in New York for a few weeks in July and August of 1967. I prefer “The Other Side” for the moodiness of the music and obsessive lyrics.

The Shados-M

Shados-M Quintet 45 All The Time Shados-M Quintet 45 Sweet LoveThe Shados-M were from Blackstone, Virginia. Drummer Michael Hurley gave me this information about the group:

The original band and the people on the record were Gary Taggart, guitar, me, drums, Gilliam Winn, backup vocals, Eddie Greene, bass, Wayne Goin, rhythm guitar, Neil Owens, organ.

The songs were played on the radio constantly. We were all like 15 except for the guitar player who was maybe 22 at the time. It was a time when bands had long hair and dressed in jeans with holes and that kind of stuff. We wore white tuxedos and that caught a lot of attention at the time.

The name was something we just came up with. It didn’t mean anything we just thought it looked cool. We did some radio shows and people would call in guessing what the name meant. It was funny because they thought of everything from the “M” being for Michael my name to a “W” upside down. We did a few reunions. The last one was probably 10 years ago and we raised over $10,000 in one night for a girl that had a bad accident.

Both songs, “Sweet Love” and “All the Time” both written by Gary Taggart.

Ken Friedman tells me that the Quintet label was a subsidiary of Justice Records of Winston-Salem, which meant the band traveled over 180 miles southwest to Winston-Salem instead of recording in Richmond, an hour’s drive away.

The other 45 on Quintet that I know of is D. Martindale & the Star Fires “Go Jenny”, which is more like amateurish rockabilly than garage.

The Shados-M had another 45 on the Colpar label, “She Loves Me (She Loves Me Not)” / “You Owe Me Nothing” from September 1969, almost three years after their first. Nick Colleran produced that second 45, and again Gary Taggart wrote both songs.

Thank you to Marty for loaning his rare 45, and to Michael Hurley for background on the group.

Does anyone have a photo of the band?

For more on Michael Hurley’s music, check out his site, michaelhurleyband.com

Honey Buzzard


Honey Buzzard, 1972, l-r: Jim Christiansen, Terry “T” Sveine, Rick Christiansen and Duane Suess.

Terry Sveine sent me this great photo and history of his band, Honey Buzzard. Though they never cut any records, there may be a reel-to-reel recording of one of their shows out there somewhere.

Imbued with a combination of influences, several of us started a garage band in New Ulm, Minnesota in 1970 called, “Honey Buzzard.” The memories below are my own and I won’t doubt if others in the group saw it a bit differently, but as I remember it, it came about like this….

We were young teenagers and were really getting into music, listening to WDGY from Minneapolis, WWLS from Chicago and, if the weather was right, KOMA from Oklahoma City. This, combined with buying (and I’m sad to say, shoplifting) 45s and LPs, got us to the point where we wanted to start our own band instead of just listening to others play music.

Around 1967, just blocks from my house were the Kitzberger brothers practicing in their parents’ garage. They went on to be the “Fabulous Depressions” and played in some bigger regional areas and even recorded a song or two. Hearing songs like “Good Lovin’” by the Young Rascals still puts me immediately back to that formative time period.

Across the street, the Ginkel cousins, (Tom and John) were also playing as “The Shags” and they, too, recorded and went on to regional fame. (As proof of their skill, Tom Ginkel was inducted into the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame in 2008!) Us young kids would sit on the sidewalks and driveways by their parents’ garages where they practiced and marvel at how cool it would be to play in a band someday.

In 1969, my classmate and old buddy, Jim Christiansen, bought a guitar (an Epiphone, I think), his younger brother, Rick got an old hollow-body Gretsch bass and we dinked around in Christiansen’s basement for awhile on just these two instruments, knowing that this was a step in the right direction, but we needed more instrumentation if we were to move on. Soon after, I bought a set of Tempro drums accompanied by decent Zildjian cymbals to make up for the moderate drum set’s quality. Brian Wilfahrt was a schoolmate of ours and he had a guitar from his older brother and so we started playing in Christiansen’s basement and Wilfahrt’s garage. Still, we were lacking musically and -a big negative- no one wanted to sing.

The whole band took a big leap forward when we brought in our classmate, Duane Suess. His parents were professional musicians (Minnesota Music Hall of Famers, “Ervin Suess and the Hoolerie Dutchmen”) who, while they didn’t play our style of music, had lots of cool equipment that we could use. With an Ampeg bass amp, decent speakers, Shure microphones and P.A., mic stands, plenty of cords and even a Fender Rhodes and Wurlitzer electric pianos, made us one of the best outfitted young bands around. This equipment complimented Duane’s sunburst Les Paul guitar which he could play decently along with the pianos and -praise the Lord- he could sing! Brian, who was never fully into the band, dropped out at this point.

Practices still happened at Christiansen’s basement, but now moved to my parents’ garage and out to Suess’ farm, too. By now neighboring drummer, Randy Domeier, put together a band that was pretty good. Another neighbor, Dave Schaefer, also had a band going in his parents’ garage, so there was an informal competition to get better that we responded to.

With Duane’s lead, we started with some simple country and basic rock songs, all with Duane on vocal. We may not have wanted to play Charlie Pride or Charlie Rich songs, but Duane knew the chords and lyrics from playing with his folks. Besides, it was cool to actually learn a song from start to finish no matter what we were playing. All of us were excited and practiced diligently on our own. I recall that practices were often led by Duane or Rick and we took the practice time serious, knowing that the parents and neighbors didn’t want to hear us play any longer than necessary. (I only say this because I have heard bands practice for hours, wasting time with their own little solo parts with no direction to the practice.)

I clearly recall the band’s name origin. I was reading the book “Planet of the Apes” and as I was always taught by our nuns at Holy Trinity Grade School, that when you don’t know a word, look it up, don’t gloss over it. With that in mind, I came across the word “pern” in the book. When I got my Webster’s Dictionary out and looked it up, the word was described as “a honey buzzard – a South American vulture.” I sat up in bed and said to myself, “That’s it, this is the band’s name – Honey Buzzard!” When I presented it to the guys at the next practice, they were a little dubious, but Rick grabbed on to it with me and the other guys soon agreed that that’s what we would be called.

The young neighborhood kids and our friends watching us practice gave us confidence to play publicly. With a growing repertoire of Chuck Berry, Rolling Stones and Creedence Clearwater songs, we felt it was time to play in public. Our first gig consisted of a “Battle of the Bands” at our high school, Cathedral High in New Ulm, where we were “killed” by the unlikely-named band, “Bad.” It was Randy Domeier on drums – who was way better than me; Scott Sparlin on guitar who was better than Jim and Duane and more spirited in both his singing and showmanship; and Pat “Schnubby” Schnobrich on bass, who was better than Rick, but not by much – because by now, Rick was getting good! Rick remembers spilling punch on the Ampeg amp and frying it during the show. He had to humble himself and use “Bad’s” amp – which we were sure contributed to our losing the “battle” –haha. Since it was out first public show, we were nervous at this gig, as could be expected. However it was a great way to get good – jump in the fire and play against someone better than you.

We were motivated by our growing skills and gained confidence to play in public again. We played at a few more school dances and some teen dances in the area, and even a bar in nearby Essig called “The Wagon Wheel West,” where we were asked to leave due to a wilder and louder-than-expected song set.

We kept learning new songs including some Alice Cooper, Grand Funk Railroad, Neil Young and Badfinger. One of our biggest gigs was for the Girls State Gymnastic Tournament in New Ulm at historic Turner Hall. That’s where the only known photo of us was taken. Sadly, here too we were asked to leave for being too loud, but we did hook-up with a few of the girls afterward! Legend has it that there is a reel-to-reel recording of this somewhere that I’d love to hear, but no one seems to know where it is.

By now (1972) all of the band members were progressing in their skill at a quicker rate than I was and to my surprise, embarrassment and (at the time) anger, the guys invited Brad Anderson to bring in his drums to one of our practices. They politely said they wanted to try two drummers, a la’ The Allman Brothers Band. I had heard Brad play before and knew he was outstanding and so, seeing the handwriting on the wall, I packed up my things and left that afternoon in a huff. (Brad went on to be a professional drummer for many, many years!) After a short period of cooling off, I let the guys know that I was not mad about the change and wished them well with their new formation. Besides, I knew that it was my own fault for failing to keep up talent-wise.

With that new line-up, the guys changed their name to “Thunderhead” and hung on for a half year until after high school when they disbanded in mid-1973. So ended the short, but exciting time of a group of friends having fun with music, known as, “Honey Buzzard.”

Aftermath:

Playing in the band left a life-long memory with me. It was a cool thing to do, it taught me to appreciate the whole process of practicing, playing in public and the dynamics of a band’s make-up. I am super proud to have been in a garage band!

Shortly after being out of the band, I soon sold my drums as I had no use for them and needed money for a new stereo. However, after a 20-year hiatus, I bought an old set from Jim again around 1992 which I still have and occasionally play. The biggest legacy from that experience for me is that my son, Steve, started playing around the age of 4. He has progressed to being an excellent drummer doing things that I don’t even know how he does. With his brother, Sam on bass, my sons have played in rock bands for five years now and are quite good. Sam is teaching himself guitar and sings in choir and is considering music as a career in some fashion. I think parents are naturally glad to see their children exceed their skill levels. I know I am.

Jim dinked around with bands in college (“Tommy Nuke and the Flash”), but let it go for several years. However, about 1995 he began taking guitar seriously, including taking lessons from a pro, and has reunited with his brother, Rick, in “Van Gogh’s Ear” – a classic rock bar band for the last four years. Music has been a big part of his life and he has taken to bringing his oldest son to classic rock concerts with him to share the music and the experience.

Rick continued his musicianship and can play guitar and sing, along with still playing bass. He is active in his church’s music program, but can play anywhere, with anyone, including a folk band called, “The Salty Dogs.” Rick is a very good musician with a wide array of talents.

As far as we know, Duane has drifted away from music, ending up in the Des Moines area, although he played on several of his parents’ recordings and live shows. I hope he does something with music, since he definitely has the talent for it.

Terry Sveine
New Ulm, MN

The Modds

The Modds, l-r: John George (with sunglasses), Steve Simone, Steve Ellis and Eddie Simone

The Modds 45 is notorious for the unbelievably crude sound of “Leave My House”.

The Modds were also one of the big mysteries of the sixties, as no one had been able to find anyone who was involved with making this record until I spoke to rhythm guitarist John George.On “Leave My House”, most of the band has been buried by the mix of the lead guitar and vocals. One can hear some tambourine, a little bass, rhythm and drums back in the distance. The lead guitar tone is as dirty as can be, breaking up when the picking gets fast. Two minutes into the song he’s nearly fried the amp! The singer doesn’t hold back, either.

The ostensible A-Side is the much more sedate “All the Time In the World”, kind of a Rubber Soul style of ballad with a clean and well-rehearsed guitar solo. Both songs were written by Steve Simone and published by Earl Barton Music. Interestingly, each side has a different producer listed, Bill Harper credited with “Leave My House”, and Jerry McDaniel on “All the Time in the World”. These Modds are not the group from Miami who cut Don’t Be Late.

Mop Top Mike sent in the songs and label scans, and provided more detail about publishing and label info:

The pub company is Earl Barton Music, most famous for having writer Wayne Carson Thompson (or whatever his name is!) on the staff – he wrote “The Letter” for the Boxtops, and sides for the Skeptics (“East Side Tenement House”, etc.) When the outfit was contacted back in the 80s, there was no paper file on either song by the Modds, despite showing the pub credit for both songs. E Barton music was based in Springfield, Missouri.

The record label looks like a short-lived offshoot of the Nashville label, based in Madison, Tennesse (had the Kenetics 45 “Put Your Loving On Me”). There is no release time frame established as well, the numbering of the label doesn’t follow the Nashville label master number series.

Leave My House of course is famous because the band track is obliterated by the vocal and lead guitar overmodulating, causing high frequency distortion. Note that two different producers are credited for each song. Bill Harper must’ve been aghast at the result when the record was pressed!

I interviewed John George, rhythm guitarist and vocalist for the Modds. John sent in these great photos of the band, as well as the scan of the Modd Mag fan club newsletter.

I was one of the Modds, my name is John George.

John George of the Modds
John George of the Modds

Poplar Bluff, MO, 1962, I got a guitar for Christmas when I was 12 years old. I wanted bongo drums, but my parents thought that wasn’t enough, so I also got a $12 guitar (Silvertone from Sears). We became inseparable, wherever I went the guitar went. By my 13th birthday, I got my first electric guitar (again from Sears the Silvertone 1448 with amp in case). I think it sold then for around $52.00.

I met Steve Simone through school, and went to his house to hear him play. He had a white Fender Stratocaster, and Gibson amp. Played “House of the Rising Sun.” I was flabergasted, we became instant friends.

Eddie Simone

I played rhythm guitar, and vocals, Steve Simone played lead guitar, his younger brother Eddie Simone played bass guitar, Steve Ellis played drums. We were all students at Poplar Bluff High School. The Simone brothers were from southern California, and wound up in Missouri when their mother married a fellow from Poplar Bluff. Steve Simone was a senior, both Steve Ellis and I were sophmores, and Eddie was a freshman. Because or our youth, my father used to drive us to our gigs and look out for us at some of the rougher establishments.

As I recall the name came from one of the people groups in Great Britain. There were the modds and the rockers. We liked the modds, so it stuck. We were the first in the region (because of the Simone’s influence) to start playing the English sounds…..became an instant local success.

John George

We played all over southeast Missouri, did a TV appearance in Harrisburg IL. Lots of high school dances and shows. Another band in our area were the Hatchers from Doniphan MO.

Steve played a White Fender Strat through a Gibson amp. I used the Silvertone 1448 (amp in case from Sears) with a Gibson Explorerer amp, till I was able to save enought to get a Gibson Firebird. I bought it brand new in 1966 at Hays Music in Poplar Bluff, $169.95. Eddie used a Gibson ebo Bass, and Steve E. had a set of black pearl Ludwig drums. Our P.A. was the biggest Silvertone amp we could get.

Radio station KLID in Poplar Bluff was the local teen station, and they began to get alot of calls requesting our music, seems we had a fan club. Bill Harper and Jerry McDaniel were both DJs at the station, and asked to manage us. They would regularly record us on station equipment (covers), and play our recordings, keeping us in the top ten.

We played everything we knew, from Eric Burdon to Gary and the Pacemakers every show. The recording sessions would go into the wee hours of the morning. My tenth grade English teacher (Mrs. Virginia Young) would come to every session, and bring food and refreshments (her daughter was president of the fan club). Of course the next day in English class she would often say “you look tired Johnny, why don’t you lay your head on your desk and rest.” There are no tapes in existance that I know of.

The managers had connections with American National Records out of Memphis, TN. Steve wrote “Leave My House”, and “All the Time in the World” for our first single. The recordings were made in a studio in Poplar Bluff on a reel to reel, then sent to Earl Barton at ANR in Memphis. TM. The studio later became a dance club called the Psychedelic Comic Book.

The “Leave My House’ recording was really good, and before it was made into the record everything sounded great. Full sound, lead, rhythm, bass, and drums. What you hear is what we got from the producer. It was a dissapointment that it didn’t all come through. I sang lead vocal on “All the Time in the World”, Steve did the harmony.

There were a total of 500 records pressed, distribution was in local shops, I never did know how many sold, but I think on a local level they went pretty well. I’m very surprised to hear that the 45 has that kind of value [Modds 45s sell for as much as $1,500 – ed.]

Earl Barton called after the release of our record, and asked us to write eight more songs for an album, which we did. The only other original song of the eight for the album I remember is called “Make Loose Ends Meet”. I remember it because its the only one I wrote, a nice little ballad.

We had no idea who Earl Barton was, so we were somewhat skeptical. Steve’s father Silvan Simone had an art gallery in Torrance, California, and was good friends with the manager of Crown Cadet Records in LA. We sent Eddie Simone to L.A. with the tape. Crown Cadet offered a contract, but that was our downfall, we were young from 14 to 16 years old. Several parents just said no. Steve eventually went back to L.A. where I’m told he became a studio musician, and played rhythm guitar on MacArthur Park.

ModdsGroovie45LeaveThisHouse
Vinyl reissue of the Modds from the original master tapes, available from Groovie Records

After the Modds, I played on with another local group, but didn’t do anything that really sticks out in my mind. I moved to St. Louis in mid 1967, graduated from Central High School in 1968, enlisted in the Marine Corps, (Viet Nam Vet). Came home and settled in Jefferson County, just minutes south of St. Louis. I played with several different groups in St. Louis, but again no major milestones. Have been involved in music all my life, from rock to country to blues. I have a band of old guys today, The Flamm City Band, check us out at luky7music.com.

Special thanks to John George for sharing his history and photos of the band. This is an update of the original article, posted November 2007.

Harold Ott discovered the original master tape for the Modds 45, and has reissued it on CD, available on his site, which also has more information on the band.

Also, Groovie Records of Portugal has reissued the master-tape version of the 45 on vinyl. I can recommend both of these releases highly.


The Inspirations and the 13th Precinct

The Inpirations, from left: Mike Murphy, Keith Newell, Bruce Jensen, Kenny Newell and Dennis Milby

Updated February 2011 with info from comments below and Gary E. Myers book On That Wisconsin Beat

The original lineup of the Inspirations included Keith Newell on guitar, his identical twin Ken Newell on bass, Dennis Milby on drums and Michael Murphy on keyboards. The band was from Rock Falls and Sterling, Illinois, two hours drive west of Chicago.

Bruce Jensen joined on guitar by the time of their 45 on the Feature label. At some point the Newell brothers left the band and Don Dowd came in on bass.

Both songs on their August, 1966 single were written by Jensen and Murphy, with (I believe) Murphy singing lead vocals. “That Girl” has a brittle guitar sound and a loping bass line, with good lead and backing vocals. The organ takes a fine, trebly solo before the last chorus. “Baby Please Come Home” has a moodier sound that works well.

The Inspirations without the Newell brothers. Top left is Keith Pratt, middle may be Bruce Jensen (?), and bottom right with drum sticks is Steve King. I’m not certain of some of these attributions, so any help would be appreciated.

Feature Records was owned by Ken Adamany, a legend in the Madison area. Janesville, Wisconsin is about 25 miles southeast of Madison, just short of the Illinois border. Adamany also ran Rampro Records, then became a major promoter of bands in lower Wisconsin and owner of the Factory club in Madison, but he’s best known now as the first manager of Cheap Trick. In an interview with the band back in the 70’s, Rolling Stone described him as “the son of Lebanese immigrants …. a slight, swarthy fellow … with the cool, disinterested air of a camel trader.” Nice profiling RS!

Ken had himself played in a band callled the Nigh Tranes who had one release, “Hangover” (aka “Swamp Fever” / “Rockin’ Abe” on Cuca. That band included Boz Scaggs, Tim Davis, Ben Sidran and Steve Miller in later lineups (as the Ardells?).

The 13th Precinct from left: Mike Murphy, Bruce Jensen, Down Dowd and Tom Kurtz

Image from The Meadow site.
In 1967 the group changed it’s name to the 13th Precinct, with a lineup of Mike Murphy, Bruce Jensen, Don Dowd and Dennis Milby, and cut some demos in Chicago.

Gary Myers wrote in On That Wisconsin Beat, “These caught the ear of New York producer Paul Tannen who took them to Nashville for sessions that resulted in the TRX release [“Junk Yard” / “You Gotta Be Mine”, January, 1968]. The 13th Precinct worked often in Oshkosh and Appleton, and as the house band at The Barn outside Sterling. Drummer Dennis Milby was forced to leave with an injury shortly before the band appeared on ABC-TV’s Happening ’68 with Paul Revere & the Raiders in Los Angeles.”

Michael Bryan Murphy left the band in 1969 to join the One-Eyed Jacks in Champaign, Illinois, and then went on to sang with REO Speedwagon on their third, fourth and fifth albums.

Tom Kurtz replaced Dennis Milby on drums, and then Tim Dowd joined on guitar and vocals as the 13th Precinct continued into the 1970s.

Thank you to Kevin McLaughlin for the top photo and to Heidi Dowd for the second photo.

Sources include: Gary E. Myers book On That Wisconsin Beat, the FolkLib Index and Like a Rolling Stone: Why Madison’s Music Scene Is Slightly Discordant.

The 13th Precinct onstage

The Rainy Days


l-r, back row: Paul Isaacson, Jim Nosakowski, Al Hafeli, Gary Rozycki; front: John Einowski, Tom Brzezina

The Rainy Days are known for a great version of “I Can Only Give You Everything”. They regularly won battle of the bands contests over Bob Seger and the Last Heard, and appeared many times on the Robin Seymour TV show, Swingin’ Time. The members were:

Tom Brzezina – vocals
Gary Rozycki – lead guitar
Alan Hafeli – rhythm guitar
Paul Isaacson – organ
John Einowski – bass
Jim Nosakowski – drums

In early 1967 the Rainy Days released two 45s on the Panik label. Their first 45 was supposed to include a version of the Fugs’ “Dirty Old Man”, which I would love to hear. Though acetates were made, that song’s uncommercial lyrics may have doomed a commercial release, and the song hasn’t surfaced in the years since it was recorded.

“Go On and Cry”, an original song written with their manager is excellent, with a soulful sound at times very reminiscent of the Stones’ “Heart of Stone”, plus the vocals are full of attitude. The Panik label put “Go On and Cry” on the b-side of each of their 45s, once with “Turn On Your Lovelight” and again with “I Can Only Give You Everything”. I’ve seen “Turn On Your Lovelight” issued on red vinyl, with a plain Panik label.

When their third release “Without A Soul” was shelved the band slowly faded away. Tom Brzezina joined Target with Dennis Wezalis, who had written “Without a Soul”, while the other members stayed active in music for some time. As yet, “Dirty Old Man”, “Without a Soul” and their appearances on the Robin Seymour show seem to be lost, but until they are found we have their Panik releases to listen to.

Jim Nosakowski, Gary Rozycki, Alan Hafeli wrote this description of the band:

In the wake of the British Invasion, interest in forming bands to play live music was rampant in Detroit as well as across the country. In 1965, two groups of enthusiastic, budding musicians, The Brimstones and The 69ers combined to form Mogen David and the Grapes of Wrath which soon became The Rainy Days. This hard-driving six man group was noticed by PANIK Records and in the fall of 1967 they released ” I Can Only Give You Everything” backed by the original song, “Go On and Cry”.

The single charted in Detroit and resulted in several appearances on CKLW’s (Windsor, Ontario) popular show “Swingin Time” with Robin Seymour. The Rainy Days appeared with James Brown, The Contours, Bobby Hebb, and others. Recordings of “Turn on Your Lovelight” and an original, “Without a Soul”, failed to chart and the band broke up shortly after a three year run of good fun and great music. Alan and Jim continue to play together after 40 years in various blues and oldies bands.


Mogen David and The Grapes of Wrath at the DrumBeat


l-r, back: Al Hafeli, Jim Nosakowski, mid row: Gary Rozycki, John Einowski, Paul Isaacson
front: Tom Brzezina
I asked Jim Nosakowski some questions about the band, and he responded with Alan Hefeli:

The 69’ers were experimenting with a keyboard player, John Issacson, who could not really play. His brother, Paul Issacson, was a friend of Alan and Gary from the Brimstones and was a very good keyboardist. Through these brothers, the two bands became aware of each other and ultimately Tom (lead singer), and Jim (drums) from the 69er’s, Alan (rhythm), Gary (lead guitar), and Paul (keyboards) formed Mogan David and the Grapes of Wrath. John (bass) was a friend of Tom’s. Dan Bayer (Brimstone’s drummer) joined some of the remaining 69er’s to form Mother’s Little Helpers, a good British-type rock band.

We had been trying to find someone to record us. We wanted to record “Gloria” by Them sensing a sure hit, but the Shadows of Night beat us to it. One agent was interested in Tom but not the rest of the band. A soul recording studio called Big Mack Records, as we recall, was interested in us as their first white group but nothing came of that.

One day our bass player, John, was hitchhiking with his guitar and was picked up by Tony Printz of PANIK Records (he was driving a very cool pale blue Continental convertible). He came to a few practices and decided to sign us. Soon after the decision was made to record “I Can Only Give You Everything”.

We recorded ICOGYE backed by an original credited to our manager, Tony Printz, though we all worked on it. The recording studio was United Sound, a Motown studio near Wayne State University. Our producer was Danny Dallas and as I recall, PANIK was paying $60 an hour for studio time.

When we heard the master we were really disappointed. The lead guitar was out of tune but Tony said it sounded ok. After much pleading by the band, he agreed to go back and redo the cut. The second effort was much better.

Shortly after we recorded, Tony got a call from someone at United Sound saying that the MC5 had also recorded a version of ICOGYE at the same studio two weeks after we did. This motivated PANIK to release our record as quickly as possible.


Thanks to Jim, Gary and Alan for sending in the photos and history of the band, and to Don Rozycki for putting me in touch with his brother. One source for this story was Koen Goossens interview with Tom Brzezina and Jim Nosakowski on his site devoted to the song I Can Only Give You Everything. The link for that is http://icogye.0catch.com/icogyeinterview1.htm – but be warned of ugly pop-up ads that can crash your browser!


l-r, back row: Al Hafeli, John Einowski, Tom Brzezina, Jim Nosakowski; front: Paul Isaacson, Gary Rozycki

l-r: John Einowski, Gary Rozycki, Al Hafeli, Jim Nosakowski, Paul Isaacson, Tom Brzezina

The Satellites and the Blue Feeling

Dennis Girard of the Ruins sent in these great photos of the Blue Feeling, a band who had been widely known in the Detroit area as the Satellites.Dennis writes:

These pics show the Satellites in 1968 when they changed their name to the “Blue Feeling”. Note that Ann Marston was representing them.

They were possibly the best group in the Downriver area. At any of their gigs, the front row of the audience was made up of local musicians.

You can see all of their Vox equipment. Several Beatle amps and the infamous Vox T-60 are visible. They even used two Vox Beatle amps for their PA. In fact I bought a Beatle chrome amp stand from them.

The Satellites did the sound track for Tim Tam and the Turn-Ons (“Wait a Minute”).

Dave Fero……lead guitar
Frank Schiavulli….drums (deceased 01-23-97)
Ken Sipos……guitar
Carl Sweets….bass
Frank Vargo….lead vocals

I had kept in touch with Frank Schiavulli up until his death. Dave Fero is still playing and lives in Ann Arbor.

The Satellites were freshmen at Allen Park High School. They signed with Ann Marston in October, 1965, partly because she liked their wholesome appearance. Ann Marston was a former archery champion, TV personality and Miss Michigan of 1960, who started managing bands after promoting live concerts with WKNR’s Frank Sweeney.

Ann booked them into venues including the Chatterbox teen club in Allen Park, the Southgate Teen Center, the Harbor Theater in Lincoln Park and the Grosse Ile Naval Base, getting them regular work. Around this time Ann produced a demo of the band at Pioneer Studios, “I’ll Feel a Whole Lot Better” and “You Really Got a Hold on Me”.

Dave Fero and Frank Schiavulli had been part of the group backing Tim Tam and the Turn-Ons on their huge local hit, “Wait a Minute”, an unusual blend of doo wop with a contemporary rock sound. Tim Tam and the Turn-Ons were six vocalists who also met at Allen Park High. Rick Wiesend (Tim Tam) was lead vocalist, along with Danny Wiesend, Don Grundman, Nick Butsicaris, John Ogen and Earl Rennie. If you haven’t heard “Wait a Minute”, search it out on the internet and you’ll hear why it was such a sensation.

‘Wait a Minute” was released in February of 1966 on the Palmer label, selling 30,000 copies in the first month of release. Frank was interviewed on the air by WKNR DJ Scott Regan about playing drums on “Wait a Minute.” Tim Tam and the Turn-Ons would release three more 45s on Palmer. Rick Wiesend passed away five years ago today (on October 22, 2003).

I’m not sure who is playing on the flip side, the fine surf instrumental “Opelia”, songwriting credited to Morton Patlow. Is this the Satellites?

On June 13, 1966, the Satellites went to United Sound Studios to record another demo of two songs, “I Believe” and “Midnight Hour”. These were mixed by Les Cooley who would soon engineer Bob Seger’s “Persecution Smith”.

The band won WXYZ-TV’s Talent Town competition, hosted by Rita Bell. The stereo console they won went into Frank Vargo’s basement where the band practiced.

The band clashed with Ann when they gave up their straight image, but nevertheless she continued to manage them into 1968. I’ve never heard any of their demos, I don’t know if they still exist or not.


“Ann Marston presents The Blue Feeling and the Espial Light Company”
Sources include: Shooting Star: The Amazing Life of Ann Marston by Alana Paluszewski, and the Tim Tam & the Turn Ons entry on myfirstband.com.

Special thanks to Dennis Girard for the scans of the photos and for sending me a copy of Shooting Star.

Ann Marston’s busy and unusual life is chronicled in Shooting Star. Those interested in her interactions with bands will find about seven pages on her time managing the very young MC5, a few pages on the Satellites, and mentions of other bands she worked with, like the Lower Deck, the Renegades, Julia, and Tom & the Fugitives. There are also photos of Ann with the Beatles and the Dave Clark Five.

Shooting Star lists Frank Vargo as the drummer on “Wait a Minute” and as the member of the Satellites interviewed on-air by Scott Regan, but this may be a mistake. Dan Wiesend, who was at the session, recounts Frank Schiavulli as the drummer.

The Avalons

Sam Camp of the Avalons and later the Voxmen sent in this history of the band, who had a fine 45 on the Pyramid label, “Come Back Little Girl” / “Mad Man’s Fate”:

The Avalons was one of the first successful Rock and Roll bands from Toccoa, Georgia. The original members consisted of:

Lamar Collins – bass / vocals
Jimmy Sipes – keyboards / vocals
Roy Thompson – guitar / vocals
Sam Camp – saxophone / harmonica / vocals
Ronny Crunkleton – drums / vocals

Some time after the band began performing, Tommy Owens, a studio drummer from Greenville, South Carolina, joined the band.

The group appeared roughly from 1963 thru 1967 in Georgia and South Carolina. The Avalons gained much popularity as the house band at a local teen club called The Chicken Shack located in Seneca, South Carolina. It was not uncommon to pack a thousand fans in on Saturday night where records and pictures were sold.

During the band’s popularity, we opened for several national acts including such names as The Swinging Medallions, Billy Joe Royal, Sam the Sham and the Pharohs, Keith, and The Impressions.

The Avalons recorded in the late sixties and the songs were composed by Collins and Thompson. The recordings were done at Arthur Smith studios in Charlotte, North Carolina and Mark V Studios in Greenville, South Carolina.

The two songs, “Come Back Little Girl” and “Mad Man’s Fate”, received airtime on many southeastern radio stations. “Mad Man’s Fate” got the most air time and was the song that was #1 at WHYZ, a local radio station in Greenville, South Carolina. The record also received recognition in the Billboard Top 100 magazine.

Our manager at the time was Tommy Scott. He is still living and is some character. He has a book out, ‘Snake Oil, Superstars and Tommy Scott”. There is a write-up about our band and a very good picture on page 400. Tommy Scott knew a lot of people at the time and got us in with Arthur Smith.

James Brown “The Godfather of Soul” made a personal visit to Toccoa, where he once lived, to discuss the purchase of one of the songs. There were talks of the Avalons touring with James Brown as his opening act, but this did not materialize.

Q.: Why is the name on the record and photo the Avlons instead of the Avalons? Which name did you go by when you played live?

We went by The Avalons. There was another band out there called The Avalons. At the time of our recording, we may have not been able to spell it A.V.A.L.O.N.S, it might have been a legal thing.

Thank you to Sam Camp for sharing his history of the Avalons and for sending the photos seen here. Be sure to read about Sam’s next band, the Voxmen. Special thanks to Ben and Rich for label scans.

The Avalons at the Chicken Shack
The Avalons at the Chicken Shack
The Avalons at the Chicken Shack
The Avalons at the Chicken Shack