Category Archives: US

The Changing Tymes

Here’s a record I don’t own myself, but I was struck by the incredible similarity of the opening of the Changing Tyme’s “You Make It Hard” to the Quiet Jungle song “Everything”. I would suspect the Quiet Jungle release came first, but I don’t know for sure.

I’d certainly be interested to know how a group from Pennsylvania came to adapt a song by a Toronto, Canada group. On the other hand, it’s entirely possible that each band came up with that riff themselves.”You Make It Hard” and it’s equally good flip, “Try a Whole Lot Harder” were written by Shapiro and Mahoney, and released on the R.D. #1 label. I’ve seen the band listed as a Philadelphia group but don’t have any certain evidence of that.

Also, this isn’t the same Changing Tymes as the Gate City, Virginia group who recorded cool songs like “Go Your Way” and “The Only Girl I Love” for the Moss label.

Anyone have a photo of the group?

Transfers from Gyro1966’s ‘Empty Heart’ with thanks.

Splitsound Records discography and the Whose Who

Splitsound was a Tucson, Arizona label owned by Dan Gates, DJ/Program Director at KTKT and Dan Peters. Splitsound is best known for the Dearly Beloved’s great “Flight Thirteen”, but it also had fine 45s by the Lewallen Brothers, the Buckett City Distortion Rackett and the Grodes.

The Whose Who were actually a vocal group from Dayton, Ohio Des Moines, Iowa. Dan Gates recorded their tracks at Audio Recorders in Phoenix in return for doing background vocals for another artist produced by Gates, Rena Cook.

James Hagerty of the Whose Who wrote to me, “The group was from Des Moines, IA and included James Hagerty, Kathy Mazzola, Darrell Chrystle, and Al Jinx. We came to Tucson to record at the request of a former member of the group, Steve Harris who had recently moved to Tucson. I don’t know how he met Dan Gates.”

Fans of moody pop should dig “Don’t Let Her See You Cry”, written by Grodes vocalist Manny Freiser. The breezy flip, “The Fun We Had” was written by J.J. Hagerty.

Usually Splitsound releases have a catalog prefix “SSDG” with the DG standing for David Gates. The Whose Who was produced by Steve Harris, so it has the prefix “SSSH”, unique among Splitsound 45s as far as I can tell.

any help with this discography would be appreciated!

Splitsound discography:

SSDG 1-1/1-2: Lewallen Brothers – I Think I’m Glad (Cal Lewallen) / It Must Be Love

SSDG 2-2/2-2: Rena Cook (with The Grodes Orch. & Chorus) – Once in a Lifetime Love (Manny Freiser) / The Lovelost (featuring Reggie Arvizu) – Lost Love

SSDG 3-1/3-2: Buckett City Distortion Rackett – I Can See It’s Coming / I Lied (Steve Lewis)

SSDG 4-1/4-2: Grodes – Give Me Some Time / Background of Give Me Some Time (both by Manny Freiser and Rich Cota Robles) (December, 1967)

SSDG 5-1/5-2: Dearly Beloved – Merry Go Round (Larry Cox) / Flight Thirteen (Terry Lee)

SSDG 6-1/6-2: Lewallen Brothers – Only A Dream / Somethin’ On My Mind (March, 1968)

SSDG 7-1/7-2: Butterscotch – Your Own Love / Three-O-Nine (Fred Porter)

SSDG 8-1/8-2: Spring Fever (The Grodes) – Sand / Give Me Some Time (June 1968)

SSDG 9-1/9-2: Greylock Mansion – Over My Shoulder / Dedication (1970)

SSSH 1-1/1-2: Whose Who – The Fun We Had (J.J. Hagerty) / Don’t Let Her See You Cry (Manny Frieser).

Max Waller writes about Greylock Mansion that it “was released in 1970 but had been recorded in December 1969 at the same time as the ‘Catafalque’ / ‘Amazon’ pairing that was released first in Jan 1970 on Dynamic Records.”

Shep Cooke? – or is that a mix up with the Rena Cook 45?

Sources include: interview with Dan Gates.

Thank you to Max Waller for his help with this discography.

Simon Reyes and the Outerlimits

Simon Reyes and the Outer Limits
top row from left: Beto Perez (bass), Oscar Garza (drums) and Rolando Tanguma (guitar and keyboard)
bottom row from left: A. Charles (sax) Simon Reyes (lead guitar and vocals) and ? Garcia (sax)

Simon Reyes and the Outerlimits Pharaoh 45 My Baby Hurts MeThe Pharaoh label is famous for some great Texas garage 45s by the Cavaliers, the Headstones, the Playboys of Edinburgh, and Christopher & the Souls. Owning none of those pricey records at this time, I’m choosing to feature another side of Pharaoh: Simon Reyes.

His first Pharoah 45 is bluesy pop number with a female backing group and an extended electric piano solo “My Baby Hurts Me”, with a ballad, “Mistake Number Three” on the flip. Simon Reyes wrote both songs and is backed by the Outerlimits.

I haven’t heard his second Pharaoh 45, “Broken Hearted Fool” / “What Now My Love” but I expect it covers similar ground to this one.

There’s not much info out there on Reyes, but he had at least a couple records on Huey Meaux’s various labels, including a very good version of “I’m a Hog (For You)” on Rival, and both English and Spanish versions of “Mama, Mama” on Tear Drop.

Simon’s brother Noe Reyes reports that Simon died in November, 1973.

Jimmy Nicholls owned the Pharaoh label and also a studio in McAllen, TX where many bands recorded, including the Zakary Thaks and Bad Seeds for their early singles. Simon Reyes wasn’t the only Mexican-American crossover artist on Pharaoh, there was also The Cruisers featuring E.J. and Bobby Ledesma.

See the list of releases of Pharaoh Records on this site for more info on the label.

Special thanks to Noe for providing the photos.

 Simon and the Gypsies in New Orleans
Simon and the Gypsies in New Orleans, Simon on the left.
Simon Reyes
Simon Reyes

Eddie Burkey

Eddie Burkey in Billboard, July 17, 1965
Eddie Burkey in Billboard, July 17, 1965

Eddie Burkey Gemcor 45 Stepping StonesGemcor was a short-lived label based out of Bill Bell’s studio on Melrose in Los Angeles. It had one of the coolest label designs of the 60’s. There were only three releases on Gemcor, and two are very well known to fans of garage rock.

One of these is the Rumors 45, “Hold Me Now” / “Without Her”, among my very favorite 45s of the ’60s. (I still don’t have a copy of it. Anyone have a spare?) Another is the common and excellent Beckett Quintet 45, “No Correspondence”.

Billboard, July 31, 1965
Billboard, July 31, 1965

The very first 45 on the label is almost unknown, however, with Eddie Burkey performing two of his original instrumentals. “Stepping Stones” is a melange of surf, brass and strings, but Eddie cuts loose some ripping guitar lines here and there. The flip is the lighter “Emerald Shadows”.

It turns out Ed Burkey is credited with arranging the Rumor’s “Hold Me Now”, and actually played lead and rhythm guitar on both sides, including the wild reverbed solo on “Hold Me Now”. That solo alone ensures his musical immortality in my book!

 Billboard, September 11, 1965
Billboard, September 11, 1965

I’ve read that Ed Burkey played with the Ventures but can’t find any confirmation of that. He did cut three instrumentals for the Downey label that went unreleased at the time, now compiled on the Ace CD “Intoxica! Strange and Sleazy Instrumentals From the SoCal Suburbs”. Two of these are loaded with overdubs and experimental sounds. Interestingly, the third is labeled “Dreams of Downey” but seems to be identical to “Stepping Stones”.

Eddie’s early groups included drummer Jim Lewallen, related to the Tucson, Arizona Lewallen Brothers who recorded for Splitsound Records.

Gemcor discography:

5001 Eddie Burkey – Stepping Stones / Emerald Shadows
5002 Rumors – Hold Me Now (Ben Turner) / Without Her (written by Norman Prinsky, credited to “Richards”)
5003 Beckett Quintet – No Correspondence (Tim Taylor) / It’s All Over Now Baby Blue

Sources include: Norman Prinsky’s article on the Rumors. Billboard mentions Herbert L. Sokol and Walter Nelson as other executives with Gemcor.

Since writing the above summary, I heard from Eddie’s longtime collaborator, Les Roberts, who kindly gave a fuller picture of their music and shared his personal photos:

“Eddie (with my Gibson), my Mom and younger sister”
 Tony Taylor, Les Roberts and Eddie Burkey
Tony Taylor, Les Roberts and Eddie Burkey
Goldenaires business card
Our business card
 Angelus 45 recorded at Whitney Recording, courtesy Jim Lewallen
Angelus 45 recorded at Whitney Recording, courtesy Jim Lewallen
 Les Roberts onstage
Les Roberts onstage
Dick Dale & the Del-Tones circa mid-1970s
The Del-Tones, circa mid-1970s
Les Roberts and Dick Dale

Hmmm, don’t know where to start, except from the beginning!

Eddie was born 1945 in Akron, OH. I was born 1947 in Middletown, OH (between Cincinnati and Dayton). We are not brothers, but might as well have been.

We moved to Downey, CA in 1960. I had been learning guitar for a while and Eddie finally became interested when I learned to played “Bulldog” & “Torque” by the Fireballs. We only had the one guitar and to the surprise and wonderment of family and friends, we were both playing songs, simultaneously on the one guitar. We would switch off on lead and rhythm. It was pretty cool.

December of that year I bought a Gibson Melody Maker solid body ($89.00). Now we had two guitars!

We began playing for friends, BBQ’s and finally a “sock-hop”. Eddie and I were the GoldenAires. By 1964 we had incorporated a drummer (Jim Lewallen) and bass player (Tony Taylor), both from Twenty Nine Palms, CA. They had some connections in 29 Palm and we started getting Friday and Saturday night gigs in the area. Up to and including Disneyland. Most of our music was Ventures, Duane Eddy, Dick Dale, and lots of surf music. He became “Eddie Ladd” and I “Les Roberts”. It was fun, no big deal and we were getting paid to do what was easy! By this time each of us had bought custom made Fender Jaguars and Fender Dual Showman amps. His was Candy Apple Red and mine was Metal Flake Blue.

I had started a carpet cleaning business which was making a lot of money and spent a lot of time involved with that. I knew the Chanteys band members and the Rumblers because of some business I had done with Downey Records, which was run by an interesting individual Bill Wenzel. Bill had a record store, Wenzel Music Town, and in a backroom he had set up a small 6’ x 10’ sound room to record in. He had an Ampex recorder and the local groups would come in for $30/hr to record their music. Eddie had bought an Echo machine (tape loop-like that used by Jordan Ingman – “Apache”) and was doing some great licks. The Rumbler’s even used him in some of their recordings.

at Whitney Recording: (l-r) Tony Taylor, Les Roberts, Eddie Burkey and Jim Lewallen

The studio photo was taken at Whitney Recording Studio in Glendale, CA. around December 1964. Tony Taylor was the bassist. Eddie and I traded lead/rhythm. The studio was a gas! The main studio was almost 50’ x 50’. Great acoustics! At the time our manager, Herb Sokol, was financing the group: recording cost(s), uniforms, musical necessities etc. He had sold Scott Seely (Accent Records) on a recording contract. At the time we had finished recording “Madhatter”, “What He Said”, “Watermelon Man” and “Soundin’ Loud”.

The Goldenaires' Angelus Records 45
The Goldenaires’ Angelus Records 45, recorded at Whitney Recording courtesy Jim Lewallen

Eddie and I were not yet of legal age to sign contracts, so the matter went to the parents and Herb Sokol. Being the fact Herb fronted the money for almost everything, the contract showed the greater percentage of “artist” royalties would go to him until he had recouped his investment (I thought this was reasonable). The parents did not agree. As a result, even though Scott Seely had already signed the contract, to our dismay, it later ended up being trashed.

Not a big issue with Scott Seely, as he had just signed Buddy Merrill. Man, what talent that kid had! He was recording pretty much in the same manner that Eddie and I was doing (Les Paul-type sound-on-sound recording).

Eddie and I were recording some various songs for “future” work. On a couple visits when I could not make it to the studio, Eddie would start laying down the tracks for “Emerald Shadows” and “Thunderhead”. “Thunderhead” was the song that Eddie later edited and called: “Stepping Stones”. (Years later he renamed it; “Memories of Downey”). I loved “Emerald Shadows” as I was a big Martin Denny and Arthur Lyman fan and thought we could edge our music more toward a “tropical” sound.

A few months later Eddie briefly teamed up with Gemcor Records and released the songs around 1965 (Stepping Stone & Emerald Shadows). Another piece of info: Eddie designed the GEMCOR label. If he was involved in any other aspect with Gemcor, I was not aware of the arrangement.

To my knowledge Eddie never worked for or played with the Ventures. They opened an office in L.A. next door to the Mosrite Guitar business office, where we met Semie Moseley, the owner and shortly thereafter Don Wilson and Jerry McGee (who did keyboard and backup guitar work for the group).

Eddy was drafted in 1965 and I enlisted in 1966. Eddie married his high school sweetheart Karen in 1966, while on leave and before going to Vietnam. He settled down in Monterey, CA after the Army and I, after my discharge, in the L.A. area. Eddie was doing some graphic arts design, I was unsure of what I wanted to do, but not too long after Karen gave birth to Brandon, Eddie and Karen moved down to the L.A. area where Eddie and I started Town & Country Apartment Care – something to finance our waning music business.

One Wednesday night we heard of a night club that had a talent contest and opted to go. The house band (which was country) asked if we would like to go to an after-hours jam. Sure! we said. There we met up with Dewayne [Quirico] (drummer for the Bobby Fuller Four), plus some other well know country entertainers who we ended up jamming with for the rest of the night and many times thereafter. It was as if we were an overnight success! We backed a young lady named Trudy Martin and another gent named Ralph Raymonds.

Within a few weeks we were Trudy and Ralph’s back-up band, along with Paul Crum on flat-top guitar and Bobby Fierro on drums. We became: “Rockin’ Country” and was hired as the house band for a nightclub in Azusa CA. We did this gig with great success, for about two years. Ralph and Trudy went in one direction, Eddie and I in another. We tried some gigs as a Trio but things had changed and the “sound” just wasn’t there. I was offered and accepted a job to go on the road with Dick Dale; Eddie took a job playing lead for Barbara Stanton.

Dick Dale’s producer/manager was a cool gent named Jim Pewter, who was also the producer for Jan & Dean, so needless to say we did appearances together. Dick Dale was under contract to perform in Las Vegas, Reno and Lake Tahoe, which is what I did up until I realized I was going nowhere. Making great money, but going nowhere! I had moved to Lake Tahoe because it was a reasonable commute between Reno and Las Vegas but had lost track of Eddie. Finally, in 1977 I decided (at 30), I was getting too old for this, and with the approval of my wife, stopped the music business (cold turkey) and went back to college, under the GI bill, finished my degree and took my life into a different direction.

I seldom play music, as I have left that to my two sons, both of whom are heavily involved with the trade. I now live in Madera County, just a few miles from Yosemite Nat’l Park (south entrance), and work as a Safety Consultant for Pacific Gas & Electric Company.

I ran into Eddie in 1983 (in L.A.), he had teamed up with a very talented young lady (Leslie) who played piano, wrote music and they clicked (so to speak). They had a lounge act that lasted for a spell and then, for whatever reason, dissolved. Eddie remarried and to my knowledge still lives in the L.A. area.

Eddie Burkey was one hell of a guitar player, with an imagination to go with it. I have hundreds of hours of recordings, we made between 1963-1974, which I sometime load on the old TEAC and listen. I had pictured him going far, but that was our teenaged dreams.

As I look back, it all seemed to have started with that one song: “Bulldog”.

Les Roberts, June 2009

The A-Cads

Left to right: Louis McKelvey, Les Goode, Sam Evans, Hank Squires, Dick Laws and Rob Kearney

Mid-1960s beat merchants The A-Cads heralded an exciting new age in South African rock music and were promoted by the local press at the time as a super group of sorts.

The band’s leading figure, rhythm guitarist/singer Hank Squires (b. Henry Stephen Smitsdorff, 20 May 1941, Johannesburg, South Africa) was well-established in South African musical circles, having previously worked with British expat Mickie Most, then a popular singer in South Africa and later one of rock’s most successful producers.

Hank Squires’ early career

Squires’s career began in the late 1950s when he made his debut on the city’s fledging rock ‘n’ roll scene playing with the popular rock ‘n’ roll outfit, The Playboys.

Training to become an electrical engineer, Squires soon abandoned Johannesburg Technical College after witnessing a concert by English émigré, the late Mickie Most (real name: Michael Hayes), a singer of modest talent who had moved to Johannesburg in 1958 to marry his South African fiancée. Impressed by the singer’s performance, Squires approached Most for guitar lessons and after a few months joined his original backing group, The Playboys.

Most’s move to the colonies proved to be extremely fortuitous – his British solo recordings (as well as singles recorded with future producer Alex Murray as The Most Brothers) had all met with widespread indifference back home. However, after changing his name, Most and his newly formed group quickly established themselves as one of, if not, the most successful band(s) in South Africa, scoring six consecutive South African hits over the next three years (including one with Jackie Frisco). And although Most would subsequently return home during 1962 to try his hand at production, he would continue to maintain contact with Squires, seeing him as one of the few musicians in South Africa that he thought had the potential to go on to greater things.

Squires, meanwhile, had already left The Playboys prior to Most’s departure for the UK and formed a new band, The Silhouettes. This short-lived outfit also featured another ex-Playboys member, Leon Booysen (bass), alongside the late George Hill (drums) and the late Archie Van der Ploeg (lead guitar). During The Silhouettes’ short lifespan, the group supported singer June Dyer on her number one single “Whirlpool of Love”. Squires moved on soon afterwards and joined another local group, The Giants, who scored a number one hit in late 1961 with “Dark and Lonely Street” and also recorded a rare album entitled Meet The Giants. The Giants subsequently changed their name to the Rebels and became June Dyer’s backing group.

While his old friend Mickie Most struck gold in the UK as a producer for The Animals and Lulu, among others, Squires kept busy performing and recording with Johnny Kongos and The G-Men. This exciting band was arguably one of the best outfits to emerge in South Africa during the early-mid 1960s and included some of the city’s most accomplished musicians. The group’s potential, however, was cut short when the band’s singer (and future solo artist) John Kongos (best known for penning the international hit “He’s Gonna Step On You Again”, made famous by indie revellers The Happy Mondays in the 1990s) left to do national service.

Kongos later enjoyed moderate success with his solo work and his UK bands Floribunda Rose and Scrugg. The former also featured English expat Pete Clifford, who had toured South Africa with Dusty Springfield and worked with Tom Jones before forming The 004 and later joining South African rock-comedy group, The Bats.

Kongos’ replacement in The G-Men was another expat, singer Sam Evans (b. 1947, Glasgow, Scotland), a short, burly man with a rough-edged voice, who had arrived in South Africa in early 1964 after fronting a number of now long forgotten bands back home. Evans would ultimately become Squires’ first choice as the singer in what would become The A-Cads. Another former G-man, drummer Robbie Kearney (b. South Africa), fresh from a nine-month army stint at Simons Town naval base, joined him soon afterwards.

Before such a project could materialise, however, Squires left The G-Men during December 1964 to pursue a short-lived solo career. Spotted playing in a club by Mickie Most (on a flying visit to South Africa), Squires was subsequently offered a recording contract and a single, a cover of Fats Domino’s “I’ve Been Around”, produced by Most, was issued in spring 1965. A follow up single, “Stand By Me”, produced this time by Squires, also failed to attract much attention and the singer began to look around for fresh adventures. After brief stints with The Falling Leaves and a short-lived line up of The G-men featuring John E Sharpe, Squires started to put together a new group that would storm the South African charts.

Johnny Kongos & the G-men, 1964, l-r: Jesse Sumares, Johnny Kongos, Ed Burns (with bass), Rob Kearney (drums) and Hank Squires
The Falling Leaves, 1965: Leib Brews, George McCauley (on chair), Hank (standing) and Arthur Fisher (high chair)

The G-Men, l-r: Jesse Sumares, Leib Brews, Hank Squires and John E Sharpe

l-r: Jesse Sumares, John E Sharpe, Hank Squires and Leib Brews

The A-Cads form

Formed during October 1965, The A-Cads were essentially the brainchild of English émigré Peter Rimmer, a former support musician for the likes of Marty Wilde and The Tempests, who had decided to try his hand at management following his move to South Africa in 1963. By the time that Rimmer ran into Squires, he had become the manager of the Rand Academy of Music, and it was probably this experience that inspired him to form what would essentially be the first South African super group. Squires immediately recruited Evans and Kearney for the new project. He was also instrumental in bringing in the band’s remaining members, lead guitarist Dick Laws (b. 15 May 1946, London, England) and bass player Les Goode (b. 10 September 1946, Surrey, England). Both musicians had impressive pedigrees and were first-rate musicians.

Londoner Dick Laws had first visited Johannesburg in early 1963 when his band, Bill Kimber & The Couriers, got work in the city through local-born businessman Frank Fenter who had seen them play in his London coffee bar and raved about them to friends back home. Like many British artists who ventured to the colonies during this period, the group arrived to be greeted like visiting royalty. Over the next year or so, Bill Kimber & The Couriers scored a string of South African hits for the Renown label, including covers of The Beatles’ “I Want To Hold Your Hand” and Booker T & The MG’s Green Onions. They had a starring role in South Africa’s first rock movie, Africa Shakes, where they also backed local singer Sharon Tandy on various songs, including the well-known R&B hit, “I’m Movin’ On”.

The Couriers eventually returned home, but Squires was convinced that Laws was key to his new group’s success, and with Rimmer’s support, managed to coax him back to join The A-Cads. Laws brought with him a unique guitar style and, perhaps more importantly, an in-depth knowledge of the UK rock scene, as well as choice material to cover.

Les Goode (real name: Les Gutfreund), meanwhile, had emigrated from England in 1952 and played with Shadows tribute band, Les Beats, which morphed into The Nitwits, before working with The Deans, formed in 1963 with the late singer/guitarist John E Sharpe. Coinciding with the arrival of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, The Deans subsequently adopted the more progressive name John E Sharpe and The Squires and quickly became Johannesburg’s top R&B attraction.

The A-Cads’ unusual name appears to have been, according to press releases from that period, a compromise between Rimmer and the band. Apparently Rimmer was keen to name the group after the Rand Academy, while the group members’ preferred choice was The Cads, the result being The A-Cads. After weeks of intensive rehearsals, Rimmer duly launched The A-Cads at a cocktail party at Ciros in Johannesburg, hosted by A G J McGrall, a managing director of a well-known record company. The event attracted a great deal of publicity and made the front cover of the South African music rag, Record Express.

Soon afterwards, the band signed a recording deal with Teal Records (with distribution by RCA Victor) and, on the recommendation of Laws, recorded a stunning version of Johnny Kidd & The Pirates’ “Hungry For Love”, which reached #1 on the South African chart in January 1966. The South African music press was quick to praise the band’s debut disc, with one review quoted as saying “an excellent disc by an excellent group, backings are great, and vocal beautifully handled, this is about the best record ever produced in South Africa…”Laws’ piercing guitar work on the single’s b-side, a storming version of Bo Diddley’s “Roadrunner” meanwhile, provided a more accurate insight into the group’s musical abilities and hinted at its potential to develop into a formidable force. In addition, the track featured some amazing throat shredding vocals from Sam Evans. However, as the next few months would prove, the band would never capitalise on this early success.

During December, The A-Cads began work on an album, and while in the process recorded a cover version of The Small Faces’ “Sha-La-La-La-Lee”, which for some inexplicable reason was later omitted from the album when it was issued the following spring. To add to the confusion, the track was finally issued as a single following the album’s release and after the band had relocated to London in April 1966.

Unfortunately during the recording process, the band started to unravel as Laws increasingly voiced his objections over the choice of material being presented to the group. As he later recalled: “A lot of stuff we did was just floating around in memory (Chuck Berry, Rufus Thomas etc.), old favourites, that sort of thing. But some of it was producer Derek Hannan playing us things in his office that he thought would be good for us. I never agreed with his choices, but then I had a distinct vision of what the group should be. I always thought that it would have been better if Teal had just let us loose in the studio to get on with it ourselves (as we did initially with “Hungry For Love”). I think the band would have lasted a lot longer and surprised a few people.”

Louis McKelvey, Andy Keiller and the Upsetters

At this critical juncture, Squires decided to introduce a second lead guitarist Louis McKelvey (b. 31 October 1943, Killorglin, County Kerry, Republic of Ireland), as Laws looked increasingly to be on the verge of splitting. McKelvey, whose family had moved to Twickenham during his adolescence, was already a seasoned player on the West London club scene.

His earliest musical venture had been local group The Persuaders, but he quickly jacked this in to become the lead guitarist in R&B outfit Jeff Curtis & The Flames, regulars at the famous Ealing Jazz club. Though no recordings ever emerged from this period, The Flames did record an acetate comprising four tracks for the late, legendary Joe Meek. The band also spent a brief period playing at the Star Club in Hamburg and secured some bookings as a backing group on cross-channel ferries with big names like Jerry Lee Lewis.

After the band’s drummer Malcolm Tomlinson quit the band to play with The Del Mar Trio, McKelvey eventually grew restless and took off for South Africa with his newly wedded bride (not before joining Tomlinson’s band in Germany for about a month’s worth of gigs).

McKelvey’s parents had run a theatre production company in Leicester Square and on their travels had been struck by Cape Town’s beauty. McKelvey’s dad was briefly director of theatre in South Africa and the guitarist had spent part of his childhood in the country. On the look out for fresh musical adventures, he decided to follow their advice and return to South Africa for a few months.

Arriving in Johannesburg around September 1965, McKelvey quickly fell in with another expat, singer Andrew Keiller. Though relatively new to the music business, Keiller had nevertheless, witnessed first-hand many of the hotbeds of the early London rock scene (including a brief incarnation of The Rolling Stones featuring Carlo Little and Rick Brown), before moving to South Africa in March 1964 and recording a single for Continental Records, “Find My Baby” c/w “Elaine”. This was followed by an album, Round About Midnight, which was held back for release until mid-1966 when it was given a write up in Teenage Personality in its 12 May issue.

Within a short space of time, Keiller and McKelvey established one of Johannesburg’s finest beat groups, The Upsetters, with former Playboys member Leon Booysen (bass) and future Freedom’s Children member Colin Pratley (drums), who soon made way for George Hill.

Thanks to Booysen’s contacts at Trutone Records, the band (with George’s brother Frank on the skins) recorded a single for the label, “Daddy Rolling Stone” c/w “Pain In My Heart”, at EMI studios in Johannesburg. The single’s a-side, which was brought to Keiller’s attention when he heard The Who cover it, is an arresting R&B tune written by Derek Martin and features some fiery guitar work from McKelvey. The flip meanwhile is more restrained and is the same Otis Redding song that had recently been made popular in the UK by The Rolling Stones.

The group’s name appears to have been McKelvey’s idea – The Upsetters being his idol, Little Richard’s original support band. The Upsetters proved to be particularly apt as it was also a fashion at the time to insult the audience and, according to sources close to the band, Keiller was keen to emulate what The Who were doing back in London.

Shortly after the single’s release, the band underwent a number of personnel changes as Leon Booysen and George Hill both left to be succeeded by 18-year-old drummer Gregory Allen Plotz and former Johnny Kongos & The G-Men bass player Jesse Sumares.

The new Upsetters line-up ventured back into the studio to record further material for a follow up single – “Down Home Girl”, “Boom Boom” and “High Heel Sneakers”, but for some inexplicable reason, the tracks were subsequently left in the can. Perhaps it was this disappointment that led to the group’s collapse later that autumn.

Whatever the reason, Keiller decided to return to London in late November and the others drifted apart after a short Bloemfontein tour with the A-Cads the following month, during which Sam Evans handled vocals for both bands. It was shortly after the final tour that Squires approached McKelvey about joining The A-Cads.

Dick Laws and Sam Evans depart the A-Cads

As mentioned earlier, McKelvey’s primary role appears to have been to take over from Dick Laws, who had increasingly come to blows over the band’s musical direction.

As Laws later admitted: “The band was moving in a super-commercial direction, recording puff pieces like “Fool, Fool, Fool”. I was interested in keeping the heavier sound of “Hungry For Love”. Also, there were too many people involved in the band’s management – three managers actually. It felt like no one was interested in the music itself. Producer Derek Hannan was coming up with these hits (which I suppose was his job). Yet the success of “Hungry For Love” should have proved that a song doesn’t have to have an infantile hook to top the charts, but no one was listening.”

Within weeks of McKelvey’s arrival, Laws abandoned the group, initially to work on a solo rock instrumental album for Teal Records, but he soon lost interest and the project was shelved. Over the next few years, Laws would maintain a relatively low profile, working occasionally with The Derick Warren Sound in South Africa during 1969. However, that same year he joined Tommy Roe’s visiting support band and subsequently moved to the US. During the early 1970s, Laws contributed to Tommy Roe’s critically acclaimed albums We Can Make Music and Beginnings, but has kept a low profile since then, although he is still active musically in Los Angeles where he resides.

Review in Pop Gear, May 1966

Pop Gear discusses the breakup, February 1966

Sam Evans during his time with This Generation in mid 1966
Laws was quickly followed by Sam Evans, who was keen to go solo and wisely used the success of the group’s debut single to launch his career. After a brief stint with local beat group This Generation, Evans debuted with a revival of Dean Martin’s “Memories Are Made of This” on the Pye label, and later that same year scored with Roy Hammond’s composition, “Shotgun Wedding”. Incidentally, the song was at #10 in the South African charts on 12 August 1966 when the Beatles’ hit “Paperback Writer” was removed from the Springbok charts as a result of a SABC Board decision that no Beatles songs may be played on any government-sponsored radio station. They took the decision in response to Lennon’s apparent remark about the Beatles being more popular than Jesus.Later, Evans would go on to record a string of singles throughout the late 1960s and early 1970s for the WRC, Parlophone and Nitty Gritty labels. He enjoyed further chart success with his singles, “Ain’t Love A Funny Thing”, “Goodbye Girl” and “Goodbye Guitarman”. Evans also issued a solo album in 1970 for Parlophone entitled “Ain’t Love A Funny Thing”, but sadly passed away in Johannesburg on 23 December 2004.

The A-Cads, meanwhile, briefly split up for a few weeks, but soon reformed with Hank Squires handling the vocal duties and McKelvey covering the lead guitar. “Evans and Laws were responsible for the group’s break up,” explains Squires. “Evans conspired to have me kicked out, Laws backed him. Their whole scheme backfired when Les and Robbie joined with me, giving us the majority to carry on as The A-Cads. McKelvey was in the right place at the right time, so I replaced Laws with him.”

The new line-up quickly emerged with a follow up single, “Fool Fool Fool” c/w “Zip-A-Dee Doh Dah” (the b-side in fact had been recorded before Evans’ departure) and, in a rather unusual move, also toured the Garden Route by train with the Boswell-Wilkie circus during the school holiday. One of the most memorable dates during this period was appearing at the Vaal Festival where the band played to 3,000 screaming fans. Soon afterwards, the new line up toured Mozambique.

Hungry for Love

Amid all this activity, RCA Victor issued the band’s album, which credited McKelvey for lead guitar and Dick Laws for bass (Les Goode wasn’t mentioned at all in the sleeve notes!). Curiously, the label also chose to use a rare picture of the short-lived Laws-McKelvey line-up for the album’s front cover with the group pictured on the back of a lorry. The true extent of McKelvey’s involvement in the sessions, however, is a matter of contention.

According to Dick Laws, McKelvey wasn’t around in the studio when he was recording with the group, and Laws is almost certain that he played lead on all the album tracks and three of the singles. Other sources close to the band, most notably Hank Squires, support his claim although McKelvey insists he played on some tracks.

One possible explanation is that both guitarists recorded material for the album and RCA Victor handpicked the best cuts when choosing on a final track listing. That might explain the delay in the album’s release and may also explain why the group’s second single, as well as earlier recordings with Laws – “Roadrunner” and “Sha-La-La-La-Lee” were subsequently excluded.

Whatever the reason, the media was unaware of any musical differences, and its response was overwhelmingly positive. Record Express gave the album a beaming write up in the April 1966 issue: “This tremendous, versatile, local group have followed up their hit single with this terrific album of bluesy R&B type numbers.”

Though no long lost classic, the album, named after the group’s debut single, does show The A-Cads in fine form with the band tearing its way through covers of R&B favourites like “In The Midnight Hour” and “Got My Mojo Working”. If any criticism could be levelled at the record, it would have to be the absence of any original material. Even The A-Cads’ British contemporaries, Them, The Rolling Stones and The Animals were writing their own songs, and The A-Cads’ dependence on such well-trodden material would probably not have helped the group’s cause over the long-term.

The album’s appearance also coincided with the belated release of the non-album track “Sha-La-La-La-Lee”, which as mentioned earlier, had been recorded while Laws was still in the band. Despite the changes in personnel and fresh developments in the group’s career, which will be discussed in a moment, the media continued to sing the group’s praises. Record Express’ Cordy Gunn enthusiastically told readers in that month’s issue: “’Sha-La-La-La-Lee’ is the A-Cads’ best since ‘Hungry For Love’ …I predict that this new single will immediately leap to the top.” Though it never quite matched the success of the band’s debut single, “Sha-La-La-La-Lee” did indeed become a sizeable hit that spring, but by then the band was no longer in the country to promote it.

Departure to London

With Squires’ old mate Mickie Most now acting as the group’s agent in London, the group’s fortunes appeared to be on the up, and plans were made to launch the group overseas. Record Express was quoted as saying in the April issue, that “Louis McKelvey has left South Africa on the Edinburgh Castle bound for London where he’ll meet the other members of the group in a month’s time”.

Pop Gear, June 1966

Pop Gear, May 1966
Squires and Goode (joined by former member Dick Laws) sailed on the Windsor Castle during May 1966, and the trio ended up renting a flat in Notting Hill Gate where McKelvey occasionally dropped by.

Robbie Kearney meanwhile decided against the move as he had recently married the leading dancer from the Boswell-Wilkie circus. He would maintain a profile of sorts, reportedly playing briefly with The Falling Leaves and recording with Birds of A Feather in late 1968. Later qualifying as an artist, he went on to design the cover of the Ancient Mariner album, which featured Les Goode on bass! Today, he is a successful artist.

However, plans to get The A-Cads’ singles issued in Europe remained just that, and though a recording company in Amsterdam was reportedly interested, Most’s attempts to negotiate a deal quickly floundered. When the opportunity to play some dates in Hamburg also failed to materialise, and tentative plans to move to India to play at a major festival fell through, Goode returned somewhat despondently to South Africa in September 1966. (Incidentally, Teenage Personality reported in its 21 July issue that Squires was in Hamburg, so perhaps he did play there as a solo artist?)

Re-establishing ties with John E Sharpe, Les Goode became a member of The John Sharpe Set. Goode continued to work with the guitarist and was also a member of his next outfit, Impulse, which was formed in September 1967 with John Elliot (sax), Albert Rossi (drums) and Alan Shane (bass). Impulse recorded a number of tracks, including the fascinating “Melon Man”.

Impulse changed its name to The Board of Directors in August 1968 and recorded two excellent singles: “New Orleans” and “Legend of A Big Toe”, before Sharpe and Goode left in November to put together The Crystal Drive alongside South African guitar legend Julian Laxton from Freedom’s Children. Goode also briefly played with The Derick Warren Sound during this period, recording two singles with the group for the Continental label: “Lingering On” and “Every Other Saturday”.

Since then, he has become one of South Africa’s most highly regarded bass players and has appeared on records by (or played with) such notable outfits as Dickory, Backtrax, Morocko, Foxy and 909. Goode also worked with future Yes member and fellow South African Trevor Rabin’s support group when he toured England in 1979, and during the 1970s was also a member of Hawk. He is currently A&R and owner/director of Great Value Music in Johannesburg, a successful wholesale/distribution budget record company.

July 1966

Pop Gear, September 1966
After the A-Cads: Hank Squires and Louis McKelvey in Canada

Back in England Hank Squires’ decided to trade in a career as a performer. His decision may primarily have been influenced by The A-Cads’ recent demise, but it is likely that other factors played a part. During the summer, the South African division of Columbia Records had released Squires’ solo album Strange Effect, but neither it nor two singles – “Don’t Come Knockin’” and “Strange Effect” had been commercially successful. Nevertheless, the album, recorded in late 1965/early 1966 (largely with the original A-Cads in support, although McKelvey appears on a couple of tracks), did receive a positive write up in the South African music press.

Tony Hamilton writing in Teenage Personality that summer said: “[The album] carries 13 carefully chosen numbers including “It Only Took A Minute”, “Concrete and Clay”, “Up On The Roof” and “My Girl”. Hank has lots of talent and deserves a break. He is now in England, and this new LP may help him over there.”

Unfortunately, it didn’t and after recording a number of demos with American producer Steve Rowland, South African songwriter Hugh Patterson and his mentor Mickie Most, Squires was forced to leave the country. “Due to the politics practised in South Africa I wasn’t able to secure a work permit and had no choice but to leave the UK, so I immigrated to Canada,” recalls Squires.

According to Teenage Personality in its 22 December 1966 issue, Squires recorded a rare single in Europe and then headed to Canada for a three-month engagement after he couldn’t get a work permit to perform in England. Arriving in Montreal in December 1966, he hooked up with McKelvey who’d made the crossing months earlier.

Like Les Goode, Louis McKelvey decided that England was not the ideal place to pursue his musical ambitions and around September 1966 he took the boat to Montreal with only $10 in his pocket. However, after only a few weeks in the city playing with the French-speaking Les Sinners, during which time he performed at the Paul Sauve Arena sporting a Union Jack jacket (an extremely daring move considering the political climate in Quebec), he took off for a cross-country jaunt to Vancouver. Returning to Montreal that December, he hooked up with Our Generation.

Hank Squires in the studio, 1969
Reunited with Hank Squires, McKelvey helped his former A-Cads band member find work with (arguably) Montreal’s finest garage band, The Haunted, who had recently scored a sizeable Canadian hit with “1-2-5″. Squires would work with the band and be given co-production credit on their lone album, which has since become a popular collector’s item.

McKelvey was also briefly involved with The Haunted. He was given co-production credit for the single “Searching For My Baby” c/w “A Message To Pretty” with Squires and, according to band member Jurgen Peter, was responsible for suggesting the ‘A’ side’s gutsy guitar intro. In an interesting side note, The Haunted single was given a South African release on the Continental label during early 1968 and was given a positive write up by Tony Hamilton in Teenage Personality.

A short while later, Hank Squires became a talent scout for Johannesburg-based label Highveld and through Jurgen Peter produced a single for Montreal singer, Andrew Storm (real name: Andrew Lacroix). Storm’s single, “Tic-Tac-Toe” c/w “I’d Love To Love You Again”, which features McKelvey on guitar, was later given a South African release on Highveld in 1970. Squires sadly died on July 13, 2009.

McKelvey meanwhile had thrown in his lot with Our Generation – a Haunted spin-off featuring former members Bob Burgess, Tim Forsythe and Jim Robertson. Our Generation already had one single to their credit, “I’m a Man”” c/w “Run Down Every Street”, issued on the Transworld label, but McKelvey’s arrival gave the band a “shot in the arm”. His fiery lead guitar work is immediately distinguishable on the group’s second (and arguably best) single, “Cool Summer” c/w “Out To Get Light”, which was issued in May 1967 and was produced by Squires.

By the time it reached the shops, McKelvey had moved on and pieced together a new musical project, Influence alongside Andy Keiller from The Upsetters. Keiller had arrived in Montreal in April 1966 and spotted McKelvey playing on TV with Our Generation. Influence subsequently recorded an album for ABC in late 1967 before splitting late the following year. McKelvey then worked with the short-lived groups Milkwood, Damage and Powerhouse.

During the early 1970s, McKelvey briefly re-united with Hank Squires, working as a songwriter and session guitarist for Squires’ short-lived studio group Marble Hall, which featured singer Brian Redmond. McKelvey contributed to the group’s lone single, “Marble Hall” (originally recorded as a demo with Influence).

Following his work with Andy Storm, Hank Squires released one more solo recording that year – “Ecstasy”, which appeared on a compilation album called Command Performance. Squires later produced a number of recordings in the early 1970s for a singer known as Martin Martin. Based in Victoria, British Columbia, he is preparing an album of new material, which will be released under the name, SmityBoy.

Interest in The A-Cads has grown meanwhile and an Italian label, Crystal Emporium, brought out a CD of The A-Cads album in 1998 complete with bonus tracks featuring some rare Hank Squires solo material, taken from an unreleased EP recorded in 1966.

Hank Squires in Montreal, 1970
Many thanks to the following for generously helping to piece the story together: Hank Squires, Les Goode, Dick Laws, Louis McKelvey, Andy Keiller, Tertius Louw, Jurgen Peter, Ian Hannah, Mike Paxman, Garth Chilvers, Tom Jasiukowicz, Gregory Plotz and Leon Booysen.

Strange Effect LP photos courtesy of Ivan Amirault.

© Copyright Nick Warburton, September 2008. All Rights Reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced or transmitted in any from or by any means, without prior permission from the author.

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The Lovin’ Kind and the Martels

The Lovin' Kind photo
Left to right: Harold Scott (Scotty), Terry Childers, Jerry Childers and Bill Traylor

Bill Traylor sent me this photo of the Lovin’ Kind, a four piece from the northeast edge of Kentucky. If anyone has scans or good quality transfers of the 45s, please get in touch with me at

I had a band in the late 60’s from Ashland, KY called “The Lovin’ Kind”. It consisted of Jerry and Terry Childers, Harold Scott (son of Hal Scott of Hal Scott Enterprises) and myself. We made on 45 in ‘69 for, I believe, Plato but I have no copies. Jerry, Terry and myself were former members of The Martels before we broke away and formed the Lovin’ Kind.

The Martels originally formed around 1964 and consisted of Pat Loving, Terry Sanders, and others. I joined the group in 1966 and it was an 8 piece band at that time which consisted of Terry Sanders on drums, John Sturgill vocals, Danny Young on keys, Larry Creech and Larry “Frog” Johnson on sax, a trumpet player whose name I can’t remember, Terry Childers on bass, Jerry Childers on guitar and myself on lead guitar. We made one record in Lexington in 1968 and performed until 1969 when three of us left and formed The Lovin’Kind.

Both groups were booked by Hal Scott and we performed at colleges and in all the clubs in KY, Ohio, and West Virginia.

Bill Traylor

Westchester Rivals: The Reptiles, the End, and the Aliens

The Reptiles, 1967, photo by Robin Leach

The Reptiles have one cut on the Ren-Vell Battle of the Bands LP, “The Glass Toy”. It could have been a fine pop single with more polish, but the Ren-Vell studio wasn’t prepared to offer that kind of guidance or production quality.

Steve Worthy related the story of the Reptiles recording of Glass Toy to Bassman Bobb Brown:

Ron Macera was the drummer, Paul Slavin on bass, Mark Worthy on rhythm guitar and high harmony vocal on the chorus (a reversal of how we usually worked-me high harmony, him low). I played upper register rhythm guitar, because if I was doing the singing I couldn’t do any leads on guitar.

I wrote the song (probably my 3rd or 4th song ever written), full of teenage angst, and having to rhyme the works criticize, minimize and brutalize in the one bridge, shows my poetic and English major leanings. Subconsciously, I imitated my heroes the Beatles by doing something I heard said later about their songs – sad lyrics with happy music!

The only other recording session for the Reptiles was with a friend of my father named Bert Haber, who worked with Famous Music Publishing, and they were looking to get some young bands on one of their record company rosters. Bert gave us this song called “Come Take A Taste” to learn, and we so despised it, but really wanted to get in on the ground floor so we did it. I was so depressed learning it, that I wrote a song called “The Moustache Song” as a joke (“Please little girl with the moustache, blah blahh, Please don’t shave your little moustache, You’re only girl I kissed with one before”), which went on the 45 b-side. No one else had a song, so I had to sing that one as well.

Needless to say, their Broadway-type song was like a Spanky and Our Gang type tune, and our hearts weren’t in it, so it went nowhere further. The chorus sounded like “Sunday Will Never Be The Same”.

The Reptiles prided itself on always being true to the song and getting all the chords right! One of our pet peeves would be songs by bands who couldn’t get the bridge right- on “For Your Love” for example- the last two chords –they would do “A followed by Am” at the end of it, instead of C#m to B. Most bands were a little lazy that way. We used sharps and flats and major seventh chords because of our Beatle training. Me and my brother would listen to records over and over until every chord was perfect, especially with the Beatles stuff, which was our supreme role model. We even did Sgt. Pepper Stuff live like “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds”, “It’s Getting Better”, “A Day In The Life”, “Lovely Rita”.

Steve also wrote about the Reptiles’ rival bands, The End and The Aliens:

“The End” had Allen Spink and guitar and lead vocals, Jimmy Indusi on Guitar, Timmy Smith on console organ-sounded almost like a Hammond, Rick Selby on left-handed drums, and Pat Giordano on bass guitar. They were the second most ferocious competitors to the Reptiles after “The Aliens”. We made a comeback and beat them in a Battle of the Bands at St. Augustine’s High School finally, after a humiliating defeat at St. Ann’s when Spink stacked the deck with all of his friends. One reason the rivalry was so raw, even though personally I was great friends with the leader Allen Spink, was young testosterone when the nine of us were in a room together. We were like the Jets and the Sharks circling each other, I swear!

The Aliens were composed of Ray Marion on lead guitar and lead vocals (playing a Gibson cherry red ES335), Curt Meinel, bass (Hagstrom?), Glen Kane on drums, and a guy named Howie on Farfisa organ. They were very popular because they could be counted on to play all the standard rock ‘n’ roll songs like “Louie, Louie”, “Wipe Out”, “Bang Bang” (Joe Cuba, not Sonny and Cher), and were not adventurous at all, which is why the Reptiles and Aliens were sworn mortal enemies. Ray would do this swagger like he was so cool and shake his ass, which drove us crazy, because our impression of music at the time did not include ass shaking! Maybe he thought he was Elvis, who I both appreciate and love now, but at the time he was kind of old news to us in 1967.

Thanks to Bassman Bobb Brown for forwarding me the comments of Steve Worthy, along with the photo and the scans and transfers of the Aliens 45.

The Tremolos

Drummer Tom Durr tells the story of the Tremolos, a band that never released a record but whose name is probably familiar to club goers in the Shreveport area in the mid 1960s.

My name is Tom Durr. In 1964 Bob Fell, Mike Tinsley and I formed the first garage band in Bossier City and possibly Shreveport too. The band was called The Tremolos with Bob and Mike on guitar and me on drums. We played pep rallies and dances at Bossier High School, the Teen Club and Elks Club, dances at Barksdale AFB, the Shriner’s and VA hospitals and later when I was at La. Tech, we played fraternity and sorority parties. We started out doing only instrumentals, mostly The Ventures, then later started doing vocal covers of hit songs.

When Bob Fell left to play the N.Y. World’s Fair for the summer we got Sonny Williams to replace him. When Bob came back he formed The Group with Noel Odom. Bob asked me to play drums for The Group, but I decided to stay with The Tremolos. This is one of my regrets in life. As a result, he got Fred Engelke on drums.

When Sonny left The Tremolos he joined The Group on bass. The Tremolos went through a lot of personnel changes including Rocky Chalmiers, Pat Huddleston, Richard White and Don MacMurray with only Mike and I remaining constant. Rocky was several years younger than us, it prevented us from playing places where alcohol was sold. He was very talented and I heard he went on to study classical guitar. The Tremolos did record once in a small studio in Bossier City, but no records were ever made. We were also on a TV talent show in Monroe, LA.

My sophomore year of college, the band broke up. I quit school, joined the musician’s union and started playing with a trio at The Stork’s Club on the Bossier strip. Then I got drafted and had to join the Navy. Meanwhile, The Group went on to do everything I had wanted to do.

L-R across the back is Rocky Chalmiers, Richard White, Mike Tinsley and Don
MacMurray. Tom Durr on drums.

P.B. & the Staunchmen

P.B. & the Staunchmen Lee 45 Mean Willy
P.B. & the Staunchmen Lee 45 Lost GenerationP.B. & the Staunchmen cut this rare 45 on Lee, the same label as the Ascendors “I Won’t Be Home” in 1966. The label was located out of Hornell, New York, 40 miles south of Rochester but I’ve read the band was from Dansville, another 20 miles south/southeast.

P.B. is Paul Beecher, credited along with the Staunchmen for writing both sides of the 45, but that’s all I knew about this group until some comments came in below.

Paul Beecher – lead vocals
Doug Smith – sax
Paul Nagle – lead guitar
Barry McLean – rhythm guitar
Eric Young – organ
Don Cox – rhythm and bass guitar
George Harvey – drums

“Mean Willy” is a driving track with some wild guitar breaks and screams between repetitive lyrics and droning saxophone.

All the girls they can’t sympathize,
They know that he goes around telling ’em lies,
When he looks into their big brown eyes.

The flip, “Lost Generation”, sounds like it has roots in “Eve of Destruction” (though it actually came out earlier – see Don Cox’s comment below). The lyrics are defeatist and downright depressing, if I am reading them right:

This poor war is here to say,
There’s nothing you can do to keep it away,
My brother’s dead, there’s no denying,
This lost generation has me cryin’.
‘Cause it’s lost, this generation, it’s gone away,
It’s lost no matter what you say.

The kids are turnin’, their cards are burnin’,
Trying to escape this war,
The game they’ve lost and now they’ve found,
It doesn’t matter anymore.

Thanks to Don Cox for the lyric correction. If anyone has photos of the group, please contact me.

The Halfways & The Turning Image

Dennis Bailey on Trombone

Allan Johnson & Linda Hixson on vocals
Michael Hadder was drummer for both the Halfways and that band’s later incarnation as the Turning Image. Together the two bands history spans nearly ten years from 1967-1976 in Manassas, Virginia. Michael sent in this history of the bands and the photos. I’d love to hear what their music sounded like, but so far no tapes have turned up.

Our beginnings were pretty humble. First day of High School in 1967, I became reacquainted with Larry Hixson who I knew from the 5th grade. He had moved out of the Manassas area for a while and had asked me to bring my drums over to his house that Friday night to jam. It was there I met Gene Thompson who was from Leesburg, Va. The next thing I knew , Larry’s step Dad and some other older gentlemen joined us and we began playing a lot of old Hank Williams songs. I thought that night was just a one shot deal, but they kept inviting me back.

I was told that on Halloween night , we would play our first gig at a Virginia radio station and then later at a night club. As it turned out, we played in front of this little old AM station on the back of a flat bed truck. It was so cold it cracked the finish on Gene’s Gibson S-G guitar. When we got to the so-called night club, it turned out to be a beer joint which was probably against the law since the 3 of us were way under 18 years old. I think I took home around $8.00 that night but it was good experience and was technically our first paying gig.

That was pretty much the end of our “Country Music” phase, as the 3 of us broke away and just started playing rock on the weekends. For the next year and a half, we would pile up our then meager equipment into Gene’s 57’ Chevy and spend our weekends playing for friends & family and all the girls that Gene and Larry had stashed away all over Virginia and it was probably the most fun time of our young lives. We bought a small PA system and actually got pretty good for just the 3 of us.

It might have ended there but then by a twist of fate, Tommy Griffith who was a well known singer in the Northern Virginia area agreed to join forces with us, and we went on to get a manager and in the summer of 1969, placed second in a Battle of the Bands, played some dances and make a local TV appearance. By this time we had added Dennis Bailey on bass, (Larry’s cousin) and Linda Hixson (Larry’s sister) and Sharon Stacy as dancers and singers. In addition, Gene was quite the electronics whiz and hooked a switch to the bass drum pedal to make colored lights go on and off in time with the music and the whole experience became quite a show. At the end of that summer Tommy informed us he was leaving and by this time we had had a taste of success, so our manager (Mr. Kay) hooked us up with Allan Johnson as our new lead singer.

After Allan joined, we went thru some personnel changes as Clay Johnson became our keyboard player, and Dennis (who also played trombone) suggested we add other horn players as well and it became quite a large group. We worked a lot. You name it: dances, high schools, talent contests, military bases, beauty contests, teen clubs, weddings, car dealerships, private parties, homecomings, proms, Lions clubs, Rotary clubs, Knights of Columbus dances, county fairs, community centers, etc. all over Virginia, Maryland & DC.

Thru another twist of fate, Allan informed us he was getting married and moving to North Carolina and Tommy Griffith rejoined as lead singer & keyboard player. By this time we were making pretty good money and had a van with our name on it and 2 roadies and continued working almost every weekend. We continued to upgrade our equipment and band uniforms which by now were tuxedos.

By spring of 1976, we played our last gig at Fauquier High School. Circumstances were such that we pursued different interests in life, and thru the rest of the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, 2000 & beyond, we kept in touch in various ways.

One of our gigs at the Manassas National Guard Armory was hosted by local Washington D.C. DJ legend Jack Alix(known as J.A the D.J.) The same Jack Alix who emceed the first appearances of The Beatles in Washington at the old D.C. Coliseum & D.C. (now known as RFK) Stadium. (Click here to see article)

The Halfways with Michael Hadder on drums and Sharon Stacy dancing

Linda Hixson on keys, Gene Thompson on guitar & vocals

Gene Thompson

Michael Hadder, drums and our then sax player Ric — on maracas


Gene Thompson : lead guitar, occasional drums & vocals
Larry Hixson : guitar & vocals
Michael Hadder : drums, occasional guitar & vocals
Tommy Griffith : lead vocals , keyboards & occasional bass
Allan Johnson : lead vocals & guitar, percussion
Linda Hixson : vocals, keyboards, percussion & dancer
Sharon Stacy : vocals, percussion & dancer
Mark Krebs : trumpet
Dennis Bailey : bass, trombone, occaisonal guitar & vocals
Clay Johnson : keyboards & vocals
Bob Newell : trumpet
Tom Tierney : sax, flute & clarinet , guitar, percussion & vocals
Billy Bowden : trumpet & percussion
Larry Goodman : roadie & drum tech
Tommy Dever : roadie & van driver

Ric on sax with Dennis Bailey on bass in background
Gene resides in Maryland, Dennis, Tommy, & Larry and myself, still reside in Virginia (although Larry & wife Kay are teaching in Indonesia till mid-2009), Linda is in Kansas City, Sharon is in Florida, Allan & Bob in North Carolina, Clay is in New York and had lived in Japan. Various members still stay in contact over 40 years later. Dennis went on to tour the U.S. with various acts which included another T.V. appearance while doing a date in Nashville and is now a full-time music teacher. Tommy and Allan also continue to make music and I still play drums on occasion.

In November, 2008, Tommy, Gene, Dennis and myself reunited to jam for the first time in 32 years. We vowed to make this an annual event & bring back other members & people we were around at the time as well.

These were special years that produced golden moments. What began as a way to meet girls on the weekends turned into a second full-time job for all of us and became extremely lucrative. For someone like me who never had a music lesson in my life to have the experience of playing drums for so long a time with such a talented group of players & musicians was incredible. When the venues we played at were packed & we fed off of the energy of the crowd, it was absolute magic I will never forget. Normally bands & band members come & go & break up, but I have been so blessed & fortunate to still stay in contact with Gene, Dennis, Larry, Tommy, Allan, Linda, Sharon & Larry Goodman after all these many years.

For more information see Michael Hadder’s interview on

L to R: Gene Thompson, Tommy Griffith & Michael Hadder

L to R, bottom row: Dennis Bailey & Billy Bowden, top row: Tommy Griffith, Michael Hadder, Tom Tierney & Gene Thompson

Tommy Griffith on keys & vocals