Category Archives: US

The Cavaliers


The Cavaliers in 1982 rehearsing for their 15th class reunion
from left: Leslie Landrum, Tim Poole, John Burk, Elmo Peeler, Charlie Davis and Spencer Sanders
The Cavaliers from Mississippi released only one 45 under their own name, “Looking for Love” / “You Better Move On” on the Spot Light label in May 1966. “You Better Move On” is the Arthur Alexander song that the Rolling Stones covered. I particularly like their performance on “Looking for Love,” an original credited to simply ‘Freeman’.

Their version of “You Better Move On” was picked up for release by Shelby Singleton’s SSS International label with a new group name, as the Moving Violations (catchy, right?). The flip was a different song for this release, “In the Deep Blue Sea”, written by Thomas, Mcree and Thomas. Production is by Huey Meaux, who passed away last month.

The Cavaliers also had an unreleased song from these sessions, “Girl Why Can’t You Understand”, that is excellent.


Tim Poole, Les Landrum, Gary Barnett and John Burk

Some of the Cavaliers on the Gulf Coast with first manager Avon Frost
from bottom left: Avon Frost with Les Landrum on his shoulders, Elmo Peeler, center, Charlie Davis with Tim Poole on his shoulders.
I have to thank the Cavaliers’ drummer Charlie Davis for sending these songs to me and giving me the info about the group below:

I was in a band called “The Cavaliers” from Kosciusko, MS:

John Burk – vocals
Les Landrum – lead guitar
Tim Poole – rhythm guitar and bass
Elmo Peeler – keyboards
Gary Barnett – bass guitar
Spencer Sanders – rhythm guitar and vocals
Charlie Davis – drums

Les Landrum formed the group in ’63. We started out as a four-piece band playing instrumentals like “You Can’t Sit Down” and mainly influenced by The Ventures, “Walk Don’t Run”, etc. We broke up in 1967 when we graduated from high school and all went to different colleges. Of course we had added a main singer and keyboards during that time. In 1966 Spencer Sanders joined the group replacing Gary Barnett. Tim Poole then switched to bass guitar and Spencer played rhythm guitar and added vocals and harmony.

We mainly played in and around Mississippi during that time, alot on our Gulf Coast (Biloxi & Gulfport). The only out of state gig I can remember was for a LSU fraternity party in Baton Rouge, LA.

The record came about after we recorded a couple of songs written by our singer, John Burk as demos. We were then asked to record “Looking for Love” written by one of the owners of the studio in Jackson, MS. We played a lot of Animal tunes and Rolling Stones so the flip side was our version of the one put out on an album by The Rolling Stones, “You Better Move On”.

The record was first distributed on the Spot Light label and later on SSS International label (Shelby Singleton) where they changed our name to The Moving Violations. It never made the charts but I think got play on the Chicago AM station WLS.

In 1982 we got back together, practiced for a week, and played for our 15 year class reunion.

Elmo Peeler who played the Hammond organ went on to play with such notable artist as The Beach Boys, Rod Stewart, Ricky Nelson and The Sweet Inspirations. Although he never toured with them, he also played on CD’s by The Flying Burrito Brothers.

I also played drums on the session with The Ravin’ Blue … “Love” and “It’s Not Real”.

Charlie Davis


Charlie Davis, Elmo Peeler and Tim Poole


Charlie Davis at the Neshoba County Fair

Les Landrum, lead guitar

Les Landrum and Tim Poole

John Burk, Gary Barnett and Charlie Davis
Charlie Davis also created this video below, featuring “Girl Why Can’t You Understand” accompanied by some of the photos seen here:

Charlie Davis at the Neshoba County Fair

Charlie Davis

Tim Poole and Les Landrum

Tim Poole, Les Landrum, John Burk and Gary Barnett

Who is this band?

The Wooly Ones? Or some other group?

Can anyone identify this band from the 1967 Estancia High School yearbook? They certainly look sharp. The Wooly Ones came from Costa Mesa, California, but their record “Put Her Down” / “Slings and Arrows” was cut a year or two prior to these photos.

Thank you to Barry Kazmer for sending in these photos. I’ll be posting more of Barry’s scans in the future.

The Outcasts (Greenville, Texas)

The Outcasts, 1966, from left: Mike Shelton, John Harvey, Jerry Shurtleff, Kenny Sargent, Gerry Morris (on drums) and Ted Swindell

These Outcasts came from Greenville, Texas, northeast of Dallas, and shouldn’t be confused with the San Antonio group of the same name that cut “I’m in Pittsburgh (and It’s Raining)” and “1523 Blair”. These Outcasts never recorded and did live shows only in their local area. Guitarist Jerry Shurtleff gives their story:

The Outcasts had their beginnings in the summer of 1965 rehearsing at the Greenville, Texas YMCA. The original members were John Harvey and Kenny Sargent – vocals, Ted Swindell and Mike Shelton – guitars and Trey Warren on drums. Mike Shelton broke both wrists in a weight lifting accident and I saw my chance. All I had was a Kay acoustic – with an eighth note painted on like a pick guard. Mike had a brand new Music Master and Deluxe amp, which I permanently borrowed when I joined the group.

Jerry Shurtleff
When Mike’s casts came off his parents went out of town and he charged a Danelectro bass and Fender Bassman on his parents account at Bob Hames music store on Washington street. Maybe the Music Mart, but they were probably the first Fender dealers in town. (Mike’s parents also had an account at Queen Ann’s Drive Inn. There were legendary parties at his house when his parents were out of town catered by Queen Ann’s!) I got a Vox Clubman guitar from The Melody Shop in North Park and an Alamo amp from David Heath.

Mike, Ted and I took group guitar lessons from Mr. Hames and he taught us the difference in bass, rhythm and lead guitar. I think ‘Walk Don’t Run’ was the song he used. His son played with Trini Lopez’ brother, Jesse.

The main gig in Greenville, TX in 1965-66 was the Saturday night YMCA dances and they were hopping! (Remember the red couch?)

Some of the local bands were:

The Exceptions – Matt Tapp, Charleton Ellis, Randy McNatt and Hal Holley.

The Tyme (or Shades Of Tyme) – Tommy Tolleson, Rush Horton, Gary Shannon, Joe Weiss, Mike Skeen and Mark Phillips.

The Other Half – Phil Sudderth, Alex Bouknight, T.A. Tredway, Carroll Grant and David Heath.

Lots of Stones, Beatles, Animals, James Brown, etc… The boys would form a long line on the dance floor with girls in line in front of them and everyone would jump around and change partners, We played a lot of Y parties. They were a huge party every Saturday night. We made about $12 each from the door. One night my parents were chaperoning a high school Y party and called me at home and said they were coming to get me. They wanted me to hear a legendary band from Dallas, The Mystics. All of our parents were always very supportive (they probably thought I would get a job when I grew up.)

We practiced at Swindell’s house and then moved over to our main headquarters, the garage/playroom at the Morris’ house. It was a hangout for a lot of the bands. We got better equipment around then, again thanks to our parents. Ted’s father, buck Swindell, went to Arnold & Morgan and bought two Mosrite Ventures models, a sunburst doubleneck and a single neck in Pacific blue. He also bought us a Bogen PA system with an orange head and two columns. Mike’s dad bought him a new Gibson 335, which again we switched Mike back to bass and again, I permanetly borrowed the 335, Mr. Shelton wasn’t thrilled. Jerry had his Ludwig drums. I got a Standel Artist amp and eventually an old Telecaster. We all bought everything from Mike Delk at Arnold & Morgan Music in Garland, TX. Mike was now playing bass on a Gibson EBO, then a Gibson hollow body sunburst bass. By then we were taking lessons from Trig Ward.

The Kari and Jerry Duo
We played through the late 60’s, but decided the Outcasts name wasn’t edgy enough so we became The Misfits. We were also The Coachmen. We played a great Battle of the Bands at a short lived teen center on West Lee Street in downtown Greenville with The Exceptions, The Novas and The Redcoats. I think we came in third. It was the same night that the Apollo astronauts were killed. Our biggest gig was at the Greenville Municipal Auditorium for a politician with a patch on one eye. He was later indicted in the huge Texas savings and loan scandal of the late 60s.

After The Outcasts, Jerry Morris and I went on to playing for the rest of high school with Terry Dabbs, Art Grahl and Mark Feingold. We were hippies by then. Sadly Ted Swindell passed away in 1997.

I’m the only one who didn’t have enough sense to quit, so I still play for a living, currently in Black Hawk, Colorado. My wife and I have the Kari and Jerry duo for almost 30 years now. We have been all over the world thanks to music and still kickin’!

Jerry Shurtleff, May 2011

The Ashbury Dream

The Ashbury Dream band
The Ashbury Dream, from left: Mike Jorgenson, Lynn Pierce, Johnney Ammons, Jerry Messmore, Roger Howe and Lynn Mills

Here’s a clipping featuring the Ashbury Dream from the Grand Prairie Daily News, April 29, 1968. Lynn Pierce’s name was misspelled in the photo caption of the article.

Who knows if the other musicians’ names are spelled correctly. I don’t believe this band ever released any records, please correct me if I’m wrong.

Grand Prairie is just east of Arlington, between Fort Worth and Dallas, Texas

Other groups to play the YMCA: The Basement Pipes and Tracks, the Accents and the Chessmen.

The Local Traffic

The Local Trafffic, circa 1967, from left: Mick Hassell, Buddy Bullard, Stormy Folse, Steve Morant and Mike Cottage
The Local Trafffic, circa 1967
From left: Mick Hassell, Buddy Bullard, Stormy Folse, Steve Morant and Mike Cottage

 Mickey Hassell singing with the Local Traffic, 1967
Mickey Hassell singing with the Local Traffic, 1967
The Local Traffic’s incredible single on the Black Light label has remained almost unknown until recently and never reissued or compiled since its original release in June, 1968. “Time Gone to Waste” is a wild original sure to take its rightful place at the top of ’60s psychedelia. I love how it ends with that roll on the tom-toms. The B-side is “Second Century”, slow and stately but also excellent. Two copies of the 45 attained huge sums at auction in 2009 and 2010; there’s no doubting the rarity or musical quality of this 45.

Myles Hassell, then known as Mickey Hassell, sent in the photos and memorabilia seen here and wrote this history about the group:

In the later part of 1965, The Local Traffic came into being in the living room of Mickey Hassell’s house on Citrus Road in River Ridge; a sleepy little suburb located about 7 miles west of New Orleans, in between Harahan and Little Farms. The members of the band included Mickey Hassell (lead vocals and guitar), Stormy Folse (guitar, organ, vocals, and saxophone), Mike Cottage (bass guitar and vocals), Steve Morant (lead guitar and vocals), and Buddy Bullard (drums). The band’s manager, Skip Robinson, also played tambourine during live performances.

Our band existed outside the mainstream of the traditional music genres one associates with New Orleans (jazz, R&B, funk, etc.). Instead, we were strongly influenced by the British Invasion bands and the psychedelic music scene. If it was far-out, we played it.

When we began playing music together, we were all in high school (ranging in age from 14-16). From the start, we did not have an easy go of it. Our musical instruments and sound system were second tier: a hodgepodge gathered from pawnshops, family members, and wages earned by working after school. We had to make do with what we had – pushing our instruments and equipment to the limit when we performed. Because we were all underage, many of the local music venues such as bars, nightclubs, and other places where liquor was served were off limits to us; and other doors were slammed in our faces because we were not members of the local union of musicians. Furthermore, nobody knew us; we didn’t even have a booking agent. But we were young, and nothing was going to stop us. Through the efforts of the band’s members and word of mouth, we started to find gigs at local CYO Dances in Harahan, Little Farms, Metairie, and Kenner, along with some frat parties and block parties—anywhere we could find an audience for our music. We were beginning to build a reputation for being a band of versatile musicians that worked up a sweat and put on a good show every time we performed.

Many of the bands in New Orleans frequented Tippet’s Music store in Orleans Parish. Being kids from the suburbs, however, The Local Traffic shopped at Werlein’s Music at Lakeside Shopping Center in Metairie, at that time an open-air facility. It was there that we met Andy Gallien, who was working in Werlein’s music department. Sometime during late 1966 to early 1967, Andy and Mike (our bass player) negotiated a way for us to lease some first-rate equipment—Fender and Gretsch guitars, Ludwig drums and Zildjian cymbals, Fender Dual-Showman and Fender Twin amplifiers, Farfisa keyboards, Shure microphones, a solid sound system, and all the electronics needed to make things hum. This equipment leveled the playing field for The Local Traffic, thus enabling us to stand toe-to-toe with well-known bands from New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and the Gulf South.

Local Traffic Black Light 45 Time Gone to WasteFrom 1967 on, The Local Traffic developed a reputation as a hard-driving force in the local music scene. This led to better-paying gigs at psychedelic teen clubs, such as The Purple Pickle in Slidell and The Hullabaloo Club in Metairie, along with high school dances and private parties. During this time, Bill Strong, a producer and promoter in the music business, approached us at one of our gigs, saying that he liked our music. Ultimately, we signed a recording contract with his company, Black Light Productions. At that time, we were still a cover band, and while we had dabbled in songwriting, we had neither practiced nor performed any original music. Therefore, we had some work to do for our upcoming recording session at the now legendary Cosimo Matassa’s studio on Camp Street in New Orleans.

Mickey wrote the chord progression, words, and melody for “Time Gone to Waste,” which was to be the A-side for our 45-rpm record. During this time, he was living in an efficiency apartment in the French Quarter, scratching out a living playing music, working as a roadie for a couple of bands from the area, and working at the PDQ Car Wash on Metairie Road. As the lyrics below reveal, the song’s imagery came from his mind and soul, his apartment, and life on the streets outside:

Before the flashing dawn, I put my new face on
And I take the time to pull out my mind and then
I can see once more the same mind I had before
In my single window pane with a crystal picture frame

Love lights the night before, it makes me think of you once more
And it leaves me senseless with a time relentless
I pick my eyes up off the floor, I throw them out the open door
And I laugh out crying instead of lying, I’ve got no use for lying

I sing out loudly mine, inside the flashing sign
It’s a neon stillness like a creeping illness
I see the carpets crawl up and down the patterned wall
And they leave me a taste of the time gone to waste

Buddy’s driving drumbeat and Mike’s punching bass line created a rhythm section with the power of a locomotive roaring at full throttle. The guitar work of Stormy and Steve slashed, soared, and intertwined with the rhythm section. Mickey’s vocalization was defiant, yet laden with emotion. As recorded, “Time Gone to Waste” was a kick-ass song—combining poetry with rock-and-roll and psychedelics, and capturing the energy, creativity, and musicianship of The Local Traffic.

Mike created an elegant bass line, then Mickey created the chords, lyrics, and melody for a song titled, “Second Century,” which became the B-side for our 45-rpm record. The song was about a woman who kept others at a distance via mind-games and who tried in vain to ignore the passing of time and her loneliness. The song’s chord progression was tempered by Buddy’s skillful drum work and accentuated by Stormy’s sensitive touch on the electric organ. Steve’s guitar solo was adept, and his harmonic coda ushered the song to a climactic tonal flourish. Mickey’s vocalization was melancholy and the lyrics were poignant:

Second century woman, Second century child
Talk with your mask and not your mind
Singing songs stolen out of time

I feel the thunder, of the senseless words
Open to those who sing your song
Not trying to but aging along

I’ve been playing your lovely games
And I’m tired of feeling just the same
I’m cracked just like a broken dream
That stopped for a while just to scream

Second century woman, Second century child
You can remain with yourself
You can remain with yourself in falling

Second century woman, with a hand of brass
Reaching out to turn to gold
In a world that makes you grow so old
You’ve gone and you’ve left it
How hard to forget where you’re at

Local Traffic Black Light 45 Second CenturyA limited number of 45-rpm discs were pressed on the Black Light label (the label is florescent and glows if you hold it under a black light), and “Time Gone to Waste” was introduced to the New Orleans market in 1968. The song got some airtime on local radio stations WNOE and WTIX, both during the day and on the underground broadcasts at night. Through local record stores, we sold some 45s to our fans, and the radio airtime helped us land some good gigs in the area. During this time, Mickey was becoming prolific as a writer of songs and lyrics, so we laid some more tracks at Cosimo’s recording studio; also teaming up with another local songwriter. None of the tracks made it outside of the four walls of the studio.

In early 1969, The Local Traffic played its last gig at a country club (now gone) near the current site of the Greek Orthodox Church on Bayou St. John, just off Robert E. Lee Boulevard in the Lakeview section of Orleans Parish. After our work was done, we sat on the bank of the bayou, smoking, drinking, and saying our goodbyes. Perhaps it was the strain of balancing divergent interests in music; maybe we were frustrated by the outcome of our efforts in the recording studio; perhaps we were exhausted from busting our chops in the music business in the Crescent City; or maybe it was just time to move on. Whatever the reason may have been, we parted company that night and went our separate ways.

Q. It’s amazing you were able to come up with a song as strong as “Time Gone to Waste” considering the band didn’t do originals in their live shows yet. Did you ever play that song live?

Thank you for your compliment about “Time Gone to Waste.” It was one of the first songs I had ever written. After it was released in New Orleans, we played “Time Gone to Waste” and “Second Century” whenever we performed.

Q. Were there other groups on the local scene that your band was either friends with or saw as competition?

We competed for jobs with bands from out of town, such as The Basement Wall and the Greek Fountains. There was plenty of local competition from groups such as The Palace Guards, Yesterday’s Children, The Clinging Vines, The Gunda Dyns, The Souls of the Slain, The Better Half Dozen, The Glory Rhodes, and Leaves of Grass and more. When I first set foot on the campus of the University of New Orleans, it was like “old home week,” because a lot of the local musicians were going to college there. We had all heard of each other, and got a chance to get to know each other, at that time. That’s where I met and became friends with Rickey Moore, drummer from The Better Half. I also got to know Frank Bua (drummer w/The Palace Guards and later with The Radiators), Camile Baudoin (later with the Radiators), Richard Morant (lead guitar with Yesterday’s Children; his brother, Steve, played lead guitar in the Local Traffic), Quint Davis (tambourine with Yesterday’s Children; started the Jazz Fest in NOLA). During this time, I did roadie work with The Palace Guards and Yesterday’s Children (when the Local Traffic was not working), so I knew the members of those groups pretty well.

Q. Were you in groups before or after Local Traffic?

Before the Local Traffic, I did not play music with anyone else, practicing guitar and singing by myself. After the Local Traffic, I was active as an “outsider” musician in New Orleans, making some studio recordings of songs I had written and trying to form some bands. Much of this activity was not noteworthy, but there are some things of substance. . . . In the late 60s – early 70s, I did some more recording work with Stormy Folse and Bill Strong at Cosimo’s, Butch Elliot (son of Ken Elliot aka Jack the Cat on the radio in NOLA) at his personal studio, and another studio, can’t remember the name, on Tulane Avenue (during these sessions, Rickey Moore, former drummer with the Zoofs and The Better Half was on drums). I co-wrote a few songs with some other musicians; I can only remember Eddie Volker (later with the Radiators). However, no records were released from these sessions.

At several gigs in the early 1970s, I sang lead in a band featuring Emile Guest (lead guitarist with Roger and the Gypsies), short-lived and I can’t recall the name of the group. I sang and played acoustic guitar at several local pubs, such as The Rear End in Lakeview. In 1973 – 1975, I sang lead and shared lead guitar duties with Stormy Folse (from the Local Traffic), in a cover band named Wet Leggs. From 1976 – 1978, I sang lead and played guitar in another cover band–Straight Whiskey–and Stormy played bass guitar. I hung up my rock-n-roll shoes in the later part of 1978, after earning an MA in English Literature and getting a job selling office machines. In 1987, I went back to college to earn an MBA, and taught in the English Department at the University of New Orleans. During that time, I picked up an acoustic guitar, writing several songs, singing and playing in private only for about six months. Since that time, I have not played music or written any songs.

Myles (Mickey) Hassell, April 2011

Thank you to Myles for the history and images, and also for kindly answering my questions.

Update, July 2012

Mike Cottage wrote to me:

I went on, moved to California in ’73 and was a founding member of Sneaker produced by Jeff “Skunk” Baxter. We had moderate success with a few hit songs, “More Than Just the Two of Us” and “Don’t Let Me In” (written by Walter Becker and Donald Fagan). You can view our web site for more songs and info: sneakersongs.com. Sneaker has a number of videos on you tube if you search for Sneaker the band or type the song title “More Than Just the Two of Us”. And of course most of Sneaker’s songs are available on itunes.

Update, March 2016

Myles Hassell (Mickey) passed away on Wednesday, March 2, 2016 at the age of 66. I’d like to say that I really enjoyed speaking with Myles and learning about the Local Traffic and their single. Working with Myles on this article has been one of the highlights of my work on this website over the last 11 years.

Mike Cottage adds, “all of his band mates from the 60’s and the many friends he made through his journey will always be richer for having known him. Though he will always be with us, those who played music with Mickey will forever share in a special brotherhood and miss his creativity and brilliance. RIP Mickey. Thank you again for leading the way.”

At the Hullabaloo on Airline Highway, 1967 Note other shows by the Gaunga Dyns and the Leaves of Grass
At the Hullabaloo on Airline Highway, 1967
Note other shows by the Gaunga Dyns and the Leaves of Grass

The Sands


The Sands in the Houston Post, January 9, 1966

Andrew Brown suggested I cover the Sands, a Houston group who cut the legendary Seeds sound-alike “Open Your Eyes” on the Capri label in 1966.

A Houston Post article from January, 1966, shows the band at what must have been one of the oddest gigs ever, playing for patrons of the Look Plaza Barber Shop in the Spring Branch neighborhood on the west side of Houston.

Members were Tom Smith (drums and vocals), Kevin Pitts (bass), Eddie Everett (guitar), Charlie Snell (guitar) and Keith Church (vocals).

The article also lists the barbers: Herb Barnum, Montaugn Wise and shop manager Bill Cox.

The Sands recorded their only 45 at Huey Meaux’s Pasadena studio on October 11, 1966, produced by Joe Falcone. The A-side, “Can’t Find a Way” was written by Tom Smith. The band is known today for the flip, “Open Your Eyes”, a rewrite of “Pushin’ Too Hard” credited to Eddie Everett. The band gives a spirited performance, with off-the-wall fuzz lead, frantic organ, snappy drumming and snotty lead vocals.

For whatever reason, this is one of the rarest of Texas garage singles.

Eddie Everett wrote to me:

Those were the days, my first real band! One of the barbers in the shop (keyboard player) replaced the rhythm guitar, Kevin Pitts. Shortly after that we recorded our first 45 rpm that put us on the map!

We did concerts with Fever Tree, Moving Sidewalks, 13th Floor Elevators. Down the road, I moved to Florida and played with the Night Crawlers (Little Black Egg) for two years.

Thank you to Andrew Brown for the clippings and 45 scans.

Session log, October 11, 1966

The Chargers


From left: Ron Kinscherf, Steve Barone, Curt Dorey, Steve Nelsen and Tony Morgan
Photo from pnwbands.com.
The Chargers came from the central Washington state town of Wenatchee, like Billy and the Kids. Steve Barone was 16 years old when he played lead guitar on the Chargers single on Julian Records, “Taxi” / “I’m So Alone”, released in October 1966. Steve plays some great lead on Steve Nelsen’s original “Taxi” with its super-cool lyrics. The girl’s going to leave so he might as well just call her a taxi and get it over with. “I’m So Alone” is one of the better downer songs of the ’60s, with a neat sliding guitar riff towards the end of the break.

About a year after the single, they recorded three more songs in Spokane that have so far been unreleased. I’ve only heard short excerpts of each. “Need Your Love” sounds a lot like “Taxman” but has its own charms. “You Got a Hold” has a great distorted guitar opening. “In the News” might be my favorite, with it’s heavy tom-tom opening, fine organ playing and interesting rhythm changes. All three of these deserve getting a proper release on CD or vinyl, I hope it happens soon.

Steve Barone wrote to me in detail about the band:

I am the lead guitarist and vocalist for the Chargers. I was born in 1951, and my earliest memories are of watching my dad play with his bands, and by five years old was playing his instrument. In junior high, I had a little group called The Hustlers. One guitar, one drummer, and five singers! We had the chicks screaming when we played Beatles songs at assemblies and dances … how naive they were.

Then I met Ron Kinscherf, Curt Dorey, Tony Morgan and Steve Nelsen. They had a band The Undertakers with Larry Youngblood (passed on) singing, and they were very good; the Hustlers didn’t have a bass man. We did a “battle of the bands” … they even had a coffin to haul equipment in! I was so impressed with them, and they with me, that I quit the Hustlers.

Steve and Ron were part of the Undertakers but Tony, Larry, and Curt formed the three-piece Chargers, then I joined. Larry Roller was lead singer in the beginning but he liked ripping off stuff, like other people’s cars, so we axed him. There was also Don Sandstrom, who sang as well.

Don and Larry are both [in the talent show clipping]. That is because Don had just joined the group. He hadn’t been at the talent show but joined before the picture so there he is. Then Ron replaced Larry, then Steve Nelsen joined later on keys.

We actually let Don into the band because he was the only one with a driver’s license and would drive us all around in his mom’s Corvair … and usually with one or two of us in the trunk as that was a very small car! Especially on drive-in nights! One other friend, Phil Dorschak, had a ’58 Chevy with a tri-power 348 and a big trunk. We always gave him a few beers if he would help haul the equipment for us. I don’t know where he is and haven’t seen him since 1968.

Don quit after a couple years, leaving us a five-piece for the duration. Me on my 1963 Tiesco art-deco Japanese guitar and Silvertone twin-twelve amp, playing lead and singing, Ron on his red Lyle guitar and Paul McCartney vocal stylings, Steve Nelsen on the Farfisa keyboard, Curt Dorey on Fender Mustang bass, and Tony Morgan on drums. Toward the end of the band Tony quit, and was replaced by Jerry Riley on drums. He was the absolute best drummer ever.

We played all over, every high and junior high school dance we could handle, plus Yakima, Bridgeport, Spokane, all over except for the Seattle area. We weren’t ready for that yet.

Steve Nelsen and Ron Kinscherf lived on the East side. Me, Tony, Jerry and Curt lived on the West side. When we played at either high school, or junior high, we had fans in either case. The town didn’t matter much to us, but Billy & the Kids were all living with their folks in East Wenatchee so they had a “town loyalty”, as it were. Billy & the Kids didn’t go over that well at Wenatchee High … we ruled there, and played for nearly every dance from 1966-68. Especially after the record came out. But on the East side, Billy & the Kids had the edge. We always enjoyed the competitive nature of it, but were all brothers and respected each other a lot. I do give them credit, they took it a lot further than I ever did, and now Bill and Bob Burns have a group called “The Called”! Christian stuff of course.

The Chargers won a talent show in 1966, first prize being recording time at Julian records. We were excited, to say the least. We packed up the trailer and headed for Spokane one Friday afternoon. We went to some restaurant for dinner and cruised around town for a while, trailer proudly in tow. Nobody knew who we were then … but that was about to change. After settling in at a motel; the band in one room and the manager and his wife in another, we commenced to “hootenanny” and light farts all night long. After they shut the power off, we continued to sing and light farts in the dark!

In the morning, all fucked up from not sleeping, we headed to the other side of town, and pulled in to an unassuming, plain-looking building. Inside were many rooms and corridors, all full of amps, wires, speakers, etc. I was in heaven. We proceeded to lay down all the instruments at once, and got the songs down fast, albeit with a couple small mistakes that we left in just because. Then we went into a booth and did the vocals. All this recorded on reel-to-reel, very primitive even then.

When that hit the street, and went to #3 on the local survey the first week, we were gods. How overwhelming it is to hear your songs on the radio! We played at virtually all the big dances after the record came out.


Early lineup of the Chargers, March 1966
L-R, standing: Don Sandstrom, Larry Roller and Curt Dorey; kneeling Tony Morgan and Steve Barone

Standing, from left: Curt Dorey, Steve Nelsen and Tony Morgan; seated: Steve Barone and Ron Kinscherf
Photo courtesy Steve Barone

I have one old picture of the band in our suits, in a frame. We took many poses, in the house, in a tree, on another part of the roof, and gathered around our trailer that had the logo and a crazy horse on the sides. I don’t know where these photos ended up. It must have cost a lot; it was a professional photographer, and we took a LOT of shots.

Q. I notice Ron looks to be left handed and playing with a right-handed guitar turned upside down. Is he really left handed, or was this just for the photo?

Ron was intrigued with Hendrix but only for the photo was the guitar reversed unfortunately. That would have been something though! Sorta like I painted the “Vox” logo on my Silvertone/Tiesco guitar. Nobody ever knew but the band.

The story of “I’m So Alone” is a book in itself. I met Carl Hunt in 1963, at Pioneer Junior High. My neighbor, Jerry Highfill and I played guitars together a lot, and thus entered our first talent show playing a couple Ventures songs, and a tune called “Bulldog”. We caused pandemonium; nobody suspected I could really play and was actually “cool”. I looked like Fearless Fly; skinny, horn-rimmed glasses and clothes my mom picked out. But when Jerry and I won that first show, I suddenly had a lot more friends. Carl was way cool, smoking on the corner in his leather jacket, just being next to Carl made you cool.

He had one of those Silvertone guitars with the amp in the case. I never would have dreamed it, but Carl wanted to learn how to play, and all through junior high he was my body guard more or less, in exchange for guitar lessons. I spent the weekend at Carl’s often; his mom always fed us and let us smoke in his room, and occasionally we would smuggle in a few beers too. We had a few tunes down, and were joined by a drummer, Jerry Riley, in 1964. One night at Carl’s house, he said he had a new song, kind of a ballad. Then he started playing the two opening chords to “I’m So Alone” and started the plaintive vocal. I knew he was on to something, and before too long we sounded like the Everly Brothers on the chorus. But then I got asked to join the Chargers, formerly the Undertakers, and I spent a lot less time with Carl. Jerry joined the Chargers as well.

When the Chargers decided to record our first single, we already had “Taxi” on our playlist. But we needed a “B” side. So I remembered Carl’s song. I played it, and everybody liked it right away … and we ended up recording it. I never gave Carl credit for it though, and always felt a little bad. I didn’t see him much so I never knew if he was upset about me claiming his song. I did refine the lyrics but the music is all Carl.

Around 1976 I spoke with a man who was a former detective, and he said Carl had committed suicide that summer. I had not seen him since 1968.

You can sure tell in “I’m So Alone” that there is a Farfisa screeching away (man I hated that sound). We did an outdoor gig and it got so hot it just freaked out. The notes would go up and down and it finally pooped clear out. We got it fixed and jammed on. Later with Double Image, Steve got a B-3.

Ron Kinscherf, Steve Nelsen and I were always coming up with ideas for songs. Some were ok, most sucked, a lot of them were rip-offs of the Beatles or the Wailers songs, and all were eventually forgotten but for the five recordings. I spent a lot of time at Ron’s house in those days, and we would jam for hours on end.

We released the record, and in early 1968 went back, older and wiser, doing “You Gotta Hold”, “News in General” and “I Need Your Love”. With the three tunes in the can, the band split up before it was pressed. Only the masters and copies remain. By some miracle, of course, as Ron ended up with the masters at first. His stepdad was the manager. He ended up with at least 300 copies of unsold records, and used them for skeet. The rest of us were quite pissed when we found out where all the records went, but it was too late. I do have a copy, one I gave to my mom, and she gave it back to me just before she died. So it is priceless to me now and never sees daylight.

One summer day, Ron and I went to a department store with a friend named Dale. He was, unbeknownst to us, a compulsive kleptomaniac. He would fill his trenchcoat with stuff and go unload it in the car while we were looking around the store. When we discovered how easy it was to rip stuff off, I tried to hork Jimi Hendrix’s first album and got caught by store security. After the cops came, and my folks came to get me from them, my guitar and amp were locked in a closet and I was forbidden to play music until I graduated the following year. This put an end to my membership in the band. They tried to carry on with replacements but it just didn’t work.

After I actually showed some remorse, worked hard at school and for the first time ever, made the honor roll, I got my guitar back. Then I hooked up with Dick and Jerry Riley, Bob Herron and Rick Troppman and formed “Subtle Difference”. We were cutting-edge, with a keyboard (Hammond B-3 and Leslie), two hot guitars and Jerry was one hell of a drummer. Rick was, and is, one of the best bassists I ever knew. We did Vanilla Fudge and all the hot psychedelic stuff.

Too bad it was the time of drugs, partying, Viet Nam and thoughts of marriage … all this combined to send all five of us in different directions. By 1969, the smoldering remains of the Chargers was officially put to rest.

Ron moved to Tacoma to play new wave, Tony and I joined the Army, Steve Nelsen joined “Double Image” with the Burns Brothers in Seattle, Curt Dorey went to work at Alcoa on the night shift. Jerry Riley overdosed on 96% pure heroin (from VietNam) in 1971. RIP old pal.

I moved to Tacoma in 1979, and played with Ron in “Kicker”, a three-guitar and keyboard band that specialized in AC/DC, Molly Hatchet, Led Zeppelin and Lynyrd Skynyrd. I also did time with Wakefield Manor and No Cheese Please … check them out on pnwbands.com. I left Tacoma in 1982 and never looked back.

Ron and I are the only ones still performing. I am in “Trio Deluxe + 1”, an oldies band ( the +1 is a sax player), “the Steamers” (check ’em out at lakeboys.com) and the church worship team. So I am heavily involved but in Wenatchee, also heavily poor. This town does not have a very supportive music scene, I have to spread it thin to stay working. But I will keep playin’ that rock and roll … until I die.

If there’s one thing I pray to never lose, it is my memory of those crazy times with that first “successful” band. This past October, on the occasion of Curt’s 60th birthday, we all got together, even some of our old “groupies” were there. I brought my Strat and Ron brought his bass and another guitar. We howled at the moon from 3pm until after midnight, and would not have stopped then except the neighbors complained. I still can’t believe we remembered all those old songs. But we are NOT going to get the band back together!

Steve T. Barone aka Bonehead

Thanks to Doug Shirk for his help in making this article possible.


1967 poster

clockwise from left: Tony Morgan, Ron Kinscherf, Steve Nelsen, Steve Barone, and Curt Dorey (holding Ron’s guitar)
“My guitar is still sunburst … sort of. When I bought this ugly guitar, it had long cutaways which I took off with a hacksaw and made it a teardrop. The edges of the cuts still show raw wood in the pic. Then I painted it Krylon sea blue and hand-painted psychedelic stuff, along with boobs and snatches, all over it. I still have this guitar!”
Photo from the cover of Teenage Shutdown “I’m Down Today”

The Scorpio Tube

Dan Nielsén, who had conducted the interview with John Ford of the Index published here back in February, asked me to dig into the story of the Scorpio Tube, the group behind the incredible B-side “Yellow Listen”.

The lead guitar track dominates the sound with a piercing distortion and echo that breaks up with stroboscopic effect. You can hardly hear the piano in the background, though it provides much of the droning sound at the intro and becomes apparent towards the end as the lead guitar is mixed down.

I just recently heard the A-side, “White Birches” and it’s more polished than “Yellow Listen”, with a progressive sound that would have done fine on radio at the time. The instrumental break is excellent too.

As far as info goes, I know what the label tells me, that both songs were written by Conn. MacDonald.

H. Eugene MacDonald produced the record for Vita Records from Hollywood, CA, which is probably not the same Vita owned by Laurence Mead that released a good number of records in the 1950’s with a Pasadena address.

As for dating this, it may have been recorded as late as 1970.

Transfer of “Yellow Listen” taken from the expanded CDR version of Psychedelic Disaster Whirl. Thanks also to bosshoss for the scan of “White Birches”. Transfer of “White Birches” sent to me by Max Waller.