Category Archives: US

The Chancellors, Ltd.


Photo scan courtesy Andrew Brown
The Chancellors Ltd. were a Houston band with members David Singleton, Brian Evans, Clark Clem and Gary Bowen.

Somehow they connected with a local socialite, Dene Hofheinz Mann, who had written a book about her father Judge Roy Hofheinz titled You Be the Judge. Roy Hofheinz was a former mayor of Houston, Texas, owner of the Houston Colt 45s baseball team which became the Astros, and builder of the Astrodome.

Dene Hofheinz Mann wrote the song “You Be the Judge” and had the band record it for her own Dene label (dig the dome!) It was produced by Mann and Burchfield, and arranged by F. Beymer.

I’d say it was a tie-in to the book, except the lyrics are all centered on a love interest, not about politics (maybe indirectly – “who understands the rules that we live by!”)

In any case it’s a great moody rocker, catchy but completely uncommercial. The flip is a fine instrumental written by lead guitarist Clark Clem – its title, “From the Sublevels”, describes its sound perfectly.

Evans Music City, listed on the card, is still in business at a new address.

Clark Clem turns up in another bit of Houston music history, as the guitarist of the band Deuce Is Wild (or Deuces Wild).

Sources: Bio of Roy Hofheinz from the Handbook of Texas Online, interesting history of the Colt 45s at Everything2.

The Del Counts

This is the same Del Counts of Minneapolis who had a couple 45s on Soma, “Bird Dog” / “Let the Good Times Roll” and “What is the Reason” / “With Another Guy”. They also recorded a full album at Dove Studios that was never released.

Charlie Schoen, bass player and vocalist, wrote both songs on this 45, produced by their manager, Marsh Edelstein. I really dig “Ain’t Got the Time” with its whining guitar bends, fast beat and drum break. The flip is the less convincing “Don’t Ever Leave”.

The Del Counts had a long career playing at the Marigold Ballroom and around the Minneapolis area. They continued into the early 70′s, releasing a final 45, “Who Cares” / “Don’t Let the Green Grass”, in 1972, and were still playing live in recent years.

Charles Schoen contacted me about the band recently:

Members were Steve Miller on guitar, Bob Phalen on bass, Kelly Vincent on drums, myself on keys and vocals. What Is the Reason sold over 20,000 in the first two weeks it was out because the District Manager of Musicland Records told me that we had a four star pick in Record World magazine with a bullet. That was just Minneapolis and St. Paul MN.

Sources include: Birdland Revisited article in City Pages.

The Shadows


The Shadows, from left: Frank Cannon, Curtis Goodman, Donnie Walker,
Stanley Fowler, Jack Bigham and Roger Young

Photos from Facebook
Here’s a great 45 by the Shadows, a group from Northport, Alabama, across the Black Warrior River from Tuscaloosa.

I recently spoke to guitarist and lead singer Mike Thornton, who helped me straighten out the history of the band. He was only 14 when he joined and the other members were just a little older, mostly students at Tuscaloosa County High School. I believe he replaced their original singer Curtis Goodman.

Along with Mike, Frank Cannon and Jack Bigham played guitars, Stan Fowler played bass and Donnie Walker the drums. Roger Young played keyboards, but he wasn’t present at the recording session so Mike Thornton filled in that day.

The band played semi-professionally for about three years, playing on weekends and when school was out. A rival band was the Misfits from Tuscaloosa, featuring Chuck Leavell and Ronnie Brown.

“If You Love Me” is classic garage with a good performance all around, notable for the repeated distorted guitar riffs and a fine solo, excellent drumming, and good vocals. It was written by Jack Bigham and Mike Thornton.

“The Big Mess” is a sharp take on Watermelon Man, credited to the whole group. Mike Thornton moved from organ to piano for this song.

Does anyone have better-quality photos of the group?

After the Shadows, Mike Thornton joined The Omen and Their Luv with Bruce Hopper, Billy McLain, Tommy Stuart, Gary Barry and others. That band had a great 45 on David Keller’s Daisy label, “Maybe Later” / “Need Some Sunshine” (both songs written by Tommy Stewart). David Keller himself was in the Preachers. The Omen and Their Luv with Thornton later became Tommy Stuart and the Rubber Band.

For a long time it was believed the band was from Tennessee or northern Alabama, as the Woodrich label was based in the northern Alabama towns of Rogersville then Lexington, both near Huntsville and Decatur. Mike isn’t sure why the band went so far to record when there were studios nearby in Birmingham, but thinks one of their managers set the deal up.

I had also heard that most of the Woodrich label’s recordings were made in Nashville, about 120 miles away, but K.S. in a comment below, says that owner Woody Richardson did most of the recording in his home studio. Woodrich released mainly pop sides by Buddy Hughey, Patsy Penn, the Campbell Trio, the Light House Gospel Singers, the Rocks, and Aaron & Sue Wilburn.

Woodrich label info from the Rockin’ Country Style and Birmingham Record Collectors sites.


Roger Young

Noel Odom & the Group


The Group – l-r: Noel Odom, Sonny Williams, Bob Fell and Fred Engelke
“circa 1965 – rear of Walker & Rodie Music in downtown Shreveport”

I don’t own any of Noel Odom and the Group’s three 45s – not for lack of trying, but they’re in high demand since “Come on Down to Earth” became a staple of 60′s music nights around the world.

You might assume an artist on Tower and its subsidiary Uptown would be based in California, but the Group was actually from Louisiana. Their songs were licensed by Tower, but without any push from the label or band presence on the L.A. scene, the 45s undeservedly dropped out of sight. Noel recently took the time to answer some of my questions of his time in music:

I played in “The Group” 1964-1969 – later “Noel Odom and the Group.” Bob Fell and I started the band, and as a unit also Fred Engelke- drums and Sonny Williams- bass. Later added Ron DiIulio on keys- great player – still is!!

We played live in Shreveport and Bossier at high school dances at Airline High and Bossier High. Several teen clubs like Southland Park and the Teenclub at Barksdale AFB. Also at that time “the Strip” in Bossier city was famous with numerous clubs along Highway 80 East. The most famous being “Saks Whisky-a-Go-Go” with the “Boom Boom Room.” Also “The Shindig” where we played all through a full quarter of college. All four of us went to Louisiana Tech together. We usually played somewhere every weekend.

We backed Dickie Lee at a show in Shreveport and he took us to Memphis to record in 1968. We recorded five songs in Memphis at Sam Phillips Recording studio with Stan Kessler as engineer: 1: “Pardon My Complete Objection,” 2: “I Can’t See Nobody,” 3: “Midnight Hour,” 4: instrumental that Ron DiIulio wrote, “Love Too” I think, and finally as an afterthought “Come on Down to Earth.” Picked up and signed by Tower Records, division of Capitol. Naturally the company came back and liked Come on Down, so horns were added and it was released – never went anywhere.

The record was on American Bandstand’s “Rate a Record” and we beat the other song “Leavin on a Jet Plane” and I believe it was John Denver’s version before Peter, Paul & Mary recorded it and made #1. Dickie Lee was our producer and Allen Reynolds was our A&R man.

Our other sessions were done in Sun Recording studios, which was just redone. The J. Reid was John Reid and he wrote a concept album about “Flower Children” and it included a lot of narrative. “Hey Yesterday Where’s My Mind” and “Come on Rain” came from that work. It was a cool idea and we had some forward thinking effects like feedback guitar on one track. It was never released in full, but there was some good work on that album.

Thanks for asking the questions- it really taxes my memory, but those were good days in my memory.

I am still playing in the Shreveport area in “The Convertibles” together for 21 years, playing old r&r.

Drummer Fred Engelke filled in some details on the band:

During high school Ron DiIulio and I formed a band called “The Class Cutters” and we competed with Noel and Bob’s group “The Group”. Ron went to college at North Texas State University and I went a year at Texas A & M. After my freshman year, I came back to Louisiana to go to school and joined up with Noel and Bob. We then recruited Sonny Williams for bass and formed the new version of “The Group”. Later, after Ron came back from NTSU, we got him in the band and created the final version of “The Group”.

The producers said there was already a band called “The Group” so we renamed ourselves “Noel Odom and the Group” because of Noel’s unusual first name. When we released the last record they decided that the name “Noel” would distinctive and we used it.

As Noel said, “Come on Down to Earth” was really a throwaway song to be used as a “B” side to one for the other recordings. It turned out well and we recorded “Love Too” as sort of a “C” side. It was made up on the spot by Ron DiIulio. Ron (not pictured in the photo you have) was a member if the group during all sessions.

By the way, when you hear Noel say ‘Come in Ron!’ he was referring to the solo that Ron did on organ. However, they decided later to use a guitar solo by Bob instead. Also, there were no drumsticks in the studio and I forgot to bring any and there were no music stores nearby that were open, so I played the entire session using the stick part of timpani mallets.

The last record, “Hey Yesterday Where’s My Mind,” under the group name “Noel” was released shortly before Noel enlisted in the Navy. He did this because he didn’t want to stay in college and, because it was during the height of the Vietnam War, he knew he would get drafted. He figured if he enlisted he could choose what he would do and he figured the Navy would be less likely to send him to Nam.

Was Ron the same person who played with the Chessmen in Dallas?

Yep, that’s the same person. He was not originally from Dallas but he formed the Chessmen while attending North Texas State University. We stole him from the Chessmen to be in the group. He’s back in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, playing with his current group “Crawfish”. He would love to bring Noel with his voice into the group he now has. Noel’s voice has matured and Ron has assembled a super group of musicians. The last time I saw Noel sing with Ron’s band, I was totally blown away! I haven’t seen either for two or three years now.

On a side note, Susan Christie recorded a nine-minute version titled “Yesterday, Where’s My Mind” after meeting Blackwood Music songwriter John Reid in Memphis. Hear it on B-Music’s CD – Susan Christie – Paint a Lady.

The Group continued after Noel’s departure, eventually becoming the second of two versions of the Bad Habits who recorded for the Paula label.

Thank you to Noel Odom for his comments and the photo of the Group, and to Fred Engelke for his comments and 45 scans.

Noel Odom & the Group 45 releases:

Noel Odom & the Group – Come on Down to Earth / Love Too (Tower 441, 1968)
The Noel Odom Group – I Can’t See Nobody / Pardon My Complete Objection (Uptown 763, 1969)
Noel – Hey Yesterday Where’s My Mind / Come on Rain (Tower 505, 1969)

The Hazards


Sonny Salisbury and Stan Bernstein of the Hazards
Here’s one of the all time great versions of “Hey Joe”, cut by a group of high-schoolers in Richmond, Virginia.The band consisted of Andy Hrabovsky vocals, Sonny Salisbury lead guitar, Alan Sidenburg guitar, Greg Ellerson bass, Stanley Bernstein organ, and David Moore on drums.

Andy Hrabovsky added some specifics about the band members in a comment below:

David Moore and Stanley Bernstein went to Thomas Jefferson High, Greg Ellerson and Alan Sidenburg went to Douglas Freeman, and Sonny Salsbury and myself went to John Randolph Tucker High. Stanley left the band not long after the release of “Hey Joe”, and was replaced by Steve Bassett from Freeman, who has gone on to some degree of notoriety. He and Robbin Thompson [of the Tasmanians] did “Sweet Virginia Breeze”.

Sonny Salisbury really distinguishes their “Hey Joe” by staccato picking high up on the frets alternating with fuzz riffs on the bass strings. Hrabovsky delivers some of the best shouting on vinyl and the rest of the band is solid as well.

The flip is the milder “Will You Be My Girl” by Stan Bernstein and Andy Hrabovsky. The record was produced by Martin Gary.

My copy seems to be from a radio station, dated June of ’67, and though both sides have “keep in regular play” written on them, “Hey Joe” is also marked to be played only after 6 PM!

The Groove label was owned by Marty Gary. Radio play on local WLEE led to a second pressing on a blue label. I’ve seen the band referred to as the Hazzards, with two ‘z’s, but on the label it’s just Hazards.

Thank you to Stan for the photo at top.

The Romans (of Missouri)

Kelly Park was lead guitarist for the Romans, a band based in Columbia, Missouri. He writes about the group:

This band was formed in Columbia, Missouri in 1964. I was lead guitar in that band from the start until the spring of 1965. Like many other bands, we were heavily influenced by the British invasion, including the Beatles, the Dave Clark Five and others. We played songs by the Ventures, the Thunderbirds (we had a sax player), the Beach Boys, and others I have long forgot.

The band was formed by Jimmy Jay (the lead singer) out of Clarksville, Arkansas. All of us were University of Missouri students at the time. I have no pictures or recordings of the band, we did not make any records while I was there. Our saxophone player’s first name was Paul, from Kansas City, Missouri. I have long since forgotten Paul’s last name as well as our drummer’s and bass guitarist’s. We stayed very busy playing for college fraternity gigs at the University and nearby Westminster College in Fulton.

I’d dropped out of school shortly after my father died in February 1965. I lost touch with the band and know nothing about what happened to them after that. I read about the Arkansas band called the Romans that were obviously formed after us to did not recognize anyone in it. As a side note, I grew up across the street in Springfield, MO from Steve Cash of the Ozark Mountain Daredevils.

Kelly Park

The Escapades


l-r: Tom Minga, Dale Roark, Ronny Williamson, Ron Gorden and Bennie Kisner.

The Escapades were among the dozens of working teen bands in Memphis in the mid-’60s. Vocalist Tommy Minga had been part of the Jesters, who cut “Cadillac Man” for Sun Records. Though Minga was the primary songwriter for the Jesters and is given songwriting credit for “Cadillac Man”, the song was actually written by Jesters guitarist Teddy Paige. Paige disliked Minga’s vocal arrangement on an early take of the song and forced Minga out of the band soon after the session. Jim Dickinson was brought in to play piano and sing on the released version.

Within a couple months of leaving the Jesters in late 1965, Minga formed a new version of the Escapades with Bennie Kisner guitar, Ron Gorden keyboards, Dale Roark (not Rourke as has been listed before) bass and Ronny Williamson drums.

They released their first 45, “I Tell No Lies”, on the local Arbet label in January of 1966. The band moves seamlessly from verse to chorus, with swirling organ playing from Gorden and solid bass playing from Roark propelling the rhythm for Tom Minga’s strong vocal. Bennie Kisner provides a neat sitar-like solo on his Rickenbacker.

“She’s the Kind” is a little slower in tempo, and reminds me of the Zombies, Minga at times sounding very much like Colin Blunstone. Ronnie Gorden and Ron Williamson wrote “I Tell No Lies”, while Minga, Gorden and Roark wrote “She’s the Kind”.

This record was picked up by the XL label, but it’s unfortunate that Verve didn’t re-release it when they signed the band soon after its release, as “I Tell No Lies” should have had some chance at chart action.

Despite Kisner’s hard riffing fuzz sound, their second 45 doesn’t quite capture the magic of the first. Released on Verve in May of 1966, it failed to ignite the charts and the band was dropped.

The flip, “I Try So Hard” may be the band’s most ordinary composition, but Bennie Kisner’s interesting guitar picking is a highlight, and sounds great with headphones. Both sides are credited to the entire band, and produced by Stan Kesler.

The draft broke up the group in 1967. Ron Gorden joined the Bar-Kays and later worked as an artist for Stax.

Keyboard player Ron Gorden contacted me with the photos you see here and his story about the band:

Our first release “I Tell No Lies” was on a small independent label in Memphis. As it had success regionally, we were signed by Verve Records, a subsidiary of MGM Records, through Phillips Recording Studio (Sam Phillips of Sun Records/Elvis, Jerry Lee, etc. fame) with Stan Kessler producing us. For some reason the decision was made to not release I Tell No Lies nationally on Verve, but to record another song. So “Mad, Mad, Mad” was the result. I agree with you that it is unfortunate that “I Tell No Lies” did not have a chance to go further. I see it sell on E-Bay these days for as much as $350 for a 45rpm. I wish I had stashed a case of them!

The band wasn’t actually dropped by the label. We split up due to the draft, as you said on your site. Williamson, Roark, and Minga all entered the service. I continued in music for several years, ending with the Bar-Kays (1968-1970) before going to work for Stax Records where I eventually became Advertising Manager. During my tenure there, I was directly responsible for coordinating the development of more than 130 album covers and the trade and consumer advertising that accompanied those products. We did great work and won numerous awards including a “Grammy Award” nomination for package design (“Isaac Hayes Live at Sahara Tahoe”).

Benny Kisner died sometime in the late Seventies. Tom Minga died in approximately 2000. Williamson now lives in North Mississippi and does not play drums anymore. I am in Northwest Arkansas, where I own an insurance agency. I do not play professionally any more, but sometimes play in church.

Thank you to Ron Gorden for the photos and story on the band. The Ace/Big Beat CD Cadillac Men: the Sun Masters includes Minga’s vocal take of the Jesters’ “Cadillac Man” along with some great Minga originals and an unreleased Escapades track, “What You Know About Love”. I highly recommended it.


l-r: Minga, Williamson, Roark, Kisner and Gorden

Caeser & His Romans


Caesar & His Romans, from left: Dan Cook, Bill Burt, Chuck Vicario (seated), David Burt and unidentified.
Any help with names would be appreciated
Caeser & His Romans were from Buffalo, recording two 45s on the GJM label in late ’67 and 1968 before signing to Scepter for two more singles. I hadn’t been able to find much about the group but some emails and comments have helped.

Vocalist Chuck Vicario stayed with the group throughout its career. Bassist John Sia co-founded the band with Chuck in 1964, and left for college in ’67. Joe Hesse replaced John and then Vinny Parker replaced Hesse. Joe DeSantis was the original drummer with the group. Other members of the group included Joe Hesse’s brother Jim Hesse on keyboards, Bill Burt and David Burt, and Dan Cook on lead guitar.

Both songs on their first 45 were written by Charles Vicario and J. Hesse, recording supervised by Jerry Meyers and Rich Sargent.

Rich Sargent wrote to me about his work with the band:

Jerry owned GJM Records, I worked for him, we used a few different studios. I produced “Leavin’ My Past Behind” at Audio Recording in Cleveland, the same studio wher Jerry produced the Joe Jeffries gold single “My Pledge Of Love” … great studio in downtown Cleveland. I am a long time friend of Chuck (Caesar/Big Wheelie) and his late manager Fred Caserta. We met in ’64 … my band and Chucks finished 1 & 2 in a number of “battle of the bands” back then.

I haven’t heard “When Will I Get Over You” in about 15 years… my favorite may have been “Leavin’ My Past Behind” (sure wish I could remix it) and “Baby Let’s Wait”. That one came close to breaking, but the Royal Guardsmen put out a version and we were done.

There was a core of players that was consistant but also a number who left, came back, left again. Dan Cook was the guitar player through all of the incarnations of Caesar and Big Wheelie. The keyboard player on “Green Grass…” was Jimmy Hesse who left to join The Road and was part of that band when they had a mid chart dingle on Kama Sutra with a cover of the Zombies “She’s Not There” which was produced by Joey Reynolds (now doing late night talk radio on WOR 710 NYC and also carried on over 200 stations).

Caesar & His Romans became Caesar & THE Romans, [then] evolved into Friendship Train which was a successful club & lounge act. During one set each night as part of the act they became Big Wheelie & The Hubcaps. This became so successful that Friendship Train was dropped in favor of a full night of Big Wheelie. Their final album was released on Amherst Records in 1976. Chuck stlll performs as Big Wheelie about 10-12 times per year. He was brilliantly managed by the late Fred Caserta who went on to found Kingdom Bound which is one of the largest concert events in the Christian Music field.

“Green Grass Makes It Better” is one of their catchiest numbers, and sure seems like a drug reference to me: the world is “going psycho” but “good green grass makes it better.” “Why Make a Fool of Me” on the flip is denser but excellent as well.

Their second record is one I haven’t yet heard, “Baby, Let’s Wait”, backed by the great “Black Lantern”, a bass-driven lament written by Vicario and Hesse. The A-side has the credit “Arr. by Beaver”, while the flip says “Arr. by Breezy” and “(from the movie ‘The Atomic Grandmother’)” – a real production or another joke?

Instead of publishing through GJM Music like the first single, Darshen Music published “Black Lantern”.

Moving towards a much more commercial direction, they signed to Scepter Records as Caesar and the Romans, releasing two 45s in 1969, both minor hits in the Buffalo area. “Baby Love” uses some fuzz guitar and heavy beats on the Supremes song, but I prefer the upbeat flip, “When Will I Get Over You”, written by C. Vicario, Jr.

The A-side of their next Scepter 45, “Leavin’ My Past Behind” / “Jailhouse Rock” continues their pop sound. Mike Dugo sent me photos of two more Scepter recordings by the band, “Come Little Girl” and “Come Live With Me” that were never released to my knowledge. Both are funky soul numbers.

Thank you to Diane Burt for the photo of the group at top and additional info, to Mike Dugo for the Scepter acetate photos, the promotional flyers and ads, and to Ryan Lalande for the scan of “Black Lantern”.

The Mark V / C-Minors / Intercoms / Peppermint Trolley Company

I wrote about the Impression label back in 2006, but at the time I didn’t know the full story behind the Intercoms record, and had not yet heard the Mark Five or C-Minors 45s. As it turns out, the Mark V of Redlands, California was responsible for all three of these releases, and a few members also backed Jimmy Robins (aka Jimmy Robbins) on his soul classic, “I Just Can’t Please You”.

The Intercoms’ “Unabridged, Unadulterated, Unextraordinary, Ordinary, Mediocre Unoriginality Blues” (Impression 107) is a cynical parody of protest songs, and one of my favorite Dylan send-ups. Opening verse: “Well I sit right down to write myself a protest song/and I try to think about something particularly wrong/but I couldn’t think of nothing that hadn’t already been said/ I couldn’t get the Siamese cats out of my head.” It was written by Danny Faragher of the Mark Five and M. Fouch. The flipside, Please Try And Understand was written by Dave Kelliher.

I asked guitarist and vocalist Dave Roberts (Dave Kelliher) of the Mark V about the band:

The Mark V (Redlands, CA) was basically a dance combo (piano, drums, bass, trombone, sax, and trumpet) but we dabbled in guitars, harmonicas, and tambourines. The Mark V band members were:

Brad Madson (piano)
Steve Hauser (sax, clarinet, flute, vocals)
Dick Owens (drums)
Danny Faragher (trombone, harmonica, vocals)
Jimmy Faragher (bass, guitar, vocals)
Dave Kelliher (aka Dave Roberts) (trumpet, guitar, vocals)

We had recorded an instrumental at Universal Studios at 5539 Sunset Blvd. in 1964. Instrumentals (particularly surf tunes) were hot. But also you had songs like Wonderland By Night, Midnight in Moscow, The Lonely Bull, The Theme from Mondo Cane, and all of that Al Hirt and Tijuana Brass stuff on the charts in the early 60′s (a lot of trumpet solos there…). Also, novelty songs were big (“No Matter What Shape Your Stomach’s In” from the Alka Seltzer commercial).

Well, there was a fairly new corn chip on the market called Wampums so…we came up with this little gem on our own…and believe or not, it was a big hit at dances and proms…girls in huge prom dresses, dancing like Indians and doin’ the Wampum battle cry…it wasn’t pretty. And Steve Hauser was one helluva saxophonist, as you can hear. Steve, by the way, was the leader of the band and probably has more (and perhaps more accurate) accounts of all of this.

The Mark V – Wampum (Universal Studios demo)

We went back a year later to get our masters but Universal was out of business, replaced by Impression Records. We had some other demos we were shopping around on our own–recorded at Wm. Locy Sound Studio in Riverside, CA. in 1964. No producer, just us and whatever studio time a hundred bucks would buy.

The Mark V – I’m Through with You (Locy demo)

Now, to my ear, it’s got more “soul” to it [than the remake on Impression], as rough as it is. Brad Madson’s piano work is really featured here, with a kind of haunting Gerry & The Pacemakers sound. (Okay, and I like my trumpet solo better.)

We were greeted by Sonny and Al Jones who want to hear our stuff. In no time we signed with Impression and cranked out a couple of things under Mark V, the one record as Intercoms, and another under the C-Minors. But it was the same six guys. It was heady…I was the youngest at 15 and the oldest was 17. Al and Sonny were country guys…Dorsey Burnette used to hang around there all the time.

Al and Sonny needed something quick and probably had a narrow window in which to work with John Fisher, who was riding high with “Suspicion” by Terry Stafford. (Fisher loved to tell the story of how they got that strange sound in “Suspicion” …they put a paper bag over a the organ’s Leslie speaker.) And you can’t underestimate how the British Invasion really fired up the band scene in L.A.

So, they threw all against the wall to see what would stick. We did hear “I’m Through With You” on local radio (KMEN, San Bernardino; KASK, Pomona) and it apparently got a little action in various small markets around the country. I don’t think the other stuff modulated many transmitters out there. They all came out at the same time.

By the way, we hated those other names but we figured they knew what they were doing.

The Mark Five’s first Impression release [is] “I’m Through With You”. They brought in a session guitarist for this and it was either James Burton or Jerry McGee. Both were on one of our recordings and I’m pretty sure it was the former. You could probably tell by listening…at 15 I had no idea I was in the presence of a phenom. Even though I didn’t get to play guitar on it, that is me on the trumpet.

The flip side – “I’ll Keep On Trying”. Again, I’m pretty sure this is Jerry McGee on guitar (think Rita Coolidge riffs). By the way, both were produced by Al Jones, Sonny Jones, and John Fisher.

A Mark Five record released as the C-Minors – “Just A Little Feeling,” / “Don’t Go” Impression 106. That is me on guitar and of course, trumpet, back up vocals, nail biting, etc.


l-r: Dick, Steve, Brad, Dave, Danny & Jimmy


The Intercoms

I wrote “Please Try and Understand” (okay, so my English was bad…not as bad as my singing or guitar work for that matter), the song on the flip side of “Unabridged, un…” I also sing lead and lead guitar. I owned only one copy of it (I was 17) and it warped (and subsequently cracked) in my car trunk.

Three of us did play on “I Just Can’t Please You” by Jimmy Robins: Dick Owens (drums), Danny Faragher (trombone), Dave Kelliher (trumpet). Jimmy Robins is on keyboards and that string-stretching is Sonny Jones on guitar. It was originally on the Impression label.

We left Impression in 1966 to be managed by Dan Dalton (Back Porch Majority). He changed our name to Peppermint Trolley Company (did somebody say 1910 Fruitgum Company?), got us a gig at Disneyland, put us in red-striped pants, blue blazers, and red ties.


“About a month into our new name on a big photo shoot at Knott’s Berry Farm. These handsome lads are (l-r): Danny Faragher, Dave Kelliher (Roberts), Brad Madson, Dick Owens, Jimmy Faragher, Steve Hauser.”
We signed with Valiant, recorded at Moonglow studios, and did get some serious airplay with “Lollipop Train” (P.F. Sloan/Steve Barri; Grassroots had done it on one of their albums) in September of 1966.

“Bored to Tears” – written and sung by Jimmy Faragher; we got the chance to go back to our Dixieland roots. It actually had some relevancy given the popularity of “Flowers on the Wall” by the Statler Brothers about a year before. Buzz Clifford (“Baby Sittin’ Boogie” from the early 60′s) also released this song in about 1967 (he was a Dan Dalton act). We were wildly received with songs like this at Disneyland…a Mickey Mouse gig, but it was Union scale.

Back to “Lollipop Train” … Dan couldn’t get the kick drum sound he wanted at the beginning of each verse so Dick Ownes (drummer) overdubbed the beating of the kick drum case with a tympani stick.

Considering that this was just months after the stuff we recorded at Impression, I think this really does speak to Dan Dalton’s talents as a producer. Valiant Records’ biggest star was The Association, they played right behind us — literally across the alley — at Disneyland that year. We were in the Carnation Pavilion and they were starring in the Pepsi Theatre in FrontierLand.

We disbanded in early 1967. Our break-up was very gentlemanly. We had been playing together since the 8th grade and now we were freshmen and sophomores in college…all at different colleges. We all needed to stay in college or be drafted. Lollipop Train didn’t “pop” (Valiant was purchased by Warner Bros. and phased out; they really only wanted the Association).

I was the one who started it, leaving the band to go off to be a disc jockey. The others decided that their interests, strengths, and weaknesses all differed and they decided to disband. As noted earlier, Danny and Jimmy Faragher took the Peppermint Trolley Company forward with a lot more fame with two other guys we all knew from Junior High/High School. Both good guys and very talented. Danny & Jimmy then formed the Faragher Brothers with two other family members. Very talented family … little brother Davey Faragher is bassist for Elvis Costello.

Now, as I understand it, but grist for revision: Steve actually worked the rest of his way through college and law school playing with bands in Vegas. Brad graduated from the prestigious University of North Dallas School of Music and is a professor of music (jazz) at Jefferson College in Jefferson, MO. Dick went on to become an executive at Broadway Department Stores. I stayed in radio, earned a PhD in Communication, was a VP at RKO Networks and CBS Radio, and became a research consultant. I still have a guitar, drums, trumpet, and my voiceover studio (and this big smash hit in my own mind and about 15,000 “internet hits”: “Armadillos In Mourning” (A parody of Amarillo By Morning by George Strait, written by Terry Stafford).

It’s hard to believe that 40 years later it is this much fun!

- Dave Roberts, February 2008

In August of 2009 Danny Faragher wrote to Garage Hangover:

Here’s a bit more information concerning my song, “The Unabridged, Unadulterated….Unoriginality Blues”. We had recorded “I’m Through With You”/”I’ll Keep On Trying” in August of 1965. In September, I started attending San Bernardino Valley College as a music major (One of my classmates was Jimmy Webb). It was hard for me to focus on my studies. All I could think about was making rock and roll records. A couple of weeks into school, I sat down at the piano in the commons, and performed Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone” to a packed room of lunch eaters. I sang every verse with all the inflections, and got a rousing applause, which of course I dug completely. In fact, I wanted more, and I wanted it SOON!

A couple nights later I got the idea for a song which would kind of riff off the “Dylan protest thing”. My good friend Michael Fouch sat next to me as I composed the tune, acting as a sounding board and cheering squad (I don’t think I’d have written it without his being there. Hence the writer credit). The next day I performed the song for the lunchtime crowd. Of course, as people didn’t know the tune, they didn’t respond with the same enthusiasm, but a lot of the students dug it. At the next band rehearsal, we worked it up. In February of 1966, I believe, we recorded it for Impression. Incidentally, I have just recently reconnected with Michael after thirty plus years.

Another bit of information… My brother, Jimmy, and I are going to attend a reunion party for the Inland Empire bands of the Sixties on August 29th. It should be interesting.

The six Impression sides have now been included as bonus tracks on the CD reissue of the Peppermint Trolley Company’s 1968 album, entitled “Beautiful Sun”. The CD is selling well.

I have a website up (www.dannyfaragher.com) up with bios of all the bands I was in, including the Mark Five. The bio fleshes out the story even more.

 

Thanks to Mop Top Mike for mp3 of the Intercoms ‘Please Try and Understand’, and special thanks to Dave Roberts for his history of the band and mp3s of their songs. Dave has his own voiceover business, www.DaveRobertsVoiceover.com. Also thanks to Danny Faragher for adding more to the story – check out his site, www.dannyfaragher.com/markv as there’s a lot more information there.

The Ruins


The Ruins, 1968, l to r: Paul Turchetta, Paul Ferda, John Menadrysa on drums, and Dennis Girard.

The Ruins were from Lincoln Park, Michigan, with only this one excellent 45 as their legacy. “The End” is an original song written by singer and guitarist Dennis Girard. “Take My Love (And Shove It Up Your Heart)” is a good cover of the Blues Magoos song.

What follows is Dennis Girard’s account of the Ruins, in his own words:

I come from a musical family (both parents had been involved with music and performed on local radio in Detroit, my father was a professional piano player), so it was natural to grab an instrument. The Beatles appearance on Ed Sullivan created my interest like many Americans in the guitar. My uncle was a professional guitar player and helped in selecting my first instrument.It was early 1965 when my cousin Tim Phillips was playing drums. His neighbor across the street was Randy McMillan and he played guitar. So the band started and we called ourselves the “Mysterions.”

We were fortunate to have Tim’s older brother Harry Phillips enter the scene. Harry was a few years older (we were only 13 years of age) and played with some of the bigger names in the Detroit music scene (Mitch Ryder and Catfish Hodge to name a few). He played the Hammond B3, and offered advice as we practiced.

The Ruins went through several changes in personnel. What is amazing is that these changes were never as a result of any disagreement or argument. It was a family in the true sense of the word, perhaps because it started out with cousins and close friends.

Early in 1966 the name of the group became a problem. Question Mark and the Mysterians had the hit 96 tears, there was confusion when we played out. I came up with the name, “The Ruins.” I had found a reference to the name in a Beatle tune (Think For Yourself).

We needed a bass player, Paul Ferda was a friend from junior high school and he had a bass guitar. 1966, The Ruins are created including the following members:

Dennis Girard… lead singer and rhythm guitar
Tim Phillips… drums and backup vocals.
Randy McMillan… lead guitar and backup vocals.
Paul Ferda… bass guitar and backup vocals.


Tim Phillips, 1952 -2008

clockwise from left: Dennis Girard, Paul Ferda, Randy McMillan, and seated Tim Phillips
We played top forty tunes and were influenced by the Beatles, The English Invasion and the Motown sound of the Detroit Music scene. Our early outfits included Beatle collarless jackets and bright blue Nehru jackets. Our parents forked out the money for some big time equipment. At the time we made around $75.00 to a $100.00 dollars a night. This was immediately given to our parents to help defray the cost of more guitars, amps, and PA equipment. We were one of the few groups in Detroit to have not one, but four Vox Beatle amps. The group was enjoying popularity and playing every weekend. We hit the teen clubs (Chatter-Box, By-Pass, Hullabaloo, and the Club in Monroe Michigan) and local high schools.

In 1965 I had written a song called, “The End.” I was thirteen when I wrote it. We started including the song in our live performances. It was sometime in 1966 that we made contact with Mutt Records. As I recall Randy’s father had taken over the role of manager, and he put us in touch with Nate Dore. Nate Dore was the owner of Mutt Records located at 27316 Michigan Avenue in Inkster, Michigan (the studio was only 15 miles west of Detroit). Nate was a bondsman and the studio was located in the rear of this business. His sound engineer was Bill Williams.

From the beginning we were treated like family. Nate and the rest of the staff were African American and we were called, “the blue eyed soul boys.” Nate never charged us for studio time. He was convinced that The Ruins would allow him to break into the new sound that was being influenced by the English Invasion.

We signed a contract with Mutt records (well it was our parents who signed) and began to spend nights after school working on the two songs for the 45 record. My cousin Harry Phillips added the Hammond B3 and helped with arrangements for both songs. Harry because of other musical commitments, only performed a few times with the group. It was around this time I added a Farfisa organ to my instruments. Even with hours of practice, I never came close to the sound and skills of Harry. The record did not sell very well because of distrbution problems or lack of. Nate Dore did stick with the group till the end.


Dennis Girard – a late night at Mutt Records
1968: I cannot recall the exact details of why Tim Phillips left the band. I know he had a steady girlfriend (Jackie would become his wife) and started working with his brother Harry and Randy McMillan on another musical project. There was no argument or hard feelings.

Now Paul Ferda and myself set about trying to save The Ruins. It was in 1968 that Ann Marston approached me about helping to form a new band. Because of our record and local success, Ann wanted to manage the band. Again there were high hopes and dreams. Ann Marston was a well known band promoter at this time (you can read about her life in the book, “Shooting Star” by Alana Paluszewski). She introduced John Menadrysa as the bands new drummer.

There was a lot of competition during those years between bands. For the most part it was not malicious, it often was over your equipment status. Things were often territorial in those years. You had the East Siders (east side of Detroit), Ann Arbor bands, and the Downriver Groups. We were in the later. Downriver included the middle class blue collar suburbs located south of Detroit and near the Detroit River. These groups were often called, “The Downriver Rats.”

There was a unofficial tier system for groups. The highest tier would have had bands like Bob Seger, MC5, Stooges, Scott Richard Case (SRC), Mitch Ryder and the Rationals as examples. These guys played The Grande Ballroom and often left the state to perform.

We made it into the second tier. These groups would often open for the above listed and had a 45 record released. I would include The Unrelated Segments, The Satellites, and of course ourselves as examples. The third tier was made up of groups that had no management and often poor equipment. They were lucky to grab a high school dance.

What hindered our group was the fact that we were so young. We had to have our parents drive us to many gigs. That was the beauty of having Ann Marston take over. Ann would pull a rented trailer around with her 1965 Plymouth Fury.

When a second tier group opened for on of the main acts, there was not much contact. The big groups had their roadies and stuck to themselves for the most part. The one exception I can remember was Scott Richardson (SRC). We opened for them at a gig on their side of town (St Clair Shores). Scott offered his PA (which even had a guy mixing and was huge compared to ours) to our group. He went out of his way to make us feel relaxed, even inviting us to a party in Ann Arbor after the gig (all the parents present vetoed that invite).


John Menadrysa

The Ruins, 1968: l-r: Paul Turchetta, Paul Ferda, Dennis Girard, John Menadrysa
Again there was a good chemistry and now we searched for a lead guitar replacement for Randy. Ann brought Paul Turchetta to my basement for an audition. Paul was the first and only lead guitar player to try out. The three of us (Paul Ferda, John Menadrysa, and myself) knew after the first song that Paul Turchetta was the one. I had never seen anyone fit into a group as fast as Paul Turchetta. The group began to practice and within a week started playing clubs.

Paul Turchetta: “Would you believe I still have the Epiphone Riviera and the Sunn amp and the jacket.
Dennis’s mom made us those.”
The Ruins were once again together, and working closely with Ann Marston and Nate Dore. But more changes waited around the corner.

Paul Turchetta after only eleven months announced that his family was moving to Arizona. The band was devastated. Ann wanted Paul to stay behind and offered to have him live with her parents. Paul’s parents were not fond of this idea (he was only 16). The group almost broke up, but Ann and Nate convinced us to stick it out. As I stated before, The Ruins were an extended family, and one phone call to Randy McMillan found him back in the group.

By late 1968 The Ruins were Dennis Girard, Paul Ferda, Randy McMillan, and John Menadrysa.


The Ruins with their manager Ann Marston
In September, 1968 found the group again playing gigs and Ann Marston got what we hoped would be our big break. We were scheduled to perform our two songs (The End and Take my Love) on the popular television show, “Swingin Time” with Robin Seymour. Robin Seymour could make or break any group in the Detroit area.

This was our big chance, but another change was about to take place. Paul Ferda decided he wanted to quit music and take a real job. On the eve of appearing on Swingin Time, we found ourselves without a bass player. A good friend of mine from high school Vic Grasso appeared with the group on The Robin Seymour Television Show (broadcast from Windsor Canada).

Ann Marston quickly brought in Mike Monday as the permanent replacement for Paul Ferda. The one photo of me in the studio was taken when the final version of the Ruins went back to record a follow up record (late 1968). In the studio at this time was Randy McMillan, John Menadrysa, Mike Monday and myself. It’s a shame but several tracks were recorded of new songs, but I have no idea where they are.

Again this version of The Ruins enjoyed success and began playing some major venues. A quick story: the night we played in Southgate Michigan with Teegarden and Van Winkle their song “God, Love and Rock & Roll” was big on the charts. the place was packed but they arrived with no equipment. Their trailer had been impounded by a local police department for improper plates.

They were not “hip” on using our equipment (they needed a Hammond B3, my small Farfisa was not a match). Enter Nate Dore the bail-bondsman. Nate was able to drive to the police department and get all of their equipment released in time for the show. We did a longer opening set and the show was a success.


On the Robin Seymour TV Show, l-r: John Menadrysa, Vic Grasso, Randy McMillan, Dennis Girard


The Ruins with Robin Seymour

The final version of the Ruins, l-r: Randy McMillan, Dennis Girard, John Menadrysa and Mike Monday
Ann Marston was beginning to become upset with the many changes that The Ruins were going through. She began working with other bands. Randy’s father again stepped in and started booking the band. The Vietnam war would bring “The End” to the Ruins. John Menadrysa found himself drafted into the Marines. After the many changes and loss of Ann Marston, the group disbanded. The magic of the Ruins had ended. It had been an amazing experience with great memories and many friendships that would last a lifetime.

In 1969 Randy McMillan and myself entered the studio again with a band called “NRG” or “ENERGY.” The group lasted only a few months. I can only recall the first names of the bass player (Frank) and the drummer (Tom). We did record an album under that band name. None of this material was ever released. I exited the band scene as a full time musician in 1970.

I still talk daily with Paul Turchetta and have visited him in Arizona many times. Paul owns Cave Creek Guitar has provided me with many guitars and advice. The one member who continued in music full time was Harry Phillips. He played with Mitch Ryder, John Cougar and did studio work with the Rolling Stones.

- Dennis Girard, Feb. 2008

Thank you to Paul Turchetta and Dennis Girard for their help with this article and use of their photos.