Category Archives: US

The Geatormen

Clockwise from bottom left: Martel Day, Reese Gwynn, Art Travis, Jeff Cooper, Dan Toomey, Jay Jacobson and Collis Alford
Click for larger image (3 MB)
A couple weeks ago I posted a photo from a group and asked who was the band and what movie they were in. No one hazarded a guess, so I’ll give it away now, they were the Geatormen, and the movie was “Where Angels Go, Trouble Follows”, a silly and innocent comedy about a group of Catholic schoolgirls accompanied by nuns crossing the country to a youth rally. The screen shots (below) are from a scene where the band is lip-synching to the title song by Boyce and Hart.The Geatormen included:

Collis Alford (trumpet
Ray Jacobson (trumpet)
Art Travis (trombone)
Jeff Cooper (saxophone and rhythm)
Rees Gwynn (guitar)
Dan Toomey (bass guitar)
Martel Day (drums)

They were students at Brandywine High School in the suburbs of Wilmington, Delaware, where they played with the Brandywine Blazers. Somehow they met up with Jerry Blavat, “the Geator” and became the Geatormen, performing on Blavat’s TV show Discophonic Scene and appearing with him in live shows.

An article in the Delaware County Daily Times from April, 1968 also mentions them appearing on WFIL-TV’s The World Around Us, a daily morning show in Philadelphia hosted by Anita Klever.

They weren’t credited for their appearance in “Where Angels Go, Trouble Follows”, so it doesn’t seemed to have helped their career much. I believe only five of them are featured in the movie. After the filming, Martel Day was replaced by Bob Howe and Max Rarigh. A later lineup of the band included Nino Puglisi from the Stairways. I don’t know of any records released by the band.

Jeff Cooper posted a few additional photos of the band at the bottom of this page.

The Mondels

There’s no denying the power of the Mondells 45 on Gaye, “I Got a Feeling” / “You’ll Never Come Back to Stay”. Both songs have thick distortion on the guitar, nice organ swirls, pounding drums, and good lead and backing vocals.

The code U4KM-5024 denotes an RCA custom pressing from the first half of 1967. The scan I originally posted showed no song writing credits on the label, but as Mike Markesich pointed out in his comment below, that scan was doctored to keep the writer’s name secret until the band could be found. From the scans I now have, Roy Farmer Jr. wrote “I Got a Feeling” and Benny Thomas wrote “You’ll Never Come Back to Stay”. Both sides are published by Margie Music, BMI, and listed as A Gaye Talent Production.

The group itself is still something of a mystery to me. I did find out that the Mondels, like Red Beard & the Pirates, came from the rural hills between Blue Ridge, Georgia (Morganton, Mineral Bluff, Epworth) and Copperhill, Tennessee / McCaysville, GA, about two hours drive north of the studio in Decatur, GA, just east of Atlanta. From the same area came The Blazers, who had a self-produced LP On Fire.

An old auction listing gives a couple names for Red Beard & the Pirates: Randy Queen and “Sea Dog”. The seller also mentioned two members of the Mondels: “Billy Suites (died from auto accident) and Lamar Harper (died a couple of years ago from cancer). Actually the name ‘Tootie’ written on the record is my sister-in-law and she dated Lamar.” I contacted the seller for more info, but I can’t confirm if these names are accurate.

The Mondels is one of the rarest and best 45s on the Gaye label.

Mike Dugo interviewed a member of the Penetrations who have a record on Gaye, “A Different Kind of Man” / “I Got A Girl” but they were from Belton, South Carolina, to the north east of Atlanta.

Thank you to Mike Markesich for the scans and info on the band. Transfers from Teenage Shutdown vol. 13.

The Myddle Class – a couple rare photos

The Myddle Class, circa late 1967: front and center Dave Palmer
behind him, from left to right: Myke Rosa, Rick Philp (wearing hat), Charles Larkey and Danny Mansolino
In the background on the left side: Bruce DeForeest and his girlfriend Ronnie
Susan Palmer De Leon sent in these photos of the Myddle Class that I had never seen before, one an early shot of the group from circa late 1965, a few months after they had met Carole King and Gerry Goffin, and the other one from a couple years later.

I have rewritten the article on the Myddle Class, see the current version here.

An early photo of the band, taken in Carole & Gerry’s backyard
Front to back: Myke Rosa, Rick Philp, Danny Mansolino, Dave Palmer and Charles Larkey

The Remains – ‘Let Me Through’ b/w ‘Why Do I Cry’ – Review

The Remains – ‘Let Me Through’ b/w ‘Why Do I Cry’
(2011 Sundazed S-231)

Review by Rebecca Jansen

“The new single by The Remains,” now doesn’t that alone sound good? Fortunately this vinyl debut of an original Barry Tashian and Vern Miller composition does sound very good indeed! Performed live on Ed Sullivan’s CBS television studio stage, Sunday December 26th, 1965, Barry’s snarling Guild lead guitar is in good form as the group soars (and sometimes stumbles, true) through some Psychotic Reactions style tempo changes. Very fearless on a national show with a song only cooked up a couple weeks before! Topo Gigio was probably forced into hiding while this punky racket was flowering, not that the sound quality is at all lacking with the minor exception of some audience applause at the start and again at the conclusion.

Sundazed’s sleeve is based on a vintage picture sleeve used by Epic, same design but different shot from the same photo shoot, and it’s that attention to detail that keeps Sundazed high in afficianados’ regard. The flip is a version of “Why Do I Cry” from the essential Session With the Remains LP also available through Sundazed. This single is more fun than Senior Wences’ plate-spinner eating goats; I predict it’ll be really beeg with all the kiddies in the garage!

This 45 is available through Sundazed.

Rebecca Jansen’s writing and artwork can be seen at Hippies stole my blog! *.

Garage Hangover accepts recently-released LPs, CDs, books and DVDs for review. Please contact us for a mailing address.

Gaye Record Productions discography

Johnny Brooks owned the Gaye label, based in Atlanta, Georgia, and named it after his wife. The label started with pop and soon had soul and pop releases mixed in with consistently strong garage singles by Little Phil & the Night Shadows, the Mondels, the Blades, the Penetrations and Red Beard & the Pirates. Some numbers have a prefix, usually ASR.

Troy Shondell recorded the Chips Moman song “This Time” for Goldcrest in 1961, released nationally by Liberty. I don’t know who Troy Shundell is, but his version on Gaye (#2010 from circa 1965) is a different recording than the Goldcrest/Liberty issue, and is likely a different singer altogether.

Any help with this discography would be appreciated

114 – Ken Springer – “You’re Faithful Anna” / “Lovely Love” (with picture sleeve)
210 – J.T. Ratcliffe With Shirley & The Swamp Bugs – “The Beatle Bug” / “Bill’s Friend”
212 – George Hughley – “Do The Beatle” / “My Love Is True”
368 – Paula Grimes – “Zing Went The Strings Of My Heart” / “Fancy Love Words” (need confirmation on this one)
2002 – Bobby & The Belmonts – “Drum Dog” / “He’s Home From College” (1964)
2004 – Beverly Taylor – “Sweeter Than Sugar” / “I Believe in You”
2009 – Ken Springer – “Like A Child” / “Maybe”
2010 – Troy Shundell – “This Time” / “I Catch Myself Crying”
2018 – Frankie And The Play Boys featuring Arnold Sanford – “Two To One” / “Crying Towel”
3019 – The Blades – “I’ll Shead No Tear” (sic) / “Again”
3020 – Joe Dickey – “April In Atlanta” / “Walk With Me (Into Paradise)”
3027 – The Penetrations – “A Different Kind of Man” / “I Got A Girl”
3031 – Little Phil & the Night Shadows – “Sixty Second Swinger” / “In the Air”
3031 – Milford Fagg with the Penetrations – “Do You Still Remember Me” / “Mr. Ivory”
3032 – The Mondels – “You’ll Never Come Back To Stay” / “I Got A Feeling”
3033 – Joe Brown – “It’s All Over” / “Promise Me”
3034 – Ted Ford – “You Don’t Love Me” / “Hold On To the Key”
3041 – C. J. DeLong – “Goodbye Dreams” / “I Don’t See Me In Your Eyes Anymore”
3043 – Red Beard & the Pirates – “Go On Leave” / “Don’t Be A Loser”
3044 – Jerry Ashley – “Come On” / “Come On” (instrumental backing track)
3045 – The Blades – “Moving Out” / “I Need You”
3047 – Sheppard Brothers – “Hold Me Closer” / “Mess Up My Mind”
5001 – Johnny Jenkins – “Soul Boo-Ga-Loo” / “Ring-O-Ling”
5002 – Lee Mays & the Zonics – “Writing This Letter” / “Nothing Means Nothing To You”
5005 – Ernie Wheelwright – Begging You Back / “In Your Arms”
5006 – Automations – “World of Make Believe” / “Going Out of My Mind”
6001 – Betty Logan – “A Lot To Learn” / The Logan Sisters – “Flop Mop”

Gaye discography compiled from Georgia Soul with additions and corrections from Mike Markesich, Bob of Dead Wax, Drunken Hobo and Chas Kit.

The Rice Paper Window

Rice Paper Window, Green Bay, Wisconsin

One reader sent in this neat promotional photo of the Rice Paper Window, a quintet from Green Bay, Wisconsin. I don’t know anything about the group, who was in it or if they recorded. Anyone have more info?Thanks to Bob Degutis for sending in this and other Wisconsin band photos.

Oglethorp and Othelow

Oglethorp and Othellow (sic), from left: Greg Carlock, Don Bearup and Dick Dean
Last week I wrote about Van Recording of south Texas. For some odd reason, at least five singles on Van released between 1965-1967 were produced in Taylorville, Illinois, close to 1,000 miles northeast of Angleton TX, the base for the Van label.

Richard Dean played bass on one of those records, “Please Don’t Go Away” and “I’ll Still Love You” by Oglethorp and Othelow. We may never know how these recordings ended up on Van, but Richard provides a detailed account of the music scene in the area just south and east of Springfield, Illinois during the mid-60s:

Oglethorp was Donnie Bearup, age 17, on lead vocals and rhythm acoustic guitar. Othelow was Greg Carlock, age 17, on harmony vocals and lead acoustic guitar. I, Richard Dean, age 16, played stand-up bass. Mick Presnell, age 16, and not a member of the group, played percussion (two Coke bottles on “Please Don’t Go Away”, a salt shaker filled with gravel on “I’ll Still Love You”). I’ve always remembered it [the spelling of the group’s name] as Oglethorpe and Othello. I think Donnie was a distant relative of James Oglethorpe, who founded Georgia, and I have no idea where the Othelow came from, other than Shakespeare.

Oglethorp and Othelow were supposed to be folk singers, but most of our songs were Everly Brothers, Beatles, oldies, and some current hits. We were an acoustic group and couldn’t play for dances, but we made three TV appearances (two in Decatur and one in Champaign) and we were on Oscar Wells Sunday morning radio show on WTIM many times. Donnie and Greg had that incredibly close harmony like the Everlys and John and Paul.

I was told to show up at the American Legion Hall one summer evening of 1966, and that was where I met Oscar Wells. I think Oglethorp and Othelow’s connection to him probably came through Donnie Bearup’s mother, who did a lot to promote the group. Sometimes local country artists performed on his radio show and that is probably where Donnie’s mother heard of him. I had never heard of him before we recorded. I assumed he owned Van Records and that it was a local Taylorville label. If there was a contract it was only for that record. He paid for the record. We performed for free, I never made a single penny playing with Oglethorp and Othelow, though we were very successful as far as performing went.

I remember Oscar Wells as a tall, thin, pale, almost cadaverous-looking, man who seemed ancient to me at the time, but was probably in his 50s. He had a very flat nasal voice and mumbled and said “uh” a lot on his radio show, not a radio voice or a radio personality. He had a very nice Ampex tape recorder, too big to be lugging around in his car, but it was portable. We did take after take of “I’ll Still Love You” and it was almost always a failure of the recorder or the tape itself that meant we had to re-do it. I would estimate we did as many as 30 takes, and even the one that was used had a flub in it. Oscar Wells was very patient, didn’t contribute anything to the music, just let us do what we did. I think he was most interested in recording my friend Mick on the Coke bottles on “Please Don’t Go Away”, there was a lot of natural echo on it and it took awhile to get the sound right. I think we may have done three takes on “Please Don’t Go Away”, it was intended to be a quick B-side, but it was the side that got airplay and that everyone loved. Donnie Bearup wrote both songs. Greg’s guitar was so out-of-tune on “Please Don’t Go Away”, but such a great punkish guitar solo, and acoustic! By the time we recorded that we had spent 2 or 3 hours on “I’ll Still Love You”, and we were just getting to a B-side. If we had known “Please Don’t Go Away” would become the A-side I’m sure we would have tuned-up!

If I remember correctly, Oscar Wells had 300 or 500 copies of “Please Don’t Go Away” / “I’ll Still Love You” pressed. We were getting daily airplay on the Taylorville and Decatur radio stations and he sold all of the copies very quickly, I’m sure he thought he was on his way to the big time. Then he had another 300 or 500 copies made and I don’t think he sold any of them. That first batch was the limit of Oglethorp and Othelow fans. I remember going to his studio on Sundays and there were boxes and boxes of our record sitting there. I think the major reason why the second batch of records didn’t sell was also because two or three weeks went by before they were delivered and by then we were no longer receiving airplay in Taylorville and Decatur. I seem to recall Oscar complaining about not having any records to sell. Then when they arrived it was too late.

Oscar Wells’ Sunday morning radio show on WTIM, Taylorville, was called “The Entertainers Bulletin Board”. I think it started at 6:00 or 6:30. Donnie and I played with the Reactions on Saturday nights, often didn’t get home until 1:00 or 2:00 AM, then had to get up about 5:00 to drive the 17 miles from Pana to Taylorville. Oscar had a great rockabilly version of “Swannee River Rock” as his theme song. Then he would introduce us as “these, uh, boys from Pana are, uh,” and so on. Then Greg Carlock would introduce the songs. Oscar would record the show on his Ampex and afterward we would go to his “studio”, probably where he did most of his recording, a storefront near downtown Taylorville. He had a record-cutting machine. like something that would cut onto wax but these were very heavy brittle plastic, and he would make one copy of the show for us. That was our pay. I received each third one. I kept one of them for many years, it eventually shattered during a move, but I did get it on a cassette tape, with so much static it is almost unlistenable. At the end of the show he played a song he had recently produced by a woman country singer, [Pauletta Leeman – “Little Bit” which was backed with “You’re Make A Fool Out Of Me”, released on Sims 309 in 1966], a very nice song. I found, on-line, that Oscar J. Wells died in 1984, at 71.

Oglethorp & Othelow on Oscar Wells’ show The Entertainers Bulletin Board on WTIM, November 13, 1966:

Intro (featuring “Swingin’ Swanee Rock” by Kenny Biggs)
Oglethorp & Othelow – Please Don’t Go Away
Oglethorp & Othelow – I’ll Still Love You
Oglethorp & Othelow – And She Went Away
Oglethorp & Othelow – English Moon
Oglethorp & Othelow – Cathy’s Clown
Oglethorp & Othelow speaking with Oscar Wells
Oglethorp & Othelow – Summertime
Oglethorp & Othelow – Blowing in the Wind
Oglethorp & Othelow – Stick With Me Baby
Conclusion (featuring “Little Bit” by Pauletta Leeman)

“English Moon” would have been the second single, with, maybe, “And She Went Away” as the B-side. I’m not sure. I know we had big hopes for “English Moon”.

A story I love to tell about Oglethorp and Othelow: one Saturday, in the spring of 1967, we performed for the Future Homemakers of America convention in Pana High School auditorium. There were several hundred girls there and they Beatled us, screaming and throwing things onstage. It was amazing. We signed autographs for awhile afterward, then had to leave to play a strip mall opening in Decatur. We performed on the back of a flatbed truck and our entire audience consisted of three about-12-year-old very bored boys. That’s showbiz!

Another story: one morning in the summer of 1967 I was hanging out in downtown Pana and Donnie and Greg drove by, saw me, and stopped and said they were going to the Illinois State Fair, in Springfield, to perform in the battle of the bands (acoustic or vocal group, not electric). They were just doing it because they could get into the fair for free. We went to my house and grabbed my stand-up bass and took off. We were wearing jeans and t-shirts, I had on a pair of brown jeans. We did ten minutes or so, mostly Everly Brothers and Beatles, then enjoyed the fair. When we went back to find out who won, we discovered we had finished second. The winners were a vocal quartet of frat boys from Eastern Illinois University, dressed in blazers and ties, singing like the Lettermen or the Four Freshmen. They got to open for Paul Revere and the Raiders that evening, in front of about 12,000 people. If only we had dressed better, been a little more professional, but we hadn’t taken it seriously. After the concert, we spent an hour or so having burgers with Freddy Weller, Raiders’ lead guitarist. When I got home, about 2:00 AM, and tried to explain to my mother what my day had been like, she wouldn’t believe me!

We were on TV three times. Twice on Davy Jones’ Locker, an afternoon kids’ cartoon show on WAND, Decatur, that sometimes had live local talent. It was embarrassing to be on a kids show, the host dressed as a pirate, but it was TV! We were also on The Hop, a Saturday afternoon American Bandstand-style show on WCIA, Champaign, that in 1967 was still using Danny and the Juniors’ “At the Hop” as its theme song. We had recorded what was going to be our second single, probably not on Van Records, in a garage studio in Sullivan, Illinois, but the tape wasn’t playable on standard tape recorders, so we had re-recorded the two songs at Greg’s aunt’s house on a tape recorder that allowed over-dubbing. Donnie sang lead and played electric bass and rhythm, Greg sang harmony twice and played lead, and I played organ and piano. As we were getting ready to lip-sync Donnie told me I should fake the extra harmony and I realized I didn’t know the words, nor did I know his bass part. And there had been a big thunderstorm just as we had arrived at the studio, we had to walk through a foot of water in the parkinglot, and I had taken off my wet Beatle boots and socks and performed barefoot. I was told the camera kept showing close-ups of my feet! The second record was never released.

A little about the music scene in Central Illinois in the 60s:

After the Beatles arrived, in February, 1964, it seemed that every teenage boy wanted to play in a band and I was one of them. Pana had a teen center and dances with live bands every Saturday night. Even smaller towns, like Nokomis and Assumption, had regular dances, and tiny towns, like Witt (pop. about 300) had dances at least once a month. The Fade-Aways, in 1965-66, didn’t work every weekend but we played frequently, and made money doing it. Pana, pop. 6000 or so, supported two rock bands, us and Comyk Book. Assumption had The Bluetones. Morrisonville, Dave and the Detomics. Nokomis, later, the Reactions. The summer of 1967, the Reactions worked three or four nights a week, putting on our own dances in the Morrisonville park on Thursdays, when there was nothing else going on, and splitting all of the money.

My favorite band, right after the Beatles arrived and the Pana Teen Center began having weekly dances, was the Classics, a six-piece band from Decatur, four white guys with two black singers, lots of great rock and roll and r&b. Then the Sting Rays, from Springfield.

Dave and the Detomics were several years older than me. As I remember them, they were a rockabilly crew that got on the British Invasion bandwagon, and they were pretty good when it came to rockers, not so good on melodies. When they played at the Pana Teen Center, many times in about 1965-66, they didn’t get much of a crowd. But I do remember they could rock, they had that garage band sound. My first band, The Fade-Aways, of which Donnie and Greg were members, also had that sound, just bashing it out, lots of energy.

I didn’t know Dave and the Detomics recorded for Van. When they broke up, in the fall of 1966, they became the Reactions. Donnie was the lead singer, I played electric bass. Monte McDermitt, former bass player for the Detomics, became the band leader and sang and played lead. Vince Slagel, also a Detomic, was on keyboards (Farfisa organ). Butch Hartel played drums. Steve Westoff was on rhythm guitar. The band was based in Nokomis, Illinois, though Donnie and I were from Pana and Butch and Steve from Litchfield. We never recorded, but we were very popular throughout 1967.

I don’t recall the Embalmers, but the Sting Rays were a favorite of mine. I’m pretty sure they were based in Springfield, Illinois. They were absolute pros, tight and solid, with a great drummer. When I was old enough to drive, in 1966, I would go anywhere around the area to see them. I remember when they washed the grease out of their Elvis pompadours and had Beatle haircuts. I remember seeing them at the Illinois State Fair, at the Teen Fair tent, probably in 1966, and they did a killer version of “Tossin’ and Turnin'”. Very much a guitar group, lots of rockabilly influence.

When I was 17 and could drive, and had a weekend night off when I wasn’t playing, I would drive anywhere to see my favorite group, a five-piece guitar band from Litchfield that did nothing but Stones covers and blues/r&b songs the Stones could have done. They were REO Speedwagon. If you look at their wikipedia page, this version of the group isn’t acknowledged. One Saturday in Taylorville, they were walking off-stage for a break and one of them pointed at me and said, “Reactions’ bassplayer.” I was surprised he knew who I was.

My biggest claim to rock and roll fame was that I was the original bassplayer in Head East, a heavy pop band that formed at Eastern Illinois University in 1969. I was a charter member, when the group was put together by Steve Huston (the drummer) and horn-player Steve Derry. When I showed up for the first rehearsal, it was about a 10 or 12 piece horn band, like Chicago or Blood Sweat and Tears, and I was given a music stand and sheet music. I quit at the end of the first rehearsal, that just wasn’t my idea of rock and roll. Their website doesn’t mention that version of the band.

I continued in music for several years. My last band was a country band, in 1973. I was always more of a lead guitar player, but I had my greatest success on bass.

I tried to track down the Reactions on the Internet. The only one I found was Vince Slagel, who was in the last version of Dave and the Detomics. I live in Denver.

Richard Dean, July 2011

Thank you to Richard and his sister for the photos and clippings used in this article with the exception of the color photo provided by Donnie Bearup. Thanks also to Tom Fallon and Matt Baker for information on the Kenny Biggs 45.

“A photo of my first band, The Fade-Aways, taken in 1965. From left: Greg Carlock (Othelow), lead singer David Brownback, Donnie Bearup (Oglethorp), and me.
Drummer Jim Lowe was not present.
That Stratocaster was my first real guitar, cherry red. Greg’s was a Guild.”

Donnie Bearup and Deb Lynch during the Fade-Aways era, 1966

with the second place trophy at the State Fair
from left: Don Bearup, Richard Dean and Greg Carlock

‘The Re-Actions’, from left: Dick Dean (bass), Steve Westoff (rhythm guitar), Butch Hartel (drums), Monte McDermith (lead guitar) and kneeling, Vince Slagel (organ).
Not pictured, lead singer Donnie Bearup

The Ramblers

The Ramblers of Birmingham, Highland County Club, December 1961. Van Veenschoten, Tommy Terrell and Eddie Terrell; in back Johnny Robinson on drums
Early photo of the Ramblers of Birmingham, Highland County Club, December 1961. Left to right in front: Van Veenschoten, Tommy Terrell and Eddie Terrell; in back Johnny Robinson on drums

Bob Ellis from the Alabama Record Collectors Association sent me this history of the Ramblers of Birmingham, written by Chip Sanders.

Back in 1961, the guitar playing Terrell brothers, Tommy and Eddie along with classmate Chris Covey found a junior high school drummer, Johnny Robinson, to play music. It was decided that the eldest brother, Eddie, would be the bass player, and Tommy would play rhythm guitar. Fellow Ramsey High School classmate, Van Veenschoten joined in to round out the group and play lead guitar. The group named themselves The Ramblers, and began playing for high school functions and fraternities and sororities in the Birmingham area. When Eddie Terrell received a tennis scholarship and headed to The University of Alabama, The Ramblers had no trouble in convincing Chris Convey, with the unusual nickname “The Spook,” to take over on the bass.

By mid-1962, The Ramblers were playing weekends regularly in and around Birmingham and cut their first record, “Stop That Twisting” / “Hundred Miles Away”, at Boutwell Recording Studio in Birmingham. Shortly thereafter, guitar player Van Veenschoten met Chip Sanders, a junior at neighboring Shades Valley High School, who was a piano player. The Ramblers auditioned Chip on a Sunday afternoon at Van’s parents home in Mountain Brook, and the nucleus of the group, that would become synonymous with “party band” was established.

An important early performance by The Ramblers at a state-wide Alabama high school Key Club Convention gave the group name recognition throughout the state, and soon The Ramblers of Birmingham were playing in Alabama cities and towns from Huntsville to Mobile. Practicing in a store room in the back of Johnny Robinson’s garage in Mountain Brook, Alabama, or in the basement of the Sanders’ home in Vestavia, The Ramblers were truly the proverbial garage band.

By fall of 1963, it was time for more of The Ramblers to make a decision, music or college! They decided on both, and as Tommy and Spook headed off to the University of Alabama and Johnny and Chip still in high school, the group began playing college fraternity parties at the University of Alabama.

By 1965-1966, The Ramblers were working regularly, primarily at Fraternity Parties around the southeast. Eddie, Tommy, Spook, and Chip had all become members of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity at The University of Alabama, while Van was at Samford University and Johnny at the University of Montevallo. No longer rehearsing on a regular basis, the guys would meet up whenever and wherever the group might be playing.

Ramblers Brooke 45 Stop That Twisting

Ramblers Brooke 45 Hundred Miles Away

Birmingham Ramblers Tommy Tucker 45 Whole Lot of Woman

Birmingham Ramblers Tommy Tucker 45 Come Back, Come BackIn 1967, the group recorded another record at Boutwell Recording Studio, “Come Back, Come Back” / “Whole Lot Of Woman” written by keyboardist, Chip Sanders. The record experienced moderate success in the Alabama area, but college priorities prevented the group from properly promoting the record. Ed Boutwell, Birmingham recording pioneer, continued to use The Ramblers as back up musicians on many recording sessions at his studio.

Throughout this period, local radio station “sock hops” gained popularity amongst the Birmingham teenage population, and The Ramblers worked with local personality Duke Rumore of WYDE radio at Duke’s sock hop at the Ensley National Guard Armory, as well as Dave Roddy, from WSGN Radio at the Aporto Armory, across town. Also during this period the Ramblers were the backup band of choice for singers passing through Birmingham like Bobby Goldsboro or Billy Joe Royal.

As a “special added attraction” The Ramblers added a new set, featuring “Little John,” Chip’s kid brother, 11-year-old John Lee Sanders, who sang and played harmonica. John Lee Sanders, is now a successful song writer, performer and composer in the Bay Area of California. For the last 20 years he has worked with Long John Baldry, Starship, Paul Williams, Linda Arnold, and other popular entertainers.

As 1966-1967 came along, the world was quickly changing and The Rambler’s music began to change as well. Inspired by the psychedelic sounds coming out of the west coast, The Ramblers found a new sound with a young female vocalist, Vicki Hallman. Covers of the Jefferson Airplane, Linda Ronstadt and other female artists were added to their repertoire. After a brief marriage to drummer Johnny Robinson, Vicki continued her career in Nashville as a member of Buck Owens and the Buckaroos group and as a permanent cast member of the long running TV series, Hee-Haw.

With the Viet Nam War continuing to escalate in the late sixties, members of the group began to worry about the draft. This was definitely not the time to quit school and loose a student deferment to become a rock ‘n roll star. At various times during the next few years, Tommy joined George Bush in the Alabama Air National Guard, Chris joined the Coast Guard Reserve, Chip got in the Army National Guard three days before his draft notice, and Johnny became a reluctant member of the Talladega National Guard.

During their respective intermittent absences the group stayed together, with Terrell brother, Eddie, rejoining the group, along with a variety of substitute and fill-in players. As the sixties came to a close, one by one, the group began to graduate from college, get married and begin careers other than music. All the members of the group initially took jobs in Birmingham so that the band was able to stay together, but soon, the pressures of new careers, new wives, and even children began to put a strain on the group. “I don’t remember us ever officially deciding to break up. I just recall playing in a little town somewhere in South Alabama. We all brought our wives. It was a fun weekend. I remember staying in some ‘Bates Motel’ place and we all went swimming in their pool. That’s the last band job I can recall, but there may have been others,” said Sanders.

Johnny Robinson, who had tried to hold things together began touring with a new group, The Homestead Act, and subsequently moved to California to help his new wife start a music career. Chris moved away to seek his fortune, Chip moved near Memphis to start an insurance agency, and Tommy became a bank examiner for the Treasury Department.

The Ramblers were history, or so they thought. They stayed in touch with one another and by 1978 all of the remaining members of the group were thinking the same thing. They wanted to play again.

In 1979, the band regrouped as The Rambler Reunion Band adding Jim Burford on lead guitar to replace Van who died in a motorcycle accident in 1972. Chip moved out of state and was replaced by John Livingston on keyboards. Eddie rejoined the band to replace Chris who resides in Treasure Island, Florida. During the 80’s and 90’s the band continued working around the southeast entertaining at events with their 60’s music. Currently the RRB entertains at wedding receptions, reunion parties, company parties, club dances, and most any event that requires authentic 60’s rock and roll music.

Chip Sanders, 2011

 The Ramblers, left to right: Chip Sanders, Chris Convey, Johnny Robinson, Tommy Terrell, Van Veenschoten
The Ramblers, left to right: Chip Sanders, Chris Convey, Johnny Robinson, Tommy Terrell, Van Veenschoten

Johnny Robinson answered some follow-up questions I had about the photos and recording sessions.

The picture of the four of us [top of page] was taken at Highland County Club in December 1961. Van played lead guitar, Tommy rhythm guitar, Eddie bass. At this time we had very few vocals. That one mike and the small guitar amp (lower right corner) was our PA system. We bought the vests at Pizitz downtown.

The two professional photos were taken by Ken Ives at his studio in English Village down the street from Boutwell Recording Studio, where we recorded “100 Miles Away”. Chris Convey replaced Eddie on bass when Eddie left for college on a tennis scholarship. We have tons of other pictures through the years.

B.Temple is Brook Temple. He went to Shades Valley High School. We met him through Lee Shook, a mutual friend. Brook wrote “100 Miles away” with words about a girl he dated in Montgomery (100 miles from Birmingham) and asked us to record it. His mother paid for the recording session and the cost of the records. We did not like the words to the song, so we made it an instrumemtal. He also wrote “Stop That Twisting”. The Brook record label is his name. After all his mother paid for everything.

The second record, “Come Back, Come Back” was made in April 1967. The total for the packing slip was $123.10 for 510 records. That made them 24 cents each. The studio time was $300 as I remember. That made the total cost 83 cents each. Of course we did not made the records to make money, we gave most of them away to try and book more jobs. We have other studio recordings and live recordings.

The music scene in Birmingham was very active at this time – 1961 to 1968. The Distortions, Sammy Salvo, Willum Fowler, The Tremolos, Larry Parker, The Nomads, The Strangers, The Reflections, The Brood, and The Gents are just some of the local bands that recorded and released records on labels like Jo-Jo, Vibrato, Vesta, Lemon, Gold Master, Modern Enterprises, Malone, Vaughn-LTD, Malcolm Z. Dirge. There were many more. The ones I listed are part of my 45 collection. Others we were friends with: The Bassmen, Larry and the Loafers, The Kingsmen (not the famous ones), Daze of the Week, and Circus.

Packing list for the Ramblers 45  “Whole Lot Of Woman” / “Come Back, Come Back”
Packing list for the Ramblers 45 “Whole Lot Of Woman” / “Come Back, Come Back”
 The Ramblers, left to right: Johnny Robinson (seated), Chip Sanders, Chris Convey, Tommy Terrell and Van Veenschoten
The Ramblers, left to right: Johnny Robinson (seated), Chip Sanders, Chris Convey, Tommy Terrell and Van Veenschoten