Category Archives: Corpus Christi

The Red House

The Red House, left to right: James Noe, Billy King, Ric Gonzalez, John Coco and Tommy Durham
James Coco (vocals and harmonica)
Ric Gonzalez (lead guitar)
Tommy Durham (guitar)
James Noe (bass)
Billy King (drums)

By 1969, the Stereo Shoestring had splintered, leaving singer James Coco and bassist James Noe to find new musicians. At first they kept the Shoestring name, but by the time they released their new single “Sunflower” / “Mary Anne” (not “Mary Jane” as a certain error-prone reference book lists), on the Big “K” label, they had changed their name to the Red House.

The arrangement of the vocals on “Mary Anne” is very much like the singing in the Stereo Shoestring’s “On the Road South”, but otherwise the songs are different. Songwriting credits to James Noe and James Coco. “Sunflower” has a country-rock feel to it, and a lot of fine guitar picking from Tommy Durham. It was written by Coco and Durham.

Big “K” Productions came out of Ingleside, Texas, just across the bay from Corpus Christi, and was owned by Lew Knippa.

from left: Tommy Durham, Ric Gonzalez and James Noe

Lead guitarist Ric Gonzalez sent me a copy of the 45 and the photos seen here, and answered my questions about the band:

Billy King, a drummer, and I had played together since junior high in various teen bands in the Corpus Christi area. The bands Billy and I were in prior to Shoestring copied the Zakary Thaks’ sets song for song, note for note, as best we could. The “Thaks” would play Stones, Yardbirds, Hendrix, etc.

When “The Shoestring” reformed they contacted Billy, he in turn called me. Besides James (John) Coco on vocals and James Noe (bass) from the original Shoestring; new members were Tommy Durham (rhythm guitar), Billy King (drums), and me, Ric Gonzalez (lead guitar).

Coco had the English version of Are You Experienced which had “Red House” on it. Not many people had heard “Red House” 42 years ago. Also, there was an old movie with Edward G. Robinson called, “The Red House”, which had been on the late movies back then. Coco and Noe (a true genius) wanted a new name. I suggested “Red House”.

I didn’t play on “On The Road South”, that was the band before Billy and I joined, but I did play lead on “Mary Anne”, and 2nd lead on the flip-side, “Sunflower”. We recorded the 45 a week after we joined.

“Sunflower” was the “A” side. It was a KEYS Radio (Corpus Christi, Tex) Pick-Of-The Week in June ’69. We recorded that 45 at Andrus Studios in Houston on Monday, April 7th, 1969. It was the day after Easter Sunday. Amazingly enough, the Easter Everywhere album by Thirteenth Floor Elevators was also recorded there in 1967.

We would play those songs [“Mary Jane” and “Sunflower”] live. In the summer of ’69, we were the house-band at Corpus Christi’s “Love-Street Light Circus and Feel Good Machine” club. I had just turned 16. Billy was 17. Coco was 21. And we opened for many great bands: Bubble Puppy to name one.

Billy Gibbons sat in with the band once. ZZ Top was in the formative stage, he mentioned the name “ZZ Top”. We knew his band as The Moving Sidewalk. We immediately thought of “ZIGZAG” and “TOP” rolling papers. And, also of R&B singers ZZ Hill and also of, BB King. Original in the rock world. Old hat in the R&B network.

Ric Gonzalez

from left: James Coco in yellow shirt, Billy King holding Ric Gonzalez’s guitar

Two songs that would appear as by The Red House
Note one is titled “Mary Ann” (without the ending “e”)
Scan from the collection of Andrew Brown

Ric with his 1967 Epiphone Riviera

Ric Gonzalez, May 1969

The Stereo Shoestring

The Stereo Shoestring: James Coco, James Noe, Richard Lalor, Steve Schultz and Jim Howard
The Stereo Shoestring, from left: James Coco, James Noe, Richard Lalor, Steve Schultz and Jim Howard Photo from Not Fade Away #3

James Coco (vocals)
Jim Howard (lead guitar)
Richard Lalor (guitar)
James Noe (bass)
Steve Schultz (drums)

The Stereo Shoestring English 45 On the Road South

with the Buckle at the Coral Room, Corpus Christi Times, January 12, 1968
with the Buckle at the Coral Room, January 12, 1968
The Stereo Shoestring were a Corpus Christi band, apparently only together for a short time during 1968. They cut one of the monster singles out of Texas in April of that year, a total reworking of the Pretty Things’ “Defecting Grey” titled “On the Road South”. On the other side was a version of the Zombies “Tell Her No”. The “English Records” labels give the band credit for writing both songs. They recorded in Houston, possibly at Doyle Jones’ studio.

The Clockwork Orange, Richard Lalor at far left, Ashley Johnson on bass. The Clockwork Orange, Richard Lalor at far left, Ashley Johnson on bass. Photo from Not Fade Away #3[/caption]

Rich Lalor had played in the Clockwork Orange with Ashley Johnson, a hip record collector who owned the original of “Defecting Grey”. The fact that this song was covered by a Texas band is all the more remarkable, as it was one of the more obscure Pretty Things records of the ’60s.

Stereo Shoestring business card
Management by Vicki Jones Scanned from Not Fade Away #3
They are mentioned in an article from the Corpus Christi Times in July, 1968:

“Sensitivity sessions” are scheduled with a general airing of problems and exchange of ideas. After today’s discussion groups and an “in” at 4:30 p.m. in the Hemisphere Room, a dance featuring “The Stereo Shoestring,” a local rock band, is scheduled.

For some reason, Lalor left the band, followed by Schultz and Howard. Coco and Noe found new musicians and reformed the Shoestring in 1969, but soon changed the name to the Hendrix-inspired The Red House.

Thank you to bosshoss and Gyro1966 for the 45 transfers.

Shoestring - Sun Flower / Mary Ann tape box
Two songs by the reformed Shoestring, 1969 These would be released as by The Red House Scan from the collection of Andrew Brown

Corpus Christi Times, July 8, 1968