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