The Hysterical Society

The Hysterical Society colorized photo
“Left to right are Mark Hinton, Ronnie House, Ken Hutchinson and Mike Pugh. The picture was taken just before the group went to New York to record for United Artists. We were 17, 17, 17 and 18.” – Ken Hutchinson

Hysterical Society UA 45 Come With MeA double-sided winner from Amarillo, Texas. Both sides were written by M. Hinton (Markus Lee Hinton according to the song publishing info).

The producer Eddie Reeves was working for United Artists publishing at the time; he’d had a prior career as a vocalist with the Nighthawks and a solo 45 on Warwick, “Cry Baby” / “Talk Talk”. He was from Amarillo, and may have provided these songs for a home-town group.

There is a likely connection to a group who recorded a 45 as the Hysterical Society Boys, “Funny Face” / “I Got Shot Out Of The Saddle” on the EBR (Eddie B. Reeves) label in the early ’60s, but I haven’t heard that one yet. (Thanks Davie G for this info.)

Despite good songwriting, production and performance on both sides, the 45 didn’t make a dent in the charts.

The band had one more release, “I Put A Spell On You’ b/w “Summertime (Variations)” on an Amarillo label, Tipton, in 1968.

The Hysterical Society with friends
The Hysterical Society with friends including Mark Kirk

I knew next to nothing about the band until Woody Key contacted me about the band. I’ll reproduce the comment he left below here, because it contains so much info about the group:

The Hysterical Society NewsclippingThe Hysterical Society lineup on this record (and most of their career) was Mark Hinton – guitar, organ, vocals; Ronnie House – guitar, vocals; Ken Hutchinson – bass, vocals; and Mike Pugh – drums, vocals. There was indeed a link between Eddie Reeves and the Hinton family; Mark Hinton’s uncle Mike was one of the members of the Hysterical Society Boys, which I think were a band that was formed in Austin when Mike went to University of Texas. I don’t think that Eddie Reeves was in the Hysterical Society Boys, but he and Mike Hinton were in the Nighthawks.

The record (and I think 4 more sides, which weren’t released) was done in New York City. The boys were excited to be in the Big Apple, and had the opportunity to meet Bob Dylan and Napoleon XIV of “They’re Coming to Take Me Away” fame.

The Hysterical Society were a popular TX Panhandle and regional band from 1966 – 1969. They recorded “Summertime” / “I Put a Spell On You” in 1968 at Norman Petty’s studio in Clovis, NM, with Norman producing. By this time, they had replaced Ken Hutchinson with David Fine on bass and keyboards. They eventually replaced Ronnie House with Mark Kay on guitar, and kept this lineup until they broke up in late 1969.

Mark Hinton and Eddie Reeves kept crossing paths musically, with Eddie producing demos by Mark’s band Piper in Los Angeles, and also Mark’s solo demo projects in the early ’70s.

Update January 2012

Ken Hutchinson sent in the photo at top, and answered some of my questions about the band:

The photo was one of my favorites and I’m happy that I found it. True that Eddie had some promo shots of us done while we were in New York but as the single never made a dent in the charts we saw proofs but I do not believe finished copies were ever made. My sister remembered some studio shots done in Amarillo by our mother who was a photographer with a local studio. My mother also took the shot that I sent you.

The formation of the band came about by a chance connection of me and Ronnie House, the lead guitar player. He also knew Mark Hinton from school and as he and I worked together he suggested that we get together with Mark who knew a drummer (Mike Pugh). At the first get together the chemistry was good and we decided to become a group. Mark and Mike were the real talent of the group and Ronnie and I were good enough to compliment them.

After a while we kind of took the Texas panhandle by storm as we were all high school students and were very good at copies. We practiced enough to keep our material current, were very energetic on stage and popular enough around school that the buzz got going pretty quick. What probably kicked us off the most was the opportunity to open for Buffalo Springfield and Jay and the Americans at The Amarillo Civic Center [Tri-State Exposition on June 23, 1967 with additional acts the Dearly Beloved and the Stumps – anyone have a poster of this?]. The crowd was packed and I believe we represented the local talent well as we were the only local band. There were a lot of people in the audience who had never heard of us and could not believe we were local. Members of both of the lead bands complimented us back stage on our performance.

The Hysterical Society February 1968
The Hysterical Society February 1968

The connection with Eddie Reeves did indeed come through Mark’s uncle Mike Hinton who was pursuing a law degree at The University of Texas at Austin. He had booked us at some frat parties and such in Austin as he was still active in music and had a lot of connections down there. We had to be careful about booking Austin as it was a 500 mile drive one way from Amarillo but the pay was so good that it seems we were playing down there a lot. I’m not sure yet what those college kids saw in a high school band from Amarillo but we continued to be asked back.

Mike asked Eddie to come listen to us in Amarillo. I believe Eddie had some family ties in the area. He came, listened and asked us if we would be interested in coming to New York to record for the label – he would produce us and take care of us while there. How could four 17 year old kids refuse?

The Hysterical Society Photo SessionWe did indeed cut six sides while there however the promo copy of the two that you acquired was all that was released. We received copies of the other four, but I have lost track of mine after being passed around to family members for 45 years. There were five rock and roll songs written by Mark and one ballad written by me recorded. Eddie picked the two for release.

“Come With Me” was very current for the time – it must have been as the Beatles used the same riff for “Tax Man” a short time later with a lot better result. The flip side, “I Know”, was, I think, a little ahead of it’s time but what is my opinion worth.

We did have the opportunity while in New York to meet Bob Dylan and Napoleon XIV but I doubt that it made any sort of impression on either of them as we were just some high school kids from Texas who happened to draw the attention of UA momentarily and they were stars. Probably just bored.

The Hysterical Society Mike Pugh
Drummer Mike Pugh

When I left the band I had an opportunity to tour with The Shirelles who later connected up with The Drifters and The Coasters. So I had a chance to appear on stage with all three for quite a while. This was late 1969 and the early ’70s and all three of the groups had seen the shining days of their careers go by but were still active on tour and still drew reasonably good crowds. I’m sure the groups I played with did not still retain all of the original members but the music was good, the crowds were large and the tour was fun so I stuck around for a while.

The Hysterical Society at The Trip PosterI also played with some opening bands around Los Angeles while we were there and got to meet quite a few more “stars” and perform for huge crowds. When I finally decided that what I was doing was really to big for me I returned to Amarillo. I was after all married with children and needed to settle down.

I took a break from music that turned out to be extended to almost 20 years before the itch was too much trouble to scratch and started playing again about 1992.

A couple of really good local bands and about 15 years later I took another break and do not at 62 have much desire to do it any more. That’s why I respect Woody Key so much. He is not that much younger than me and is still out there doing it every day and succeeding. The difference between an artist and a practitioner I guess but I would not give one minute of it back for anything.

Ken (Hutchinson) Warren

Thank you to Woody for info on the band, and to Ken Warren for the photo at top and history of the band.

Special thank you to Mike Pugh’s niece Deborah for providing scans of all the photos except the top one. These were added to this article in November, 2014.

The Hysterical Society Early Photo 4

The Hysterical Society Early Promo Photo 1
From left: Ken Hutchinson, Mark Hinton, Mike Pugh and Ronnie House

The Hysterical Society Early Promo Photo 3

The Hysterical Society Early Promo Photo 2

The Hysterical Society Promo Photo

19 thoughts on “The Hysterical Society”

  1. hi…love the blog…

    i may know something of this band…i lived in amarillo from 67 to 74…

    but its been along time, and memory fades..ya know?…

    anyway, im pretty sure these guys played at our school dances alot…the name marcus hinton checks out with my school yearbooks…and as i recall they were a couple of years older than me…although a guy from my class was allowed to join after his dad bought him an organ for christmas…his name was rick hall…and later on became more or less became their frontman, as he was definitely cooler than the other guys…who were a bunch of jocks..

    i thought they were good…certainly rocked our teenage asses….good enough to actually make me go those lame affairs…chaperones and such were a given…

    i could be wrong about the whole thing….but i think a couple of the members of that band ended up playing in alvin crow and the pleasant valley boys…an amarillo based western swing band….who were fairly big in the seventies…..big enough that i saw them play at the ‘lone star cafe’ in NYC in about 1978…and it was definitely my homeboys, they sat at my table after the set, cause i was wearing an amarillo college t-shirt..lol…[saw ernest tubb there too]..

    i should check this stuff out with alvin crow…he and his brother steve still play around here in austin…

    for the record…i definitely knew one of the undertakers [amarillo]…his name is donny raye…he worked for my dad…i used to have a whole stack of copies of their single…as far as i know he lives in houston now…my dad is still in contact with him…

    c.smith

  2. The Hysterical Society lineup on this record (and most of their career) was Mark Hinton – guitar, organ, vocals; Ronnie House – guitar, vocals; Ken Hutchinson – bass, vocals; and Mike Pugh – drums, vocals. There was indeed a link between Eddie Reeves and the Hinton family; Mark Hinton’s uncle Mike was one of the members of the Hysterical Society Boys, which I think were a band that was formed in Austin when Mike went to University of Texas. I don’t think that Eddie Reeves was in the Hysterical Society Boys, but he and Mike Hinton were in the Nighthawks.

    The record (and I think 4 more sides, which weren’t released) was done in New York City. The boys were excited to be in the Big Apple, and had the opportunity to meet Bob Dylan and Napoleon XIV of “They’re Coming to Take Me Away” fame.

    The Hysterical Society were a popular TX panhandle and regional band from 1966 – 1969. They recorded “Summertime” / “I Put a Spell On You” in 1968 at Norman Petty’s studio in Clovis, NM, with Norman producing. By this time, they had replaced Ken Hutchinson with David Fine on bass and keyboards. They eventually replaced Ronnie House with Mark Kay on guitar, and kept this lineup until they broke up in late 1969.

    Mark Hinton and Eddie Reeves kept crossing paths musically, with Eddie producing demos by Mark’s band Piper in Los Angeles, and also Mark’s solo demo projects in the early ’70s.

  3. I have a super old Hysterical Society Booking Poster from Amarillo, and it says “THE HYSTERICAL SOCIETY” recording for United Artists… RUNS AMUK AGAIN with the world’s most hysterical beat! At the bottom it says for booking: 806 FL6 7070 – 3208 Rusk Amarillo – the signatures on this are Michael Lodell, Ron Wayne, Paul(or David-lol) Scott, and it looks like Marcus Lee.

  4. I know the Hysterical Society very well. Ken The bass player was my big brother. The band consisted of Mark Hinton, Ken Hutchinson, Mike Pugh & Ronnie Houes. After playing around here they got a recording contract with United Artists. After that was done Ken went on and became a studio guitarist for UA and Dot Records. He shared the stage with Paul Revere, Steppenwolf, The Shirelles, The Drifters and more. SO musically Ken did very well….Great song writer.

  5. Woody Key sent me this wild poster of this ‘Mini-Festival’ tour of the Texas Panhandle. Euphoria is an Amarillo band, not the California group who traveled to Houston for a while.

    Is there any connection between the Hysterical Society and the light show of the same name listed on the poster?

    Woody Key wrote to me:

    As for Euphoria, this particular band was an Amarillo one. The guys may have done some recording, but I don’t think that they put any records out, definitely not anything for a major label.

    The “real” bands on the Mini Festival poster were Euphoria and Baby. The others were just to fill the space on the poster. The promoters would pick up local bands along the way, or others that would play a few dates here and there. The band Baby is interesting, though. After this tour, the drummer and guitarist for Euphoria (blond headed guy, Woody Putman, and the clean-shaven one, Mark Camp) joined Baby, and they had a very successful run in the region, did 2 albums; they were together from 1970-1976. They were originally from Wichita Falls, TX.

    1. The light show mentioned on the poster was the “bands” light show performed by Geoffrey “Doc” Watson. It was a mixed media light show with overhead projectors, film projectors, slide projectors, and some stage lighting with colored gels. Often Geoff used large clock lenses partially filled with clear water. He then floated colored oils or colored window crazing gel (you all remember that stuff—-you painted it on a window and when it dried it cracked and crazed and grew like crystals). When that stuff was liquid you could blow it around on the surface and project it through an overhead projector. The effect was, and was meant to be, psychedelic.

      Man, this brings back a lot of memories—-I performed Euphoria’s light show doing the same stuff.

      What a good time we all had . . .

      1. Spent many a night setting next to Doc Watson and Mike Oberski . I had the pleasure of mixing the live sound for most of these shows. Did about 10 years on the road with Baby. We had some great times on the road.

  6. The info stated about the Hysterical Society seems to be correct. And, Geoffery Watson ran a great light show for them. He learned a lot from a guy that called himself “Captain Whizzo”!!!!

    There was a lot of moving around between bands in Amarillo.

    Mark Kay (I believe)moved from Hysterical Society to Euphoria (with Mark Camp, Woody Putman, & Ronnie Hill). Mark Camp and Woody Putman later disbanded Euphoria and joined with another group’s members, Johnny Lee Schell and Steve Crane, to re-form their disbanded group “Baby”. Other bands had their changes in line ups, too.

    Some of the other groups in Amarillo went on to have great careers: The Yellowstone Fuzzy Hog Brothers went on to become Alvin Crow and the Pleasant Valley Boys and have played all over the country, and abroad, out of their home base in Austin, TX. They are still active and recording—you can often catch them at the Broken Spoke in Austin.

    Baby went out to California and struggled somewhat—pressing two albums that did not meet much success. Johnny Lee went on to become a great back-up musician to the likes of Bonnie Raitt, Taj Mahal, and others and is still very active. The last time I saw Mark Camp he was selling pots and pans—maybe now selling insurance as his dad did. Don’t know what Woody Putman is doing for sure but I heard he is making “Cowboy furniture” out in the California desert.

    The Underground Press sadly never went anywhere—but they were an excellent, tight, band; with some of the best covers of sixties rock (Doors, Zep, Stones, etc.). Sadly their lead singer Greg Hulsey died early (long after the band broke up). Woody Key, their guitarist, is still playing with other local musicians at Amarillo clubs.

    Euphoria, like The Underground Press, Hysterical Society, The Hog Brothers, & others, never really went anywhere. We all tripped around (we all, it seemed, were being booked by Howard Raglin, Allen Jenkins, and Mark Kirk) doing shows in the mid-west, high school graduation parties, proms, country club gigs, and also concerts and mini-festivals produced by Raglin, Charlie Culp, Shawn McKay, or others. Some of us fronted for major recording artists when they played in the Amarillo venues, but no one seemed to be able to break it big. In the end most of the bands never did make ends meet.

    Some had “patrons” that assisted them with amps and equipment and others had parents that provided the same end—but in the long run it was all just a bunch of teenagers who were having a great time, playing music, letting our hair grow long, getting the girls, and being mostly broke all the time.

    It was the sixties and we all had a blast!!!!!

    Mike Oberski

  7. Man this is great . My name is kenney dale johnson and i am the drummer for chris isaak for the last 25 years . I grew up in Borger just north of Amarillo. My band The Buster Brown Band played at a couple of these mini festivals and we were ecstatic for the chance to play with our heroes Woody Keye and Piper .I used to see all of those amarillo bands at the Borger youth center . Which ,frankly, had an astonishing variety of great bands pass thru. A lot of them were from Kansas and promoted on KOMA. Great bands like The Frantics ,The Germs, The moanin’Glories , King Midas and the Mufflers, et al . I used to like “Shirtless” Woody Putman but Danny Darling from Piper was the MAN!!!
    Kenney

  8. I new Ron House he is my big brother the reason Ron left the band is he had to spend 4 years in the airforce in vietnam not really by his choice. the band was great I made a lot of money on their posters in jr.high

    1. I am Mike Pugh’s niece and Iam trying to reach some of the band members. (Uncle Mike passed away in 1991) I have some photos and newspaper clippings of the band Pugh, Hinton, Hutchinson/Warren, and House and I’d like to give them to the remaining band members. Please contact me if you know where these guys are- thanks, Deborah

  9. Lynn was definately Ronnie Houses brother, after all of these years I remember him well and would love to open a dialog with him or Ronnie as I have lost track of both of them.
    Ken (Hutchinson) Warren

  10. Way to cool coming across this. I was looking for Woody’s number and found this. I remember when my brother Ken would take me over to Mark’s for practice. I have the original pictures taken for the promo’s when they went to New York. I will never forget all this especially when Baby played for my 13th birthday party. I definitely was the queen then. Good Times…..Ken is still in Amarillo still pickin’…Peace

  11. Hello Lynn,
    Man running across this sure brought back the days of the 60’s. I am ken’s little sister deb…I remember you and your brother. Ken still here plays some….anyhow what good times to think about the bands were good…Baby…Underground Press…Alvin Crow…all them guys….

    Peace
    deb

  12. Hysterical Society was billed as winners of the National Battle of the Bands along with Doc Watson’s Amazing Light Show when they came to Poplar, Montana Population 2000+/-. All I can say is that the Hysterical Society was by far the most amazing live cover band that I have ever seen and that includes all the spectrum of tribute/cover groups in the Reno/Las Vegas circuit where I live now.

    I remember showing up early at the auditorium and helping Doc Watson move an upright piano and a table to the middle of the dance floor so that he could project the light show over the crowd. Sometime after the band had been thru a couple sets Doc let me try playing with the glass bowls holding the liquid crystals and I found out I didn’t have the right “touch” for the job. The next day I saw the band loading up their trailer to head on down the road so I stopped to wish them well and they asked me if there was a restaurant in town. Anyway the band ate some local Montana beef and also treated me to lunch and that’s the last I saw of them. About a year or so later while I was attending college in Billings, Baby passed thru and I went and saw their show, they were damn good also.

    John Greene, Carson City, Nevada

  13. This is so great to remember these bands and those days… The Hysterical Society played post game dances here in Tulia and at a local teen club many times and I think the Underground Press did a few too. Baby was a little later and maybe a little ‘bigger’… I caught them in concert in Amarillo a time or two, probably at the Civic Center (or Tri-State Fair) and I think also at ‘Fuzzy’s Place’. What great music and great memories…

  14. They used to play at my High School… Mar Vista HIgh..in Imperial Beach round 1969-71.. maybe once a year . My favorite band that came through..

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