Kit and the Outlaws

Kit and the Outlaws, 1967
l-r: Kit Massengill, Joe Jesmer on drums, Jerry Colwell at the mic and Alan Rafkin

Outlaws In 45 Fun, Fame & FortuneKit and the Outlaws evolved from the Outlaws, the Dallas group led by Kit Massengill. As the Outlaws, they had a great early Texas garage 45 on the In label, produced by Tommy Allsup. Both sides, “Worlds Apart” / “Fun, Fame & Fortune” were written by Kit.

Kit and the Outlaws Blacknight 45 Don't Tread on MeWith a change of members, the group hit the big time with their second 45, a fuzzed-up version of “Midnight Hour”. It was picked up by Philips for national distribution in late 1966, mainly on the strength of the a-side. That’s a fine cover version, but it’s the b-side, Kit’s original “Don’t Tread on Me”, that gets the attention nowadays. The first BlacKnight pressings list the band as “The Outlaws”, later pressings read “Kit and the Outlaws.”

Members included:

Kit Massengill – lead vocals and rhythm guitar
Dennis Lowe – lead guitar
Jerry Colwell – keyboards
Alan Rafkin – bass
Joe Jesmer – drums

There is also one further 45 as Kit and the Outlaws, “Now Doubt About It” / “Mama’s Gone” on the Empire label, another of Bob Sanders’ labels. Both sides written by Kit Massengill and published by Tall Pine Music, Black Knight Production. I don’t know the date of this one, or where it fits in to the chronology of their releases, but it seems to be a rare 45.

Kit and the Outlaws Empire 45 No Doubt About It

Kit and the Outlaws Empire 45 Mama's Gone

Alan Rafkin - bass

I recently heard from keyboardist and occasional vocalist Jerry Colwell, and asked him about Kit and recording “Don’t Tread on Me”:

I met Kit in late ’65, he was working with the owner of the Cotton Club, a topless bar on Lemmon Ave. He had a bass player named Alan Rafkin, and drummer named Joe Jesmer, but needed a keyboard player and lead guitar. I was on my way out of a band called the Gobyzurks, we were a college and night club band in North Texas.

Dennis Lowe was the lead guitar and I was the organ player. Dennis and I went to high school together and were fairly good friends. Kit told us we had 2 weeks to learn about 50 songs and play nightly at this club.

Kit & the Outlaws, recording Midnight Hour at Sellers' Studio, Dallas
Recording Midnight Hour at Sellers’ Studio, Dallas


After about a year of playing night clubs in Dallas we recorded the record Midnight Hour/ Don’t Tread on Me. The Sellars Studio was close to downtown [2102 Jackson Street]. I sang on the song Don’t Tread on Me, as background.We had it pressed on the Black Knight Label. Frank Jolly at KBOX really liked us and would play the song every night, Finally all the DJ’s at KBOX started playing the song and it went up the charts. [It reached #1 on KBOX on December 2, 1966.] We were shocked that it was doing so good. KLIF wouldn’t play it cause we wern’t with a major record label.

Thanks to Bob Sanders, the recording engineer for the Celler studio and our manager, we got signed to a 5 year contract with Philips. And changed our name to Kit and the Outlaws.

Kit & the Outlaws

We played at a daily televised venue called “Something Else” [Sump’N Else] hosted by Ron Chapman, as well as opening for Sonny & Cher, The Hollies, Herman Hermitts, Noel Harrison, and The Byrds. We toured and had some great stories, like me and Kit putting a huge dead fish in the Galvez hotel swimming pool one night at three in the morning. Had pictures of Graham Nash and the Hollies drinking about 14 cases of beer before they went on at Will Rodgers in Fort Worth.By 1968 was almost 20 and still hadn’t completed high school, somehow lost interest due to work and touring. Can you imagine going to high school and having a #1 record. Needless to say I dated just about anyone, and I did!

Early days:

The Malibus, 1964

The Malibus, 1964

Started playing bass guitar and got with some older guys called the Centurys in Mesquite. Later [1964] formed my first band “The Malibus” with Don Doss, Gary Stultz, & Glen Milsap. Started playing in old bars down on Grand and Haskel Ave. These places had dirt floors, we used to put a hat down and play Jimmy Reed stuff. Thats how I learned blues harp.

Johnny Green of the Greenmen
Johnny Green of the Greenmen
Johnny Green of the Greenmen

The Kavemen backing Chuck Berry at Surfers a Go go
The Kavemen backing Chuck Berry at Surfers a Go go
The Kavemen backing Chuck Berry at Surfers a Go go
The Kavemen backing Chuck Berry at Surfers a Go go

Later joined the #1 Dallas band The Cavemen and played battle of the bands against Jimmy Vaughan and his band, and the Royals and others. In 1965 the Cavemen was the home band for a Night club “Surfers A Go Go” in Dallas, where we played with Chuck Berry, Roy Head, The original Drifters, Jimmy Velvet and Johnny Green and the Greenmen. We played at clubs all over Texas, my favorites were the “Bamboo Hut” in Galveston, and “Panther Hall” in Fort Worth, a televised event every week. We were also played at Louanns many times.

The Kavemen, Dallas 1965
from left to right: Roland Allen, Jimmy Allen, Rodney Vinyard, Tommy Fonseca, Bill Walden & Jerry Colwell

In 1965 my favorite club was the Purple Orchard in downtown were my buddy Little Anthony was the host. I could go in just about any night club in Dallas and get a drink for free when I was just 16. Had a great time one night with Fats Domino.



 The Gobezerks at the Sugar Shack in Mesquite
The Gobezerks at the Sugar Shack in Mesquite

In 1966 played with “The Gobezurks” a college and night club band, I dressed in drag for some of the songs and would fall off the stage as if I was drunk.The Outlaws broke up in spring of 1968 and I went on to form the Jerry Layne Orchestra with 10 various horns and a stand up bass with Teresa Morrision on vocals.

I still play a B-3 and have recorded and produced 3 live CD’s in Austin.

Jerry Colwell with Kit & the Outlaws
Special thanks to Jerry Colwell for his history of the band and photos.

Kit & the Outlaws Philips 45 Don't Tread on Me

49 thoughts on “Kit and the Outlaws”

  1. We had some great times together, remember that college deal in north texas where the people started throwing beer bottles at us and we had that chicken wire fence up in front of us. Hey have you heard from anyof the guys, dennis lives in Terrell but know one will give me his address. Do you still playand are you ever in austin?

  2. Great to see the pics of The Outlaws. I remember first meeting Joe Jesmer and the rest when Just Us Five were playing at “Yogi’s Club”. We all hit it off immediately and became a lifetime friends. Joe & I still get together now and then since we both live in S. Oklahoma. I’m still just as short and Joe is still just as ugly!!!!!

  3. This is neat. I met Kit in the 60’s at the Cellar in Ft Worth. I was a waitress and dancing girl there. I have a 45 of Midnight Hour. Have wondered what happened to him.
    Linda

  4. I met Kit at the Fort Worth Cellar in 1966 through my friends Carol Bennett and Janice Farr.I thought he was a good guy. I have the 45 of Midnight Hour and Dont Tread on Me. Kits version of Midnight Hour was twice as fast as the origional and featured a “fuzz bass” We didnt know how they got that sound, but it was COOL. Our resident electric wizard the late Jack Johnson made me one by copying a Vox Fuzzbuster schematic. Where is Kit today. Joe Reese aka Cellar Survivor.

  5. Nice article and pics! Great to see photos from the actual session for “Midnight Hour” at Sellers’ Studio (not Cellar). Bob Sanders was a brilliant engineer.

  6. hey Joe what ever happened to Scotter, remember that time we played in Bonham and we were invited to that home afteward, Kit was sitting on the couch between those 3 chicks and they were all over him, I started noticing there were alot of guys there and they were very friendly, I asked where was the bathroom and 2 guys asked if they could show me where it was, Ricky Surratt went with me. we started talkin bout these people and decided they were gay, so we decided to split real quick. On the way out another guy with us decided to steal gallon of vodka and away we went. He got drunk on the way home and had to throw up. When I got to Mesquite at 3:30 in the morning and dropped everyone off, I had to pee so bad I wanted to go blind. I stopped at broadway shopping center and jumped out of the truck and let it fly. All of a sudden this big spot light hit me and I jumped back behind the door. This cop was sitting there and I never saw him, He started his car and started driving over to me. I zipped up my pants so fast I got my foreskin caught in my zipper. Wow what pain. He got out and wanted my license and asked me where I had been, He followed me home just to make sure I wasn’t lying. I had to wake up my dad and he got some pliars and on the count of three he yanked the zipper and I was free. What a night.

  7. I played with Dennis Lowe in a band called Breckenridge in the early 70’s.
    His E-mail address was Dennis Lowe
    E-mail Address(es):
    dlowe82159@aol.com

    I was in a also in a band called the Velvet Dream that played at the Cinders club on Mckinney ave. Late 60s, early 70s.

  8. I grew up in Whitewright, Texas. Graduated in 1968. I think I remember seeing you guys at ETSU in Commerce when Midnight Hour was hot. My favorite group back then was Southwest FOB. I have exchanges some emails with Roger MCGuinn. I will ask him if he remembers you guys opening for The Byrds. We used to go to Louanns also. It was amazing where 16 yr olds could go in those days.

    I live in Edmond, Oklahoma. Where in OK do you live?

    Aren’t memories of the Good Old Days great?

  9. Jerry,

    This is so exciting!! I was your true love during the early years. I have never forgotten you. I would love to see you!! What a treat to find this web site!

    Love you!
    Sonya

  10. I remember John Reynolds. I thought he was a great keyboard player. I went to Velvet Dream rehearsals now and then. I transcribed the lyrics (which no one in the band could decipher)for their version of the Beatles’ “Come Together”.
    Syble and I danced to theri music at the Cinders for a couple of wonderful years.
    I met John again post Velvet Dream at a Safeway when he was working for Kraft, I believe. What happened to Ron McVay, Troy Potts, and/or Chuck Porter? Anyone still playing music?
    Great days dancing at the Cinders.

  11. I always liked the Royals, I considered them a great band. Emmitt and I played together in a band called the Gobezurks, made up of Emmitt Hickey, Dennis Lowe, Frank Chilles, Joe Tucker(I think was his name) Can you believe I still have recordings of us playing at the Sugar Shack in Mesquite. Look at pictures. I would dress in drag and sing rolling stones songs.

  12. Thanks for the photos and music. I saw dad this weekend in OK and we spent a few hours talking about the band. It is great to be able to share a bit of history with Joe’s grandkids.

  13. I have so enjoyed reading this page. My brother, Rick Pearson, was the lead singer from one of the garage band ” Ricky and The Royals” and my older brother Chris was the bass player. They started in south Texas in the early sixties and we moved to Mesquite, where they played the sock hops and skating rink circuits.

    I dated James Bates during part of his band days and was good friends with Emmett and the other guys in the band. That is where I met the love of my life, Rick Page, who started with the band as the piano/organ player. Lots of memories, lots of good times and I thank you for sharing your story and the pictures.

    Janice Pearson Hunter

  14. Hello Judy and Syble.
    About the days at the Cinders Club.
    We always had such a great time at the Cinders. I met my wife Sandra at that club,
    and met some lasting friends.
    Troy Potts is living in Carollton. Ron is living in Ft.Worth.. Chuck Porter was killed in a Car accident, Glen Nash was killed in a farming accident and Gary Crump died a few
    years ago of heart failure.
    Gary played, recorded and performed country music till he died.. I still play for friends and neighbors.
    Ron and I still correspond via E-mail.
    I am glad you have such good memories of those times at the Cinders.

    John Reynolds

  15. Hey Jerry,

    When you changed from the red Farfisa Emmett Hickey brought me by your house in Mesquite and I bought the black stands you’d made to stand up playing. You’d moved on from the Kavemen by then and was with Kit I think, I played a red Farfisa just like the one you had so the stands fit perfect. I was with the Kavemen for a year or so I went with Rodney, Roland, Jimmy, Freddie and Emmitt to see James Brown at Memorial Auditorium. That was trip in itself. The band played a lot out in Lancaster. I always wondered what happened to Freddie.

    I also jammed a little with Teresa Morrison in HS. Great voice.
    Rick Page

  16. I forgot the mention that in the late ’78. Alan would come in to a club I was working out in Richardson called the Chase Place. He was managing the Village Tavern at the time and we tried to get him to sit in more than once. Our band SSB moved on over to Dallas to the FoxChase(same owner) off I-75 and Spring Valley and worked there 2 years and yes when we left it was time to move on. RP

  17. WOW what a great job Jerry putting this memorabilia together. Ricky Page tracked me down on Face Book and I called him last night. It was great catching up after 40+ years. Then I called Jerry today. He could not beleive it was Emmett Hickey on the phone. I will do some research to locate Dennis Lowe and Jo Cutler. How cool would it be to bring everyone back together for kicks? Stay in touch my friends.
    LIVE
    LOVE &
    Laugh
    Emmett

  18. This is a Great site. My brother Emmett Hickey was in both bands & the Reverbs . I remember going to the skating rink & hearing them play. I wasn’t old enough to go to any other places. I had the biggest crush on Ken Cameron. LOL. Have ya’ll heard from him. I love the pics. Wish there was more of ya’ll together. Emmett , I always loved that shirt. I’ll keep checking out the site for updates. JoLynn

  19. Hey Sid. So you decided to stay a little nugget. The next time you’re in Texas come by and loan me some money (and bring some beers).

  20. It’s amazing what google can drag up. Let me know if you find me. The last time I saw Joe Cutler he was delivering mail and playing jazz at night. Chuck Chiles is working for a studio design company. I’m doing what I do best, nothing.

  21. They played at the twilight and broadway skating rinks at the sock hops an wentto Spruce High school in Dallas; Jimmy went to Samuel during 68-69; just an fyi

  22. Hello Dennis,
    I tried to E-mail you. I guess the e-mail address I have is wrong.
    Glad you are still kicking.. and doing nothing. Must be nice.
    Need to get out that guitar and play again.
    John

  23. Hey Dennis, was thinking about you today, and did a search and this blog came up, thought I’d say hi. Hope you’re doing well. Was thinking about all the hours we logged in the studio. Let me know where you are these days. Would love to talk.
    Dave

  24. I was in 9th grade when you guys played the Sugar Shack. My friends and I went to the Sugar Shack every Friday night! Do you have any other pictures of the Sugar Shack? Do you remember Club Uncle? It didn’t last long. Teresa and her siblings were my neighbors. Do you know what happened to her?

  25. I last saw Jimmy in 1970 at a club in east Dallas and he had really put on weight. I haven’t seen Roland since our last gig in 67 or 68 although I was married to his ex-wife from 82 to 85.

  26. I played guitar with the Outlaws at the beginning.. and sang on the records with Kit that we recorded in Odessa.
    What a hoot to run across this website. Where in the world is Kit now. I am still playing a few times a month.
    Thans for the memories.

  27. Joe, drop me a note and I will call you to catch up….you still bang the drums,,, I still pick a guitar every few weeks somewhere for fun.

    Ron

  28. Hey there, Jerry- Heard about you being in Austin (my daughter lives there) so wanted to send a note-
    The last time I saw you was late summer of 68′ after we graduated. We took dates to the drive-in and
    came back to your folks house (they were out) and had a good time.

    I went off to college the next week, and we never hooked up again.
    I am in Austin often, and would love to meet for a beer. E-mail me
    back or give me a call @ 870/826-6725 cell- now live near Hot Springs, AR
    in a cabin in the hills. Would love to catch up on the last 40+ years.

    Take care.

    Gary Ward
    Class of 68′

  29. My dad, Thomas Fonseca, was in this band. He is pictured above third from the right!! Thanks for posting this!!
    –Amy

  30. Gary Ward the legend still lives, and in a cabin in the hills. God must really like you! I had so many good times with you, shooting crows out of trees at 100 yards with a pistol or stalking the old water tanks at night shooting bullfrogs with a bow and arrow. Or going to the drive inn with some hot cuties and taking them back to my parents house, I wonder if Sonya remembers going there. Wooo Wooo.

    Well anyway, We had great times back then, I talked to Wayne Crommeans about 2 years ago, he’s doing good. Would love to hear from Larry Page or Bill Dossett who kicked the (shit) out of me with karate. I started taking karate because Wayne got the crap beat out of him and I tried to take on about 8 guys at once, took just enough karate to be dangerous to myself, got Bill to spar with me on the stage at MHS, latter I found out he was a brown belt. I named him Mr Bad ASS. I will give you a call, I live in Belton now! But I’m still playing.

  31. Actually Dennis played in another group called TRAX, I have the pictures to prove it.

    Been good reading about some history of music in Dallas.
    Lots of photos of groups I did, plus live stuff from Gerties and others.

    I was there taking pictures during the 70’s

    Dennis Recla

  32. Judy, Judy, Judy, I will never forget you, wow 44 years, congratulations! Looks like mom and pop Ravkind were worried over nothing. I think Alan came out way ahead on that deal. I knew yall were a beautiful couple.
    May God be gracious to you and Bless you and and make His face shine upon you. Gotta go I am playing for a missionary this morning in Austin.
    You should here the retake I did on MH & don’t tread. I think it came out pretty good.

    1. My, My, My, how in the xosq are you doing? I have so many great memories of you! We had so good times didn’t we. Email me at jerry.colwell@sbcglobal.net I am still playing all over central Texas and Carol and I are celebrating our 40th in July. Tell me whats going on with ya.

  33. For those who are curious about the Allen boys, Jimmy Allen has passed away, but Roland is still kick’n. Those guys were great together especially when we did Righteous Bros stuff. Two very talented entertainers. Jimmy will certainly be missed.

    1. Dear Jerry,
      I am so thankful for music. That said, I am also thankful for this site! It is invaluable as to remembering and revering the cool music that all you guys put out back in the day. Hopefully you all that are still around, are still pushing out the sounds for others to enjoy.
      I am writing in regards to the Allen brothers, including Roland, Jimmy, and their younger brother Larry (who never played in one of the bands with you guys, but was always there to dance the music). I had the pleasure to meet Roland around 9 years ago. The very same night I met Jimmy, and a short time later, Larry. They instantly became my best friends, buddies, and confidantes. Extremely cool dudes, to say the least. We shared many a happy night and day singing, dancing, and celebrating life together as brothers and a sister would. I loved them very much. They have all left us now, all three have gone on to a wonderful musical heavenly place now. I miss them so much. They enjoyed reminiscing about the 60’s and since I am a little bit younger, I enjoyed hearing all the info I could get them to share. The Kavemen also have a lil spot on this website and there are actually four songs to hear by clicking them, they are taken from an acetate original. As I learned you are playing on these. Very Cool.
      I continue to live near and visit Roland and Jimmy’s mom since she is still alive and doing great at 84 years old. I consider her another best friend. Roland always asked me that if anything ever happened to him to be sure and watch out for his mom…how much character he had…but he didn’t need to ask me I love her on my own.
      You guys were pioneers of rock music, and without your many hours of diligent practice and performance we would not have as many bands and rock musicians as we do today, I believe. So, Thanks! Jerry, I will be sure to check out your website.
      If you have any questions or comments about The Allen Brothers, or anything else my email is xtarax1@gmail.com. Peace2All.
      Rock and Roll Forever,
      TaraWhite

  34. Hello Kit!

    This is JP Massengill, one of the black sheep in the Massengill family from Terrell, Texas. Let me know if your are still alive!
    I love your music and have for years!

    John Paul Massengill Jr.
    Poetry, Texas

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