The Omens

The Omens are famous for one of the hottest garage 45s of all time, “Searching,” which was recorded on the Cody label in July 1966 backed with the fine “Girl Get Away”.

The Omens, Searching on Cody

I’ll never forget the insistent fuzz riff and opening lines “Searching… searching for love. I’ve been searching… searching for love” blasting from the old Highs in the Mid 60′s Chicago comp. After just 40 seconds the band has pounded through the opening and the first verse. Frantic screams and it’s right to a tight bubbling organ solo. Then the second verse, even wilder screams and a searing, un-overdubbed guitar solo. If you were looking for an archetypical garage song, you would have a hard time coming up with a better one than “Searching”.

Though long presumed to be a Chicago band, as I heard from one of the Omens’ organ players, Duane O’Donnell, the band more properly came from Hammond, Indiana. As it turns out, Duane played on a now-lost demo recording of “Searchin’”. In June of ’66 he was replaced by Al Patka who plays on the single released on the Cody label.

The Omens’ story in Duane’s own words follows:

The Omens were based in Hammond, Indiana – which borders the South side of Chicago. Tim, the drummer, was from Merriville and Larry, the bass player, was from Gary.

Don Revercomb – main vocal and guitar – age 16 (at time of recording)
Gene Cooper – lead guitar – age 18
Larry Allen – bass guitar – age 19
Tim Jones – drums – age 19
Duane O’Donnell – organ – age 15

I was with the Omens during 1965 and 1966, and had to leave when I contracted mono. In retrospect, it was a great experience. Don’s father was totally set on making his son a rock star, and gave 101% of his time and probably money to make it happen. He had all of us join the American Federation of Musicians (Local 203) to make it legit. I really don’t know if we ever made any money, as Don paid me $15 a gig, and the rest went to the band fund (times haven’t changed).

We recorded ‘Searching’ in the living room of a second floor apartment in East Chicago where some guy had an Ampex reel to reel. That recording is mono, one track, one take, no overdubs. Don played a Fender Mustang into an Ampeg Rocket amp. Gene had a Fender Jazzmaster with a Gibson Maestro Fuzztone into a Fender amp. Larry used an Ampeg bass amp, the kind that stored the head upside down into the speaker cabinet. At the gigs I played a Wurlitzer electric piano into a Kalamazoo amp with two 10″s.

The guy at the ‘studio’ told me to play his Farfisa because the Wurlie was too noisy. It was like going from a Yugo to a Mercedes, since I had paid $100 for my beat up piano, and a Farfisa in 1965 was about $900. My ‘style’ back then was mainly gleaned from listening to an album by the Ventures that had some organ solos.

We performed in Chicago, Blue Island, Calumet City, Hammond, Gary, Portage, Glen Park and Cedar Lake. Since some of us were still in high school, we mainly played on the weekends, and practiced during the week at the Musicians Hall, because it had a stage. Venues were places like American Legions, VFW, Shindig and Hullabaloo teen clubs, and high school sock hops. After the record came out, all of our money went to local DJ Ron Borden, who played Searching nightly on WLTH radio and Gary, promoted our gigs, and appeared at them. One of my most memorable gigs was at the Purple Poodle Teen Club in Hobart, Indiana. We opened for the Troggs and Don made us wear long hair Beatle wigs (I’m chuckling as I write this), announcing to the audience that we were from England! I didn’t lke the wig at all, as it was too hot and really itchy. But old man Revercomb was a real promoter.

Carol, young Don’s lady friend, was 14 or 15, and usually sang a Marianne Faithfull song at our gigs. ‘As Tears Go By’ is the other B side. I missed getting a copy of that last year by a few days. I gave my only remaining copy of the 45 to Al Parka for his 40th birthday in about 1988. He was the original organist with the Omens and played a Lowrey portable. After I got sick, Al rejoined the group, but it broke up shortly thereafter. Tim worked swing shifts at the steel mill and had to make the choice of not calling off anymore or being fired. Gene’s girlfriend got pregnant and he had to get a fulltime job. Then Carol got pregnant and that was the last I heard (in 1968)!

In any case I was lucky to be part of the Omens for a short time. Larry Allen was an accomplished guitar, keyboard, bass and harmonica player and expanded my musical horizons. Being associated with a rock and roll band with a song on the radio had profound influence on the high school girls, putting me on a par with the sport jocks! And it made it possible to dump the Wurlitzer and buy an Imperial Capri (Korg Panther) organ.

Since hearing from Duane, I have not been able to find any photos of the group or business cards for the band. If anyone has a photo of the group, please get contact me!

A second 45 had a more limited promo release featuring a cover of “As Tears Go By” with an original, “September”. “Searchin’” was written by Larry Allen and Donald Revercomb. “Girl Get Away” is credited to Donald Kenneth Revercomb and Carmen Provenzano, as is “September”.

Gene Cooper wrote to me:

I played in two bands before I started the Omens. I loved playing in the Omens. We had a pretty tight group and all the guys were great. One thing I must say though, the organ player in the group was my best friend by the name of Al Patka, and he is the one who played on the record. We did cut one other 45 at the studio at the same time with the wife of the lead singer singing the songs. One we wrote by the name of “September” and a Mick Jagger tune “As Tears Go By”. Where to find a copy of that one? We had pictures of the band, but I never really had one myself.

Gene added in a comment, below:

Duane O’Donnell was never an official member of this group. I went to Al Patka’s house, my best friend, and asked him if he wanted to be in a band I wanted to get going. He agreed and he was the only organ player in the band until we broke up. He was the organ player on all the 45′s we did in Chicago. Al passed away in August, 2008

Tom Cleary wrote:

We recorded the Omens in Ron Henningsen’s basement, yes, on an reel to reel Ampex. The professional recording was done however at “Onederful Records near 18th Street and Michigan Avenue. Onederful’s claim to fame was they had done “Shake a Tail Feather” by the Five Dutones. My friends, Fred and Ron handled the studio recording. They handed me the tapes of the session, to see what I could do with them.

Later, Duane cleared up this confusion:

I only kept the record as a memento of my time as the organ player for the Omens, from July 1965 to June 1966. While I performed on the demo tape that got the band the contract for the 45, I became ill, had to leave the group, and did not perform on the July 1966 recording.

Organist Al Patka passed on in 2008, and singer Don Revercomb passed in 1994.

Thanks to Tom Cleary for scans and transfers of Carol’s 45.

24 thoughts on “The Omens”

  1. Just to update things a little. My father Donald Revercomb II passed away of cancer on January 7, 1994. However, to my dismay, there is ANOTHER band here in Denver, Colorado calling itself the Omens and their music, although not plagiaristic the same as the REAL Omens is a little uncomfortably similar. They even bill them selves as some 60′s psychedelic punk garage band when they only formed in January of ’04!!! Plus, just to add insult to injury they try and steal the awesome scream that seasoned songs like “Searching” so well.

  2. The Omens from Denver are a great current rocking garage band though not the same guys as the guys from Hammond Indiana from the 1960′s.

  3. My name is Carol (Buehler-Revercomb) Federoff.
    I found this website today through a co-worker whom I had mentioned to, that I used to sing with a band called the “Omens” from Hammond, IN. She ‘googled’ it and showed me this website.
    This brings back lots of memories of fun times!
    The Omens played throughout the Chicagoland & NW Indiana area with groups like The Music Explosion, The New Colony Six, Sam & Dave and so many more.
    A ’60′s thing’ was ‘band wars’. One group the Omens competed against at a band war at the Hammond Armory, was a little known- really good group who won that night. A few months later they appeared on TV as the Jackson 5. Little Michael was about 9 yrs old and came up to my shoulder back then.
    Yes- the Purple Poodle on Central Ave in Lake Station was a ‘hoppin’ place in the 60′s- so was Shindig & Hullabaloo. Anyone remember Madura’s Danceland in Whiting, IN? The Omens played there a lot & Midway Ballroom in Cedar Lake, IN was where we played with the Yardbirds.
    My former husband was Donald Franklin Revercomb II. We started dating right after I turned 15. He had just started singing with the band “The Omens”, who was under the management of Lloyd Korth at that time. Lloyd’s stepson, Dan Royal was the drummer back then. Alan Patka was on keyboard, Gene Cooper on lead, Don played rhythm and was lead singer. Don, Gene, Alan & I all went to Gavit High School together. I don’t remember if Larry Allen was in the Omens back then, but he was later- for sure & was quite the musician! After a few months, Don’s dad (my ex father-in-law) took over as manager. Dan Royal quit as drummer and another guy joined the group. (can’t remember who that was at the moment- but am trying to contact Gene Cooper to help me out here- after all… it’s been over 40 years since we were all together!)
    Anyway- I started singing a few songs with the Omens a short time later.
    Don Revercomb II wrote “Searching” with Larry Allen & the flip side- “Girl Get Away” with Carmen Provenzano- a close friend of his. I spent many evenings with Don- watching him strum away at his guitar & creating lyrics for his songs. Don had a good voice & everyone swears the song “96 Tears” sounded just like him.
    Don & Carmen also wrote the song that I recorded -”September”. The flip side of September was “As Tears Go By” which was written by Mick Jagger & Keith Richards. (we all know them) Marianne Faithful had also recorded that song after Mick recorded it. I remember we had to write Jagger’s ‘company’ to get permission to record it.
    However, we did not record our records in East Chicago, IN. We recorded them in July of 1966 when Don was 17 & I was 16 (1 week before we married-way too young!) at a recording studio on Cermak Rd in Chicago, IL- the same night that Richard Speck murdered all those nurses & not too far from we were recording. That’s something I’ll never forget!
    We had professional pictures taken of the Omens at one point, but I never got any of them when Don & I split up.
    I have copies of our records- the old ’45s’. Both copies have pretty much ‘seen better days’. There are chips & cracks in them. Wish I knew where I could get a decent copy. For my birthday a few years ago, our children Don, Melissa & Kari, had a CD made for me with the songs I recorded on the CODY label- which was a nice surprise.
    Many times I’ve wondered what happened to all the guys in the band. As I said earlier- those were fun days!

  4. It’s so nice to learn history of little-known garage band of 60s. But I’ve a question : Where can we find Omens’ material? (“Seraching” is on Pebbles 6, but other songs?)

  5. I find it laughable that people keep referring to illegal bootlegs manufactured by those behind the “Garage Greats” operation as “Reissues”.
    Once again, it’s time to present proper terminology:

    REISSUE = a re-release of a previously issued record from the past, via LEGAL consent or contract, and often with direct involvement of the group or artist (paid royalties or some reimbursement for their source).

    BOOTLEG/REPRODUCTION (REPRO) – an unauthorized pressing of a previously issued recording, sometimes manufactured to resemble the original artifact. Sound quality is far less impressive in sound than the original, due to substandard source material.
    No permission granted by copyright owners etc.or involvement with people in the group. Repros are often shoddy, sub-par in sound quality, and lack detail.

    COUNTERFEIT – an unauthorized pressing made specifically to fool a potential collector / buyer etc. into believing they are purchasing an original artifact, often at a high cost. Usually the work of a professional, who pays extreme attention to all details and nuances of the original.

    The Omens 45 (anything done by the Garage Greats tandem) is a bootleg, and a rather poor one at that in sound and visual. It doesn’t sound anything close to the original 45, a shame, since the high asking price should reflect a quality effort. The website brags of top-notch sound, well, not on the discs I have heard. They obviously don’t know what they are doing in matters of sound reproduction.
    Shutdown comp for “Searching”, and 60′s Rebellion for “Girl Get Away”. For nearly the same pricetag, you get an entire LP / CD of songs!

  6. Boy, was I astounded to find this website. I was bored today, and just decided to punch in the name “The Omens” and “Indiana”.
    Two other fellows and myself were the owners of Cody records back in the mid 60′s. My uncle, Richard Flanagan, recommended a coworker on the railroad whose son was in a band and had some original matierial.
    We recorded the Omens in Ron Henningsen’s basement, yes, on an reel to reel Ampex.
    The professional recording was done however at “Onederful Records near 18th Street and Michigan Avenue. Onederful’s claim to fame was they had done “Shake a Tail Feather” by the Five Dutones.
    My friends, Fred and Ron handled the studio recording. They handed me the tapes of the session, to see what I could do with them.
    I took one of each up to WLS radio in Chicago one afternoon. I did not have an appointment.
    I asked to speak to Clark Weber, the station manager at the time. They asked me to take a seat.
    I must admit I started to feel extremely stupid to think that I could get a record played this way, but short of making a mad dash for the door, I had to ride it out.
    After about 10 minutes I was told “Mr. Weber” would see me. Nevervously, I walked back to his really small office, and stuttering asked him if he would listen to the tapes. He agreed. He pulled an old Wollensak recorded from below his desk. He played about 10 seconds of the openind, middle, and end of each.
    He then said he like both, but particularly like “As Tears Go By”. However, he said that it had been done so many times, it would be difficult to put it back on the playlist again. Searching, on the other hand was new and he thought that would work. I asked “Would you play it?” He said yes, but of course I would have to get it pressed into records and get a company that specializes in reping records to stations.
    Elated, I left and contacted my friends back. They then brought “Searching” to Musical Isle Record Company. They were handling Frank Sinatra’s Stranger in the Night and 96 Tears at the time.
    Two weeks later they published the weekly “Hot List”. Bulleted at Number 1 was Frank Sinatra’s Strnager in the NIght. Number two was “Searching” and number three was 96 Tears. Of course, we were number two before we had even delivered the pressings to them. Hmmmm. I guess that is the record business.
    WLS picked it up and started playing it. What happened after that I could tell you, but it would take some time. If anyone wants to hear the “Rest of the story”, I would be happy to recount the details from our end.

  7. Spot on Mike,as always.If people do want to do re-issues at least try and get the permission first and sound quality done.The garage greats could be great as there are some good selections but nothing amazing or not comped before and the Uk price of £6-7 is steep to say the least.Many of the presses are off centre and label repros clipped.Obviously most regulars here will search for the originals(if we can afford them)but there have not been a large numberof 45s reissiues so quickly for a while.Probably someone making a quick buck.

  8. Actually the Pink Poodle was on DeKalb street in East Gary at the time, later to be Lake Station(the true original name of the city)That was the spot along with The Hullabaloo in the Portage Mall, and smaller clubs like the New Chicago Youth Center by River Forest High School and the East Gary Youth Center by the old East Gary High School.You mention the Jackson 5 and battle of the bands. I also had the pleasure of seeing them at an Indiana University Northwest Talent Show. They performed after the Chances R group and they even had their drummer sit in with the Jackson 5. Needless to say they won and went on to Detroit to record. This would have been in ’66 when I was in a band called “The Daze of Tomorrow”. We played the circuit of Eagles Lodges, Moose Lodges, youth centers and also an Indiana Beach band contest. The New Chicago Youth Center was our home spot and it was great times on friday nights to see all of our friends from River Forest show up and have a fun time. Those were truly times that I will never forget.

  9. I am Alan Patka’s son.I decided to google “The Omens” today and lo and behold, here you all are.
    I remember my Dad talking about this band he was in with his lifelong friend “coops” and the rest of you. As some of you may know Al passed away last year in August after cancer finally got the best of him. He always loved his days playing in bands and “The Omens” was really first for him. He has instilled in me the love for and ability to play music thankfully, and through that he will live on as long as my fingers still remember where there suppose to go!
    I also remember him having a copy of a 45 of The Omens. I’m going to ask his wife Mary about it. Im sure its there amongst his things. You can contact me at scottpatsc@yahoo.com. Bye for now all!

  10. Nathan,Your Dad was my cousin and you may have already spoken to my sister
    Sue Myor. I am currently lead singer for a couple different bands and would like to cover Searchin’ and Girl Get Away. Can you send me the lyrics or can I find them on the web? I don’t want to get it wrong.

  11. You are so correct…Garage Greats is nothing more than an underhanded, illegal counterfeit/bootleg operation. They do not have permission from any of the artists or songwriters whose matferial they steal, and they pay nothing to the artists, songwriters, producers or anyone else involved with the original recordings. They have been able to get away with it as nobody can find them. They have no real website or address. They only sell their pirated materials on My Space, and there is a very good chance that will end soon, as I personally am going after them and i WILL FIND THEM, and then they will pay the royalties and turn over all profits to the original artists and pay hefty punatuive damages as well.

  12. I was 5 in 1966, but heavily into music. Somewhere about 1970, I met a Tom Cleary
    who lived about 3 blocks from River Forest High School. There were some evening classes in
    electronics and we met there. Seemed like he was about 18 or 19, and really into radios.
    Is this the same Tom Cleary who has posted comments here?
    I grew up in Hobart, and am proud that such a scorching song came outta da region.

  13. Gene is is a personal friend,and still alive and kickin. contact me if you haven’t already gotten in touch with him.

    Pete Peterson

  14. Sorry, but not the same. In 1970 I was living in Beverly and finishing up my degree at Roosevelt. The next year brought an opportunity to move to Atlanta where I have been ever since.

  15. Yes, Searching was played alot ont WLTH in 1966. I am impresed that you remember that. My name is Gene. I was the lead guitar player on the record. It was my band that I started in 1965. Thank you for submiting a reply on this site. It’s nice to still be remembered….THANK YOU, GENE

  16. I just want to say for about the third time, Duane O’Donnell was never an official member of this group. I went to Al Patka’s house, my best friend, and asked him if he wanted to be in a band I wanted to get going. He agreed and he was the only organ player in the band until we broke up. He was the organ player on all the 45′s we did in Chicago. Al passed away in August, 2009. Not a better man would you ever meet. God bless you buddy….

  17. Back in early 60′s do you remember a band called the 5 Sins jesse Lopez lil dave drummer i have been looking for that album they cut at bud pressners for ever drummer was my kids father lil dave lara from liverpoll gang. thanks kathy

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