The Emperors

The Emperors Wickwire PS Laughin' Linda
from left: Stan Foat, Steve Watts, Bill Hughes, Randy Siegers, Brian Cameron and Mike Elam

The Emperors were a southern California group based in Long Beach and not from San Bernadino as I’ve read elsewhere. Their sound had origins in a pre-Beatles rock and r&b style. They toured throughout southern California, including the Balboa Ball in San Diego.

As Steve and the Emperors they released their first 45, “Great Balls of Fire”/“The Breeze and I” on the Best label.

Then came two records on the related Wickwire label. The first was “A Fool For You I’ve Been” / “Searchin’ Around the World”, both written by Bill Hughes (Wickwire 13003). (See this page for more info on Wickwire and Best.)

Emperors Business CardThe next was a cover of Australian pop singer Tony Barber’s “Blue Day” backed with a good rocker, “Laughin’ Linda”, which was written by Cameron-Watts. This 45 was produced by John Hodge and Larry Wilson, and arranged by William F. Williams. Despite the bleached moptops on the sleeve, at this point their forte was strictly 1963 era pop, as the ‘Wipe Out‘ intro on “Laughin’ Linda” attests.

Stan Foat has noted the band’s lineup at this time:

Stan Foat, bass
Steve Watts, drums
Bill Hughes, guitar
Randall Seiger, guitar
Brian Cameron, saxophone
Mike Elam, saxophone and vocal on “Blue Day”

In the spring of 1965 they released their next 45 on the Sabra label. The A-side is a fine jangly ballad, “And Then“, but for the flip they fashioned an entirely different sound. A pounding bass and drum beat punctuated with staccato guitar notes sets up the leering vocal “Let me tell you a story …” and then the refrain: “He-e-e-y woman … I want my woman”! This is the kind of intense, demented record garage fans live for!

Both sides were written by Bill Hughes who also sang on “I Want My Woman”, arranged by Glen Spreen, and produced by Lelan Rogers before he returned to Texas. For a long time there was confusion over whether this was a Texas group because Rogers included “I Want My Woman” on Epitaph for a Legend, which compiled rare tracks of bands on the International Artists label.

The Emperors have one last 45 on the Two+Two label that I really want to hear, “You Make Me Feel So Good”/“Love Pill”. I wonder if there was a change of band members before recording “I Want My Woman”. If not, I’d have to say the Emperors did an incredible job of adapting to the trends in the music scene at the time. One change that definitely happened was Bobby Cochran replacing Randy Seiger on lead guitar, but I don’t know if this happened before or after the Sabra 45 was recorded.

John “Chris” Christensen of Opus 1 recalled the Emperors:

Steve Watts, (the leader of that group) and I met early in 1963 when he offered to help me set up my drums at a gig at the Poly Hutch, which was The Poly High School Youth Center.

I used to have a copy of “Love Pill,” but it seems to have gone away. It was a novelty song, in a sort-of Coasters style. The lead guitarist, by then, was Bobby Cochran, whom, I believe was Eddie Cochran’s nephew.

Bill Hughes was a member of the band indeed, and is the lead singer on “I Want My Woman.”

They changed their membership many times over the years, with the constant always being drummer/singer Steve Watts.

They also released an album in the late 70’s, when they were know as “Emperor.” The keyboardist from that version of the group who was also a member of early 60’s Long Beach band “The Illusions” was Mike Lobbett. Mike and I had a really hot duo in ’78- ’79 for about 8 months.

Spider Taylor (Emperor, Delaney Bramlett, Hey Taxi, and Red Wedding) was also the guitarist for my group, Midnight Flyer, in ’75.

Fan club president Renee Bagley wrote to me about the group:

I am not sure who the members were of Emperor. I knew them more intimately when they first started and had the white hair (The Emperors). I saw them later but I was there at their beginnings.

Steve sang then but was not the lead singer, Mike was the lead singer (the one on the far right of the picture). He left because he didn’t like having his hair bleached white. People made nasty remarks. Most of them at the time were going to Long Beach City College. He was engaged at the time so he just wasn’t into their image.

Then Steve started singing more lead parts. Bill did a lot of the singing too but he left and I think he got drafted … don’t remember now. Then Randy, the guy who is Javanese went I believe it was into the Navy (Vietnam War). I wrote to him a couple of times but don’t know what happened to him. He was a very nice guy.

Then there was Stan on the far left who was my favorite at the time who had a g/f who was always there when they played. He was the bass player.

I think Randy was the lead guitarist. Then they got Bobby who was youngest of them all at that time. They weren’t wearing their hair white when he came into the group.

 

The Beckett Quintet

The Beckett Quintet photo
The Beckett Quintet, featured in KRLA Beat, October 16, 1965. L-R: Steve Nagle, Tommy Muncrief, Norm Reccius, Tim Taylor and Barry Dunkeson

A great 45 by the Beckett Quintet; the producers must have had high expectations, as hundreds of copies exist on the original Gemcor label and this was also picked up by A&M.

“No Correspondence” has been featured on plenty of compilations since its original release, but there was very little information out there on the Beckett Quintet.

Freddy Fortune sent me these clips from the amazing KRLA Beat newspaper site – a full page article on the guys! Now we know, the band consisted of:

Tommy Muncrief, vocals
Tim Taylor, guitar
Barry Dunkeson, guitar
Norm Reccius, bass guitar
Steve Nagle, drums

They were actually students at Eastern New Mexico University in Portales, by the Texas border. Over a hundred miles northwest of Lubbock, it’s even further from Amarillo, Albuquerque or Santa Fe, but only fifteen minutes away from Clovis, where Norman Petty ran his studio. I wonder if they ever stepped foot in there.

Most of the article is about how the band saved to move to Hollywood, but, having been ripped off by a manager, they made the journey on a shoestring and half-starved while looking for a break. The subtitle is Cinderella Story, but the band disappeared soon after. What happened to them? What about the stacks of original material that the article talks about – any demos out there?

“No Correspondence” was written by Tim Taylor. The flip is a decent version of “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue”. Production was supervised by Nick Venet, a veteran producer with Capitol and Mira who worked with the Leaves, Lothar and the Hand People, and Mad River among others. This was the third and last release on Gemcor.

As a footnote, the article gives the band’s name spelled Becket 5 or Becket Quintet, but the record lists them as Beckett Quintet. It also spells the singer name as Tommy Munirief (I also had it as Tom Munifief) but I believe it should be Tommy Muncrief.

Beckett Quintet articleSteve Nagle wrote to me in November 2009:

I am Steve Nagle and played drums for the Becketts (formerly the Epics out of New Mexico).

The band originally came together as the Epics when we were all students at Eastern New Mexico University starting out playing fraternity and homecoming dances. Tim was a fantastic guitar player and we decided to start a band so I asked my Mom to send out my drums from Missouri – she sent the drum cases on the Santa Fe railroad and they arrived in Clovis, New Mexico at the start of my sophomore year. I had played professionally since I was 12 years old in my hometown of St. Joe with a rock and roll band called the Teen Kings and also worked in little jazz combos and Bill Geha’s Big Swing Band.

I read your remarks about Clovis and yes we got to be friends with the one and only Norman Petty and were in awe of his connections with Buddy Holly, the Fireballs and others. He took our band to lunch once after he had just returned from London and meeting the Beatles. We recorded in his studio and he helped us prepare some demos to take to California. Our other musical mentors were Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs. They told us we were the next big group out of the Southwest. That’s when we began to lag in our college work and took the band seriously and began getting calls to play all over New Mexico and the Texas Panhandle.

The most fun and spiritual times were playing the Indian proms and homecoming dances at various pueblos and little towns in New Mexico. We would drive around to band gigs in Barry’s Chevy Nova with a rickety trailer in tow. One night after playing the Zuni Indian Homecoming we stopped and got out of the Nova to admire the clear starry night and were enchanted by a very bright shooting star flashing a long trail cross the western sky. That moment was when we made a vow to go to California right after Spring semester and make our way in the music scene which as you know was at its zenith in those days.

Beckett Quintet Promotional Card
Promotional card sent with some copies of their Gemcor single, very rare now

We were working on a major album with A&M Records with Herb Alpert and Tommy LiPuma (following our Gemcor contract with Nick Venet) when I got my draft notice. I have some old masters.

We worked all around Southern CA but mainly the Sunset Strip and even fronted once for Dylan at a place called The Trip. We did see Bobby Fuller in California, shortly before he was murdered. We were invited to a Halloween party and Frank Zappa’s house. We saw the Lovin’ Spoonful, we played for Dick Clark, saw Big Brother and the Holding Company, Sonny and Cher, the Grassroots, et. al.

We even had a groupie who we were proud of, he had just spent time in New Mexico and returned wearing knee high moccasins, silver and turquoise jewelry, he wore a concho belt and sported long grey hair – his name was John Barrymore Jr. and he would come to our manager’s house often to listen and a few of our gigs then one day just disappeared.

After my draft notice from the Army in the Spring of ’65 the band got nervous and basically began to disperse and ended up traveling down separate roads.

After several years in government after my discharge from the Army, I went back to Hollywood and worked in a few films and TV shows and ran into Norm who was a practicing clinical psychologist, but we lost contact.

I have an occasional day dream about rounding up Tim, Barry, Norm and Tommy for a reunion and recording but they have all left only faint trails and I have not been able to make contact. I now play a lot of folk music with my Martin guitars and trying to learn the fiddle. I produced an album just last year featuring some of my original tunes, River Voices and Songs – it was a fund raiser for a local conservation organization. My drums are being used by a PhD student from Ghana at a Methodist church here in St. Louis.

The reason I’ll never forget our good year in Southern California is because we were such a close brotherhood and with that mix of Texas and New Mexican guitar work and vocals – we were unique and when we played we got goose bumps and felt deeply we had something special – if only for a brief shining moment.

Oh yes, by the way we were truly a garage band – our manager’s two car garage in Encino was where we rehearsed almost everyday.

Thanks to Steve for the information, hopefully we can hear the unreleased material someday.

After the Beckett Quintet split, Tommy Muncrief wrote and sang the title song for the feature movie “Didn’t You Hear”.

The Galaxies IV

The Galaxies IV
The Galaxies IV, photo courtesy of Alan Fowler

The Galaxies IV formed at Catholic school in Trenton in 1962. Members were T.J. Tindall on guitar, Chris Holmes on guitar and vocals, Charles Brodowicz keyboards, Len Demski bass, and Alan Fowler on drums. T.J. Tindall left the band early on when his family moved to Pennington; he eventually joined the Edison Electric Band.

The first Galaxies IV 45 was “Let Me Hear You Say Yeah” / “Till Then You’ll Cry” recorded at Regent Sound studios in New York City and released on the Veep label in June of 1965.

That summer of 1965 the Galaxies IV played forty shows during at the second session of the World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows, including eight shows at the New Jersey Pavilion.

The band received a notice in Billboard for winning the First Annual Rock ‘n Roll Olympics on Labor Day 1965 at St. John Terrell’s Music Circus in Lambertville, NJ. It was a huge battle-of-the-bands, judged by Phil Spector and Cousin Brucie Morrow. The notice lists Charles Brody instead of Brodowicz, and says Billboard had mistakenly reported the Rubytones were the winners in a previous issue.


The Galaxies IV at the 1965 Rock ‘n Roll Olympics
l to r: Chris Holmes, Alan Fowler, Charles Brodowicz and Len Demski

The Billboard notice also mentions a 45 already released on the Mohawk label, “Don’t Let Love Look Back” but I haven’t been able to confirm this exists.

The win led to features in the NY Times and Reader’s Digest (anyone have scans of those notices?).

In August of ’66 they did release a 45 on the Mohawk label, “Piccadilly Circus” / “I’m Goin’ For Myself” in August of 1966.

“Piccadilly Circus” is a version of the Rolling Stones’ “2120 South Michigan Blvd”, often covered by 60’s bands and usually retitled (other versions include Sly Stone’s “Buttermilk” and Thee Midniters “Whittier Blvd”).

“Piccadilly Circus” was picked up by RCA for national release with the Chris Holmes’ wild original “Don’t Lose Your Mind” on the flip in June of 1967.

Adding a lead vocalist, Steve Shier they changed their name to Galaxie V and then Alexander Rabbit, releasing an lp on Mercury. Afterwards, Chris Holmes took the stage name Duke Williams and led his own band throughout the ’70s.

Alan Fowler of the Galaxies IV
Alan Fowler of the Galaxies IV

Photo from the Cathedral High School 1969 YearbookInformation and photo sources included Trenton Makes Music (site now defunct) and Randy Now’s Sept. 5, 2007 show which features Duke Williams and T.J. Tindall. Thank you to Alan Fowler and Esther for additional photos for this article.


The Galaxies IV in 1969, from left: Charlie Brodowicz, Steve Shier, Alan Fowler and Chris Holmes (Len Demski out of frame)

The Galaxies IV
The Galaxies IV, from left: Charles Brody, Len Demski, Alan Fowler, & Chris Holmes aka Duke Williams
The Galaxies IV photo
L-R Alan Fowler, Len Demski, Charles Brody & Chris Holmes
GalaxieIs IV at the Allentown Fairgrounds with Gene Kaye of WAEB
GalaxieIs IV at the Allentown Fairgrounds with Gene Kaye of WAEB
L-R Chris Holmes, Len Demski, Gene Kaye, Alan Fowler & Charles Brody

The Myddle Class

The Myddle Class photo: Danny Mansolino, Dave Palmer, Rick Philp, Charlie Larkey, Myke Rosa
(from left) Danny Mansolino, Dave Palmer, Rick Philp, Charlie Larkey, Myke Rosa

Rewritten July, 2011

Dave Palmer (vocals)
Rick Philp (guitar)
Danny Mansolino (organ)
Charles Larkey (bass)
Michael “Myke” Rosa (drums)

The Myddle Class had three poorly-distributed 45s and little chart action, but there’s a lot more to their story than the releases suggest. Below is a short overview of their career.

They started as the King Bees in suburban New Jersey, in the Passaic Valley towns that border I-78 southwest of Summit. Dave Palmer and Rick Philp came from Warren Township, Myke Rosa from Berkeley Heights, Charles Larkey from Mountainside and Danny Mansolino from North Plainfield.

One account I’ve read says some of the group first got together as the Four Classics, with Danny Mansolino on vocals, Rick Philp on guitar, Myke Rosa on drums and Kurt Gabrook on bass. The band had one job at Hobby Hall, a formal dance school in Summit, where they played for classes until being fired for playing too many Rolling Stones songs. Danny Mansolino started out playing accordion and joined the group specifically because Rick wanted someone to play organ; Al Aronowitz wrote that Danny learned how to sing later but Danny says that’s not correct.

In any case, the King Bees had started by 1964: Dave Palmer was a student at Watchung Hills Regional High School along with Rick Philp, and he became their singer. Danny Mansolino attended North Plainfield High School but had joined the group on organ. At first Chris Irby played bass, but when he decided to quit, drummer Myke Rosa brought in Charles Larkey, a friend of his from Governor Livingston Regional High School. Charles was only just learning the bass when he joined, but he had good stage presence and sharp clothes from his father’s store Larkey’s in Newark, which kept up on London fashions.

The King Bees live shows became legendary – one concert at Governor Livingston High in Berkeley Heights included versions of “Shout”, “She’s Not There” and an original, “It’s the Season”.

Myddle Class early band photo, taken in Carole King & Gerry Goffin's backyard: Myke Rosa, Rick Philp, Danny Mansolino, Dave Palmer and Charles Larkey
An early photo of the band, taken in Carole & Gerry’s backyard, photographer unknown
Front to back: Myke Rosa, Rick Philp, Danny Mansolino, Dave Palmer and Charles Larkey

Myddle Class Tomorrow 45 Free As the WindAfter a concert at the Berkeley Heights CYO in December of 1964 the band met New York Post columnist Al Aronowitz, who had heard about the band through his babysitter. Al became their manager, even though he hadn’t done any artist management work before. His home in Berkeley Heights became the group’s base. Aronowitz introduced them to Carole King and Gerry Goffin, the husband-and-wife song writing team who were then living in West Orange, New Jersey. Goffin and King agreed to write songs and produce the group.

There’s a rumor of the King Bees recording an album Soul in White Suburbia, which seems unlikely, but Al Aronowitz wrote about shooting a short film featuring the band, though it may not have been completed. Supposedly the director was avant-garde artist Barbara Rubin (a friend of Andy Warhol, Bob Dylan, Allen Ginsburg and Jonas Mekas) and had the title The Suburbs of Heaven. However, I can’t find any confirmation of this in accounts of Rubin’s career, though many of her works haven’t been cataloged or made public yet.

Myddle Class Tomorrow 45 Gates of EdenIn the fall of ’65 the King Bees changed their name to the Myddle Class to distinguish themselves from Danny Kortchmar’s King Bees who just had a release on RCA Victor. In October, Goffin and King signed a production deal for their new label, Tomorrow, with Atlantic-Atco, expressly to release their first single with the Myddle Class.

Billboard reviewed “Free as the Wind” in December 1965: “New label, new group and new Goffin-King material has smash hit possibilities. Folk rocker is a powerhouse!” Rick Philp and Dave Palmer share writing credit with Goffin and King. Despite the promising review, I can only find evidence of the single hitting the radio charts in Albany, New York in early ’66.

The flip is a moody garage version of Dylan’s “Gates of Eden” that I think is among the best covers of Dylan ever done.

Myddle Class Summit High flyer, with pitchfork photo by John Lynch: Dave Palmer, Charles Larkey, Myke Rosa, Danny Mansolino and Rick Philp
Flyer for the Summit High show, with pitchfork photo by John Lynch
from left: Dave Palmer, Charles Larkey, Myke Rosa, Danny Mansolino and Rick Philp

On December 11, 1965, the Myddle Class headlined a legendary concert at the Summit High School Auditorium with opening acts the Forty Fingers and the Velvet Underground. Al Aronowitz produced the show and booked the Velvets. In fact, it was the first time Lou Reed, John Cale and Sterling Morrison billed themselves as the Velvet Underground and was also their first live show with Maureen Tucker on drums!

I’ve seen it written that Aronowitz was helping the Velvets out after they had been fired from the Cafe Wha?, but they had played at that venue much earlier in ’65. Just after this concert, Aronowitz did acquire a residency for them at Cafe Bizarre. He would get the Myddle Class into both clubs in 1966, along with the Night Owl Cafe and the Cafe Au Go Go. Aronowitz claimed he was taping the Summit show, but someone from the Velvet Underground stole his new Wollensack tape recorder. The live tape has never surfaced, which is a shame, though all accounts say the Velvets received a very mixed reaction from the audience.

Review of the Summit High concert by Rob Norris<br /> Excerpt from "I Was a Velvetten", reproduced from Kicks #1 with permission
Review of the Summit High concert by Rob Norris
Excerpt from “I Was a Velvetten”, reproduced from Kicks #1 with permission

Myddle Class Tomorrow 45 Don't Let Me Sleep Too LongThe Myddle Class’s second single, “Don’t Let Me Sleep Too Long” was a #2 hit on WPTR in Albany during the summer of ’66. The ballad flip is a driving slice of cool teenage angst, “I Happen to Love You”, and, in my opinion, their best recording. It may have been one of the songs Goffin and King intended for the Monkees, but they never recorded it. Their loss, but a revamped version of Them without Van Morrison did an effective cover of it.

Myddle Class Tomorrow 45 I Happen To Love YouDespite the band receiving song writing credit on the label, “Don’t Let Me Sleep Too Long” was likely taken from the Blues Project’s “Wake Me, Shake Me”, a staple of that group’s live sets throughout 1966. The Blues Project had adapted the song from traditional spirituals going back to the early 20th Century or earlier. The Blues Project recorded a demo in January ’66 and then a finished version in August that was used for their album Projections, released in November 1966. The Myddle Class beat them to first release by rushing their 45 out in June, ’66!

Myddle Class West coast pressing of their second 45, probably rush pressed when the song hit on KFXM in San Bernadino in October '66
West coast pressing of their second 45, probably rush-pressed when the song hit on KFXM in San Bernadino in October ’66
Al Kooper stated to Lyn Nuttal, “The Blues Project let The Myddle Class open for them as a favor and in return, they stole their closing song! Nobody really even heard The Myddle Class theft in the US outside of New York City. The Blues Project’s version of “Wake Me, Shake Me” was the big version in the US and influenced a lot of young bands.” True, but for many teenagers who heard the record that summer, the Myddle Class recording will always remain THE version of the song. When this Myddle Class 45 was reissued on the Buddah label, “Al Kooper and the Blues Project” were credited for the arrangement.

The deal Goffin and King had struck with Atco to distribute Tomorrow fell apart after only three releases (two by the Myddle Class and one by Carole King, “A Road to Nowhere” / “Some of Your Lovin'”).

Bachs Lunch Tomorrow 45 You Go OnGoffin and King moved their distribution deal for Tomorrow to Cameo-Parkway, and their first release on a redesigned Tomorrow label was by the Bach’s Lunch, a girl group (with singer Darlene McCrea of the Cookies and the Raelettes – I don’t know the other members), with the Myddle Class providing the instrumental backing. The A-side was a remake of Goffin and King’s “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow”, but the real gem is an excellent Rick Philp and Dave Palmer song “You Go On”. Scott at Crud Crud wrote up a fine appreciation of the Bach’s Lunch record which I recommend reading.

The band had some regional successes, including good receptions in Montreal and Boston, a short residency at Ungano’s on the upper West Side of Manhattan, and a show in Smithtown, Long Island promoted by DJ Scott Ross that attracted over 3,000 people. However, a number of discouraging developments hurt the band around this time. They had a good audition with Tom Wilson for MGM Records, but supposedly Al Aronowitz didn’t allow the deal to go through. In February of ’67 they opened a show for the Animals, but their set was interrupted by problems with the microphones, and it seems the band worried this performance hurt their reputation with the press.

Myddle Class Tomorrow 45 Don't Look BackMyddle Class Tomorrow 45 Wind Chime Laughter

In April of 1967 the Myddle Class signed to Cameo-Parkway and released one last 45. The A-side “Don’t Look Back” was a cover of Temptations and, uniquely, produced solely by the group themselves. On the flip was the superb “Wind Chime Laughter”, with song writing listed by P. Palmer (actually Philp and Palmer) for Merlin Music, BMI, and production credited jointly to the Myddle Class and Goffin. Unfortunately Allan Klein took over Cameo-Parkway in August and ousted the band’s reps at the label, including Neil Bogart, leaving their new single without any promotion.

Esquire September 1967 Charles Larkey cover

Some of the Myddle Class appeared anonymously as models in ads photographed by Richard Avedon. One of Avedon’s photos of Charles Larkey was used for the cover of Esquire in September ’67. Larkey joined the Fugs in late ’67 with rival King Bee Dan “Kootch” Kortchmar for a series of shows at the Players Theater.

With some members away at college and pursuing other musical opportunities, the band was rarely performing live by this time. Their main activity came from recording demos for Goffin and King songs which would be placed with other artists. Supposedly they helped recorded and helped arrange demos of “Pleasant Valley Sunday” and “Porpoise Song” for the Monkees, but I have never heard their versions of these, nor a version of “Snow Queen” that they may have cut.

Myddle Class demos of Goffin-King songs that do exist include “Goin’ Back” (a single for the Byrds in October ’67), “I Can’t Make It Alone” (which would turn up on Dusty in Memphis) and a couple I’m not sure were used by other artists: “An Angel Walks Beside Me” and “Who Does He Love”. A Regent Sound Studio acetate of “Fun and Games” turned up and is excellent.

Dave Palmer and Rick Philp signed a publishing with Screen Gems-Columbia, the same publishers representing Goffin and King songs from this period. They received some income from this deal, but a promise from Don Kirshner to sign the group to Colgems never materialized, nor did he place any of their songs with artists. The band recorded demos of some of these Palmer & Philp songs, like “Man on the Bridge”.

Palmer and Philp’s original “I’ve Come Too Far” turned up on the b-side of a single by the Coven on SGC 15074 in 1968. This was produced by Gerry Goffin and engineered by Chris Hinshaw, indicating a west coast recording. Interestingly, the A-side, a cover of “I Shall Be Released” features a different female vocalist (and no David Palmer vocal) over the exact music track (pedal steel guitar and all) as it appears on the tape Al Aronowitz sold. It makes me wonder if “I’ve Come Too Far” also features members of the Myddle Class. I have my doubts that it’s the same Coven from Indiana who recorded for Mercury, MGM, WB and Buddah.

I’ve seen two other titles but I don’t have confirmation that either was recorded or published: “There’s No Easy Way Down” and “Paper Walls of Innocence”.

The Myddle Class circa late 1967: Dave Palmer, Myke Rosa, Rick Philp, Charles Larkey and Danny Mansolino, Bruce DeForeest and his girlfriend Ronnie
The Myddle Class circa late 1967: front and center is Dave Palmer
behind him, from left to right: Myke Rosa, Rick Philp (wearing hat), Charles Larkey and Danny Mansolino
In the background on the left side: Bruce DeForeest and his girlfriend Ronnie
Photographer unknown (possibly John or Thom Lynch)

Goffin and King divorced and relocated (separately) to California in early 1968, by which time the Myddle Class were effectively on hiatus. Rick Philp and Charles Larkey spent the summer of ’68 in Los Angeles working up arrangements with Carole King for songs that would appear on Now That Everything’s Been Said, the album by King’s group the City. Danny Kortchmar replicated Rick’s guitar parts for the final album, released in 1969. Charles Larkey and Carole had been seeing each other since before she left the east coast, and they eventually married in September 1970.

Myddle Class Buddah 45 Don't Let Me Sleep Too LongIn the fall of ’68 Danny Mansolino, Dave Palmer and Rick Philp were living in Boston, collaborating on songs with pianist and vocalist Lloyd Baskin. In March of 1969 they recorded a number of songs in the studio, including a new Goffin and King composition “Mr. Charlie”, and a couple by Palmer and Philp: “Redbeard” (their nickname for Al Aronowitz) and “Keys to the Kingdom”. I haven’t heard any of these yet. Rick, Dave and Danny planned to have Myke Rosa and Charles Larkey planned to join them and Lloyd for an album in the summer of 1969. Tragically, any future chances were dashed when guitarist Rick Philp was murdered by his former roommate in Boston in May of ’69.

Myddle Class Buddah 45 I Happen to Love YouAll the remaining members of the Myddle Class have had some involvement with music since. Danny Mansolino and Myke Rosa joined Jake and the Family Jewels for two albums on Polydor in 1969 and ’70. They added Dave Palmer as vocalist for a 1971 album on Elektra as the Quinames Band, including Ken Pine (who had played with Charlie Larkey in the Fugs) and Jerry Burnham. Dave Palmer may have had the biggest success as an early vocalist with Steely Dan and with his own group, Wha-Koo.

Buddah Records sampler LP Rock & Roll With Buddah for N.E.C. Convention Memphis February 1970Neil Bogart , after leaving Cameo-Parkway and joining Buddah Records, reissued “Don’t Let Me Sleep Too Long” / “I Happen to Love You” on 45 in mid-1969, with little impact. “Lovin’ Season”, an unreleased song originally titled “It’s the Season” and dating back to 1965, showed up on a sampler LP “Rock And Roll With Buddah” given away only at the N.E.C. (National Entertainment Conference) in Memphis in February, 1970. These releases were possibly a tribute to Rick Philp. “Lovin’ Season” is a great rocker with a repetitive organ riff and harmonica solo, and definitely sounds like it was cut at the beginning of the Myddle Class’s career.

Buddah Records sampler LP Rock & Roll With Buddah
Rare sampler LP with “Lovin’ Season”

Before Al Aronowitz passed away on August 1, 2005, he was offering a cassette copy of a collection or recordings by the Myddle Class called One Time Only through his website. The track list is below in the comments, below. It was not the Myddle Class’s rumored unreleased “album” as it includes recordings spanning their entire career, including their singles, the Bach’s Lunch songs and some of the demos mentioned here. The version of “I Can’t Make It Alone” is excellent but marred by a glitch in the tape. The only other track on it that I haven’t mentioned so far is one titled “Unknown Instrumental” that is really a home recording of a minute of Rick playing guitar in a jazz style.

Supposedly a legitimate release of their material is languishing because of legal troubles. It’s a shame, as I can’t think of another band that deserves a retrospective more than these guys.

I hear that Michael Rosa passed away on January 13, 2012.

Update: Be sure to check out the scans I’ve added to this site of business cards, two fan newsletters and other ephemera sent to me by Dan Mansolino .

Sources:

Kathy West’s A Song For You is a an excellent source of first hand information on the band and Kathy’s relationship with Rick Philp. See my review for more information.

Al Aronowitz wrote an extremely funny and interesting account of trying to break the band into the charts. I recommend it highly, but currently only an excerpt is available online.

Lyn Nuttal provides an exhaustive history of “Don’t Let Me Sleep Too Long” / “Wake Me Shake Me” on his fascinating Pop Archives site.

“I Was a Velveteen” by Rob Norris in Kicks #1 (1979)

“Tales of the Myddle Class” by Todd Abramson in Breakthrough #1 (1984) was one of the first appreciations of the Myddle Class and remains a good, if not always reliable, source of information.

Info on the Velvet Underground’s early gigs here. A review of the concert used to be online but has since vanished.

Thank you to Susan Palmer De Leon, who sent in two photos of the Myddle Class that I had never seen before. Thanks also to Brian Kirschenbaum and Jeff Lemlich for excellent 45s scans, to Steve for the tip about the Coven single, and to Mike Dugo for alerting me to “Fun & Games” on youtube.

 Bach's Lunch Tomorrow 45 You Go On white label DJ copy
Bach’s Lunch – white label DJ copy
 Bach's Lunch Tomorrow 45 You Go On blue label promotional copy
Bach’s Lunch – blue label promotional copy

Cole and the Embers

Here are two fine garage tracks from a Kirkwood, Missouri group.

The cool label shows it couldn’t be any earlier than late-’66 (named after the TV show of course), but I was surprised to see it listed in a database as a May, 1968 release. If so, it’s behind the times but sounding great, however, a band member disputes the late release date (see below).

“Hey Girl” rushes through verses and the catchy chorus, with a break for the organ solo, which really has a fine sound, followed by a quick guitar break.

“Love Won’t Hurt You” is much slower but has a brooding sound with the repeated high-pitched note on the organ, clipped rhythm on the guitar and harmony vocals. There’s a neat section halfway through as the band moves through chord changes, and this is repeated at the end of the song after the fuzztone solo and last chorus. Lepore-Martines wrote both songs. The label for “Love Won’t Hurt You” lacks the artist listing.

Lead guitarist Robert Lepore wrote to me with the history of the group, hopefully we’ll have some photos at a later date:

The band started up in 1965. It consisted of Perry Cole (singer), Reggie Shaw (rhythm), Jack Pebbler (keyboard), Scott Lay (bass), Charlie Cablish (drums) and myself (lead). Scott, Charlie, and I were the core of the group. As time passed we brought in Colin Johnson (rhythm), Steve Starr (keyboard), and Doug Paone (keyboard). At the time of the recording Cole was gone and so was the rhythm position.

We all went to and graduated from Kirkwood High School in Kirkwood, Mo. A town about 30 miles from St Louis in St. Louis County. We played many school functions (dances, pep rallies etc.) as well as parties and some of the teen clubs that were so popular then such as Kirkwood Teen Town and the Rainy Daze teen club. We and another local group called the Extremes [who cut “Facts of Life” on Star Trek 1221 as the X-Treems] drew over 1,300 hundred kids one Saturday night. We also played frat parties as far as SE Mo. State in Rolla, Mo. and as far east as DePauw Univ. in Indiana.

At the time we recorded the songs the band consisted of Steve Starr, Scott Lay, Charlie Cablish and myself. Scott and I did the singing. I did the main part on “Love Won’t Hurt You”. We recorded the songs in the basement studio of a local late night DJ named Nick Charles from a top 40 station called KXOK. We recorded at 9 am on a saturday morning. I can remember our voices almost cracking because of the early morning after a late night of playing.

We put parts of the songs together in studio and had a good time doing it. I remember the DJ barking out some instructions to us from the other side of the glass and Steve saying “OK big daddy.” to which he replied “Bullshit.”

As far as the label we had nothing to do with that. My dad took care of that end of it. Cole and The Embers appeared on one [only] side because of a labeling error and we didn’t really pick an A or B side because we thought both sides were good. Martinez was never in the group. He just collaborated with me on the songs.

Q. So the band kept the name Cole and the Embers after Perry Cole was gone?

We kept the name because most people called us the Embers or just the “‘Bers”

I believe the the release date you have is not accurate. I was still playing an old Hagstrom 3 pick up guitar at the time. I replaced it with a Fender Telecaster which I bought long before your release date. We sold about 500 copies localy and both sides of the record were played on a local undergound station that was just starting up. KSHE 95.5 FM.

The band officially broke up in the summer of 1968. Charlie graduated in 1967 but went to a local university. Perry, Reggie, Doug and I graduated in 1968. We all went to college. Perry, Reggie and I all went into the Air Force. Steve, Scott and Collin graduated in 1969. I haven’t kept in touch with any of them.

I did stay in music. The ten years I was in the service I didn’t play much but I did write a bunch of songs that I put on tape just for myself. Then in 1985 I put a classic rock band together called Backtrack. It was very successful in St. Louis and the surrounding area. The band stayed together for nine years when in 1994 my bass player moved to Dallas and I to Florida. In Florida I put another classic rock band together called Goldrush. Everyone in this band could sing lead. We had such great harmonies. I moved to Texas about a year and a half ago. And you know once you’ve got the bug the music’s in your blood so here I am, putting a praise and worship band together at church and I’m also putting another classic rock band together as well.

Robert Lepore
October 2009

Anyone have a photo of the group?

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