Baby Huey and the Baby Sitters

I’d like to focus on the early career of Baby Huey and the Baby Sitters – four songs released across five singles during 1964-1966, before Huey signed to Curtom and recorded the songs issued on his great posthumous LP.

These four are the influential “Monkey Man” and a great cover of Junior Wells’ “Messin with the Kid”, along with a fantastic soul number, “Just Being Careful”. His version of “Beg Me” isn’t bad, but it’s probably the weakest number on these early 45s.

Baby Huey was born James Ramey in Richmond, Indiana and formed the Babysitters in Chicago in 1963 with guitarist Johnny Ross and organ player/trumpeter Melvin “Deacon” Jones. Melvin Jones is brother of jazz drummer Harold Jones. Reno Smith was the drummer at some point (though I’m not sure if he’s on these singles). “Monkey Man” and “Just Being Careful” were both written by John R. Ross.

Other members of the Babysitters included Plato Jones on percussion, Danny O’Neil on guitar, Rick Marcotte on trumpet, and Byron Watkins on tenor sax.

Baby Huey died in a South Side motel room on October 28, 1970, after a show in Madison, Wisconsin.

Early 45 releases

The history of Baby Huey’s early singles is somewhat confusing because of the repetition of songs. Below seems to be a complete list from this time period:

Shann 73924 – Just Being Careful / Messin’ With the Kid (1965)
USA 801 – Just Being Careful / Messin’ With the Kid (April ’65)
St. Lawrence 1002 – Monkey Man / Beg Me (1965, issued on both blue and white labels)
St. Lawrence 1002 – Monkey Man / Messin’ With the Kid (1965, white label only)
Satellite 2013 – Monkey Man / Messin’ With the Kid (1967)

Some or all of the Shann 45s have the label name marked over with “USA”. I don’t believe “Monkey Man”/”Beg Me” exists on Satellite.

The St. Lawrence white label of Monkey Man was bootlegged in 2011.

In 2005 an acetate came up on auction that was supposed to be an unreleased instrumental by Baby Huey and the Baby Sitters. I had a sound clip up here for over a year before Mark Namath identified it as “Zoobie” by the Noisemakers. The acetate was probably a DJ or collector’s cut misidentified as Baby Huey – there’s no connection whatever between the groups.

Thanks to Dean Milano for scan of the photo of Baby Huey and the Baby Sitters at the top of the page. Check out Dean’s new book The Chicago Music Scene: 1960s and 1970s.

Transfer of “Beg Me” thanks to a fan of the group.

Gigs and announcements in the press

According to Billboard, promoter Barry Fey’s first production was a Baby Huey show in Rockford, IL. Eventually Huey and the Babysitters were managed by Marv Stuart’s State and Madison Management (listed as Marv Heiman on wikipedia).

Billboard and Jet magazines kept tabs on some of Baby Huey’s doings during the late ’60s. I’m sure Chicago newspapers from the time have more listings.

various months – Thumbs Up, Chicago
February 25 – Harmony Hall, Chicago
October – at Trude Hellers, also an announcement that Capitol Booking has signed the group

January- at Ungano’s club in New York
November 10-21 – at the Cheetah in Chicago
December 31 – at the Cheetah in Chicago with the Exception

March 16 – at the Jaguar with the Shadows of Knight
April 5 – The Deep End, Park Ridge, Illinois
May 31 – The Deep End
June 28 – The Deep End
July 9 – Hullabaloo Club, Genoa Road, Belvidere, Illinois
July 10 – The Deep End
July 12 – The New Place with Christopher Robin & Friends
July 19 – The Green Gorilla
July 20 – The Cellar, with the Byzantine Empire
July 26 – The Deep End
August 7 – The New Place with Fire and Ice
August 9 – The Cellar with the One Eyed Jacks
August 17 – The Deep End
November 23 – at Mother Duck with the Box Tops
November 27 – The Deep End

March 1 – The Wild Goose, Rt 120 & Lewis Ave, Waukegan, Illinois
March 22 – The Wild Goose
April – at Barnaby’s Balcony in Chicago and at the Cheetah in Chicago beginning April 21
May – Billboard reports the group scheduled to record their first LP for Curtom in New York.
May 6 – Appearance on the Soul! TV show, with Dee Dee Warwick, Lord Superior, Shirley Chisholm and Jacob Lawrence – anyone have a clip of this?
May 22 – The Chances ‘R’, Champaign, Illinois
May 21 – appearance on the Merv Griffin Show, in New York
June (2nd week) – Merv Griffin Show broadcast on various dates depending on city
August 14 – Jet announces that Baby Huey was “ailing a bit” in Chicago.

April 24 – Sound Storm Festival, Poynette, Wisconsin (There are a number of excellent photos at (Wisconsin Historical Society – search for Baby Huey or Sound Storm under photos and images.)
August 1 – Lou’s Quarry, Appleton, WI
October 31 – Drake University Homecoming Dance, Val-Air Ballroom (scheduled but cancelled due to Jim Ramey’s passing on the 28th, replaced by Just Us and the Batch)

Billboard also mentions that after Huey’s death, the Babysitters changed their name to Boink for at least one live show. However Robert Baker, in a comment below states “The Babysitters never changed their name to Boink. This was another concurrent group that had at least two ex-Babysitters in the group.” Live dates from publications including The Daily Herald (Chicago), the Des Moines Register, the Belvidere Daily Republican.

at the Jaguar with the Shadows of Knight!
March 16, 1968

Jet, November 12, 1970

Billboard, December 5, 1970

Jet, October 7, 1971

Billboard, October 29, 1966

Billboard, November 26, 1966

Jet, January 19, 1967

Baby Huey & the Baby Sitters, Traverse_City Record Eagle Aug. 8, 1967
This news item was picked up nationally in August, 1967. I can’t find further details.

Billboard, September 30, 1967

Billboard, November 18, 1967

Billboard, December 23, 1967

at Mother Duck with the Box Tops
November 23, 1968

Jet, March 6, 1969

Baby Huey & the Babysitters on Soul!, Bridgeport Post March 6, 1969
Baby Huey & the Babysitters appear on the Soul! TV show, with Dee Dee Warwick, Lord Superior, Shirley Chisholm and Jacob Lawrence, March 6, 1969 – anyone have a clip of this?

Billboard, April 1, 1969

Billboard, April 12, 1969

Billboard, April 26, 1969

Billboard, May 17, 1969 – does the tape of this broadcast still exist?!

Baby Huey & the Babysitters on Merv Griffin, Independent Press-Telegram, June 8, 1969
Broadcast of the Merv Griffin Show on June 11, 1969

Baby Huey & the Babysitters at Lou's Quarry, Appleton Post-Crescent July 31 1970
Lou’s Quarry, Appleton, Wisconsin, August 1, 1970

Jet, August 14, 1969

At Lou’s Quarry, Appleton, Wisconsin, August 1, 1970
Baby Huey & the Babysitters, Daily Journal March 20, 1969
Baby Huey profiled in the The Daily Journal (Fergus Falls, Minnesota), March 20, 1969

Little Bob

Some r&b for a change. Little Bob (Camille “Li’l” Bob) got this song from Peppermint Harris, apparently making enough of a change to give himself writing credit on the label. Since his version in 1966, it’s been covered several times.

La Louisianne is still in business, and is releasing a CD of Lil Bob and the Lollipops’ recordings. La Louisianne had one great garage 45, the Rogues “I Don’t Need You” / “Tonight” on La Louisianne 8094 from April 1967.

The Pink Fairies

The Pink Fairies – they have plenty of mediocre stuff, but “The Snake” / “Do It”, their first 45 is their best – pure grunge & very heavy for 1971.

“Kakkoi” my friend Ryoma said when I played him “The Snake” for the first time.

Red vinyl from the Italian issue.

The Pleasure Seekers

The Pleasure Seekers gave Suzi Quatro her start, for all you bubble-glam fans.An ode to teenage drinking!

Well I love you baby
I’m telling you right here
But please don’t make me decide baby
Between you and a bottle of beer.

Baby come on over,
come on over to my side
well I may not live past twenty-one
but WOO!
what a way to die!

Your lovin’ fluctuates baby
and everybody knows
but the temperature always stays the same
on an ice cold bottle of Stroh’s

When I start my drinking
my baby throws a fit
So I just blitz him outta my mind
with seventeen bottles of Schlitz

You’ve got the kind of body
that makes me come alive
But I’d rather have my hands around
A bottle of Colt 45

Baby come on over,
come on over to my side
well I may not live past twenty-one
but WOO!
what a way to die

The Action (NZ)

An early photo of the band before vocalist Evan Silva joined.
From left: Brian Harris drums, Danny Stradwick guitar, John Bisset organ and Jack Stradwick bass.

The Action I’m posting today isn’t the UK group of the same name but a New Zealand group from Auckland. Seems like they didn’t mind being confused with their more famous namesake, as they recorded the UK Action’s “Never Ever” for their second 45. Not an unusual practice at the time, there’s also an Australian group calling itself the Birds who covered two of the UK Bird’s 45s, “No Good Without You” and “Say Those Magic Words”.

This Action cover the Vagrants “I Can’t Make a Friend” on the flip side of their first 45, “Romeo and Juliet”, doing an excellent job of it too. This was recorded in April of 1967. Though you wouldn’t think it from this song, they were actually known as more of a soul and r&b band than pop or garage.

Evan Silva wrote to me about “I Can’t Make a Friend”:

That was the first song I recorded with the Action at Stebbings studio in Eldred Stebbing’s basement. I sing on all but Romeo & Juliet. The A sides were Stebbing’s suggestion for the pop market and we selected the B sides. We never played the A sides live as we did not like them, except for Try A Little Tenderness we played that regular especially in Oz! Brett [Neilsen] our drummer was the La De Da’s drummer prior to us and did not want to go back to Oz, then joined the Action and off we went to Oz!

Brian Harris then took Brett’s place in the La De Da’s!

Eldred Stebbing was the owner of the Zodiac label. Many of the great New Zealand bands recorded at his studio, and the Action, the Pleazers and the La De Da’s all played residencies at his nightclub, the Galaxie.

A detailed history of the band is available here

The Chants R&B

The Chants R&B are maybe the greatest of all the New Zealand groups – and that’s saying something considering the competition (Bluestars, La De Das, Pleazers and more).

They came out of Christchurch and put out two 45s in 1966. Band members were Mike Rudd guitar and vocals, Jim Tomlin guitar, Martin Forrer bass and Trevor Courtney drums.

After the first 45, the insane “I Want Her”, Jim Tomlin left the band and was replaced by Max Kelly. Tomlin came back, however, to produce their next and last 45, the solid “I’m Your Witchdoctor” / “Neighbor Neighbor”, both sides of which feature non-stop fills and razor sharp soloing behind the vocals. An amazing record.

Their live shows were legendary with episodes like Mike Rudd nailing his guitar to the floor while still plugged in, generating wailing feedback! A glimpse of their live sound is available on The Stage Door Tapes.

Rare tracks by Dave Davies, Ray Davies and the Kinks

“I Believed You” is one of the demo tracks recorded by the Ravens, an early version of the Kinks led by Dave Davies, in 1963.

“Time Will Tell” is an excellent Kinks track that for some reason wasn’t released at the time.

Next come three Ray Davies songwriting demos, never recorded by the full band, all from 1965. “All Night Stand” was given to the Thoughts, a UK band also produced by Shel Talmy, but I prefer Ray’s demo.

“Creeping Jean” is a fairly obscure song by Davie Davies and the Kinks. After hitting big with his solo 45, “Death of a Clown”, it looked like Dave might start a full solo career. An album was planned and more 45’s released under his name. None of those did very well, so the lp was canceled. This song was only available on the b-side to “Hold My Hand” from early 1969, until Pye issued “Dave Davies – The Album that Never Was” in 1988.

The site for '60s garage bands since 2004