Junior Kerr’s 1960s bands

Junior Kerr (second left) with White Rabbit in early 1968. Photo courtesy of Rod Goodway

Born in Jamaica in 1949, Donald Hanson Marvin Kerr Richards Jr, moved to London as a young teenager and at the age of 16 appeared in The Beatles’ movie, Help!

Based around the Stoke Newington area in North London, Kerr was inspired to learn the Hammond organ after hearing Booker T & The MG’s “Green Onions” and soon befriended local musicians, Calvin Samuel (bass) and Conrad Isidore (drums).

Together with Samuel, who he allegedly nicknamed “Fuzzy” because the musician played his bass through a “fuzz box”, the pair formed the short-lived Blue-Ace-Unit in late 1965/early 1966. The outfit played clubs around North London for about a year before Kerr moved on.

Around October 1966, he joined Herbie Goins & The Night-Timers (where he met guest singer Linda Lewis) and it was during this period that Kerr saw Jimi Hendrix playing at the Bag O’Nails in Soho. Inspired by his incendiary guitar work, Kerr started to practise guitar in his free time.

During September 1967, Kerr left Herbie Goins to form The Junior (Pretty Boy Kerr) Group. The Aldershot News lists the band playing at the “Big C”, a popular club on 1 Camp Road, Farnborough in Hampshire on 4 November. It’s not clear who else was involved in this band and whether it was the same line-up of musicians that became White Rabbit but Linda Lewis was featured as singer.

In July 1967, Polydor Records had issued Linda Lewis’ debut solo single, “You Turned My Bitter Into Sweet” but it had not been a chart success.

Towards the end of the year, Kerr and Lewis put together White Rabbit, which comprised lead guitarist Andy Rickell from Calne, Wiltshire groups, The Pack and J P Sunshine, and his friend (and former Pack member) drummer Terry Stannard, who’d recently been working with Freddie Mack & The Mack Sound. A photo of the group reveals that the group was a sextet and this author would be interested to hear from anyone who can add any further details about this short-lived band.

During the early months of 1968, White Rabbit toured France and Italy but after their return from the latter in April, Kerr decided to leave and briefly re-joined Herbie Goins & The Night-Timers for a few months.

In the late summer of 1968, Kerr ran into guitarist Mike Piggott, who had just left The System Soul Band, led by singer Ivan Sinclair. The pair formed a new outfit, Junior’s Conquest, who landed a regular gig at the Pheasantry on the King’s Road in Chelsea.

Junior’s Conquest, late 1968. Courtesy of Mike Piggott

With drummer Pete Dobson and a bass player, who was replaced by John Best, Junior’s Conquest played together for about six months, including a show at the Broken Wheel in Retford, Nottinghamshire on 5 October 1968 and the popular West End club, Hatchettes in Piccadilly on 22-23 November 1968. However, according to Piggott, Kerr increasingly started to play guitar and after a short tour of Sweden in late 1968/early 1969, the group splintered.

While he was fronting Junior’s Conquest, Kerr had also participated in the London production of Hair on Shaftsbury Avenue, which debuted on 27 September. It was here that he met singer Marsha Hunt whose band he briefly worked with in 1969. The following year, Kerr would work with Keef Hartley and then move to the US before subsequently changing his name to Junior Marvin and finding fame with Bob Marley during the late 1970s.

I would be interested to hear from anyone who can add any further details to Kerr’s 1960s career.

White Rabbit

White Rabbit in late 1967/early 1968. Left to right: unknown musician, Junior Kerr, Terry Stannard, Linda Lewis, Andy Rickell, unknown musician. Photo courtesy of Rod Goodway.

A fascinating, yet short-lived band that included a number of notable musicians who went on to greater things.

The original White Rabbit line-up came together circa November 1967 around singer/Hammond organist Junior Kerr and singer Linda Lewis, who’d met earlier that year as members of Herbie Goins & The Night Timers. Junior Kerr, incidentally, had started out with The Blue-Ace-Unit while Lewis had performed with John Lee Hooker in 1964 and sung with The Q-Set before they backed Maxine Brown and then Ronnie Jones.

Linda Lewis in Record Mirror. Thanks to David Else for the cutting

The band’s guitarist Andy Rickell and drummer Terry Stannard had both previously worked together in Calne, Wiltshire band, The Pack during 1966 with future White Rabbit singer Rod Goodway. The trio had also played with another, albeit short-lived, Wiltshire group, Flower of Wisdom between February-June 1967.

When Flower of Wisdom broke up, Terry Stannard moved to London where he joined Freddie Mack & The Mack Sound, which is probably how he ran into Junior Kerr, who’d formed his own band, The Junior ‘Pretty Boy’ Kerr Group around October 1967. In fact, Stannard may well have been a member of this band after working with Freddie Mack (and possibly may have been with Herbie Goins briefly).

Meanwhile, Rickell and Goodway began working with the studio project J P Sunshine, which they kept together after Rickell joined White Rabbit (possibly also after a short stint with Herbie Goins) and Goodway was invited to replace Art Wood in the post-Artwoods band, St Valentine’s Day Massacre between January-April 1968.

The original version of White Rabbit was completed with two additional musicians, a bass player and possibly an organist, who may well have been Mick Aron. This author would be interested to hear from anyone who can throw any further light on the band’s formation.

After a short Italian tour, and billed as Junior Kerr and Linda Lewis and White Rabbit, they performed at the “Big C” club in Farnborough on 24 February 1968 before travelling to France to perform.

On their return, Junior Kerr departed to re-join Herbie Goins and subsequently form his own band, Junior’s Conquest. In later years, he would change his name to Junior Marvin and work alongside Bob Marley. Terry Stannard also departed, later working with Mirrors (with Boz Burrell and Nick Judd), Alan Marshall’s band One and Kokomo among others.

Linda Lewis and Andy Rickell meanwhile pieced together a new version of White Rabbit during late April 1968. Rickell recruited his former Pack and J P Sunshine colleague, singer Rod Goodway, who’d left St Valentine’s Day Massacre, to replace Junior Kerr.

Rod Goodway shortly after joining White Rabbit

The pair also recruited drummer Ron Berg, who interestingly had also played with Freddie Mack & The Mack Sound (alongside Stannard) during mid-late 1967. To complete the new version, they added Cyprus-born bass player Pete Pavli and organist Mick Aron, who may well have been in the original formation.

White Rabbit in St Tropez. Left to right: Ron Berg, Rod Goodway, Linda Lewis and Peter Pavli. Courtesy Rod Goodway

Almost immediately, the new White Rabbit left the UK for the south of France and performed at the Papagayo Club in St Tropez for three weeks, starting in the first week of May. The musicians were back in London for a notable gig at the Middle Earth club in Covent Garden, opening for Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band on 25 May. The group also opened for The Crazy World of Arthur Brown in the following months.

In September 1968, however, Rod Goodway and Linda Lewis both left, the latter to embark on a successful solo career after fronting Ferris Wheel where she played alongside future Foreigner drummer Dennis Elliott. Pete Pavli also left to join High Tide while Mick Aron went on to work with Pete Brown.

Andy Rickell and Ron Berg kept the band going until November of that year, bringing in a number of musicians, including guitarist/singer Peter Jennings, who subsequently joined the group that became Cressida. On the band’s demise, Ron Berg joined Mick Abrahams’ post-Jethro Tull group, Blodwyn Pig while Rickell later joined The Crazy World of Arthur Brown.

This author would be interested to hear from anyone who can add any further information. Huge thanks to Rod Goodway for photos and background information. 

The band live in St Tropez. Left to right: Andy Rickell, Pete Pavli and Mick Aron. Photo courtesy of Rod Goodway

Thee Avantis on Samron

Thee Avantis Samron 45 I Want To UnderstandSamron Records had a great run, only three singles but all of them top-notch rock ’n roll, including this one, Thee Avantis’ “I Want to Understand” / “Nancy” on Samron S-103, recorded in late 1965.

“I Want to Understand” is the kind of single I never get tired of, featuring a neat guitar hook, solid bass and drum playing, the right amount of organ and great vocals. There are fine guitar and organ breaks, the entire song clocking in at 2:27.

The other two singles on Samron are Ognir & the Night People’s “I Found a New Love” (Nehring, Marusak) / “All My Heart” (Nehring, Molinaro), released on Samron S-102 in October 1965 and the Five Flys “Livin’ for Love” / “Dance Her By Me” on Samron S-104.

Samron was run by Ronald Magazzu, and I suppose someone named Sam was also involved. The first two singles listed Magazzu Productions in Hazleton, PA, while the label for the Five Flys changes the town to Coaldale, PA.

I’ve read Thee Avantis were from Scranton, but I found a notice in the Hazleton Standard-Speaker from March 5, 1966 listing the band for a Sunday Dance at the Fiesta Room in Hazleton, about an hour’s drive southwest of Scranton.

I only know the names of two members of Thee Avanti, Nick Fata on bass and Robert Schnessel who wrote both songs. Magazzu Music Co. published both songs.

Thee Avantis Samron 45 Nancy

The Conductors “She Said So”

The Conductors photo: Larry Borgess, Chad Fenstemaker, Skip Kreitz, Regan Meyer, Barry Hirsh, and Danny Brungard
The Conductors, from left: Larry Borgess, Chad Fenstemaker, Skip Kreitz, Regan Meyer, Barry Hirsh, and Danny Brungard

Conductors Dater 45 She Said SoThe Conductors came from Williamsport, Pennsylvania, cutting the great “She Said So” as the b-side to their June 1966 single. Members were:

Larry Borgess – lead vocals
Chad Fenstemaker – lead guitar
Skip Kreitz – rhythm guitar
Regan Meyer – bass
Barry Hirsh – organ
Danny Brungard – drums

Barry Hirsh and Larry Borgess left to join Prince Charles & the Royaltones. Mike Ranck replaced Larry until the Conductors split.

“She Said So” is a stomping fuzz and organ rocker written by Barry Hirsh, with taunting lines:

You gotta stay home and watch the kids tonight,
Because she said so,
But I wanna tell ya,
Better sit up and say that everything’s not right,
Because you said so.

You gotta break free,
Stand on your own two feet,
Stop doing things that you don’t want to do,
Just because she said so!

The original A-side “Whatever’s In Your Smile” is light pop, but worth a listen, it too was written by Barry Hirsh, and features harmonies, piano and a lighter touch on the guitar.

Publishing was through Hi-Mar Music and Ronbeth Music BMI, both of which had other copyrights, most notably Ronbeth with the 7th Avenue Aviators “You Should ‘O Held On”.

The Conductors single came out on Dater DT-1303/4 in June, 1967. Dater was owned by Dave Chackler, and had one other single that I know of, the Soul Generation “I Can’t See You” / “Big Boss Man” on Dater DT-1301. The A-side has the Starlites doing a drier, stripped-down version of their classic on Bar-Clay, “I Can’t See You”. The label notes produced by Dave Chackler for Peter Warren Enterprises. The Starlites came from Reading, PA, 100 miles southeast of Williamsport, so I wonder how the Conductors connected with Dave Chackler.

Info on the band from Rob’s Williamsport Rock Bands

Conductors Dater 45 Whatever's In Your Smile

Something Obviously Borrowed

Something Obviously Borrowed JCP 45 Tell The PeopleSomething Obviously Borrowed are another mystery to me. Their only single is a good two-sider, released on the same J.R.P. label as the Shadow Casters.

“Tell the People” is upbeat, with typical lyrics of the time (“Now is the time to tell the people, all about love”). D. Geinosky and L. Carr wrote the song; they were probably members of the band.

“Joan” is laid-back rock, with a feel something like Loaded-era Velvet Underground, the singer intoning “please come on home, Joan”. Writer credit is to the producer, James Ruff, but members of the Shadow Casters noted he put his name on one of their compositions, “Going to the Moon”.

James Ruff Productions probably paid for recording time and pressing of the single on J.R.P. 004, sometime after April 1968. J.R.P. labels list an address in Aurora, Illinois. Sandpiper BMI published both songs but I don’t see a copyright listing for either. The code TM 2665/6 indicates Chess Records’ Ter-Mar studio in Chicago.

Something Obviously Borrowed seems to be the only other release on JRP besides the Shadow Casters, and also seems to be rarer than their singles.

Something Obviously Borrowed JCP 45 Joan

Marty and the Monks “Mexican Party”

Marty and the Monks Associated Artists 45 Mexican Party

Herman’s Hermits “Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter” topped the Billboard Hot 100 in May of 1965, so a Hollywood studio owner rushed out a parody, “Mrs. Schwartz You’ve Got An Ugly Daughter” with the artist listed as Marty & the Monks. This version is on youtube if you want to subject yourself to it, but the real gold is the instrumental on flip, cut by a group that seems to have been totally unrelated to the musicians on the A-side.

“Mexican Party” is a rocking take-off on “Money” that sounds like it was actually recorded live in the studio. There are whoops, shouts, lots of string bending, a ridiculous horn blast. It has a lot in common with the Pacific Northwest sound like the Moguls “Avalanche”, the Jesters’ “Alki Point” or even Don & the Goodtimes version of “Money”.

Released on Associated Artists AA-3066, the song was retitled “Psychedelic City” when it came out as the flip to “Mrs. Schwartz” on Era Records 5037.

Marty & the Monks Era 45 Mexican Party
Jesse Hodges is credited as producer. Hodges owned Hollywood Sound Recorders and I believe he owned the Associated Artists label, which released about twenty 45s, including a couple of Hodges’ own singles. K. Young, G. Connor, and T. Reed have writer credits on “Mexican Party”, but none of their names appear on other Associated Artists releases as far as I can tell.

Both the Associated Artists 45 and the Era release have ∆-57190 in the deadwax, which dates the stampers for both 45s to June of 1965. I assume the Associated Artists was the original release. I have no idea when this “Golden Era Series” came out but 1967 wouldn’t be a bad guess, given the new, topical title.

My fellow WGXC deejay Jillian found a possible source for the band name in the obscure Marty the Monk cartoons of the 1930s.

Marty & the Monks Era 45 Mrs Brown You Got An Ugly Daughter

The Nu-Trons and Spot Records Discography

Nu-Trons Spot 45 I Told You SoI can’t find any specific info on the Nu-Trons. Spot Records came from Johnson City, Tennessee, but recorded groups from locations as far as Knoxville and western Virginia.

“I Told You So” (written by B. Frye) is a moody shuffle with a great r&b feel and fine lead vocal.

“From Now On” (written D. Bradford, G. Shell) has a slower tempo, with more prominent piano and a descending guitar line.

Released on Spot SP7-1123, the RCA custom press matrix S4KM-2012/3 dates this to early 1965.

Spot was in operation for about ten years, from 1959 until about 1968, releasing a couple dozen singles in that span. The Nu-Trons may be the only ‘garage’ style single on the label, though I’d really like to hear The Malibus “She’s Gone”.

There’s a lot of sharp r&b on the label from Little Benny and Richie Weems & the Continental Five, and ’50s style vocal rock from the Rock-Alongs and the True Tones. Infinity’s “Ride on the Milky Way” is a western-tinged instrumental. Lonnie Salyer, who helped me with the discography below, has compiled a youtube playlist with 11 songs from the label, a good start for those interested.

The True Tones were Lanny Green, Neil Walker, Gerald Barber, Jay Henderson, Joby Wheat and Richard Way, out of Central High School in Knoxville.

Spot Records discography (compiled with help from Lonnie Salyer)

I’ve included prefixes because at least two numbers, 1123 and 1124, were reused with different prefixes.

SP-101 – Don Bradford – “Someone’s Gotta Go” (Stan Ratliff) / “That Ain’t Much” (Don Shannon), K8OW-0544/5, 1959

SP-103 – Eddie McKinney And Belvederes ‎- “Teen Town Hop” / “I’m Hooked“ (both by Bradford, Campbell, KO8W-0977/8, with picture sleeve)

SP-106 – Little Benny & the Stereos – “Drinking Wine, Spodie Odie” / “Mine All Mine” (M80W-8134/5, prod. Don Bradford, 1961)

1107 – Bobby Joe – “My Life I’ll Spend With You” (B. Tipton) / “Hellbound” (N80W-8467/8)

SP1108 – Reece Shipley – “I Counted The Raindrops” / “Too Big To Cry” (R. Shipley, Ronald Talley) (ZTSB 83092
SP-1109 – Paul Sutton – “Lucy” / ? (P4KM-3604)
SP-1110 – The Rock-A-Longs – “Don’t ‘cha Know I Love You” / “Theme from the Beachcomber”
SP 7-1111 – Wayne Boling – “Please Cry” / “What Kind of Friend Was He” (with picture sleeve, SO 1467/8)
SP 7-1112 – Wayne Boling – “She’s Coming Home” / “Little Hit and Run Darling” (SO 1611)
SP 7-1113 – Eugenia Anderson – “Soul of a Child” / “Send Down the Fire”

SP 7-1115 – The True Tones – “Lovin’ From My Baby” (Joby Wheat) / “Never Had a Chance” (J. Wheat, L. Green, R4KM-8431/2
SP 7-1116 – Jackie Bair & the Cubs, featuring Skip Lane – “Bare Hug” (Lane, Bair, Miller, Parker) / “You’re In Love” (Prod. by Don Bradford, RK4M-7113)
SP 7-1117 – Richie Weems & the Continental Five – “That 8:30 Special” / “Making Believe” (RK4M-7262/3)
SP-7-1118 – The True Tones – “Please Be True” (J. Henderson) / “Kiss Me Now” (J. Wheat), RK4M-7260, prod. by Don Bradford

SP7-1121 – The Tru Tones – “Little Hit and Run Darling” (Don Schroeder, Wayne P. Walker) / “La La La La La” (Clarence Paul), S4KM-1633/4

SP-1122 – Richie Weems & the Continental Five – “Tricks of the Trade” / “Natural Born Man” (S4KM-1706/7)
SP-1123 – Richie Weems & the Continental Five – “Wild In the Night” (B. Bradford) / “Mine All Mine”
SP-1124 – Little Ceaser & the Euterpeans – “It Ain’t What You Do It’s The Way How You Do It” / “Good Good Lovin’”

SP7-1123 – The Nu-Trons – “From Now On” (D. Bradford, G. Shell) / “I Told You So” (B. Frye), S4KM-2012/3
SP7-1124 – Lon Nave – “I’ll Think of You” / “Just Lookin’ Around” (Lon Nave, Harold Nave), TK4M-4056/7, 1966

SP-7-1128 – Kenny Springs & the Scat Cats – “Nobody Else But You” (K. Springs) / “Let Nobody Love You”, prod. by Don Bradford, TK4M-4722
SP7-1129 – Glenn Shell with Jackie Bair & the Cubs – “It’s Too Late” (G. Shell) / “Ain’t No One Woman Man” (U4KM-2575)
SP7-1130 – The Malibus – “She’s Gone” (J. Boyle, E. Fielden, J. Melton for East Tenn. Music) / “Oop Poo Pa Do” (U4KM-4837, 1967)

SP-7-1132 – The Kool Kuzzins – “Love Can Be True” (D. Rose, B. Rose, M. Powell) / “Hey Little Girl” (1968)
SP-7-1133 – The Infinity – “Ride on the Milky Way” / “Moon Gazer” (both by Charles Stafford & Gene Wheelon) W4KM-6546/7, 1968
SP 7-1134 – Little Caesar & the Euterpians – “Love Is A Beautiful Thing” / “I Can’t Stand It Together” (W4KM-)

Most originals on the label published by East Tenn. Music Pub, BMI.

The Kool Kuzzins came from Castlewood and Oakwood, Virginia and featured Danny Rose on lead vocals and drums, his brother Bill Rose on guitar and Mike Powell on bass & organ. The Kuzzins lived in the Tidewater during the summer of 1967, recording some unreleased sides for Frank Guida. After the band made their single at Spot, Danny Rose left to join Sound on Sound, based in nearby Grundy, VA, as lead vocalist. (Info from the CD Aliens, Psychos & Wild Things Vol. 2 on Arcania International.)

This was not the same label that released the Shytones or the Los Angeles label with the Poets and Effie Smith.
Nu-Trons Spot 45 From Now On

The Surrealistic Pillar “I Like Girls”

Surrealistic Pillar Tamm 45 I Like GirlsThe Surrealistic Pillar came from Lafayette, Louisiana and cut the classic “I Like Girls” circa 1967 or 1968. The names on the label, Eddie Smith and Ed Futch, were not members of the band, but Ed Futch is likely singing lead vocals on “I Like Girls” – he has become well known by his stage name, Eddy Raven.

The lyrics, what I can make out of them, are from a different era:

Sitting in a car, the tape machine is blaring,
Watching all the girls, and digging the clothes they’re wearing.

When I see a mini-skirt, it drives me crazy,
Cause all the time I’m watching, I’m thinking … maybe,
I would find a girl that would say “surely”.

You could laugh at me, but never call me stupid…

[I wish I could make out the words of the third verse.]

Ed Futch, Eddie Smith wrote “I Like Girls” and Eddie Smith wrote the unusual instrumental, “Mexican Calliope” (rated a “2” in Teen Beat Mayhem!). La Lou Music BMI published both songs.

Though issued on Tamm Custom Series T-2027, this is a production of La Louisianne Records, which issued plenty of great singles, including Eddy Raven’s “Misery” and (for garage fans) the Rogues incredible “I Don’t Need You”.

A defunct website Turn Me On Dead Man had some info from one of the members of the band dating back to about 2003, but that person’s name is left off and only first names are given for the rest.

Well, the band started in 1965-+. We all went to school together or close to each other and somehow started playing together and then started a band. We used the name Kings Council at first, then took the name from a Jefferson Airplane album.

The band had six members with a light man and helper. I played bass. Ernie played drums, Benny played lead, Bubba played guitar, Rayburn sang, Glynn played lights and Clyde played tam, lights, and helped out.

We had Kustom equipment and a Hammond organ, so we could play stuff by Vanilla Fudge, Steppenwolf and other great bands.

I saw Eddie Futch[’s] (Eddie Raven) name listed, he is related to Benny. Eddie Smith is the one who got with us and taught us the song “I Like Girls.” He paid for the recording session and we sold about 200 copies. There is a couple still floating around. We used to play places like the Swing Machine, a college hangout. All I knew is we just had to play loud.

I just retired from the Lafayette Police Force after 29 years. In 1969 I went into the USMC and did my tour in VN [Vietnam]. Some members of the band went on to play in Sage. Benny is playing guitar in church. I have several guitars and play with Benny when we get together. The rest of the guys live around here [Lafayette, Louisiana] but me and Benny are the only ones who still play.

Surrealistic Pillar Tamm 45 Mexican Calliope

The site for '60s garage bands since 2004