From Pasco in south eastern Washington State, near Kennewick and the Oregon border, the Pastels formed in 1964. Original members were:
Dale Anderson on guitar
Mark Gage on keyboards
Ron “Arjai” Jones on guitar and bass
Red Elder on drums
They became one of the bigger draws in that part of the state, playing shows at Richland Roller Rink and other venues, and appearing occasionally on local TV.
This original lineup of the band released three 45s between the fall of 1965 and the spring of ’66. All were recorded at Ron Jones’ family house by a Century label agent.
The first of these is the upbeat “Why Don’t You Love Me” b/w the slower “What Can I Say”. It did well enough locally to have a second pressing. Their second 45 was “Circuit Breaker”, demonstrating a darker sound, probably influenced by other Northwest acts like the Sonics.
Their third 45 is their best, at least to me. Fast and danceable, “Mirage” is an intense four minutes of music! Things slow down considerably for the flip, “Where Is the Answer”, a good, idealistic song but a little repetitive at over about four minutes long.
Frank Hames wrote on PNW bands.com:
I was in The Pastels from 1966 until the summer of 1968. I played keyboards. The guitar player was Dale Anderson who was eventually replaced by Larry Rogers sometime during 1967. The other guitar player who also doubled on bass is Ron Jones. Red Elder was the original drummer and was replaced by Larry Horne from Richland in 1966. The first keyboard player was Mark Gage from Pasco. I replaced the second keyboard player who was Don Clauson. Ron Jones’ father, Don, was our manager and produced our recordings.
The Pastels were very well organized. We each had several professionally designed costumes, individual voice coaches, a paid account at a local barber shop in Pasco as well as individual college fund bank accounts.
In 1967 we played the Teen Fair in Spokane where we were forced to join the union. We opened for The Vanilla Fudge there. Other bands on that show were Harpers Bazaar, The Chambers Bros, and Glen Campbell. Our PA system that was designed and built by Don Jones ended up being the house PA because it was so good. We worked almost every weekend and played all over the northwest.
In an interview with 60sgaragebands.com Frank Hames discussed recording with the group:
I joined the band after these recordings [the three 45s] were released. I did record with the band subsequent to the singles. All the Pastels’ recordings were done in the band’s rehearsal room in the band house: The Jones’. Don performed all the engineering and everything was cut on a consumer stereo recorder.
I recall recording eight or ten songs that were never released. There were many original pieces written and dragged on the stage. Most didn’t last long. Dale Anderson was the primary composer.
The band ended when Ron graduated from high school and went away to college. It was in the summer of 1968.
Red Elder and Mark Gage left the band in 1966 to join the Rock n’ Souls, who won a big area Battle of the Bands sponsored by KALE and later released one 45, Not Like You / Got No Love on Rich Tone.
Red Elder and Arjai Jones later formed the Backward Door with Billy Blair, and later added Larry Rogers as well.