The Royal Flairs

The Royal Flairs photo
Originally from Council Bluffs, Iowa, the Royal Flairs began as the backing band for singer Dick Hodge, cutting one single at Sears Sound Studio in Omaha, Nebraska, “Dream Angel” / “Let’s Go”, in October of 1962 as Nelson Royal, Bobby Williams and the Royal Flairs*.

The Flairs became house band at the Milrose Ballroom outside of Omaha, playing primarily surf instrumentals.
Royal Flairs Marina 45 SuicideThree members stayed with the band through all of their changes: Bob Everhart (Bob Williams’ actual name) on sax and vocals, Dave Krivolavek on guitar and Dave Brubeck on bass. Other early members included Jerry Fleetwood on trumpet, Daryl Hill on organ, Brian Sallozo on sax, Brad Starr and Mike Nelson on lead guitar, and Rick Brown on drums.

Everhart, Brubeck and Krivolavek relocated to Chicago in early 1965, adding Mike Donion on drums and Mel Matthews on lead guitar and organ. In 1966 they cut two 45s for the Marina label, one as the Royal Flairs, and another as the Unlimited.

The first, “Suicide” has a sharp garage sound and a great solo. In the lyrics the singer wants to join the girl who killed herself over him. It was written by Everhart and Dave Krivolavek, with Everhart playing the harmonica. The instrumental flip, “One Pine Box” (misprinted on the label as “One Pink Box”) has an earlier surf style. It’s a gruesome number featuring the sound of scraping and a hammer nailing a coffin lid shut.

The second Marina 45 as The Unlimited was another morbid number “Feelings.” The flip was one I haven’t heard yet, “Gone Away”.

Bobby Williams remained a pseudonym for Bob Everhart as that name appears as the promotional contact on their Marina 45. For the Flairs final 45, they released the folky “Hat On Tie” as by Bobby and Dave on one side, and the killer soul screamer “My Baby Cries” as by Bobby Williams on the other. These were produced by D. Marrone for the Tonorous label.

Bobby Williams Tonorous 45 My Baby CriesAccording to the notes from Back from the Grave, the band broke up after Bob Everhart was shot when he tried to protect a 350 pound go-go dancer named Miss Temptation from a crazed patron. Bob survived the wound but decided to get out of the nightclubs while he was still in one piece!

In the 1980’s an EP Surfin’ with the Royal Flairs featured five unreleased versions of surf songs recorded in 1962. Another LP, The Royal Flairs, Rare Recordings from 1965-66 contains their singles along with a side of unreleased songs that reflect their change to r&b and British Invasion sounds, recorded in Omaha.

*The Routers cut a version of “Let’s Go” in 1962. Bob Everhart filed a complaint with BMI over the copyright of “Let’s Go”, which caused SAM owner Leona Leivas to release the copyright. However, a 1973 European Warner Brothers release of “Let’s Go” shows song writing credits to Lanny Duncan and Robert Duncan.

Sources: Royal Flairs photo from Back from the Grave 3, Marina 45 scan and transfer of Suicide taken from bosshoss’ Flac Attack vol. 1. Info from the liner notes to Rare Recordings. Thanks to Phil Dirt for the better quality rip of “One Pine Box”.

28 thoughts on “The Royal Flairs”

  1. Oh Yeah, I got shot all right. Powerful gun too, it blew me right back through the door I was coming through, down on the floor, out like a light. The bullet grazed my skull, taking a little with it, I eventually wound up in Cook County Hospital, with a stop at one of Chicago’s famous Saturday night first aid stations. I came too there, rolled my head to the side, staring what appeared to be a Puero Rican or Mexican laying next to me with his throat cut and the blood still oozing out of the wound. I passed out again. Finally wound up in Cook County, which was a pretty dismal experience too. All of the details are available in the autobiography that took me five years to write. It’s called “What I Saw” by Bob Everhart, and a nice release of a song I wrote with Dave Burbeck called “Nothing Is Small” Both are good.

    1. Is Dick Hodge still alive? There was a Dick Hodge that went to school with my brother, they were three years behind me in school, he wrestled, played football had a brother named Vern .

  2. Hi I’m wondering if I could get in touch with the band? I like your stuff and I wanna play it on the air and inquire if I can put it on a comp.

    Thank you,
    Paul aka Dj Don Sequitur at 90.3fm KDVS

  3. I just found this site, upon remembering your dad’s old band. We went to school together and the garage where they practiced (your grandfather’s old house in Council Bluffs) was only 2 blocks away. We could hear them practicing into the evening. I ran into your father many years ago, while I was attending University of Nebraska at Omaha. At that time he was visiting while living and doing bacground acoustics in Nashville. Tell him hello for me.

  4. Just saw Bobby and Sheila perform the other night down here in Florida. First time I had a chance to talk to him since the Psychedelic Wheel days in Council Bluffs back in the 60’s. We had a great tme catching up. By the way, he can still sing really well.

  5. Hey everyone ,I was a member of this group in chicago and on the road. We had a great time together and I was lead guitar and organ player with these great guys. I still make my living playing keyboards and singing. Not bad for 69 1/2 years old . We should have a reunion now that would be something. I still miss those great guys and remember all those fun times

  6. I forgot i live in ft. lauderdale florida. I wish bobby would have told me he was coming to florida. I would not have missed it for the world. mel matthews

    1. Okay Mel the jigs up me and Mike Considine have been looking for you. After all we are all at 70 now and life is getting serious. Use 210-723-2429

      Best,
      JD.

  7. Does anyone know how I could purchase copies of band posters or records from the Dick Hodge era of the royal flairs ? He was my father and as kids we long since destroyed anything dad had saved. You can call me At (402) 980-4573

  8. We did have a great time in Florida, and would have liked to hook up with Mel, boy we could share some stories….especially how he out-run some Puerto Ricans looking for blood. Good thing Mel was a good driver. Just had a call from a young guy out in SFran, Jordan Morris, who managed to get a copy of Suicide, which Dave Krivolavek wrote. Dave is on Facebook if you are interested. The “Let’s Go” situation was a tragedy for us, it was a song the entire band ‘created’ in Omaha, and was pretty well ‘lifted’ by the Routers which was a studio band that Leona Leivas put together. Not much for us in that deal. Also not many of ‘Dream Angel’ either. Dick did a super job on all the recordings at that time, but sure not many around anymore. Thank you Jim Churchill & the Rogues, remember you well, hello right back at you. Mike Semrad & Iowa Rock Hall of Fame, you need to put Dave Krivolavek in before anyone else of the Royal Flairs, including me. He lives in Lincoln, Nebr. now, is on facebook, which is my only contact with him. He’s got several kids on there too, knows how to get to him personally. You can find more about what I and my wife Sheila do now with the Smithsonian. We’re working hard trying to save some of America’s rural music, the really discriminated music today. Help us, visit our site, http://www.ntcma.net

  9. Hi! Thanx for a great site. I in a band and we would like to cover Suicide, is there any chance anyone of you got the lyrics? Best regards, Dan, Sweden

  10. Does anyone here remember and have any memories if Brad Starr? I recently bought his guitar from his family and I’d like to know the names of the recordings he was on and any other info you could share!
    Thanks!

  11. My father was the drummer in the picture at the top, Mike Donian. I believe he was with the band only a couple years in the early years prior to Bob getting shot. He continued to play the drums for the remainder of his life, often speaking happily of his time with the Royal Flairs. He unfortunately did not have much left from this era minus a 45 or two. I would certainly like to obtain some of the memorabilia from the time as I have been a fan of the 60s garage/surf since my teenage years, partially due to my father and his love of music. Also, if anyone has any questions about him, let me know. Great to see that the other members of his time are still rocking and trying to preserve that era’s music. It unfortunately does not receive the recognition due for the amount of influence it had on the punk, post-punk, grunge and general US rock and roll that came later on. -Derek

  12. Mike Donian was my brother. Mike played drums always remember when the group dyed all their insterments red. Our garage was a mist of red paint. Drums, guitars and just about everything else was red! 1963 or 64 was the red transfer. The guitars were sanded so as to strip them down to a wood grain and then several coats were laced red of course. The band stayed in the house and were the nicest group of guys ever. it was in a suburb of Chicago Sauganash!

  13. Mike Donian brother was the drummer. Mike played drums always remember when the group dyed all their insterments red. Our garage was a mist of red paint. Drums, guitars and just about everything else was painted red! 1963 or 64 was the red transfer.The guitars were sanded so as to strip them down to a wood grain and then several coats were laced red of course. The band stayed in the house and were the nicest group of guys ever.it was in a suburb of Chicago Sauganash!

  14. Does anyone know what happened to or the whereabouts of Mike Nelson? Early lead guitar for the Royal Flairs.

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