Beep Beep and the Road Runners

Beep Beep and the Road Runners Vincent 45 True Love KnowsBeep Beep and the Road Runners formed in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1962 when the members were only adolescents 10 to 12 years old. Originally they were a quartet: Tom Falconer on bass and vocals, Ron Manley lead guitarist, Louie Dansereau played rhythm guitar and Donny Ouellette drums and vocals.

Don Ouellette lived across Grand Street from Tommy Falconer, and Don’s friend since childhood, Ronnie Manley suggested to Tommy that they start a band. Ronnie knew Louis Dansereau, and the band started practicing in Tom’s living room until they refurbished a room in the basement.

They added their manager’s son Jay Bonen as a second drummer. I asked Don Ouellette if they worked well together musically and Don said no, it was more of a gimmick, which was also what Tom Falconer said in an interview with Fuzbrains magazine. More importantly, the band also added a lead vocalist, Tim Ralston who would be crucial to the sound of their first 45.

Beep Beep and the Road Runners Vincent 45 Shifting GearsAs for the ‘Beep Beep’ in their band name, Tom said that it did not refer to any particular member – “There was never a Beep Beep”. Don Ouellette says he was ‘Beep Beep’ but the band kept that secret from the public for a long time.

Early on the band covered surf and r&b instrumentals by the Ventures and Duane Eddy, then added Beatles songs to their repertoire, often playing Friday evenings at St. Peters (Worcester Central). The band backed Gene Pitney twice and competed with local acts the Joneses, the New Breed, the Nite Riders and the Personals at clubs like the Comic Strip, the Speed Club (Speedway Club?) on Mill St., the Red Pony Lounge on Franklin, the Peacock Club in Auburn, and Tatassitt Beach on Lake Quinsigamond in Shrewsbury.

Their first 45 in May 1966 for Vincent Records had an original instrumental by Ron Manley on the A-side: the Link Wray-like Shifting Gears”. On the flip was Tom and Ron’s original song “True Love Knows”. It was an instant garage classic with Tim Ralston’s vocals sounding desperate and at times incoherent, while his cries of ‘true love knows’ on the chorus are echoed by another band member. I hear some evidence of the band’s two drummers in the intro to “True Love Knows”, where the tom rolls sound distinct from the beat kept by the bass drum, hi-hat and snare. I’d like to know details on how the song was recorded. George Gell informs me that it was cut at Al Soyka’s studio in Somers, Connecticut, home of the Glo label (New Fugitives – “That’s Queer”/”She’s My Baby”).

“True Love Knows” was a hit locally, staying at #1 spot on the charts of WORC, 1310 AM. The band’s manager Ray Bonen knew WORC station owner Bob Beyer well. In return for airplay the band appeared at many WORC events, including an opening of a Bradlees store in White City.

Tim Ralston soon left the group: he was older than the rest of the band and became undependable about showing up at their gigs. Jay Bonen also left the band after the first record due supposedly to fainting spells during live shows and from friction caused by Don’s increasing success as lead vocalist.

By late 1966 or early ’67 they added an organ player, Wayne Anderson Warren Anderson, who can be heard on their second 45 from August ’67, the cool “Don’t Run”, an original by Manley and Anderson. To me the song really takes off as the guitarist kicks in with his distortion pedal for the solo. The flip is a bizarre version of “Watermelon Man” that strips out the light touch of the original and turns it into an r&b burner. Don Ouellette sang lead on both sides of this 45. Audio Dynamics 45s were recorded at an old theater in Stafford Springs, Connecticut. Don remembers adding his vocals to the instrumental tracks.

A third 45, “Do You Remember the Way We Started” was recorded but not released. The band added horns and became the Lundon Fog with Barry Wilson on vocals then broke up in 1973.

Ron Manley and Don Ouellette continued playing, first in Easy Street with Elaine Christie and then in Breez’n. Tim Ralston died in the late 70’s.

If anyone has photos of the group, please get in touch with me at chas_kit@hotmail.com

Thanks to George and Mop Top Mike for their comments to my original post, which I’ve incorporated into this revised text. Very special thanks to LB Worm for helping me locate the 1983 interview that the Rev. Joe Longone and Brian Goslow did with Tom Falconer in the first issue of Worcester fanzine Fuzbrains, a major source for this article. Lastly, thank you to Don Ouellette for taking the time to speak to me and correct some errors in the article.

27 thoughts on “Beep Beep and the Road Runners”

  1. The third 45 was never released. Might exist on acetate. There were two drummers in the band. I talked to Tom Falconer and one of the other guys some years ago. I actually ran into one of them at a flea market in Worcester. The Vincent label is named after one of the member’s fathers. Both these records were hits in the region and sold many 100s of copies. I can see if I can find my ‘interview’ notes.

  2. The 45s were released as follows

    “True Love Knows” – May, 1966

    “Don’t Run” – August, 1967

    The Vincent label name was the middle name of the dad of one of the drummers.

  3. Here’s what I have…

    True Love Knows was recorded at Al Soyka’s studio (aka the Glo label of New Fugitives and 100+ polka records fame) in Somers, CT
    Don’t Run was recorded at a movie theatre in Stafford Springs, CT.
    Tom said he came up with the modulation for the ending of Don’t Run

    The drummer’s name is Don Ouelette, not Elliot. I also have Louie Dansereau as the correct spelling.

    The third ’45’ was only mastered to a tape and never pressed. By that time, the band had changed their sound to ‘soul/jazz’ style. They added three horn players and changed name to Lundon Fog.

    When someone would ask which one was Beep Beep, they would all point to each other…..

  4. I saw them outside at my local high school in 1968, 4th of July I believe. They were great live, they had Vox Super Beatle amps and the bass player had a Gibson Thunderbird bass. They were very well known around here (Worcester, MA) and I remember True Love Knows being played on the local radio station: WORC 1310 AM. I had the 45 when I was a kid and of course lost it. I see that someone from Spain(!) posted it on you tube, in fact they posted both sides of both singles, sergiowalrus is his you tube name.

    1. Is this the Bob Young who was a bassist in Worcester-area rock bands for a long time, including a trio I was in called “Buckshot?….?? You were a huge fan of The Remains, among other notable groups. If I’ve got the right person, please say hi to me at: llewis4444 [at] gmail.com

  5. I checked Youtube and see this guy took the music and scans of the labels directly from this site. There’s no doubt Beep Beep & the Roadrunners has fans all over the world.

  6. As do The Pentagons; we are obviously enjoying a resurgence in France. I suggested we “get the band back together” and no one would stop laughing. Ah, but they laughed at Jerry Lewis, too.

  7. First of all, I have to say this is a fantastic article. As a fan of the band and their songs, this is very educational reading. I can remember seeing the Road Runners play at Webster Sqauare Plaza during the summer of 1967 and unless my memory has failed me completely, I remember being impressed at how soon they had learned music from the recently released Sgt. Peppers album. Very entertaining!
    Having worked at WORC 1310 for 25 years beginning in 1969, (and listening to it religiously during the period that the Road Runners music was new), I just want to mention two quick things about the station owner. His name was Bob Bryar and from my interaction with him through the years, I don’t think it’s quite accurate to say the Road Runners got airplay in return for appearing at WORC events. Maybe someone has concrete evidence of this, but popular local bands appeared at station events because it was mutually beneficial to both parties. WORC was more than willing to give local bands airplay with no quid pro quo arrangement, even into my experience with these types of events as the 60’s turned into the 70’s. Small points, I know, but I think worth mentioning…Again great article. Keep up the good work.

    Dave O’

  8. Well, I’m still here! Alive and living in Dover,DE. Donny called me the other day from Florida after 40 years, and we had a great telephone reunion reliving our days as Beep Beep and the Roadrunners. By the way, I still play the keyboards and am better than ever….maybe it’s time to restart this group. I didn’t know of this web site until someone at work found it and started reading it aloud in the office. It was quite a thrill. To all you other Roadrunners; remember the time we played with the Buckinghams and they gave us their latest 45. I just found it the other day. I also have all the reel-to-reel tapes of our rehearsals and some live gigs.
    Warren A.

  9. Hi I know the beep beep and the road runners,very well,i know the hole family,because I am Ray bonin Dauther, and Jays Sister,I live in Fla.my brother told me about it all on the computer.this is so cool.my Dad was the best manger that thay had,he did a great job,he would be so happy to know that the band and him is still talked about.
    It is so great to read about my Dad and brother on the computer,it makes me really happy.
    Donna{bonin}Williams

  10. Just a quick hello to all the Roadrunners. My band the Nite Riders worked with you many times in Worcester and surrounding areas. Many great memories from those old times, we met first when Tony Agby’s (our first drummer) dad Tony Sr. brought you all into one of our rehearsals, you guy’s were a little older than us and you were there to give us some advice to help our sound. Then we started working lots of dates together.

    All The Nite Riders but myself have passed on, Chucky the little 4’8″ drummer age 13, died at age 18 (damn drugs)

    I’ve been in music all my life I have had some pretty good luck, I live in Louisiana now.

    would love to hear from you guy’s send an email if you like (theodan@bellsouth.net)

    David Daniels
    lead guitar the Nite Riders

    1. Dave couldnt believe my eyes when I saw your post. I was your rhythm guitar player and I have pics to prove it. Sorry about little chucky

  11. I went to South High with the Roadrunners. They were a great group of guys. Tom, Ronny, Don and I used to meet at the corner restaurant before school each morning for coffee. When my parents died Don’s parents took me in and I spent my weekends with the Band. Great memories of Louie, Jay and Tim also. The duel drummers on the drum stands were quite the thing back then.

    Mike O’

  12. Hi, I ‘am the daughter of Louie Dansereau, I recently relocate dfrom Anchorage, AK, I was wondering if anyone had any info. on him. I live in Shrewsbury, Mass. thnak you

  13. Hello, my name is Mark and I am a senior at Clark University, living at 10 Gates Street. A couple weeks after I moved in, I stumbled upon a scrapbook of the band, complete with show fliers, newspaper articles, pictures and ticket stubs. The scrapbook has take a bit of weather damage, but is mostly readable. My roommates and I have all found it very interesting, and I have researched the band as a result of it; I’m definitely a fan of the music.

    If any of the members are still in the Worcester area, we would love to have a first-person perspective on the items included in the scrapbook, if any would like to meet up for a discussion of the scrapbook.

    Cheers,
    Mark

  14. I know where he is here in Worcester, Lisa I told him and showed him this website and your message about finding him. He is very interested in meeting you and is unaware of you existing, so he would love to talk to you, please call 508-380-2119 I hope you get this message, Lucy

  15. Mark, I’am Louis Dansereau daughter, and live in Shrewsbury I would be very interested in meeting and looking at some of my dads old band items. Please e-mail me. Thank you.

  16. This is Donny lead drummer and vocals please give my buddy mike a call would love to hear from you … 941 822 2576

  17. I have for sale 4 original records, photos and many clippings from the newspaper.
    Please call me at 941.423.0003 if you would be interested in purchasing this package deal.
    I was the drummer of Beep Beep and the Road Runners and would love to hear from any of you fans.
    Thanks and hope to hear from you. All original stuff……….

    1. hello Donnie , i’am louie’s sister i found this web page so good to know that
      Beep Beep and the Road Runner’s have not been forgoten you were truly a great
      group of guys in reading some of the E-mail’s it takes you back to a better time
      and great music. I always thought you guy’s might make it big one day just think
      the rolling stones stated out in Cambridge Mass, in an appartment. i do have
      an 8×10 photo of just you, Ronnie, Thommy, and Louie, when your band was
      first called the Royal Tones, i was alway’s so very proud of all of you. Lucille 🙂

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