Category Archives: Alabama

The Cherades “My Little Red Book”

Cherades RHM 45 My Little Red BookThe Cherades are an unknown group who covered two hits from ’65 and ’66 for release on RHM Records 1001/1002. Their version of Love’s arrangement of “My Little Red Book” is very good, I’d say this was a studio group except the lead singer sounds unpolished. It was backed with the McCoys’ “Sorrow”.

The single was produced by Jimmy R. Johnson, the session guitarist who would become co-owner of Muscle Shoals Sound Studios. These were most likely cut at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, where Johnson produced the Rockin’ Rebellions excellent “Don’t Let Go” / “Anyway the Wind Blows” for Gold Groove 111.

RHM Records has an address of 411 N. Atlanta Ave, in Sheffield, Alabama. The deadwax of SIMS RHM 1001 / RHM 1002 with a “Nashville Matrix” stamp indicates this may have been considered for the Sims label owned by Russell Sims, who had released many soul singles cut at FAME.

Oddly the labels show correct publishing for “Sorrow” but list “My Little Red Book” as “Pub. Unknown”!

Max Waller wrote to me that he had a note from an unknown source listing “members include Ronnie, Joe, Frankie”.

Cherades RHM 45 Sorrow

The Rogues “Put You Down”

The Rogues of Montgomery on WSFA, Rich Gainer on vocals
The Rogues of Montgomery on WSFA, Rich Gainer on vocals

Rogues MBM 45 Put You DownThe Rogues of Montgomery, AL cut one great rock single, “Put You Down” b/w a version of “Stormy Monday Blues”.

“Put You Down” was written by lead guitarist Max Kendrick and vocalist Rich Gainer. The Rogues recorded the 45 in February of 1966, for MBM Records, a Birmingham, Alabama label that goes back to the early ’60s.

For years this group was assumed to be the same as the Rogues and the Dry Grins of Lafayette, Louisiana, but I’ve heard from Rich Gainer through his daughter, Dorian, who sent in the photo above, showing the group playing live on WSFA TV in Montgomery.

Rich Gainer provides this history of the band:

The Rogues were founded in mid-1965 as a result of my being stationed at Maxwell USAF Base in Montgomery, Alabama, and meeting Bill Myers (rhythm guitar and vocals), Larry Taylor (Hofner bass), and Casey Bolt (drums), officers’ kids whose Dads had recently been reassigned there from Germany. These teens had been playing music in a band in Germany at the time the Beatles were popular and playing there, and had picked up on the style of British Invasion groups. From the time we first met and practiced together a little bit, we were getting bookings at area military and off-base clubs, and were playing gigs several times a week.

Early-on, we were introduced to Max Kendrick who would become our excellent lead guitar player, sporting his Fender Jazzmaster and Rickenbacker 12 string. Max’s Dad was the Colonel in charge of AU TV on base, and we were among the first groups to pioneer videos. Keyboards came later in the form of Max’s cousin Frank, for whom we purchased a Vox Continental organ. Through the time the Rogues were together 1965-1969, we also had the services of Joe Tucker at lead guitar and Dan Fucci who very quickly learned to play the drums in order to become our drummer.

Max and I wrote the song “Put You Down”, which we recorded for the MBM label in a Muscle Shoals, Alabama studio in 1966. Colonel Taylor, our bass player’s Dad, made the recording deal with the studio in Muscle Shoals (think it was FAME) which included the label deal with MBM. The song actually topped the charts on WBAM in Montgomery, AL for a few weeks which gave us introductions to the British Invasion groups coming through Montgomery for the Big BAM shows held at the Coliseum for many years, like The Who, The Hollies, The Blues Magoos, The Kinks, and many more including American groups like The Beach Boys, The Beau Brummels, The Turtles, and so on. Best bands we met and heard in person – The Byrds – magical and electric, and The Beach Boys – amazing sound.

We were scheduled to open for Paul Revere and the Raiders at the first WHHY Show at The Coliseum, but they wheeled out their Vox Super Beatle Amps and bulldozed our equipment off the stage some 10-12 foot drop.

We started playing teen clubs in rural Alabama, Georgia, and North Florida, and hired R. L. and Granny Davis, owners of The Opp Teen Club as booking agents for a couple of years. We were in that scene at the same time as The Rockin’ Gibraltars, The K-Otics, The James Gang, and The Candymen to name a few.

In 1968, when my Air Force time was up, the group split up. Larry and Dan became B52 pilots like their Dads, and Bill took over his Dad’s real estate business in Montgomery. Lost track of Casey and Max and the others, but would like to reconnect if it were possible. I went on to write more songs and record in Nashville for a few years with limited success through the 1990’s. Hank Tubb was my alias when I did comedy along with music. See https://www.reverbnation/hicksintrucks

Q. How many records pressed up? It’s very rare nowadays.

Probably a 1000 copies pressed. I used to have a few dozen but don’t know what happened to them over the years.

Q. Did the band play “Put You Down” at live shows?

Yes, played “Put You Down” everywhere, especially when it was on WBAM charts.

Q. Did the Rogues make any unreleased recordings?

We made lots of video recordings at AU TV, but on proprietary equipment and no longer available. No other audio recordings.

– Rich Gainer

MBM Records discography

Blondells MBM 45 Rocking My Blues AwayBirmingham, Alabama was the base of MBM Records, which started about 1961.

For more on the Rogues, see the separate post on that band.

This is not the same MBM as MBM Productions of Crowley, Louisiana, run by Mike Miller, the son of Jay Miller. Those releases I discuss in another post.

MBM Records discography

(probably incomplete – any help with this would be appreciated)

MBM 8019 – Ann Allen – “What Do You Want of Me” / “I Don’t Want Your Love” (with PS)

MBM 8020 – The Blondells – “Rocking My Blues Away” (Taylor, Starland Music BMI) / Mona Taylor and the Blondells – “No One Will Ever Know” CP-5501/2, Rite pressing from 1961.

MBM-2001 – Jimmy Ferguson with the Flares Band and the Tom Boys (vocalists) – “The Ballad of Tom Sawyer” / “Cupid” (both by Ferguson – Ferguson, Double “M” Pub. Co. BMI) SoN 9521/2

MBM-2002 – The Rouges – “Put You Down” (Kendrick & Gainer) / “Stormy Monday” SoN 29801

The Ann Allen sleeve has “MBM Records, Miami-Los Angeles” on the PS, and a managerial address:

Birmingham Artist Playhouse Agency
5017 Avenue “N”, West
Birmingham 8, Alabama

Birmginham’s Reed label usually published through Double “M” Music, but had a handful of later releases in 1961 that instead used Starland Music (and a different logo typeface):

RR 1061 – Larry & the Loafers “Panama City Blues” / “Till the End”
RR 1063 – Webb Robbins And The Jackets “Take This Ring” / “Why Was I Blue”
RR 1064 – Mason Dixon – “Queen Of My Heartaches” / “Hello Memphis”

Thank you to Tapio Väisänen and Niculò Conrad for their help with this discography.

Chuck Edwards and the Apaches

Chuck Edwards and the Apaches Ludo 45 She Let Me Go

Here’s an obscure Century Custom pressing by Chuck Edwards and the Apaches with a mix of garage and earlier rock styles that I like. “She Let Me Go” has gravelly vocals (credited to Tony and Eddie) over a great band that features good drum fills, a deep bass line and nice guitar work, plus a saxophone to tie it to the old styles.

The flip, “Lonely Apache” (written by Tony III) is a good, low-key instrumental. I don’t know any names other than what’s on the labels.

Released on Ludo Records 19796, I’m not sure of the date. The labels read “Recorded for Ludo Records by Century Custom Recording, Montgomery 6, Alabama 36106”.

Chuck Edwards wrote and produced “Dance Little Girl, Dance”- I believe he’s singing on it too – released as the Reactions on Ludo 001 b/w “Daddy’s Home” which I haven’t heard. I presume the Reactions single predates “She Let Me Go” by a year or so.

Chuck Edwards and the Apaches Ludo 45 Lonely Apache

Steve Purdy and the Studs

“The Weed” is the first single cut by Steve Purdy & the Studs, a group from the Homewood and Vestavia Hills suburbs of Birmingham, Alabama. A tribute to tobacco with a sound like “Money”, its title and lyrics like “I need a pack of weeds that costs 15 cents” and “I wish somebody would give me a seed, that would grow me an instant weed, an instant weed would be mighty fine … give me a weed” made it into a cult favorite.

Steve Purdy and Vic Rumore share the lead vocals on “The Weed”, Rumore may have been related to Joe Rumore, a popular DJ on WVOK and owner of Rumore’s Record Rack; and his brother Angelo “Duke” Rumore, Birmingham DJ and impressario.

The flip of “The Weed” is “Hyannis Port Twist” which helps date this single to 1963 or earlier, along with the Southern Plastics code of SO 1292. The label was Vesta Records 200, located was 3106 Roxbury Road in Birmingham.

Steve Purdy and the Studs Vesta 45 I Cried (The Night You Said Goodbye)Besides Purdy and Rumore, the Studs included:

Jimmy Sullivan – lead guitar
Brooke Temple – rhythm guitar
Norman Hamm – bass
Billy McConnell or Steve Davis – drums

For their second 45, they cut two more Purdy originals, “I Cried (The Night You Said Goodbye)” with a sound close to rockabilly and “Johnny’s Steady”, more of a teen side but with an interesting Leslie effect on the brief guitar solo.

Does anyone have a photo of the group?

Steve Purdy and the Studs Vesta 45 Johnny's SteadyPurdy wrote all four of the songs, publishing through Vestavia Publishing Co. BMI. As far as I know these were the only two releases on the Birmingham Vesta label. There was another Vesta Records from Syracuse, NY with doo-wop releases by the Rhythm Cadets and the Eldoras.

Southern Plastics in Nashville pressed both singles, “The Weed” has SO 1292/3 while “I Cried” is SO 1398/9, which should help give exact release dates if anyone has compiled those codes.

Sources: the Alabama Record Collectors Association has a short post on Facebook about Steve Purdy and the Studs. Info about Joe Rumore from

Sax Kari’s Channel “1” Records

Eyes Of Reality Channel 1 45 What You Waitin' On GirlRecently I picked up two singles on the Channel “1” label, by the Eyes of Reality and the Systems. The label intrigued me for the 7-B distribution listed at the bottom, as 7-B, or Seven B, was a great New Orleans funk label owned by Joe Banashak.

I quickly realized these were not New Orleans productions, but instead came out of the Mobile, Alabama studio of Sax Kari, who wrote, produced and/or sang on each of these.

Saxton Kari had a long career in music, but I know his name mainly from Preston Lauterbach’s eye-opening history, The Chitlin’ Circuit.

The Systems Channel 1 45 How High Is HighThe first single on Channel “1” was the Eyes of Reality doing a laid-back funky come-on, “What You Waitin’ On Girl”. The flip is the even more mellow ballad, “Goin’ Back”. I’m not sure who was playing in the Eyes of Reality, but Saxton Kari wrote and sang both sides.

Next comes what sounds like a real band, the Systems, doing an original by Doug Previto, “How High Is High”. I presume Doug was a member of the group. The flip is “Where Did I Go” a song by Carson and Tim Whitsett. Tim Whitsett led the Imperial Showband with Tommy Tate, who cut the definitive version of this song for Musicor.

Francine King cut the third Channel “1” single, “Two Fools” a spare funk vocal that has its fans.

I haven’t heard the next Systems single, the intriguingly-titled Sax Kari composition “The Story of My Hair” b/w another Doug Previto song, “Oh How I Wish”. The group’s name is listed as simply the System, singular, and the label has a new design. The label name was spelled Channel One for COR-711 and COR-712.

The System Channel 1 45 The Story of My Hair
A faded label but has Sax Kari’s autograph
The last single on the label is another one I haven’t heard, Simon Birk’s “Babbalulla”.

Channel “1” Records discography

COR-701 – Eyes of Reality – “Goin’ Back” / “What You Waitin’ On Girl” (PRP 10771/2)
COR-702 – The Systems – “Where Did I Go” (Carson Whitsett, Tim Whitsett for Whitsett Bros Music/Catalogue Music BMI) / “How High Is High” (Douglas Dwight Previto, Kari Music BMI) “A Gulf Coast Production”
COR-703 – Francine King – “The Grapevine Can’t Tell You” / “Two Fools” (PRP 11471/2)
COR-704 – The System – “The Story Of My Hair” (Sax Kari) / “Oh How I Wish” (Douglas Dwight Previto)(PRP 13911/2, )

COR-711 – Francine King – “Dirty Man” (Bobby Miller) / “Yo Yo”
COR-712 – Dirty Red Morgan Group – “Your Chicken Ain’t Funky Like Mine” / “Finger Lickin’, Funky Chicken”

COR-720412 – Simon Birk – “Babbalulla” (J. Simmons, Channel One Music) / “Love Never” (PRP-38351/2)
COR-770518 – Benny Watson – “Sunday Afternoon In Memphis” / “Going Down for the Third Time” (both by Jerry Powell, released 1977)

Unless indicated otherwise, all songs written by Sax Kari and published by Tune-Kel and/or Kari Music BMI.

Thank you to Peter for pointing out a few unknown to me, and to Gordon Dodson of the Barons from Ozark for the scan of the Francine King single.

The System Channel 1 45 Oh How I Wish

The Systems Channel 1 45 Where Did I Go

Francine King Channel 1 45 The Grapevine Can't Tell You

The Jerks of Birmingham

The Jerks band from Birmingham: Steve Fletcher, Dennis Wilkey, Larry Gardner, David Duke and Mike Ellis
The Jerks, from left: Steve Fletcher, Dennis Wilkey, Larry Gardner, David Duke and Mike Ellis

Rhythm guitarist David Duke of the Jerks wrote to me about the group and sent in the photos seen here:

The Jerks were a Birmingham, Alabama band formed in the mid 60’s. The band members were:

The Jerks Vaughn-Ltd 45 I'm Leavin' YouLarry Gardner – drums
Mike Ellis – lead guitar & vocals
David Duke – rhythm guitar
Dennis Wilkey – bass guitar
Steve Fletcher – keyboards

The members came from three high schools in the East Birmingham area: Woodlawn – Steve & Larry; Banks – David & Dennis; and Mike from Erwin.

In early 1966 the Jerks recorded a record on the Vaughn-Ltd label at Ed Boutwell’s early recording studio located in a vacated church at 1st Ave North and 35th Street. The main side was “I’m Leavin’ You” with the back side a slower song “Don’t Make Me Sorry” both written by Mike Ellis. “I’m Leavin’ You” was later published in the #5 spot on Psychedelic States – Alabama in the ’60s Vol.1 (Gear Fab) and is still available on CD.

Jerks early photo April 1965
“An early picture taken in my Birmingham garage basement practicing in April 1965. This was before we added the keyboards.” – David Duke

The last addition to the band was Steve Fletcher on keyboards. The band gained popularity playing at Calico Corner, where many top chart artists performed, along with numerous Armories and high school dances throughout central Alabama. The Jerks were also winners of the Phipps Piano Co., VOX Battle of the Bands contest. The Jerks were popularly seen in their black leather outfits influenced by the British groups. The Jerks opened up for The McCoys concert in Birmingham.

Signatures of the McCoys

Jerks-Pizitz-Fashion-ShowThe Jerks gained early popularity in the summer of ‘65 as a big part of the Pizitz Department Store Fashion Shows in downtown Birmingham. The Jerks also performed for a publicity party with Beach Party movie stars Debby Walley and John Ashley at the premiere showing of their new movie.

During this time the band was offered to go on tour throughout the US by Warren “Billy” Wilson, promoter and agent, but declined due to the young age of the members. (Our parents had the upper hand on this decision!)

The band broke up in ’67. Dennis and Mike continued on professionally in the music industry with several other successful bands. We believe Steve continued in his family-owned business. Larry after graduating from Jacksonville State University became a successful business owner of a large nationwide window blind manufacturing and sales company based in the Birmingham area.

David Duke of the Jerks, 2015
David Duke, 2015

David joined the Alabama Air Guard for six years, pursued college and after 45 years as a Sr. Acct Sales Mgr in the industrial gases industry retired in 2015.

Over those years I played with several new bands in the 80’s and 90’s doing a 50’s-60’s-70’s music review. I still keep my collection of guitars close by to play those classic old songs of great days.

David Duke

I asked David some follow-up questions about the group:

Q. How did the band choose The Jerks for a name?

Not absolutely sure, but the song “The Cool Jerk” performed by the Capitals was released about that time along with a dance by that name and I believe that is where we heard it. I’ve been asked many times and that was all I could come up with. But we did find it to be well received and well remembered for many years after, even today.

The Jerks, from left: Steve Fletcher, Dennis Wilkey, David Duke, Larry Gardner and Mike Ellis
The Jerks, from left: Steve Fletcher, Dennis Wilkey, David Duke, Larry Gardner and Mike Ellis

I’m playing a Fender Jaguar that my father brought home and surprised me with. It was a Daphne Blue and never saw another one like it anywhere. I was very popular just from that. I think if I had kept I might have been able to retire earlier. Around the time I either went or came back from boot camp I sold it. Mike Ellis played the Fender Mustang.

Q. Did the single get local radio play?

We did get local radio play. WSGN was the most and several of the DJ really got close to us and helped us a lot.

Q. Was the east Birmingham scene distinct from other parts of town or did bands play all over?

Most all the bands in the Birmingham area played all over including cities outside of Birmingham. Birmingham being a large city was a hub for popular bands. I was very close with many other groups during this time. I was influenced by some friends in elementary school that had a band and my friend played the drums. I would listen to them around ’62 or ’63 playing many of the Ventures guitar songs. That’s when I really decided that was what I wanted to do and play. In later years that group became the Rockin’ Rebellions which became popular throughout the south.

Some of the guys I played with in early years ended up in the Daze of the Week another popular group with records. I was close and went to high school with one from the Distortions, also I was close friends with the Vikings.

I haven’t talked to any of the other Jerks band members in a while. Larry Gardner I talked to about two years ago.

Esquires of BirminghamIt took me a few years, then I got the bug from a friend I grew up with that had his band called the Esquires. We started a band together in the early ’90s and played several gigs but had a hard time keeping or finding good members. I always said I wanted to get with him again and see if we could start another band since we were both getting close to retiring. He died of a heart attack two years ago (Terry Mathews – bottom left). I guess that is why I’m really pushing myself to have some fun while I can.

The Jerks supporting Deborah Walley and John Ashley on tour to promote their new movie Sergeant Deadhead.


Lord Byron and the Poets

Lord Byron & the Poets with Vox equipment, from left: Ed Balog, John Wheatley, Chip Woody, Danny Saxon and Jim Lacefield
Lord Byron & the Poets with Vox equipment, from left: Ed Balog, John Wheatley, Chip Woody, Danny Saxon and Jim Lacefield. Photo courtesy of John Wheatley

Lord Byron & the Poets did not release any records but did record a session at Ed Boutwell Studios like many other Birmingham area bands. Members were:

Chip Woody – lead singer
Ed Balog – lead guitar
Eddie Robinson – rhythm guitar
Jim Lacefield – bass and vocals
Danny Saxon – drums and vocals
John Wheatley III – drums

Drummer John Wheatley sent photos of the band and answered my questions about the band:

We had a great band and were well received wherever we played gigs. Our band was very unique in that we had two drummers. Our singer, Chip Woody, looked a lot like Mick Jagger and was very talented at singing Rolling Stones songs, so we did plenty of them along with the usual list of current favorite rock songs.

Several of the band members were very creative and wrote quite a few songs during my time with them in the 65/66 school year.

Lord Byron & the Poets, Danny Saxon, Jim Lacefield, Chip Woody, Eddie Robinson, John Wheatley, Ed Balog)
Lord Byron & the Poets at Canterbury Methodist Church, 1966, from left: Jim Lacefield, Danny Saxon, Chip Woody, Eddie Robinson, John Wheatley, and Ed Balog

I have a few pictures from a “freebie” we did at Canterbury Methodist Church in Mountain Brook, AL for a benefit event. My family were members at the church for many, many years.

The one other picture I have is a promotional picture made at Phipps Piano Company in Birmingham that is connected with our band’s purchase of a large amount of Vox sound equipment to amplify all of the guitars and all of the singers.

We had a really nice Vox PA system with two “sound columns” and amplifier. The lead guitar player (Ed Balog) played a Gretsch Country Gentleman gold plated guitar through a Vox Royal Guardsman amplifier accompanied by a Vox reverb unit, that actually recorded the initial sound on an audio tape and then replayed it in diminishing volume levels as the tape passed through a successive series of tape heads that progressively erased more and more of the original sound as the tape completed it’s circuit while continuously recording and playing each new audio sound on the same tape … absolutely amazing to watch it operate with the cover off of the tape component area.

The bass player also had a brand new deluxe model of a bass amplifier that had its own hand truck type of chrome rack on wheels and sounded amazing for sure. I’m not sure what amplifier Eddie used, but he probably plugged into Ed’s equipment sometimes and I think he had a classic Fender amp that he used some of the time.

We were “recruited” at one point during that tenure by a man representing himself to be a talent scout from RCA in Nashville and he had us to meet him on a weekend at the new Mountain Brook High School where we set up in a sunken carpeted area and he used an reel to reel tape recorder to tape all of the original songs that our group had to offer at that time. He kept in touch with the Balogs for some while, promising this and that. That’s about all that ever came of it, except that one of our songs came out as a hit record titled “Hey Little Girl” with only very minor changes to our original version and it did quite well on the charts and got loads of airplay. The band members that wrote the song felt ripped off but there was little they could do about it.

Boutwell Studios control room with John Wheatley at right.
Boutwell Studios control room with John Wheatley at right. Photo courtesy of Jim Lacefield
At another point, we did a recording session at Boutwell Studios in Birmingham and recorded several songs, including one entitled “Mister You’re A Better Man Than I” performed by Danny Saxon for our group. During my efforts to re-connect with our original band members recently, I learned that the bass player, Jim Lacefield, still had the original reel to reel tapes from that Boutwell recording session, but had never done anything with them since 1966. One thing led to another and he was kind enough to ship them to me and I am in the process of getting them transferred so that all of our band members can enjoy and share them as they see fit when the project is finished. It will be interesting to hear the music on the tapes and re-experience those magical moments from 50 years ago surrounded by our current families.

We never actually made any records during my tenure with the band and the group essentially dissolved at the end of the school year as all members were heading off to college, etc … similar to the Ramblers and many other groups of that era.

Our lead guitar player, Ed Balog, was only 14 at the time while most of the rest of us were seniors in high school, but Ed was an extremely talented musician who had been playing the guitar daily since age 8 and was a child prodigy for sure. We practiced every day at the Balog house. When I tried to re-connect in recent years I was saddened to learn he had passed away after a legendary career as a musician in the greater Birmingham area.

I finally located the other drummer / singer, Danny Saxon, who lives out west in a beautiful part of the Great Rocky Mountains and is very happy doing wood work along with pursuing his current hobby of singing and playing music on a frequent basis.

Jim Lacefield was our excellent bass player / singer and I reached him in recent times to learn that he had continued his musical endeavors, shifting over to a really interesting and successful string of performances for many years singing and playing acoustic guitar in a variety of venues throughout the southeast. Jim lives near Tuscumbia now.

Eddie Robinson, Johnny Robinson’s younger brother, played rhythm guitar with our group and I understand that he is alive and well in the Birmingham area these days, but I haven’t actually spoken with him since 1966.

Chip Woody (lead singer) and Danny Saxon (drummer / vocals) both went to the University of Montevallo and seem to still be active in music now, although Danny lives out west in the Rocky Mountains and has switched from drums to guitar a long time ago. Chip Woody was last known to be living in Palm Springs, California about 15 years ago.

John Wheatley III with Lord Byron & the Poets
John Wheatley III with Lord Byron & the Poets
Jim Lacefield was very active in music for several years after Lord Byron and the Poets, often working with well known music acts and also doing his own one man shows in small clubs in the southeast. He later got heavy into geology and became a leading professor on the subject and has written several highly acclaimed books on geology in Alabama. He and his wife now own and operate a “preserve” park near Tuscumbia where they conduct tours and he does public speaking on such matters all over the state.
I have continued to be pretty active as a drummer in a variety of bands in the greater Montgomery area since moving here in 1972 and really enjoy pursuing those opportunities now during retirement from my “day job”.
It would be really great to reunite the band, but would be very difficult due to the geographical locations of the surviving members after nearly 50 years of being apart but I would love to see it happen.

John Wheatley, 2015

Jim Lacefield and Ed Balog of Lord Byron and the Poets with Vox amps
Jim Lacefield and Ed Balog showing off their Vox amplifiers, photo courtesy of Jim Lacefield

Jim Lacefield added:

I remembered that gig we played one cold Friday night in January or February of 1966 at the National Guard armory in Decatur. Our gig was cut short by a snowstorm that night, and we had to make the harrowing drive back to Birmingham in the snow. What an adventure!

After the band dis-banded in the summer of 1966 I went on to school at the University that fall. During the time I played bass with the Poets I had started getting interested in playing 12-string guitar and folk rock style music. I was just picking up the 12-string while in the Poets (you might remember I had a blue-green Vox 12-string that Ed used on some songs we played like “Gloria” and “Time Won’t Let Me”). I never got great on the 12-string, but was quite passable, and I enjoyed playing in some small bands at the University. Down there at the time everyone wanted to play “soul music” because that’s where the money was, playing for fraternity and sorority parties. I didn’t care that much for that type music played for drunks, so I shifted over to playing regular 6-string acoustic folk music with a harmonica in a holder (like Dylan and Donovan). During the summer of 1967 I went down to New Orleans and had a chance meeting with some other musicians, poets, and artists who I got in close with. I played some little coffee house style clubs down in the French Quarter that summer and liked the town a lot. New Orleans became my home during the part of the year I wasn’t in Tuscaloosa going to school.

Back in Tuscaloosa I played a little coffee house on campus called the “Down Under” several times, and met my future wife Faye there one night at a folk/blues gig I was playing with a friend. I also played a gig with the great blues man Johnny Shines right as he was making a career comeback playing before young, white audiences.

There was a 60 second or so film of me playing at an anti-war rally in front of a huge crowd at Denny Chimes on the University campus that had originally aired on national TV in October, 1969 on the old Huntley-Brinkley NBC Nightly News program. They were doing a feature on the NBC evening news on how opposition to the war was affecting college campuses, even in the South. The film was taken on October 15th, 1969 and in front of the crowd of students surrounded by FBI agents and policemen. I mention this because a tape of that anti-war mini-concert at Denny Chimes appears on Alabama Public Television whenever they have a show about the 1960s in Alabama.

I got married in the summer of 1970 and did two years of civilian service as a conscientious objector in the waning days of the Viet Nam war. I went on to be a science teacher, and later a college biology and earth science teacher, but never played music professionally after college.

from left: Chip Woody, Ed Balog, and Danny Saxon of Lord Byron and the Poets
from left: Chip Woody, Ed Balog, and Danny Saxon of Lord Byron and the Poets, photo courtesy of Jim Lacefield
I have had almost no contact with any other member of the Poets since 1966. I did run into Ed at a Jimi Hendrix concert at the University in 1969, but got to talk with him just briefly. I saw Danny Saxon once during the mid-1980s and did get to talk to him for a few minutes. I still have some reel-to-reel tapes of our Poets recording sessions, but have never had the right type machine to play them. I remember we did “Route 66” in Stones fashion and “Mister You’re a Better Man Than I” by the Yardbirds (which Danny sang the lead on) during the session.

Faye and I have lived for the past 30 years out in the country near Tuscumbia where we have gathered together some 500 acres of land through the years. We have established a nature preserve that consists of some nice canyon land, waterfalls, boulder fields, etc. that we have open to the public for hiking and recreation. I have no trouble staying busy, even though I have been retired from teaching for several years. Several years ago I wrote a book on the geologic history of Alabama called “Lost Worlds in Alabama Rocks; A Guide to the State’s Ancient Life and Landscapes.” The book has done well, and is in its 5th printing. It has been used in geology classes at nine universities, but is getting a little out-of-date. Right now I’m working on the second edition of the book, which I hope will be to print some time in the next year.

Jim Lacefield

Lord Byron & the Poets, Danny Saxon, Jim Lacefield, Chip Woody, Eddie Robinson, John Wheatley, Ed Balog)
Lord Byron & the Poets at Canterbury Methodist Church, from left: Danny Saxon (drums, obscured), Jim Lacefield, Chip Woody, Eddie Robinson, John Wheatley (not in photo: Ed Balog). Photo courtesy of John Wheatley