Category Archives: Chicago

The Nightshades on Gear

Nightshades Gear 45 American Boy

The Nightshades formed as the Deadly Nightshades at Glenbrook South High School in Glenview, IL, a suburb of Chicago. The group’s lineup changed, sometimes to a quartet or trio format, but included at various times:

Gary Schaeffer – vocals
Bob Zemke – lead guitar
Larry LaCoste – rhythm guitar
Phil Jernigan, replaced by Tom Lavin – bass
Don Locke, replaced by Kenny LaCoste – drums

I only have one of their singles, the second of three the band released on Gear Records in 1967 and 1968.

The first was “Summertime” / “Wonder Where My Baby Is Tonight” on Gear 747/8.

“Summertime” and the Kinks cover are cool enough, but I like the original songs on their second single on Gear C 749/750, “Flying High” and especially the heavier “American Boy” with its sustained guitar sound and lyrics that would tell an interesting story if I could decipher more of them. The labels list Zemke, La Cost, Jernigan as writers for both songs, published by Gear Music BMI, with arrangement by Bob Zemke, plus Gear Enterprises, c/o Ed Zemke.

I haven’t heard their last single, “Sweet Cecelia” / “My Mother Done Told Me (That You Were a Lover)” on Gear 751/2.

Nightshades Gear 45 Flying High

Bobby Simms & the Simmers

Bobby Simms was born Robert Siemiaskzo. While still in high school in 1961 he joined the Mus-Twangs as lead vocalist. The Mus-Twangs were based out of Harvey, Illinois, about 20 miles south of central Chicago and just west of Hammond, Indiana. The Mus-Twangs had two instrumental singles on Smash, including the very first single ever released by that label, “Marie” / “Roch Lomond”.

Simms left the Mustangs in 1962 and started the Bobby Simms Trio with Mus-Twangs bassist Keith Anderson, recording a good Mersey-influenced single in 1964 on New Breed “And Your Mine” / “Do Things Right” featuring the drumming and harmonica of Verne Johnson (later of Illinois Speed Press).

Bobby Simms Billboard 1965 April 10In 1965 Simms had his own single on Smash, “The World Is Funny” / “You’re My Everything” which I haven’t heard yet.

The following year he released a 45 as Bobby Simms and the Simmers, featuring two of his original songs, the raucous “Big Mama” backed with a much gentler harmony sound in “Please Please Believe”.

Bobby Simms & the Simmers WMRC 45 Big MamaThis seems to be the only release on WM & RC Records, though there were two different labels, one featuring a key and distribution by Summit. WM standing for Walter Melnyk, the manager of Simms and owner of the M.B. Club in the Burnside neighborhood of Chicago. The “C” in RC stands for Cox, co-producer of the sinle with Melnyk. Publishing was by M.B. Key BMI.

Musicians on the Simmers single included Keith Anderson and Verne Johnson from the Trio, plus guitarist Paul Cotton from the Mus-Twangs.

In 1967 Simms became one of the founding members of the Rotary Connection. Keith Anderson and Paul Cotton formed the Rovin’ Kind, which evolved into Illinois Speed Press.

I’m sorry to report that while researching this post I saw a comment from Keith Anderson that Bobby Simms passed away on May 29, 2015.

Information for this post came from Paul Cotton’s excellent site, especially this page on Bobby Simms.

Bobby Simms & the Simmers WMRC 45 Please Please BelieveBobby Simms & the Simmers WM & RC 45 Big Mama Key Production

The Nervous System

The Nervous System Jambee 45 BonesThe Nervous System had two 45s on the Jambee label circa 1967, though one side, “Make Love, Not War” was used for both releases. The band seems to have been from the Chicago area, though I don’t have confirmation of that.

Their first 45, on Jambee 1001/1002 included the song “Bones”, with a first line that really hooked me: “I like the way she’s wrapped around her bones, the way she talks and how she smiles at me…”

The tense performance, the atmospheric production and the melancholy nature of the song makes “Bones” stand out for me, compared to the intricate but low-key “Make Love, Not War”. Both songs were written by J. Miller for Yuggoth BMI, and produced by J. & M. Miller. A 10″ acetate from Universal Recording Corp. on E. Walton includes “Make Love, Not War” plus a decent try at “Foxy Lady”.

The Nervous System Jambee 45 Make Love, Not WarThe Nervous System’s second release included “Oh!” written by J. & M. Miller and produced by J. Miller and P. Serrano. It shows up on another Universal Recording acetate backed with a pop song, “Hello Sun” and a bluesy public service announcement, “Keep Chicago Beautiful”.

The only other release on the Jambee label that I know of is Circus, “I’ll Always Love You” by W. Stevenson and I. Turner, b/w “Away From This World” by Kevin Murphy, which is Jambee 1007/1008, so I suppose there’s a Jambee 1005/1006 out there somewhere but haven’t seen it yet if it exists. The producers for the Circus record were Jordan Miller, Morrie Parker, at least giving us a clue who J. Miller was.

Much more is known about Circus, who seem to have included Rick Panzer on piano, Kevin Murphy on Hammond organ, Jimmy Stella on vocals, Larry McCabe on trombone/trumpet, Bill Mickelburg, Vern Pilder and Phil Michilson on guitar, and Ross Salomone on drums. They had a much more brash sound, something like Sly & the Family Stone, featuring heavy funk and a full horn section. After the Jambee 45 they had a release on Columbia, also produced by Morrie Parker, “Where Are You At” / “Read All About It” in 1969. Eventually those three members joined with guys from the American Breed to form Rufus.

Nervous System Universal Recording Demo Foxy Lady
Universal Recording demo of “Foxy Lady”, flip side is “Make Love Not War”
Nervous System Universal Recording Demo Hello Sun and Keep Chicago Beautiful
Universal Recording demo with two songs “Hello Sun” and “Keep Chicago Beautiful”, flip had the version of “Oh” released on their second single

The Huns “Destination Lonely”

The Huns Roselle Register Friday, March 24, 1967
“Fast-Rising Huns Take Next Big Step” Friday, March 24, 1967

The Huns came from Arlington Heights, Illinois, a suburb NW of Chicago, most of them students at St. Viator High School. They cut one of the best double-sided 45s of the ’60s, the incredible, blasting “Destination Lonely” with the more tuneful “Winning Ticket.”

Members were:

David Grundhoefer – vocals
Bob Dempsey – lead guitar
Mark Abate – rhythm guitar
Bill McCaffrey – bass (also spelled Bill McCaffery in one source)
Herb Klein – drums

The Huns Rock n' Jazz 45 Destination Lonely (blue Sheldon version)
blue Sheldon version of “Destination Lonely”

An article in the Roselle Register from May 24, 1967 states that they made their first appearance at the Plum Grove Club in October 1965. It also goes on to say “they have cut one record and made the arrangements for the release of another.”

The article states that the members “recall the Oasis Drive-In Battle of the Bands last August [1966] as its first big step. WNWC sponsored the contest and the Huns were among the top five finalists from 67 entries. They went on to take top billing … and won the record contract.”

“‘Destination Lonely,’ written by Dave and Mark, was cut at Sheldon Recording Studios in Old Town. Distributed under the ROCK N’ JAZZ label, the record gained popularity here and in Milwaukee but could not be played on either WCFL or WLS due to lack of a copyright.”

The Huns Rock n' Jazz 45 Destination Lonely (red Stereo Sound version)
red Stereo Sound version with added reverb to lead guitar and vocal on “Destination Lonely”

“In the words of Dave [Grundhoefer], ‘We started after Saturday’s Children but changed to more abstract folk in the lyrics, an obscure tough of Dylan.’ As examples he cites three new Huns songs: ‘Look My Way,’ ‘My Life’ and ‘Did You Believe Me?'”

“Their equipment, built up over the last 18 months, now totals over $5,000. … ‘Most of our earnings have gone into equipment’ said bass guitarist Bill McCaffrey.'”

Another article in the Daily Herald states that the band had played the Hut, the Cellar, and “are schedule to play with the Cryan’ Shames at the New Place in Cary.”

Dave Grundhoefer and Mark Abate wrote “Destination Lonely” and Grundhoefer wrote “Winning Ticket,” both published by RNJ Pub, BMI.

The Huns Rock n' Jazz 45 Winning Ticket
The Stereo Sound version of “Winning Ticket” with jet sounds

The Huns released their single in November, 1966 in two different versions: first with blue labels with a dry sound (no reverb), and then with red labels with added reverb on the vocals and jet noise overdubbed on “Winning Ticket.”

The blue label has a slightly different intro to “Destination Lonely”: the opening chord is struck twice, while the red version has a leading chord before striking the next chord two times.

Other than that, and the reverb added to the lead guitar and vocals, I can’t detect a significant difference in these versions of “Destination Lonely.”

The blue labels include “S-4923” and “S-4924” which indicates it was pressed at Sheldon in Chicago.

The red labels include “SS-8668-01A/B” which is supposed to indicate this single was recorded and pressed by Stereo Sound in Chicago.

However the versions are so close, that I do not think the entire song was rerecorded at Stereo Sound. I believe it’s possible that the lead guitar and lead vocal were both re-recorded over the original backing track done at Sheldon. That would explain the difference in the striking of the opening chords.

I haven’t heard the blue label version of Winning Ticket – any difference besides the overdubs?

The blue label version is considered much rarer than the already-scarce red label copies.

I read some stories in Fuzz, Acid and Flowers about the group that I’m a little skeptical of: that they wore “animal skins with bleached white hair,” that “Robert Dempsey took guitar lessons from Ted Nugent … he apparently helped his student by writing some of the guitar solos for the 45.”

I also read that some years later they released a 45 for Ampex as Greenwood County Farm, but Roy Vombrack wrote to me to clarify: “that was a separate group that had former Huns singer Dave Grundhofer as lead vocalist. Greenwood County Farm released a Bill Traut-produced single “The Man”/”I Wish I Knew You” with Dave on lead. I was the tenor sax player. The band later became Greenwood & then morphed into Jamestown Massacre which later became Mariah.”

Pressing info from the very informative Anoraks Corner.

The Huns Daily Herald Friday, August 25, 1967
Friday, August 25, 1967

Dan Marlee, Danny & the Other Guys and the Real List

Dan Marlee Constellation 45 Candy LipsWhat do these three songs have in common? They’re all written and sung by Daniel A. Marle, an enterprising teen who jumped from mild vocal pop to tough garage and psych within a span of two or three years.

First up is Dan Marlee singing his original “Candy Lips” (Joni Music BMI) b/w “You Left Me” on Constellation C-125 (C-63-138) from late ’63 or 1964.

In May of ’66 he’s found a new style, convincingly singing “(You Been Givin’ Me) Hard Times” as Danny & the Other Guys on C.P. Records 101. The flip is one I haven’t heard yet, “Five For Fourteen Fifty”, but the BMI credits give some names besides Daniel Marle that may have been the Other Guys: Richard Coker, Vincent Ippolito, Roger Pauly and Edmund Strom.

Danny and the Other Guys C.P. 45 (You Been Givin' Me) Hard TimesFinally is C.P. Records 102, with the band name changed to The Real List. They do Marle’s “Pick Up the Marbles”, a good mix of potent fuzz riffing and harmonies, with a poppier bridge. The b-side is a cover of the Beau Brummels’ “Still In Love With You Baby”.

Both the C.P. 45s produced by Chicagoans Productions, and Marle’s originals published by Dan Marle Music BMI. Pressing info is obscure, I read 1425-FT on the Danny & the Others label and 1575-31 / 1600-31 on the Real List labels.

As Daniel Albert Marle he has some other songwriting credits with Robert Nass: “Boy Can Cry”, “Could You Care For Me”, “Cryin’ Over You”, “Gorilla Again” etc, published either by Arc Music or Don-Del Music in Port Washington, Wisconsin. I’m not sure if any of those songs were released.

Dan Marle started his own company, Mid Eagle Productions with occasional releases on Mid Eagle Records and Chicago Fire, mainly with Ral Donner:

Ral Donner with the Wednesday World – “(If I Had My) Life To Live Over” (written by Dan Marle, for Eighth of May Music & Emprise Music BMI) / “Lost” (Donner) on ME 101 in 1968,

Ral Donner – “Godfather Per Me” / “The Wedding Song” Chicago Fire Records CF-7402, released 1974.

Ral Donner – “The Wedding Song” (Brooks) / “So Much Lovin'” (Paxton), on Mid Eagle IRDA-275, arranged by James L. Mack

Ral Donner – 1935-1977: I’ve Been Away For Awhile Now on Mid-Eagle ME2M7902 from 1979, where Ral sings parts of 50 Elvis songs and narrates a history of Elvis!

The Platters Recorded Live in Chicago, on Chicago Fire Records CFS 7401, 1974.

This is all I can find on any of these bands or Dan Marle.

The Real List C.P. 45 Pick Up the MarblesThe Real List C.P. 45 Still In Love With You Baby

The Vynes

The Vynes Athon 45 More Each DaySince I posted about the Dynamics on Athon, I will add the Vynes, who have an excellent harmony 45 on the label. The Vynes came from Naperville, Illinois, the same Chicago suburb where Conrad Haidu owned Athon Records.

The top side was “I Might Be Free” written by John Guill. My favorite of the two is the B-side, “More Each Day”, written by Gary Baldwin. The single was released as Athon 103 in February 1967. I’m surprised I can’t find either song on Youtube.

The band consisted of:

Randy Schum – vocals
John Guill – Telecaster guitar
Mark Groenke – Rickenbacker 12-string guitar
Gary Baldwin – bass, lead vocals
Dave Dieter – drums

Victor Wells joined on lead vocals after Gary Baldwin left the band.

Gary Baldwin recalled the band recorded the single at Balkan Studios in Berwyn, Illinois.

Larry Schum managed the band.

Beyond the Beat Generation has a photo and full interview with two members of the band.

The Vynes Athon 45 I Might Be Free

The Dynamics on Athon

Dynamics Athon 45 Clap Your HandsThe Dynamics came up with a catchy dance B-side in “Clap Your Hands”. I can find very little info on the band.

The 45 was released as Athon 106 and has a RCA-Victor custom code A4KM-3283/4 indicating an early 1971 pressing, later than I expected from the sound of “Clap Your Hands”.

The original A-side, the ballad “Roses and Thunder” was written by Conrad Haidu and Emme Mulis and published by Athon in 1961. Haidu was Athon’s owner, according to Gary Baldwin of the Vynes.

Donald H. Reese wrote “Clap Your Hands”, also for Athon Music Co. BMI (I believe the spelling of Anthon on the label is a typo). Don & The Dynamics, led by Donald Reese were from Lansford, Pennsylvania.

Carl J. Wychulis produced this single. There was a Pennsylvania polka musician by that name, otherwise I can’t find any info on this producer.

Athon was located in Naperville, Illinois, a suburb west of Chicago, but the publishing seems to have relocated to the small town of Carney, Michigan, north of Green Bay.

The December 15, 1962 issue of Billboard wrote “Athon Music Company, Naperville, Ill., publishers have started Athon Records. Conrad Haidu heads the operation. The Stardust Green Trio made the first single.”

incomplete Athon discography: (help with this would be appreciated)

Athon 100: Stardust Green Trio – “The Game Of Hearts” / “I’m Lonesome” (December 1962)
Athon 101: ?
Athon 102: ?
Athon 103: The Vynes – “I Might Be Free” (John Guill) / “More Each Day” (Gary Baldwin) (U4KM-2848) February 1967
Athon 104: ?
Athon 105: The Dynamics – “I’m Lonesome, So Lonesome” / “Run Away Little Girl” (A4KM-2800/1) 1971
Athon 106: The Dynamics – “Roses and Thunder” / “Clap Your Hands” (1971)
Athon 107: Beowulf – “Please Don’t Tell a Lie” (Alice Messerschmidt) / “River, Run Away” (Mulis, Haidu) (1971)
Athon 108: Beowulf – “I’ll Walk Down the Aisle (at the Wedding)” (Haidu and Mulis) / “Loves’ Beggar”
Athon 109: Monte DeGrave – “She Still Cares” / “Kiss In The Park”
Athon 110: Pink Panthers – “Livin’ Is Lovin'” / “Annie Had a Baby” (Rich Klitz – James Kerley – Floyd Kerley)

Athon # unkn – Jesse L.Cody – “Who’s That Girl” / “I Need Your Loving” – acetate recorded at Sound Studios Inc in Chicago and may have been issued on Athon – I need confirmation of this.

Thank you to Philip Powell and Max Waller for help with this discography.

Dynamics Athon 45 Roses and Thunder

The Mouse Trap Club, Vernon Hills, Illinois

Here is the finest collection of ’60s photos I’ve seen in ages, taken mainly at the Mouse Trap Club in the Vernon Hills suburb of Chicago. The Riddles are featured in four of them, the PK-5 in one, and there is an unknown group to be identified. If anyone has information or news clips on the club, please write to me or comment below.

These photos are the property of Philip Metzler, former host of The Mouse Trap, sent to me by his daughter.

The Mouse Trap Club
The Mouse Trap Club
The Mouse Trap Club - audience
Audience at the Mouse Trap Club
Mouse Trap Club - Philip Metzler "A Better Mouse Trap Club"
Philip Metzler: “A Better Mouse Trap Club”
Mouse Trap Club Card
A Better Mouse Trap Club – Where the Elite Meet
The Riddles at the Mouse Trap 1
The Riddles at the Mouse Trap
The Riddles at the Mouse Trap Club
The Riddles at the Mouse Trap Club
The Riddles at the Mouse Trap 3
The Riddles at the Mouse Trap
The Riddles at the Mouse Trap Club 4
The Riddles at the Mouse Trap Club
Mouse Trap Club - The PK-5 with Dex Card of WLS
The PK-Five with Dex Card at the Mouse Trap Club

Info on the PK-5 came from James Terry Smith’s comment below, which I’ll quote here:

The amazing PK5 … all cousins from Deerfield, Illinois. Drums John Hackmiester, lead guitar Bill Pekara, vocalist and saxophone Ron Pekara, bass Rich DuLoft, lead and rhythm Dan Gora. They played all over Chicago and won many battle of the band contest … I saw them at Mccormick Place twice and they were hard working … R&B mostly.

Bill Pekara’s son posted this video of the group doing a great version of “I Ain’t Got You” to Youtube with a few additional photos of the group:

Mouse Trap Club - Unknown Band
Unknown Band
Unknown group & dancer at the Mouse Trap Club
Unknown group & dancer at the Mouse Trap Club
The Tydes Mouse Trap Club, January 1966
The Tydes at the Mouse Trap Club, January 1966
Tydes Mouse Trap Club, January 1966
The Tydes at the Mouse Trap Club, January 1966