Category Archives: Oak Park

The Vy-Countz

The Vy-Countz Salesmaker 45 GoodbyeThe Vy-Countz released this great 45 single “Goodbye” / “Giant Killer” on Salesmaker Productions 6501/6502 in October, 1965.

The top side is a minor-key lament with the singer wailing downer lyrics, eerily shadowed by a deeper voice. The drummer keeps a good beat with plenty of tambourine on top, and there’s a simple guitar break. Crude, yes, but the band goes for it and comes out with an effective performance.

The flip is a simple instrumental with a Batman riff on blues changes. There were a number of bands called the Vy Counts around the country, but I have no info on the band at all other than a likely Oak Park, Illinois location – what’s the scoop?

The Vy-Countz Salesmaker 45 Giant Killer

The Medallions and the Faded Blue

The Medallions cut this one 45 on the excellently-named Warped Records, then split up, as far as I know.

“Leave Me Alone” is a tough number, heavy on the tambourine and group vocals. It was written by Ralph Mullin. The flip is “She’ll Break Your Heart”, a Buddy Holly-type ballad written by Byron Penn. Virian J. Wadford produced the 45.

It turns out this group was from Oak Park, Illinois, not Wisconsin as I originally thought, though there was another Medallions from Wisconsin. Members were:

Bill Pappas – lead guitar
Lennie Pigoni – rhythm guitar
Byron Penn – keyboards
Ralph Mullin – bass
Tom Lloyd – drums

I did receive an email from someone who did not give her/his name:

My brother Tom Lloyd was the drummer in the group. The other members were Byron Penn, Ralph Mullens, Len Pagoni, and Bill Pappas. They did only make that one record that you mentioned. It was unfortunately, the draft that broke up the band. Tommy and Len were drafted into the army on the same day. When they returned from the service the guys had gone their separate ways. Byron had moved to Florida for a while, Len got married and Ralph and Bill just lost touch. Sadly, Tommy, Byron and Lenny are all deceased. They sure made some great music in their day, and kept a lot of Oak Park kids dancing!

Ralph Mullin is apparently the same person who appeared in two of Herschell Gordon Lewis’ late ’60s films. In Blast-Off Girls, from ’67, he’s part of a band called the Big Blast. The band was a real group whose name was actually the Faded Blue, a much cooler moniker if you ask me. The Faded Blue’s members were Tom Tyrell, Ron Liace, Dennis Hickey, Ralph Mullin and Chris Wolski.

Blast-Off Girls actually features two interesting bands, first ‘Charlie’ who are shown in the opening credits and scenes doing a song that might be titled “A Bad Day”. ‘Charlie’ consisted of Steve White, Tom Eppolito, Bob Compton, Ray Barry and Tony Sorci.

In the film’s plot, sleazy promoter Boojie Baker rips them off, so the band quits. Boojie finds the Big Blast to replace them at a club called the Mother Blues, and they’re featured through the rest of the film. Stylistically the Big Blast / Faded Blue are a little more sophisticated than Charlie, showing some folk and psychedelic influences while Charlie are a straight rock n’ roll garage band. The Big Blast release a record in the movie, but so far no one’s found a 45 by the Faded Blue.

In another Lewis movie, 1968’s Just for the Hell of It Ralph Mullin has the role of Lummox, one of the gang who tears up the club in one scene.

The band in the foreground of the credits is not the Big Blast (the Faded Blue), but ‘Charlie’, the more primitive garage group that quits the gig and is replaced by the Big Blast.

This turns out to be one of the more awkward cameos in movie history

Charlie mocking Boojie Baker

The Mother Blues Club, where Boojie discovers the Big Blast – was this a real club?

Ralph Mullin of the Big Blast / Faded Blue

Guitarist for the Big Blast / Faded Blue

Bassist for the Big Blast / Faded Blue

Keyboard player for the Big Blast / Faded Blue

The Big Blast in the studio

The Big Blast’s 45, Marvelous Noise!

The Big Blast blowing off their big career opportunity!