Since 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.
The 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.
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.
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:
Here’s an obscure one that isn’t in Teen Beat Mayhem, though it certainly deserves to be. I didn’t know anything about the group, called simply, The Four, but then I found their photo in Ron Hall’s The Memphis Garage Rock Yearbook, 1960-1975.
The band were:
George Parks – guitar Greg McCarley – guitar Paul Crider – bass Larry Rains – drums
“Now Is the Time” is a good mid-tempo song with harmonies and Beatles-type changes. It was written by George Parks.
“Lonely Surfer Boy” is an original by Paul Crider and Greg McCarley.
SoN 15101/15102 indicates it was mastered by Sound of Nashville, while the ZTSB 99962-A / 99963-A in the deadwax indicates it was pressed at the Columbia Records plant in Nashville. I’m not sure the date on this one but early 1965 seems about right.
Both songs were published by Lonzo & Oscar Music, BMI and produced by Jack Logan, who was A&R director of Nugget Records of Goodlettsville, Tennessee which also seemed to own the Clark label.
In late 2013 two acetate surfaced of a group called “The 4” from Sam Phillips Recording of Memphis, “69” / “I Gotta Go” and “When Ever Your Down” (sic) / “Midnight Hour”.
“69” opens with one of the most intense screams ever committed to vinyl, and it is now on the shortlist for Back From the Grave vol 9! it was backed with an uptempo pop number “I Gotta Go”. It’s such a different sound that I thought it must be a different group, but both songs were written by George Parks. I haven’t heard “When Ever Your Down” yet, but it was written by Greg McCarley.
The Memphis Garage Rock Yearbook notes The Four “cut three singles, all in Nashville in the late ’60’s. After they broke up, Greg McCarley released two singles on the local Klondike label as ‘Beau Sybin.’ George Parks had a release on Epic that he cut in New York and was also a staff writer at Stax.”
A late ’60s release by the Four on the Nashville North label is likely by another group. “Good Thing Going” (B. Carlton, H. Adams, D. Johnson) / “Cy’s Been Drinking Cider” was produced by Vern Terry and Len Shafitz, out of Massillon, Ohio, just west of Canton. Teen Beat Mayhem lists that band as from Elyria, Ohio. They cut a later 45 on Epic as the Sunny Four “Why Not (Be My Baby) / “Goodie Goodie Ice Cream Man”.
The Clark label had two other garage releases that I know of. On Clark CR-235 is the Ebb TIdes “Little Women” (by Donald Kyre, Michael Wheeler, Michael Whited, and Waldron), which sounds something like the Beatles “You Can’t Do That”. The Ebb Tides came from Columbus, Ohio. Their Clark 45 may have come about as part of a deal to do a summer tour of the Ohio Valley area. The flip is “What I Say”, by Gene McKay & the Ebb Tides. McKay was another singer on the tour and though the Ebb Tides backed him on the cover of Ray Charles’ “What’d I Say”, they did not otherwise work together.
The Ebb Tides had a second 45, the spooky novelty “Seance” (Benny Van, M. Wheeler) b/w a mystical spoken vocal, “Spirits Ride the Wind” (Benny Van) that I really like. This 45 was produced by Rudy Varju on Jar 106 from early 1967. Benny Van of the Ebb Tides became J.D. Blackfoot.
The other is the Jades “You Have to Walk” / “Island of Love”, both written by Paul Helms and released on Clark CR-262 from May of ’67. That group was from Herrin, Illinois, a small city southeast of St. Louis and almost 200 miles northwest of Nashville, but the publishing is also Lonzo & Oscar, and the label states that it was produced and distributed by Nugget Sound Studios, Goodlettsville.
Other songs on the Clark label seem to be country, such as CR-266, Charlie Haggard’s “Throw Me Out the Door”.
Lonzo & Oscar were Johnny and Rollin Sullivan, whose family had started the Nugget Record company in Tampa, Florida in 1959, but Lonzo & Oscar Music Publishing had a Nashville base from the start. They bought or built Nugget Sound Studios in Goodlettsville, just north of Nashville. Most releases they recorded are on the Nugget label, and most are country.
History of the Nugget label from 45-sleeves.com. Thank you to Buckeye Beat for the info on the Ebb Tides 45.
If anyone makes a youtube video of “Now Is the Time”, please send me the link and I’ll include it here instead of the soundfile.
Afton Records, owned by Milt Salstone of M-S Distributing. Vic Parnel gets production credit on some of these.
Probably incomplete – any help with this discography would be appreciated.
Afton 1700 – The Strangers – “This Brave New World” (Bob Rubin) / “In the Beginning” A-side is a top surf instrumental, flip is blander
Afton 1701 – Five Bucks – “No Use in Trying” / “Now You’re Gone” (April 1966) first press omits label # and lists b-side as “Now You’re Mine”
Afton 1702 – Gnomes – “The Sky Is Falling” / “Something’s Going Wrong” (both by Carpenter Sullivan) great ballad backed by first-rate garage. Produced by Vic Faraci. Anyone know this group?
Afton 1703 – Sound Carnival – “I Wish I Could Tell You” / “Dreams” (both songs by Stock, Siegel, VicMil Music BMI, September, 1967) band from Morton Grove, Illinois
Afton 1704 – Donnie Sanders & the Don Juans with Scherri St. James – “Make a Happy Home” (D. Sanders, Vicmil Music BMI / “Shing-a-Ling Baby”
I don’t believe there is a connection to the Afton label that released Frank Pizani’s “Steady Cha Cha” / “The Stars Will Remember” (Afton 617, Pino Music Co., U 1703) in 1959. There are other Afton labels not connected to this one.
Dave Bethard – lead guitar/vocals Jeanne Eickhoff – lead vocals Galen Johnson – rhythm guitar Steve Westhoff – rhythm guitar, back-up vocals Vince Slagel — organ and vocals Terry (Fuzzy) Johnson – bass, vocals Monte McDermith – bass, lead guitar, vocals Bill Sheedy – drums and vocals
Dave and the Detomics came from the same southern-central area of Illinois, like Oglethorp and Othelow who I profiled last year. Both groups also had record releases on a southeast Texas label named Van, thanks to the connections of local radio show host Oscar Wells. Wells also recorded additional songs by each group that went unreleased at the time.
In the article below, Dave Bethard tells the band’s story in his own words, with some additional input from band mate Galen Johnson where noted. Dave has been very patient with my questions, and also provided all the incredible photos seen here.
My name is Dave Bethard — formerly of Dave & The Detomics of Morrisonville, Illinois, and the surrounding area.
The whole history of Dave & the Detomics included cousins Galen and Terry Johnson (both from Palmer, Illinois—attending Morrisonville High School) on rhythm and bass guitar prior to the band’s later personnel grouping in 1965/66. Dates are hard to fix, but Galen, Bill, Terry (Fuzzy) and I were at it in 1963 and 1964 as the Majestics too, before changing our name. We added Vince Slagel first. Then, later, Monte to replace Terry, and Steve to replace Galen, and then Jeanne was added, but those dates are hazy to me. Vince and Jeanne went to Hillsboro High School (Jeanne lived in Butler), and Steve went to Litchfield High, Monte to Nokomis, so we had a wide following because of the spread-out geography of our members.
Richard Dean’s article [on Oglethorp and Othelow] is pretty accurate—except for the part that we were a rockabilly band. We never thought of ourselves that way, and certainly didn’t work to sound that way or to learn or perform country and western songs, unless they were on the charts and requested. Admittedly, we all had a Midwest twang, which probably sounded country….but that was not our musical intent. We always thought that we were better on instrumentals, compared to vocals, and we worked hard to do numerous Ventures (and other instrumental) songs—indeed, using a version of one of their songs for our theme and break song for years.
Q. How did the band get the name Detomics?
There used to be a gas station in Springfield (between 5th and 6th streets on the South end of town) where the two streets split from divided back to a four lane heading South. That street was only 1 block long, and on the South side, there was a Detomic Gas station. That’s where the name came from.
We all came up with the name together, democratically. I was the leader, but took equal share with everyone else, and didn’t throw my weight around.
Jeanne was (is) an accomplished vocalist, and her addition certainly made our overall sound better, and our song choices then expanded, allowing us to do more ballads and harmony to accompany her. Along with Jeanne and me, Bill, Vince and Monte all sang individual songs, with Steve doing backup vocals—so we all had mics. Monte’s addition was a great benefit for me, as he could sing and had a higher pitched voice than me—and, he could play lead on some songs, giving me a break on both fronts. We thought it made us look more professional to switch instruments occasionally during the evening for a song or two.Richard is correct that we didn’t draw big crowds in Pana—or in Irving, for that matter–and our enthusiasm to work there shrank after several tries. I’d have loved to hit it off with the Pana, Illiopolis area kids, but multiple trips there for us, at least, were frustrating. We just didn’t click with them, at least, that was our take on it. Too bad.
But, to balance his point, we drew large crowds in Nokomis, Palmer and Morrisonville locations over several years at numerous venues, including the Nokomis Park House, a frequent favorite of ours. Certainly, hailing from the Central Illinois area, we got around as much as we could, and enjoyed nearly every location. The open air Morrisonville Park pavilion was a favorite of ours too, and we used to do Thursday night dances every week during the summer months. It was normal to have between 200 and 300 kids attending—we were subject to the whims of Mother Nature, but rain-outs were rare. The overhead was minimal, so the money take for band members was sometimes better than ‘scale’.
The band provided music for the Johnny Rabbitt show – the Rabbitt and Kay signed autographs & did some ticket magic – door prices, chances to another appearance of his, etc. Mainly, it was a venue for him to give away stuff and to mingle with his listeners. To my recollection, he and Kay came alone, I don’t remember any handlers or entourage.The business address for KXOK was was a small one-story house or building as I recall – you could easily drive by it, and we did! I don’t think that our records made it to KXOK—by the time we did them the Rabbit was gone, I think.
Galen Johnson: “One thing I remember from the Johnny Rabbit show was him picking up a phrase we told him while visiting his show, and then using it on his show. That was ‘Hang it on your ear.’ I don’t even know now what that means, but he used it anyway.”
Probably the pinnacles of our band efforts would have been two major events—Bill Sheedy became the World’s Marathon Drummer in 1964 (I think). This gave him and us front page coverage on most media in the vicinity, and some world wide coverage as well. He played his drums for 40 solid hours in my dad’s garage (our practice spot) and had hundreds and hundreds of people come through during the event. It was over a weekend, so we all got to skip school on Monday—pretty much excused, as it was a big local event.
The band did a three day tour (Peoria, Springfield and Decatur, dates uncertain) with The Kinks, Paul Petersen, The Rivieras, and the Hollywood Argyles. Dick and Dee Dee must have been scheduled to appear, but didn’t. Along with another popular local group from Springfield (Randy and the Ramblers) we got to spend a few minutes with the ‘big boys’, while they filled in between bigger audiences in Chicago and St. Louis. That week, all told, with the other ‘normal’ bookings, we appeared in front of about 10,000 people—certainly a huge increase from our norms. And the best part of it all was that they paid us to do what we would have volunteered to do for free!Pretty heady stuff for high school kids!
Galen Johnson writes: “I was in the Illinois State Police and my office was in the Armory Building in Springfield during the last part of my career. One of the people I worked with, Larry Ball, discovered Ray Davies from the Kinks had scratched his name in the marble wall in one of the bathroom stalls in the basement. They used that area as a dressing room during the concert in Springfield. It remains there today. Larry is from Springfield and remembers being at that concert. Mr. John Wayne Gacy was President of the Springfield J.C.’s at the time and that club had sponsored the show in Springfield. That is why he was there. During his murder trial episode there was an article in the Springfield paper about his life in Springfield and it mentioned his involvement with this concert. I wish I had kept that article now.
The 1965 Picnic Book was a black and white advertising publication for the Morrisonville Picnic and Homecoming (published by the same folks who published the local weekly paper, the Morrisonville Times) that came out each year, and contained numerous advertisements as well as photos and schedules for the upcoming events. The Homecoming was always THE big event in the year, and I’d bet they still have the books in another form, perhaps. They still have a big crowd for the annual event every July! I believe they also still have dances during the evenings too.Fuzzy and Galen were older, Fuzzy by several years, and Galen by one year. Fuzzy really left the group not too long before he went to the Army, and while there were some hurt feelings on both sides for a while, we were able to get past it, and continue our friendship. Galen’s departure was much more planned, but ultimately he went in the Army also. During the transition between Galen and Steve, we played with 3 guitars and a bass for a while.
Our [first] 45 was an instrumental, side A being “Detomic Orbit”, and side B being “Shatter”. By way of example about how songs and groups superimposed on one another in those days, a version of that song was the theme song for a group we idolized early in our careers, called the Shattertones. We ‘borrowed it’ for our own—the sincerest form of flattery!
Q. After I wrote about Van Records, someone from Holland wrote to me to say his copy of Dave & the Detomics’ second 45 “Why Can’t I” / “Soft White Gloves” came from a Dutch publishing company called Belinda Records that had taken out an option on this 45 to release it in the Netherlands in the ’60s, but for some reason it didn’t materialize. The Detomics came close to having a release in Europe! Amazing if true.
The news about someone else releasing it is new to me, at least, and amusing at this stage of my life.
Lillie [who wrote “Soft White Gloves”] was my mom. Both parents were into and involved with the band—my mom actually had a dream, and the lyrics came to her in the dream. When she got up, she wrote them down and gave them to me with the story. I worked only a short time before putting the music to Johnny B Goode behind the lyrics—and with an uptempo beat, it sounded pretty good. My mom gave it her stamp of approval, and Jeanne was enthusiastic about it too. A song is born!
I did find the 4 Audiodiscs (soft copy records with a metal middle layer) that Oscar Wells made for us. I ended up with more than a double CD full of songs—more than I thought we had.
None of the tracks was recorded in a studio. The 45 records were the best quality, and Oscar did those with his portable equipment in my dad’s garage (the band did adjust our volume and tone accordingly) right where we practiced every week!
The radio station tracks came from three audiodiscs that Oscar gave to us from three radio shows we did in 1966. Sort of like payment…but not exactly. Getting our butts up and on the radio at 09:30 am on a Sunday was tough—especially when we played jobs the night before, which was almost always the case.
The rest were from a session Oscar did for our use only, not for sale (to see what we really sounded like), in 1964 when Monte first joined the group — a full 33 1/3 lp of our early days, recorded (the same way) in the Morrisonville (Illinois) American Legion Home, which we rented for $50 just to do that for an evening. I still have the soft discs, and that’s where all of the CD music came from— none of it is even in stereo. At least it’s durable…has survived all these years—and now, it will live forever in the digital world!
Oscar Wells was a country boy trying to navigate in a city world, and he was somewhat out of place. He was a wonderful person, and was honest, very patient, and helpful in all of our dealings with him. That area of Central Illinois, and his show in particular were more country than rock on most days, if my memory is accurate. Any place where the ‘Swap Shop’ is a hit local radio program for years running, isn’t exactly deep in the heart of the city! Oscar did only good for us, and may he rest in peace.
Vince and Jeanne were the seniors of the group when we broke up at the end of 1966—they were both in college. I had just graduated from high school, and the rest were at least a year behind me, I think—my point being—we were just kids doing pretty good work for our ages. We did several high school proms, which were just making the transition from ‘all slow songs’ to ‘a mix of slow and rock songs’, and we always were nervous about them, as we preferred rocking, to playing endless slow songs….plus we didn’t know all that many slow tunes.Dave & the Detomics disbanded after playing our final job on New Years Eve 1966. We were hired by a younger faction of the Auburn Country Club who wanted a rock band for New Years—so they got an upstairs place in downtown Auburn, and we did that job as my last one, and I still remember it like it was yesterday.
After that, I went off to the Air Force in February of 1967, and the remaining band members, Monte McDermith, Steve Westoff, Vince Slagel, Jeanne Eichoff and Bill Sheedy went in other directions. All but Bill and Jeanne went to the Reactions[see clipping at bottom of that page], and, so far as I know, neither Bill or Jeanne joined any band on a full time basis after that.Those times were tough on 18 year old males not in college. There was a military draft and we all knew we would end up in the military in some manner. I just scheduled mine by enlisting, which was a very pivotal time of my life.
Vince and Jeanne Slagel are married, and live in Georgia after both having very successful careers outside of music. Steve Westoff still lives in Litchfield, Illinois, and is married. Bill Sheedy is married, and still living in Morrisonville, Illinois. Terry Johnson is married, still plays bass and lives in Missouri. Galen Johnson is married, still plays guitar, is a retired State Policeman, and has a successful real estate business in Pawnee, Illinois. Monte McDermith is deceased.About 4 years ago I found and reestablished contact with all of our band members that are still living, and with Monte’s dad and family. I was also able to locate and make contact with Jeanne Weber, our band manager from the earlier days, who is also now deceased.
I live in Florida, I’m married to a woman I met in my Air Force tour in Japan in 1970, and I’m retired after an aerospace career, and still own, but rarely play guitar. We are all still friends, and communicate on occasion.
Here’s a 45 by a group called Soulbody that I’m curious about. I’m a little skeptical too. I don’t own a copy, but was alerted to this by Mike Hadenfeldt who found one with an address label from a suburb of Los Angeles. Mike reports the following info on the labels:
Vintage Records (A Chess Recording) WJZ 51147 “I See You Crying” / “Then Came The Winter” Both songs written by Bill Zurowski Both sides have a date of 1966 under “BMI”
“I See You Crying”: F1191 WJZ 51147-2 (no dashes [just spaces] between groups of digits except the last one)
“Then Came The Winter”: F1190-WJZ-51477-1 (dashes between all groups of digits)
Band member Bill Zurowski put the video on Youtube (listing the band name as two words, “Soul Body”) and gave me some background on the band:
We were a band made up of Milwaukee and Chicago musicians in the mid 60’s. We recorded 2 songs at Chess Records in Nov 1966. We recorded in the historic studio where all the hits of the Chess artist were recorded, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Muddy Water, Howlin Wolf, Little Walter and Willie Dixon etc. Doug Brand was the engineer. Doug was Chess’s main engineer. We used Fender black faced amps and a Gibson fuzz tone (that’s what Richards used on Satisfaction); my guitar was an ES 335.
I asked Bill if the band ever had their original tape or demo pressed to 7″ 45 vinyl, but have not heard from him yet.
The song sounds like a ’60s recording, but I’m almost certain this is not a ’60s pressing. The fonts on the label point to a graphic style from a later period, and the label name “Vintage” also suggests a later issue. Not to mention a stereo pressing for a private 45 would be extreme unlikely in 1966. Mike Markesich suggested the five digit number code could be a 70s Universal pressing.
Also, despite the labels saying “BMI” and “1966”, Mike Markesich could not find a copyright listing for the writer or song titles from 1964-1972.
Has anyone else seen a copy of this 45 with the Vintage labels? I would like to have confirmation that these songs were actually pressed to vinyl, and some better idea of when.
In the mid 1960’s the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana became a center for innovative jazz and avant-garde electronic and computer music. Starting in 1967, the Red Herring Coffeehouse just off the main quad on W Oregon became a center for folk artists. And of course there was a thriving band scene at the Illini Brown Jug and other student beer joints. For those not familiar with that area’s geography, the school is located in eastern-central Illinois, roughly equidistant from Chicago, St. Louis and Indianapolis.
Roger Francisco began recording out of a home studio to the east of campus in Urbana, Illinois circa 1964. Rofran (a combination of the first syllables of his first and last names) was the name he gave to his studio, one of his labels, and also the name of his production and publishing companies. It’s an open question as to how prominent the studio was in that area, as many bands recorded at other studios: Dean Carter, the One Eyed Jacks and the Bacardis for example.
I’ve only heard a few of these records. The Cliques has had the most exposure, showing up on Back From the Grave vol. 7. I’ve heard one side of the Keepers, which is good harmony pop, and the first Prodigies 45, “Kysmyph (KIS-MIF)” a bluesy instrumental with sax and some odd organ sounds, backed with “Don’t Look Back”, which starts out with a hip bossa groove but the vocals are square, mimicking the complex harmonies on brazilian groups from the time.
Mike Markesich filled me in on some Rofran releases:
The Sound Studio Production (Rofran 1010) was a label printing goof – the real group is the Prodigies, university guys from Champaign IL. I have the 45 crediting the Prodigies. They have a second 45 on Rofran 1013 “I Want To Do It” / “What I’d Say”, both released in ’66.
Quarternotes “My Baby Left Me” crude thumpin’ garage rocker with a kinda ‘rural’ vocal vibe.
There are other Rofran releases on different-named labels. One that comes to mind is the Ravins “Andy” on the Syndicate label (#1028). Very cool, moody organ swinger with a crisp guitar break. Flipside is “I Had a Feeling”, which is more aligned to a pop sounding jangle ballad. This was their only recording. One of the songwriters on the 45 made a solo Rofran record.
The Cliques “So Hard” / “Ballad Of A Destitute Man” on Custom 1020 (Jan ’67) is a Rofran release. Ditto the Keepers “Why Have You Changed” / “Tiny Teardrops” on Custom 1021 (Jan ’67).
Although early releases seem commercially-minded, Rofran became a studio for more adventurous music sessions towards 1968 and 1969. Some of those musicians, like James Cuomo and Howie Smith, came out of the jazz and experimental music programs at UICU.I asked Howie Smith about his time with the Prodigies at Rofran studio:
The studio, indeed, started in the basement of Roger’s home in Urbana, and at some point he leased a much larger space in a building on Race Street for the studio.
At the time I enrolled at the University of Illinois, the band with Roger Francisco, Gordy Wilson and Bill Steffen was looking for a sax player and I got the job. I played with them on a nightly gig at The Beacon (a bar/roadhouse located just south of Rantoul Air Base) for about 2 years. Roger played guitar and electric bass, Gordy played some sort of electronic keyboard (my memory is that it was an early Farfisa, but I could be totally wrong about that), Bill was the drummer, I played tenor sax and electric bass, and we all sang.
I don’t remember whether the band went under the name of The Prodigies at that time or not, but it was under that name that we recorded “Don’t Look Back” and “KYSMYPH.” At some point the name of the band was changed to Sound Studio One, but I’m almost positive that didn’t happen until later.
As The Prodigies (a name that always made me cringe) we also released a Christmas recording of “Rudolph, the Red-nosed Reindeer” backed with “Sleigh Ride.”
As Sound Studio One we recorded “Never Tell” backed with a very strange “Never Marry a Woman Who is Taller Than You” that richly deserves (and should maintain) its status as unknown by virtually everyone.
The Prodigies/Sound Studio One was also used as the band behind various singers who recorded at rofran. One of those was Al Ierardi, who I believe had some success with “Drifter” backed with “Dureen.”
I was also doing some writing and arranging for other groups in the area and remember recording horn parts at rofran for at least one song by Feather Train.
At Rofran we were also writing and recording music and voice-overs for some ad agencies in the area. “Oh Boy, Tom Boy” was a commercial jingle written for a short-lived drive-in restaurant a-la McDonald’s.
At some point after leaving Sound Studio One I worked for a time with The Nickel Bag. The band at that time consisted of T.T. Coleman singing lead vocal, Bob Crownover on guitar, Rick Raines on organ, Pat Hammond on bass, John Phillips on drums, Rick Bendel and Ron Meng on trumpets, and Ron Dewar and me on tenor saxes). The group was very popular and quite busy in the Illinois-Indiana-Wisconsin area, but we never released a commercial recording.
I haven’t been in touch with Roger or Bill for quite a long time, but I get back to Champaign-Urbana a couple of times a year to do a jazz gig, and Gordon showed up at one of then a couple of years ago.
Roger Francisco wrote to me:
I still have file copies of most of the singles we released on RoFran (which I backed and promoted) and the Custom label (for which I was just studio for hire and processed the pressings for). I remember our ongoing special was a few hours of studio time and a hundred 45 RPM pressings for $100.
As we moved into the 70’s, I got involved with the annual Red Herring Coffee House folk festivals, location recording and producing their LPs, and ultimately got involved co-managing and publishing The Ship, running sound for their live gigs and mixing their Elektra album in LA, and also recording the early efforts of Dan Fogelburg.
I sold the studio operation to Al Ierardi (the Drifter single) around 1974-75 and ultimately became chief engineer at Creative Audio, home to Columbia artist Champaign. I eventually transitioned into commercials and industrial sound track production, and ultimately to Human Kinetics where I put together a corporate recording studio and produce all their DVD and web streaming soundtracks.
The Spoils of War consisted of James Cuomo, Roger Francisco, Frank Garvey, Al Ierardi, Anne Whitefish-Williams and James Stroud. They made a seven-inch, 33 1/3 rpm EP (sometimes listed as You’re Invited to Hear the Spoils of War) in 1969, running over seventeen minutes with five songs: “What Happend Now”, “Now Is Made in America”, “Henry T. Joseph”, “Void of Mystery” and “The Greyness Moves in Quietly”.
In 1999 the Shadoks label released recordings made in 1968 without Anne, and a second CD, The Spoils of War II unearthed further live and studio material from James Cuomo’s archives.
Rofran produced another lengthy seven-inch, 33 1/3 rpm, five song EP in 1970 for James Cuomo, known as Cuomo’s Record and featuring Al Ierardi, Charlie Braugham, Bob Witmer, Cal Drake, Larry Dwyer and Steve Larner. Side A: Suzan Never Smiles”, “Remembering”, “Ring, Magic Telephone, Ring”, and “Victoria Falls”; Side B: “Crimson Uniform”.
Rofran productions and discography(incomplete, any help would be appreciated):
Early 45s on Rofran, Custom and Syndicate seem to follow a 10xx numbering system:
Rofran 1001 – The Intruders “Deception” / “Intrudin'” Rofran 1002 – The Rogues “Gone To Stay” / “Wait Till the Summer” Rofran 1003 – Lee Rust “Scramble” / “Do You Ever Kinda Wonder?” Rofran 1004 – Lee Rust “Mystery House” / “Come on Back” Rofran 1005 – Lee Rust “Try, Try to Leave” (W.L. Rust) / “I’m Spoken For” Rofran 1006 – Lee Rust “She’s Gone Tonight” / “World Made of Romance” 1007 – ? 1008 – ? 1009 – ? Rofran 1010 – Sound Studio One “Kysmyph (KIS-MIF)” (Instrumental by Wilson-Smith-Steffen) / “Don’t Look Back” (H.A. Smith) (1966) Rofran 1010 – The Prodigies “Kysmyph (KIS-MIF)” (Instrumental by Wilson-Smith-Steffen) / “Don’t Look Back” (H.A. Smith) 1011 – ? Rofran 1012 – The Impalas “Kristina” / “Lost Beat” (both by R. Dilling) Rofran 1013 – The Prodigies “I Want To Do It” / “What’d I Say” (1966) Rofran 1014 – The Quaternotes “My Baby Left Me” / “You And I (Are In Love)” 1015 – ? 1016 – ? 1017 – ? Rofran 1018 – The Lindsey Triplets “Tomorrow’s Another Day” (C.F. & R.E. Francisco) / “Terry” Rofran 1019 – Al Ieradi – “Drifter” / “Dureen” Custom 1020 – The Cliques “So Hard” (J.D. Vance, J.S. Walbillig) / “Ballad of a Destitute Man” (Jan. ’67, produced by Tim Abel) Custom 1021 – The Keepers “Why Have You Changed” (S. J. Beresford) / “Tiny Teardrops” (Jan. ’67) 1022 – ? 1023 – ? Custom 1024 – The Dearly Beloved “Cindy” (M. Gallivan) one-sided record 1025 – ? 1026 – ? 1027 – ? Syndicate 1028 – The Ravins “Andy” / “I Had a Feeling” 1029 – ? Shades 836R-1030 – The Shades of Blue “Not the Way Love Should Be” / “You Must Believe Me” 1031 – ? 1032 – ? 1033 – ? 1034 – ? Custom 1035 – The Camaros “I Need You No More” / “Just For The Love Of A Man” (836R-1034) Psychedelic Sounds 1035 – Howie Thayer and his Psycho-Electric Happening “Movin’, Groovin’ Fairy Tale” / “If Death Don’t Get You (Then the Government Will)” – 1968 -“A Custom Product of Rofran Enteprises” 1036 – ? 1037 – ? 1038 – ? 1039 – ? 1040 – ? 1041 – ?
Folksound 836R-1042 – K. Sandra Wyman (Spud Baldwin, guitar) “Until It’s Time For You To Go” / “Where Does It Lead” (W4KM-5157) with picture sleeve 1043 – ? Psychedelic Sounds 1044 – Howie Thayer and his Psycho-Electric Happening – “Bazap!” / “Side 2” 1045 – ? 1046 – ? Custom 836R-1047 – Linda Fanakos “Candyland Town” / “Let’s Make It Clear” (both by Linda Fanakos). Yellow label with RCA custom press X4KM-2636/2637, which indicates this was mastered in the second half of 1969. (label reads -“A Custom Product of Rofran Enteprises”) Rofran 836R-2005 – Sound Studio One – “Never Tell” (Roger Francisco, H.A. Smith) / Never Marry (A Woman Who Is Taller Than You) prod. by Howie Smith, W4KM-4773, 1968
Other Rofran productions:
Rofran XALS-2605 – The Spoils of War “What Happend Now”, “Now Is Made in America”, “Henry T. Joseph”, “Void of Mystery”, and “The Greyness Moves in Quietly”
Depot Records (RoFran 0608) – James Cuomo (Cuomo’s Record) – “Suzan Never Smiles”, “Remembering”, “Ring”, “Magic Telephone”, Ring”, “Victoria Falls”, and “Crimson Uniform” 1970
Century 44090 – Mad John Fever “Breath & Thunder” / “One World Lost To Another” (1971?)
Century 35921 – Marvin Lee & the Midwesterners “I’ve Made My Mind Up (To Leave Today)” / “Until My Dream Come True”
Marvin Lee & the Midwesterners – album featuring Sandy Kay, Wil Wilson, Don Markham and Cousin Hi
The names on the Prodigies 45 are Howard A. Smith, Frederick W. Steffen III, and James Gordon Wilson. BMI listings show Wilson and Smith wrote a song I haven’t heard, “Oh Boy Tom Boy” with Roger Francisco.
The Keepers is not related to the New York group who cut “She Understands” on the Bravura label, nor do I believe it’s the same group that recorded “Now She’s Gone” for the Mystic label of Hazen, North Dakota.
From a reader:
The “Lindsey Triplets” are identical triplets and were a very popular singing group at the time. They traveled the tri-state area performing at various venues. They also traveled on various U.S.O. tours to entertain the troops and made a few guest appearances on then popular variety shows on national television. For a short time they also were ‘fashion’ models (not Playboy Bunnies) for Playboy.
The group went by two different stage names “The Lindsey Triplets” and “The ABC Triplets (Their first names were Anita, Becky and Cathy). The song ‘Terry’ was sung by Becky with accompaniment from her sisters. While they looked alike their voices were distinctive and each triplet sang their own solos when performing.
They actually did a number of demo tapes of their songs. The group was very talented but did reach the notoriety they deserved due to poor management and not being adequately promoted.
The Lindsey Triplets had one commercial release, “Jiminy Jum Jum” / “Fallin’ in Love” on Top Rank 2010.
Thank you to Adam Lore for the loan of the Sound Studio One 45, to Mike Markesich for much information, to Myskatonic, Bob of Dead Wax, Jeff LaSee, Tim Adams, Ryan Luellwitz and Laurent Bigot for help with the discography.