Along a scenic mountain parkway stretch of I-65 heading south, past Bowling Green and just north of the Tennessee border, in a tiny Kentucky town called Mundfordville, in Hart County, tucked on the hill above the moving Green River, a group of teenage boys formed a band in the winter of ’65.
Hearing the happening mid-sixties sounds of the Byrds, the Animals, the Beatles and the Stones, these boys got stars in their eyes and took up instruments, calling themselves December’s Children, named after the cold season upon them.
The members were:
Mike ‘Hoot’ Gibson / guitar, vox (Gibson ES 330)
Sam Goodman / lead guitar, fuzz ( Fender Telecaster)
Clint Nichols / bass (Fender)
Mike Rife / drums, vox
Honing their skills and gaining local popularity in Munfordville at the town’s teen club called ‘The Nightmare’ – the group of high school boys shortened their name to ‘The Children’ and went on to play Hart County ‘courthouse fairs’, gigs in nearby Glasgow and also competed in the State Fair in Louisville about an hour north.
With a solid high school fan base and local support, the community was pushing them to make a record. By 1968, the members were all seniors and would graduate that following summer- all except Sam who was already a few years older and had his own wheels. The band had about 50 cover songs in the pocket, mostly dialed in on current rock radio hits of the day.
Disappearing to the parent’s basement, Mike and Sam penned two original songs that year and a recording session was appointed at Atwell Studio about an hour and a half’s drive south in Lafayette, Tennessee. The band loaded their gear in Sam’s car and excitedly roared down the road. The resulting session yielded two amazing tracks, done in one take that summer of ’68.
“I Long To See Her” b/w “Lost Soul Seeker In the Rain” was released later that year on the Atwell label and was issued with a simple picture sleeve of the band with a portrait that was made in a small photography studio along the way in Glasgow. It is not known how many copies of the record were pressed. Sources say that Lorne Atwell would often only have 100 run pressings done of the secular groups that came through the door, as Atwell was mostly a gospel/country label. The group never had any other draft or sketch of another original song, but stayed active as the Children until around ’72. Nonetheless, the two sides made for Atwell that summer have forever set them in garage punk unknown history stone.
Mike Gibson still lives in Mundfordville and continues to write and perform contemporary christian music. Many thanks to him for sharing his memories of the band from which this article was produced and for the photo from the class of ’69 Hart Co. High School yearbook that shows the band in action (Christmas of ’68).
Mike Rife died in Mundfordville in 2011.
The other band members are still residing in Kentucky, and were unable to be contacted for this article.
Extra special thanks to John Freeman, mayor of Mundforville for sharing his memories, sourcing the record and arranging the interview with Hoot.
The Conception came from Louisville, Kentucky, releasing only one single circa 1969 when the band were in their teens.
“Babylon” is an excellent cover of the Blue Cheer song from Outsideinside, featuring a heavily phased guitar break. “The Game” is an original by lead guitarist Charlie Day: a very different sound featuring acoustic guitar and harmonies.
Charlie Day listed the band members in a comment on youtube:
Bill Tullis – rhythm guitar and low harmony vocals Charlie Day – lead guitar and high harmony vocals Mark Zurlage – bass Jim Dant – drums
Mike Siebold was also in the group at some point.
Stuart Paine produced the single and also played Fender Rhodes on “The Game”. Paine released it on Perfection P-1001, and published “The Game” through Stuart Paine Music BMI.
Paine also co-produced the Waters “Mother Samwell” with Fred Baker as “A Paine-Baker Production”.
Ronnie Hellard – vocals Ronnie Mobley – rhythm guitar (Fender Jazzmaster) Ricky Hackworth – drums Ronnie Wilson – bass guitar (Gibson EBO) Ronnie Moore – lead guitar (Fender Telecaster)
Ronnie & the Sinsashuns were a teenbeat/surf/rockin’ combo formed in ’62 around Versailles, Kentucky just outside of the small college town of Lexington, Ky.
Vocalist Ronnie Hellard was born and raised in Versailles, Ky. Ronnie Mobley was born and raised in Lexington and moved to Woodford County in 1962; he played a Fender Jazzmaster he bought from local rock n’ roll singer Jimmy Lee Ballard, who recorded for REM.
Drummer Ricky Hackworth and Ronnie Wilson were both from Lexington, and lead guitarist Ronnie Moore came from Woodford County.
Ron Mobley recounts his memory of how the band started in his own words:
“I was 15, all the others were 16 except Hellard, who was 18 when the group formed. I met Moore at Woodford County High School in 1962. He knew of a singer and contacted Hellard. Moore had met Larry Wilson, a good Lexington guitarist and brother of Ronnie Wilson, so we got him on bass and he knew of a drummer, Ricky Hackworth.”
“Our initial rehearsals were at Ricky Hackworth’s parents’ home. We all lived with our parents in 1962. Moore and Hellard had cars and drivers licenses, so they transported the rest of us and our gear.”
“The first time the band received recognition was when we competed in a “Battle of the Bands” in Lexington and won. There, Bill Stakelin, a student at Georgetown College and part-time disc jockey at a daylight to dark AM radio station WAXU in Georgetown heard us play. He had been booking The Castaways, a group that attended his college. He approached us and asked to represent us and we agreed; a move that was not popular with The Castaways. He kept us busy with frat parties and events during the school year and in the bars during the summer months. We were all under age but the bar owners didn’t care because we attracted customers.”
They recorded and released one 45 in the summer of ’64, both original sides penned by Ronnie Hellard and the band. Recorded in Lexington at Lemco Studio, it has a heavy reverb’d production quality and was released on the band’s own custom moniker through Lemco, on the WHAM label – named after neighboring Ohio rocker Lonnie Mack’s song on Fraternity. It is noted that the 45 is the first 2-sided vocal release to come out on a Lemco label – all previous releases having an instrumental b-side.
“Laugh It Up Baby” is the rockin’ side- it has a cool country drawl on the playful lyrics, back-up vocal group chatter, reverb’d guitar and production, handclaps, along with a raucous scream by guitarist Ronnie Moore right before his blistering guitar break.
“Sonya” is the ballad side penned by Hellard, Moore and Mobley- it has a nice laid-back rhumba-beat, with a sparse guitar break, exotic drums and pleading vocals. The song is said to have been written about the prettiest girl in Woodford County who just happened to also be the daughter of a local deputy state trooper.
The group had previously recorded an Audiodisc 5-song 12″ acetate at WVLK, a local radio station situated in the top of the Lafayette Hotel on Main Street in Lexington. This record contains 3 vocal tracks- “True Fine Mama” – “Pretty Girls Everywhere” and “Peepin’ and Hidin'” along with two tasty surf instrumentals called “Caliente” and “San Jose”. This demo was recorded on January 20th 1964, shortly before they recorded their original sides at Lemco.
Ronnie & the Sinsashuns had a regular presence around Lexington performing at Danceland, The Palms and on The Nick Clooney Show to name a few. They also did a brief tour up through Ohio and Indiana to promote the record. They competed in and and won local Battle of the Bands competitions and were well plugged and promoted by WVLK.
They were the featured opening band for shows with the Kingsmen and Bo Diddley on the stage at Joyland, a popular amusement park on the north end of Lexington, circa 1964. In recent interview, Mobley jokingly commented that the Kingsmen only knew about four songs and the Sinsashuns had to play longer to fill out the concert’s bill. He also noted that Bo Diddley was a super nice guy and even sent him a Christmas card that following year. Joyland Park closed down soon after the Kingsmen show and was destroyed by fire in June, 1965.
Ronnie Mobley (rhythm guitarist for the Sinsashuns), who was very in-demand around town, once was called-in as a last minute player for a rockin’ Conway Twitty, circa ’64, at a rough joint called The Palms – another memorable moment and highlight of the band’s short career.
Ronnie Hellard made another similar sounding record, “My Yo-Yo” / “Fun” on the Whirlaway label in Lexington, Ky in 1965 as alter ego “Pepper Swift” with a backing band called the Monzzas, having no known relationship to the Sinsashuns. He later moved to Nashville and became a famous songwriter, penning tunes like “I’m No Stranger to the Rain” and many others.
Ronnie Mobley continued to play music and became an accomplished mandolin player in a professional bluegrass group called Kentucky Blue, who toured all over the US, Europe and Japan- and released 5 albums during their career.
Ricky Hackworth continued playing drums and toured professionally with the Charlie Daniels Band, David Allen Coe, Johnny Paycheck and others. He died in 2004.
Ronnie Moore became a barber and co-owned his own shop, was a US Navy Vietnam veteran and died in 2015 at the age of 69.
Ronnie Wilson is deceased; it is unknown at this time what he went on to do after playing bass with the Sinsashuns.
The Zounds released their only single in June of 1967. “Me and My Girl” is the more uptempo side, while the organ leads the melody for “Love Has Found Me”. Both have fine performances by the band and singer, though the lead guitar and rolling drums on “Me and My Girl” stand out. The horn sounds a little out of place on “Me and My Girl” but fits in better on the flip.
The group came from Lebanon Junction, Kentucky, about 25 miles south of Louisville.
I’ve seen a photo of the group as a six-piece, but I only know four names:
Doug Hawkins – ? Roger Smith – guitar David Berry – ? Thomas Troutman – ?
David Berry and Roger Smith wrote “Me and My Girl”; Doug Hawkins and W. Hawkins wrote “Love Has Found Me”. Both songs published through Falis City Music Co. BMI.
The Music Mountain labels list the band as The Sound of the Zounds. Music Mountain was a recording studio in Lebanon Junction run by Bill Masden with Grant Watson engineer. It was active into the 1970s. The U4KM-9950 shows this was a custom RCA pressing.
I looked for mention of the band in local newspapers and could only find one reference from the Louisville Courier-Journal on August 6, 1967. The discussion of the ‘combo contest’ lists a number of local groups, but limits coverage to the winner, the Frogs from Jeffersonville, Indiana, across the Ohio River from Louisville. The Frogs never recorded to my knowledge.
‘Frogs’ Jump to Win ‘Crusade’ Combo Spot
If their Jeffersonville neighbors knew what 17 teen-age talent judges know, they’d be more tolerant when The Frogs roar into a practice session. This guitar-banging, organ-pounding, drum-beating quintet last night topped seven other finalists in the second annual WHAS Crusade for Children combo contest, combining the loud and the soft in today’s Mod music taste. The selection by the teen-age panel on an hour-long WHAS program makes them the best among more than 90 area combos which auditioned for a place among the eight finalists.
Popular as they may be among the younger set, the “Monkee-suited” group has its problems with the older generation. “It’s kind of tough to find a place to practice,” leader Douglas Decker, 18, of 608 Kewanna Drive, Jeffersonville, said. They’ve tried basements and backyards, but the sound of The Frogs isn’t always in tune with the neighbors. Right now they’re practicing in Doug’s basement. “The folks don’t mind, as long as we practice and don’t goof around,” Doug said. “Of course they bug out when we start to play.”
Other finalists were The Zounds, of Lebanon Junction; the Cavaliers, The Silhouettes, The Dynamic Imperials and The Dark Shadows, of Louisville; The Exotics, of Leitchfield; and . “I thought The Dark Shadows were going to win,” Decker, the base guitarist, said. But the other members of his group were convinced that The Dynamic Imperials were the combo to beat.
Other members of the winning Frogs are: Rhythm guitarist Rob Roby, 16, of Utica Pike, Jeffersonville; lead guitarist David Rowan, of 210 Spickert Knobs Road, New Albany; organist John Shaughnessy, 17, of 716 Roma Ave., Jeffersonville; and drummer Richard Wolfe, 17, of 401 Chippewa Drive, Jeffersonville. While they reluctantly admit- their zany outfits are patterned after the famed Monkees, The Frogs’ favorite big-name groups are The Beatles and The Young Rascals. They organized their group only six months ago, although most of them had played with other combos which drifted apart. Shaughnessy had been a member of the Centrics, last year’s winners, before that group competed in the 1966 Crusade combo contest. The Frogs will be one of the acts to perform on this year’s WHAS and WHAS-TV Crusade for Children program Sept. 23-24. Last year’s Crusade provided $415,592 in charity for handicapped children of Kentucky and Southern Indiana.
The Marquis from Louisville could be the Marquee Monsters who recorded “I Love The Beat” (B. Cason) b/w a favorite of mine, “Laws and Restrictions” (Mac Gayden and Bill Fennell) on Our Bag Records in Sept. 1966.
The Blazers were an obscure group who cut one fine instrumental single “Poison” / “Blue Blazin” with a Century Custom franchise out of Paducah, Kentucky, in the far west of the state.
Bob Houghland – drums Ron Griffith – rhythm guitar John Adler – lead guitar Harry Alexander – bass
Lead guitarist John Adler sent in the photo at top. Check out the skull in front of the bass drum, not to mention the instruments: a Kay Value Leader bass, a Danelectro Shorthorn double-cutaway, and a Gibson SG.
“Blue Blazin” was the original A-side, a bluesy guitar workout with plenty of room echo, written by Bob Houghland and Ron Griffith.
“Poison” has achieved some fame since appearing on an early volume of Strummin’ Mental (available now through Crypt Records). John Adler and Harry Alexander wrote “Poison”.
Bob Houghland passed away in 2014.
The Blazers recorded through the Century Custom Recording Service of Thomas F. Morris at 3029 Oregon St., Paducah, Kentucky. Fellow Paducah band the Moxies recorded their great last single, “I’m Gonna Stay” / “Drinkin’ Wine” through Century.
The Century Custom release number 18054 dates it to 1964.
The Vibrators came from Pike County in eastern Kentucky, including the towns of Pikeville and Phyllis. Circa 1968 they cut the fine single “Bad Girl”, written by Stevie Justice. There’s a lot to like about the song, including a good guitar solo, excellent drum fills and lyrics like “I’ll get even with you before I die”.
The single came out on Graco Records 45-507, with deadwax markings repeated on the labels, 5650/1. The Vibrators would have traveled some distance to find a pressing plant for the singles. Lexington, Kentucky was 140 miles away, and Charleston or Huntington, West Virginia were not much closer. Max Waller suggests the 5650 code indicates Southern Plastics / United Record Pressing in Nashville, which is likely, though there is no etched “SO” or Nashville Matrix stamp in the deadwax. If the 45 is from Southern Plastics, the code would indicate a January, 1969 release.
Richard Hunt produced both sides. The labels indicate BMI for both songs but I can find no evidence of copyright registration for either song.
I only know of two band members’ names, Steve Justice and Fonso Fields. Fonso Fields wrote the flip, the bluesy instrumental “Keep a Dreamin’”.
The Classics came from Paintsville, Kentucky, a town about 110 miles east of Lexington, KY. Members included:
Richard Titlow – lead vocals and guitar Bill (Fats) Garland – organ Bill Osborne – lead guitar Pat Donohue – bass Frank Hughes – drums
The Classics played at the Teen Town in Paintsville, where two of the photos here were taken. Tim Warren writes “Other local combos included The Midnighters, The Shadows of Infinity, Johnny Reb & the Rebels, XLs, the Chessmen, the Crabs, the Invaders (from Prestonburg), the Mag Seven (from Lexington) and the Saxons (from Pikesville) who released one 45, “She’s All Wrong” / “I’ll Go Wandering” on REM.”
With no local studios to record in, the band started looking farther afield. When the Classics traveled to Louisville to be in Dick Clark’s Caravan of Stars, Bill Garland’s father set up a deal to pay for them to record in Indiana for the Amway label.
John wrote to me:
I remember Richard telling me that the 45 was recorded in someone’s house and that they all were in different rooms but it was a live take. He said the guy that was going to record them asked about the b side and they quickly had to throw an original song together.
Drummer Frank Hughes wrote the A-side “Trisha” for his girlfriend, with help from Billy Garland, Richard Titlow and Bill Osborne. It features a partly spoken vocal aswirl in the echoing organ. The flip is what makes the single legendary now, the intense “I’m Hurtin’” written by Garland, Titlow and Donahue. Playridge Music published both songs, the codes 825M-4956, T4KM-4956, indicate a custom RCA pressing from the first half of 1966.
It’s likely the draft broke the group up. John writes that the four members he knows are all still alive and well.
Special thanks to John Chaney, a guitarist who sat in with most of the band’s members at annual reunions at the area’s country club, for the photos and some of the info. More of the info comes from Tim Warren’s notes to Back from the Grave volume 9 – but you’ll have to read Tim’s notes for the raucous stories.
Ed Commons started Chetwyd Records in Lexington, Kentucky in 1966. Ed wrote to me with some info about the label:
I had a label and recording service in Pittsburgh PA, (Encore Electrical Recording Company, label Encore Custom) before coming to Kentucky in the summer of 1965. Chetwyd preceded House of Commons. HOC began in in 1972, I believe, and the label was by then no longer in production. Currently I am the Producer/Director of Red Barn Radio, just getting ready to finish our 14th season.
Pepper and the Shakers were a Lexington group, not the one that recorded in New York [the Westland, Michigan group who cut “Semi-Psychedelic (It Is)” / “I’ll Always Love You” on Coral 62523]. There are pix of all artists, and some press and release materials.
CW-45008/9 numbers were held for sessions of the Iris Bell Trio, and were never released.
You show 45010 with a yellow label, there was a re-release with a purple label, the masters were –re eq’d, and re-mastered. The yellow actually has the better sound, and would be preferred.
45001-45007 were release as standard mono 45’s. CW-45007 was released in Compatible Stereo as were both versions of CW-45010.
CW-45001 – One of Hours – “It’s Best” (Foreman – Bogliole) / “Trifolia” (Foreman – Flynn -Bogliole) 1966, both songs pub. by Chetwyd BMI CW-45002 – Pepper and the Shakers – “For My Babe” (Oliver Pepper Burdett) / “Need Your Love” (Clarence Scott, Joe Baltimore), 1967. both songs pub. by Chetwyd BMI CW-45003 – Marshall Jones and the 4th Dimension “It’s Not Unusual” (Reed) / “Maryland Farmer” (Clements) CW-45004 – Pat and Barbara – “Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying” / “Noah” 1967 CW-45005 – One of Hours – “Feel The Pain” (Foreman – Flynn – Bogliele) / “Psychedelic Illusion” (Foreman – Willcutt) both pub. by Chetwyd, BMI (RI 2392D/E) Spring 1967 CW-45006 – Maltese – “You Better Stop” / “I Want To Talk To You” both by Akers for Chetwyd BMI 1967 CW-45007 – Universal Sound – “What Now?” / “Keep On Running” 1967 CW-45008 – no release CW-45009 – no release CW-45010 – Intimate Cyrcle, lead Cal Settles – “Someday (You’ll Be Breaking My Heart)” by Lisa Palas, Gene Deaton / “A World of Love” prod. by Ed Commons
CWCM 1001 – “The Real Meaning of Christmas” written and narrated by William Rowe (Children’s Series – 33 1/3 RPM, mono only)
CWM 66003 – Jack Bailey – When Your Lover Has Gone (mono) CWS 99003 – Jack Bailey – When Your Lover Has Gone (stereo) CWM 66004 – Pat and Barbara – There Is A Time (mono, 1967) CWS 99004 – Pat and Barbara – There Is A Time (stereo, 1967)
Although some singles note publishing by Chetwyd BMI, I can find no record of Chetwyd songs in the Library of Congress listings. See the entries on this site for more info on the One of Hours and the Maltese.
Thank you to Ed Commons for his help, and to Max Waller.