Category Archives: Baton Rouge

The Lost Generation on Bofuz

The Lost Generation circa 1966: Mike Rhodes, Rod Grassman, John Herring, Bob Keating, Ronnie Easley, Ronnie Schilling
The Lost Generation circa 1966, from left: Mike Rhodes, Rod Grassman, John Herring, Bob Keating, Ronnie Easley and Ronnie Schilling.
Thanks to Pam Causey for the photo

Lost Generation Bofuz 45 Let Me OutThe Lost Generation came from Baton Rouge, Louisiana and had one single on the Bofuz Enterprises label, “Let Me Out” / “They Tell Me” in 1966. Both sides are original songs.

“Let Me Out” has a great relaxed Stones feeling to it. Band members Michael Rhodes and Bob Keating wrote the song.

The flip is a different style, an echoing ballad that alternates harmonized verses with a mournful lead vocal. Mike Rhodes wrote this side.

Lost Generation Bofuz 45 They Tell MeJohn Herring sent in the photo above (courtesy of Pam Causey) and wrote to me about his career in music:

The personnel in the photo were the players on the Bofuz (Bonnie Fussel) record:

Bob Keating – lead vocals
Mike Rhodes – lead vocals
Ron Grassman – lead guitar
Ronnie Easley – rhythm guitar
John Herring – bass and vocals
Ronnie Schilling – drums

Mike Rhodes went on to a career in broadcasting (radio & television) primarily doing Sports for WBRZ-TV in Baton Rouge.

I later played bass and sang in a three-piece power group, The Joint Effort with lead guitarist Jerry Heinberg (Souls of The Slain) and drummer Jimmy Rink, before joining Danny Cohen (Casey Kelly) from The Greek Fountains and Joe Miceli (A.J.’s older brother and the drummer for John Fred and The Playboys) in an L.A.- based group who recorded on A&M Records as The Luziana Band.

The Luziana Band also had guitarist/songwriters Jeffrey Comanor and Sammy Rubin (ye olde Inn Crowd) at different times.

Contrary what you may read elsewhere, this is not the same Lost Generation who had a single on Tear Drop 3195: “Baby!” (Allan Green, Gary Green) / “Night Time (Makes You Lonely)” in October 1968. That group came from the area around Freeport, Texas, including West Columbia, Clute and Lake Jackson. The members were Leonard ‘Beak’ Johnson (lead vocalist), Willie Funderburg (lead vocalist), Gary Greene (lead guitar), Larry Beal (organ), Mike Roberts (bass) and Pat O’Leary (drums).

The Barracudas of Baton Rouge

The Barracudas, photo from Brown Paper Sack
The Barracudas, photo from Brown Paper Sack
Barracudas Zundak 45 Baby Get LostThe Barracudas came from Bunkie, Louisiana, a small town south of Alexandria.

Members were:

John Haas – vocals
Terry Fontanille – lead guitar
Tommy McNabb – bass
Alex Haas – drums

The photo above shows a quintet, so I’m not sure who the additional guitarist was.

According to Mark Prellberg’s article in Brown Paper Sack, the band started out as the Pickles and appeared on a Saturday morning TV show broadcast from Alexandria. After a show at a Chevy dealership, KDBX DJs Gene McDaniels and Larry Jorgensen signed them to a management deal. They cut one single in April 1965 at the KDBX studio for release on their managers’ Zundak label.

One side is “Baby Get Lost”, an original by Haas and Fontanille. Guitarist Terry Fontanille provides several excellent hooks with his picking, there’s plenty of background shouting and chirping of the chorus, and even a short drum break.

Clocking in at 1:43, the recording has been called ludicrously sped up, but I’ve played it at various speeds and believe that the pressing is only 1% or 2% fast, which wouldn’t be unusual for the time. One version online pitched down to 2:05 sounded too lethargic and off-key to me. The video below is close to what I feel is the correct speed. Singer John Haas was 15 at the time of recording, which could account for the high-pitched vocals.

The flip is a decent version of Jimmy Reed’s “Honest I Do” though the short guitar and drum break after the harmonica solo is hilarious.

After Alex Haas left for college, John Haas and Tommy McNabb formed Nobody’s Children, with no recordings that I know of. Billy Powell of Jimmy & the Offbeats from Baton Rouge recruited John Haas as vocalist for his new group, John Eric & the Isoceles Popsicles, making one single each for USA and Verve.

As John Eric and the Isosceles Popcicles, they had two pop singles circa 1968, “I’m Not Nice” / “Like Him” on USA Records 913 and “Gonna Change My Mind” (Haas, Amarosa, McRee) / “I Been Trying” on Verve VK-10589.

Zundak Records

The Barracudas was the second release on the Zundak label, Zundak 45-101, with “Baby Get Lost” published by Zundak Publ. Co. BMI and production by Zundak Music Enterprises, Alexandria, Louisiana.

The only other composition I can find published by Zundak is “A Soldier’s Christmas in Viet Nam” by Charles England, copyrighted by Zundak Pub. Co. in October 1966.

Besides the Barracudas, Zundak released an album:

102 – Catahoula Country Time (Ruble Wright)

And five other singles that I know of:

100 – Terry & the Pirates – “Someone Care For Me” / “Stackel-Teez” Feb’65
103 – Little Caesar & the Romans – “Don’t Cry No More” / “Night Train”
104 – Jimmy Ingram and Jimmy Williams and the Down Beaters – “I Need You” / “She’s Gone” (both by O.A. Raby)
105 – Betty Simpson – “Weeping Willow” / “What Is Love”
106 – The X-L’s – “Protest Against Protest” / “Blue Blue Feeling” (July 1966)

The X-L’s is a crude kind of garage record, while the Jimmy Ingram is gospel-style soul and the Betty Simpson is pop, with a good soul feeling on the b-side.

Betty Simpson had a band called the Argos, consisting of Billy Spillman (bass), Steve Smith (drums), Robert Rachel and Stan Rachel (both guitar).

Some of the records were recorded at La Louisianne studios in Lafayette, about 90 miles to the southeast of Alexandria in central Louisiana.

Thank you to Max Waller and Teen Beat Mayhem for help with the Zundak discography.

Barracudas Zundak 45 Honest I Do

Alva Starr

Alva Starr ad in Billboard, September 9, 1967
Alva Starr ad in Billboard, September 9, 1967
Alva Starr Golden 45 Clock on the WallAlva Starr Golden 45 Light of 1000 YearsAlva Starr was a character in the Tennessee Williams play This Property Is Condemned. Natalie Wood portrayed Alva Starr in the 1966 flim of the same name, with a screenplay written in part by Francis Ford Coppola.

Alva is not a common name now, but you may recall it was phonograph inventor Thomas Edison’s middle name. Alva Starr became the stage name for Alva Snelling, a songwriter and singer from, possibly, Denham Springs, Louisiana, a few miles east of Baton Rouge.

Snelling recorded two singles in August and September 1967 for the Baton Rouge label Golden Records, owned by Ebb-Tide, short for Ebenezer K. Harris.

The first, on Golden 102 is the psychedelic-garage classic “Clock on the Wall”, where Alva intones lyrics like “time has made slaves of us all … the clock ticks away at our destiny … the hands they move with such a pace as to control the lives of the human race” while the band vamps with a monotonous drum beat in the background.

The flip side is the bizarre and cool patriotic ode “Space Race to the Moon” which includes lyrics like “the moon must be free, because that’s the way God meant it to be”. Alva Snelling wrote both songs, published by Sano Pub. Co BMI.

His second single is another fine original “Light of 1000 Years” played with a defter touch than the first, and backed with a cover of Arthur Alexander’s “Anna”. Snelling registered “Light of 1000 Years” with the Library of Congress in March of 1966.

As to who was backing Alva Starr, one commentator on youtube suggests the band was named the Luvrakers. I couldn’t find info on the Luvrakers other than they had a guitarist named Susan Owens probably at a later date than these recordings. However John Herring of the Lost Generation  doesn’t recall Susan Owens, but provided me with the names of the Luvrakers:

Rodney White – lead guitar and vocals
L.J. DeMaio (DeMiah? – how should this be spelled? – now calls himself L.J. Copas of the Copas Brothers) – rhythm guitar and vocals
Alva Snelling – bass and lead vocals
Alva’s brother – keyboard
David Cook – drums

Alva Starr Golden 45 AnnaAlva Starr and Ebb Tide produced both of these singles on “Golden-Records of La.” Golden Records had an address of PO Box 2544 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Both singles were released with gold-colored labels, though some copies of “Light of 1000 Years” have blue labels.

In 1986 Alva’s current band the Luv-Rakers recorded a heavy version of “Clock on the Wall” on Angel Records 1006, b/w “Lost Things and Changes” (written by Susan Owens).

Alva Snellling seems to have died in 1995, but I can’t find confirmation of this.

Other than Alva Starr and an interesting release by a Detroit group, Organized Confusion, most releases on Golden Records were country or soul music. 45 Cat has a nearly complete discography.

Blue label version scan taken from Mojama Records. Tip of the hat to Chaim O’Brien-Blumenthal for finding the Billboard ad at top.

Alva Starr Golden 45 Light of 1000 Years
Unusual blue label version of “Light of 1000 Years”

Ronnie and the Crowns

Ronnie and the Crowns Stephanie 45 Love You SoRonnie and the Crowns formed as early as 1962 at Westdale Junior High in Baton Rouge. Members on the single may include:

Ronnie Sherlock – vocals
Jimmy Rogers – lead guitar
Cal Arnold – bass
A.J. Miceli – drums

Although not audible on the single, the band also included a full horn section at some point:

Charlie Spinoza – trumpet
Ivan Bergeron – trumpet
Tommy Berthelo – tenor saxophone
Richard Sherlock – baritone saxophone

Ronnie and the Crowns Stephanie 45 Cotton CandyIn 1966 they recorded their one excellent single on Stephanie Records of Baton Rouge #MX-957. One side is “Love You So” written by James M. Rogers, lead guitarist in the group and featuring his super-trebley and reverbed guitar. The flip is a cover of Lenny Capello’s New Orleans classic “Cotton Candy” (“I know my Candy is always handy”).

Ronnie Sherlock produced the Ronnie & the Crowns single. My copy is pretty rough, but it’s inscribed “from Richard & Ronnie” on the “Cotton Candy” label.

I don’t know much about Stephanie Records, other than seeing a list of 10 or so singles released on the label. Sam Montel (S.J. Montalbano) must have owned the label as two early releases have his name as producer. Also, the MX- prefix is present on all releases on the label, and shows up on many releases on the Montel and Michelle labels, as does the Red Stick Music publishing, used for “Love You So”.

Bofuz discography

An underrated gem from the Bofuz label

Any help with this Bofuz Records discography would be greatly appreciated

1100 – Bonnie Fussell – Tell the World About You / Keep Walking On (Bofuz BF-1100, both written by B. Fussell)
1101 – Ernest Jackson – Our Love Will Always Be the Same / It’s You I Love
1102 – ?
1103 – Ernest Jackson and the Tytans – A True Love Is Hard to Find (J. Wells) / I Miss You (Bofuz EJ-1103, February 1965, Dover presss, matrix # 207-1249, Bofuz Pub)
1104 – Greek Fountains – Well Alright / That’s the Way I Am (Bofuz B-1104)
1105 – ?
1106 – The Tempos – Why Don’t You Write Me (L. Hollins) / A Thief in the Night
1107 – The Interpreters* – Stop That Man (Sylvia Heilig) /I Get the Message (Elsie Childers) (Bofuz AM-1107, Oct. 1965, SO #2616; same matrix is on the Gemini OO release, a Bofuz Production)
1108 – Doug Stanford – Same Old Crazy Me / Think of Me
1109 – Bud Fisher – Blue Highway / You Stopped My Wheels From Rollin’
1110 – Greek Fountains – Howlin’ For My Darlin’ / Go Back Home (Bofuz No. 1110, “Collectors Series”, Nov. 1965, Dover press & matrix # 207-1538)
1111 – ?
1112 – ?
1113 – Jimmy and the Offbeats – Stronger Than Dirt (T. Guarino, B.G. Fussell, D. Short) / Miracle Worker (Bofuz BF-1113, “Collectors Series”, February 1966, Dover press, marix #s 207-1639/40)
1114 – The Lost Generation – Let Me Out (Rhodes-Keating) / They Tell Me (BF-114)
1115 – The Moon-Dawgs – Baby As Time Goes By / You’re No Good (BF-1115)
1116 – ?
1117 – The Neurotic Sheep – I’m Free / Seasons of the Witch (May 1968)

2005 – The Velvets with Louis Presean – Estelle Parker / I Love You (A Thousand Ways) – soul with a Lefty Frizzell cover!?
2006 – Louis Prejean and the Velvets – Nine Pound Steel / Tell It Like It Is

19691 – Sam Euggino & The Quotations – Get Caught / ? (Bofuz BF-19691) – rockabilly!
19692 – Cold Grits – Mellow Man / Mr. Doolittle (both by J. O’Rourke, Bofuz BF-19692, January 1969, LH-5204/5)
19693 – Bill Wray and his Showband Royale ** – Ooo Baby Baby / Morning Dew (Produced by Tom Guarino, Jan. 1969, LH press, #5364/5)
19694 – Joe Degrinda – Smokestack Lightnin’ / She Belongs to Me (1969/70, LH press, #6377)

I don’t know why the changes in numbering, or the reason for the different prefixes to the catalog #s on the labels.

Bofuz Enterprises, Inc. 2274 North St., Baton Rouge, LA

Owned by Tom Guarino and Bonnie Fussell, who had his own single in 1961, Bonnie Fussell and the Jives – “Too High Class” / “Where Are You” on Swan 4070 and Hammond 104 (Luke Thompson pub).

*The Interpreters also issued on the Gemini 00 label with a picture sleeve “Direct from Frankfurt, Germany … Sylvia and Beate”, with publishing by Irene Music, Nosark Pub, BMI.

** Bill Wray and His Show Band Royale also issued on Warner Bros 7317

Sources: thanks to the Sir Shambling site, Max Waller and ‘Joe’ for help with this discography.

The Inn Crowd

Baton Rouge group the Inn Crowd recorded a few 45s, all produced by Sam Montel (a pseudonym for S.J. Montalbano), and released on his Montel-Michelle and Michelle labels.

Bill Johnson founded the Inn Crowd and recruited Hal Ellis and Cookie Smith from the Emeralds.

Members changed over the years, but they included:

Cookie Smith – lead vocals and organ
Hal Ellis – lead guitar, replaced by Jimmy O’Rourke after the singles
Sammy Rubin – rhythm guitar and shouts on “Run Clarence Run”
Bill Johnson – bass, replaced by Harold Coward after the singles
Jim Ingalls – drums, replaced by Lester Dodge by the time of the singles
Darrel Folse – tambourine
Jerry Ameroso – percussion in the early days

Duke Bardwell of the Greek Fountains occasionally sang with the Inn Crowd.

I haven’t heard their first 45, a cover of the Impressions’ “You Must Believe Me” b/w “Sun Arise”. Anyone have sound clips or scans of that single?

Their second 45, “Baby You’re So Fine” features twelve string guitar work by Hal Ellis, harmonica and reverb on the beat. Hal Ellis is best known as guitarist for John Fred and the Playboys, who he joined in 1968. Bill Johnson & Lester Dodge also ended up in the Playboys after the Inn Crowd.

The song was a cover of “Gee Baby”, a 1960 hit for Joe & Ann on Ace records, written by Joe Joseph and Alvin “Red” Tyler. Promo copies credit Danny Cohen (aka Casey Kelly of the Greek Fountains) for supervision of the session. It’s a fine commercial recording and could have been a hit for the band with a little more luck, but a mislabeled release probably caused confusion and hurt its chances.

Inn Crowd Michelle 45 Run Clarence Run The Michelle label assigned “Baby You’re So Fine” a master number of 74 M/M 68. However, labels were printed with “Baby You’re So Fine” having a master # of 74 M/M 67, which actually belonged to another Inn Crowd song, “Run Clarence Run”.

This mix-up may have been the reason that there is one 45 release that has the label for “Baby You’re So Fine” but the song that plays is actually “Run Clarence Run”. This mixed-up release is backed by a cover of John Mayall’s “Someday After Awhile (You’ll Be Sorry)”, a fine blues workout on the guitar, and credited to Cookie & the Inn Crowd. Thus Michelle put out a record with essentially two B-sides on it, which I’m sure did the band no favors.

When Michelle realized their mistake, they must have released the actual “Baby You’re So Fine”, correctly labeled this time, and with a correctly labeled “Run Clarence Run” on the flip (though the master numbers are still wrong on the labels).

“Run Clarence Run turns out to be a faster take on Willie West’s “Willie Knows How” on Rustone:

Their third 45 is “Go Away”, an original by Ellis. The opening features an interesting arrangement of twelve string, bass and rhythm guitar, creating a droning, melancholy sound. The song gets a little monotonous though, with its repetitive lyrics. The band’s name is listed as (Ye Olde) Inn Crowd for this release, and it was backed with “Keep Your Hands Off My Baby”, released in 1967.

Stewart Ellis, Hal’s son quoted from Hal’s notes in a comment below:

We were invited by the management of a major local department store, Godchaux’s (later to become Maison Blanche) to be their special guests at a fashion show and autograph party on a Saturday afternoon at the store. We signed and gave out over 100 autographed pictures of the band.

It wasn’t long before our name reached Dallas, Texas where there was a recording act named ‘Jon, Robin, and the Inn Crowd’ that was managed by the powerful team of Hanna-Barbara of cartoon fame. We received a letter indicating that the name “The Inn Crowd” was owned by this Dallas band. In response, we quickly renamed the band to something more British ‘(ye olde) Inn Crowd’. In Louisiana, we still were known as The Inn Crowd.

Sam Rubin wrote to me:

I don’t remember the guy you have listed as percussion at all and I don’t remember Jimmy taking Hal’s place. Jimmy was my roommate for several years. Lester didn’t come into the band until Jim Ingalls left for Viet Nam, long after the recordings. I don’t remember for sure, but I think I was the one who played the harmonica on “Clarence”.  We did those records pretty early in our history, probably in ’66.

I’m not sure we would qualify as a “garage band.” Except for the original recordings, we were just a cover band with some pretty decent talent. Hal was one of the finest guitarist I have ever heard. We worked very hard at out harmonies and musical interpretations of songs. I guess you know we were all inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame a few years ago, 2010 I think.

This group is unrelated to the Shreveport In-Crowd, nor to the band that had an LP titled Live at the Bellemont in the 1970’s.

The Inn Crowd’s complete releases are:

Montel Michelle MX 971- “You Must Believe Me” b/w “Sun Arise” (1966)
Michelle MX-982 – “Run Clarence Run” (mislabeled as “Baby You’re So Fine”) b/w “Someday After Awhile (You’ll Be Sorry)” (B-side credited to Cookie & the Inn Crowd)
Michelle MX-982 – “Baby You’re So Fine” b/w “Run Clarence Run”
Montel Michelle MX-986 – “Go Away” b/w “Keep Your Hands Off My Baby”  – as (ye olde) Inn Crowd

Does anyone have a photo of the group?

Special thanks to Bossy Boots for the loan of her original copy of “Baby You’re So Fine” and for pointing out the Willie West original.