The Rogues from Lafayette, Louisiana had two excellent 45s, both very rare now, I don’t own either one.
They seem to have had some lineup changes during their existence. Members included Fred Brechtel on lead vocals, Mark MacDiarmid (or McDiarmid) on lead guitar (and lead vocals on “I Don’t Need You”), Mike Schwartz on rhythm guitar, Tommy Withrow on keyboards, John Bonar on bass, and Glen Hebert on drums.
Cyril Vetter of the Greek Fountains saw the Rogues and produced a release for them on the Montel-Michelle label, though he changed the band’s name temporarily to the Dry Grins. The Dry Grins release has the teen loser lament, “She’s a Drag”, written by Fred Brechtel for Red Stick Music, backing the only slightly more commercial “You’re Through”. It was produced by Cyril Vetter & Sam Montel, and released as the Montel-Michelle M/M-959 (74 M/M 14) circa late 1965.
Well, I’m walking down the street with my left hand in my pocket, And some chick walks up and says, “Make a switch man, you’re on the wrong side of the street”
Well, I looked up and turned around to see the people watching, My left hand still in my pocket, And then she started to laugh. I had both hands in my pocket and I said, “Baby, you’re a drag”
Well, she’s a drag, yeah, a big ole drag, She’s a drag, yeah, a big ole drag, Like a trip, baby
Well, I used to dig a chick … [?] Cause I’m a stubborn fellow, you know, And I got to get her, [?] But that turned into a great big drag.
Well, she’s a drag, yeah, a big ol’ drag, She’s a drag, yeah, a big ol’ drag, Well, she’s a drag, Like an albatross
Well, she said get back, come back and don’t you cry, I turned around and said to her, “Baby, you’re a drag”
Well she’s a drag, yeah, a big ol’ drag, She’s a drag, yeah, a big ol’ drag, Well she’s a drag, She’s gone, baby
The Rogues second 45 has “Tonight” which Teen Beat Mayhem describes as “swamp-pop ballad with crooner vocals.” on the A-side. On the flip is “I Dont Need You”, one of their best songs, the opening drum roll leading into a blast of sound that keeps up throughout the song.
Both sides written and sung by Mark McDiarmid for La Lou Music, and released on the La Louisianne label, LL-8094-B, in April of ’67.
Andrew Brown wrote that Tommy Withrow joined a group called the Swingin’ Machine, obviously unrelated to the now-legendary Swinging Machine from South Norfolk, VA.
I used to believe the band had a third single, “Put You Down” b/w a version of “Stormy Monday Blues”, but that turns out to be a group from Alabama, which makes sense as MBM was a Birmingham label and “Put You Down” does not have keyboards unlike the other songs by the Rogues from Louisiana.
Anyone have a photo of the group?
Teenage Shutdown vol. 7 has the photo at top, but I would love to see better ones if anyone has them. I could also use a good scan of “You’re Through”.
The Local Traffic’s incredible single on the Black Light label has remained almost unknown until recently and never reissued or compiled since its original release in June, 1968. “Time Gone to Waste” is a wild original sure to take its rightful place at the top of ’60s psychedelia. I love how it ends with that roll on the tom-toms. The B-side is “Second Century”, slow and stately but also excellent. Two copies of the 45 attained huge sums at auction in 2009 and 2010; there’s no doubting the rarity or musical quality of this 45.
Myles Hassell, then known as Mickey Hassell, sent in the photos and memorabilia seen here and wrote this history about the group:
In the later part of 1965, The Local Traffic came into being in the living room of Mickey Hassell’s house on Citrus Road in River Ridge; a sleepy little suburb located about 7 miles west of New Orleans, in between Harahan and Little Farms. The members of the band included Mickey Hassell (lead vocals and guitar), Stormy Folse (guitar, organ, vocals, and saxophone), Mike Cottage (bass guitar and vocals), Steve Morant (lead guitar and vocals), and Buddy Bullard (drums). The band’s manager, Skip Robinson, also played tambourine during live performances.
Our band existed outside the mainstream of the traditional music genres one associates with New Orleans (jazz, R&B, funk, etc.). Instead, we were strongly influenced by the British Invasion bands and the psychedelic music scene. If it was far-out, we played it.
When we began playing music together, we were all in high school (ranging in age from 14-16). From the start, we did not have an easy go of it. Our musical instruments and sound system were second tier: a hodgepodge gathered from pawnshops, family members, and wages earned by working after school. We had to make do with what we had – pushing our instruments and equipment to the limit when we performed. Because we were all underage, many of the local music venues such as bars, nightclubs, and other places where liquor was served were off limits to us; and other doors were slammed in our faces because we were not members of the local union of musicians. Furthermore, nobody knew us; we didn’t even have a booking agent. But we were young, and nothing was going to stop us. Through the efforts of the band’s members and word of mouth, we started to find gigs at local CYO Dances in Harahan, Little Farms, Metairie, and Kenner, along with some frat parties and block parties—anywhere we could find an audience for our music. We were beginning to build a reputation for being a band of versatile musicians that worked up a sweat and put on a good show every time we performed.
Many of the bands in New Orleans frequented Tippet’s Music store in Orleans Parish. Being kids from the suburbs, however, The Local Traffic shopped at Werlein’s Music at Lakeside Shopping Center in Metairie, at that time an open-air facility. It was there that we met Andy Gallien, who was working in Werlein’s music department. Sometime during late 1966 to early 1967, Andy and Mike (our bass player) negotiated a way for us to lease some first-rate equipment—Fender and Gretsch guitars, Ludwig drums and Zildjian cymbals, Fender Dual-Showman and Fender Twin amplifiers, Farfisa keyboards, Shure microphones, a solid sound system, and all the electronics needed to make things hum. This equipment leveled the playing field for The Local Traffic, thus enabling us to stand toe-to-toe with well-known bands from New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and the Gulf South.
From 1967 on, The Local Traffic developed a reputation as a hard-driving force in the local music scene. This led to better-paying gigs at psychedelic teen clubs, such as The Purple Pickle in Slidell and The Hullabaloo Club in Metairie, along with high school dances and private parties. During this time, Bill Strong, a producer and promoter in the music business, approached us at one of our gigs, saying that he liked our music. Ultimately, we signed a recording contract with his company, Black Light Productions. At that time, we were still a cover band, and while we had dabbled in songwriting, we had neither practiced nor performed any original music. Therefore, we had some work to do for our upcoming recording session at the now legendary Cosimo Matassa’s studio on Camp Street in New Orleans.
Mickey wrote the chord progression, words, and melody for “Time Gone to Waste,” which was to be the A-side for our 45-rpm record. During this time, he was living in an efficiency apartment in the French Quarter, scratching out a living playing music, working as a roadie for a couple of bands from the area, and working at the PDQ Car Wash on Metairie Road. As the lyrics below reveal, the song’s imagery came from his mind and soul, his apartment, and life on the streets outside:
Before the flashing dawn, I put my new face on And I take the time to pull out my mind and then I can see once more the same mind I had before In my single window pane with a crystal picture frame
Love lights the night before, it makes me think of you once more And it leaves me senseless with a time relentless I pick my eyes up off the floor, I throw them out the open door And I laugh out crying instead of lying, I’ve got no use for lying
I sing out loudly mine, inside the flashing sign It’s a neon stillness like a creeping illness I see the carpets crawl up and down the patterned wall And they leave me a taste of the time gone to waste
Buddy’s driving drumbeat and Mike’s punching bass line created a rhythm section with the power of a locomotive roaring at full throttle. The guitar work of Stormy and Steve slashed, soared, and intertwined with the rhythm section. Mickey’s vocalization was defiant, yet laden with emotion. As recorded, “Time Gone to Waste” was a kick-ass song—combining poetry with rock-and-roll and psychedelics, and capturing the energy, creativity, and musicianship of The Local Traffic.
Mike created an elegant bass line, then Mickey created the chords, lyrics, and melody for a song titled, “Second Century,” which became the B-side for our 45-rpm record. The song was about a woman who kept others at a distance via mind-games and who tried in vain to ignore the passing of time and her loneliness. The song’s chord progression was tempered by Buddy’s skillful drum work and accentuated by Stormy’s sensitive touch on the electric organ. Steve’s guitar solo was adept, and his harmonic coda ushered the song to a climactic tonal flourish. Mickey’s vocalization was melancholy and the lyrics were poignant:
Second century woman, Second century child Talk with your mask and not your mind Singing songs stolen out of time
I feel the thunder, of the senseless words Open to those who sing your song Not trying to but aging along
I’ve been playing your lovely games And I’m tired of feeling just the same I’m cracked just like a broken dream That stopped for a while just to scream
Second century woman, Second century child You can remain with yourself You can remain with yourself in falling
Second century woman, with a hand of brass Reaching out to turn to gold In a world that makes you grow so old You’ve gone and you’ve left it How hard to forget where you’re at
A limited number of 45-rpm discs were pressed on the Black Light label (the label is florescent and glows if you hold it under a black light), and “Time Gone to Waste” was introduced to the New Orleans market in 1968. The song got some airtime on local radio stations WNOE and WTIX, both during the day and on the underground broadcasts at night. Through local record stores, we sold some 45s to our fans, and the radio airtime helped us land some good gigs in the area. During this time, Mickey was becoming prolific as a writer of songs and lyrics, so we laid some more tracks at Cosimo’s recording studio; also teaming up with another local songwriter. None of the tracks made it outside of the four walls of the studio.
In early 1969, The Local Traffic played its last gig at a country club (now gone) near the current site of the Greek Orthodox Church on Bayou St. John, just off Robert E. Lee Boulevard in the Lakeview section of Orleans Parish. After our work was done, we sat on the bank of the bayou, smoking, drinking, and saying our goodbyes. Perhaps it was the strain of balancing divergent interests in music; maybe we were frustrated by the outcome of our efforts in the recording studio; perhaps we were exhausted from busting our chops in the music business in the Crescent City; or maybe it was just time to move on. Whatever the reason may have been, we parted company that night and went our separate ways.
Q. It’s amazing you were able to come up with a song as strong as “Time Gone to Waste” considering the band didn’t do originals in their live shows yet. Did you ever play that song live?
Thank you for your compliment about “Time Gone to Waste.” It was one of the first songs I had ever written. After it was released in New Orleans, we played “Time Gone to Waste” and “Second Century” whenever we performed.
Q. Were there other groups on the local scene that your band was either friends with or saw as competition?
We competed for jobs with bands from out of town, such as The Basement Wall and the Greek Fountains. There was plenty of local competition from groups such as The Palace Guards, Yesterday’s Children, The Clinging Vines, The Gunda Dyns, The Souls of the Slain, The Better Half Dozen, The Glory Rhodes, and Leaves of Grass and more. When I first set foot on the campus of the University of New Orleans, it was like “old home week,” because a lot of the local musicians were going to college there. We had all heard of each other, and got a chance to get to know each other, at that time. That’s where I met and became friends with Rickey Moore, drummer from The Better Half. I also got to know Frank Bua (drummer w/The Palace Guards and later with The Radiators), Camile Baudoin (later with the Radiators), Richard Morant (lead guitar with Yesterday’s Children; his brother, Steve, played lead guitar in the Local Traffic), Quint Davis (tambourine with Yesterday’s Children; started the Jazz Fest in NOLA). During this time, I did roadie work with The Palace Guards and Yesterday’s Children (when the Local Traffic was not working), so I knew the members of those groups pretty well.
Q. Were you in groups before or after Local Traffic?
Before the Local Traffic, I did not play music with anyone else, practicing guitar and singing by myself. After the Local Traffic, I was active as an “outsider” musician in New Orleans, making some studio recordings of songs I had written and trying to form some bands. Much of this activity was not noteworthy, but there are some things of substance. . . . In the late 60s – early 70s, I did some more recording work with Stormy Folse and Bill Strong at Cosimo’s, Butch Elliot (son of Ken Elliot aka Jack the Cat on the radio in NOLA) at his personal studio, and another studio, can’t remember the name, on Tulane Avenue (during these sessions, Rickey Moore, former drummer with the Zoofs and The Better Half was on drums). I co-wrote a few songs with some other musicians; I can only remember Eddie Volker (later with the Radiators). However, no records were released from these sessions.
At several gigs in the early 1970s, I sang lead in a band featuring Emile Guest (lead guitarist with Roger and the Gypsies), short-lived and I can’t recall the name of the group. I sang and played acoustic guitar at several local pubs, such as The Rear End in Lakeview. In 1973 – 1975, I sang lead and shared lead guitar duties with Stormy Folse (from the Local Traffic), in a cover band named Wet Leggs. From 1976 – 1978, I sang lead and played guitar in another cover band–Straight Whiskey–and Stormy played bass guitar. I hung up my rock-n-roll shoes in the later part of 1978, after earning an MA in English Literature and getting a job selling office machines. In 1987, I went back to college to earn an MBA, and taught in the English Department at the University of New Orleans. During that time, I picked up an acoustic guitar, writing several songs, singing and playing in private only for about six months. Since that time, I have not played music or written any songs.
Myles (Mickey) Hassell, April 2011
Thank you to Myles for the history and images, and also for kindly answering my questions.
Update, July 2012
Mike Cottage wrote to me:
I went on, moved to California in ’73 and was a founding member of Sneaker produced by Jeff “Skunk” Baxter. We had moderate success with a few hit songs, “More Than Just the Two of Us” and “Don’t Let Me In” (written by Walter Becker and Donald Fagan). You can view our web site for more songs and info: sneakersongs.com. Sneaker has a number of videos on you tube if you search for Sneaker the band or type the song title “More Than Just the Two of Us”. And of course most of Sneaker’s songs are available on itunes.
Update, March 2016
Myles Hassell (Mickey) passed away on Wednesday, March 2, 2016 at the age of 66. I’d like to say that I really enjoyed speaking with Myles and learning about the Local Traffic and their single. Working with Myles on this article has been one of the highlights of my work on this website over the last 11 years.
Mike Cottage adds, “all of his band mates from the 60’s and the many friends he made through his journey will always be richer for having known him. Though he will always be with us, those who played music with Mickey will forever share in a special brotherhood and miss his creativity and brilliance. RIP Mickey. Thank you again for leading the way.”
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
Any help with this discography of the N-Joy Records label of West Monroe, Louisiana would be appreciated.
1001 Lance Farr and The Beltones – “Mona Lisa” / “Too Much Ain’t Enough” (1964) 1002 Syl Sims – “Lovemist” / “Landslide” 1003 Randy and The Rockets – “Doggin'” / “Let’s Just Say Goodbye” 1964 1004 Bill Dunnam and The Playboys – “Back To School” / “Anna Belle Lee” 1964 1005 John Fred & the Playboys – “Boogie Children” (Lynn Ourso) / “My First Love” (produced by Rocky Robin, 1965) 1006 1007 1008 Huey Darby – “Rockin’ Robin” / “Secret of Love” (1965) 1009 Duane Yates – “Passin’ On By” / “Anyone” 1010 Duane Yates & the Capris – “Here I Stand” / “Hold It” (C. Scott & B. Butler) 1011 Jody Daniel – “At the Go Go” / “Quando Caliente el Sol” 1012 Billy John & the Continentals – “Ooh Pooh Pah Doo” / “Does Someone Care (for Me)” 1013 Ron Gray & the Countdowns – “No More” / “Ajax The Tin Knight” (1966) 1014 Billy John & the Continentals – “Lover Boy Blue” (B & B. Babineaux) / “Put the Hurt on You” 1015 The Countdowns – “Cover Of Night” (Don Griffin – Don Strickland) / “Can’t You See” (Ron Gray, A&R also Ron Gray) 1016 1017 1018 Don & Jerry – “Too Much Confusion” / “Better Run & Hide” 1019 Thursday’s Children – “Running Around on Me” / “I Don’t Need Your Love” (J. Dunn & S. Farmer) 1020 The Spectres – “No Good, No Where World” (Ron Gray & J. L. Carraway) / “High Stepper” 1021 The Rogue Show – “Look to Me” (Larry Jefferson, Jay Boyott Music BMI) / “Little Lonely Summer Girl” (D. Box, R. Rush)
Compiled with help from Global Dog Productions though I took off their listing of Penny Gilley at 1016 as I believe that’s a different N-Joy label.
Just a few days after I added Nick’s article on former Daily Flash guitarist Doug Hastings’ time with Dr. John’s band in 1969, I picked up this single on the Another label by Drits & Dravy, one of Mac Rebennack’s many early releases before he moved to Los Angeles and assumed the Dr. John persona. It features Mac and Ronnie Barron putting down a long stream of quick rhymes and puns, many of which I can’t make out through the echo.
I’ve seen this as being from 1960, but I think 1962 is probably more likely, given that Dr. John mentions having the Drits and Dravy act at the same time he was cutting an unreleased LP for AFO.
Besides Mac and Ronnie, either of whom could be playing organ, I’m not sure who was on this session. It could have included some of his regular band at the time, such as Paul Staehle (drums) and Charlie Maduell (sax).
Another collaboration between these two which sounds very different is Ronnie Barron’s single “It’s All in the Past” written by Dauenhauer-Rebennack b/w “The Hip Parade”by Rebennack-O’Neil, from about 1963.
Drummer Tom Durr tells the story of the Tremolos, a band that never released a record but whose name is probably familiar to club goers in the Shreveport area in the mid 1960s.
My name is Tom Durr. In 1964 Bob Fell, Mike Tinsley and I formed the first garage band in Bossier City and possibly Shreveport too. The band was called The Tremolos with Bob and Mike on guitar and me on drums. We played pep rallies and dances at Bossier High School, the Teen Club and Elks Club, dances at Barksdale AFB, the Shriner’s and VA hospitals and later when I was at La. Tech, we played fraternity and sorority parties. We started out doing only instrumentals, mostly The Ventures, then later started doing vocal covers of hit songs.
When Bob Fell left to play the N.Y. World’s Fair for the summer we got Sonny Williams to replace him. When Bob came back he formed The Group with Noel Odom. Bob asked me to play drums for The Group, but I decided to stay with The Tremolos. This is one of my regrets in life. As a result, he got Fred Engelke on drums.
When Sonny left The Tremolos he joined The Group on bass. The Tremolos went through a lot of personnel changes including Rocky Chalmiers, Pat Huddleston, Richard White and Don MacMurray with only Mike and I remaining constant. Rocky was several years younger than us, it prevented us from playing places where alcohol was sold. He was very talented and I heard he went on to study classical guitar. The Tremolos did record once in a small studio in Bossier City, but no records were ever made. We were also on a TV talent show in Monroe, LA.
My sophomore year of college, the band broke up. I quit school, joined the musician’s union and started playing with a trio at The Stork’s Club on the Bossier strip. Then I got drafted and had to join the Navy. Meanwhile, The Group went on to do everything I had wanted to do.
There were two almost completely unrelated groups that released records on the Paula label as the Bad Habits. The first group were originally known as Debbie and the Lads, and members included Debbie Folse on vocals, Pershing Wells on guitar and Ronnie Plaisance on keyboards. They had one 45 that I know of under this name, “Dear Lord Above” / The Man Who Comes Around” on the Ladd label out of Raceland, though the label spells her name Debbie Falls.
An oft-repeated rumor has it that Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett were the Bad Habits under a different name, but this is wrong. There are two likely reasons for the rumor: the first lineup of the Bad Habits covered two Delaney and Bonnie songs, and a there is some similarity in vocal style between Debbie Folse and Bonnie Bramlett.
After three singles with some light chart action this group disbanded and their producer Gene Kent handed the name to the remaining members of the Group (Noel Odom and the Group), who had recorded three 45s for the Tower and Uptown labels.
Noel Odom was no longer in the band by the time they became the Bad Habits, but their first 45 included one of his compositions, “Thank You for the Love”. Vocals were now handled by Ron DiIulio, who also took over as principal songwriter and producer for the band. Ron wrote “Images: The City”, the b-side to their second record and co-wrote “Touch the Sun” with Jack Russell.
Fred Engelke talked to me about their time as the second lineup of the Bad Habits:
After Noel left and joined the Navy we became an 8 then 7 piece band called The Bad Habits and recorded three records on the Paula/Jewel label. We picked up the name when Gene Kent began managing us.
The Bad Habits were anchored by members of the old Group: Bob Fell on guitar, Ron DiIulio on keyboard, I on drums, and Sonny Williams on bass. Later Sonny left the band and was replaced by Nick Pratt on bass. We added horns; sax, trombone, and two trumpets and later went to trombone and two trumpets. The sax player was Rick Folse (I don’t know if there is a relation). Rick was actually a member of the original Bad Habits. He stayed with the group for maybe a year and then moved back to Cutoff, La. and became a disk jockey.
You may have noticed the high pitch of the lead singer on The Bad Habit’s “Bad Wind” and “Thank You For The Love”. The same person (Ron DiIulio) sang the lead on both sides of each record. We got the higher pitch by recording the track in one key and the slowing the tape down to a lower key to record the vocals and the returning the tape to the original speed to master the record. On “Bad Wind” the drums (at least the fills) were recorded in an echo chamber at the studio to get the “big” sound. On “Images: The City” there are so many changes that during the session I would forget what came next. So after SEVERAL attempts at getting all the way through it, we would just start somewhere before the place I screwed up and continue on. Later we spliced everything together.
Touch the Sun was the b-side of our last record “Louie Louie”. We (at least I) were pretty frustrated with the music business because we kept trying to put out what we thought were good songs but they were going nowhere. So we did Louie Louie (we had our own take on it) because it was always a big hit when we played at dances. I actually liked “Touch the Sun” better.
Thank you to Fred Engelke for his help with this article.
Bad Habits 45s on Paula
1st group (with Debbie Folse): Paula 327 – Night Owl / It’s Been A Long Time Coming (1970) Paula 333 – My Baby Specializes / Born On The Bayou (1970) Paula 342 – I Don’t Wanna Discuss It / If The Whole World Stopped Loving (1971)
2nd group: Paula 353 – Thank You For The Love / My Days Are Numbered (1971) Paula 370 – Bad Wind / Images: The City (1972) Paula 374 – Touch the Sun / Louie, Louie (1972)
Ellis Starkey wrote in about two Shreveport-based bands he played drums and sang with, The Back Alley and The Rogue Show. The Back Alley didn’t release any records at the time, but I hope some unreleased tapes surface so we can hear what they sounded like. Here are the bands’ stories in Ellis’s own words:
In 1966 “The Back Alley” was formed with Ellis Starkey – drummer, vocalist; John Barlish – guitar, vocalist; Bob “Fist” Raley – Hammond organ, trumpet; Kenneth Nealy – trumpet, vocalist; and Gary Rhineheart – bass, vocalist.
We rehearsed where ever we could, sometimes in Mr. Barlish’s barber shop, sometimes the Musician’s Union Hall, sometimes at Fist’s house, sometimes a laundromat, but most of our practice came from OTJT- on the job training!
We played soul music. In October 1968 we played a black club in Shreveport, La., called The Hollywood Palace. We were the first white band to ever play there. The billed us as “The Back Alley – the Blue-eyed Soul Brothers”. We had a packed house! When we started playing no one danced. We had a light show, strobes, black lights, and flashing color lights. I had the strobes turned on the crowd and during the next song the dance filled up! They loved the strobe lights. John played the guitar behind his head, his back, and with his teeth! He was one of the best soul-type singers around. We also performed at the Afro-American Scene, on Texas Street, Shreveport.
The Tau Kappa Epsilon, at Centenary College in Shreveport, La. “adopted” the band and we were able to play all of their dances. They had the BEST “weekend” parties at a private camp on Lake ‘O the Pines, in East Texas. We would bring our camping and fishing gear along with a ski boat and stay all weekend. What a life!
Whenever we needed a date to fill our calendar, I would call Charlie Winn,”The Working Girl’s Friend”, he owned the Bayou Club in Shreveport. We played there alternating with Eddie G. & the Jive Five [who recorded 45s like “Losin’ Boy”, “Go Go Train” and “Soul Feelin'” as Eddy “G” Giles.]
Eddie G, his drummer was nicknamed “Caveman”…he was a tall, big man. One night a fight broke out and one guy told Caveman, “You better watch it…I know karate”. Caveman snarled and said, “I know “ka-38”. Caveman won without a punch!
Eddie G. had a black girl that was his go go dancer, “China Doll”. The night we played the Afro-American Scene, Eddie G. and all his entourage came to see us play. About the 3rd set Eddie sent China Doll up on the bandstand and she started dancing with us. After several songs she flipped off her top. It landed on Gary the bass player…he cracked up when he realized what had happened. He turned every shade of red!
“The Back Alley” performed at fraternity and sorority parties at all of the surrounding colleges in Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Mississippi until 1969. The Back Alley recorded several original songs but didn’t put anything out, we basically played gigs.
The Rogue Show
In April 1969, I received a call from Jerry Hawkins, President of Musicians Local 116 in Shreveport. He said a full-time band needed a drummer and for me to go play with them. I told him that I didn’t feel I was good enough to play with them. He said yes you are…get on out to the club. The band was The Rogue Show and they were in their third year playing at the Shindig. Very rehearsed.
When we started we sounded like we had been together forever…on the first break Dino Zimmerman, guitar player, came over to me, put his arm around my neck and said you are our new drummer. My band The Back Alley had a gig at La. Tech the next night. David Shelton, another drummer, came in and said he wasn’t playng in his band anymore, so I called John Barlish and set it up for David to play with them.
The Rogue Show was Larry Gordy bass guitar, vocalist; Dino Zimmerman guitar, vocalist; David Rowe organ, vocalist; and Ellis Starkey drummer, vocalist.
Another reason the band was so good was because we kept the same four members for the five years the band was together. We played six nights a week and rehearsed twice a week, learning at least two new songs a week for the duration of our band.
When I joined the Rogue Show they had been playing at the same club, The Shindig, for three years. I handled all the bookings in my other bands so I started booking college and high school jobs. We left The Shindig and started playing one nighters, we never did go back to the Shindig. That summer I booked the Bayou Club so we could stay rehearsed and learn new songs for the upcoming “fall school season” Sept. – December.
On October 30, 1969, The Rogue Show opened for the Grassroots at Stephen F. Austin College, in Nacogdoches, Texas. We played 30 minutes before they started. They played 30 minutes and then took a 20 minute break. The Rogue Show played those 20 minutes. Then the Grassroots got back up and played for 45 minutes. It was a big night, it was a pillow and blanket concert in the gym. The place was packed. I signed 5 contracts for school dances before I could pack up my drums!
In February, 1970, Kenny Rogers and the First Edition were booked to play SFA. I contacted the lady that had booked us with the Grassroots. She said that we would not be hired because we were too good! She said we don’t want to make concert bands mad by having a local group show them up. First time I ever lost a job for being too good! We ended up playing just about every dance over the next couple years but we never opened for anybody again!
Dale Hawkins (co-writer and singer of Susie Q) came out to hear us perform. He was working for Bell Records at that time. That next week he had us in the studio at Steve Wright’s in Tyler, Texas. Dale said he would shop it around and let us know.
Jerry Hawkins (Dale’s brother and president of Musicians Local 116) called us and said he wanted to take us to the studio. We went to Robin Hood’s and recorded several songs. Jerry said he would shop it around and let us know.
Jerry called about a week after that and wanted to have a meeting with the band. He told us he had two labels interested, Paula Records and RCA, Nashville. WOW!!! We all talked it over and asked whatever questions we could come up with. It came down to how many cents we received per record sold. Paula Records offered 5 cents and RCA offered 2 cents. Well needless to say went with the higher figure . Major mistake! Knowing what I know now, we should have gone with the major label regardless.
We signed a four record deal over two years. The releases were:
1) Make Me Over Again / Nadine 2) Come Back Baby / Can’t Judge a Book 3) Gretta / Put On Some Love
The “Make Me Over Again” record label shows the writer as Roman Gorky. Ro from David Rowe, man from Dino Zimmerman, Gor from Larry Gordy, and ky (misspelled) key from Ellis Starkey.
Gretta was released one week when it was a “Newcomer Pick of the Week” in Cash Box, Billboard, and Record World, the week of March 25, 1972. The next week no one would play the song, seemed like someone was trying to kill it. In a couple of days Jerry Hawkins resigned as our producer and said that from now on we would have to go through Gene Kent at Paula. I called Gene and set up a meeting.
Gene Kent and I have never gotten along and things didn’t improve this time. There was a time he wanted to be our manager and wanted us to pay him 25%. We said No. I guess this is how he got us back. He said he would handle our selections of songs from now on. I reminded him that we had 1 more release according to our contract. He said OK, but I want you to pick out one of our music tracks of the Uniques and y’all decide on who you want to sing over the track. I said do you mean for one of us to sing over a music bed already recorded by the Uniques? He said that’s it exactly what I mean, like a smart ass. I told him we would not do that and to stick the “Biggest little record shop” up his ass! They sent us a release of contract by mail.
Meanwhile, we were making more money that we ever had. We went to the Orbit Lounge in Bossier City, playing 6 nights per week. In the contract, I stated that we could be off at the club as long as we had a replacement band. I booked the colleges and high schools. We stayed there 2 years and 2 months. When we played at the schools we told everyone to come out and see us whenever they came home. We had big crowds all around.
We played at Hawks Lounge in Shreveport, La. for 8 months. We held the attendance record there with 975 customers paying cover charge of $1.00 per person.
In 1973 we went to the Landmark Club in west Shreveport. We had the same type contract as with the Orbit but at twice the price. We played the Landmark through December 1974. We continued to book all of the best college and high school dances. We performed in Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Mississippi. After five strong years of playing almost every night the Rogue Show hung it up on New Year’s 1975.
Ellis Starkey, 2008
Update: I’m very sad to report that Ellis Starkey passed away on June 1, 2009.
The Rogue Show had a 45 prior to Ellis joining the band, “Look to Me” (Larry Jefferson) / “Little Lonely Summer Girl”. It seems to have been the last release on the N-Joy Records label. If anyone has sound clips of this record, please contact me.