Category Archives: Michigan

The Continentals and Tortoise Records

Continentals Tortoise 45 Rufus RastasThe Continentals cut two fratty originals, “Rufus Rastas” / “Donna” on Tortoise Records. I found a copy with an inscription on the “Rufus Rastas” label “First copy to Jim McKee, Oct. 12, 1965 … Joe Doll, President, Tortoise Records”.

I wrote to Mr. Doll and he while he didn’t recall Jim McKee, he replied,

I was president (and janitor, too!) of Tortoise Records. I began college at Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, Ohio in 1963, then transferred to U. of Michigan in Ann Arbor in 1966 to complete my Electrical Engineering degree.

I most likely met the Continentals when they were entertaining at one of the numerous fraternity/sorority parties in Delaware. Too bad, I have no recollection or documentation of the band members. I do remember the general parameters of the recording session with The Continentals, at the WSLN studios in Delaware, OH, north of Columbus. I also remember thinking at the time that their “Rufus Rastas” made a pretty good side. I don’t think we did a test pressing, so what you found was probably the top copy in the shipment from the pressing factory.

When it was over, they departed with their box of pressings and we had no further contact.

Tortoise Records was named for the very first band on the label, the Turtles, with their “Pungfoo Watusi” from 1964:

“Pungfoo Watusi” was the not-very-carefully-conceived B side of “Pungfoo”. It was the first record I produced.
“Pungfoo” originated with me and some fraternity brothers fooling around with a piano, sax, and drum set in the parlor of our fraternity house. We whimsically called ourselves Tuggy and the Turtles. The original title and lyric was “Fungu”. It was a made-up word, but someone thought that meant something bad in another language. One unreleased recording is “Fungu” recorded on cheap equipment in the fraternity house.
The record was taped at Fortune Studios in Detroit. I played piano, whistled, and hollered into some sort of trash can. Jim Guiness played saxophone. Our usual drummer, “Tuggy,” could not make it, so we picked up a drummer in Detroit. That’s why the group name is just The Turtles. A couple others assisted with clapping, which I believe we overdubbed. 

I had done some work for the [Fortune] studio the previous summer, and they allowed me to use it without charge. I didn’t do a lot of work there, just came in to help them adjust and maintain their equipment from time to time.
Frank Uhle, who took on the project to do a 50th Anniversary re-release of the Beau Biens record, at one time contemplated a vinyl album that would contain some unreleased material. I have about a half hour of covers recorded by the Mark V, a pretty good rock band that played fraternity/sorority parties at Ohio Wesleyan.  I recorded them in the WSLN studios, like the Continentals. There was an outfit called the Crystal Set Radio Band for whom I taped several tunes, originals I believe, in the WCBN studios. Ken Phillips, a U of M student, recorded with a small group a couple of tunes he had written and had them pressed as a demo record.

Joe Doll would become a DJ at WCBN at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where he would record the Aftermath and the Beau Biens on Malibu Records. For more info please look at Joe’s website.

Tortoise Records discography:

Tortoise T 64001 – Turtles “Pungfoo” / “Pungfoo Watusi” (both by Joe Doll)

Tortoise T-65001 – Continentals – “Rufus Rastas” / “Donna”

Tortoise T-66003 – Aftermath – “Messing With the Kid” / “Bury My Body” (Campbell, Connelly)

Malibu MB-67001 – Beaubiens (aka Beau Biens) – “Times Passed” (arr. by Salvo & Palazzolo) / “A Man Who’s Lost” (both by Kleene & Tapert, Linnoah Music BMI, produced by Joe Doll)

A special thank you to Joe Doll for his help answering my questions and allowing me to quote him.

Continentals Tortoise 45 Donna

The Smoke featuring Mark Sheldon

Smoke 45 Half Past The End

“Half Past the End” by the Smoke is hard-rocking and heavy on the keyboards, which I don’t usually like, but it has some lead guitar work that hooks me, and features a solid performance by the entire group.

The group included Mark Sheldon, who had played bass for the Mussies on their 1967 Fenton single, “12 O’Clock July” which is a great psychedelic take on Link Wray’s “Jack the Ripper” b/w one of the better versions of “Louie Go Home”.

Other members of the Mussies were Chic Ericksen (lead vocals), Paul Knapp or Paul Nabb (lead guitar), Tom Mann (rhythm guitar) and Bill Johnson (drums). I don’t know if any of them played on the Smoke single from late 1968.

The Mussies & the Smoke came out of South Haven, Michigan. Mark Sheldon wrote both songs on the Smoke single, “Half Past the End” and the flip, “My Mama”. Both published by Rise Music, Inc. BMI. Mark Edward Sheldon registered the copyright for “Half Past the End” with the Library of Congress in February 1969.

The Smoke single was produced by Sheldon-Pielert, the Pielert standing for Fred Pielert, the manager of the band with his wife, Gail Ostrow.

The ARP stamp in the deadwax indicates the American Record Pressing Co. in Owosso, MI, pressing number 1316.

I’ve seen promo and stock copies of this 45, and all seem to have stickers listing the band as the Smoke. Mark Sheldon’s name is underneath.

There’s not much info on the Smoke out there (or the Mussies for that matter). I gleaned a little from the Grand Rapids Rocks site.

Smoke 45 My Mama

The Rogues on Regan

Rogues Regan 45 Heavy MusicThe Rogues recorded two singles on Regan Records circa 1968-1969. They seem to be from Michigan, and the “Capital City Music” publishing on the one original song they recorded may refer to Lansing, but other than that I have no clue.

Their first 45 has good versions of Bob Seger’s “Heavy Music” b/w” a cover of “Born in Chicago”, released on Regan R-0021 with IRM #1039.

The second single has an original song, “Something Called Humanity”, written by Jantz (or Jants) and Gaik (or Galk) – I don’t have a copy so I can only guess at the names on a poor photo online. Publishing by Capital City Music BMI, released on Regan R-0022, with IRM-1067. This was the flip to a version of “Summertime”.

If anyone has a scan or sound clip of “Something Called Humanity” please contact me.

Steve Donahue produced both singles, the second has a credit to Don Kemp for engineering. I can’t find their names in connection to any other releases, nor can I find any other releases on this Regan Records label.

This copy of “Heavy Music” came from the collection of David Martin, with special thanks to his family.

Bed of Roses

Bed of Roses Deltron 45 HateThe Bed of Roses came out of the same Bay City, Michigan music scene as the Jayhawkers and Dick Rabbit. Like those artists, they recorded for Deltron Records.

In August, 1967, Deltron put out Bed of Roses’ first single, a cover of “I Don’t Believe You” (my copy has “ASCAP DYLAN” stamped on it) b/w a ragged raga-rock instrumental, “Hate” with no songwriting or production credits on the label.

Recently, Deltron’s parent company Delta Promotions came up for scrutiny in Daniel Ralston’s The True Story Of The Fake Zombies, The Strangest Con In Rock History, which I recommend highly, and if you like that you may also want to check out Mark Ramsey’s 2008 blog article, I Was a Teenage Fake Zombie .

Bed Of Roses Tea 45 I Gotta FightI’ve read that in late ’67 the band moved to San Francisco for a short time, returning to tape a second single in a room above a record shop. However, “tea Records” is a Fenton custom label, so the band likely recorded the songs at Fenton’s Great Lakes Recording Studio.

The four-minute long “Quiet!” (written by F. Dash) was backed with “I Gotta Fight” (by J. Light), that starts out with a menacing feel, but the shouting chorus brings it out of that mood.

The single came out on tea Records 2577 in February 1968. I can find no list of band members. Copyright records show a F. Dash as a pseudonym of Fredrick Dashkovitz, the writer of a song called “My Feeling” published in November, 1968, however I don’t know if this is the same F. Dash.

Bed of Roses Deltron 45 I Don't Believe You

The Barons of Grand Rapids

The Barons Jafes 45 Try a Love With MeThe Barons were one of the early garage bands in Grand Rapids, Michigan. They released their single on a custom Fenton label, Jafes 985, in August 1965.

My copy is signed by Dick Gates, Dave Marquette and Brandon Scott. Dave Marquette wrote the A-side, “Try A Love With Me”. Dick Gates wrote the uptempo “Don’t Come Back No More”. Marquette and Gates seem to have been stage names for Dave Rutkowski and Dick Steimle.

The West Michigan Music Hysterical Society lists a couple different names as members:

Dick Gates (Dick Steimle) – guitar
Dave Marquette (Dave Rutkowski) – vocals, guitar, keyboards
Bill McNamara – bass
Steve Carpenter (Mandrill Fern) – drums

The Barons Jafes 45 Don't Come Back No MoreSince that site doesn’t list Brandon Scott, I’m not sure if he was a drummer or bassist at the time of the single, or if he was even in the Barons.

The two sides of the single sound like they were recorded at different sessions, with the bass easy to hear on “Try a Love With Me” and fainter on the flip. Dick Steimle plays some fast and tricky guitar work with a dry tone on “Don’t Come Back No More”.

The record seems to have come early in their career, and they changed from a trio to quartet at some point. Their record label came from the nickname of their manager, Jim “Jafes” Kemp.

Dave Rutkowski would join the Pedestrians in 1967, in time to record their third Fenton single, “The Unpredictable Miss Kinsey” / ” You Aren’t Going To Say You Know”. Jim Kemp managed the Pedestrians as well as the Barons.

Dick Steimli would leave the Barons to join the Soulbenders, best known for their versions of “Hey Joe” and “Seven and Seven Is”.

The Deltrons

The Deltrons Deltron 45 TonyaThe Deltrons recorded in Sebewaing, Michigan a town about halfway between Bad Axe, the town of the A-side title, and Bay City, the location of the Deltron label and Delta Promotions.

Members were:

Dan Richards – vocals and lead guitar
Bob Power – guitar
Craig Young – bass
Greg Young – drums

The Deltrons Deltron 45 I Found My Baby In Bad AxeWhen I covered the Jayhawkers and Deltron Records, I didn’t believe this single was related to the Bay City Deltron label. The label design is different, and this one is a Chicago pressing by Stereo Sound from April of 1966. But Max Waller found this comment that Daniel Richards wrote on youtube:

It was Craig Young (bass), Bob Power (guitar), Dan Richards, and Greg Young (drums) recorded in Sebewaing, MI in January of 1966 at a cold warehouse. Dan (me) did the singing and lead guitar. Chet Hey wanted it recorded again after Arthur Godfrey sang it on his TV show in the 50s. He wanted a more modern version and we were just 16 to 18 years old at the time and still in high school.

Chet Hay and Ted Shunk wrote “I Found My Baby in Bad Axe” in 1949. “Bad Axe sounds like a funny name, it’s a durn good city just the same” go the lyrics. I wonder what he thought of the Deltrons version of his song!

The B-side “Tonya”, written by Dan Richards and Greg Young is wild, and has this for a chorus: “her name is Tonya, she’s really cool / the day I win her, I’ll blow up the school”!

Anyone have a photo of the group?

The Jayhawkers and the Deltron label of Bay City

The Jayhawkers Delta Promotions Bay City Photo

The Jay Hawkers came out of Bay City, Michigan and were led by Jay Walker, who was later a DJ on WKNX (1210 AM) in Saginaw, Michigan and WGRD, eventually changing his name as Sonny Fox.

Discographies tend to list the Jayhawkers as the backing band for a single by Dwight Douglas and the Jayhawkers on Astra 3008 – “Interstate ’45′” (L. Drake, J. Stokes) / “Mr. Big” (Lenny Drake). This is a pseudonym for Lenny & the Thundertones, who were based out of Detroit. Certainly the songs were cut several years prior to the Deltron records, so I have to believe this is a different band.

I’ve sometimes seen them listed as a Grand Rapids band, but the promo photo above comes from Delta Promotions in Bay City, which also (I believe) ran Deltron records label. Bill Kehoe and Jim Atherton owned Delta Promotions, which managed Question Mark and the Mysterians, and was the company that created several fraudulent bands to tour the US, including a bogus Zombies featuring two future members of ZZ Top and a made-up Archies group that led to a devastating lawsuit from Don Kirshner.

Jayhawkers Deltron 45 Dawn of InstructionDeltron 21 (1227) – The Jayhawkers – “Dawn Of Instruction” (Trusdale Music, BMI) / “Searchin'”

As I wrote in an article about certain topical songs of the mid-60s, the Jayhawkers’ “Dawn of Instruction” is a straightforward inversion of P.F. Sloan’s “Eve of Destruction”. With over-the-top lyrics like “even the Jordan River has bodies floatin’ … my blood’s so mad feels like coagulatin”, “Eve of Destruction” was an easy target. The Jayhawkers made the most of the hyperbole in their answer song, singing lines like “step aside, Mister Doom Peddler” and “[we’re] not old enough to vote, but ain’t young enough for runnin”.

The Jayhawkers version came out in October 1965, just a month after Barry McGuire’s recording hit #1 in Billboard. Interestingly there’s no song writing credit for this side, only Trusdale Music publishing, which, as Max Waller pointed out, is probably a dig at “Eve of Destruction” publisher Trousdale.

The Jay Hawkers Deltron 45 To Have A Love (As Sweet As You) Deltron 1228 – The Jay Hawkers – “To Have A Love (As Sweet As You)” (T. Saputo, B. Kirener) / “Send Her Back” (Walker, Huntleigh)

Their second single came out in April, 1966, this time Jay Hawkers listed as two separate words. Both sides show a very different side to the band, and for me this is the best of their singles. “To Have A Love (As Sweet As You)” is catchy and very commercial. The song seems to be original to the band, though I don’t think the writers were members of the group.

The Jay Hawkers Deltron 45 Send Her Back “Send Her Back” is a slow and very affecting ballad. It may be the only song they recorded that was written by people in the band, namely Walker and Huntleigh.

The Jay Hawkers continued with two more singles, all cover songs in different styles:

Lucky Eleven 232 – “Come On (Children)” / “A Certain Girl” (produced by “Terry Nnight” aka Terry Knight, October 1966)

Lyke Til 4147 – “Love Have Mercy” / “Baby Blue” (Produced by Jay Walker, June, 1967)

The Deltron label

I can find three, maybe four, additional releases on this Deltron label out of Bay City:

Deltron 812 – The One Way Pedestrians – “I’d Like to Say (I Love You)” (Rod Clowthier) / “Hey Miss Sally” (I haven’t heard either side yet)
Deltron 813 – The Bed of Roses – “Hate” / “I Don’t Believe You” (August 1967)

Deltron AR895 – Dick Rabbit “Take Me to L.A.” / “You Come on Like a Train” (both by The Thayber Brothers, produced by James Atherton, Package Music BMI)

Dick Rabbit also had “Love” (Phil Gordon, Rich Thayer) / “Trip” (Donavan) on Great Lakes GL-103, both published by Rabbit Music Co.

See my follow-up post for more detail on the Bed of Roses.

Deltron SS-6518 – The Deltrons (Craig, Bob, Dan, Greg) – “I Found My Baby in Bad Axe” / “Tonya” (Dan Richards, Greg Young) from April 1966

The Deltrons single is crude and great garage single on “Tonya”. I doubted it was related to the Deltron label from Bay City but the group recorded in nearby Sebewaing, so it likely is. I cover the Deltrons in more depth here.

Photo at top from the West Michigan Music Hysterical Society.

The Jammers

The Jammers Dearborn 45 You're Gonna Love Me TooLike other groups on Dearborn Records or with Chetkay Music publishing, I can’t find much info on the Jammers. Jack Groendal and Gerry Snyder wrote both sides and were likely members of the group.

The keyboard and lead guitar blend to make a good hook for the peppy “You’re Gonna Love Me Too”. “I Didn’t Mean To Make You Cry” works well as a ballad.

The songs were released on Dearborn D-519, published by Chetkay Music BMI in July, 1965.

I wonder if Jack Groendal is any relation to Zocko Groendal who played with the Lansing, MI band the Woolies, famous for their version of “Who Do You Love” on Dunhill.The Jammers Dearborn 45 I Didn't Mean To Make You Cry