Category Archives: Missouri

The Specters of Kirksville

Specters photo

Specters photo Randy Grissom on bass
Randy Grissom on bass

Specters photo Charlie Harrington on drums
Charlie Harrington on drums
Barry Elam sent in the photos of his band the Specters, and wrote the following about the group:

The Specters from Kirksville, Missouri were active from 1967-1972. They were a popular band in Northeast Missouri and played many area dances, fraternity parties at Truman State University, and private events. The band’s material covered originals as well as top hits of the day.

Band members were Randy Crowder on vocals and guitar, Barry Elam guitar, Randy Grissom bass and vocals, and Charlie Harrington, drums.

The Specters did not release any records but we were friends with another local band that did, Friar Tuck and The Merry Men. My original guitar teacher was Bud Porter who was the lead guitarist for Friar Tuck. They had a regional hit called “Peanut Butter” on Sherwood Forest Records, released in 1966.

The photos were taken in 1968 and 1969.

Specters Guitarist

Specters On Stage

The Statics

Statics JB Leeander 45 Again and AgainThe Statics are an obscure band from the St. Louis, Missouri area. In the spring of 1968 they cut their only single. “Again and Again” veers from a slow start to a hurried pace and back again, with some very gloomy organ playing and frantic drumming.

The Library of Congress catalog shows it was copyrighted in April, 1968 as simply “Again”, featuring words by Lanny McCormick and music by Bob Gleitze, who seems to have signed my copy of the 45.

Statics JB Leeander 45 I Can't Hold It Back
The designated A-side was “I Can’t Hold It Back”, a sedate ballad also written by McCormick and Gleitze, but this side suffers from a constant high-pitched sound throughout the song.

Produced by Albert Gleitze, and with a credit to Leeander Productions at 2335 Weaton in the Hanley Hills section of St. Louis, a little north of Washington University. Seems to be the only release on the JB Leeander label.

The band had one further copyright for a song called “You Didn’t Believe Me”, again by McCormick and Gleitze, and submitted by Mark Schieferle in November 1968.

The Happy Return

Happy Return Stack 45 Longed ForThe Happy Return came from St. Louis, Missouri, releasing two very different 45s in the space of a couple years.

Members at the time of the Cadet single were:

Steve Noack – vocals, lead guitar
Tom Noack – rhythm guitar
Jim Cunningham – organ
Jimmy Albright – bass
Rich Carrell – drums

In November 1967 the Happy Return released a very good Steve Noack original in the Beatles style, “Longed For”, backed with another original “Maybe”, and issued Steve’s own Stack Records TS-XM510. The publisher, Country Stream Music BMI mainly handled country and gospel songs.

Steve Lee RSSP 45 She's Afraid To AnswerIn July of 1968 Steve Noack had a light pop single as Steve Lee on the R.S.S.P. Inc label featuring his original “She’s Afraid to Answer” as the b-side to “Baby” (by G. Tomsco, B. Tomsco).

Missouri Music BMI published “She’s Afraid to Answer”. Missouri Music’s biggest copyrights seem to be on the Norman label, including “Rockin’ Little Egypt” by the Egyptian Combo and “Jerkin’ Time” by Bob Kuban with vocalist Little Walter.

The Happy Return next appear in June 1969 on the Cadet label with a great double-sided single featuring two more Steve Noack originals with great production by Norman Petty at his Clovis, NM studio. The plug side at the time was “I Thought I Loved Her”, a gentle ballad with keyboards making harpsichord and flute sounds. The Library of Congress registration for “I Thought I Loved Her” in April 1969 shows words by Rich Carrell and music by Steve Noack.

Happy Return Cadet 45 To Give Your Lovin'The flip is the very different and hard-rockin’ “To Give Your Lovin’”, full of crunching guitar and heavy drumming. Both songs list Steve Noack as writer and Heavy Music, Friedman-Collins Music BMI as publisher.

“I Thought I Loved Her” showed up as a “hitbound sound” in a weekly chart of Saint Charles, Missouri’s KIRL 1460 AM that August, but otherwise seems to have missed all radio charts despite being on Cadet. The band broke up the following year.

On the Cadet labels, the band’s manager Stan Friedman is listed as producer of the single. He was a booking agent in St. Louis with a University City address.

Info from Alec Palao’s notes to Get Ready to Fly: Pop-Psych from the Norman Petty Vaults on Big Beat Records, which also have two small photos of the group.

Happy Return Stack 45 Maybe

Tonky Tomson, David & the Boys-Next-Door, and Skipper Records

Tonky Tomson Skipper 45 On My WaySkipper Records came from Springfield, Missouri and released at least eight singles in 1965-1966 before folding. It was a creation of Si Siman, a promoter, manager and part-owner (along with Ralph Foster and John B. Mahaffey) of Earl Barton Music, Inc., which published most of the songs featured on the Skipper label.

Everything I’ve heard on the label is snappy and well-produced. Half are upbeat country but there are two rock singles and a couple r&b. The releases by Tonky Tomson and David & the Boys-Next-Door are notable for featuring the earliest work of two men who would go on to have huge successes in the music industry.

Siman Launches Skipper Label Billboard, October 2, 1965
Skipper Records announced, October 2, 1965

Tonky Tomson seems to be a pseudonym for Wayne Thompson, who wrote both “On My Way” and “I’ve Been in Love”, and probably sings on this single from October, 1965. I’d say he was listening to a lot of Hollies at the time. I wonder who was the lead guitarist on these tracks, as he did excellent work, with the country tinge that the Beatles and other groups were starting to reach for.

Wayne Carson Thompson is much better known as Wayne Carson, who would write “The Letter” a couple years after his time at Skipper and go on to write many other hits. Wayne Carson died on July 20, 2015.

David And The Boys-Next-Door Skipper 45 Land O' LoveWayne Thompson also wrote the A-side of David and the Boys-Next-Door catchy party song “Land O’ Love”, and co-write “If I Was King” with David Kershenbaum, the leader of the group.

In 1967 David and the Boys Next Door released a second single on Del-Ray Records of Poplar Bluff, MO, “It Ain’t No Use” / “Spring Fever”, both originals by David Kershenbaum published by Earl Barton. I’ve heard the A-side and it’s good pop, with a nice guitar hook. David Kershenbaum had a solo single on Capitol Records in 1968, “White Velvet Cat” / “Forbidden”, both written by Bobby Lile. Kershenbaum would go on to a successful career as a producer starting in the 1970s.

Steve Sanders would sing “Land of Love” for a single on MGM 13475, a single I haven’t heard yet.

David And The Boys-Next-Door Skipper 45 If I Was King

Skipper Records discography (probably incomplete – any help with this would be appreciated)

Labels for Skipper are gold with black print with the exception of the Clint Harrison 45. Some list Radio TV Bldg, Springfield, MO as the address, and the 828 prefix on these indicates their account with RCA custom pressings.

Skipper 828R-0773/4 – Lewie & the 7 Days – “Night Train” / “What You Never Had”

Skipper 828R-1240 – David and the Boys-Next-Door – “Land O’ Love” (Wayne Thompson)/ “If I Was King” (Kershenbaum & Wayne Thompson) (SK4M-1240/1)

Skipper 828S-1241 – Truman-Lankford – “Arkansas Man” / “Here-Comes-Heaven-Again” (both by Truman Lankford, Jim James, Prod. M.A. Box)

Skipper 828R-1408/9 – Tonky Tomson – “On My Way” / “I’ve Been in Love” (both Wayne Thompson, SK4M-1408)

Skipper 828R-2735 – Wavie Self – “Kentucky” (Prichard) / “These Words” (SK4M-2736)

Skipper 828R-5695 – Lewie & the 7 Days – “You’ve Been Cheatin on Me” (L. Taylor) / “You’re the Reason” (T4KM-5695)

Skipper 828R-6255 Clint Harrison – “Record in My Album” (Eppright) / “Thirteen to Nineteen” (T4KM-6255, red label)

Skipper 828R-7917 – Don Clements w. Anita Kerr Group vocal background – “Made in the U.S.A.” (Ronnie Self) / “My Conscience Knows” (S4KM-7917)

Tonky Tomson Skipper 45 I've Been in Love

Bobby & the Denos

Bobby & The Denos, Arkansas, 1961
Bobby & The Denos at a country club gig in Arkansas, 1961.
Left to right: George Lynn, Billy Wilfong, Billy Jack “Bobby” Rogers, Gary Stamps, Roy Rogers, Toney Thompson

Jeffrey Harvey interviewed Roy Rogers of Bobby and the Denos and wrote this article on the group. Roy has a fantastic collection of photos which he kindly shared with Garage Hangover.

Bobby & The Denos were a Fort Smith, Arkansas based group that released just one 45 on Fayetteville’s Chance label in their five-plus years together.

Bobby & the Denos Chance 45 Just Like Me“Just Like Me” is a super-tough outsider anthem penned by Billy Jack “Bobby” Rogers, lead singer of the group, and features lyrics such as:

I don’t want to be like Elvis Presley
I don’t want to be like Jerry Lee
I don’t want to be like Ricky Nelson
Oh baby, I just want to be like me!

The flip is a solid take on Peggy Lee’s version of “Fever” that the boys didn’t even know how to play until they got to their recording session at Gene Sullivan’s studio outside of Oklahoma City.

I was able to track down Denos guitarist Roy Rogers (birth name), and speak with him about the band’s history.

GH: Can you tell me how the band was formed?

Roy Rogers, age 12 with custom lap steel guitar
Roy Rogers, age 12 with custom lap steel guitar

RR: Well, I started playing lap steel guitar when I was 11 years old. After a couple years, a piano player (Tony) showed up at the music school where I took lessons. He had perfect pitch and total recall, and after a while the music school told his parents “Don’t bring him back, cause we can’t teach him anything he doesn’t already know!” We were 14 and 15 years old by then, and Elvis was jumping around and wiggling, and the girls were screaming, and I went; “Holy Hell, I gotta do that!” So I dug out an old Kay guitar my dad had in the closet and started asking around and learning chords. Well, pretty soon Tony and I were at a party, and we met a bunch of boys older than us who played. A few days later some of those boys came by my house to jam.

GH: What year would that have been?

RR: Probably ’58 or ’59. We just all started jamming out together and calling ourselves “The Satellites.” We added a bass player (George), drummer (Gary), and sax man (Billy), to round out the sound. Gary was our age and in the high-school jazz band, so he could really play the drums. We continued on until probably 1960, when we changed our name to “Bobby & The D-Notes.”

GH: What prompted the name change?

RR: Our original lead singer Gordon Jennings quit, and we had heard about this guy named Billy Jack Rogers – no kin to me – and we went out to the American Legion one night to listen to him sing. He was singing Elvis Presley’s “It’s Now Or Never” and he was just killing it! I was like “My God, you’re kidding me!” So we approached him on one of his breaks and told him that we needed a singer, and asked if he’d like to come over and jam with us. Well, he did, and he quit the other band real quick.

Bobby & the Denos: early 60’s promo photo
Bobby & the Denos: early 60’s promo photo

GH: How did the Denos name come to be?

RR: Well, just about six months after Billy Jack joined, someone told our sax man that “Denos” meant “well-liked” in Italian. I still don’t know if it’s true or not, but that’s the story we got from some guy, and it made for a pretty easy change!

GH: That is a great story! Where were you guys musically around this time?

RR: We were practicing all the time. I mean, we were playing so much that my damn fingers were bloody! We also started making real money playing dance halls and what not. My dad was an upholsterer who worked in a factory, and he kept telling me I was gonna be a bum if I didn’t learn how to upholster or something. By this time I was 15 or 16, and making more money in two nights than he was working a whole 40-hour week!

Bobby & the Denos: early 60’s promo photo
Bobby & the Denos: early 60’s promo photo

GH: What were your live shows like?

Choreographed live show at the 2500 Club in Kansas City, MO
At the 2500 Club in Kansas City, MO

RR: We did choreography and all that stuff like The Temptations. Our piano man Tony would jack up the upright piano back in the day on two Coke cases, and he would stand up, play one-handed, and do the steps with us. We also really liked what the black artists were wearing. Very snug tailored jackets and pegged pants. We loved our “Beatle Boots,” and started having our jackets made out of red, blue and green, brocade material with the James West waistcoat look. Remember the Wild, Wild West series on TV? Maybe you’re too young for that. We were very sharp dressed. We didn’t think too much about politics because we were into being the coolest cats in town. Music and women… Typical band boy stuff, you know?

GH: What comprised your live set list?

RR: We were playing about 50% – 60% R&B and blues numbers that were popular at the time.

Bobby & the Denos Chance 45 FeverGH: Tell us about the recording of “Fever” b/w “Just Like Me”

RR: “Fever” and “Just Like Me” were recorded in Oklahoma City around 1961 in Gene Sullivan’s recording studio. A guy named Phil Eagle out of Fayetteville, Arkansas owned a small label called Chance. He was also a booker, promoter, and manager, and he approached us about recording. We said “Of course!!!” and did some demos before heading down to Sullivan’s to cut the record for real. The record actually got played on the radio in Oklahoma City, Dallas, Little Rock, and Fort Smith for a while.

GH: What was the music scene like in Fayetteville around that time?

RR: Oh boy, there were all kinds of bands going on. Ronnie Hawkins was on the scene around that time. He ended up marrying a girl out of Canada and moving there. His group went on to be The Band. We played in and around Fayetteville lots back then. We were playing sorority and fraternity parties, and this beautiful, two-story club called the Rockwell Club that looked like it just grew up out of a mountain! It looked like it was made out of all native stone, and we would open for Ronnie in there sometimes.

GH: What else do you remember about recording in Oklahoma City?

with keyboardist Toney Thompson’s 1959 Chevy at a motel in Bossier City, LA
with keyboardist Toney Thompson’s 1959 Chevy at a motel in Bossier City, LA

RR: We were all 16 and 17 years old when we made that record. I remember we went down there, and realized that nobody in the band really knew the lyrics to “Fever.” We ended up going down to a drugstore and finding a Hit Parade magazine. Sure enough, the song “Fever” was in there, and that’s what we used to remember the lyrics! After that, we just went in the studio and did it. It was so dumb how we did it, but it was great!

GH: The lyrical content of “Just like Me” conjures up the image of an outsider essentially giving his girl an ultimatum that if she can’t take him for who he is, then don’t even bother. The anti-name dropping is also impressive for the time. Did you feel that you guys were making a social statement with that song?

RR: Right!!! That was it!!! When we played music, we did it our way. I didn’t learn the lead guitar parts exactly right for all the songs we covered or anything, we just jammed them out. I mean, of course we rehearsed them all and got it the way we wanted, but unless it had a really important lead part in it, Tony and I were, at that time, just good enough to play our own lead. We were playing a lot of black clubs back then too, and musically, we were kicking ass. Billy Jack (Bobby) was a lot older than most of the Denos, and he came to us and said “I wrote this song!” It was “Just Like Me” and it ended up perfectly fitting the way we played. We just did our own thing, you know?

Choreographed live show at the 2500 Club in Kansas City, MO
Choreographed live show at the 2500 Club in Kansas City, MO
with unidentified bar patron at 2500 Club in Kansas City, MO
with unidentified bar patron at 2500 Club in Kansas City, MO

GH: Tell us more about the kinds of clubs you guys played back then.

RR: One of our first jobs was in Kansas City in September of 1962. We were all around 17 years old (except for Billy Jack), and had graduated high school earlier that May. We decided we were going out on the road, so we just took off. I had an aunt in Kansas City and I called her. She obliged us, and we slept on cots down in her basement. We got there on a Sunday, went out banging on doors on Monday, and landed our most lucrative job at the 2500 Club on 2500 Truman Road.

GH: What was that scene like?

RR: Oh man, it was your typical “knife & gun club!” You know, one of those places where you gotta give them your license in exchange for a knife or gun to go inside! (laughs). The crazy thing is that we ended up playing there, off and on, for the next three years!

The Denos with 2500 club owner Lee Webb
The Denos with 2500 club owner Lee Webb

GH: Do any other clubs or acts that you shared a bill with at the time stand out in your mind?

RR: Well, we went down to Galveston, Texas – I think it was Pleasure Pier or somewhere – and just walked into a little club and told them we were good. There was a black band called Little Hot & The Volcanoes – or something like that – playing and Little Hot was a five-foot tall drummer who was a monster when he played. He would stand up and play the hell out of those drums! We worked there for a bit, and while we were down there, we got to open a show for Bobby “Blue” Bland out on the pier one night. We were just five white guys playing our damn hearts out, and they loved it!

GH: Wow!

RR: Yeah, and after that we headed over to New Orleans, to 426 Bourbon Street at a place called “The Dream Room,” which was later called “Your Father’s Mustache.” Well, The Champs – from “Tequila” fame – were playing there, and we had met them in Kansas City, and they told us to go up to The Peppermint Lounge in Shreveport because the owner – Mr. Mike – needed a band. We said “Hell yeah we’ll do it,” and it was actually in Bossier City, Louisiana. At the time back then, Bossier City looked like Vegas. It had more neon than you’ve seen anywhere! Dale Hawkins – from “Suzie-Q” fame – and his band were already playing there, so we just set up on the floor of the club and kicked his ass!!!

Bobby & The Denos with Conway Twitty & Band in Bossier City, LA
Bobby & The Denos with Conway Twitty & Band in Bossier City, LA
with keyboardist Toney Thompson’s 1959 Chevy at a motel in Bossier City, LA
with keyboardist Toney Thompson’s 1959 Chevy at a motel in Bossier City, LA

GH: That’s a great story! Who were your main musical influences at the time?

RR: Bo Diddley, Bobby “Blue” Bland, Freddie King, B.B. King, The Ventures, Duane Eddy, Ronnie Hawkins, and Lonnie Mack.

GH: When did Bobby & The Denos finally go their separate ways?

Marquee at The Peppermint Lounge in Bossier City, LA
Marquee at The Peppermint Lounge in Bossier City, LA

RR: Well, Billy Jack (Bobby) quit around 1964 after another run we had at The 2500 Club in Kansas City. We went back home and needed a singer. We found a guy named Jim White, who later changed his name to Jim Mundy. He went on to do commercials for Green Giant vegetables and some beer companies. He was married and only lasted a few weeks with the Denos. We were younger than him, and a lot wilder at the time. One night we were raising hell and Jim just said, “Boys, I can’t take this… I QUIT!!!” After that, we were still rehearsing at Tony’s house in Fort Smith and one day he said “I know all of Billy Jack’s (Bobby’s) songs. I said “Bullshit.” But man, he sang every damn song Billy Jack (Bobby) sang, and just as good too!!! We went back to The 2500 Club, and after the first week, had the place packed out. We were making $1200 a week at the height of our run, and they had to lock the doors on Friday and Saturday nights and do a one-in/one-out type thing! After our run at 2500 was up, we went back home to Fort Smith. The day we arrived, I found a letter in the mailbox that said: “Uncle Sam Wants You.” I called around and found out I wasn’t the only one. Two other Denos got the same letter on the same day, and that’s when we knew it was over.

GH: So essentially, by the time you guys were really up and running as a band, really hitting your musical stride, that’s the time the war put an end to things?

RR: Yeah, that’s right. We had picked up an agent – The Jackson Agency in Kansas City – and they were booking us around. The war ended all that, and we all went our separate ways.

Bobby & The Denos as a four piece in 1962
Bobby & The Denos as a four piece in 1962

GH: What happened after Bobby & The Denos broke up?

RR: Well for one thing, I got married. This was around 1965 and I had been dating a girl for about a year. I also ended up flunking my physical for Uncle Sam. I had double-curvature of the spine, and they said “Get your ass out of here!”

GH: Did your music career end there too?

RR: Well, no. When everybody quit Bobby & the Denos, I just kind of took over. I had always done the majority of talking to the club owners and such, so when everybody left; I started up Roy Rogers & The Denos. I recruited some guys to play, and we continued traveling around. That lasted until about 1966 when my daughter was born. After that I joined a group out of Louisville, Kentucky called The Imitations. Can you believe that in early 1970 we toured the Far East? We were in Japan, Korea, Thailand, Okinawa, The Philippines, and Vietnam for six months. Dumbass me gets recruited for the Army, and ends up going over there anyway as a civilian without a gun! At some point The Imitations turned into Roy Rogers & The Internationally Famous Imitations, and that lasted until 1979.

GH: Are there any last words or memories you’d like to share about your time with the band?

RR: I’ve probably had one of the best lives of anyone you’ve ever met. I feel that we grew up in the best of times ever in the history of the United States – the late ‘50’s and early ‘60’s. When I got into music, it changed my life. All I ever wanted to do was play music, and whenever we got on the road I was just free, man. You know? We were five Arkansas hillbillies, and we would go into black clubs, play with the bands, and be welcomed. We could go wherever we wanted, and be accepted. It was just a great time to be alive. 1958 – 1965 were the best days of my life.

Bobby & the Denos: early 60’s promo photo
Bobby & the Denos: early 60’s promo photo
Bobby & the Denos: early 60’s promo photo
Bobby & the Denos: early 60’s promo photo

The Sounds, Ltd. featuring Phil Jackson

Sounds, Ltd. Peak 45 Slimy Sue“Slimy Sue” by the Sounds, Ltd. featuring Phil Jackson is the kind of odd, non-commercial record of the ’60s garage era that I love.

These lyrics are bizarre, with plenty of humor in the masochism of the second and third verses.

I got me a woman, buddy, she’s got purple hair
Ain’t no other woman, buddy, that can compare, that can compare
To my girl, true blue, back alley Sue
Slimy Sue, yeah, well alright now

When I want some lovin,’ buddy, Sue knows what to do
She can kiss so gently, buddy, turns me black and blue
My girl, true blue, back alley Sue
Slimy Sue, yeah, well alright now

Hit it [guitar break]

When I get in trouble, buddy, with someone tough like you
Me, I never worry, buddy, I call on Sue, I call on Sue
My girl, black belt, weight lifting, Sue
Slimy Sue, yeah, well alright now

Philip W. Jackson wrote this song as well as the flip, “Fly Away”, for Cookie Crumb Music, BMI.

The Sounds, Ltd. recorded at Midwestern Recording Studios at 3140 The Paseo, Kansas City, Missouri. The studio’s own Peak label released the single on P-108 in October 1966. I’d like to know more about the band, who maintain a rough but great sound throughout “Slimy Sue”.

The band was from St. Joseph, Missouri, about 45 miles north of Kansas City. “Fly Away” was the ostensible A-side at the time, a kind of folky almost hippie-sounding song featuring lead vocalist Kathy Helmick.

Midwestern Recorders operated a studio since at least 1952 if not earlier, originally releasing records on the Central label. I assume other garage bands must have used Midwestern but haven’t found evidence of that yet.

Sounds, Ltd. Peak 45 Fly Away

The Cholos

Cholos Farad 45 Last LaughThe Cholos put out their classic “Last Laugh” on the Farad label in May, 1966. The band was from Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, a rural area along I-44 between Springfield and St. Louis, MO.

Don Longfellow and D.J. Bohn wrote “Last Laugh” for Briebert Music, BMI, while Pete Starr and D.J. Bohn wrote the instrumental, “Whistling Surfer”.

I haven’t been able to find any other info about the band or a photo of the group. Their band name is a strange one, even for the ’60s. Their label name is also unusual and I can’t connect it to any other release.

This was considered a very rare 45 until at least 20 unplayed copies turned up in late 2014.

Cholos Farad 45 Whistling Surfer

Tulsa to Memphis: Lonnie Lee & the Big Beats, The Shadow Lake 8, and the Jades

Lonnie Lee and the Big Beats, circa late 1960
from left: Dale Roark (bass), Lonnie Lee Edens (guitar), Jerry Woods (drums), and Archie Barnes (guitar)
“I had just turned 17 when this picture was taken. I believe Archie was 14!
It was taken at the Starlite club in Bartlesville, Oklahoma.” – Dale Roark

Dale Roark of the Escapades sent these songs and recollections of his start in music in the town of Bartlesville, forty miles north of Tulsa:

These recordings chronicle three musicians from Bartlesville, Oklahoma from 1961 until 1966.

The area around Tulsa in the late 50’s and early 60’s was a hotbed of musicians. David Gates (later ‘Bread’), Johnny Cale (later J.J. Cale), Tommy Crook (local guitar legend that stayed put), Leon Russell plus traveling Arkansas bands such a Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks (later ‘The Band’), Charlie Daniels and the Jaguars (yes, that Charlie Daniels), and the McClellan brothers (The Five Emcees) out of Okmulgee, Oklahoma, all put their mark on the local music community. The Paradise Club in particular was a venue where musicians would casually approach the bandstand with “hey man, can I sit in?”. It was always fun but occasionally Tommy Crook, Roy Clark, or some of the other professionals would just blow you away. Any musician could request and it was understood that you would let them. It was competitive but also an inspiration.

Dale Roark (bass), Archie Barnes (guitar), and Denny “Zoot” Freeman (drums) formed a group called The Ravens in late 1959 and played local YMCA and high-school gigs for about a year. I was a high school junior. Archie and Denny were both in the 8th grade. A year later we joined up with Lonnie Lee Edens and formed Lonnie Lee and the Big Beats. We played the local night-clubs and did pretty well for a bunch of high schoolers.

During my senior year Dale Smith, my high school choir director, approached the group about backing him up on an original song he had written. As you will see, he had a beautiful Perry Como-type voice. He rented time a Tulsa TV station studio and me, Archie, and Denny plus Richie Dickerson (9th grade – piano) backed him up. When you listen to Archie’s solos, keep in mind that he was in the 9th grade! Let’s Fall In Love (Mr. Smith’s original) and Canadian Sunset Twist were the result.

I went off to Oklahoma State University and wasn’t active in music my freshman year but right before the end of the winter semester I was approached by Kent Washburn to join the “Shadow Lake 8” for the summer gig in Noel, Missouri. The band had been a staple at OSU for years with graduating members being replaced by new, younger talent. They also needed a guitarist so I introduced him to Archie and his mother agreed to let the young sixteen year old join the band. The drummer quit the first week there and Denny was contacted and drove out the next day.

The band at that point consisted of:

Kent Washburn – Tenor Sax and Band Leader
Amos Ming – Alto and Baritone Sax plus flute
Terry Mead – Trumpet and Valve Trombone
Bing Vasser – Trumpet
Bill Schooler – Piano
Archie Barnes – Guitar
Denny Freeman – Drums
Dale Roark – Electric Bass

During the winter of 1963, Kent’s younger brother, Gary, replaced the piano player with his brand new Hammond B-3 organ and the dynamics of the group started to change. A demo tape was made at the Tulsa University ballroom. Single mike, no mixing, direct to tape and later cut as a demo. It is 45 years old and has a lot of pops and scratches so I only included a couple of snippets to help contrast with later recordings.The last 30 seconds of “Splankie” show Denny’s mastery of big band jazz. The last two minutes of “From the Heart” (a Ray Charles number from his “Genius Plus Soul = Jazz” album) show off Archie and Denny’s 10th grade musician skills. Denny was a huge jazz fan and his talents are present in his kicks and comping abilities. Archie shows a sophistication that few rock and roll musicians could conceive at such a young age. It also allows comparison between Gary’s “All Skate” tone to the later recordings as he finally mastered the tone controls of his B-3. He was also in high-school at the time.

That next summer we played at Rockaway Beach, Missouri. It is a resort town of about a hundred people just a few miles from Branson. It predated the Branson we know now and was the “in” place for college kids from Kansas City, Springfield, Memphis, Saint Louis etc. to go. The club was huge by that day’s standard and probably held a couple of thousand people. The group tightened up quite a bit but I quit the following fall for personal reasons. I was replaced by Bill Hieronymus and the following summer they toured the Florida night club circuit as “The Jades”.

“South Parkway” / “Power” on Em-Kay – [this repeats Dale’s comment, below]:

The Shadow Lake 8 – South Parkway
The Shadow Lake 8 – Power

I believe it is the only released record the Shadow Lake 8 / Jades ever cut. These two sides were made after I left the band. “South Parkway” was a major street in Tulsa at the time so that’s what they called the first cut. I am pretty sure that was Amos speaking “g’wan to South Parkway” at the start and Archie counting then Kent speaking on “Power”.

Kent gave me a copy and I took it into Stax records and played it for Steve Cropper the very week I moved to Memphis but Steve wasn’t interested in either the record or the group because of their own in-house musicians. I lost my copy somewhere between Memphis and a half dozen other places over the past 45 years.

I don’t hear any trumpets so I guess it is:

Kent – Tenor Sax
Amos – up front and center on Baritone Sax
Gary – Organ and Piano
Archie – Guitar
Bill – Bass
Zoot (Denny) – Drums

Maybe one of the guys can acknowledge or correct me. Archie’s solos are typical of Tulsa area guitarists at that time . . . speed, speed, speed . . . It wasn’t the most melodic but the dancers loved it!

Both songs by M. Kent Washburn. Rite Pressing #12877/12878 which dates it to 1964.
The band pretty much stayed together for several more years. I had moved to Memphis and was the leader of a group called The Escapades. We were under contract with Sun records and Kent contacted me during the summer of 1966 about cutting a record at Sun. The following four Jades tunes were the result:

Rainbow Riot – A Bill Doggett tune the band used as their theme song
High Heel Sneakers – Kent and Archie doing the vocals
I Got a Woman – Gary Washburn rockin’ on his B-3 including the bass pedals
Come and Take Me Baby – An original with Archie Barnes vocal and local Memphis back up singers

Bing Vasser had left the band prior to this but the rest of the musicians were together. I substituted on bass for Bill who couldn’t make the session. The group stayed together a little while longer but then went their separate ways. To the best of my recollection, with some help from Bing Vasser:

Amos Ming– became an accountant in Nashville with Brenda Lee as one of his clientsKent Washburn – moved to the West Coast and became a Christian Record Producer

Gary Washburn – became a music professor at the University of Hawaii

Bing Vasser – obtained a Masters degree in music from Tulsa University and taught music in Idaho Falls, Idaho. He then returned to Tulsa University to graduate with a Masters degree in mathematics and music computation. His computer music programs were used to produce synthesized music in one of the early computer music conferences held in Tulsa featuring Aaron Copeland.

Dale Roark – formed The Escapades in Memphis, was drafted into the Army, then earned a degree in Computer Science and had a 30 year high-tech career. He now lives in Eagle Mountain, Utah within 1 mile of his 4 children and 6 grandchildren.

Terry Mead – joined Brenda Lee’s back-up band then moved to Nashville for a successful music career. He played on the live TV show “Nashville Now” for several years until ill health caused his retirement. Terry died May 13, 2007.

Archie Barnes – joined Brenda Lee’s back-up band then moved to Toronto

Denny (Zoot) Freeman – joined Brenda Lee’s back-up band then moved to California. He passed away in 2000.

Bill Hieronymus – went back to school and earned a degree in geophysics from the University of Houston. He became a consultant with several major oil companies and was well respected for his analytical expertise. He was also cited by Downbeat Magazine as one of the premier jazz bass players in America. He died on Thanksgiving day, 2008.

Dale Roark, April 2009 (Original Text)
Bing Vasser, (Update and corrections)

Dale and Ken Washburn have created their own website for the Shadow Lake 8 at with more information and photographs.