Steve Hill sent in the cool photos and news clippings about the Tierdrops, a fellow band to the Devil’s Own, and one of several groups from Portsmouth, New Hampshire in the mid-60s. Steve gives info on the band:
The Tierdrops were a Portsmouth top 40 rock band. We were the house band for the EM club at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and frequently played at the Pine Grove Pavillion as well as the PAL club in Lewiston, ME and the PAL club in Rockland, ME.
Joey Wilbur – lead singer Rick Shelton – lead guitar George “Spike” Browning – organ Steve Hill – bass guitar Wendell “Pete” Peterson – drummer
“Spike” Browning managed the Devil’s Own and us. Joey played guitar with the Devil’s Own and later became our lead singer and Spike wanted to play so he came to us and became our organist. We did not record a record. Spike did record us on many occasions with his Akai reel to reel, however, the tapes are lost.
We had tried out to become a “surf” band along with bands such as the Rockin’ Ramrods, the Pilgrims, the Techniques, and several others and were accepted, however, I was drafted before we had our first gig as a surf band.
Thank you for keeping the bands of that era alive.
While searching for articles on the Devil’s Own, I came across news clips about other bands from the Portsmouth, New Hampshire area in the mid-60s.
The Spectras seem to have been a successful band. Over two nights at the Hampton Beach Casino in August 1966 they opened for Gary Lewis & the Playboys, the Tidal Waves, Teddy and the Pandas. At other shows, the Spectras opened for the McCoys, Gary Pickett & the Union Gap, the Doors, Gene Pitney, the Easybeats, the Happenings, Buckinghams, Music Explosion and Fifth Estate. That’s an amazing list of ’60s bands!
A Portsmouth Battle of the Bands in November, 1966 featured three bands I don’t see mention of again, The Orphan, Country Gentlemen, and the Shades of Difference.
Also in December 1967 there was a Jaycees Battle of the Bands at Portsmouth High School featuring the Collections, the Assassins, the Coachmen, the Nameless, the Elements of Sound, the Roulettes, the Wonders and the Disinherited Sunns.
The Tierdrops shared their manager with the Devil’s Own, one gig notice from December 1967 shows them at the Pine Grove Pavilion.
An article from March 1968 discusses a battle of the bands at Exeter High School featuring a number of bands.
from Exeter: The Wuz Five, The Back Street Windows, and The Plate of Garbage ! from the Hamptons: The Lords of Mourning from Portsmouth: The Coachmen, The Northern Lights from New Castle: The Wonders
The winner went on to the state finals in Manchester NH in April.
That state contest seems to have been won by The Elements of Sound, the only band I can find photos of in the Herald. The Elements of Sound began in 1965 at Portsmouth High School, adding a brass section in the fall of 1967.
Members included John Keenan (guitar), Ken Scarponi (lead vocalist), Dale Dockham (drums), David Schiefer (bass); front row: Dan Meehan and William Carder (trumpets), Charles George (guitar) and James Watt (trombone).
The Elements of Sound played in a national Battle of the Bands in Atlantic City in June of 1968 where they just missed the top ten acts.
The Devil’s Own came from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, or more precisely Greenland which lies just to the west. They cut a double-sided monster on Exit Records in late 1966, one side a version of “Hey Joe” with writing credit to Powers (Chester Powers, a pseudonym for Dino Valenti). The flip is an intense take on Willie Dixon’s “I Just Wanna Make Love”.
The single actually made the local radio charts. The ARSA site has a survey of WBBX 1380 AM from November 28, 1966 showing the Devil’s Own version of “Hey Joe” at number 16. The release number CO 1907 probably refers to Cook Laboratories, the eccentric studio run by Emory Cook in Stamford, CT.
I can’t tell you very much about the band. I haven’t learned their names yet, but I’ve found notices of their live shows starting in January 1966 and continuing through February 1968.
One news clip from the Herald shows the band’s manager, George A. Browning, taking ownership of a Shelby GT-500 and a Shelby Cobra. Browning was in his mid-twenties at the time and also managed the Tierdrops (who included Paul Murphy).
Browning’s name appears extensively in the Herald for speeding and drunk driving citations until about 1973. I wonder if the bands ever got to drive those Shelbys.
Advertisements show the Devil’s Own playing many school dances and a military teen center, and entering a battle of the bands with the Scorpions and Mongols from Kittery, the Ushers from York, the Agents from Eliot.
At the Skyline in Newington, NH, the Devil’s Own supported Little John & the Sherwoods (the Lowell, MA group who had the cool “Long Hair” / “Rag Baby” on the Fleetwood label) and co-headlined with the Spectras. They shared the stage with the Spectras again at the Pine Grove Pavilion in Portsmouth.