The Cavaliers, often listed as from Tennessee, were actually from Middletown, Ohio, a town roughly halfway between Dayton and Cincinnati.
Roger McIntosh – lead guitar Jim Wenzel – rhythm guitar Jim Brandon – organ Walter Johnson – bass Ted Lovelace – drums
Two of the band were students at Middletown High, one was a freshman at Miami University, while the Cavaliers’ drummer and rhythm guitarist were in Junior High!
The group won a battle of the bands at Fantasy Farm, a kids amusement park next to the larger Americana Amusement Park in Middletown, that led to their recording their single on Style.
The Cincinnati Enquirer profiled the band on the same day they were in a Memphis studio, Saturday, September 16, 1967:
“The boys are in Memphis, Tenn. today to cut their first record for Style Productions.”
“Turn Your Leaf” is excellent pop, I’ve only heard it on a youtube video which has since been taken down. If anyone has a good quality recording, please contact me.
I haven’t heard the flip, “W.F. 67” described by Teenbeat Mayhem as a “military tempo instro”. Roger McIntosh wrote both songs.
Style Record Productions was one of Style Wooten’s many labels, and Pretty Girl Music BMI was one of his publishing companies. Mellow’s Log Cabin has an interesting biography of Style Wooten, along with extensive discographies for his record labels.
The Cavaliers from Middletown do not sound quite like the group of that name from Washington Court House, Ohio, who cut “You Are My Sunshine” b/w “Unchained Melody” for the Sound label.
The Enquirer article mentioned a few groups also competing at Fantasy Farm:
“Other bands reaching the finals of the contest were The Endeavors of Forest Park, The Crickets from Hamilton, The Guardian Angels of Urbana, The Mice and the English Gentlemen, both from Dayton.”
I’m not aware of any recordings by those groups, though given the Memphis connection, it’s possible the Mice are the same group that recorded “Think It Over” / “Norweigan Wood” for Bootheel Records, part of Fernwood.
The Great Society were students at the University of Cincinnati, except Steve Sturgil who attended the University of Kentucky. The band’s lineup was:
Tilo Schiffer – lead singer Tom Wise – lead guitar Bill Bayer – piano and organ Steve Sturgil – bass Charlie Jung – drums
First mention I can find of them is from March 1967 at Granny’s and then at the Four Seasons’ Pirates Cove in July.
A letter to the Enquirer from fan Penny Phelps in June, 1967 mentions them playing at the Psychedelic Lollipop, Granny’s, Lakeridge Hall, Seven Hills Veterans Hall and the Round Table.
They released one single, first on the Dana Lynn label in June, 1967, then on Counterpart C-2613 in August. “She’s Got It On Her Mind” has a hypnotic keyboard sound, a great drum backing with accented beats, and a captivating vocal melody.
The flip “Second Day” is another tuneful winner, heavy on the echo like the A-side.
Lead singer Tilo Shiffer wrote both songs, published by Counterpart – Falls City Music, BMI.
A second letter from Penny in December notes that Bill Bayer and Tilo Schiffer both went into the Navy by the end of 1967, but that the three remaining members would try to continue.
In 1968 the Great Society played shows at the Coney Island water park and at LeSourdsville Lake with the Rapscallion Sircle.
The Dana Lynn label lists Ray Allen as engineer and reads “A Tom Dooley Production”, while the Counterpart lists Allen as producer.
Dana Lynn only released three singles that I know of, notably the Lemonpipers “Quiet Please” (70610), the Great Society (70611) and Tom Dooley “Talkin’ Bout Love” / “Stay By the Phone” (010).
Counterpart was also local to Cincinnati, but had greater distribution than Dana Lynn.
Cincinnati group the Blackwatch cut some demos but never released any records. Their name appears half a dozen times in the Enquirer’s pages in the summer of ’67, but unfortunately there was no feature on the band.
Johnny Schott – lead vocals Doug Hawley – guitar Rich McCauley – keyboards John Gilsinger – bass Jay Sheridan – drums
In June of ’67 the Blackwatch played at the Deer Park movie theater on shows with WSAI DJs Bob White and Tom Kennington. In the first week of July, 1967, they played for three evenings at a newly opened teen club, One Step Beyond.
The following week, One Step Beyond featured the Heywoods, Ivan & the Sabres and Salvation & His Army.
From a feature in the Enquirer on July 15, 1967:
They’re springing up like mushrooms – new teen clubs that is! The newest one in this area is “One Step Beyond” at 8532 Beechmont Ave. in Mt. Washington.
“The club features three separate rooms, The Twilight Zone (just for chatting), Our Generation Room (for dancing) and This Place (for eating). Refreshments are being served in This Place here by Pat Hess. Waiting in line are Mary Jo Rickard, Debbie Arnold, Rick Anthony and Bob Barney.
“One Step Beyond” is a joint effort of the young people of Anderson township and an adult group called CONCERN …. Shown playing is the band “Wanted.” The club is open Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays from 8 p.m. until midnight and dress is informal.
A week later, Jean Hess “Teen Board Member” for One Step Beyond wrote a letter to correct the caption, saying, “The great band that was pictured is the ‘Blackwatch,’ not ‘Wanted.’ The Blackwatch played four nights at the club and have gained a reputation of being one of the grooviest groups in Cincy!”
The third week of July the club featured the New Lime, then the Lemon Pipers!
I can’t find any mention of the Blackwatch after the summer of ’67. One Step Beyond lasted into 1968, including a show in February with Ivan & the Sabres, the Quaker Rebellion and Red Brale. Then it also disappeared, at least from the news.
The Fabulous Shantels came out of the Cincinnati and northern Kentucky music scene.
I can find notices of the Shantels playing live as early as September 5, 1964 at the Mabley & Carew fashion show with Bob Keith and Jim Martin of WCPO. In late November 1964 they appeared at screenings of Roustabout and other films at the Oakley drive-in on Madison Rd.
By November, 1965, they were playing at WSAI-sponsored dances, usually at the Withamsville-Tobasco Community Park Hall, with groups like with Gary & the Hornets, the Topics and the 2 of Clubs. On February 26, 1966, WSAI broadcast live a ‘Swing Thing’ from Shillito’s featuring DJ Dusty Rhodes and the Shantels.
A September 1966 letter to the Enquirer mentions a fan club for the Shantels headed by Darleen Nieporte of Cincinnati and Camille Canfield of South Ft. Mitchell, Kentucky. It also gives the band’s names and instruments:
Mike Dektas – organ Mike Mays – lead guitar Jay Cee Ecton – bass Terry Williams – drums
On November 12, 1966, the Enquirer profiled the band in its “Teen-Ager” section (see photo at top).
In late December 1966 the Enquirer published a letter from Sandye Utley and Peg Rouse that they were running their own fan club for the band and that the group had recorded “Remain Unknown”.
In January, 1967, Dusty Rhodes wrote a letter from Detroit, Michigan where he was working at CKLW:
I have had several letters about the Fabulous Shantels band, a group who I worked very closely with while I was in Cincinnati. The fellows were here in Detroit just after Thanksgiving to visit, play a dance and have a recording session.
The band recorded four numbers at the Sound, Incorporated Studios in New Haven, Michigan. We were all satisfied with the session and the “rough” tapes. However, the rush of the holidays and the opening of additional studios by the company has delayed the “mastering” of the Shantels recordings.
This is the story for all the Shantel fans and I hope we have a hit.
Keep up the good work with “Teen-Age,” Ruth. I wish the teens of Detroit had something like it.
Despite the difficulties in mastering, the record did come out, probably in early 1967, on Sound Inc. SI-160.
“Remain Unknown Girl” was a group original (Dektas, Mays, Ecron, Williams on the credits), published by Sidrian Music BMI. The song features a long biting lead guitar solo and a sneering lead vocal as well as a melody that sounds something like “Louie Go Home” (tip of the hat to Peter Aaron for reminding me).
The lyrics were a bit obscure but Mike Dektas provided corrections:
You want little girl that we go on datin’, ’cause complications are so very frustratin’, If you need to be here right by my side, You gotta stay close to be in my right
Remain unknown girl, alright
If you want to be content both day and night, When decisions are made be right by my side Well you’re goin’ to have to play a very special game, To be satisfied to be known only by your name,
Remain unknown girl – alright – work it out
Take it down low,
Knock em dead,
Alright day and night,
Knock em dead, knock em dead,
The flip is a cover of “For Your Love” (the Ed Townsend ballad, not the Yardbirds).
It’s a rare disc, one that has eluded many collectors, so I don’t think it got any distribution to speak of, whether in Detroit or the Cincinnati area.
The band’s name was wrongly rendered as the Chantels when the song appeared on the compilation Michigan Mayhem vol. 2.
The band continued to play Withamsville dances in early ’67, then drop out of sight for a time. On November 26, 1967, the Shantells and the Topics seem to have combined to become a new group called the Turkey Combo! The name stuck for more shows in December ’67 with the Outcasts and in January 1968 with the Jerms. The Turkey Combo changed to the Blackberry Time Tables for a Montgomery Hall show in February ’68 but by this time the Turkey Combo may not have had any of the Shantels in it.
Update: The Fabulous Shantels are being inducted into the Northern Kentucky Music Hall of Fame on June 9, 2106 and will be playing a live set at the induction.
Mike Dektas answered some of my questions about the group:
The band was originally created by Terry Williams, our drummer, and Mike Mays our lead guitarist. Terry, Mike, and JC Ecton are all from northern Kentucky – they were looking for a keyboard player and singer, and they found me. At that time, I played a Farfisa organ. Later I switched to Hammond B-3.
We played all over the NKy and Cincinnati area. We were heavily promoted on the radio. Back in those days, they had dances, called “hops”. We played many of those. Typically the hops were from 8-11 pm, or afternoon sessions.
For these, we played at the Shillito’s (#1 department store in Cincinnati) “Swing Thing”. This was great fun – it was broadcast live on 700 WLW radio. We played on elevated decorative stages, live TV Hullaballoo stages.
Other places we played that were promoted included: VFW Hall (NKY, always sold out – 600-800 kids), Glenway Swim Club in Covington, KY (summer), Castle Farms (with headliners like Lou Cristie, Gary US Bonds – we backed these guys up. We also played at Knights of Columbus hall in Cincinnati, and yes, the Withamsville Tobasco Hall that you mentioned in your article – this is on the east side of Cincinnati. We also opened at Music Hall for Roy Orbison.
We also produced shows at that time with Shantel Productions. One event that I remember that was great fun was a giant “Battle of the Bands” at Hotel Alms in Cincinnati. We had 30 bands in that event – it started early and went into the night. Special guest appearance by the Fabulous Shantels.
We also played at the University of Kentucky, big crowd, played in Rupp Arena.
On the club scene, we played on Univ. of Cincinnati campus, regularly at a club called “The Pickle Barrel”. Other clubs included Rio Rita (NKY), clubs at Miami University (OH), and regularly at a club called “The Lagoon” in NKy.
Our band was known for fast music you can dance to, and all hits. So it was easy to get the crowd going. We really did play one summer 8 times a week – every night and twice on Sunday.
JC the bass player, who has passed on now, used to stand up on his amp and move back and forth – we followed a lot of the moves of Paul Revere and the Raiders. In fact, we were offered to tour with them moving around city to city opening for them, but it didn’t work out – we were young and in school and couldn’t travel that much.
The photo in the Enquirer standing around a tree was taken in Devou Park in NKy by a publicist for our booking agent, AJaye Entertainment. AJaye was headed up by Stan Hertzman and Ray Lemkuhl – Stan is still playing guitar out in clubs and coffee shops, I see him sometimes.
That’s me singing on “Remain Unknown Girl”. The other two songs the Shantels recorded were “Georgia on My Mind” and “Poison Ivy”, we never had those two pressed into a record. We recorded in Detroit – Dusty helped set up the session – we travelled there for the session, and we played a live concert in Chatham, Canada, which is across from Detroit. We also played live with Jan and Dean.
That Turkey Combo was a gag idea from DJ Steve Kirk from Dayton OH. Steve was always a jokester – he knew that us and the Topics were great friends, so he made that up and put our names on it – all just fun. We played a number of hops for Steve and he helped promote the band. But the main promoting came from Dusty Rhodes when he was Cincinnati’s #1 DJ on WSAI, a top 40 station.
Mike Mays, Terry and myself have practiced, trying to put together a new act of the Shantels. Terry put together a live venue called “Geezerfest” ha! The amazing thing is we will see a lot of the same people we’ve seen in the late sixties. What fun!
I’ll post more info about the upcoming Shantels show in the future.
Thank you to Barry Wickham for the scan of the Fabulous Shantels 45 labels. Special thanks to Mike Dektas for the scans of the promotional photo and ticket.
The Checkmates came from Delhi Hills, in Hamilton County west of Cincinnati. Members were all students at either the University of Cincinnati or Xavier:
Chuck Koth (Chuck Coth) – lead guitar Rick Schnell – rhythm guitar Bruce Axmacher – organ Bruce Willett – bass Phil Wing – drums
The Checkmates cut one single on Injoy Life Records in August, 1967, featuring two songs by singer and song writer Kenny Smith, “Get It While You Can” / “Take Away”. It’s now a rare and sought-after 45. “Get It While You Can” is very memorable and has become well-known since it was compiled on Teenage Shutdown vol. 7.
The Checkmates’ record seems to have come in the middle of the band’s existence. The first mention of the band I can find comes from a short notice on October 1, 1966 of a show with the Randolls at the Mod Room at 3126 Dixie Highway in Erlanger, Kentucky, hosted by “Big” Jim Schworer, DJ with WKKY-FM.
A longer feature on the Mod Room ran in December, 1966, naming the Checkmates as a sort of house band and Jim Schworer as an elementary school teacher in his day job. Schworer was 22 at the time, and had already produced the Shōguns “Well All Right” / “In My Time” on his own Schworer label in May of ’66.
The article says that Schworer and co-owner Seibert Mohr were looking for a larger venue, and that the club was running Sunday afternoon Battles of the Bands, since football games made for too much competition with Friday and Saturday evening shows. Admission was 75¢.
This feature is the last mention of the Mod Room that I can find, perhaps it closed by the New Year. The Enquirer ran ads for Mod Room shows in October and November 1966:
October 2: The Checkmates and the Randolls (Randells?) October 30: The Nomads, the Unknowns and the Day Blues November 6: The Dee Blues (winners on Oct 30) and the Checkmates November 13: The De Blus and the Checkmates November 20: The Nomads, the Roots of Evil, the Mark IV, the De Blus, the Timid Souls, the Coachmen, and the Cykiks November 27: The Cykiks, Why-Do’s and the Roots of Evil
Jim Schworer went into acting and other pursuits, and died on July 7, 1988 at age 44.
I haven’t found any other notices about the Checkmates after the January 1968 profile at the top.
The band listed as the Randolls may have been the Randells who had two singles on the Claudette label out of Dayton, KY, “Viet Nam ’66′” / “Traces Of Tears In Your Eyes” (as Gene Hatton and the Randells) and “Dummy” / “Mister Pleasure”, all four songs by Jim Fish.
The Malcontents (or Mal-Contents) cut an excellent single in early 1967, “(I’m a) Roustabout” b/w “Motivated Action”.
Members were all Norwood High School students:
Larry Groves – lead vocals, rhythm guitar Bob Mathis – lead guitar, harmony vocals David White – bass guitar Jan Elstun – drums
Bob Mathis wrote “(I’m a) Roustabout”, and lead singer Larry Groves wrote the great guitar instrumental, “Motivated Action”. With one side appealing to garage rock fans and the other a winner with the surf and rockin’ instrumental set, this record is in high demand these days.
Issued on the band’s own GEMS Records label and pressed by Rite Record Productions, which was based in Cincinnati. The release number 18347/18348 would date it to late 1966, but early 1967 seems more likely – fellow Norwood High student Joe Morgenroth wrote a letter to the Enquirer published March 4, 1967 about the Malcontents upcoming record.
Notices show bookings at Granny’s on Lytle Ave in Elsmere, Kentucky for a show on Friday, October 28, 1966 opening for the Denems, and a show on Sunday April 2, 1967 at the Lakeridge with Ivan & the Sabres and the Missing Links.
The Enquirer’s Teen-Ager supplement featured Jan Elstun on its August 20, 1966 cover, with a short article inside noting the band played regularly at the Millstone in the basement of the Zion United Church of Christ and the Footprint, a teen club on Montgomery Road.
Much has been written about Euphoria’s legendary album A Gift from Euphoria. This article focuses instead on the various releases the band members did prior to the LP and the connections to other bands I’ve covered on this site.
Euphoria had its start as a Cleveland band with David Potter and Wesley Watt called the Bushmen. Although it was thought that the Bushmen was a separate group from Wesley Watt’s projects prior to Euphoria, David Potter’s bio states:
After playing drums at the club [the Clinton Bar in Cleveland, OH] for three months, Wesley Watt, a guitar player came in looking for a drummer for a group he wanted to put together, The Bushman [sic]. When he heard David he knew he was the one. David turned sixteen in January and in May, David, Wesley, Paul Armstrong, and Carl Johnson left for Los Angeles to make their mark. On arriving in L.A. they immediately became the house band for the club, Guys and Dolls.
After only eight weeks they signed a contract with Colpix records, also signing with Buck Ram, the manager of the Platters. Their first single was “Baby” with “What I Have I’ll Give to You” on the flip side.
The Bushmen had one release “Baby” / “What I Have I’ll Give to You” on Dimension 1049 in June of ’65. Dimension Records was part of the Columbia Pictures / Colpix company at this time.
Bill Lincoln had relocated from Seattle to Los Angeles. He must have been in the group at this point as he is the composer of “What I Have I’ll Give to You”.
Potter’s bio continues:
The Bushman [sic] were getting a lot of notoriety and attention from all over, including film producer David L. Wolper. He was looking for bands for a documentary about to start filming, Teenage Revolution. They approached Buck Ram about The Bushman being the premiere band for the documentary. Wolper wanted to show what bands went through while traveling around the country from gig to gig. (Along with The Bushman being were about four other bands, one being The Lovin’ Spoonful.) About a month later Buck set up a live gig in Lancaster CA where they filmed their part of Teenage Revolution.
A portion of Mondo Teeno aka The Teenage Revolution is online. I hear music that may be the Bushmen, but haven’t seen any footage of the band.
In addition to the Bushmen single, Watt and Lincoln recorded their original songs as the War-Babies “Jeanie’s Pub” / “Love Is Love” (Highland 4000, August 1965).
The War-Babies recorded another two songs, “Now It’s Over” / “So Little Time” but these came out under the name The Word on Brent 704.
Although I’ve read that the Bushmen came after the War-Babies and Word singles, release dates suggest the Bushmen single came first.
Potter’s bio continues:
After filming the documentary, David, Wesley, and Bill Lincoln wanted to do their own thing. Now seasoned professionals and highly respected musicians they wanted to play and record their own music. With the chance so did their name, to Euphoria. The newly named group spent all their time playing, touring, and recording material that would lead to two of the groups albums. During a successful tour in Texas, their single. “Baby”, released when they were The Bushman [sic], went to #7 on the charts, staying there for seven weeks.
The newly-named Euphoria added Pat Connolly of the Surfaris on bass by the time they toured Texas in 1966. Bill Lincoln left the group when he married and moved to England, though he would rejoin Wesley Watt within a year or two for Euphoria’s 1969 album on Capitol. Connolly also left so Watts brought in James Harrell on guitar and Peter Black on bass, both of the legendary Houston group the Misfits. I believe David Potter was still playing drums with the group at this point, but it may have been Steve Webb of the Misfits.
This group recorded some tracks at Andrus Productions in Houston, including “Pick It Up”, “In Time”, “Walking The Dog” and “Oh Dear, You Look Like a Dog”, none of which surfaced until Texas Archive Recordings released the LP Houston Hallucinations in 1982. The band had other unreleased Texas recordings which await reissue, including “People You and Me” which has some similarity to Da Capo era Love.
Back in L.A., Bob Shad of Brent & Mainstream Records brought the group into United Studios in Hollywood to record four songs in one session. Shad issued two of these (with vocals re-recorded at additional sessions), “Hungry Women” and “No Me Tomorrow” on Mainstream 655, but two originals by James Harrell, “I Realize” and “It Could Do Us No Wrong” were left unreleased and eventually lost. The single would reappear on the Mainstream compilation LP With Love – A Pot of Flowers in 1967.
Despite a good push from Bob Shad, the single didn’t make much of an impact and the group broke up. James Harrell and Pete Black went back to Texas and rejoined the Misfits, changing the name to the Lost and Found.
Potter and Watt joined Lee Michaels band where they played on Michaels’ album Carnival of Life with Gary Davis and John Keski.
Potter joined the East Side Kids in time to play on their album The Tiger and the Lamb, which featured one of his original songs as well as two by Wesley Watt, “Heavy Love” and “Can’t Feel Love”.
Bill Lincoln had returned by this time. He and Watt worked for almost two years on what would become their album A Gift from Euphoria on Capitol in 1969, produced by Nick Venet. According to his bio, Potter also played on the album. Guitarist Doug Delain is also listed in credits for the LP.
After recording the East Side KidsThe Tiger and the Lamb album, Potter moved to Houston and joined with Endle St. Cloud (Alan Mellinger) for his album on International Artists, which also included Pete Black and James Harrell of the Lost & Found. They moved back to LA to for the Potter St. Cloud LP on Mediarts in 1971.
David Potter passed away in 2011, but there was a detailed biography about him at his website, davidpottermusician.com (now defunct but viewable on the Internet Archive).
Watt and Lincoln co-produced and played on Bernie Schwartz’s solo album The Wheel, released on MGM in late 1969, which features a version of their song “Sunshine Woman” that had been on Euphoria’s Capitol LP.
Potter, Watt and Lincoln all continued in music into the early ’70s. For example, Potter and Watt played on Daniel Moore’s 1971 ABC album, and Watt played guitar on Dory Previn’s 1971 Mediarts album Mythical Kings and Iguanas.
Hamilton Wesley Watt, Jr. passed away on February 20, 2015 in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.