I can’t find much info on the Apaches, who had one single on Galena Records out of Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1966. One side is a pleasant original song, “Please Understand” by Burgess, Tousley. My copy is too scratchy to include a sound file, sorry.
The flip is a cover of “Heart of Stone”, which sounds like it features a different lead singer.
The Apaches was an RCA custom pressing, TK4M-4746/7, from late 1966, released as Galena G-131.
There was one other garage 45 on Galena Records, the Executives, who did a good original, “Why Make Me Cry” by T. Carter, Brock, Hoffman, G. Carter, Teaff, b/w “I’ll Feel a Whole Lot Better When You Are Gone”, also released in 1964.
Though the label for “Please Understand” lists Galena Music BMI, I can’t find copyright registration with the Library of Congress, or for the Executives song.
I find a number of registrations with Galena Music from 1964 and 1965, including: “Just Another Night”, “Gonna Find Me Someone” and “Moon Girl” by Roy L. Ferguson and Leroy Duncan, “Tear Drops” and “This Same Old Heart” by Sam Barrett, “Lonely Hours” by Roy Ferguson, Lercy Duncan and Autry Rutledge, “My Castle by the Sea” by David Vowell and Autry Rutledge, and “Back Up, Back Out” by Roy Ferguson, Leroy Duncan and Connie Rutledge, but these all seem to be country or pop music.
The Standels “Let’s Go” turns the Animals’ “I’m Crying” into edgy, forbidding territory:
Well me and my baby go to a show And we get there … (?) And me and my baby leave the show, And we go out on this dark road.
Well here comes someone down the road, They’re comin’ up behind us, not too slow. Oh go, I see a red light flashing. Well I guess we’d better get out of here fast.
According to Teen Beat Mayhem, the Standels came from Catoosa, Oklahoma, just east of Tulsa. I knew nothing about the band, nor any of the members names, but Max Waller alerted me that according to an interview with Ron Cortner, the band was originally called the Roustabouts. By the time of the 45 the group consisted of:
Boyd Bogle – lead vocals Tommy Bradley – lead guitar Ron Cortner – rhythm guitar Blaine Trumbold – bass guitar Eddy Cortner – drums
The band’s members changed frequently, so please check Blackwell & Lake’s research for the full story.
Pla-Me Records was located at 903 Louisiana in Muskogee, 40 miles to the southeast.
The original A-side “Love Comes Once In a Lifetime” is a fine, slow balla; since it isn’t on youtube I’m including a recording of it here from my scratchy copy.
The T4KM-9713/4 RCA custom pressing code indicates a release date from the first half of 1966. The labels credit Bobby McBride and Curtis Long with A&R, both had their own singles on Pla-Me Record. Curtis Long ran the publishing for Vilena Pub. Co. BMI, but neither of these songs were registered with BMI or the Library of Congress.
Pla-Me Records of Muskogee is not related to the Ohio label Pla Me, though both were releasing records at the same time. The Muskogee label had a 666P prefix to its RCA custom pressings, while the Ohio label’s account was 804B.
Can’t find any info on the Infernos other than their location of Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Their only 45 came out on the Pride label in April, 1967. The best side is a band original, “Road of Life”, a loose rocker with a dry 12-string guitar sound, great vocal shouts, harmonica, and even what sounds to be a Hammond organ.
The flip is “Your Love for Mine”, written by Chuck Douglas, a ballad with enough attitude to make it interesting. Both sides Oklahoma Pub. BMI. Jay Reed produced the single.
Pride Records started out at 4232 E. Young Pl. in Tulsa, Oklahoma then relocated to 2032 E. 49th St. No. in Tulsa. The label started in country but released some interesting garage and even psychedelic songs in 1966 and 1967.
Pride discography (probably incomplete, I’d appreciate any assistance)
45s (in chronological order):
Billy Parker – “It Takes a Lot of Money” / “Sing Me a Sad Song” (1965, red label, produced by David Ingles, SK4M-0871, 660P-0871)
Bobby McBride – “Roll On Blues” / Curtis Long – “Koosey Coo” (1965, blue label, produced by Billy Parker and Jean Corby, SK4M-3615/6, 660P-3615)
Bobby McBride – “Chantilly Lace #2” (vocal by Don Ramey) / “Cryin’ Heart” (vocal by Bobby McBride) (1965, Pride Inc. logo, SK4M-5811/12, 660P-5811)
Benny Ketchum – “That Ain’t No Stuff” / “Sad Sad World” (1966, Pride Inc. logo, produced by Billy Parker and Carl Rivers for Blue Crest Music BMI, T4KM-2322/3, 660P-2322)
The Rompers – “Slippin’ And Sliding” (vocal By Charlie And Don) / “Don’t You Ever Get Tired” (vocal by Bob Winningham) (1966, Pride Inc. logo, T4KM-2483/4, 660P-2483)
Tommy Florence – “My Baby’s Gone” / “Love Me Tender” (1966, Pride Inc. logo, T4KM-5240, 660P-5239)
The Cinders – “Hey Pretty Girl” (vocal by Dennis Parrott) / “Wind Up” (Tommy Hudson) (1966, Pride Inc. logo, T4KM-5200/1, 660P-5200)
The Cinders “Trouble Making Guy” (Dennis Parrott for Billy Parker Music) / “Hard Hard Life” (1966, Pride Inc. logo, TK4M-7459, 660P-7459) (The Cinders were Dennis Parrott, Wayne Reed, Tommy Hudson, Frank Schaeffer and Keats Tyler.)
The Infernos – “Road of Life” / “Your Love for Mine” (Chuck Douglas) (April 1967, simpler blue logo, U4KM-4623, 673P-4623)
Jerry Boggs – “Freedom” / “I’ve Never Wanted Anyone But You” (1967, 673P-4995)
Jerry Boggs – “Love Came Back” / “My Eyes Could Only See” (1967, U4KM-8141, 673P-8131)
Group Love Corp. – “Love Corporation” (Phil Henry) / “Should I” (1967, U4KM-8450, 673P-8450)
LP: Billy Parker – If I Make It Through The Night, Pride 1001 PLP (1965, 660P-0874)
Most Pride releases from late ’65 and 1966 have a Pride Inc. logo on a light blue background. Pride used their account number 660P as a prefix for their early releases (changing with the Infernos to prefix 673P), then picked up the four digits from the RCA custom pressing #. Following this system can give an mistaken chronology of releases as it leaves off the year indicator on the RCA pressing code. More accurate is to follow the RCA custom press code (such as SK4M-3615 or T4KM-5200).
The Continentals at the Darry Starbird Rod & Custom Show, Wichita, KS Front row, from left: Ron Jones, Randy Stark, Allen Correll Back row, from left: Pat Smiley, Larry Rogers,Gary Rowland, Roger Harrison
Below is Roger Harrison’s history of the Oklahoma City bands The Continentals, Phoenix and Harvest, followed by two personal recollections from Roger and John Proctor:
Randy Stark & Roger Harrison met in grade school playing Little League baseball. They became lifelong friends, attending grade school, high school & college together. After the Beatles appearance on the Ed Sullivan show in 1964 their interest abruptly turned to music.
Roger’s father played guitar, so there was always a guitar lying around the house. Roger decided to take up the instrument. Meanwhile, Randy played in the Southeast High School band. After going to a James Brown concert in the mid-60’s, both teens had seen their immediate future & began making plans for forming a band.
Coming of Age:
Randy & Roger were freshmen in college, making ends meet by working after classes & on weekends at a local supermarket chain. They decided there must be a better way to pay their way through college. The supermarket Randy worked at was managed by a local musician by the name of Jerry Schell. He played in a well known nightclub band named Jerry Fisher & the Nightbeats (Jerry Fisher later replaced David Clayton Thomas as lead vocalist for Blood, Sweat & Tears). Jerry offered the supermarket warehouse as a place Randy & Roger could hold auditions. Recruited were fellow Southeast schoolmates Ron Jones (sax), Allen Correll (trumpet) & Gene Glover (drums). Randy was the front man & lead vocalist. At that time everyone played guitar, hardly anyone played bass. Deciding it was easier to find another guitarist than a bassist, Roger volunteered to learn the bass.
In a subsequent audition, Pat Smiley, who attended Northwest Classen High School, was brought on to play guitar & Lee Gross, organ. The group was christened “The Soul Authority”. Randy & Roger had correctly deduced that an actual horn section was the ticket to success, whereas most groups simulated the horns with a Farfisa Organ.
Phase II, The Continentals:
Gene Glover decided to leave the band to start his own group. At that exact time a very popular OKC band “The Continentals” had just broken up. The drummer, Gary Rowland, had copyrighted the name of the group. He offered to join our bandand also offered us the opportunity to use the name. The well known name & the horn section catapulted us to major status in the OKC market. Also at the time, another high school friend from Southeast High, Larry Rogers, replaced Lee Gross on organ. Larry brought with him a Hammond B-3 Organ (complete with a Leslie speaker enclosure!) which further fine tuned the sound they were seeking. Roger & Randy were then able to gladly bail from the supermarket gig.
The Continentals on stage in Edmond, OK
Further Along, the Phoenix:
After about a year as “The Continentals” the band began having differing philosophies. As a result, Gary Rowland left the band, taking the name with him. Pat had a friend & classmate from Northwest Classen named John Proctor who played drums for another local band “Fairweather Forecast, who were slated to open for Janis Joplin at a concert at the University of Oklahoma. John, who at age 14, was already one of the premier drummers in OKC, left Fairweather Forecast & joined the band, now renamed “Phoenix”. This lineup enjoyed even greater popularity. Constant gigs, tv appearances & recording filled the next couple of years.
Band members would change as time elapsed. The following musicians also had stints with Phoenix:
Greg Gelman (trumpet), Larry Shear (trombone), Marvin Ferguson (guitar), Jesse Arviles (guitar), Len Platt (organ), Robert Baxter (drums), Tony Messina (vocals & percussion), Bob Brewer (guitar).
John Proctor rejoined the group after a short leave, much to the group’s satisfaction.
Their 45 on the P.I. label from 1969: Phoenix – Every Now and Then I Cry Phoenix – Love Have Mercy
top row: Allen Correll, Larry Rogers, John Proctor and Ron Jones bottom row: Roger Harrison, Randy Stark, Pat Smiley
Harvest, from left: Pat Smiley, Roger Harrison, John Proctor, Rick Cobble
Over a period of time there became musical differences within the band. Phoenix decided to call it a day. Four of the original members: Pat Smiley, Larry Rogers, John Proctor & Roger Harrison decided to form a new band, migrating from the horn sound to the more popular hard rock, at the time. They added vocalist Rick Cobble (who bore a striking resemblance to Robert Plant) & started performing as “Harvest”, formerly Phoenix. That group also attained moderate success.Live at Spav’s in Stillwater, OK, 1971:
Randy, Roger & John played in several bands (separately & together) over the next several years. In 1987, four original members of Phoenix (Randy Stark, John Proctor, Ron Jones & Roger Harrison) performed at their Southeast High School 20 year reunion.
In 1995, shortly after the Murrah Building bombing in Oklahoma City, at the request of longtime disc jockey Ronnie Kaye, the Continentals (5 original members-Ron Jones, Randy Stark, Roger Harrison, Gary Rowland & Allen Correll) played a reunion concert at the State Fairground Arena to 5,000 people. Over $50,000 was raised for the cause. Hermans’ Hermits headlined the show.
Roger formed bands in the 70s that included members who would achieve musical success on an international scale. Steve Crossley was in a group named Oklahoma, who was signed to Capitol Records & produced by Mark Lindsay (Paul Revere & The Raiders), Steve went on to co-write over 90 songs with Glen Campbell. Tom Wasinger, another bandmate, has now won three grammy awards as a producer. Rogers bands were the first bands that both Steve & Tom had ever been involved. Randy formed a band that included Dave Gant, who went on to become the musical director & keyboard-violin player with Garth Brooks.
Randy, Roger, John & longtime friend, Bobby Smith would play in several more bands together throughout the next 18 years. They still get together, whenever possible, to play & record in Roger’s modest bedroom studio.
Where Are They Now?
John Proctor graduated from the Univ. of Central Oklahoma with a degree in music. He was the #1 drummer for the nationally recognized CSU Jazz Band. He moved to Dallas in 1990, where he works in the Financial Services Industry.
Roger Harrison graduated from Univ. of Central Oklahoma with a degree in Business. Immediately after college, he went to work for a small company in Oklahoma City, where he retired in 2003 as Sec.-Treasurer.
Randy Stark worked for the U.S. Postal Service, attaining full retirement in 2004. Randy spent summer vacations building his dream cabin in Vista Park, Colorado, where he resides during the summer.
Allen Correll graduated from Univ. of Central Oklahoma, with a degree in music. He spent 20 years as a band director in the Moore, Oklahoma School System. He now is a music professor at East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma & still actively plays in a classic rock band “Zoom City”.
Gene Glover graduated with a master’s degree in Music from the highly regarded North Texas State. He earned a grammy as part of the North Texas State Band. He now resides in Dallas, teaching music & playing in Dallas area bands.
Ron Jones graduated from the University of Oklahoma, obtaining dual degrees in accounting & psychology. He has spent the last several years employed by the State Comptrollers office & also the Okla. Dept. of Corrections.
Pat Smiley & Rick Cobble both met untimely deaths at age 50.
Legacy:Roger’s son, Matt has, at age 23, is a well known musician in the OKC area. He has toured all over the United State & Europe, played in major music festivals in Chicago, NYC, Austin & Amsterdam. He was part of a group that signed a recording contract with Touch & Go Records.
Roger Harrison, 2010
Recollections of Phoenix drummer John Proctor:
I played in an Oklahoma City based seven-piece horn band called Phoenix, from March 1969 to late 1970. The band that became Phoenix was originally called The Soul Authority. Then they changed drummers about 1968 and became The Continentals. The Continentials then changed drummers again in 1969, (this is where I got into the band at the age of 14) and we became Phoenix.
We played all over Oklahoma and parts of southern Kansas. Some of the OKC bands that were doing that Kansas circuit in those days were sponsored by 1520 KOMA in Oklahoma City. Phoenix, and several other bands however, were sponsored by 930 WKY, also out of Oklahoma City. We probably played every National Guard Armory and VFW Hall in Oklahoma during the two years 1969 – 1970.
In 1969, we released a 45 rpm single in the Oklahoma City market, and it received airplay on WKY 930 AM for several weeks before dropping off the local charts. It was a cover of a Uniques tune called “Every Now and Then I Cry.” The flip side was a cover of a Porter & Hayes tune called “Love Have Mercy.”
For about a two-year period, Phoenix and The Midnight Rebels were the two top dogs in Oklahoma City. They had a great vocalist by the name of Mark Keller, and they had released a cover version of “Smiling Phases” by Blood, Sweat, and Tears some months before we released “Every Now And Then I Cry”, and they were in fact, to some degree, a motivating force to us in getting our own record completed and out there in the record shops.
Sullivan Studios, where we recorded both tunes was in a suburb of OKC called Capital Hill. The studio was owned and operated by Gene Sullivan, who at one time had been part of the duo Wiley & Gene. In 1941, Wiley & Gene recorded the country hit “When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold”. Sullivan’s was a three-track studio. We had the rhythm section on one track, the horns on a second track, and the vocals on the third track. Benson Studios in OKC had an actual four-track studio, but the hourly fee of $20 was prohibitive at the time.
Everything we did was cover material. We did throw in some novelty tunes however such as “A Boy Named Sue” “Long Tall Texan”, and “Folsom Prison Blues” to name three.
The photo of us playing at the ballpark was The Oklahoma City Pop Festival, just two months after Woodstock, and two weeks after the Dallas Pop Festival. We got to play early in the day with the other local bands, and then toward evening, the big name bands took the stage. I remember watching and listening to Grand Funk Railroad, The Grass Roots, Smith, a band called “Texas” who would later be renamed Blood Rock, and others.
In the 70s every city of any size had their local Johnny Carson. In Oklahoma City, it was a local DJ named Danny Williams. They gave him a mid-day talk show called Danny’s Day. He liked our band, and he scheduled us to do three tunes live on his show in July 1970. We chose to do “More and More” by Blood, Sweat, and Tears, “Evil Ways” by Santana, and an instrumental by Chicago called “Liberation”. This was a live performance on the air, and our singer had what was called a “dead microphone” meaning that the people tuned in on TV could hear him, but we could not! The guy in the booth that made us the sound recording of the performance accidentally cut off the beginning of “Liberation”.
“I’ll Be Back” was to be our second 45 single. We recorded this one at Benson Studios in OKC, but we never had it pressed into a 45 because the WKY DJs didn’t like it. This is a cover of The Beatles “I’ll Be Back”, rearranged for horns. The analog tape that this was taken from was so old that the sound goes in and out a little bit.
I went on to College at CSU in Edmond, OK and learned how to play jazz, and big band. In 1976, I was the #1 drummer with the #1 CSU Jazz Ensemble. I joined the Music Union in Oklahoma City, and did a lot of what I call “Vegas On The Road” gigs. These Vegas acts would come in to OKC for two weeks, and many times they would not bring their own musicians with them, choosing to rely on local union players instead. Those gigs were lots of fun.
Phoenix bassist Roger Harrison:
Phoenix was originally formed by Randy Stark & Roger Harrison in early 1968, while attending Central State University in Edmond, Oklahoma. The band was originally named the “Soul Authority”. We were quite enamored by James Brown and the various Motown acts at the time. Randy and I had gone through grade school, high school and college together. We attended Southeast High School.
In 1968 we recruited three additional muscians from Southeast: drummer Gene Glover, saxophonist Ron Jones & trumpeter Allan Correll. Later we recruited another Southeast alumni, Larry Rogers, to play the Hammond B-3 organ.
What set us apart from most of the other local bands was the horn section – other bands would emulate the horns with the Farfisa organ. The move paid off, separating us from the pack.
A short time later we hired drummer Gary Rowland who had been playing in a very popular band The Continentals. That band has disbanded, but Rowland kept the name. Since they already were well established, we adopted the name. After a year, we decided to replace Rowland with John Proctor for musical and philosophical reasons. That is when the band became Phoenix.
With Phoenix we enjoyed even greater success and played almost non-stop while attending school. Then came recording and local television appearances. We appeared on local disc jockey Ronnie Kaye’s television show “The Scene”. For some reason we were sent to a recording studio to record the songs and then lip synch them for the TV show. Another popular show we appeared on was a show called “Danny’s Day”. The co-host of the program was non other than Mary Hart! By that time our music had matured a great deal.
Another humorous thing that comes to mind is the way we traveled. Since there were 7 (sometimes 8 in the band) we usually took one car & a van. I usually rode in the van. With all our equipment there was room for only three people. Two people rode in the front. I had a huge black pleated Kustom Bass Cab with three 15″ speakers. I would place the Cab face down, bring a pillow & blanket and sleep on it all the way back from our sometimes long travels. All in all, some of the best memories of my life.
“Every Now and Then I Cry” at #25 on WKY’s Sept. 18-24, ’69 chart
Any help with these discographies would be appreciated.
The Ruff discography is fairly straightforward, though there are some weird jumps in the numbering after #1020, maybe because of distribution deals with Tower Records. Interestingly, Mop Top Mike pointed out that numbers 1010-1020 were all released between March and April, 1966.
1000 – Blue Things – Mary Lou / Your Turn To Cry (Feb. 1965) 1001 – Buddy Knox – Jo Ann / Don’t Make a Ripple (December 1964) 1002 – Blue Things – Pretty Thing, Oh / Just Two Days Ago (May 1965) 1003 – Checkmates – Hey Girl / All the Time Now 1004 – Henson Cargill – Joe, Jesse and I / Pickin’ White Gold 1005 – ? 1006 – Charming Checkmates – Just to Make Me Cry / So Hard To Find 1007 – Bob Finn – Existing In City Stone / Why 1008 – ? 1009 – Arcades – She’s My Girl / Stay Away (Kent Tooms) arr. by Ruff and Paul Mathis 1010 – Trolls – That’s The Way My Love Is (Fred Brescher) / Into My Arms 1011 – Finnicum – Come On Over / On the Road Again 1012 – ? 1013 – ? 1014 – Robin Hoods – My Love Has Gone Away 1015 – BC’s – Oh Yeow! / Comin’ On Home 1016 – Y’Alls – Please Come Back / Run For Your Life 1017 – Burch Ray – Love Question 1018 – Troy Watson & the Del Troys – Sherry / Girl I Love And Adore (both by Troy Watson & M. Boyking, April ’66) 1019 – Tiaras – Sticks And Stones / Southern Love 1020 – Page Boys – All I Want / Sweet Love — 1088 – Them – I Happen to Love You / Walking in the Queens Garden (1967) (with picture sleeve) 1098 – Rubber Maze – Mrs. Griffith / Won’t See Me Down (with picture sleeve)
Begun by Gene Sullivan in Oklahoma City, Sully also operated out of Amarillo, Texas under Ray Ruff’s supervision. The 100 and 200 series are Oklahoma City productions, while the 900 and 1000 series are Amarillo, TX productions.
Generally the 100 series have “Oklahoma City, Okla” under the logo, while all the ones in the 900s (along with #100), have “Checkmate Productions” under the logo, indicating Ruff’s production company.
Also, some records (#929, #931 and #933 for example) have the label name spelled “Sölly” instead of “Sully”, why I’m not sure.
100 – Ray Ruff and the Checkmates – Long Long Pony Tail / Pretty Blue Eyes 101 – The Serenaders – Hymn-Time with the Serenaders (EP)- Whispering Hope / Beyond The Sunset (Should You Go First) / What Will You Say / The Twenty – Third Psalm (Oklahoma City) 102 – Gene Sullivan – Sleepin At tHe foot Of The Bed / Paul Revere O’ Malley 103 – Danny Williams – All American Girl / Fidel Castro Rock (Al Good – Danny Williams) 104 – The Plainsmen Chorale – Dream / Herb Jimmerson- Poinciana 105 – The Plainsmen Chorale – September Song / Herb Jimmerson- Goofus 106 – Bob Starr – Blue Train / Walls of Love (July 1959) 107 – Wiley Walker & Gene Sullivan – When My Blue moon Turns To Gold Again / Live And Let Live 108 – Charles Jones and the Stardusters – Whoo-oee and Oh So Fine / Natalie (1959-60) 109 – Danny Williams – Deck Of Cards / If Jesus Came To Your House 110 – Hyatt Stamper – Life You’re Living Now / Wild Side Of Life 111 – Shadows Five – Gary’s Boogie (Gary Sullivan) / Dynamic Drums (1960) 112 – Bill Snow & Sonny Woodring – Cry For Me Darling / Timber Wolf 113 – Dub Snow – Greyhound Talkin Blues / Yuma Pen 114 – Jo Kiser – True Love Is Hard / Lovey Dovey 115 – Bill Snow & Sonny Woodring – Golden River / Hands You’re Holding 116 – ? 117 – ? 118 – ? 119 – ? 120 – Jim Fitzgerald – Day On The Highway Patrol / Cryin Time (1966) 121 – Decades – I’m Lovin’ You / Thinking of You (1966) (also issued as Sully 921) 122 – ? 123 – ? 124 – Those Ellis Bros. – That Girl / Heaven 125 – George Peterson – Time Will Change Everything / I Could Have Been A Doctor (both by Peterson) 126 – Terry Canady – Hollywood Hotel / Scotch and Soda (1968) 127 – Bobby Caldwell – This House / Bronc-Buster 128 – Jerry Abbott – Big River / It’s Better Than I Got At Home 129 – Bobby Kent – When You Hear Me Call / I Fell In Love With An Angel 130 – B Bros. – Call Me Anything / Just Blue Memories 131 – ? 132 – Jay Hamilton – Somebody Anybody / Walkin & Talkin
201 – Jody Bennett – Heartland U.S.A. / Katy Is Now a Lady
—– 910 – Techniques – Short ride / Can’t Be Wrong To Be In Love (1965) 911 – Fantom – Baby Come on Home / Time Seems to Fly 912 – Rising Suns – Land of a Thousand Dances / Concentration 913 – ? 914 – Dinks – Nina-Kocka-Nina / Penny a Tear Drop 915 – Burch Ray – Love Questions / Blues Stay Away From Me (Oct 1965) * “Note – different version of ‘Love Questions’ than the one recorded and released later on Ruff. Discog also shows it as Sully 913, but I think this is a mistake” – (MTM) 916 – Bob Baker – Short Fat Texan / Suzurak 917 – Drivin’ Dynamics – So Fine /Hurt Me 918 – ? 919 – Gaylen & Royce – I Can’t Stay / Modern Day Fools 920 – ? 921 – Lanny Madden – My Only Son / Pressure Pains 922 – ? 923 – Danny Ferguson – Revengers / Long Neck Bottle 924 – Mike – I’ll Set Her Free / You Won’t Have Nothing 925 – Dinks – Kocka-Mow-Mow / Ugly Girl 926 – Carolyn Bennett – So Bad So Bad / I Wonder 927 – J. Frank Wilson – Me and My Tear Drops / Unmarked and Uncovered with Sand 928 – Tracers – She Said Yeah / Watch Me (1966) 929 – Patti Seymour – The Silencer / This Feeling He Left (produced by Nick Yazbek) 930 – Rick West – Crackin Up / What I’m Lookin For 931 – Patti Jo – I’ll Sleep Tonight / Heading for A Heartbreak (Il Suffirait d’un Rien) 932 – Carolyn Bennett – You’ll Always Be A Part of Me / Give Me Your Love 933 – Knu Castles – Bulldog (George Tomsco) / Boy Blue (Mike Reinheart) both songs Dundee Music BMI
—– 1004 – Epic Five – Don’t Need Your Lovin’ (Richard Ramiraz) (October 1967)
1021 – Them – Dirty Old Man / Square Room (August, 1967)
Mop Top Mike writes: “There is also a 200 Sully series starting at 201 which followed the 100 series. Looks to be mostly or all country-western sounds.”
LP: Al Good “A Good Time For Music” Sully S-SLP-100
This discography was compiled from many sources, of which Rhett Lake & Ted Blackwell’s Oklahoma Guide to 45rpm Records and Bands ~ 1955~1975., Rockin’ Country Style and members of the G45 Central forum were the most helpful. Thanks also to Rich Strauss, Patrick, Mop Top Mike, Jim, Bob Garrett, Lisa Wheeler, Pete Adams, Keith, and eleelandc for their help.
The Centuries were a major group in the Oklahoma City area during the 1960’s, regularly appearing at local hops and clubs, opening for touring acts and guesting on a TV show, The Scene. Recordings taped for The Scene show exactly how well the band could cover songs of the day. They give “I’m a Believer” the light touch it should have, and really drive “Midnight Hour”, including a guitar solo that is definitely hot!
Though primarily covering songs as a live act, their two records feature all original songs by band members Irmon Gray and Alan Rush.
“I’d Cry for You”, the B-side of their first single uses a fuzztone on guitar to accent the relaxed vocals. This is one of the first recordings ever to use the Gibson Maestro fuzz tone pedal. Cut in October of 1963, not long after the Ventures used the Maestro on “The 2,000 Pound Bee”, the opening note bend is a wild sound for that time, though the song wasn’t released until 1965.
Lead guitarist Stan Stotts gives the history of the group:
Rock n’ Roll was born in the 50’s, but its formative “teen” years were the 60’s. In the Oklahoma City metro area alone there were probably two or three dozen active bands. The most popular musical instrument stores at that time (Sharps and Nichols, Woodmansee Abbot, Driver Music, etc.) saw the demand for electrical instruments increase dramatically, so much so that some had greater sales in supplying for rock bands than they had for school marching band instruments which had been their mainstay.
Teens were so desperate to dance they would settle on almost anything that resembled music. The IONE branch of the YWCA held a teen dance every Saturday evening to raise money for a new building. The first time I attended a dance they had only one guitarist named Farland Stanley (he would later play bass for the Road Runners) and a drummer who stood while he played his one snare drum. The duo performed basically the same three instrumental tunes every 45 minutes for three hours and nobody cared because the only criteria for music was, “Does it have a good beat?”
The YWCA didn’t have a bandstand so the musicians played on the floor. When The Centuries had the privilege of playing there, we “upgraded” by hauling three large wooden tables in my dad’s pickup to the IONE building and setting them up to form a temporary stage. I also remember that this was the first place I ever received applause for a song I played. It was “Rumble” by Link Ray and I can’t think of a song that was any simpler to play. The kids thought I was a great guitarist because I could play it just like the record.
The first time I ever saw a live rock n’ roll band play a dance was in May, 1961, during an all night, city wide, Junior/Senior dance at Wedgewood Village Amusement Park. The two bands (The Road Runners and The Nightbeats) alternated playing from evening to the next morning inside the Bumper Car pavilion. This was the first time I heard Jim Edger and The Road Runners play and I’ll always remember their really cool rendition of the song “Little Egypt” by The Coasters.
The Centuries – Early Years as an Instrumental Band
The band originated in Oklahoma City, OK, and all members were from there. Ron Smith and Stan Stotts started the band in 1961 while in high school and remained until the end in October, 1969.
During Stan’s junior year (1960-1961) at Northwest Classen High School, he and a friend he had known since grade school got together and played guitars. The friend had a party at his parents’ house one weekend where he and several other “musicians” played while the others watched or danced. While at the party, Stan was introduced to a drummer named Ron Smith and the three of them decided to form a band. Ron knew of a car club named The Centuries and thought that would be a good name for a band and that was what the group would be called for the next nine years.
They only knew three or four songs, all instrumentals, and their only gig was a New Year’s Eve party for Ron’s girlfriend’s uncle where each was paid $5. The friend was not as interested in devoting the amount of time it would take to develop the band so the group eventually broke up.
During the summer of 1961 Stan worked at a Humpty Dumpty super market and while there met a Putnam City student named Alan Rush who also played the guitar. Alan invited Stan over to his house one night after work to listen to a group called The Ventures. Alan came from a family of musicians and was truly a natural talent. Stan was hooked on rock and roll and although he was not blessed with the level of talent that Alan had, he was able to learn a great deal from him since they got together several times a week to learn new songs.
Stan brought Alan and Ron together and they decided to form the second incarnation of The Centuries. Even though Ron and Stan had ability, Alan was the one who really knew music and how all the different instruments fit into the mix. For instance, when Alan suggested they needed a bass man to complete the group, Ron and Stan debated the need for another “guitar.” Fortunately, Alan won out. He thought a friend of his would be a good match for this position so Irmon Gray became the first bass player and thus, The Centuries became a true rock band. Since Alan had the musical prowess, he was instrumental in giving musical direction, but Ron, always the businessman, became the de facto “leader” of the band. The foursome played wherever they could and practiced continually. One of the highlights was being hired ($40) to play for a Northwest Classen assembly.
In early 1962 Alan mentioned he knew a really good sax player from Putnam City named Greer Gambill. So, they added a fifth member to the band. This added a new dimension to the band’s sound and immediately expanded their repertoire of songs. But how could a band that played nothing but instrumentals continue to be booked? First of all, Rock n’ Roll was really starting to snowball and the teens wanted more of it and would, quite literally, dance to just about anything that had a beat. Secondly, the dance craze was intensified due to the release of “The Twist” by Chubby Checker. Many other groups jumped on the Twist bandwagon causing the phenomenon to continue much longer than most fads do.
One such group was Joey Dee and the Starliters. Their house song, “Peppermint Twist (Part 1)”, became the number one song in the United States for three weeks in January 1962. Ron and Stan got to see The Starliters perform when they came to Oklahoma City on February 14, 1962. The point is, like most things, the ability for The Centuries to continue as a band while they grew and “honed” their musical skills in the early years was, in addition to a lot of hard work and steadfast determination, a matter of being in the right place at the right time.
Adding Vocals – Ron Petty Joins
A band called the Catalinas had a lead singer named Ron Petty who could sing just like Elvis and Roy Orbison. They had released a recording called “Cha Cha Joe” / “Echo One”. The Catalinas were known for having a female guitar player, which was unique at the time, but they hired Wesley Reynolds to play the lead guitar and a local group called the Kimberley’s to supply background vocals during the recording session of “Echo One”.
Petty tried out for The Centuries and was immediately hired during the spring of 1963. This addition brought the band full circle because now they could play any song on the charts, not just instrumentals, and besides he had a sound system. The first new song they learned with Petty as the lead singer was “Rhythm of the Falling Rain” by The Cascades. Also, while “Cha Cha Joe” was still on the charts the band would play it at dances with Alan on drums and Ron Smith on the bongos.
With so many members and so much equipment, the band decided to get a vehicle and trailer to travel in. They bought a used, black 1954 Chrysler limousine from a local funeral home, had the band name painted in silver on the sides and purchased an enclosed trailer also painted silver. They didn’t know it at the time, but that rig became somewhat of an icon across the state since most of the other bands drove their personal vehicles to a dance.
Ron Smith could sing with the best of the soul music entertainers of the day and Alan, even though his voice was softer, could sing high harmony. Also, Petty could play the trumpet well enough to assist Greer when a “big band” sound was needed. This meant they could hold their own with any band in the state when it came to reproducing the sound of the Beatles, Orbison, most soul music, and especially the Righteous Brothers. By the way, the one thing that made The Centuries different than most bands was the intentional effort to mimic a song as closely as possible to the original. They had such a mix of talent it was possible to do so most of the time.
They needed a tune to play while announcing that they were going to take a break or that the gig was over. A song titled “Hold It” by Bill Doggett was chosen and it eventually became kind of a theme associated with the group.
The Centuries Play The Scene
The main events during this time, at least in Oklahoma, were the teen hops sponsored by WKY radio and their KOMA competitor. The Centuries played mostly for WKY hops hosted by various dee jays, but primarily with Don Wallace and Ronnie Kaye. Ronnie Kaye had a local version of American Bandstand called The Scene, produced at the WKY-TV studios. It was taped at 11:00 am on Saturday mornings and then aired that same day at 1:00 pm.
The Road Runners performed live on the first show; however, the sound engineer didn’t have a clue how to properly mike a rock n’ roll band. Consequently, the quality of the sound was less than adequate and that was a shame because they were one of the best, if not the best, hard rock band in the state. From that point on, most, if not all, bands pre-recorded their music and lip-synched.
The photo [at top] was taken from the control room thus showing the band, camera’s and teen dancers and the host. It’s a great representation of 1960’s Americana and shows our signature, collarless red blazers, black felt Beatle Boots and the clothing and hair styles of that period.
We are wearing our signature collarless red blazers, black suede “Beatles” boots and, as you will see, from the way the kids are dressed, its quintessential 1960’s. Also, in those days, the main attraction in Oklahoma were dee jay sponsored teen hops held in various towns across the state. By far, Oklahoma City based WKY was considered the best with the top dee jays being Ronnie Kaye and Don Wallace during the mid 60’s. We were fortunate to be one of the few bands that Ronnie, Don and the other dee jays used regularly.
Recorded at WKY radio station, Oklahoma City, 1963 to be used on The Scene:
Slippin’ and a Slidin’ – The WKY radio station recording studio was mainly used to record ads and promos. We were there was to record some tunes for Ronnie Kaye to be used as background and lead in music for his various promos. I guess we decided to take the opportunity to record some of our music as well. I do know that “Slippin’ and a Slidin'” was the first song I tried the Fuzz Tone.
Night Train – The only recording I know of that has Greer Gambill playing the sax.
A Fool Is What I Am – Our first attempt to record a song Alan and Irmon wrote. Although this was not a commercial sounding tune it’s what motivated us to seriously try to create tunes we could release which led to “Lonely Girl” / “I’d Cry For You”.
Even though The Scene was recorded, due to cost constraints Ronnie was forced to start reusing the tapes so, unfortunately, there are no videos available except for the last season or two which went into the early seventies. Ronnie Kaye is still a dee jay for our “oldies” station, KOMA. They had two reunions of all of the 60’s bands in 1994 and 1995 and that was the first thing I asked him about.
Our Look and Musical Equipment
Our very first “uniforms” were white shirts that had “The Centuries” and our first name embroidered on the pocket. When we became a five-man group, we worked out a deal with Sir Knight Formal Wear to provide tuxedo pants, shirts and bright red coats. After that, we wore black pants, white shirt, black tie and collarless red blazers with candy-apple red patent leather shoes.
After the Beatles came out, we dropped the red shoes for black suede boots like they wore. We then got shiny green suits with black velvet collars like the Beatles and wore those until Alan and Irmon left. After that for the most part, we stayed with the white shirts, black tie, black pants and the collarless red blazer when it wasn’t too hot wear it. When the band ended, the Nehru jacket look was in so our final uniforms were yellow jackets with a Nehru collar and black pants.
At one time all of the guitarists in the group had matching Fender Band-Master amplifiers and Fender guitars. However, after the Beatles came, Alan decided to try something different and got a Hofner guitar and Irmon purchased a Hofner bass exactly like the one Paul McCartney used. They got an okay sound, but the quality was much less than what a Fender or a Gibson could produce. Breaking a string while playing was simply a hazard of the business, but on occasion, Alan’s Hofner would appear to explode when one of his tuners (used to tighten a string) would come apart from the tension and parts would fly across the stage.
I, on the other hand, was a Fender man all the way. During the first years of the band I owned almost every model of guitar that Fender offered at the time except for my favorite, the Stratocaster. I don’t remember why I never bought one. I owned and played a Duosonic, JazzMaster, Jaguar and finally a Telecaster. My final guitar was the Telecaster which I eventually customized by reshaping the body to fit like a Stratocaster, changed the color from the standard cream to a metallic blue, replaced the standard chrome bass pickup with another Telecaster lead pickup, had a customized pick guard made with my name on it and replaced the standard Telecaster neck with a Jaguar neck that had a rosewood fret board. I used a Fender Band-Master amp with two 12” Jensen speakers for a while and then changed to a Fender Super Reverb with four 10” Jensen speakers. When it finally quit working, I upgraded to another Super Reverb with four 10” Lansing (silver cone) speakers.
As far as the other members are concerned, the only thing I know is that Ron Smith preferred Ludwig drums and Bob and Greer preferred Selmar saxophones.
I can only speak for myself, but the major influence for me, musically speaking, was Alan Rush. Although I had taken lessons for several years from a local guitarist (Julian Akins), if it had not been for Alan’s willingness to teach me how to really play the guitar, I doubt I would have ever touched it again. The artists that influenced my style the most were The Ventures, Freddy King and a local player named Wesley Reynolds. Wesley knew how to play a Fender Stratocaster to its fullest and had a style all his own that I admired and could immediately identify just by hearing. One of my favorite songs to play was Wesley’s “219 84th Street”, which, in case you didn’t know, was the home address at that time of the WKY Dee Jay Don Wallace.
Another venue was teen hops every weekend at Wedgewood Village Amusement Park on Northwest Highway. Many big named acts (Paul Revere and The Raiders, Hermans Hermits, Mitch Ryder and The Detroit Wheels, etc.) came there as well.
We were the lead-on band for Herman’s Hermits on April 27, 1965 at Wedgewood. It didn’t have a stage area that would accommodate the estimated 8,000 people who came to see the two shows (7:30 pm and 9:30 pm), so we were put on top of the swimming pool building, which looked down over the park. We were so far away and the sound was so bad it took the audience a few minutes to figure out we were not the Hermits. I still have the two tickets we were given to gain entrance to the park with the autographs of all the Hermits, including Peter Noone.
At Wedgewood Village we backed up Del Shannon for his show on August 8-9, 1964 and for a new singer called Sandy Posey on June 9-11, 1967. Sandy was a real trial for me because it was the first time I had to go it alone working with a non-band member without Alan.
We were the lead-on group for Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels when they performed at Wedgewood Village on July 22 1966. I must admit this was the first time I really felt intimidated because his guitarist (Jim McCarty) was so good that I was actually embarrassed to go back on stage after they played each set. Fortunately he was very gracious and actually complemented me on my guitar style. I knew he was just being nice but it helped regain my confidence just the same. Mitch Ryder was a class act the whole time he was there. For instance, his drummer used Ron’s drums and played so hard that he busted the snare drum head. When the concert was over Mitch told the drummer to pay Ron for the drum head and he said he would do it before they left. Mitch said “pay him now” knowing that otherwise the drummer would “forget” to do it.
The Centuries’ First Single
During the summer of 1963 Alan and Irmon started writing songs and the group decided to record some of them. They were not pleased with the recording facilities available in OKC and couldn’t afford the ones in Dallas so it was decided to record at an up and coming studio in Hot Springs, Arkansas called United Southern Recording Studio. In the Fall of 1963, the group recorded five songs co-written by Alan and Irmon and were working on releasing two of the tunes (“Lonely Girl” and “I’d Cry For You”) through the RICH record label sometime in late 1963 or early 1964.
However, the owner, Jack Rich, held back releasing it because he said “something bigger than Elvis was about to hit the music industry”. Ron Smith remembered thinking he was stalling for some other reason because “nothing could be bigger than Elvis”! The “something” turned out to be a group called the Beatles. It wasn’t until the summer of 1965, after the initial British Invasion had begun to subside, that it was decided to release the record.
The record did well in the local market, but the music scene had shifted greatly by this time and, although the song was well written and produced, it’s pre-Beatle doo-wap sound probably sounded a little dated thus there was no interest in releasing it nationally. The record may not have made it to number one but it probably would have been very successful if it could have been released nationally 3 to 4 months before the Beatles. How it happened we don’t know, but “I’d Cry For You”, the B side to “Lonely Girl”, made it to #42 in Flint, Michigan in 1965.
Recorded at United Southern Recording Studio, Hot Springs, Arkansas. Fall, 1963:
Lonely Girl – written by Alan Rush and Irmon Gray
Ron Petty – Lead vocal Alan Rush – Background vocal, rhythm guitar (acoustic) Ron Smith – Background vocal, Drums (Ludwig) Stan Stotts – Lead guitar (Fender Jazzmaster) Irmon Gray – Bass Bass (Fender Precision Bass) Greer Gambill – Sax (Selmer but not on recording)
I’d Cry For You – written by Alan Rush and Irmon Gray
Ron Petty – Lead vocal Alan Rush – Background vocal, rhythm guitar Ron Smith – Drums (Ludwig) Stan Stotts – Lead guitar (Fender Jazzmaster using a Maestro Fuzz-Tone) Irmon Gray – Bass (Fender Precision Bass) Greer Gambill – Sax (Selmer but not on recording)
Actually, over the years, many people who heard the record, whether they knew the group or not, usually said they preferred “I’d Cry For You”. It was a little unique since it was decided that Stan should use the new FuzzTone he had just purchased to give it more of an edgy sound. Although it will never be known for sure, perhaps, the wrong side was released.
But, on the bright side, as a local band, the arrival of The Beatles was a real boon for the group because they could mimic them and most of the other English groups to a tee. From that point on they played nearly every weekend during the school year and probably around 80% to 90% of the days during the summer breaks.
The only time I know of that the Roadrunners and The Centuries were on the same stage at the same time was for an event called the WKY Go-Go show held at the State Fairgrounds race track on September 28, 29 and 30th, 1965. The radio personalities emceeing the show were Danny Williams and Don Wallace. I remember one of the stunts performed during the show was to set fire to a rag put inside Greer’s sax just before he would take the lead in a song. I’m sure we said something “cool” like “that is really one hot sax” while he performed.
Greer Gambill had to leave for military service around the beginning of 1966 and was replaced by Bob Mills who was a music major at Southwestern State College in Weatherford, OK. Bob was a talented saxophonist and, as it was discovered later, pretty good on the piano as well. He was somewhat shy at first, but a hard worker and it didn’t take long at all for him to fit in.
The Second 45
Alan and Irmon continued to write songs and became friends with a couple of guys in Del City who converted their garage into a fairly sophisticated recording studio (A&W Recording Studio) where the group recorded two more of their songs that had a commercial sound – “Don’t Let It Fade Away” and “Just Today”. We were much more of a rock band than our recordings show.
Recorded at A&W Recording Studio, Del City, OK. Spring, 1966:
Just Today – written by Alan Rush and Irmon Gray
Ron Petty – Lead vocal, Trumpet Alan Rush – Background vocal, Acoustic guitar Ron Smith – Drums (Ludwig) Stan Stotts – Acoustic guitar (Echo with an electric pickup) Irmon Gray – Bass Bob Mills – Sax (Selmer)
Don’t Let It Fade Away – Written by Alan Rush and Irmon Gray
Ron Petty – Lead vocal Alan Rush – Background vocal, acoustic guitar Ron Smith – Drums (Ludwig) Stan Stotts – Acoustic guitar Irmon Gray – Bass Bob Mills – Piano
1966 and After – New Members and Styles
After these recordings Alan and Irmon decided they wanted to go in a different direction than the other members. So, on June 11, 1966, Alan and Irmon played their last dance with The Centuries and soon after formed a band called “The AIR”. However, the two songs were released as a single right after they left, so it became a little awkward having a record being played on air but the people who wrote and played on it were no longer in the group.
This was a very stressful time for Stan because he was now the lead guitarist and primarily responsible for figuring out the chord progressions. He wasn’t sure he could do it but, fortunately, he had learned a lot more from Alan than he realized, thus he was usually able to produce when needed. Alan and Irmon were replaced by Clay Mangum (guitar) and Tom Killup (bass).
Clay decided that attending college full time along with practicing and learning three to five new songs each week was too much so his last night with the band was October 3, 1966. John Whitehead replaced Clay and his first night was October 6, 1966. He was nicknamed “the kid” because the current members were in college and he was still in high school. John was a good rhythm guitarist and could sing some as well. After this point though, things started changing quickly and, in hindsight, it was evident that the band’s days were numbered.
Tom had to leave for military service, which meant that, once again, a replacement had to be found to play the bass. His last night was December 31, 1966. One of the people auditioned was Randy Jenkins who was playing for a group that Bob Mills had also played with called The Marauders. Randy was a pre-med student who was quiet, studious and just an all-around sharp guy. He eventually graduated and became a doctor. At the audition, Randy pulled a Gibson EBO bass out of his case. An EBO was considerably smaller than the Fenders Ron and Stan were used to hearing so they wondered if it could match the big sound of a Fender. It didn’t take Randy long to prove the Gibson could and then some. His first night was January 6, 1967 at a Ronnie Kaye teen hop in Seminole.
The primary recording studio in the 60’s was Gene Sullivan’s on Commerce (25th) Street in Capitol Hill. Three songs were recorded at Sullivan Recording Studio between 1/1/1967 and 3/15/1967:
Midnight Hour – Used during a performance on The Scene TV show and for possible release. This song is more representative of our rock roots and much more like what we played early on. When Petty left at the end of March and Bob at the end of August, we moved more toward the soul sound which what Smith was best at and we had a Hammond B3 organ by then.
Ron Smith – Lead Vocal, Drums Stan Stotts – Lead Guitar Randy Jenkins – Bass John Whitehead – Rhythm Guitar Bob Mills – Sax Ron Petty – Trumpet
I’m A Believer – Used during a performance on The Scene TV show. We chose this song because one it was number one the Billboard Hot 100 on December 31, 1966 and remained there for seven weeks.
Ron Smith – Background Vocal, Drums Stan Stotts – Lead Guitar Randy Jenkins – Bass John Whitehead – Background Vocal; Rhythm Guitar Bob Mills – Sax Ron Petty – Lead Vocal
Please Listen – The one and only song ever written by Stan Stotts had a gritty, catchy intro and a strong follow through. But, we never could find the 3 part harmony it needed in the bridge to sustain the overall sound, which caused it to lose “the sound” at that point. Otherwise, it would have been considered for release. Unfortunately, it was the last of these 3 songs being recorded that day and we ran out of time and recording money. So, we let it go with the intent to work on it later but Petty had to quit the band a few weeks later and it was never pursued again).
Ron Smith – Background Vocal, Drums Stan Stotts – Echo 12 string electric box guitar; customized Fender Telecaster through a Maestro Fuzz Tone Randy Jenkins – Bass John Whitehead – Background Vocal Bob Mills – Tambourine Ron Petty – Lead Vocal
By 1967 Ron Petty was married and working a full time job at a local steel company and although he needed the extra money, the hours were wearing him down so his last night was March 25, 1967 at a Don Wallace teen hop in Kiowa, Kansas. Actually, this wasn’t as big a hit as the group thought it would be because the musical style was changing to more soul and this was right up Ron Smith’s alley. But it did impact the group’s versatility when it came to performing tunes requiring combined harmonies like the Righteous Brothers, Sam and Dave, The Mamas and The Papas, etc.John Whitehead was an avid flyer and wanted to make that his career. After playing his last dance at Southwestern State College in Weatherford, OK on June 20, 1967, he left to pursue his love of aviation. The last they heard he was a pilot for UPS.
To replace John the group decided to take a different path. Bob had made friends with another music student at Southwestern, a keyboardist, named Mark Schwartz. The group agreed that bringing in a keyboard player instead of another guitar was a good idea because, again, the music style was changing. His first night was at the Bandito Club in OKC on June 30, 1967. Mark was younger than the “old guys” and remembered attending several of The Centuries’ teen hops in his hometown of Watonga. It wasn’t too long before Mark purchased a Hammond B3 organ with two Leslie speakers. It was a real hassle transporting that monster but it was worth it because it totally redefined their music style and sound.
Bob left the group just before the Fall semester of 1967 to finish school resulting in The Centuries becoming what it had been in the beginning, a four member group.
Nightclub Years, Breakup and Reunions
By the late 1960’s the teen hop scenario was starting to diminish. Getting jobs consistently was getting more difficult, so the group began considering the nightclub scene as a venue. However, getting into a good club was not that easy since most built their clientele by promoting one band. The group started playing on a semi-regular basis at a night club (more of a low end “fight club” actually) called the IWANA in Seminole, Oklahoma. Even though it could have been steady income this was not what the group wanted and they were tiring of the constant traveling and the setting up and taking down equipment every night. So in September, 1968 they accepted an offer to play every Thursday, Friday and Saturday as the house band at a relatively new club called the Take Five located on the N.E. corner of 10th & MacArthur in Oklahoma City, OK.
Although playing at the club was easy money, by the summer of 1969 it was becoming evident that the band was getting close to the end. Stan had gotten married and he and Ron were working full time jobs, plus they had been with the group since the beginning (8+ years) and playing was becoming more of a chore than the joy it used to be.
In addition, Randy was married and working hard to get into medical school and Mark, who was just beginning his musical career, was eager to start his own group (he would eventually start a group called The Mark IV and then later one called Starflight). Thus, it was mutually agreed that the time had come to end the band. In August of 1969 they sold the Chrysler limousine that had served them so well over the years. So, on October 26, 1969, at the Take Five Club, The Centuries played their last job. In attendance were Ron Smith, Stan Stotts, Mark Schwartz, Randy Jenkins, Alan Rush, Irmon Gray, Bob Mills and Ron Petty. All participated at some time during The Centuries finale.
The next time they got together as a band was twenty-five years later for the KOMA Rock n’ Roll Reunion held at the State Fairgrounds, Made In Oklahoma building on August 13, 1994. Ron Smith, Stan Stotts, Mark Schwartz, Randy Jenkins, Bob Mills and Ron Petty participated plus they added a trumpet player and three female background singers, one of which was Ron Smith’s daughter. The last time they were together as a band was a year later for the KOMA Rock n’ Roll Reunion held June 10, 1995 at the State Fairgrounds arena as a benefit for the Murrah Building bombing victims. This was even more of a family affair since not only was Ron’s daughter a background singer, but so was Randy’s.
After leaving the Centuries, Alan, Irmon along with a very talented local musician named Randy Cullers (drummer) formed a group called “The AIR”. Eventually, Alan and Randy took the “big leap” and went to Nashville to pursue a truly professional music career.
Alan started working in the industry as a writer, studio/road musician and recording engineer and is still there today. Also, he, Randy and several other musician/songwriters formed a group (JUBAL) and released at least one album that I know of. Alan co-wrote “Till You Opened My Eyes” on John Denver’s Some Days Are Diamonds album released in 1981.
After the band days I started a semi-professional photography endeavor. My main niche, and the most fun, was taking promo photographs for local bands/performers. This all started when Mark Schwartz was displeased with the results he got of his group from local photo studios. They usually just lined the people up as if it was for a mug shot at the local police department. Since I came from a rock group I had good idea of what they were looking for.
The Oklahoma Historical Center started an exhibit in May, 2009, called “Another Hot Oklahoma Night”. I got involved with them early on and many of The Centuries artifacts got displayed. I think that makes us official museum relics. The photo from the exhibit shows our red jacket, a photo of when were a totally instrumental group and the Maestro Fuzz-Tone I used on “I’d Cry for You” and a few other songs.
Both photos are of the same player, guitar and amplifier 25 years apart.
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”.
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 ShadowLake8.com with more information and photographs.
Before the Symbols, Arthur Herman was in the Fanatics of Ada High School in Ada, Oklahoma, 1965.
Can garage bands wear matching outfits and turtlenecks? The correct answer is no in 1968 but yes in 1965. Under the influence of the early British bands, if you wanted to get hired for dances you did want to wear matching outfits and Beatle boots. That’s me on the Farfisa organ, the same one I used two years later on the recording with The Symbols.