|Updated and rewritten, January 2011|
Fred “Freddy” Arechiga wrote to me about the origins of the Dawgs:
I met Bobby Sharp in Waco, TX (1963-4). Bobby was dating my cousin Paula, and she put Bobby and me in touch, so we could form a new band for him.
At the time, I was 14 years old and playing drums with Ramsey Horton and the Silvertones. Ramsey Horton formed the original Silvertones, while he was attending Baylor University, in 1961. Horton had put together a big band, with a horn section, and black lead singer, Bobby Bradshaw. We were playing that new stuff called, Motown, and that other stuff called, Soul Music, ala James Brown.
I had a close friend, Tommy Nash who played bass, he was only 13 years old and sounded like he had been playing for 20 years. He was also one of the best jazz guitar players I’d ever run across in my life (and I’m old). Tommy became the third Dawg. Bobby, Tommy, and I began rehearsals of Bobby’s original songs. The three of us immediately knew we had something worth pursuing. However, Tommy and I didn’t sing, so we needed on more singing Dawg. Later, when we went into the studio, Tommy Nash could not make it; the fourth person behind the console in the photo was a bass player that the record producer brought in the night we recorded our album.
It was during this time that I had first started growing my hair long, and every time I looked at myself in the mirror, I thought I looked like a long-haired dog. I told Bobby this story and he said, “I like it!” I asked, “You like what?” “The name of our band.” At first, Bobby wanted the band to be called, “A Band of Dogs.” After some discussions and some time had past, I wanted to call the band, Bobby Sharp and the Dawgs; I originated the spelling of Dawgs; some how this spelling didn’t make me think of the animal, when I read it in print. Bobby agreed.
After playing a frat party one night, (I was still gigging with the Silvertones as well) I stopped by a Waco beer joint called the Branding Iron, on the edge of town, to hear a childhood friend, who was singing and playing guitar in a rock band there. I walked in and saw Gaylan Latimer and his small cover band. Mickey Sharp (no relation to Bobby), was on drums, Wallace Pelton on bass/keyboards/vocals, and Gaylan Latimer, lead vocal/rhythm guitar/lighting director.
The first thing I noticed was Gaylan had rigged up his own lighting system. He had taken colored, flood lights, and put them on to the end of their boom microphone stands, operated by a footswitch. When I walked in they were between songs, and were on a dark stage. When Gaylan started singing, he would turn on the flood light and it would only light up his face, and while the solo was being played, he switched it off, then back on when he started singing again. Gaylan looked like he was getting a tan, while he was singing.
I left before the break, the light show made me feel like I was on acid, and drunk.
I thought Gaylan would be a good back up singer for Bobby; another plus was that he sang kill’n harmony. The next day, I told Bobby about Gaylan, and his light show, and we went to see him the next night, but didn’t let Gaylan know we were there. After Bobby heard half a song, he said, “Call him tomorrow,” and we slipped out. The next day, Gaylan said, he’d be interested in being a Dawg. Gaylan became the fourth Dawg.
Bob Gumm, Bobby’s manager, booked The Dawgs into the Westview Rollercade, a huge, modern, roller skating rink in Waco. We played to an almost empty house the first night we played there. The second night they sold out of skates, within an hour. The crowd began to get so large, the owner’s, Syd and Claire, stopped the skating altogether, and turned the rink into a dance party, whenever The Dawgs played there.
The next thing that came along for The Dawgs was the 7-11 stores contracted us to introduce the Icee at each one of its Waco stores. W-A-C-O Radio set up a live broadcast of every one of our shows. They had us playing on a flat-bed trailer of an 18 wheeler, in front of the stores. People would call in and request to have songs dedicated to their boyfriends, or their girlfriends.
At one point, our girl fans were having Dawg parties; we were typically picked up by some DJ, in a big rented car, and he took us around making appearances at these Dawg parties.
We were noticed by a DJ, Gene Kelly, of W-A-C-O, who approached us to make an album. Kelly was connected to Huey P. Meaux (Crazy Cajun Records) and thought that Meaux might be interested in producing The Dawgs. The next thing I know, we were in Gold Star Recording Studios – now Sugar Hill Studios — in Houston, TX recording an album of Bobby’s songs. Meaux signed Bobby Sharp after we had recorded the third song. Bobby was a natural in the studio; he was an excellent arranger as well.
We finished and headed back to Waco for more Dawg stuff; KBGO, and W-A-C-O Radio kept us busy, and W-A-C-O Radio put two Dawg songs in their top ten list; “It Belongs To You” and “I Don’t Want To See You Again,” were the titles.
Gaylan Latimer (Gaylon Ladd) adds:
Definitely before the Dawgs there were bands. Even early on at Chuck Harding Studios in Waco on Franklin Ave, at a very young age (around 7 or 8 yrs old) Chuck would split us into small combos, maybe 4 or 5 kids – we would get to come up with our own band name and play pre-teen/early teen dances that he would have on the weekends. I would compare it now to a sort of “School of Rock”. We would actually make a little money from the door.
A little later on (6th or 7th grade). I was playing VFW Halls, etc… In Jr. High, I was with a group called the Convertibles. That was the band that Freddie had mentioned he saw us play. The light thing was actually a Chuck Harding and the Confederates concept (they even used black lights, way before they became popular also). Wallace Pelton took the idea and made some for us. It was an electrical nightmare!!
That particular band played private parties and clubs – pretty much, a dance band. The night Fred mentioned that he saw us play, the club was called the Branding Room – a small Waco bar on LaSalle Ave. I remember them coming out to the club for a short while. I had seen Bobby perform with a group at a place outside of Waco called Geneva Hall (can’t remember the name of the band – they had horns,keyboards, the whole works – very impressive back in that day).
Bobby and that band had a demo of a song called “White Roses” – great song. It was later recorded by Gene Thomas along with another song called “The Picture” – Bobby and I played on that recording session. Anyway, I think he and Fred came over to the house the next day. Bobby was quite the talker. He wanted to do this English thing – accent and all, trying to convince everyone he was from England. He was from a little town in Oklahoma actually. Bobby ended up living with my family for about five months before moving to Houston. We became a small town sensation – screaming girls, fan club, the whole mess – it was a first for Waco.
A dj named Gene Kelly, along with another dj (can’t remember his name) picked up on us and became our managers. They came in contact with a man named Charlie Booth who drove down from Houston and signed us to a recording/split management contract. I’ll never forget him driving up in his brand new, bright red, ’65 Implala convertible.
He went back to Houston to set up recording session time – that’s when Huey found out about us. Huey called our managers, had the contract null and voided with Charlie Booth – then signed us to a recording, publishing, production, and management contract – all within 24 hours. Crazy, yes it was, but that’s how we got connected with Huey. He never even saw us play, until we walked in Goldstar studios. I don’t think he ever heard the demo that we cut at KBGO studios (it used to be on the 2nd or 3rd floor above Walgreens on Austin Ave. I have a tape of that I need to get baked before copying.)
As Gaylan explains on his excellent web, gaylanladd.com, Meaux released songs cut by the Dawgs at Gold Star on three different labels and under three different artist names, hoping one would break out in the charts.
First out was the Dawgs release on Pic 1 (#119), “Won’t You Cry for Me” / “Shy”, both songs written and sung by Gaylan and pressed in June of ’65. Hear these and other songs I’m not featuring on Gaylan Latimer’s site.
Next came a release as Bob and Gaylon on Ventural V-722, both songs by Sharp, released in September of ’65. On the A-side, “Don’t Go in My Room Girl”, the singer is warning a girl who “laughed at me” not to go into his room because he has another ex-girlfriend in his room?! The tearjerker on the flip, “It Belongs To You” features some nice acoustic guitar.
That same month Meaux placed two more of Bobby Sharp’s originals Epic – “Walk, Think & Cry” / “I Don’t Want to See You Again”, receiving notice in Billboard in November, 1965.
The band toured as Bob and Gaylon, until Bob Sharp had a nervous breakdown, smashing a Gibson 12-string and pawning his Birdland and Gibson amplifiers.
Many of these 1965 recordings turned up on two LPs credited to Bobby Sharp and released on Crazy Cajun in 1978, Walk, Think, and Cry and Autumn Leaves Must Fall.
The first of these leads off with both songs from Bobby Sharp’s Epic single, contains seven other songs that went unreleased at the time, and finishes with “Won’t You Cry for Me” – the same version as on the Pic 1 single, but with drums and bass low in the mix. The sound on the album isn’t great, with occasional dips in volume from mishandling the tape. The cover just shows some clouds and sky and has Bobby’s name and the title on it. There are no notes, or a listing of musicians or recording info on the back.
The unreleased songs are “Baby We Got a Good Thing Going”, “I’ve Done It Again”, “Please Not Again”, “Bring It to Me”, “Down Home Girl”, “Something’s “Wrong” and “This Reminds Me”. “Something’s Wrong” really shows Bobby’s fake English accent and Beatles affectation.
Gaylan is listed as writer of “Please Not Again” and “Won’t You Cry for Me”. Bobby Sharp has the credits for all the rest of the songs except “Baby We Got a Good Thing Going” which lists Meaux. I expected the Barbara Lynn song, but it’s altogether different, and works well. “Down Home Girl” should not be listed as a Bobby Sharp song, it was written by Leiber-Butler for Alvin Robinson, then covered by the Stones.
I haven’t yet heard the second Crazy Cajun LP by Bobby Sharp, Autumn Leaves Must Fall. These are all Gold Star cuts from ’65 as well, and none were released prior to this album. The titles are: “Autumn Leaves Must Fall”, “How Many Times”, “That’s All”, “Naughty Girl”. “Find Me Another”, “Love Is Gone”, “The Picture”, “As The World Turns”, “Greenie Meanie” and “Please Lie To Me”. If anyone has a copy or a CD transfer of this, please let me know.
Gaylan Latimer again:
I on all of Bobby’s recordings. All of those tunes were recorded at Goldstar in 65′. We never finished a lot of those songs in the studio (especially the Autumn Leaves one). Bobby just disappeared in ’66. The last time I saw him, he was heading to a hospital (looked like a nervous breakdown). It was like he just disappeared after that -no one ever saw or heard from him since that time.
During ’75-’77, maybe into ’78, Huey and Mickey Moody were recording many acts, myself included. Huey would get the pictures for the covers, songs (had publishing rights of course), got Joe Nick Potoski to do liner notes – the whole package. He then would sell the albums to corporations and individuals for tax right offs. Never intended to release any of them, – the artists never getting anything. Most of the songs were demo form.
I was part of the studio band and also recorded six albums of my material in June and July of ’76. Like the so many other artists, never getting anything from them. The recordings are still in Sugar Hill’s vault. Funny thing though, I just received last week a royalty statement that had a song called “Deep Water” – it was in that batch of songs that I had recorded then. 17 cents by the way. I never actually saw the LP’s of Bobby [until recently].
The “Greenie Meanie” song was inspired by Frog Man Henry who was at that session that night in Goldstar (’65). I still have some of the original lyrics/ paper copies of some of those songs. “As the World Turns” doesn’t ring a bell. “The Picture” was recorded later by Gene Thomas – that was one of the very few recordings that I played keyboard. We recorded that version at the Pasadena studio.
Around this time Huey Meaux opened up Pasadena Teen Town, with an office and studio in a building nearby. At this location Gaylan recorded three solo 45s, starting with “Smokey Places” / “Think About Me” on Ventural in September of 1965, then “Think About Me” / “Her Loving Way” for national release on MGM in December, and another 45 on Ventural “I Better Go Now” / “Painted Lady” released in 1966. This was a different band than the Dawgs, and included Dennis “Crash” Collins on bass, Wallace Pelton on bass and keyboard, and a drummer named Tommy. They really rock on some of these songs, notably “Her Loving Way”.
Gaylan wrote all of the songs he performed as a solo artist. Later on, for the Heather Black band he would collaborate with Tommy Christian on most of their material.
In 1966 Huey Meaux and Charlie Booth were arrested and eventually convicted for violating the Mann Act, bringing a 15 year old girl to Nashville for purposes of courting favor with DJs attending the NATRA convention. While fighting the case he moved between Texas and Clinton, Mississippi where he started the Grits and Gravy studio. Gaylan moved back to Waco, writing and recording at Chuck Harding studio, including two songs for an obscure release, Glennis Annette and the Confederates “You Better Find Your Way” / “Sadness Is” for Harding’s TRC (Texas Recording Co.) label (read about it on Lone Star Stomp).
In the spring of ’67, Gaylan came back to Houston to record with Meaux, cutting Gaylan’s originals “Repulsive Situation” / “My Life, My Love” for release on Meaux’s Pacemaker label in May of 1967. His band for this record was the East Life Transfer with Tommy Christian on guitar, Vernon Womack on organ and Sammie Piazza on drums, while Gaylan sang and played bass. “Repulsive Situation”, is a lament against distrust and alienation.
The Pacemaker label had other good releases, including Johnny Winter’s psychedelic number, “Birds Can’t Row Boats”, the Triumphs “Better Come Get Her” and Yesterday’s Obsession “The Phycle” / “Complicated Mind”.
In May of 1968 Huey went into prison to serve a 14 month sentence for the Mann Act violation. Gaylan returned to Waco where he cut a 45 with the Silvertones “Something Is Strange” / “Get Out of Town” for TRC (without the Confederate flag now) at Chuck Harding’s studio.
Gaylan writes, “As far as the Silvertones, after Ramsey and Bobby Bradshaw, there were quite a few different personnel changes. I was in Houston when a lot of the early Silvertones were playing together. When I started playing with them, they had a singer named Little Anthony (not the famous one). I believe Dennis Black was the leader at the time, Jim Shanks, another sax player and another horn player that I can’t remember. When I started, I was playing bass and singing. Mickey Sharp was playing drums–I don’t remember who was playing guitar at the time.”
Gaylan formed Heather Black with members of the Silvertones, Mickey Sharp, Ted Richardson and Tommy Christian. They would record again with Meaux, first a single on Meaux’s American Playboy label, and then an LP on Double Bayou, produced by Meaux and distributed through his new deal with Shelby Singleton in 1970. For more on this period of Gaylan’s career, check his website.
Gaylan Latimer’s recording releases (pre-Heather Black only):
The Dawgs – Won’t You Cry for Me / Shy (Pic 1 119, June 1965)
Bob and Gaylon – Don’t Go in My Room Girl / It Belongs to You (Ventural V-722, September, 1965)
Bobby Sharp – Walk, Think and Cry / I Don’t Want to See You Again (Epic 5-9849, September 1965)
Gaylon Ladd – Smokey Places / Think About Me (Ventural V-723, October, 1965)
Gaylon Ladd – Think About Me / Her Loving Way (MGM 13435, November, 1965)
Gaylon Ladd – I Better Go Now / Painted Lady (Ventural V-731, 1966)
Silvertones – Something Is Strange / Get Out of Town (Texas Record Co. TRC 2099, 1966?)
Gaylon Ladd – Repulsive Situation / My Life, My Love (Pacemaker PM-257, May 1967)
Sources include: the SugarHill Studios site (http://www.sugarhillstudios.com/news/news_doylejones.html – link now dead) and background on Huey’s conviction from The B-Side.
Thanks to Larry Nichols and Freddy Arechiga for help with identifying the band in the photo, and to Mike Markesich for accurate record release dates. Thank you to Gaylan Latimer for answering my questions. Special thanks to Fred Arechiga whose comment below I’ve added to the main text.
Billboard announces Epic’s release of Bobby Sharp’s 45, November 5, 1965
Bob and Gaylon from the Houston Varsity Tattler, 1965
Click on these for larger images