The Converts were seminary students, I believe at the Holy Name Seminary in Madison, Wisconsin, though two sources (Lost and Found & Teen Beat Mayhem) give Beloit, Wisconsin as their base. Beloit is a town of 35,000 just across the Illinois state line, just south of Janesville where Ken Adamany ran the Rampro and Feature labels, and an hour southeast of Madison.
According to Gary E. Myers’ On That Wisconsin Beat, the band consisted of Bob Henneman (lead guitar); Duane Millard (guitar, keyboard and bass); Charles Millard (bass and guitar), replaced by Terry Johnson (bass); and Robert Fixmer on drums. Gary writes “None of the converts joined the ministry”!
In early 1967 the band released their only 45, the ballad “A Guy Without a Girl”. Listeners these days prefer the b-side, the excellent “Don’t Leave Me”. Hear it on Teenage Shutdown Vol. 15, She’s a Pest. The singer tries to convince his girl not to go by saying she’s “not so hot”, and threatening she’ll never “get another man” or “hold another hand”. Both songs were written by Fixmer & Hanneman for Spad Music, BMI.
Rob Fixmer played percussion with Jim Spencer for his albums previous to the Major Arcana LP, Landscape (1973, on Thoth) and 2nd Look (1974, on Akashic). Fixmer became a journalist whose credits include publishing an interesting interview with Frank Zappa in Milwaukee’s alternative newspaper, the Bugle American.
Terry Johnson was in the Southbound Band, who released an LP in 1985.
The Bacardis 45 on Midgard, “This Time” / “Don’t Sell Yourself” is one of the classics of mid-60s independent singles. “This Time” is a beautiful folk-rock original, very much inspired by the Byrds but with a haunting quality to the vocals that makes it stand out. The b-side gets more attention from garage collectors, for its unison bass and drum hook, great guitar break, and ragged lead vocal.
Incredibly rare, it is also one of the few ‘garage’ 45s from this time to sell for over $3,000 at auction.
The RCA mastering number TK4M-6763/4 shows Midgard Records owner Chuck Regenberg sent this tape to RCA’s Indianapolis plant at the same time as fellow Midgard release the Suns of Mourning which is TK4M-6765/6. Both are late 1966 custom pressings. The production listing “IPPRU” is just an abbreviation for “Div. of International Promotion Production and Recording Unlimited”.
For ages record collectors knew nothing about this band. There are no names on the label to help track it. The Midgard label was from Madison, WI, but the band most certainly was not. One source told me Bun E. Carlos of Cheap Trick remembers a band called the Bacardis playing around the Rockford area when he was young. He didn’t know any of the group though.
Then I received this photo of the Light Brigade from Illinois, and we found the group that had originally been called the Bacardis. The band members included Charlie Leeuw, Larry Walters, John Shaw, Bill Throckmorton and Chuck Miller. After changing their name to the Light Brigade, they eventually broke up sometime in the early ’70s.
Chuck Miller contacted me with this info about the group:
My name is Chuck Miller. I was the bass player in the Bacardis and Light Brigade. That’s me at the top of the Brown Jug clipping. I joined the Bacardis when I was stationed at Chanute AFB in Rantoul, Ill in 1966. At that time they were four guys who were also stationed at Chanute.
“This Time” was written by Larry Walters when we were living together in an apartment in Rantoul. It was recorded at the band rehearsal hall at Chanute AFB in 1967.
I believe “Don’t Sell Yourself” was written by Larry and Charlie. I think it was recorded at one of the places we played but not sure where. Both songs were band demos to get jobs and never intended to be made into a record.
I will dig through my attic to find any pictures I have of the group.
In Febuary 2013, Charles Leeuw wrote to me about the band:
Just thought I’d fill in some names to go with the flyer of the Light Brigade at the Brown Jug. “The Jug” was just off campus and a predecessor to the Red Lion and Chances R.
Chuck Miller – bass guitar, sometime lead guitar and vocals Tom Becker- Hammond B3, Fender Rhodes, vocals. Tom replaced John Shaw our original keyboard player in the Bacardi’s Larry Walters – lead guitar, originator of the band, vocals and songwriter Charlie Leeuw (Chas) – lead vocal Bill Throckmorton- drums, sometime keyboard
Jim Murn was our original rhythm guitar player and an original member, but our first keyboard player was John Shaw, who replaced Jim Murn and also played rhythm guitar and was backup vocalist. By the time of the Brown Jug billboard, Tom Becker was our keyboard player. I strongly believe John Shaw was keyboard on the Midgard record.
More info has come in on the comments below. Hopefully we’ll see more photos of the Bacardis soon.
Robin and the Three Hoods released this spirited and crude cover of the Strangeloves’ Bobby Comstock’s “I Wanna Do It” four separate times. The first was on the yellow Fan Jr. label out of Madison, Wisconsin, backed with a fine surf instrumental with a good drum break, “The Marauder”. Then again on Fan Jr., with the same label number, FJ-1003, but this time the band is listed as Marrell’s Marauders.
Next on the green Fan Jr. label with the b-side changed to “That’s Tuff”, a neat tune by one Mr. Bernhagen. Finally this was picked up for national release by Hollywood Records, with “That’s Tuff” again as the b-side.
Skip Nelson is credited with production on each release. The Hollywood pressing is of relatively poor quality. They have another 45 on the green Fan Jr. label that I haven’t heard yet, “A Day You’ll Never Forget” (an original by Bernhagen and Jim Schwartz) b/w “We The Living”.
Rob Bernhagen played bass, keyboards and sang lead vocals as ‘Robin’. He wrote to me about the band:
The Marauders, with Mike Warner on drums, all graduated from Madison East High in 1963. We had joined the Musicians Union that April and had played school gigs and a few actual paying gigs around Madison.
We borrowed “I Wanna Do It” from Bobby Comstock and recorded it in Dec. of 1963. Our manager, Frederick Arthur Nelson, aka Skip, did own a music store and produce all our records. We started playing around Wisconsin and Northern Illinois and found many “Marauder” bands so we changed our name and the label on the records …. same recording. I found a paperback book about Merrill’s Marauders from WWII and plagiarized the name….and changed the spelling. As the leader of the band, I became “Bobby Marrell”.
I played bass and keyboards and was the lead vocalist. Dave Reed played lead guitar and Jim Schwartz played rhythm guitar. Bruce Benson was our drummer, he lives in Northern California. The only personnel change from the Marauders was at drums, Mike Warner was our first drummer and he played on the first version with “The Marauder” on the flip side.
We were all in college and playing part time within a couple of hundred miles of Madison. Mike Warner decided to drop out of college and try music full time so Bruce Benson joined us and we borrowed the costume idea from Paul Revere and the Raiders and came up with “The Hoods”. Once again, as leader and vocalist, I became Robin Hood. We all wore Robin Hood outfits….and tights…
We played the entire state of Wisconsin, Northern Illinois, and border towns in Northern Michigan, Iowa and Minnesota. Went as far south as Springfield, Il. We broke-up the band 1/31/69 when Jim and I graduated from college.
We got limited airplay because of the suggestive title which is why everyone loved the song to begin with. We got a “pick to click” from Billboard and a review in Cashbox which is why Starday got involved. They were to handle national distribution… which never happened. We stayed on Wisconsin statewide charts for over a year.
Funny story behind “The Marauder”… we went in the studio to record “I Wanna Do It” and when that was finished, we started to pack up. The engineer asked about the flip side to our 45 RPM and we were dumbfounded. In our youthful ignorance, we hadn’t even considered a flip side. Faced with the problem we jammed “The Marauder” from an instrumental “break song” that we were using during shows. One take and it was done. We never played the entire song on any gig … just enough of it to announce a break.
I’m the only member who continued to play professionally….I’m in an oldies band today, the Tom Tayback Band. Jim quit altogether, Bruce plays a little on the side, and Dave is deceased. I’m not in contact with Mike so I’m not sure about him.
We did produce a couple of other records but had nothing to do with the “green bean” thing.
Thanks to Kim D. for sending in the photo card with signatures above. Kim wrote to me “I saved this card for years which Robin and the Three Hoods signed and gave to me in the 60’s at a place they performed at called “The Illusions” in Neenah, Wisconsin. We had alot of bands frequent that place. You had to be 16 years old to enter, but I always looked older, so they let me in. Good times!”
Also thanks to Eric Randle for the scan of “A Day You’ll Never Forget.”