Category Archives: Wisconsin

The Suns of Mourning

Suns of Mourning Photo

Suns of Mourning Midgard 45 Come On EverybodyThe Suns of Mourning do a ripping version of one of Eddie Cochran’s signature songs on the A-side. It could be 1960 except for the organ bubbling away and that pounding style of drumming. The flip is a sappy vocal over a decent rhythm backing.”Come On Everybody” is incorrectly credited to [Gene] Vincent – it was written by Eddie Cochran and Jerry Capehart and is correctly titled “C’mon Everybody”.

“I’m Not Worth It” sounds like it’s an original but has no writing credit on the label and is listed with Beat Music BMI.

In On That Wisconsin Beat Gary E. Myers noted that the band was from Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, and wrote “Originally the Chaotics, this band began circa 1964 and worked mostly in Wisconsin, including a 1966 show at Madison’s Capitol Theater with the Association and the Left Banke. Label owner Chuck Regenberg produced their session at a Madison radio station.”

Suns of Mourning Midgard 45 I'm Not Worth ItMembers were Eric Goetz (vocals), Steve Hassemer (rhythm guitar), Tim Gunther (lead guitar), John Schmid (bass) and Ron Skalitszky (drums). Goetz and Skalitszky had been in an early version of Spectre, Inc. George DuFre’ (George Durfee) was the Suns of Mourning’s manager.

The RCA mastering number TK4M-6765/6 denotes this as a late ’66 custom pressing made at RCA’s Indianapolis plant. Midgard Records has fine print listing it as a “Div. of International Promotion Production and Recording Unlimited”.

Chuck Regenberg owned Midgard – the label’s first release was his own 45 under the name Joules Regan, “Hey Girl” / “The Night Winds Blow” from 1962. He seems to have revived the label in 1966 to release the Bacardis “This Time” / “Don’t Sell Yourself”, a real garage classic, and very rare. These are the only other releases on Midgard that are known at this time.

There was a Suns of Mourning from Boise Idaho, but one of the members of that group informed me that they never recorded.

Thank you to Gary E. Myers for sending the photo of the Suns of Mourning, and for all the info on the group and Midgard in his book On That Wisconsin Beat.

The Portraits


The Portraits in New York, 1968, from left: Gary Myers, Jerry Tawney, Stan Ray and Phil Alagna
The Portraits, by Gary E. Myers

Milwaukee Roots

The Capitol, Liz, Nike, RCA, Sidewalk and Tri-Disc record labels all released singles by groups called the Portraits between 1959 and 1968; I was a member of the Portraits on Sidewalk.

The roots of the band began in January 1964 in Milwaukee, when rhythm guitarist Duane Smith put together a new lineup for his band, the Cashmeres: singer/guitarist Doug Weiss, bassist Tom Hahn, and myself on drums. The new Cashmeres landed their first gig backing Tommy Roe in the Skyroom at Monreal’s on 16th & National, and soon moved into the regular six-night-a-week gig there. Hahn and I had recorded for Tide Records in Los Angeles the previous summer (’63) while working with Milwaukee’s Darnells in Orange County. Around April 1964 Tide contacted Hahn about cutting two more sides for them. The Kingsmen had placed Tide’s copyright, “Mojo Workout” on their “Louie Louie” album, and Tide wanted to put out a single with one of their signed artists. We cut the song and a B-side at Dave Kennedy Studios (augmenting our session with three members of the Skunks) and changed our name to the Mojo Men to help promote the record.

Nothing happened with the record, but the Mojo Men worked steadily in and around Milwaukee, along with gigs in Grand Rapids and Detroit. We backed Johnny Tillotson and Chuck Berry, and worked opposite Jerry Lee Lewis. In summer 1965 Doug Weiss was hit with a 30-day jail term (driving with a suspended license, I believe), so the Mojo Men had to make a move. Guitarist John Rondell (Beilfuss) and bassist Phil Alagna were looking for work, having returned from a Southern California trip along with singer Billy Joe Burnette. (Rondell and Burnette had also worked with Milwaukee’s Legends on their 1964 Florida trip). Duane Smith and Tom Hahn had begun to be at odds, so the Mojo Men let Hahn go and added Rondell and Alagna, expanding to five pieces when Weiss was released,

Move to Los Angeles

In August 1965 the Mojo Men relocated to the L.A. area. On the drive out we heard “Off The Hook” by another Mojo Men, but it didn’t chart nationally so we paid little attention to it. By October, however, that same San Francisco band did chart with “Dance With Me”. We were not happy about that, but the record only reached #61, so we took no action – except that an agent booked us on a few of their gigs. (We later learned that the record got airplay in Milwaukee on our reputation). Doug Weiss adopted the stage name of Doug Masters and left to join a Las Vegas style review. The Mojo Men briefly replaced him with Billy Joe Burnette and then Tim Welch, but Paul Stefan (Stefaniak), an excellent singer and another old friend from Milwaukee (where he had regional hits with the Royal Lancers and the Apollos), was also in the area. He joined around March 1966.

During a steady gig at the Tip Top in Inglewood we backed the Coasters, Penguins, Rivingtons, Dick & Dee Dee, and Jerry Wallace. The schedule included Friday and Saturday after-hours sessions where many musicians and music-biz people hung out, and we were getting a good local reputation. One of the frequent sit-in’s (possibly Bobby Mason) was a Mike Curb protégé and he convinced Curb to come and see us. Curb liked what he heard and we signed a record deal with him and a management contract with Clancy Grass, who had an office in Curb’s suite and some sort of connection with him.

This was not the most opportune time for the band to head back to the Midwest, but Smith’s wife was pregnant and wanted to be near her family back home, so off we went. By the end of the summer everyone but Smith was itching to be back in California; the four of us decided to make the move while Smith stayed. Phil Alagna became the new leader mostly by default, being the only one interested in handling the business aspect.


The Portraits, 1967
Name Changes

The Mojo Men went back into Curb’s studio, and returned to a five-piece lineup with the addition of another old Milwaukee friend, B3 player Pat Short (Cibarrich). John Rondell had written “Runaround Girl” and we cut it with Paul Stefan’s lead vocal. We also recorded the vocal for “Hiding From Myself”, a filler song for the Dr. Goldfoot & the Girl Bombs soundtrack LP. By this time (fall 1967) the San Francisco Mojo Men had hit Billboard’s top 40 with “Sit Down I Think I Love You”; now we needed to change our name. Stefan wanted it to be “Paul & the (something)”, so at a meeting in Mike Curb’s office, we began tossing out names. We thought it would be good to have another “P” word, and it got down to Paul & the Pack. I didn’t like it, but I was the lone dissenting voice so it won.

I had been a subscriber to Billboard Magazine for several years and, within a day or two of the Curb meeting, I discovered that “I (Who Have Nothing)” by Terry Knight and the Pack was edging its way up the Hot 100. This was no good! After our gig that night I began looking in the dictionary under “P” for another name. When I got to “picture” I noticed the synonym “portrait” and thought, “That’s it!” I called a couple of the guys at 3 AM (having just gotten off the gig at 1:45) and they agreed that Paul & the Portraits would be a good name. The next day I called Curb’s office and he understood, but said he had already ordered 20,000 record labels showing Paul & the Pack. So, the Dr. Goldfoot LP bills the Portraits as Paul & the Pack, while the photo on the back cover shows us holding a picture frame to go with the name Portraits. Members depicted (L-R) are Phil Alagna, Gary Myers, Paul Stefan, John Rondell and Pat Short.

Then came another typical 60’s setback – Paul got drafted. We did a few gigs, and even another recording session, as a four-piece band, but we were lacking a strong lead singer, and then Pat Short also left. Clancy Grass had previously managed singer Jerry Tawney, who had come to L.A. from West Virginia and released a 1966 single on Liberty. Tawney had since gone back to WV, but Clancy convinced him to return to the coast to join our band. We re-recorded “Runaround Girl” with Jerry and we did the vocal for “Devil’s Angels” (as “Jerry & the Portraits”) over the same track used for Davie Allan’s instrumental version. We also cut a remake of “A Million To One” along with one of Jerry’s songs, “Let’s Tell The World”.

Recordings

The Portraits always used much vocal harmony, influenced by the Four Seasons, the Happenings, the Buckinghams, Jay & the Americans, and others. Most of the band’s sessions began with a basic track of bass, guitar and drums (Phil, John and me), and then instrumental overdubs: Phil on piano or organ, John with a second guitar part, and I sometimes added acoustic rhythm guitar. On one or two sessions I added vibes, and we used studio horn men on a few songs. The four of us would lay down our background vocal parts and then double them before putting Jerry’s lead on top. Once, when John was gone, we used our friend Larry Carlton, who went on to become one of the top studio guitarists in the business. Phil Alagna and I also played on two sessions for the Mystic Astrologic Crystal Band, another group managed by Clancy Grass. The Portraits recorded several unreleased songs and we sang on a Curb-produced commercial that was never used.

The Four Seasons had hit with their update of Cole Porter’s “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” in 1966, and Jerry came up with the idea of re-doing “Over The Rainbow” in a similar fashion. We incorporated a bit of the arrangement from the Demensions’ 1961 hit, but added much of our own, along with the switch to the up-tempo rock beat. I did the group arrangement and studio guitarist/arranger Don Peake wrote the charts for the “sweetening” – French horn, chimes and strings.

The record was released December 1967 and everyone involved was excited about it. However, we were not happy about coupling it with “Runaround Girl”; we felt that both songs were A-sides. This turned out to be a valid belief, as each side got airplay in different areas. One or the other charted in several cities, but neither charted nationally. There was also some talk that December was not a good time to release it. Airplay was more limited that month because of Christmas music, and perhaps by January some stations would have already put it aside. The Portraits did a Beverly Hills show with Mike Clifford, Ian Whitcomb, Boyce & Hart, and Don & Goodtimes, and appeared on TV8 Dancetime in San Diego, but little else developed. The band probably should have toured, especially to the cities where the record was played.

In early 1968 John Rondell left to join a San Diego band and Stan Ray (Hartford) replaced him. Around March I saw a trade ad for the Schaefer Talent Hunt, a large advertising promotion seeking new talent to record the Schaefer Beer jingle in New York. Without even mentioning it to the other members, I filled out the entry blank and sent it along with our two Sidewalk singles. To my great surprise, a few weeks later I received a telegram stating that we were one of the 10 winners. We were flown to New York and, because our selection was based on our “Over The Rainbow” vocals (they didn’t know that we were a self-contained band), studio musicians (including noted drummer Mel Lewis) cut the tracks, which were arranged by Peter Matz in the style of our “Over The Rainbow” version.


At A&R Studios in New York, from left: unidentified, arranger Peter Matz, Stan Ray, Jerry Tawney, Gary Myers and Phil Alagna.
Beyond the 60’s

For the remainder of 1968 into 1969 the Portraits had a six-nighter at the Water Wheel in West Covina with little or no involvement from Clancy. However, we were still under contract to him and, when he learned of our beer commercial, he wanted a cut. We disagreed, but at some point, Jerry went back to him for more recording sessions without telling the rest of the band; the esprit de corps was fading. John Rondell had rejoined the band, but in August 1969 he and I left to join Duane Smith (original Cashmere’s leader from 1964), who now had a Nevada-based show group, the Cee & Dee Review.

The Portraits continued with more changes under Phil Alagna (now going as Phil Anthony). In December 1972, after I had left Duane Smith and worked many other gigs back in SoCal, I rejoined. The band had just joined forces with Sanetti & Rueda, a Stockton-based music/comedy team. Over the next few years we worked Reno and Lake Tahoe several times, along with Las Vegas and many other showrooms in California, Oregon and Arizona. I was replaced in March 1975 when a drummer who had previously worked with two of the other members was looking for work.

I continued playing full time in and around the greater L.A./Orange County areas until March 1982, and then joined a “casual” band led by Stan Ray, the guitarist from the Portraits’ beer commercial period. Phil Alagna kept the Portraits going through many more personnel shifts until that summer, when he disbanded the group and joined Stan and me on the casuals. By summer 1983 I was also doing occasional gigs as a leader, for which I exhumed the Portraits name. One day that summer, as a surprise to Phil and Stan, I called Jerry Tawney to see if he could come to our gig. He made it down and the four of us got together for the first time in 15 years.

Epilogue

Duane Smith, always a hard-working businessman, quit performing in the 80’s and opened a studio rental business in Portland, OR. That venture grew into West Coast Event Productions with major clients and a second office in Las Vegas.

Doug Weiss (Masters) gigged for many years in the Twin Cities and then returned to Las Vegas, where he was the Bobby Hatfield part of a Righteous Brothers tribute act. He died October 2007 (b: 8/3/42; Milwaukee).

Tom Hahn (b: 1939; Tipton, IN) had left the music business by 1970 and settled in Michigan.

Phil Alagna (b: 1943; Milwaukee) worked in piano sales and later as a piano tuner, while continuing to gig part-time. He was still playing in 2009 as the Phil Anthony Band, mostly for senior dances and functions.

John Beilfuss (Rondell) (b: 1945; Milwaukee) returned to Wisconsin in the 70’s and continued playing until 1996. He subsequently began a wedding photography business in the Eau Claire area.

Billy Joe Burnette had releases on many labels from at least 1965-79. He scored a big success in 1976 as the co-writer of Red Sovine’s “Teddy Bear” during the CB radio boom.

Tim Welch (b. 7/41; Wichita, KS and was shot & killed in W. Hollywood in 2/72) had previous releases on Edit and Reprise and a later release on Attarack.

Paul Stefaniak (Stefan) (b: 1941; Milwaukee) had rejoined the Portraits after his military duty, but left the music business by the mid-70’s. He was last known to be living in the Yuma, AZ area.

Pat Cibarrich (Short) had relocated to Louisville, KY in the late 60’s and subsequently returned to Milwaukee, continuing to play music. He died January 1998.

Jerry Tawney connected with writer/producer Jerry Fuller in the 70’s and had several solo releases on Bell. One of his songs appeared on Al Wilson’s La La Peace Song LP, and he was also in Yellow Hand on Capitol. Tawney left the music business in 1982 and became a mortgage loan consultant for Countrywide.

Stan Ray became a successful attorney in Los Alamitos, CA, specializing in estate planning.

Gary Myers (b: 1942; Milwaukee): I worked for a large music store in Arcadia, CA from 1985-2006, while continuing to play a variety of gigs in the greater L.A./O.C. area, including occasional work with Phil Alagna. As of 2009 I had written and self-published four books (see here for more information); still playing, and as recently as January 2008, had used the name “The Portraits”.

The Orbits

“Don’t” is a great side of UK style pop by the Orbits. I’m not sure what the connection is to the Boss Sound label from El Monte, California, as the band is supposed to have been from the central Wisconsin town of Stevens Point. Members included Ron Hanson on guitar and Eddie Merwin.

“Don’t” has all the elements of a good pop song. The song was written by Lena Davis and, as far as I can tell, originally done by UK act Joe Brown and the Bruvvers in June of 1964. That Piccadilly 45 didn’t receive a U.S. release to my knowledge, so the Orbits more likely heard it on the Roemans’ first 45 on ABC-Paramount from 1965, even though that wasn’t a hit. Less inspiring is the flip, a slow take on the Searchers’ “Goodbye My Love”.

This 45 received a mention as a ‘Former Instant Pick’ on the local charts of WSPT in April of 1967.

The band likely recorded these songs at Cuca in Sauk City, Wisconsin, indicated by the J-6744 catalog number on the label. However, I do not believe this was released with a Cuca label – the WSPT chart for example lists Boss Sound. This band is not the Orbits from Portage, WI who had an earlier 45 on Cuca, “Orbit Rock” / “Slow Burn”.

Sources include: Do You Hear That Beat: Wisconsin Pop/Rock in the 50’s and 60’s by Gary E. Myers.

The Journeymen

The Journeymen of Green Bay, WI
The Journeymen, 1966, from left: Gary Clark, Rick Fonder, Bob Van Calster, Mike Bogart and Mark Paulick. None of these guys were in the band by the time of the 45!

Out of Green Bay, Wisconsin, this band went through many lineup changes before settling on the quintet that recorded their great 45 on Tee Pee Records.

The Journeymen came from the Misty Shadows, who formed in 1965 with a lineup of:

Steve Van Pay (lead vocals)
Mark Paulick (lead guitar)
Tobin Kraft (bass, rhythm guitar)
Dan Gallagher (drums)

By 1966 the lineup had changed to the one pictured in the photo above, with only Mark Paulick remaining from the original group. This lineup changed the band name from the Misty Shadows to the Journeymen.

Mike Bogart (lead vocals)
Mark Paulick (lead guitar)
Rick Fonder (organ)
Bob Van Calster (bass)
Gary Clark (drums)

However, Paulick soon left to join first the Society for only one month and then the Invaders, who released several 45s on Cuca, USA and Capitol. Paulick recommended his friend Tom Halfpap, and within six months the lineup had completely changed to the group on the record:

Dennis Pharis (lead vocals)
Tom Halfpap (lead guitar)
Tobin Kraft (bass)
Buzz Eastman (drums)
Mike Giese (keyboards)

Toby Kraft’s father Bob started handle bookings for the band, namely at Premontre High School and the Prom Ballroom.

In the spring of ’68 the Journeymen won a battle of the bands sponsored by Henri’s Music, the prize being five hours of recording time at Appleton’s Target Studios. As usual with these kinds of “prizes”, the recording would be free but the band would be hit for the expense of mastering and pressing the records!

They went into the studio in June to cut their cover of the Yardbirds “You’re a Better Man Than I” for the A-side of their 45. They spent over four and a half hours getting that song down. Engineer Tom Gebheim overlapped Tom Halfpap’s two takes on the fuzzy lead to create a cool echo effect.

With the remaining twenty minutes they cut one take of “Realities in Life”, a song Tom Halfpap and Dennis Pharis sketched out during the ride from Green Bay. Lyrics for the final verse were provided by engineer Gebheim. “Realities in Life” blasts out with an unworldly guitar sound that seems to be shredding the tape it’s recorded on. Vibrant and spontaneous, it’s a rocking winner for all two minutes run time.

As it turned out local radio station WDUZ AM picked up the B-side original for play, so the band added “Realities in Life” to their set list. Most of the copies of the record were sold at gigs. However, Dennis Pharis refused to contribute towards the pressing costs, so Halfpap destroyed Pharis’ share of the 45s in his yard one night, contributing to the present-day rarity of this record!

That summer of ’68, Chicago’s USA Records approached the band about making an album – but the offer required the band to raise the money to cover recording costs, which they were unable to do.

Dale Evans filled in on drums when Buzz Eastman couldn’t make a show, including a few battle-of-the-bands, and joined the group full time when the Marines drafted Buzz after the record was out.

In 1969, Mike Cygan took over on drums. He wrote to me:

I was the last drummer for the Journeymen. I attended East High with Tobin Kraft, Bob Vancalster and Doug Cayer and they approached me in the fall of 1969. Buzz Eastman was still in the service and they really wanted someone who had the similar beat as Buzz. I was already in a band called the Backward Community and was a little hesitant at first but after a bit of prodding from Tobin agreed to step in. The band consisted of Tobin on lead, Bob on bass and Doug Cayer on the Wurlitzer with twin Leslies.

I remember we were playing in Sheboygan and it was one of those Friday & Saturday gigs so we were on our way home early Saturday morning and we were involved in a head on crash that nearly wiped us out. Luckily we swerved and only caused damage to the driver’s side. I think we got home at about 7:00 a.m.

We played for a couple years into the early part of ’71 and then I got drafted and left the band. Ironically when I got out, Doug called me and asked if I wanted to play with him and Tobin and go by the name of; Cayer, Kraft and Merlin. We played for nearly a year but then I got a job as a police officer with the Green Bay Police Department. As a matter of fact, Doug is still playing with a band he started after I left by the name of Rocker. I hope this helps in the story of the Journeymen, one of Green Bay’s finest.

Tom Halfpap left the group in early ’69 and was replaced by Jeff Hermice, but the Journeymen broke up that fall.

Source: Band photo and most of the info cribbed from Lost and Found #2.

The Silhouettes

Photo of the Silhouettes band from Sheboygan, Wisconsin

The Silhouettes were a garage rock band from the mid 60’s out of Sheboygan, Wisconsin. We played many small gigs throughout northeast Wisconsin.The original members were Bob Rutkowski lead guitar, Genyk Okolowitz rhythm, Tim Shimberg bass and John Krizenesky drums. We never cut a record, but had a great time playing as a fill in band for larger big town groups at the Sheboygan Armory gigs, and many battle of the bands and small town dances.

Business card of the Silhouettes band from Sheboygan, Wisconsin
I have not seen Tim since High school, John still lives in Sheboygan as far as I know. Genyk was killed in an auto accident right after high school. I am now living in Shawano, Wisconsin, and still enjoy watching live groups.

Bob Rutkowski, August 2009

Flyers and ads for the Silhouettes band from Sheboygan, Wisconsin

Photo of the Silhouettes band from Sheboygan, Wisconsin

Photo of the Silhouettes band from Sheboygan, Wisconsin

Ad for the Matadors and Silhouettes

Photo of the Silhouettes band from Sheboygan, Wisconsin

Ad for the Silhouettes, Destinations and Royal Customs at Skateland

The Dimensions, Dementions, High Water and Pye

Dementions (Battle of the Bands winners, 1968) with Randy Belger, Don Wadyka, Bill Bernico, Carl Block, Kim Steffen
Dementions, third version (Battle of the Bands winners, 1968) with (L-R) Randy Belger, Don Wadyka, Bill Bernico, Carl Block, Kim Steffen

The Dimensions (first lineup) with (L-R) Bill Bernico, Randy Belger, Don Wadyka, Dan Shaske
The Dimensions (first lineup) with (L-R) Bill Bernico, Randy Belger, Don Wadyka, Dan Shaske

Bill Bernico sent these photos of his bands, the Dimensions, High Water and Pye, based around Sheboygan, Wisconsin, about halfway between Milwaukee and Green Bay.

I formed the band in the fall of 1965 and our first name was The Dimensions, later changed to The Dementions and finally to High Water (we found a road sign warning of High Water).

We played throughout Wisconsin until July of 1972 at which time we all went our own ways. We played a lot of Sheboygan Armory jobs, opening for such acts as The Robbs, Cryan’ Shames, Skunks, Tony’s Tygers, ? and the Mysterians, The Legends, Next Five and on and on. As for our members, they were… and were from…

Bill Bernico…Sheboygan
Don Wadyka…Sheboygan Falls
Dan Shaske…Batavia
Randy Belger…Batavia
Carl Block…Random Lake
Kim Steffen…Fredonia

Second version of Dementions with (L-R) Randy Belger, Bill Bernico, Don Wadyka, Kim Steffen, Carl Block
Second version of Dementions with (L-R) Randy Belger, Bill Bernico, Don Wadyka, Kim Steffen, Carl Block
After more than 43 years, I am the only one still active as a working musician. I’ve pared down from a 6-piece band to a duo and now a solo act. Other Sheboygan bands I’ve played with included PYE, Colonel Corn and Flashback.

As for recording, we had the song all picked out, rehearsed and ready to record when our keyboard player decided he didn’t want to have to tour to promote it, went to another band.

Bill Bernico, 2009

High Water with (L-R) Kim Steffen, Carl Block, Randy Belger, Bill Bernico
High Water with (L-R) Kim Steffen, Carl Block, Randy Belger, Bill Bernico
High Water, final lineup (1971) with Kim Steffen, Bill Bernico, Randy Belger (back) and Carl Block (front)
High Water, final lineup (1971) with Kim Steffen, Bill Bernico, Randy Belger (back) and Carl Block (front)
Pye, my 1969 band (lasted 6 months) with (L-R) Tom Roth, Bill Bernico, Steve Progar, Mick Johnston, Dick Colbath
Pye, my 1969 band (lasted 6 months) with (L-R) Tom Roth, Bill Bernico, Steve Progar, Mick Johnston, Dick Colbath

Jim Curran with the Lonely Ones

Here’s a contribution from JP Coumans, who writes:

Here’s an over-the-top-as-garage-music-should-be record: Jim Curran with the Lonely Ones – “Aren’t You Happy” – on the super obscure D-Rea records!

Probably dating from ’65 – ’66 and besides the incredible crude production it’s got great kinda “girl put me down” or is it “put the girl down” lyrics! And they definitely listened very well to “Twist and Shout”… since they took it over and changed it into their own song … with an incredible cool loud break!!!!!

This Jim Curran probably was a rich man’s son who invited the Lonely Ones to release a record together with him. While looking at Jim he’s probably some university dude who really wanted to make a record.

The B-side is something completely different … instead of “Let there be drums” it’s “Drums Send Me” … with only Jim Curran credits. Is this drum instro music? Definitely Jim hasn’t drummed before because that’s how it sounds … completely off rhythm and it sounds more like a space filler!

I’ll repeat Edward Scalzo’s comment about this release, as it gives the most information about it:

This record was recorded in 1966 in the basment of Jim Curran’s home is Rice Lake, Wisconsin. It is correct that he was a rich man’s son that wanted to make a record and asked the band to take part.

The Lonely Ones were a very popular band from Spooner, WI that played gigs all around northern Wisconsin 1965-66 and a little bit in ’67. Originally known as The Epitaphs the band loved doing Rolling Stones and the like. This song is not typical of the band. I played bass with the band ’65-66. The guys had a bit of a bad boy image, but not me. I am the young gentlemen wearing glasses upper right.

I do not have a copy but would like to have one. The flip side is Jim trying to learn to drum, it was just filler.

The Darnells


The Darnells circa 1962, clockwise from top L: Tom Hahn, Mike Blattner, Bruce Wells, unknown (sax),
center: Denny King (photo courtesy Bruce Wells).

These Darnells (unrelated to the ones on Gordy) began in Milwaukee as Denny & the Darnells circa 1959, with various musicians (including future Legends drummer Jim Sessody) passing through the band. The line-up that went into the Cuca studios to record the first single consisted of lead guitarist Denny King, tenor saxophonist Tom Fabre, singer Gary Lane, Bruce Wells on piano, Norm Sherian on rhythm guitar, and Jerry Sworske on drums. The A-side is their remake of Gene Vincent’s “Little Sheila”, while the instrumental flip is a Latin standard, featuring the jazz oriented sax-man Fabre.

Mike Blattner eventually replaced Sworske on drums, and singer Kim Marie was a member when they played off-night gigs at the Spa on 5th & Wisconsin in September 1962. Our Florida band, the Nightbeats, was touring through Milwaukee’s ACA agency, and they had booked us into the Spa for two weeks. We were looking for a different guitar man and King was looking for steady work, so he joined our band, putting a temporary end to the Darnells. However, five months later King and I left the Nightbeats to reform the Darnells as a trio, with bassist Tom Hahn. Hahn had already been out to Southern California with the Bonnevilles and he wanted to make another trip in order to obtain a Mexican divorce from his estranged wife. A SoCal trip sounded great to Denny and me, so in May 1963 we headed west and landed a gig for the summer at the Firehouse, a beer bar on 17th Street in Costa Mesa.

On the referral of the Nightbeats’ bass player, we connected with the Tide label in L.A. and recorded eight sides – two instrumentals and a pair of vocals by each of us. “Spooner”, the first instrumental, is an up-tempo, surfy, 12-bar blues guitar rocker. The flip is another 12-bar blues, this time a slightly jazzy mid-tempo swing. Denny King’s “She’s My Girlfriend” is teenish, while the flip has the flavor of Troy Shondell’s “This Time”. My own release is teen pop with added strings and voices. To my knowledge, Hahn’s vocals were the only cuts not released from those sessions.

We returned to Milwaukee that fall and, in January 1964, Hahn and I left to join the Cashmeres, bringing a final end to the Darnells. The Cashmeres metamorphosized into the Mojo Men (who later evolved into the Portraits with releases on Sidewalk). Hahn left the Mojo Men and did some work in Memphis with Ace Cannon (“Tuff,” 1962) before leaving the music business and settling in Michigan. After doing some club work with country singer Johnny Carver, Denny King returned to California and teamed up with the Canadian Beadles (sic), whom we had previously met in Ishpeming, Michigan. That combination recorded one single for Tide as the Mojo Men, but they had no connection with the Milwaukee Mojo Men. (It seems that Tide Records, having had their only national chart appearance with Larry Bright’s “Mojo Workout” in 1960, tried to capitalize on the “Mojo” name in every possible way).

After his solo recording for Specialty in 1972, King moved to the Sacramento area and formed a booking agency. He later imported medical supplies from Korea and had other business involvements before he died in 2000; Mike Blattner died in 2004. Gary Lane had gone on to work with the Mad Lads and the Saints Five, and later owned a club in Milwaukee. Besides the Darnells, Jerry Sworske had drummed with several other Milwaukee bands, including the Noblemen and Junior & the Classics. He later became a police officer. Tom Fabre moved to Los Angeles and continued in music until his death in 2007. Kim Marie has organized frequent oldies shows in Milwaukee since 2000. This writer has lived in the greater L.A. area since 1965, played full-time until 1982, and part-time since then.

Darnells releases:

Sara 1055: Little Sheila/Besame Mucho, 11/61
Tide 1090: Spooner/Sleepy, 9/63

Related:

Tide 1091: She’s My Girlfriend/Long Lonely Night (Denny King), /63
Edit 2005: Poor Little Baby/If (You’d Only Be Mine) (Gary Myers), 11/63
Tide 2000: Surfin’ Fat Man/Paula (Mojo Men), 2/64
Tide 2001: Mojo Workout/I Got A Woman (Tommy Hahn & the Mojo Men), 5/64
Specialty 726: Bessie Mae/Go Down Moses (Denny King), /72
Specialty LP 5003: Evil Wind Is Blowing (Denny King), /72

Gary E. Myers is author of two histories of Wisconsin music of the 50’s & 60’s, “Do You Hear That Beat” and “On That Wisconsin Beat”, as well as two instructional books, “Understanding and Using Chords and Chord Progressions” and “Understanding and Using Scales and Modes”. Check Gary’s website for more information.


Darnells in Appleton: Tom Hahn, Gary Myers, Denny King


Darnells 1963: Tom Hahn, Gary Myers, Denny King