Category Archives: Racine

The Voyagers on Feature Records

The Voyagers came from Racine, Wisconsin, cutting two 45s for the Feature Records label out of Janesville.

The band first recorded as a quintet with:

Mark Peterson – vocals
Jay Sieger – lead guitar
Ed Hauser – rhythm guitar
Lance Davenport – bass
Steve Porter – drums

Their first 45 was the excellent “Away” backed with “I’m So Lonely”, both songs written by Sieger and Davenport, from August 1966 on Feature Records 817R-111, an RCA custom press. Spad Music would publish all their original songs.

Voyagers Feature 45 Can't Save This Heart

Voyagers Feature 45 I Want You Back

By the time of their second single, in 1967, Marc Peterson and Ed Hauser had left, replaced by Joey Carrion (Tino Gonzales) on lead vocals and rhythm guitar. This lineup recorded two more originals, “Can’t Save This Heart” by Sieger / Davenport, and “I Want You Back” by Carrion. It was released as Feature Records F-101, and produced by RAM Prod. After the single, Jay Sieger left and was replaced on lead guitar by Bob Spock.

Steve Sperry in Chicago, 1966
Steve Sperry in Chicago, 1966

Arthur Sullivan sent me Stephen Sperry’s photo and business card, and wrote to me with some information:

This group, The Voyagers was produced by Steve Sperry who operated Ram Productions during the 1960s. This group was probably managed for bookings by Ken Adamany who lived in Janesville during that time. Steve lived in Janesville WI and also managed Dick Campbell of Monroe WI for a while. I don’t know where it was recorded but it has a very good clean sound. There was Leaf Studio in Janesville or Cuca at Sauk City. 

Stephen Sperry Ram Productions, Janesville
Stephen Sperry & Ram Productions card, Janesville
Steve Sperry had an early 45 on Cuca J-1008 “That Ain’t So” / “Our Summer Love” before starting Ram Productions artist management and the Rampro label.

Arthur Sullivan had his own release on Swan Records ‎S-4153 as Artie Sullivan with the Rhythm Beats ‎– “It’s Time” / “Suzanne”, and produced singles with vocalist Dick Campbell on Camsul Records out of Worcester, MA (The Wild Ones “Surfin’ Time Again” for example), and CineVista Records out of Monroe, Wisconsin, among many others.

Sources: Gary E. Myers Can You Hear That Beat and On That Wisconsin Beat, and 45 cat

The Sultans Five

Sultans Five – original mid-60s lineup on the records
as noted on photo: Ken Allen, Lenny Juliano, Tim Mickna, Ray Polouski and Vic Weinfurter.

The Sultans Five were based out of Racine, Wisconsin, originally a three-piece when they formed in 1963. Original members were Len Juliano guitar, Tim Michna on bass and Vic Weinfurter, Jr. on drums. With the addition of Ray Plauske from the Sensations on lead guitar they became the Sultans IV. Farfisa organist and saxaphonist Ken Allen made them the Sultans Five.

Their recording career consisted of all or nearly all original songs, with Victor Weinfurter the main contributer along with Ray Plauske and Tim Michna.

Their earliest releases include two on the RAL label “Tonight Is the Night” / “Hey Little Girl” and “Walk with Me” / “Who’s at Fault”. Of these I’ve only heard “Tonight Is the Night” from its later release on Raynard. The flip of that release is “With You”, an original by Ray Plauske.

Their second on Raynard was a good rocker, “Daisy” that features a raucous, booming guitar sound on the breaks. It was backed with “Life Is Like a River”. Both were Vic Weinfurter originals.

Both Raynard 45s, along with their last, came with custom sleeves reading “Enterprise Thirteen presents the Sultans Five”, along with the band’s first names, song titles and composers, the Baker Building address and the optimistic message “more to come”.

Enterprise Thirteen would be the label for their last and most famous release, the fabulous “You Know, You Know” a song that would grab everyone’s attention whenever my pal DJ Bossy Boots played it out in clubs. The flip is the gentle “Calico”, a fine moody number written by Weinfurter and Ray Plauske.

After the recordings Tom Zager joined on bass and Butch Kieffer on organ. The band broke up in 1968.

Thanks to JP Coumans for the scans and transfers of the Raynard 45s. If anyone has good transfers of their RAL releases, please let me know.

Update, November 2009

Ken Allen, who played Farfisa organ with the group wrote to me about his time with the band, and sent in the photo at top:

The picture I sent you was taken from the Racine Journal Times, advertising for us playing at Ligits Beach Bar at Browns Lake, Wisconsin.

Vic called me and asked if I would play organ for the Sultans and I said yes, but I would have to order a portable organ first. I ordered a brand new Farfisa Compact Duo, with two Gibson Saber Reverb amps. It was a great high tech fold up organ for the day. I had to wait for a month and a half for it to come over to the USA on a boat. I was told that my Farfisa was the second one sold in the USA.

We played at Earls Club in Kenosha, The Nitty Gritty in Racine, The Kraut Festival in Franksville, Wisconsin. We also would play for private parties etc.

Yes I was on our records. The records were recorded at the [Dave] Kennedy Recording Studio in Milwaukee. King Sabornick a D.J. at WRIT Radio was one of the arrangers we had and the other one was from New York, but I can’t remmember his name.

To make a long story short… Tim Mickna and I resigned from the Sultans Five, and that is when Butch Keifer replaced me on keyboard and Tom Zager replaced Tim Mickna on bass. I can’t remember all the details, 44 years is a long time. We had a great time while it lasted though.

Ken Allen

A later lineup, standing from left: Len Juliano, Ray Plauske, Butch Kieffer, Tom Zager; seated: Vic Weinfurter
Photo from Gary Myers’ Do You Hear That Beat, original from the collection of Vic Weinfurter.