Category Archives: Blacknight

Theze Few

Theze Few, March 1967, Dan Seals, Buddy Lay, Larry Stevens, Mike Woolbright, John Colley
Theze Few, March 1967

Theze Few formed in Dallas and cut one single for the BlacKnight label in 1966, “Dynamite” / “I Want Your Love”. Dan Seals wrote both songs, though the labels mistakenly list his name as D. Feals, published by Tall Pine BMI.

Members of the band were:

Danny Seals – saxophone
Larry Stevens – lead guitar
John Colley – piano
Mike Woolbright – bass
Buddy Lay – drums

By the 1968 Irving Teen-A-Go-Go, the band had changed their name to the Southwest F.O.B.

The blog …from the rear view mirror… quoted the Dallas Morning News from when Dan passed away in 2009:

Dan Seals, 61, was born in West Texas but moved to Dallas as a teenager. He graduated from Samuell High School in Pleasant Grove in 1966. He and classmate John Colley, who later changed the spelling of his last name to Coley, formed a group with three other Samuell students called the Playboys Five. That became Theze Few, which morphed into the legendary Dallas high school band Southwest F.O.B.

As the friendship blossomed, Seals’ brother Jim was emerging as a musical superstar. Jim Seals was part of the multi-platinum-selling duo Seals & Crofts. But Dan Seals and Coley would soon put their own stamp on music.

They formed England Dan & John Ford Coley and became the toast of 1976 when their single, “I’d Really Love to See You Tonight,” and album, Nights are Forever, became gold records, meaning each sold more than 500,000 copies.

Lonestar Stomp covered the Seals family, including brother Jimmy and father Wayland.

Kit and the Outlaws

Kit and the Outlaws, 1967
l-r: Kit Massengill, Joe Jesmer on drums, Jerry Colwell at the mic and Alan Rafkin

Outlaws In 45 Fun, Fame & FortuneKit and the Outlaws evolved from the Outlaws, the Dallas group led by Kit Massengill. As the Outlaws, they had a great early Texas garage 45 on the In label, produced by Tommy Allsup. Both sides, “Worlds Apart” / “Fun, Fame & Fortune” were written by Kit.

Kit and the Outlaws Blacknight 45 Don't Tread on MeWith a change of members, the group hit the big time with their second 45, a fuzzed-up version of “Midnight Hour”. It was picked up by Philips for national distribution in late 1966, mainly on the strength of the a-side. That’s a fine cover version, but it’s the b-side, Kit’s original “Don’t Tread on Me”, that gets the attention nowadays. The first BlacKnight pressings list the band as “The Outlaws”, later pressings read “Kit and the Outlaws.”

Members included:

Kit Massengill – lead vocals and rhythm guitar
Dennis Lowe – lead guitar
Jerry Colwell – keyboards
Alan Rafkin – bass
Joe Jesmer – drums

There is also one further 45 as Kit and the Outlaws, “Now Doubt About It” / “Mama’s Gone” on the Empire label, another of Bob Sanders’ labels. Both sides written by Kit Massengill and published by Tall Pine Music, Black Knight Production. I don’t know the date of this one, or where it fits in to the chronology of their releases, but it seems to be a rare 45.

Kit and the Outlaws Empire 45 No Doubt About It

Kit and the Outlaws Empire 45 Mama's Gone

Alan Rafkin - bass

I recently heard from keyboardist and occasional vocalist Jerry Colwell, and asked him about Kit and recording “Don’t Tread on Me”:

I met Kit in late ’65, he was working with the owner of the Cotton Club, a topless bar on Lemmon Ave. He had a bass player named Alan Rafkin, and drummer named Joe Jesmer, but needed a keyboard player and lead guitar. I was on my way out of a band called the Gobyzurks, we were a college and night club band in North Texas.

Dennis Lowe was the lead guitar and I was the organ player. Dennis and I went to high school together and were fairly good friends. Kit told us we had 2 weeks to learn about 50 songs and play nightly at this club.

Kit & the Outlaws, recording Midnight Hour at Sellers' Studio, Dallas
Recording Midnight Hour at Sellers’ Studio, Dallas

After about a year of playing night clubs in Dallas we recorded the record Midnight Hour/ Don’t Tread on Me. The Sellars Studio was close to downtown [2102 Jackson Street]. I sang on the song Don’t Tread on Me, as background.We had it pressed on the Black Knight Label. Frank Jolly at KBOX really liked us and would play the song every night, Finally all the DJ’s at KBOX started playing the song and it went up the charts. [It reached #1 on KBOX on December 2, 1966.] We were shocked that it was doing so good. KLIF wouldn’t play it cause we wern’t with a major record label.

Thanks to Bob Sanders, the recording engineer for the Celler studio and our manager, we got signed to a 5 year contract with Philips. And changed our name to Kit and the Outlaws.

Kit & the Outlaws

We played at a daily televised venue called “Something Else” [Sump’N Else] hosted by Ron Chapman, as well as opening for Sonny & Cher, The Hollies, Herman Hermitts, Noel Harrison, and The Byrds. We toured and had some great stories, like me and Kit putting a huge dead fish in the Galvez hotel swimming pool one night at three in the morning. Had pictures of Graham Nash and the Hollies drinking about 14 cases of beer before they went on at Will Rodgers in Fort Worth.By 1968 was almost 20 and still hadn’t completed high school, somehow lost interest due to work and touring. Can you imagine going to high school and having a #1 record. Needless to say I dated just about anyone, and I did!

Early days:

The Malibus, 1964

The Malibus, 1964

Started playing bass guitar and got with some older guys called the Centurys in Mesquite. Later [1964] formed my first band “The Malibus” with Don Doss, Gary Stultz, & Glen Milsap. Started playing in old bars down on Grand and Haskel Ave. These places had dirt floors, we used to put a hat down and play Jimmy Reed stuff. Thats how I learned blues harp.

Johnny Green of the Greenmen
Johnny Green of the Greenmen
Johnny Green of the Greenmen

The Kavemen backing Chuck Berry at Surfers a Go go
The Kavemen backing Chuck Berry at Surfers a Go go
The Kavemen backing Chuck Berry at Surfers a Go go
The Kavemen backing Chuck Berry at Surfers a Go go

Later joined the #1 Dallas band The Cavemen and played battle of the bands against Jimmy Vaughan and his band, and the Royals and others. In 1965 the Cavemen was the home band for a Night club “Surfers A Go Go” in Dallas, where we played with Chuck Berry, Roy Head, The original Drifters, Jimmy Velvet and Johnny Green and the Greenmen. We played at clubs all over Texas, my favorites were the “Bamboo Hut” in Galveston, and “Panther Hall” in Fort Worth, a televised event every week. We were also played at Louanns many times.

The Kavemen, Dallas 1965
from left to right: Roland Allen, Jimmy Allen, Rodney Vinyard, Tommy Fonseca, Bill Walden & Jerry Colwell

In 1965 my favorite club was the Purple Orchard in downtown were my buddy Little Anthony was the host. I could go in just about any night club in Dallas and get a drink for free when I was just 16. Had a great time one night with Fats Domino.

 The Gobezerks at the Sugar Shack in Mesquite
The Gobezerks at the Sugar Shack in Mesquite

In 1966 played with “The Gobezurks” a college and night club band, I dressed in drag for some of the songs and would fall off the stage as if I was drunk.The Outlaws broke up in spring of 1968 and I went on to form the Jerry Layne Orchestra with 10 various horns and a stand up bass with Teresa Morrision on vocals.

I still play a B-3 and have recorded and produced 3 live CD’s in Austin.

Jerry Colwell with Kit & the Outlaws
Special thanks to Jerry Colwell for his history of the band and photos.

Kit & the Outlaws Philips 45 Don't Tread on Me

The Wig

The Wig - from left: Jess Yaryan, Rusty Wier, Benny Rowe, Bill Wilmot and Johnny Richardson. Thanks to Liz for the correction.
The Wig – from left: Jess Yaryan, Rusty Wier, Benny Rowe, Bill Wilmot and Johnny Richardson.
Thanks to Liz for the correction.

The Wig Goyle 45 Drive It HomeUpdated October 9, 2009

The other great Austin, Texas band of the mid-60’s was the Wig: Rusty Wier (drums, vocals), Benny Rowe (lead guitar), John Richardson (guitar), Jess Yaryan (bass) and Billy Wilmont (keyboards).

Benny Rowe had been in an earlier version of the band known as the Wigs that had toured Europe.

The 45 version of “Drive It Home” is phenomenal, but the live version makes the studio cut seem tame in comparison! The live recording was done at the Jade Room, one of their regular spots.

The flipside of the Goyle 45 is “To Have Never Loved at All”, a good ballad I hadn’t paid much attention to until someone requested to hear it so I made a transfer. The Wig released “Drive It Home” / “To Have Never Loved at All” in November 1966.

The Wig Blacknight 45 Crackin' Up“Crackin’ Up” is as exciting as any song cut in the mid-60s. The opening guitar riff is unforgettable for one thing. Rusty Wier’s drumming propels the song, his vocals are confident and Benny Rowe’s guitar solo is intense.

Wier wrote “Crackin’ Up”. The flip is “Bluescene.” It came out on two labels, BlacKnight and Empire. The BlacKnight single is rare enough and came out in May of ’67, but the Empire ones seems even harder to find – one copy I’ve seen was issued on yellow vinyl – anyone have a scan of that?

I don’t have a release date for the Empire version – it may have actually come later than the Blacknight.

There are more live tracks along with both sides of an early unreleased 45, “Little By Little” and “Forever And A Day” that I haven’t heard yet.

After the Wig broke up, Yaryan and Wier formed the Lavender Hill Express, blending country and pop sounds. A lot of information on that group can be found on the Sonobeat site.

I just heard Randy Wier passed away after battling cancer. The Austin360 site had an obituary but it has been taken down. Tommy Taylor had written a comment on an Austin Chronicle article for a personal take on Rusty’s influence on the Austin music scene, but that is now down too. I hope Mr. Taylor does not mind my reproducing his letter here:

Dear Editor,

On reading this week’s article concerning Rusty Wier and his passing, I couldn’t help but make note of the incorrectness of a portion of the story [“Off the Record,” Music, Oct. 16]. Rusty Wier did not join Gary P. Nunn’s Lavender Hill Express. The Lavender Hill Express was formed as a “supergroup” featuring the best guys from many other top local groups. Leonard Arnold from Felicity (Don Henley), Jess Yaryan and Rusty Wier from the Wig, Layton DePenning from Baby Cakes.

Gary P. Nunn was not even in the Lavender Hill Express originally. The original keyboardist was Johnny Schwertner. The group was a year into its tenure before Gary came on the scene. It was Rusty Wier’s Lavender Hill Express from the get-go.

I was disappointed in the size and content of the article. This man was at the very heart and very beginning of everything that this music community now holds dear and prides itself upon. While I realize that the 2002 article pretty much covered the main points [“I Before E,” Music, May 31, 2002], Rusty Wier deserves the cover once again. The passing of these luminaries in our local music community needs top attention, even though they may no longer be at the height of their careers or as popular with the kiddies as the latest flavor of the month.

Rusty Wier was an Austin icon. He had the first major label record contract ever awarded to an Austin artist. He was the first person in Austin to stand out from the crowd of players in bands, to be recognized as an individual, even as a drummer. Rusty Wier and the Wig held the No. 1 slot with their two-sided single “Drive It Home”/”To Have Never Loved at All” for several weeks in 1966-67 on K-NOW, the only radio station in town that played popular music, above groups like the Beatles.

In Austin, Texas, before Rusty Wier, there was nothing.

Tommy Taylor

Rusty Wier’s official site, (now also defunct) had more on his career, and many photos, including some I’ve reproduced here.

The Wig Fantastic Sounds business card

Rusty Wier in 1969, when he was with the Lavender Hill Express. Photo taken by Hilton Puckett and reproduced from Rusty Wier's official site.
Rusty Wier in 1969, when he was with the Lavender Hill Express. Photo taken by Hilton Puckett and reproduced from Rusty Wier’s official site (now defunct)
 I like how the clipping above calls Rusty the "lead drummer"! It also gives a different spelling of his last name.
I like how the clipping above calls Rusty the “lead drummer”! It also gives a different spelling of his last name.

The Wig - Benny Rowe, Rusty Wier, Jess Yaryan, Johnny Richardson and Bill Wilmot