Category Archives: Century Custom

The Blazers “Poison”

Blazers Photo: Harry Alexander, Bob Houghland (obscured), Ronnie Griffith, John Adler
The Blazers, from left: Harry Alexander, Bob Houghland (obscured), Ronnie Griffith and John Adler

Blazers Century Custom 45 PoisonThe Blazers were an obscure group who cut one fine instrumental single “Poison” / “Blue Blazin” with a Century Custom franchise out of Paducah, Kentucky, in the far west of the state.

Members were:

Bob Houghland – drums
Ron Griffith – rhythm guitar
John Adler – lead guitar
Harry Alexander – bass

Lead guitarist John Adler sent in the photo at top. Check out the skull in front of the bass drum, not to mention the instruments: a Kay Value Leader bass, a Danelectro Shorthorn double-cutaway, and a Gibson SG.

“Blue Blazin” was the original A-side, a bluesy guitar workout with plenty of room echo, written by Bob Houghland and Ron Griffith.

“Poison” has achieved some fame since appearing on an early volume of Strummin’ Mental (available now through Crypt Records). John Adler and Harry Alexander wrote “Poison”.

Bob Houghland passed away in 2014.

The Blazers recorded through the Century Custom Recording Service of Thomas F. Morris at 3029 Oregon St., Paducah, Kentucky. Fellow Paducah band the Moxies recorded their great last single, “I’m Gonna Stay” / “Drinkin’ Wine” through Century.

The Century Custom release number 18054 dates it to 1964.
Blazers Century Custom 45 Blue Blazin

Chuck Edwards and the Apaches

Chuck Edwards and the Apaches Ludo 45 She Let Me Go

Here’s an obscure Century Custom pressing by Chuck Edwards and the Apaches with a mix of garage and earlier rock styles that I like. “She Let Me Go” has gravelly vocals (credited to Tony and Eddie) over a great band that features good drum fills, a deep bass line and nice guitar work, plus a saxophone to tie it to the old styles.

The flip, “Lonely Apache” (written by Tony III) is a good, low-key instrumental. I don’t know any names other than what’s on the labels.

Released on Ludo Records 19796, I’m not sure of the date. The labels read “Recorded for Ludo Records by Century Custom Recording, Montgomery 6, Alabama 36106”.

Chuck Edwards wrote and produced “Dance Little Girl, Dance”- I believe he’s singing on it too – released as the Reactions on Ludo 001 b/w “Daddy’s Home” which I haven’t heard. I presume the Reactions single predates “She Let Me Go” by a year or so.

Chuck Edwards and the Apaches Ludo 45 Lonely Apache

The X-Terminators

X-Terminators Eugene Register Guard July 26, 1964
X-Terminators, July 26, 1964

X-Terminators Century Custom 45 X-TerminationThe X-Terminators came from Oakridge, Oregon, a small town about 40 miles southeast of Eugene, OR. I don’t have this 45 yet (if anyone has a copy please write to me) but came across this article and thought I’d write about the band.

Members were:

Craig Sorseth – lead guitar
Doug Bates – rhythm guitar, electric piano
Frank Worth – bass guitar
Jerry Westling – drums

The group formed in high school in January 1964. About six months later they went to Century Custom Recording Service in Eugene and cut two great original instrumentals, “X-Termination” and “Wild Hare” You can find both on Youtube, but for some reason slowed down by roughly 10%.

An article in the Register-Guard from July 1964 says “the selections are two of ten [original songs] the X-terminators composed by ear, since none of the boys read music for the instruments they play.”

With two of the members going to college in the fall, it’s unlikely the band stayed together much longer.

X-Terminators Century Custom 45 Wild Hare

The Salesian High School Rock ‘n Roll Show LPs

Salesian High School Rock n Roll Show Volume 2Bishop Mora Salesian High is a Catholic school at the intersection of Whittier Boulevard and South Soto Street in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles. In 1964, the school’s band director W.A. Taggart began producing concerts at East Los Angeles City College, where the auditorium would hold over 2,500 attendees, and at least three of these were recorded and released through Century Custom Recording Service in 1964 and ’65..

The Salesian High School Rock ‘n Roll Show LPs are little known outside of collectors of Los Angeles r&b and rock’n’roll. I’ve seen three volumes, one each from concerts on April 19, 1964,  October 18, 1964 and May 16, 1965 at the auditorium of East Los Angeles City College (ELACC) in Monterey Park. I’ve read there is a fourth volume, but haven’t seen it yet. I only own Volume 2, so if anyone has the music from Volume 3 please get in contact with me.

Volume 1 (Century Custom 19070, recorded April 19, 1964):

Bobbie and the Esquires – “You’ll Lose A Good Thing”
John Gamboa Sextet – “Down at The Chicken Shack”, “Moody’s Mood For Love”
Sal Padilla and the Leggeriors – “Night Train”
Thee Midnighters – “Chinese Checkers”, “For Your Love”
The Vesuvians – “The Fugitive,” “Hand Clapping”
Blue Satins – “Summertime”, “Love Lights”, “My First Love”
The Salesian Mustang Swing Band – “Theme For Rock ‘n Roll”

Salesian High School Rock n Roll Show Volume 2 side 1Volume 2 (Century Custom 20069, recorded October 18, 1964):

Art and the Nite Liters – “Tuff Talk”
The Velvetones – “Tenderly”
Ronnie and the Casuals – “20.75”
The Rhythm Playboys – “This Is My Prayer”, “One Degree North”
Thee Midniters with Li’l Willie G. vocalist – “And I Love Her”, “So Far Away”, “I Need Someone”, “Darling Forever”, “Sad Girl”
The Blue Satins – “Help Yourself”, “Oh-Pu-Pi-Do” (featuring The Sisters Trio), “The Bounce”

Notes by George L. Pineda.

Volume 3 (Century Custom 21995, recorded May 16, 1965):

The Goofy Six Plus One – “I Need Someone”
The Relations – “I Do Love You”
The Invaders – “Sad Girl”, “Darling Forever”
The Etalons – “Out Of Sight”
The Little Heartbreakers – “Cradle Rock”
The Enchanters – “Try Me”
The Parley Brothers – “Uncle Sam’s Men”
The Emeralds – “Wooly Bully”
The Precisions – “I Been Trying”
The Counts – “Girl of My Dreams”
Clarence Playa – “I Wake Up Crying”
The Velvetones – “Gloria”
The Progressions – “Twine Time”
Li’l Ray – “Oooh Baby Baby”
The Ambertones – “Ebb Tide”

Produced by W.A. Taggart, directed by Gilbert Pineda, photography by R. Ruiz.

Salesian Rock 'n Roll Show Vol. 4 Century Custom LP Side 1Volume 4 (Century Custom 22972, recorded Oct. 10, 1965 at East Los Angeles City College)

Thee Vandells – “Get Down With It”
The Entertainers – “Double 00 Soul”
The Fabulons – “I’ll Go Crazy”
The Four J’s – “My Girl Sloppy”
The Executives – “High Heel Sneakers”
The Relations – “Heat Wave”
The Impalas (Thee Impalas) – “Treat Her Right”
The V.I.P.’s – “Davids Mood”
Frankie Valens – “Gee Whiz”
The Emeralds – “So Far Away”
The Enchanters – “Midnight Hour”
The Enchantments – “Try Me”
The Etalons – “Ask Me Why”
The Noblemen – “To Be Loved”
The Ambertones – “I Need Someone/My Prayer”
The Four By Fours – “Roll Over Beethoven”

The first volume is less than half an hour long, consisting mostly of r&b covers, instrumentals and ballads. It includes Thee Midniters first recordings, a cover of Booker T & the MGs “Chinese Checkers” and “For Your Love” (a ballad, not the Yardbirds song). Larry Rendon and Romeo Prado of Thee Midniters were students of Bill Taggart.

Dominic Priore gives a concise early history of the group in the liner notes to the Norton Records compilation In Thee Midnite Hour!:

“Ex-Gentiles Little Willie G and Larry Rendon had first clicked with Benny Ceballos as Benny & the Midniters. This early lineup was know for wearing Lone Ranger style masks, which they would throw into the audience, driving the girls wild. The usual band lineup swaps (including a period with two lead singers, Little Willie G and Little Ray Jimenez) resulted in the solid recording band Thee Midniters, Willie, together with George Dominguez (lead guitar), Roy Marquez (rhythm guitar), Ronny Figueroa (organ), Larry Rendon (tenor sax), and trombone blaster Romeo Prado formed the core of the group with the drummer George Salazar and bass player Benny Lopez being succeeded by Danny La Mont and Jimmy Espinoza, respectively, Jimmy coming to the group via the Vesuvians and the Crowns, led by local legend Johnny Gamboa. Romeo too had entered the Midniters fold via the Crowns.”

Another notable performance is the Blue Satins, who do a rockin’ extended version of “Turn on Your Love Light”. The Blue Satins included Mike Gomez (vocals), Louie Lopez (vocals), Pete Ventura, Raul Suarez (lead guitar), Frank Estrella, Frank Mezquita (bass guitar), Bobby Loya (trumpet), Charles Lueras (sax), Robert Perez (sax), John Betancourt (drums). They had one 45 single, “You Don’t Know Me” / “My Wife Can’t Cook on Scarlet 501. More info on the Blue Satins is at the excellent site, You Found That Eastside Sound.

You can hear the album in its entirety at East LA Revue Radio, where Steven Chavez writes “the concert admission price was $1.25 and only $1 if you were a high school student with a valid school ID. I was one of the 2,000 in attendance that Sunday afternoon. It was initially sold at the high school book store for a hefty $3.25. This is the first concert record produced by ‘The Prof’ Bill Taggart’s team at the Boyle Heights parochial school for boys. Another person that was instrumental in the production and recording of this event is Tony Garcia.”

The October 18, 1964 concert is especially interesting to me because part of it was released as Thee Midniters’ first single, “Land of a Thousand Dances” (parts 1 & 2) on Chattahoochee 666. The rest of their performance from that concert is on “Rock ‘n Roll Show Volume 2”, including a version of the Beatles “And I Love Her” and Hank Jacobs’ “So Far Away” along with a few ballads.

Thee Midniters were supposed to be backing Cannibal & the Headhunters who were known locally for their version of Chris Kenner’s “Land Of A Thousand Dances.” But with Cannibal & the Headhunters stuck in Fresno with bad weather, Thee Midniters had the starring spot and did their own version of the song. Richie Unterberger recounts the story in more depth in “Urban Spacemen and Wayfaring Strangers”.Thee Midniters Chattahoochee 45 Land of 1,000 Dances

The obvious appeal of their performance somehow led concert producer W.A. Taggart to let the group bring the recording to Ruth Contes of Chattahoochee Records in Hollywood, who quickly released it in the month following the concert. In fact, it seems Thee Midniters released their version within weeks of Cannibal & the Headhunters cutting their own, recorded live at the Rhythm Room. In an interview, Headhunters member Richard “Scar” Lopez said their Rampart single was released in May, 1964 but this date is too early, as it wouldn’t have taken nine months to start showing up on local charts. Thee Midniters’s single turns up in radio station playlists beginning in December of ’64, then goes head to head in competition with Cannibal & the Headhunters’ single beginning in mid-January of ’65. The Headhunters’ Rampart single has a Monarch pressing # of 54957, indicating a November, 1964 mastering and pressing date. I would guess Cannibal & the Headhunters saw Thee Midniters were about to make a hit out of their signature song and rushed their own version out.Salesian High School Rock n Roll Show Volume 2 side 2

No one seems to dispute the legend that Headhunter lead vocalist Frankie Garcia came up with the “Na, Na Na Na Na…” hook spontaneously during a performance when he forgot a verse, though Thee Midniters include the Na Na Na Na hook in their version at the concert. In any case, Cannibal & the Headhunters won out in the national charts and the song is now associated with them, while Thee Midniters went on to record many great singles.

Other highlights on Volume 2 are the Blue Satins again who do a great trio of “Help Yourself”, “Oh-Pu-Pi-Do” (featuring The Sisters Trio) & “The Bounce”. Ronnie & the Casuals get only one song, the fine “20-75”; they had many releases on Donna and Mustang as Ronnie & the Pomona Casuals, including a version of “Land of a Thousand Dances” on their LP Everybody Jerk. The Rhythm Playboys had been Frankie Garcia’s group before joining Cannibal & the Headhunters. Their instrumental “One Degree North” is one of the best cuts on the LP.

Salesian High School Rock n Roll Show Volume 2 back coverVolume 1 and 2 have similar front covers, with band photos on the back, while Volume 3 has band and audience photos on both front and back covers (unfortunately without identifying which band is which).Salesian High School Rock n Roll Show Vol 3

Volume 3 has an expanded lineup with all new acts except the Velvetones, each receiving one song on the album with the exception of the Invaders. Many Eastside legends show up on this LP, including the Invaders (likely Mickey Aversa & the Invaders), the Heartbreakers (brothers Benny & Joe Rodriguez, with several singles on Donna, Brent and Linda labels), The Counts aka Thee Counts: Johnny Joe Ramos, bass; Bobby Gurrola, guitar; Bobby Rodriguez, trumpet; Don Viray, guitar; Charlie Montijo, lead singer; Albert Barron, sax; Ronnie Wheat, drums; Arnold Serafin, keyboards; and Joe Vasquez, sax; with a great single on Highland, “Someday I’m Gonna Get You” / “So Far Away”), and the Ambertones, who I’ve covered on this site. Clarence Playa was in the Progressions, who are probably backing Li’l Ray on “Oooh Baby Baby” on the Volume 3 LP, as they were his backing for a single on Donna as Little Ray, “I Who Have Nothing” / “I Been Trying”.

Salesian continued producing shows for decades, but no others were released to my knowledge. If anyone has scans of the cover or music from the reputed Volume 4 release, please contact me!

Thank you to Van Bryan for the track list and label scans of the very rare Volume 4.
Salesian Rock 'n Roll Show Vol. 4 Century Custom LP Side 2

The Chantells

Chantells Century Custom 45 Break-DownThe Chantells came from Richmond, Virginia, where they attended Manchester High School. I love records like this but I didn’t know a thing about these guys until some comments came in below.

Their first single was the instrumental, “I Thought You Would” backed with a cool vocal original, “Who Meant The World To Me”, released in January 1965 on Century Custom 20135.

Their second single came later that year on Century Custom 20445. “I’m Leavin’ Here Today” was the slow top-side, written by Tommy Woodcock. More to my taste is the flip, “Break-Down”, a cool bluesy rocker with sax, organ and a fine guitar solo. The singer’s got the right voice for this kind of song, and the drummer really stands out. This side was written by Deets, Tom Woodcock and Long.

Rex Hawley managed the Century Custom Recording Service franchise in Richmond.

The Pastels

The Pastels from Pasco, WA

Pastels Century Custom 45 What Can I SayFrom Pasco in south eastern Washington State, near Kennewick and the Oregon border, the Pastels formed in 1964. Original members were:

Dale Anderson on guitar
Mark Gage on keyboards
Ron “Arjai” Jones on guitar and bass
Red Elder on drums

They became one of the bigger draws in that part of the state, playing shows at Richland Roller Rink and other venues, and appearing occasionally on local TV.

This original lineup of the band released three 45s between the fall of 1965 and the spring of ’66. All were recorded at Ron Jones’ family house by a Century label agent.

Pastels Century Custom 45 Circuit BreakerThe first of these is the upbeat “Why Don’t You Love Me” b/w the slower “What Can I Say”. It did well enough locally to have a second pressing. Their second 45 was “Circuit Breaker”, demonstrating a darker sound, probably influenced by other Northwest acts like the Sonics.

Their third 45 is their best, at least to me. Fast and danceable, “Mirage” is an intense four minutes of music! Things slow down considerably for the flip, “Where Is the Answer”, a good, idealistic song but a little repetitive at over about four minutes long.

Pastels Century Custom 45 MirageFrank Hames wrote on PNW

I was in The Pastels from 1966 until the summer of 1968. I played keyboards. The guitar player was Dale Anderson who was eventually replaced by Larry Rogers sometime during 1967. The other guitar player who also doubled on bass is Ron Jones. Red Elder was the original drummer and was replaced by Larry Horne from Richland in 1966. The first keyboard player was Mark Gage from Pasco. I replaced the second keyboard player who was Don Clauson. Ron Jones’ father, Don, was our manager and produced our recordings.

The Pastels were very well organized. We each had several professionally designed costumes, individual voice coaches, a paid account at a local barber shop in Pasco as well as individual college fund bank accounts.

In 1967 we played the Teen Fair in Spokane where we were forced to join the union. We opened for The Vanilla Fudge there. Other bands on that show were Harpers Bazaar, The Chambers Bros, and Glen Campbell. Our PA system that was designed and built by Don Jones ended up being the house PA because it was so good. We worked almost every weekend and played all over the northwest.

In an interview with Frank Hames discussed recording with the group:

I joined the band after these recordings [the three 45s] were released. I did record with the band subsequent to the singles. All the Pastels’ recordings were done in the band’s rehearsal room in the band house: The Jones’. Don performed all the engineering and everything was cut on a consumer stereo recorder.

I recall recording eight or ten songs that were never released. There were many original pieces written and dragged on the stage. Most didn’t last long. Dale Anderson was the primary composer.

The band ended when Ron graduated from high school and went away to college. It was in the summer of 1968.

Red Elder and Mark Gage left the band in 1966 to join the Rock n’ Souls, who won a big area Battle of the Bands sponsored by KALE and later released one 45, Not Like You / Got No Love on Rich Tone.

Red Elder and Arjai Jones later formed the Backward Door with Billy Blair, and later added Larry Rogers as well.

Sources include: PNW, and Mike Dugo’s interview with Frank Hames on 60’

The Juveniles

Juveniles, Ed Rod, San Mateo Times, July 15, 1966
Ed Rod ran this ad on at least three occasions in the San Mateo Times, this one from July 15, 1966

This 8″, six song acetate of the Juveniles on Century Custom Records was found at the estate of a music teacher who had a small studio at his home in Palo Alto, California in the 60’s.

“Let Me Tell You Girl” has a great opening fuzz riff and a fine solo. “Goodbye Girl” is also excellent garage.

The other four songs feature trumpet as the lead instrument. One of these is very good: “Don’t Kid Around”. The others are decent instrumentals, titled “Work Song”, “Bosa Nova” (sic), and “What Now My Love”, which is basically “Tequila”.

For years I didn’t know anything about the group or where exactly this was recorded, only that these kids sound young, like 14 or 15 maybe. As it turns out, most of them were even younger than that, ranging from 11 to 14. Geoffrey’s comment below about Ed Rod let me to search the San Mateo Times and I came up with the article seen below, something far beyond my expectations!

Members were:

Scott Beall (San Mateo) – guitar
David DeVee (San Mateo) – guitar
Don Schneider (Burlingame) – bass
Lester Lovitt (Hillsborough) – trumpet
Jim Sanchez (Redwood City) – drums

The Juveniles, San Mateo Times, July 2, 1966
The Juveniles, featured in the San Mateo Times, July 2, 1966

According to the article by Barbara Bladen, David and Scott took lessons from Eddie Rod in Redwood City, then found Don Schneider and eventually Jim and Lester joined. The group played the Cow Palace, the Burlingame Exchange Club, and the Circle Star Theatre among other venues.

Thanks to Derek for loan of the acetate.

The Juveniles – Let Me Tell You Girl
The Juveniles – Goodbye Girl
The Juveniles – Don’t Kid Around

The Juveniles and the Renaissance in the San Mateo Times Oct. 18, 1968
The Juveniles and the Renaissance in the San Mateo Times Oct. 18, 1968

The above article from October 1968 is interesting, – either the San Mateo Times mixed up the band names, or the Juveniles, now a couple years older, took on a new name, the Renaissance, and gave their Juveniles name to a new band of youngsters, consisting of Steve Grippi, Bill Weber, Mike Trantham and Pat Loeb.