The Val Richards V have three songs on the Live at the Funny Farm lp, one of the few garage releases from Hawaii. The lp wasn’t actually recorded live, however, but in a studio with crowd noises added later, common practice for the time.
Several of the tracks from the lp were released on 45. In the case of “Dancing With My Girl”, the 45 has the original studio version without the crowd noise, and it sounds much better than the lp cut. The label on the flip, “My Oh My!” states ‘Live at the Funny Farm’, though it’s not on the lp.
These two songs show the Val Richards V to be a professional band with fine lead guitar, harmony vocals and a good rhythm section. Both of these songs were written by Russell Colon. Their other two cuts on the lp are covers, “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” and “I’ve Got My Mojo Workin'”.
I recently spoke to Jeff Gusman, one of three drummers for the group:
Here we were a bunch of high school kids getting paid to do what we liked to do the best. We were all from the projects which made it that much more awesome.
There was a club in Waikiki right where Kuhio and Kalakaua is; if my memory serves me right it was the old Lau Yee Chai restaurant, called the Happening where we were like the house band. It was awesome playing there. We would sometimes alternate with the Casuals with Steven Lucas.
Part of the band was from the Sonics who played at the Peppermint Mist which was by Channel 2 down by Ala Moana. Randall Yuen was the original drummer when they first started. I later replaced Randall when he went into the service.
This [the photo] was the lineup that played at the Peppermint Mist under the name the Sonics, pre-Val Richards 5. If I remember correctly, the only persons in the pic that were on the cuts were Randall Yuen and Russell Colon. Vernon and Colin were not on any of the recordings. Randall was on if I remember correctly on only one of the cuts. The lead guitar was Mike Calub or something like that and the bass was Andy (forgot his last name). I did not cut the record, the drummer on it was Donald Marianthal; don’t know if the spelling is correct.
I remember one time when we opened for Paul Revere & The Raiders at the HIC. You have to remember in those days there was no monitors. We had to use their instruments and I was on such a high pedestal I could hardly hear the guys cos there were like 10,000 people there. After the set we went down to the Happening where we tore the place up. Man we were tight that night. I guess I was with the band for about a year. And yes, the live set was just like the record all top 40 soul along with some of the songs Russell Colon wrote.
We were managed by Harvey Ragsdale who was based out of the old KPOI building on the Ala Wai Canal. If fact we used to rehearse in the building.
Q. Are there any unreleased or live recordings, or photos of the band?
Unfortunately, I had the misfortune to run into an irate girlfriend who destroyed all reel-to-reel tapes & pics; some cuts were from Da Swamp (now McDonalds in Waikiki). Dick Jensen used to be house band there back in da day.
Don’t know where the rest of the guys are but, I occasionally run into Val Richards.