Category Archives: Scepter

The New Yorkers & the Fury Four

New Yorkers Santana 45 Things Are ChanginThis is the very first single by the New Yorkers, who would cut the classic “Mr. Kirby” for Scepter before going on to greater fame as the Hudson Brothers. The group started in 1965 as the My Sirs in Portland, Oregon. Members in the early years were:

Bill Hudson – guitar, vocals
Kent Fillmore – guitar
Brett Hudson – bass, vocals
Mark Hudson – drums, vocals

In 1959, Jim Bailey, a DJ at KAGT in distant Anacortes, Washington, had produced the Swags “Rockin’ Matilda” on his Westwind Records label. He was able to promote it to Del-Fi for national hit release in 1960. Bailey is listed as co-writer of “Rockin’ Matilda” with Swags guitarist Gailen Ludtke, and he published the song through his Skagit Music Company. He’s noted as booking acts in the Pacific Northwest, but I can’t find much about Bailey’s recording activity until he reappears with the New Yorkers in 1966.

Bailey heard a few demos the My Sirs had cut with $40 in an unnamed studio and set up a sponsorship with Chrysler. Bailey renamed the group the New Yorkers after the Chrysler auto, and found another group, possibly also from Portland, and named them the Fury Four after the Plymouth Fury (also made by Chrysler).

Fury Four Santana 45 City GirlLabeled “A Gift for you from the 1967 Go Show”, Bailey released a 45 with the New Yorkers singing their catchy original “Things Are Changin” on Santana Records SAN 6602-A / SAN 6603-A, NW-1 / NW-2. On the other side is the Fury Four’s “City Girl” (written by D. Ford) with harmonies and fuzz guitar throughout. Skagit Music published both songs.

An article from the June 15, 1967 Idaho Free Press shows that the New Yorkers toured to promote Chrysler right up to the release of their second Scepter single:

TEEN SCENE
Group Tells Tour Plans

The New Yorkers, who recently were heard in Nampa, next plan a 21-day record-promoting tour around the nation. They write all the songs they record, and plan a new album for release this fall.

The New Yorkers recently played their last Chrysler Go Show performance at Nampa. Members of the group are: Bill, lead guitar, Brett, bass guitar; Mark, drums; and Kent, rhythm guitar. Upon completion of the Chrysler Go Show, the New Yorkers will now go on a 21 day tour around the nation to promote their new record, “Mr. Kirby,” to be released this month.

Flip side of “Mr. Kirby” will be either “Seeds of Spring” or “Show Me The Way To Love”. All of the songs the New Yorkers record are written by them. The current release by the New Yorkers, “When I’m Gone” failed to move nationwide. In July the group plans to go on tour with Herman’s Hermits. They have just finished a tour with Don and the Goodtimes in Washington and Oregon. The New Yorkers record on the Sceptor label in Seattle and Los Angeles. An album is planned for release this fall.

Mark Hudson, the drummer, does most of the singing for the group. It is his voice that is heard on “When I’m Gone.” Offstage the New Yorkers are probably one of the funniest groups around. At the airport when the group was preparing to leave for Portland Bill confessed he doesn’t like to fly. Mark, who seems to have an eternal feud with their manager, kept wanting to buy an insurance policy out of a vending machine, but his manager wouldn’t let him. Kent was trying to […] fool with the public address system. All in all, the New Yorkers aren’t the best in the business but they aren’t the worst either. [!]

Bailey’s name turns up on New Yorkers releases through their 1969 Decca single, “I Guess the Lord Must Be in New York City”, and also on The Live Five’s “Take the Good & the Bad”. The Fury Four were never heard from again, at least under that moniker.

Source: An interview with Brett Hudson on RockTalkTV.

Thank you to Mikael for looking up the text of the Free Press article for me.

Caeser & His Romans

Caesar & His Romans: Dan Cook, Bill Burt, Chuck Vicario (seated), David Burt and unidentified
Caesar & His Romans, from left: Dan Cook, Bill Burt, Chuck Vicario (seated), David Burt and unidentified.
Any help with names would be appreciated

Caeser & His Romans GJM 45 Green Grass Makes It BetterCaeser & His Romans were from Buffalo, recording two 45s on the GJM label in late ’67 and 1968 before signing to Scepter for two more singles. I hadn’t been able to find much about the group but some emails and comments have helped.

Vocalist Chuck Vicario stayed with the group throughout its career. Bassist John Sia co-founded the band with Chuck in 1964, and left for college in ’67. Joe Hesse replaced John and then Vinny Parker replaced Hesse. Joe DeSantis was the original drummer with the group. Other members of the group included Joe Hesse’s brother Jim Hesse on keyboards, Bill Burt and David Burt, and Dan Cook on lead guitar.

Both songs on their first 45 were written by Charles Vicario and J. Hesse, recording supervised by Jerry Meyers and Rich Sargent.

Rich Sargent wrote to me about his work with the band:

Jerry owned GJM Records, I worked for him, we used a few different studios. I produced “Leavin’ My Past Behind” at Audio Recording in Cleveland, the same studio wher Jerry produced the Joe Jeffries gold single “My Pledge Of Love” … great studio in downtown Cleveland. I am a long time friend of Chuck (Caesar/Big Wheelie) and his late manager Fred Caserta. We met in ’64 … my band and Chucks finished 1 & 2 in a number of “battle of the bands” back then.

I haven’t heard “When Will I Get Over You” in about 15 years… my favorite may have been “Leavin’ My Past Behind” (sure wish I could remix it) and “Baby Let’s Wait”. That one came close to breaking, but the Royal Guardsmen put out a version and we were done.

There was a core of players that was consistant but also a number who left, came back, left again. Dan Cook was the guitar player through all of the incarnations of Caesar and Big Wheelie. The keyboard player on “Green Grass…” was Jimmy Hesse who left to join The Road and was part of that band when they had a mid chart dingle on Kama Sutra with a cover of the Zombies “She’s Not There” which was produced by Joey Reynolds (now doing late night talk radio on WOR 710 NYC and also carried on over 200 stations).

Caesar & His Romans became Caesar & THE Romans, [then] evolved into Friendship Train which was a successful club & lounge act. During one set each night as part of the act they became Big Wheelie & The Hubcaps. This became so successful that Friendship Train was dropped in favor of a full night of Big Wheelie. Their final album was released on Amherst Records in 1976. Chuck stlll performs as Big Wheelie about 10-12 times per year. He was brilliantly managed by the late Fred Caserta who went on to found Kingdom Bound which is one of the largest concert events in the Christian Music field.

“Green Grass Makes It Better” is one of their catchiest numbers, and sure seems like a drug reference to me: the world is “going psycho” but “good green grass makes it better.” “Why Make a Fool of Me” on the flip is denser but excellent as well.

Caeser & His Romans GJM 45 Black LanternTheir second record is one I haven’t yet heard, “Baby, Let’s Wait”, backed by the great “Black Lantern”, a bass-driven lament written by Vicario and Hesse. The A-side has the credit “Arr. by Beaver”, while the flip says “Arr. by Breezy” and “(from the movie ‘The Atomic Grandmother’)” – a real production or another joke?

Instead of publishing through GJM Music like the first single, Darshen Music published “Black Lantern”.

Caeser & the Romans Scepter 45 When Will I Get Over YouMoving towards a much more commercial direction, they signed to Scepter Records as Caesar and the Romans, releasing two 45s in 1969, both minor hits in the Buffalo area. “Baby Love” uses some fuzz guitar and heavy beats on the Supremes song, but I prefer the upbeat flip, “When Will I Get Over You”, written by C. Vicario, Jr.

The A-side of their next Scepter 45, “Leavin’ My Past Behind” / “Jailhouse Rock” continues their pop sound. Mike Dugo sent me photos of two more Scepter recordings by the band, “Come Little Girl” and “Come Live With Me” that were never released to my knowledge. Both are funky soul numbers.

Thank you to Diane Burt for the photo of the group at top and additional info, to Mike Dugo for the Scepter acetate photos, the promotional flyers and ads, and to Ryan Lalande for the scan of “Black Lantern”.

Caesar and His Romans Oak Orchard Lanes Albion NY promo

Caesar & the Romans Scepter demo acetate Come Little Girl

Little Caesar and the Romans promo photo

Caesar & the Romans Scepter demo acetate Come Live With Me

Caesar & the Romans promo poster