The Del-Fis formed in Bethesda, Maryland in 1964. Members were:
Craig Brown – lead vocals Steve Brust – lead guitar Bob Swain – rhythm guitar Budge Witherspoon – bass Jim Callas – drums
Fifi Gorska penned an article on the band for the Teen section of the Washington Evening Star on Saturday, May 29, 1965. The article has some great quotes from Bob Swain: “they talked in Greek, but we played in rock” (when the band appeared on WPIK’s Greek show), and his description of singer Craig Brown making up new versions of nursery rhymes, “sentences like a barrage of multiple karate chops to the left pancreas, each one more devastating than its predecessor” [what’s the left pancreas, anyway?]
There’s also a list of their cars (Model A, Ford Mustang, 442 Olds and Chevy II) and mention of girls wearing the Del-Fis name on their “swamp” coats (long rain coats, a fashion fad in 1964).
At the time of the article, Craig Brown, Bob Swain, Jim Callas were students at Walter Johnson High School; Steve Brust and Budge Witherspoon attended North Bethesda Junior High School, all were between 14 and 16 years of age. Their manager was Toby Long, a fellow student at Walter Johnson.
In August of 1965, the band went into the studio to record two original songs for Lillian Claiborne’s DC Records. Craig H. Brown and Steven N. Brust copyrighted both songs in August, 1965. The great side is “Now It’s Time” with it’s chiming guitars, excellent rhythm section and perfect teen vocals.
The flip is “Without You”, a harmony ballad with a finely picked melody, a good one for the slow dance, I guess.
DC Records released this with two label colors: yellow and the pink/fuschia seen here. The article says they did away with the apostrophe in Del-Fi’s but there it is on the label.
I found the article at top 12 years ago while scanning through the microfilm of the New York Public Library, but hadn’t put it together with the band on the DC single until now. If anyone has a better quality photo please contact me.
The Aliminators came from the Cumberland, Maryland area in the west of the state. Members included:
Bill Atkinson – guitar Jack Atkinson – guitar Dick Atkinson – organ Johnny Allen – drums
Buddy French – lead vocals Ike Lodgston – drums (?)
They released one single in 1965 on the Response label that is the best record I’ve picked up in months. “Let Down” is a solid piece of R&B with group vocals, a great scream and two sharp guitar breaks over steady drumming and a somewhat murky production.
The Cumberland Evening Times ran a photo and profile of the group on Saturday, January 9, 1965. Unfortunately I don’t have digital access to the paper at this time to get the photo that ran with the text.
Several rock and roll bands have been formed in this area recently and one of the more popular ones is the Aliminators. Members of the Aliminators are Bill Atkinson, leader of the group, his two brothers Dick and Jark Atkinson, and Johnny Allen. Bill Atkinson formed the musical group in September when he returned to his home in Clarysville after spending three years in the army. While in the service in Germany, he played with an English band and toured Europe with the group while on leave.
He purchased the organ shown in the picture above while in the service and said the instrument is unique in this section in that no rock and roll band in the section uses one. The organ is played by Dick Atkinson who resides in the LaVale, and Bill and his brother, Jack play guitars. Johnny Allen, of the Frostburg area, plays the drums.
The other members of the Aliminators played with other area bands prior to joining the group and Bill Atkinson also played with Sonny James.
The group is presently playing at the Ridgeley Fire Hall on Tuesdays and Thursdays and at the Top Spot on North Mechanic Street on Saturday nights. It also appears at the University Snack Bar in Frostburg. The Aliminators plan to make a recording in the next few months in Washington, where they also plan to make several appearances.
The membership of the band changed between this article and the recording session, with Buddy French coming in on lead vocals and Ike Lodgston joining the group, possibly on drums.
Bill Atkinson wrote “Let Down”, published with Cinco Music, BMI, though I can find no record of it with the Library of Congress. I don’t know of any other releases on Response Records. The flip was the Ed Townshend ballad, “For Your Love”.
The Smacks had two primary members, Lloyd Semler from Hagerstown, Maryland, and Bill McCauley from Winchester, Virginia. Both towns are along the I-81 corridor, about 45 minutes drive apart. Other members include John Glosser on bass and David Hall on drums.
They had two singles, “I’ve Been Fooling Around” / “Say You’ll Be Mine” on Alear 109 from October ’65, and “Reckless Ways” / “There’ll Come a Day”, released in May of ’66 on Alear 116. All songs written by Lloyd Semler and William McCauley, with publishing by Alear Music and Sand-Wayne Music BMI.
The first release is somewhat basic, but the second single really shines for both songwriting and production.
According to the liner notes to the excellent CD Aliens, Psychos & Wild Things, vol. 2, “Their first 45 was recorded at Accent Sound in Baltimore. The second was done in Harrisonburg at Weaver Sound in Spring ’66. The organist on ‘Nobody Else Is Gonna Do’ may be Front Royal’s soon-to-be-semi-famous, Roger Powell. The unreleased ‘There’ll Come a Day’ is the Smacks backing up two sisters from Winchester whose names are not recalled. Both Smacks discs came out on Alear, a Winchester label run by Jean Alford.” Front Royal is just south of Winchester.
Photo of the band from Aliens, Psychos & Wild Things, vol. 2. Sorry but I don’t remember where I found the promo sheet for their first single – please write to me if it was yours!
Most of the Second-Hand Bitter-Sweet were from the small town of Bainbridge, Maryland. They released one 45 in August 1968, one side an upbeat pop song, “You’re Gonna Be Mine Now”, the other a moody favorite of many garage fans, “Please Don’t Go”.
Both were originals by Burchfield and Deaton, and Robert Brown produced the single on his CEI label.
Vocalist Tom Deaton answered my questions about the band and provided the photo and news clip seen here.
Q. Who else was in the band besides you?
Robert Burchfield, Bill Nelson, Mark Wirth, Mike Burchfield, John Oglevee, and Gary Donovan.
I was in a band in high school called the Cobras. When I went into the Navy, I formed another called the Cobras II. We changed the name pretty quickly to Midnite Mass. It was during that time that I let another drummer take over and concentrated on singing. We folded pretty soon and I loaned out my P.A. system to some Navy dependents. I went to pick it up and they were rehearsing for a show at a Catholic school. They sounded pretty awful – they were all just starting to play and sing. I showed them how to sing one of their songs and they asked me to join so I did.
We came up with the name, Second Hand Bitter Sweet cause of the crazy named bands at the time – Strawberry Alarm Clock, etc. When we played out, the kids made fun of us cause we couldn’t sound like the covers. So I suggested we write a couple of our own songs that the kids couldn’t compare to anything. We did – it worked – the kids thought we were great.
Got hooked up with some guy nearby (we were in Bainbridge, MD). We went to a big studio in Baltimore and recorded 2 songs.
The producer was supposed to promote the record, but instead he sent us 500 copies and moved to Ohio.
Of course, it’s virtually impossible to promote something on your own. I had one big time DJ tell me that he got hundreds of 45’s a month and threw most of them in the trash. He said if they had a $50. with it, he would play it once…
I think I gave up too early, but I spent a year in Morocco before I got out. I took up guitar over there and formed a band called the Jagged Edge. Jagged Edge was my first attempt at playing guitar. The rest of the guys were jazz musicians so we did mostly rock and a little jazz. It was fun – we were the only American band in Morocco at that time.
Back in the states, I didn’t do much for a while (college, etc.). When I took a job in San Diego, I played lead with a country band called Country Rainbow – great band. I also played acoustic in bars for drinks and tips.
Back in North Carolina I played with several bands – wrote a few more songs. The band I’m in now, Legacy, is a lot of fun. We played as a 3 piece for over a year. Now we have another guitarist and a new drummer. We do about four of my originals – it’s just a helluva lot of fun. I also volunteer at a local hospital where I sing and play acoustic to cancer patients and others who are in bad shape. 64 and still rockin…. what can I say – “I got the music in me…”
Bob Brown had been recording and releasing records in his hometown of Fremont, Ohio since the early ’60s on his Courier and Empire labels. He continued to produce singles while stationed in the Army in Aberdeen, only 11 miles from Bainbridge. During his two years there he released several records, changing the label name to CEI (Courier-Empire International).
Sodom & Gomorrah “Flower Children” (written by Caulson, Rudacille and Brown and co-produced by B. Kuhns, D. Bush and G. Gregory) / “Twenty Miles” The Soulations “Come on Thats Love Baby” (Lester Earl Lee G&J) / “Will You Be Mine” The Runabouts “Way Of Life” / “All Is All ” (is this the same group from Cincinnati that cut “I Need Time” / “The Chase” on Vox?) The Hamilton Peach “With the Girl That You Love” (Jeff Yost) / “One Way Ticket Down” The Souls of Britton “Make a New Light” / “I’ll Be on My Way” (this group had an earlier 45 from 1966, “JJ (Come Back to Me)” / “Can’t Be True” (both by Heiberger / Bumgarner, produced by C.M. Bartlett) on Ed Kennedy’s Ken-Del label out of Wilmington, Delaware). Sites n’ Sounds “The Night Is So Dark” (R. Taylor, D. Blankenship)
Back in Ohio in late ’68, R.T. Brown became even busier, releasing a good light psychedelic 45, the Majority of Six “I See the Light” / “Tears Like Rain” and a rare private press LP by “Eric”.
The Dagenites were a great band from Oxon Hill, Maryland who formed in 1964 and cut two crucial garage 45s in their short time together. Original members were John Bardi lead guitar, Bruce Kennett rhythm guitar, Geoff Robinson bass and Roger Fallin drums. Their name came from Dagenham, a working class suburb of London where John Bardi’s mother grew up.
They shared a manager with Link Wray, leading to weekly bookings with Wray at the 1023 Club.Because of a connection Bruce’s father had with the owner of Pixie records, the band traveled to Megacity Studio in Dayton, Ohio in the early spring of 1965 to record their first 45, “I Don’t Want to Try It Again,” an original by Geoff Robinson. John Bardi’s guitar drives the verses and before his wild lead break you can hear someone shout “Play it J.B.!” Lyrics are hard to make out, though it’s clear the singer is trying to get out of an entanglement with a girl.
The flip side is Bruce Kennett’s original “Now That Summer’s Gone,” which the band would re-record for their second record. The Pixie label also released also released 45s by Bittervetch and Dave and the Stone Hearts.
Record collector Mike Markesich told an interesting story about this 45:
The initial pressing run for promo copies of The Dagenites 45 printed the name of the group on the label incorrectly as the Joy Boys, and the label name as Fencoe. I own a copy of this 45. Someone at the record company affixed corrected labels by pasting them over the errant labels (I also have the detached corrected labels for both sides). There were probably a few hundred that went out this way. The rest were correct, as are the yellow label stock copies.
After the band members graduated from high school in 1965, the lineup changed. Geoff Robinson and Bruce Kennett left to be replaced by Bardi’s brother Julian on bass and Jon Rowzie on guitar. Jimmy Musgrove was added as vocalist.
John Bardi describes the next phase of the band’s career:
Ron Barnett got us the contract with Heigh Ho records. There was what we were told was a nationwide talent search. My brother and I applied, Ron (a beatnik looking character probably in his mid-20’s, maybe a few years older) auditioned us and we won! He wanted to call us the “Howling Wolves” and have a trained wolf appear with us when we performed. We of course mocked the idea, but he had such an air of certainty about him, and he DID have this recording contract, that we went along. He had big ideas. I once heard that he had become a successful producer (I can believe it), but apart from that, I never heard anything about him after our short time together.
The band traveled to New York City to record their next 45 “I’m Gone Slide” released on Heigh-Ho in September, 1965. The song is credited to Barnett, who supplied the words and idea for the song, though John Bardi arranged the music. John says, “A studio musician was hired to record an organ part for ‘I’m Gone Slide.’ He had played on the Wilson Pickett ‘Mustang Sally’ sessions (which at the time had not yet been released) and during breaks regaled the band with stories about those recently completed sessions. He played a rough cut of ‘Mustang Sally’ in order to try to influence the band in their approach to ‘I’m Gone Slide.'” For the flip they included a new version of “Now That Summer’s Gone.”
Two other tracks were recorded at the New York sessions, “The Fugitive” and “Poison Ivy,”. These songs were pressed with a Heigh Ho label and released in early 1966, though perhaps on a promotion-only basis as copies are extremely rare now. “The Fugitive” earned a pick hit review in Record World Magazine.
“The Fugitive” (“Once I was a respected man, but then they said I killed with my hands….”) was going to be offered as the theme song for the TV show the Fugitive, but the show was cancelled that summer. John believes it would have been the first rock style TV theme song.
There was also a second version of “I Don’t Want to Try It Again” recorded. This one had smooth vocal harmonies and a wild guitar break, and it was also released on the Heigh-Ho label. Like “The Fugitive” it was not released widely, and in fact only one copy is rumored to exist.
John wrote to me, “I still play, but the innocent immediacy of those days is long gone” – as fine a summary of the appeal of this music as I’ve ever seen.
Gina C. writes, “On June 28, 2008 Jimmy Musgrove threw a party in Benedict, Maryland reuniting all of the members of the Dagenites. They were tighter then ever and brought the house down of close to 200 class mates and friends of Oxon Hill High School.”
I’m sorry to report that Jimmy Musgrove passed away on September 9, 2010.
The Omegas, spring 1966, from left: Mike Sarigumba, Art Brueggeman, A.T. Ryder, Mike McKeller and Steve Callahan
The Omegas were a Montgomery County group who had gone through considerable personnel changes by the time they recorded their record on United Artists.
The original group cut two songs at Edgewood Recording Studios, a good slow number with dirge-like organ called “Mean Old Man Day”, and “Mud” (aka “Mississippi Mud”), a catchy pop number with acoustic guitar, harmonies and underwater sound effects. These never saw release and I’ve only heard clips from a 2008 auction, which I didn’t win.
Art Brueggeman wrote to me about the group in 2012:
I was the original bass player and joint founding member along with Mike McKeller (drummer) and Steve Callahan (rhythm guitarist). We were high school buddies. We quickly brought in a lead guitarist and a keyboard player.
Here’s a band picture taken in the spring of 1966. That’s me with the Jazz Bass, Steve with the Gibson ES335, and Mike on drums. The other two are A.T. Ryder on Strat and Mike “Pineapple” Sarigumba on keyboard.
We were playing fraternity parties, debutante events, and dances. In early summer we ended up going to Ocean City and landing a gig at The Paddock on 17th street. It was really the only bonafide night club in OC at the time. We played 6 nights a week, and a jam session Saturday afternoon. As I recall, we were there until mid-August or so.
It was a time of the Vietnam war and the draft. Mike and Steve left the band in the Spring of 1967 to join the Air Force Reserves. I ended up joining after the end of the summer. We had a replacement drummer and rhythm guitarist for that summer. Then we returned in the summer of 1967 with the two replacements. I ended up getting married in April 1968 when I got back from active duty, and never returned to the band.
Mike returned to the band and the personnel changed. Don’t remember what Steve did exactly, but he was married by that time as well. It was the original five Omegas though who recorded the three cuts at Edgewood. As I recall, that was done in the fall of 1966, but I may be off there.
Mike and I sang “Mean Old Man Day”, and Steve and Pineapple sang “Mississippi Mud”. We did not write those songs. We did no original writing. I really do not remember who wrote them. I just remember it was two guys who we were put in touch with.
Steve Callahan wrote:
I have the original master from Edgewood studio’s which I found just recently….metal center coated with acetate. I also have the original United Artists release of the other 2 songs.
The UA record is largely the work of Tom Guernsey of the Reekers and the Hangmen. Tom wrote and arranged both sides of the record, played guitar and piano, and co-produced it with Larry Sealfon.
The vocalist on “I Can’t Believe” is Joe Triplett, who was in the Reekers with Tom and was also the vocalist on the first Hangmen 45, “What a Girl Can’t Do”. Leroy Otis played drums on the track and backing vocals were by the Jewels.
A catchy and danceable record, it was released in early 1968 and had some local chart success. With its crossover appeal I’m surprised it’s not better known these days. The flip was a ballad by Tom Guernsey, “Mr. Yates”. He told me it was one of the songs he was proudest of writing.
The Juveniles, l-r: Jimmy Clark, Doug Sprouse, Kenny Hayes, Danny Keller and Karl Dersch
There were a number of groups in the U.S. going by the name The Juveniles. This particular group was originally from southeast Washington, D.C., with members later living in nearby Hillcrest Heights, Oxon Hill and Fort Foote, Maryland. They aren’t related to the Juveniles I featured on an acetate a few weeks back.
“I Wish I Could” is first rate garage with a pounding drums, lots of sustain on the guitar solo, and good harmony vocals, all drenched in echo. The flip is a ballad, “What Can I Do”. Both songs were written by Keller and Clark, though publishing info shows Danny Keller only.
Karl Dersch’s father managed the group, and sometime after this photo Dean Dersch also joined the band. Jimmy Clark’s sister Joyce Williams told me Jimmy has since passed away. She also mentioned that the beautiful double-necked Mosrite was the first sold on the East Coast.
The Zap label was from the Mt. Rainier neighborhood just outside Washington, D.C. No connection to the Tennessee label of the same name which released the Starlites’ “Wait For Me”.
Special thanks to Joyce for sending the photo of the group.
The Bedforde Set formed in Silver Spring and Rockville, Maryland, with members William Singer lead guitar, Lewis Miller organ, Norman Bull bass and Steve Schein drums.
I heard from a fan who told me they started out as the Jaguars. They also took 2nd place at the Cap Center in a national battle-of-the-bands.
“The World Through a Tear” was a cover of a Neil Sedaka song. The Jan. 21, 1967 issue of Billboard predicted the single would reach the Billboard Hot 100, but I haven’t seen any record of it in the charts. “Girl, Go Run Away” is a fine original by the band and has appeared on several ’60s garage compilations over the years. Production by Joe René.
I’ve heard of an earlier 45 by Ronnie Dean and the Bedforde Set, “Oh Don’t You Know” / “Little Girl”, but wasn’t sure if it was the same group until Bill Singer wrote to me with some information on the group and the photo at top:
We did back up Ronnie Dean and recorded some songs with him.
The way we got signed was that our manager Hirsch Dela Viez, set up an audition at a dance we were playing. RCA sent down a scout, and was impressed that we sounded good vocally live. When asked if we had original material, of course we said yes. So we went to RCA in NY and did a demo. Turned out great so we eventually recorded 6-8 songs. “The World Through a Tear” was not one of them. We came back to DC and got a call to go work with Joe Rene on a Neal Sedaka remake, “The World Through a Tear”. Went back to NY and cut the record.
It was a toss up between “Girl Go Runaway” or “The World Through a Tear” as to the first release. The publishing company that owned the rights put up 25,000 for promotion. So “The World Through a Tear” was released, backed by “Girl Go Runaway”.
Got a lot of airplay in major cities. I heard it sold around 100,000. Joe Rene wrote “Tossing and Turning”. I have some pix of the RCA sessions.
We were asked to tour to support the record, and RCA fronted the money. But, Steve and Louis had just started college, I was teaching and we had to make a decision whether or not we wanted to give up guaranteed work. Well, common sense won out. We were making a fortune playing one-nighters in the area, and were booked a year in advance. We could do four part harmonies and covers of just about everything. So, our recording days came to an end. The band disbanded in 69-70.
I went on to work for ARP instruments. Helped develop the Avatar guitar synthesizer, and became their guitar product specialist. Got to travel all over the world and retired from the music business in 1985. Bought some land in WV and built two log homes, which is the quintessential hippy dream. For the past 19 years I have worked with children with autism and have a studio that keeps me busy.