Category Archives: Philadelphia

Bill Hamilton’s Groovey Grooves Records and Hamilton Productions

Satyrs Spectrum 45 Yesterday's HeroHamilton Productions, run by Bill Hamilton in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, produced several garage singles with different label names including:

Sands of Time – ”Come Back Little Girl” / “When She Crys For Me”) Stearly 8167, August 1967)
Satyrs – “Yesterday’s Hero” (C. Morrill, G. Williams) / “Marie” (Spectrum 2668, released 1968, Haddonfield Heights, NJ)
Groop Therapy with Gary Dial “I’ve Got To Leave This World” (Gary J. Dilllio) / “Ronnie Ronnie” (Lisa 6865, June 1968, Ripley Park, PA)

For more on the Sands of Time, see the separate entry for the band.

Exceptions Groovey Grooves 45 Baby You Know I Need YouHamilton also put out a number of singles, mainly soul, on the Groovey Grooves label starting in 1968, including the Exceptions “The Look in Her Eyes” and Phillies player Rich Allen and the Ebonistics doing “Echoes of November”.

Groovey Grooves discography
any help with this would be appreciated

Groovey Grooves 160 – Rich Allen and the Ebonistics “Echoes of November” / “Fannari”
Groovey Grooves 161 – Exceptions “The Look in Her Eyes” / “Baby You Know I Need You” (Hynes, Walker, Ellis, Jones, arr. by Bob Lowden)
Groovey Grooves 162 – Collectors “Cruel World” / “I Still Love You” (March, 1969)
Groovey Grooves 163 – Isthmus of Sound “River” / “Sweet Love”
Groovey Grooves 164 – Stone Dawn “Agent Promise Blues” / “What You Think Is Right” (both by Penny Stubbs, Assoc. prod Bill Hoy)
Groovey Grooves 165 – ?
Groovey Grooves 166 – Norwood Long “I’d Like to Have You” / “She Belongs to Me”
Groovey Grooves 167 – Exceptions “The Shagg” / “Danny Boy”
Groovey Grooves 168 – Great Compromise “Let The Evening Roll On” / “He Was A Man”
Groovey Grooves 169 – Les Stewart, Jr. “One Woman Man” / “Mind Your Own Business”
Groovey Grooves 170 – Fairwinds “She & Me” (J. Swank, R. Smith) / “Height in Funland”

Groovey Grooves 176 – Fantastic Soul-Locks “Come On Home Girl” / “Funky Prance”

The Exceptions recorded at Impact Sound Recording Studio on Castor Ave in Philadelphia, while Stone Dawn recorded at Baker Sound in New Jersey.

Groop Therapy with Gary Dial Lisa 45 Ronnie, RonnieFolsom Music, BMI published many of the original songs on Groovey Grooves.

Klemen Breznikar has an interview with one of the members of Stone Dawn at It’s Psychedelic Baby!. The piece doesn’t identify which member he interviewed but I believe it’s George Manney.

Thank you to Laurent, Max Waller and Mike Markesich for help with this post.

Facts of Life “I’ve Seen Darker Nights”

Facts of Life Frana 45 I've Seen Darker NightsThere isn’t much information about the Facts of Life despite the group’s fine 45 single. The group came from Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania, which lies just to the west of the Philadelphia city line. Members included Bruce Klauber, later a jazz drummer and professor, and Robert Yampolsky, who wrote both songs on their only single. I don’t know the other members’ names.

“I’ve Seen Darker Nights” begins with a blast of distorted guitar but otherwise is free of fuzz. The lyrics are heartfelt, the singing good, the arrangement has good hooks and momentum from the rhythm section. There’s a long solo on the organ and a brief guitar break.

The flipside, “All In Good Time” has a good ballad sound with a basic guitar solo. Robert Yampolsky copyrighted both songs in October, 1967, and the record came out as Frana Records 59-A/B. I don’t know of any other releases on the Frana label.

Facts of Life Frana 45 All In Good Time

The Myst

The Myst Open 45 Coney Island Wild Child

The Myst came from Philadelphia PA and cut this one single for release on Open Records 1252 in September, 1969. The A-side was a Gary Usher- Roger Val Christian song, “Coney Island Wild Child” which had been cut by Billy Harner for Lawn back in 1964. It could sound dated but the singer has a rushed, off-hand attitude that suits the song.

Following the Myst single, Open Records released three singles and an LP by Billy Harner, and I believe the Myst was backing Harner in live appearances at this time.

“I’m Crying” is a heavy guitar and Hammond rocker, with a good lead vocal and sustained guitar running continuously throughout the song. The song was written by Joe Siderio, who may have been a member of the group, published by Caldwell Music, BMI.

I don’t know anything else about the Myst or who was in the group.

Open Records, later shortened to OR, was located at 3126 N. Broad St., Philadelphia, most of their records have “A Call-Bill Production” on the label.
The Myst Open 45 I'm Crying

The Sands of Time on Stearly Records

The Sands of Time, circa 1967-8
The Sands of Time, circa 1967-8

Sands of Time Stearly 45 Come Back Little GirlThe Sands of Time came from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and recorded one single on Stearly Records 8167 in August, 1967.

“Come Back Little Girl”, written by Feliciani, has a catchy intro with a distorted treble guitar sound.

The singer breathlessly calls out the lyrics to the flip “When She Crys For Me”, written by Ellis, with more cool buzzing guitar between verses. Bill Hamilton of Hamilton Productions produced the single.

I didn’t know the members’ names or anything much about the band until I heard from Mike Marr:

The Sands of Time, early photo with Bill Ellis and Joe Feliciani
“Here is the earliest picture of the band, Bill Ellis (top right) and Joe Feliciani (bottom right). The accordionist did not stay very long with the band.”

At the time of this recording I was the bass player in the Sands of Time; the band members were:Joe Feliciani – lead guitar and vocals
Bill Ellis – rhythm guitar and vocals
John Furterer – drums and vocals
Art Bernie – organ
Mike Marr – bass

The original band members were all neighborhood friends. Back in the mid to late 60’s everybody wanted to play guitar. We would play in someone’s basement or living room. I guess you could say the band was officially organized by an older man named John Mullins who knew Joe Feliciani’s father.

Sands Of Time at Scanlon RecreationCenter, Philadelphia, May or June, 1967
Sands Of Time at Scanlon Recreation Center, Philadelphia, May or June, 1967

This was a picture [above] of our first playing job. It was at Scanlon Recreation Center in Philadelphia. I think this was taken May or June of 1967.

Art Bernie joined the band a few weeks after this picture was taken and he was from that neighborhood (Kensington) in Philadelphia.

The Sands of Time, circa 1968
The Sands of Time, circa 1967-8

We were ages fourteen to sixteen at the time of the recording. It was done at a studio in Camden New Jersey that was in a motel on Admiral Wilson Blvd. It was the Oasis Motel and the studio may have been named Palmer Studios.The name Stearly Recordings was chosen because it was the street where our crowd of friends lived and hung out. I don’t remember [producer] Bill Hamilton. It is possible that he knew and dealt with John Mullins who acted as our manager at the time.

That is a Vox bass. Later I bought a White Gibson EB3 (very rare color). I also had a fretless Dan Armstrong (clear body). The band evolved with other members as time went on but no other recordings were ever made.

The Sands of Time, circa 1967-8
The Sands of Time, circa 1967-8

These pictures [at right] show Art Bernie the organist but Joe Feliciani was no longer in the band and was replaced by Rick Sutcliff, and Bill Ellis remained for another year.This would have been Fall of 1967 and Winter of 1968. There was more evolution but this was the band at the time of the record recording and soon after.

Mike Marr

Sands of Time Stearly 45 When She Crys For MeThis band has no connection to the Sands of Time who recorded Red Light on Sterling Award records out of New York.

The Changing Tymes

Here’s a record I don’t own myself, but I was struck by the incredible similarity of the opening of the Changing Tyme’s “You Make It Hard” to the Quiet Jungle song “Everything”. I would suspect the Quiet Jungle release came first, but I don’t know for sure.

I’d certainly be interested to know how a group from Pennsylvania came to adapt a song by a Toronto, Canada group. On the other hand, it’s entirely possible that each band came up with that riff themselves.”You Make It Hard” and it’s equally good flip, “Try a Whole Lot Harder” were written by Shapiro and Mahoney, and released on the R.D. #1 label. I’ve seen the band listed as a Philadelphia group but don’t have any certain evidence of that.

Also, this isn’t the same Changing Tymes as the Gate City, Virginia group who recorded cool songs like “Go Your Way” and “The Only Girl I Love” for the Moss label.

Anyone have a photo of the group?

Transfers from Gyro1966’s ‘Empty Heart’ with thanks.

The Scholars

The Scholars with vocal trio the Perennials, plus manager Nat Segal at Cameo Parkway Studio, Philadelphia, January 28, 1967
The Scholars (white sweaters) with vocal trio the Perennials, plus manager Nat Segal
Cameo Parkway Studio, Philadelphia, January 28, 1967

Scholars Ruby Ray 45 I Need Your LovinA quintet of Drexel and Temple University students (hence the Scholars name) from the Bridesburg, Port Richmond and Mayfair sections of Philadelphia. The only name I can associate with them is Bernie Winski, who wrote both songs on the 45, “I Need Your Lovin” and “Please Please”. [Since first writing this, I can also include Joe Macie, who commented below.]

Opening with a pounding snare, “I Need Your Lovin'” is intense garage. The sound is dense, with background vocals by the Perenials [sic] and heavy swirling organ. A sax solo is followed by some great surf-type runs on the guitar. A remastering from the original tape, if it exists, might really bring out all the elements.

“Please Please” is competent but less exciting, I’m including it for the completists out there. They also cut one unreleased song, “I’m Gonna Make It”, that really shows doo-wop influence. “I’m Gonna Make It” originally appeared on the Crude PA compilation.

The 45 was released in February, 1967 on the Ruby Ray label out of Cornwell Heights (northeast of Philadelphia, I believe) and distributed by David Rosen Inc. Mastering by Frankford/Wayne.

 The Perennials at Cameo Parkway Studios, Philadelphia, January 28, 1967
The Perennials at Cameo Parkway Studios, Philadelphia, January 28, 1967

Update, June 2011

 The Perennials, from left: Jack Donadio, Gene (surname?) and Jim Tucker
The Perennials, from left: Jack Donadio, Gene (surname?) and Jim Tucker
Three years after writing this post I am no closer to knowing the identities and full story of the Scholars, but this month backing vocalist Jack Donadio wrote to me about the session with the fine photos seen here:

I am one of the Perennials who recorded the songs featured on your website: “I Need Your Lovin'”, “Please Please”, and “I’m Gonna Make It”.

The Perennials (background vocals) consisted of three doo wop singers from Philadelphia who answered a newspaper ad and auditioned to provide the background vocals for the Scholars who had recently signed a recording contract with Nat Segal. Nat was the group’s manager and contract holder, who also produced the master tape and subsequent recording under the Ruby Ray label.

Gathered around the microphone is me (Jack Donadio), Gene (don’t know his last name) and Jim Tucker (my brother-in-law). With regard to Gene, we only met him for the first and last time at the recording session. All that I remember about Gene is that he resided in Philly and sang with various doo wop groups, as we did.

Shortly following the release of the record, the Scholars appeared on the local TV show, “Summertime on the Pier”.

The was no further musical collaboration of the Perennials and Scholars following the recording session. There was not much of a musical career for me and Jim. We sang with a lot of different groups (Frankie and the Fashions, among others). We both eventually became law enforcement officers. Jim was a Sergeant in charge of the Homicide Division in Philly and retired from there about five years ago. I became the Police Chief of New Hope Pennsylvania for seven years, then Oneonta, NY (retired from there after 25 years) and finally Hawthorne, Florida for two years. I am presently retired and living in Gainesville, Florida.

Jack Donadio, 2011

Thank you to Jack for providing the photos and information on the recording session.

Nat Segal was a clarinet player who owned the Downbeat Club in Philadelphia and booked jazz shows into the Academy of Music in the ’40s and ’50s. In the early 1960’s he went into personal management for Danny & the Juniors, the Orlons, the Dovells and DJs Bob Horn and Jerry Blavat before working with the Scholars.

Sources on Nat Segal: Jersey Jazz’s December 2009 issue (PDF document) and “To the Geator, Bob Was Horn of Plenty. To this Day, Jerry Blavat Feels Debt of Gratitude to the Show’s Founder … and its Biggest Victim” by Jonathan Takiff, Philadelphia Daily News, August 5, 1997, accessed through Philly.com.

 The Perennials at Cameo Parkway Studio, Philadelphia, January 28, 1967
The Perennials at Cameo Parkway Studio, Philadelphia, January 28, 1967

The American Tragedy

The American Tragedy

Frank Stallone sent in these photos of his first band, the American Tragedy. Frank’s playing the ’58 Gibson Explorer. Frank didn’t give me all the members names but Midgie Geiger is one. The band never recorded.

Frank wrote, “I had a band the American Tragedy out of Philadelphia from 1965 to ’68. We played all the hops and were in the Battle of the Bands and came in 2nd. I went on from there to form a group called Valentine with John Oates.

“Also the Hangmen are from Maryland, I’m from there as well. I saw them open for the Lovin’ Spoonful at the Shady Grove Music Fair, Rockville MD in 1965.”

 The American Tragedy, 1965
The American Tragedy, 1965

The Magic Mushrooms

 Magic Mushrooms publicity photo taken by Ted Cahill in Philadelphia, Fall, 1966
Magic Mushrooms publicity photo taken by Ted Cahill in Philadelphia, Fall, 1966

The Magic Mushrooms A&M 45 It's-a-HappeningFive students at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia formed the Magic Mushrooms. Original members were Stu Freeman vocals and guitar, Ted Cahill lead guitar and autoharp, Dick Richardson keyboards, Charles Ingersol on bass and Joe LaCavera on drums.

Allen Ginsberg gave them the Magic Mushrooms name after a campus lecture in late 1965. In early 1966, Josh Rice joined the band on vocals, flute and harmonica.

Sonny Casella heard the band playing at Drexel University and became their manager. Contrary to previous reports, he did not sing or play in the band, but he was responsible for mixing, arranging and producing their records.

The Magic Mushrooms Philips 45 Never Let GoThey recorded their first 45 in New York, “It’s A-Happening”, an original credited to Casella and Rice, but perhaps really written by Stu Freeman and Josh Rice. A bizarre psychedelic montage, it was released on A&M in September, 1966 and reached as high as #93 on the Billboard charts in November, backed with another original, “Never More”.

The Magic Mushrooms East Coast 45 Let the Rain Be MeA close comparison could be made to the Electric Prunes, but unfortunately we’ll never know how far a record this strange could go – when Herb Alpert of A&M realized the drug reference in the band’s name, he pulled the record from the shops and ended their relationship with the label.

A&M Spurns Psychedelic Records, Billboard August 1967
Item in Billboard, August 19, 1967.

Despite this setback the band hooked up with Philips for their second record, “Look in My Face”, which didn’t chart. However, it was backed with the intense “Never Let Go”, an original by Stu Freeman and Josh Rice and my favorite track by the band.

Their final release is the corny “Municipal Water Maintenance Man” on the East Coast label, hiding a very fine hippie-ish track on the b-side, “Let the Rain Be Me”, another Freeman/Rice song.

 Magic Mushrooms on stage
Magic Mushrooms on stage, from left: Chris Barbieri, Stu Freeman, Joe LaCavera and Josh Rice. Out of frame: Bob Grady and Ted Cahill.

Magic Mushrooms Manager Sonny Cassella, Ted Cahill, Stu Freeman, Chris Barbieri and Josh Rice
Manager Sonny Cassella, Ted Cahill, Stu Freeman, Chris Barbieri and Josh Rice taking a break from recording
Lead guitarist Ted Cahill and vocalist and guitarist Stu Freeman have filled in some details on the band:

Ted Cahill:

I was the lead guitar playing for The Magic Mushrooms. I am still in touch with Stu Freeman. and Joe Lacavera, the drummer.

The original bass and keyboard players were replaced, I think, in the Spring of 1966. Those guys were replaced by Chris Barbieri (bass) and Bon Grady (keyboards). They had both been in a band with Stu in Westchester County, NY before Stu came to Penn.

That summer we played the Jersey shore at a place called Tony Mart’s in Somers Point. We had a dispute with the owner later in the summer and quit. One of our lead singers had been sick and the guy docked us some money. Little did we know it was a mafia bar; our days of playing that part of the Jersey Shore was over. If you have ever seen the movie Eddie and the Cruisers, Tony Mart’s is the club where a lot of the action in the movie happens.

Chris Barbieri and Bob Grady of the Magic Mushrooms
Chris Barbieri and Bob Grady
We played a lot around Philly, the Hy Lit show on tv, some bars around the city and lots of frat parties at Penn. We also were supposedly in a movie the Andy Warhol shot at Penn’s Mask and Wig Theater in Center City Philly, whether that really happened I don’t know, but we were asked to play the party there and there was filming going on.

We saw no reward for the Nuggets appearance, all the money we made was from the gigs we played.

Stu Freeman:

I grew up in New Rochelle and presently live in White Plains. The band I had in high school was called the “Foremost” and later the “Fiendish Thingies”. The other members were Barbieri, Grady and a guitar player named Lloyd McCool. All from Pelham Manor.

Barbieri and Grady replaced Charlie Ingersol and Dick Richardson in the Mushrooms after about a year. After about another year, Cahill, Josh Rice and drummer Joe LaCavera were out and the Mushrooms was composed of myself, a guitar player named Steve Rundle, bassist Pete Gries (both from Penn) and a couple of different drummers from around Philly.

“It’s a Happening” was recorded in Sigma Sound studios on Broad Street in Philly, NOT in New York. Engineer was Joe Tarsia, who worked with Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff on all those great “Philly sound” records (Harold Melvin, MFSB, Ojays, Archie Bell, Jerry Butler, Soul Survivors, etc.). Tarsia expanded and opened up a studio in NY after the huge success of the Philly studios.

 Stu Freeman of the Magic Mushrooms
Stu Freeman
Also, Allen Ginsberg did indeed provide the name “Magic Mushrooms” (he was speaking at a Penn function and Josh caught up with him and asked him for a suggestion). And, there was never any “David Rice” on guitar. BTW, Josh Rice is nephew of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Elmer Rice.

Q. Did you ever see much in the way of royalties from It’s a Happening?

We all received some royalties from the original sales (eons ago), but interesting you should ask that, because one of my erstwhile Penn roommates and current good friend asked me a while ago, after noting the success of the “Nuggets” albums, if any royalties had been received from them. I told him no and he suggested that I investigate, but I never did. I have no idea where Josh Rice is so I never contacted him about it either. Casella owned much of the original publishing so he may have received something from “Nuggets” but it’s also possible the publishing had expired and he got nada.

I got involved with “Stars On 45” in 1981 with my current partner Ed Garr and we still play regularly (everything from weddings to CBS News holiday parties to Vegas conventions).

Sonny Casella also helped produce the first record by The Snaps (later known as the Underground Balloon Corps) “You Don’t Want Me”/ “You’re All Mine”.

These Magic Mushrooms shouldn’t be confused with the California group the Magic Mushroom (singular) who recorded “I’m Gone” / “Cry Baby” on Warner Bros.

Photos from the collection of Ted Cahill.

 Chris Barbieri and Ted Cahill, with Stu Freeman in background
Chris Barbieri and Ted Cahill, with Stu Freeman in background