Agafon Golden North 45 Walkin' the Dog

The Crusade

The Crusade are one of only two garage bands from Alaska that I know recorded (the other is the Pulsating Heartbeats from Anchorage). The Crusade came out of Sitka, and their 45 was released on the Golden North label out of Juneau in April 1967, produced by J. Allen MacKinnon.

“Psychedelic Woman” has a heavy guitar line and lyrics about a girl who’s “got big hips like a buffalo”! “Fade Away” is much more mellow. Both songs were written by Agafon Krukoff, who had a previous 45 on Golden North 101 in late ’66, a good version of “Walkin’ the Dog” backed with “Here I Sit in Alaska (Breaking the Legs Off Poor Little Self-Defenseless Crabs)” (credited to Dhon Cole). Anyone know who was on Golden North # 102?

Since writing about this 45, I heard first from Mike Murphy, brother of Dennis Murphy who plays drums on the 45:

Dennis Murphy was the youngest brother of myself. Dennis was 16 at the time. Dennis started learning drums from an old man in Sitka who was retired and played occasionally with groups at the Elks and Moose in the ’50s. Later Dennis studied with Bruce Golubier, the drummer with the Don Cole Trio, that was very popular in the ’60s and was the house band for a while at the Potlach Club, a popular club at the time and one of the few to have live music come up from the states. Bruce was an excellent drummer and Dennis really improved under his guidance.

The bands that I know existed in the 60s in Sitka were the Invaders, and the band had various names during those years of ’62 to ’64. The Moose Lodge had an auditorium with a stage above the bar, where they held meetings and activities. That was the first place my brother Pat and Eric Olsen started playing together and working up tunes by Lonnie Mack and Duane Eddy. Eric was playing a Gretsch guitar through a Sears Silvertone amp. Pat had a ’57 Fender Strat. The bass players were several, one of which was Joe Chicarri, spelling is incorrect, the drummer’s name escapes me. They were thee band at high school dances in ’63 and ’64.

Eric Olsen went on to police work in Sitka; Pat Murphy died in a car accident in Washington after high school and a short time in the Navy. Both graduated Sitka High in ’65. The Moose Hall auditorium is gone now along with the movie theatre and lots of other things.

I remember Agafon, but never met him. he was without doubt and incredible talent. Without any schooling or training, he was able to cover many popular tunes and was a teenage prodigy on the guitar for that time. The band was [originally] called the Pribiloff Trio because Agafon was from the Pribiloff Islands out in the Alutians.

Later when I returned to Sitka in the summer of ’67, after three years in the Navy, Dennis and I, drums and guitar, joined with Fred Stratton, bass, and Pat Stengal, lead guitar, to form a band that played several shows at the Centennial Building. We could rent the auditorium for $50 a night. some friends organized a light show to accompany the music. I don’t recall what the band was called. We played covers of the Grateful Dead, Cream, and others that were popular at the time. During this time, bands like the Wailers from Seattle came up and booked the auditorium and played shows. These were high level recording artists with expensive professional equipment. If I recall correctly, we were able to use their PA to open their show, which was a nice experience.

Dennis lives in Portland now and still plays drums, guitar and harmonica quite well.

Mike Murphy

Then I heard from Dennis Murphy himself:

I was just a beginner at drums. I had taken lessons from an old dude who was a friend of my dad, he taught me the rudiments when I was 11 or 12. I had another brother who is dead now, he had a band and I would study the drummers he had, watch em real close, and practice what I saw.

I was hired by Agafon in an audition for drummers when I was freshman in Sitka High School. One other guy tried and failed. These guys were all in college so it was real intimidating, to say the least.

The drummer had to leave town so they would take anybody to fill his place and there were not many to do so, or choose from. I had been commercially fishing with my Dad so he owed me something for that. They offered me the drumset the old drummer had been playing for $300.00 and I got my Dad to pay for it. It was a gold sparkle Slingerland four piece drumset with calf heads.

Agafon had already made a record on the same label called “Walkin’ the Dog”. So he knew J. Allen McKinnon from that recording.

We recorded that record in an auditorium up on the stage. It was a real strange place to do a recording but it was in the old days I guess you might say.

Dennis Murphy

Agafon Golden North 45 Walkin' the Dog
Agafon’s late ’66 single for Golden North
Agafon Golden North 45 Here I Sit in Alaska

14 thoughts on “The Crusade”

  1. I just want to weep when I find out that these bands release one single and then disappear. The recorded material is so rare too that a lot of it is unattainable.

    This single has to be one of the best so far for me. It is absolutely sodden with attitude and you can totally imagine bopping with a 60’s beauty with a serious face in a tiny club somewhere.

    Thanks so much for your archive, it really is a goldmine. The best curation of this type of material there is.

  2. yeah, the kind of garage i love, and have loved for over 20 years, kinda dirty and nasty dripping fuzz and attitude, more of this kind of thing.

  3. reall? only 2 garage singles from alaska?
    well, if you say so.

    But I’m gonna do some research….
    one of these days.

  4. There’s a great northwest style stomper called ‘Namu’ it’s got a novelty ‘edge’ since it’s about an actual beached killer whale that made national headlines in the US in the 60’s. This record is by The Dorsals with The Gatormen and came out on Camelot. The Gatormen were from Fairbanks, Ak according to one of the always trustworthy cool archivist fiends over there at the g45 forums….also the “66-74” album by Proof supoosedly is real lofi blues garage psych ala Cream but more raw than Clapton & co. of course – don’t know if that one really counts as garage though

  5. I graduated from Sitka Hi in 1966 and then checked into Sheldon Jackson where I met Agafon. I remember one Sunday we were waiting in line to eat lunch and he grabbed a napkin and began writing “Oh here I sit in Alaska breaking the legs of poor little self defenseless crabs while my baby’s with some guy under the warm California sun…………….” He put it music in the dorm and cut the record in the old gym. I used to help set up the band at Hi School dances while going to college. At the time he had Stan Swaim on melody guitar and organ, Greg Hodge on bass, I don’t recall drums. Agafon was just an artist who could play most any hit. I’d sure like to get in touch with him again. I haven’t seen him since 1968.

  6. I was the drummer for the Blue Cheeze Experiment which ws the last band that Agafon, Max Ringrose, Danny Newman, and Greg Hodges were in. At the end of the college year, Agafon, Danny, Greg and Max all left Sitka and went to their home towns. I stayed in Sitka until 1969 and joined Stan Swaim in Juneau to play for the band Grandma Ogg which later became Bed Rock. I have tried several times to make contact with Agafon in St Paul Island, Greg Hodge in Fairbanks, Max Ringrose in Seattle and was able to connect with Dan Newman who was living in Seattle and was on the road playing Bass for Ira Allen, country singer. The original drummer for the Five Fifs was Jamiel Lemley from Wrangle. This was the name of the first band Agafon had in Sitka. I only have one photograph left as a fire destroyed all my copies of the records made and poster we made.
    The last time we played together was in the A frame at Sheldon Jackson JC in 1968.
    There was a band that come from Seattle called Surprise Package that join us in a battle of the bands at the Centennial Building. Joe Cucharri was our band manager and was a DJ at one of the local radio stations. I currently live in Kalispell, Montana and would love to hear from some of the old band members or if any one has any photos of those days I would love to get a copy. Jim Frost
    iswinc@hotmail.com

  7. Hey dunno if you guys have Facebook- but my dad checks his probably once a week, look up Agafon Krukoff. Btw thanks for all the rockin’ and also notes on what happened! 🙂

  8. the producer j. allen mackinnon plays organ at the state office building every friday at noon. we have a 60’s dance night every month in juneau and play 60’s garage, soul, ect… awesome to get local talent on the playlist.

    goto http://www.alaskanscorcher.com and listen to the first show (on bottom), it’s 60’s world garage from cambodia, africa, ect…

  9. On the home page of garagehangover.com the story below from Michael Murphy of Sitka appears. I would sure like to talk to Mike as he sold me his blue Fender Jaguar guitar in 1967 when he was packing up his seabag to return home after spending 3 years on the USS Twining in San Francisco. I spent many hours on the fantail learning all the licks I could from Mike. I tried to learn every Ventures and 60’s guitar song he knew and that 2 year experience pretty much got launched my guitar playing. Though I went into the IT field and never went much further with the music ambitions, I still enjoy playing today and my list of songs is heavily laced with Mike’s mid 60’s signature playing style. If you know of an email address for Mike Murphy, please send it to me, or forward this note so we can reconnect and let me know you got this message and did that. I would like to tell Mike the story of what became of his blue Fender J. I think he would like to know.

    Thanks

    Don Hubbard
    IT Manager, Texas Office of Attorney General
    formerly of Castro Valley CA,
    USS Twining DD540 (1965 – 1968)
    Radioman 2nd class

  10. My name is Rick and I am the son of Sunny Cole. I lived at the Potlatch when my folks were the house band, and I too had drum lessons from Bruce. I remember your band, as well as another called Forthcoming… I also remeber playing music in the basement of the old chuch by the new harbor… Sitka was a fun place to be at that time. Also remeber playing with some guys over at Mt Edgcombe… Might have been those forthcoming folk. Lots of Silvertone gear!

  11. Today my wife and I were on a walking tour in Juneau, AK. I stopped in a little store called Nana’s Gifts and found this record for $3. Made my day. Thanks for posting the article by the group.

  12. Does anyone have the agafon 45. songs on mp3 I know this is a long shot but I’d love to h ave those two songs to listen to. If you have and be willing to email them to me. My email is troyaljustice [at] gmail.com I’d be grateful forever. Thanks.

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