Josh Pettibone sent in the photo of the Henchmen above in response to my post looking for info on some mystery Texas bands. It came from the collection of a DJ from Hobbs, New Mexico, just over the state line from Texas. I couldn’t find any information about the band until member Ben Boyett contacted me in January 2014.
We were from Hobbs, New Mexico, and played gigs throughout eastern New Mexico and west Texas. The (original) Henchmen pictured are, left to right, Dennis Spillman, lead guitarist; Kirk Smith, bass (sitting on floor); Danny Spivey, drums; and, me, Ben Boyett, second guitar and vocals. We played in this configuration during the 1964-65 era, recording some pretty forgettable singles [unreleased], “Put That Phone Back On The Hook,” “Two Lives,” and “Animal Crackers.”
After a year, we reformed, with Robert Pampell on keyboard replacing Spillman. In that lineup, we recorded with the late Ray Ruff in Amarillo, TX. Ray Ruff’s studio in Amarillo was a tiny thing in an old shopping center. Just after the Henchmen recorded there, a fire pretty well gutted the place. In the last years of his life, Ray Ruff was a very successful country record promoter. He had a great memory, and even recalled several events about me when I ran into him almost twenty years after recording with him.
Somewhere, recordings exist, including the Ray Ruff session, but I’ll have to do some looking through many boxes of memorabilia.
I re-entered the music business about 20 years after the photo, and recorded a single with the late Norman Petty that was released. I think it sold about ten copies, and most of those to relatives. But, getting to work with the legendary Norman Petty was like getting to work with Mozart or da Vinci.
Danny Spivey is still playing on sessions and in church, after having toured with Up With People back in the late sixties. (He’s the only one of us who actually read music.) Dennis Spillman, the lead guitarist, writes oil and gas leases in Oklahoma. Kirk Smith, the bassist, came to an ignominious end during the seventies.
Q. Did the Henchmen make it as far as Dallas? I came across a band called the Henchmen in a list of bands at the 1967 Texas State Fair.
No, my version of the Henchmen did not make it to Dallas. We were strictly an area phenomenon.