Photo of the Henchmen, Hobbs, NM

The Henchmen

Photo of the Henchmen, Hobbs, NMJosh 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.

Ben writes:

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.

15 thoughts on “The Henchmen”

  1. I have a 45 (7″ single) from a band called the Henchmen on Guillotine Records 6-6489 of Ogden, Utah. A Billboard Magazine article mentions the release of the record in April of 1966. Could be a different group, but Utah borders New Mexico, so I guessing it’s the same band. The Billboard story says they were a Salt Lake City band, but I bet promo materials were sent to New Mexico and Texas. It’s the only mention of a garage rock band called The Henchmen I can find. Tracks are “Slow Down” and “So Lonely” (Hollies cover I think).

    Here’s the link to the Billboard article.

    Would be interested if anyone knows more. It’s an awesome 45! Email if you know more to dhd@highplainsfilms.org

  2. That Billboard article is wrong on the facts. Always sounds better if you ignore your own history when it comes to promotion, you don’t wanna say something like “Our first release stiffed”. Better to ignore it altogether.

    This group called Hentchmen had a single issued on the Guillotine label which came out in July, 1965: a remake of “Come On Let’s Go” paired with a remake of “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow”. The better side is “Come On Let’s Go”. The Shirelles remake is tepid, a real snoozer.
    The second 45 again pairs two remakes, with the Hollies remake getting the slight edge.

    There are other singles on this label as well, some non rock & roll (country-western) including my vote for the best garage sounding one by far: the Fabulous Morticians, from Iowa.

    As for the Hentchmen, jury is still out as to their origins for certain. I don’t subscribe to guesstimations and random speculation. Until someone comes up with proof beyond a doubt, then these Henchmen could be from any state in the midwest / great plains, or beyond.

  3. Although it was before my playing days in Albuquerque (65-77), there was a very good group in town called the Henchmen, the leader was the guitarist and singer, John Hench. They were around in the early 60’s. The clothing, hair cuts and equipment in the photo all agree with that time frame rather than the mid 60’s. By the time I was active, they were no longer around. Maybe this helps. Thanks for the site.

  4. The photo is not the Henchmen that did Come On Let’s Go/Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow. I played in a band in the same town (Ogden, Utah) at the same time as the Henchmen and heard them play many time in 1965 – 68 timeframe. In fact, one of their band became our manager for awhile. I think I have a photo someplace that came with the original 45.

  5. Doug the “45” you mention was recorded at a studio at the University of Utah. The group consisted of 5 students from Ben Lomond High School in Ogden Utah.The members were Tom Whitimore,Rick Wessler,Paul Quigley,Gary MacShara,and lead vocalist Von Nielson.There was a followup called “C’mon.”The group
    broke up after High School.The highlite of there career was a session with the Liverpool Five.The low point was when we took the record to a Salt Lake
    radio station and the jock in the studio played it and said quote,”After reading the article in Rolling Stone I expected something better.”

    Thanks for the interest

    Gary

      1. Hey, my brother Bruce managed the Henchmen. I was only about five years old but I had a copy of the 45rpm Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow. It was stolen. Do you know of any copies where I might obtain one? Thanks, Ryan Unck

          1. Anyone with photos, the music or info on the Utah band the Henchmen can contact me and I will post a new page on this site for them.

            Chris
            chas_kit [at] hotmail.com

  6. they were not a garage band but they played in hobbs, new mexico at the belair lounge. they were called les crowe and the chapperells, do you remember them? my sister was so crazy about them, and them about her. also. my brother and i went to school with dennis spillman, do you know if he is still in oklahoma? i would love to see him or talk to him since i moved to oklahoma 30 years ago.

  7. An observation: It appears there are at least two different The Henchmen bands. The one in New Mexico and the one in Ogden, Utah. My cousin Tom Whittemore was in the Ogden band.

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