The Madhatters

Madhatters Mask 45 Just Won't LeaveI know very little about this 45, other than these Madhatters were a group of high schoolers from Stamford, CT who traveled to New York City to record their only 45 in late February of 1966. They broke up soon after, with most members going to college that fall. I’ve also seen the band’s name given as two words, the Mad Hatters.

The Madhatters’ cool original “Just Won’t Leave” has credits to Sills, Young and Davidson. Copyright registration from April 28, 1966 shows words by John Sills, words and music by David Young and arrangement by John Davidson.

John Davidson was the Madhatters lead guitarist, Jim Cantor played bass, and they had a drummer named Eddie (surname?)

For the flip they do a better than average cover of Mike Hugg’s “Mister You’re a Better Man Than I”.

Released on Mask Records (a Jaysina Production, 143 W. 51st St., NY), with Lady Grace publishing. The only other productions I can attribute to Jaysina Enterprises are two 45s by Tommy Walters on Bardell and an Otis Rush session co-produced with Funtown and sold to Gamble.

A 10″ three-song acetate surfaced that contained the two songs from the single plus a version of “I’m a Man”, produced by Jaysina Enterprises, Inc. I haven’t heard the Madhatters’ version of “I’m a Man” yet.

There’s no connection to the Mad Hatters from Annapolis, Maryland (45s on Ascot and Fontana) or Minnesota (two 45s on Cardinal).

Madhatters Jaysina Enterprises, Inc demo acetate

13 thoughts on “The Madhatters”

  1. I remember this band very well as their lead guitarist was/is a very good friend of mine. The fact that he was all of fifteen years old at the time says volumes about his talent even then. I also remember their drummer-Eddie, because I listened to him while they rehersed because I was just starting to playy drums myself. In fact, the guitarist-fifteen y/o John actually taught me the basics of drumming.
    I saw them play many times in and around Stamford and greenwich, and they were indeed one of the best local bands at the time.

  2. I just picked up a 45 by The Red Tops with Caravan/Mustard. A Jay-Sina Production as well on Glodus Records. I know this is an old post but any info would be great.

  3. They had a bass player named Jim Cantor. He filled in for our bass player , Gene Pfiefer ( from the Popinjays) when Gene’s lungs collapsed and he had to be hospitalized for a while back in 1966. The Popinjays were , Jon Arnow , Pete Whittlin, Gene Pfeifer, Bob Kubovy and Mike Arnow and Matt Hepler. Matt Hepler was a similar guitar phenom in Stamford, CT, , similar to John Davidson, the Mad Hatter lead guitarist.If I remember correctly, John was a big fellow , like Matt Hepler, and had almost white hair.. Matt was 15 also and could out lick most people . His brother Mark and he went to King School . Mark was a very good guitarist also. They played in a band called the New England Blues with Rod Ross from Fairfield, CT on drums , and Larry Saresky also from Stamford on guitar.Occasionally Joe Orowsky played drums . He also was from Stamford, CT.
    Was always amazed at how well John Davidson played. He played , if I remember correctly, a Gretsch guitar, might have been orange in color.
    Jimmy Cantor used a Standell bass amp. Jimmy sat in at a job we had at the Temple Sinai in North Stamford in the spring of 1966.

  4. From 1964 to 1967 the Mad Hatters were one of the better “garage bands” regularly playing to high school student audiences in Stamford, CT. Competing groups were the slightly older Malibus with fine vocal harmonies, and the Popinjays, – for whom I (Pete Wittlin) played organ, – with Mat Hepler on lead guitar, and Jon Arnow, our “Mick Jaggar-type lead singer but without the surly attitude.” The Popinjays covered rock organ groups hits of the Rascals “Good Lovin”,” the Animals “House of the Rising Sun” & “Boom-Boom,” and the Spencer Davis Group (“Gimme Some Lovin'”), and some Them tunes by Van Morrison. These were great times, – huge 150+ attended church, Women’s Club, and temple hall dances most every Saturday night in town, – well parent- monitored, with well behaved kids. The Mad Hatters were a most popular & talented group, with Jimmy Cantor, – their fine bass player. Great Fun Times.

  5. The Mad Hatters also had a cool saxophonist, David Leferman. The talented drummer was Ed Sepanski Sprigg, who later played drums with the San Francisco Earthquake (aka Shadowfax), a popular house band in upper Westchester County NY and whose members included Bill Sacks, lead guitar; Bob Brown, bass; Richard Bromfield, lead singer, Lou Meyer, rhythm guitar, and Mike Delugg, keyboards. Ed went on to become an engineer at A&R Studio and chief sound engineer at The Hit Factory. He died in 2011. The last time I was in contact with bassist Jim Cantor, years ago, he was an educator in California. I believe David Leferman currently lives in Maryland.

    1. Ed Sapanski, if I remember correctly , went to the UCONN Branch Campus for a while..I met him while going there. His band, Shadowfax, played at a UCONN function in the winter of 1968/1969..He was pretty good.

  6. I’d love to know what happened to Matt. I jammed with him a couple of times at Loretto Heits College in the early ’70s and was blown away by his talent. Then he dissapearred. Dude could play!

    1. Matt Hepler passed away back in 1981…way too young, in Denver, Colorado..I got the news from his Dad ..I had sent out a bunch of items I had saved , copies of ads and photos of the band to the only address I had at the time in Colorado… and they kept on coming back.. I called and left a message for his Dad wondering what was going on…Then I got the call that broke my heart..from his Dad..Gene Pfeifer, the bass player in the band, and I were working together at the time and I remember my wife meeting us at the door, crying .She took the original call from Mr. Hepler ..I called him back and we spoke for quite a while…and the rest is history..I know more ..But I will leave it at that…He was a special player for sure…We knew right away when we heard him play..I miss not being able to talk to him about the old times. Pete Wittlin and I speak on a regular basis..still good friends..we both agree that he was a special musician..His brother , Mark, was a heck of a guitarist also…I spoke with him a few years ago..He’s doing fine..Nice fellow..

      1. Jon,
        I just read your post on Matt Hepler and was saddened to read he passed away. Matt and I were buddies at KingSchool. He got into a bit of trouble back then and left King. In my senior year I was kicked out.
        I remember he and I were taking a PSAT test and sat diagonally across from each other. We were reading each other’s info (DOB,etc) and found we were born the same day at the same hospital! We had a good laugh about it. He was truly a fine man and a good friend

  7. Matt Hepler, from the Popinjays, actually passed away on September 6, 1982. Mike Arnow and Bob Kubovy passed away on February 27, 1976 in a terrible motorcycle crash on High Ridge Road, in Stamford, CT…We lost our cousin and my future brother-in-law..all at once..They were great fellows…I miss them a lot..There will never be a Popinjays Reunion…

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