The Mauroks

The Mauroks at Kagnew Station, Ethiopia, 1967
The Mauroks were a psychedelic white group on a label better known for soul and funk. On “Susan” the opening keyboard riff combines with reverbed guitar strumming over deadened strings and a great drum beat to make a instantly arresting groove. A quick, wild chorus with excellent distorted guitar and it’s right back to that fine opening pattern. A great and danceable obscurity, it was written by bassist Tom Kaup and keyboardist Larry Keiser.

Their guitarist Howard G. Salada (“Butch”) was stationed at Kagnew Station, a U.S. military base in Asmara, Ethiopia (now Eritrea) in 1966-67.

On a Kagnew veteran’s website he wrote “I played in several bands at the Top 5 and the Oasis [nightclubs on the base] as well as a few of the clubs downtown. First with the Counts, then the Mauroks and then the Remains. We had a good time. The Mauroks joined together again in ’68 in NYC and made an attempt at the BIG time. The other members of the group were: Larry Keiser (linguist), Tom ‘Tuck’ Kaup (Navy) & Vic D’Amore. Bobby Ward, who was there before me also joined us in NY. Our first drummer was a Navy guy called Willy. The only one I’ve kept in touch with was Tuck. The others are lost in America. Maybe someone knows where they are?”

Howard’s own email address as given on the site is now defunct so I haven’t been able to contact him directly.

The reformed Mauroks in the States, 1969
The photos below show the Counts playing live at the Oasis in 1966 while stationed at Kagnew in Ethiopia. Larry Keiser and Butch Salada played in the Counts before forming the Mauroks.

l-r: Tony from Asmara on sax, Lauren ‘Larry’ Keiser going wild on the keyboards, Daniel Pomerleou on guitar, unknown playing the tambourine, Howard ‘Butch’ Salada playing the left-handed Gibson SG guitar, and Al Trautman is playing bass in the striped shirt on the far right.

Willy is on drums in the back.

Al Trautman played bass guitar for the Counts. He writes:

I heard Jerry Lee Lewis on the Steve allen Show, told Grandmaw that I wanted to play piano and she GAVE me the upright in her living room. Dad put the piano in the shed (was working midnights) and 3 months later the Del Royals were driving down John Lewis Road, heard me and hired me on the spot.

I joined the USAF the day JFK was assassinated. When I got to Asmara, I had the bass guitar and a GOOD amplifier. Larry auditioned me and the following week I was playing. It beat the Nam thing, that is sure.

The guys were GOOD people, great musicians. I was MORE in the Fats Domino/Lil’ Richard/Jerry Lee Lewis vein BUT doing the Beatles, England thing was what the Mauroks was all about.

I volunteered for Asmara, did 6 months and stayed messed up with the VERY cheap beer that was so popular there. Tuck came in right about then, used the bass system and I went back to Turner AFB.

Danny (don’t remember the LAST name) was a great guitarist. Butch has a good technique.

Nov. 22, 1967 I got out, got married to a high-school sweet-heart from the pass and have been married to her 35 years. Damned, how time flies, God bless, please keep in touch…AL

Nowadays Al is busy fixing up his home after Hurricane Rita hit in 2005 and is back to playing his first instrument, the piano. More photos of the Counts and Mauroks are available on the Kagnew Station website.

Thanks to Dirk Sermeels of Belgium for alerting me to the Kagnew Station site.

French sleeve – can anyone give an accurate who’s who in this photo?

16 thoughts on “The Mauroks”

  1. Hi (Anyone?)

    I am T. Kaup. “Kaup” was my step father’s last name, and when he croaked I changed my name back to Ballister – which is what I was born with.

    I was the bass player and lead singer – on Susan. L. Keiser (Larry) was the other lead singer in the band. It is he who is to be credited with the riff & groove. I was only responsible for the melody/lyrics – which weren’t really all that much.

    To be honest, I think that song was more like spontaneous combustion than any kind of thoughtful effort. Larry started plunking out that riff one night in the middle of a gig (as I recall), we started jamming to it, and I just started singing whatever came into my head. Luckily I was sober enough that I actually remembered something the next day – and wrote it down.

    What a kick to see the disk published. Hats off to you. If anyone tries to email me, be forewarned that you’ll have to be persistant. I’ve a spam blocker in front, and although I do scan the spam-bucket, I might miss your email unless you put something like “HEY MAUROK!” in the subject, and try multiple times.

    Best Wishes to All,
    Tom Ballister (Tuck)

  2. CHAS,

    I worked with the Counts in the 66 era. Stationed in Albany, GA at Turner AFB. I’ve played piano for 35 years (NOW) and when I got to Kagnew Station, I had a bass guitar AND a dual 15″ bass amplifier. After meeting Lary (Lauren) we had a practice and worked with the Counts for 6 months (my TDY term).

    Tuck came in right about then, used the bass system and I went back to Turner AFB. Lary is now with Carl Fischer Music and doing REALLY GOOD. His email is: I’ve sent him a couple emails but nothing back yet. Willy was the drummer, I ??? heard that he may have passed on.

    The guitar (left handed) is Butch Salada, nothing back yet. I’m in the stripes and playing bass. I have always preferred PIANO, that’s where my music is STILL geared in that direction.

    Anyway, just a few words letting you know that there was a bass player before Tuck, I’m doing vocals and piano and doing relatively good with Safety, Health and Environmental instruction.

    I hope this gets to you…AL Trautman, Lydia, LA

  3. Hey Tom!
    Good to hear from you. I didn’t see your email address with the comment, so I’m replying here. I’d like to hear more about the band – were you in bands before the Mauroks, how did the Mauroks form, live gigs, how you got the record deal, and anything else that comes to mind. Did you stay in music afterwards? I’m hoping Butch Salada gets in touch soon too.

  4. Just saw your site with my sister Chris who is married to Butch. Sending him the sites link. Was good to here “Susan” after all these years when I was in Africa. Perhaps my BIL Butch will contact you. Kudos….

  5. hi tom this is tom i went back to my birth name in 1986 before my stepfather pasted away in 2005. that gave me alot of trouble with the family. how was your event? would like to hear from you. so until then. thanks, tom

  6. A friend just told me they’d come across this web site, so I just revisited the thread myself.

    For anyone interested my email is (Preference the Subject of anything
    you send with something like “HEY MAUROK!” I might be able to spot it in the spam bucket).

    The Mauroks got their record deal after a couple of would-be producers heard us playing in some bar
    on Long Island. We re-grouped there after we’d all gotten out of the service. Vic lived there and
    it was the closest thing to the Big City, and the industry, and we thought we’d give it a go.

    It was up & down. But eventually these two guys got hot on us started promoting us and eventually
    hustled a 6 month deal with De-Lite. We put out “Susan” and did a couple of promo gigs that were
    enourmous fun. One of those was at a county fair where we opened for Kool & The Gang. Another
    memorable gig was with Joe Walsh and the James Gang; we actually play a Prom together. Haven’t a
    clue what school it was but they rented that big four legged building at the World’s Fair site, and
    both bands, and we alternated sets. Walsh was a gas. Another very warm gig was at about a 2000
    person capacity joint in Washington, D.C., that got heavily plugged by local Radio “This week!
    Out of Africa… THE MAUROKS!”. It was a marvelously pleasant surprise because numerous ex-Kagnewites
    had relocated to the D.C. area and there was a whole contingent of people that met us back stage
    after the performance and we had a great little reunion party…

    But things got contentious during production of our second single. We and the label had different
    creative directions in mind and the band decided not to renew our contract. I got elected to truck into
    the city to announce this. The president of the label flew out of his chair, grapped a letter opener
    from the desk, slammed me up against the wall and stuck it to my throat screeming crap like “You don’t
    tell me you’re going to do, *** I *** tell *** YOU *** what your’re going to do!!!”.

    I was pretty much done with that side of the industry after that. We all continued to play for some
    time but eventually drifted apart and into differently maturing life preferences. I spent a number
    of years building a recording studio and got into production. Vic into dance, Butch into his family
    but persisting with his pure love for playing (still plays regularly today), and Lary following his
    passions for classical music and business.

    Myself, as I worked on various audio designs for the studio, became ever more aware of how much I
    didn’t know, and went back to school on the GI Bill pursuing Electrical Engineering. Eventually I
    found myself at Bell Telephone Labratories, where the transistor, laser, fiber optics, and multiple
    other marvels were invented. I’ve gone on to help found a number of succesful technology start ups since.

    I’ll bookmark this sight now and try to re-visit more regularly (at least once a year). If there’s
    interest I’ll contribute a little more…

    Best Wishes, Tuck

  7. I was in Kagnew Station in 1965/65 in the Navy with Floyd Willie Wilson, Not only was he a damn good drummer , he was a heck of a track star as well. I have 8mm of him running in a track meet in Massawa in 65. I still owe the Mauroks a lot of thinks that I can never pay back for the hours of dancing pleasure they provided for us on the weekend at the Oasis Club.

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