The Omegas


The Omegas, spring 1966, from left: Mike Sarigumba, Art Brueggeman, A.T. Ryder, Mike McKeller and Steve Callahan

The Omegas were a Montgomery County group who had gone through considerable personnel changes by the time they recorded their record on United Artists.

The original group cut two songs at Edgewood Recording Studios, a good slow number with dirge-like organ called “Mean Old Man Day”, and “Mud” (aka “Mississippi Mud”), a catchy pop number with acoustic guitar, harmonies and underwater sound effects. These never saw release and I’ve only heard clips from a 2008 auction, which I didn’t win.

Art Brueggeman wrote to me about the group in 2012:

I was the original bass player and joint founding member along with Mike McKeller (drummer) and Steve Callahan (rhythm guitarist). We were high school buddies. We quickly brought in a lead guitarist and a keyboard player.

Here’s a band picture taken in the spring of 1966. That’s me with the Jazz Bass, Steve with the Gibson ES335, and Mike on drums. The other two are A.T. Ryder on Strat and Mike “Pineapple” Sarigumba on keyboard.

We were playing fraternity parties, debutante events, and dances. In early summer we ended up going to Ocean City and landing a gig at The Paddock on 17th street. It was really the only bonafide night club in OC at the time. We played 6 nights a week, and a jam session Saturday afternoon. As I recall, we were there until mid-August or so.

It was a time of the Vietnam war and the draft. Mike and Steve left the band in the Spring of 1967 to join the Air Force Reserves. I ended up joining after the end of the summer. We had a replacement drummer and rhythm guitarist for that summer. Then we returned in the summer of 1967 with the two replacements. I ended up getting married in April 1968 when I got back from active duty, and never returned to the band.

Mike returned to the band and the personnel changed. Don’t remember what Steve did exactly, but he was married by that time as well. It was the original five Omegas though who recorded the three cuts at Edgewood. As I recall, that was done in the fall of 1966, but I may be off there.

Mike and I sang “Mean Old Man Day”, and Steve and Pineapple sang “Mississippi Mud”. We did not write those songs. We did no original writing. I really do not remember who wrote them. I just remember it was two guys who we were put in touch with.

Steve Callahan wrote:

I have the original master from Edgewood studio’s which I found just recently….metal center coated with acetate. I also have the original United Artists release of the other 2 songs.

The UA record is largely the work of Tom Guernsey of the Reekers and the Hangmen. Tom wrote and arranged both sides of the record, played guitar and piano, and co-produced it with Larry Sealfon.

The vocalist on “I Can’t Believe” is Joe Triplett, who was in the Reekers with Tom and was also the vocalist on the first Hangmen 45, “What a Girl Can’t Do”. Leroy Otis played drums on the track and backing vocals were by the Jewels.

A catchy and danceable record, it was released in early 1968 and had some local chart success. With its crossover appeal I’m surprised it’s not better known these days. The flip was a ballad by Tom Guernsey, “Mr. Yates”. He told me it was one of the songs he was proudest of writing.
 

24 thoughts on “The Omegas”

  1. I have a 7″ acetate recorded at Edgewood Recording Studios, Washington, DC, by “The Omegas” … titles are “Mud” and “Mean Old Man Day.” Does anyone know if this is the same Omegas that Tom Guernsey was part of? Anyone know dates, or whether it was ever released commercially?

    1. I was in the band, and a founding member. Don’t know Tom, but perhaps he wrote the songs. We just recorded them at Edgewood. Never released. But if the disc is in really good shape, I’d love to buy it from you.

  2. I was a student at Einstein HS…..and saw the Omegas perform
    thier “hit” single during half time at a basketball game, circa 1970.
    It was a great single….played on WINX.
    i don’t recognize any of these song titles, though………..

  3. The b-side to “I Can’t Believe” is “Mr. Yates”. This is one of my all time favorites songs. My mom had the single when I was growing up. Could you please post it too? Thanks a million.

  4. Joe Triplett, who sang lead vocal’s on ‘I Can’t Believe’. Is that the same Joe Triplett who graduated from Walter Johnson Sr. High School in Bethesda, Maryland, in 1963? If so write back to me…Thanks Judy Slater Lane

  5. Very interesting site you have here, my name is Billy Woo originally from N.E. Washington D.C. and I’ve played with “Fantasy” members include Rick Miller, Drums, Stacy, Lead singer, Dick Bloyer on Bass, Donny Richardson on Keyboards and I was on guitar, next band was Diamond and there were two versions of that group, the first was with Larry Sullivan-Bass, Mike Colburn, Guitar/Vox, Roger Fallin/Drums and myself on Guitar/Ld & BU Vox, 2nd Diamond was with Picky Kelly, Bass/Vox, Garrick Alden/Ld Guitar, Bobby Winkler, Keyboards/Greg Tassin, Drums and myself on Guitar/Vox – Next group was “Merlin” with Larry Kidwell/keyboards/Vox, Tom Dilde/keyboards/Vox, Matt Apts/Drums, Andre Sokol/Bass/Vox and myself on guitar/Vox, next group was “Blitz” with Danny Garrett/Keyboards/Vox, Larry Sullivan/Bass/Vox, Joe Soffet/Guitar-Vox, Roger Fallin/Drums and myself on guitar/Vox, next band was “Sweet Water” with Becky Rice on Vox and don’t remember the rest of members..sorry and in between worked with Larry Kidwell and Danny Conway at the Pall Mall as three piece in Georgetown, “Fairchild” with Ian Macfarland/guitar/vox, Tony Hahm/Keys/Ian’s brother/Drums and myself on guitar/Vox also “The British Walkers” with Geoff Richardson/Guitar/Vox, Mick ?another english bloke/Guitar, Cliff Bell/Drums and myself on Guitar and Vox, “Sauce” with Dave kingKeys, David Mcginty/Guitar/Vox, Bobby Howard/Drums/ Becky Rice/Ld Vox/Keys Al ? Bass/and myself on guitar and Vox also played with Sauce aka Fallen Angel with Dave Bishop/Drums, Tony Hahn, Keys, Larry Sullivan/Bass, Becky Rice/Vox and myself on guitar and also remember going to Detroit to back up Arlene Quattro with my friend Larry Sullivan/Bass, Arlene/Ld Vox, forget the other members, currently I am living in Los Angeles and have recorded a small catalogue of over 20 songs in film and still recording and writing at Jade Dragon Studio and still with my wife, Becky Woo who was Becky Rice many years ago. I left D.C. in winter of 1979 and been in LA since. I have songs on Itunes under the band name “The British Woos also am on Jango. Thought I’d share as I’ve been playing music for most of my life and still going. Thanks to all my band mates and colleagues some who are no longer with us and for those who still are in the greater Washington D.C. area I have friends still in D.C. guys like Tim Wynne, Bobby Winkler, John Kirkland my old soundman, Jay Nedry from the Ducks, Larry Kidwell, Tom Rodante, Tom Dilde and many more that I have not seen in a long time but I do try to ‘Go home’ as my brother, George lives in Beltsville. Anyway I thought I’d share and to Mike Buker aka the fish looking forward to playing with you at Jaxx, at least hope we can pull it off.

    Cheers,

    Billy Woo

  6. Yes, it’s the same Joe Triplett. He and some of his old bandmates like Tom Guernsey and Mike Henley are still making music from time to time.

  7. I was the original bass player and joint founding member, along with Mike McKeller (drummer) and Steve Callahan (rhythm guitarist), of the Montgomery County group known as the Omegas. The band was started in summer 1965. We were high school buddies. We quickly brought in a lead guitarist and a keyboard player. I left the group in the summer of 1967. The highlight of my two years was being the house band at the Paddock Nightclub in Ocean City in the Summers of 1966 and 1967. We played a lot of fraternity parties and some clubs. The 7″ acetate recording was done at Edgewood Studios in D.C. one afternoon. I did nothing in music from 1967 until I retired from the world of business in 2004. Then I started building a recording studio in my home, which is operated under the name Omega Music Productions (OmegaMusicProductions.com). I can supply more detail if anyone is interested.

  8. Of course 1966 was the hey day of Go Go Girls in cages, and the Paddock had one of the best: Linda Benson…who I got to know…um…quite well…wonder what ever happened to her…

  9. This was a find…… I was in a group with Mike Sarigumba and Steve Callahan prior to my family moving to NY in 1965-66.

  10. Art.
    Our Group “The Poleras” was just a pickup group. Mike Serigumba was getting his feet into R&R and Steve took the lead on Guitar. I was Back-up Guitar and we had Paul Murphy on the drums. We usually had an optional guitarist in as well. I was with Mike when he bought his first Organ in Silver Springs , MD. As I was leaving to move with my family to NY I never had the chance to see the group progress but I figured Mike and Steve were good enough to make it Big Time. Mike was also pretty good on the guitar so I figured he would go big time.

    1. It may be due to the passage of so many years. I think you’re confusing people and dates a little. I can tell you that Steve Callahan never played in a band before the Omegas. He and I were high school friends. He got a nylon string guitar after we graduated in 1964, and used to come over to my house where we pounded out bad versions of Dave Clark Five songs. Mike Mckellet lived across the street from me, and we became friends when he was 14, I was 15. He played trombone in the school band but was a natural as a drummer. He would borrow a snare drum from the school band room and join Steve and I doing Dave Clark Five. In the spring of 1965, we said, “Hey…let’s start a band.” We practiced as a Trio for a few months (Mikes mom bought him a set of Ludwigs) and Steve got an ES335. I defaulted to bass guitar, never having played anything. We learned a few songs (Louie Louie being the first), and the decided we needed a lead guitar and keyboard. We put an ad in the local paper. Thurman “A.T.” Ryder answered it and joined as lead guitar. Mike Sarigumba answered it and joined as keyboard player (Vox). He was 16, and living with his mom. I don’t recall he played with a band before. I can also tell you he did not play guitar at all. Very good keyboard player, and could sing. I sang most of the lead, and hid my poor bass playing behind the better musicians.

  11. Phat finger error. Make that Mike McKeller.

    I know where Mike McKeller and Steve Callahan are. We stay in occasional touch. Have no clue where Sarigumba is. Nor A.T. Ryder.

  12. Art
    Unfortunately, the only way you will get the facts about this is when you do contact Mike Sarigumba. I knew him quite well and we often practiced in his downstairs recreation room. . He was very good on the guitar but excellent on the organ. Actually, he was well into classical music when we first started. Actually , he was one of the few group members who could read music. Yes he was living with his mother but Mike was in at least 2 groups The Coachmen & The Poleras prior to the Omegas. I moved to NY. in 1963-64. Where I joined a group The Invaders
    ( a duplicate of the DC-5 )
    Respectfully,
    Mike

    1. Hi Mike. Thank you for that info. Okay, that actually does now ring a bell. He was so young (16, as I recall, when he joined us). But I can tell you for sure that Steve Callahan never played in another band before the Omegas. He was my high school friend and we hung out constantly from the 11th grade. We formed the band with Mike McKeller, and Steve stayed until he left the group, got married, and went into the reserves.

  13. Art.
    You are correct about Callahan the other Guitarist for us was Lenny Callahan. Pardon my error.
    Respectfully,
    Mike

    1. Great Mike. Glad we got that all cleared up. As I said, I now vaguely remember Mike talking about a prior group. I really never saw him pick up a guitar, but he was a talented musician, so it does not surprise me. It was quite a time. Thanks for all your input and corresponding about this. Have a good week.

      What are you doing now?

  14. Wow! I thought I dreamed the song “I Can’t Believe”. I remember seeing the Omegas do this song on a local TV dance show. I tried to find a copy of the 45 at my local record store but they hadn’t heard of the group or song. So great to hear this song again some 48 years later. Love Love Love this song. It rocks! Thanks guys!

  15. I was really shocked when I found out the local Giant Music Record Store in Fairfax, VA did NOT carry “I Can’t Believe” by the Omegas!

  16. Hey there! This is Sherry, sister of Steve Callahan. Does anyone have any recordings of the Omega’s that they can share with me? Thank you!

  17. Gary Falwell and I replaced singing bass player, Art, after he left the Omegas. It was after the Edgewood sessions but we went on to play with Mike, Steve and Pineapple for the next couple years. When Steve left, Pineapple wasn’t far behind. McKeller, Falwell and I merged with Bill Singer and Lou Miller from the Bedford Set and stayed together for another year or so. Good times.

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