The Pastels

The Pastels from Pasco, WA

Pastels Century Custom 45 What Can I SayFrom Pasco in south eastern Washington State, near Kennewick and the Oregon border, the Pastels formed in 1964. Original members were:

Dale Anderson on guitar
Mark Gage on keyboards
Ron “Arjai” Jones on guitar and bass
Red Elder on drums

They became one of the bigger draws in that part of the state, playing shows at Richland Roller Rink and other venues, and appearing occasionally on local TV.

This original lineup of the band released three 45s between the fall of 1965 and the spring of ’66. All were recorded at Ron Jones’ family house by a Century label agent.

Pastels Century Custom 45 Circuit BreakerThe first of these is the upbeat “Why Don’t You Love Me” b/w the slower “What Can I Say”. It did well enough locally to have a second pressing. Their second 45 was “Circuit Breaker”, demonstrating a darker sound, probably influenced by other Northwest acts like the Sonics.

Their third 45 is their best, at least to me. Fast and danceable, “Mirage” is an intense four minutes of music! Things slow down considerably for the flip, “Where Is the Answer”, a good, idealistic song but a little repetitive at over about four minutes long.

Pastels Century Custom 45 MirageFrank Hames wrote on PNW

I was in The Pastels from 1966 until the summer of 1968. I played keyboards. The guitar player was Dale Anderson who was eventually replaced by Larry Rogers sometime during 1967. The other guitar player who also doubled on bass is Ron Jones. Red Elder was the original drummer and was replaced by Larry Horne from Richland in 1966. The first keyboard player was Mark Gage from Pasco. I replaced the second keyboard player who was Don Clauson. Ron Jones’ father, Don, was our manager and produced our recordings.

The Pastels were very well organized. We each had several professionally designed costumes, individual voice coaches, a paid account at a local barber shop in Pasco as well as individual college fund bank accounts.

In 1967 we played the Teen Fair in Spokane where we were forced to join the union. We opened for The Vanilla Fudge there. Other bands on that show were Harpers Bazaar, The Chambers Bros, and Glen Campbell. Our PA system that was designed and built by Don Jones ended up being the house PA because it was so good. We worked almost every weekend and played all over the northwest.

In an interview with Frank Hames discussed recording with the group:

I joined the band after these recordings [the three 45s] were released. I did record with the band subsequent to the singles. All the Pastels’ recordings were done in the band’s rehearsal room in the band house: The Jones’. Don performed all the engineering and everything was cut on a consumer stereo recorder.

I recall recording eight or ten songs that were never released. There were many original pieces written and dragged on the stage. Most didn’t last long. Dale Anderson was the primary composer.

The band ended when Ron graduated from high school and went away to college. It was in the summer of 1968.

Red Elder and Mark Gage left the band in 1966 to join the Rock n’ Souls, who won a big area Battle of the Bands sponsored by KALE and later released one 45, Not Like You / Got No Love on Rich Tone.

Red Elder and Arjai Jones later formed the Backward Door with Billy Blair, and later added Larry Rogers as well.

Sources include: PNW, and Mike Dugo’s interview with Frank Hames on 60’

11 thoughts on “The Pastels”

  1. I have the 45 with “Mirage”, found it at a thrift store but didn’t realize they had others. I wonder if they were recorded by Curtis Mohr, a Pasco High student who eventually became one of the main people who recorded countless local and regional school records for Century in the mid-to-late 60’s and early 70’s. I interviewed Mohr for an article that was never published, about a regional high school band album featuring some Chicago and Don Ellis covers, and I wanted to find out more.

  2. Cindy A. sent this photo of a band called the Pastels who played Fountain Valley High School in southern California in 1978. Though it seems unlikely to be the same group, it’s possible since this band looks to be in their 30s. Can anyone help identify the members in either this photo or the one above?

  3. Dale and the Ramrods played the Mystic at the Richland Y. They were shorted on their pay and that night Don Jones took over managing them and they changed their name to the Pastels. That was the first night that Mark Gage asked me if I wanted to go to a dance for free and I became the band’s equipment manager, now referred to as roadie. I just stumbled on this site today and what great memories this brings back. I was with the band the whole time they were together and was at all the recording sessions for all three records.

  4. So true, Tom. You were always there….you and your cool AH Sprite. What a great summer of 66 playin’ the local halls, traveling all night and getting the best view of the chicks from the bandstand and, of course, trying to hustle them away from their boyfriends for a moment of pleasure (of course behind the back of RJ’s dad!).

    We should get a reunion sometime. Wanna organize it?

  5. Pasco High class of ’68. Now have 60s Pac NW garage band/ hot rod & kustom kar mag called Garage Organ/ GO, which can be seen @ a brand new site –, under “other magazines”. Will be available for i-pad soon, on-demand printing in late October. So remember the Pastels, one of the guys had an Austin Healey (?). Was close to Pasco’s Mind Museum which mutated into Mason Blue, when Psych hit. Just listened to Circuit Breaker, oh the Richland dance hall memories! Would like to interview you for GO 2. I kinda think that the WA garage scene had an energy & wickedness that was v special, and that it was influential forever. Was the name “Pastels” derived from “Pasco” & the ever-popular “-ells”?

  6. Enjoyed reading this. Memories… BTW…Pastels have been re-leased in Germany this year (2014)…how funny…but again, nice. Just got my royalty check and had to laugh at those wonderful times 🙂

    1. Hi we are having our 50th class reunion for Pasco High this year Sept 7 and 8. A few of us who are helping plan it were Pastel groupies (they were in our class) and I stumbled on your site. your post was 4 years ago so just taking a chance if you might know if there is a way to get a copy of any of their 45s or recording. We loved the Pastels and would love to see them at the reunion! Use to go see them play on weekend at Marios. Great times.

  7. Hi, just wanted to thank the Pastels for the wonder musical memory, saw them at the Riverview drive in in Pasco and it inspired me to pickup a guitar myself, they were the first live band I ever saw, and I was blown away, like seeing the Beatles for a young Pasco lad. Thanks for the memory and inspiration, god bless.

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