The Sloths

Early photo of the Sloths, from left: Hank Daniels, Michael Rummans, Jeff Briskin, Steve Dibner and Sam Kamarass
Hank Daniels – vocals
Michael Rummans – rhythm guitar
Jeff Briskin – lead guitar
Don Silverman – lead guitar
Steve Dibner – bass
Mick Galper – bass
Sam Kamarass – drums

Recorded by actual Neanderthals in their cave studio. OK, I’m exaggerating, but that’s the image the Sloths’ “Makin’ Love” brings to mind. The sliding guitar rhythm doesn’t really mesh with the other guitar part. The production is so muddled the drummer’s Bo Diddley beat on the toms produces a constant hum that drowns out most of the bass notes. The sound is a turgid, dense r&b, like the Stones’ take on “Not Fade Away” turned inside-out. Hank Daniels shouts his lyrics in a hoarse, slobbering voice: “I wanna be with you all night, makin’ love, good good good lovin’ baby, makin’ love”!

This was not commercial music, but Impression’s owners actually had another group re-record “Makin’ Love” in the hopes of a hit the second time around. Long before I’d heard the Sloths, I knew this song from the version by the Dirty Shames, cut a year later, also for Impression. The Shames’ singer doesn’t have Hank Daniels’ wild incoherence, but the band actually plays together and in tune. Both releases credit Hank with song writing, and publishing listed with Vendo (BMI) on the Sloths and Vendo-Ramhorn (BMI) on the Dirty Shames.

Marty Wons of the Dirty Shames told me there was no connection between his band and the Sloths, and Michael Rummans of the Sloths confirmed this: “I was the rhythm guitarist for the Sloths. Your information is correct – no shared members between Sloths and Dirty Shames.”

The flip, “You Mean Everything to Me” is much tamer but also very good, with twelve string guitar, accomplished playing and clear production. (Thank you to Mike D. and Freddy Fortune for sending clips of this in). It’s another original by Hank Daniels.

This was the first rock release on Al and Sonny Jones’ Impression label, just before they relaunched it with a new design (there had been two or three soul singles before the Sloths). It’s a rare 45 now, with one copy recently selling for over $2,200, and that was without the even rarer picture sleeve!

Sloths logo on drumhead hand painted by Hank Daniels

Mick Galper on Gibson EB3 bass

Sleeve to their Impression single, with original lineup of the Sloths
From left: Michael Rummans, Hank Daniels, Steve Dibner, Sam Kamarass and Jeff Briskin
Michael Rummans wrote the following account of the band, aided by Steve Dibner’s recollections:

This was my first band and, like many other firsts, has its orgins among my high school friends & associates. I attended Beverly Hills High School, ’62 to ’66. During that time, there were many creative individuals including Richard Dreyfuss, Albert Brooks and Michael Lloyd who contributed to an atmosphere of artistic creativity. I first started practicing with Jeff Briskin, a surfer and guitarist. Fun for awhile, but I wanted more – a full band.

I saw my chance when I met Hank Daniels, a transfer student who was attracting a lot of attention. Hair too long, often barefoot with a 12 string Gibson acoustic strapped on his back, he was drawing a lot of attention, both good & bad (there were a lot of preppie types). We started hangin’ out, both of us now hiding from the boy’s Vice Principal and sharing a common interest in music. Soon we decided to start a band, and it wasn’t long before we found Steve Dibner to play bass and Sam Kamarass for drums. We found our name in an American history textbook from a 19th century political cartoon (as did another BHHS band, The Mugwumps).

Once the band was formed, the next step was to learn songs and find somewhere to perform them. Even though the Sloths were by all definitions a garage band, we avoided that actual type of structure when one of Dibner’s parents foolishly agreed to let us rehearse in their living room. We also rehearsed in Hank’s pool house, grudgingly tolerated by his parents. Joking aside I must point out that the band was able to gain invaluble early momentum because most of our families supported and contributed to our effort (most, not all).

Michael Rummans with his first Gibson, Hank Daniels with Electro Voice microphone

Sam Kamarass on drums
Smaller b&w photos originally taken by Julie Olen

Early photo of the Sloths, from left: Hank Daniels, Jeff Briskin, Steve Dibner, Michael Rummans and Sam Kamarass

What we needed next was material. Hank had some backround in acoustic folk music; me and Jeff with surf music but, just like most of the kids of that time, we were all enamored with the music of the British invasion. One of the things that distinguished our group from many others was a realization that we had to develop originality to have success.

This was largely because of a chance meeting I had had with James Brown backstage at the TAMI show. I was with my dad, and when we met JB, he told him I was getting in to music & wanted to know if he had any advice. James said, “Don’t take any lessons, develop your own style – otherwise you’ll never be more than second rate”. That has stayed with me my whole life. So, instead of learning a set of cover songs, we would go to Wallach’s Music City on Sunset & Vine and spend hours in the listening booths looking for songs to cover that no one else was doing, and arrange them in our own style. One of my favorites was “Messin’ With The Kid” by Junior Wells (just stumbled on to it).

Hank also wrote originals, as exemplified by the record. Having an artistic backround, he designed the logo as well (you can see it on Sam’s bass drum).

Wallach’s Music City

Michael Rummans at Pandora’s Box, 16 years old!

Bandmaster amp stood on side, Vox style

The Clubs

Don’t misunderstand me, playing for our friend’s pool parties was fun, but we wanted more. There was the Teenage Fair at the Palladium and all those cool clubs on the Sunset Strip. To this day it amazes me that we got hired – not that we wern’t entertaining, but we were all so obviously underage. The thing is, nobody had told us how impossible it would be, so we were undeterred.

One of the first venues we performed at was called Stratford on Sunset (now the House of Blues). The owner was Jerry Lambert and his nephew’s group, The East Side Kids, was the house band. At that time, they had another name, the Sound of the Seventh Son, I think (no wonder they changed it). They were older, very professional and served as mentors to us. Despite our lack of experience, I think Jerry must of liked our youthful enthusiasm and originality. Anyway, Stratford was great while it lasted (I also got picked up for the first time there). And it was Jerry Lambert again who got me the audition for the Yellow Payges a year later – small world.

Other Strip clubs we played at: The Sea Witch, Pandora’s Box, Hullabaloo – but more about that later …

Michael Rummans, Hank Daniels and Don Silverman
Michael will be adding more about the band at a later date. He left the Sloths and joined the Yellow Payges for a time in 1968. In the ’70s he played with the Hollywood Stars and then the King Bees, among other groups.Michael kindly responded to some of my questions about the Sloths and their record:

Q. How did the record on Impression happen? Did the label sign the band?

We were approached by the brothers at one of our shows. At first I thought they were kidding. I don’t remember signing an official recording contract, but I’m pretty sure we signed an agreement. I do remember them bringing in a copyist to write down lyrics and melody.

Q. Do you remember specifics of the recording session?

Regarding the actual session, I remember the studio quite well. It was an old-fashioned large room, similar to the one used in “The Buddy Holly Story”. It was located on E. Sunset Blvd near Western. The brothers let us do pretty much what they heard on stage, with one exception. One of them suggested the repeating high E on the guitar near the end of the song. I asked why, and he refered to it as a “sensation note”. He was right – it works.

Hank Daniels with Don Silverman (?) to his left

October Country with Sloths graffiti in the background – is this CBS studios at Columbia Square?
Q. I was watching a film on October Country in a studio in ’67, and noticed graffiti: “Sloths” and “Jeff”. The studio may have belonged to CBS Records at Sunset and Gower in Hollywood, California.

I see my name below Jeff’s as well. It may well be the one we recorded the single in.

Q. Did the label do any promotion for the record?

I don’t remember much promotion, other than what we did ourselves. One thing we accomplished was getting it played on KRLA and KFWB, just by having our friends call the station a lot. Some of us even went to KFWB on Argyle & Selma and banged on the door!

As for the record, I only know of three copies; mine, Steve Dibner’s (original bass player) and my sister’s (which she gave to Hank’s son). Jeff Briskin had a box of 100 records in his garage and threw them out a few years ago. However, he’s going to check and see if he can find any other memorabilia-pics, articles, etc. I must have given away most of mine for promotional purposes, which is what they were intended for. We’re going to collaborate and finish the story I started, so I’ll be able to give you more info on Impression and the recording.

Q. Any chance of a Kingbees reunion?

The Kingbees still get together and perform from time to time, but Jamie doesn’t want to hustle gigs any more. Maybe we can find an agent in the future, because the band still sounds great. Unlike the Sloths, I still have a large supply of Kingbees memorabilia.

Don Silverman on Gretsch Country Gentleman, Mick Galper on bass

Friends of the Sloths, the East Side Kids
from left: Joe Madrid, Jimmy Greenspoon, Dennis Lambert, Dave Doud,
Mike Doud and Danny Belsky

Below, photos of the Sloths playing Hollywood au Go Go, October 28, 2011
This was their 3rd show since reuniting.

Photos taken by Angel Jason Peralta. Thanks to Elva for sending the photos in.

7 thoughts on “The Sloths”

  1. I am curious who put this page together and if my email address can be given to Mike Rummans. My name has been Noor Khan since 1978 when I went to Afghanistan, studied rabab (a stringed instrument), and became a Muslim. Before that it happened to be Don Silverman and I played a Gretch Country Gentleman (among others) and of course was in the legendary Sloths. Great photos. Do you have more? Also like the one of the Eastside Kids (before that known as ‘The Sound of the Seventh Son’)
    All the best!

  2. Just reading this to the end now; I really love The Kingbees! They were one of the best things happening in the early ’80s and I bought the first LP when it was released and a single off the next LP (which I have since gotten a copy of as well). People who liked The Nerves, Greg Kihn, give The Kingbees a try! I think there’s also a CD with both LPs if you prefer.

  3. The Sloths will be playing next weekend, May 11th and 12th 2012 in the San Francisco Bay Area:
    -Friday May 11th at the Rockit Room, San Francisco with the Dukes of Hamburg
    -Saturday May 12th at the Stork Club, Oakland with The Wounded Lion, Tuci and her Pee Jays, and Dukes of Hamburg

    Russell Quan (Dukes of Hamburg) will be discussing The Sloths’ upcoming shows on Radio Valencia, 87.9 FM on Sunday May 6th at 4pm pst (netcast at

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