The Stereo Shoestring

The Stereo Shoestring: James Coco, James Noe, Richard Lalor, Steve Schultz and Jim Howard
The Stereo Shoestring, from left: James Coco, James Noe, Richard Lalor, Steve Schultz and Jim Howard Photo from Not Fade Away #3

James Coco (vocals)
Jim Howard (lead guitar)
Richard Lalor (guitar)
James Noe (bass)
Steve Schultz (drums)

The Stereo Shoestring English 45 On the Road South

with the Buckle at the Coral Room, Corpus Christi Times, January 12, 1968
with the Buckle at the Coral Room, January 12, 1968
The Stereo Shoestring were a Corpus Christi band, apparently only together for a short time during 1968. They cut one of the monster singles out of Texas in April of that year, a total reworking of the Pretty Things’ “Defecting Grey” titled “On the Road South”. On the other side was a version of the Zombies “Tell Her No”. The “English Records” labels give the band credit for writing both songs. They recorded in Houston, possibly at Doyle Jones’ studio.

The Clockwork Orange, Richard Lalor at far left, Ashley Johnson on bass. The Clockwork Orange, Richard Lalor at far left, Ashley Johnson on bass. Photo from Not Fade Away #3[/caption]

Rich Lalor had played in the Clockwork Orange with Ashley Johnson, a hip record collector who owned the original of “Defecting Grey”. The fact that this song was covered by a Texas band is all the more remarkable, as it was one of the more obscure Pretty Things records of the ’60s.

Stereo Shoestring business card
Management by Vicki Jones Scanned from Not Fade Away #3
They are mentioned in an article from the Corpus Christi Times in July, 1968:

“Sensitivity sessions” are scheduled with a general airing of problems and exchange of ideas. After today’s discussion groups and an “in” at 4:30 p.m. in the Hemisphere Room, a dance featuring “The Stereo Shoestring,” a local rock band, is scheduled.

For some reason, Lalor left the band, followed by Schultz and Howard. Coco and Noe found new musicians and reformed the Shoestring in 1969, but soon changed the name to the Hendrix-inspired The Red House.

Thank you to bosshoss and Gyro1966 for the 45 transfers.

Shoestring - Sun Flower / Mary Ann tape box
Two songs by the reformed Shoestring, 1969 These would be released as by The Red House Scan from the collection of Andrew Brown

Corpus Christi Times, July 8, 1968

15 thoughts on “The Stereo Shoestring”

  1. “On the Road South” was recorded at ACA Studio in Houston on April 7, 1968.

    The Red House single “Mary Ann” uses the same melody as “On the Road South.”

  2. Just curious how you know the exact date.

    Also: Does anyone know if the exist any recordings of The Clockwork Orange?


      1. Clock Work Orange didn’t record anything. Shoestring recorded one 45. Red House recorded one 45. Am I right? Still wonder who has the master to the Shoestring 45.

  3. I have a copy of the ACA studio ledgers, not every session is dated but this one is.

    No recordings by the Clockwork Orange, but the Red House single (the same band or close to it, under a new name) is quite good.

  4. Really? Are there more tracks on there than just “On The Road South” and “Tell Her No”?

    Yes, I’ve only heard “Mary Anne” by The Red House, a really good song, I’m looking forward to hearing “Sunflower” someday, though I expect that none of those tracks has ever been comped.

    Were you in the band?

    1. I was in the band till I left for college. We only recorded the one 45. We went to Houston to record it on a weekend. We stayed at the downtown Holiday Inn and Paul Revere and the Raiders stayed one floor above us after playing a concert. A guy let us into the recording studio through a backdoor on a Sunday and we recorded both A&B sides that day. Think the guy pocketed the money because I am sure the studio cost more than the $400 we paid for the day.

      ps- Ashley Johnson passed away in Nov/2013 in Tulsa Oklahoma after a life long career selling records for others to enjoy.

      1. Ashley Johnson was a close friend. I was with him the day he passed. He had esophageal cancer. He never had kids expect for the 1000’s of records. I spent a lot of time helping on his website the last year and listening to his stories. He was on my mind tonight. He was a great man, knew his music and loved his wife, Kara. Wish he was still here to talk with.

  5. “Sunflower” was the “A” side..It was a KEYS Radio(Corpus Christi,Tex) Pick-Of-The Week in June ’69..Besides James(John)Coco on vocals and James Noe(bass)from the original Shoestring..New members were Tommy Durham(rhythm guitar),Billy King(drums),and me,Ric Gonzalez (lead-guitar)..We recorded that 45 at Andrus Studios in Houston on Monday April 7th.,1969.It was the day after Easter Sunday.Amazingly enough, the “Easter Everywhere” album by Thirteenth Floor Elevators was also recorded there in 1967. Coco had the English version of “Are You Experienced” which had “Red House” on it..Not many people had heard “Red House” 42 years ago.Also,there was an old movie with Edward G.Robinson called,”The Red House”, which had been on the late movies back then..Coco and Noe(a true genius)wanted a new name..I suggested “Red House”.Billy King and I had played in several bands in the Corpus Christi area when we were invited to join. We recorded the 45 a week after we joined..Thank you! Ric

  6. Thanks for filling in the spots. I was, like most people, sure that Red House was Stereo Shoestring minus Lalor. But it looks like it says “Shoestring” on the tape box. Are you still in contact with James Coco?


  7. i have had a song in my head now for what feels like centuries…i have searched everywhere to find it and i have stumbled onto this site and i would like to know if this is the song…the lyrics are something like sunflower sunflower growing in my garden sunflower sunflower you’ve really started something….i know i am not crazy…i can hear the melody in my head….

  8. I never knew John Coco’s other name was James. I had coffee with him and his sister Barb a few years back at McD’s. Coffee was hot and it was easy to find. I don’t often do McD’s if I have a choice.

    He was trying at the time to find James Noe, but nobody seems to know what happened to him after the band broke up. I think he moved away to go to college, but where??? Austin, Houston, Nacogdoches?

  9. I just stumbled across The Stereo Shoestring today while checking out a compilation of acid rock on iTunes. There must have been 48 songs and only three really caught my attention and this Road South song totally hooked me. I found a compilation of Texas sixties songs which had this as the closing track and I ordered the CD.

    I’m always looking out for “proto-metal” and though there are heaps of fuzz-toned guitar rock in the sixties, few recordings have that darker edge or that heaviness that really sounds more metal than punk. Some time back I found Bitter Creek’s “Plastic Thunder” and The Glass Sun Band’s “In the Silence of the Morning”. Now I have this awesome song, too.

    I’m very glad to have found this site here with this conversation thread that has input from some of the musicians. Thanks everyone!

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