The Swinging Machine

The Swinging Machine at the South Norfolk Armory
l-r: Wayne Richardson, Vince Screeney, Bobby Fisher, Lee Caraway, Dicky Bocock, Bobby Weaver and Gary Richardson

I’ve read many accounts that consider the Swinging Machine the best of all local bands in the Tidewater area back in its day.

In 1963 three friends from Oscar F. Smith High School in South Norfolk formed the Chevelles. The group included Evan Pierce, Jr. (lead guitar), Richard Bocock (drums) and Steven Curling (saxophone). At Old Dominion University they met Esdras ben Lubin who took over on lead guitar and vocals, and suggested the band change their name from the Chevelles to the Swingin’ Machine. The addition of fifteen-year-old Billy Gene Stallings on organ helped their musical acuity considerably.

Esdras left the band and the group found Gary Richardson and Lee Caraway from the Villagers (out of Churchland High School in Portsmouth). Steve Curling left for college and was replaced by Bob Fisher, though Steve would occasionally sit in with the group.

At the time of the release of their 45 the band consisted of:

Gary Richardson (vocals)
Lee Caraway (guitar)
Billy Stallings (organ)
Bob Fisher (sax)
Evan Pierce (bass)
Dick Bocock (drums)

According to Evan Pierce, the band fought with their producer Frank Guida and was disappointed in the record. However, fans of the mid-60s band sound really love this 45, with “Do You Have to Ask” being especially tough and original. Frank Guida who was also owner of S.P.Q.R., is listed as one of the songwriters. “Do You Have to Ask” was recorded in the fall of 1965, “Comin’ On Back Home” five or six months later.

“Comin’ On Back Home” reached #39 on a Syracuse, NY AM radio station, WOLF 1490 in early June, 1966. How it reached the charts so far away from their base is a mystery.

Besides the 45 there is an early version of “Do You Have to Ask” and a simply amazing rocker, “Brother Look Out” that were unreleased at the time. They’re both now available on the Aliens, Psychos and Wild Things series.

There is also a tape of ten cover songs recorded in a studio, probably made as a demo to get live gigs. The songs include versions of “Tell Mama”, “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg”, “Fire”, “Spooky”, “Get Ready”, “Wrap It Up”, “Sunshine of Your Love”, “Rock and Roll Woman”, “To Love Somebody” and “Dear Eloise”.

I would love to hear a live recording of the band – if anyone has a tape, please get in touch.

In 1967 Wayne Richardson joined on trumpet. Bob Weaver was a later member as well. Vince Screeney from the Sting Rays replaced Evan Pierce while he was in the army. Rocky Cantrell filled in on occasion.

Gary Richardson died tragically from a drug accident in July of 1968. The Swinging Machine continued for a short time with William “Rocky” Smith on vocals, but soon disbanded. Dick Bocock and Bob Weaver formed a new group, the Machine.

Their 45 producer Frank Guida passed away on May 19, 2007.

I want to say thank you to Diane for sending in these rarely seen photos of the band. Diane and Lee Caraway were married until he passed away in 1979.

Diane had this to say about the photos:

Anyone who hung out with the band will know the panel truck. That was their equipment truck for many years.

The Lighthouse pics show them unloading the equipment and setting up for the dance that night. The pics of them on stage don’t do it justice because the camera won’t pick up all the colors and psychedelics flashing on the stage background, the lights in that place were hooked into the sound system.

One pic is Gary and Wayne Richardson standing in front of a cottage the band was staying in at Nags Head when they were playing at the Casino.

Steve Curling wrote to me with his recollections of the band:

I will give you a brief history of the band as I saw it.

The band originally was called “The Chevelles” which consisted of Evan Pierce on bass, Dickie Bocock on drums, Bobby Fisher and myself on sax (I doubled on trumpet) and several different lead guitar players but the one I remember most was Eris Ben Lubin [Esdras ben Lubin] who was older and taught us the ropes. We didn’t have an established keyboard player until Billy Stallings came along.

The band centered around Dickie’s home. Dickie’s father was a prominent doctor in South Norfolk and financed most of the equipment for the band. I loved hanging out at Dickey’s because he lived on the Elizabeth River on about 4 acres with a pool and a 85 foot yacht named the Blue Haven which we spent many days and nights, plus he had all the toys including speed boats and a 1967 Olds 442 which Dickie and I decided to total one night coming back from the old Ambassor’s club in Portsmouth.

I remember playing at several of the clubs on the Naval Base, the Ambassor’s Club which we called the AB Club, the lighthouse and the casino at Nags Head. We realized that we needed a steady lead guitarist and a lead singer. While interviewing Gary Richardson for lead guitar we discovered he was a much better singer than guitar player plus his friend Lee Caraway came with him and he turned out to be a great lead guitarist and Gary stuck with singing. So the band was formed as the Swinging Machine and it really took off.

There was a battle of the bands and several groups entered the competition. Most of the people voted for their own local favorites. Since Gary and Lee were from Portsmouth and the rest of us were from South Norfolk we had the inside track on the voting from both Portsmouth and South Norfolk.

After we won the battle of the bands, things really started to happen but I had to make a decision on whether to stay with the band on continue with school. I left the group and headed to Roanoke College where I played on the weekends with several bands including Ricky and the Romans, a local Roanoke band consisting of 8 members.

During this period Evan joined the Army and only played when he had leave. In his absence, Vince Screeny filled in and did a great job. After Evan’s Army service he returned to the group. I would occasionally play with the group but by this time they had become established with one sax and I mostly just filled in when needed on sax, bass and trumpet.

I don’t recall the band ever going to California but I do remember talking about it since I was dating a girl from Los Angeles at the time and she was looking into renting a house for us in the Santa Monica area but it never happened. Instead we rented an old 2 story house off Indian River road and most of us hung out there to party, sleep and practice.

It was in this house that Gary died. He actually died on his own vomit. Bobby Fisher tried CPR but was unsuccessful. The band was scheduled to play at the Peppermint Beach Club and canceled. The band continued on for a while but disbanded shortly afterwards.

Lee decided to go into the ministry and rented a house from my uncle, Herman Johnson in the Great Bridge area off Cedar Grove Road. I saw him a couple of times with his Church bus but he had changed. Later I found out that he had a brain tumor which he succumbed 4 years later.

Bobby Fisher went on to play with Bill Deal and the Rhondels but by far the most talented member of the group was Billy Stallings, who was trained at Juilliard School of Music in New York. Billy practiced 6 to 8 hours everyday for years. His father owned the Triangle Billiards in South Norfolk. Needless to say, Billy could play anything. As soon as a new song would come out, Billy had already learned all the parts including the lead guitar, bass and the brass parts.

Billy was never a healthy person and the life of a musician was a hard one. Later Billy moved to Baltimore and I saw him one time at Evan’s home years ago. I understand he passed away a couple of years ago.

After the band broke up Dickie lived alone in the home his father had built on the river. His father had a heart attack and died after the band was established. He has two brothers, Tom and Harry. I always thought is was funny that they was known as Tom, Dick and Harry Bocock. I would visit Dickie when I was in town and we would sit and reminisce the band.

I recently retired from USAirways and live on Lake Norman, North of Charlotte, NC. Evan Pierce owns an appraisal business in Norfolk. I hope this gives you an insight of the Swinging Machine as I lived it. It was a part of my life I will never forget.

Lee Caraway
Photos below from the Lighthouse, April 1968

Setting up at the Lighthouse

Bobby Fisher and Vince Screeney

Lighthouse interior

Lee Caraway and Wayne Richardson

Lee Caraway

Bobby Fisher on right

Lee and Gary

Dickie Bocock

Gary and Wayne at Nags Head – July ’68

Bob Spain and Lee Caraway – July ’68

Opening weekend at the Light House, July 1967!
Other groups include the Prophets in Flight, the Chaparrals, Beachnuts and Sound Effects.
The Hebrew writing on the poster translates to “Peace on the Land” – blessing the site of the Light House on its opening.

The “Swingin’ Machines” opening a WNOR show for acts from Where the Action Is at Norfolk’s Foreman Field along with lesser known groups like the Wild Kingdom, the Triumphs, the Knights and Kon Tiki and the Rafters.

At Boykins Fire House, December 30, 1967
All photos and poster scans courtesy of Diane except the Boykins Fire House poster (sent by Jay Jenkins of, and the Ohef Sholom, Sigota Dance and Light House opening posters, which were sent in by Kelly Miltier. The Ohef Sholom, Sigota Dance and Foreman Field posters are from the collection of Billy ‘Hurricane’ Harrell.

Evan Pierce, Jr. has written a substantial history of the band that I recommend – look for Swinging Machine on Facebook.

138 thoughts on “The Swinging Machine”

  1. For the record…

    I played saxophone for this band in the early days and grew up with Dicky Bobock, drummer, Evan Pierce, Bass, Bobby Fisher, Sax, and Billy Stalling, keyboard. Gary Richard and Lee Caraway were originally from Portsmouth and joined at the same time after the band was established. Of the original members, only Evan and Bobby are still with us. Billy Stallings recently passed away. I must say that he was probably this most talented of the members and was trained as a classical pianist. His father, “Shorty” Stallings owned the one pool hall in South Norfolk and we practiced in a small apartment above the pool room. During my brief appearance with the band we played the Casino at Nags Head on several dates. Those were the days I will never forget.
    Steve Curling

  2. I grew up in the Tidewater area in the mid-60s, and fondly remember the many local, “semi-famous” bands of that era. In addition to the Swinging Machine, there were Danny & the Delnotes and the Nitelighters on the Peninsula side. I think I have 45s featuring both groups. I also have a CD entitled “The Norfolk Sound” that features Gary U.S. Bonds (not exactly a garage band!) and a number of lesser-known S.P.Q.R. artists.

    1. Thanks for mentioning the band t hat was a fantastic part of my life. I’m Danny Kelly and I was a newer member along with George resto. We both played trumpet and had a blast playing along with Joe formal,keyboard and vocals,Donnie talk,bass and vocals,Steve Keith,lead guitar,Bobby Schnell, drums,Harrell Baker,rhythym guitar and sax.George and I joined in 1966 at Hampton high,as music around at the time was heavy with horns. I will also include Dennis Hill, our manager. Playing at the peninsula auditorium and as the house band at the hullabalu club in Newport news was I really a lot of fun. These we’re such “good times”.

  3. I grew up in Portsmouth and was in a band myself. My best friend in high school and myself followed The Swinging Machine whenever we could, they were so ahead of any other band in Tidewater during the 60’s. { we were both just 16} There was an establishment in Portsmouth called the Lighthouse and they played there frequently. We would just stand there mesmerize as Gary sang a Beatles tune then jump right into a James Brown song, the band could do it all! They even played at our high school dance after a football game {remember those days?} Gary graduated from our same school two years earlier.

    When Gary died, my friend and I went to his funeral. There were so many people attending, the funeral procession must have covered at least 2 miles of roadway. Many bands from the area were in attendance to pay their respects, I thought that was really special.

    When I found this web site and saw a piece on The Swinging Machine and their two songs whcih played here at work on my computer, my god, the memories came flashing back. Thanks for that!

    Their drummer, Dickie passed away about 4 years ago and keyboardist Billy November 2006. Im not sure about the other members, Lee Caraway, their lead guitarist, was also very popular. I heard many years ago, not sure if this is factual, that went into the ministry not long after Gary’s death.

  4. I went to Portsmouth Catholic High and we had dances in our gym. We packed 700 plus for groups like the Swinging Machine and the Rhondels. One of my fondest memories was our halloween dance in 1968. As president of my class I introduced the Swinging Machine to the audience, “Ladies and Gentlemen, for your listening and dancing pleasure, The Swinging Machine!” They immediately began with their theme song – “Don’t You Care” by the Buckinghams. Everytime I hear that song I get a nice memory filled chill. They were the best.

    Joe Grillo

    1. My comments from almost 10 years ago have bothered me for almost 10 years as I made a mistake on the date. It was the Halloween Dance of 1967 not 1968 as Gary passed away in July of 1968. The memory remains as vivid and wonderful as it was then.

      Joe Grillo

  5. Hey bud,

    I bought Vol. 1 from Birdland in Va. Beach, my brothers record store. Were you involved with the reissue of the Va. Beach band, Mason ?

    Hope all is well,

    Bruce in Durham

  6. Hi Rob,
    I am Steve Curling. I wrote one of the articles concerning the Swinging Machine. You are correct about Lee Caraway. He did go into the ministry and actually rented a house from my Uncle, Herman Johnson and lived in the Great Bridge area until he died of a brain tumor. I was with him and Gary when he purchased his first Fender Jaguar guitar. For years after Gary’s death he wouldn’t pick a guitar up but one day I happened to run into him while visiting my uncle since the house Lee rented was next door. Evan Pierce and I persuaded him to puck a few cords on his guitar. He was just as good as when the band was in full force. Evan, Dicky, Bobby and I grew up in South Norfolk and graduated from Oscar Smith. Billy Stallions was also from South Norfolk and a year or two younger. Definitely a very talented pianist. I hope this helps. Steve

  7. Hi Diane
    I put the first Aliens Psychos & Wild Things CD out back in 2000. Worked with Frank Guida and licensed 3 Swinging Machine songs, one of which was unreleased. As noted on the blog there is another brand new CD in the series, that has the great Brother Look Out. Please let me know how to mail them to you and I’ll send copies. I’d tried to get more pictures then the one I had for 10 years. Wish I’d dug deeper. Irony is I saw the pics on this blog the day I got the new CD in. Thank you for sharing them

    Brent Hosier

    1. Brent. I bought some cds years ago i am looking for any new stuff you may have of bands in the hampton rds area northen soul funk beach music from 60 to 70 call me 434 660 2023

  8. I was a Junior at Windsor High when Gary died and remember the sadness of his tragic death.I heard them at the Cave(Suffolk),the Franklin Armory,the Casino,and other teen clubs around the area.They, along with Bob Marshall and the Crystals were a “can’t miss” dance back in those days.I have a CD …that was got through a cousin of Gary’s.It is supposed be a reel to reel tape of a garage practice session.It has Buffalo Springfield’s song “Rock and Roll Woman” and the Bee Gees “To love somebody”, it is awesome.No other bands were doing those covers at the time that I can remember. It brings back tons of memories……..Gary had such great stage presence and the band was so good.Would be glad to share.

    1. George~ years later and I’m reading this site. I Would Love To Have a Copy of That CD ! The songs you mentioned were great and TSM cover would be extra special to hear. Please contact me via email so we can discuss getting a copy. My older brother was right there with all of this music and because of his exposure to this, it was a part of my youth. Thanks for posting and your memories of these guys. ~ Dianne

    2. Hey, I am the daughter, niece of the Bob Marshall and the Crystal band. I would love to have a copy of those past garage practice days. Wow! those days were so awesome. Bob has passed on now. His only sister still lives and a the bass player his brother lives as well. The article brings back so many memories. To those blessed days in the past and my dear uncles. “God Bless!”

  9. I was married to Lee Caraway for almost 10 years post Swinging Machine days. Lee did give his heart to Christ and ministered to young people and adults alike for those 10 years. He passed away in 1979 of a brain tumor. We don’t know why this group of talented people were called away so early in life but the majority of the band members died before they were in their fifties. I have a lot of pictures of the band but didn’t have any of their music recorded. If anyone has music from The Swinging Machine, I would love to get copies. Thanks for the memories…..Diane

  10. My father bought Frankie Guidas record store, Birdland Record Shop, , located in Norfolk Virgina, 757 Church Street to be exact, back in 1968. The store remains in business to this day, currently located in Va. Beach. . last of the great indie record stores.

    Bruce Friedman in NC

  11. Years ago I taught at Churchland Junior High School and Evan Pierce’s son, Evan, was in my class. After talking to his mom who knew I was big fan, the young Evan let me borrow a tape of the band doing several covers like “To Love Somebody” and “Tell Mama”. I took it to my 10 year reunion at Portsmouth Catholic. I still bug Evan when I see him to make a copy. I know some friends who would pay big bucks to hear it. I was in a band in high school, as were other friends, and they would watch them at PC or the Lighthouse, getting the chords for songs. I remember them playing “Rain” at PC the day the song waas released. They played everything. I can still hear Gary hitting the high notes on “On A Carousel”. I don’t anyone else around here could sing it. I know some other local guys had live tapes from the Lighthouse. If there’s any around, I’d love to hear them. They were the best.

  12. I just came upon this web site. I was a founding member of the Nite-Liters of Hampton, Virginia along with Harrell Baker and Tommy Ford, later replaced by Bobby Schnell. Joe Fromal, Donny Falk, Danny Kelly and George Resto joined the group in 1965, adding organ, bass and horns. After greaduating in 1967, we took different paths. I continue to live in Hampton, now retired. Don Falk remains in the music business. His music can be found on the internet by searching his name. Harrell also plays in a band in Hawaii.

    1. Man was I surprised to see your reply in the garagehangover sight. It was so good to see the nite liters mentioned. Those we’re great times. Did anyone remember the band, ” headstone circus”. It seems to me that they we’re one of the best groups in the area. Steve, you’re a great guitarist. Danny Kelly, stickyvalves3032@aol. com.

  13. My dad, Bobby Weaver (guitar) is still alive and strumming away on his guitar. He loves music like no other person I know. Glad to see someone highlight the band he loved for so long.
    ~ Kelly Weaver

    1. Wow! I am the daughter, niece of the Bob Marshall and Crystals band. I would love to have a copy of a garage practice. I used to practice with them some, but I was so young then. This article is awesome. It was very thoughtful to hear that they were recognized. Bob has passed away. I really missed those all day blessed practicing days. I had so much fun. To my unc’s forever.


  15. Man, would I love a copy of that. Knew some guys that had tapes of them, one from the Lighthouse, but they were lost through the years.

  16. Yes, please get on him…I’ve asked for 1 for years!!!! He is very worried about the sound quality switching from reel to reel and going to digital…of course in his eyes, it’s just not good enough…Dad is currently not in the states, but he knows that he can pass anything thru me if necessary for mailing purposes…I just emailed him some new stuff as soon as I hear back from him…I’ll do my part to try & get a copy from him…

  17. Steve,
    Glad to see you’re still kicking. You, Esdras, Bobby Fisher and I are the only originals left now. Contact me and we’ll catch up.

    Hope you’re well.


  18. I remember the Nite-Liters well. George Resto’s sister Madeline was a girlfriend for a little while. Bob Schnell and the rest were great! My best friend Tony Smith (now dead) and I would always go to see them. I think Joe Fromal had a brother named Mike who was a drummer. Not sure, but that was when Thorpe Jr. High still existed. Ran across this website by accident and did it ever bring back memories. So did reading the stuff about the Swinging Machine. Remember them as well. I used to have band cards from all the local bands…Danny & the Delnotes, Blue-eyed Soul, Swinging Machine, Bob Marshall & Crystals, and more. Wish I still had them. My cousin Billy and I were both drummers in various bands of no fame. Great times back then!

  19. So, I am Evan’s daughter and grew up with everything about The Swinging Machine…I so wish that I had been able to see them play…Alot of the members were Uncles to me…we enjoyed family vactions and all together…Gary Richarson’s parents were an integral part of growing up for me…my mother & Gary were like brother & sister…there were plenty of funny remarks that my older brother,Evan, looked alot like Gary…though I never saw Gary…I always heard what a wonderful, kind person he was and saw it thru Ham & Jimba his mother & father…I do know that my mom got so upset when he tragically passed that she didn’t want to believe what my dad was saying to her…thru the years I’ve heard Billy Stallings, my dad, & Dickie Bocock play…anytime that they got together, it was magic…I could feel & see the fun that was had while they played in TSM…I think that Billy had the smallest hands I’ve ever seen for such a magnificent pianist…needless to say, music was a very large part of our lives growing up…my brother Evan has gone on to play in a few bands though has always said it was just a fun paid hobby…my dad always says that Evan has a much better singing voice that him, catch him at O’Sullivan’s Wharf in Norfolk once a month…by the way…yes, my father has a reel to reel of TSM…heard it many a time & plenty of hilarious stories about shows they played…I don’t have a copy, but from what I see, we need to get it out to some people…so, everybody hit him up on the aforementioned TSM site & tell him to get to work on going digital with it!!!! Peace to All…

  20. A-A-Allison! So glad you posted today. Without any doubt, there are definitely enough folks who would love to have a copy of any TSM recordings to justify looking into reproducing whatever materials are available, in whatever format possible. My ulterior purpose is simple: I’d finally like to know the precise notes he was hitting on bass that I seemed to miss, plus, honestly, it would be great to hear the group again. I’d love to see a TSM Fan reunion, somewhere, sometime. I’m already working on posters. I’ll have info at this weekend.
    Can I tell him you urged me to ask for copies? He’ll be amused, I know.

  21. I’ve read a lot of things here that bring plenty of timely recollections. The problem with time, though, is that last names change, first names often aren’t remembered, and folks enter (stage:left?) that I’m not sure I ever met.
    Given enough time, I guess everyone has those things in common.
    Since Gary died, it seems so many things just faded away. I never tried to keep up with any of the old gang. I’m in awe that so many of the guys have now passed away. I trust their friends and families hold their memories dear. We were part of tremendous change in the world, but I’ve never thought most folks truly realized that.
    Anyway, it is great to see someone revive a few memories of the old days – the better parts. Thanks too, to Evan and Vince for missing a few gigs. I had the pleasure of pickin’ bass a few times at the Dome and Lighthouse with TSM. I wasn’t that good, but Gary was my cousin and that gave me an “in.”
    Hope no one minds, but I grabbed copies of all the images here. Seems like yesterday….
    Checked out too – thanks to Evan for his efforts.
    – Len

  22. Robb, were you the blond-headed kid who used to live in Portsmouth in the late 50s and early 60s, on Patnor (or is that Patner)? I believe you had a model train in the garage. We hung out together with Doug, Brent, and other kids on the circle.

  23. Fun reading this article. Thanks to whoever put it together. I’ve played in Punk Bands around Norfolk since the 1980’s. We had a band called the M-80’s that was fairly successful from 1988-1992 that was greatly influenced by 60’s garage bands. I have long collected any records related to Virginia bands. I actually bought a copy of this single from the Union Mission Rummage House on indian river road back in 1996 or so. Funny to read that was actually the bands stomping grounds. Bought it just because it was on SPQR and when I got it home it blew my mind. Was not expecting a garage rock classic. Later I heard it again on the “Aliens, Psychos & Wild Thing” CD. Thanks again for the article.


  24. Kelly,
    Your Dad and I grew up together in the Boy Scouts, Troop 50, when your Grandfather was the scout master. I spent a while with the Machine before Viet Nam called me away. Those were the fondest memories of my entire life.

  25. I remember going to the Lighthouse in Portsmouth, the Casino in Nags Head and I think I remember hearing the Swinging Machine at the Portlock dance club. I just wanted to say that so often people never know how much they touched someone elses lives. Because of the Swinging Machine and other local groups like them, I was influenced to start playing music. I started out with a band in Cheseapeake whose drummer was Lonnie Godfrey. I don’t know if any of you remember him but he ended up playing drums for Loretta Lynne. Anyway I still play guitar today and have been in many bands down through the years. The Swinging Machine were my favorite band back in those days and one that greatly influenced me. Thanks for giving me the dream of becoming a musician. Even though I never made it big, I’ve had a blast playing!

    Bill Linton
    Jonesborough, TN

  26. So this is Billy Stallings’ daugther, Marissa. I have been recently googling my dad’s old band TSM and have found some sites. Of course I found Allison’s dad’s site, but I love it when I find another site as a tribute to the old band. It’s great to see people remember the band and carry the memories. Please share the music and the memories with all your family and friends, keep the music flowing for years to come 🙂 Peace and love <3

  27. Hi Mike. Joe does, in fact, have a brother Mike who played keyboards. I would see him around the neighborhood frequently but not in the last 6 months or so. I miss Danny and Earl from the Del-notes. I believe all of the Nite-liters are still with us. Remember Willis School and the Peninsula Auditorium??? Long live Ggarage bands. Regards, Steve Keith

  28. Kelly,
    How about trying to get your Dad to post on Evan’s Blog. I’m sure that all of us that knew of and were involved with TSM would really like to hear his tilt on everything. If he ever talks to Rocky Cantrell, suggest a get together, we all grew up in the same neighborhood went to the same church, and ended up sharing some fond and some not to fond memories in our late teens.

  29. Sir,
    I don’t know if you remember “The Paisley’s”, we were a Chesapeake band, and
    I was the Bassist.
    We won the “Battle of the Bands” which took place at Norview H/S 10/65.
    George Crawford Jr. and Larry Pezzella were two of the Judges, as I recall.
    What great times they were!
    I graduated from Great Bridge H/S (Class OF 1966),and joined the U.S.A.F. in
    I became a B-52 Crew Chief, and served 1 tour, which included 1 Arc Light, and 1 PCS at U-Tapao Thailand.
    A friend gave me a cassette of the 3 S.P.Q.R.songs about 10 years ago, and every once in a while, I’ll crank them up with a few “Cold One’s”.
    I saw you guys at the “Where the Action Is” show at Foreman Field (7/66).
    I remember the light reflection on Dickie’s glasses, and you all coming to the stage in a white Caddy convertible.
    Man, you guys were really “Hot” that evening.
    I came upon your Website last week and I want to personnally “Thank You” for the memory trip.
    I live in Orange Park Florida now, and work for the Government as an Ordnance Inspector, but I still consider “Tidewater” my home.
    Thanks again for creating the Website, it would be an Honour to personally meet you some day.

  30. Dear Len,

    At work just looking at websites that lead into each other and stopped still to look at the one re: The Swinging Machine-just had to read most everyone’s comments re: The Swinging Machine. They were mostly thoughtful and brought back lovely memories of a special time and a most unique and talented band led by the beautiful Gary Richardson. I am going to reply to two other people’s comments.

    Something about the way you (Len) wrote made me look at your name which I wasn’t doing with most of the other’s comments and I thought-my goodness is that Leonard Hamilton, the man I knew way back when? (The Leonard Hamilton I knew was a good writer and I thought that someday you would become a professional writer). You were always at the Lighthouse in Hampton-you worked there. You and I used to talk on the phone for hours and write each other tons of long, long letters (I was shipped off to Boarding School and only got to come home during holidays). We were good friends for awhile, but we were young and life took us in different directions. If you are ‘my’ Leonard Hamilton then I say hello. Seeing your name brought back many wonderful memories. If you aren’t ‘my’ Leonard Hamilton that’s okay too, you enjoyed The Swinging Machine and as I said your name brought back a very nice memory.
    Rozi (P.S. If you are ‘my’ Leonard Hamilton and don’t remember me that’s okay too-it was a long time ago.)

  31. Rozi-
    Are you the “bringer of apples” who worried about my health? If you, pick up the email link at and write back as soon as —- well, you know how that goes.
    Wow. Can’t wait to talk with you again.

  32. Steve,
    John here. You’re the first person I’ve “talked” to since I left for the army in ’65.
    My dad has died but my mother still lives on Secota Drive and loves telling folks about banning us to the garage after the spikes on the bass drum dug into her living room floor.
    Do you have email addresses on any of the other guys?
    I do hear occassionally from David Howell, who, as you remember, always went around claiming to be our manager.

  33. Steve,
    Actually, I misspoke. I was in contact with Fromal for a few years. As a matter of fact we lived only a few miles apart here in the big metropolis of McGaheysville VA. He was working for the water control board in Bridgewater VA but I lost track of him when he moved to the DC area some 20 years ago.
    Pardon the “senior moment”.

  34. Hello George,

    Just caught your notes online concerning the Swinging Machine. I graduated from Franklin in 1967 and recall quite a lot of Little league Baseball around Carrsville and Windsor, including with E.T Pope and T.A. Powell; plus Mike Blythe in football and basketball; also Richard and Jerry Allen who lived in a trailer at the Franklin Airport (I understand Jerry passed away a few years ago); and my cousins Dean and Ronnie Blythe. Were you in class with a girl named Janan Bailey by any chance? (briefly dated her at one time). I saw The Swinging Machine when I was a Freshman at the University of Richmond in Spring 1968, not long before Gerry Richardson’s tragic demise

    Anyway, I’m a writer by trade but am now Teaching English As A Foreign Language in Slovakia, married to Eva who is a Medical Dr. here (she grew up under Communism). We’re in a city called Nove Zamky and not far from the Danube River border with Hungary

    Best regards,

    Barry W. Blythe
    FHS Bronco’s 1967 ……

  35. Did you know Sidney Lowery? I think at one point, he played bass with that band. He also went to Great Bridge.The band I was in , The Fastbacks, heard Sid playing at Daves up on North Hampton blvd. and talked him in to playing with us. Our Bass player,Jim Parrot joined them. I played guitar back then. Now I play bass with The Beachnuts who have had many different members since the 60’s. One of the original members, Bill Walls left the band a year ago because he just had a hard time getting along with anybody. Myself, David George ( keys) and Mike Garber ( V-drums ) have been together since 1972.Mike played in a band called Stone Fox and R.B. played in Black River Circus. R.B. Sharp replaced Bill. So there are no original members from the 60’s but the band still plays on. You can check us out at . I think The Paisleys had a guirtist named ( not sure how to spell his name ) Triggy Frugar ????? We lost Sid to cancer a few years ago. I love talking about the old days. I played an old Silvertone guitar with the amp built in the case. I still have the guitar but the amp was trash. No power. Anyway, take care.

  36. hello,
    i lived in hampton in the 60s heard the machine an the kingdom alot they were the best an when they played on the same stage they brought the house down what ever happened to bruce west, mike johnston.

    houston tx

  37. I heard about the Swinging Machine because they were starting to become a hot item in the Tidewater area and were advertised on the local rock radio stations WNOR and WGH when they’d play at some of the bigger functions in the area. Ones which my band hoped to get bookings in and play for some day.

    I didn’t know that because of events that happened both in my band and the Swinging Machine, I’d end up becoming their bass player when Evan went to serve in the Army.

    My first band, The Sting Rays was formed by Tommy Pittman on sax and me on guitar when we were sophomores in high school. Our first drummer was Lin Monell and I brought in a guy I knew from my neighborhood who played rhythm guitar named Cecil DeHart. This was the group that started playing at the community center in Cradock and the YMCA in downtown Portsmouth and anywhere else we could for about 6 months until we had started to build our confidence that we could actually DO this for fun and even earn some money!

    We changed drummers from Lin to Butch Schodt and Tom added a friend of his Kenny Euglow on second sax. This was a pretty good group but the final version of the Sting Rays which recorded our two records had added Tommy Parker on Hammond organ and Randy Vaughn on sax when Kenny decided to go to college. Things rolled along pretty smoothly after the recordings and we were invited to share the stage at the Top Hat and to alternate sets with Bill Deal and the Rhondels. Things were pretty rosy until Tommy (Pittman) who did most of our lead vocals, announced he was leaving for college so that pretty much finished the band for us.

    Now that we had become a part of the larger musical picture in Tidewater I had started to hear bits of gossip and news about other area bands and had learned that the Swinging Machine was going to lose Evan to the Army and would need a bass player. I didn’t know at the time that Gary and Lee were Portsmouth boys (actually from Churchland, which I believe was in the county at that time)so I met them for the first time at Dickie’s father’s house which was home base and ground zero for all things related to the Swinging Machine. I have memories, road stories and some pictures to share and hope to make them available soon if I get some interest or feedback.

    Vince Screeney

  38. Steve, I never knew you were a Portsmouth Catholic student…so was I but I
    graduated in ’63 and a few years later after Gary’s death moved away to Roanoke to escape the sadness and the loss and maybe start over somewhere.

    My time playing bass with the Machine was a wonderful time that went too
    fast but the memories are still as strong. I hope to be sharing some of them
    soon if there’s any interest.

    Vince Screeney

  39. remember the tv, s hullabaloo scene, when theyplayed they brought the house down, had to be iine 2 hrs before to get in an the they turned some away, what ever happed to bruce west mike johnston, the were also very very good those band could have hit it big with the right people, dont you agree.

  40. hello everyone,

    can some tell me please what ever happened to the wild kigdom, bruce west, mike johnston an i think his name was robbey robertson.

    thanks john

  41. I played Drums in a local portsmouth band called THe Barracudas.. We played quite a few times with The Swinging Machine..At the Light House, The Portsmouth Armoury..THose were days I’ll never forget. I replaced dickie bocott in another band he was in Full Sail I believe..We were the clean cut band while the swinging machine dressed alot in leather..
    But they had a great sound.. All the bands back then did…

  42. hello,
    i lived in hampton an loved to watch them play, so dam good, with the right mangement an leaving the drugs alone they could have made it big, i know it, alot of great memorys, answer back please.


  43. I remember The Swinging Machine (and their equipment truck)at the Lighthouse, Elizabeth Manor Country Club, The Moose Lodge in Cradock, The Portsmouth Armory and the Casino, among other places.

    But does anyone remember the commercial the Swinging Machine made for Home Furniture? Oh yea, they sure did!

    Or how about the Wild Kingdom minus Bruce West becoming the backup band for Keith (he recorded “98.6 and Ain’t Gonna Lie)? These were great days for sure in Hampton Roads music…and there were so many others.

  44. They played our 8th grade dance at Harry Hunt Jr. High, in late May 1965. That was the same year the Swinging Machine won the battle of the bands (I think), as the queen of the dance was Linda Fletcher. She was also in my homeroom, and was a friend of Bobby Fisher of the Swinging Machine.

    My sister also had your record, “Hey Girl, What Cha Gonna Do?” so it was great that you played that dance. The last time I saw the original (before Wayne B. took over singing and the guitar for the band) was at the Peppermint. It was during one afternoon, when you guys were playing “Shotgun” and a couple of us would peek in the club, from the beach side, and watch as we were too young to enter the building.

  45. hello,

    yes the machine made a commerical for home furniture an carols drive inn they were a great band i could listen to them all night long an the wild kingdom with bruce west vocal stylist they called him, YES THEY WERE THE DAYS, GREAT, I TELL YOU.but that was the beginging of the end of the machine when gary died he was the glue that held them together, i knew him some what helped them with the equipment sometimes, he could be hard on the oter guys if they didnt do it right, he wanted it perfect an the music, do you all agree please respond back.

  46. Hey Barry….Jerry Allen and I were best friends. He died two years ago and his brother Larry is still alive living in South Carolina.I know Dean and Ronnie very well. I never met you while you were in Franklin but remember you. Janan was a classmate and good friend in high school. Last I heard she was living in the triangle area of North Carolina. I am also good friends with one of your old high school chums,Chester Griffin.Where has all the time gone…………Good to hear from you, Geo Cobb

  47. hi diane

    sorry about lee i,knew gary he could sing anythang, an the band also they were gifted

    i think before gary died they were on to something big, in my heart i fell like gary was the glue that held them together, i lived in hampton loved to hear them play the music was like on the rcords, an gary sounded like the origininal singer very few people can do that, an soory to hear about lee he seemed to be a very nice person.



    If you ever wondered what happened to this guy, follow the above link to over 3300 posts he has written from 1998 to the present. He is alive and well. If you read some of them, he mentions opening for the Grateful Dead (remember them playing at Peabody’s Warehouse in ’68 and the Kingdom opened for them) among other things. He gave up the six string many years ago, and now is a Steel Guitar player and record producer.

    Also, follow this link to find a 2003 picture of Johnstone with Keith.

  49. …can be seen at
    Membership is free, you just need a yahoo address. Tons of pics of Peninsula and southside bands circa ’67
    Interviews and mp3s
    The focus is mainly on the Peninsula bands, but if you look around theres some southside stuff in the photos section
    That Lighthouse poster is very cool. I’d sure like to know who did the artwork.

  50. Hello. Are you referring to Tony Smith who was a basketball star from Cradock High School. If so, this is Sammi. I was a Freshman when he was a Senior and through some MIRACLE he fell in love with me and then my parents moved me away and kept me from seeing him. I know that he was murdered. I found that out after years of searching for him. Would you please tell me if you know where he was buried. I would greatly appreciate finding out.

    Thank you and HAPPY NEW YEAR to You and Yours.


  51. Hey Vince, anything you can share about the TSW days would be a blessing. I cannot seem to get them off my mine. Portsmouth Catholic High School, AB Club, Light House, Casino in NC, The Dome in VA Beach. You name it, I was there. You guys gave me my drive to play drums in several bands, the Hangmen and The Regents featuring Mel Gaines I was a big fan of Dickie Bocock’s the drummer of TSM. I copied everything he did. I just wasn’t as good. Thanks for the outlet and share more PLEASE!!!

  52. yes dickie was a good drummer, he reminds me of ringo starr not fancy style but kept a very TIGHT beat for the machine i loved to watch him play an the whole band, i wish bands today would take pride in their music an make it sound so great as the machine did, i knew gary richarson he said he was on the guys all the time to play a song great or not play it at all thats rare today,THATS WHY THEY WERE SO GOOD AT WHAT THEY DID, PLEASE SOMEONE RESPOND TO WHAT JUST TALKED ABOUT AN I HOPE YOU ALL AGREE WITH ME.

  53. Johnstone can also be seen in HBO’s series “Deadwood”. He plays the character who wears a top hat, can’t remember the name.
    Its him, though.
    I always knew he’d be a star!

  54. I have been checking out the Swinging Machine sites for the last couple of years, been a little hesitant to respond, but, I think it is time. Great to read the comments and memories. i time of my life I will always remember.

  55. George,

    Just now seeing your reply. Sorry to take so long. Chester Griffin used to live down the street from us and as kids we were quite good friends. Seems like a lot of folk ended up down in Carolina. My son, Bjorn, is now at Chowan and playing on the tennis team. He grew up in London where I lived for many years. Would very much like to make contact with various people in hopes of finding out what happeneed to everybody. Direct email address is Did you ever know Eddie Dean Twisdale? Lives now in Gasburg, I think. Drop us a line directly any time.

    Best regards,


  56. My name is Tommy Loving I grew up in the Virginia Beach Area and I Lived closed by off Indian River Rd. pretty close to Dickie Bocock home by the Elizabeth River. While working in the area I bought my first car when I was 16 years old, and I loved the good times seeing the swinging machine played throughout the Tidewater area, I went to Princess Anne High School, and thanks for the good memories of the Machines day!
    Tommy Loving, Newburgh New York.

  57. hi tommy i grew up their to an my first car at 16 an listening to the machine they were so dam good they could have made it big if they had the right mangement wgh radio was trying to do just that then gary died the glue that held them together.

  58. I was in my first band The Live Wires when The Swinging Machine were around. I saw them dozens of times. Being a drummer i thought Dickie was it. Our 2nd gig was playing for Cradock High Schools bands jr. senior in the lunch room. Well the schools real prom was in the gym. Who was the band? The Swinging Machine.They let us play one set and told us to leave that they would play records from then on. We got in a fight with them because we wanted to play. But after hearing the band in the gym I couldn’t blame The Journey Back played at The Lighthouse with them during our one month house gig there. Bill Brown used to fix their equipment for them. I went with him one time to the house in Indian River to return a piece of equipment. They were a bunch of nice guys. I remember hearing this high pitch noise coming from upstairs that night and ask what was it. They said oh that’s just Gary getting his voice in shape for the gig. Unbelievable! They let me record at The Lighthouse right by the front door with my reel to reel. I fill up the whole tape of The Swinging Machine that night. It was the best you ever heard of them. Well one day i decided to take it over a friends house to let him hear it. He ask to leave it with him to listen to. By the time I ask for it back, he had loaned it to somebody that lost it during a move. I could have killed him. So yes there is a reel to reel recording of them somewhere but we’ll never know. I’m so sorry.


  59. hello everyone,

    i was a really big fan of the machine in the day helped them with their equipment sometimes gary would get me in free all the time, great guy he was, an yes all them were good guys they died to dam early. they could have made it.has any one have tapes of them playing or even the old reel to reel tapes or something on dvd now, i wish someone would answer this or give me your phone an i will call you so you can send me anything. an including bruce west an the wild kingdom, i also enjoyed listening to them.

  60. Hello,to whoever it may concern, in 1968 I was a equiptment carrier and lived with the wild kingdom in pacqocen 1313 mockingbird Ln. and it sure was a good time with them !my name is ladd and I came back to san diego persue other musical interests. and for years I wondered how the boys were doing ? before I worked with the wild kingdom they had just played with jimmy hendricks at the dome I thought was in the beach area of va.I personally saw photos of the wild kingsom with jimmy hendricks and other band members after there gig,It was truly a cool album with jimmys old picks and strings that had broken ! And the two bands partyed at the holliday inn. These days I’m glad that I even remember all the great times I had with them,I was only 18 with long hair and was into bluegrass and country and still am a bass guy looking for a country band that wants a super sober bass player with mega melodies in my mind ! and want to head for branson someday nashville 60 and looking like 39 I’ll be fine ! If pam ever sees this I’m sure she’ll freak! or if John E,Mike J,Robbie R,and Bruce&bro danny W. I lost track of Pam Q when she was in england,most likely that I moved to La Mesa ca.on a one acre spread where I live out my Illinois farm boy super garden lifestyle! This fourm has been truly a gift to me and I certainly would be greatful for a email from whoever remembers all of these fine times ! especially the time we all saw 2001 a space oddity together,like wow! signed just laddie the guy that can tune guitars in 15 seconds!

    1. I was married to Bruce in the 70’s after he was out of the business. He often spoke of his times with the Wild Kingdom and touring with Hendrix and other groups. He is alive and well and living in South Florida.

  61. This is another entry from Laddie an equiptment carrier in 1968 for my friends lead guitariest Mike Johnstone, drums John Etheridge, bass Robbie Robertson,and singer Bruce West. I must really say that the hi energy that Wild Kingdom presented in those times is what people came to see them for and they could gig night after night! The other eqiptment managers were named jim & worm and they really did much to put on these shows.I really wanted to keep working with these guys because of there unity, but nothing lasts forever execpt Wild Kingdoms sound! it’s still pownding in peoples heads I believe!The funniest thing I remember before showtime in those years was the drying of the band members hair with a shopvac hose, back when their was no hand held hair dryiers and the three band members would get the job done nicely!My road trip to Nagshead NC with the Wild Kingdom was to a very large niteclub called “the other place” for a two week engagement,it was quite a gig,this place had light show towers placed in the middle of the dance areas and the attendance was large 1500 to be exact and the energy Wild Kingdom pounded carried well!This to me was a test of there true strength that won over the large attendance,and when they went back to there usual Norfolk circut of smaller teen nightclubs the strength they had was even deeper! The band members or anyone connected can always contact or if the editors of this fine fourm need any good memorys of mine it’s always good with me! Now that were in our 60s the time could be short to tell these good things about The Wild Kingdoms really artistic ventures of 1968.I’ll be around I’m Laddie

  62. Just three short days ago July 9, I visited Gary’s grave site to pay my respect. It has been a short 42 years ago that he passed away. It just seems like it was yesterday I saw him on stage at the light house in Portsmouth Va. As I listen to their record and recall our care free good times during our high school days I cannot help to feel truly blessed of being raised in that era. Yes, we had our problems such as the Vietnam war but nothing that our kids are going through today. There are many folks out there today that was connected to the band that I never knew personally, I just wanted to say thank you for making all of the adventure so exciting. From the Catholic High School Dances to the Casino in NC it was a blast. Thanks Gary, Vince, Evin, Dickie, Lee, Bobby, and Billy. You guys left your foot print in the music world and it is still visible to this day in the memories that we all share about how you affected us during our growing years. Your legecy shall not die as it lives on in our lives and your children lives. THANKYOU!


  64. Hey Stan, I remember you telling me the Swinging Machine tape story when we transferred the Creations tape. Well at least we got that, thanks to you – Stan THE Man.
    Long live The Journey Back. Brent

  65. I remember going to the PA. I also remember Danny O’Brian and Ronnie Matheny. My mother knew Danny’s mother and use to exchange music with her. Danny either wasn’t born at that time or was very young. I went to Kecoughtan High School and had a party at my house and Danny and the band was there. What a great time!

  66. Ok. My old friend Vince! I think the last time I saw you was in ’70 when you and Dickie came to Richmond to rescue me (to try to stop my wedding). You should have gotton there a few minutes earlier and it would have worked. I was so distraught over losing G. I just didn’t care any more. Anyway I got rid of the fake husband shortly thereafter. I’ll always remember you for being there for me and also for not leaving me alone on my so-called “honeymoon”. I hope life has been good to you! Betty

  67. Diane,

    I didn’t know Lee very well, but he was a good friend of my brother, Bob Oliver (Wilson ’65). I was good friends with Lee’s sisters, Gwen, and I dated Vicki several times back in the old HS days (Churchland ’71). I have not seen them in years and was wondering if you were still in touch and knew what’s up with them over the past 40 years. I grew up in Portsmouth, left there in 1971 when I went away to college in NC. I have lived in the Richmond area since then. I enjoyed many SW gigs at the Lighthouse (Cradock), the Orpheum (Airline Blvd., Ports.) and when they used to play in my neighborhood at the Elizabeth Manor Country Club back in the 60’s. Those were great times and I really cherish the memories of those days. I remember when Gary died and heard of Lee’s passing years ago. In their case it’s so true that “only the good die young” ! They both left their marks in their short time with us !

    1. Sorry I’m so long responding. I hardly ever go on the site but was feeling melancholy this morning and happened to see your post. Gwen is married with 4 girls and living in Jacksonville FL. Vicki married Ricky Kittrell from Churchland and living in Nags Head. Lee’s mom and dad have passed away and his brother, Bob, is still living in Churchland.

      We all miss Lee and wonder often what he would have been like as a “senior citizen”. I wish he could have lived to see his 3 children grow up. They turned out to be really great people (not because of me but in spite of me LOL). I still enjoy strolling down memory lane every now and then. Thanks for the kind words! I hope you’re having a great life!

  68. Hey Stan
    I grew up in pleaseant park , graduated from Smith in 77, I think I remember the house. It was on indian river rd by the bridge and it was painted in various bright colors in the upstairs rooms Is that the one ?


  69. Hi Vince,
    It’s been a long time. I was reading your article and thought I would reply on a couple of points. When Tommy Pittman left for college I actually attended the same school, Ferrum College, about 40 miles South of Roanoke. We go to know each other and started another band at the school named “Tom and the Pittmans”. We added Kenny Euglow from Portsmouth on Sax and Steve Abramson on drums. Steve was from Virginia Beach and his father owned the “Hamburger Haven” at the beach. We played at most of the school functions and in clubs in Roanoke. It was a great time. I haven’t talked to Tommy or Kenny in many years but did have a conversation with Steve Abramson a couple of years ago. He is a Rabbi and living in San Diego, California. He still has his trap set up in his basement and plays for his own entertainment. He was one of the best drummers along with Dicky Bocock I have ever had the pleasure to perform with on stage. I saw Tommy years ago playing with a group at one of the Naval bases and we did recognize each other and chatted briefly. I also remember you as being one of the great bass players and it was a privilege to know you. Hope you are doing well.
    Your Friend,
    Steve Curling

  70. BETTY! How great to come across your note to Garage Hangover. I remember clearly that Dickie and I drove to Richmond to try to persuade you otherwise about getting married but if not, at least be
    ready to party with you at the reception. There’s a good story of our return trip to the Beach and
    if you recall, the night of the big day was the night of the first moon landing! I hope you’ll get this and we can re-establish contact. There’s a newly unearthed video of some footage taken during a recording session and we all appear to be in rare form. I came across some pics of you posing in
    a group shot and you looked great as usual. It looked as if you may have been the lead singer.

    Please try to reach me or respond to this note. Vince

  71. Steve, great to read your note and it’s so recent. Ironically, I now live in Rocky Mount and only about 7 miles from the Ferrum campus. The time you spoke of when Tom P was in the Navy, he was an
    instructor at the Navy School of Music and played in their dance band for public appearances. He
    now lives in the Boston area and is still working as half of a duo (named after him, of course).

    I’ve talked to him recently because we were hoping for a Sting Ray reunion over the Christmas holidays. Sadly we couldn’t make it happen and even more sadly Randy Vaughn died two days before Christmas. We still hope that we can get together during warmer weather this year. Hope you’re well and still grooving to the music in your soul.


  72. Tim, the house you remember was not Dick Bocock’s house, it was actually the band’s practice house and where three of us had rooms. Gary and I maintained rooms upstairs and the equipment was left downstairs for our rehearsals. Sadly, that was the house where Gary died. Bobby Fisher attempted to
    save Gary with resuscitation but by the time the rescue squad got there it was too late. The last
    time I saw Gary alive he was hanging out of his upstairs window and laughing and teasing me about having to leave for my two weeks of Army summer camp active duty. Rest in peace, old friend.

  73. Bill, it’s a great feeling to have someone such as yourself say that we affected you in a way that made you stay with music throughout your life. I know we enjoyed creating the energy to get the music out there and any style of music was fair game. Great to know our efforts were appreciated.

    Vince Screeney, bassist Swinging Machine

  74. Betty, look me up on Facebook…Peter Vincent Screeney. I don’t have anything organized as yet for downloading but a lot of old pics and articles and even a picture or two of you. Vince

  75. Wow, John,

    I just found your post, two years late. I continue to live in Hampton. There are some pictures of the band, after you went into the service, at I think your last performance with us was at the yatch club??? Email me at


  76. I went to Churchland HS with Gary and Lee and remember the concert at the school. this was one of the first public apperences. They were awesome! I had played in several less talented bands and wondered how they got so good so soon. I have recently become friends with Evan Pierce and it has been great sharing stories . This band was really talented, they were every bit as good as the Rhondels if not better. I still wish I could play bass as good as Evan.

  77. It has been several weeks now since July 9 that I visited Gary’s resting place. I did so last year and was compelled to do so again this year. I just wanted to see with my own eyes and think of all the good times Gary helped bring to our lives with his music. The Swinging Machine helped us all get thru some tough times. We all looked forward to the Saturday night dances at the AB Club, The Light House, Casino etc. They all were major players in our musical taste, what clothes were wore, and sometimes who we dated. I cannot help to think of the Elvis Presley song. The words are most appropriate. Memories, pressed between the pages of my mind, Memories, sweetend thru the ages just like wine. I know, it sounds a little corney coming from a guy, but ask yourself if it fits. Thanks again Gary, Vince, Dickey, Evan, Bobby Fisher, Lee, Bobby Weaver, Wayne. Going Strong after 43 years. Who could imagine!!

  78. Both Lee Caraway and Gary Richardson joined myself and a sax player whose name I cannot remember to form a group called the Deacons. I believe this was in 1964 or 1965. We only stayed together for a few months when I got an offer to play with the Beachnuts and the sax player also got an offer so we left the Deacons to go our way. I believe that was when Lee bought his first Fender. I played bass with the Beachnuts until September 1967 when I lelt to go to VMI. Playing with the Beachnuts was a great time and I was glas to see both Lee and Gary were able to get with another band and continue to play.

  79. Talk about memories. I found this site and almost passed out when I saw a post by you in 2009. I tried to contact you once before. If by chance you ever see this I sure would like to say hello. I am on Facebook. I kept picture of you guys and an article from the paper in Norfolk from the 60s. I remember Tommy and Gary and love the pictures on this page. Remember when I didn’t go back to Rogers Hall that night (it was a milestone night for YOU). I think we were in Tommy’s apt after a high school dance you guys played and we girls kept going to the car to have a drink or ten.I will ever forget that night. I woke up with a nurse standing over me…neighbor in the apt building. It was my first serious hangover. Needless to say they had a bed check and guess who was not there? No more dorm for me after that. I will never forget you Peter Vincent Screeney.


  80. Special thanks to the administrator of this terrific site for bringing back great memories of a great band ! I dated one of the band members and was the ultimate groupie. I will never forget the super voice of Gary Richardson, the ultimate showman. I remember he would sort of moan in parts when he sang “Spooky” and the girls would go crazy. All these guys were such great musicians. Thanks for “freezing” them in time.

  81. Hi Mike.. Remember you in my class at CHS. Great to see you visited this site. I recall you were in a pretty good band back then too. How did we ever get The Swinging Machine to play at our high school “assembly”? Remember Gary getting kicked out of school for his long hair? I recall he went all the way to the School Board and through some miracle got “reinstated”. He told them he needed to have his hair long for his “musical career” with The Swinging Machine. Do you remember Susan Jenkins? She was in our class and we were good friends. Her dad booked the entertainment at the Ambassador’s Club in Portsmouth. He was pretty cool for a “dad” and really loved The Swinging Machine. He booked them a lot and of course we were always there. I dated Lee and my girlfriend, Paula (also in our class), dated Billy Stallings. I got kicked out of CEM Tri-Hi-Y because I went to the “Battle of the Bands” at the Norfolk Arena to see The Swinging Machine win instead of going to their little school dance that same night. So great to see everyone still remembers how awesome they were. The photos made me cry. I’m on FB if you want to get in touch.

  82. I know that no one remembers evrything forever but some memories never leave you. I will always remember Gary and Lee singing and playing in my mom and dad’s garage in Simonsdale (Portsmouth), when we were all just kids. My parents are both still alive and it seems a million years ago that we played there. Everytime I visit my parents , I walk in thru the garage and wonder what could have been. When the time came, I chose college and pharmacy school and Lee and Gary went on to history. I am proud to have known them both ( You too Dianne )

    Ron Pack
    Smithfield, Va.

  83. Harold

    I played organ for deacons in 64 -65. Bobby Kinsey was sax player at time. I went to Old Dominion and Later left the band and went to college at MCV. Gary and Lee started playing in my mom,s garage in Simonsdale. In Portsmouth in about 1964. I think they were both freshman or sophomores at churchland High

    1. Thanks for reminding me of his name. I am not sure I remember you but I am going to look at an old 8MMS film of the Deacons

  84. Reading comments from people that I remember from my days at Churchland HS and nights listening to TSM at all of the clubs in the Tidewater area puts a huge grin on my face. Being able to hear their music once again is incredible and has brought back memories that otherwise would have been lost forever. I relocated from the Churchland area to Las Vegas, Nevada 35 years ago but the memories associated with the music and times of the TSM truly are very special. From their first after school assembly gig at CHS to listening to the Mothers of Invention Freak Out album over and over at Dickie’s house… the memories live on. Thank you all for your contributions and recollections! Robert “Bobby” Ripley

  85. Laddie, my name is Bob and grew up in the Deep Creek section of Chesapeake. The one thing I remember about the Wild Kingdom is they were the only band in the area with VOX amps. That was the same equipment the Beatles played with. I also remember sometime during 1968 they lived in an apartment complex off of Canal Drive in Chesapeake and I worked at a grocery store (Canal Drive Market) that was right across the street from the apartment. The group and their girlfriends would come over and buy things and I thought that was so cool. I was sixteen at the time. I remember they played at the Lighthouse and Sloopy’s which was located on Canal Drive.

    1. Yes sonny played drums with the Deacons. He was the younger brother of Darlene Maxwell who was a Churchland 63 grad. I can’t remember time line of when he played sinc e I was there just a short time myself

  86. Saw your comments tonight while surfing old bands from Tidewater. I grew up on the next street over from Sidney. I knew well his family. We used to play together as kids. As far as I know his mother is still alive on Cornick Ave. Chesapeake. His sister married a Wirt and as far as I know they are happily married living somewhere in Chesapeake. I remember when Sidney first picked up a bass. He wasn’t good but he stuck with it. As far as Triggie, I think his name is Trivvie and the last name is Frugard. He was in my mothers class in school. I think this was 4th grade in Norfolk Highlands. At one time Trivvie or Triggie and I liked the same girl. Her name was Deborah and she lived down the street from me. Her dad was a cop and at some point he committed suicide. Anyway, maybe you and I know some of the same people. What about Alan Smith who also played with the Paisleys at Snoopys on Canal Drive?? Regards, Bennie

  87. Hi Bob, It’s cool that you wrote me anything at all ! I would really like to read something from the band Wild Kingdom that I did allot of amps,speaker-boxes & Drum carring for ! Wild Kingdom was a group of really cool guys ! I do remember the VOX amps but they did have Fender amps too! They like all bands were in the need of some speaker repair ! I recall the buzzing sound from the torn speakers & they did make the best of the situation ! You have mentioned an apt that wild Kingdom resided at. It must have been after I left and came back to San Diego CA. But that 1313 Mockingbird lane,does that ring a bell? When I saw there address I quickly told them that they had a famous address that was the same address that the TV show Adam’s family had ! I always have a way of remembering things and I’m sure the Wild Kingdom would really dig on speaking with me out here in San Diego CA. These days I’m into allot of things other than music ! I have almost a full acre here in La mesa CA. and I do remember my original farm boy roots and I grow Tahitian Squash which was almost gone from the face of the earth, until I re-introduced it to the manestream of gardening. So now the world is after me for seeds of this giant highest sugar content melon Squash! I call it Tahiti Squash seed Original because it really is ! I get calls from all over the world thanking me for saving this truely great plant! Plus they order seeds from me all the time! google it and see Bob ! My contact info is on their ! Maybe it’s a way for the band to say howdy to me for sure! I’m blessed with fine memorys of the Wild Kingdom plus the Swinging Machine who I also was aquainted with! I went to Gary’s funeral with the whole wild Kingdom Band ! We were all good friends ! But the Wild Kingdom was so cool with me ! I did everything I could to lend a hand plus watch there stuff like a hawlk ! I’m still that hawlk at 62 and wouldn’t get a haircut ever ! I did allot of Night clubs big & small with this great Band! All in 1968. As clear as I am, it’s like it was yesterday ! It’s been tough to get answers from my good friends Mike,John,Bruce,Robbie. I saw Mike Johnstones facebook profile & got on his wall with no answer as of yet. We’ll see what happends.Mike’s doing good that I can see,any other band members nothing yet.Oh and Bob, the Norfolk Aliens had Marshall amps plus vox amps ! I worked for them too ! That’s another mamory.But hey I’m doing good as well everybody! My stage last name was Cigar which is not what to many people know me by at this point! I was really into live FM Radio commershals guitar playing starting back in 1967.I always try to do cutting edge things and this station was the first acid rock station in the US called KPRI.Bob let me know what you know about our good old friends from the Wild Kingdom.You can read my notes to other bands on Garage Hangover.

  88. Haven’t been on this site in quite awhile, but I noticed one of Vince’s comments and one by Jimmy Long’s wife. I sang in the Chaparrals with Jimmy (who was a hell of a guitar player), and Sidney Long. There were a lot of different people in it over the years including Jimmy Crodick and later Tommy Craig on bass, Jack Grimes and later Phil Council on keyboards. I left the band when I went to Virginia Tech. During my freshman year, some of my Roanoke buddies and I went into Roanoke to see Bill Deal and the Rhondels and the Royal Kings. Vince was playing bass for the Kings so I did talk to him briefly during a break about the Swinging Machine and some other people we knew from Portsmouth, including Carson Streeter who played sax with us and was also a great acoustic guitarist. I still enjoy popping in to see Journey Back when they play. You guys still sound great. Too bad about that reel to reel. I heard it and it was great.

  89. I’am still alive and kicking in Kissimmee Fl playing bass guitar in a classic rock band named Scoundrel check out my Facebook Page i have alot of great memories from the 60 music we used to play

  90. I was the owner of Sloopys Teen Club on Canal drive in Chesapeake, Va. Hearing comments from all the band members that posted on this site brings back memories of a great time and a brunch of super local bands. I am the current sax player for a local band “Coolin Out “that plays a lot of old music from the beach music hay days of the 60’s. 6/30/2013

  91. I knew Lee. My father and he were best friends right after Gary died. I was a little kid about 9 years old when I first met him and Lee told me all about his life. He talked about it a lot and spoke of it in meetings at my church. He was an interesting guy and very liked by everyone. My father and Lee were in bible college together, studied constantly together and they both graduated together in 1973. He stayed at my house all the time during those three years. When he was with us he never would play the guitar although me and my brother asked him to lots of times. He just wouldn’t touch it. He told us the stories about the lighthouse and some place out in portsmouth that they played as well and also about how Gary died doing freon from what I now remember. He was married to Diane when we met him and around that time he had a couple of kids. Diane was very sweet and a pretty lady too and I remember that even though I was pretty young at the time. Later our family went to Japan as a missionaries and then when we came back Lee was very sick with cancer. Things were different and he was not doing well. We went to see him in the Great Bridge house he was renting and talked with him a number of times. He was into the animals and nature at that point since he realized his time what short. That’s what I remember him saying and how he talked about the eagles flying in the area. He didn’t live much longer and I remember his funeral and how sad it was. I was there and it was hard to see him gone. I always wanted to know more about the swinging machine band but never could find anything. Then today I typed it into a yahoo search and your site came up and all the things he told me I see are the truth. I would love to hear some of the music. How can I get some? Thanks for the site. It really means a lot.

  92. Bill (Billy) Stallings of TSM was my late husband. He died on this day (November 12) in 2006 after falling into a diabetic coma on September 1. (He was a late-onset juvenile diabetic).

    Bill was so filled with great memories of those years that he was part of The Swinging Machine. He loved to tell me and our daughter, Marissa, about those heady days. Sadly, I don’t think anything afterwards could quite compare, and it dampened his spirit and outlook.

    Although he never returned to Virginia to live after leaving for college, he remained close to Evan Pierce and Dick Bocock (who preceded Bill in death) throughout the years, and would occasionally run into Bob Weaver when we came down to visit.

    Marissa and I are both so happy to find sites like this one with comments that reinforce Bill’s stories about the glory days. We both miss him greatly.

  93. I was a kid on a purple Spyder Bike who lived off Oaklette Drive in Chesapeake, Va. I would ride to the 7-11 on the east side of the old white wooden Oaklette Bridge. These were the days when garage bands exploded in every neighborhood and an electric guitar hid in a closet in most homes. Silvertone amps and cheap Kent drumsets were in tow to someones garage to light up a neighborhood and have a squad dispatched for excessive noise. These were the days when hair was growing out of control, paisley and polka dot shirts were the norm, belts went from skinny to wide with big buckles. Parents feared the onset of Hippies! I would talk to Gary Richardson at the 7-11 when he would come up in his VW bus and have that long flowing hair and talk music with him. We used to call him Jesus. They were staying at this old white 2 story house on the NE corner of Indian River Rd & Oaklette Ave. This venue quickly became known as the Swinging Machine House to the locals in the area. Everybody knew that the Machine was the hottest local band in the area by just tuning into AM radio and find out where the were playing. They were local legend! I was outside the house the day Gary Richardson’s body was recovered from that old spooky home. That was the last day of the Swinging Machine.

  94. The Paisleys… They were definitely a Chesapeake Band for sure. They set up and gave a make shift concert on the corner of Oaklette Drive and Dunwich Road on the side patio of local blonde goddess Cathy Ives home. Sidney Lowery played a violin style Hofner knock-off bass on stage right of the band. Trygge Frugard was a guitar player who married NASCAR Ricky Rudd’s sister Marilyn. Clay Spencer was the drummer who went on to be a gunsmith. That was fun and they were a good Indian River band. Cathy Ives was worth having a concert for. She was an East Coast Beauty!!!

  95. I lived in both Craddock and Churchland at that time. I worked at The Lighthouse for both Peppy Owens and John Nelson, the owners. I helped paint the psychedelic art on the walls and worked the concession stands . I saw everyone that was there from Steppenwolf to Swinging Machine to Wild Kingdom and all! They were very special days that I will never forget.

  96. Boy, It’s great to see that everyone remembers the old bands. It was a great time. All The bands were very good. I was the drummer of the Psychedelic Sound. Along with George Atkins, Tommy Sitzler, Jimmy Humphrys, and George Henderson we played and worked at the Orpheum in Portsmouth. We worked there in return for a place to practice where the police would not break it up. Gabo the owner later started Webb Concerts and myself, Tommy and George worked for him doing concerts at a very early age. I just saw Gabo after more that forty years and he is doing great. He indirectly helped me in my career I am a lighting and sound tech. I still play from time to time and have built a small studio in my home. I miss a lot of the old people some have died and some have moved away, and like all bands drifted apart. This site reading the comments brought back old memories and friends. I see Jimmy Longs wife posted, I play with him when John Elliot their drummer at the time had class on two nights a week so I set in for him. George Newsome from Mad Wax posted haven’t seen him in years nice to know he is still around. I talk to George Atkins from time to time. I was also in Herby and the Outtasites, with Billy Ricketts and Ricky Winters, It seems Portsmouth and South Norfolk were more happening in the 60’s. A lot of good musicians came out of those areas. Anyone remember the Sun with Mike Evans? How about Headstone Circus what a great band. It’s nice that everyone remembers.

  97. Back-in-the-day I used a single pickup Guild guitar and a Silvertone guitar in my band “Dean & The Mustangs”. Lee got a brand-new Fender Jaguar and he and Billy Holcomb came over to visit so I could see it. Lee didn’t know it but I got a new Gretsch Tennessean the day before. So we BOTH checked out BOTH of the new guitars. A couple of years later, Lee got a Gretsch Tennessean and many years after that, I bought a ’62 Fender Jaguar for my collection. Funny how things work out. I bought the Swinging Machine’s record as soon as it came out. After listening to both sides, I asked Lee why “Do You Have To Ask” wasn’t the side being played on the radio because it was the best of the two songs. He said that Frank Guida was calling the shots on radio play. In October 1974, on my WAVY-TV music special, “ROCK ME”, my band, MAD WAX, performed “Do You Have To Ask’ as a nod to Lee, and to prove my point, it IS a really good song.

  98. I agree with Dean, Do You Have To Ask was spectacular back then and now. I kept many of the old local records and it stood out by far above the rest. Another that stood out was Flight Patterns by Dennis and the Times. I still listen to these records a lot. Sorry that many are not around to see all the good things people are writing about them. I think they would be happy.




  100. I found this site when I was researching the old Portlock Gym dances. My hubs Buddy Benton played in a garage band during the early 60s. TSM was their hero band!

  101. They were so versatile, could cover any band and do originals, as well. I was in Lee’s class at Churchland and remember as a really nice guy with a streak of rebel in him. He “blocked” his hair in the back and would be suspended until he got it tapered. I played organ in The Chessmen in their early days and remember being in awe of Billy Stallings, who could play the keyboard part of any song “just like the record”. What group. Great times.

  102. My mother Linda Thurston dated Gary from 1965-1967. She has many fond memories of everyone in the group. She got them to perform at Cox High School’s ring dance and prom in 1965 and 1966. She’s going to try to go through her storage and find a bunch of old photos and letters. Hope to post some cool memories for her soon!

  103. I was getting ready for my (wait for it…) FIFTIETH High School Reunion (Deep Creek ’68) and just stumbled on this site. WOW does it bring back memories! I moved to Chesapeake from Germany in 1965 when my dad retired from the Army and moved back to his home town. What an amazing time that was! All those places like the AB Club were so familiar. We lived in Brentwood and the Lighthouse was a 10 minute walk. Bands like TSM were the inspiration for me to start singing in a garage band myself. And because our band didn’t have a bass player, I got nominated and 52 years later I’m still gigging with cover bands in Detroit. Thanks for setting up this site and for all the memories.

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