The Val Richards V

Val Richards Five: Vernon Colon, Russell Colon, Val Richards, Randall Yuen and Colin Ogawa
From the left: Vernon Colon (bass), Russell Colon (rhythm guitar), Val Richards, Randall Yuen (drummer) and Colin Ogawa (lead guitar)

Val Richards V Scene 45 Dancing With My GirlThe Val Richards V have three songs on the Live at the Funny Farm lp, one of the few garage releases from Hawaii. The lp wasn’t actually recorded live, however, but in a studio with crowd noises added later, common practice for the time.

Several of the tracks from the lp were released on 45. In the case of “Dancing With My Girl”, the 45 has the original studio version without the crowd noise, and it sounds much better than the lp cut. The label on the flip, “My Oh My!” states ‘Live at the Funny Farm’, though it’s not on the lp.

These two songs show the Val Richards V to be a professional band with fine lead guitar, harmony vocals and a good rhythm section. Both of these songs were written by Russell Colon. Their other two cuts on the lp are covers, “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” and “I’ve Got My Mojo Workin'”.

I recently spoke to Jeff Gusman, one of three drummers for the group:

Here we were a bunch of high school kids getting paid to do what we liked to do the best. We were all from the projects which made it that much more awesome.

There was a club in Waikiki right where Kuhio and Kalakaua is; if my memory serves me right it was the old Lau Yee Chai restaurant, called the Happening where we were like the house band. It was awesome playing there. We would sometimes alternate with the Casuals with Steven Lucas.

Part of the band was from the Sonics who played at the Peppermint Mist which was by Channel 2 down by Ala Moana. Randall Yuen was the original drummer when they first started. I later replaced Randall when he went into the service.

Val Richards V Scene 45 My Oh My!This [the photo] was the lineup that played at the Peppermint Mist under the name the Sonics, pre-Val Richards 5. If I remember correctly, the only persons in the pic that were on the cuts were Randall Yuen and Russell Colon. Vernon and Colin were not on any of the recordings. Randall was on if I remember correctly on only one of the cuts. The lead guitar was Mike Calub or something like that and the bass was Andy (forgot his last name). I did not cut the record, the drummer on it was Donald Marianthal; don’t know if the spelling is correct.

I remember one time when we opened for Paul Revere & The Raiders at the HIC. You have to remember in those days there was no monitors. We had to use their instruments and I was on such a high pedestal I could hardly hear the guys cos there were like 10,000 people there. After the set we went down to the Happening where we tore the place up. Man we were tight that night. I guess I was with the band for about a year. And yes, the live set was just like the record all top 40 soul along with some of the songs Russell Colon wrote.

We were managed by Harvey Ragsdale who was based out of the old KPOI building on the Ala Wai Canal. If fact we used to rehearse in the building.

Q. Are there any unreleased or live recordings, or photos of the band?

Unfortunately, I had the misfortune to run into an irate girlfriend who destroyed all reel-to-reel tapes & pics; some cuts were from Da Swamp (now McDonalds in Waikiki). Dick Jensen used to be house band there back in da day.

Don’t know where the rest of the guys are but, I occasionally run into Val Richards.

13 thoughts on “The Val Richards V”

  1. Superb collection of great garage and amazing strangeness, from
    youg tyrants a val rich, great thanks.

  2. The Val Richards V was one of the top bands in Honolulu back in the mid 60’s. I still have my copy of the “Live at the Funny Farm” album. As mentioned, Steve Lucas and the Casuals of Waikiki are on it along with the Spirits, The Undertakers, and a number of other bands. There is a Youtube of The Casuals 45 record version of “Hang On Sloopy”. I have the same copy and the flip side is even better featuring “Come Sunday” if I remember correctly. Steve Lucas went on to play with Don Ho, then with Martin Denny of “Quiet Village” fame who performed a variety of songs with the exotic sounds of the vibraphone, jungle and birds. Steve performs every Friday evening up in Wahiawa at Dot’s Restaurant along with a bunch of old timers. They do a lively session of old jazz standards, hawaiian, etc. Gabe Baltazar, the famous saxophonist who used to play with Stan Kenton drops in fairly often. In fact, I saw John Rapoza there last friday night. John used to play in bands at the Funny Farm also and became the musical director for Dick Jensen later on. Jensen used to go by his stage name “Lance Curtis” early on. The sessions at Dot’s is fairly interesting since its very common for audience members to walk up and perform spontaneously or with a little urging by the band members. Occasional hula dancing occurs most evenings much to the delight of the audience.
    I was in the band “The Children of Stone” from 1965 to 1967. Other bands from our era were the “Five Lads” from Kailua,the Sykicks, The Mop Topps, The Nightshades,The Young Ones, Love Special Delivery, Luke’s Pineapple Store and a host of others. I recall playing at the high schools, the teen centers, the Chinese-American Club on Kapiolani Ave, at street dances on Diamond Head’s Ft. Ruger, and the Hoot Club up in Kailua.

    1. i remember them all well .. especially Vic Burke in the Nightshades .. i was in a band called Piper’s Orange Tree in Kailua ..

  3. Great to hear the old songs. You guys brought a lot of joy into the hearts of many people with your music. I was just one of them. I also remember those times, in the locker room at McKinley High School after track practice, when Val would deliver a solo, with his cat like moves and sawdust in his hair from the high jump pit. Thanks for the memories.

  4. I attended McKinley High School and grad from there in ’66. Val and some of the guys were my classmates, and I remember SO well the Peppermint Mist and the Funny Farm and all the bands of that era…I don’t think I have enjoyed music as much ever since. I was the girlfriend of one of the Spirits (Wally Suenaga, the bass player) during this time. I remember the days well and enjoy reminiscing about them with my sister, Terry, who also had a grand time back then )

    1. Thank you for sharing the wonderdul memories. My dad is Dicky who was the drummer for The Spirits. Growing up my dad talked alot about the good old days and I loved when Uncle Wally, Uncle Bobby and Uncle William would come over to the house. It was always fun listening to them reminisce about their younger days playing music.

  5. I was talking to my friend from McKinley, Barbara Baker and we were reminiscing about the Funny Farm and I googled this site. Phil Sheridan was a pretty decent football player at the time with John Coen…what ever happened to him? Don’t have any music from that time. Still keep in touch with some of the drama group from Mr. Nakamoto’s classes like Yvonne Whitten, Trudie Chang, Jazz Lee, Les Villanueva, Christy Craig, Sharon Shiroma…those were the days.

  6. I lived in Waikiki in 1967. Worked at Joe’s of Waikiki and hung out at DeSwamp. We were personal friends with Dick Jensen’s band and The Kinfolk (later named DaKine) who played mostly Motown. Some of the band were Cal Valentine, Bobby Reed-Bass (lives in Oakland CA now), Johnny Keys vocal. Dick and his band moved to L.A. later and played at the Discoteque in Hollywood. I believe Dick moved back to Hawaii and has passed on. What great music and memories.

    1. Kevin,
      You mentioned rock recordings from this period (60’s) in Honolulu. I have some which I’ve converted from analog to digital. I also have a new cd of groups/songs from that time frame that recently became available. If interested in a copy, drop me line and I’ll send you one.
      Scotty R.

  7. You guys should contact Mike Stax a UglyThings magazine because he would love to run features on Hawaiian 1960’s bands; paricularly the mid-1960.s You can google them ugly-things.com

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