Thursday, May 20, 2010

More Local Hits From The Wisconsin Scene

Since we've been focusing on Milwaukee Local Talent this week, this seemed like a good time to run a recent email I received from WRCO Disc Jockey Phil Nee!

Hi Kent!
I think we all are having a little Spring fever these days. I have included a couple of songs from our hometown heroes file. A song called Spring Fever from Vilas Craig and the Kollege Kings. They were from Richland Center, Wisconsin, and they recorded the song in Minneapolis in the Spring of 1959. It was around the same time that Bobby Vee was recording his record Suzie Baby. Spring Fever is a hard rocker for its era. It has been popular with record collectors over the years.

The second song, Brown Eyes, was recorded in Sauk City, Wisconsin and released on Cuca records. It was the group's biggest record in terms of radio play. They were then known as Vilas Craig and the ViCounts. It has been one of the most requested songs on my program over the years. There are many people that remember this record in Madison and Southwest Wisconsin, and Northern Iowa.

Phil Nee

Since once again I wasn't familiar with these guys, I asked our Milwaukee FH Investigative Team of Ken Freck and Gary Myers what they could tell me about Vilas Craig and his various bands ... I didn't get a whole lot back but here's a little more insight:

They were out of Northern Wisconsin ... did a few nice Rockers and a lot of Teen Rock / Teener stuff. Some nice records. I don’t have any personal knowledge of them. Gary Myers book would be the best source for info on them that I know.
Ken Freck

Musical Memories Record Store

Vilas Craig is covered in "Do You Hear That Beat". I didn't try to differentiate between the Kollege Kings and the ViCounts. Craig had numerous musicians go through his bands (I think I have most of them listed) and I don't know that it would have been worthwhile to try to figure out which guys played under which band names.
He had quite a few releases and I especially like "Little Miss Brown Eyes", which I first heard when I did my first road gig in Madison (1/62) and we did a demo session for the same producer.
I list 13 releases for him from '59 - '65, several of which were on his own label, a few on Cuca. He said his first one was cut at Kay Bank (MN) on the same day that Bobby Vee was cutting "Suzie Baby". I list 17 musicians in his bands from that period and he also used Milwaukee's Royal Lancers on one session. I have about 2-1/2 pages on him in the book.
Quite honestly, he was not a big help in my research and it's my understanding that he was very difficult to work with. In fact, one former band member, upon learning that Craig was working as a single in the 90's, said, "That's good - that way he can get along with himself."
Gary Myers
Author, "Do You Hear That Beat"

Lol ... we've all known guys like that ... Davy Jones recently remarked that Peter Tork, despite now working alone as a solo act, was STILL having "creative differences"!!! (lol) Thanks, Gary!