Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Garage Bands

Now here's an interesting statistic ...  

Just as our vote tally hit 2222, FOUR groups passed the 100 votes mark!  (By the way, we're now up well over 2500 votes ... so keep 'em comin'!!!)    

The Shadows Of Knight, ? and the Mysterians, The Standells and The Kingsmen have pulled ahead of the rest of the pack ... and now appear to be the front-runners in our little Favorite Garage Bands Poll.  (They're certainly the ones to beat at this stage of the game ... but who else will finish in The Top 20???)  

That's up to you!  Cast your votes now ... right around May 15th, we'll publish a list of the leaders ... and then ask you to vote again for your favorites.  (At this point, any band with less than 20 votes doesn't have much of a chance of making the finals ... so let's just pare things down and have you vote for your favorites amongst the best of the best!)  

Meanwhile, here are a few more recent comments that we've received: 

I would nominate the Rivieras over and over again as the ultimate Number One Garage Band. They are best known for "California Sun", but they did an awesome version of "Moonlight Serenade" and "Stay in My Heart" that knocked my socks off.
Different Rivieras ... the "California Sun" band were from Indiana and also scored minor hits with "Little Donna", "Let's Have A Party" and "Rockin' Robin", all of which got quite a bit of airplay here in Chicago.  The Rivieras who scored with hits like "Moonlight Serenade" and "Count Every Star" were from New Jersey and had more of a doo-wop sound.  But I WILL cast your votes for our Indiana guys!  (kk)

Hey Kent,
I know that this is no real surprise, but I cast my vote for Chicago's own New Colony Six as my all-time favorite garage band.  For a group of six high school friends who never initially intended to start a band, these guys formed an impromptu group called The Patsmen out of necessity for their high school school talent show in 1964.  Subsequently, their popularity grew, and after changing their name to The New Colony Six, they became the very first Chicago area group to land a hit single on the local charts with their late-1965 single, "I Confess".  While it's true that The New Colony Six changed musical gears in 1968, it is also a fact that The New Colony Six continued to place singles on the local and national Charts longer than any of their fellow area rival bands during their initial 10-year  career.  The New Colony Six continues to perform today, performing faithful renditions of all of their garage band classics such as "I Confess", "I Lie Awake", "At The Rivers Edge", and "Cadillac", to name a few.  And of course, their 1966 debut album, "Breakthrough" stands as one of the best examples of raw, high-octane 60's garage band music.
For my 2nd ALL-TIME favorite garage band vote, it would go to the Washington, D.C area group, The Chartbusters ... their 1964 hit, "She's The One", along with the follow-up single, "Why (Doncha Be My Girl)" on the small Mutual label, stand as two of the best garage band 45's ever recorded.  The Chartbusters recorded a total of eight delicious garage singles on the Mutual, Crusader, and Bell labels (I have all of them), as well as recording several Beatles-type garage band albums under the name, "The Manchesters" in the early 60's.
After The Chartbusters broke up in the late-60's, group lead vocalist / guitarist Vernon Sandusky went on to become Roy Clark's sideman for over 20 years.  I've corresponded with Vernon numerous times recently, and he's a great, yet incredibly humble guy ... hardly the type of person that you would envision to have been in one of the best garage bands of the 1960's.  If you are familiar with the song, "She's The One" By The Chartbusters, then do yourself a favor, and check out some of their other recordings ... several are on YouTube.
Jerry Schollenberger
Great choice, Jerry ... I can't believe nobody had nominated The Chartbusters up to this point.  "She's The One" was written off at first as one of those Beatles sound-alike knock-offs that came out once The Fabs finally hit on our shores ... but listen to it now and it's as punk / garage-sounding as anything else on our list.  GREAT track!  (Betcha they'll get a few more votes after we feature it here today!)  kk

My favorite garage band is Dino, Desi and Billy.  Don't laugh -- they just had a really, really nice garage to rehearse in!
LOL ... sorry ... can't help it ... but you are not alone in your choice ... Dino, Desi and Billy have already earned eleven other votes in our Favorite Garage Band Poll.  (And I'll bet it WAS a pretty awesome garage there in Beverly Hills!  lol) 
Just listen to the opening riff on their biggest hit "I'm A Fool" and you'll instantly hear those famous three chords that made up so many other great garage band classics like "Louie Louie" and "Hang On Sloopy" (as well as probably a hundred other songs from this era!)  Good choice!

I passed your note along to Billy Hinsche to see what HE thought ... were Dino, Desi and Billy essentially a garage band starting out???  And I got a GREAT response ... read on!  (kk)   

My best friend Dino Martin and I began singing songs as a duo at the age of 13 in 1964, playing non-amplified nylon-stringed acoustic guitars and covering the songs of Chad & Jeremy, Peter & Gordon, The Everly Brothers and some of the simpler Beatles' tunes.  At some point we decided it would sound even better and look even cooler if we played electric guitars and had a drummer.  We knew that our younger school mate, Desi Arnaz, Jr., was already an accomplished drummer and he seemed like the perfect choice.  He accepted our invitation without hesitation one day on our lunch break on the playground of our grammar school, Good Shepherd aka Beverly Hills Catholic School. 
The next step was for us to find a place to rehearse.  Up until that point, Dino and I had just practiced at the Martin's home and it was fairly easy for us to pack up our guitars and carry them wherever we needed to go; but Desi's drums weren't quite as mobile so we decided the best place for us to get together was where his drums were already set up and ready to play - at his mother's house.  His mother being Lucille Ball.  We weren't old enough to drive, so my dad (Otto Hinsche) would usually be the one to drive Dino and I over to Desi's and then either pick us up later or have Frank Gorey (Lucy's driver and all-around right hand man) drive us both home at the end of our rehearsal. 
Lucy lived at the corner of Roxbury and Lexington with her second husband, comedian Gary Morton, in a home purchased for her by former husband, Desi Arnaz.  The two-story home (which no longer exists in its original form) had a lovely front lawn, parallel hedges leading to the front door, and a driveway along the North side of the property next to Jack Benny's home.  Beyond the black, cast iron gates of the driveway was a three-car garage on the right where you might see the family station wagon or Lucy's powder blue Rolls Royce. 
At the very end of the driveway and attached to a guest house was another garage that had been converted into a room for Desi Jr. and his older sister, Lucie, to stage plays and performances; at the back of the room was a short riser with a curtain, and tiny dressing rooms on either side.  This room would later transform again and would include a small billiard table in the middle of the room.  On center stage were Desi's Pearl Gray Gretsch drums and Ziljan cymbals (Desi told me he still has them and thinks they're the best cymbals made) and that's where Dino and I set up our small amps - Dino hadn't even started to play bass yet and we were both playing our new electric guitars and strumming in unison, so you can imagine how it sounded! 
One day, we were surprised and delighted to see Chad & Jeremy standing in front of us at the entrance of the "garage" watching our rehearsal - they were going to appear on both Lucy's and Dean Martin's television shows and had dropped by to check us out.  What a thrill meeting a couple of our heroes from The British Invasion - I'll never forget it and we remain friends to this day. 
It wasn't long before we outgrew Lucy's place, eventually setting up shop at Dean's home though not in a garage; it was a room that was a combination of a large den, pocket pool table room and projection room all rolled into one.  Dino and I now had new Super Beatle Vox amps and were playing Hofner bass and 12-string electric Rickenbacker guitars respectively, and Desi would simply leave his drum kit on the small riser on the "stage" underneath where the movie screen would lower and raise from the ceiling.  It is here that we honed our skills every day after school  and where Jeanne Martin (Dean's wife) would hear us practicing and thought enough of us to call family friend Frank Sinatra to give us an audition for his label, Reprise. 
Well, we passed the audition, were signed to Reprise, officially became known as Dino, Desi & Billy, recorded four albums with the label and, as they say, 'the rest is history' - and it all started out in a converted garage."
-- Billy Hinsche
(Left to right): Billy Hinsche, Desi Arnaz, Jr., Dino Martin
Caption:  Dino, Desi & Billy use Vox Amplifiers
Photo: Billy Hinsche Archives / used with permission

If you think 'you've been falling a bit behind', ditto that for me, Kent! I've not submitted my 'garage band' nominees -- and, over the years -- I've been honored to work with a number of them.
Most of these bands were at their peak of popularity in the years 1962 to 1972, but a few managed to continued on. I booked all of these acts either as a concert producer, producer for Teen-Age Fair, Inc., and / or as opening acts during my two tenures with The Beach Boys.
My first -- and all-time favorite -- 'garage band' is, in fact, the boys from Hawthorne, California -- who got their start in the Wilson family music room -- which was literally a converted garage -- at 3701 West 119th Street. Little did they know that from those humble early beginnings gathered around the family organ in the Wilson home, they would go on to become "America's Band," The Beach Boys.
And certainly no one would have imagined that The Beach Boys would be celebrating their 50th Anniversary Celebration with a world tour this year.
Other 'garage bands' I had the honor of booking / promoting:
Paul Revere and The Raiders and The Kingsmen -- both booked by the legendary manager / agent / promoter, Pat Mason, out of Seaside, OR
Sam The Sham and The Pharaohs (note: Sam Zamudio was involved in a number of bands going back to elementary, high school and college. One included Trini Lopez).
The Count Five, The Mojo Men, The Wailers, The Sir Douglas Quintet, Tommy James and The Shondells, The Merced Blue-Notes, The Beau Brummels, The Troggs, The Missing Links, The Challengers and The Lively Ones.
Those were fun (fun, fun) days ... in some cases, we would load all the band gear into the back of my folk's 1954 Chevy wagon. In other cases, the band would have their station wagon, small delivery type van, or even a couple of sedans. Oh, there were no 'roadies' in the early years and we'd often set the gear up ourselves. Tickets ranged from $1.75 to $2.50 -- and, with no Ticketmaster to rip off the fans, venues and the bands, it was a 'win-win' for everyone.
I've not had an opportunity to see The Beach Boys -- and Nashville is not currently included on their tour schedule -- but I will definitely see them at some point. I've read some glowing reviews -- and a number of Beach Boys fans have e-mailed or called me. The approximately 43 song set list has been well received and I'm glad they have included a few of the more obscure songs -- along with the obvious major hits. I'm a bit disappointed that thus far, I have not seen "Add Some Music To The Day" in any of the reviews. The song is as timely today as when it was released as a single in 1970 -- the first single from the often overlooked, but outstanding album, "Sunflower."
The stage band is a combination of members of Mike's touring Beach Boys and Brian's band, featuring The Wondermints and musical leader Jeffrey Foskett, who has had some well deserved praise from reviewers and attendees alike. Among other highlights has the inclusion of short video clips of Dennis performing "Forever" and younger brother Carl, performing his magical "God Only Knows." Both were backed up by 'live' vocals featuring the other members. A nice touch.
In fact, my only regret is that Dennis Wilson's son, Carl, and Carl's son, Justyn, were not invited to fill in on drums and guitar, respectively, as they are both excellent musicians -- having performed as "In Bloom" for the past twelve or more years.
Here's to a great summer!
Fred Vail
Treasure Isle Recorders, Inc.
Music City, USA
While I doubt that many will jump to add The Beach Boys to their Garage Band Favorites list (they just excel in so many other areas!), it is true that they, too, began from very humble beginnings, rehearsing in the Wilson home for a good long while before they became national celebrities.
I have to share with you, too, a little tidbit from my daughter's wedding.  She got married last weekend and had set aside one special song as her song to dance with Dad ... imagine my surprise when in the middle of what can only be described as a current dance mix, the deejay started playing "God Only Knows" and my daughter told me how she had personally picked this one as the song that we were going to dance to.  Gotta love it!
We don't have Beach Boys tickets this year for the big reunion show ... but SHE and her new husband do!!!  (lol)  kk   

While scanning real quickly Monday's Comments, you made mention that you didn't remember the 1966 record by DeeJay and the Runaways, PETER RABBIT. Well, here in OKC, it was a SMASH hit. It did make it into the top 10 here locally on our weekly top 40 radio station, peaking at number 9. Or as the saying goes, "barely by the HARE of my chinny chin chin"

Hey kk
Love all the comments on the Garage Bands from the 60’s.  It’s obvious that much of the garage  sound was taken out of the more successful bands once they signed a contract with a major studio.  It’s difficult to select one garage band as my fav but it’s just as hard to come up with a #1 garage song of all time as well.
I can’t think of any Chicago band that has been overlooked but I do know of certain songs that were essential if you were a garage band starting out in the mid 60’s. Most have been covered but two songs that come to mind that were must for performing at gigs were “Jolly Green Giant” and  “Little Latin Lupe Lu”.  
A classmate of mine, Dave Murphy worked as a DJ for KIIS in LA.  Murph, a self proclaimed geek of the 60’s, told me about essential guitar licks for girls passing by his house back in the day.  He said that it was time to turn up the volume on the old amp and hit some “Gloria” or "Dirty Water” chords to impress the girls as they passed by. 
Dave said the emphasis goes on “passed by” ... because they never stopped.

LOL ... guess Dave didn't have the "moves like Jagger" back then, eh???  Funny.  ANY musician who tells you he didn't get into the business to meet girls and become rich and famous is a flat out liar!  (lol)  I hope Dave is on our Forgotten Hits List ... sounds like he could share all kinds of fun stories from back in the day! (kk)

A few more favorites ...

The Standells' "Dirty Water" has been one of my favorites ever since the very first time I heard it ... and, for some reason, this song always reminds me of "Tobacco Road" by The Nashville Teens, who, believe it or not, only have FOUR votes so far in our Garage Band Survey!

One more ... ever since our last Garage Band piece last week, I've had "Farmer John" by The Premiers playing in my head ... so today I'm going to stick it in yours, too!  (kk)