Wednesday, December 5, 2012


My all-time favorite of the '60's Chicagoland Groups is The New Colony Six. They were the ones that broke the ground for all of the other bands to follow ... The Buckinghams, The Shadows Of Knight, The Cryan' Shames, The Ides Of March, The American Breed ... ALL of these other local groups followed in their footsteps ... and made HUGE impressions on our Chicagoland Charts once The New Colony Six paved the way with their "breakthrough" single "I Confess" in late 1965.

How weird is it that The New Colony Six and Paul Revere and the Raiders follow each other in this countdown???  Both dressed in revolutionary garb as a gimmick, trying to get noticed amongst all of the '60's rock bands springing up hot on the heels of The British Invasion. In fact, both groups even ended up staying at the same hotel in California for a short while after they made their way west seeking fame and fortune.

The difference, of course, is that Paul Revere and the Raiders got signed by Dick Clark and ended up hosting a daily afternoon music fest called "Where The Action Is" ... and The New Colony Six came home depressed and dejected ... only to find their own success some months later when some of the band members' parents pooled their money to start a small, independent record label in order to press up copies of their latest efforts.

Soon they were all over the radio ... and Chicagoland charts. Some of these records even crossed over to become national hits. And while they may always be best remembered for their late '60's ballads "I Will Always Think About You" and "Things I'd Like To Say", the band began as a TRUE garage band in every sense of the genre. (In fact, a few years ago, The New Colony Six ... still performing gigs around the area in the summer months ... were invited out to New York City to perform at Cavestomp, an annual salute to Garage Band and Punk Music!)

How popular were they here in Chicago?  Well, to give you an idea, BOTH of today's featured tracks peaked at #2 on the WLS Silver Dollar Survey ... and these came a couple of years before Ronnie Rice joined the band and took them down the ballads road to success.

Here's their well-known (in Chicagoland anyway) appearance from that television classic "Kiddie A-Go-Go", performing "I Lie Awake". (This one sounds like they took George Gershwin out to the garage and gave him a little bit of an attitude adjustment ... listen closely and you'll hear the melody of Gershwin's infamous "Rhapsody In Blue" intertwined with The New Colony Six's very own on the verses of this song!)

We've also got a couple of their early local hits to share ... First up ... "I Confess", their chart debut, followed by "Love You So Much", both of which reached #2 locally!

Another great Chicago group, the New Colony Six, are best known for their two excellent light rock hits of the late ‘60s: ‘I Will Always Think About You’ and ‘Things I’d Like To Say’ (two personal favorites). Their earlier albums, Breakthrough and Colonization — and their singles recorded for the Centaur (Sentar) label, particularly ‘At The River’s Edge’ and ‘I Confess’ — are much more indicative of the garage rock sound. Bonus points awarded for the garage pop sound of ‘I Love You So Much’, another personal favorite.
Mike Dugo /

We did a month-long feature on The New Colony Six a few years ago in Forgotten Hits ... so I was especially pleased to hear from some of the original guys about their high-ranking "All-Time Favorite Garage Band" placement!

It was great to hear that so many people continue to remember the New Colony 6 and are willing to vote for us. If a basement band qualifies as a garage band we are still in the race. My basement was where we did our rehearsing until the “big time” and we got rehearsal space on S. Michigan Ave. I don’t think that I ever really thanked my parents for their patience and understanding and willingness to give up hearing the sound of their favorite TV shows while we were downstairs learning our craft. Here’s to you Mom and Dad.
Best Regards,
Chic James

What was the inspiration for your name?
An empty bottle of Old Colony soda, a little imagination and the fact that there were six of us.   

What was your greatest motivation to be successful?
We wanted to be successful enough that we wouldn't have to play for adults (who had all the money) and could play exclusively for kids (who were all the fun).    

How did you select your songs? Did you use any studio musicians?
We wanted to be 100% us. We wrote, arranged, recorded and performed everything ourselves. We didn't want to be anyone else or let anyone else tell us what to do or how to do it.    

What was the strangest experience you ever had?
In 1965 we packed our bags, got on a bus and headed for fame and fortune in LA. We picked out a motel, and within 30 minutes of checking in, Paul Revere and the Raiders checked into the same motel wearing the same outfits. Only difference - they had an audition to do Where the Action Is - we had zot. So we spent the summer doing battles of the bands, free parking lot concerts, and store openings. 

Interesting side note - we did some of the store openings with a young and unknown Glen Campbell. And all that free time solidified our writing and arranging skills.   

"And it's all true. Give or take a lie or two."
Walt Kemp

We can only vote for ONE Garage Band?
That would be the NEW COLONY SIX.
In as much as I have some history with this band, it would be only fitting for MY VOTE to go to them. You could ask why?
They have proven to be the absolute rock bottom beginning of the Garage Band Era. The Genesis of the term.
They started out in a Garage. But as they got better and they upgraded to a basement.
Many of those early song where created in that environment of Concrete and Wooden Studs.
I CONFESS, was forged from that environment. Then song after song seemed to be produced from just Concrete and Studs.
Actually Kent, just foolin' around. I have been watching this Garage Band Vote and am very proud to be part of it.
It is a very cool idea and gives everyone a chance to give thought of the beginning of what we now call the Garage Band Era.
Keep up the Great work! Subjects like this will always spark interest.
Craig Kemp

To those who voted for us and any of you who still occasionally spin our vinyl or turn on one of the many compilation New Colony Six CDs, I offer you this hastily crafted lyrical reworking of Elf Song (Ballad of the Wingbat Marmaduke). I will grant you that this choice is odd, especially considering the genre where you gave us kudos, but it’s what came to me this morning --- new words, for your amusement, to a very peculiar song that Pat, Gerry and I wrote in late 1965, which eventually wound up on our Colonization album. It was both a massive failure as a single release and would surely require a mighty stretch to be considered representative of garage rock. Nevertheless, perhaps it offers a peek inside one of the six minds who didn’t know enough about music at the time to preclude accidentally bringing something new to the marketplace; but I digress.

Without further ado, with inspirational credit for the original song to J.R. R. Tolkien, whose literary classics all NC6ers enjoyed reading (in the decades prior to his works becoming cinematic treasures), I offer you Ray’s Song (Ballad of the New Colony Six):

Many years ago in Chic’s basement in Big C(hicago)
A strange sextet, young men, became celebrities.
We laughed and we played,
Rock & roll, unafraid –
Garage rock’s what they called the tunes we made.
Paid! Laid … Grayed?
Everybody said,
“What’s that fur on your head?
You a girl, boy? Comb that mop, hippie!”
Freak, Geek, ‘Nique …
Gigs got bigger sized;
Semi-stars in our eyes.
Six’s Breakthrough; Beatles’ Rubber Soul.
Feat, Beat, Neat!
Adventures to us had much appeal (Ooh, Ahh, Ooh, Ahh)
The more excitement the better we’d feel! (Woo, Hah, Woo, Hah)
But once upon a time,
Amidst this stardom climb,
Some dingbat arguments spread terror far.
Oh, No! Woe..
Senseless quibbles here,
Changing folks and gears,
New direction; become balladeers!
Strangers; (Ar)rangers = Danger!
Armed with pop rock hits
Then the DJs quit
Playing NC6 – the end was near…
But what then?
Time-off; Re-unite. We still play some nights.
Google; YouTube; MySpace; FaceBook; SEARCH!

For New Colony Six compilations that are still out there – [although we have no incentive to tell you about them other than the ego boost in knowing y’all still care enough to buy a disc or download a tune … ] – see Sundazed (USA), Rhino (USA), Rev-Ola (UK), Cherry Red (UK), Mercury of Japan …
Peace …
Ray Graffia, Jr.

Thank you, Ray ... and GREAT way to scam another New Colony Six track into the mix ... because my guess is VERY few readers will be able to sing along to this one in their heads without at least first hearing the original track! (lol)

As always, thank you for your continued support of Forgotten Hits ... and congratulations to ALL the guys for their EXCELLENT showing in our countdown. See that ... the REAL fans remember ... and still care. (The New Colony Six are the first of five bands to break the 300-vote barrier in our recent All-Time Favorite Garage Bands Poll ... wtg, guys!) kk