Tuesday, December 11, 2012

More Of Your Garage Band Comments

What a great way to get up in the morning and to really waken up. I play snippets of your songs which really get me going before I go off to work. I play them in their entirety later on in the day. SURFING BIRD did make it to number one here in OKC.
Larry Neal

Have you considered the early Beach Boys catalog? While they came out of the gate with an harmonic California sound, their early instrumentation was the sound of a garage band. Listen to Carl Wilson's lead and David Marks' rhythm guitars, especially on the instrumental cuts on the Beach Boys first three albums (instrumentals were a high percentage of their early albums).
Actually, no less an authority than Fred Vail nominated The Beach Boys early on ... but unfortunately they barely earned enough votes to register. (Obviously they started there in the garage ... or The Wilson's music room ... but who didn't??? And some of their earlier album tracks may have had that garage band sound ... but that would never outweigh the path they blazed with their distinctive surf rock and their exquisite harmonies.)  kk

Speaking of The Beach Boys, Carl Wilson's former brother-in-law Billy Hinsche was also nominated for his work with Dino, Desi and Billy ... (they, too, missed the final countdown.)   

Here's a recap of a previous discussion we had on their garage band roots ...  

'60's FLASHBACK: I asked Billy Hinsche (who was nominated for his work as part of Dino, Desi and Billy) if they considered themselves to be essentially a garage band when they were first starting out. (Of course, I had to kid with him a little bit first ... as I imagine theirs must have been was one HELL of a garage ... probably not too made bands had to have their parents pull the Ferrari and the Rolls Royce out of the way in order to set up their drum kits way back when!!!) Anyway, good sport that he is, he sent me a GREAT response ... so please 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

Billy also sent me a couple of links regarding a brand new video release he has coming out just in time for Christmas ... assembled from the home movie archives of both the Billy Hinsche and Carl Wilson families, here is a ton of never-before-seen footage of live in the '60's ... check out the trailer here:

and full information here: http://www.billyhinsche.com/home-movies.html

Here's their most-famous hit ... "I'm A Fool" ... which DEFINITELY has that "garage band feel", courtesy of the familiar "Louie Louie" / "Hang On Sloopy" opening guitar riff!  (kk)

When Davie Allan saw that he and The Arrows made the list, he was direct and to the point ... 
Davie Allan

(No wasted words there!  lol)  Thanks, Davie!   (kk)  

Kent ...

I've been following the Garage Band series, and it's great! I love all of the bands listed. I wanted to share a Garage Band with everyone here that no one here has heard of, except for Mike Dugo maybe. My 1965 band,"The Legions", who were truly a Garage Band ... because we never made it out of the garage! Well, we did play some WIBG and WFIL dances and a few School hops, but success never found us. We covered almost every band listed in the Garage Band series,and we did record one record called "She's Gone" (not the Hall & Oates hit) with our parents' money. It was written by me and our Guitarist Jeff Chadrow. "The Legions" were in hot competition with another local Garage Band called "Thuh Squamps" ... featuring Dr. Bob Rush! (Yep, "Thuh", not "The" ... it was always good to be different in those days!) Anyway, I've attached an MP3 of our single along with a photo. I'm the one sitting on the bottom step. The photo was taken in 1966 and I'm wearing my Nesmith Woolhat!
It's all good, because it gave me an education I could never have gotten in school, and it prepared me for what was to come for me later in The Rip Chords.
Mitch Schecter / The Rip Chords  

VERY Cool, Mitch! Mike Dugo knows garage bands better than anybody including a whole bunch that pooled their own money to lay down tracks and press their own records. Readers who enjoyed our series should check out Mike's website as well ... www.60sgaragebands.com (kk)


Even Mike Dugo (of 60sGarageBands.com) dug our series ... and he helped write all of the bios!!!  (kk)   

I am definitely enjoying the series, Kent. I hope you're getting some good feedback as well. I know, of course, the groups that are in the countdown, but you never did give me the final tally so I'm also looking forward to seeing the final placements right along with everybody else. I am really enjoying your comments on each group as well. The radio program sounds cool. It will be a great tie-in.

I had no idea Mike Rabon wrote a book about The Five Americans. I just ordered it!
Mike Dugo
Mike and I have decided to expand the list to include The Top 50 Vote Getters ... with new bios on some of these additionsLook for it to show up soon on the other Forgotten Hits website ... www.forgottenhits.com!
As for my comments, just to keep things interesting, I wrote all of MY comments before reading any of yours ... I was curious to see where we'd cross paths and on a number of occasions we both chose to highlight certain career milestones for the artists ... which I thought was kinda cool (in a "great minds think alike" kind of way.)
More Garage Band Comments tomorrow ... stay tuned!