Saturday, December 8, 2012

Your All-Time Favorite Garage Band!!! #1

There was absolutely NO doubt who Your All-Time Favorite Garage Band was ... The Shadows of Knight were the ONLY group to surpass 400 votes (they ended up with 414 in all) and, other than about a two-week head start by The Kingsmen, they pretty much led the polls the rest of the way, beating their closest competition by a full 10%.

Another reigning Chicago group, The Shadows of Knight are best known, of course, for their version of "Gloria", which topped the charts here in 1966 (and also made a Top Ten showing nationally, reaching #6 in Record World that spring.) It has all but eclipsed the Van Morrison original, recorded by his group Them (who could only muster a "Runners Up" showing in our poll.)

Often referred to as the "America's Version of The Rolling Stones", The Shadows of Knight had three more national chart hits for the Dunwich label ("Oh Yeah" reached #39, "Bad Little Woman" hit #88 and "I'm Gonna Make You Mine" spent one week at #90, all in 1966). Then they disappeared for a couple of years before landing as the "house band" at Buddah Records, recording the background tracks for any number of the popular bubblegum groups at the time. (With their sound deeply rooted in early Chicago Blues, this had to be a daily dose of irony for the band!)

They bounced back with a bubblegum hit of their own called "Shake" in 1968, which hit #39 in Cash Box and went to #12 here in Chicago.

Lead singer Jimy Sohns has never really stopped performing ... we recently went to his 66th Birthday Party / Concert and can tell you that Jimy still looks and sounds great. (And he still puts on one hell of a show ... although he confessed that it's a little bit harder to get out of bed the next day now than it was 35 years ago!!!)

He also had a few words to say to our Forgotten Hits Readers who voted him into the top spot:   

A few years ago ... I don't know, 2007 or 2008 ... Rolling Stone Magazine named us as the Greatest Garage Band Ever ... of course that was thanks to my good friend Little Steven ... I've known him forever ... but we still came out on top and that's all that mattered ... to be recognized for your work all those years later. 

You know when we started out there weren't a lot of clubs here in Chicago ... we were the house band at The Cellar in Arlington Heights and we would sometimes play there for six months at a time. Little Jimmy Peterik told me that he used to catch the train to come up there to see us. Then little by little, more clubs began to open up and more bands came around to become the "house band" at these different clubs ... The Cryan' Shames had their place and The Buckinghams had their place ... and more and more clubs started to open up where the kids could come out and listen to music being played live. But we played there at The Cellar for about six months straight. In fact, once we got big enough to go out on the road ... and by "out on the road" I mean like Rockford ... or Valparaiso, Indiana ... The Cellar actually had to shut down for a while until they could find some other bands to fill in while we were gone. Once we finally moved out of there, the band that took over for us ... that took our spot ... was Jimy Rogers and the Mauds. God bless Jimy ... one of the greatest voices in Chicago rock right up until the day he died ... and nobody ever knew ... because he never said a word.  

People talk about "Gloria" being the big break-through hit in 1966 ... and there've been stories going around for years about how WLS and Clark Weber got us to make that record ... and I love Clark, he's a great guy ... but people remember things differently. All I know is we were playing "Gloria" for a year before the record came out so nobody had to ask us to go out and learn that song in order to put a record out. We actually learned that song in a gas station up in Arlington Heights ... now if that's not a garage band, I don't know what it is ... and then we went out and played it that same night at The Cellar. Don't get me wrong ... the radio support here in Chicago was great and it became a #1 Hit here.   

We picked up on "Gloria" very early on ... and that was actually the B-Side of a Them record. The A-Side was Them's version of "Baby, Please Don't Go" ... and "Gloria" was on the B-Side ... and, as such, they let a lot of things go on that record because it was just a B-Side. There are a lot of little mistakes in that ... and here's a little bit of trivia for you ... you know who plays that guitar solo there in the middle on Them's version of "Gloria"? That's Jimmy Page! He sat in with a lot of bands back then in the studio and played on records by The Kinks, Them, "Hurdy Gurdy Man" by Donovan ... a whole bunch of 'em. He was doing his studio thing ... and then, later on, a few years later, The Shadows started doing some studio gigs, too, when we went over to Buddah Records. The "Shake"-era Shadows Of Knight ... there were usually at least two or maybe three of us on those records ... we were on "Yummy Yummy Yummy" and "Chewy Chewy" and "Down At Lulu's" and a whole bunch of those records that were very popular at the time with this new style of music. 

Critics and journalists have always referred to us as "America's Rolling Stones", which was right on the money ... that's what we were at the time ... but we never saw any royalty money from those records we recorded ... nobody did back then. At least when we went over to Buddah Records, we KNEW we weren't going to get any royalty money, playing as the "house band" ... but we thought we were going to get rich and famous with a hit the size of "Gloria" ... and that just never happened. 

People always want to ask me about the original band ... and the original band was great ... don't get me wrong, we were a great band and that's the band that made the records ... but we were only together for about three years! I've been doing this now for 46, 47 years. Those other guys didn't really stick with it but I've done SO many things over the past 46 years ... played with so many great musicians and I've kept in touch with many of them. Some of them have moved on or gotten into other things, but we're still rockin' ... I've got gigs lined up all the time and I still tear it up on stage ... it just takes me a little bit longer to get going the next day, that's all! 

But I'm glad the fans still love and appreciate the music of The Shadows Of Knight, as indicated by your poll. You told me that we were ahead by a landslide and it's great to hear that ... that people still know and love this music. 

Seriously, come out and see us some time and tell me what you think.  
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-- Jimy Sohns 

The first Chicago group to dent the national charts, the Shadows Of Knight had a Top 10 hit with their cover of Van Morrison’s ‘Gloria’. While the debate will probably never end, it’s my opinion that their version out snarls Them’s original and is still the definitive take on the oft-covered song (like ‘Hey Joe’, every garage band had to perform it). For an example of another amazing garage rock song — one of the greatest ever recorded — look no further than the Shadows’ ‘I’m Gonna Make You Mine’.
Mike Dugo /

Thanks again to everyone who voted ... and patiently waited for us to FINALLY get these results up on the website. (The Great Computer Crash of 2012 nearly wiped this one out forever ... but months of research finally enabled us to share this list with you ... and what a list it is!!!)  

Join us tomorrow for a few more of your garage band comments. (kk)

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