We have covered the rock group Coven a few times before in Forgotten Hits ... but always as more of a "One Hit Wonder" salute than anything deeper in the way of a profile of the band. Their hit, "One Tin Soldier," title song to the cult film classic "Billy Jack," went all the way to #1 here in Chicago in early 1974 ... rather amazing in that this was the re-release of the song due to the re-release of the film. It never charted at all here the first time around when it was released in September of 1971 and had its big national run, peaking at #18 in Cash Box and #26 in Billboard. (The re-release charted at #73 in both publications in '74 ... yet THAT'S the one that caught fire here in Chicago, from where the group Coven hailed.)
You'll find '60's FLASHBACKS to a couple of those posts below ... but what started THIS new post was the email I received below from FH Reader Sam Boyd (aka Burton Cummings' road manager) about a week ago. It seems there's a whole 'nother side to Coven that I wasn't even aware of ... and it makes for a pretty interesting story in light of ANOTHER band who became world-wide heavy metal demigods due to their own unique (???) approach to rock music.
Read on ...
As you know, I have been doing other things during the pandemic, but a friend of mine sent me this interesting story and it takes place in Chicago, so I thought you might find it interesting, although I know it’s not my or your cup of tea musically … but still interesting to learn.
Hope you and yours are well.
Subject: Coven - Witchcraft Destroys Minds & Reaps Souls - The Real Influencers of Black Sabbath & Heavy Metal
Black Sabbath is one of my favourite bands ... but I just discovered that their true influence was not a Boris Karloff movie titled Black Sabbath, but rather a little known band out of Chicago named Coven.
Their debut album, Coven - Witchcraft Destroys Minds & Reaps Souls, was released in 1969 whereas Sabbath's debut came out in 1970.
And guess what …
They had a bass player in it named Oz Osbourn …
And get this …
The first track on side one of their album is named Black Sabbath (No Shit!)
Also on the inside gateway picture is members using the devil’s horns hands sign.
I included the album pictures front, back and center.
Here are some links for proof of this amazing but little known band ...
link of Martha Quinn of MTV, 1986, surprising Tony Iommi with the Coven album:
a link to lead singer (Jinx Dawson) on her career 50 years with Coven:
here is youtbe link to Coven's full debut album:
Don’t get me wrong …
Do I still love Black Sabbath???
Of course I do!
But let's give credit where credit is due!
Wow, this is a VERY interesting take on perhaps the TRUE origins of Black Sabbath … and no, I had not heard ANY of this before.
Hard to believe that a virtually unknown band out of Chicago could have had any influence on a new band forming in Great Britain, but the drawing card here seems to be the uniqueness of the mutual subject matter and interest in the occult … if only as a gimmick to get one’s band noticed.
Oddly enough, that niche didn’t do much for Coven … despite their marketing scheme, it was a hit single that allowed them to leave THEIR mark on the musical landscape … not at all what they were shooting for (or, apparently, were all about musically.)
Still, this makes for some VERY interesting reading .. and that Martha Quinn interview (ambush?) with Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath doesn’t make for a very convincing or believable case when it comes to the band’s early roots. (Coincidence? Perhaps … but the fact that the lead track off Coven’s album just happens to be CALLED “Black Sabbath” REALLY makes one wonder!!!) kk
Here are a couple of earlier pieces that we did on the band, all in conjunction with their #1 Local Hit, “One Tin Soldier” from 1974.
This first one comes from 2010 ...
Does anyone know the back story to Coven's One Tin Soldier?
I have two different copies of the song, one on
Warner Brothers, the other one is on MGM. There are only slight differences
between the two recordings. The Warner Brothers version was used in the film
Thanks for your help
We've covered this track a couple of times before in Forgotten Hits. Coven's "One Tin Solider" was a BIG #1 Hit here in Chicago back in 1974 ... which was actually the SECOND time around for this track on Warner Brothers Records. (Since Coven hailed from right here in Chicago, this may have had a little bit to do with their success here ... but we still hear this song fairly often in Chi-Town.)
Here's the scoop:
The song "One Tin Soldier" was first recorded by a group called The Original Caste in 1969. Their version climbed to #34 in Billboard Magazine and went to #36 here in Chicago. Despite the group's misleading name, this is NOT the group that recorded the song for the movie "Billy Jack."
Instead, Tom Laughlin (the genius behind the film "Billy Jack" ... and also the actor who portrayed him) hand-picked Coven to record a NEW version of this tune to be used in the movie and, when the film was first released in 1971, it was the Coven version on Warner Brothers Records that quickly began climbing the charts. (It ultimately peaked at #18 in Cash Box Magazine and #26 in Billboard. Surprisingly, despite the fact that Coven came from Chicago, it didn’t chart here in 1971.)
Flash forward a couple of years and "Billy Jack" was back out in theatrical release, now a cult favorite and packing them in at the theaters ... including yours truly ... I probably saw this movie twenty times back in the day!!! (It was also a popular "Midnight Movie" feature at a lot of the cool, old-time theaters downtown.)
However, by now Coven had left Warner Brothers and were signed to MGM Records. Thinking that this was a quick way to cash in on a "sure thing," MGM had the band re-record "One Tin Solider" for their label and then rush-released it to take advantage of this newfound interest. When THAT version began climbing the charts, Warner Brothers quickly released the ORIGINAL Coven movie version again ... and THIS is the one that ultimately topped the charts here in Chi-Town. (Incredibly, the re-release didn't fare as well on the national charts, petering out at #73. The MGM recording topped out at #68.)
That means that in all, the song "One Tin Soldier" hit the pop charts an incredible FOUR times between 1969 and 1974!
BTW: That great lead vocal is handled by Jinx Dawson, who caused quite a stir when she posed naked on the inside album cover spread in what looked like some sort of satanic witchcraft / Devil worship ceremony. (kk)
DIDJAKNOW? - 1:
The Warner Brothers / Soundtrack version features Coven Lead Vocalist
Jinx Dawson, but she's backed by an orchestra and studio band of musicians and not her actual band. Regardless, she insisted that the record pressing show
the name of her band, Coven, on the label, and NOT release the song as a solo
single under her name. Warner Brothers obliged.
When MGM got the idea to re-record the song and cash in on the film’s new popularity, the entire band Coven was brought into the studio to create the sound of the original.
DIDJAKNOW? – 2: Lead Singer Jinx Dawson was reportedly born on a Friday the 13th … and was thusly given the REAL first name of “Jinx” … which she says appears on her birth certificate! (However, WE have found her listed as “Esther” in various other publications.)
THIS IS OUR ORIGINAL PIECE FROM 2002:
(pretty clever actually ... even looking back at it some 19 years later!!! Lol)
I want you to know ...
That I try
When Jean and the kids at the school tell me that I'm supposed to control my violent temper and be passive and non-violent like they are ...
I try ...
I REALLY try ...
But when I see this girl ... of such a beautiful spirit ... so degraded ...
And when I see this boy that I love sprawled out by this big ape here ...
And this little girl ... who is so special to us
That we call her "God's Little Gift of Sunshine" ...
And I think of the number of years
She's gonna have to carry in her memory
The savagery of this idiotic moment of yours ...
... And, with that, BILLY JACK begins to kick some SERIOUS butt (literally) at the ice cream shop!!!
The TOM LAUGHLIN film BILLY JACK was a cult-favorite of the early '70's, released and re-released over and over until it spawned a couple of sequels. The hit song from this movie, ONE TIN SOLDIER by COVEN, was ALSO released a few times before it went all the way to #1 here in Chicago.
When the film first came out in 1971, ONE TIN SOLDIER raced up the National Charts, peaking at #18 in Cash Box and #26 in Billboard. It never charted here in Chicago. Over two years later, in re-release, it petered out on both National charts at #73. Amazingly, THIS is when it took off here in Chicago … and went all the way to #1!
COVEN was hand-picked by LAUGHLIN to re-record the tune originally done by THE ORIGINAL CASTE back in 1969. (The ORIGINAL CASTE version got as high as #34 in Billboard and went to #36 here in Chicago. Despite their misleading name, they did NOT record the song for the movie.) Warner Brothers, who released the movie, also released the single the first time around in 1971.
When the movie became successful a second time in 1973, COVEN (who were now signed to MGM Records) recorded a NEW version of the tune ... and IT charted, too, stopping at #68. Warner Bros. quickly re-released their original version and this is the one that topped the charts here. In all, the song ONE TIN SOLDIER hit the pop charts an incredible FOUR times between 1969 and 1974!
BTW: That great lead vocal is handled by JINX DAWSON.
A short time later, we got this from Marlene O'Malley, one of the best authorities on the local Chicago rock scene of this era ...
I just looked at the credits again to the Coven album “Witchcraft,” and it's almost like a who's who of Chicago bands back in the day. Since I'm not into black magic, I don't get all the titles they give people, but among the credits are Tom & Jim Donlinger, Jim Nyeholt and Mike Bean from Aorta (earlier from the Exceptions), Dan Baughman from Shadows of Knight, Al Dawson from Saturday's Children and Cryan' Shames, and Jim Pilster (JC Hooke) from the Cryan' Shames. It also includes Bill Traut, Jim Golden and Fred Bohlander, who were all associated with management or production of some of those early groups, and Joel Sebastian from WCFL, and it lists "Oz Osbourne" ... don't know if that's the same one we all know and love!(?)! The lead singer was Jinx Dawson (is she related to Al?), and there's an interesting biography on her and the band's formation at this link:
I'm sure there are more links to follow up on this early
Spurred on by this new information sent into us by Sam, we decided to do a little more investigating ...
While Coven adopted a persona of occult and devil
worship and went to great lengths to project that image, it had to be difficult
for them at times to be saddled with such a sizeable pop hit! This was not at ALL the image they were striving for ... yet it allowed them to make the Pop Music History Books nonetheless.
As for the Black Sabbath connection, there almost seem to be TOO many coincidences here for there not to be at least SOME validity to these claims …
Their first album (“Witchcraft Destroys Minds & Reaps Souls”) was released in 1969 on the Mercury Record Label and was produced by Chicago legend, Bill Traut, who helped launch MANY a music career here in The Windy City. Tom and Jim Donlinger of Aorta wrote, played on and produced many of the tracks from this LP, which really didn’t do much of anything at the time attentionwise …
So how did it makes its way across the ocean and catch the eye and ear of guys like Ozzy Osbourne and Tony Iommi, who were forming their own band (and perhaps looking for an “identity” as well) a year later.
Dawson said she learned the “devil’s horns” hand signal from her occult family. (She very well may have been the first "black magic woman," having been exposed to this whole devil's worship cult thing since 1965.)
Here's a shot of her performing on stage in 1967, two years BEFORE the "Witchcraft Destroys Minds & Reaps Souls" had been recorded and Coven were on their way to appearing with some of the biggest names on the music scene at the time.
Ironically, although the FAMOUS Ozzy Osbourne used the "devil's horns" symbol religiously (pun intended) in Black Sabbath, Gene Simmons of Kiss fame has also taken credit for "inventing" it, saying at one point that he was going to TRADEMARK the horns. When Jinx Dawson saw this, she immediately posted on her Facebook Page that if he even so much as tried, she would sue him. It worked … Simmons never followed through.)
From Jinx in 2017:
I did the Sign of the Horns when Coven started in late 1967 (see photo above)
Again, this sign was also pictured on our first album, released in 1969, and on our 1971,1974, and 2013 albums.
This information is in more than 25 books ... and also mentioned at our Wikipedia Coven page.
I never trademarked MY sign because it was meant for all to do, ‘tho it is legally 'grandfathered in' to me for use in music by all the history.
Gene Simmons does not even DO the sign properly ...
He is doing the deaf sign for 'love'.
LOL ... I LOVE it ... sorry, Gene, but you're not even DOING it right!!!
Jinx continues to perform today (at the age of 70) when her new band, still named Coven, but featuring musicians in their 20's and 30's. She is hopeful that once Covid passes and allows for live performances again, she can get back out there and entertain her fans again.
Jinx Dawson's and Coven's musical roots date back to the mid-'60's ...
In the mid-to-late ‘60’s, Jinx,
teamed with bassist Greg “Oz” Osbourn in the band Him, Her And Them. Adding other players that went on to form the nucleus of the band, Him, Her And Them morphed into Coven ... and offered a unique spin on what was quickly becoming a growing underground, heavy rock movement. (Honestly, I think their whole scene had more to do with their own personal religious beliefs than being just a "gimmick" to get noticed ... although they were certainly one of the first "theatrical" rock bands out there, putting on a pretty elaborate show!)
We were completely unaware of the “dark side” of Coven when we first covered them in Forgotten Hits … ours was more a case of One Hit Wonder status and covering a song that went all the way to #1 here in Chicago, while never making anywhere NEAR that far on the national charts. (Even more amazingly is the fact that this happened during the record’s SECOND release in 1973, when it never climbed any higher than #73 in Billboard … in 1971, the record peaked at #26 in Billboard, and #18 in Cash Box, yet didn’t chart in Chicago at all!)
Perhaps even MORE amazingly than our previously mentioned “more amazingly,” is the fact that Wayne Jancik didn’t even consider the song important enough to include in his book “The Billboard Book of One Hit Wonders,” released in 1990 … this despite the fact that “One Tin Soldier” had actually charted THREE TIMES by Coven between 1971 and 1974, only reaching The Top 40 once and thus qualifying it for its inclusion in Jancik’s book. (They are mentioned in the “also ran” category at the back of the book so he obviously was aware of the record … but just didn’t find it important enough to include in the main body of the book.)
Norm N. Nite even mentions them in his “Rock On” book (although he manages to get a few facts wrong), but mentions nothing about their affection for the occult.
Was it all a gimmick to set them aside from the other heavier bands that were bursting on the music scene in 1967 – 1969? On the surface, it may seem to be … but in interviews I’ve read with Jinx Dawson since, this whole fascination with devil worship seemed to be a very real part of her life … yet nobody in “the general public” seemed to pick up on it at the time. Instead, we were all captivated by their “catchy hit single” and the fact that it was being used as the theme from the new “Billy Jack” movie!
Now, however, some fifty years later, the true aspirations of Coven seem to be on everybody’s radar. There are literally dozens and dozens of internet articles posted about the band … and their revolutionary contribution to the theatrical rock scene, circa the late ‘60’s. In fact, if anything, their chart success is downplayed if covered at all!
VERY Special Thanks to Sam Boyd for enlightening us on this unusual and unique back story. (And shame on the members of Black Sabbath for not at least acknowledging in SOME small way that Chicago's very own Coven may have inspired and impacted their own career.)
By the way, the song “One Tin Soldier”
was written by the hit songwriting team of Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter, who
also composed the hits “Ain’t No Woman Like The One I’ve Got” for The Four
Tops, “Country Boy” by Glen Campbell, “Don’t Pull Your Love” by Hamilton, Joe
Frank and Reynolds, “It Only Takes A Minute” by Tavares, “It’s A Cryin’ Shame”
by Gayle McCormick, “Once A Fool” by Kiki Dee and “Two Divided By Love” by The
The Martha Quinn Interview (this alone is worth the price of admission!!!)
And the hit ...
One Tin Soldier