Stay Tuned By Stan Cornyn: Rock Lost and Found, Part Two

Thursday, December 26, 2013
Stay Tuned By Stan Cornyn: Rock Lost and Found, Part Two

Every Tuesday and Thursday, former Warner Bros. Records executive and industry insider Stan Cornyn ruminates on the past, present, and future of the music business.

(Part One-of-Two rests within this Rhino website also. Poke around to find tunes 1 to 13 nearby.

(But it’s time now for …)

14. The Thirteenth Floor Elevators: “You’re Gonna Miss Me”

Texas. 1966. A group that screams and babbles arises now, and it becomes the parents of the “Texas punk” record.

It all began way back in the November before 1966, when leader Roky Erickson’s first group, The Spades, recorded for the Zero label. The song: “You’re Gonna Miss Me.”

In the months following, that cut moved from Zero over to label after label, searching out an audience.

Back then Erickson was 17 years old, if that. He and a “electric jug” player, Tommy Hall, put together their band. They named it for those non-existent elevator floors in high-rises. The higher the better, they figured. And as a number in the alphabet, 13 stood for “M.” And “M” stood for marijuana, which elevated this band’s lives.

Roky is usually credited with inventing the term “psychedelic rock.”

“You’re Gonna Miss Me” appealed that high-and-higher audience, and moved from label-to-label (Zero to International Artists and more), it had caught on like wildfire.

Hear this single now.

I gave you the warning
But you never heeded it
How can you say you miss my lovin
When you never needed it

You're gonna wake up wonderin'
Find yourself all alone
But what's gonna stop me, baby?
I'm not comin' home
I'm not comin' home
I'm not comin' home

The Elevators were nearly always higher than 13th, using drugs and bad seeds as they toured Texas and beyond. Texas cops focused on them. They got drug-busted in early ’66.

So they toured away from Texas, out to San Francisco, a safer city for their insanities.

They issued a drug-backed album, The Psychedelic Sounds of The Thirteenth Floor Elevators. The album lived up to its name, with spaced-out cover art, radical sounds, and Hall’s drug-inspired liner notes, with sentences describing “You’re Gonna Miss Me”’s dismissal of “…those people who, for the sake of appearances, take on the superficial aspects of the quest.”

And what is that quest? The liner notes continue: “Well, it’s just one of those things you can’t put into words, but if you closely at the cube of sugar I have clutched in my hand….”

The group hung in San Francisco, safer there, and took hallucinogenics into heart and stomach, as never before.

When the group returned “home” to Texas, the police were waiting.

In 1968, Erickson got busted again. Fearing a long prison term, he pleaded “insanity” and got confined to Rusk State Hospital for the Criminally Insane, where he was kept until his release in 1972.

The Elevators were closed in early ’69.

The Group: Roky Erickson (vocals, guitar, harmonica); Stacy Sutherland (lead guitar); Benny Thurman (bass); John “Ike” Walton (drums); and Tommy Hall (electric jug, vocals). Notes: Produced by Gordon Bynum in Houston, TX. Contact single #5269 (1/66). IA single #107 (6/66); HBR single #492 (8/66). Pop

15. Count Five: “Psychotic Reaction”

Their hit was super-simple. One-of-a-kind simple. It became popular via its crude, fuzz-tone guitar riff; its strange, almost alien vocal; its “I’m a Man”-rip, and double-time breaks. “Psychotic Reaction” is, looking back, “pure garage.”

The Count Five group was all born in San Jose, California, when a band called The Squires came to life in 1964. Heart of the group was John “Sean” Byrne, over in California from Ireland. “Psychotic Reaction” was his song, and it attracted a local label named Double Shot Records. The labels’ heads took to managing Count Five, giving them that name, dressing them up in Dracula robes.

Their single went Top Five in 1966, and stayed up there for 12 weeks. Like so many other hits in this series, it worries about a girl friend who doesn’t seem to care right for this boy. (Stay Tuned: it happens in song after song.)

This single overwhelmed the public.

I feel depressed, I feel so bad
'Cause you're the best girl that I've ever had
I can't get your love, I can't get a fraction
Oh, little girl, psychotic reaction
And it feels like this!

I feel so lonely night and day
I can't get your love, I must stay away
Well, I need you, girl, by my side
Oh, little girl, would you like to take a ride now?
I can't get your love, I can't get satisfaction
Oh, little girl, psychotic reaction

Hear this single now.

Double Shot’s bosses (Hal Winn and Joe Hooven) rushed the group into a studio to record more hits, an album, now! but none of that could or would exceed “Psychotic.” The band members voted to skip big bookings across the country, to stick to San Jose, stay in school, preserving their draft status.

By 1968, this one-tune band had other lives to lead.

The Group: Seab Byrne (vocals, guitars); John “Mouse” Michalski (lead guitar); Ron Chaney (bass); Craig “Butch” Atkinson (drums); Kenn Ellner (harmonica, vocals).

Notes: Produced by Joe Hooven-Hal Winn in Los Angeles. Double Shot single #104 (6/66. Pop #5.

16. The Leaves: “Hey Joe”

A mighty tune of the Sixties, and still heard from the mouths of people who hum a lot: “Hey Joe.” From Jimi Hendrix back to … the band that discovered and introduced it on records, The Leaves.

The Leaves’ version of “Hey Joe” is/was the only recording of it that went Top 40 (#31) on Billboard. But the song, it was in the repertoire of every band in the ‘60s, almost.

The song itself became a rock standard classic, so interest in its discoverers is now addressed.

So who were those Leaves? Start with two fraternity brothers (Jim Pons and Robert Reiner) in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley College in 1964. As musical wanna-be’s, they drove over to the Sunset Strip, hearing music pro’s, like The Byrds at Ciro’s.

Pat Boone signed this Valley group to his own label, Penthouse Records. And when the Byrds left Ciro’s, The Leaves took their spot.

They were signed by Randall Wood to one of his labels, Mira Records.

In early 1966, The Leaves’ guitarist, Bobby Arlin, bought himself a fuzz box, and everything immediately changed. The Leaves’ new version of “Hey Joe” got rushed out, and heavy fuzz gave The Leaves their first and last major hit.

Hey Joe, where you goin' with that money in your hand?
Hey Joe, where you goin' with that money in your hand?
I'm gonna find my woman,
She's runnin' around with some other man

The Group: Jim Pons (vocals, bass); John Beck (vocals); Bobby Arlin (lead guitar); Robert Lee Reiner (guitar); and Tom “Ambrose” Ray (drums).

Notes: Arrangead by John Beck. Produced by Norm Ratner for Penthouse Productions, Inc. Recorded in Los Angeles. Mira single #222 (4/66). Pop #31.

17. Michael and the Messengers: “Romeo & Juliet”

The original assemblers of Nuggets wanted to include a sound that prevailed in the 1960s: maybe call it a “dance club” sound, the kind that relies on playing other bands’ hit records, and plays them straight in clubs across America.

As earlier liner notes said about such a band, “They were a club band, pure and simple, and if they could do things Just Like The Record, their time on stage was surely made.”

No one now is sure who Michael & the Messengers were. There were several groups called The Messengers, and none of them had a Michael who played in them.

But for this compilation, blue-eyed soul now takes over. The original “Romeo & Juliet” was recorded by some Messengers (see below) from Milwaukee. There, they’d cut a version of the song for a local DJ friend, Paul Christy, who got it issued on Chicago’s U.S.A. Records.

But those original Messengers had little interest in promoting the single; they were about to sign with Motown Records. And that would mean…

Finding a job tomorrow morning,
Got a little something I want to do

Gonna buy something I can ride in

Take my girl dating at the drive-in,

Our love's gonna be written down in history
Just like Romeo and Juliet

Hear this single now.

Later, other “Messengers” groups would re-cut the record, organ-driven, likeable.

But of all those “Messengers,” no (legitimate) photos available. But the boys’ love song, like so many others in this little history, went on and on.

The Group: Wayne Beckner (vocals), Tom Fini (guitar), Jack DeCarolis (organ), Ron Gagnon (bass) and Paul Cosenza (drums).

Notes: Produced by Wesley Willard in Chicago, Illinois. U.S.A. single #874 (6/67) Pop #129.

18. The Cryan’ Shames: “Sugar and Spice”

Six lads from Chicago started out well in 1965. Named themselves The Cryan’ Shames. The year after they “formed,” they had a label deal (Destination Records), a cover version of the Searchers’ British hit, “Sugar and Spice,” and were being played nationally.

“Sugar and Spice” had a catchy tune, simple lyrics, and folk-rock guitars that brought them up onto the charts in summer of ’66. Columbia Records picked them up.

Everybody stops and
Stares at my baby when
She's walking down the street
People passing by
Just look at my baby
Cause my baby looks so sweet
You know she's

Sugar and spice
And all things nice
Kisses sweeter than wine
Sugar and spice
And all things nice
You know that little girl is mine

Hear this single now.

Columbia stuck with The Cryan’ Shames for three albums, moving the group from “folk-rock” to fully-orchestrated pop, emphasizing their harmonic skills. (Reminiscent of The Byrds and The Association.) But the decade wore on, and, little more radio hits/sales came to play.

The Shames disbanded in 1970, and remained in Chicago.

The Group: Tom “Toad” Doody (vocals); Jim Fairs (lead guitar); Gerry “Stonehenge” Stone (guitar); Dave “Grape” Purple (bass); Dennis Conroy (drums); Jim “Hook” Pilster (tambourine), called “Hook” because he was born without a left hand, and wore a hook there.

Notes: An MG Production, recorded in Chicago. Destination single #624 (6/66). Pop #49.

19. The Amboy Dukes: “Baby Please Don’t Go”

Lead guitarist Ted Nugent was the constant in this 1960s rock band, The Amboy Dukes. His playing style became famous – his guitar high up on his chest, and a style of strumming all his own. His tongue:

“Baby Please Don’t Go” became The Amboy Duke’s debut 1967 single.

Baby, please don't go
Baby, please don't go
Baby, please don't go
Down to New Orleans
You know I love you so
Baby, please don't go

Baby, your mind done gone
Well, your mind done gone
Well, your mind done gone
Left the county farm
You had the shackles on
Baby, please don't go

Before I be your dog
Before I be your dog
Before I be your dog
To git you way down here
I make you walk alone
Baby, please don't go

Hear this single now.

The Amboy Dukes were believers in hard-drivin’ arrangements. “Baby” has their amps pumped up to “full,” howling guitars, a sledgehammer approach that pointed the direction for many groups as the 1960s were closing.

“Baby Please Don’t Go” as a single kicked off the Amboy Dukes album career, too, starting with album one:

During his career, other Ted Nugent bands got four Platinum citations.

Receiving one of those “Distinguished” awards, Nugent acknowledged the applause and agreed with it, saying “…and everyone knows that The Amboy Dukes are the ultimate garage band on the planet Earth.”

He and they stuck around.

The Group: Ted Nugent (lead guitar); John Drake (vocals); Steve Farmer (guitar); Rick “Nervous Ned” Lober (organ); Bill White (bass); and Dave Palmer (drums).

Notes: Produced by Bob Shad, in Detroit, Michigan. Mainstream single # 676. (1/68). Pop #108.

20. The Blues Magoos: “Tobacco Road”

They gathered as a group in the Bronx in 1964, calling themselves The Trenchcoats. But by 1966, they’d evolved into The Bloos Magoos, playing nights in New York at spots like Café Wha and the Night Owl.

Their lead guitarist became Mike Esposito, who used controlled feedback and tape echo. The band liked inventing, and the new drug scene was a good lab.

Early on, The Blues Magoos came on stage wearing electric suits, so they’d light up on stage. They sold their own lines of giant, on-stage lava lamps (“Psyche-de-Lites”). But they had more.

They could play far better and deeper than their commercial gimmicks indicated. They felt and believed in psychedelics.

Their first album came out with the name “Psychedelic Lollipop.”

In the album is “Tobacco Road,” a song by John D. Loudermilk, and covered by many artists in this decade. But the Blues Magoos added their sense of humor to their “freak out” version, and it became a highlight of their stage act with its experimental sounds.

Hear this single now.

I was born in a trunk
Mama died and daddy got drunk
Left me here to die or grow
In the middle of Tobacco Road
Grew up in a rusty shack
All I owned was a hangin' on my back
Only Lord knows how I loathe
This place called Tobacco Road

But it's home the only life I've ever ever knowed
But the Lord knows I loathe Tobacco Road

Gonna leave, get a job
With the help and the grace of God
Save my money get rich and old
Bring it back to Tobacco Road

Bring that dynamite and a crane,
Blow it up and start all over again

Build a town, be proud to sho
Keep the name Tobacco Road

Cause it's home the only life I've ever ever knowed
I despite you cause you're filthy
But I love you cause you're home

The band, in this form, lasted until 1968.

The Group: Ralph Scala (vocals, organ); Ronnie Gilbert (vocals, bass); Mike Esposito (lead guitar); Emil “Peppy” Thielhelm (guitar, vocals); and Geoff Daking (drums).

Notes: Produced by Bob Wyle and Art Polhemus for Longhair Productions. Recorded in New York. Mercury single #72590 (6/66)

21. Chocolate Watch Band: “Let’s Talk About Girls”

San Jose, in California’s South Bay area, a town we earlier cited for the Thirteenth Floor Elevator, now returns to this list, once again via producer/songwriter Ed Cobb (see The Standells). This next group, Chocolate Watch Band, released singles through labels like HBR (as The Hogs) and Tower Records’ subsidiary Uptown.

Their debut album, No Way Out, came out on Uptown, and the Watch Band got heard and hugged for its tough, Stones-y delivery with some psychedelic accents. The album got praised for its guitar leads a-swirling, its lusty vocals, plus sleigh bell and maraca shakes. Especially for their single “Let’s Talk About Girls.”

You want to know why I lost you
You want to know what's wrong with you

But nothing's wrong girl you'll feel so tough

Just lying here for me and that ain't enough

I've got to love them all day not just a few

Got to love those pretty girls is what I've got to do

Oh yeah - let's talk about girls

I said yeah - let's talk about girls
Girls that beg for more

See the pretty girls they're just walking by

Turns me on when she gives me the eye

There goes another looking so fine

I won't be happy till I've make her mine

I've got to love them all day ...

Let's talk about women

With a hit like that, Hollywood fetched the Chocolate Watch Band for its 1960’s teen rampage movies, Riot on the Sunset Strip and The Love-Ins, before closing out the Band’s phase one in 1970.

The Group: Don Bennett (vocals); Mark Loomis (lead guitar, vocals); Sean Tolby (guitar, vocals) Bill Flores (bass), and Gary Andrijasevich (drums).

Notes: Produced by Ed Cobb in Studio City, CA. From their album No Way Out. Tower Records label #ST-5096. (9/67)

22. The Mojo Men : “Sit Down, I Think I Love You”

When San Francisco disc-jockey star Tom Donahue sold his label-on-the-side, Autumn Records, to Warner Bros. in 1966, one of the side assets (beyond The Beau Brummels and The Vejtables) was a lesser-attended-to group called The Mojo Men. Sly Stone (Stewart) had been producer for the group, but was unsatisfied with their output.

Reprise picked them up.

The Mojo Men changed drummers, trading a man (Dennis DeCarr) to a Mojo woman (Jan Errico, over from the Vejtables), but the group was slow to edit their name to simply The Mojo. First things first.

Now signed with Warner, the Mojo aimed a cover of Buffalo Springfield’s “Sit Down, I Think I Love You.” In a Baroque-rock form.

Reprise producer Lenny Waronker changed their sound from British Invasion garage gunk to impeccably-orchestrated pop. Song choices improved, with their first Reprise single written by Stephen Stills, “Sit Down, I Think I Love You.”

To reach an even grander audience, Waronker hired another Burbank local, Van Dyke Parks, to create the massive orchestral arrangements for what might now be thought of a symphonic-pop:

Hear this single now.

Sit down I think I love you, anyway, I'd like to try

I can't stop thinkin' of ya, if you go I know I'll cry.

If you want someone to love ya, pretty baby make it me.

It's not much I'm asking of ya, just try me and you'll see.

Baby, can't ya see that I'm a desperate man,

I get high, just a-thinkin' about ya.

You know what they say about the bird in the hand, 

And that's why, I, ain't leavin' without ya.

Baby, can't ya see that I'm a desperate man,

 I get high, just a-thinkin' about ya.
You know what they say about the bird in the hand, 

And that's why, I, ain't leavin' without ya.

Sit down I think I love ya, anyway, I'd like to try.

I can't stop thinkin' of ya, if you go I know I'll cry.

Two years later, The Mojos disbanded in 1969.

The Group: Jim Alamo (vocals, bass); Jan Errico (vocals, drums), Paul Curcio (guitar), Don Metchick (keyboards). Add many studio musicians.

Notes: Produced by Lenny Waronker for Donahue-Mitchell Productions. Recorded in Hollywood. Reprise single #0539. (1/67) Pop #36.

23. The Third Rail: “Run, Run, Run”

Three producer-“makers” of singles stood in front of the mikes briefly in 1967, and there made a hit on their own. They’d made hits for others (like the Young Rascals’ “Good Lovin’”, and now got rid of those “others” for another quicky, “Run, Run, Run.”

The three were writer Artie Resnick, his wife Kris, and one true singer, Joey Levine. Their finished new song brought smiles with its Beach Boys-style delivery, and its upbeat view of the workaday world.

Epic Records grabbed ahold. Briefly.

Looking back, you might think of “Run, Run, Run” as “pre-Bubblegum.”



Up in the morning at half past eight

You can't have your breakfast 'cause you'll be late

You tie your tie like a hangman's noose

Ain't no time to drink your juice

So you Run, Run, Run, Run

Yeah you Run, Run, Run, Run

Stand on the corner and wait for the bus

It's late again, you start to cuss

The paper's filled with all bad news

Fat lady stands on your polished shoes

So you Run, Run, Run, Run

Yeah you Run, Run, Run, Run


... Of the latest quotations from the New York Stock Exchange:

Heart Attacks up two & three quarters

Mental Illness split three for one

Ulcers up one

General Chaos, that's General Chaos is up one quarter

The Great Society unfortunately is down five points

The Group: Joey Levine, Artie Resnick, and Kris Resnick (vocals). With studio musicians. Arranged and Conducted by Al Gorgoni

Credits: Produced by Levine-Resnick-Resnick. Recorded in New York. Epic single #5-10191. (7/67) Pop #53.

24. SAGITTARIUS: “My World Fell Down”

No need to use the word “garage” here. Columbia staff producer Gary Usher was one who heard, via acts like The Beach Boys, that vocal harmonizing can sell. In 1967, he’d produced The Byrds’ “Younger Than Yesterday,” Chad & Jeremy’s “Of Cabbages and Kings,” The Peanut Butter Conspiracy, and now… nobody else’s band. His own project: Sagittarius.

Usher got deep into big music, elaborate vocal and instrumental arrangements, and hiring hit voices. His single here -- “My World Fell Down” -- has a lead vocal by Glen Campbell, with supporting voices by pre-Beach-Boy Bruce Johnston and Usher himself.

With its elaborate orchestration and vocal ornate-ness, Sagittarius was a major event for radio. “My World Fell Down” became a half-a-hit nationally (on Murray the K’s progressive rock show), though not in smaller cities.

Hear this single now.

Just like a breath of spring
You came my way
I heard a bluebird sing
But not today

'Cause it's wintertime
And the leaves are brown
Since you went away
My world fell down
My world fell down, fell down

I see your suitcase lying
Packed up to go
I stop myself from crying
How, I don't know

The Group: Glen Campbell (vocals); Bruce Johnson, Terry Melcher & Gary Usher (back vocals); Larry Knechtel (keyboards); Carol Kaye (bass); and Hal Blaine (drums).

Credits: Arranged and Produced by Gary Usher. Recorded in Hollywood. Columbia single #4-44163/ (5/67) Pop #70

25. NAZZ: “Open My Eyes”

This quartet came together in Philadelphia in 1968, just as American boys were trying to grow hip beards and listen to acid rock. The group Nazz, however, was far from the West Coast sound and beard-fervor. Nazz leaned across the Atlantic, coming across the waters like bands like The Who.

Todd Rundgren (white shoes, above) led The Nazz. He emphasized arranging as English-sounding as if the Nazz Family lived in Knightsbridge. Nazz had only one semi-hit (“Hello It’s Me’). Their “Open My Eyes” was that one’s B-side.

To make their biggest mark, Nazz used power-pop: a tough, hard-rock riff against soaring, Beatles-like harmonies. Their hit meant, for America, a “new age sound” was heading this way.

Clear my eyes, make me wise

Or is all I believe in lies

I don't know when or where to go

And I can't see a thing 'til you open my eyes

I've been told by some you'll forget me

The thought doesn't upset me

I am blind to whatever they're saying

And all I can see is the fire in your eyes

Clear my eyes, make me wise

Or is all I believe in lies

I really don't know when or where to go

And I can't see a thing 'til you open my eyes

Can't see a thing 'til you open my eyes

Can't see a thing 'til you open my eyes

Can't see a thing 'til you open my eyes

After “Open My Eyes,” Nazz made no more hits. They held together for two years and three patchy albums before parting in dissent in 1970. After that, one member, Todd Rundgren found a solo career much more rewarding.

The Group: Robert “Stewkey” Anton (vocals, organ); Todd Rundgren (guitar, vocals); Carson VanOsten (bass, vocals); Thom Mooney (drums)

Credits: Arranged and Produced by Nazz and Michael Freidman. Recorded in New York. SGC single #45-001. (8/68). Pop #112.

26. THE PREMIERS: “Farmer John”

In local East L.A., dozens of Chicano rock/R&B groups made livings playing local clubs. Producer/hustler Eddie Davis scooped up such groups, and used his pockets full of “labels” (like Rampart, Linda, and Faro) to reach audiences and dollars.

The Premiers were one such group, and Davis had them cover one hit that had come out first by Pasadena’s Don & Dewey, and then by The Searchers. The center of all this switchin’ was a piece called “Farmer John.”

The version we’re focused on -- The Premiers’ recording of “Farmer John” -- was explained on its label copy as having been “Recorded Live at the Rhythm Room in Fullerton, California.” Davis then over-dubbed party noise from a crowd (from the all-girl Chevelles Car Club, using The Crystals from San Gabriel, Calif.) … put the overdub over the original, and found success doing it.

“Farmer John” started selling.

Time, Davis knew, to cash in.

The song finally had become a hit for The Premiers on the Faro label, and got picked up for cash by Warner Bros. Records, for the world.

Hear this single now.

Has anybody seen Kosher Pickle Harry?
If you see him tell him that Herbert's looking for him
Herbert Who?
OK ladies and gentlemen here we go - The Premiers! 


Farmer John

I'm in love with your daughter
The one
With the champagne eyes
She knows that I love her
Ever since she showed me those eyes

Farmer John
Someday I will marry
The one
With the champagne eyes
She won't accept my hand
She won't wear my wedding band

I dig the way she walks
The way she talks
She really knocks me out
When she starts moving slow

The Group: Larry “Boy” Perez (vocals, lead guitar); George Delgado (vocals, guitar); Frank Zuniga (vocals, bass); John Perez (drums); Philip Ruiz (tenor sax); and Joe Urzua (baritone sax).

Credits: Produced by Billy Cardenas. Recorded in Los Angeles. Faro single #615 (3/64) Warner Bros. single #5443 (5/64) Pop #19.

27. THE MAGIC MUSHROOMS: “It’s-a-Happening”

At the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, the originators of this group were given the group’s name by Allen Ginsberg after he gave a campus lecture in late 1965. They listened and renamed themselves.

Little is known about the group. But they did manage to sign a contract with a label – A&M Records – which was the opposite sound of theirs: A&M was smooth and soft. Mushrooms were scalding.

The big single by these university lads became, to them, a bizarre psychedelic montage.

Would you believe
It's a-happening
Would you believe
It's a-happening

The sky is falling
The ocean is calling
The world is turning 'round and 'round

Would you believe
It's a-happening
Would you believe
It's a-happening

Spray the weeds
A zephyr breeze
A mushroom hangs above the ground

Would you believe
It's a-happening

Would you believe
It's a-happening

When A&M’s Herb Alpert realized the drug references within the song, he immediately pulled the record off the market and ended the group’s deal with A&M.

The last note in written history had The Magic Mushrooms making candles and working a head shop in Pittsfield, Ohio, the 1960s’ equivalent of the car wash job.

More to read on this group

Group: Stu Freeman (vocals, guitar); Ted Cahill (lead guitar and autoharp); Dick Richardson (keyboards); Charles Ingersol (bass); and Joe LaCavera (drums); Josh Rice (vocals, flute, harmonica).

Credits: Produced by Sonny Casella for World Wide Music, Inc. Recorded in New York. A&M single #815. (9/66). Pop #93.

Stay Tuned