26 February, 2013

ZONE 26 - WE CHOSE TO WALK - recollections with Marco Ruggio

ZONE 26 - 'When The World Turns Cold'/'We Chose To Walk' (World Pacific 77896) 1968

I haven't been able to find out any information about the curiously named group Zone 26. I'm sure someone will have some facts etc so if you do, please get in touch. And what about that name....Zone 26....what does that mean?

They're probably a Californian outfit, more than likely from Los Angeles or the surrounding area. I first heard both sides of the 45 on a U-Spaces compilation called 'California Love-In' and was so impressed by the psychedelic sounds that I spent several years tracking down a copy. It's probably one of the most difficult releases to locate on the World Pacific label.

'When The World Turns Cold' is dominated by a Doors like organ sound and violin opening instrumental backing that lasts for well over a minute before singer (Brian Monsour?) bursts through the strangeness.

The flip 'We Chose To Walk' is quite a bizarre song and comes over like a weird mix of Doors and Syd's Pink Floyd with hard to fathom lyrics. It seems that Zone 26 could have been mixing up their medicine.

"Don't sell your soul
For you will know.
You've lost your way,
And now you'll have to pay".

Since I wrote this entry about Zone 26 I have been contacted by their drummer Marco Ruggio.
I asked Marco to fill me in with some of the important details about his 60s band and he kindly obliged.

The name of the band was ZONE 26. It was named after a postal code in Los Angeles, California. The area was Echo Park. Most of us came from this area hence the name.

ZONE  26 was made up of the following people & instruments:

Vocal Ron Castro  -  alive and teaching theatre
Organ / Bass Piano Brian  Monsour  - dead
Guitar Chris Merlin -  alive  and in tv production
Electric Violin Greg Bloch  (one of the first uses of electric violins in rock ever)  - dead
Drums Marco Ruggio  - alive /  film maker director / editor 

We formed in Los Angeles in 1965 and were mainly a local band with a very local, strange following and played all over Los Angeles with just about everyone: Bands like The Doors, The Buffalo Springfield, The Staple Singers, Taj Mahal, The Iron Butterfly, The Yellow Payges, and so many others. Vito, the famous artist used to bring his insane entourage including Nico  (famous model) to hear us when we'd play places on the Sunset Strip. We played at all the local "love-ins"  with PG&E, The Blues Project, also at the Whisky A Go Go, The Troubadour, Gazzari's, The Galaxy, The Cheetah (no longer exists), The Hullabaloo. 

We were signed to World Pacific. Our producer was Richard Boch. He produced acts like Ravi Shankar. The 45 was recorded at the 3rd Street Studio owned and operated by Liberty Records, which was the parent of World Pacific. It was our nasty and begrudged attempt at "something commercial." This is why the lyrics talked about "walking" rather than "taking the bus." We were pretty much an uncompromising stoner band. 
Our music, which you can't tell from this recording had huge classical influences. Greg Bloch, our violinist, was asked to play with many prominent  symphony orchestras. Both his father and sister, Calman & Michelle, shared the first chair clarinet position at the LA Philharmonic.  
We had difficulty coming up with "top forty" material. We were biz-stupid, arrogant, street philosophers, wild and completely impoverished. It was LSD and exploring the unknown all the way for us. We were a band honestly interested in consciousness expansion and made an attempt at conveying it in our music. But as usual, without sanity and discipline the flame gets too hot and you burn. We got very little local airplay.

other interesting facts:
We DID record an entire album but it was deemed very interesting but uncommercial. I have no idea where the material is. 

No photos were kept.

Band broke up due to creative differences and drug abuse.

Greg Bloch went on to It's a Beautiful Day, PFM and studio work until he died.

I went on to forming projects with RSO  / Clean Records:  Tongue, The Stash Wagner Band  (writer of "Don't Borgart That Joint") and various other failed musical projects. Got into fusion and ruined my wrist.

We were part of very interesting times. We were never really "famous" but followed by many. We were of the street.


23 February, 2013


THE NEW PHOENIX - 'Give To Me Your Love'/'Thanks' (World Pacific 77884) 1967

The Hard Times either changed their name to the more psychedelic The New Phoenix or by the time of recording this song in October 1967 only singer Rudy Romero remained.

'Give To Me Your Love' is a stunning flower pop assault on the senses with some lovely harmonies and a memorable melody. Mama Cass Elliot produced and it's quite clear that she brought along some of the Mamas & The Papas magic dust to the sessions.

The group did not have another song ready to record so an instrumental version named 'Thanks' was tagged on the B-Side.

20 February, 2013


THE JOYRIDE - 'His Blues'/'Land Of Rypap Papyr' (World Pacific 77888) 1968

The third and final Joyride 45 was the vocal harmony instro 'Land Of Rypap Papyr' which sounds almost like some lysergic nursery rhyme without words, just cascading harmonies. Quite a unique sounding tune with an unbelievably complex arrangement and not something that would be bought by the masses. No chance that this could have been a hit.

Far more commercial is the superb flip 'His Blues' written by Association member Jules Alexander. This is a typical Los Angeles flower power sound with some lovely acoustic guitar, male/femme vox, tambourine and eastern style sitar. Check out the line below which indicates that we're going on a trip....

"He's gonna get some strychnine poison
And mix it up with some S.T.P"

I'd love to know more information about Joyride so please get in touch if you can shed some light on this obscure group.

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18 February, 2013


THE JOYRIDE - 'The Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine' (World Pacific 77883) 1968

Next up for The Joyride was a cover version of 'The Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine', originally recorded in 1966 by Simon & Garfunkel. It featured on their 'Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme' album and would also be selected for the B-Side of 'The Dangling Conversation'.

The message of the song was Paul Simon's cynical view of advertising but I don't think The Joyride bothered too much about pushing any particular message as their version is sweet L.A. harmony pop and perfect flower power sounds for 1968.

Once again, the vocals are inspirational with some neat guitar. Clark Burroughs adds in some studio trickery into the mix. Absolute pop perfection. I don't know how this wasn't a hit.

Both sides of the disc had the same song.

16 February, 2013


THE JOYRIDE - 'The Crystal Ship'/'Coming Soon' (World Pacific 77877) 1967

There were several harmony flower psych groups from Los Angeles after the initial folk-rock boom that still, to this day, have yet to receive any sort acclaim. The Joyride are one such group that are still unknowns, none of their songs have ever been compiled, although their sounds have circulated among psych-pop fans for several years.

It is believed that The Joyride were a studio recording outfit put together by former Hi-Lo's member Clark Burroughs who probably had the pick of available musicians in L.A. as well as enough studio time to create such beautiful sounding flower pop.

The Joyride's first 45 was a stunning version of one of The Doors best songs 'The Crystal Ship'. In my opinion the arrangement by Don McGinnis is as good as anything pieced together by the lauded Curt Boettcher (and that's saying something).

All of The Joyride's material bring to mind another classic Los Angeles male/fem vox outfit The M.C. Squared. So if you dig those guys you're sure to flip on out to The Joyride.

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12 February, 2013


DISRAELI - 'Tomorrow's Day'/'Humidity 105' (Mantra Records DL-002) 1967

The toughest Disraeli 45 to locate is their first from 1967. It took me several years to find a copy and I probably paid a little too much for it as it wasn't in the best condition. However, as it was the last piece in my Disraeli jigsaw, I needed to own it.

Both sides of their debut disc are stunning loner folk-rock. The production isn't the best that you'll ever hear but that has never concerned me in the past. It's all to do with the feel and vibe of the songs for me and both 'Tomorrow's Day' and 'Humidity 105' have that special quality.

As far as I know both songs have yet to be compiled, surely an indication of the disc's obscurity.

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10 February, 2013


LOOS FOOS AND THE FIBERGLASS CORNFLAKE -' I Think I've Got You / Bless Me Father' (Ace Record Co ARS-135) Sept 1969

They don't come much more obscure than Loos Foos and the Fiberglass Cornflake. The band were not mentioned in Vernon Joynson's guide 'Fuzz Acid And Flowers' and the soybomb comp database lists their origin and release date of their one and only venture onto vinyl with incorrect information.

Rick Sousa who played a Fender rhythm guitar and sang in the group exchanged emails with me recently and I asked Rick about his days in the band. He was kind enough to furnish me with lots of cool information about Loos Foos and the Fiberglass Cornflake.

They were together as a band for approx 7 years, starting out as a young teen combo in 1962 but only got to cut one 45 in 1969. This was down to lack of money and the Vietnam War call up. Sadly only one photograph of the band remains (a house fire destroyed the rest) but hopefully I'll be able to post this picture if/when I have it emailed to me in the future.

The line-up of the band was:
Ed Foos (bass)
Gene Lapoint (organ)
Don Fournier (drums)
Steve Matthews (lead guitar)
Rick Sousa (rhythm guitar & vocals) 

Where did Loos Foos and the Fiberglass Cornflake hail from?
We all come from Pawtucket, Rhode Island, about 10 miles from Providence.

How old were you all when you got together as a band?
We were all around 15 and 16 years old.

How did you all meet? Were you friends from school?
All but drummer Don Fournier lived within a couple blocks of each other We all went to the same school. We all loved The Beatles and they were the reason we started off the band.

The name of the band is pretty 'wacked out'. Who came up with the name? What was the reasoning behind it?
It started as The Loos Foos Four and we played 3 years with this name. Unfortunately I was drafted during the Vietnam War but luckily the other guys were all denied.
I got home in April of 69 shortly thereafter we decided to change the name of the band so I had a list of names and we chose from a list that included The Ruptured Banana Peels, The Flying Tomato Seeds and The Ugly Dead Lizards.

How long did the band rehearse before playing your first gig?
We were lucky because my parents let us practice at my house most weekends. We also used Ed Foos parents garage. We would open the garage doors and people from blocks around would come and listen. It was like a block dance. So from the start we got good practice and it was kinda like playing a gig from a garage. This was good experience for the band and it made us better and ready fast. In all I think we rehearsed and nailed our sound in two months. Our first gig was a 'Battle Of The Bands' which we won!

Can you name any other of your original songs the band played live but never recorded?
A song we almost recorded was 'Revolutions Of Our Love'. Other song titles included 'Cinderella's on L.S.D', 'My Friend', 'Mad House', Just Like Superman', 'Cast A Spell', 'Babe', 'If This Is Love, Then Give Me Loneliness' and many others. We even performed a few instrumentals I wrote.

Where did Loos Foos and the Fiberglass Cornflake play?
When I got back from Vietnam in '69 that’s when we played somewhere every week such as Jonnie Allens Barn, The Pirates Den , The Canopy Club, The Pines, and The Edge.
We played college parties on tennis courts at Pawtucket Red Sox Baseball Park before a game.
We were on T.V. three times after our record came out. We promoted it twice on Dialing for Dollars Show with George Allen and appeared on the Andy Jackson Show.

What was a typical Loos Foos songlist for gigs? Did you play any cover versions?
We would play top 40 songs and mix in my originals. We used to cover songs by The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Three Dog Night, The Rascals and Cream. We usually covered whoever was in the charts. If you didn't play British Invasion sounds you didn't have a chance.The band loved hard driving songs and we all sang lead. There was no so called lead singer.

How did the record deal with Ace Records come about?
We would save the money earned from gigs and put it in a pot. When we had enough money to finance a record we contacted ACE Recording Studios. It was a dream for us to cut a record. We didn’t expect anything.

How did the recording go?
The ACE Recording Studio producer was Herb Yakas. We only had 4 hours to cut two songs. We got 'I Think I Got You' in three takes. 'Bless Me Father' took seven takes .
It was funny because we'd start playing 'Bless Me Father' but three times in a row Herb stopped us. Finally he says 'somebody’s taking'.....We all laughed and told him that’s how the song starts.

Was the band happy with the final results of the session?
Yes, I was delighted. I remember sitting in the studio listening to the playback. It was one of the proudest days of my life.

How many records were pressed?
1,000 copies for $700. The cost included studio time, producer costs and the manufacture of the 45s. Every record sold. I wish I had one!!!
Saving that took time because it was a lot of money back then.

You mentioned that the band operated for about 7 years. Any reasons why no more records came out by the band?
I wish I knew, no money I guess. I wrote hundreds of songs and we had all the material in the world. I think we just laid on our laurels waiting for something to happen.

Can you remember the names of any bands you played with?
My memories are not good here but I do remember sharing the stage with The Cheese Flavored Popcorn and The Wailing Banchees (not sure about exact spelling). The most famous person from our location was our friend Cale Raye. He sang a beautiful song called 'Lovely Eyes'.

'I Think I've Got You' doesn't sound like a typical rock sound for the late 60s. It's obviously a soulful love song. Who were your influences at the time?
The direction of the band was always top 40. That particular song was about a girl I thought I couldn’t be with and wasn’t but guess what? 16 years later I married that girl.

'Bless Me Father' is my favourite side of the 45. It has been compiled on 'A Fistful Of Fuzz'. What was your idea behind this song?
When I get into writing mode I try to think of different subjects to write about. With this song I thought about being in a confession booth confessing my sins in a rock style. The guys didn't want me to talk those opening lines but I told them that’s what makes the confession real like starting and ending prayer and penance.

Rick Sousa from Loos Foos and the Fiberglass Cornflake recently sent me these photos of his band. These pics are exclusive to my blog and have not been posted anywhere else before.
Sadly most of Rick's band pics were destroyed in a house fire so I'm obviously delighted these rare images survived.

Originally posted on 'Flower Bomb Songs' November 2008

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Don Sallah in a studio in NYC. Dig those threads and especially the 12 string 

I've recently (indirectly) made contact with Don Sallah who may be best known for his 60s band The Boys From New York City. With the help of his daughter (thanks Danielle) I have pieced together his musical jigsaw which has taken in a variety of styles and fashions (just check out the pics that follow).

Don's first foray into the world of rock and roll was during the very early 60s when he put together his first band called Little Moose and The Hunters. (He was the little moose). The songs for the 45 were recorded at Gabriel Oller's recording studio in New York's Spanish Music Centre (hence the label SMC). The studio was situated on Sixth Avenue.

The musical style on this disc is out of the range of 'Flower Bomb Songs' but if you want to hear the crude rock and roll of 'Granny Rock' or the doo wop of 'Lonely One' be sure to check out a blog called 'Diggin' It!!' .....

Don mentions that he did an album of instrumentals under the name The Pioneers for SMC records and around the same time backed up Chuck Berry once at UPenn and played with a then unknown Billy Joel.

The next band Don Sallah put together was a vocal harmony group called The Emeralds. Although this band did not record any material they were a big draw on the local scene but Beatlemania was just around the corner and teens would want guitar bands and that exciting rhythm and beat.

 Here's a publicity shot of The Emeralds. The group were Don Sallah, Les Jansson, Tony Franquiero and Hank Cardello.

THE OFF SET - 'You're A Drag'/'Little Girl, Little Boy' (Brent 7053) 1967

The next venture was a band called The Off Set who recorded for Brent Records. They were very much a studio based group with Don joining forces with Vinnie Testa and working again with ex Emeralds friend Hank Cardello.

The first 45 was 'Just A Smile'/'Lonely Lonely Night'.
'Just A Smile' was written by Vinnie Testa with Don taking on lead vocals with back up vocals by Hank Cardello. The flip 'Lonely Lonely Night' was written by Don. He and Hank shared vocal duties.
The follow up was a classic folk rocker called 'You're A Drag' b/w 'Little Girl, Little Boy'

THE BOYS FROM NEW YORK CITY - 'Take It Or Leave It'/'These Are The Things' (Laurie 3412) 1967

The next band put together by Don was The Boys From New York City. They would become a very popular group in the Big Apple supporting many of the major rock groups that toured NY.
One time when The Boys From New York City opened for The Turtles at Worcester Memorial Stadium in '68 the fans rushed the stage and police had to contain the chaos. The BFNYC cut short their set and The Turtles refused to go on after them, giving up something like $5000.

The debut Boys From New York City was the Dylanesque 'Take It Or Leave It' backed with a ballad. This one's got a real cool harmonica break and was commercial enough to warrant some chart action but I don't think it charted anywhere.

 The Boys early publicity shot 

THE BOYS FROM NEW YORK CITY - 'I'm Down Girl'/'Mary And John' (Laurie 3434) 1968

'I'm Down Girl' is a fast paced garage rocker notable for Hank Cardello's cool scattergun drum fills. This tune is real exciting and has a whole lot of buzz about it. No doubt about it this one's a scorcher.
It almost sounds like a different band on the flip. 'Mary And John' is a piano & strings ballad.
The line-up of The Boys From New York City was:
Don Sallah (vocals/guitar) Tony Franquiero (organ/sax) Ray Martinez (bass) Hank Cardello (drums and some vocals).....For a short time ex Emeralds member Les Jansson played bass.
 The Boys in freaky cloaks
 THE ENERGY PACKAGE - 'This Is The Twelfth Night'/'See That I Come Home' (Laurie 3392) 1967

For whatever reason it was decided to release the next 45 as The Energy Package. I can understand in a way because both songs are trippy psychedelia and it would be better to have a more progressive band name to promote the record.
I first heard 'This Is The Twelfth Night' way back in the 80s on a vinyl compilation called Psychedelic Unknowns - Volume 7 and it was one of those songs like kinda stuck in my mind for years. 
When I decided about 10 years ago to collect original 45s, The Energy Package was high on my list. Little did I know that I'd be receiving info and photographs from the songwriter 20 odd years later. But such is the beauty of the internet and the 'small' world we now all live in.

'See That I Come Home' is also a blast but much more melancholic and trippy.
'This Is The Twelfth Night' was a number 1 hit in Massachusetts for three months but unfortunately didn't get any air time anywhere else. On the back of the single's success the band gigged all over the North East (DC to Massachusetts)
Having always been intrigued by 'Twelfth Night' I asked Don (via Danielle) about the song. Here's what he had to say about the recording.
"The lyrics came from when I wrote poetry in my basement in the early 60s. I was an English major and wrote a lot of songs with a tag line from Shakespeare (none of the others were recorded).
I set 'This Is The Twelfth Night' to music after listening to a band called The Music Machine at a gig in The Highway Inn in Roosevelt, Long Island. The Music Machine played a song called 'Hey Joe' which influenced the songs sound and structure. That and Phil Spector's wall of sound"

THE BOYS FROM NYC - 'A Little Bit Harder'/'Goin' To California' (Laurie 3443) 1968 

The final 45 on Laurie saw a slight change to their moniker to The Boys From NYC. For a year or more the Boys had raved as the house band at The Highway Inn but times were a changin' and Don was thinkin' about getting a 'proper' job and was interested in Law.

Both sides of this disc are commercial bubblegum pop and if this wasn't gonna be a hit nothing would. Sadly no hit followed and law books would have to be studied. The band had gone as far as it could.

 The Boys From NYC circa 1968 

 DUSTY GREYROCK - 'Clap Your Hands'/'Tears In My Heart' (RCA Victor 47-9640) Oct 1968 

The final piece in the Don Sallah music jigsaw that started in the very early 60s with Little Moose And The Hunters ended with a solo on RCA Victor as Dusty Greyrock. As with The Off Set, Dusty Greyrock was just a studio production and a favour to the Producer who needed someone to add vocals to the already recorded music.

'Tears In My Heart' has become a sought after Northern Soul favourite in Europe. 'Clap Your Hands' is yet another bubblegum mover. Both sides get the EXPO67 seal of approval. 

Originally posted on 'Flower Bomb Songs' September 2009


Don Droege bass player with mid 60s teen beat band The Country Gentlemen recently happened to surf onto my blog and thankfully got in touch. He kindly answered my dumb questions and sent me some totally cool pictures of the band.
It's quite a lengthy chat and it may pay to print and read at leisure. Anyway here's Don's recollections of his time in this fine garage combo.

The Country Gentlemen. I dig the name of the band. Can you remember how that came about?
Yeah, I was in a band, actually my first band, and we were playing at a party, Bobby and Billy Alessi came and were listening to us and I was singing The Zombies song "Tell Her No". I was the lead vocalist and the bass player in that band. Well, Bobby turned to Billy and said " We've got to get that guy in our band!" Well that's how we got together not actually how we got our name and to be quite honest it was a bit of a group effort coming up with our name. We weren't a "city" band and we were nice suburban kids, so……

In the beginning we used to dress up in tuxedos! I'll attach a picture of us like that, it's a riot!!!

                                                                           Don pictured in tux

Oh, I was talking to Bobby last year and I was reminiscing about how we first met and he says " I remember the song you sang at the party where Billy and I first saw you, it was "Tell Her No by the Zombies" and I was amazed he remembered that too.

Were you all friends before forming the band. Did you all go to the same school?
Well, Bobby, Billy and I went to West Hempstead High together. We were the first guys to wear our hair long and took a lot of shit from the jocks and the hoods for our hair and clothes. We wore Bell Bottom jeans and wild shirts and people thought we were from another planet but by the next year everyone was trying to look just like us. I guess you could say we were a little ahead of our time. Our Drummer Bob Pelicane was a catholic school guy but lived a few blocks from Bobby and Billy.

 The Country Gentlemen 1966 - picture taken by Don Strodle

You were all teenagers at the time so I suppose gigging in Clubs was out of the question. Did you play much live, and if so where? Did the band support and of the 'major' bands?
When we were young there were a few "Teen" clubs that were popular. The one that we played in almost every weekend was called "The Mod Scene" .We were like the house band and I even wrote a song for the place which we played at the end of each show. ( Have a Mod Mod Time at the Mod Mod Scene) they loved it !

We did play a gig at a place called Murray the K's ( yes the self-proclaimed 5th Beatle)World. It was actually a converted Airplane hanger in Roosevelt Field that held about 5000 people. We opened for The Standells, who's "Dirty Water" single was at the top of the charts at the time. We were awe-struck playing in front of that many people but because we had so many of our fans there we received an enthusiastic ovation.

Two side notes: The Standells needed another amp and borrowed Billy's and proceeded to blow it up. Billy was really upset and even more so when they left without reimbursing us for the damage. Needless to say after that we never "loved that dirty water". Also Roosevelt Field is now one of the largest shopping malls in America!

We also played in the Catskills in a place called Raleigh Hotel. We played in the lounge while the headliners (one of our favorite local Long Island groups at the time) The Young Rascals played the main room.

 The Country Gentlemen pictured on stage at The Cafe Wha? circa 1965

And of course we ventured into Manhattan to play at The Café Wha? In Greenwich Village. That was probably the most adventurous thing we did because we were so young and I was the only one with a driver's license. We would unload Billy and Bobby's Dad's work van and he would let us take it in to the city! Going into the village in the 60's was like stepping into a different world. The Fugs were playing upstairs to us and The Lovin' Spoonful were playing down the street and the whole place was alive with music and people we had never heard of. This was still the time that the Folkies and the Beatniks were still in" and us young Rock and Rollers were the "new" thing.

 We also did beach club gigs in the summer on Long Island. There were these clubs that would hire bands to play in the afternoon. One day at a club called "The Sands" we were playing in one room when another band, in another room began playing and we started to loose our audience, so like any good group we took a break and went to check out the competition. Well we came upon this group who didn't sound too bad but only had one singer (after all we had four, we all sang). So we came the conclusion that we had to be much better than that group. The groups name was The Hassles and their only singer was Billy Joel.

Did you know any other bands/musicians? New York had quite a scene going those days.
Well, like I said we were not a "city" band so we didn't live the life of musicians, school during the day practicing at night and gigging on the weekends. We did do a "Battle of the Bands" , I think it was in Levittown, I wish I could remember the names of all the bands there, there must have been fifty there, all I remember is that we took home the first place trophy!! And we were so infatuated with all the English groups. Some Long Island groups we knew were The Vagrants (Leslie West of Mountain fame first group) and The Illusion with Johnny Vinci as lead singer. The Illusion were from the same town as we were but were a bit older so they played in bars. We would sneak in with phony proof to see them. Also a group called Blue Oyster Cult was from our area.

The Country Gentlemen released one 45 then were gone. Why break up?
It's something I remiss to this day, it was probably my fault. My father had a prosperous Plumbing and Heating business that he wanted me to be a part of so he was always trying to make me feel bad about playing music and not working for him. I guess I finally succumbed to him and quit the band. (big mistake).

Did you play in any other bands?
Not me. I still play for my own enjoyment. I write and play piano and guitar as wall as bass. After The Country Gentlemen, Billy and Bobby had a few different groups before forming Barnaby Bye with Peppy Castro from The Blues Magoos ( their hit song "We Ain't Got Nothing Yet" continues to get airplay to this day) and Mike Ricadella from The Illusion. We were still very good friends at the time even though we had broke up as a group, Billy and I even shared an apartment for a few years. After Barnaby Bye Billy and Bobby continued their solo (duo) career as "Alessi" and made a number of albums and are still recording as Alessi and Barnaby Bye has reunited and are coming out with a new CD! They're actually performing in April locally and I'm going to the show.

What was your bass guitar of choice?
I get that sick feeling in my stomach when I think of the instruments I gave away or sold for almost nothing. I had an original Mini-moog! My first bass was an inexpensive Hagstrom which is seen in the Café Wha? Pictures and as soon as I could afford it I got a hollow body double cutaway Guild bass. It was the same one that Chas Chandler of the Animals used and I am still on the lookout for one. I also had a Fender J bass which I also sold when I was trying to work my way through art school in the 70's ( I went to The School of Visual Arts in Manhattan).

Was the Brent 45 the band's legacy or is there any demos lying around somewhere? Or band pictures?
Actually, I had a few rare test pressings of some songs we did before the Brent 45 but I've lost track of them and I am in the process of trying to reclaim them ( they might be somewhere in my old house now occupied by my ex-wife). As far as pictures, I have a few that I'll send you along with this e-mail.

What songs did you perform live? Did the band have any other original songs in the playlist?
We were basically a cover band but we had at least a half a dozen originals we always played in our sets. Billy and I were constantly writing and Bobby got the bug soon after. Between the three of us we could have easily come up with an albums worth of tunes if we has stayed together.

 Bobby Alessi pictured at band practice

Who were The Country Gentlemen's main influences?
Our influences were the bands we loved to cover, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Donovan, The Kinks, The Yardbirds, The Turtles, The Zombies, The Dave Clark Five, The Spencer Davis Group and The Hollies. We also covered The Rascals, The Beach Boys ( Bobby and I are still huge Beach Boys fans) as well as groups like Paul Revere and the Raiders. Other groups we were influenced by but didn't actually cover were Buffalo Springfield, The Byrds, The Doors, Dylan, The Everly Brothers, The Drifters, Elvis, Wilson Pickett, Van Morrison, The Who, Procol Harum, I could go on but …………

So there it is ……… ten questions answered, hope you found it as enjoyable as I did remembering it! Thanks again for the interest and I'll be glad to answer any questions you might have in the future.

P.S. My 19 year old daughter's boyfriend turned me on to your website, he's a musician as well an he's a bona-fied 60's fanatic as is my own daughter, in her words "There was just so much good music going on back then". I am glad I was a part of it.
P.S.S. That 12 string you noticed in the picture I sent was a Framus, unfortunatly Bobby no longer has it.

Originally posted on 'Flower Bomb Songs' February 2008


I was in a JR High rock band in '65 '66 '67 in Davison Mi.The Country Gentlemen played @ our teen club (beneath the Bowling Alley!) sometime in my 7th grade year. My band which I was the drummer/leader(kind of a "Dave Clark 5" thing!) was caleed "The Conqwuest"... we actually opened for "The Gents" & this must have been later in the bands history as ALL of the guitar players were plugged into VOX SUPER BEATLE AMPS...w/ VOX PA SYSTEM!! & being a drummer myself I was enthralled w/ the lights in the bass& tom toms & various other drums of this "Beatlesque" group ...we were playing all Fender "Showman" amps w/a like PA & for a band of All 8th graders other than myself we thought we were stylin'....

My group WAS in demand as we were all so young & were really talented.This made for a truly novel act @ the time...we were good & cute!!We played all the local teen clubs, high school dances, a place called Sheerwood Forest outside of Flint,Mi.won lots of "Battle of the Bands" & biggest claim to fame was opening for the "Safaris"...(Wipe Out...Surfer Joe..fame!)@ a Davison event. Not bad for 13 yr old kids... Thanks its been a nice memory sparked by your site.....Nino


Dan Garcia pictured circa 1967

I was delighted when Dan Garcia, bass player with The Lyrics happened upon my blog and emailed me after reading my review of 'Wake Up To My Voice' / 'Can't See You Anymore'.
I decided to send Dan some questions about his time in The Lyrics. He's also just set up a Lyrics myspace page with more information about the band aswell as some pics, press cuttings and other memorabilia. I'll add the link at the end of this article.

1. It was interesting to read those press cuttings on your myspace page. I was intrigued to read that an album was due to appear. Did the band cut any demos in the studio for the album or did any studio time for an album not happen in the end?
I believe “Why Did He Go” was the last song we recorded

2. Also it was mentioned that Craig Carll had more than 30 original songs. Can you recall any titles that you may have recorded as demos or played live at gigs?
Songs we were working on and playing live , “Im Missing You” “Dr. Trips Medicine Band” “Teach You To Love” “ Night Flight” ??

3. How much of an effect did it have on the band when singer/songwriter Chris Gaylord left after the 'So What!' record. Michael Allen also left. That must have left a big hole. Did The remaining Lyrics consider all quitting at this time?
No not at all. I remember it being a relief in a way, Chris and Michael were hard to manage and it was just a matter of time before Chris left the group to do his own thing. Me , Billy Garcia and Craig Carll were going in a different direction.

The earlier line-up of The Lyrics recorded the classic garage punkers 'So What!' and 'They Can't Help Me'

4. Did you ever play the Sunset Strip. If yes, can you recall the names of the Clubs/venues. Names some other bands you shared the stage with. Any stories to share with regard to gigs. Any that went badly? What kind of reaction did the crowd give the band?
Yes we played a club called The Hullabaloo across the street from The Whisky A Go Go, we played with “The Byrds” “The Yellow Payges.
We also went on a TV show called the “The Woddy Wood Berry Show” I remember we were on with Betty White, singer Vic Danon and a comedian from Canada.
The crowd was great we had a large following and had a fan club.We also went on another TV show called 'The Groovy Show' I believe.A guy named Mike Blochet was the MC it was done outside in a park.

                           The Lyrics performing at San Diego Sports Centre, 1967

5. What cover versions did The Lyrics perform live?
Ray Charles, Doors, Vanilla Fudge, Hendrix, lots of groups.

6. Where was the promo picture taken of The Lyrics used for the Japanese sleeve for 'Mr Man' ....it's also used for the poster circa 1967.
 That picture was taken in Torrey Pines State Park in La Jolla.

7. What was your bass guitar of choice. Did you have any bass players you admired or were influenced by?  
My Epiphone , Gibson EBO, Fender P-bass.
Players that I admired Jack Bruce from Cream , Harvey Brooks from Electric Flag, Tim Bogart from Vanilla Fudge.

8. I find it a little sad in a way that The Lyrics never made it beyond your locality because I rate 'Wake Up To My Voice' an awesome slice of raga(esque) psychedelia. Way ahead of anything The Doors came up with and you guys were 'supporting' them in some shows. Maybe you should have wore some tight leather jeans....ha ha ha.
I think if we would have changed the name Lyrics and like you said wore tight leather we may have had a better chance. It was a great experience.

Dan Garcia has set up a myspace page dedicated to The Lyrics....just follow the link: http://www.myspace.com/thebandthelyrics 

 Lyrics recording 'Wait'/'Mr Man' at Gold Star Studio, Hollywood in 1967

Danny Reyes (The Bear) drummer of The Lyrics for a short period

Craig with arranger Don Ralke

Originally posted on 'Flower Bomb Songs' October 2008


The show that Dan is thinking of is Groovy, hosted by Michael Blodgett and filmed on the beach at Santa Monica. Blodgett was an actor but he also recorded a 45 for Capitol, the amazing Fire Engine Sky/Clay People of Boxtown - truly groovy! (Clear Light)

interesting words:! thanks! glad the band split up or I'm Gone by the MR would have never been released! and it's a KILLER ONE! (Anon)

OK - here's the deal - some of the information here is incorrect - I should know, I am Christopher Gaylord, or at least I was. I changed my name several years ago to Raymond Clearwater.

Mike Allen and I were kicked out of the Lyrics by the manager, Harlan Peacock. This guy was a total control freak and managed to mess things up pretty badly. I did NOT join any band called the Sons. Don't even know who they were. I did join the Magic Mushroom just before they took off for New York. We recorded three of my songs at Les Pauls house in New Jersey and then the band fell apart.

Look, if you are really interested in any of this, my email address is - ohcisco2001@yahoo.com Feel free to contact me there and I will get back to you

If you want a full on interview, we can set that up as well -

One more thing, I am still writing music and playing and I will be releasing a CD within a couple of months. Again, the name now is Ray Clearwater (Ray)