Sounds of the 60s, Garage Bands and Rock: Part 15
by Jack B. Stephens
Time for another trip back to the bands of the 60s! Remember that in our exploration of Garage Bands we are covering people who got together, formed a band, practiced and reached for success with several styles of music. This series focus is not intended to be just a study of those bands who were later defined as Garage or Punk Rock. I do indeed cover a lot of these bands since they were part of the 60s and readers often want to remember or discover them. Several bands covered are from readers suggestions as well.
Spirit from Los Angeles formed in 1967 by Ed Cassidy and Randy California. The band released their first album in 1968 to wide appeal. The song “Taurus” has been the subject of a lawsuit due to the resemblance to the later released “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin. The first single from the album “Mechanical World” did not chart. 1969 saw the release of their most famous single “I Got A Line on You” which reached number 25 on the Billboard Hot 100.
The next single release “1984” reached number 69 in 1970 shortly before the acclaimed art rock album “Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus”. This album is often compared to later albums in this vein such as “Tommy” by The Who and “The Dark Side of the Moon” by Pink Floyd. Two singles “Nature’s Way” and “Animal Zoo” were released from the album. The latter did crack the Billboard Hot 100 reaching number 97. However, the year also saw stress in the band with original members departing. Spirit did continue on with replacements for the next several decades along with attempts to bring back the original members.
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New Colony Six
The next band is from a reader’s suggestion. The bands style is a softer sound; however, they definitely fit the definition of a garage band. New Colony Six from Chicago began in 1965. They were popular until the early 1970s landing hits on the Billboard Hot 100 until 1971. Their first release in 1965 was “I Confess” which reached number 2 on WLS radio and number 80 on the Billboard Hot 100. The next releases that year were less successful, but they scored another hit in late 1966 with “Love You So Much” which reached number 2 at WLS and number 67 nationally on the Hot 100. 1968 saw the release of the hit single “I Will Always Think About You” reaching number 22 on the Billboard Hot 100 and their biggest charted single “Things I’d Like to Say” in 1969 which reached number 16. The original band charted once again the same year with “I Could Never Lie to You” reaching number 50. Circumstances led to original members leaving, but with differing lineups, they continued on until 1974.
The Shy Guys
The Shy Guys hailed from Oak Park, Michigan forming in 1966. They were popular in the Detroit, Buffalo, and Chicago areas. They were unable to achieve national recognition, but are considered an important Garage Rock band. Their first single in 1966 “We Gotta Go” backed with “Lay It on the Line” became popular in these areas. The second release in 1966 “A Love So True” backed with “Where You Belong” achieved success in the same regions. The final actual single release in 1968 was “Feel a Whole Lot Better”. Although, two more songs followed the same year they were never released and the band soon broke up in 1968. Strangely enough there are other bands who have the same name.
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Vanilla Fudge from Long Island, New York formed in 1965 and are often seen as a link between psychedelic rock and heavy metal. The band is credited as an influence on several major groups including Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Styx, Uriah Heep and Yes. They are known for creating extended rock versions of several hit songs. Their first and biggest hit single “You Keep Me Hangin” in 1967 reached number 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 hit. The next singles did not reach that success; however, they did have some that charted including “Season of the Witch” reaching number 65 and “Where Is My Mind” reaching number 73 in 1967. In 1968, “Shotgun” reached number 68 and “Take Me for a Little While” peaked at number 38. The original band released five albums from 1967 through 1969 before disbanding in 1970. However, with different lineups, Vanilla Fudge has had several reunions.
The bands we have covered this week are not necessarily household names although they did have their share of success either regionally or nationally. Each did have a following of listeners and an influence on other bands. In some cases, such as Vanilla Fudge, their influence on rock music was larger than they are credited for. With each installment of this series, I try to cover some lesser known bands along with those who most of you have heard of. Please continue to offer suggestions on bands you would like to see included in this series. I’ll certainly be glad to put them on my ever-growing list.
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