Sounds of the 60s: Garage Bands and Rock, Part 12
by Jack B. Stephens
I always enjoy reading the comments, thoughts and suggestions all of the readers make about this series. I welcome these regardless of whether they are praise or criticism because they allow me to fine tune this series and answer your various questions. Often, readers also suggest bands that they want to see included. These week we explore some short lived, but influential bands. Many of these bands were simply ahead of their time and actually reached their greatest popularity years later.
Clefs of Lavender Hill
A band that several may be unfamiliar with are Clefs of Lavender Hill from Miami, Florida which was formed by siblings Travis and Coventry Fairchild in 1966. The group was short lived, but should be included in any discussion of Garage and Folk Rock.
Their first single was “First Tell Me Why”; however, the B side “Stop! Get a Ticket” was the hit in Miami. The record gained some national attention and reached number 80 on the Billboard Hot 100.
The next release in 1966 was “One More Time” which failed to reached the Hot 100; however, it is definitely a song worth listening to.
The follow up singles including “It Won’t Be Long” in 1966 and “Gimme One Good Reason” in 1967 fared worse on the charts. The group planned to release an album, but due to low sales the release never happened. The group disbanded by 1968.
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The Remains from Boston formed in 1964 at the University all band were attending as Freshmen. They happened to all live in the same dorm room. The band was very popular in New England, but did not achieve national success. Their big achievements included being an opening act on The Beatles final tour in the US in 1966 as well as performing on “The Ed Sullivan Show” in 1965.
The single “Why Do I Cry” was released in 1965 followed by “I Can’t Get Away from You” the same year.
“Diddy Wah Diddy” and “Don’t Look Back” were both released in 1966.
The album “A Session With The Remains” contains several other non single releases such as a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Like A Rolling Stone”. Although the band was positioned for success, the loss of their original drummer in 1966 left the group feeling they lacked the same sound and they disbanded in 1966. However, their music went on to have a very strong cult following.
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The Barbarians formed in 1964 in Provincetown/Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The band made many appearances at a local club, The Rumpus Room, before going to New York. They were known for their unusual dress, longer than normal hair and in particular their drummer Victor Moulton who played with a hook shaped prosthetic left hand.
Their first single “Hey Little Bird” released in 1964 was not successful, but the band continued on with “Are You a Boy or Are You a Girl” which reached number 55 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1965.
The “B” side of the single, “Take It Or Leave It”, also gained some recognition.
The next release “What the New Breed Say” from 1965 almost reached the US chart. However, the song “Moulty” did reach number 90 in 1966. This song was later part of the famous “Nuggets” compilation in 1972. The lyrics of “Moulty” describe the life of Moulton including the loss of his hand. Unfortunately, several of the original members left in 1967 and the group disbanded.
Mitch Ryder and The Detroit Wheels
Possibly the best known of the bands we cover this week are Mitch Ryder and The Detroit Wheels who originated in Detroit in 1964. The groups live performances were often described as high charged R&B.
Their first hit was in 1965 with “Jenny Take a Ride” which reached number 10 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song is especially notable since it also reached number 1 on the R&B chart. This was the first time a rock band has achieved this.
Their next release “Little Latin Lupe Lu” in 1966 reached number 17 on the Billboard Hot 100.
The band then had a couple of misses before releasing their biggest hit in 1966 “Devil with a Blue Dress On”/“Good Golly Miss Molly medley which reached number 4 on the US chart.
1967 saw the release of “Sock It to Me, Baby!” which was considered sexually suggestive and banned by several radio stations.
The band’s last hit was “Too Many Fish in the Sea”/”Three Little Fishes” which reached number 24 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1967. The original group disbanded with the departure of Ryder for a solo career.
One thing to remember about this series is that I typically only cover the original bands. Most groups are notorious for lineup changes and often the departure of key or founding members result in the disbanding of what I consider to be the original band. Many of these bands will attempt to continue on with the same name or later have a revival. It is beyond the scope and space limitations of my series to cover all of these reincarnation.
-Jack B Stephens
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