Sounds of the 60s, Garage Bands and Rock: Part 14

by Jack B. Stephens

My series often includes several rather unknown bands typically combined with a band that had much success. This installment is no different. This has become one of my goals as this series has progressed. I like to introduce you to “new” bands along with jogging your memory of ones you may have heard more about. My content is often inspired by readers and is a reason you have been seeing many more bands that fit in well with the actual genre of “Garage Rock”. Be aware that not all bands will fit this genre though.

Five by Five

Five by Five formed in Magnolia, Arkansas in 1967. The band only saw national success with the single “Fire”, a cover of the Jimi Hendrix song and reached number 52 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1968. However, they released several singles from 1967 through 1971 on Paula Records. They also released one album “Next Exit” in 1968. Their first release in 1967 was “You Really Got A Hold On Me”. Resources are limited on this 60s garage band even though they had several releases including “Apple Cider”, “Hush”, “Penthouse Pauper” and “15 Going On 20” which are included here.

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Canned Heat

Canned Heat launched in Los Angeles in 1965 with founders Alan Wilson and Bob Hite both who had a deep interest in the Blues. The band took this interest, brought it into rock music, added psychedelic elements and were a huge success making appearances in all of the festivals of the time including the Monterey Pop Festival and Woodstock. Many of their songs were based of much older blues songs. Their first single in 1967 was “Rollin’ and Tumblin” which did well reaching number 76 on the Billboard Hot 100. The second release in 1967 “On the Road Again” was the bands breakout hit attaining international success and reaching number 16 on the Billboard Hot 100. 1968 saw the release of the bands best known and highest charting song “Going Up The Country” which reached number 11 on the US Chart. The song is also known as the unofficial theme song for Woodstock. The group began to have several problems in the lineup during 1969 and 1970 losing several of their important members. However, the single “Let’s Work Together” was released. It was a success reaching number 26 on the Billboard Hot 100 and the biggest hit featuring vocals by Hite.

The Last Heard

The Last Heard founded by Bob Seger was one of his many bands during the 60s before reaching major stardom in later decades. The band’s first release “East Side Story” in January 1966 was their first hit reaching number 3 on the local Detroit charts. This single led to a contract with Cameo-Parkway Records. Four more singles were released during 1966 and 1967 including “Sock It to Me Santa”, “Persecution Smith”, “Vagrant Winter” and the most notable “Heavy Music”. All of the singles were hits locally as well as in Canada. “Heavy Music” almost made the Billboard Hot 100 reaching number 103 on the “bubbling under” chart. Although the group failed to gain much national attention they show the beginnings of an artist that would eventually become a household name. The group disbanded mainly due to the record label going out of business.

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The Five Emprees

The Five Emprees formed in Benton Harbor, Michigan during high school, but without a band name. They made their debut in the basement of a classmate’s birthday party with a set of ten songs they had rehearsed. The performance was a success and they went on to perform several school dances. A contest was held to come up with a band name. That resulted in a name of Cook and the Chefs, but was changed to The Impressions. They played at a regular dance under this name before discovering that a group named The Impressions already existed. The band continued to rehearse in a barn under the new name and were discovered by a disk jockey at WLS radio. They signed with Freeport Records and recorded “Little Miss Sad” in 1965 which was a hit on the radio station and reached number 74 on the Billboard Hot 100. Their next releases included “Hey Baby”, “Why” and “Hey Lover” popular in Chicago, but did not chart nationally. Their last single release in 1966 “Gone from My Mind” also did not chart. The band suffered from many missed opportunities and unfortunate events. However, they were inducted into the Michigan Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

As we continue exploring bands from the 1960s, we discover that many are short lived only having an impact for a short period of time with some being rediscovered years later. Others build up to a huge success quickly, but then fall from fame due to incidents such as losing original members or other causes. Some artists go through several garage bands before reaching huge stardom. One thing they all share though is the impact they make both on listeners, other bands and the furthering of rock and roll music.

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