Sounds of the 60s: Garage Bands and Rock, Part 19
by Jack B. Stephens
Welcome to the 19th part of my series covering the many bands that brought us the Sounds of the 60s, a decade that will always remain one of the most important in the development and history of rock and roll music. As usual, we will cover a variety of bands that express several different music genres, but all share the fact that they began in the same decade. Some of the bands are from other countries and failed to cross the Atlantic at that particular time. Some were unfortunately categorized into genres that were not necessarily admired by critics. One thing to always keep in mind is that when speaking about a band or a recording is that the artists of the group never represent all of the other people involved in their career. Bands typically start out very young and are always vulnerable to being caught up with unscrupulous producers, record labels and the like. The goal of the band is success; however, the intent of some producers, managers and record labels is sometimes related to other things besides the reputation or ongoing success of the band.
The Easybeats formed in Sydney, Australia in 1964 although all of the founding members were originally from various parts of Europe. In fact, the band began in a migrant hostel. The founders were Stevie Wright, Gordon Fleet, George Young, Harry Vanda and Dick Diamonde. The group began playing at a teen club and became one of the most popular bands in Sydney. They experienced the type of fame that was similar to the Beatles and had a following known as “Easyfever”. They signed a recording contract with Parlophone Records and released their first blues flavored single “For My Woman” in 1965 which was a hit in Sydney. “She’s So Fine” was released the same year which was a more up-tempo song. It proved to be a much bigger success reaching the top of the Australian charts and led the band to national attention. “Wedding Ring” followed shortly after and was another success reaching number 6. The Easybeats were prolific with releases from 1965 through 1969. This included 24 singles, six studio albums and one live album along with several EPs and compilation albums. In 1966 the Easybeats released four singles including “Women (Make You Feel Alright)”, “Sorry” and the song that made history “Friday On My Mind”. Before the song was released, the band moved from Australia to England and signed up with the legendary producer Shel Talmy who began managing their recordings. Earlier songs were written by Wright and Young; however, the songwriting switched to Young and Vanda. Young wanted to write and record more daring and complex songs. “Friday On My Mind” reached number 16 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was at the top of the charts in several countries. It was the first international hit single from an Australian rock and roll band. However, this would prove to be their only true hit in the United States. An additional four singles each year from 1967 through 1969 included “Who’ll Be the One”, “Heaven and Hell”, “Land of Make Believe”, “Good Times”, “Peculiar Hole in the Sky” and their only other single to break the Billboard Hot 100 “St. Louis” peaking at number 100. By late 1969, the band had become disillusioned, at odds with their management, worn out and in debt. The group broke up shortly thereafter. Vanda and Young continued songwriting and producing though. Interestingly enough, Young is the sibling of Angus and Malcom Young from AC/DC fame.
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The Move hailed from Britain and formed the band in 1965. They were very successful in the UK, but surprisingly failed to find much popularity in the United States. The original band consisted of Chris Kefford, Roy Wood, Carl Wayne, Trevor Burton and Bev Bevan. Early on, the band used various stage antics, clothing and publicity stages. Their first single was “Night of Fear” which reached number 2 on the UK Singles Chart in 1967. They followed the success with “I Can Hear the Grass Grow” reaching number 5 on the chart. The bands third single “Flowers in the Rain” the same year reached number 2. However, due to a promotional campaign by their manager who did not consult with the band, things went bad with the single. The group was sued for libel and lost. This had a big impact on the band; however, they continued on and planned to launch their fourth single “Cherry Blossom Clinic” which was about the fantasies of a patient in a mental institution. Scarred by the court situation with their last single, they ended up scrapping the idea because of possible controversy. 1968 saw a return of the band to the charts with “Fire Brigade” reaching number 3 on the UK chart. However, shortly after Kefford was removed from the band due to personal issues. The band continued on with the four remaining members and released “Wild Tiger Woman” which was not successful. The next release “Blackberry Way” was considerably more commercial and topped the UK chart in 1969. However, the group was falling apart with original members leaving and replacements being brought in. Singles were released until the final end of the band in 1972. These included “Brontosaurus” and “When Alice Comes Back to the Farm” in 1970 and 1971. 1972 actually saw The Move’s only release “Do Ya” break into the Billboard Hot 100 peaking at number 93. By this time, Jeff Lynne had joined the band in 1970 with the hope of beginning a new group with Wood and Bevan who all formed the Electric Light Orchestra.
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The Music Explosion
The Music Explosion, originally known as The Chosen Few, were a garage rock band from Mansfield, Ohio who began in 1966. The band members were James Lyons, Donald Atkins, Richard Nesta, Burton Stahl and Robert Avery. All of the band members were under age so they did not perform in many clubs in the beginning. Instead, they were a regional band playing mainly at proms, dances and the like. The band did do a lot of cover songs as The Chosen Few; however, the group members did a lot of practicing to form the group. They sometimes have received flack due to the fact that they were discovered and signed by Jerry Kasenetz and Jeff Katz who later are given credit for creating what was called “bubblegum music”. This style of music faced the same type of unflattering criticism as “disco music” that flourished in the 1970s. The groups who fell into this category were often said not to have “real” members and instead used session musicians. Some did, but this was not true for The Music Explosion or several other bands who were unfortunately placed into this category. These were real bands and are indeed a part of rock and roll history. Kasenetz and Katz were responsible for taking them to New York where they became The Music Explosion. They did a remake of “Little Black Egg” on Attack Records which was a regional hit in Ohio and almost made the Billboard Hot 100. The next release “Little Bit O’ Soul” was a huge hit bringing the band national attention reaching number 2 on the Hot 100. This would turn out to be their only release with this much success, but the song is still very well known today and has been covered by later bands. The group did continue to release new singles through Other releases include “What You Want (Baby I Want You)”, “Where Are We Going” and “I See the Light” and “Sunshine Games” which was their only other charted single reaching number 63 in 1967.
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The Heard from Longview, Texas formed in 1965. Andy and Randy Clendenen, twin brothers, began the band with Billy Hazard, Bill Lewis and Jack Batman who were fellow students at their high school. They became popular throughout Texas with several highly regarded gigs in Dallas, Austin and Houston. They became particularly well known in Houston where they performed regularly at the popular Catacomb Club. The group became known as one of the loudest bands in Texas. Their first and only single “Exit 9” was recorded when the band booked studio time to reach greater regional and national attention. The studio was state of the art and included recording equipment that was rare for the time. After spending most of their time recording the single, they were low on finances and had to move to another studio to record the B side “You’re Gonna Miss Me”, a cover of the 13th Floors classic. The single was a number one hit in East Texas and reached a larger audience due to the exposure on high-powered radio station in Houston. At the time, national attention remained low; however, “Exit 9” is now one of the most celebrated songs representing Texas garage rock as well as a popular contribution to psychedelic rock. The song is featured on several compilation albums. Unfortunately, The Heard was a short-lived band as they disbanded after graduating from high school in 1967. There are other bands also named The Heard including one from Illinois; however, there is no connection. Throughout the history of rock and roll, it is not unusual for bands to spring up in different locations with the same name.
Each of the bands we have covered had varying degrees of success. If it were simply up to the bands themselves, many would have received greater success or possibly less success. Record labels, producers and managers have a large impact on what happens to a band or how they are received by the listening public. They are definitely an important part of the exposure the band receives even if in the end their interests are not necessarily for the band members. Some of the groups we have covered are an example of that. However, for some bands it can even be worse than any of the groups we have talked about in this installment. Some bands in the past have been talked into selling out their rights for their own material. This led to some artists receiving no royalties for their music and in many extreme cases a ban on them using their bands name or performing their own material. Regardless, each band we cover are an important piece of the puzzle that may one day represent an entire picture. Fortunately for us, new pieces of this puzzle are still being created today.
Sources and Other Information:
Find The Easybeats bio, music, credits, awards, & streaming links on AllMusic – An Australian beat group from the mid-1960s best…
Fifteen years before Men at Work went platinum worldwide with “Down Under,” the Easybeats scored the first international victory for Oz rock with “Friday on My Mind,” the classic 1967 weekend-party anthem. The Easybeats combined the songwriting depth of the Beatles with the raw surge of the Rolling Stones and ruled the charts down under for four years.
The Easybeats began their career in late 1964 at the little-known teen hangout, Beatle Village, located in the basement of a pub at Taylor Square on Oxford Street, in Darlinghurst, Sydney. The band was inspired by the ” British Invasion” spearheaded by The Beatles.
The discography of Australian rock band The Easybeats.
Find The Move bio, music, credits, awards, & streaming links on AllMusic – Adventurous British combo that began with merry…
The Move were a British rock band of the late 1960s and the early 1970s. They scored nine Top 20 UK singles in five years, but were among the most popular British bands not to find any real success in the United States.
1960’s pop group from Birmingham
Gary James’ Interview With Burton Stahl Of The Music Explosion
The Music Explosion was an American garage rock band from Mansfield, Ohio, discovered and signed by record producers Jerry Kasenetz and Jeff Katz. The quintet is best known for their number two hit, ” Little Bit O’ Soul”, that received gold record status by the R.I.A.A..
Find The Heard biography and history on AllMusic – Longview, Texas garage band the Heard was formed…
The Heard was an American garage rock band formed in Longview, Texas, in 1965. Within a year of their formation, the band gained a reputation as one of the loudest musical acts in Texas, soon receiving a string of gigs at Houston’s Catacomb Club.
The Heard were from Longview in East Texas and were formed in 1965 by twin brothers Andy and Randy Clendenen and three of their high school classmates. After gaining notoriety playing locally, the band travelled further afield to the metropolises of Dallas, Austin and Houston. While taking part in a Battle of the Bands contest…