Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Profiles (Amway)

Here is an obscure record from 1966 that I would like to learn more about. Unsure were the Profiles hailed from. I like the groove on "Please come back". The band also does a decent version of  "if you need me". It has a nice raw early Stones sound.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Ron Heiss / Ron Lee / Lee Carleton

Ron Heiss was a successful recording artist, producer and song writer over a span of five decades. In the 1960's he penned songs for groups such as the Challengers, Travelers, Grand Prix, The Innocents, Mary Saenz and many others. His recording career started while as a junior in high school. In 1959 Premier Records in Tucson, Arizona released two of his recordings. The 45 was an instant smash, becoming very popular locally. His follow up record in 1961 was released on the Keeson Recording record label. For this 45 he would change his recording name to Ron Lee. In 1973 he recorded a 45 under the name of Lee Carleton on the Saguaro Record label. Ron was very kind to write me and to provide a brief glimpse of his early musical career. I gladly present his story on the blog along with the song "Far Away" that I recorded from his second 45. It was the B side, I would describe it as a powerful teen lament ballad.

                                                                            Ron Heiss
 Music and performance began for me when, as a child, my mother would dress me up as a cowboy, place me in front of  a record player and ask me to sing. Of course, my parents would always enthusiastically applaud to express their approval and that seemed to be all the encouragement that I needed. It was not until we moved from LaPorte, Indiana to Tucson, Arizona, that I began to feel the effects of a certain musical chemistry which existed in this new environment. Since I played the trumpet in the marching band, I didn’t feel that learning to play the guitar would be that difficult to master.

After imitating some of my vinyl heroes Ricky Nelson, Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison, I decided to compose some original songs. It was during my junior year at Catalina High School that I decided I would create my own record label as well.  Premier Records was born in 1958 as well as two songs, in particular, that I wanted to record: “Because I love You” and “She Said No”. The next step was to find a group that could provide the necessary instrumentation and vocal backing that I had envisioned. I eventually found the perfect group who had been playing at the Monte Vista Lounge on Speedway, and they called themselves The Combos. Mike Lacy was the group leader, and he fulfilled all of my expectations.  After a number of highly structured rehearsals, we were ready to make our way to Phoenix and lay down our tracks at Audio Recording utilizing one of the best technicians in the southwest at that time: Jack Miller. Duane Eddy was also  recording there when he was still with Jamie Records. In two and a half hours, my first two tracks were complete and two acetate dubs were cut. After designing the record label, getting an initial 500 copies pressed and arranging for a Southwestern record distributor, the next step was to contact KTKT radio (Tucson) in an endeavor to secure air play. I quickly discovered that they were more than willing to give a novice artist some exposure to the local airwaves. This lead to various appearances at several High Schools as well as an appearance on Arizona Bandstand, southern Arizona’s answer to the national American Bandstand. Just when “Because I Love You” started to receive a considerable amount of recognition, it was time for me to attend basic training at Fort Ord, California. I had joined the Army National Guard as a junior but was given a deferment until I graduated from High School. 

    My next recorded effort began late in 1960, not very long after returning from basic training. Keeson Recording Ltd. agreed to produce two songs entitled “Come a Little Closer” and “Far Away”. The owner of the label and I selected the studio musicians to be used for the recording session. I started to work toward a B.F.A. in Drama Production at the University of Arizona during the same time frame and readily recall one of my peers announcing, at a play rehearsal, that “Come a Little Closer” had just been selected as Pick Hit of the Week on KOMA radio out of Oklahoma City. Obviously, I was pleased to hear the good news because that station was extremely strong and could be heard at night in western states. 

   In addition to my recording and live theatre interests, I was also drawn to movies and television.  At that time Tucson was considered a mecca for western movies because we had the streets of ‘Old Tucson as a backdrop. I did a lot of work in front of the camera on films like Return of the Gunfighter with Robert Taylor and Chad Everett or the T.V. show Route 66 in the “How Much a Pound is Albatross?’ episode with George Maharis and Marty Millner, just to name a few. Early in 1961, I had occasion to visit Dave Nelson at KTKT Radio who suggested that I go to Hollywood/L.A. and see Jim Lee of Indigo Records because he was looking for artists and material for his label. I followed his advice and did just that. Sitting in his office on Barham Boulevard in Burbank, California, Jim Lee decided that “Because I Love You” would be The Innocents’ fourth single release following songs like “Honest I Do” and "Gee Whiz". The result was a date with the top 40 on Billboard and Cashbox as well as a double sided hit with ‘Beware’ on the flip side. This Indigo release represented a major step in my music career owing to the fact that it established credibility for me as a songwriter.  I returned to Tucson, but it was not long before I met Tex Hughes who shared my passion for songwriting. We decided to return to  California and try our hand at writing for other artists.
  1963 produced songs like ‘Chu-sen-ling’ written with Fred Stryker of Era Records and ‘He Didn’t Even Say Hello’ recorded by Mary Saenz, also released on the Era label. Mary was also from Tucson and a girl that I use to date back in High School.  She would eventually record on Decca Records and work with Gary ‘Alley-Oop’ Paxton. 
I owe a dept of gratitude to people like John Marascalco (songwriter for Little Richard and Elvis Presley) and Richard Delvy of The Challengers who, with John, were responsible for one of the most popular instrumentals of all time "Wipe Out". Bobby Hart "I wonder What She’s Doin’ Tonight?" who helped us  brainstorm two songs "41 Ford" and "Goin 88" for the Hot Rod City album released on Vault Records in 1963.I’m also sure that Tex remembers being in the Gold Star recording studio watching Phil Spector lay down a track or Donnie Brooks "Mission Bells" helping us get a start in the business. Meeting Sonny and Cher when they were still Caesar and Cleo was another memorable moment. The single "Hot Rod Hootenanny" was a song that Tex Hughes and I wrote that was recorded by the Challengers. It was released in 1964.
 After another return to Tucson, I had occasion to meet and partner with Ron Story (lead guitar of The Travelers).  We produced quite a few records together on the Yellow Sand, Whirl and Knight labels under Heiss and Story Productions (1964-65). Ron and I spent quite a bit of time in Hollywood as we cut deals with the Vault and Princess Record labels, and I have no doubt that ‘Spanish Moon’ will remain one of my favorite instrumentals of all time. In fact, Ron even co-wrote an instrumental with my mother, Edna Heiss, entitled ‘ Melody of the Moon’. 
Ron Heiss and Ron Story
   In 1967, I finally graduated with a B.F.A. in Drama Production from the University of Arizona.  From there it was a Master’s Degree from Ball State University and Ph.D coursework from the University of Illinois and the University of Washington. I released a record  in 1973 under the name of Lee Carleton and The Ghost Riders on my Saguaro Record label. "The Illinois Central" and "No Word But Lonely". were the songs on the 45. It was a Heiss-Austin Production which resulted in quite a bit of air play as well as the T.V. special. George Austin was my partner in this venture and was the drummer for The Ghost Riders. I was attending the University of Illinois and working for the newspaper at the time. The dishwasher at the restaurant that I frequented was the inspiration for "The Illinois Central". We played such places as Prairelands which was the largest venue in that region of Illinois. I retired in 2006 after 35 years as Director of Drama at Spokane Community College teaching Speech, Drama and Film. After all this time, I can honestly say that those early years in Tucson and Hollywood were the most exciting and rewarding years of my life. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Contells (Rockside)

The Contells were from Bradford, Pennsylvania which is located about 80 miles south of Buffalo, New York. From 1963-1967 the group developed a substantial fan following performing at various events in Western Pennsylvania, Northeast Ohio and Western New York State. Band members consisted of Bill Wilson (Lead Guitar), Alex Nuzzo (Drummer), Gary Hrin (Rhythm Guitar), George Salvucci (Sax) and Tony Curcio (Bass). The Contells released one record in 1965 on the small Rockside record label. The song "Doesn't Matter At All" was included on the garage compilation series Wyld Sydes volume two. The flip side "I'll Be Right There" has a catchy beat with slight Mersey sounding vocals. I was pleased when I was able to make contact and had the privilege to talk to band members Gary Hrin and George Salvucci. Some of their thoughts and memories of their time with the Contells I gratefully present to you.
         Bill Wilson (Lead Guitar)              Alex Nuzzo (Drummer)             Gary Hrin (Rhythm Guitar)
        George Salvucci (Sax)                          Tony Curcio (Bass)

Gary Hrin   We were all friends. Everyone in the group attended Bradford High School with the exception of Bill Wilson who went to Central Christian High School. I remember back in 1963 there was construction taking place at the high school so students were let out of school around noon every day. We would hang out down town visiting the record store, soda shop and various other stores. We all enjoyed playing music and being in a band sounded like it would be fun. Occasionally we would get together and play around some. I was mesmerized when I watched the Beatles on TV in 1964. They had such a different look and sound than anybody else. The Armory was close to the high school. We knew Jack Confer who was the Sergeant in Charge there. In one of the rooms at the Armory there were some musical instruments. Sometimes Jack would let us come in and play with them. We started getting serious about the band and its potential. We continued to practice trying to learn some new songs. Jack arranged for us to perform at a dance they were having in the Armory with the possibility of making a little money. It went well and the place was packed. Jack was happy and he started getting us more events to play. We always had good size crowds and it seemed like people enjoyed our shows. Jack would later become the manager of the band. Tony and I were in the same mechanical drawing class in school and we found ourselves always discussing music and other band related things. After school we would practice sometimes three or four hours striving to get better. The music store in town extended us a line of credit to purchase some new musical instruments. Great!! We got some nice equipment. I got a Gibson Stratocaster guitar. The sounds that we were getting from our new equipment was amazing. The local Jewelry store owner’s wife made us matching dress suits that we could wear at our shows. We even wore Beatle boots for a short time. Jack purchased a van so we could haul our equipment around to various events.
George Salvucci   During the school year we would play mostly weekend dances at the Bradford Armory, YWCA Hall, and the Knights of Columbus Auditorium. We also played for school events when asked. The Armory became our home base. When we were not performing shows we were able to practice there most of the time when drills were not in session. We could usually leave our equipment set up there as well. During the summer we would travel. The group played all over Pennsylvania, such as in St. Mary's, Dubois, Emporium, Erie, Harrisburg, Allentown and our hometown of Bradford. We also performed around Cleveland and Astabula, Ohio as well as in Olean, Salamanca, Ellicotville and Buffalo, New York. We developed a loyalty of fans from areas all around that saw us play. We would perform in the "Battle of the Bands" that was put on probably by the Rotary or Community Club. The winning prize I believe was $100 to the winner and coupons to the local milkshake and burger shop.  Bands from Buffalo, Cleveland and other areas would play. The crowd would applaud as a vote. It was great when you were considered a winner in your hometown!!  I remember The Tierra's (also a Bradford group) and The Gatesmen (from Buffalo) were a couple of bands in the competition and there were a lot more that I can't remember. There were always funny moments. One time we were playing a month long gig in the St. Mary's/Lock Haven/Dubois area when our van broke down. Our other vehicle was with our manager Jack Confer and he had disappeared.  We didn't know where he was for about three weeks. We relied on local fans to truck our equipment around to our different events. We were short of money because Jack had our checks. When we did our shows we would announce that it was one of the band members birthdays. We probably had 30 birthday cakes given to us by fans. We ate lots of birthday cake. We also stayed at newly made friend’s cottages that were in the beautiful parks and forests of western Pennsylvania. That made for picnics and jam sessions with fans and friends. We had no problems surviving. There was always plenty of food, good friends, and people that helped us get around to our next job. We found out later that Jack had been called away on business. It was a great time to be in a band in those days. We had loads of fun.  
Gary Hrin  The band was always doing things to entertain the crowds. One time we were playing at the Quaker Dance Pavilion which was located in Allegheny State Park, New York. Little over an hour into the show we came up with the idea that three of us would play a song upside down. We had some people lift us up to the rafters and we played the song hanging from our knees. I remember the sweat was flowing down my body. I look down and I saw several people staring wide eyed at me while I played my guitar. The crowd was dancing and thoroughly enjoying themselves. The wooden floor of the pavilion was shaking and bouncing. We heard later that two of the floor beams of the pavilion were cracked that night!

                                                                            The Record
                                                                                    Doesn't Matter At All 

                                                                                        I'll Be Right There 

Gary Hrin   We were practicing at the Armory when our manager Jack Confer came over to talk to us. He was with an elderly man who owned a recording studio in the small town of Elgin, Pennsylvania which is near Erie. Jack told us that the band was going to make a record and that we needed to write two songs for that 45. We had about a month do this. I sat down and came up with the lyrics for the song “Doesn’t Matter At All”. The song is basically about a boy who loves his girlfriend, but she was unfaithful and has a baby by another guy. Ashamed, the girl leaves town but later comes back to find the boy who loved her. The boy still loves her deeply and he takes her back saying, “Doesn’t matter at all”. Anyway, that's what I was thinking when I wrote it. “I’ll be right there” was the other song we came up with very quickly. We all worked as hard as we could to get ready for the recording of the two songs. We practiced for many hours on the rhythm, tempo and harmonies.
George Salvucci   Before going to record the 45 we performed the newly created songs to various crowds and we were pleased with the reaction that we received. When we arrived at the studio most of the details were handled by Jack and the studio owner. We played our songs a few times while adjustments were made to the recording equipment. There were two other people in the booth with Jack Confer. They would send Jack out with instructions of loudness levels/settings and mic adjustments, etc. Alex Nuzzo was the lead singer, with Tony in the 2nd seat. All of us that were not singing lead were singing harmony on the chorus parts. The only exception is when I played my sax on specific parts in the chorus. When we finally got through the dry runs we were told "This is for the final take"!! We played the songs the best we could and that was it! I believe it took about 4 hours or so to get everything in order and recorded.
Gary Hrin  I remember the studio used a reel to reel tape machine when recording our music. After about one or two months we received a wax record about the size of standard 33 1/2 LP album. Both the songs were on one side.  The back side was smooth. When we played it to see how it sounded, we notice that the tempo for “Doesn’t matter at all” was a little slower than how we originally recorded it. The song was supposed to be faster, something you could dance to. Even though we were not completely satisfied with it, we decided to just leave it as it was. The 45’s were pressed and it wasn’t too long afterwards we started receiving boxes of records. It's hard to describe what a great feeling it was when I first heard our record on the radio. That was special.
George Salvucci  We were all excited about the 45. The record was distributed to local area record stores and we sold them at our shows as well. The record was played on the local radio station WESB/1490am in Bradford, as well as radio stations in St. Mary's, Warren, Pennsylvania, Olean, New York and maybe others. I am not sure if it charted but it was popular in Bradford. It was nice to walk around town and have people come up to you and say that they really liked our music. Joe DiProspero joined the Contells not too long after the record was made. Joey was an accomplished accordion player, keyboard man and was very talented. When we made the record we had hopes that it would be picked up by the big boys and go national. Unfortunately, that did not happen, but we sure had fun with the experience.
Gary Hrin  The Contells disbanded  in 1967. The Vietnam War was escalating causing many young people's lives to be effected. That was true for the guys in the band. I think all of us were either drafted or enlisted. I have many good memories playing music with all the guys in the Contells. I will always cherish those. We had great times and even today we are all friends.

Newspaper article from the Mount Jewett News    March 11, 1965
Photograph and Newspaper article of the Contells was courtesy of George Salvucci. Thanks George and Gary for sharing some wonderful stories about the band.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Coachmen (Type)

A raw instrumental 45 by the Coachmen. It was released in 1962. In Gary E. Meyers book "Oh That Wisconsin Beat" he wrote that The Coachmen were comprised of students from Wisconsin Lutheran High in Milwaukee.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Rod and the Satalites (Irish)

Rod Hibbert and the Satalites released one of the coolest garage records in the 1960's. The 45 originally came with a picture sleeve with a photo of the group on the front when it was released in 1965. I like the smokin hot guitar work on "She Cares". "I'm Telling You Right Now" is outstanding. Great record!

The Cadds (Universal Sound)

The Cadds were from Michigan. 1966 the group released their only 45 on the Universal Sound record label.

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Statics (JB Leenander)

Psychedelic music was still going strong when The Statics released this record in 1968. Heavy organ and drums through out.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Jacemen (Larson)

I would like to take time to remember The Jacemen, They released a cool version of the Beatles "You can't do that".

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Minute Men (Argo)

In my opinion, The British Invasion , Surf and the U.S. Garage sound  of the 1960's were the best years of rock and roll. It was outstanding music.There were so many good bands. I think the Beatles were the greatest Rock and Roll group of all time. The Beatles appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show was watched by millions. So many groups tried to imitate them.With that said in 1964 The Minute Men released a catchy surf sounding song "Please Keep The Beatles In England" lamenting that the Beatles had stole his girlfriend. Lyrics go like this "Before the Beatles starting fooling around I had the cutest little girl in town. She liked the way I combed my hair before but she don't like it anymore". The flip side "My Love Is Gone" is a good DooWop /Surf teen ballad.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Court Jesters (Royale)

Here is an interesting 45 that I have failed to find any information about. I like the raw sound by the Court Jesters on both sides of this record. It would be nice to learn more about the band . Maybe someone can share the group's history or the year of the record's release.

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Chantells (Century)

The Chantells were a Richmond ,Virginia area group.. Tommy Woodcock was the lead singer. The Chantells released a couple of 45's. The label on this record looks like it might have been a promotional copy for the group. The writer of the songs are not listed.