Monday, August 10, 2015

The Mopptops

The Mopptops were a rock-n-roll group that resided in the Hawaiian Islands. The band recorded several very good 45’s and was extremely popular locally, but for the most part their music was isolated to that region of the United States. I was pleased when Jesse Morgan, the lead singer of The Mopptops, contacted me and was gracious enough to provide photos and to share his memories of the time he spent with the group. Thanks Jesse.
Ronny Payton      Michael Payton       Jesse Morgan
Michael Nakasone 

  The Mopptops originated in the mid 1960's in Honolulu, Hawaii and rocked the Hawaiian Islands right into the early 70's. For many years the Islanders favorite Rock/RB band, and the longest lasting local rock group in Hawaii. Originally when the Mopptops began there were three members already assembled when I was asked to join the band as lead singer/front-man: Michael Payton (Drums), Ronny Payton (Bass Guitar/Tenor Sax), and Michael Nakasone (Piano/Alto Sax). The three of them just recorded an instrumental 45rpm on Teen Records “Flipper” and on the flip side “Mop Top”. The band was looking for a singer to complete the group and that was me.
  There were many good bands in Hawaii back then. However, most of the groups would not last long, for some maybe a year or two before disbanding or disappearing from the music/band scene. Most of the bands back in the day catered to local people's interest in music and cover songs played on the radio stations. The Mopptops were different from other local bands of that era, we played more progressive long hair rock/r&b and moved around on stage with lots of energy that produced a show that would captured the audience's attention, The band was more in with the mainland style of music. Typically the pop music scene in Hawaii lagged behind what was a year ahead on the mainland and around the world. The Mopptops were an alternative to the other groups on the Island, and because of this, it took longer for us to reach our own audience. Our biggest followers consisted mostly of people from the mainland and those serving in the military; the military presence in Hawaii was very large due to the many military bases throughout Hawaii. The original MOPPTOPS fame grew because of the band’s zany showmanship on stage, our long hair, drums on fire and me dancing the latest moves on stage was helpful. We couldn’t even go to the grocery store without getting mobbed by fans. Once I joined the band, Michael Payton and I collaborated to write most of our songs. . The Mopptops recorded mostly original material and very little cover songs. The Band worked the nightclub circuit, enabling us to make a living at what we love doing. The group’s second record featured a couple of songs that Michael Payton and I wrote “I Want You to Stand by Me” and “I Tried”. The record was released on the Dee Jay record label.
                                                                                          I Tried

The Mopptops performing at the Honolulu International Center in 1965
  Our music got air play from the local radio stations, and The Mopptops were always considered first to perform at the HIC (Honolulu International Center) concert arena to either open or perform alone with the well-known recording groups coming to Honolulu to perform back then. The bands we performed with were all major recording groups and/or artists from around the world. After the first 2 record releases ran their course, Ronny Payton and Michael Nakasone decided to leave the group and pursue their education. Years later Michael Nakasone taught music at the University of Hawaii, then he later was tapped as music conductor for Hawaii's prestigious Royal Hawaiian Band (what an honor). Shortly after, Randy Aloya joined the band replacing Ron Payton on Bass. Randy was already a friend of mine. Then we asked Randy’s cousin Bernard Deseo to join and play lead guitar to replace Michael Nakasone. The next generation of The Mopptops consisted of: Michael Payton (Drums), Randy Aloya (Bass Guitar), Bernard Doseo (Lead Guitar) and myself (Lead singer/Rhythm Guitar).  This line-up recorded the Who’s song “The Kids Are Alright” and “Never Change Your Mind “. It was released on a record label called Fantastic Records.

Jesse Morgan       Michael Payton        Bernard Deseo        Randy Aloya

                                                                         Never Change Your Mind  

                                                                  The Kids Are All Right

 Later on Michael Payton left the group and pursued his education at the University of Hawaii and was replaced by Bert Dejesus. The Mopptops next lineup included Bert Dejesus (Drums), Randy Aloya (Bass Guitar), Bernard Doseo (Lead Guitar) and myself (Lead singer/Rhythm Guitar). This lineup was more about the music and getting our own sound. We recorded two 45’s; one on the Fantastic Label and Lemon Tree Records. There was another lineup of Mopptops that I was not part of and included no original members. I’m unsure who was in the band. I think Bernard and Bert were members of this group. They recorded one 45rpm record and the songs were “Rule of My Mind” and “Our Lives”. All the Mopptops 45’s were released on local Hawaiian record labels (Teen, Dee Jay, Lemon Tree and Fantastic Records). I don’t recall which record was the biggest seller, we did have one of our singles in the top 10 in Hawaii. I do know that none of them charted outside of Hawaii. With the exception of the first record, I mostly was involved in the productions and writing of all the group’s records. In 1969, I released a solo record, a song I wrote called "I Gotta Get Back". It has recently been reissued by Tramp Records a German record label. Since then I’ve went on to record several more singles and an album, and most recently came out of a five year contract with Universal Music Publishing Group Library & Film division, and now with Tramp Records out of Germany. I’m still active in music, and can be reach at my web page: or for updates and latest activities. Living in Los Angeles, Ca. and writing music (Words & Music). Hope you enjoyed this short story of the The Mopptops Band from the mid 60’s – it was a great time for all of us that remember.


  1. The story is all in the history books for all to read and remember

  2. That's right Jesse. Thank you again for sharing the groups history. The Mopptops rocked!!!!