Friday, November 18, 2022

The Nightmares on Fredlo (Quad Cities)

The Nightmares' lone record opens with a cackling announcement of LISTEN... YEAH... BABY! as the group launches into their rock-n-roll instrumental "Greyhound."  The song is three and half minutes of pounding piano coupled with primitive proto-surf guitar sounds.  On the flip side, "The Nightmare!" is an equally fantastic instrumental with spooky sound effects and menacing hoots and hollers all drenched in reverb.

The Nightmares appear to have been, at least in part, students at the Palmer School of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa.  Throughout 1960 the group performed regularly as Speedy Gonzales and the Nightmares at the Red Fox Nite Club in Rock Island, Illinois.  The single (Cat# 6007) was recorded that same year at Fred and Lois Mauck's Fredlo Recording Studios in Davenport.  

"Greyhound" was written by Elmer E. Gonzales of Santa Fe, New Mexico.  Elmer had been playing music, primarily fiddle, from an early age.  Prior to coming to the Quad Cities, he served in the Army Special Services where he played in the Circle A Wranglers.   As a member of that group he performed with many of the greats in country music, including Faron Young, Roy Drusky and Roger Miller.  In 1957 Elmer won first place in the "All Army Entertainment Contest."  

By 1960 Elmer and his brother, Rodolph "Rudy" Gonzales, were enrolled at the Palmer School in Davenport.  Elmer graduated with his Doctorate of Chiropractic in 1961 and returned to New Mexico.

"Nightmare!" was written by Robert "Robin" Jarmain of Queens, New York.  He graduated from the Palmer School in 1963.  In 1965, after returning to New York, it appears he may have recorded a single as Robin Jarmain and Friends.   

While the Nightmares did not last, both Gonzales and Jarmain went on to have long careers as chiropractors in their home states.  Fiddlin' Doc Gonzales passed away in 2017.

If you have any additional information about other members of this group or the single PLEASE get in touch at downstatesounds@gmail.com
 


Thursday, November 3, 2022

Richie Deran, Dave Parkinson & Pontiac Records (Canton)

Richie Deran and the New Tones put out just one record, "Little Willie" b/w "Girl And A Hot Rod."   The single was released by the Pontiac Record Company of Canton, Illinois in late 1959.

Deran, who wrote and sang both songs, was from Burlington, Iowa.  Most of the members of the New Tones were also from the Burlington-area including Don Bowman on guitar, Larry Gustin on guitar and Bob Baldridge on drums.  The one exception was saxophone player Dave Parkinson who was from Canton, Illinois.

According to a 2012 article in the Canton Daily Ledger, the Pontiac Record Company was owned by Canton businessman Jim Aloian.  The Deran record appears to have been the label's only release.

A few color variations of the single exist as well as reproductions and bootlegs.


Not long after the release of the single, Deran joined Gary Stites on tour.  Stites, who was from Colorado and had recorded for the Carlton label, had performed in Burlington on New Years Eve 1959.

Together they were billed as "Rock and Roll Stars from Dick Clark's American Bandstand."  The New Tones served as the backing band for both singers on the tour.  

An article written at the time mentioned that the tour would take them to 600(!) cities across the nation.  Despite the claim only a handful of dates in central and southern Illinois could be identified.

Feb 19, 1960:  Canton High School (Canton)
Feb 22, 1960:  Illinois State Normal University Ballroom (Normal)
Feb 24, 1960:  Illinois Theater (Jacksonville)
Mar 2, 1960:  Granada Theatre (Mt. Vernon)
Mar 3, 1960:  Orpheum Theater (Marion)

By April, the tour had come to a halt.  Deran continued to perform with the New Tones around Iowa over the next few years.   A 1961 article lists the members of the group as Joe Coleman on rhythm guitar and Terry Hiensly on lead guitar (both of Burlington) along with Baldridge and Parkinson.  By 1963, Warren Wunnenberg had replaced Baldridge on the drums.

Deran, whose real name was Korschgen, appears to have left his music career behind shortly afterward.  In the early 60's he opened Richard's Upholstery in Burlington which he owned and operated for more than 40 years.

Parkinson (with sax) to the left of JB
As for Dave Parkinson, the group's saxophonist, his long musical journey was only just beginning in the early 1960's.   Most notably, Parkinson went on to play and record with James Brown, Bobby Byrd, Hank Ballard and others as a member of The Dapps in Cincinnati.  Back in Illinois, Parkinson would later be known as the leader of Dave and the Dynamics.

A detailed history of The Dapps that includes an interview with Parkinson can be found on the blog Zero To 180.   In it Parkinson mentioned another legendary musician from Canton, bassist Tim Drummond, who played with Brown around the same time before going on to work with Neil Young, Bob Dylan and many many others.

Thursday, October 27, 2022

The Galaxies (Decatur / Mt. Zion)

Things were looking up for the Galaxies in the spring of 1961.  The popular Decatur-area combo, comprised of two college students, a couple of high school kids and a gas station attendant, had just recorded a pair of instrumentals for a major record label.

A cover of "My Blue Heaven" along with the original composition  "Tremble" were released on Dot Records (45-16212) in early May of '61.  The single was also released in Germany on the London label (DL 20 431).  Billboard reviewed both songs giving "Tremble" its top rating of four stars.

The Galaxies had formed just a few years earlier in Mt. Zion, Illinois.   The original lineup included Kenny Monska on guitar, Gary Warnick on piano, Danny Goveia on drums, Mike Lee on saxophone and Dick Underwood on bass.

At some point Jack Anderson, a music education major at Millikin University, replaced Mike Lee on saxophone.  The leader of the group, Gary Warnick, was also a music education major at Millikin University at the time.  Both Warnick and Anderson had been members of the Millikin Civic Symphony.

As for the Galaxies, they had become a popular group around the Decatur area performing the top hits of the day at many local bars and clubs as well as teen dances and other events.  Interviewed for the Decatur Daily Review, Jack Anderson said, "We'll play anything but westerns."

The single was recorded in Nashville where Dot was based.  "Tremble" had originally been titled "Rockin' Raindrops" but was changed by the label to avoid confusion with another similarly named song.  All five members shared in the songwriting credit. 

Concerning the recording session, Anderson said, "we don't rely as much on electronic gimmicks but we do get a different sound in the studio."   He added that the studio was "really fabulous."

The group was hoping the Dot release would help launch them into a long successful career in the music business but the single would prove to be the group's entire recorded output.  They continued to perform around Central Illinois for the next couple of years before calling it quits.

In 2012, Gary Warnick self-published a memoir called Gigs: True Stories About Playing Music For Sixty Years.
 

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Bobby Carter & Cardell Records (Bloomington)

Bobby Carter's two singles on Cardell Records are some of the finest examples of rockabilly to come out of downstate Illinois.  Released in 1960-1961 on an unknown label, both remain extremely rare and shrouded in mystery.
The first record however contained a few clues.  Printed on the label was "Bloomington, Illinois" as well as the names of some of the other musicians: H. Sherman, A. Miller and Johnny Lawrence.

Carter it turns out was a native of Danville, Illinois (not Bloomington). Born in 1935, William Robert Carter actually had a long career as a singer and musician, despite having one of his lungs removed as a child.  Carter claimed that singing helped strengthen his remaining lung.

In the 1950's, while still in Danville, Carter was a member of the rockabilly group The Varieteers.   Other members of the Varieteers at one time included: Arlie Miller, Jim Foley, George Foehrer and Curley Arnett.  

In a 2015 interview, Carter remembered playing in downtown Danville in the 50's for hundreds of people with some protesters carrying signs saying "Sinful Music."  Danville's WITY once billed Carter as "the Illiana Elvis Presley."  

In 1957, Carter moved to Phoenix, AZ for his health where he signed with Rev Records.  It is unclear whether he recorded for the label or not.  By 1960 Carter had returned to Illinois and settled in Bloomington.

It was during this time that Carter released his two singles:
  • "Before We Part and Go" / "If You're Gonna Shake It"  (1960)
 
  • "Destiny, I Love You" / "Run, Run, Run" (1961)
Both were released on Cardell Records.  While the second 45 listed Carter's backing band simply as The Spotlites, the first provided us with the names H. Sherman, A. Miller and Johnny Lawrence.

Given the Danville connection, it is likely that A. Miller is Arlie Miller who recorded his own single in Danville around the same time and like Carter had been a member of the Varieteers.   Miller's single "Lou Ann" / "You're The Sweetest Girl" was released on the Lucky label.  Jim Foley, another member of The Varieteers, also released a single on Lucky in 1960.  

Arlie Miller would go on to open the Midnite Sound Studio in Danville and start Milky Way Records with Arlie Neaville (aka Dean Carter) a few years later.   As for H. Sherman and Johnny Lawrence, it is unknown if they were from Bloomington, Danville or somewhere else entirely.  

For the next decade or so, Bob Carter's musical activities are also uncertain.  In 1973 however, he moved to Nashville and recorded a demo that eventually landed him a deal with Oweman Records.  It is not clear whether he ever released anything for the label.  He did however have one single released on the Royal American label:  "As The Fire Grows" b/w "Soakin' Up Suds."

While living in Nashville, Carter worked at various recording studios, label and production companies.  He eventually moved back to the Danville area where he continued to perform with area bands.  According to the Commerical-News, "when he wasn’t playing music, Carter worked numerous jobs, including selling shoes and managing stores. A barber, he also had several barber shops in the area, and started the Tilton Teen Club."

In 2015, at age 80, Carter was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Music in the Heartland Society.   Carter passed away in 2017.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Rites of Spring at Illinois State University 1972-1977

Today (May 12th) marks the 50th anniversary of the first Rites of Spring on the campus of Illinois State University.  From 1972 to 1977 the music festival became the most anticipated day on the campus calendar.

The event was originally intended as a way for students to relax and enjoy some live music on the Quad before final exams.  The free concert was meant strictly for the ISU community however that proved difficult to enforce.  In a matter of a few years, Rites became the "festival of the Midwest" much to the dismay of university administration and Town of Normal officials.

Open drug and alcohol use on campus during the event (Normal was dry until 1973) along with minor injuries, excessive garbage and damage to the Quad were just a few of the reoccurring problems associated with the festival.  Efforts to limit the attendance by non-students mostly failed.  By the last year of the festival, the crowd totaled somewhere between 18,000 - 25,000 with a large portion coming from outside the university community.

The music of Rites varied from year to year but often included well known national acts.  Below is a list of the performers with a brief synopsis of events for each year.

Rites of Spring I : Friday May 12, 1972
  • The Guild
  • Spencer Davis
  • Soul Messengers
  • Grenshaw
  • Tayles
  • Cajun Desire
  • Grin
  • Ebony Revue
  • Probe
Attendance was between 2,000-3,000.  This would be the longest scheduled Rites festival with music set from noon until midnight with the last hour and half being open to any band "wishing to jam." The event was mostly without incident.  As one attendee told the student newspaper, "It's the greatest thing that has ever happened at ISU."

Rites of Spring II : Saturday May 19, 1973
  • Head East
  • The Guild
  • Gerry Grossman
  • ISU Statesmen
  • Ricky Spitfire
  • Ebony Rhythm Funk Campaign
  • Siegel-Schwall
The day's events lasted from noon until 10:30 pm with an estimated 7,500-10,000 people gathering on the south end of the Quad.  The concert was marred by poor sound quality however which was blamed on high winds.  Another complaint was there were too many "bar bands" and not enough big-name acts this year.  There was one drug overdose and a few broken windows on campus but no arrests despite a blatant disregard for drug and alcohol bans.  One of the organizers told the Vidette, "People were a little bit too obvious about things.  For instance, people bringing out bongs and caseloads of beer." 

Rites of Spring III : Friday May 3, 1974
  • If 
  • Adrian Smith
  • Frijid Pink
  • Mighty Joe Young
  • Country Joe McDonald
  • Richie Havens
In an attempt to limit the crowd size, organizers did not officially release the date of the festival until the day of.  Still the crowd totaled around 10,000 people.  The concert was originally scheduled from 3 to 10:30 pm but due to delays with equipment it didn't end up starting until 4 pm and lasted until midnight.  As in the previous year, security on campus was managed by student volunteers.  The ISU police did not patrol the Quad but made it clear they were prepared to make arrests if necessary once attendees left campus.  Despite all the built up, the event was fairly peaceful.  The only exception being some minor vandalism and tire-slashing of vehicles in a nearby parking lot.

Rites of Spring IV : Monday May 5, 1975
  • Poobah
  • Joe Vitale's Madmen
  • Mason Proffit
  • Golden Earring
In the months prior to the festival, dozens of ISU students were arrested in drug raids conducted by the Multi-County Narcotics Enforcement Group (MEG).  Concerned that Rites was contributing to the local drug problem, university officials decided to move the concert to Hancock Stadium where the crowd could be better controlled, especially the use of alcohol and marijuana.  The official announcement of where and when it would take place was once again withheld to the last minute however the Vidette had provided unconfirmed details several days prior.  

The official Rites ran from 1 pm to about 6:30 pm with Golden Earring ending their set early due to "inefficiencies in their soundsystem."  The entire event was emceed by comedian Jimmy Whig with the crowd fluctuating between 1,000 - 4,000 people throughout the afternoon.  The director of the event was quoted in the Vidette as saying, "You could bring your mom, your kids and your dad to this one."

Meanwhile, back on the Quad, an alternative and unsanctioned Rites known as "People's Park" was also taking place.  A crowd first started to form at the south campus park by noon.   As the crowd grew it eventually moved to the amphitheatre at the south end of the Quad.  University officials however refused to provide the group with electricity so they rented generators and proceeded to hold a concert of their own.  According to the Post-Amerikan, "Music was provided by just about anyone who decided to walk onto the stage.  Most of the people who played together hadn't played together before.  They sounded great." 

School officials made several attempts to get the crowd to disperse, repeatedly informing them that they were in violation of university regulations.  The size of the gathering however meant that police action was not an option.  By 7:30, the crowd had grown to about 3,000 people.   As darkness fell, no electricity meant no lighting on the Quad.  The crowd's solution was a bonfire which resulted in Normal firefighters arriving on the scene, spraying the fire, the stage and onlookers indiscriminately.  A brief melee ensued, bottles were thrown.  The firemen and their police escort soon retreated.  According to the Post-Amerikan the music on the Quad lasted until about one in the morning.

Rites of Spring V : Friday April 30, 1976
  • Heartsfield
  • Games
  • Thin Lizzy
  • ISU Black Arts Jazz Band aka Creative Arts Ensemble
  • The Notations
  • Mary Travers
After the mistakes of the previous year, it was decided that the event would return to the Quad for 1976 however organizers conceived of a new plan to limit attendance from outside the ISU community.
 
For the first time, admission to the Quad was by button only with each student receiving up to four buttons in the days leading up the festival.    In previous years ROS buttons were produced mainly as a souvenir however this year they were your ticket in.  The festivities, which ran from 3:45- 11:30 pm, were deemed a great success by organizers with few problems reported.  At peak periods, the crowd reportedly swelled to about 10,000 people although some estimates were as high as 18,000. 

Rites of Spring VI : Saturday, April 30, 1977
  • Bonnie Koloc
  • The Undisputed Truth
  • Charlie Daniels
  • REO Speedwagon
Unlike previous years, the details of the festival were announced a few weeks in advance with the lineup announced five days before the event.  Buttons were once again given to students as their only way into the event.  It was reported that 33,000 buttons were distributed.  The theme for this year's event was "Safety and Ecology."

The event was scheduled to begin at 3 pm on Saturday however people started camping out as early as Friday evening.   The crowd would grow to be the biggest of all the Rites with estimates being between 18,000-25,000 people.  With the large crowd came problems.  Due to understaffed security, l
arge groups of people without buttons were allowed on the Quad.  There were multiple arrests made off campus throughout the day with local police receiving more than 85 noise and behavior complaints.  

The biggest problem of all however was the estimated 200 cubic meters of garbage and broken glass left on the Quad.  The situation was made worse when heavy trucks used to move equipment crushed the glass and cans into the ground.  It took days for the garbage to be picked up with the Office of Enviormental Health and Safety declaring the Quad a health and safety hazard.
____

After the events of 1977 it was quickly decided by university officials that there could not be another Rites of Spring.  Newly-hired University President Lloyd Watkins officially cancelled the event on July 25th while most of the students were away for the summer.  Watkins, only ten days in the office, never attended a Rites and in fact knew nothing about it when he took the job.  He provided the following reasons for his decision:
  1. Rites was not, and never could be, a controllable event.
  2. The potential for serious injuries or fatalities is high.
  3. The laws of Illinois and the regulations of ISU were repeatedly disregarded.
  4. The cost of the event, direct and indirect, was very high.
  5. Damage to university grounds and buildings has been severe.
  6. The event offers no apparent contribution to the educational mission of the university.
Students of course strongly protested the decision when they returned to campus.  Particularly upset by the fact that students were not consulted, a new political party, Rites of Spring Party (ROSP), formed on campus that fall with a platform of shared governance.  The party ran a slate of 13 candidates in the Student Association elections that year but failed to win a single seat in the Assembly.

In 1978, as an alternative to Rites, the university came up with Springfest.  Rather than a day-long concert on the Quad, Springfest was a week of events that included carnival rides and free movies with local jazz and folk acts (including a young Suzy Bogguss) performing on the Quad in the afternoons.  All of the big-name concerts were moved indoors and spread across multiple evenings:  Stanley Turrentine in the Union Ballroom, the Bar-Kays in the Union Auditorium and the Grateful Dead at Horton Fieldhouse.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Mod 4 Presentation - May 11, 2022

Original band members Kathy Talkin and Nellie Hastings relive the journey of the Mod 4 at the Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society.   You can now watch the whole presentation below. 


For more about the Mod 4 see our article from 2020.

Thursday, May 5, 2022

WESN Show #72

ARTISTTRACKLABELYEARTOWN / CITY
Freddie Tieken & The RockersYou Can't Sit DownStandfire[1965]Quincy
Backstreet MajorityRunning From Peopleunreleased196?Bloomington/ Champaign
PiscesA Flower For All SeasonsNumero1969Rockford
The Inside OutFireOut1968Monmouth
The Knights Of SoulDifferent StrokesDrocer1968Springfield
The RavinsI Had A FeelingSyndicate1967Gibson City
The CreepersElizabethC.R.C.1966Granite City
The VengeanceYou Cheated On MeThor1966LaSalle-Peru
The StingraysIn The Midnight HourVan1967Springfield
$1,000,000 War BabiesYou Don't Know Like I KnowDante1968Champaign-Urbana
The Iron GateGet ReadyMobie1968Rockford
Junior Jive KingsHold On I'm ComingDrocer1968Springfield
The Blue BoysI KnowFeature1966Sycamore
The Mod 4Midnight Hour[Fredlo]1967Aledo
Johnny & The ImpalasIt's Been A Long TimeDrocer1968Springfield
Night RidersI Ain't Gonna Eat Out My Heart AnymoreDrocer1968Springfield
Rod & The SatalitesI'm Telling You Right NowIrish1965Quincy
The CavaliersOpen The Door To Your HeartDrocer1968Springfield
The One-Eyed JacksGetting In A GrooveRoulette1969Champaign-Urbana
Mystery MeatProfilesDirector1968Carlinville


Thursday, April 28, 2022

The Inside Out (Monmouth)

The Inside Out from Monmouth, Illinois: Bill Fry, Bill Huff, Rick Carrier, Percy Bennett and Gene Skinner.  

The group was still in high school when they recorded their only album, Bringin' It All Back, at the Fredlo Recording Studios in Davenport, Iowa in 1968.  

According to an article in their local newspaper the album was cut in a nine hour session and was "basically promotion" for the five-man group.

The album consisted of twelve songs, all covers.  The article adds that two of the best cuts have been made into a single.
Out, 6834 LP (matrix # 8-9118)

BRINGIN' IT ALL BACK 
  • Let's Spend The Night Together
  • Come On Up
  • Everybody Needs Somebody To Love
  • Jumpin' Jack Flash
  • Hold On
  • Summertime Blues
  • Gloria
  • Good Lovin'
  • Midnight Hour
  • Fire
  • Give Me Some Lovin'
  • Pictures Of Match Stick Men


"Hold On" / "Let's Spend The Night Together" was also released as a single on Out 6835.  Both the album and the single were produced by Bob Fry (Bill's dad).

The group performed across Western Illinois for around a decade starting in the late '60s.  One advertisement (below) mentions that the group was number five in a Chicago "Battle of the Bands Contest."
In late 1975 the group released another single, this time on the Golden Voice label:
  • Please Promise Me / It's Livin' (Golden Voice, matrix# NR6474)
By this point Bill Fry is the only original member still in the group.  Other members at the time of the Golden Voice single include Bill Hillier, Jack Stanton, Tom Summerlin and John Dowers.
The group appears to have broken up sometime in the late 1970's.

Friday, April 1, 2022

Lavender Snapshots (December 7, 1975)

10 LAVENDER SNAPSHOTS by Walter Bock
Artists' Corner, WGLT 89.1 FM
December 7, 1975  9:00 PM

TITLESREADERS
Lavender for My WingsRobin Tammer
MagicTerry Clark
ComposureJerry McGuire
Cold Gusty WindsJohn Cook
No Words on Her LipsRobin Tammer
Smile, She SaidJerry McGuire
Give the Rainbow to MeTerry Clark
When the Sun SetRobin Tammer
Anthony, Marc AnthonyJerry McGuire
High Across the Southern SkyJohn Cook

Writings by Walter Bock, assistant professor of art at Illinois State University, interpreted by four members of the ISU Theatre department with an interview by host Steve Larson after the reading.