Wednesday, October 11, 2023

The Rooks - The 1967 Recordings

This website is dedicated primarily to music and musicians from Illinois outside of Chicagoland, however, earlier in the year we made an exception for a 60's group from Chicago, The Rooks. This is an addendum to that earlier post.

In 1967, The Rooks were searching for a new sound.   The band's original singer and rhythm guitarist had left the group.  Their single for Mercury Records the year before had failed to make much of an impact and they had been unceremoniously dropped from the label.   

Still, the group continued to perform regularly around Chicago.  In fact, they had one of their biggest performances that summer at the World Teenage Show held at Navy Pier. 

In August of 1967, The Rooks went back into a Chicagoland recording studio.   Perhaps as a rehearsal for their new singer or simply to produce a demo to help land gigs, the band recorded three cover tunes in a single session.  The music was never released and the tape all but forgotten.

By 1968, the band began to move away from the protopunk garage sounds of the early single.  Tom Engel and John Brian Szmagalski, the two newest members, would become the group's chief songwriters and lead them into a heavier, more psychedelic sound.

The lost session from 1967 remains the bridge between the Mercury single and the later singles on Jo-Way and Twinight.  Here we present all three demo recordings in their entirety for the very first time:


The Tale Of The Tape

The reel of 1/4" tape containing these three songs was preserved through the decades by Jerry Young, the group's manager at the time.  Between 1966 and 1968, Young and his talent agency, Crestmark Productions, managed The Rooks along with several other Chicago-area bands. 
In 1967, Young was also a staff member at the newly-launched Psyche Pscene, a Chicago-based music magazine aimed at the area's "young set."    

Later that same year, Young opened a teen night club in the Northwest suburbs called The Spectrum.   The club, formerly known as The Batcave, was located at 6684 N. Oliphant in Edison Park.

Several of the bands on the bill during the opening few weeks were managed by Young, including The Rooks.   The club was short-lived however, largely due to the poor reputation of its predecessor.

Jerry Young shown here shaking hands with Tommy James
Before the end of '67, The Rooks decided to change management.  Young eventually left Chicago a few years later and with it, his life in the music world.  

Gone but not totally forgotten... most of the photos and audio related to The Rooks and the 60's Chicago scene found on this website come directly from Young's personal archive.

Young also happens to be my dad.