Category: Druggie Hall of Fame

Rhinoceros



Elecktra Records decided to hold auditions for a “supergroup” in 1967. Here’s the details from the Wikipedia article on Rhinoceros:

“Paul A. Rothchild, then Elektra Records’ talent scout and house producer, and fellow producer Frazier Mohawk (formerly Barry Friedman), decided to individually sign talented young musicians and form them together into a group in this fashion. While Mohawk had been instrumental in coordinating band membership for what became Buffalo Springfield (encouraging Stills to form Buffalo Springfield following his Monkees audition), the establishment of what became Rhinoceros involved a more formal third party role.

Rothchild and Mohawk initially invited twelve musicians to audition in September 1967, at Mohawk’s house in Laurel Canyon. Included in this initial group were Doug Hastings (guitar) and Alan Gerber (keyboards and vocals). A second audition was held at a Los Angeles motel in November 1967, where approximately twenty musicians were reviewed. After this meeting, John Finley (vocals) and Danny Weis (guitar) were chosen to work with Hastings and Gerber. Finley and Hodgson were both former members of Jon and Lee & the Checkmates, a band which Rothchild had expressed an interest in signing as early as 1965 that had broken up in September 1967.

Weis had been an original member of Iron Butterfly and played on their debut album. Hastings had been a member of Seattle’s Daily Flash, and briefly served as Neil Young’s replacement in Buffalo Springfield, during one of Young’s departures from the group. Other members of the Daily Flash were invited to audition for Rhinoceros, though only Hastings was chosen.

Weis then suggested former Iron Butterfly bandmate Jerry Penrod as the bass player for Rhinoceros; his suggestion was accepted. Former Checkmate keyboard player Michael Fonfara was then invited to join the lineup. Fonfara had joined The Electric Flag in mid-November 1967, for sessions and a brief tour of the northeast U.S. and California. During mid-December, he ran into Finley and Hodgson at the Tropicana Motel in Los Angeles, and was encouraged by Finley to sign on to the Rhinoceros project. Based on Finley’s recommendation, Fonfara was brought into Rhinoceros, following the completion of his obligations to the Electric Flag. John Keleihor, former drummer for The Daily Flash, contributed to some of the group’s early recordings, but departed early on. The final member chosen, in early 1968, was Billy Mundi, former drummer for the Mothers of Invention.”

Their first album was not the hoped for smash but contained some great music:



“Apricot Brandy” was the charting single from the group, it would peak at #46 and spend 10 weeks on the Hot 100. Another single from that from LP that failed to chart was “You’re My Girl (I Don’t Want To Discuss It)”, the B side, which made the chart on WPTR in Albany, New York, was “I Will Serenade You”, written by band member John Finley. Five years later Three Dog Night” would reinvent the song and reach #17 on the Hot 100



I 1969 they released the “Satin Chickens” LP and “Back Door” was the single that failed to chart. Their final album was “Better Times Are Coming”, they released two final singles, again failing to chart. Listening to their music 50 years later, it was much better than the public recognized and it’s stood the test of time. I’ll close this post with the first single off the last LP “Better Times”




For more on the continuing history of Rhinoceros, here’s the link to the band’s website: Rhinoceros: The Band


Crystal Blue Persuasion – Tommy James & The Shondells

 

 

 

Tommy James & the Shondells had a great stretch of hits from 1966’s “Hanky Panky” to 1971’s “Draggin The Line” but only 2 #1 hits (Hanky Panky & Crimson and Clover). This is my favorite of them all, along with “Sweet Cherry Wine” and the 1967 “Out of the Blue”. Tommy also wrote “Tighter and Tighter”, a #7 hit for Alive and Kicking and also “Sugar on Sunday” a #22 hit for The Clique, a band out of Beaumont, Texas that also had moderate success with “I’ll Hold Out My Hand”

“Maybe tomorrow
,When he looks down
On every green field
And every town
All of his children
And every nation
There’ll be peace and good
Brotherhood
Crystal blue persuasion

”

The above is the final verse and I love the final coda in this song. When this came out in 1969 and I was 16, the message of peace and love which resonated with many people, resonated with me. This song can still give me goosebumps, and hope!


Thirteen Questions – Seatrain

 

Another member of my “druggie” music Hall of Fame. I was at college in Boston when this one was playing on the radio, the album was “Marblehead Messenger” and I thought this group was a local Massachusetts band that was picked up by WRKO &WMEX, but that’s not the case. They are actually a band from California and 2 of the members were also part of the Blues Project with Al Cooper (they did relocate to Marblehead, Mass. after their second LP) The lyrics paint an interesting picture, which I’m sure adds to the mystique portrayed by the drug culture: “Deep in the darkest hour of a very heavy week,
Three Earthmen did confront me, and I could hardly speak.
They met me in a hurry, they left me tired and sore,
And when I’m fit for wishing, I hope they’ll come no more.
When I’m wishing, I hope they’ll come no more.

Standing by the exit, with one eye on the door,
I listened to them argue. I asked them “Why? What for?”
They showed me 19 terrors, and each one struck my soul,
They threw me 13 questions, each one an endless hole.”

This single reached #49 in 1971 off their Seatrain album, produced by George Martin


Resurrection Shuffle – Aston, Gardner & Dyke

 

 

My original Facebook post from July 2009:

Back to 70’s “druggie music” ? A one hit wonder from Ashton, Gardner, & Dyke that spent 10 weeks on the Billboard charts in 1971, peaking at #40, another band from England with a devil may care approach to music. If you are a fan of this song, check out this video from youtube, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the Tom Jones version that I didn’t know existed until tonight (not the world’s biggest TJ fan here).


 

 

“Put out your tongue
Put your head in the air.
Make a “V” sign
And you just don’t care.
Now you feel free
You gotta loose control.
All Gods children gotta
Little bit of soul.”

As I ‘m posting this in 2017, I’ll add another version with the same intro, I didn’t know this existed til today, but I am an Osmond fan:



Smell Of Incense – Southwest F.O.B.



Facebook post July 2009

Southwest F.O.B. from Dallas, Texas gave us “Smell of Incense” in October of 1968. Another entry in my druggie music hall of fame ? The surprising thing here is that the vocalist is Dan Seals and the keyboardist is John Coley. Later they would combine as England Dan & John Ford Coley and provide a number of “mellow” hits like “I’d Really Love to See You Tonight”, “Nights Are Forever Without You” and my favorite “It’s Sad To Belong”. Dan Seals had a string of #1 country hits in the mid-eighties, including “Bop”. And one last connection, Dan’s brother Jim Seals was the Seals in Seals & Croft. In 1968, I didn’t care about any of that, “Smell of Incense” was one of my favorite songs with that rolling keyboard melody used as background and between verses.

January 2017 – Still one of my very favorite songs, I did discover that the Southwest F.O.B. “swiped” this from the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, here is their version:



It has it’s own psychedelic feel to it with an extended instrumental section in the middle.

For more here’s the link to my podcast featuring Dan Seals


San Francisco Girls (Return Of The Native)- Fever Tree



Summer of 1968 – what a great musical time! This is a single from a group from San Francisco called “Fever Tree” It is another of my “druggie music” Hall of Fame – It wasn’t a big hit – peaked at #91 and only hung around on the charts for 6 weeks but definitely fits those psychedelic times. and San Francisco seemed to be the epicenter of the hippie movement, a city immortalized in several songs of the time. (San Franciscan Nights – Animals, (If You’re Going To) San Francisco – Scott McKenzie…)


Fever Tree was originally The Bostwick Vines, they started in Houston, Texas. “San Francisco Girls (Return Of The Native)” was their only charting record, off a great LP self titled “Fever Tree”