Monday, September 03, 2007

Music: The Cincinnati Sound (Book Overview)

During the mid- and late 1960s, I was a bass player for several local rock bands (aka garage bands) in the Cincinnati area. (That’s me on the right in the photo below, working a Fender Precision bass.)

Like the majority of my peers, I drifted away from music after a few years, and for a variety of reasons. I sometimes regret that, but it’s just as well; the demand for bands is a tiny fraction of what it was then, and the pay is mostly poor—even less than a writer’s pay. But it was all a grand experience. Along with thousands of other teenage musicians around the country, I was living in a world that our parents, teachers, and other adults couldn’t see—let alone enter. And we made it up as we went along.

I managed to give the drugs a miss, and I remember it all well, belying the breezy aphorism that “if you can remember it you weren’t there.” I have ambitions of writing a book on the experience (the thieving disc jockeys, the big names, the rivalries, and camaraderie, the groupies, the hangers-on, the lies, minor adventures, and all the rest of the tragic and comedic experiences), but that’s on the back burner for now.

In the meantime, someone else has put together a book that offers a wonderful overview of popular and country music in Cincinnati in the 1960s, as well as the two decades preceding it. The Cincinnati Sound, by Randy McNutt (Arcadia Press, 2007) brings the rock, soul, rockabilly, R&B, country, and bluegrass music, musicians, and singers who were part of the Cincinnati scene from 1940 through 1970.

With photos, text, and ephemerae, McNutt brings to life such famous performers as Doris Day, Andy Williams, and Rosemary Clooney, all of whom got their starts in Cincinnati in the 1940s. He also introduces us to a number of upwardly-mobile acts for whom Cincinnati (and, usually, WLW) was an important way-station or stopover. Among these were Chet Atkins, Grandpa Jones, Merle Travis, et numerous al. Also on the just passing through list was Hank Williams, who recorded “Lovesick Blues” in Cincinnati, along with James Brown, who recorded many of his hits at Cincinnati’s King Records, as did Moon Mullican, Bobby Bare, Hankshaw Hawkins, and others.

In more recent memory, a goodly number of R&B, blues, soul, country, and rock musicians came from or got their starts in Cincinnati. These include the Isley Brothers, Lonnie Mack, the Lemon pipers (remember “Green Tambourine?”), the Casinos, and Billy Joe Royal. Sacred Mushroom veteran Larry Goshorn was part of the Pure Prairie League, and more than a few Cincinnati musicians left to staff other nationally prominent groups.

This book is a real trip back time for anyone who was ever a musician or singer in Cincinnati—or anywhere else, for that matter. The 200-odd photos are real treasures, and many of them have never been published. In addition to appealing to music fans and musicians, The Cincinnati Sound deserves a place on every reader’s regional history shelf.
--Mike
http://www.michaelabanks.com/
Copyright © 2007, Michael A. Banks

26 comments:

Bob said...

My father was also a local bass player for bands in the early to mid 60s! Bob Jonas played with the group that served as the backing band for The Casinos for years (The Vikings). Then, right before their big hit (Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye)Gene Hughes reformed the Casinos from a singing group to a full fledged outfit by adding the Vikings' keyboard player, drummer, and I think sax player. Ray White of the Casinos already knew bass guitar so my dad was left out so to speak. That's ok, because it gave him time to get married and have me back in 1969! My father passed away last November and with him a ton of memories of those days. I was able to pick his brain several times over the years and the stories are priceless; running into James Brown at King Recording Studio; playing Moonlight Gardens, Green Hills, and other clubs; opening for the Beach Boys at the Gardens. I have a ton of live recordings of my dad's band that he made with 2 mics and a reel-to-reel recorder. I even have a get well card to my dad from Lonnie Mack when Dad had back surgery in the mid sixties! Lonnie even drew his "Flying V" on the inside of the card.

I am going to buy the Cincinnati Sound book this week. For now I think I will browse your blog some more. You can visit mine sometime too. I think I will post some photos of my dad playing with the Vikings and Casinos within the next week if you're interested.

Bob "Jr."

Michael A. Banks said...

Hello, Bob, and thanks for all the background. I remember playing Moonlight Gardens, and Greenhills and Montgomery and all the other spots around town. I would have enjoyed talking with your dad. I hope you will post some photos of him playing at your Web site.

As you think of it, perhaps you could write down the stories he told. I remember Lonnie Mack and the Flying V (Rick Coghill of the Chosen Lot/Glass Wall had one, too, though it was stolen). Lots and lots of memories ...
--Mike

Bob said...

I'll throw you a reminder when I get those photos and stories up on my site. Great hearing from you. I am picking up my Cincinnati Sounds book today after work!

Bob said...

I just threw some photos on my blog including one with The Casinos when they were just a vocal group supported by my dad's band The Vikings. The Vikings included future Casinos and Canon keyboardist Bob Armstrong. I would love to get in contact with him as I have several CDs of live recordings of The Vikings and Casinos that I could send him. So if you know his contact info maybe you could let me know. Thanx.

Ron said...

Micheal, Are you refering to Rick Coghill who was the old lead guitar player from "Ivan & The Sabers". I remember that Flying V very well. I even gave it a crackle paint job at one time. I was the equipment manager for the Saber's for a number of years and hung with a number of the local Cincinnati band members of that time. What ever became of Rick. remember the "Black Dome"? Ron

Michael A. Banks said...

Ron,
YEs, the same Rick Coghill. He was involved with Jews for Jesus and became a Christian rock music producer. That was a few years back, and I heard he was living in the Cincinnati area.
--Mike

Michael A. Banks said...

Everyone who would like to see the old Vikings photos Bob posted, here's the link:

http://bobservations17.blogspot.com/2007_09_01_archive.html#8352799601885965289

Paul Sterling said...

I played organ for The Wyngates, Bill Stith's Corvairs featuring Little Joe Williams, Danny Morgan, The Raspberry Ice (later shortened to The Ice) and High Tension. Among the places that some of those groups played as house bands with me on organ were The Birdland Club, Guys & Dolls, Alexander's and Glenn Schmidts. Music was all we thought about and we looked forward to seeing Lonnie and Troy Seals playing wherever...The Flamingo, The Inner Circle, etc. because they were older and better than us. We aspired to them as musicians. Rick Coghill sub'd with The Wyngates in Connersville once in '65, I remember...
Paul

Anonymous said...

I came across this book and was shocked to see a picture of my husbands band "The Bad Seeds" on one of the back pages. Granted it was very tiny but it was him! It all started coming back - Ajaye Agency, etc. I recognized all the players but could only remember one guitar players name, Larry Reynolds. I too noticed many important bands missing from those eras. I used to go to Lakeridge Hall where I first saw "The Village Idiots" ( a few later became members of Bitter Blood Street), Fred and Dave Morgenstern, Blues 505, The Heywoods who at the time had a singer named Sonny James, and sometimes a few famous bands would roll through and play there like the "Easybeats" and "Spencer Davis". I actually saw "The Blues Magoos" at Western Woods Mall when it first opened back in the 60's. There was also a coffee house at Westwood Town Hall called "Nicea". We were there for all the concerts at Ludlow Garage, sitting on the Persian rugs hoping to take a turn sitting in the giant rocking chair. We saw the Allman Brothers there before they ever got really famous. The Black Dome, and the Renaissance were among a few others that had not only local bands but bands like "The Damnation of Adams Blessing" from Cleveland which you can now see on Youtube. I saw "Dr. John The Night Tripper" there. As a young teenager I remember being scared to death of him in his cape throwing glitter and saying Gris Gris Gumbo Ya Ya! We would go to "Loves Coffee House" on Calhoun and listen to the folkies play acoustic on the weekends and drink coffee until we were floating home. We also saw a lot of bands before they got really famous at Eden Park, like the James Gang and Grand Funk. After that there was "Crows" which I think was called "Duffs" in the
60's and there was Reflections where I saw the "Zapp Band" well before they were famous when they were called "Roger and The Human Body". "Pure Funk" from Bloomington, Indiana also played there at least monthly and they eventually became "Roadmaster" and the bass player Toby Meyers went on to play for John Mellencamp. There were groups like Daphne with Don Hacker and West Davis and "Brother Bait" who came from Georgia almost monthly and played at Reflections. One founding member Ron Bloom, now owns podcast / podshow with MTV Veejay Adam Curry! I do feel like a book could be written about the Rock and Roll scene in the 60's and 70's in Cincinnati. It was even strong up through the late
70's. Those era's are gone and really missed. It was a magical time. Musicians used to come to our house and jam all night long. Seymour Duncan was a good friend of my husbands. I have the fondest memories of some great times and some great, great music and local musicians.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said... I stand corrected, I believe Sonny James sang with the Wyngates - not the Heywoods! I also used to go to dances at the K of C and see Jerry Diamond and Billy Joe Royal before he got famous!

CJ
Cherry Bomb Vintage & Retro

Tim said...

Does anyone know about my old friend, Bob Franklin? He was a member of the Casino's, after their hit. Played guitar mostly, and he was also an extremely funky bassist, and he had started on drums. He was from Mt. Washington. Self-taught to play by putting Lonnie Mack 45's at 16 rpm, then 33 1/3, and finally full speed. He was in the house band at The Inner Circle circa 1968(?). Also the house band at the Halfway House, which I think was North of Hamilton, Ohio. This was a horn band, and Lonnie Mack sat-in frequently, I believe. We would go anywhere Lonnie was playing, even all the way to Lawrence or Aurora, IN.
Bob became a substance abuser, drugs and alcohol, and therefore he also became a "homeless person" in the 70's and 80's. So I was hoping someone from the old Cincinnati music scene knew anything about him. Thanks.

I graduated from Withrow 1970, and really loved the Tuesday night Teen dances at Moonlite Gardens, and the great local/regional bands that played there. The Daylighters (?), Orange Sky, Whalefeathers, Balderdash, etc.

Randy said...

Lots of familiar band names here, as well as many memories aroused. I played with a couple of groups around Cinci in the 60's. The Stop Band. We played prior to The Lemonpipers on several occasions before they went international. I was 14 - 15 at the time. Bill Bartlet, the original guitar player now resides in Liberty Indiana, about 15 miles from Oxford, OH. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_IQ9i-ym5HA I remember The Heywoods, and Hay Market Riot as well. Carl Edmonson was my guitar teacher, who produced a couple of those Lonnie Mack 45's. Good Times. I still play occasionally around town with Coy Taylor, and Ryan Broshear.

Anonymous said...

Oh boy Cincin city 1969. Kinda last resort in Ohio for runaways they called boppers in SF. Trouble is the bumming went on before 69 in that bay city bio. The real takers made out like crazy with their association with the Leary's, Keysey's and other reds. The Black Domw had two acts weekends usually open to all ages when the coast was clear. The police were smart I thought seeing little harm in runaways making the club audience when our parents probably could care less anyway.
Sad events though too. In less that two years I would be kickin my dads ass. Worst day in my life seeing the fake movement ending up with little success other than dope networking and decay. The Hips would never ever even think about killing an officer. Where the heck did those shooters come from? The students and freaks made room at jobs for the runaways so we would not bum. Dig it.Lots of other real famous ones came thru and stayed for a while but got out after 69. Peace anyway. Never mind Joe Walsh at Eden Park the day before my first lil affair with a girl. Thanks Joe, too bad the rest of the gang takes up for my ex wife right or usually wrong.

Charlie said...

Wow what memories! Ivan & the Sabres at the Tin Man, Sacred Mushroom at the Black Dome,Jethro Tull at Ludlow Garage,I was a novice guitar player in 69 and Rick Coghill was a giant influence. I'm 59 now,still playing in a band,but I'll never forget 67-69 in Cincinnati

Marc said...

Thanks Mike for the blog information. As a 58 year old that as lived in the Cincy area most of my life I recall most of the bands mentioned in McNutts book. It brings back a lot of memories. Lonnie Mack used to play at the Jockey Club on York Street in Newport. Carl Edmondson and the Driving Winds were at Guys & Dolls in Cold Spring. I saw a lot of the other bands such as Ivan and the Sabres, the Lemon Pipers(with Ivan), Gary and the Hornets, The Heywoods, Bo Donaldson, the Sacred Mushroom at high school dances. The Denems drummer was Adrian Belew (who everyone in those days knew as Steve), who took up guitar and became famous.

I took guitar lessons and hung out at Dodds Music in Covington in the mid 1960's. I believe Gene Hughs may have worked there briefly. It is interesting to note that Seymour Duncan worked at Dodds as a guitar repair man when he was living in Cincy. As a side note Seymour also had a job at WCPO TV and worked behind the scenes on Uncle Al's kiddie show.

There is a book that recently came out about the history of King Records and it's founder Syd Nathan. It's in hardcover and sort of expensive now, but worth it. It is an excellent read about Cincinnati's recording history.

Anonymous said...

My name is Jan Karg I am 58 I played in a band called Eln Street Riot I can remember playing at Copling Grove with Music Explosion at Lake Ridge wit Us Too Group,Sabers,Lemon Pipers,once at my high school La Salle with thw Csions,at Alexandria Bowling Lane with Whalefeathers man to be able to say that you were even on the same stage with those guys. I will never forget when one of the guys rode into Lakeridge in a 1966 corvette with this cool chic got out and walked right up on stage at that time I thought that was the coolest thing ever. I played drums and really miss those days. Jan Karg 513-616-1993

viagra online said...

I really like the rock bands.it drives me crazy!!! i can not hear a music because i have to buy the cd.

elaine said...

I am writing this well after anything on this has been posted. Someone I work with was telling me about the Black Dome and going there in '67. He said he saw Hendrix there...before anyone knew who he was. It was 2:30 in the morning when he showed up. He said it was before the Monterey show and it was cold. Could this be? I am trying to find anyone who was there... I would love it if he has his facts straight...

elaine said...

It has been a while since anyone left a message here...a friend was telling me that he went to the Black Dome in 1967 and saw Hendrix...that it was winter and before the Monterey show. He showed up at 2:30 in the morning, that noone knew he was at that time. He started playing the star spangled banner but played misc other things.
Does anyone remember this?

elaine said...

all right..so I didn't I sent the first message...oops!

Anonymous said...

A few years ago Rick Coghill was living in or near Batavia, Ohio in response to an above inquiry.

Titanium said...

This is wonderful music!

Anonymous said...

Marc mentioned the Jockey Clubon York Street in Newport. I was a Newport, Kentucky Police Officer in the 60's with a Rock and roll band called the DELTAS. The Club on York street was not the Jockey Club but rather the Flamingo Club or the 633 Club. It was run by mobsters called the Levinson brothers. Our band used to practice there during the week when the back room was closed. After they hear us they asked me if we would like to open for the Corvairs one Sunday afternoon at a Jam Session.
We aggreed and during our set we played the song "Gee Whizz" and Little Joe Williams got pissed and left the building. nWith that the Levinson's came back to the stage and tole me to keep playing until the located him. Twenty minutes later they drug him in and we gave up the stage. I guess he didn't have much of a sense of humor or musicians license. Anyway we were liked so much that the Levinson's offered us a job to penen for oner of their big acts (I saw Jerry Lee Lewis there. As we were working on a set, three of us got draft notices in one week me included. Our lead guitar player (Charlie Viars) was a Lonnioe Mack clone and other than Mack he was the greatest lead guitar player I ever saw. After his return from the service he became a loner and our band never got it going again. Its nice to look back at these things
Gary Howard

Anonymous said...

Does anyone remember Tommy James and the Shondells playing at the Tin Man at Lake Ridge Hall?

cindy stith said...

Hello,

My father was Bill Stith and my uncle was Al Stith - from the Corvairs. My uncle Al passed away before I was born, and my father passed away in the late 90s.

I heard so many stories about the Corvairs growing up, and my father worked with Lonnie Mack so I was fortunate enough to meet him several times. I also knew Carl Edmonson and actually bumped into him about 10 years ago at the Kenwood Country Club.

Does anyone have any photos of the Corvairs? You can email me at cynthiastith@gmail.com I've also tried to track down Little Joe Williams without any luck. I remember stories my father used to tell me about Little Joe and I would love to reach out to him. Thanks!

Steve Tutt said...

I sang for a band called "The After Effect" in the late 60's. We played all the venues mentioned: Montgomery Businessmen's Hall, Greenhills American Legion Hall, Lake Ridge, LeSourdsville Lake, high school dances and a couple of college dances (Eastern Kentucky U.) It would make my day if someone remembers us