Saturday, April 12, 2008

John Rainey Adkins


Hey Robert,
Thank you so much for the John Rainey Adkins tribute. I love it. He was a major influence on me as a young man, and I'm proud to say that he and I became friends in later years. I still think The Candymen were the greatest band I have ever seen, and I went to see them play anytime I didn't have a gig of my own. They were my heroes and I still have both of their albums as well as both Beaverteeth albums. I still listen to them often. I learned a lot from John Rainey. Because of his influence, I painted my old 1956 Stratocaster green, started using a thumb pick, and started wearing blue jeans and tennis shoes on stage. He was a great American.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Hey y'all~

Ya know one of the greatest things to learn after your kid's been out of the house for a couple of years is to find out that the worst thing they ever experienced in childhood
not some family member, friend, neighbor, teacher, preacher, choir director or stranger.

Please try to come to Norman's Memorial Jam Sunday.

image courtesy of Frank Tanton
Here's a picture of the Late Great Norman Andrews on stage at Charlie Silva Benefit Concert back in the 1980's...

From Kenny Bright's myspace blog:

image courtesy of

image courtesy of
Norman Andrews, KB, Mike Boyd, John Bedsole, Joe Frederick

image courtesy of

Norman Andrews, rest in peace my brother...

I’m really gonna miss this old friend. Reflecting back to the early 70’s, I had come home from playing on the road with a blues band to get married and run a music company a friend and I had started.

A little while later, I was really missing playing live.

That evil mistress (music) was gnawing on me all the time. As if a divine intervention, I got a call asking if I was interested in playing bass with The Concrete Bubble in Dothan. The bass player Dickie Burroughs had decided to leave the group.

There were two groups in southeast Alabama during this time that were considered the "stuff", BeaverTeeth and The Concrete Bubble. And both bands played the two clubs that were the top clubs in the area, The Club and The 1890.

I was excited like a fat kid with a frosted cake.... I came down and sat in on a few tunes, and was apparently considered fit.

Norman gave me a cardboard box full of 45’s and some albums with a song list. He told me

" learn all these songs and be ready in a week or so".....

I thought he was crazy... I worked day and night on some of the toughest music I had ever played. Well, after a short while and a few changes in the band , we were filling the 1890 club six nights a week and livin the good life. My oldest friend that I had grown up with, Clark Crates, the drummer Joe Fredrick, and I were the youngest members in the band.

Norman had to set up some rules for us due to our wild ass ways!!!

He told us that the quickest way to man’s mind is thru his pocketbook!!

He would fine us $25 if we were late to practice on two days a week every week at 10 a.m. ( this was after playing till 3 a.m. every night. We were young and didn't know better than to stay out till daylight every night).$25 for drinking onstage, $25 for smokin’ onstage, and $25 if we were not at the club 15 minutes before time to start playing. It didn't take me long at all....:) I remember one of us asked me one night if I’d help him out on his fines, which were almost what we had gotten paid for the week, hahahaha....I didn't take him much longer to get right with the program either..

Norman was a friend, like a father, a brother, and was also a great band leader that considered all like family.

Sometimes, when we got out of line he was also like a Marine Drill Sgt. which was a good thing. But always, he and Pam had hearts wayyy bigger than most and I always felt the love. I learned so much from him, and got to play with some of the finest players over the yrs I worked with him; Dennis Macabbee, Donnie Gumms, Jeff Crockett, Joe Bufford, Jimmy Miller, John Bedsole, Mike Boyd, Freddie the trumpet man, Kenny Howell (Kruschev), David Cooley, and more. I thank the Lord for the experiences and the memories of them..................



Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant

I stopped at the Harley Shop today to see my son, Drew, and look who I ran into!

It's a small world after all!!

Jim Lancaster is right.

The soul rises again: Old music studio reopens (LISTEN to songs)

by Kari C. Barlow
Tuesday May 15, 2007

— Ain’t no way you’re sitting still in the newly renovated Playground Recording Studio.

New Music... April 10th...

All music selections this week all involve Dothan, Alabama Musicians. As many of you know, On Sunday April 13th Many Dothan Area musicians are getting together for the Norman Andrews Benefit at "Cowboys" on HWY 231 just south of Dothan. Norman was the leader of the band "Concrete Bubble" and had been playing the Dothan area since the late 50's. Needless to say he mentored many Dothan musicians. The benefit begins at 4:00 pm. In one way or another Norman has influenced most all of the musicians featured on this week's Playground selections.. on to the music

Jimmy is backed on this cut by the legendary Playground Rhythm Section which includes Brothers John Rainey Adkins and David Adkins of Dothan. Jimmy is the older brother of Mary Gresham, who also recorded at PRS and just recently has had a new release on Garry Cape's Soulscape label from the UK.

GEORGIA PINES by Beaverteeth w/ Charlie Silva
One of the best songs ever written (IMHO) was penned by Buddy Buie and John Rainey Adkins. The first release and HIT on this song was recorded by Wilbur Walton Jr. and The James Gang. Wilbur will be performing this song at the benefit and Buddy will be there to sing the backing harmony that he sang on the original release. As far as I know the Beaverteeth cut was never released. Beaverteeth members also included the Adkins brothers as well as Jimmy Dean, and several other Dothan area musicians.

HEAVY ON MY MIND by Doris Allen
This cut features Doris and her scorching Soul Vocals and the PRS Rhythm section. You can very easily distinguish John Rainey's rock tinged guitar bring in the band following her recitation. This is definitive "Playground Sound".. The Rock and Soul Mix. This cut was issued on "Soul Resurrection"

SO GOOD TO BE TOGETHER by John Hamiltom and Doris Allen
Again featuring the Adkins Brothers and the PRS Rhythm section.. again most definitive of the Playground sound.. the underlying funk/soul groove is dynamite supporting this song about a woman who has waited two years for her man to be released from jail.

GIMME SOME by Magic Bubble
A piece of 1969 rock.. plenty of harmonies and some screaming guitar...If anyone can fill us in on this band and it's members please feel free to comment.. We're not so sure this is all Dothan guys or not... we have our suspicions... but you tell us!

Some of you might be aware of the incredible Jimmy Ellis story, who later on in his career recorded as "ORION" for Shelby Singleton's Sun records. This cut was recorded at Playground in 1972 and released as a 45 on Sun with no artist name listed. The 45, after selling quite a few copies was injuncted by RCA because they thought it was Elvis. We found the original masters and this is an outtake. We will have a Jimmy Ellis music week in the near future and will include the dialogue and session banter to this cut as well as "That's Alright Momma".. David Adkins is playing the drums, John Rainey on Gtr. and Jimmy Dean on bass, all from Dothan... the likeness is uncanny

Enjoy! and please feel free to comment

The PRS Team

Roberto ~

Thanks for the reminder.. We'll get him together a nice PRS package and get it off to him asap. We want all of the publicity we can get. I actually don't remember speaking with him, which is odd my memory is usually very good. He might have called and spoken to Clayton or Will, but nevertheless, I'll extend my apologies and give him a lot to write about. We need all of the assistance we can get and the Planet Weekly
would be great!

You just got promoted to honorary Vice President of Playground Records!

You know, the state of the music biz has and is changing as fast as computer chips. I have been contemplating, and discussing this with various colleagues for over 10 years now and even in the last year the changes have been dramatic. When the medium gods invented the CD, they told us it would last for 100 years.. well so much for that, now we have blu-ray which has over ridden SACD.. in another 5 years we'll all receive our music and other media totally on digital personal devices. Well enough diatribe..It is the content not the delivery medium that I concern myself with because it is what is important to me. I say all this shit cause I'm in the midst of download strategy contemplation.

Anyway.. Does the band name MAGIC BUBBLE ring a bell to you? They obviously recorded 1969-1970. Their stuff was on 1/2" four trk.. which we had only during those years..

See you Sunday

You asked for some reminisces, well here you go.

Larry Coe, Billy Gant, George Cheshire and I were playing at the Ranch on 431 hiway back in the 60's.
Larry worked during the day at Tri State publishing co and we played 6 nights a week, so he wasn't getting too
much sleep. One night we were playing some song(I think it was Smoke gets in your eyes) that droned on
forever. We ended the song and Larry kept playing one low bass note, over and over. We all looked at him and he was sound asleep. Billy finally punched him with a drum stick and he woke up.

Another time we were playing at the Flamingo club and James Ott had just started hiring strippers to perform there.
There was one who called her self Lollipop. and at the end of her act she would yell out to the band , "who do you love"?
and we were supposed to yell back, "Lollipop" and she would reach into her panties and pull out lollipops to throw to the audience.Well we all talked it over and decided not to yell Lollipop, but we didn't tell Billy. When the big moment came
he stood up from behind the drums and yelled "Lollipop." We all turned and faced the back wall and remained silent.
Well, he had just gotten married 2 days before, and his wife politely got up and left the building after shooting Billy a bird.
We thought it was funny but Billy did not.

Bill Hanke

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

I just wanted to add a note about the James Gang and Johnny Mulkey.

Johnny and I played in a band in Atlanta
for about 12 years, from about 1992 until 2004.

John is a great bass player and really good harmony singer.
Besides being one of the funniest people I know.
He now lives in Pensecola Florida. I was hoping he could come to the Norman Andrews thing but it didn't work out.

Bill Hanke

nize rap, robert,

get on the mike,
record it.

what about this? We are so proud of Roger and he has worked so hard!

worked to become the biggest loser? I always thought that was a natcheral trait.

My brother has made amazing a thing, at the Russian school for the first time will be presented One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest .I and my brother (we Chechens) create here something like... Zane Kesey has told "Our hope is to enlighten people of their psychedelic past, and to enable them to learn about the people who brought them to the present".
Your faithfully, Salah Beziev.

post courtesy of

I have been to switzerland to the Weld Psychedelik Forum, had a whale of a time, splashing around with the psychonauts.
I did get to meet Albert Hofman, and presented him with an Acid Test diploma, which he accepted with grace and seeming pleasure.
He attributes his age and mental dexterity to hanging upside down like a bat for 30 minutes a day, a practice he and his wife kept up for 60 years.... improves blood flow to the brain, he stated firmly.
At 102, he should know..
He was also doing the translating back and forth for our group, amazing me with his presence and wit, etc.
What a guy.
The evening chit chat, not with AH, often ranged to aliens, crop circles, Steiner, Hitler, the Grail, the spear of Dustiny, and Wilhelm Reich. Good nuts all.
Carolyn A. Garcia a.k.a. MOUNTAIN GIRL


Inside FURTHER courtesy of

Hey y'all~

Tonight I was at the bar & I burned this gangster down with my rappin'.
(that's good)

So I'ze decided to invite all uv y'all to join a group called

{alternative name: THE BROWN PAPER RAPPERS}

As soon as somebody springs for the cheese,
we'll all cruise down to VP &
get down to bidness @ PLAYGROUND


These are your lyrics.
The faster you can rap them, THE BETTER YOU REPRESENT!

After my gangster rival's HUMILIATING defeat tonight,
he retreated out the side door of the bar yelling,

They sayzzzzzzzzzzz,
I'm often imitated
but never duplicated.


I got my Equalizer.
It make a short man taller &
a tall man wiser.

All that thang worth is 5 dollar.
Queen Elizabeth o' Marilyn Monroe
(this part of the rap is only for the INNER SANCTUM upon request)

I walk in the rain & I don't get wet.
I work in 90 degree weather & I don't break a sweat.

I'm Teasing Tan & sweet in the pants.

I got the sweetest thang in all the land.

You know you are my sugar-wooger &
You are the only one on this Earth
who sets my soul on fire.

You know I Rolls Royce ridin'
wid a lady on the hood.
She got wangs on her hips &
You know she lookin' good.



Cornbread & blackeyed peas
hotsauce & a pot of greens
Pork chops seasoned to please...

Why must I be like that?
Why must I chase the snack?

Bow wow wow yippee yo yippee yay
bow wow
yippee yo yippee yay

Bow wow wow yippee yo yippee yay
Bow wow
Yippee you yippee ya

On Friday I get my pay.
On Sattiddee I go out to play.
I leave my crib up on Fire Tower Hill &
go see my cousins down in Aliceville.

They got cornbread & blackeyed peas...


Hey ya'll,
We are asking everyone to please go to NBC.COM and click on the Biggest Loser Link and then click on America Votes and please cast your vote for our friend and former Crimson Tide player Roger Schultz. We are so proud of Roger and he has worked so hard!
We believe he deserves to be in the finale but we all need to go to the web site and cast our vote for him to help him get there. America gets to decide if Roger or Mark gets in as the 3rd contestant on the finale show April 15th.
Thanks for helping to get Roger in the finale show!
Mary and Tommy Wilcox
Roll Tide!!!!

— Ain’t no way you’re sitting still in the newly renovated Playground Recording Studio.


Sometimes A Great Notion, the play by Aaron Posner, from Kesey's book, is a rollicking river rolling production, captures the story, language is hefty, choreography is foot stomping exemplary, some of the scenes crackle like a rap song dance, the actors are extraodinaire, I think Kesey would be proud. Viv, the only woman in the testosterone packed cast, revels in her womanhood, unfazed by all the bluster and a couple of great fight scenes, and I told her afterwards in the bar where we went and partied with the cast, "All you have to do is take off your clothes and they melt like butter."

The Gerding Theater is magnificent. Inside the old Portland Armory, a massive rock building restored and revamped, highceilinged lobby with long guy wires twisting overhead, a modern theater with great sight lines for all seats, and every seat full, sold out.

Tim, Aaron, Gus and Babbs

Earlier in the day I joined Tim Durouche, the moderator, works for Portland Center Stage, the parent company; Aaron Posner, the writer and director of the play; and Gus Van Sant, Portland premier movie maker. Aaron talked about the challenge of turning a 700 page novel into a two and a half hour play while keeping the nut of Kesey's logging-union strike-family catastrophe intact, and in an entertaining, dynamic way. I had met him a Kesey's a while back when he came to visit and Kesey and I took him out in the trailer full of hay behind the tractor to feed the cows.

We're pretending to call one another on our cell phones. This is after Tim says for everyone to turn their phones off.

Everyone wanted Gus to talk about his upcoming movie, The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test, which he will be directing. Gus filled us in on his long friendship with Kesey, how he and Kesey clicked as movie makers, how Kesey told Gus he'd like him to be the man who makes the EKAT movie if it ever happens. He said the writer's strike had stopped everything and he still had a project to finish before he could start on EKAT. I pointed out, the first we heard of Gus was he won third prize in the Giant Coloring Contest we held in the book, Garage Sale-- there was a page with a black and white line drawing of the bus. You cut the page out, colored the bus and sent it in. He won a free subscription to all seven issues of Spit In The Ocean, the small book Kesey and I put out back in the seventies. He was happy to say over the thirty years it took to put out all seven issues, he got every one.

Showing Gus the Kesey quotes I printed out.

I mostly hogged the stage and lost the thread of all the Kesey stories I told and never did bring them to their conclusions, particularly talking about the bus movie that is featured in EKAT, how no one could finish it except us, and only because we finally learned video editing on the computer, and how the movie never made it to the big screen like we envisioned, but was released on VHS, sold over the internet on our website,, and you can still get the movie, Intrepid Traveler And His Merry Band Of Pranksters Look for A Kool Place, at Kesey's son, Zane's website: and see it on the tube, which is okay because now the TV scene is people's houses is a miniature movie theater, surround sound and all, which is great because the movie is in HI FI STEREO!

-- KapnKen

Whoa, what's he on?

"That stuff that happened in the Sixties, all of us who were part of can tell when you break new ground. If you're a farmer, you can tell that this sod has never been broken before, the plow is laying open great, purple earth and something comes out of it and you can smell it.

"When I was working on Sometimes a Great Notion, I could tell I was breaking new ground; there's an energy that comes out, that's probably not unlike the energy that comes out of nuclear fission--It wasn't just me. It wasn't rock and roll; it wasn't art; it wasn't cinema or dance."

"Something was happening at that time, and it was a wave that some of us were able to surf on. none of us started the wave; I don't think there's any way you could start the wave. The wave is still going."

-- Ken Kesey

Tuesday, April 08, 2008


I was sitting here drinking a Cuba Libre while listening to Tony Joe White and his daughter,Michelle, sing PLAYA DEL CARMEN.

I decided to send her a comment on her myspace site.

Little did I know that the A Side of Tony Joe's VERY FIRST 45 was your song.




Is Online

Apr 8 2008 10:32 PM


Tell your Daddy that Buddy Buie's Dothan crowd has decided to push your music.

Keep up the good work & stay out of those dead end clubs in L.A.

(naw, just kiddin')


Georgia Pines/ Ten More Miles To Louisiana by Tony Joe White
Label: Monument 1003
Year: 1967
Condition: M-

 Georgia Pines/ Ten More Miles To Louisiana Chart info: Not charted 1967
Condition Detail:
Label: M- Vinyl: M- Audio: M-
From a warehouse find, this is a new, unplayed promo copy. This was White's very first single... a cover of the Candymen's "Georgia Pines", backed with a great, self-penned Louisiana rocker.
Written by: Buddy Buie (A), Tony Joe White (B)


Hey, Sis, you are tougher than ever!

I'm sitting here right now listening to Tony Joe White & his daughter sing Playa Del Carmen
and now I'm carefully lifting my fresh Cuba Libre high into the air as I toast my Dothan Tiger girl down on the coast.

Vaya con Dios!

You know I just thought about what you said about instinctively going to bat for your friends.

When your Daddy asked my Daddy to get up on that witness stand & tell that jury that the man who he'd known all his life & the man who he called his friend wouldn't do what he was accused of doing, there was no question that my Daddy could take that oath and tell the truth, the whole truth & nothing but the truth.

Boy, we have one hell of a wonderful inheritance.

We both come from POSITIVE PEOPLE & we live each day showing others that they too can bring a little light into this sinful world.

I'm gonna let it shine.
All the time...



Johnny and the Pinetoppers played at our senior dance
DHS 1966...they were 3 hours late due but played for
3 extra hours. Mr. Dynamite played every Sunday night
At the Geo Washington Club in Dothan for a long time
About this same time..circa 65-66


Monday, April 07, 2008


I laid out on that dock talking to you today
while watching the airplanes & the birds & the helicopters & the turtles & the snakes & the fish
& I had an absolute ball!

You & I can have some raps, can't we?!!!!

I'm glad I got a buddy like you.


image courtesy of


Good luck to everyone on Sunday @ the benefit!

and I had thought about trying to make it, but she is playing Saturday in Memphis @ the Crawfish Festival '08.
They have asked her to headline. Last year she won the competition for live entertainer after winning the Rock 103 Great Unsigned competiton.

Even with this going on the 12th we had considered trying to come down to Dothan.

Last week I had surgery in Oxford, MS for what seemed to be a simple procedure, but after getting into the operation the Doctor found out it was much more complicated.
I got out of the hospital Sunday night.
I was supposed to be there over night.

Having said all this I feel very blessed tonight.

Last Saturday I was looking for Dr. Kavorkian I felt so bad.

Today I turned the corner big time.

I'll fill you in more about all this later!

Please let all my ole' buddies no that I'm thinking about them.
( The f---ing heatherns)!!!
Alison sends you her love,
Robert Nix...........................


I'm relieved.

As you said, we will have a good time.

I look forward to seeing you and appreciate the information you sent on the Ellicott line.
Thanks for remembering my interest in that era.
You are a true Renaissance Man.


Were you on a public beach when you picked up the pottery?

Folks like him had it illegal even to recover things from under water.
A friend of a friend is a diver and was arrested for having found coins and keeping them.
The diving group he is a member of and for all I know, founder of, lobbied and got it overturned.

Oh and who is G and who does L think he *is*?


Great post today!


Just Hope To HELL No Anarchist D*ke/F*g/Yankee Sh*tHead EVER Gets The Opportunity To Do A Documentary About Our Music...

Dear Robert,
This is D., T.'s wife.

I have enjoyed your emails through the years and I just read Tommy Mann's email about the K-otics.
At the end he says that he plays with a band at Lake Martin.
We have a house at Lake Martin and go there often.

Do you know where he plays?



Now this is Squidbilly hip...

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Hey y'all~


I been contemplating two words this evening...



In my world as a little child
Was Religion!

The only time I ever saw my Daddy cry was at Johnson Funeral Home on North Foster & Wilbur Walton preached the funeral!

After he dried his eyes,
Daddy showed me where,
when he was a kid,
they'd stack the formaldehyde crates so
they could watch
get embalmed!


It was great to read Dave Roddy's post.

He is a wonderful human being and played an
important role in the development of many southern musicians and myself.

The Oporto
Armory memories are priceless and forever etched in my mind.

WSGN and Big Bam fully
supported us Dothan guys when no one else would give us a chance.

The Candymen and
Wilbur and the James Gang became superstars in Alabama,Georgia,and Florida due to
local airplay.

It's a shame that today's radio is controlled by distant powers who are deaf to
the hue and cry of deserving talent.

One of these days they will realize they are killing the goose
that laid the golden egg.

Dave Roddy and Bill Moody should be in the Hall Of Fame.
God bless them both !!!!!!!!!

Nostalgically Yours
Perry Carlton Buie

Here is an excerpt from Dave Roddy's (AKA Dave Ruddle) memories of those days in Birmingham

With help from Buddy Buie, an ambitious songwriter/producer/road manager from Dothan, Al, my outside enterprises grew pretty fast through his connections with many of the recording stars of the day. The association with Buddy would provide material for a chapter by itself for I could not have succeeded so quickly without him. He introduced me to the James Gang, Candymen, Classics IV (Members of these groups later comprised the Atlanta Rhythm Section) and many single acts, including Bobby Goldsboro, Roy Orbison, Mac Davis, Tommy Roe, Billy Joe Royal and Joe South. Buddy Buie has been inducted in the Alabama Music Hall of Fame and is still turning out big time material.

I was in the catbird seat when it came to reaching area teens and profited from that considerable clout as a promoter. The little inherited Hop at Norwood Armory became the hottest place to go on a Birmingham Saturday night. When Georgia Pines was number one, Wilbur Walton and the James Gang drew a huge crowd and with hundreds more people than we had room for pushing and shoving to get in, it caused a horrifying moment. Fortunately, the kids listened to Sgt. Bob Emerson and my pleas and lined up more orderly. For Bob and me, it was a wake up call for much tighter crowd controls, starting immediately. The residents in the neighborhood complained about the traffic and disruption of serenity, but my promotions had outgrown that location anyway, so we moved to a larger facility.

Local high schools permitted sororities and fraternities to operate in those days. Each organization competed annually to present the best formal dance. They hired me to be master-of-ceremonies for many of the events that were called Lead-outs; many of them held at the popular Cloud Room. Competing fraternities and sororities would attend rival affairs and, at a particularly well-attended show, a Ramsey High School fraternity asked for my help in putting their program together. I used my position as Music Director of WSGN to contact the record companies to ask for free artist appearances. After all, we had been first in the nation to play such hits as: Lipstick Traces, You Better Move On, Think a Little Sugar, Ya-Ya and Love Twist. Since the event was pro-bono, the authorities did not consider it to be payola where I was concerned.

So, I arranged for Benny Spellman, Arthur Alexander, Barbara Lewis and Lee Dorsey to come from New Orleans and Johnny Jenkins and the Pinetoppers to come from Macon to backup the singers. I am probably forgetting an act or two, because it was truly an R&B Extravaganza and halfway through the show, the Kappa Theta Phi Fraternity officers were filled with pride and saying how no rival could ever top their show. I was feeling pretty good about it, too, since they made me an Honorary KOBE at the Boutwell Convention Center that night. I still have the engraved plaque, dated June 6th, 1962.

But, wait, that's not all. Johnny Jenkins, an outstanding guitarist and leader of the Pinetoppers, had asked if his singer could do a few solos. I answered in the affirmative, of course, but that his singer probably couldn't do but a couple of short songs because of the number of acts we had to get on. Not taking anything away from the amassed talent at all, but Johnny Jenkins' singer stole the show. The crowd was utterly delirious and refused to let him off the stage. What an unforgettable night it was. The fraternity had earned bragging rights for having presented the best Lead-out in Birmingham history and we all had witnessed a musical legend in the making. The next day, I called Jim Stewart, who by that time had formed Stax Records, and introduced him to Otis Redding! These Arms Of Mine and I've Been Loving You Too Long were released soon thereafter.

In case you may think my story has nowhere to go from here, I have to say that the real magic is yet to come from this incredible period. I heard talk of a great new band from the Carolinas that had performed at a beach club in Panama City during spring break. One after the other, in-the-know listeners encouraged me to bring the Swingin' Medallions to Birmingham. Several local fraternities and sororities had disappointedly failed in their attempts to hire the group because of an ironclad contract that only permitted the Medallions one day off a week in the summer of '63.

Undaunted, I trekked to Panama City to see what the buzz was all about and my young talent scouts had been right on the money. Naturally, the Swingin' Medallions big horn sound and high-energy choreography absolutely blew me away. Their thunder and lightening would be unleashed in Birmingham if only we could find a way to overcome their contractual obligations; a pretty tall order since the group's only day off was Monday, the worst day of the week to promote a Hop, right?

Maybe not~

the light bulb went off! We'd call it Medallion Monday and do it every Monday, all summer long! Based on WSGN's reputation and the following I had built to that point, the Medallions agreed to come to Birmingham on a joint venture. We all took a chance on that particular day of the week, but the odds were pretty good. We started out at the Hollywood Country Club in Homewood for an afternoon Pool party,you know, throw a little sand around and try to recreate the beach atmosphere.

Once again, the nearby residents complained about the loud music and the crowds, so we had to move to another venue. I tried to rent the Cloud Room in the Woodlawn area, but they wanted too much money. As it turned out we really didn't need their cotton pickin' swimming pool and moved where the Bluehairs couldn't disturb us at the Airport National Guard Armory. Nighttime was the right time for Medallion Monday.

Each time they came to Birmingham, the young, talented, hard working guys from South Carolina made more money in one day than they made all week in Panama City. They loved the Magic City and the Magic City loved them. The weekly turnouts mushroomed so incredibly that we moved to the brand new Oporto Armory, doubling our capacity and parking. Sgt. Bob Emerson remained with me as manager all those years and was my dependable rock.

There were times that we maxed out even Oporto's crowd limits to the degree that we had people lined up to enter only when someone exited, which caused future lines to start forming several hours before the shows began. In addition to the aforementioned crowd control, a lesson learned was that crowds beget crowds. In retrospect, I'm very thankful that nothing bad ever happened to any of the kids because of the massive crowds that were, collectively, so well behaved. If you were a member of our audience, I applaud you. I'm sure you'd agree that such exemplary behavior would not be duplicated in present day society.

As a disc jockey, I had the opportunity to interview scores of recording artists of the era

As a promoter, my fondest memories come from relationships with the individuals and bands I had the pleasure of working with such as The Ramblers, a very talented local group, and the Swingin' Medallions, who for five fabulous years,'63-'68, were as popular as the Beatles among Birmingham's 16-21 age group.

When Double Shot & What Kind of Fool
were at their respective number one positions on the record charts, we had to do two separate shows a night in order to accommodate the throngs of fans that came for Medallion Mondays and Tams Tuesdays~
truly a magical time each summer in Birmingham at the Oporto Armory~

cherished memories, all.

Dave Roddy

courtesy of

The K-Otics

L-R: Glen Griffin, Tommy Mann, Kim Venable, Marvin Taylor (seated), and Ray Goss

>Tommy Mann and Marvin Taylor were not original members of The K-Otics but they quickly evolved into the band’s leaders. Under Mann’s tutelage, The K-Otics became an excellent performing band and amazingly popular in the southeast region. While The Swingin’ Medallions’ cover of “Double Shot (of My Baby’s Love)” might be better known today than The K-Otics competing version, it was the K-Otics who recorded it first…with no less than Sam Phillips at the helm. Unfortunately for The K-Otics, unforeseen circumstances and delays resulted in the Medallion’s version reaching radio stations only days before the K-Otics version did. Both songs proved extremely popular, however, and still rate as the signature tune for both groups.

Tommy Mann Recalls The K-Otics

I come from a family of musicians so it was natural to be a member of the high school band as well as the church choir. I was not a member of the original K-Otics but joined early on – by accident, actually. I was assigned to a dorm room in the fall of ’62 with a total stranger, Joe Torillo. Joe was playing his guitar one night and I knew the song so I started singing it. Joe asked, “You can sing?” I said, “Yep.”

He had me learn a few more songs over the next few days. Joe told me he played in a band called The K-Otics and that their lead guitar player was doing the singing for them but wasn’t really a lead singer. He asked if I would sing with them the following weekend.

We played at the Ozark teen club in Ozark, Alabama, which was 50 or so miles from Troy University where we were students. The only song I was able to do good enough was “Rhythm of the Rain” but the crowd loved the song so much that I had to sing it four times. I was paid $20.00…but the feeling of being on stage and being paid for it was wonderful! I figured I was done though since I had overshadowed the guitar player who was also the leader of the band. Joe told me the next week that the band had decided to make me their new lead singer.

For the remainder of the year we played on campus and at high school proms, etc. Over the next few months the other members dropped out of college. I believe Joe was the last one to leave. We picked up members as needed. When Joe left he said The K-Otics was my band if I wanted. For the next one and a half years the name of the band changed to Tommy Mann & The K-Otics. I used students that could play drums and guitar to play with me when I contracted to perform. Some of those players were really good. A guitar player from Kissimmee, Florida, Ken Murphy may have been the best of them all, but they kept leaving school so I had to keep replacing rhythm players.

At the end of the 1964 school year, in April or May, I was looking for some new members and agreed to listen to three guys that had just graduated from high school. We practiced and then played a gig. Not only was the sound great but we all seemed to get along with each other. One of the guys played guitar and after a few months I let him go and started playing guitar myself. This was the last time we only had four members.

In 1965, my last year in college, we recorded a song called “Charlena” for Rick Hall of fame Records which went to number one in Montgomery as well as in Troy, Auburn and other locales. I think Jimmy Johnson may have recorded it for us (Jimmy told Kim Venable last year that he thinks he did record us there but that he wasn’t 100% sure. How about that? The K-Otics might have jumpstarted Jimmy Johnson, Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham to their eventual stardom! Just kidding!). Our rate to perform went much higher and we began to get calls from most of Alabama as well as from eastern Georgia. We played for most of the high school proms in the area…but the best was yet to come!

I first heard “Double Shot (Of My baby’s Love)” played by a local band in Troy. They had heard a band called The (Swingin’) Medallions play it somewhere. We played at a club in Panama City, Florida, at the Old Dutch Inn and went to another club where we head The Medallions. They played “Double Shot” and said they were going to record it. We started playing the song like most bands and figured they would release the record. We saw them months later and they said Dot Records refused to do the record. I, we well as my drummer, told them we were thinking of recording it and they said, “Go ahead.” I knew that there had been a version years before so I had a contact research the history and found the Dick Holler & The Holidays (original) version. Since the song had already been recorded it was perfectly okay for us – or anyone – to record.

Within a few weeks I arranged a recording session. This next part will surprise a lot of people but the first time I recorded “Double Shot” was in very late 1965 or early 1966 for – are you ready for this – Sam Phillips in Memphis, Tennessee! I still have the dub. Sam said he would release it or have us come back to improve upon it; it did need more work.

Sam made of the more serious mistakes in rock and roll during the next few weeks. After approximately a month Rick Hall from Fame Records, where we had recorded “Charlena” a year earlier, said Sam had called him and told him that his opinion was that “Double Shot” would be a local hit in Alabama for us and a local hit for The Medallions in South Carolina! Rick disagreed with Sam and wanted us to record it for him immediately. I cancelled all plans for the next week and we set a date.

Here, again, one of those things that change history forever happened. Rick’s secretary called and said Rick was sick and told me that we would have to delay the recording session for a week. The next week he was worse and we delayed it another week. They called again the third week and said Rick had pneumonia but that he had heard The Medallions were going to record for Mercury Records and he didn’t want to delay the recording any longer. He wanted us to come up and record “Double Shot” with one of his songwriters, a guy named Dan Penn. I asked, “Who the Hell is Dan Penn? I want you to handle it.” But it was to be the first record Dan produced. He did a good job. It was his idea to use the fuzztone on the guitar. Spooner Oldham made some suggestions also. Both of them went on to outstanding careers.

Rick was to get us on Atlantic Records in short order and the single went nationwide on their Bang label. Due to Rick’s illness The Medallions record had reached radio stations all over the United States three days ahead of us. This made a big difference to some of the stations. A great many of them played both versions and asked the kids to let them know which one they liked best. The stations that did this told me we beat The Medallions about 90% to 10%. Bert Berns had a full-page ad in the March 26, 1966 Billboard Magazine.

The song did well in Miami (#1 or #5?). When we played in Tampa the radio person told me they received both version of “Double Shot” at the same time so played both and asked the kids to call in. We received 97% out of each 100 votes. He also said he had been under pressure to report just the opposite and told me he had to do just that if he wanted to keep his station open. This (same thing) was repeated to me at other locations. A local record store in Auburn, Alabama kept ordering our version but kept receiving The Medallions’ version. I found out later that this was a way to stop distribution and therefore sales! This is what happened; no sour grapes, though – I’ve done extremely well. The pros in Muscle Shoals tell me “Double Shot” should have reached the Top 40 only – not reached #17. I will believe to my dying day that both versions should have gone to the #35 or #40 position and probably did…but if you take the air play and sales from both groups you wind up with a #17 position.

I thought we were off to the big time. Indeed, Fame Studios with Dan Penn producing again had us record several songs for an album but, alas, another ironic twist of fate happened. The song that we were to release next and which we recorded during this session was “I’m Your Puppet.” Dan said if we were able to get high enough on the charts we had it; if not, two guys from Pensacola – the Purify Brothers – would get to release it. I believe the song became the biggest hit Dan Penn ever wrote! You can see the tear drops…can’t you?

We started playing at all the popular teen centers and frat parties. The biggest shows we played were the Big Bam Show in Montgomery; WVOK Show in Birmingham; and Wape “The Big Ape” in Jacksonville. We played the Brandon Armory is Tuscaloosa and at the West Point, Georgia teen center; the Alexander City, Alabama Recreation Center; and at Buddy Buie’s in Dothan, Alabama. The biggest nightclubs we played – in prestige, not in size - were the Whiskey A-Go-Go in Atlanta and the Civic Center in Mobile. We also played in Tifton, Georgia; the Sandpiper Club (and one other) in Pensacola; Big Mack’s teen center in Tampa, and places in Jacksonville Beach and Miami Beach.

I handled all of the band’s bookings, recordings, and personal management until early 1966. At that time “Double Shot” was doing really well and we needed to move on up. We had initially signed recording contracts with Fame Studios in 1965 and in 1966 signed management and recording contracts with Buddie and Bill Lowery in Atlanta. A list of groups and personnel managed by these guys at the time read like a “Who’s Who” of rock and roll: Roy Orbinson, The Candymen, Tommy Roe & The Roemans, Billy Joe Royal, The Classics IV, Joe South, and The K-Otics. Buie later combined guys from The Classics IV and Candymen and I believe some others to form The Atlanta Rhythm Section.

Our sound was rock and roll with influences from The Beatles, Stones, Otis Redding, and Roy Orbinson. I don’t know how to describe a “child prodigy” but our lead guitar player at the age of eighteen could play extremely well and could watch another good player – Mitch Rider, for example – and immediately play just as well. How good did we become? I can only mention the things we were told. The crowd always told us that we were the best band they had ever heard. Do fans tell you that anyway? Perhaps – but the accolades came from fans and fellow musicians. If we announced that we were going to be in a battle of the band contest no other bands showed up; we therefore had to decline offers! We played in, I believe, Macon, Georgia and the crowd said we were the best they had ever heard. One guy, a musician, said he heard a group in Jacksonville that might be just as good as we were. This, of course, got my attention. How could he say such a thing? He said they did something he had never seen before. I asked, “Like what?” He replied they had double lead guitar players and that while our vocals might have been better and our guitar player may have been the best he ever heard the double leads were fantastic! I asked who they were. He said their name was something “like The Almond Joys (Allman Joys.)” I said, “Sounds pretty dumb to me!” The rest is history!

Another recent reference came from Greg Haynes, who is completing a book/music project called The Hey Baby Days of Beach Music. Greg remembers going to see a big name group in Macon in 1966 and telling one of the people he met there how good he thought the band was only to have the guy reply, “you haven’t heard anything until you go over to Alabama and hear a band called The K-Otics. Greg’s project should be completed soon. Our first record “Charlena” was supposed to be a big part of it but Rick Hall refuses to release it!

The K-Otics broke up because of the Vietnam War. The bass player and I were in the national Guard and had to report for active duty training and upon our return some of the members had left while others had joined other bands. For example, Kim Venable and Lawrence Shawl joined The Classics IV (“Spooky”, “Traces”). Marvin Taylor joined The James Gang and later was in a group called Moses Jones who toured extensively in the northeast. He now plays in Atlanta with a former member of .38 Special in a group called Java Monkey.

Fate seemed to determine who made it big and who didn’t during that time in music more than at anytime before or since. One situation that points this out is this: I hired a keyboard player in 1965 who was young and still learning to play. My guitar had no patience with him and was always trying to get me to fire him. One night, as we were leaving a gig, we backed up the car and ran over the guitar player’s guitar. It seems that the keyboard player was supposed to put the guitar in the trunk! The guitar player tried to strangle the keyboard player and I had to pull him off. He said, “You’re going to have to fire him or I’m going to kill him.” I went to the back of the car and told Ed, “I’m going to have to fire you or Marvin is going to kill you.” Ed said, “I know it, Tommy.” After I fired him, Ed went with another local band then on to Los Angeles and founded The Sandford Townsend Band. He co-wrote “Smoke of a Distant Fire” which I believe went to #9 on the charts in the ’70’s.

I currently play a little guitar and sing with a friend locally here on lake Martin. I retired at age 52 after 25 years in Human Resources. I sing in the same choir (not with the same people of course) but some members are there, however. I ride in the boat during the summer and also play a little golf. I’m still married to my lovely wife pat and have two children, Thomas Mann Jr. and Angela.

I had a local studio make a CD of five of our records – the ones actually released on vinyl. The album is called “Double Shot”, of course. These are the only recordings I have; our last recording session at Fame Studios was lost over the years.

My experience with The K-Otics was wonderful. I'm not the first one to say it, but there was something in the air during those times that has not been here since and sadly will never be here again. Before the '60's music was either a star like Sinatra or a big band; to see four or five people get up and play with guitars was...I don't know what it was.

INTERVIEW WITH MARVIN TAYLOR (60s): How did you first get interested in music?

Marvin Taylor: My mom was a trained classical singer and my older brother was a dance band drummer.

60s: The K-Otics was an established group before you joined. Do you recall the names of the original line-up?

MT: No, I never knew them. I grew up in a mostly rural small town scene, Tuskegee, Alabama, so the fact that I had "heard of" a band was a big deal to me. I taught Kim Venable to play drums when he was a junior or senior in high school, and also taught a guy named Edward to play guitar. I think I was probably 15 or 16 or so. The next year, both those guys attended Troy State University and came home with the news that they were official members of The K-Otics, and I was sick with envy! Then the following summer, they got a gig at a rowdy roadhouse in Montgomery Alabama (about 40 miles away from my hometown of Tuskegee) and I was asked to play guitar with them and all was forgiven - and then some!

60s: Why did the original K-Otics disband, and how did you and the rest of the second line-up become involved?

MT: They were a college band, and as people graduated or left school, they were replaced. I am not totally sure of the details, but I think our lead singer and leader of the band, Tommy "Swampman" Mann, probably sort of "inherited" the band from upperclassmen!

That summer gig at the notorious Mark Charles Supper Club had Tommy Mann from Tallassee, Alabama, on rhythm guitar and lead vocals; Ray Goss from Tallassee on bass and vocals; Edward Wilcoxen on rhythm guitar and backing vocals; Kim Venable from Tuskegee, Alabama, on drums; and me on lead guitar and backing vocals. Toward the end of the summer we met a guy from Montgomery whose dad owned a stereo store. His name was John Thorington, and he was a screaming Hammond B-3 player and also played sax and sang! When we learned that he wanted to work with us for the rest of the summer at the Mark Charles, we all voted to replace Edward; there was only budget for five players. It sucked to treat Edward badly, but this guy smoked on B-3, and replacing one guitar with B-3 was just irresistible! That gig ended at the end of summer, and we kept playing as a four-piece band. We eventually added Ed Sanford from Montgomery on Wurlitzer piano and background vocals. It just never quite came together to be a solid unit somehow. We each remember it slightly differently, but as I recall, a couple of the guys wanted to drop Ed, but he and I were friends and I sort of said let's give it a while. But my memory is that he locked my keys in my trunk of my car, and Tommy's memory is that Ed backed over my guitar with his car. Either way, I said "OK - this guy has to go!" I guess my temper has never been my most endearing quality! We eventually got Glenn Griffin from Dothan, Alabama, on Vox Organ, and that was the permanent band for our duration.

60s: Where did the band typically play?

MT: We played recreation centers and the like. We recorded a song called “Charlena” and had it go top ten for seventeen weeks on WBAM, a fifty thousand watt station out of Montgomery that blasted the entire southern half of the state! A hit on that station put you on an even keel with the Beach Boys or any other group getting equal air play on that station. I was thinking we learned the song from The Swinging Medallions, but was reminded that we actually first started playing “Charlena” when we heard this fabulous blues man, Art Grayson, play it in a hole in the wall bar in Montgomery. Art played a Gibson Stereo guitar, and played with his fingers - no pick. It warped my mind. Though I eventually added a thumb pick, I play with my fingers to this day. Anyway, Charlena kicked our gigs up a notch. We started getting booked on shows, like opening for Roy Orbison at The Houston County Farm Center in Dothan. That's where we met Buddy Buie, who later produced The Classics IV, The Atlanta Rhythm Section, and a group I was in later called Mose Jones. Buddy played a huge roll in my career. Our increased visibility allowed us to go into smaller towns all over South Alabama and rent National Guard Armories, buy ads on WBAM, hire a couple of local cops, and charge a couple of dollars at the door - we'd play almost every weekend and all during the week in the summer. It was heavy coin for those days!

60s: How would you describe the band's sound? What bands influenced you?

MT: We did a variety. We were all very heavily influenced by R&B and Soul artists that recorded up in Muscle Shoals Alabama, as well as the Stax artists from Memphis. But then we discovered The Candymen, Roy Orbison's back-up band, who eventually became a band on their own away from Orbison. They were influenced by the Beatles and The Beach Boys and other relatively high quality white pop groups, and their own original stuff was amazing! We just thought they were one of the best bands we'd ever heard, and absolutely one of the "coolest"!

60s: Did The K-Otics have a manager?

MT: No, we bought into a couple of fast talking guys' lines, but saw through them right away as being full of shit. We pretty much did whatever we did as a democratic unit.

60s: Did you play any of the local Alabama teen clubs?

MT: We played a few teen clubs, but I only remember the Alexander City Rec Center and the Tallassee Alabama Rec Center. But mostly we rented those National Guard Armories, hired two off duty local police officers, and had our own door people and crew. The armories and police were not expensive, and we packed the places and kept all the profits. We could make a whole lot more money doing those gigs ourselves than playing for somebody else.

60s: Did The K-Otics participate in any battle of the bands?

MT: I don't recall any battle of the bands. We really came right out of the chute with the 45 record “Charlena”, which immediately hit hard on WBAM in Montgomery - and as I said, that was a 50,000 watt station that covered pretty much the entire lower 2/3 of Alabama and some of Mississippi and Georgia, so a hit record on that station was a huge calling card! And since people in that zone pretty much only knew what that station played, if we had a number one record, which “Charlena” was for 17 weeks in a row, and then our band was number one as well! As long as we didn't go outside that radius, we were as big as it gets! But go a mile farther into the territory of some other big station, we might be total unknowns! It was really a shock to our egos, so we stayed in Big Bam range as much as possible.

First we had a record breaking run at #1 with “Charlena”, then the same thing with “Double Shot”. We had a driver and a security guy, a limo that belonged to us, the works. WBAM had a sister station up in Birmingham, but they were not the local "in" station for Birmingham that WBAM was in Montgomery, and the station that was the big station in Birmingham was a big supporter of The Swinging Medallions, so our gigs there were mediocre - people seemed to get really polarized behind one version or the other, so that was like playing on Medallions' turf! Then there were other cities like Houston and Miami that had played our version of “Double Shot” before The Medallions came out with theirs, so we could have played those cities and done well, but it was not efficient when you consider how many cities we could play night after night where we could sell out the place and easily hit another one the next night. If we had been more mature we would have thought more toward the future and kept recording and trying to grow.

60s: How far was the band's "touring" territory?

MT: The farthest we went on an actual tour was out through Louisiana. There was a promoter named Eddie Arceneau (spelling?) who booked a tour called Rebel-ation, with a bid toward a national TV series like a Southern version of Hootenanny or Shindig, which were popular shows at the time. There were about five bands that traveled all around Louisiana doing these shows. We had the closest thing to a hit record, so the first show had us coming on later in the lineup. But the two opening bands were The Champagne Brothers and The Boogie Kings! They were like ten-piece horn bands that were phenomenal! I mean, these were ass kicking bands by any standards! They rolled over us like a train! By comparison, they looked like a big R&B Revue with all those horns and singers, like a James Brown or Joe Tex revue, and what we were doing looked much more like Paul Revere and the Raiders - Fun, but not powerful like those guys! After the first night, we took the opening slot and things went much better! It all turned out to be a half-baked idea anyway and sort of disbanded after a few weeks.

60s: What other local groups of the era do you especially recall?

MT: The best bands in our area, or anywhere I'd ever seen honestly, were The Candymen (Roy Orbison's band but who were also a just a fabulous band on their own) and Wilbur Walton and The James Gang (no relation to Joe Walsh's group). And one of my favorite bands to see live was The Swinging Medallions. We only saw them in the summers down in Panama City, Florida. Later on, there was a hot band that we were friends with from Montgomery called The Rockin' Gibraltars. A few years after The K-Otics broke up I moved to Atlanta and hooked up with Wilbur and a new edition of The James Gang, and then the original drummer, Fred Guarino, and original bass player, Jimmy Dean, came back into the band. It was fabulous playing with those guys! There were lots of other great bands in the greater Southeast area in those days, but we played all the time so I didn't really get to see that many to remember them now except by name. There were The Bushmen, who, now that I think of it, I also actually played with for a short time, minus a couple of the original members, and The Strange Bedfellows who had a portable stage that looked like a giant bed. There were The Roemans who backed Tommy Roe. It all sort of runs together, because right after I left The K-Otics I moved to Atlanta and saw some of these bands there in clubs, though a lot of them were actually originally from closer to where we were from.

60s: Where were the K-Otics' 45s recorded?

MT: Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals Alabama, and Royal in Memphis. I remember being blown away by the local musicians in Muscle Shoals! Dan Penn was our producer, and probably had (to this day) more impact on my musical philosophy than anyone in my life. They did things that were so simple and honest, and nobody else could come close to making songs work like that! Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham are still blowing people away with what they can do. They gig some now as a duo - Dan plays acoustic guitar and Spooner plays piano and they both sing. They just do the songs they wrote, like “I'm Your Puppet”, “Dark End of The Street”, “Do Right Man”…and the list goes on forever! Great stuff!

60s: Where did The K-Otics first learn “Double Shot”? Were you familiar with Dick Holler and The Holiday's original version?

MT: We learned it from The Swinging Medallions who played it in Panama City at their house gig every summer, and they learned it, I presume, from the original version by Dick Holler. We started playing the song and people would yell for it before we played a note! We knew damn well it was a hit record waiting to happen. Every summer we would go see The Medallions and ask if they'd cut the song yet and they'd say no! We were closest friends with Joe, the drummer. I remember Kim, our drummer, telling Joe one summer, "Well, hell if you guys are never going to record the damn song, we might cut it." Joe just laughed and said "Well, hell, cut it!" Pretty soon we did, but it took probably six months to find a label that would do anything with it. Bang Records was a relatively small label at the time, but it seems like maybe they had Neil Diamond and maybe Sonny and Cher, so it was a cool label to land a deal with. They came out with a big ad in Billboard that advertised "A double shot from Bang! ‘Hang on Sloopy’ by The McCoys and ‘Double Shot’ by The K-Otics!" Both records took off and we were rocking out! We heard a little later that The Medallions had cut it, and Joe and one or two of the guys came to see us at a concert we played for WBAM's sister station in Birmingham. We were all friendly and joking about who would win out, and Joe kept smiling and saying "Uh-huh, you just wait!" Then right after that we heard that they had a deal with Mercury/Smash! Well, that was a huge label with serious clout! We were way up in the charts in Billboard one week and gone the next, replaced by The Medallions. There were some big markets that were already playing ours and wouldn't switch versions, but most did. We heard lots of stories about "payola" and all, and specific deals and money that was supposed to have changed hands, but who the hell knows? I certainly have no first hand knowledge of any of that. In my mind, they had the song first, and even though we recorded it first, they had the "party version" that people first fell in love with at the beach, so they deserved a hit from it. We got some good mileage out of it as well. It would have certainly served us better if we could have released it when we first recorded it instead of six months later. That would have given us a much longer jump on the rival version, but I'm telling you, I loved The Swinging Medallions as a live band and liked them a lot as people, so I love it that they (and some of their children!) are still out there playing because of that song! You know, that's the two edged sword in that kind of thing; I don't ever have to play that damn song again, and they have had to play it every night since then! Twenty or thirty years of playing “Double Shot” every singe time they do a gig! I'm kidding of course - they also get to see people's faces light up and feel ownership of it. But I just don't have the same "hard feelings" that some people do from back in those days. Probably because I have really had so many musical "highs" since then that I might have missed out on if anything had been different. I just would not change a thing about my life for fear of what else it might change with it!

60s: What about other K-Otics’ recordings? Are there any live recordings, or unreleased tracks?

MT: There are some tracks that are owned by Fame Recording Studio in Muscle Shoals, but they are interested in having someone buy the whole vault of everything they have, and won't talk about just the K-Otics stuff. Wow! When I think about what all is in that vault, the K-Otics stuff is the least thing I'd be interested in anyway to tell the truth! Just Dan Penn's original demos of the songs he wrote that nobody ever heard! Oh man!

60s: Did the band make any local TV appearances?

MT: Not that I can recall.

60s: How often, and where, do you perform today?

MT: It's funny, but the next band of any notoriety was from 1974 through 1980, called Mose Jones, and I learned that Mose Knows, an album that Al Kooper produced on Mose Jones for MCA just before I joined the band, as well as Blackbird, an album Buddy Buie produced on Mose Jones for RCA after I joined, have both been re-issued by some company on CD. I just heard about it so don't know the details yet. It strikes me funny because there is suddenly a lot of interest in two old bands I was part of, and it feels real nice! Anyway, Mose Jones was pure magic! I don't know if I can imagine another band that fit together as magically as that group of people! To play inside that musical space is something not everybody gets to experience in a lifetime! We recorded and toured through the Seventies, then just gave out and broke up, all of us doing studio stuff and hired gun gigs for a while, and then we all got back together as Out A Hand in the Eighties purely to get to play together again! We just played locally and I kept doing the studio thing and started getting more into writing and producing. Out A Hand just sort of ran out of steam after about ten years or so, and we all went separate ways again. I got more serious about learning to write songs and produce sessions.

Three former Mose Jones members, Steve, the keyboards player, and Bryan, the original Mose Jones drummer, and I got together with a great singer/sax man named Michael Bastedo and formed Java Monkey in the early nineties. We became a studio band that also played out some. Francine Reed from Lyle Lovette's Large Band moved to Atlanta, and came and sat in with us one night. I immediately approached her to sing the demo for a song I had just written that was perfect for her called "What Is That Light?" By this time I had married Raven, the love of my life, and was writing songs with her. Bryan by this time had become a full time producer for Ichiban Records and had produced tons of great Blues artists for them, and I had played guitar on some of that stuff. Francine was really a Jazz and Gospel singer, but was totally at home singing Blues. Bryan immediately got her a deal with Capitol, and she recorded “What Is That Light” on that first CD, which did really well (for a Blues record anyway!). We did another CD with Francine the next year, and she did a song Raven and I wrote called "Been There, Done That" which was nominated for Song of The Year by the W.C. Handy Blues Society, the Blues equivalent of a Grammy. By this time Java Monkey had become Francine Reed's touring band, and for the next few years we went all over Europe and to Australia, as well as all over the U.S.

We have done six CDs with Francine now, and Raven and I have songs on all her CDs, but I have pretty much stopped touring with her. She gets more popular every year and is really doing well all over the world, but I have just gotten to a place where I don't even like to go to the store without Raven, much less out of town, and God forbid, out of the country! Raven went back to school to get her PhD in Literacy and Education, and is a full-time professor at a major research university, so is not able to go traipsing around after some Blues band all over the world, even as good as this Blues band is! And the truth is, Bryan, the original drummer for Mose Jones, and I and a couple of others, formed a writer's group called The Wednesday Music Group that is just the most fun I have had in some time! We get together over homemade pizza at one of our home studios (we all have them!) every Wednesday night and collaborate on songs, help each other with individual songs, play and/or sing on each other's demos, and just really crank out some neat stuff! There is sort of a new category of music that they are calling Americana, which is what we are doing. It is such a huge and diverse category, including artists from the likes of Dan Penn to Bonnie Raitt to Neil Young, to lesser known artists like Buddy and Julie Miller and some even more traditional Bluegrass people, on through people like the great soul singer Bettye LaVette and, come to think of it, probably Francine Reed! I think it is just that there are finally so many of us doing everything we like from all our different roots all rolled into one thing, and they had to call it something! Smebody asked me, "Well, this stuff you are doing now, is it Blues, or Bluegrass, or R&B, or Jazz or Soul or what?" I said "Yeah! It sure is!" You can check out some of our stuff on my site.

A few years ago, I created a product called Band In The Pocket, which is a series of CDs of backing tracks that allow musicians to jam with a really hot band at home. All they need is their instrument and a regular CD player. We have five versions out for solo players, like if you play guitar, or keyboard, or sax, or even harmonica, or hell they can even sing with them for that matter. The first two are Blues, the third is Rock, the fourth is Country and Bluegrass, and the fifth is Jazz. Then we have one for drummers and one for Bass players. We are about to release a second one for drummers and another Blues version. They are available in about 1000 stores around the country, including the Guitar Center chain. I also sell them directly through my website. That's my day job! But my passion is writing and recording those songs!

60s: How do you best summarize your experiences with The K-Otics?

MT: Wow! Just about as much fun as a teen aged boy who calls himself a musician can have, I expect. I know there were certainly more grandly successful young musicians, but we really got to experience some amazing things and some amazing times. We were in on the ground floor of some grassroots music movements, we got to hang and record and even write songs with some people that I still look up to as the greatest, and we survived it all and lived to tell about it! There were certainly times that survival was not a guaranteed outcome! I still hear from some of the guys from The K-Otics from time to time. Ray and I are still very close and email each other every week. I'm still friends with Tommy and Kim, but we don't stay in touch as much, and I've lost touch with Glen. It seems we all have a slightly different take on it all, but what I can remember, I remember fondly! After all, it was the Sixties!

The K-Otics:
Mike Johnson – lead guitar and vocals (1962)
Joe Torillo - rhythm and back-up vocals (1962-1963)
Tommy Mann – vocals (1962-1967)
Marvin Taylor (lead guitar and back up vocals (1962-1967)
Ray Goss – bass guitar and back-up vocals (1964-1967)
Kim Venable – drums (1964-1967)
Ed Sandford – keyboards and back-up vocals (1965-1967)
Glenn Griffin – keyboards and back-up vocals (1965)
Lawrence Shawl - keyboards and back-up vocals (1963-1967)
Ed Wilcox – rhythm guitar (1964)
Johnny Coates – drums (1963)
Ken Murphy – lead guitar (1963)

"Copyrighted and originally printed on by Mike Dugo".
"Listen live, online to their music at Beyond The Beat Generation, 60's garage and psychedelia".

Wilbur Walton Jr. On YouTube!!!!

James Gang.

Photograph Courtesy of Lindsay Swida 2005.

Jimmy Dean, Bass Player of The James Gang sent us this history. Thank you, Jimmy!

History of The James Gang

In October, 1964, songwriter/record producer Buddy Buie, who was
manager of Roy Orbison's backup band The Candymen (originally known as The Webs, which
included Bobby Goldsboro as singer) put together a second group which he named
The James Gang. The band was made up of Wilbur Walton, Jr. and me (Jimmy Dean)
from a second version of The Webs that Buddy managed, and Fred Guarino, Bubba
Lathem, and Johnny Mulkey, from another of his groups, The Ramrods of Birmingham.

That winter, the group released a couple of songs on United Artists' Ascot
label which did well in several markets, hitting big in Birmingham and around
the South. A session followed at Fred Foster Studio in Nashville, where the
group recorded a Buddy Buie/John Rainey Adkins song, "Georgia Pines". The song did
well in the south, the midwest, and several western markets.

The James Gang signed with the Bill Lowery Agency in Atlanta, which was
already booking many other southern acts, including Billy Joe Royal, Joe South,
Tommy Roe, The Candymen, The Tams, and The Roemans. Buddy and his business
partner, Paul Cochran, moved to Atlanta and partnered with Lowery.

The James Gang began recording at MasterSound Studio, located in the same
building as the Lowery Agency, cutting several songs. One of them, "The Right
String Baby But The Wrong Yo-Yo", written by William "Piano Red" Perryman, became
another regional hit for the group. The group toured until fall of 1967, when
bookings began to thin. At that point the original group broke up. Wilbur
continued to play the James Gang jobs that came into the agency by picking up
various musicians for the dates.

In 1969, Wilbur convinced Fred Guarino and me to rejoin him on the road.
Marvin Taylor, formerly with the K-otics, was the guitarist. As a four-piece
group, we played what was left of the dying hop market and college fraternities but
time had moved on. Buddy was focusing on putting together another group, made
up of some members of The Candymen and The Classics Four, which became the
Atlanta Rhythm Section. He was also involved in opening his own studio in
Atlanta, Studio One. Another group up north had taken our name and was having
nationwide hits. In 1970, we gave it up.

By this time, John Rainey Adkins, founding member of The Webs (later The
Candymen) had returned to Dothan, Alabama and started a band he called
Beaverteeth. I was freelancing as a commercial artist when he asked me to join the group
in May, 1972. I did, and a year later, Rodney Justo, formerly lead singer of
the Candymen and the first lead singer of the Atlanta Rhythm Section, called
and said B. J. Thomas, who he was now working with, needed a back up band. As
Beaverteeth, we (John Rainey Adkins, David Adkins, Charlie Silva, Rodney Justo
and I) worked with B. J. for several years in the seventies.

As far as I know, Wilbur never worked with another band, though he still
considers himself in the music business. Some of his songs still get airplay in
Europe. Johnny Mulkey stayed in music, working for a while as bass player for
Joe South. Fred and Bubba never got back involved with music. Fred passed away
in 2006.

Jimmy Dean
bass player, The James Gang