“Livin'” the Dream
I Was very happy when I received a nice email from Bob Miller late this year (2019) regarding the Colorado garage group “The Livin’ Ends”! Bob has been very kind to provide so many materials and sound clips relating to the Livin’ Ends. Bob resides in Sacramento, California. In conjunction with our correspondence, Bob managed to contact a few past members of the Livin’ Ends, obtaining comments and memories from them as well.
The Livin’ Ends were four Cherry Creek High School students along with two members coming from Denver’s Thomas Jefferson High.
- Greg Tharp (bass) – Cherry Creek High/Thomas Jefferson
- Art Colyer (lead guitar) – Cherry Creek High – departs 1970
- Andy Yoelin (drums) – Cherry Creek High
- Craig Vollmer (rhythm guitar) – Cherry Creek High – departs 1969
- Bob Miller (keyboards) – Thomas Jefferson High
- Irving Andrews (vocals, sax, harmonica) – Cherry Creek High/Thomas Jefferson High
- Dave Sondrup (drums) replaces Andy Yoelin in 1968
- Gary Hammergreen (guitar) joins 1970
NOTE: Greg Tharp and Irving Andrews attended Cherry Creek until attendance borders were changed for the two schools.
The group formed in 1966 and played around Denver including at their own high schools, both Cherry Creek and Thomas Jefferson, along with college venues and even a YMCA dance!
Bob Miller fondly remembers those early formative days with band members and families all pitching in to get the band going. Miller recalls “The band van was cool! I got it for $400 at a Ford dealer in Littleton as soon as I turned 16. Prior to that, Greg Tharp hauled us and the equipment to gigs in his parents’ station wagon.”
Miller commented on how Andy Yoelin’s father owned a carpet business and would volunteer to “deck out” the interior of the group’s van, and “My mom made the letter and color design. As you see from our business card, van paint and YMCA poster, we used this as a logo. My mom and I made the cards and posters on a silkscreen.”
Miller on the Livin’ Ends Repertoire : “We were a rock/soul band doing Rascals, Eddie Floyd, Booker T., Spencer Davis Group, Love, Animals’ songs. We were strictly a copy band. Everyone wanted to hear their favorite radio hits at dances. Audiences were generally not into original artists’ compositions unless you had a record out and name recognition.”
No Go Denver – and So to the ‘Springs’
For a young high school age band, securing gigs in Denver wasn’t an easy task. Miller remembers “We had a hard time breaking into the Denver club scene initially. Joel Brandeis was the big concert promoter in Denver and had the club gigs locked up for his groups. We went to his office but he turned us away.”
And so the boys headed south about 60 miles to the city of Colorado Springs. Miller continues, “Funny how things happen. Irving’s brother Steven Harrell was our manager. He took photos of the band at his house in Colorado Springs and made a poster to promote our gigs. I found a tube (shown above) with the poster from 1967 or 1968. Quite a change from our blue blazers and turtlenecks” (from the early high school days).
The ‘Ends’ would attend an audition in the Springs which Steven arranged. Miller: “He got us an audition at “Grandma’s” in downtown Colorado Springs. John Philbin was there looking for talent for his club, the “Apple”.”
Philbin would assume management duties for the Livin’ Ends at that point with the band becoming the house band at both the “Apple” and “Kelker Junction”. Miller relates, “Kelker Junction was an awesome place with psychedelic light shows on every wall.”
John Philbin was also managing another group from Colorado “The Beast” – a group which recorded in Clovis, New Mexico with Norman Petty. That group would eventually release two long plays. Philbin would have The Livin’ Ends join Beast on the road for performances.
The band would eventually crack the Denver scene, meeting Nate Feldman from “La Pichet” (the Pitcher) in Denver. Many gigs would follow over the next few years including “Dirty Harry’s” on Santa Fe, J.B.’s Lounge also on Santa Fe, the “Family Dog”, “Crowder’s Barn”, Boulder venues including “The Buff Room”, “Tulagi’s”, the “Skunk Creek Inn”, as well as “Sam’s” on Lookout Mountain
Battle of the Bands
In the spring of 1967, the Livin’ Ends would enter Denver radio station leader KIMN’s “Battle of the Bands ’67”.
Miller: “We had a good battle, but were bested by the more popular Moonrakers (I believe it was one of Bob McVittie’s bands that one) They were better musicians than we were.”
(Photos taken at the “Battle”)
Miller: “As you see from the uniforms, we were blue blazer, white turtleneck, checked pants and Beatle boots. During the summer of ’67 we were drawn to the San Francisco sound and British Invasion groups.”
Next Stop – Buddy Holly’s Home and Norman Petty
The Livin’ Ends – like many other Colorado garage-era bands, would journey down to the New Mexico town of Clovis, home of Norman Petty’s legendary recording studio where Buddy Holly, the Fireballs and a host of lesser known bands recorded. The West wasn’t exactly the epic center for recording studios and so Petty’s operation was a destination for wanna be bands and singers.
The ‘Ends’ approached Petty and passed the audition. On March 13th, 1969 the Livin’ Ends entered into a contract with Norm to promote tracks recorded in Clovis and seek placement with record labels. All six then-members of the group would be present to sign (see below).
The ‘Ends’ came to Clovis on two occasions to record. The two photos that follow were shot outside the Petty studio. Miller relates why the group is not in possession of copies:
“Norman was very protective of his material and we could never get copies of out unreleased recordings. (One photo) is in front of the original 7th Street Studio. I do not remember taking the pictures, but I recognize the building front. Norman and John Philbin must have taken them to sell the tracks. Norman was tight with Ahmet Ertugen at Atlantic Records and he worked hard to get us signed.”
The Petty Studio/Petty Mode of Operation
Miller: “This (the photo) is in front of the original 7th street studio. The glass window was where the recording and mixing room was. To the right on that picture was the entrance to the studio that was a waiting room.
That is where we sat when other tracks were being recorded. Norman always did a rhythm track first (drums, bass, keys, guitar). Then he did solo tracks. Then was lead vocal and then backup vocals. He added string machine effects in the mixing room (kind of like a George Martin with the Beatles). Every session was like this at the 4 track studio.
After he found a track he liked he would simply say “That one felt good boys.” You did not stop making tracks until you heard those words.
There were Four rooms in the 7th St Studio. Recording and mixing, a vocal booth and the main room that fit drums, Hammond B3, amps and guitars and microphone booms. Every space was used. It was awesome for us to record with a legend at a birthplace of Rock (Buddy Holly, Jimmy Gilmer).
We did our first session there in January, thus the tree without leaves and jackets. Later that year we went back to record more songs for a potential album and got to use the Mesa Theater Studio. (Petty) used that renovated movie theater to record his big orchestra clients. He turned the projection room into his recording and mixing room. We set up on the stage and played to rows of empty seats with” the master looking down from a bank of windows. He was using 8 tracks there and 4 tracks at the original 7th St Studio.”
In the Spring, the group would record “Jolyn” and “I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know” the two tracks which would make it onto an Atlantic pressing. Those tracks were both laid down in the 4-track 7th Street studio. Then, later in the year, the group would return to record “Gimme Some Lovin'”, “Mama Come Sit” and “I Love You” in the Mesa Theater studio. In all, the group cut 8 tracks – five which have been lost to time.
The group nearly became “American Mercury” and were considering it during the time of the Clovis sessions, but ended up sticking with the Livin’ Ends.
The Ends Are Near
All good things come to an end. The group would disband in 1970. Bob would attend the University of Colorado at Denver (UCD). During that time he would play with “bar bands” “Phaedra” and “Backstreet”. From there it was onto Philadelphia in 1973 where he worked with “American Dream”.
Miller: “The man in the middle of the photo is Nicky Indelicato, the band leader. He recorded at Todd Rungren’s studio. I was not part of the original group. I was hired to tour with Nicky in Philadelphia PA for six months. We played their hit song “Frankfurt El” (an elevated train line from Philly to Frankfurt) at every concert.”
Miller returned to Colorado and would join the band “Whiterock”. In 1976, he headed off to California to work with fellow “Ends” Irv Andrews with “The Irv Andrews Band”. They cut several tracks but none ever made it to vinyl.
- Nancy Lowrey – vocals
- Bob Miller – keyboards
- Bob Miller – keyboards (The Livin’ Ends – Phaedra – Whiterock)
- Teddy Napoleon – drums
- Jim Morgan – guitar
- John Miller – vocals/harmonica
- David “Gilly” Gilman – bass
Formed around 1973 – Members included:
- Mick Emeson – bass (Galaxies, The Pleasant Street Jazz Band)
- Bob Miller – keyboards (The Livin’ Ends – Phaedra – American Dream – Backstreet)
- Scott Post – guitar
- Bobby Winters – guitar
- Chris Naylor
- Nancy Lowrey – vocals
Summing Up the “Ends”
Robert Miller provided me with this nice addition to the Livin’ Ends’ story telling us a bit about life beyond music:
“The Livin’ Ends was the first band for all of us. Dave Sondrup was from the same neighborhood as the other band from Thomas Jefferson, The Outriggers. I am quite sure he jammed with them while learning to play the drums. He could already play well when he joined the Ends.
I never worked a regular job while in music from 1966 to 1978. The Ends was my main music group. All of the other groups lasted a year or so. I did some studio work at Bananaland in Boulder and in LA. The club and small concert gigs took a big hit from the disco craze in the late seventies and work became scarce at best in LA. I kept my Fender Rhodes, Hammond BC organ and Leslies for another 10 years, but was faced with making a living away from music.
School was the main priority for our parents. We lived in their house and had to follow their rules. We are thankful for their trust and support. Irv and Greg attended Metro College (Jerry Corbetta studied music there) for two years and I attended CU Denver Center Music School while we played music. School during the day, Music at night.
I still play around the house on a Yamaha portable. After music in LA, Irv and I sold cars, lived and partied together in the LA scene until 1991. I am retired after 30 years as a PGA Club Professional and PGA Teaching Professional.
La Pichet was a hang out for local musicians and one night W.G. Snuffy Walden rolled into Denver with a 3 piece band “Aphrodite”. He was fresh in from Texas with that dirty blues sound like ZZ Top. His discography and history are recorded in Wikipedia. He turned out to be an Emmy award winning TV and movie soundtrack recording artist. It was an unforgettable night when he took the stage to jam with Backstreet.
The other Ends are excited about the work you are doing. Thanks, you are awesome. I am not sure we deserve the attention, but perhaps some of the information and pictures will help you with your efforts to memorialize part of the vibrant music scene in Colorado.”
Dave Sundrop continues on today performing music.
Livin’ Ends’ original lead guitar player Art Colyer ran a veterinary practice in the northern California town of Paradise, raising four kids with his wife Joan.
Disography/Songography – Livin’ Ends & Related
Norman Petty Tracks – Clovis, New Mexico
45 – Atlantic 45-2622 – I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know b/w Jolyn – April, 1969
CD – Big Beat CDWIDK 262 (UK) – Get Ready To Fly: Pop-Psych From the Norman Petty Vaults – 2007
- Has “Jolyn” by the Livin’ Ends (Denver)
- “Just For a While” and “Think About It” by the Frantics (Colorado Springs, Colorado)
- “Reflections of Mine” by The Daniel Paul Revelation (Longmont, Colorado)
- “Blue Man (Peace of Mind)” by White Lightnin’ (Pueblo, Colorado)
(Tracks which exist today in digital form)
- Jolyn (45 Version)
- Mama Come Sit
- Gimme Some Lovin’
- I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know
- Jolyn (LP intended version)
Miller: “Eddie Ulibarri was younger and we met at La Pichet. He was an up and comer with lots of energy. He would come to hear Backstreet and we were glad to have local musicians come up and jam. I heard about Eddie and Dick Walker (guitar) getting a recording contract with a new label (A&M Record affiliate?) and being in LA to make an album. That would be around 1978-79. I have a vague recollection that they were with Brett Tuggle, maybe with Head First. I remember the name Brett Tuggle associated with early local bands.”
(Recorded Live at Denver’s 3.2 Club “La Pichet” 1972)
- Cruisin’ for Love
- Blues With a Feelin’
- Walkin’ the Dog
- Walk In My Shadow
- Key to the Highway
- Let’s Go Get Stoned
- Brown Sugar
- Roll Away
- The Stone
- I’m Tired
- It Ain’t Easy
(Recorded live at Denver’s 3.2 Club “La Pichet”)
- Look At You Look At Me
- Lookin’ In
- Country Comforts
- Mother’s Daughter
- Hope You’re Feelin’ Better
- High Time We Went
- Baby I’m Amazed
(Backstreet Jams at La Pichet)
- Jam with Snuffy Walden and Eddie Ulibarri
- Break Song 1
- Break Song 2