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From the Land of Band Box Records

Denver’s Morey Bernstein & the Sun Records’ Connection

July 1, 2020
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Morey Bernstein – Where The Sun Don’t Shine

Denver’s Morey Bernstein

Morey Bernstein was a somewhat of a character – He started his music career in Los Angeles working with Al Kavelin of Lute Records a label which will be mostly remembered for “Alley Oop” by the Hollywood Argyles.  Morey broke away from Lute and other affiliations with Kavelin and headed back to Denver where he took up residence in the east part of town.

He would establish his own record label – “Finer Arts” – where many of his compositions would be released – mostly by Denver area musicians.  He was a nightclub owner in Denver running “Morey’s Baby Grand” and later the “Keyboard Lounge”.

Among other rather outlandish things – Morey claimed to have “discovered” both Otis Redding and Jan and Dean.  If you read my Lute Records/Kavelin page you will see that was night quite so.  The Finer Arts page on my site does contain an Otis Redding single released by Morey – under questionable circumstances.

Juanita Brown (with Dusty Brooks and His Tones)

Juanita Brown was a lead vocalist with Dusty Brooks and His Tones.  – The two sides here were both composed by song writer and record label owner for Finer Arts out of Denver, Colorado

Here’s an interesting promotional piece from the Johnny Johnson Agency from 1953 promoting an appearance of the Tones with Juanita at the Rossonian Lounge in Denver, Colorado!  As Bernstein was a Denver lounge and entertainment figure – it all seems to add up!  I believe the Rossonian is undergoing an remodel for a new beginning (June, 2020).

Some big names came through the Rossonian over the years especially in the 1940’s and early 1950’s

78/45 – Sun 182 – Tears and Wine b/w Heaven Or Fire – May, 1953

Farewell Mr. Swanson

March 11, 2020
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Denver’s Bobby Swanson…..

My Friend John Sunderland forwarded this announcement today: Colorado’s “Bobby” Swanson passed away on January 1st, 2020.  Bobby was a founding member Denver’s “Sonics” a group that included Sunderland.

Bobby Swanson grew up in Denver, Colorado and attended high school at South High.  Bobby would be signed to the Igloo Records label and cut a handful of singles including “Rockin’ Little Eskimo” and “The Ballad of Angel”.  During his career he met Sun’s Sam Phillips and recorded for Bob Keane in California who earlier had signed and recorded the great Ritchie Valens.

Bobby released three singles on Keane’s Donna label – all recorded at the famous Gold Star recording studio.

Bobby shared his many memories with me last year via email and phone calls Visit my Sonics/Bobby Swanson Page Here.  

Bobby was a true rocker and a great guy!  Rock on Mr. Swanson and rest in peace….

Denver’s Roadrunners – Bobby Swanson Far Left

 

The Band Box Records’ Museum

March 3, 2020
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Images, Ads and Such from the Band Box Archives

Band Box Records Letterhead

Band Box Letterhead

Band Box Early Label

(From the label’s days on Broadway before the facility burned)

Band Box Predecessor Label – “Columbine” – Early 1950’s

Band Box Predecessor Label – “Columbine Record Sleeve”

Band Box Ad for a Band Box Portable Phonograph Player

(Band Box family states that this turntable was not produced)

Band Box Business Cards

Band Box Promotional Sheet Music

(Song composed by Band Box owner Vicky Morosan)

Band Box Recording Catalog

(A comprehensive listing of Band Box single and long play recordings)

Band Box Record Mailing Envelope

Band Box Session Data Sheet 1958 – For Bob Perry

(Accompanied by Chet Atkins)

Band Box Artist Barney Plotkin Publicity Photo

(Accepting congratulations for his civic service from Governor John Love – with family looking on)

Band Box Trade Ad 1957

(The label was briefly up for sale before Vicky Morosan changed her mind)

06 BAND BOX - FOR SALE ed

Band Box Artists on KIMN Survey Sheet – May, 1966 – Royal & The Shades

Band Box Artists Promotional Photo – Penny Starr

(Before she went on to national country music fame as “Penny Dehaven”)

(Penny Starr Cash Box Article – August 13th, 1966)

Band Box Artists Music Trade Ads 1966/1967 – Van Trevor

Band Box Artists Promotional Flyers – Sandi Scott

Band Box Artists Music Trade Ads – Sandi Scott

Band Box Trade Ad 1970 – Band Box For Sale

(This would have been Vicky’s second attempt to sell Band Box dating from the early 1970’s – This sale would not happen and then a few years later Sugarloaf and Beast guitar play Bob Yeazel would purchase the facility converting part of it into apartments and renaming the studio “Warthog” recording studio)

Band Box Hot Rod with Clifford Mitchell

(Vicky sponsored this hot rod back in the early 1960’s – Clifford Mitchell, the Band Box graphic artist who designed the Band Box family of labels and 45 picture sleeve and long play jacket art is shown here with unidentified lady – The rod was most likely entered into competition at the Lakeside Speedway adjacent to Lakeside Amusement Park – a few blocks from the Band Box recording studio)

Band Box Music Trade Magazine Ad October, 1965 – Chuck Thomas

(Chuck Thomas was also a member of the Band Box group “The Four Chevelles”)

Band Box Music Trade Magazine Ads – Joe Valino (1956-1959)

(Valino had one single released on the Band Box Label via James Myers Publishing as shown on this Billboard Ad – also on the ad was Bob & Shirley and the Valiants)

Band Box Music Trade Magazine Ad 1960 – Milt Watson’s Mastertones

Band Box Music Trade Magazine Ad 1964 – Multiple Artists

(Orlie & Saints – Lee Chandler – J.D. Scott – Tony Rodelle Larson)

Band Box Promotional Flyer 1960 – The Saints

Band Box Music Trade Magazine Ad 1964 – Multiple Artists

(Orlie and the Saints – Bob & Shirley and the Valiants – Joe Valino – Leigh Barron)

Band Box Music Trade Magazine Ad 1964 – The Four Chevelles

Band Box Music Trade Magazine Ad 1964 – Metric Music for Ronny Kae

Band Box Music Trade Magazine Ad 1967 – Ronnie Kae

Band Box Promotional Flyer 1958

(For Lee Chandler and the Blue Rhythms)

Band Box Blue Rhythms Promotion Photo – 1960’s

(With singe Emily Rae)

Band Box Promotional Flyer 1959

(Promoting Bob & Shirley release of “Consideration”)

Band Box Artists Denver Newspaper Ad – 1960’s

(The Blue Rhythms one-time Appearance as “The Hound Dogs”)

Band Box Artists Denver Newspaper Ad – Don May and the Four Gigolos

(At Amato’s Capri Lounge)

Gigolos 01

(At the Golden Buffet Fun House)

Gigolos 02

Band Box Artists Denver Newspaper Ad – Freddie & the Hitch-Hikers

(At the Can-Can Cocktail Lounge – 1960’s)

(At the Combo Club – 1960’s)

(At Ductman’s – 1960’s)

Band Box Artists Denver Newspaper Ad – Rocky Starr

(At The Thieves Market at the Regency)

Band Box Artists Denver Newspaper Ad – Randy King

(At Club Corners in Wheat Ridge)

Courtesy of Lisa Wheeler - North of Pueblo

Band Box Artists Denver Newspaper Ad – Randy King

(At the Sultan’s Table)

Band Box Trade Ad Denver Newspaper – Embert Mishler & Jim McGraw

(At the Caravan West in Wheat Ridge)

Courtesy of Lisa Wheeler - North of Pueblo

Band Box Trade Ad November, 1965 – Randy King

Band Box Artists Denver Newspaper Ad – The Shell-Tones

(At the Baja)

Band Box Artists Promotional Photo 1970’s – Lee Sims

Band Box Artists Denver Newspaper Ad – The Ink Spots

(At the 400 Club in the “My-O-My Room”)

Band Box Artists Newspaper Ad – Joel Cowan

(At Club 45 in Butte, Montana –  Joel Cowan recorded on Band Box with an assemblage of Ink Spots)

(At the 3-D Club – Great Falls, Montana – 1957)

Band Box Music Trade Magazine Ad – Al Stomp Trio – with Joel Cowan)

(Excelsior Publishing Los Angeles, California)

Band Box Artists San Diego, California Newspaper Ad – Ink Spots

(At Pirates Cave San Diego)

Band Box Artists Denver Newspaper Ad – The Lidos – 1965

Lidos vs Status Seekers

Band Box Artists Denver Newspaper Ad – Walt Conley

(At Little Bohemia)

(At the College Inn)

Band Box Artists Denver Newspaper Ad – Jimmy James

(At Cavaleri’s Cottonwood)

Band Box Artists Denver Newspaper Ad – Buddy Miller & The Hi Ho’s

(At the Ritz Starlite Room)

Band Box Artists Denver Newspaper Ad – Bob an Silvia (spelling)

(At the King Cole Bar – 1960’s)

BOB AND SYLVIA BAND BOX A

Band Box Artists Denver Newspaper Ad – Bob an Sylvia

(At the 400 Club – 1960’s)

Band Box Publisher Myers Music – 1960’s

James Myers provided many artists for Band Box Records based on the East Coast – Myers was the composer of the monster hit “Rock Around the Clock”.

Band Box Artist in the Denver Post – 1960’s

Polka band leader Herman Dinges shown with Wendelin Sander and Larry Werth – Shown later in the backyard of his home in West Denver on Zenobia Street)

A young Dinges (left) with Wendelin Sander and Larry Werth of Kansas

Band Box Artists in Denver Newspaper 1970 – Jerri Meers

(At Ray Iverson’s Senate Lounge)

(Promotional info sleeve issued with Jerri’s Keyboard Record 7-Inch Release in 1966 as “Jerrolyn Meers” her real name)

Band Box Artists The Fabulous Fremonts Promotional Poster

(The group was based in Pueblo, Colorado and recorded on the Band Box subsidiary label Valerie – image by Colorado music historian Lisa Wheeler)

 

The Continuing Saga of Band Box Records

February 24, 2020
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Band Box is On the Air!

Francis and Valerie On The Air with Bobby G

I had the privilege of tuning into “Bobby G’s” podcast on “MixIr” on Saturday (February 24th).  Bobby’s program featured Denver’s Band Box Records with the label’s family members Valerie Hightower and her mother Francis present in the studio along with area music historian Jeff Leppard.

Valerie brought along a great batch of vintage Band Box recordings – some great vintage rocking classics including:

  • Crazy Little Old Feelin’ by Cee Cee Carol
  • Surf City by Jim Perry and the Hesitations
  • Fever by Dave and the Saints
  • Who Was the Fool by Chuck Mills and the Monarchs
  • Rocket Trip by Jackie Lowell
  • Walking Slowly From You Darling by Buddy Miller
  • Honey Walk by the Crazy Crickets
  • Tree Top by the Blue Rhythms
  • Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey by Sonny Covington and the Original Valiants
  • Tightnin’ Up by Royal and the Shades
  • Ebony by Marvin Ross (of the Blue Rhythms)
  • Sinners by Freddie and the Hitch-Hikers
  • Once Upon a Time by Royal and the Shades
  • Twist and Freeze by Orlie and the Saints

Francis had some great Band Box tales to share – Here are a few:

Band Box Beginnings

Band Box founder/owner and mother/grandmother of Francis and Valerie respectively – Vickey Morosan –  came across an advertisement in a Denver newspaper in the early 1950’s offering the sale of a recording studio located at 6th and Ogden.  Around this time Vicky would make the acquaintance of Clifford Mitchell who was a graphic artist and apparently also connected to the music industry around the Denver area.  Mitchell would be the artist who would design the Band Box logo and all the various subsidiary label designs as well as providing artwork for many of the 45 rpm picture sleeves and long play record jackets.

Vicky Morosan – Band Box

Broadway and Columbine

Next, Vicky would locate and move into a recording studio on south Broadway (220 South) but that venture would end sadly when the building burned down and the recording equipment was lost.  The Band Box label would have it’s roots in a Denver label called “Columbine” owned by Karl Zomar – which Vicky purchased.

The resilient Vicky would regroup, starting by launching a search for local recording talent and working out of her Lakewood home.  Francis explained how – as the word spread – groups and solo musicians would find their way to Vicky’s home where they would audition for her.  Dave Barhite of the Band Box group “The Saints” told me that he visited Vicky at her home on more than one occasion trying out songs for her.

One of the musicians who came to Vicky’s home was singer Chuck Mills who fronted the Monarchs and was one of the very first musicians to record for Band Box.

The 41st Avenue Studio

Band Box Building final sepia jpg

When it was time to record, according to Francis – acts would be taken to various studios including the “Hughes” studio located in Denver’s Polo Grounds as well as the KIMN radio station studio located near Sloans Lake in west Denver.  Sometime in 1961 Vicky was able to set up a studio of her own located at 5136 West 41st Avenue on the far outreaches of north west Denver close to the historic Lakeside Amusement Park.

(SIDE NOTE:  Vicky would record a lady who’s name is lost to time – doing a hearty ‘belly laugh’ – The recording would be used for “Laughing Sal” or “The Laughing Lady” at perched atop the Lakeside “Fun House”.  Apparently on occasion the recording would have to be redone and ‘Laughing Sal’ would reenter the Band Box studio for a fresh copy!)

Band Box Recording Star – The Laughing Lady at Lakeside

Cee Cee Carol’s Eastern Journey

Teenage Cee Cee Carol was gifted with quite a voice and Vicky was set on helping her get started in the music business beyond Denver’s boundaries.  And so Vicky and Francis provided her with outfits appropriate for auditioning and Vicky and Cee Cee set off for the East Coast.  They were both very hopeful but their hopes were dashed when music men (DJ’s) in the Philadelphia area began to hint for certain illicit ‘favors’ in return for air-play.  Without hesitation Vicky put the brakes on – gathered up Cee Cee and headed back to the Rocky Mountains – very sad for the hopeful and talented Cee Cee Carol.

Off to the South West on a “Rocket Trip”….

One of Vicky’s promotion trips was a swing down through Arizona and Nevada – visiting radio stations – and dropping of promotional copies of several Band Box recordings.  For the most part the DJ’s indicated they would ‘get around’ to giving the disks a listen.  Vicky returned to Denver and then Francis recalls that several months later the phone rang.  It was an Arizona DJ on the other end.  He told Vicky that he had eventually played one of the Band Box singles, “Rocket Trip” by Jackie Lowell.  He told Vicky that he had not been able to locate any contact information for Band Box and said that – at the time if he had – “Rocket Trip” would possibly have shot to the top based on audience reaction to the spins.  But the moment had passed…..

Lowell with “Duane Diamond and the Astronauts – Not Boulder’s Astronauts

Time Marches On…

Vicky would eventually close down the Band Box operation – She shopped it around for a time but decided in the end to hold onto the masters and such which now reside with the Valerie and Francis.

Francis related that well into the 1970’s they were contacted to provide additional copies of many Band Box recordings which they provided.  Valerie and her husband Mark make regular appearances the the twice-a-year Denver Record Expo where they offer rare Band Box recordings and memorabilia.

Next Record Expo by Big K Productions (click photo below for web site):

Sunday, May 3, 2020, 10am – 4pm
Admission: $2.00
Ramada Plaza Northglenn
10 E. 120th Ave., Northglenn, CO 80233

Band Box Mother-Daughter Team: Francis and Valerie – Denver Record Expo

Bobby “G” is the owner of “Bobby G’s Record Rack” located on west Colfax.  Bobby is a long-time Denver area DJ and music historian.

Bobby G’s Record Rack – 9635 West Colfax Lakewood

Ruff ‘n Redding….

February 19, 2020
craigr244

Discovering Otis – the ‘Colorado Connection’

Back a few years ago I explored a claim which was made in a Denver Post article – a feature related to Denver’s Morris “Morey” Bernstein.  That article put forth a few startling claims:  Namely that Bernstein “discovered” Jan and Arnie and more surprisingly Otis Redding!

Morey was an interesting character and locating information about his past and career is a little difficult.  He was born in the southern Colorado town of Capulin and resided in east Denver for a good period of time.

Morris Bernstein

Bernstein was the owner of a downtown Denver nightclub “Morey’s Baby Grand” which I believe became the “Piano Lounge”.

Regular performers at the “Piano Lounge” included Charlie Burrell and Leon”Rags” Ragsdale.  Burrell was one of two pioneer black musicians in the Denver Symphony Orchestra.  Leon Ragsdale performed with an incarnation of the Ink Spots while residing in Denver.

Morey also became the owner of the “Keyboard Lounge” out on West Colfax – probably a follow up project to the downtown venues.

During Morey’s lifetime he is cited as having composed more than 600 songs.  His days in the music recording industry originate back to his brief partnership with Al Kavelin who was the founder of Lute Records in California (see my “Kavelins” page here).

Al was the founder of the Lute Records and also Trans-World.  Lute would most famously be the label that enjoyed the monster 1960 hit “Alley Ooop” by the “Hollywood Argyles” namely Gary Paxton and Kim Fowley, two very interesting characters to say the least – both now deceased (Fowley below left – Paxton right – Visit my Kim Fowley Page Here & my Gary Paxton Page Here)

In the early days of these labels, Bernstein indeed was involved and it was probably during that period that Morey would have possibly come into some contact with both Jan and Arnie as well as Otis Redding – but as the son of Al Kavelin relates on my Kavelin page – not anything approaching a “discovery”.

Back to Otis Redding

Otis traveled from Georgia to Los Angeles in search of a musical beginning and found the going very rough when he arrived.  There is a great book out now – considered the official biography of Otis Redding, published in 2017 “Otis Redding An Unfinished Life” by Jonathan Gould the author of the Beatles’ narrative “Can’t Buy Me Love”.

To sum up the Bernstein/Redding story: While in search of a recording opportunity in L.A. Redding was brought to the attention of Al Kavelin who was flush with money resulting from “Alley Ooop’s” tremendous success.  And so Otis was brought on board – directed to the famous Gold Star recording studio – was reinforced with a formidable army of supporting musicians – and then laid down his first tracks ever.

Backed by Earl Palmer, Rene Hall, Ernie Freeman, Plas Johnson and the vocal group “The Blossoms” with Darlene Love.  Otis would record three tracks and one by upstart R&B singer Jackie Alton Avery.  After the session was done, Kavelin elected to release his first Otis Redding/Avery single with “She’s Alright” on one side by “The Shooters Featuring Otis” and with “Tuff Enuff” on the flip side by Avery and the Shooters.

The name “Shooters” was selected taking a lyric line out of “Tuff Enough” – being “just a shootin'”.  The record would come out on Kavelin’s Trans-World label in October of 1960.

The composer was Jimmy “Mack” McEachlin who had taken Redding under his wing to locate a record label.  McEachlin would go on to some acting roles – most notably Clint Eastwood’s “Play Misty For Me” in 1971 and continue to dabble in the recording industry.

Jimmy Mack

The other two tracks featuring Redding from the Gold Star session were “Gamma Lama” and “Gettin’ Hip”.  Those tracks would later surface in Spain and France in 1967 and 1968 but not on a U.S. label.

Al Kavelin was excited about his Redding/Avery session and rushed out to cut a $100 dollar check for both artists.  Avery eagerly accepted his but Otis was nowhere to be found.  After a little investigation Kavelin, and MeEachlin (and others) would learn that young Otis had promptly purchased a one way ticket with his $100 back to his home in Macon where his girlfriend Zelma was expecting a child.

To pay the bills Otis would join a local Macon group called the Pinetoppers and bide his time in the background.  His day in the limelight would eventually arrive.  He would sign on with the Stax-Volt record family in 1962 and would land his first charting single on his first try; “These Arms of Mine” going number 20 R&B and number 85 Hot 100.

The Pinetoppers (Otis in the back on microphone

A string of charting singles would follow 30 in all – 12 of those coming after his tragic death in an airplane crash on December 10th, 1967 – His highest charting recording ever was the first release after his death “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” which went number 1 – his only number 1 – both Hot 100 and R&B.

Number One – February, 1968

Crafty Morey

Morey Bernstein was very capable of pulling a shenanigan here and there and he would with Otis and Al Kavelin.

According to Al’s son Frank (who continues today to operate the Lute Record Label, “Morris Bernstein was my father’s partner in Lute Records and its affiliated label, Trans-World. My father was the founder and president of these and other labels. It is our home address that appears on these labels (8601 W. Olympic and 164 N. LeDoux Rd). I never knew what role Bernstein played, other than perhaps promotion. The partnership did not last long, nor did it end well.”

Not well at all.  Morey headed back to Denver where he would re-form the Finer Arts record label.  While packing up his belongings in Los Angeles, his travel bag would apparently include some material from the Kavelin vault including two of the Redding tracks as well as material from the early Finer Arts label in California including the “Hollywood Argyles”.

NOTE:  Morey at one time also claimed to have composed the words to “Alley Ooop” as well as discovering Jan and Arnie and Otis Redding.

So in 1966, in Denver, Bernstein must have felt it was safe to re-issue the Otis Redding tracks since Otis was flying high on the nation’s charts.  This was when he released Finer Arts FA-2016 – but with this single crediting Otis on both sides vs. Jackie Avery.

The Glencoe address listed on the Finer Arts recordings was apparently the east Denver home of Bernstein.

Bernstein on Glencoe Street

Feeling confident, Bernstein took out a couple of advertisements in Billboard and Cash Box magazines both in the respective November 12th, 1966 issues for the Redding single.  To my knowledge, this single never charted on any local radio station survey.  Otis would appear in Denver on April 19th, 1966 – not sure of the venue.

OTIS REDDING AD 11-66

What About the Hollywood Argyles? And Jan and Arnie? (and Morey?)

A did the Hollywood Argyles come to Denver to record for Finer Arts?  One band member recalls swinging through Denver after a performance in one of the southern states but I contacted group founder Gary Paxton before he passed away and he told me he had never been in Denver.

He did say that Bernstein had offered him some production jobs and so on but that he worked on those from afar.  Notice that the “B” side of the Hollywood Argyles’ record shown below released in December of 1961 was composed by Paxton.  Both sides were produced by Paxton.

These tracks were no doubt recorded in Los Angeles but probably pirated once again by Bernstein.

This from Al Kavelin:

“My father recorded Jan and Arnie who had a minor hit with “Jenny Lee.” This was before my father started Lute Records and before he ever met Bernstein. Jan replaced Arnie with Dean, got a major label deal and the rest is history. If Bernstein ever met them, it would have been through my family. My sisters ran with the same crowd as Jan and Dean.”

Colorado’s Terry Miller

And finally, interestingly, a Colorado singer, Terry Miller, had strong Bernstein ties.  Most of the tracks on his six singles were composed by Bernstein.  Further in February of 1960, Miller had a single “I’m Available” released by Kavelin’s Lute label.

Then, Miller’s final two singles, both on Reveille Records, had three of the four tracks produced by Gary Paxton.  All in the family it seems!

Miller – I have been told by a pioneer Denver rock and roll musician, left Denver broke after living for a time in the musician’s family’s home – where he was not so kindly asked to depart after occupying the living room couch with his girl friend for several nights!

 

The Livin’ Ends

December 31, 2019
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“Livin'” the Dream

The Living Ends – Governor’s Mansion for Atlantic Records Publicity Shot

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.

Bob Miller on the Keyboard

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.

Early Days – Cherry Creek High School – 1966

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!

Livin’ Ends at the “Y”

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.”

The “400 Buck Special”

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.”

Thanks Mom!

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

Tulagi in Boulder

Sam’s High Atop Lookout Mountain (today an Events Center)

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.”

Livin’ Ends on Atlantic Records

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.”

American Dream

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.

Phaedra

Members:

  • Nancy Lowrey – vocals
  • Bob Miller – keyboards

Phaedra

Backstreet

Members included:

  • Bob Miller – keyboards (The Livin’ Ends – Phaedra – Whiterock)
  • Teddy Napoleon – drums
  • Jim Morgan – guitar
  • John Miller – vocals/harmonica
  • David “Gilly” Gilman – bass

Backstreet

Whiterock

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

Whiterock

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.

Golf was an easy career. Being a PGA Golf Professional for the past 25 years is a highlight for me. My office was green grass, trees, lakes and blue skies. I loved being around people, had sales experience and could get around a golf course.
Thanks for your service to America! We spent lots of time chatting with Vietnam Vets doing R & R at Ft Carson. Kelker Junction was a great getaway that they needed. I also spent three years teaching golf clinics for veterans with our PGA Section. We started our program partnership at Travis AFB in Fairfield, CA. We had a few WWII vets, but most were Vietnam era with a few new vets. We trained for golf activities with mobility carts and limb loss for many of the new vets. We could see most injuries, but PTSD was a new teaching/learning challenge. It was amazing to see a group of vets get together in a golf activity  and become a unit again. 

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

Livin’ Ends

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)

  1. Jolyn (45 Version)
  2. Mama Come Sit
  3. Gimme Some Lovin’
  4. I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know
  5. Jolyn (LP intended version)

Backstreet

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)

  1. Cruisin’ for Love
  2. Blues With a Feelin’
  3. Walkin’ the Dog
  4. Walk In My Shadow
  5. Key to the Highway
  6. Let’s Go Get Stoned
  7. Brown Sugar
  8. Roll Away
  9. The Stone
  10. Woman
  11. I’m Tired
  12. It Ain’t Easy

(Recorded live at Denver’s 3.2 Club “La Pichet”)

  1. Look At You Look At Me
  2. Lookin’ In
  3. Country Comforts
  4. Mother’s Daughter
  5. Laughter
  6. Hope You’re Feelin’ Better
  7. High Time We Went
  8. Baby I’m Amazed

(Backstreet Jams at La Pichet)

  1. Jam with Snuffy Walden and Eddie Ulibarri
  2. Break Song 1
  3. Break Song 2
  4. Shuffle