A Colorado Music Hall of Fame Inductee
Hall of Fame Inductee Display
Original Group Members: (forming in 1960 out of the Stormtroupers)
Bob Demmon – guitar (Stormtroupers) – Deceased
John “Stormy” Patterson – guitar/bass (Stormtroupers – Sunshine Ward)
Jim Gallagher – drums (Stormtroupers)
Dick Sellars – guitar (Stormtroupers)
Rich Fifield – guitar (Spartans – Sunshine Ward – Hardwater)
Dennis Lindsey – guitar (replaces Dick Sellers probably early 1963 (Sunshine Ward) – Deceased
Mark Bretz – keyboards (replaces Fifield who departs in 1966 for the military draft (Sunshine Ward) – Deceased
Rod Jenkins – drums (replaces Gallagher – yet another Viet Nam Era draftee – (The Nu Sett – Sunshine Ward)
Rob McLerran – bass (from The Spartans arrives 1966 – Sunshine Ward)
(Here is George Krieger’s extensive history of The Astronauts – several of whom he knows personally – Best article I have ever seen)
Colorado’s “big time” 60’s group. These guys made some national dents on the chart but not much. Their recordings are considered vital to surf and hot rod collectors. They made several national appearances and found their way into a more motion pictures than any other surf & hot rod group. And they were huge in Japan! Wikipedia documents their sufficiently but an entire web site would be better. Band Box artist (drummer with Dayleks) Larry Higgins recalls appearing around the Denver area when the group was in it’s formative years – as the Stormtroupers with some members at CU and another out of Boulder High School.
Collectors have pondered how Boulder Colorado’s Astronauts came to first record on the New York Palladium label – So I contacted the local expert, Colorado Blogger (and Dentist) Doc Krieger:
“This is the story Jim Gallagher told me years ago for an article I wrote for Discoveries.
Bob Demmon, Jim Sellars, John “Stormy” Patterson, Jim Gallagher where the Boulder band the Stormtroupers (have seen it as one or two words and spelled Troopers and even Tropers in one old ad but Stormy insists it was with the “u” as in a team of players). Bob was in the Sigma Nu Fraternity at CU and so was journalism student Doug Looney (future Sports Illustrated writer) who loved the band and wrote and article about them for the Sigma Nu magazine. It is said that Stan Zabka of Palladium records in Chicago read the article and was interested in recording them but only if they changed their name which they did to the Astronauts since one of the original 7 NASA ‘nauts was Scott Carpenter who was from Boulder as well.
The guys needed a song to record so Stormy wrote the rocker “Come Along Baby” and for the flip he decided to sing “Trying To Get To You” which Elvis and Roy Orbison recorded but Ricky Nelson popularized. The guys took the Zephyr from Denver’s Union Station to Chicago where they waxed the songs then came back home. It came out on Palladium B 610. The date I have always heard and read is 1962 for all this however I have seen one reference to 1961 so you decide.”
Drummer Jim Gallagher signed my copy of the Palladium single on April 7th, 2016 while having lunch at Boulder’s famed “Sink”. I acquired this copy via my sister (Pam) who attended the University of Colorado in Boulder in the early 1960’s. She plucked from a free stack of the singles which were in the student union. Gallagher graciously signed it to sis. When I pulled the single out of my backpack and handed it to Jim, he quickly kissed it!
The Astronauts are Off to the Movies
The Astronauts found their way into Hollywood via five youth oriented surf type films. The Astronauts were in more films than any other surf-era band.
“Surf Party” – 1964 – 20th Century Records 3131
This movie was the Astronauts first venture into Hollywood. The movie starred Bobby Vinton, Jackie DeShannon and a long list of young non notables. The Astronauts were joined by The Routers providing music and portraying themselves. “Firewater” had all the marks of a true Astronaut track – shown below.
“Wild on the Beach” – 1965 – RCA Records 3441
This film was the debut vehicle for Sonny & Cher. Actors included Sherry Jackson, Frankie Randall, Gayle Caldwell and Jackie Miller. The Astronauts perform four songs in the movie including “Little Speedy Gonzalez”, “Pyramid Stomp”, “Snap It” and “Rock This World”. Here they are performing “Rock This World” and “Speedy Gonzales”
“Out of Sight” – 1966 – Decca Records 74751
This one was loaded with talent and I am sure the Astronauts were proud to be included with the likes of Gary Lewis & The Playboys, The Turtles, Freddie & The Dreamers, The Knickerbockers, and Dobie Gray. A very goofy movie with mostly a musical cast. The trailer below from the movie briefly shows all the groups and acts.
“Wild, Wild Winter” – 1966 – Decca Records 74699
This time the surfers take to the ski slopes (pre-snow board) with lead actors Gary Clarke and Chris Noel. Clarke was best known for his role on Television’s “The Virginian” where he portrayed Steve Hill. Clarke started off way back in an early episode of TV’s “Sky King”. Noel starred in several lesser known movies and for a brief time in the early 1970’s fronted a hastily put-together folk group – “Quilt”.
The Astronauts joined Jay & The Americans, The Beau Brummels, Dick & Dee Dee and Jackie & Gayle in the musical cast for this adventure. Jackie Caldwell & Gayle Miller had been members of the Folk group The New Christy Minstrels. Jackie also acted in “Wild on the Beach”. She had earlier been married to New Christy Minstrel founder Randy Sparks.
Post Note: Lee Hazelwood & The Astronauts
The Astronauts owe their biggest single success to composer, producer, performer Lee Hazelwood who penned their charting single “Baja” which premiered on their 1963 long play “Surfin’ with the Astronauts”. Hazelwood apparently intended the track for guitarist Al Casey a session player who early on played on Hazelwood’s composition “The Fool” recorded by Sanford Clark. Casey would go on to become a member of the famed session musicians “The Wrecking Crew” who often backed Phil Spector acts on Philles Records.
Jon “Stormy” Patterson – guitar/vocals (Stormtroopers – Sunshineward)
Robert Demmon – guitar (Stormtroopers) – deceased
Brad Leach – drums
Dick Sellers – guitar
Richard Fifield – guitar (Sunshineward – Hardwater)
Jim Gallagher – drums (replaced Brad Leach)
Dennis Lindsey – guitar (replaced Dick Stellers) – deceased
Mark Bretz – drums – replaced Jim Gallagher – deceased (Wild Ones – Shelltones – Sunshineward)
Rod Jenkins – guitar replaced Dennis Lindsey – (Sunshineward – Contrasts – Nu-Sett)
Robert McLerian – guitar replaced Robert Demmon – (Sunshineward – Hardwater)
Pete Wyant (Spinning Wheel – GNP – Hardwater )
Palladium 610 – Come Along Baby/Trying to Get to You – 1962
RCA 8298 – Competition Coupe/Surf Party – Charted February 15th, 1964 – 2 Weeks – Peaks #124
RCA 8364 – Go Fight For Her/Swim Little Mermaid – 1964
RCA 8419 – Main Theme From Ride the Wild Surf/Around and Around – 1964
RCA 8463 – I’m a Fool/Can’t You See I Do – 1964
(Promo had “Tomorrow’s Gonna Be Another Day” as Plug side)
RCA 8499 – Almost Grown/My Sin Is Pride – 1965
RCA 8545 – Tomorrow’s Gonna Be Another Day/Razza Mataz – 1965
RCA 8628 – It Doesn’t Matter Any More/The La, La, La Song – 1965
RCA 8885 – Main Street b/w In My Car – 1966
Recordings – EP’s
RCA Victor WLP-5-100 Wurlitzer Discotheque Music Selected by Arthur Murray Studios Vol II – Record No. 5 – 1964
RCA Victor WLP-9-100 Wurlitzer Discotheque Music Selected by Arthur Murray Studios Vol II – Record No. 9 – 1964
RCA Victor WLP-10-100 Wurlitzer Discotheque Music Selected by Arthur Murray Studios Vol II – Record No. 10 – 1964
Recordings – LP’s
RCA 2760 – Surfin’ With The Astronauts -Charted August 3rd, 1963 – 14 Weeks – Peaks #61
RCA 2782 – Everything’s A-OK! – Charted February 8th, 1964 – 9 Weeks – Peaks #100
RCA 2858 – Competition Coupe – Charted March 28th, 1964 – 5 Weeks – Peaks #128
RCA 2903 – The Astronauts Orbit Kampus – 1964
RCA 183 – Rockin’ With the Astronauts – 1965
RCA 3307 – The Astronauts Go, Go, Go – 1965
RCA 3359 – Favorites For You From Us – 1965
RCA 3454 – Down The Line – 1966
RCA 3733 – Travelin’ Men – 1966
RCA PBS 251 – The Astronauts & The Liverpool Five – 1967
This is one in a series set released by RCA pairing up unlikely partners – The Liverpool five were also paired up with Chet Atkins
LP – Archive International AIP 10027 – Highs in the Mid Sixties (Various Colorado Groups)
The Astronauts on YouTube: