Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Twilighters

After a long hiatus due to several converging elements, I have returned! I thought I would kick things off with a bang... 

The Twilighters released one of Texas most legendary and savage 1960's garage band recordings with their "Nothing Can Bring Me Down" b/w "I Need You" 45 on Mark VII records.
Long rumored to be a group based out of Waco, the group were actually from the quaint small town of Belton, Texas.

The member line up consisted of:

Jay White - Lead Guitar/Vocals
David Constance - Bass
Ronnie Proctor - Drums
David Petty - Guitar
Barry Couch - Farfisa Organ

David Constance provided some history on the band over email:

"I think back in about 1964 I talked my parents into buying me a 6 string electric guitar and amp on a trip to Waco.  Jay invited me out to his house.  He had a HUGE  Gibson guitar and somehow I ended up buying a cheap bass guitar and amp.  We always played by ear, no music reading as far as I know.  We practiced and practiced and at sometime David Petty, rhythm guitar, joined along with Ronnie Proctor on drums.  Our first gig was the Belton Lions's Club Minstral show. We played Walk Don't Run by the Ventures , and Donnette Boyd sang-----? .    We started playing at the Teenage Canteen,  a building on the black side of town ( I think just as our high school began intergration , about 1966-67) .  We would practice there as the local radio d.j., Bill Elliot, must have really liked us and allowed us to use the place and play on weekends for I guess a year or so.
Now, keep in mind, I was not very good, but with Jay's instruction, I knocked out a few good riffs to create a "bottom" for our music.  Petty kept a good rhythm and Proctor banged out the beat.  We must have been paid some cash, because we hung out at Heart of Texas Music store in Temple and occasionally bought a new instrument.  I remember owning a Fender Jazz Master bass and a Gibson EBO bass.  Man I wish I had them today!  I had a Fender bass amp and wish for a Marshall someday.  Never got it.  
 Once, we drove to Dallas to a "head" shop to buy (something?)  about the time Jimmie Hendrix was making it.    Janis Joplin (I saw in Austin), Cream, the Beatles, Stones, Animals, Procol Haram, and (help me guys) all the rest influenced us greatly.  We had a blast!    Jay was the genius behind our "success".  At some point, Barry couch joined with his electric organ. I, and I think Petty, played to get as many girls as possible.  It worked! We played at different high school dances around central Texas.  We got gigs at Fort Hood with the help of Jay's dad, at the EM (enlisted men's) Club... We played in Rogers, Waco, Lampasas and the roller skating rink in Harker Heights and other such not so major cities. I created a "light show" for us with a strobe light, a black light and an old Christmas tree light wheel. Too Cool! We played in Temple at the Mark VII, the new club (I got paid for building/painting the new sign out front). We cut our record at the same building. I think we had to pay the guy for recording and I doubt we made our money back in sales. 
At some point Barry stopped playing and we found a guy from Rogers, Glen Henderson. A great organ player, but he drank too much.  Ronnie stopped playing drums and we found a great drummer from Lampasas, Bobby Langford. I remember getting a job in Houston at The Cellar our last summer together. We changed our band name to Blue Fever . Our first taste of  big city pleasures. We "lived for today..." We played all night and slept all day. We had a great time but thank God I did not pursue that way of life."

"Nothing Can Bring Me Down"

"I Need You"

It seems that at some point in 1968, Glen Daniels (owner of the Mark VII studio and label) opened a night club in Temple and reused the name Mark VII.
In exchange for free performances at his club, Glen recorded the band after hours one night in the venue. As the band recalls, they had to set up lumber with draped blankets throughout the space in order to subdue some of the all too ample natural reverberation of the empty room.
As was typical of these type of recordings, the band only had one song prepared to record for the session, so they quickly wrote "Nothing Can Bring Me Down," and had it ready to go within 3 or 4 passes at rehearsal. 
They pressed up an estimated 500 copies of the 45 record and sent it out to local record stores and radio. Apparently, the single made it up to #1 on KTON radio in Temple for a week or two.
Interestingly enough, these 2 songs became live staples after releasing the record. Not a typical thing for most 60's garage bands who would usually cut a record and leave it behind as a distant memory right after committing it to tape.
Not long after the single was released, Ronnie Proctor left the group to pursue a career as a professional bull rider. He was replaced by Bobby Langford.
By the summer of 1969, the band stripped down to a trio with only Jay White, David Constance, and Bobby Langford. They moved to Houston and gained a residency spot at the legendary Celler Club and would play there 6 nights (!) a week until the early hours of the morning.
Due to endless nights of partying, the band burned out and decided to call it quits by the end of that very summer.

Special thanks to all the members of The Twilighters, who all shared a few tidbits. Thanks guys!
More coming soon. Hope to have a short post on The Roks up in the next few days...


  1. The Twilighters were always in competition with
    The Buccaneers back then. They frequently played in Belton and also at the Goober Party House, in Temple.

    Jay drove my sister's car ('57 Chevy) in a road race with some guy one day. I had borrowed her car, a yellow and white Belair, and visited Jay at his home. He raced the car and the darn thing stuck with the clutch, but we still beat the other guy. Lucky it was not for pink slips, as my sister didn't know I had been in a race with Jay driving her car. Ronnie egged me on one day when I visited him at his home to learn some stuff from his drumming and I ended up getting a speeding ticket on the road to Elm Grove in my old '54 Plymouth Belvedere. Ronnie was great on the drums and so was Jay on the guitar. As best I recall, Jay had a Gibson guitar.

    I always enjoyed listening to them and the competition was pretty friendly as best I recall. I believe the Lions Club was down in the Belton park, but it has been too many years for me to remember all that clearly, now. I liked those guys. I played drums for the Buccaneers at the time. I don't believe anyone called them garage bands back then though. :-)

    1. I forgot, but The Watch Band and The Reason Why bands were also in competition with us back then as local groups.