Monday, July 14, 2014

The Purple Haze

It is extremely unlikely that a band would have been started as the result of a boating accident, but here is possibly the only 60's garage band to have formed as the outcome of such a thing.

In May of 1966, Chris Scaff, a very talented 14 year old surfer from King High School (in Corpus Christi, TX) ended up hospitalized after injuries while out on the water.

Determined to stay productive and quite certain he would never surf again, he decided to sell his board to buy himself a guitar. He did so, and within a few weeks he inspired his younger brother Steve to learn the bass guitar.

Two months later, while Chris was still confined to a wheelchair, they sought out to find more members to form a full band. They added their older brother John Jes Scaff (who was then on his way to Del Mar College) as vocalist.
Ray Gootee was also older and was added as the drummer. Presumably a classmate of Steve's at Cullen Jr High (7th grade!), Rod Woodard was added as organist to round out the group.

They decided to call their band The Monarchs. They rehearsed more heavily than the average teen combo, putting in about 12 hours a week spread out over 3 nights per. By the following February, the band was ready to play its first gig.
With the new era of psychedelic music ushered in, the band decided it was time to change their name to The Purple Haze.

In December 1967, they traveled out to Jones Sound Recording Studio in Houston a recorded a single. One side was a cover of The Mindbenders tune "It's Getting Harder All The Time," which had recently appeared in the Sidney Poitier film "To Sir, with Love." The flip side was a fairly psychedelic instrumental original called "Electrocution," which featured some nice use of fuzz guitar. It was released on the JMS Productions label, which was basically run by the three Scaff brothers father, Ray Scaff. Ray was also acting as the bands manager by that point.

"It's Getting Harder All The Time"


The band had begun to travel outside of Corpus and would frequently play military bases such as Randolph, Lackland, and Laughlin in Del Rio. They would tour out to nearby towns such as Austin, Raymondville, San Antonio, Bishop, Kingsville, and Dome Shadows in Houston.

The Purple Haze opening for The Yellow Payges and The Animals!! June 15th, 1968

Enterprising as he was, Ray helped the band acquire what was probably one of the most impressive light shows around, which included black lights, strobes, and color wheels. By their own account, they spent thousands of dollars on custom made equipment.

On August 22nd, the Scaffs and company opened up their very own teen club: The Web.
As most of these kinds of venues would go, this place didn't last too long. It was closed by the following summer/fall. However, they did manage to book several great local bands such as The Moving Sidewalks, Ginger Valley, and Bubble Puppy. Plus it was a great place for The Haze to do their own residency.

The Web! Located at 1720 South Staples.

The band split apart when the brothers decided to move to California in December of 69, and at that point the trail goes cold...

If any of the Scaff brothers are out there reading this story, Id love to hear from you and learn more about this bands story! Many thanks to Ray Gootee for telling me what he could remember, and to my buddy (and Corpus music historian) Rene Sandoval for sharing a couple of these news clippings. 

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Salados & The Buccaneers, etc

Johnny Gidley and I first spoke about three years ago. I took thorough notes from our phone conversations but had lost them in a notebook which had lots of precious details about local bands transcribed. Thankfully we were recently able to regroup, and this time Johnny emailed me the full story on his various bands based in Bell County during the 60's.

The Salados are known for having made several records on Joe Treadway's TSM record imprint.

Although Johnny was out of town at the time, The Buccaneers also made one great late-period fuzzy garage rocker... That band was speculated to be from the Dallas/Fort Worth area due to the label that pressed their record.

Below is the story...

I got started playing music in 1964. My dad had bought an old un-named acoustic guitar from an old black man in Jarrell, Texas for $5. He had wanted one of his sons to pick it up and learn how to 'second' to him as he played the fiddle. Well... None of us took a serious interest in doing that so it just sat in the closet for how long I do not know until the night of The Beatles first appearance on the Ed Sullivan show in February 1964. I watched how the girls just screamed for joy at them and thought... "well that's the way to get girls isn't it?" After their performance I immediately went and got that guitar out of the closet and began figuring out how to play it and I never put it down for three straight months until I had learned how to play it.

My first band was called Johnny & The Silvertones.

L-R: Tom Brown, Johnny Gidley (his Elvis pic), and Berry Evans.

I began our band in 1964 when I was a junior at Salado High School. My fellow classmate, Berry Evans, had a big electric Silvertone hollow body guitar and I had acquired my first electric guitar, a little solid body Silvertone from a pawn shop in temple for $25.00.

So...we called our beginning group Johnny & The Silvertones. From there things began to mushroom.
We weren't able to get into the recording business until around 1965-66 when we tied up with Joe Treadway, our very first manager. The history expands a lot from that point.

We obviously needed a drummer and a bass player to make 'a band' so we asked our fellow classmates Harold Mersiovsky and Tom Brown if they would be interested in joining. Harold on drums and Tom on bass. Of course Harold had no drums and Tom no bass. Each thought he could come up with something to suffice.

Harold had a single snare drum and a cymbal. He would set his snare on a chair and nail his one cymbal to the top of that chair and he was all set. Tom convinced his mother to order an inexpensive bass guitar from Sears by telling her that it would keep him out of trouble. How appropriate to be Johnny & The Silvertones when all our guitars were Silvertones from Sears!

We started out learning songs of The Beatles, Buddy Holly, and really just any song that one of the guys would bring to practice and asked to learn. Our very first job that I remember was a 'sock hop' in Holland where we received no pay but got exposure. We played a lot of those! Another was The Tiger Den in Belton, Texas where we vied with The Twilighters and other local groups. We did not make any real records in those days. I do however still have some of the very early tape recordings from that era when we changed our name from Johnny & The Silvertones to The Keats.

L-R: Johnny Gidley, Jerry Naylor, and Berry Evans

This was very much my band from the beginning. I chose the players and the names. Berry and I would go through encyclopedias and whatever else we could find to come up with something that resembled The Beatles and I thought we had it when I came upon the name of John Keats, the poet. So...we played as The Keats through the Junior and Senior banquets and a Salado High School stage show/talent contest. We were getting better but still not making any money. I of course was writing songs along with Berry. We were the new Lennon/Mccartneys we thought.

Tom Brown of course was hard of hearing. He wore a hearing aid. I had to teach him how to play bass which he did very poorly in those days. It was a real challenge for as long as we were together! In later years he used to tell me often how much he appreciated my patience in teaching him the bass guitar. He would say that if I hadn't done that he probably would have wound up in prison!

The Keats and Joe Treadway! Well...

Tom being hard of hearing had begun going to Temple Hearing Center around the time of The Keats. This business in Temple, Texas was owned and operated by Joe Treadway, the step-father of Jerry Naylor. Naylor of course had taken over Buddy Holly's spot in The Crickets after that fatal 1959 plane crash in Iowa that took Holly's life.

Well as it turned out, Tom had begun mentioning to Treadway that he was involved in a band in Salado and talked of his challenges on bass guitar as it pertained to his hearing. Treadway, of course having been involved in music in one form or another for most of his life began to get interested in our group. He invited us up to his offices in Temple for an audition and tape recording session after the Hearing Center had closed for the day. Treadway had his tape machine running as we went through several of our original songs and others as well. He was very much impressed with my rhythm guitar playing on a song Berry and I had written, an instrumental, called "Silver Eagle". He liked the sound my pick was making against the strings and the pick guard of my guitar. A slapping kind of sound that I was doing quite unconsciously.

From that point he became our official manager. He then arranged a recording session for us in Waco at a studio run by Goodson McKee, a DJ at the time at one of Waco's radio stations. We performed a similar set of songs and McKee had specialized equipment that actually 'cut' a record. There was only one copy of that session work and it got passed from one person to the next over the course of our career. Lord only knows whatever happened to either of those two sessions. It would be wonderful to ever find those recordings 'alive' somewhere!

From the Temple Daily Telegram

The Salados

In the winter of 1966 we were called to Hamilton, Texas- Joe Treadway's home, to begin working on both a real record and a series of stage shows throughout that west Texas area. I don't know that much about Joe but I do know that he spent a lot of his early life in west Texas and had been involved with several radio stations. Jerry Naylor, his stepson, was to be the star attraction and we were to back him up as well as perform our material. Joe also had us take in his son Dickey Treadway as a saxophonist. So... that winter rehearsals began. We worked with Jerry in Joe's living room. I remember two songs in particular that Jerry liked and wanted us to back him on. One was Ray Charles' "I Can't Stop Loving You," and the other was Johnny Rivers' "Son of the Seventh Son". There weren't many photos taken in those days. I wish there had been. I have one with me, Jerry and Berry lookin' out over Joe's front fence and thats it!

I took a chance and took Joe up on his offer to live with them and work a little at his Hamilton based Hearing Center. It was there that, acting as his 'secretary' I saw first hand how he was putting all this together: the shows and the recordings and the changing of our name to The Salados. Since we were all from Salado he thought that would be a better name than The Keats. I didn't like the name change but for a real record to be the prize... I went along but not real happily.

Treadway chose my song, "Got No Love" as our single B/W my song, "All For The Love of A Woman". The thing that really got my goat though was the fact that he didn't allow me to sing it... He told Berry to just play anything as I and the rest of the band played the rhythm etc. He then changed the name of the song to "Spider Walk" and gave his pseudonym, Calvin Haskin, as its writer. That still bothers me to this day.

I don't want to get too far into the weeds here but we did go to Longhorn Studios in Ft. Worth and 'cut' our first real record: "Got No Love". We also played as the backing group on two other performers of Joe's: Ray Adams, who recorded 'Little Rose of Reynosa' and Bill Holley, "Who Flung That Mater". Bill was no relation to Buddy.

Joe promoted our record throughout central Texas: Belton, Temple, Waco, Hamilton etc. and I remember what a thrill it was to hear my song, our record on KTEM radio in Temple! What a thrill! As far as sales... We never thought of making money on it and we never found out how many were sold but I do still have a copy of that one thank God!

Note the Ramsgate Music publishing name, same as on the Mark VII records from Waco...

"Got No Love"

"Spider Walk"

The stage shows were well received and drew big crowds, even in Salado where the home folks now were knowing us as The Salados. It would not be long however that Joe would start trying to change our image and our style of music by requiring us to play more and more country & western. That did not sit well with me and the only thing I could think to do was to leave Joe behind and hope that my band members would follow me which they eventually did. I left the Treadways after only about a week or two as I realized that was not what I needed to be doing. It was not long and we were back together again and this time my bass player Tom would be moving forward and asking us to let his dad, J. E. Brown, manage us. He had picked out the name The Buccaneers as our name and uniforms that would propel usinto the height of our popularity in central Texas.

I liked our uniforms a lot. We wore gold corduroy back pocketless pants, red silk puffed sleeve shirts and black leather- look vests which were buttoned upwith red yarn. They looked great! We took group photos at Tiners Photography in Belton but I have no idea what ever happened to them. What I wouldn't give to find some of those photos today!

Dicky Treadway with a mystery band labeled as The Salados. Who were these guys? Was Mark Scott in that band? 
"You Can't Believe It"

"One To Ten"

The Buccaneers

As best I can remember, that's been a long time ago, we started out playing beer joints in Temple. Mr. Brown believed that was the most immediate way to get us going and boy it sure did. At that time he booked us into the Starlite Club, down by the train tracks in Temple. He worked with the owner, Harold Hoelscher, to negotiate a good price for us and we started out playing there acouple times a week. In addition he got us gigs at the 'in' spots at the time: Flag Hall, Seaton Hall, Wesphalia, Beyersville and the S&S Club. It was at that time we figured we needed an organ player because so many of the groups had them so we chose a guy named Glen Henderson from Rogers, Texas. He fit right in with us and was a great asset even though he could not sing... neither lead or harmony.

Johnny and Tom performing at Sefcik Hall

Then, after performing for several weeks at the Starlite Club in Temple, Tom and his dad Mr. Brown decided it would be a great idea to haul our gear over to the S&S Club after we finished at the Starlite and just perform for free for the folks. This worked out great as it got us into that place which previously had only booked country western bands and groups like Jimmy Heap. We also kept going back to the Starlite Club and to all these other venues on a pretty steady rotation and kept a new audience in front of each week. Then trouble hit. This was 1967 by then and the Vietnam War was raging. I got drafted intothe Army but chose to join the Navy instead. This essentially broke up our little band again. I was sworn in a sent to San Diego for training. To shorten the story... I had problems with my back on board the ship The U.S.S. Cabildo and was taken to the Naval Hospital in Long Beach, California and was subsequently given a medical discharge in 1968. I came home and immediately reconnected with the band as The Buccaneers lead singer again. I had only been gone 7 months! We regretably never made a recording during the best years of The Buccaneers... Before I left for the Navy. Why I'll never understand. Mr. Brown just didn't push us in that direction and none of us I guess had any idea how to begin recording on our own.

Johnny in his groovy outfit with the Buccaneers

By 1968-69, Tom had added a couple of people new to the group. I'm not sure of the exact order of their arrival but he had added a new drummer, Kyle Mains, a new lead guitarist, Lee Copeland, and a new orgainist, Norman Stout. We became so popular at the S&S Club that the owner, Mr. Shirley, wanted us 5 days a week at such and such money. Mr. Brown negotiated with him and that put us at a semi permanent gig where we could each earn enough money to make music our full time job.
Radio station KTEM wanted to do a live performance with us with George Franz, the station's sales manager as the MC...and we did! Would be wonderful to have a copy of that turn up somewhere also but alas...I do have a transcript of Mr. Franz announcing and elaborating on each song right before we performed it. There was a young man, Jessie Birdsong, who used to follow the group back then and he taped us live on his big reel to reel one time...the entire four hours! Years ago I tried to find that tape and I called Jessie's dad. Regrettably, he knew nothing of the tape and stated that Jessie had died years before in a motorcycle accident. Sad but there was a lot of tragedy back then. Along with Jessie there was 'Big John' Ellis from Troy and our drummer Kyle Mains who both committed suicide. The girl friend of our light show man and a beautiful girl that I had been in love with as well, got run over by a car and killed at 15 years old. I wrote a poem about her after that called 'Scarlet Leigh' It's in my new book of poetry entitled In The Arms of Morpheus and other works.

"You Got What I Want"

"Standin' In The Shadow Of Your Love"

From the highs to the lows. I began to sense with the changing of the guard so to speak with all the new members coming in and out that it was about time for me to leave the group and take out on my own. I was married to Debbie Bruce of Temple in 1971 and took a full time regular job and began playing single jobs all over Temple, Belton, and Killeen... Wherever I could get a booking. Tom continued to go on with The Buccaneers but as mentioned... He was the only 'original' member left by then. Things had changed. No more uniforms. No more direction and Mr. Brown had given up in frustration with it all. Tom was a stubborn man however. He hired all these new people and took the group on the road up north for a few weeks. Somehow... THAT group managed to make a recording of which I don't even know the name of... I had absolutely no involvement with it... That the BEST Buccaneers did not do. I however had been writing songs continuously since 1964 and had a huge array of original songs that I wanted to record and so in 1976 I released 'On My Daddy's Farm' b/w 'Until Love's All Gone' on my own record label: Prairie Land Music and so ended the best musical group that at least ever came out of Salado, Texas. I guess it just was not in the cards to take it higher than we did. I do have regrets of course: That the recordings were not saved or were so carelessly handled by the person that possessed them; that the photos were lost and that we were not successful at taking it to a higher ground in the state of Texas. But for that little dash of time, 1964 to 1971 we felt like we were the best of central Texas. Long live the memories.

Johnny Gidley

Triple thank you to Johnny for taking the time to write out all of his 60's bands stories, and for emailing me all of the band photos.