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.