Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Larry Wilson & The Continentals

I was recently very excited to discover that there was a rock n roll group who recorded a record in the 60's from La Grange, TX. I spent a lot of time in La Grange throughout my life as I was raised in Smithville, the neighboring small town just to the West on Highway 71.

I was able to locate singer and band leader Larry Wilson and he sent me a brief bio on the band via email.

This is Larry Wilson singer for the Continentals from their origination in early 1961 until December 31, 1969, at midnight. I was the leader of the band. 
We formed in 1961 with Jack Dyer (Guitar), Don Mayer (sax), Butch Schults (drums), Billy Von Rosenbery (guitar) and Jerry Jacobs (bass).   Our first paying job was the National Guard Armory in Brenham and we all wanted to quit school and play because we had never made that much money in 4 hours.  
We played at the KTSA Bunny Hop in San Antonio which was a 3 day non stop event. We eventually grew through the years to where we had 10 players in all with a 4 horn section and did a lot of soul music. We kicked off for Roy Orbinson at Simonton, Texas, about 1964, and kicked off for Percy Sledge in 1967 at Sam Houston State.   

We recorded 3 records for Huey P. Meaux with little success.  Our third record was Pick Hit of The Week on the big triangle (Beaumont, Orange and Port Arthur). I did a promo announcing that Paul Revere and the Raiders were coming to town. The DJs called wanting more promo records. Our record producers had an argument and split up and I could not get the promo records to distribute. 

I also remember with my second record producer driving from radio station to radio station around southeast Texas. We would introduce me and give the DJ a record with a $20.00 bill it.  By the time we got to the car our record was playing. Could have been the last time it played there but it got play.  
Our last record was #10 in north central Texas.

"All Of Your Love"
"Ive Got It"

We had several battle dances with Roy Head and the Traits and B.J. Thomas and the Triumphs through the years.  Each year we played a battle dance with a group called the Rockets (a western group) at the Salt Grass Ride Kick Off in Brenham to about 3500 people. 

We eventually got so good that there was no place for us to go but on tour and that was not possible since several of us were married and I was expecting my first child.  
We played all the country halls in those days that would pack in the kids.  We played Artesian Park, Nelsonville, Bleiberville, Coushatti (Bellville),  KC Hall in Sealy, Hempstead Fair Grounds, LaGrange Fair grounds, Dimebox, Hillje,  Taiton, Gay Hill, Prairie Hill, and numerous other halls. We mostly played in areas that had a general store and a dance hall. We would generally draw 350-500 people. We also played numerous private parties and proms.   
With time the music business business became more and more work.  We decided in late 1969 that December 31, 1969, would be our last dance which was at Hillje Hall outside El Campo.  We had a great final payday and called it quits. 

I sold all of my equipment so I would not have the urge to get back in the business.  Several of my final members have went on to play in other bands since we disbanded but none had the success of the Continentals. My wall on my law office is filled with Continental pictures and posters.   
I still sing rock and roll at several oprys. I used to sing regularly at Liberty Opry but have not performed there for about 3 years now. I perform at Hometown Opry twice a year in Pasadena at their Oldies Shows. I do 60s and 70s songs.  
I was personally on a Huey P. Meaux  3 town tour in 1965 with Bobby Blue Bland, Ray Stevens, Vicki Vaughn, Sonny and the Sunliners, T.K. Hulin and the Jokers (from Palacios) as the house band.  This is probably my most memorable event. 

Thanks to Larry Wilson and to D. Saunders for the Continentals poster.