Thursday, July 6, 2017

Sounds Unlimited

from L-R: Phil Ferrell, Ron Davis, Paul Jarvis, Ron Mears, and Steve Webb.

Band Member Line-Up:
Paul Jarvis - Rhythm Guitar, Keys
Ron Davis - Lead Guitar, Vocals
Steve Webb - Rhythm Guitar, Vocals
Phil Ferrell - Bass, Vocals
Chuck Hodges - Drums, Harmony Vocals (later replaced by Ron Mears)

Sounds Unlimited was formed in mid 1965 by WW Samuel High School kids in Dallas, TX.
The band got its first and only manager early on when member Steve Webb invited clothing salesman and National Artist booking agent Kent Alexander over to one of their rehearsals.
Kent started getting the band steady bookings and had connections with a man named Stoney Burns who wrote for an underground newspaper.

During their senior year in 66, the boys showed up to school with their newly grown out mop top manes. The principal, Mr Lanham asked them not to return to school until they cut their hair.
Not only did the band not want to change their hairstyles, but their contract with Kent specifically said that the band was not to cut their mop top hair.

Kent quickly set up a meeting with a law firm called Gibbs, Hooks, and Wyrick. With the boys parents permission to allow attorneys to file an injunction, Herbert Hooks took the lead and the lawsuit became known as "Ferrell VS Dallas ISD".
The case grew to a national level when Mr Hooks was able to get the ACLU to foot the bill.
This was a case that was relevant all over the US as the British invasion took over the countries youth fashion. Kids were growing their hair out and dressing more flamboyantly in every high school in America, and a whole lot of school officials were not too happy about it!

One day in between doing interviews for the Associated Press, Phil, Paul, and Steve quickly wrote a song called "Keep Your Hands Off Of It". Kent wanted the group to seize the opportunity and rushed them into Sumet Sound studio in Dallas to track it and another original song written by member Ron Davis called "About You".
An acetate was immediately delivered to radio station KBOX and was getting airplay the day after the session was completed.
The band struck a deal to publish and press he 45 through Bill Looney and his Solar Records label, which was known for a fantastic 45 by The Penthouse Five: "Bad Girl".
"Keep Your Hands Off Of It"
"About You"

Off to Los Angeles went the band as soon as they had the pressing in hand. Getting the record picked up on a national label was the mission. The band shopped their disc to Snuff Garrett at RCA and several other major labels, but were turned away at every stop.
While in town, Kent used his connections to drop the band by the Capitol Records recording studio while Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys was doing some tracking (most likely during the ill fated Smile sessions).

Eventually the gang headed back home and found that their booking guarantees had now doubled and tripled! It seemed that the court case and radio time on their single had garnered Sounds Unlimited a lot of local attention. The band was drawing premiums of up to $300 a night (a LOT of money for a bunch of teenagers back in the mid 60's).
Harold Dunn was the bands biggest fan, friend, and roadie. He would drive them around in their used hearse which they had purchased transport their gear to each gig.
The guys were playing as many as 3 separate engagements on a given Saturday. Some of their day spots included a record shop called Bucks Records that was promoting their 45. They would also play at a clothing shop called "My Friends Place" that would trade the group hip clothes for performing at their store.
Around this time, drummer Chuck Hodges resigned from the band after pressure from his father to drop out of music and go to college. Chuck was replaced by Ron Mears.

Unfortunately for teens across America, "Ferrell VS DISD" was ruled in favor of the school, allowing the principal to choose how his students could appear in class.

The band later made recordings at Boyd Recording Studio and Sellers Recording studio. Both of these sessions went unissued.

Paul Jarvis and Phil Ferrell took correspondence courses afterwards and in 1968 joined the Marines.

Band member Ron Davis had a long career in bands, starting on guitar at age 12 after hearing "Mojo Hand" by Lightnin' Hopkins. Ron played with many other bands such as: Ronnie & The Roadrunners, Bobby Gray & The Gray Tones (who recorded several records for the Jody and Bismark labels), The Warlocks, and a band with the strange name of Mother's Half A Word.

Many thanks to Phil Ferrell, Ron Davis, and Paul Jarvis for their help.

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