EARLY TEXAS ROCK

Public News (Houston) - - FRONT PAGE - by Mark Crampton

Both my folks were school teach­ers, so we moved around a lot when I was young, mostly in East Texas, but I did spend my Fresh­man and Sopho­more High School years in south­ern Cal­i­for­nia. In­deed, we moved there just in time for me to catch the “Sum­mer of Love” in LA in ‘67.

Those two years changed my mu­sic taste be­yond be­lief! I got HEAV­ILY into rock – hard rock, acid rock, psy­che­delic rock. I’m talk­ing Iron But­ter­fly, Hen­drix, Doors, Moth­ers of In­ven­tion, Quick­sil­ver Mes­sen­ger Ser­vice, Blue Cheer, Jef­fer­son Air­plane, Cream, It’s a Beau­ti­ful Day, Arthur Brown, Cold Blood, King Crim­son, Ten Years Af­ter, 13th Floor El­e­va­tors psy­che­delic rock! [NOTE: See past ar­ti­cle about Arthur Brown and Cold Blood. Look for up­com­ing ar­ti­cles on Ten Years Af­ter, Blue Cheer, It’s a Beau­ti­ful Day and King Crim­son. Please let my publisher know if any of these par­tic­u­lar­ily in­ter­ests you.]

So when the fam­ily moved back to what seemed like (to me!) ‘Goat-Roper Par­adise’ (Lit­tle Cy­press-Mau­riceville school dis­trict just north of Or­ange, Texas) in the late sum­mer of ‘69, I quickly dis­cov­ered that if I wanted hard rock mu­sic, well, there wasn’t much com­pared to Cal­i­for­nia!

I hon­estly don’t re­mem­ber ANY lo­cal ra­dio sta­tions play­ing any­thing but bub­blegum or ‘Top 40’ - I’m talk­ing 1910 Fruit­gum Com­pany, Ohio Ex­press, Archies, Cowsills, Brady Bunch (Oh yes, even the Brady Bunch re­leased some sin­gles!), Par­tridge Fam­ily, Jack­son 5, Os­monds, Tommy James and the Shon­dells, Tommy Roe, Bobby Sher­man here, folks! The Mon­kees were of­ten played as bub­blegum, too, but I will dis­pute that false­hood! How many of you will ad­mit to know­ing – let alone lis­ten­ing to – those groups?

Any­way, real Hard/Psy­che­delic rock mu­sic over the ra­dio mostly came from ‘pi­rate sta­tions’ who BLASTED the air­waves il­le­gally from Mex­ico, or lis­ten­ing to Chicago and New Or­leans sta­tions when they “skipped” through the at­mos­phere late oh so late at night!

But, folks, what Hard/Psy­che­delic rock that was avail­able then in East Texas was truly AWE­SOME be­yond com­pare!

For a start, only a few lo­cal clubs, like the Light­house in Ned­er­land, the Cellers (there were 5 – 3 in Dal­las, 1 each in Hous­ton and Austin (the wait­resses wore biki­nis and of­ten stripped on a run­way by the band as they played!), the Love Street Light Cir­cus Feel Good Ma­chine (take your pick! – in the Sun­set Cof­fee Build­ing on Com­merce at Main Street – Allen’s Land­ing – the build­ing is empty now but still stands) in Hous­ton, the Wal­rus in Dal­las, the Vul­can Gas Com­pany in Austin and the Cir­cus in Bosier City, Louisiana catered to the live mu­sic Hard/ Psy­che­delic rock crowd in that era.

Prob­a­bly the two most well-known and ac­ces­si­ble live mu­sic clubs of this era – to me, any­way - were not in Texas at all, but 5 miles east of Or­ange on IH 10 in Vin­ton, Louisiana: the Texas Pel­i­can Club and the Cir­cle Club. I can­not tell you how many nights I spent in these my last two years in High School, or the bands I heard there. [NOTE: At those Louisiana clubs, in those days, if you could reach up to the counter to pay your ad­mis­sion, you could get in!]

[NOTE: I am re­search­ing a pos­si­ble fu­ture ar­ti­cle on these clubs – any­one in­ter­ested? Let my publisher know! And if you have any first­hand mem­o­ries or knowl­edge of these rock clubs back “in the day” please let me know!]

So, here in al­pha­bet­i­cal or­der, are some of the early East Texas Hard/Psy­che­delic rock bands I lis­tened to: 1) The 13th Floor El­e­va­tors from Austin were formed by Tommy Hall (elec­tric jug – yes, elec­tric jug!), Stacy Suther­land (gui­tar) and Roky Erick­son (vo­cals/gui­tar) in ’66

in Austin, and played pri­mar­ily Austin and Hous­ton clubs (and a cou­ple of times in San Fran­cisco) un­til they broke up in ‘69, but did all their record­ing in Hous­ton.

Rec­og­nized by many as the gen­uine, num­ber 1 very first Amer­i­can ‘Psy­che­delic Rock’ band (most of the other such bands were Bri­tish), Hall claims he ac­tu­ally coined this spe­cific term for their mu­sic - stem­ming from the bands pub­li­cally boasted cus­tom of drop­ping LSD be­fore play­ing ev­ery show. [Don’t ask ME how they could ac­tu­ally play con­cert sets trip­ping on acid!] Other groups did call their mu­sic ‘Psy­che­delic’, but not nec­es­sar­ily ‘Psy­che­delic Rock’.

This is their first hit, You’re Gonna Miss Me from their ’66 de­but al­bum The Psy­che­delic Sounds of the 13th Floor El­e­va­tors https://youtu.be/gHK9vj0VE7w.

This is one of the few live videos of the band in this time ever to surface – they are er­ro­neously in­tro­duced as Roky and the 13th Floor El­e­va­tors on this video. This song was writ­ten by Roky as a trib­ute to Muddy Wa­ters’ song of the same name, but is not a cover.

Here are two of my fa­vorite songs by the band: and Ev­ery­body Needs Some­body to Love from ’66 https://youtu.be/EJtRDIP

w17E (a cover of Solomon Burke’s 1964 re­lease – later cov­ered by ev­ery­body else in the world!) and It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue from ’67 https://youtu.be/jGqEFQ5x

mjU (a cover of Bod Dy­lan’s 1965 re­lease.) The 13th Floor El­e­va­tors re­leased seven sin­gles and four orig­i­nal al­bums, with sev­eral later com­pi­la­tions and ‘re­vival’ al­bums.

Ja­nis Jo­plin from Port Arthur was a friend of Hall’s wife, and some­times opened for and/or sang with the band when she was around, and Billy Gib­bons of­ten played with them in Hous­ton sets in ‘68, as well. 2) Amer­i­can Blues from Dal­las was formed in ’66, by broth­ers Rocky Hill (gui­tar) and Dusty Hill (bass) and Frank Beard (drums). They played what Rocky called “psy­che­delic blues” (ala the 13th Floor El­e­va­tors), and were ex­tremely pop­u­lar in lo­cal clubs.

Amer­i­can Blues were reg­u­lars at all three Dal­las and the Hous­ton Cel­lar lo­ca­tions, as well as the Hous­ton Love Street Light Cir­cus Feel Good Ma­chine.

Their first al­bum Amer­i­can Blues is Here https://youtu.be/O70DaXx­aWrs was re­leased in’68, af­ter which the band moved to Hous­ton, where they re­leased a sec­ond al­bum Amer­i­can Blues ‘Do Their Thing’. Of course, Amer­i­can Blues is Here is in my CD Li­brary!

Not long af­ter the move and sec­ond al­bum, the band broke up. Rocky left to re­turn to his tra­di­tional blues gui­tar roots (where, among things, he was known as an inspiration and men­tor to Ste­vie Ray Vaughn), while Dusty and Frank looked for some­thing more ‘rock’ – see more about that be­low!

3) Blood­rock be­gan as The Nat­u­rals in Fort Worth in ‘63, and ac­tu­ally re­leased one sin­gle in ’65. Their lineup changed then, as did their name, to Crowd + 1 un­til ’69, when they were very briefly called them­selves Texas. The group’s new­est pro­ducer changed their name for the last time, to Blood­rock, and they re­leased their first, self­ti­tled al­bum in ’70.

Their most suc­cess­ful al­bum, Blood­rock 2 was re­leased in ‘71, con­tain­ing the group’s only hit, DOA, which prob­a­bly is the CREEPIEST song ever to be played on the ra­dio – I re­mem­ber DJs at the SFA col­lege ra­dio sta­tion warn­ing lis­ten­ers be­fore play­ing it! EX­PLICIT WARN­ING: this is AB­SO­LUTELY the CREEPIEST, BLOOD­I­EST, MOST dis­turb­ing mu­sic video prob­a­bly EVER in the his­tory of mu­sic videos! Watch it at your own peril – NOW I know you’ll ALL watch it! https://youtu.be/

bUkeu4Zj7pA Al­though this of­fi­cial video – made years af­ter the song was orig­i­nally re­leased - is about a car crash, the song was

ac­tu­ally writ­ten about a plane crash.

Blood­rock played pri­mar­ily in the Dal­las and Hous­ton clubs for most of their ca­reer, and re­leased six orig­i­nal al­bums, a bunch of sin­gles, and later on, a bunch of com­pel­la­tion al­bums. 4) Bub­ble Puppy was formed in ’67 in Cor­pus Christi, by Rod Prince and Roy Cox of The Bad Seeds from Cor­pus Christi (not to be con­fused with The Bad Seeds from Kil­gore). They were un­usual for having two lead gui­tars (which other bands later copied), and went through a pe­riod of trial and er­ror be­fore set­tling on their fi­nal lineup and sound.

[NOTE: Wiki and the band’s web­site both claim Bub­ble Puppy’s first pub­lic ap­pear­ance was open­ing the San An­to­nio show for The Who’s ’67 tour! Ex­cept that, ac­cord­ing to The Who’s of­fi­cial web­site: 1) that tour played only Hous­ton and Dal­las, not SA; and 2) The Who were them­selves the open­ing act for Her­man’s Her­mits, not the head­lin­ers! So I don’t know what to be­lieve on this one!]

At any rate, once their line-up was solid, Bub­ble Puppy re­lo­cated to Austin to play, and be­gan record­ing in Hous­ton, re­leas­ing their only hit Hot Smoke and Sas­safras

https://youtu.be/Zl_COZr­m5nA as a sin­gle early ’69.

They re­leased their only orig­i­nal al­bum A Gath­er­ing Of Prom­ises later that year. Why even ask? Yes, it is in my CD Li­brary!

In ’70 the band hired a new man­ager, moved to LA and changed their name to Demian, re­leased one self-ti­tled al­bum, then broke up in ’72.

The orig­i­nal band mem­bers re­united for a while in ’84 and re­leased a sec­ond al­bum early in ’87, then broke up again.

In March ’11 Bub­ble Puppy re­formed yet again, in Austin, around three of the orig­i­nal mem­bers (Prince, Cox and David Fore) and some mem­bers of Fore’s sub­se­quent Austin bands, and be­gan play­ing the Austin club cir­cuit. Cox passed away in April ’13, but Bub­ble Puppy con­tin­ues play­ing Austin area clubs! Check their web­site: bub­blepuppy. com/ 5) Fever Tree be­gan in Hous­ton as folk-rock band The Bost­wick Vines in ’66, but with new pro­duc­ers changed their name the next year, along with a new line-up fea­tur­ing key­boardist Rob Lan­des and a new style of mu­sic – Psy­che­delic Rock. They were quite pop­u­lar in lo­cal Hous­ton clubs.

Fever Tree’s new pro­duc­ers also wrote all their mu­sic, and the band only had one hit in their en­tire ca­reer, San Fran­cisco Girls in ’68 from their self-ti­tled first al­bum https://

youtu.be/xYe1HnZvioA . Af­ter mov­ing to LA, the band broke up with their pro­duc­ers/writ­ers, then fell apart as a group by ’70.

Gui­tarist Michael Knust was the other note­wor­thy mem­ber of Fever Tree – he re­formed the group in ’78, but passed in ’03.

Billy Gib­bons of­ten played with Fever Tree in Hous­ton, and can rec­og­niz­ably be heard on their first al­bum, al­though un­cred­ited. I know I did have this CD, but can’t seem to lo­cate it now – I may have to or­der an­other copy. Be­sides, I al­ways thought their 3rd al­bum, Cre­ation, which I do still have, was their best ef­fort!

Fever Tree re­leased four orig­i­nal al­bums, and sev­eral later com­pi­la­tions. 6) The Mov­ing Side­walks sort of be­gan in Hol­ly­wood, where Hous­ton’s Billy Gib­bons was at­tend­ing art school in the early 60’s. He or­ga­nized a suc­ces­sion of surf-rock bands there: the Saints, Billy G and the Blue­flames, the Coach­men, but by ’67 he had re­turned to his home­town of Hous­ton.

Gib­bons’ friend and men­tor Roky Erick­son of The 13th Floor El­e­va­tors helped him and drum­mer Dan Mitchell form Mov­ing Side­walks with or­gan­ist Tom Moore and bass player Don Sum­mers in Hous­ton in ‘67, to play what Gib­bons per­ceived as ‘psy­che­delic blues rock’.

Mov­ing Side­walks was quite pop­u­lar on the Hous­ton club scene, and opened sev­eral shows for the 13th Floor El­e­va­tors when that band played Hous­ton clubs – in­clud­ing that no­to­ri­ous show at the Love Street Light Cir­cus Feel Good Ma­chine which was raided by Hous­ton PD, and mem­bers of the El­e­va­tors ar­rested on stage for drug pos­ses­sion. (Pot, not their pro­fessed LSD!)

[NOTE: Many PDs – ex­pe­cially HPD! - were no­to­ri­ous for raid­ing rock mu­sic clubs (but NOT strip clubs!) Hous­ton’s Cat­a­combs Club, Hous­ton’s Cel­lar, along with Austin’s Vul­can Gas Com­pany, never even both­ered to get liquor li­censes or sold booze, they were raided so of­ten! How­ever, rather than drugs or al­co­hol vi­o­la­tions, these raids were ac­tu­ally con­ducted for pure ‘Hip­pie ha­rass­ment’ – usu­ally cit­ing ‘elec­tri­cal vi­o­la­tions’ - the ‘elec­tric light shows’ were deemed to be harm­ful to pa­trons! Ask me some­time how ‘Hip­pies’ were treated in Or­ange, Texas in that era!]

Any­way, while liv­ing in Cal­i­for­nia, Gib­bons had formed an in­tense friend­ship with Jimi Hen­drix, and Mov­ing Side­walks also opened four con­certs for him on tour.

Mov­ing Side­walks re­leased three sin­gles and one al­bum, Flash https://youtu.be/

WPheF4Gw-K0 of which 99th Floor was the biggest hit. Yes, I have this al­bum in my CD li­brary.

In the years since, no less than 5 com­pi­la­tion al­bums and an EP of the Mov­ing Side­walks mu­sic have been re­leased.

Mov­ing Side­walks re­united in 2013 for 3 ben­e­fit con­certs, in NYC, Austin and Hous­ton. Here is their per­for­mance of 99th Floor from the NYC show https://youtu.be/ bTusGNQvG4Q . 7) The No­mads from Texas City - NOT to be con­fused with the No­mads from Ft. Worth or No­mads from San An­to­nio – come to think of it, there were prob­a­bly twenty bands called the No­mads! Any­way, the No­mads from Texas City formed in the early ‘60s by vo­cal­ist Frank Ziegel, and were pop­u­lar in clubs on the south and east sides of Hous­ton. They re­leased two sin­gles, I Walk Alone https://youtu.be/3c4MveIIiUo and I’ll Be

There https://youtu.be/6Er5Hpzw26M in ’67, and an­other in ‘68.

The ’68 sin­gle earned the group a move to Cal­i­for­nia in ‘69, where gui­tarist Johnny Orvis took over the band and they turned into The Smoke - not to be con­fused with the bands of the same name from Aus­tralia or Eng­land – and recorded sev­eral al­bums be­fore break­ing up.

They never recorded any al­bums as The No­mads from Texas City. 8) In ’69, af­ter Moore and Sum­mers of Mov­ing Side­walks were drafted into the Army, Billy Gib­bons and Dan Mitchell formed a new trio (bands back then were usu­ally at least 4-5 or more mem­bers) with or­gan­ist Lanier Greig. Gib­bons says he came up with the new band’s name from two posters of BB King and ZZ Hill on his apart­ment wall – ZZ Top!

This orig­i­nal lineup of ZZ Top re­leased their first sin­gle, Salt Lick https://youtu.be/ dfjAcPRrFfE , the flip side of which was Miller’s Garage https://youtu.be/cobbo69

7QE in ’69. Af­ter this re­lease, Greig was re­placed by bassist Billy Ethridge (of Ste­vie Ray Vaughan’s band), and Mitchell was re­placed by Frank Beard of the Amer­i­can Blues from Dal­las. Ethridge was then re­placed by Dusty Hill also of the Amer­i­can Blues. The band’s lineup has never changed again.

The new ZZ Top played their first con­cert to­gether at a dance at the Knights of Colum­bus Hall in Beau­mont on Fe­bru­ary 10, 1970, and was very pop­u­lar in East Texas, play­ing lo­cal clubs, high school dances, etc.

And yes, for those of you who caught my ref­er­ence to Lit­tle Cy­press-Mau­riceville early in this ar­ti­cle, ZZ Top played MY High School Se­nior Prom at the Jack Tar Ho­tel in Or­ange in the spring of ’71! Here’s the band’s photo from my year­book:

They had ac­tu­ally recorded (but not re­leased) ZZ Top’s First Al­bum https://youtu.

be/aOy4XdMYQb0 by then, and their pro­ducer tried to get them out of the con­tract, but our school re­fused.

To my rec­ol­lec­tion, they played the usual litany of Top-40 and ra­dio hit cov­ers cus­tom­ary to a high school dance, none of their own mu­sic. [LCM class­mates help me out here – what do you re­mem­ber?]

The later hype the band’s PR peo­ple put out about crowds try­ing to crash the dance, peo­ple climb­ing through bath­room win­dows at the ho­tel, etc. is NON­SENSE – no one had heard their first al­bum yet (I my­self first heard it late that fall!) and at that time they were just an­other lo­cal garage band who could be heard at lo­cal clubs or dances on any week­end, play­ing ra­dio cov­ers!

Much later in their ca­reer, ZZ Top did play the ’97 Su­per Bowl Half­time show https://

youtu.be/nC_i­iq06qck and the 2008 Or­ange Bowl Half­time show https://youtu.be/o9n06jBjPlQ .

I don’t know if any­one has ac­tu­ally counted how many al­bums ZZ Top have re­leased over the years – I have 18 in my CD Li­brary, and just got in a pack­aged com­pi­la­tion of their first 10 CDs!

There you have it folks. A quick break­down of eight of the more pop­u­lar psy­che­delic bands of late ‘60s East Texas, two of whom – ZZ Top and Bub­ble Puppy – are still to­gether and play­ing!

Not all the bands of that era and ilk, of course. Maybe there’s enough for an­other ar­ti­cle.

ZZ TOP

BLOOD­ROCK

BUB­BLE PUPPY

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