1.(A) Reaching For The Sun/Things We Said Today (Boss 003) 1966
2. Calamity Jane/Now She's Gone (Rust 5123) 1968
The debut waxing by this Pinellas County,
Florida quintet hit the stores in the Summer of '66. Reaching
For The Sun is moody jangley folk-punk with yearning harmonies
- this has resurfaced on Psychedelic States - Florida Vol. 2
The second 45 features a couple more tunes
from Al Schweikert. Bright 'n' breezy pop with an RKO-radio-blip
intro and some fuzz is slightly marred by some brass. The flip
is an introspective lovelorn ballad with keyboard doodlings.
Calamity Jane was co-composed with Karl Lamp with whom Albert
Schweikert also composed The Tropics' classic As Times Gone?
The Ravens were managed by A.J. Perry, who
was 'the' regional concert promoter at the time. They opened
for every major act that came to town during that time, including
The Hollies, The Yardbirds, The Who, Hermans Hermits, Blues Magoos
and Sonny and Cher.
As a founding member
of The Ravens I have a few updates for you. . . . . . .
First, there is a whole incarnation
of the band missing from the chronology. I have designated
it "0" in the chart below, and noted all changes
in red. The band began in -- I think -- 1965, with Brian, Mark,
and TWO Rick Simpsons, differentiated by the nicknames "Rick" and "Thor" (redhead!).
Practice was in a seaside rental cottage managed by Paul's
parents (also musicians), and later moved to Mark's garage.
Richard Vincent Simpson wrote the -- how shall
I put this delicately? -- "prototype" of "Reaching
for the Sun", which was later refined and copyrighted by
Schweikert/Orrick. Orrick, by the way, was Bob Orrick, who lived
across Gulf Blvd. from me; Bob bought the van (which Al's father
painted with The Ravens in huge red letters), and thus became
our early manager and roadie. He also occasionally subbed on
bass. Gigs at this stage were largely parties and small events
(I recall playing on the roof of the gas station where Rick's
father worked, shouting "Tire Sale! Kelley Springfield tires
at bargain prices!").
At some point in -- I think -- 1966, Rick
returned to Conneticut and Thor left the band. As I recall, these
events were roughly coincident. Al Schweikert (four years older
than the rest of us and driving a Corvette convertible) joined
on lead guitar and became ad hoc leader by virtue of his 21-year-old "maturity" and
forceful personality. John Hallenstein (not Howenstein) brought
his Vox organ, and we were off. Gigs moved upward to the [name?]
teen club in the St. Pete Armory promoted by Moose Vosburg, and
then branched to Charlie somebody-or-other's The Spot nightclub
in Tampa, as well as Moose's new [name?] teen spot in north St.
Pete. Lots of frat parties, etc. too. We also became the opening
band for a lot of big name acts. In addition to the ones you
mention, I recall The Left Banque, Roy Orbison, and maybe Doug
Clark and the Hot Nuts.
It was at The Spot that we were approached
by Charles Fuller, producer of the Royal Guardsman records (Snoopy,
et al). We ended up in the studio recording "Reaching for
the Sun" (Fuller wrote the keyboard lead) and backing it
with an instrumental version of "Things We Said Today" (because
we had no other originals or suitable covers). We later lip-sync'd
both songs on WFLA's (?) teen TV hour, certainly a highlight
of my high school days!
The Ravens were never what I would call a "kindly" band.
Lots of ego and tempers, and very high-school clique interpersonal
relationships. I left the band in 1967 (I think), probably only
days before I would have been pushed out in favor of Ken Spivey
(not Beau Fisher).
All was quiet until earlier this year, when
I got an e-mail from Rick "Thor" Simpson, still alive
and well and playing in Florida. That triggered the nostalgia
trip resulting in this message. I'm cc:ing Ric (yep, he's now
Ric) in the hopes that he can add things, and that he might find
all this history stuff fun (time heals all wounds, at least to
BRIAN EGAN bs vcls 0
MARK MACONI ld vcls 0
A B C D E F
PAUL PURCELL drms vcls 0
A B C D E F
RICHARD "Rick" VINCENT SIMPSON ld gtr, vcls 0
RICHARD "Thor" SIMPSON rtm gtr, vcls 0
JOHN HALLENSTEIN keyb'ds A
AL SCHWEIKERT ld gtr, vcls A
B C D E
CHRIS KRAWCZYN keyb'ds B
KEN SPIVEY bs C
BEAU FISHER bs D
KENT PEARSON bs E
TOMMY ANGARANO organ, vcls F
CHARLIE BAILEY gtr F
All the best,