The Montells
 

Left to Right

George Walden,Jeff Allen,John Weatherford,Geroge Hall, Carter Regsdale
 
 
 

Interview with Carter Regsdale

Hitomi:How did The Montells start, Who made the band?
Carter: In  1962 John Weatherford, George Walden took classic guitar lessons. They had a friend , George Hall that played bass in the Southwest Miami High School band they used to get together after school and play their instruments.  A friend of theirs Jeff Allen came over one day curious of what was going on and they told him they were forming a band.  Jeff couldn't play any instruments so he went down with his fathers help and purchased a drum kit, and taught himself to play.  They called themselves the Impalas and did all instrumental stuff, surf music, Ventures and that sort of material.  They played at private parties and such.  Later they picked up a singer.  His name was Gene Murray, but there were conflicts with him, I am not sure what, and they soon went on without a singer.   I had a class at school with George Walden and he told the others that there was this cat in his English class that could scream louder than anyone  that he had ever heard and e wanted to bring this guy by to audition for the job of singer in the group.  That loud screamer was me.  I passed the audition and we were a group.  We went under the Name Impalas for quite a while, changing to the Montells in 1964.  We got that name off of a dance studio in Coral Gables Fla, "The House of Montell" I think that it was called.  Jeff never like the name said that it sounded too much like a black singing group but we kept it for lack of an agreement of a new name. H:How old were you at the time? Carter:  We were all sixteen or  seventeen at the time. H:Let me know the lineup. Carter:  The original lineup was George Walden Guitar, John Weatherford Guitar, George Hall Bass, Jeff Allen Drums, Carter Ragsdale Vocals.  Late in 1965 George Hall was going away to school and he joined Evil, he was replaced  on bass by Danny Murphy.
H:Which band or bands influenced you early on?
Carter: Our drummer Jeff Allen was fortunate enough to travel to England and see all of the sights (Mods & Rockers) etc that we stateside just saw pictures of or read about in fan magazines.  He would return with some of the greatest british records and we would do them.  Other groups were doing Beatles & Stones, we ere doing  Pretty Things, Fairies, Kinks, Them, Move, Graham Bond Organization, Yardbirds. We did Stones material but we tried to do obscure tracks that no one else did. I can honestly say that we were influenced by the  British music scene.  One group that influenced us most of all were the Pretty Things, my did we cover their material.  It wasn't on American radio so the people thought we were doing original stuff, other groups were doing top 40 stuff and we would come on with this British music that they hadn't been exposed to and we made many of these  songs our wn. Hitomi:  What kind music did The Montells play? Which songs did you cover, Pretty Things? Carter:  We did mostly British R&B stuff, some American R&B, Wilson Pickett, James Brown, Eddie Floyd, Sam & Dave.   Then we would  do  Summertime by Gershwin.   The Pretty Things songs that we covered as my memory serves me were Roadrunner, Don't Bring me Down, LSD, Buzz the Jerk, Can't Stand the Pain, Midnight to Six Man, Get the Picture, I Can Never Say, Gonna Find a Substitute, Get A Buzz, Honey I Need, Cry To Me, Rosalyn, and I am sure that there were more  I can't remember.

H:Tell me about the music circuit in South Florida.
Carter:  We were locked in with a local top 40 station WFUN in the beginning .   So we played most of their dances as they were called.  North Miami Armory on Sunday, Ft Lauderdale War Memorial Auditorium on Saturday.   Hialeah  Auditorium on Wednesday Night.
   Later we would rent an Auditorium buy drinks, hire security and  charge admission and hire another group to open for us .   We finally got out from under WFUN and we would travel Fla to Gainsville and play at University of Fla, Daytona Beach at the Surf Club, where the pre Allman Bros  Allman Joys would open for us.
H:Do you remember about Allman Joys ? Did they play blues ?
Carter:  No I can't remember what  style of music that they played, but I do remember they ad a great  lead guitar player, and they were really impressed with our equipment ,  they used our set up to do their set with.

    When we would play the dance circuit in Miami, when other groupls would play the kids would dance, when we played no dancing.!!!!!  All eyes were on the stage because one never knew what we were going to do.  The  promoters would catch us before we went on and say ,"Guys you can't play that LSD tonight, or Don't Bring me Down, and Carter don't you dare say Fuck on stage or we will have trouble on our hands. "    We would do exactly the opposite as we were told, it sold tickets at the time.

Hitomi: Please describe the fashion worn by The Montells. Did you wear tie and jackets. Was your hair short or long?
Carter:  In the beginning we had uniforms.  We quickly came away from that and wore the fashion of the time, bell bottoms turtle necks, leather jackets, boots with very high heels.   We did have long hair, it was hard for some of the guys to get into school with their hair because of dress codes at the time.  I have a great scrapbook full of neat photos that I would like to share with you if you are interested. H.M.Subject
Hitomi:I have your 45 "Don't Bring Me down consored/Unconsored" as "H.M.Subjects". Let me know about it. Why did you use different name?
Carter:  At that time our career was in the hands of local DJ  Morton (Doc) Downey Jr.  He had the name changed because he thought that it sounded more British, We hated it more than Montells, and we quickly changed back..
H:Who's idea is it ,consored/Uncosored version?Doc Downey? Which version did the radio station play?
Carter : The radio played the version  that was uncensored  until there were so many complaints about the strong language used.  That is when Downey added the beeps to the cut and called it censored.  Then all they would play was the censored version.  Oh sometimes he would play the side without the beeps.  You see he got into a lot of hot water over this whole scene.  He even had to resign from the station and leave town.  Some of the locals said at the time that he would never get another job in radio after this.

Hitomi:Which band did you play with or opened? Do you have cool episode about it?
Carter:   Sorry I can't relate any  cool experience that I had personally.  Our Drummer Jeff Allen hung out   with the Pretty Things in England, and we were entioned in the liner notes on   one of their Albums.
Hitomi:Let me know your fab version of "GLORIA" , was it very popular there?
Carter:  We did that song a year before it was ever heard in the states.  We rearranged it to suit us and actually made it our own.  We did cut a tape of our version and it has been lost.  It was very popular, when the record by Them came out people were disapointed  in their version compared to ours.  That was before Rap and I remember that we slowed it down some, and I actually didn't sing the lyrics I  almost  rapped them

H:Who wrote "You Can't Make Me?".
Carter: " You Can't Make Me"  was written in the studio right before we recorded  it by Danny Murphy and  Me.  There was a friend of ours Bob Lovett there and he got credit for some of it, I really don't know why because He really didn't have anything to do with writing any of it.

H:Did you play  more original stuff?
Carter:No we probably could have written more at the time of "You Can't Make Me" but it was to easy to cover other material from other British groups and some obscure Black soul stuff.
 I guess we were lazy and had a bad case of tunnel vision.  Something you must realize, we  were not very good in the studio.  We were strictly a stage act.   I  know with  more studio experience we could have became one hell of a recording group, but we had other things to spend our money on that we thought was more important.

H:Weren't you complained to play Black Music?
Carter:  As a matter of fact the people really liked the black  (soul music as it was called at the time)  music that we played.  You must realize that this was before the Rascals and Vanilla Fudge made this music popular with the white teen croud.  I was always after the guys to do some country western tunes but we could never agree on what to play so we forgot that idea. In South Fla at that time if the Montells did it then everybody did it, so we were always looking for something different and new, and most of all exciting. If you get right back to it there was nothing quite as exciting as British Blues Based Rock and Roll, and that was our mainstay.
 

H:I want Time Machine!
H:How do you think there are many fans of your music beyond over 30 years?
Carter:  Hitomi I really don't like to brag but what I am about to say is the truth, we had a tremendous following.  South Fla at that time was a very populated area and we were by far the most popular  local group of our time.  I can contribute this to many things but one thing  in particular comes to mind we had  a  stage presence that was extraordinary.   Just last month I was in a tack store in Kentucky, I train  horses now, a lady that I know slightly came up to me a nd produced a picture  that she had been  carying around for  30  plus years of me singing at the North Miami Armory, she asked for my autograph.   I couldn't believe it.
H:It's great!
 


**See more photos !**

Suggested book to know more about Florida '60s bands
SAVAGE LOST by Jeffrey M .Lemlich
write to
JEFF LEMLICH, P.O. BOX
655018,  Miami, FL  33265-5018.

Related Band:EVIL